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New Jersey ‘Bridgegate’ judge delays closing arguments

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Closing arguments in New Jersey’s “Bridgegate” trial were unexpectedly postponed by a day on Thursday because of an unspecified “legal issue” that must be resolved, the trial judge said.

U.S. prosecutors in Newark had been scheduled to begin summing up the evidence against two former allies of Governor Chris Christie who are accused of orchestrating lane closures at the busy George Washington Bridge to New York City in September 2013 in an act of political retribution.

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U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton told jurors to return on Friday morning for closing arguments, which are now expected to last into Monday.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers, who also left for the day, declined to comment on the nature of the issue.

Jurors have heard more than a month of testimony in the trial of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, operator of the bridge.

Prosecutors say the two conspired with another Port Authority executive, David Wildstein, to create massive gridlock in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to punish the town’s mayor for refusing to back Christie’s 2013 reelection campaign.

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The scandal damaged Christie’s political standing as he was beginning a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. The governor is a top adviser to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Christie, who has not been charged with wrongdoing, has said he was unaware of the lane closings at the time.

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But testimony at the trial from several witnesses have contradicted Christie’s claim.

Wildstein, who pleaded guilty and testified for the government, said he and Baroni discussed the plot with Christie as it was unfolding.

Baroni and Kelly each took the stand and said they spoke with Christie about the lane closures, though they said they believed that the closures were part of a legitimate traffic study.

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Kelly, who cried several times during her testimony, portrayed Christie as a demanding and bullying boss who once flung a water bottle at her in anger.

She was the author of an infamous email sent to Wildstein that said, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” a message prosecutors say set the scheme in motion.

But Kelly told jurors that she was simply parroting the language Wildstein had used in describing the potential gridlock caused by what she believed was a Port Authority-approved traffic study.

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(Additional reporting by David Ingram in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Neo-Nazi ‘Atomwaffen Division’ holding live-fire militia training exercises at ‘The Base’: report

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One sign of the growing white nationalist crisis in America is a new outreach effort for paramilitary training.

"A neo-Nazi group focused on providing paramilitary-style training to far-right extremists has been conducting a massive recruitment drive and claims to have already conducted live-fire training with its members," Vice News reports.

"The Base, which is connected to extreme-right groups the Atomwaffen Division and the Feuerkrieg Division, has been promoting its growth on social media with photos announcing its presence in major cities across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and in Europe, South Africa, and Australia," Vice reported. "The images often include a small contingent (typically one to three) of masked, camo-clad men holding weapons standing in front of The Base's flag, a black flag with three white lines running down the centre."

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Oklahoma police searching for man who shot Taco Bell employee in dispute over the drive-thru

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Police are searching for a man who allegedly shot a Taco Bell employee early Saturday morning.

"The employee was shot in the leg after asking the customer to pull forward in the drive-thru," KFOR-TV reported Saturday. "The customer argued, but eventually pulled forward, and that’s when he pulled out a gun and shot the employee."

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‘Not surprised at all that the president sides with the white nationalists’: Native American Congresswoman

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One of the first two Native America women blasted President Donald Trump for siding with white nationalists on Saturday.

Following the fatal "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in 2017, Trump claimed there were "fine people" on both sides when he defended the alt-Right and Neo-Nazi event.

Two years later, Trump has gone even further, blaming only the anti-fascist activists confronting far-right marching in Portland, Oregon in a way that reminds many of the invasion of Charlottesville.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1162726857231544320

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) was asked about Trump's tweet by CNN's Ana Cabrera.

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