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Prosecutors argue against prison time for New Jersey ‘Bridgegate’ mastermind

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The mastermind of the “Bridgegate” lane closure scandal that helped torpedo New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s presidential bid should not be sentenced to prison due to his cooperation, U.S. prosecutors said in a court document filed on Tuesday.

David Wildstein, who helped the government convict two former Christie associates after he pleaded guilty in 2015, is set to be sentenced in federal court in Newark on Wednesday.

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Wildstein admitted overseeing a scheme to shut down access lanes at the busy George Washington Bridge in 2013 to create massive traffic gridlock as punishment for a local Democratic mayor who refused to endorse Christie’s reelection campaign.

U.S. prosecutors charged Wildstein, former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly and a former executive of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Bill Baroni, with concocting the plot. The Port Authority supervises operations for the George Washington Bridge, which connects Manhattan and New Jersey and is one of the world’s busiest crossings.

Christie, who has denied any involvement, was not charged. But the fallout dogged his bid for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 and has contributed to his current record-low approval rating of 15 percent in New Jersey.

Wildstein pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2015 and agreed to cooperate with authorities, eventually appearing as the star witness at Kelly and Baroni’s trial for eight days of testimony.

“Put simply, were it not for Wildstein’s decision to cooperate and disclose the true nature of the lane reductions, there likely would have been no prosecutions related to the bridge scheme,” U.S. prosecutors wrote in arguing that Wildstein should receive probation but no prison time.

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Kelly and Baroni were sentenced to 1-1/2 and two years in prison, respectively.

Wildstein testified at trial that he and Baroni joked with Christie about the traffic jams caused by the lane closures as they were occurring, an assertion that Christie and Baroni both denied.

He also told jurors that he and Baroni used the Port Authority as a “goody bag” to dole out favors to local officials in exchange for support for Christie’s reelection.

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Wildstein’s defense lawyer did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Genocide expert breaks down how all of the ‘warning signs’ are present in Trump’s America

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Defense research scientist and genocide expert Brynn Tannehill laid out a terrifying warning on Thursday about President Donald Trump's administration.

As the United States Senate conducted an impeachment trial for the commander-in-chief, Tannehill posted an extended Twitter thread examining the situation in America from her perspective as a researcher studying the conditions that lead to genocide.

Here is what she wrote:

I study genocide. It's been a theme in my academic endeavours for nearly 30 years. More accurately, I study the conditions in the lead up to genocide, be they cultural, social, political, economic, etc... 1/n

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Year of Rat hails easy ride for Donald Trump — but bumps for Harry and Meghan

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As the world prepares to welcome the Year of the Rat, feng shui masters predict a lucky year for Donald Trump, but warn Harry and Meghan's futures are less certain as they make a bid for freedom.

Both the US President and the Sussexes have begun 2020 with a bang.

The former is facing down an impeachment trial -- and seeking re-election in November -- while the latter are beginning a new chapter in Canada after consciously uncoupling from the gilded but pressured career of being a working British royal.

But if experts in the field of Chinese horoscopes are to be believed, it is the US president that will have the easier journey this year.

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John Roberts caused a ‘crisis of democratic legitimacy’ — it’s ‘entirely fitting’ he has to preside over his mess: columnist

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Supreme Court Justice John Roberts was blasted in The Washington Post on Thursday for his culpability in creating the dynamics that resulted in President Donald Trump -- and his impeachment.

"There is justice in John Roberts being forced to preside silently over the impeachment trial of President Trump, hour after hour, day after tedious day," Dana Milbank wrote. "Roberts’s captivity is entirely fitting: He is forced to witness, with his own eyes, the mess he and his colleagues on the Supreme Court have made of the U.S. political system. As representatives of all three branches of government attend this unhappy family reunion, the living consequences of the Roberts Court’s decisions, and their corrosive effect on democracy, are plain to see."

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