New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was set to spend the weekend campaigning for Donald Trump, but some of his appearances were reportedly cancelled on Friday shortly after two of his former allies were convicted of conspiracy and fraud for participating in a 2013 scheme to close access lanes on the George Washington Bridge.
On Thursday, the Trump campaign had announced that Christie would be spending Saturday stumping for Trump in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. However, soon after the verdict was announced, Paul Steinhauser, political director of NH1 News, said a “campaign source” told the channel that Christie would not be coming to New Hampshire.
The reported cancellation of Christie’s events in the Granite State came as Democrats have attacked him for the verdict in the so-called Bridgegate trial. Christie and the Trump campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Yahoo News about the criticism and whether the events are still taking place as planned.
Christie is the chairman of the Republican nominee’s transition team, which plays a key role in planning for a potential Trump administration. Speaking to reporters on Friday, John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, suggested that Trump should strip Christie of his position. Podesta referenced Trump’s repeated vows to fight corruption and “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C.
“He might want to attend to what’s going on on the side of what he’s doing in the campaign,” Podesta said, according to a campaign pool report. “So, rather than just crisscrossing the country and hopscotching, talking about cleaning up the swamp, he might start by draining his own swamp, and asking Mr. Christie to resign as the head of his transition.”
In September 2013, Christie’s allies allegedly ordered four lanes closed on the George Washington Bridge, which spans from New York City to New Jersey, to retaliate against a mayor who didn’t endorse the governor’s reelection bid that year. The shutdown led to days of gridlock in the town of Fort Lee, N.J., which sits at the base of the bridge.
Christie’s former chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and Bill Baroni, one of the governor’s appointees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, were found guilty on Friday of all charges in the federal case. Witnesses testified that Christie’s allies enacted the lane closure plot at the governor’s behest.
Christie has consistently maintained that he had no role in the lane closures and his aides acted without his knowledge. Nevertheless, the scandal became a significant roadblock in his political career. Christie was widely seen as a powerful potential contender in this year’s presidential election. The Bridgegate scandal damaged his poll numbers and his campaign was ultimately unsuccessful. After withdrawing from the race, Christie endorsed Trump. Christie has said the Bridgegate case played into Trump’s decision not to tap the governor as his running mate.
The governor addressed the verdict Friday in a written statement in which he said he was “saddened” by the case. “Let me be clear once again: I had no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments, and had no role in authorizing them. No believable evidence was presented to contradict that fact. Anything said to the contrary over the past six weeks in court is simply untrue,” Christie said, adding, “As a former federal prosecutor, I have respected these proceedings and refused to comment on the daily testimony from the trial. I will set the record straight in the coming days regarding the lies that were told by the media and in the courtroom.”
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