Chris Christie makes surprise Supreme Court appearance for 'Bridgegate' case

Grant Boone
January 17, 2020

"If I look at this, and I'm an ordinary juror, I'm thinking, you know, the object of this deception was not to obtain property", Kagan said. "We believe the Supreme Court chose to hear this case because it shares that view".

"But what I'm saying is the remedy for that is not the federal property fraud statutes", he said.

Former Gov. Chris Christie made a surprise appearance at the U.S.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2018 upheld the 2016 convictions of Kelly, a former Christie deputy chief of staff, and Baroni, a former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of NY and New Jersey, for wire fraud and misusing Port Authority resources. The Supreme Court in 2016 threw out former Republican Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell's bribery conviction in a ruling that narrowed the types of conduct that can warrant such prosecution.

Christie denied knowing about the plan ahead of time or as it was unfolding.

On the first day of school in September, two of the three lanes on the bridge out of Fort Lee were closed for a fictional "traffic study", backing up cars and trucks in New Jersey for hours. The George Washington Bridge connects Fort Lee with Manhattan, and carries 275,000 vehicles per day.

It turned out that top officials in the Republican governor's administration ordered the lane closure in order to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for refusing to endorse Christie's re-election. Kelly and Baroni allegedly plotted to gridlock Fort Lee as political payback for Sokolich.

Chief Justice John Roberts noted the goal of their scheme was to cause a traffic jam, not procure property for themselves. "That was both outside their authority and repugnant to the goals of safe and efficient transportation". They claimed the closures were for a traffic study.

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Authorities will seek those answers, he said at Raisina Dialogue, a multilateral conference held annually in New Delhi . He said the watchdog's allegations were "an area of concern for every Indian".

"In our system, political abuses of power are addressed politically", they argued in a court brief.

As members of Congress prepared Tuesday for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, former New Jersey public officials convened at the Supreme Court to argue lingering questions from "Bridgegate", the last major public corruption scandal to disrupt a presidential election campaign.

"Their actions in this case were fraud in just the same way that it would be fraud for someone with no connection to the Port Authority to impersonate Port Authority supervisors and order Port Authority employees to realign Port Authority lanes", he said.

The justices wrestled with whether changing a bridge's traffic lane patterns was akin to other types of government misconduct, citing examples like a mayor asking public employees to paint his house or snow plow his street before others. "They have nothing to do with the scheme at all".

Justice Elena Kagan was skeptical. "It's not appropriating the George Washington Bridge, it's reallocating lanes on the George Washington Bridge".

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, a New Jersey native and former federal prosecutor in the state, was among those tough on the prosecution, although he also appeared dissatisfied at what Kelly and Baroni's lawyers argued.

"Isn't it often the case that somebody who has the authority to do something may lie about why the person is doing the thing because, if the real reason was exposed, it would cause a furor, people would be angry?" "But that doesn't show the person doesn't have the authority to do it".

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