March 28 - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he was vindicated by internal investigation that cleared him in ''Bridgegate.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said an internal investigation into the so-called "Bridgegate" scandal vindicated him. A law firm hired by Christie to investigate the scandal exonerated the potential Republican presidential contender on Thursday in a report quickly dismissed by critics as whitewash. "I had nothing to do with it," he told a news conference. "This report has supported exactly what I said," he said. He also said it would not impact his decision making in terms of seeking higher office. The review cleared every member of Christie's current staff, but blamed former members of his inner circle whom he fired soon after a scandal erupted over the September 2013 shutdown of traffic lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey. "What we found was that Governor Christie had no involvement in the decision to close these lanes and no prior knowledge of it," said attorney Randy Mastro of the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which conducted the investigation. Two key players who orchestrated the massive traffic jam were Bridget Anne Kelly, the governor's former deputy chief of staff, and David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, according to the report. Their motive was to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat whom Wildstein did not hold in high regard, Mastro told a press conference in New York. Fort Lee sits at one end of the George Washington Bridge, the nation's busiest span, and the lane closures caused massive backups in the borough. Results of the 10-week probe were met with skepticism by New Jersey Democrats, who have commissioned a bi-partisan panel to investigate the lane closures. Christie has adamantly denied any prior knowledge of the plan, and in an interview set on ABC, the governor again said he was shocked by the actions of his former aides. Christie's investigators failed to gain access to at least four central figures, including Kelly and Wildstein, accused of either designing or covering up the scheme.