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Governor Christie’s Aides Found Guilty in Bridgegate Trial, But No Consequences for Christie (Yet)

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Two former aides to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were convicted on nine counts of conspiracy and fraud this morning for their participation in a scheme to close lanes at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 — snarling traffic for days in order to punish a mayor who refused to endorse the governor’s bid for reelection.

Bridget Kelly, a former top aid to Christie, and Bill Baroni, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority, were charged with seven counts of conspiracy and wire fraud as well as violating the civil rights of Fort Lee residents. Their six-week trial concluded, the two face maximum sentences of 86 years in prison, though federal prosecutors have said they’ll ask for considerably less. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 21.

Kelly and Baroni bring to four the tally of top Christie aides found guilty in recent months. David Wildstein, another Christie Port Authority appointee, pleaded guilty a year ago to orchestrating the scheme that has come to be known as Bridgegate, and was a cooperating witness in the case against Baroni and Kelly. David Samson, former chairman of the Port Authority, pleaded guilty in January to using his position to coerce United Airlines to reinstate a flight from Newark airport to Columbus South Carolina, where Samson has a home.

Not on trial, of course, was Kelly’s and Baroni’s boss, Governor Christie himself. Multiple witnesses, including Kelly and Wildstein, testified that Christie knew about the closures. The Governor has repeatedly denied those accusations, and indeed has spent upwards of $11 million of taxpayer money in legal fees to date to bolster that denial.

Christie, who ran for president even as the Bridgegate scandal was unfolding, and is now in charge of appointments in the still-terrifyingly-possible administration of his one-time rival, Donald Trump, today once again denied any knowledge of what his staff was up to. The governor promised that in coming days he will “set the record straight in the coming days regarding the lies that were told by the media and in the courtroom.”

Christie isn’t the only governor decrying lies in the media and the Bridgegate courtroom. Multiple witnesses have testified that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also knew about the Bridgegate scandal, prompting heated, if ever more narrowly phrased, denials from Cuomo’s team.