Who started the Bridgegate scandal?

: Governor Chris Christie: "Bridgegate" battered political star

Washington - It's a story the likes of which even the scriptwriters of the Mafia series "The Sopranos" couldn't think of. But it happened in real life. Employees of the governor of New Jersey have apparently deliberately caused a traffic chaos in a small town for days to punish an unpleasant local politician. Because of the bizarre farce, Governor Chris Christie must now fear that a possible presidential candidacy for the US Republicans in 2016 will not come to anything after all.

It happened in September. The setting was one of the busiest bridges in the world. More than 300,000 cars drive over the George Washington Bridge, which runs from New Jersey to Manhattan, on normal working days. But in late summer two out of three driveway lanes in the small town of Fort Lee on the west side of the bridge were closed for four days for no apparent reason. Traffic chaos was the result. Tens of thousands were stuck in traffic for hours. Commuters desperate. Children were late for school and rescue operations were delayed.

Deliberately induced chaos

As it now turned out, the problem is likely to have been brought about deliberately. Because employees of Governor Christie, who was then in the election campaign, ordered the locks to a certain extent. An advisor to Christie's emailed the bridge authority: “It's time for some traffic problems at Fort Lee.” The answer was unequivocal: “Got it.” Another email said it was time to inquire the schoolchildren don't worry about traffic jams. Their parents are after all voters of the Democrat Barbara Buono, Christie's opponent in the governor's election campaign. The motive for the road closure may have been the refusal of the mayor of Fort Lee to support Christie's re-election efforts. He was an avowed Buono supporter.

"Bridgegate" is the name given to the affair based on the Watergate scandal in the USA in the early 1970s. That is grossly exaggerated. But for Christie, 51, who would have been re-elected without the bridge being closed, things could be dangerous. Because just a few weeks ago Christie, who is known for his rough and loud conversation style, declared with chest tone that the blockade had definitely not been ordered by him or by his employees. But now that the emails became public, Christie became more meek. He was duped by employees, he said. Their behavior is unacceptable. The person who wrote the email has now lost her job.

It is still unclear whether that will be sufficient. In the past few months, Christie has developed the image of a community-oriented, unconventional pragmatist who ignores party lines when it comes to the cause. "Bridgegate" nullifies the efforts, at least in part. In comments, Christie's character suitability for the highest office in the state is already openly questioned. After all, the heavyweight among the US Conservatives is surrounded by people who seem to see actions like closing the bridges as a legitimate means of politics.