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“Bridgegate” Explained: An American Style Scandal

September 21, 2016
Plain English Version
Governor Chris Christie. The George Washington Bridge traffic jam. Getty Images

Governor Chris Christie. The George Washington Bridge traffic jam. Getty Images

First, why do they call it “Bridgegate?” Forty years ago Republican workers broke into Democratic Party headquarters in Washington, D.C. The office was in the Watergate building.  It became a big scandal. It led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Since then, government scandals usually have the word “gate” at the end.

So what is Bridgegate? Chris Christie is the Republican governor of the state of New Jersey. After he won reelection in 2013, he was still not happy. Some Democratic mayors in the state did not support him. His staff decided to get even with one of them.

The George Washington Bridge connects New Jersey to New York City. It is the busiest bridge in the nation.

The agency that runs the bridge and closed the lanes is the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Some high-level staff at the agency are loyal to Governor Christie. The agency closed the lanes.

That is the scandal known as Bridgegate. Two people are currently on trial for violating several laws. Governor Christie said he knew nothing about the lane closings. He said he “read about (the closings) in the papers.”

Many people thought otherwise. Now federal prosecutors said they can prove the governor was in on the scheme.

Chris Christie ran for president in the Republican Primaries. When he realized he would not win, he supported Donald Trump. Christie thought he might be the choice for vice president. He was not. Trump said he would give him an important job.

If the government wins the case, Christie’s career is over. Trump continues to stand by him. A year ago Trump said, “of course the governor knew about the lane closings.”

Is all this important? Americans, like many others, love scandals. Especially when you can add, “gate” to the name. It is unusual. There is no sex or money in the scheme.

The George Washington Bridge is always crowded. It is wrong to make it even harder to cross. Add media-rich New York City to the scene. Throw in a colorful governor. Now, you have a scandal.

Source: The New York Times September 19, 2016

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