Was Bridgegate Really About the Mayor of Fort Lee?

| Fri Jan. 10, 2014 11:48 AM EST

Why did Chris Christie's staff shut down several lanes of the George Washington Bridge in August? The working theory is that it was retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee, who had declined to endorse Christie for reelection. This has never really made sense, though. The guy was a Democrat and Christie was cruising to victory. As both the mayor and Christie himself have pointed out, no one would care if he decided not to endorse Christie.

So Rachel Maddow and Steve Benen offer up another theory today. Last year Christie was in a long-running battle with Democrats over his appointees to the state Supreme Court, and in August Christie decided to remove a justice from the court rather than submit her to renomination to Senate Democrats:

The governor, enraged, held a press conference to tell reporters, “I was not going to let her loose to the animals.”

The “animals,” in this case, were the Democrats in the state Senate.

Christie said that on the afternoon of Aug. 12, 2013.

On the morning of Aug. 13, 2013, Christie’s deputy chief of staff told the governor’s guy at the Port Authority, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

The leader of the Senate Democrats at the time was a senator from ... Fort Lee.

This is just speculation, of course, so take it for what it's worth. Dave Weigel, for example, points out that the Democratic leader of the state Senate was "utterly safe at re-election," so retaliating against her seems kind of pointless too. Maybe so. But for now, speculation is all we have. The whole story about retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee has always been pretty wacky, so now that we know for sure that retaliation of some sort really did take place, it's only natural to scratch our heads and start trying to figure out if maybe something else was going on. This is as good a guess as any.

Here's the video:

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