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A bridge too far?

“Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has built a remarkable brand in Republican politics around a simple message: that his bluster and brashness, grating as they might be, were driven by a desire to transcend partisan rancor and petty politics in the service of the public good,” the New York Times writes. “But embarrassing revelations about his office’s role in shutting down some access lanes to the George Washington Bridge now imperil that carefully cultivated image. They suggest that the same elbows-out approach that the Christie administration brought to policy battles at the State House may have been deployed for a much less noble end — punishing an entire borough for its mayor’s sin of not embracing the governor’s re-election campaign.”

The Washington Post: "Christie previously said he did not believe his office had any role in the incident, but the e-mails show otherwise — illustrating the lengths to which Christie’s lieutenants went to retaliate against a local politician who would not endorse the governor during a reelection race that was never particularly close. The e-mails, however, do not show whether Christie was involved in the lanes closure, and the governor denied knowledge of the scheme in a statement late Wednesday."

The Bergen Record on those impacted by the traffic caused by the George Washington Bridge lane closings. "An unconscious 91-year-old woman who later died of cardiac arrest. A car accident with multiple injuries. A missing 4-year-old. With local streets at a standstill after access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were abruptly closed, emergency responders struggled to answer calls for help — including these and other potentially life-or-death situations. It took an hour for help to arrive at a building where a person was experiencing chest pains. Paramedics couldn’t even get to an elderly woman in cardiac arrest — they had to meet the ambulance en route to a hospital."

Politico’s Maggie Haberman adds, “Democrats predictably condemned the New Jersey governor after a bombshell report Wednesday tied one of his top staffers to a burgeoning scandal that’s already been dubbed “Bridge-gate.” More notable was the dearth of Republicans who rose to Christie’s defense — and, privately, the schadenfreude expressed by some of them that a man who’s never been shy about taking shots at others was suddenly on the receiving end.”

Take the Wall Street Journal editorial page, for example: “Now that he's been re-elected by a landslide, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is gearing up to run for President, and right behind him comes the scrutiny. That's why his handling of a blooming scandal about political payback by his staff against Fort Lee, New Jersey's Democratic mayor has national resonance.”

And Congress is getting involved. NBC’s Kasie Hunt reports: The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is awaiting answers from the Port Authority on the unexpected closure of the bridge lanes. Chairman Jay Rockefeller sent a letter to the Transportation Department and the Port Authority late last year citing the lane closure's effects on interstate commerce, as it links New York and New Jersey. 

"While this type of decision tends to be local in nature, I have serious concerns about the larger federal implications of what appears to be political appointees abusing their power to hamper interstate commerce and safety without public notice," Rockefeller wrote.