US & Canada

Chris Christie: 'Bridgegate' harmed political standing

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appeared in Trenton, New Jersey, on 28 March 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has consistently denied any involvement in an ongoing scandal that has engulfed his office

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said a scandal involving a deliberately engineered traffic jam on a busy bridge to New York City has hurt his standing.

But Mr Christie, a front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said his diminished poll numbers were not permanent.

He said David Samson, a confidant and senior transportation official, had resigned over the September incident.

And he said a recent investigation cleared him in the matter.

During a news conference on Friday, Mr Christie would not say whether he planned to run for president in the wake of recent allegations of malfeasance in his office.

Approval ratings falter

"If I was running for something else sometime in the future, you know what poll I'll care about: the ones in the few days before the election," he said. "Not the ones now, they don't mean anything."

Mr Christie has seen his approval ratings falter after his senior aides and confidants were implicated in the four-day traffic jam in the streets of Fort Lee, New Jersey.

The gridlock happened when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, of which Mr Samson was chairman until his resignation on Friday, closed local lanes leading from Fort Lee streets onto the bridge, ostensibly for a traffic study.

Publicly released documents have indicated the incident was orchestrated by Mr Christie's aides, possibly to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor for his refusal to endorse the governor in his 2013 re-election campaign.

Mr Christie subsequently fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, for her role in the matter.

On Friday, Mr Christie announced the resignation of Mr Samson - a former state attorney general - amid separate allegations he had used his position at the Port Authority to boost his law firm.

A day earlier, a law firm hired by and with close ties to Mr Christie released a report clearing him of wrongdoing in the scandal.

Meanwhile, a team of federal prosecutors in New Jersey and a state legislative committee continue to investigate the matter.

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