Calls mount for criminal bridge investigation

New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D) is calling for a formal investigation into the George Washington Bridge scandal, saying it involves “reckless endangerment of people’s lives and possibly criminally negligent homicide.”

He made the comment Thursday on CNN's "New Day" program. Lesniak is joining with state Sen. Barbara Buono, who challenged Gov. Chris Christie (R) in the last election, to demand that the U.S. attorney’s office look into the case. 

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Emails revealed Wednesday that one of Christie’s top aides requested that a traffic jam be created around the bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., last year. The exchanges indicate Christie’s staffers were exacting political retribution toward that town’s mayor, a Democrat, who didn’t endorse Christie in last year’s election. 

“Wow! Time for a federal grand jury. This smells of corrupt use of government authority at the highest levels,” Lesniak wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday.

A report in the Bergen Record said the closures caught emergency vehicles in a traffic jam on the bridge, including a group of paramedics who were trying to reach an 91-year-old unconscious woman. That woman later died at a hospital of cardiac arrest, the report said.

An investigation must be done, Lesniak says, because someone died as a result of “abusive government authority.”

“This a governor who has said to national Republicans 'we should do whatever it takes to win.' He set the tone in his administration for whatever it takes to win, and obviously people took that way too far,” Lesniak said.

Asked if Christie was involved in the lane closures, Lesniak said, “He’s not that stupid,” but added that Christie could have played a role in the cover-up. Christie denied Wednesday evening that he was aware of the emails that were released. 

Unless Christie was involved in the closures, Lesniak said, it’s not going to affect him as governor, but it could have repercussions for his 2016 presidential ambitions.

“It’s going to affect his credibility not only for the people of the state of New Jersey, but for people nationwide,” he said.

“I think this is incredibly damaging politically for him because it’s the tenor of his administration. He’s scored a lot of political points by being the tough guy, by taking no prisoners. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.” 

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