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Posted: January 13, 2013

By Greg Richter

Chris ChristieNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could be impeached if it turns out he knew of the plan to close lanes and snarl traffic on the George Washington Bridge, the Democrat heading the legislative probe of the matter says.

“Using the George Washington Bridge, a public resource, to exact a political vendetta, is a crime,” N.J. Assemblyman John Wisniewski told NBC News this weekend.

“Having people use their official position to have a political game is a crime. So if those tie back to the governor in any way, it clearly becomes an impeachable offense,” Wisniewski said.

Christie has denied any knowledge of the lane closures ordered by his close associates at the busy bridge linking northern New Jersey and upper Manhattan.

The closures backed up traffic into Fort Lee, N.J., for four days in September before they were reopened under orders from an angry official of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the Hudson River crossing.

Regardless of whether he was directly involved, Christie’s account of how he learned of the closures has changed, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In his two-hour press conference last week, Christie offered changed the initial date of when he first learned of the incident.

In a Dec. 13 press conference, he said he first learned of the closures after the Journal’s Oct. 1 publication of emails from Patrick Foye, the Port Authority’s executive director.

But in last week’s press conference, where he announced the firing of his deputy chief of staff, Christie admitted he learned of the closings earlier, though he did not give a specific date.

It was learned last week that Christie’s then-chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, ordered the shutdown, allegedly as political payback because Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich had not supported Christie’s re-election bid.

Christie denies knowing anything about the shutdowns beforehand, and fired Kelly for lying about her involvement.

Christie announced the change in the time he first learned of the lane closures one day before Wisniewski’s panel released documents that showed some of the governor’s top staff knew of the incident while the lanes were closed and just afterward. They also were aware of complaints by Sokolich that the action might be politically motivated

The traffic lanes were reopened Sept. 13.

One email showed that Regina Egea, a member of Christie’s cabinet, received a copy of Foye’s email three hours after it was sent to Port Authority officials. It is not known whether she told Christie about the email.

Wisniewski told NBC he finds it hard to believe Christie was unaware of what was happening.

“These people travel with him, these people discuss things with him every single day. This is not an isolated, unknown story,” he said. “He knew there was an investigation. He knew people were looking at it, and his senior staff was involved [and] he expects us to believe he knew nothing? I just find that implausible.”

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