Gov. Chris Christie saddled by new federal probe into ‘ Bridgegate’

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NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — A second federal grand jury is now hearing testimony on Governor Christie’s role in the Bridgegate scandal.

In addition to a regular panel seated a couple of months ago, a special federal panel is now probing the case in Newark.

According to the Wall Street Journal, extra precautions have been taken to keep deliberations secret. As the feds ratchet up their probe, a New Jersey legislative committee is pressing forward with its investigation.

On Tuesday they heard from the highest ranking member of the Governor’s inner circle.

Kevin O’Dowd Governor Christie’s Chief of Staff, told the legislative committee he was in the dark and had no prior knowledge of and played no role in a scheme to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge.

The purported goal was to create traffic havoc in Fort Lee as political retribution to the town’s Mayor, a Democrat who did not endorse Governor Christie’s second term.

O’Dowd said he first learned of the incident three months afterwards when the governor informed him the issue had become “a major distraction,” and he directed him to talk to Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly to determine if she had anything to do with it. “Absolutely not,” he said was her response.

Kelly and other top aides were subsequently fired by the Governor. Though Kelly told O’Dowd that she had nothing to do with the lane closures, she was linked to damning e-mails, including one to a Port Authority official that declared, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Though no evidence to date has surfaced to implicate Christie, Bridgegate has taken its toll on him. His popularity has slipped in the polls and there have been defections among Republican loyalists who supported him for a potential run for President in 2016.

When asked about his White House ambitions Monday, Christie said it would be “foolish to decide now whether to run” in two years. He did say he’s thinking about it, but he is far off from making a decision.

While he has avoided television interviews since the scandal surfaced, the Governor is good for a laugh. He’ll yuck it up with Jimmy Fallon Thursday night on the Tonight show.