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January 09, 2014 AT 3:14 PM
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Thursday fired a top aide who apparently helped orchestrate massive traffic jams at a busy commuter bridge to settle a score with a New Jersey mayor who endorsed one of Christie's competitors. Christie said he had been blindsided in the scandal that threatened to tarnish his political image. As the Republican governor apologized publicly for the abrupt lane closings seemingly ordered by some of his staff the office of the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey said it was launching an investigation. Revelations that his staff may have had a hand in plotting the four-day lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in September, causing hours-long jams that stalled commuters, school buses and ambulances, come as Christie has emerged as a powerful figure in the Republican Party and a possible presidential contender.