(NBC News) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is considered a 2016 front-runner, says he has fired a top aide after emails linked his staff to a scheme to close bridge access lanes in order to punish a rival.
The popular republican governor made the announcement during a news conference Thursday in which he also apologized for the matter and insisted he knew nothing about the scheme.
He then went on to announce he has fired his Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly for her involvement.
The firing follows emails that suggests the four-day traffic jam over the busy George Washington Bridge last September was orchestrated to punish a democratic mayor who didn't support the republican Christie's re-election last year.
"I had no knowledge in this issue, in its planning or execution and I am stunned by the abject stupidity shown here," Christie told reporters.
In the emails, Kelly tells one of the governor's high school buddies at the Port Authority quote, "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." "Got it," the official replies.
And, sure enough, two weeks later, the problems occurred and for days, commuters, even emergency vehicles were snarled in traffic.
The scandal is threatening Christie's potential bid for the 2016 republican presidential nomination.
At Thursday's news conference, Christie was contrite.
"I am responsible for what happened," the Governor professed.
Shortly before the news conference, the New York Times reported the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey would open an inquiry into the bridge scandal.
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