Bridgegate Bombshell: 'I Feel Bad About the Kids... I Guess'

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Emergency tapes reveal how Chris Christie’s allies smiled as school children were trapped in George Washington Bridge traffic John Moore/Getty Images

Around 9 a.m. on September 9 2013, a police officer tried to help an ambulance driver avoid a massive, citywide traffic jam.

"Do you have a medical unit dispatched?" the officer asked. "The GW Bridge is totally gridlocked."

This was the first morning of the now infamous four-day traffic jam that wracked Fort Lee, New Jersey last fall -- and stopped Governor Chris Christie’s putative White House run in its tracks.

On Friday,the Fort Lee municipal clerk released audio from 911-calls for the four mornings of the traffic jam. Between the routine emergency calls -- fender benders, a dead cat in a parking lot, an elderly man feeling faint -- are hints that something is going very wrong in Fort Lee.

"We're getting calls from irate motorists," says one dispatcher at 7:29 a.m. the first morning.

"You are aware that the town is in total gridlock, correct?" an exasperated first responder asks around 9:45 a.m. that first morning.

"I'm going to be delayed," one first responder says.

"Sir, I'm in traffic," says another.

By closing two of three lanes from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge, the Port Authority for New York and New Jersey plunged Fort Lee into slow-motion mayhem. As we know now, the jams piqued the interest of the press, which pulled in local lawmakers.

By December, Governor Christie's top appointee, Bill Baroni, and his deputy at the Port Authority, David Wildstein, had resigned.

Then on January 8, released text messages and emails showed that Christie's own deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and Wildstein had helped orchestrate the jam. The motive is widely believed to have been political retribution against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie's gubernatorial re-election bid. (There are other theories, too.)

In a previously released exchange from Sept. 10, the second day of the lane closings, Wildstein relayed to Kelly a text from Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich in which he complained about the traffic jam. "The bigger problem is getting kids to school. Please help. It's maddening," he said.

"Is it wrong that I'm smiling?" Kelly texted Wildstein, in response to the town's mayor raising alarm bells about schoolchildren stuck in traffic.

"No," Wildstein replied.

"I feel badly about the kids," Kelly said. "I guess." (In the previously released exchange, it was not clear who made this comment.)

"They are children of Buono voters," Wildstein said.

A few days after the Fort Lee jam, Wildstein and Kelly exchanged more texts, joking about orchestrating a traffic jam.  "We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?" Kelly wrote.

"Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed," Wildstein suggested.

The contrast of the two set of documents released this week -- the debacle for impotent first responders against the icy callousness of Christie's allies -- can't be good for the embattled governor.

Two months ago, Christie was a top contender for the White House in 2016. It's unclear whether Bridgegate has ruined his political future, but these documents have the making of a devastating attack ad: Audio from first responders followed by Kelly's text: "Is it wrong that I'm smiling?"

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