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The prosecutors in the 'Bridgegate' trial said Christie knew about the bridge shutdown


The federal trial for two former aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who were allegedly involved in the "Bridgegate" scandal is set to begin on Monday.

Since this mess first made headlines three years ago, here's everything you need to know about this case.

UPDATE (12:30 p.m.)

Prosecutors said Christie knew about the plan to severely limit access across the George Washington Bridge to punish a Democratic mayor, The New York Times reports. It's the first time he has been accused of knowing about the plan, in which he has denied involvement.

So what even is 'Bridgegate'?

Back in 2013, the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., Democrat Mark Sokolich, refused to endorse Republican Christie's bid for re-election as governor. Christie sought bipartisan support, since New Jersey tends to vote Democratic, 270toWin reports.

In September 2013, lanes of the George Washington Bridge going into NYC were ordered closed, causing heavy traffic that adversely affected Fort Lee. The cover story was that the closures were part of a traffic study.

Geroge Washington Bridge.jpg
A steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center is transported across the George Washington Bridge on its way to Coatesville, Penn., as the New York City skyline stands in the background Wednesday April 14, 2010. A mile-long convoy of 28 tractor trailers carried 500 tons of steel from the twin towers to become the centerpiece of a planned National Iron and Steel Museum in Coatsville, Penn., where the steel was created 41 years ago. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

But it's just a bridge. How big a deal can this be?

The GW Bridge carries 250,000 cars a day between New Jersey and Manhattan. It's a big deal.

What does that have to do with Christie?

Prosecutors said members of his staff teamed up to order the lanes closed for four days to retaliate against Sokolich. The staff included:

  • Bridget Kelly, former deputy chief of staff
  • Bill Baroni, former bridge authority executive
  • David Wildstein, Port Authority official

One email from 2013 from Kelly to Wildstein read: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

The prosecutors in the 'Bridgegate' trial said Christie knew about the bridge shutdown

WATCH | Gov. Christie faces no charges. He's not scheduled to even appear at the trial, though he told CNN he would testify if called.

He has often said he knew nothing about the plan, Reuters reports.

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OK, so who's charged with what?

Wildstein has already pleaded guilty to civil rights conspiracy and fraud. Kelly and Baroni face both of those charges, plus wire fraud. They face up to 20 years in prison.

So how will the case go?

Prosecutors will probably focus on how the treatment of Sokolich wasn't unique. Other mayors who didn't endorse were similarly treated, minus the traffic jams. Also, there are other emails that show an equally cavalier attitude towards the traffic.

But defense attorneys will likely argue that the civil rights charges are bogus since technically, there's no constitutional right to avoid traffic. They also believe prosecutors bent the rules to get the aides to force their hand.

Christie's growing unpopularity in his state is already complicating the proceedings.

What do you think of Bridgegate?

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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