An investigation into a traffic scandal that threatens the rise of Republican star and potential 2016 presidential candidate Chris Christie has grown into an abuse of power probe.
New Jersey State Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald said on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) that a new special Assembly committee, given subpoena power and a special counsel, will be charged with finding out how high the plot went up Christie’s chain of command.
“It is clearly an abuse of power,” he said.
“The question is, who abused their power and how high did it go?”
Christie, who is the governor of New Jersey, has apologised but denied any involvement in the scandal where his top aides apparently ordered two lanes on a bridge linking the state to New York city shutdown in order to punish a local mayor with massive traffic backups.
He also fired a top aide, Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, and cut ties with campaign adviser Bill Stepien, who’d been widely seen as a potential campaign manager if Christie runs for president.
Christie must figure out how to address the scandal when he gives his State of the State address on Tuesday.
His administration has not revealed what he might say, but certainly it will now have a bigger audience and announcements about tax cut plans will no longer be the most anticipated part.
The same could be true at the governor’s inauguration for a second term next week, set to take place on Ellis Island, historically a gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants.
The setting is meant to showcase Christie’s inclusiveness and ability to appeal to a broad swath of voters.