Updated: Thu, 09 Jan 2014 13:54:46 GMT | By Michael O’Brien

Christie to face the press on growing bridge scandal



FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2014 file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sits with students during a gathering at Colin Powell elementary school in heavily Hispanic Union City, N.J.

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2014 file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sits with students during a gathering at Colin Powell elementary school in heavily Hispanic Union City, N.J.

Chris Christie will hold an 11:00 a.m. press conference Thursday to address the emerging political crisis involving an aide's effort to retaliate against a Democratic rival. 

It will mark the first time the New Jersey governor will answer questions publicly since emails were published suggesting his deputy chief of staff worked with a port authority official to close lanes of the George Washington Bridge last September to punish a Democratic mayor who declined to back Christie's re-election.

Christie, a Republican with designs on the White House in 2016, has previously denied involvement in the lane closures — which prompted massive traffic gridlock on the first day of school — by both him and his staff.

Wednesday's revelations appeared to blindside the pugnacious New Jersey governor, who said in a statement that he was "misled by a member of [his] staff." The revelations have quickly spread, though, into a political crisis that could harm Christie's political fortunes in the next presidential election.

The controversy shows no immediate sign of waning.  This morning, lawyers for David Wildstein, one of the resigned Port Authority officials whose exchange with Christie deputy Bridget Anne Kelly lies at the heart of the bridge controversy, will try to quash a subpoena seeking his testimony before the state assembly of New Jersey.

The state assembly hearing before its Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities committee, where Wildstein would appear, is scheduled for noon.

The crisis is especially resonant because it cuts to the heart of the image Christie has cultivated, one of a bipartisan problem-solver and a plain-spoken political leader.

In his statement on Wednesday, Christie vowed to hold responsible staffers accountable for collaborating on the lane closures. But he also offered no apology, and maintained that he was previously unaware of any plot to retaliate against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. When he faces reporters on Thursday, Christie is sure to face more detailed questions about what he knew, when he knew it and whether he is sorry for his aides' actions.

Though the lane closure controversy has been floating around New Jersey since last fall — two Port Authority officials had previously resigned in connection to it — the issue only came to the fore this week after the release of explosive emails detailing the involvement of Christie aides.

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