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TODAY   |  January 09, 2014

Bridge controversy could dim Chris Christie’s luster

Critics are targeting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a rising Republican star, after emails and texts released by state officials suggested that at least one of his highest-ranking staff members deliberately orchestrated a traffic mess on the busy George Washington bridge as political payback. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.

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>> we want to come back and talk about today's top story, the fire storm brewing around new jersey governor chris christie , the focus, the george washingtchlshington bridge that connects new jersey and new york. stephanie, fill us in.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. this may feel like a local story of nasty state politics but everything new jersey governor chris christie plays out on a national stage. this morning he finds himself answering to more than new jersey voters. the question is who will in chris christie 's words be held responsible? the new jersey governor promised to teak action after e-mails and texts were released by state officials suggesting at least one of his highest ranking staff members deliberately orchestrated a traffic mess. two of three lanes on the bridge were unexpublicly closed. brigitte e kelly e-mailed a local transportation initial "time for some traffic problems in fort lee . weinstein, a high school friend, replied "got it." for hours, they were snarled in traffic.

>> they compromised public safety .

>> they say the mayor was unwilling to endorse christie during his governor's cam pan.

>> not something i anticipated.

>> reporter: when local reporters first started asking questions, governor christie defended his office and said they had nothing to do with the traffic mess, even sarcastically denying his own involvement.

>> i worked the cones, actually. i was actually the guy out there.

>> reporter: since the news of his staff's involvement broke early wednesday, governor christie cancelled his only public appearance and has and commented in a written statement. "what i've seen today for the first time is unacceptable. this completely enappropriate and unstangsed conduct was made without my knowledge." the governor who lost to christie is calling for a federal investigation into criminal wrong doing. as for christie 's aide, neither has commented on