>> We're fortunate to have Governor Chris Christie with us, a friend of mine, a great friend of mine.>> While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie chummed around with President Trump at the White House Wednesday, back in Newark, two of his former and closest allies sentenced to federal prison for their part in the Bridgegate Scandal.
Bill Baroni, the former Deputy Executive Director of the New York New Jersey Port Authority will serve two years. Bridget Kelly, Christie's former Deputy Chief of Staff getting one and a half years. Reuters' reporter Joe Ax was at the sentencing.>> The defense had asked for no prison time citing the fact that Bridget Kelly is a single mother of four, that Bill Baroni had a long career in public service prior to the scandal.
While the prosecutors planned out that they were responsible for a monumental betrayal of public trust and had argued that they should serve somewhere in the neighborhood of two to three years. When Bridget Kelly was addressing the judge and asking for leniency, she choked up and cried through most of her statement.
>> The judge rejected defense pleas citing what she called, quote, an outrageous display of abuse of power. Both were found guilty in November of plotting to close down access lanes to the George Washington bridge to create a week long traffic jam on the world's busiest bridge, an act of political pay back after the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey refused to back Christie's bid for re-election.
>> I knew nothing about it.>> Governor Christie has denied any involvement and hasn't been charged, but Ax says the scandal has tarnished his national profile.>> Prosecutors brought evidence to trial that at least strongly suggested that Christie was aware of the lane closures at the time they were happening.
And even though he's never been charged, the fallout from the scandal has been incredibly damaging to him. People forget that at the time he was considered a rising star. He was considered a front runner for the White House. And not only did the Bridgegate scandal basically torpedo his ambitions for the White House, he's also now saddled with record low approval ratings here in his home state.
And since he can't run for reelection this year because of term limits, it's kind of an open question as to what's next for him, if anything.>> The immediate next thing for Christie will be leading Trump's Drug Addiction Task Force, but has told reporters he has no interest in having a permanent role with the Trump administration.
As for Baroni and Kelly, they'll be allowed to remain free on bail while they appeal their convictions.