Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has stirred up controversy after photos captured him joking around with President Donald Trump during a March 29 meeting in the White House, while two of his former aides were sentenced to prison time for the so-called "Bridgegate" scandal.
Christie's former appointee at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, and the governor's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, were found guilty in November 2016 of wire fraud, conspiracy, and misuse of the George Washington Bridge, which sees more traffic than any other in the country, according to the Daily Mail.
When the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, declined to endorse Christie for his re-election, the two aides reportedly intentionally created a prolonged traffic jam on the bridge to get him back. Christie was cleared of all charges related to his alleged involvement, and he stated that he had no knowledge of "Bridgegate" when it happened, although some members of the court of public opinion have not cleared him.
While the pair were receiving their sentences -- two years for Baroni, 18 months for Kelly and 500 hours of community service for both of them -- Christie was spotted at a White House meeting laughing with the president.
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The series of photos, taken by The Associated Press, show Christie and Trump, who sit next to each other, laughing as Trump grabs Christie's hand.
The images were not well-received among all viewers.
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"Trump and Christie are the true representation of SWAMP…" reads one Daily Mail comment. "How could anyone have voted for either one of them?!"
Another asked, "Why wasn't this creep sentenced today with the other two? Lock him up!"
Others thought that the story was overblown.
"This is what [I] like about the media, they imply anything they wish from a photo shoot," another person commented. "[Why] can't the reporters actually say something in the headline that is worthy of the photo instead of turning it into a farce. no wonder the country has lost face in the Media, so damn biased, must be a Democratic owed paper. criminal charges going to be made i wonder"
Christie was at the White House to discuss solving the nation's growing opioid addiction, reports WCBS and The Associated Press. The New Jersey governor, who has spoken frequently about the issue, will lead a commission to combat the epidemic.
While in Washington, Christie did not comment on the "Bridgegate" sentencing beyond telling NBC's "Today" show that "the judge will do what the judge believes appropriate," according to the New York Daily News.