Protesters, ‘Bridgegate’ development crash Christie news conference

 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering after an outdoor bill signing ceremony Wednesday in New Brunswick. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering after an outdoor bill signing ceremony Wednesday in New Brunswick. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie traveled Wednesday to a New Brunswick to sign two bills aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse, but the ceremony was interrupted by a small band of chanting demonstrators who oppose the governor’s decision to send State Police to Baltimore.The handful of protesters gathered behind a fence outside the parking lot of the New Brunswick Treatment Center, shouting comments and chanting for nearly half an hour.

“Get the State Troopers out of Baltimore,” they chanted.

New Jersey sent 150 troopers in response to a request from Maryland officials because of rioting after the fatal injury of a man in police custody, Christie said.

“They were detailed for 72 hours, and we’ll talk and work with our partners in Maryland to see whether there needs to be an extension of that or whether or not they can home at the end of the 72 hours,” Christie said.

“Seventy-two hours is too long,” shouted the protesters in response.

Christie said Maryland will cover the cost of deploying the 150 troopers, so there will be no expense to New Jersey taxpayers.

In his first news conference in several months, the governor also addressed reports that a former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey employee will plead guilty this week to charges stemming from lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in 2013.

The matter will take its “natural course and will be dictated by the people investigating it,” said Christie, adding that his is not worried about what David Wildstein, whom he appointed to the $150,000 Port Authority post, would have to say.

Christie said he doesn’t expect any account to differ from what he said last January when he insisted he did not know in advance about the lane closures.

And he said the U.S. investigation and legal proceedings will no impact on his potential run for president or on his ability to deal with state issues.

The lane closures spawned the Bridgegate scandal and a push by New York and New Jersey lawmakers for an overhaul of the Port Authority.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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