Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie faces questions regarding bridge lane closures that gridlocked Fort Lee, N.J., apparently in retaliation for the city's mayor not supporting Christie's re-election. (Getty Images / January 9, 2014)

If a regular person pulled a stunt that caused a massive traffic snarl, delaying workers, wasting fuel, polluting the air, making kids late for school and possibly causing a death, that person would likely be arrested for creating a public nuisance, or worse. Why not New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie's henchmen?

Emails and text messages disclosed this week show that Mr. Christie's deputy chief of staff and two of his top appointees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed a pair of access lanes from Fort Lee, N.J., onto the George Washington Bridge into New York, causing four days of severe congestion and bedlam in September.

Among other difficulties were delays in attending to medical emergencies, including the cardiac arrest of a 91-year-old woman who later died, the Bergen Record newspaper reported. The gridlock was the worst in the area since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, witnesses said.

Why?

The emails strongly suggest what New Jersey Democrats have alleged for weeks, that Mr. Christie's people caused the traffic jam as an act of retaliation against Fort Lee's mayor, a Democrat who did not endorse Mr. Christie for re-election.

For months Mr. Christie laughed off allegations that his staff and appointees were involved in the closure, then by mid-December began taking them more seriously. His Port Authority appointees resigned. With the publication of the smoking-gun emails this week, Mr. Christie apologized — while insisting he knew nothing of the matter — and sacked the deputy chief of staff.

That does not close the book, by a long shot. There ought to be a criminal investigation. It stretches the imagination to think that such an arrogant abuse of power was the work of a deputy chief of staff.

Pundits are wondering if this venal and vicious political incident will hurt Mr. Christie's presidential chances in 2016. Would you vote for someone who made you sit in traffic for no good reason?