UPDATE: NBC News now says its original report that federal prosecutors had definitively decided not to charge Christie was incorrect, according to the Asbury Park Press.
The New Jersey newspaper quoted Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for the state's U.S. attorney, as saying "The investigation is continuing."
NBC spokeswoman Erika Masonhall told the newspaper:
An unscripted line of our Nightly News report was imprecise and implied that a final decision had been reached."
ORIGINAL: Nine months after the Bridgeghazi scandal, a federal probe has not yet found a link between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the infamous closing of the George Washington Bridge last summer. As NBC News reported:
Federal officials caution that the investigation that began nine months ago is ongoing and that no final determination has been made, but say that authorities haven't uncovered anything that indicates that Christie knew in advance or ordered the closure of traffic lanes."
According to the experts, ordinarily, proof of wrongdoing tends to come out early in the course of a federal probe.
May get lost in other news, but Chris Christie getting exonerated (so far) on Bridgegate is very, very big. http://t.co/dC9BBAuPEM— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) September 19, 2014
In a Thursday evening radio interview, Christie responded to the preliminary findings by feigning their unimportance (via Business Insider).
Obviously we'll wait to hear whatever the authorities have to say but this is a report that comes as no shock to me. I don't want to overreact to it, because I'm not surprised by it."
Does this mean Christie is free to skate back into the 2016 conversation as he continues his work as governor and offers public defenses of embattled NFL Commish Roger Goodell? Not necessarily.
Even if the probe never finds proof of wrongdoing on Christie's part, the stain of the scandal has already done its tarnishing work. While the governor may appear stronger months after the bridge closure placed him at the center of a national firestorm, the fact that the closures took place without his knowledge could make it easy for his opponents to paint Christie as someone who didn't have control over his own administration.