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The next big question in the George Washington Bridge scandal that has rattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: determining whether or not anybody should be charged with a crime.

The U.S. attorney has opened a preliminary inquiry after a referral from the inspector general at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which had been investigating the matter. David Wildstein, the disgraced Christie appointee at the heart of the scandal, repeatedly invoked his right to remain silent during an oversight hearing with state lawmakers. The journey toward uncovering any potential criminality is well underway.

But where does it end? Legal and ethics experts caution that we don't have enough information to predict with much certainty. But based on what is known, they suggest a few potential threads to follow.

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This post has been updated.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) faced the music Thursday following the revelation that members of his administration had been involved in lane closures on the George Washington Bridge last year.

But while he hit all the necessary notes -- apologizing to the people of New Jersey, announcing he'd fired members of his staff and claiming the ultimate responsibility for what happened -- Christie routinely slipped into moments of cognitive dissonance and rhetorical flubs that suggested the scandal has left the governor at least slightly shaken.

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Updated: January 13, 2014, 3:05 PM

The world of the George Washington Bridge scandal is continually expanding. More of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) allies are being tied to the drama, and more of his enemies are jumping into the fray.

With thousands of pages of documents recently released in the scandal, the cast of characters involved in it has expanded. Here's an updated breakdown of everybody you need to know and what role they've played.

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The Gov. Chris Christie (R) bridge scandal metastasized on Wednesday.

Subpoenaed documents obtained by TPM and other media outlets revealed direct ties between the Christie administration and the discussion about closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September. The lane closures lead to a massive, multi-day traffic jam in the town of Fort Lee, N.J.

Officials with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, have maintained that the lanes were closed as a result of a traffic study. But Democrats in New Jersey have dismissed that explanation. Instead, they have suggested the closures were retaliation against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, who declined to endorse Christie's re-election bid last year.

For those just tuning in, here's a recap of some of the key dates and moments in the ongoing story.

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Updated: January 8, 2014 11:31 AM

One of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) closest aides was involved in the discussion about the order to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September, snarling traffic in the town of Fort Lee.

Documents obtained Wednesday by TPM show that Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, Bridget Anne Kelly, talked about the closures with the agency that oversees the bridge weeks before they ocurred.

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