A SENIOR aide to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie deliberately created traffic jams to punish a mayor, emails and text messages have suggested.

The controversy surrounding the rising star in the Republican Party and top contender for the 2016 presidential nomination could be hugely damaging.

He had earlier denied he or his staff had been involved but an "outraged and deeply saddened" Mr Christie later said he had been misled by his aide.

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The messages were released amid an investigation into whether the huge traffic jams last year were retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Mr Christie for re-election.

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Mr Christie's deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in a message to David Wildstein, a Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

A few weeks later, Mr Wildstein closed two of three lanes connecting Fort Lee to the busy George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York City.