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Wildstein Attorney: N.J. Gov. Christie Knew About Bridge Lane Closures

Please vote in our poll: If the governor knew about the political-payback scheme, should the state Legislature move to remove him from office?

Governor Chris Christie and former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly tour a fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J. on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. Photo by Tim Larson/Office of the Governor.
Governor Chris Christie and former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly tour a fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J. on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. Photo by Tim Larson/Office of the Governor.

An attorney for a principal figure in the "Bridgegate" scandal that has plagued Gov. Chris Christie's administration reversed course Friday, indicating the governor knew about the George Washington Bridge lane closures in Fort Lee all along, according to a Star-Ledger report.

In a statement following the report's release, the Christie administration again denied the governor had any knowledge of the "Bridgegate" scandal, and the political motivation behind it, until he read about it in news reports.

"As the governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press, and as he said in his Jan. 9 press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of Jan. 8. The governor denies Mr. Wildstein's lawyer's other assertions,” according to the statement from the governor's office.

The attorney representing David Wildstein, the former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official who ordered the lane closures last year, said evidence exists tying Gov. Christie Christie to knowing about the closures that administration officials used as political retaliation against the Fort Lee mayor, according to The Star-Ledger.

The charge, which was made in a letter sent by attorney Alan Zegas to the Port Authority, said Wildstein "contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some," according to the report.

In its statement, the Christie administration did say Wildstein's lawyer "confirms what the governor has said all along - he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein's motivations were for closing them to begin with."

Wildstein appeared before an Assembly committee earlier this month and refused to answer questions related to the "Bridgegate" scandal. The panel, led by John Wisniewski, D-Parlin, N.J., held Wildstein in contempt, saying he waived his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent.

In a statement, Wisniewski said his committee members "have read the letter from Mr. Wildstein’s attorney and will consider it as our investigation moves forward.”

State officials last month released thousands of pages of documents subpoenaed from the Port Authority in the wake of a continuing investigation into whether staffers and appointees of Gov. Chris Christie orchestrated a September traffic nightmare in Fort Lee.

Also last month, Christie, a potential presidential candidate, took questions for more than an hour in a press conference that stood in bold relief when played alongside a clip of Christie sarcastically answering a question about the “traffic study” from the same wooden podium several months ago.

After the press conference, the governor travelled to Fort Lee, where he apologized to its mayor, Mark Sokolich, and its citizens. Sokolich accepted Christie's apology, and also said he believed the governor had no role in the closures.

Emails first obtained by The Record show Christie staffer Bridget Anne Kelly told a Port Authority official close to Christie that it was “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” about two weeks before the lanes were closed.

“Got it,” replied the Port Authority executive, David Wildstein, who resigned last month as national media and incensed local politicians turned up the heat on the scandal.

Wildstein appeared before a Legislative hearing Thursday afternoon and continually invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, and the committee found him in contempt.

Wallst January 31, 2014 at 09:02 PM
Sing, little birdie, SING!
Hugh Gallagher February 01, 2014 at 05:56 AM
The NYT has already changed their story since this article was posted. Just another accusation by a person with something to gain from that accusation. It was reported as "news" yesterday. The updated story (not corrected or retracted) reads differently today Perhaps we'll get a 3rd version tomorrow?.
alivettg February 01, 2014 at 08:18 AM
So Let me get this right, Mr Obama and Hilary Clinton KNEW Benghazi was under attack, and not only did NOTHING but they gave orders to STAND DOWN, the forces that were ready to go help out our Americans and embassador.... But a darn bridge closer scandal is the talk of the town , and impeachable, yet NOBODY WAS KILLED? Americans, get your PRIORITIES RIGHT! The media making this the biggest story since Watergate, yet IGNORING THE COVERUP OF OUR OWN PRESIDENT .......SINFUL! Very sad . Wake up!!!!!!
Frediano February 01, 2014 at 10:08 AM
Christie should be impeached. So should Obama for IRS and Benghazi.
Frediano February 01, 2014 at 10:09 AM
DC needs to be gutted. Both parties. Remove the scepters and replace them with plungers.
John February 01, 2014 at 10:14 AM
just another pots who wants 30 seconds of fame. Without real fax it's amazing how one parties representative can be hung do the hearsay yet another party's representative continues to walk away from the travesty that he perpetratedfor the last 5 years. Where is the consistency?
Wallst February 01, 2014 at 10:14 AM
alivettg, Bush had THOUSANDS killed and all of a sudden you're worried about what happened in Benghazi, especially since it was the GOP who were the ones to CUT security? The priorities ARE right. Vote out the shameful GOP/Bags that are ruining this country.
alivettg February 01, 2014 at 02:27 PM
Stand down orders Sir have nothing to do with the security cuts. There were tons of options to go in and help,but they were told not to. But to you this is not important?! Move along people, a bridge scandal takes priority!!
alivettg February 01, 2014 at 02:37 PM
And FYI, by no means am I sticking up for Christie. But a cover up is a cover up, a scandal is a scandal..... Even if Obama was a GOP I would want him accountable. My point was how something like a bridge closure scandal is the medias sugar and spice, yet 4 dead Americans and lie after lie after lie.... Are not of priority. Dilutional party's can't see the truth if it hit them in the face. As long as Christie doesn't try using the " White card" for his excuse! Lol
Wallst February 01, 2014 at 06:46 PM
And just what would make you happy, alivettg? A public stoning, maybe? Move ON!
Bert Macklin February 02, 2014 at 11:12 AM
There has been investigation after investigation into Benghazi. No matter how you want to spin it in loonytown, there were no “lies” or grand conspiracy to cover the attack up. Truth of the matter is, real life is nothing like the movies. A drone can’t selectively snipe terrorists from 10,000 feet or teleport a team of Navy Seals magically in for a rescue. Once the attack was underway, there was little more that could have been done to rescue the individuals. You can argue security was lax, but both parties cut funding. Ambassador Stevens himself even declined additional security twice. No matter how much you want scream conspiracy until you’re blue in the face, there wasn't any. You’re as foolish as those that believe NASA staged the moon landing.
Bert Macklin February 02, 2014 at 11:18 AM
Bridgegate is different in that we have top level Christie advisors and appointees conspiring to shut down traffic for what appear to be personally and politically motivated reasons. The jury is still out on whether Christie may have pushed for the traffic study, found out about it midway through, or was in the dark until the controversy arose. It he knew about it earlier on, actions should have been taken sooner. I personally like the guy, so I hope that he is cleared.

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