New Jersey Governor Chris Christie knew about the closure of lanes at the George Washington Bridge while they happened says the former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the closings — further implicating the Republican governor in the scandal orbiting his administration.
The lawyer for former official David Wildstein, a previously close ally to Christie who has fallen at the center of the bridge scandal, wrote a letter to the Port Authority on Friday charging that the lane closures were a direct order from the Christie administration. The letter states that “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference."
The letter, which was obtained by The New York Times and published Friday, directly contradicts Christie's claim at a press conference three weeks ago that he was completely in the dark about the lane closures. “I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it — and that I first found out about it after it was over,” he previously stated. “And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study.”
Christie's office released this statement late Friday in response to the letter from Wildstein's lawyer:
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Mr. 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. 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 January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th. The Governor denies Mr. Wildstein's lawyer's other assertions
Yet, The New York Times says the statement "backed away somewhat from the governor’s previous assertions that he had not known about the closings in September... Instead, it focused on what the letter did not suggest — that Mr. Christie knew of the closings before they occurred."
The now-public accusations against Christie from a formerly close ally are likely to have explosive consequences for the governor, who has sought to distance himself from the bridge lane closure scandal, which is believed to have taken place in political retaliation against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee.
Wildstein is seeking a plea deal, and the letter from his attorney was a bid to get the Port Authority to pay Wildstein's legal fees.