Did Christie lie about knowledge of bridge lane closing?
The New York Times is reporting that a long time friend and ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has evidence that he has been lying when he says he had no knowledge of lane closings on the George Washington Bridge.
The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, central to the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, said on Friday that "evidence exists" that the governor knew about the closings when they were happening.
A lawyer for the former official, David Wildstein, wrote a letter describing the move to shut the lanes as "the Christie administration's order" and said "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" three weeks ago.
During his news conference, Mr. Christie specifically said he had no knowledge that traffic lanes leading to the bridge had been closed until after they were reopened. "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 said. "And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study."
The letter, which was sent as part of a dispute over Mr. Wildstein's legal fees, does not specify what the evidence is. Nonetheless, it marks a striking break with a previous ally. Mr. Wildstein was a high school classmate of Mr. Christie's who was hired with the governor's blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge.
Mr. Christie's office responded late in the day with a statement that backed away somewhat from the governor's previous assertions that he had not known about the closings in September, which appeared to have been carried out as political reliation against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, until they were reported in the news media. Instead, it focused on what the letter did not suggest - that Mr. Christie knew of the closings before they occurred.
"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," the statement said. "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."
And so it goes. Perhaps Christie thought his old high school chum would never rat him out. If so, that appears to have been a mistaken belief.
It always struck me as odd that Christie swore he never knew of the lane closings until after they were re-opened. The traffic jams were apparently all over the news. Are we to believe the governor's office didn't receive a single complaint from some irate commuter about the traffic tie ups?
Can he wriggle away? The press is obviously in no mood to grant Christie any favors. And Democrats in the Jersey legislature smell blood and may initiate impeachment proceedings.
You have to wonder if there are any other aides or ex-aides who will tattle on Christie to avoid going to jail themselves.