The tone at a hearing on the unfolding bridge scandal in New Jersey is starkly different from that of the marathon press conference the state’s governor held earlier.
While Chris Christie talked for more than 100 minutes, his ally at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey refused to talk. David Wildstein, the former director of Interstate Capital Projects there, cited the Fifth Amendment before the state Assembly’s transportation committee.
Wildstein, Christie’s high-school classmate, only indicated that he is unemployed and lives in Montville, N.J. His response to every other question during the hearing was a variation of the statement, “On the advice of my counsel, I respectfully assert my right to remain silent.”
About an hour into the hearing, the committee found Wildstein in contempt, which is a misdemeanor, for refusing to answer questions, and ended the hearing.
A state Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that the transportation committee has the power to compel Wildstein to testify, but the official’s lawyer said that the New Jersey and U.S. constitutions override that decision. He has given a variation of that answer to every question posed by the committee since.
Wildstein resigned from his post last month, shortly after suspicion arose that the September lane closures may have been a politically motivated move against the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.
Email documents first reported Wednesday by Bergen County’s The Record showed that Wildstein communicated with Bridget Anne Kelly, a top governor’s office aide Christie has since fired, ahead of the lane closures last year.
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote in August. “Got it,” Wildstein replied.
Shawn Boburg, the Record reporter who broke the story, tells CNN that Wildstein was a longtime Christie condifante, the “eyes and ears inside this massive agency.” Christie’s version of his relationship with Wildstein is anything but. “David and I were not friends in high school,” he said Thursday. “I was the class president and athlete. I don’t know what David was doing during that period of time.”
- 1 The Winners and Losers From the South Carolina Republican Debate
- 2 In South Carolina, The Establishment Fights Back
- 3 How Do Presidential Candidates Spend $1 Billion?
- 4 John Kasich Dismisses Climate Change As ‘Some Theory That’s Not Proven’
- 5 Smart Ideas: Criminal Justice Reform, Cybersecurity and Fighting ISIS
What We're Following See More »
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.