Former Ally: Chris Christie Knew About Bridgegate ‘When the Lanes Were Closed’

If the allegations prove true, the governor’s pleas of ignorance may now come back to hurt him.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 29: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at a press conference announcing new objectives to crack down on human and sex trafficking throughout the state of New Jersey, inspired in part by the upcoming Super Bowl, on January 29, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Christie Spoke along side New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman and Cindy McCain, wife of Arizona Senator John McCain. The Super Bowl will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, this Sunday, February 2, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
National Journal
Brian Resnick Marina Koren Sarah Mimms
Jan. 31, 2014, 11:02 a.m.

When Dav­id Wild­stein, a Chris Christie-ap­poin­ted of­fi­cial at the Port Au­thor­ity, pleaded the Fifth dur­ing a hear­ing about the bridge-clos­ure scan­dal earli­er this month, spec­u­la­tion aboun­ded that he had something to hide. Now, ac­cord­ing to a let­ter from his law­yer, it looks like he did.

The let­ter, ob­tained by The New York Times, sug­gests that the or­der to close the bridge was “the Christie ad­min­is­tra­tion’s or­der” and 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.”

In the let­ter, pub­lished by The Wall Street Journ­al on Fri­day, Wild­stein’s lay­wer writes that his cli­ent “con­tests the ac­cur­acy of vari­ous state­ments that the gov­ernor made about him and he can prove the in­ac­cur­acy of some.”

Christie re­spon­ded to the let­ter in a state­ment late Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“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 read

Dur­ing his mara­thon press con­fer­ence on Jan. 9, Gov. Chris Christie said he was “em­bar­rassed and hu­mi­li­ated” by the lane clos­ures, and in­sisted that he only learned of his of­fice’s in­volve­ment the same day the pub­lic did, through leaked email cor­res­pond­ence, just the day be­fore. “I was blind­sided,” he told the re­port­ers.

At a Jan. 9 hear­ing be­fore the New Jer­sey Le­gis­lature about the scan­dal, Wild­stein re­fused to an­swer ques­tions, cit­ing his right to re­main si­lent un­der the Fifth Amend­ment, which promp­ted the Le­gis­lature to hold him in con­tempt.

But the point of this let­ter was not to ex­plain Wild­stein’s earli­er si­lence, or even to take a stab at Christie’s deni­als. Wild­stein’s law­yer wrote the let­ter to con­test the Port Au­thor­ity’s de­cision to not cov­er Wild­stein’s leg­al fees as the in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the bridge clos­ure con­tin­ues.

In Au­gust, the gov­ernor’s deputy chief of staff sent Wild­stein a note that read, “Time for some traffic prob­lems in Fort Lee.” Wild­stein wrote back, “Got it.”

Wild­stein resigned from the po­s­i­tion of dir­ect­or of In­ter­state Cap­it­al Pro­jects at the Port Au­thor­ity in Decem­ber amid grow­ing con­tro­versy about the lane clos­ures. “My plan was to leave the agency at some point next year, but the Fort Lee is­sue has been a dis­trac­tion, and I think it’s bet­ter to move on earli­er,” he said at the time.

Shawn Boburg, the Re­cord re­port­er who broke the ori­gin­al story, told CNN that Wild­stein was a long­time Christie con­fid­ant, 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.”

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