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.”
What We're Following See More »
Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.