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
Sarah Mimms, Marina Koren and Brian Resnick
Add to Briefcase
Sarah Mimms and Marina Koren Brian Resnick
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.”

What We're Following See More »
Chef Jose Andres Campaigns With Clinton
7 hours ago
White House Weighs in Against Non-Compete Contracts
8 hours ago

"The Obama administration on Tuesday called on U.S. states to ban agreements prohibiting many workers from moving to their employers’ rivals, saying it would lead to a more competitive labor market and faster wage growth. The administration said so-called non-compete agreements interfere with worker mobility and states should consider barring companies from requiring low-wage workers and other employees who are not privy to trade secrets or other special circumstances to sign them."

House Investigators Already Sharpening Their Spears for Clinton
9 hours ago

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz plans to spend "years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton." Chaffetz told the Washington Post: “It’s a target-rich environment. Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

Clinton Super PAC Enters the House Fray
13 hours ago

Priorities USA, the super PAC aligned with the Clinton campaign, which has already gotten involved in two Senate races, is now expanding into House races. The group released a 30 second spot which serves to hit Donald Trump and Iowa Rep. Rod Blum, who is in a tough race to win re-election in Iowa's first congressional district. The super PAC's expansion into House and Senate races shows a high level of confidence in Clinton's standing against Trump.

House to Vote on Iran Sanctions Renewal in Lame Duck
13 hours ago

Republican House leaders are planning on taking up a vote to renew the Iran Sanctions Act as soon as the lame-duck session begins in mid-November. The law, which expires on Dec. 31, permits a host of sanctions against Iran's industries, defense, and government. The renewal will likely pass the House, but its status is unclear once it reaches the Senate, and a spokesman from the White House refused to say whether President Obama would sign it into law.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.