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.”
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."