A former top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) says that the governor was aware of the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge and claimed that “he had the evidence to prove it,” the New York Times reports. Christie has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of his administration’s involvement in the closures before incriminating emails surfaced in early January.
Former Port Authority official David Wildstein — the former director of interstate capital projects — said in a letter released by his lawyer that the Christie administration ordered the closure of the traffic lanes and said “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” three weeks ago.
“Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” the letter added. The letter is sent from the law offices of Alan L. Zegas to the general counsel at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey challenging the Authority’s decision not to pay the former official’s legal bills.
The bridge controversy blew up after documents revealed that Christie aides orchestrated the September lane closures as an act of apparent retribution against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee who refused to endorse the governor’s re-election bid. The documents also showed that Wildstein and several other Christie staffers were aware that the traffic closures were causing massive delays in Fort Lee and impeding public safety but kept the lanes closed for three additional days.
Wildstein, who attended high school with Christie, resigned last year in light of the scandal and has until now taken the Fifth and refused to answer questions at a state Assembly committee hearing investigating the matter. He is currently seeking a plea deal. Christie, meanwhile, has insisted that he barely knows Wildstein.
“I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge,” he said during a Jan. 9 press conference. “…This behavior is not representative of me or my administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.”