A bombshell went off in New Jersey today when it was revealed in a letter from David Wildstein's attorney Alan Zegas that New Jersey's governor Chris Christie knew of the controversial closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge last fall.
In a letter to the General Counsel of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey seeking reconsideration of payment of legal fees , Mr. Zegas said, “evidence exists-tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the time when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference he gave immediately before Mr. Wildstein was scheduled to appear before the transportation committee.” What specific evidence was not mentioned.
The controversy over the lane closures has been a thorn in Governor Christie’s side since the incident occurred. Christie has continued to deny any knowledge of the closure as well as deny that the closure was political retribution against Fort Lee’s Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing him in his re-election bid. The lane shutdown snarled traffic for four days and turned Fort Lee into a massive parking lot, delaying travel by school buses, medical responders and commuters.
But, on January 8th, heavily-redacted emails were turned over by Bridget Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff showing otherwise and the dam broke. The next day, Christie held a two-hour press conference where he said that he was “stunned at the abject stupidity” of his aides and continued to deny any knowledge of the incident. He also announced the firing of Kelly at the press conference.
Wildstein was a former top appointee of New Jersey’s Gov. Christie to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. On December 6, he had announced his resignation from his position effective December 31. When he did so, he said the controversy over the lane closures had ” become a distraction, and I’m going to move on.”
Three days later, Robert Durando, the manager of the bridge testified before the Assembly Transportation Committee that Wildstein had ordered him to circumvent protocols calling for the notification of local officials whenever a lane was to be closed or if a traffic study was to take place.
Four days after that testimony, Governor Christie announced that Bill Baroni, the deputy director of the Port Authority, who he had himself appointed, was resigning and also announced that Wildstein was resigning immediately, not at the end of the month as had been previously planned.
In response to the letter today, Chrisite’s administration continued to deny knowledge, saying, “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 email continued, saying, “The governor denies Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer’s other claims.”
Christie, at one point was looking quite shiny as the Republican candidate for the 2016 White House race. But, this last month has seen tarnish beginning to build on his image. He rebounded after his two-hour press conference when he addressed the issue, but newer allegations are again causing his poll numbers to drop. As the controversy continues, and further evidence comes to light that Christie had the bridge closed for political retribution, Christie’s reputation will have corroded beyond political repair, and he may find the White House beyond his reach.