Christie appeared with appointee tied to bridge scandal during traffic jam

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) appeared in September alongside the Port Authority appointee who worked with a member of Christie's staff to manufacture a traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J., even as the traffic jam was happening.

A photo published by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday shows Christie appearing in New York with David Wildstein at a ceremony commemorating the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The traffic jam began Sept. 9 and lasted four days.

The photo's release comes shortly after Christie, at a nearly two-hour news conference last week, downplayed his interactions and relationship with Wildstein, who attended the same high school. Christie said he hadn't encountered Wildstein in "a long time."

"I have had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time, a long time -- well before the election," Christie said, referring to his Nov. 5 reelection win. "You know, I could probably count on one hand the number of conversations I've had with David since he worked at the Port Authority. I did not interact with David."

Christie's office noted Wildstein was just one of many people the governor encountered that day, pointing to Associated Press photos that show Christie alongside New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and former New York mayors Michael Bloomberg (I) and Rudy Giuliani (R) at the ceremony.

"Of course, Gov. Christie attended the Sept. 11 ceremony, as he has done every year since he took office," Christie spokesman Colin Reed said in a statement. "He had numerous interactions with public officials that morning, including representatives of the Port Authority. They were all there for one reason -- to pay tribute to the heroes of 9/11."

Wildstein was the recipient of an August e-mail from now-former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly calling for "traffic problems in Fort Lee." Wildstein responded, "Got it," and later ordered the so-called "traffic study" that closed two of three access lanes from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge, creating a traffic nightmare.

Bill Baroni, another Christie appointee to the Port Authority, also appeared with Christie on Sept. 11, according to a Journal photo, as did Port Authority Chairman David Samson, a Christie ally who has said he was unaware of the traffic jam until an angry e-mail from a fellow official on the Port Authority. Baroni and Wildstein both resigned in December.

Wildstein last week repeatedly refused to respond to questions from a New Jersey assembly committee, citing the right to avoid self-incrimination.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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