The Washington Post

Ex-Port Authority official says ‘evidence exists’ that Christie knew about bridge closures

Updated, 6:10 p.m.

A former political ally of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) charged Friday that Christie gave an incorrect account of what he knew about the infamous traffic backup on the George Washington Bridge — and the ally said he knows of evidence that would prove it.

The Christie administration denied the accusations, again saying that the governor had "absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened."

According to a letter first published by the New York Times, ex-Port Authority official David Wildstein — who was one of the fall guys in the scandal that has led to numerous subpoenas and investigations — asserts that “evidence exists ... 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 his annual State of the State address Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) vowed to take steps to ensure the "breach of trust" that led to a turbulent political scandal will not happen again. (New Jersey Office of the Governor)

An excerpt from Gov. Christie's news conference on Jan. 14.

The letter, written to the Port Authority general counsel by Wildstein's lawyer, Alan Zegas, disputes the agency's decision not to pay Wildstein's legal fees during the state and federal investigations into the scandal. In an article published in the Wall Street Journal Thursday, Zegas is called "a prominent New Jersey criminal defender who sparred with Mr. Christie's office during the governor's tenure as a federal prosecutor, and who legal experts say is known for a willingness to cut deals that turn his clients to cooperating witnesses."

In a statement released late Friday, the Christie administration said:

“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. As the Governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and as he said in his January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th. The Governor denies Mr. Wildstein's lawyer's other assertions.”

Suspicions about Christie's involvement with the lane closures began when the Wall Street Journal and the Bergen Record released e-mails between Christie's recently fired deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and Wildstein, one from Kelly which said, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

In a news conference Jan. 9, Christie denied knowledge of his staffers' involvement in the lane closures, adding, "I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team." At a previous news conference in December, Christie said, "The first I ever heard of the issue was when it was reported in the press." Bergen Record reporter John Reitmeyer reiterated Christie's adamant denials today:


Christie also challenged claims that he was friends with Wildstein at the January news conference, saying: "It is true that I met David in 1977 in high school. He's a year older than me. David and I were not friends in high school. We were not even acquaintances in high school."

An article in the Bergen Record from March 2012 states that "several executives said Wildstein has played a role in placing some of those recommended by the Christie administration in jobs and that he seems to serve as the administration’s eyes and ears within the byzantine agency." On the third day of traffic problems in Fort Lee, Christie was seen talking at a World Trade Center anniversary event with Wildstein.

In a poll released by USA Today and the Pew Research Center last week, 58 percent of Americans aware of the bridge scandal say they do not believe Christie's denials.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
In defense of dads
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
How to keep your child safe in the water
How your online data can get hijacked
Play Videos
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to get organized for back to school
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Next Story
Sean Sullivan · January 31, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.