UPDATE: Christie’s office responded Friday to the letter from Wildstein’s lawyer:
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.
A former Port Authority official said Friday that “evidence exists” proving Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) knew all along about the George Washington Bridge lane closures.
David Wildstein, who personally oversaw the crippling traffic jams in 2013, in a letter released by his lawyer referred to “the Christie administration’s order” 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.”
The letter adds: “Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some.”
Wildstein, who was appointed to the Port Authority by Christie, received on Aug. 13, 2013, an email from Bridget Anne Kelly, then a top Christie aide, that read: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Soon after Wildstein received the email, Fort Lee was snarled by four days of lane closure-related traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge.
Christie’s office is suspected of ordering the Fort Lee lockup as payback to the borough’s Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, for refusing to endorse the governor in his re-election bid against Democrat Barbara Buono.
Kelly was fired soon after her emails came to light. Correspondences between Kelly and the Port Authority were obtained through a subpoena issued by a New Jersey State Assembly committee.
Wildstein resigned soon after his role in “Bridgegate” became known.
Gov. Christie said earlier this month that he had “no knowledge” that the traffic jams were part of a payback scheme orchestrated by his office and the Port Authority.
“I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or it execution, and I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here,” Christie said during a marathon press conference. “Regardless of what the facts ultimately uncover, this was handled in a callous and indifferent way, and it is not the way this administration has conducted itself over the last four years and not the way it will conduct itself over the next four.”
“I knew nothing about this. And until it started to be reported in the papers about the closure, but even then I was told this was a traffic study,” he said.
It’s important to note that Wildstein said Friday that Christie had knowledge of the lane closures. It’s unclear from the letter whether that means Christie knew in 2012 that the traffic was orchestrated at his office’s request. It falls on Wildstein to produce clarification and evidence of his claims.
Here’s a copy of the letter from Wildstein’s attorney:
Meanwhile, Bill Stepien, a longtime Christie aide who was also removed after news of the scandal broke, was subpoenaed recently in connection to the investigation into the GWB scandal. He has since invoked the Fifth Amendment:
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This post and its headline have been updated.