The former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive who orchestrated the September lane closures on the George Washington Bridge claims to have told Gov. Chris Christie (R) about the closures while they were happening, according to a report released Thursday by a legal team representing the governor’s office.
The report, which concluded that Christie “did not know of the lane realignment beforehand and had no involvement in the decision to realign the lanes,” indicates that as the scandal began to escalate in December, former Port Authority David Wildstein began “feeling vulnerable, knew he would have to resign, and then did.” At the time Wildstein was still telling the Governor’s Office that the lane had been closed as the result of a traffic study, an explanation that has since been abandoned by the Port Authority and the Christie administration.
“While [Wildstein] continued to insist to the Governor’s Office that this was a legitimate traffic study, even if flawed in its execution, and admitted that this was his ‘idea,’ he tried to deflect blame, telling [Christie spokesperson Michael] Drewniak that he had not acted alone, identifying [former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget] Kelly and [former Christie campaign manager Bill] Stepien as others who knew, and claiming he had emails to prove it,” the report states.
The report then states that Wildstein told Christie about the “traffic issue in Fort Lee” at a public event that occurred while the lane closures were happening, but that Christie could not recall the interaction.
“[Wildstein] even suggested he mentioned the traffic issue in Fort Lee to the Governor at a public event during the lane realignment—a reference that the Governor does not recall and, even if actually made, would not have registered with the Governor in any event because he knew nothing about this decision in advance and would not have considered another traffic issue at one of the bridges or tunnels to be memorable,” the report states.
In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that Wildstein was part of a delegation that welcomed the Christie to the site of the the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 for a commemoration on the 12th anniversary of the attacks. The lane closures began on Sept. 9.