On Dec. 13, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told the press that no one on his senior staff had prior knowledge of the plan to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September. But a lawyer representing Christie’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien now says that was wrong.
The claim was included in a letter sent in early April — and made public Wednesday — by attorney Kevin Marino. The letter was sent to Randy Mastro, the high-priced defense attorney who led the governor’s internal review of the scandal.
The letter demanded corrections to a report produced by Mastro and his team, which cleared Christie of any role in the scandal. Among Marino’s demands: that Mastro retract the portion of the report claiming that Stepien had falsely assured Christie that he had no “prior knowledge of the [GWB] lane realignment.”
“[T]he Report itself acknowledges — albeit obliquely — that Mr. Stepien advised Governor Christie on December 12, 2013, that he (Mr. Stepien) did have prior knowledge of the lane realignment,” Marino wrote, later adding: “When the Governor asked Mr. Stepien directly whether he had prior knowledge of the lane closures, Mr. Stepien truthfully told the Governor that [former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive] David Wildstein had come to him with the idea, to which Mr. Stepien responded that Mr. Wildstein would have to run the idea by normal channels in Trenton (i.e. the Governor’s Office).”
At a press conference the next day, on Dec. 13, Christie told reporters that he had “made it very clear to everybody on my senior staff that if anyone had any knowledge about this that they needed to come forward to me and tell me about it and they’ve all assured me that they don’t,” according to The Bergen Record. Asked specifically at the news conference about Stepien, Christie said that he had spoken to his former campaign manager, who had assured him of “the same thing.”
Several weeks later, documents were released tying several of Christie’s staff members to discussions of the lane closures both before and after they occurred.