Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) top spokesperson, Michael Drewniak, testified on Tuesday before the New Jersey legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures, and told lawmakers about a conversation he had with Christie in early December, during which the two men discussed David Wildstein. At that time, Wildstein was still an executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. But one day later, Wildstein announced his resignation. And he has since been named as the person who orchestrated the George Washington Bridge lane closures.
As has been previously reported, Drewniak and Wildstein had dinner on Dec. 4, at Wildstein’s request. The day after the dinner, Drewniak spoke to Christie about it.
Lawmakers on Tuesday asked Drewniak to describe what he told the governor.
“I talked about what Wildstein had now been relating to me at our dinner,” Drewniak told the committee. “We talked about many things at the dinner. … At some point he, David, was very concerned about whether he was going to be able to stay at the Port Authority.”
According to Drewniak, Wildstein knew by that point that he would be asked to resign.
“David was concerned about his reputation,” Drewniak said. “And then says to me that other people knew about this. He had previously mentioned [former Christie campaign manager] Bill Stepien and [former Christie deputy chief of staff] Bridget Kelly. Now, he throws in ‘and I told the governor about this.’ And I was surprised.”
This detail — that Wildstein claimed he told Christie about the lane closures while they were happening — was included in a report released in March by lawyers representing Christie’s office. The report, which concluded that Christie had no role in the plan to close the lanes, said that Christie did not remember Wildstein mentioning the lane closures and even if Wildstein had mentioned it, “[it] 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.”
Drewniak returned to the topic of his Dec. 5 conversation with Christie a little later in his testimony.
“I told him that Wildstein is concerned about whether he has a future,” Drewniak said. “He was concerned if whether he could have a place in the administration.”
Drewniak said his conversation with Christie took place in the office of Kevin O’Dowd, Christie’s chief of staff.
“The governor walked in,” Drewniak said. “I told him what [Wildstein] had said, and then I said, basically, ‘You’re not going to believe this, he’s now thrown you in, too.'”