NJ port official: Chris Christie lied, knew about bridge lane closure

UPDATE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has just issued a statement that essentially changes the story he’s been putting out there for months. Christie previously claimed he did not know about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge until after the lanes were reopened. Tonight Christie admits that he knew about the closures while they were happening, but at the same time Christie is now denying that he made the earlier statement to the contrary.

David Wildstein, high school friend of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and his appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, says Christie lied when he claimed that he didn’t know key lanes to the George Washington Bridge were closed until after they were reopened.

Wildstein went on to say that “evidence exists” to prove that Christie lied.

What might sound like an arcane discussion goes to a much larger scandal involving Christie’s office allegedly closing the lanes to seek retribution against a local mayor who did not support his re-election campaign, and some allege the motivation was much bigger than that: money.

In a letter from his attorney to the general counsel of the Port Authority, published in the NYT, Wildstein alleges that Christie lied during his recent blockbuster two-hour press conference when the governor claimed that he had no knowledge of the lane closures until after the lanes were reopened.

Wildstein also claims via his attorney that other comments Christie made about Wildstein were also false.

Here’s a snippet from Wildstein’s attorney’s letter:

wildstein-says-christie-liedx

Christie was long-considered the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. But this scandal may have finally burst the media love affair with the New Jersey governor.

The scandal not only reinforces the image of Christie as a mean and vengeful hothead, but it also suggests a new, almost Nixonian, side to the governor that isn’t likely to win Christie many votes outside of the GOP far-right, which already didn’t fully trust Christie to begin with.

The election is a long way away, but at the moment, Chris Christie is seriously damaged goods.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    No doubt. And she’s also got her own problems too, that can be traced back to when she was sheriff of Monmouth County. Third in line is Vincent Prieto, the Democratic Speaker of the Assembly. Can’t say I know much about him.

  • Nathanael

    Guadagno appears to have been his eager collaborator in the abuses, too, judging by Hoboken. Hopefully she’ll be impeached simultaneously.

  • Lawerence Collins

    Not at all, I always say what I mean! Christie belongs in jail, with all the other criminals.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Yes, it’s the quiet, collected, calm and patient vengeful sociopaths that get away with stuff like this. They’re the ones you gotta watch. Christie is just a loud-mouthed rageaholic and betrays himself because of his own rashness.

  • keirmeister

    It’s pretty basic, right? Mean-spirited, vengeful leaders are often horrific micro-managers – especially when they place loyalty and obedience above other concerns. It’s absolutely ludicrous to think Christie had no idea what was going on!

  • Indigo

    Maybe he could enter a monastery. One of those old-fashioned ones where they don’t talk.

  • silas1898

    Stick a fork in his ass and turn him over. He’s done.

  • Lawerence Collins

    I read this earlier on the Daily Kos. I read several blogs and get emails, to keep up to date.
    Thank you for all of your great reporting!

  • olandp

    Oh please, even the mob couldn’t make Christie disappear. David Copperfield couldn’t make Christie disappear.

  • olandp

    you need to make a few changes…

    Bridghazi! What did Obama know and when did he know it?
    Bridghazi! What other lies has Obama told?
    Bridghazi! When Obama doesn’t get his way, people die!

    There, fixed.

  • DRoseDARs

    Pork, you mean pork. Stick a fork in this pig, he’s done.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I think that’s the smell of goose being cooked…

  • nicho

    So the “great white hope” of the GOP is disintegrating, and Hillary has unprecedented poll numbers. Maybe we can just cancel the next election. It would save everybody time, money, and aggravation.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    CHECK OUT UPDATE TO THIS STORY:

    Oh it gets better:

    Wow, just wow. I’d reported an hour ago that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was facing new allegations that he lied when he told New Jersey voters, and America, that he had no knowledge about the now-infamous lane closures on the George Washington Bridge until AFTER the lanes were reopened.

    After we heard today that a key Christie appointee to the New York and New Jersey Port Authority told the Port Authority general counsel that Christie was lying, and that the aide apppointee have evidence to prove it, Christie has now suddenly changed his story.

    Christie is now admitting that he knew about the bridge closures while they were happening – which is not what he said earlier. Christie also now appears to be lying about what he said earlier.

    http://americablog.com/2014/01/new-statement-christie-changes-story-bridge-closures.html

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    His show of weakness is encouraging many other people he has abused over the years to start coming forward too. I think we’re just at the beginning of what is going to eventually come to light. If he doesn’t step entirely out of character and resign, things are only going to pile up on him. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    All I can figure is Christie thought (and still thinks?) his firewall of plausible deniability was impenetrable. He’s certainly gone out of his way to eliminate any kind of transparency — including the reported use of (technically illegal) non-NJ governmental email accounts, favoring texts over email or memos, and whenever pressed by subpoenas, to release only heavily redacted evidence.

    Corruption and hubris go hand-in-hand, and it would appear this case is no exception. It’s become increasingly clear Christie turned the Hurricane Sandy federal recovery money into his own personal slush fund. And he was in-bed with major developers up and down the state, with both financial and political retribution ready for any local mayor or other official who didn’t want to sign on the dotted line.

    Plus there’s Christie’s looooong history, going all the way back to his days as a NJ state prosecutor, of accusations of misusing expense accounts and state resources. It would come as no surprise to me if evidence was uncovered of bribery and kickbacks leading circuitously but inevitably to the big man with the big appetites for luxury accommodations and lifestyle.

    What appears to be the petard upon which Christie’s political career is currently being hoisted is his bullying desire to inflict vicious disproportionate retribution on anybody who thwarts him or who is disloyal in any way. Fort Lee was one such example, and apparently Hoboken is another. However, we’re seeing it here as well.

    I have no doubt whatsoever that Chris Christie, with one conversation or phone call or text, could have arranged for Wildstein’s legal expenses to be…taken care of. Shoring up the wall of plausible deniability is the smart thing to do. You do what you have to do to ensure the ‘buck’ stays stopped far, far away from your own office.

    Burning the weasel whom you want to take the fall is never a smart thing to do, not unless you are 100% positive the weasel in question cannot possibly have any implicating evidence. It’s the opposite of smart to give the weasel all the motive in the world to cut a deal with prosecutors. And you don’t want him paired up with a legal team who will have no choice but to advise, “You got no friends. You have to deal.”

    But vengeful, angry bullies are rarely smart, not when they let their adrenaline and rage do their thinking for them.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Er no.

    The closure of the bridge seems to have been to block a $1 billion property development on land that the mob would like to build on. Christie can’t come clean without risking a 20 year jail term or becoming the next Jimmy Hoffa.

  • MyrddinWilt

    I’ll bet that before things are through we will find Christie spoke to Wildstein and Kelly every day that they were sabotaging the bridge toll booths. His cell phone logs will be subpoenaed.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Actually his lawyer told the committee that he would sing like a canary if they gave him immunity.

    Christie responded by nominating his chief of staff to the attorney general position so as to be able to block any offer of clemency.

    He still hasn’t got an offer of immunity, this was a coded threat in a filing demanding the port authority pay his legal bills. But lets face it, those legal bills would go away if he shops Christie. The state AG might try to prosecute him but I doubt the courts would be impressed. And getting a grand jury to indict after he has federal immunity…

  • Lawerence Collins

    Gee! Will Fraud News be covering this like they do Benghazi. They can call it bridghazi.. They can have reporters do their reports in front of the bridge.
    Bridghazi! What did Christie know and when did he know it?
    Bridghazi! What other lies has Christie told?
    Bridghazi! When Christie doesn’t get his way, people die!

  • Jim Olson

    Of course he’s going to sing. It’s taken this long for him to do so to work out the immunity agreement with the US Attorney.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Duh. Christie is, and has always been, a micro-manager. The very notion that he had no involvement is preposterous, no matter how many of his lackeys are willing to throw themselves on their swords for him. Abuse of power could be his middle name.

  • AnthonyLook

    Christie and the Port Authority forgot their own actions lesson—-money talks and only then does bullpucky walk. The Port Authority declined the “money” for Weinstein legal defense costs—- ergo—–the bullpucky didn’t walk, he decide instead to talk.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Should this turn out to be true it will be yet another example of the cover-up being worse than the offense. You’d think politicians would learn that a big tearful mea culpa can get you out of just about everything, but being caught in a lie or worse having other people lie for you creates a series of investigations that no one can survive. I guess it’s sheer arrogance that makes people think they can lie and bully their way out of something being investigated fully? I guess enough of them manage to get away with that so the rest think they can too.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    He’s toast.

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