NYT Report: Bridgegate Mastermind Says Chris Christie Knew About Lane Closures
Former Port Authority official David Wildstein promised he would talk when the time is right, and now The New York Times is reporting that the man who personally oversaw the closures on the George Washington Bridge last September claims Christie knew about the plan.
Wildstein, former senior Port Authority official, had been held in contempt at a previous New Jersey Legislature hearing on the matter for not answering questions, and offered to speak during next month's round of hearings in exchange for prosecutorial immunity. Wildstein has been subpoenaed and would face contempt charges again if he does not testify or abuses his Fifth Amendment privilege. The New York Times does not say whether he has received immunity, but a letter from his lawyer claims Wildstein knows of evidence that directly ties Christie to the incident. The letter describes the closing as a "Christie administration order."
That much is proven. The smoking gun email that proved that someone within the Christie administration's offices wanted that bridge closed was sent to Wildstein – from former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly. Wildstein, who was at the George Washington Bridge site the first day of closings to make sure cars could not reach the bridge through express lanes in Fort Lee, is believed to have been working in response to the "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email. The move is believed to have been political retribution against Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich. Some – most notably, former David Wildstein employee Steve Kornacki, now at MSNBC – have posited the theory that the real target was Fort Lee's State Senator, Loretta Weinberg.
Wildstein's attorney is said to have written that there is evidence that Christie knew of the closures as they happened. Wildstein also "contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” particularly those at his two-hour press conference absolving himself of any blame. In that press conference, Christie denied being especially close to Wildstein, despite the two having attended the same high school and evidence from before the bridge incident indicating that Wildstein was appointed to the Port Authority to be Christie's "eyes and ears" in the interstate agency.
Wildstein was subpoenaed to appear before the New Jersey Legislature's investigative committee on Bridgegate for a second time next month, along with twenty other individuals and groups including Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien, both dismissed at Christie's extended press conferences for their roles in the incident.