Christie-Commissioned BridgeGate Report Clears Him of Wrongdoing
UNION CITY, New Jersey -- Governor Chris Christie's attorney absolved the Governor of having any prior knowledge of the politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge last September, using evidence from a report commissioned by the Governor himself.
Randy Mastro, who was hired by Governor Christie to investigate those responsible for BridgeGate, presented the results of his investigation to the press Thursday. He accused former Christie senior assistants David Wildstein and Bridget Kelly of hatching the plot without Christie's involvement. He stated that the Governor "had no knowledge beforehand" of the closings and that Wildstein had come up with the plan on his own before recruiting Kelly.
Mastro also noted, the Star-Ledger reports, that the study found no motive for the mischief on the bridge, and that no evidence indicated that Wildstein and Kelly were seeking revenge against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing their boss. In fact, Mastro suggested there was evidence of Christie's office working to Sokolich's benefit long after it was known the Mayor would not endorse Governor Christie.
Emails and text correspondence released by the New Jersey Legislature show that Wildstein derisively referred to Sokolich, who is of Croatian heritage, as "the little Serbian," and both he and former Port Authority official Bill Baroni expressed animus toward the Mayor. For his part, Sokolich stated in a television interview that Wildstein "deserves an ass-kicking."
According to Reuters, one of the report's most suspicious claims is that it "doubted the veracity of a conversation between David Wildstein... and Christie's press secretary after the scandal broke." That conversation placed knowledge of the scandal within Governor Christie's office and was one of the key pieces of evidence pointing towards knowledge on his part.
The lack of objectivity from both Mastro, who works as an attorney for Christie, and the Christie administration itself in this matter gives rise to a number of credibility issues for many who doubt it was possible for such a scheme to exist without the Governor's knowledge.
Attorneys for Wildstein and Kelly did not respond to Reuters' request for comment. While Kelly has remained silent during investigations, Wildstein has repeatedly claimed that Governor Christie had knowledge of the "traffic study" meant to close down the traffic lanes on the bridge. He has offered to testify before the state legislature in exchange for prosecutorial immunity. He was held in contempt during the first round of hearings for refusing to testify, pleading his Fifth Amendment rights.
In light of the report, Governor Christie will be sitting down with Diane Sawyer for his first extended interview on national television since the bridge scandal first took over national headlines.
Via the Star-Ledger, watch Mastro's statement on Christie's innocence: