JERSEY CITY, New Jersey–A day after Governor Chris Christie claimed that he did not believe the George Washington Bridge scandal would affect his political future, former campaign manager Bill Stepien’s attorney demanded that Christie’s office correct alleged misstatements in the internal report exonerating Christie.
According to the Bergen Record, Stepien’s attorney Kevin Marino demanded that Christie attorney Randy Mastro, who organized the investigation clearing Christie, retract statements saying that Stepien had assured Christie that he did not have knowledge that the Port Authority was going to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September.
Marino claimed that Stepien said he had a conversation with the Governor in which he said David Wildstein, the architect of the lane closures, had told Stepien his plan to shut down part of the bridge. That conversation allegedly happened the day before Christie’s multi-hour press conference in which he fired Stepien for, he claimed, not being forthcoming with the truth about the “traffic study.”
The ongoing bridge affair, Marino argued, has damaged Stepien’s reputation, which he said his client doesn’t deserve, given he is “the finest Republican political consultant in America.”
Mastro immediately dismissed Marino’s demand. “Shortly after receiving Bill Stepien’s lawyer’s request to ‘correct’ our report, we respectfully declined because, based on the evidence, there is no basis for any correction,” he said in a statement. He added that Marino had presented no new evidence of the conversation except “self-serving statements by lawyers,” and that Stepien had “the opportunity to provide us with any evidence they wanted us to consider.”
As the Record noted, Marino only claimed that Stepien mentioned the so-called “traffic study” as one of Wildstein’s “fifty crazy ideas,” but he did not mention in what context or whether Stepien believed it to be a legitimate traffic study and not a plot for political retribution. Whether Stepien told Governor Christie that a traffic study may be conducted or whether he claimed a plot had been hatched for retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich would significantly alter the timeline of events of the affair. It would also suggest that Christie had more knowledge of the situation than he has claimed since the scandal broke.
During his monthly visit to local radio station New Jersey 101.5, Governor Christie began discussing, once again, the potential of running for president, saying it would be “stressful” to run a campaign against former Florida Governor and perennial establishment dream candidate Jeb Bush. At a fiscal summit in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, he also made clear that he believed the bridge scandal to be long over, predicting that it will be a “footnote” in his career by the time serious speculation concerning the 2016 Republican nomination begins.