Shocker: Chris Christie's Lawyers Say He May Have Known of Lane Closures on GW Bridge
The New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, may have been told about politically motivated lane closures on a key bridge linking his state with New York as they were happening, a report by his lawyers concluded on Thursday.
Christie, however, insists that he does not remember being informed about the traffic realignment at the George Washington bridge, which inflicted gridlock on the town of a political foe last September.
The report heaps blame for the fiasco on Bridget Anne Kelly, the governor’s then deputy chief of staff, who was fired after the scandal came to light. It concludes: “Governor Christie did not know of the lane realignment beforehand and had no involvement in the decision to realign the lanes.”
The 360-page report did not rule out the possibility that Christie was told about the closures in Fort Lee while they were ongoing by David Wildstein, then a senior Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, during an event to mark the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“Whatever brief exchange they had occurred in a public setting where they were surrounded by many, including other Port Authority officials, the governor’s wife, and a steady stream of spectators requesting photographs and handshakes with the governor,” said an endnote to the report. “Not surprisingly, the governor has no recollection of such an exchange.”
The report said that “even if actually made”, Wildstein’s remarks “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.”
The report was published on Thursday by Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, a law firm with significant ties to the Christie administration. The firm's inquiry, which is estimated to have cost New Jersey taxpayers at least $1m, was led by Randy Mastro, one of the firm’s senior attorneys.
Christie defended the integrity of the inquiry during an interview on New Jersey 101.5 radio on Wednesday evening, after being asked how it could be considered comprehensive when key former aides and associates such as Kelly had declined to be interviewed.
“You don’t just come to conclusions from interviews,” said Christie. “There’s lots and lots of documents that involve all those people which have become part of the public record and will be becoming part of the public record as we go forward.”
Asked whether he was still considering a run for president in 2016, Christie said: “Sure”. He went on: “There’s certainly nothing that’s happened in the last number of months, since we talked about this the last time, that would make me think any differently about my ability to be able to pursue that job or to perform in it”.