Responding to an allegation lodged against him by a disgruntled official at the center of the George Washington Bridge scandal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reiterated on Friday that he had no direct knowledge about the infamous lane closings last year.
An attorney for David Wildstein — the former Port Authority official who oversaw the closings and lost his job as a result — said in a letter released Friday that “evidence exists” that ties Christie to the closings.
“Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer confirms what the Governor has said all along – he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein’s motivations were for closing them to begin with,” Christie’s office said in a statement.
“As the Governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and as he said in his January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th,” the statement continued. “The Governor denies Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer’s other assertions.”
But while attorney Alan L. Zegas said evidence implicating Christie exists, he didn’t directly say that Wildstein possesses it. Zegas merely said Wildstein “can prove the inaccuracy” of statements Christie made about him.
“It has also come to light that a person within the Christie administration communicated the Christie administration’s order that certain lanes on the George Washington Bridge were to be closed,” Zegas wrote, “and evidence exists as well trying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the Governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference he gave immediately before Mr. Wildstein was scheduled to appear before the Transportation Committee.”
During a marathon press conference last month, Christie said: “I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution. And I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here.”
Zegas added: “Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the Governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some.”
The purpose of the letter — sent to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — was apparently to protest the Port Authority’s decision not to pay his legal fees.
Wildstein was involved in the most damaging messages to leak from the lane closings. When a Christie aide emailed him in August saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Wildstein replied, “Got it.”
Wildstein has pleaded the Fifth Amendment, refusing to cooperate with an investigation by New Jersey lawmakers.