When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked about the Bridgegate scandal three months after the fact, he denied any involvement.
“I don’t know anything more than basically what has been in the newspaper, because it was basically a New Jersey issue,” Cuomo told WNYC radio. Cuomo was referencing a disruptive traffic jam in September, 2013, that turned into a major political scandal surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his political appointees.
Newly-released records resulting from a WNYC Freedom of Information Act request indicate Cuomo and his top aides knew instantly about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, which were allegedly political retribution against Fort Lee’s Mayor Mark Sokolich.
The records show that Pat Foye, the Cuomo-appointed executive director of the Port Authority, fired off an email ordering that the lanes be reopened immediately. “I am appalled by the lack of process,” Foye wrote, according to WNYC.
Foye forwarded the email to Cuomo’s right-hand man Howard Glaser, who was apparently meeting with the governor at the time.
“Well done,” Glaser wrote back.
The records show a flurry of texts and emails between Cuomo’s office and top New York appointees at the Port Authority concerning the proper “communications strategy” for the scandal.
According to the The Wall Street Journal, Christie and Cuomo also spoke on the phone to discuss Foye’s official testimony on the lane closures. Christie later denied the story, claiming, “I did not have that conversation with Gov. Cuomo in any way, shape, or form.”
Considering the two governors jointly control the Port Authority—the multi-billion dollar enterprise responsible for the bridge—it is not so surprising that they communicated about the burgeoning scandal. But the records fly in the face of Cuomo’s assertion that he was not involved in the issue.
When reporters confronted Cuomo Tuesday about the new information, he denied speaking with Christie early on.
He said he didn’t communicate with the New Jersey governor until “it was a big deal in the newspaper and I was coming out to a friendly gathering like this.”
“It was exactly what should be done,” a Cuomo spokesman told WNYC about the records indicating Cuomo’s rapid response to the scandal.
Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly, former Christie officials, took the hit for the scandal. The two are scheduled for trial in September.
Christie has disavowed any knowledge of the alleged plot. Early on, Christie’s spokesman denied his involvement, explaining, “The governor of the state of New Jersey does not involve himself in traffic studies.”
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