Chris Christie Accused of Lying About Bridge Scandal by Lawyer for Former Port Authority Official Who Demands Agency Cover His Legal Costs
It's not over till...
Chris Christie was accused of lying about what he did and didn't know about the politically-motivated lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in a letter (pdf) from the attorney for David Wildstein, the former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official, and childhood friend of Christie's, at the center of the scandal. Wildstein resigned from his position when e-mails from Christie aides to him were revealed that showed the lane closures were retribution for the Democrat Fort Lee mayor's refusal to endorse the Republican Christie. Earlier this month, CNN reported that the position Wildstein held, "director of Interstate Capital Projects" was created specifically for the Christie crony friend. Wildstein plead the Fifth in a hearing at the state legislature about the scandal.
The attorney's letter, addressed to the Port Authority's general counsel, firstly asks that the Port Authority reconsider its decision not to pay for Wildstein's legal defense costs. According to the letter, the Port Authority had previously explained it was "apparent" Wildstein wasn't entitled to indemnification. The lawyer then cited unspecified "reports" of improper land deals involving Christie allies and the Port Authority, before moving on to a similarly vague claim that Christie lied:
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, and evidence exists as well tying 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. Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the Governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some.
There's little actually new here. The involvement of people within the Christie administration in relaying an order to close lanes is the "it" of the scandal. The actual accusation is broad, and vague. Christie must have known about the lane closures as they were happening, after all, as it was a huge local news story even before it was a national political scandal. Coupled with Wildstein's attorney's "demand" that ongoing, and future, legal costs be covered by the Port Authority, the accusation of lyting appears self-serving.
Nevertheless, many columnists declared in their opinion on the issue that if Christie knew about the political retribution the lane closures were meant to be, it would be the end of his career. They're probably right, but that's probably not what Wildstein's attorney has evidence of. We'll have to wait and see until it's no longer being used as leverage to get money out of the Port Authority. New Jersey's taxpayers, it should be noted, are paying $650 an hour for the legal defense of the governor's aides.