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‘Bridgegate’ Witness Says Governor Christie Backed Lane Closures

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‘Bridgegate’ Witness Says Governor Christie Backed Lane Closures

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NEWARK, N.J. (Reuters) – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was aware of and supported a plan to close lanes at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 in an act of political payback, a key prosecution witness testified Tuesday at the criminal trial of two former Christie associates.

David Wildstein, a former executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told jurors in Newark federal court that he and Bill Baroni, another Port Authority executive, discussed the lane closure with Christie before a memorial service marking the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks at the World Trade Center.

The testimony marked the first time federal prosecutors have presented specific evidence to back their contention that the Republican governor knew about the scandal that New York’s tabloids christened “Bridgegate” as it unfolded, despite his repeated denials.

Baroni and Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, are charged with fraud and other crimes for allegedly orchestrating the September 2013 closure of access lanes at the bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to punish the town’s Democratic mayor for refusing to endorse Christie’s re-election bid.

“Mr. Baroni said, ‘Governor, I have to tell you, there’s a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee this morning,'” Wildstein testified, adding that Baroni was using a sarcastic tone.

Baroni also said the mayor, Mark Sokolich, was “very frustrated” that his increasingly desperate calls to the Port Authority were being ignored.

“Governor Christie responded by saying, ‘I would imagine that he wouldn’t be getting his phone calls returned,'” Wildstein said. Prosecutors showed jurors a series of photographs depicting the three men laughing at the site that morning.

Christie has not been charged with wrongdoing. Wildstein pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Spokesmen for the governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The scandal helped torpedo Christie’s White House run, undercutting his bipartisan image.

Since taking the witness stand Friday, Wildstein has described coordinated efforts by Christie’s office to use the Port Authority’s power to punish local officials who failed to get behind his re-election campaign.

Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City had high-level meetings with officials from the Port Authority and other state agencies canceled after he declined to endorse, Wildstein testified.

Wildstein said Christie’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, told him the governor personally ordered Port Authority officials to disregard messages from Fulop.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Alan Crosby)

Photo: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie enters the debate hall before the first U.S. presidential debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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12 Comments

  1. zorro037 September 28, 2016

    Would Christie catch fire?

    Reply
  2. rednekokie September 28, 2016

    Is anyone actually surprised at this? We have all suspected it all along.

    Reply
  3. yabbed September 28, 2016

    Chris Christie is going to prison.

    Reply
    1. I of John September 28, 2016

      at least impeach him!

      Reply
    2. OTTMAR September 28, 2016

      Could not happen to a nicer person.

      Reply
      1. dpaano September 28, 2016

        Maybe he can share a cell with his buddy, Trump!!!

        Reply
  4. Eleanore Whitaker September 28, 2016

    There is no way Wildstein or Bridget Kelly were going down in flames while Christie swagger and strutted on the public stage in this country. This only proves that for all of his legal beagle education, he is people stupid.

    If he expected his staffers and Wildstein, his best buddy, to fall on his sword for Christie like Scooter Libby did for Cheney and Rove, Christie was pretty stupid.

    Reply
  5. Jon September 28, 2016

    I am concerned about Trump’s health especially in light of a malfunctioning microphone picking up his every sniffle, snort, and groan during the debate. He needs to keep eating to fight his illnesses and have enough stamina to debate Hillary Clinton for a full 90 minutes. If Christie ends up indicted, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to prison, who will go to fast food restaurants to get Trump’s meals for him?

    Reply
  6. OTTMAR September 28, 2016

    Lock him up, lock him up! Now who’s the liar?
    I finally would be able to find donuts.

    Reply
  7. dpaano September 28, 2016

    He knew about it, and we KNOW that he KNEW!!! It’s as simple as that!

    Reply
  8. ashle.furey September 29, 2016

    I currently get paid around 6-8 thousand bucks monthly working on the internet. Those who are prepared to work easy freelance tasks for few h every day from your house and get decent salary in the same time… Test this work http://korta.nu/NDe

    Reply
  9. Joan September 29, 2016

    We all knew, that he knew. His staff would not have undertaken and continued this attack without Christie’s approval; however Christie has not been charged, will not be charged in NJ and will certainly not do jail time. I doubt he will even be testifying in this trial. The most we can hope for is that this public demonstration of his character, coupled with his demeaning support of Donald will assure that he holds no public office in the future. It would be nice, but unlikely that his employment prospects dim considerably. It is part of the GOP’s American Exceptionalisim that exceptionally conscience challanged bullies obtain lucrative positions upon being forced out of public office.

    Reply

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