Sabato, 26 Mag, 2018

Chris Christie Was Told Of 'Bridgegate' Closures In Advance, Former Aide Says

Governor Christie at a press conference in Englewood Governor Christie at a press conference in Englewood
Rufina Vignone | 29 Ottobre, 2016, 14:54

NEWARK, N.J. Republican Gov. Chris Christie approved of a traffic study on the George Washington Bridge, his former deputy chief of staff testified Friday in her criminal trial, but federal prosecutors say it was actually a cover story for a political payback scheme created to cause traffic jams.

Critchley asked Kelly if he said anything to her.

The former aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, was the author of the email that set off the so-called Bridgegate scandal when it was revealed in January 2014: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee".

At the conclusion of a Statehouse news conference on drug rehabilitation, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shifts topics and denies any involvement in the Bridgegate scandal.

Kelly said she added, "There is going to be tremendous traffic problems in Fort Lee" as a result of the study, which she said would open up traffic for bridge drivers not going through Fort Lee. A spokesman for Christie didn't respond to requests for comment Friday. "I was scared that if I didn't tell him I would get blamed for what happened".

Bill Baroni, a former deputy executive director at the Port Authority, and Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff to Christie, face nine counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and civil rights violations.

A spokesman for the Republican governor said Friday night that Christie had "no knowledge prior to or during these lane re-alignment" and "no role in authorizing them".

DuHaime was less clear on whether Wildstein told him specifically at that meeting that Kelly and her predecessor as Christie's deputy chief of staff, Bill Stepien, had knowledge of the lane closures - only that "Trenton had been aware of it". He said that Stepien "assured me the same thing".

Someone asked Christie if that also meant Stepien, his former campaign manager.

Rechler also testified that Samson, the former board chairman and Christie confidante, worked to undermine the power of the NY side to gain leverage for New Jersey.

Kelly maintained Friday she believed the lane closings, on one of the world's busiest bridges, to be part of a Port Authority traffic study and said they weren't done for political retribution.

Recounting her August 12 conversation with Christie about the traffic study, Kelly said she also related to him that Wildstein had hoped the governor could later hold an event touting the results of the study.

Rechler said that he spoke with Samson and Baroni several times about firing Wildstein, but that there did not appear to be "any incentive" to have him removed. Kelly also testified that when Gov Christie came back from the September 11th commemorations, he stopped at her office and talked to her about the traffic study. "He said, 'That's fine.' He said, 'What's our relationship with [Fort Lee] Mayor [Mark] Sokolich?' I really didn't know". Kelly testified Friday that Christie told her that he had spoken about the lane closures with Wildstein at the event.

Asked by her lawyer if it was a poor choice of words, she said, "Very".

According to Kelly, she was not aware that the 2013 plan for the George Washington Bridge closures was allegedly politically-motivated, and the email to former Port Authority staffer David Wildstein wasn't sinister, but sarcastic.

Debbie Minuto, who owns a bagel shop in Fort Lee, said she's disenchanted with American politics, skipping the last presidential debate to watch British children's cartoon "Peppa Pig" with her grandchildren.

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