David Wildstein, Jewish Aide, Says Gov. Chris Christie Knew About 'Bridgegate'

Onetime Pal Says GOP Presidential Hopeful Lied

Flipping on Chris: David Wildstein, an operative of Gov. Chris Christie, invokes the Fifth Amendment at a legislative hearing. He now says the GOP presidential hopeful knew about the so-called Bridgegate scandal.
getty images
Flipping on Chris: David Wildstein, an operative of Gov. Chris Christie, invokes the Fifth Amendment at a legislative hearing. He now says the GOP presidential hopeful knew about the so-called Bridgegate scandal.

By Reuters

Published January 31, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The former New Jersey Republican official at the center of a political retribution scandal dogging Governor Chris Christie said on Friday the governor knew about a traffic jam orchestrated by his top aides, the New York Times reported.

David Wildstein, who is Jewish, said he had evidence that proves Christie had knowledge of the lane closures “during the period when the lanes were closed,” according to a letter sent to the authority’s lawyer and released to the newspaper.

Christie, a leading Republican candidate for the White House in 2016, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of a plan to snarl traffic near the busy George Washington Bridge and severed ties with several top aides over their role in the incident.

The closures last September caused four days of severe traffic jams for residents of Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Wildstein, who once blogged about New Jersey politics under the name Wally Edge, resigned his post at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey late last year.

“It’s the first time a high-level official has contradicted the governor,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history professor who specializes in presidential politics.

The key question, he said, is whether Wildstein can produce “smoking gun” evidence proving Christie’s knowledge of the events. State Democrats probing the scandal are likely to jump on that vulnerability, Zelizer added.

ded.

The Newark Star-Ledger, one of New Jersey’s largest newspapers, which endorsed Christie in his 2013 re-election bid, posted an editorial after the New York Times first reported about the letter, saying that if the accusations are true, the governor must resign or be impeached.

“Because it will show that everything he said at his famous two-hour press conference was a lie,” the editorial said.

The paper had not endorsed Christie’s initial run in 2009.

The Democratic National Committee, already targeting Christie, who won re-election in a landslide last November, as its greatest threat in the 2016 presidential election, was quick to pounce.

“He’s repeatedly said that he had no knowledge of the lane closures,” said Mo Elleithee, a DNC spokesman. “Today’s revelations raise serious questions about whether that is true.”

Polls taken since the emails emerged early this month showing Christie’s now-fired deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, calling for “traffic” in Fort Lee, show Christie’s popularity slipping in theoretical 2016 White House and primary matchups.

“If we assume it’s true, then we’re in the realm of an outright lie on the part of the governor, and that changes the entire story,” said David Redlawsk, a New Jersey pollster. “It’s the cover-up that gets you.”

As for Wildstein, Redlawsk said, “It very much sounds like the message is quite clear to the U.S. Attorney’s Office: Tell us what you need, and we’ll cooperate.”

The scandal has tarnished Christie’s reputation as a politician ready to reach across the aisle at a time when partisan gridlock has defined Washington.

Christie bolstered his image as conciliator in 2012 when he walked beside President Barack Obama along the storm-hit New Jersey coastline after Superstorm Sandy, in the final months of the 2012 presidential campaign - a move that some supporters of Republican contender Mitt Romney said hurt their party’s chances of retaking the White House.

In the marathon Jan. 9 press conference, Christie repeatedly apologized for actions he blamed on his aides, expressed his shock and said: “I am who I am, but I am not a bully.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.