Former Christie appointee at the heart of the Bridgegate scandal: Christie knew!

David Wildstein, Christie's former appointee at the Port Authority, says evidence exists to prove it (UPDATE)

Topics: Bridgegate, David Wildstein, Chris Christie, The New York Times, Bridget Anne Kelly, New Jersey, Governor Christie, Governor Chris Christie, ,

In a bombshell report, the New York Times announced late Friday afternoon that David Wildstein, the former Christie appointee who oversaw the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, now says Gov. Christie knew about the engineered traffic snarl.

According to the Times, Wildstein’s lawyer released a letter on Friday describing the decision to create massive traffic on the George Washington Bridge as “the Christie administration’s order.” Further, the letter claims “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” in early January.

The letter goes on to state that Wildstein “contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some.”

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The letter marked the first signal that Mr. Christie may have been aware of the closings, something he repeatedly denied during a two-hour press conference earlier this month.

In early January, documents revealed that a deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly, had sent an email to Mr. Wildstein saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” the town at the New Jersey end of the bridge, where Mr. Christie’s aides had pursued but failed to receive an endorsement from the mayor.

Mr. Christie has steadfastly denied that he knew before this month that anyone in his administration was responsible for the lane closings, and his administration has tried to portray it as the actions of a rogue staff member.

UPDATE: Going off of the Times report, this post originally stated that Wildstein could “prove” Christie knew. The Times has since updated their piece to clarify that Wildstein says “evidence exists” to prove Christie knew — but not that Wildstein necessarily has said evidence himself.

UPDATE II: Gov. Christie’s office has released the following statement in response to Wildstein’s lawyer’s letter:

Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer confirms what the Governor has said all along – he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein’s motivations were for closing them to begin with. As the Governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and as he said in his January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th. The Governor denies Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer’s other assertions.

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith.

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