Chris Christie stunner: Former associate says New Jersey guv broke the law

Former Port Authority official David Wildstein claims Christie violated the law by divulging grand jury details

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published June 8, 2015 6:25PM (EDT)

Chris Christie                   (AP/Jim Cole)
Chris Christie (AP/Jim Cole)

A former Chris Christie schoolmate and Port Authority official swore under oath that the New Jersey Governor and former federal prosecutor violated the law by revealing the secret proceedings of a grand jury investigating the Bridgegate scandal.

According to The New York Times, David Wildstein, the former head of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey who pled guilty to federal charges for his involvement in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, claimed in a sworn statement that Christie illegally disclosed information from a grand jury investigation.

This allegation comes from Wildstein's defense in a separate case, in which Christie is again accused of unsavory political maneuvering. In that case, Christie allegedly held a secret meeting to plot the firing of the then-deputy superintendent of the Port Authority, Arthur Cifelli, replacing him with three-term New Jersey sheriff, Gerard J. Speziale. Wildstein swore under oath last week that “Christie told Wildstein and the others that he wanted to get Speziale to drop his re-election bid to help Republicans win the post, and to take Speziale’s campaign war chest out of the race." Speziale, a Democrat, subsequently dropped his bid for reelection and took a $199,000-a-year job with the Port Authority.

According to Wildstein's sworn statement, Christie instructed top aides during the June 2010 meeting to fire Cifelli, citing his alleged perjury during a secret grand jury hearing. It is against the law for a prosecutor to reveal the identities of witnesses testifying in Grand Jury proceedings and Christie was the U.S. Attorney at the time.

Wildstein, who was appointed to the Port Authority by Christie, has previously claimed that Christie knew about the bridge lane closures as they occurred. Wildstein has agreed to cooperate with the prosecution following his guilty plea last month stemming from the bridge lane closures.

Christie dismissed the latest allegations from his former high schoolmate. In a statement to the Times, a Christie spokesperson denied the report.

"This is just the latest legal jockeying in yet another legal proceeding involving Mr. Wildstein, but one thing should be made clear: Anyone suggesting the governor disclosed grand jury information is either lying or mistaken," Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts told the newspaper.

Christie, once regarded as a top GOP presidential contender, has seen has national standing slip in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal and mounting evidence of his administration's heavy-handed political tactics.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Bridgegate Chris Christie Chris Christie Bridgegate New Jersey