New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses members of the media at The Statehouse, Jan. 11, 2016, in Trenton, N.J.
Photo by Mel Evans/AP

Christie aide: Governor knew about Bridgegate scheme at the time

As the “Bridgegate” scandal started to unfold, it wasn’t long before the obvious question emerged: what did New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) know and when did he know it? Of particular interest was a photograph showing Christie alongside two of his top aides, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, at an event on the morning of Sept. 11, 2013.

The timing and the personnel matter: Wildstein and Baroni were integrally involved in hatching the scheme to cripple Fort Lee, New Jersey, and their plan was underway when they saw Christie that morning. Did the governor’s aides let Christie know what they were up to at the time? This morning, Wildstein testified under oath that they brought the governor up to speed. reported today:
“Mr. Baroni said, ‘Governor I have to talk to you about something,’” Wildstein recalled.

“(He said) there’s a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee … and you’ll be pleased to know Mayor (Mark) Sokolich is very frustrated,” Wildstein said.

Wildstein said that he and Baroni boasted to the governor about not returning Soklolich’s repeated phone calls. Christie responded that he wasn’t surprised Fort Lee’s mayor “wouldn’t be getting his phone calls returned,” Wildstein said.
As Wildstein put it, the three of them joked about the tactics on the third day of the deliberate scheme.

If the testimony is true, Christie lied about what he knew and when, and the likelihood of this scandal leading to the governor’s impeachment will increase.

Of course, this isn’t the only revelation of interest. In fact, Wildstein, prosecutors’ star witness in the case against Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, has been a fount of information.

The Associated Press reported yesterday, for example, on the conspirators’ intention to cause as much harm as possible to the local community.
Wildstein told jurors Baroni and Kelly approved the plan to realign traffic lanes with no advance notice to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. He says they also approved his idea to not respond to complaints once the traffic jams started.

Wildstein also testified when he suggested to Baroni the idea of timing the gridlock to coincide with the first day of school, Baroni smiled and said, “Fantastic.”
How charming.

Wildstein has also testified that Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bill Stepien, was aware of the scheme. Stepien, of course, now has a new job: he’s the field director for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

As for Christie, every day seems to bring new, damaging information to light. The governor is nevertheless still positioned to serve as chairman of Donald Trump’s transition team – if the Republican wins the presidential race. Christie’s top responsibility as transition team chair would be helping put together a staff for the president-elect.

And if there’s one thing “Bridgegate” helps prove, it’s the New Jersey’s governor’s adept skills at personnel management, right?

Bridgegate, Chris Christie, New Jersey and Scandals

Christie aide: Governor knew about Bridgegate scheme at the time