Political News

Did Christie know about Bridgegate? Testimony signals he did

Posted July 12

— After a former ally was sentenced to probation Wednesday for masterminding the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closing scheme to punish a political opponent of Gov. Chris Christie, the governor's spokesman called the man a liar and said he "devised the outrageous scheme all by himself."

But it wasn't only David Wildstein who testified during the trial that Christie knew more about the plot than he's previously said.

Christie continues to maintain he knew nothing about the lane closures either before or while they were happening. But multiple people, including one of his closest political advisers, testified under oath that Christie knew more than he said he did, including in news conferences as the scandal began to envelop his administration.

When asked if he believed Christie was informed about the lane shutdown as it was happening, U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Wednesday that the government charged everyone who "we could build a case against."

"We believe the people that could properly be held criminally accountable were held criminally accountable," he told reporters.

Here's a look at how some of the people testified:

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DAVID WILDSTEIN'S TESTIMONY

Wildstein, a former high-ranking official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who attended high school with Christie, testified that Christie was told about the traffic in Fort Lee on the third day of the gridlock during a Sept. 11 memorial event.

Wildstein said Port Authority executive Bill Baroni, convicted at trial, told Christie that there was "a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee" that morning and that Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich was "very frustrated" he wasn't getting his phone calls returned. Baroni then told the governor that Wildstein was watching over the situation.

Wildstein said that the governor responded sarcastically, "Well, I'm sure Mr. Edge would never be involved in anything political," and then laughed. "Wally Edge" was a pseudonym Wildstein used while publishing a New Jersey politics website.

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BRIDGET KELLY'S TESTIMONY

Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff who was also convicted, said she believed the lane closures were part of a legitimate traffic study that would eventually improve traffic flow.

She said she told Christie about the planned traffic study a month ahead of time. He told her to run the plan by his then-chief of staff. The governor also asked how their relationship was with Sokolich.

Kelly said she talked to Christie about the lane closures twice while they were underway, including once in which she passed along that Sokolich had asked whether the lanes were closed for "government retribution."

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BILL BARONI'S TESTIMONY

Baroni contradicted Wildstein's version of the story.

Baroni testified that it was Wildstein, not he, who told Christie about the traffic and that no mention of Sokolich or political retaliation was made.

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MIKE DUHAIME'S TESTIMONY

DuHaime, one of Christie's closest political advisers, said he told Christie in December 2013 that Kelly and campaign manager Bill Stepien knew about the lane closures. Christie then said at a news conference that he had no reason to believe that anyone on his senior staff had any knowledge.

DuHaime gave similar information to investigators working on a taxpayer-funded report commissioned by Christie that cleared the governor of any knowledge.

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DEBORAH GRAMICCIONI'S TESTIMONY

Gramiccioni, a senior Christie staffer who replaced Baroni at the Port Authority, also testified that she told Christie about Kelly's involvement before the December 2013 news conference.

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MICHAEL DREWNIAK'S TESTIMONY

Drewniak, Christie's chief spokesman, said he told Christie before that news conference that Wildstein had told him he talked to the governor about the lane closings while they were occurring.

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