Political Thug Chris Christie Knew About Bridge Lane Closings as They Happened, Prosecutors Say
NEWARK — Federal prosecutors allege that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey knew that three of his top officials were involved in a plan to illegally shut down lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge and that the closings were intended to punish a local mayor for declining to support him.
The startling assertion was made at the beginning of the trial of two former Christie administration officials charged with closing the lanes in 2013 and then covering it up.
On September 9, 2013, prior to the morning rush hour on the first day of the school year, two of the toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge were closed on orders from Christie aide David Wildstein without notification to Fort Lee government and police officials. This led to major delays for school transportation and police and emergency responses.
According to the Fort Lee emergency medical services coordinator, traffic jams delayed paramedic response times, including a 9-1-1 call for Florence Genova, who subsequently died of cardiac arrest.
A lawyer for one of the defendants says that it was Governor Christie who installed David Wildstein at the Port Authority to be his enforcer, saying that the governor referred to Mr. Wildstein as his “fixer,” or “Mr. Wolf,” after the Harvey Keitel character in the movie “Pulp Fiction,” the guy who cleans up the dead bodies.
Defense lawyers have long argued that Mr. Christie, a Republican, and his top advisers were aware of the lane closings and that they directed the cover-up as they tried to protect the governor’s political aspirations.
But this was the first time a prosecutor had pointed a finger at Mr. Christie. And it directly contradicts the governor’s statements in the three years since the lanes were mysteriously closed, paralyzing the borough of Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers alike described an administration tightly controlled by the governor that worked hand-in-glove with his re-election campaign to trade favors for endorsements.