Federal prosecutors alleged during the first day of a federal trial that Chris Christie knew his assistants closed the lanes of the George Washington Bridge in 2013.
Updated September 19, 5:43 p.m. ET
Expressing the long-standing suspicions of critics of Chris Christie, federal prosecutors asserted Monday that the governor of New Jersey was well aware that his aides had closed parts of the George Washington Bridge in 2013 in an act of political retaliation against a mayor of small town, because they I told him directly the third day lane closures.
“During those few minutes they spent alone with the governor, they bragged that there were traffic problems in Fort Lee and that Mayor Sokolich was not receiving his calls,” a district attorney said. jurors at a federal courthouse in Newark, referring to a 9/11 incident. , 2013 conversation between the governor and two associates. Sokolich, a Democrat, had refused to back Christie in his re-election campaign that year, and Christie’s allies reportedly decided to take revenge by fabricating trafficking.
The prosecutors’ allegations came during the opening statements of the trial of two people in Christie’s orbit: Bridget Kelly, his former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, whom he appointed to the Port Authority. They were charged with conspiracy over a year ago. Another person named by Christie, David Wildstein, is the government’s “star witness” in the trial, which began on Monday, The record reports. Wildstein and Baroni are the ones who are said to have told Christie face to face of the lane closures, during a ceremony in memory of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Advanced NJ Media reports that Wildstein will testify to that conversation during the trial, which is expected to last around six weeks. Asked for comment, the governor’s office pointed to previous statements by Christie that contradict claims by prosecutors about when he learned of his associates’ involvement.
As the trial progresses, the stakes for Christie are high, but not as high as they might have been: had the governor had what he wanted, he would have learned of these latest campaign revelations. presidential, while gearing up for her first ever debate against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
While the only campaign Christie can now damage is that of Donald Trump – for whom he leads a White House transition team – the governor still poses a political danger to himself. He will no longer be able to run for governor after his term ends in 2018, but he is widely suspected of seeking a post in the Trump administration. Christie could lose future opportunities if more clues regarding her knowledge of closures come to light.
Monday’s revelations, after all, are not the first about Bridgegate – not even the first this summer: Last month, documents filed by Baroni’s legal team claimed that Christie “lied” during the interview. a press conference in December 2013 when asked if his staff were involved in the shutdown. And earlier this month, Christie admitted in a meeting with MSNBC that the scandal was likely a “factor” in the Trump campaign’s decision not to choose him as Trump’s running mate.
Trump is yet to ditch Christie, although the two have not appeared together publicly as often as they did earlier this year. And Christie’s future looks uncertain, as Trump wins the presidency and gives her a high-level administrative post. He had always had a reputation for being a no-frills brawler, but Bridgegate added a patina of cruelty that would be difficult for the Governor to clean up. The scandal will mar every next act in Christie’s life, whether in or outside of politics, as well as her years in the governor’s office.