STATE — On Sept. 11, 2013 — the third day of the George Washington Bridge closures — Gov. Chris Christie met with and spoke to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials who arranged the traffic scandal.
Christie spoke with David Wildstein and Bill Baroni in Manhattan while celebrating the 12th anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
Several photos obtained by The Wall Street Journal show Christie greeting Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority, and talking with Wildstein while the controversial lane closures were in their third day.
A lawyer for Wildstein recently claimed “evidence exists” to prove that Christie knew about the scheme, prompting a low-key initial response that by late Saturday afternoon turned into an explosive email to friends and allies attacking The New York Times and the former political operative who orchestrated the traffic jam.
Christie at first said he believed the incident was the result of a traffic study, until text and email messages showed it was engineered as possible political retribution against Fort Lee’s mayor, a Democrat who refused to endorse the Republican Governor.
Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, wrote to Wildstein on Aug. 13, telling him “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Wildstein replied “Got it,” and set in motion a series of secret conversations with staff at the port authority to close two of three local access lanes to the bridge, with instructions not to tell Fort Lee police or executives on the New York side of the Port Authority, which is jointly controlled by the two states.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the Democratic chair of the transportation committee investigating the lane closures, said photographs of the men together while the incident was ongoing raised new questions about what Christie knew and when he learned it.
“It buttressed the skepticism that many have had about his statement,” said Wisniewski. “I can’t help but wonder what conversation took place between them.”
Christie in a January news conference, said he had not had conversations with Wildstein “in a long time” but he made no mention of their meeting while the traffic jams were taking place.
“I have had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time, a long time, well before the election,” which was held Nov. 5, Christie said. “You know, I could probably count on one hand the number of conversations I’ve had with David since he worked at the Port Authority. I did not interact with David.”
Christie, Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority, David Samson, the Port Authority chairman and Wildstein all attended the Sept. 11 World Trade Center event.
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