A key New Jersey Democrat said Sunday that a new accusation about Gov. Chris Christie's knowledge of the bridge closing scandal enveloping his administration is unproven and raises credibility questions about the accuser.
New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski said on NBC’s Meet the Press that the allegation from former Christie ally David Wildstein that there is evidence Christie knew of the George Washington Bridge lane closings last September as they were occurring doesn’t match the documents Wildstein has given the investigating committee that Wisniewski is co-chairing.
Wildstein, a former Port Authority executive, “submitted over 900 pages of documents in response to the committee’s subpoena. Apparently what’s he talking about must be something other” than what he has already given the committee, Wisniewski said.
The New Jersey politician leading the investigation into the Chris Christie bridge scandal discusses the latest information in the case.
He added that it was “a great question” why Wildstein did not turn over to the legislative panel evidence of Christie’s knowledge of or involvement in the bridge closing scheme if he in fact had any such evidence.
“It really raises questions,” Wisniewski said when asked about Wildstein’s credibility.
In a letter Friday to Port Authority, Alan Zegas, an attorney for Wildstein, said “evidence exists… tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the Governor stated publicly.”
Christie said last month, “I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution.”
In the letter, Zegas did not say what the evidence was nor did he say whether Wildstein or someone else had the evidence to which he referred.
Commenting on the Zegas letter, Wisniewski wondered about “the use of the words ‘evidence exists’ as opposes to saying ‘I have documents” or ‘I have an e-mail.’ It’s a curious choice of words… maybe he knows somebody else that has information, maybe this is a conversation he had.”
The Democratic lawmaker added, “We don’t have any proof right now that the governor said, ‘Go and close the lanes.’ We know that somebody who was in his office, Bridget Kelly, ordered the lane closures.”
Based on the documents his committee has examined so far, Wisniewski said, “Nothing yet implicates the governor directly.” He said the question remains, “Who told Bridget Kelly to close the lanes?”
Some saw the lane closings as political retribution by Christie’s forces, targeting Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, for not endorsing Christie’s re-election bid.
Last month, appearing before the New Jersey state Assembly Transportation Committee, Wildstein invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The investigation of the lane closings has caused a severe political headache for Christie, a potential contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
But the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, came to Christie’s defense Sunday on ABC’s This Week. “I think he's been a fantastic governor,” Ryan said. “Right now, all we know is one person's word against another. You can't base any conclusion on such a thing. And so unless something else is known or made clear, I don't see you would change what's going on right now.”
Ryan said he does not think Christie should quit as head of the Republican Governors Association “because nothing has been proven, and you always give a person the benefit of the doubt in those kinds of situations.”
This story was originally published on Sun Feb 2, 2014 10:56 AM EST