The Latest: Bridge case witness testifies about cover-up

AP News
|
Posted: Sep 27, 2016 2:43 PM
The Latest: Bridge case witness testifies about cover-up

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Latest on the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

The former high-ranking transportation official who pleaded guilty in the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal has told jurors about how a cover story was created and presented.

David Wildstein said Tuesday that he coached a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official in how to testify in front of a New Jersey legislative committee in November 2013.

That was two months after Wildstein and two others allegedly caused traffic jams at the bridge to penalize a Democratic mayor for not endorsing Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Wildstein said he helped prepare Port Authority executive Bill Baroni for his testimony. Baroni told the legislative committee the lane closures were part of a traffic study. Wildstein says that story was a lie.

He's testifying at a trial for Baroni and Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly.

Christie hasn't been charged.

___

1 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie insists that he had no knowledge about lane closures on the George Washington Bridge either before or during the political payback plot.

The Republican spoke to reporters outside of his office in the statehouse on Tuesday after a former ally testified Christie was told about the gridlock while it was unfolding and seemed happy about it.

David Wildstein says he told Christie about traffic in Fort Lee on the third day of the four-day shutdown in 2013. Wildstein says that Christie laughed after responding sarcastically that he didn't think Wildstein was involved in a political plot.

Christie says he did not authorize the lane closures and that no evidence would be presented showing that he did.

___

11:20 a.m.

A former high-ranking transportation official who pleaded guilty in the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was told about the gridlock as it was unfolding and seemed to be happy about it.

David Wildstein testified Tuesday he told Christie at a Sept. 11 memorial event about traffic in Fort Lee on the third day of the four-day shutdown in 2013.

He says defendant Bill Baroni told Christie that the mayor of Fort Lee was frustrated he wasn't getting calls returned and that Wildstein was monitoring the situation.

Wildstein says Christie then replied sarcastically that he was sure that "Mr. Edge" wouldn't be involved in politics. Wildstein used the pseudonym "Wally Edge" while publishing a New Jersey politics website.

Christie has denied Wildstein told him about the plot.

___

10:50 a.m.

Jurors in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial are hearing how the alleged scheme unfolded in September 2013.

A witness who pleaded guilty last year testified Tuesday how he and two former allies of New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie mocked and made jokes about a Democratic mayor whose town was the target of their scheme to create traffic jams because he hadn't endorsed Christie.

David Wildstein is testifying against Christie's former deputy chief of staff and the governor's top appointee to the authority that operates the bridge.

Wildstein told jurors he texted deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly with reports of heavy traffic on the second day of the jams. He says Kelly texted back, "Is it wrong that I'm smiling?" Wildstein testified they ignored Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich's pleas for help.

Christie hasn't been charged.

___

10:10 a.m.

A jury is hearing for a third day from a key government witness in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial.

David Wildstein pleaded guilty last year and is testifying against two former allies of Republican Gov. Chris Christie charged with creating traffic jams in 2013 to retaliate against a Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie.

Wildstein described Tuesday how the two defendants "froze out" another Democratic mayor who declined to endorse the governor. He says they canceled meetings in July 2013 with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

Former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly and former bridge authority executive Bill Baroni are charged with conspiracy, fraud and civil rights deprivation.

Christie hasn't been charged and says he wasn't aware of the traffic issue until weeks after they happened.

___

6 a.m.

A jury is scheduled to hear for a third day from a key government witness in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial.

David Wildstein testified Monday about receiving an email from Republican Gov. Chris Christie's deputy chief of staff in 2013 that said it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Wildstein said that set in motion a plan to punish the town's Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie. Wildstein pleaded guilty in 2015 and cooperated with the government.

He might testify Tuesday about a Sept. 11 memorial event in which he and defendant Bill Baroni bragged in Christie's presence about the ongoing traffic problems they'd created.

Christie hasn't been charged and says he wasn't aware of the traffic issue until weeks after they happened.