Christie promises to set bridge testimony record straight

AP News
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Posted: Nov 04, 2016 4:50 PM
Christie promises to set bridge testimony record straight

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie said Friday after the conviction of two of his former allies that he will "set the record straight" soon about the "lies that were told by the media and in the courtroom"

Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, Christie's appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were found guilty Friday of all counts against them in a plot to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie's re-election bid.

Christie has maintained he knew nothing about the lane closures either before or while they were happening. But multiple people, including one of his closest political advisers, testified under oath that Christie knew more than he said he did, including in news conferences as the scandal began to envelop his administration.

He said in a statement Friday that he had "no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments, and had no role in authorizing them. No believable evidence was presented to contradict that fact. Anything said to the contrary over the past six weeks in court is simply untrue."

Christie said the guilty verdicts for Kelly and Baroni affirmed his decision to fire them and showed a jury held them responsible "for their own conduct."

Here's a look at what Kelly, Baroni and others testified to:

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BRIDGET KELLY'S TESTIMONY

Kelly said she believed the lane closures were part of a legitimate traffic study that would eventually improve traffic flow.

She said she told Christie about the planned traffic study a month ahead of time. He told her to run the plan by his then-chief of staff. The governor also asked how their relationship was with Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, the Democratic mayor prosecutors say the plot targeted.

Kelly said she talked to Christie about the lane closures twice while they were underway, including once in which she passed along that Sokolich had asked whether the lanes were closed for "government retribution."

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DAVID WILDSTEIN'S TESTIMONY

Wildstein, a former high-ranking official at the Port Authority who attended high school with Christie, testified that Christie was told about the traffic in Fort Lee on the third day of the gridlock during a Sept. 11 memorial event.

Wildstein said Baroni told Christie that there was "a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee" that morning and that Sokolich was "very frustrated" he wasn't getting his phone calls returned. Baroni then told the governor that Wildstein was watching over the situation.

Wildstein said that the governor responded sarcastically, "Well, I'm sure Mr. Edge would never be involved in anything political," and then laughed. "Wally Edge" was a pseudonym Wildstein used while publishing a New Jersey politics website.

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BILL BARONI'S TESTIMONY

Baroni contradicted Wildstein's version of that story.

Baroni testified that it was Wildstein who told Christie about the traffic and that no mention of Sokolich or political retaliation was made.

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MIKE DUHAIME'S TESTIMONY

DuHaime, one of Christie's closest political advisers, said he told Christie in December 2013 that Kelly and campaign manager Bill Stepien knew about the lane closures. Christie then said at a news conference that he had no reason to believe that anyone on his senior staff had any knowledge.

DuHaime gave similar information to investigators working on a taxpayer-funded report commissioned by Christie, which cleared the governor of any knowledge.

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DEBORAH GRAMICCIONI's TESTIMONY

Gramiccioni, a senior Christie staffer who replaced Baroni at the Port Authority, also testified that she told Christie about Kelly's involvement before the December 2013 news conference.

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MICHAEL DREWNIAK'S TESTIMONY

Drewniak, Christie's chief spokesman, said he told Christie before that news conference that Wildstein had told him he talked to the governor about the lane closings while they were occurring.