New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed to pass off the “Bridgegate” lane closings as a “traffic study,” an ex-Port Authority executive who has admitted to involvement in the scandal testified in federal court on Tuesday.
Cuomo also ordered the head of the Port Authority to “stand down” in blaming the lane closings on Christie, at least until after his re-election that year, according to witness David Wildstein.
Cuomo and Christie had agreed to write a false report about the traffic study to be signed off by the Cuomo-appointed executive director of the Port Authority, Wildstein testified.
“My understanding at the time was that this would put an end to this issue,” he told court on Tuesday, the New York Times reported.
The sudden closing of two of three access lanes from Fort Lee, New Jersey to the George Washington Bridge snarled traffic for days in 2013. During opening statements this September, prosecutors alleged that Christie knew of his associates’ plan to shut down the lanes as an act of political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who had endorsed Christie’s opponent in the 2013 gubernatorial election.
Christie and Cuomo have both denied involvement in the scandal, and have not been charged with crimes. In response to Wildstein’s testimony on Tuesday, Cuomo’s spokesman John Kelly refuted that an agreement between Cuomo and Christie took place.
“Whatever the admitted bridgegate (sic) architect thought or dreamt about New York’s involvement has no basis in fact,” Kelly said in a statement. “Anyone can say anything, especially a convicted felon spinning a tale, but it’s just false and delusional.”
The ex-Christie associates on trial in the scandal are Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, who have pleaded not guilty to wire fraud, civil rights deprivation, and conspiracy. Wildstein has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.