19 September 2016

They Went There

In the "Bridgegate" trial, prosecutors are saying that Chris Christie knew about the traffic tie up as it happened, and why it happened:
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey knew that three of his top officials were involved in a plan to shut down lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge as it was happening and that the closings were intended to punish a local mayor for declining to support him, federal prosecutors said on Monday.

The assertion was an unexpected and startling beginning to the trial of two former Christie administration officials charged with closing the lanes in 2013 and then covering it up. And it was a surprising claim because of the side of the courtroom it came from, as lawyers made opening statements.

Defense lawyers have long argued that Mr. Christie, a Republican, and his top advisers were well aware of the lane closings and that they directed the cover-up as they tried to protect the governor’s political aspirations — saying their clients were “thrown under the presidential bus,” as one lawyer argued on Monday.

But this was the first time a prosecutor had pointed a finger at Mr. Christie. And it directly contradicts the governor’s statements in the three years since the lanes were mysteriously closed, paralyzing the borough of Fort Lee, N.J.

Mr. Christie, a former top federal prosecutor in New Jersey, has consistently denied that he knew about the lane closings as they unfolded, and argued that the United States attorney’s office had “exonerated” him when it declined to indict him along with the defendants now standing trial.

The prosecutor, speaking for the United States attorney’s office, said that two of the alleged co-conspirators in the case, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, had “bragged” to the governor about the lane closings at a memorial service for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, on the third day of the closings, and that they had been done to “mess” with Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee, a Democrat, because he had declined entreaties to endorse the governor’s re-election. Mr. Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, who were close allies of Mr. Christie, are the two defendants in the trial.

Mr. Wildstein and Mr. Baroni boasted to Mr. Christie that panicked phone calls from Mr. Sokolich, pleading that the lane closings were a “public safety emergency,” were deliberately being ignored, the prosecutor said.
Wildstein has copped a plea and is testifying for the state, so my guess is that we will see some very interesting testimony.

I am not unsure whether or not the intent her is to finger Christie, or if it is a ploy to set the defense attorneys back on their heels.

Still, pass the popcorn.


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