A month after resigning from his position at the Port Authority, David Wildstein testified before the Assembly Transportation Committee about the George Washington Bridge lane closures. Committee Chairman Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that Wildstein’s actions during his testimony were unacceptable.
“I frankly had a suspicion that he might take refuge in the Fifth Amendment on some questions but I find it unacceptable that he took refuge on the Fifth Amendment on every single question,” said Wisniewski. “A question as simple as, ‘Did you formally work at the Port Authority?’ Up until now I didn’t know that admitting to that could subject you to criminal charges, but that’s what his attorney argued to the committee.”
Wisniewski said that the committee had asked Wildstein to verify the authenticity of the documents he had submitted but he refused to answer the committee’s question as to who was on the other side of the messages. When Wildstein submitted the emails and messages, Wisniewski said that Wildstein waived the objection to question on the documents when he handed them over.
Wisniewski said that he would like to see Wildstein answer questions and for him to be accountable for his actions. He would also like to see Wildstein be forthcoming. The lane closures on the George Washington Bridge were horrendous, according to Wisniewski, for not only the state’s image but also for the public’s trust.
In a press conference, Gov. Chris Christie mentioned that he had no knowledge about the lane closures until emails involving his staff emerged. Wisniewski said that the governor could have apologized in September and that it took him four months to apologize and man up.
Wisniewski said that the GWB lane closures could hurt Christie’s credibility.
He added that there are still more questions that need to be answered surrounding the lane closures.
“If the governor is true to his words and he’s very sorry about what happened and he wants to get to the bottom of it, turn over all of the email communications — both personal and governmental — that the front office has on this issue. Let the committee review them,” said Wisniewski.
As for Bridget Kelly who was involved with the emails, Wisniewski said that she needs to go in front of the committee and that the committee is not at the point where a subpoena for Christie would be required. Bill Stepien, Michael Drewniak and others within the governor’s staff might have to testify, according to Wisniewski, and he said that the committee is taking the process step by step.
“Right now we don’t have any documented proof that the governor was involved in this. It just strains believability for a person who is such a micro manager,” said Wisniewski. “He spent a great deal of time today to tell us that he isn’t but we all know that’s not true to say that there are rogue operators in his administration. Look, it says one of two things — that he was entirely duped and misled by his organization, he doesn’t know what’s going on or he’s not telling us the truth. Either one, it’s not a pretty outcome for this governor.”