By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Here are my top five Bridgegate moments:
1. A young former Christie staffer named Chris Stark testified that when he worked in IGA — the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs — Monmouth County was part of his territory. About four days after Superstorm Sandy, Stark got a voicemail on his cell phone from Republican Freeholder John Curley of Monmouth, who was upset that towns like Union Beach were devastated and the governor wasn’t there. “This is what a fat f— he is. While we are out here doing the work, he holds press conferences,” Curley said, according to Stark. “He just kept screaming obscenities.” The next day, according to Stark, the governor called Curly and said, “Who the f— are you to call me a fat f—? I’m the f—— governor. If you’re not standing behind me at tomorrow’s press conference, I will f—— destroy you. I will have a Robocall sent out to every Republican in Monmouth County telling them not to vote for you.” Curley was standing behind Christie the next day.
2. Bill Baroni testified that Bill Lavin, former president of the Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association of New Jersey, was on NJ 101.5 radio one morning complaining about Gov. Christie. It was probably on the pension issue, and apparently it was pretty rough. Baroni said Christie called him up and said, “I want you to call Bill Lavin and tell him that the governor of New Jersey says ‘go f— yourself.'” Baroni says that he protested, telling Christie that he considered Lavin a friend, that they had a good relationship and liked one another, and so he would rather not make that call. According to Baroni, Christie then said, “Bill, do you like your job?” Baroni made the call.
3. The week of the lane closures was also the week of the Seaside Park boardwalk fire. Christie and Bridget Kelly were down there in the immediate aftermath. Kelly testified that she conceived a press conference for the following day that would have Christie introduce each of his cabinet members for a few remarks and then local business people affected by the fire. The governor became enraged, she said. “What do you think I am, a f—— game show host?” he bellowed, and then, according to Kelly, he threw a water bottle at her. It hit her on the arm but had only a tiny bit of water in it.
4. In the series of photos taken at Ground Zero the morning of the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, Wildstein, Baroni and the governor are photographed smiling and yukking it up together. Wildstein testified that he and Baroni bragged to the governor about what was going on in Fort Lee and that Christie was amused. Baroni told a different story. In his version, Wildstein did all the talking, and then only about a traffic study. Baroni was asked what they all were laughing about. “We were probably laughing at the fact that Gov. Cuomo was planning to arrive for the ceremony in front of a 300-motorcycle motorcade with Billy Joel,” Baroni said.
5. On the witness stand, David Wildstein demonstrated a steel-drum memory for many of the things in his life and in Bridgegate. But he couldn’t recall anything about an email he sent on Aug. 12, 2013. That was the day before Bridget Kelly’s famous “Time for she traffic problems in Fort Lee” email. Wildstein’s email to her the day before said, “I have to discuss something with you, extraordinarily weird even by my standards.” When Kelly’s attorney Michael Critchley asked him what that was about, he couldn’t recall. Couldn’t recall something “extraordinarily weird”? The day before Kelly says it’s time for some traffic problems? There have been many memory lapses in the trial, on the part of many witnesses, but this one takes the cake.