By Brenda Flanagan
“Did I know about it? Did I have anything to do with it? The answer is no,” said Gov. Chris Christie.
On Ask the Governor, Chris Christie doggedly insisted nobody informed him of political plots to close lanes at the George Washington Bridge. That, even though state’s witness David Wildstein told the Bridgegate jury he boasted about it to his boss even as traffic clogged the GW. Today, newspaper headlines blared, “Eating His Words” and “Wildstein: Gov. Knew”.
“I knew nothing about the lane realignments before they happened. I knew nothing about the lane realignments as they were happening,” Christie said.
“He continues to maintain that he was a total rube and uninformed about this when David Wildstein is saying that on Sept. 11 he told the governor about the traffic jam, about the problems that were happening in Fort Lee, and they all joked about it,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski.
Wisniewski says even though Christie isn’t on trial here, the governor occupies the crux of the case — and it’s his word versus Wildstein’s. Without corroborating documents, it comes down to credibility with the jurors.
“If they believe David Wildstein — that the governor knew — then that’s the smoking gun,” Wisniewski said.
Christie doesn’t think he’ll be called to testify. The trial’s got maybe five weeks to go, the presidential campaign, six weeks. Christie also evaluated Donald Trump’s first debate performance against Hillary Clinton Monday night, saying it was good but could be better.
“I don’t think there was any big gotcha moment or big mistake by either one of them,” Christie said.
He said Trump’s not the traditional, disciplined politician who follows the script.
“He’s always kind of a stream of consciousness guy. He goes on gut and instinct, and I think last night, for the people who love Donald Trump and think he’s the right antidote for what ails Washington, they saw and heard from him last night, those attributes,” Christie said.
Finally, Christie did offer a drop of hope about resolving the politically gridlocked TTF issue, saying he’s been meeting with legislative leaders.
“We’re making progress. And hopefully we’ll come to an agreement soon. But I’m encouraged by the conversations we’ve been having — I’m not going to get specific about them, I never do — but people do need to know we’ve been meeting, we’ve been talking,” Christie said.
“I have so many of my friends that are out of work now because we can’t get together here and get the TTF done. But we can’t get one done if it’s going to bankrupt the future of the state,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.
Christie said he understands nobody wants to raise the gas tax but that it hasn’t been increased in 28 years and that New Jersey has transportation bills to pay. He said any TTF funding plan will have to include a commiserate tax cut.