Finally the trial to determine who caused the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge and why. Opening arguments in the Bridgegate trial are still a week away, but arguably the most crucial element is being played out starting tomorrow when potential jurors will be questioned. NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams spoke with Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron who will be covering the trial.
Williams: Michael, do the attorneys really believe they can find anyone who hasn’t heard of Bridgegate?
Aron: No, and so they’re not even looking for that. They’re just looking for 16 people — 12 regulars and four alternates — who they feel can be fair and impartial.
Williams: Do you expect that Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly and Christie appointee Bill Baroni will testify in their own defense?
Aron: We spoke to some defense sources today who say that Bridget Kelly’s lawyer, Michael Critchley, has said without a doubt she will testify.
Williams: That’s unusual isn’t it?
Aron: Yes, it can be and it doesn’t mean that actually will happen, but for the moment that’s what’s being said. Michael Baldasaare, the attorney for Bill Baroni has said the same thing, that Baroni will testify. Now, they may change strategies midstream. I want to go back to one thing about the jury. They have already spent three days winnowing down the jury from 253 potential jurors to 139, 60 of whom both sides agree on. The questioning and the objections to certain jurors starts tomorrow, as you said.
Williams: Will we hear from Gov. Christie during this trial?
Aron: Unclear. We put that question to our sources today and the answer back was there are no sacred cows, so interpret that as you may.
Williams: So maybe or maybe not?
Aron: That’s right.
Williams: Who else will likely be called?
Aron: Well, the key witness is going to be David Wildstein, the former Port Authority deputy who pled guilty to one count of conspiracy and turned state’s evidence. He’ll be the star witness in the trial. The defense, by the way, says that they’re not going to try to destroy him, just get an alternative narrative out of him, whatever that means. One would expect Kevin O’Dowd, who was chief of staff to the governor at the time of the lane closings, to be called. Likewise Christina Renna, author of that text that came out recently that said Christie lied. Steve Fulop, the mayor of Jersey City, is likely to be called up by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to continue the notion that the Christie team was really pushing hard for mayoral endorsements. And there are others — Mike Duhaime, Regina Egea, we’re not sure. Those are potential witnesses.
Williams: When all is said and done and this is over do you expect to know what really happened that day? That week?
Aron: I put that question to our source today, our sources, and the answer was we don’t even know. The defense team, what really happened, the person who knows the most about what really happened is David Wildstein and even he may be missing a piece, but we are likely to know the story by the end of the trial. That was the answer.