Tuesday at noon, with the inauguration of Governor-elect Phil Murphy the Chris Christie era ends. But the notoriety of the Bridgegate scandal will live on. In our exit interview, Christie reiterated his long-held position that he had nothing to do with it, and he distanced himself — yet again — from former Port Authority operative David Wildstein, whom he called the “mastermind” of the plot.
“You’ll recall because you sat through the trial, that David Wildstein testified under cross-examination that he’s only had three one-on-one conversations with me in his life, and the first one was in 1977 when he was the statistician for the Livingston High School baseball team and I was the catcher. And that his last one was in 1995,” Christie said in the interview.
After the Christie interview aired this weekend, Wildstein tweeted out a statement from his lawyer, Alan Zegas: “Governor Christie’s representations of his relationship with David Wildstein in a recent TV interview are inaccurate. Mr. Wildstein had numerous private meetings with Mr. Christie in the Governor’s office from 2010 to 2013, related to both his duties at the Port Authority and Mr. Christie’s re-election campaign. They were also together in multiple social situations, including Mr. Wildstein being Mr. Christie’s guest in his box for a football game.”
One key to their conflicting accounts is that Christie was talking about one-on-one conversations. Wildstein doesn’t say whether he’s talking about one-on-ones. He just says he was with Christie many times. Were there other people in the room? Wildstein doesn’t say.
We know that Christie was photographed with Wildstein and defendant Bill Baroni during the week of the George Washington Bridge traffic jams. This was upon arrival at a 9/11 anniversary commemoration at Ground Zero.
Wildstein testified at trial that he told the governor about traffic in Fort Lee that morning. Christie has always maintained that, if so, it was something too insignificant for him to remember.
“You know, things could have been mentioned to me about traffic at any point in time. None of it was memorable to me, Eric, because I didn’t know there was any issue,” Christie said in his interview show in February 2014.
The governor’s office stands by what Christie said in the interview. Press Secretary Brian Murray told us that even Bill Baroni’s testimony contradicted Wildstein’s recollections. Christie in the interview told us he doesn’t think either Bill Baroni or Bridget Kelly should go to jail.