Chris Christie Didn't Tell You About a Meeting With His Traffic-Closer
In his marathon Bridgehazi therapy session/press conference last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie insisted he hadn't met with David Wildstein, the official who caused traffic problems in Fort Lee, "in a long time, a long time, well before the election." Like, say, when they hung out during the traffic jam.
The Wall Street Journal published a photo midday Tuesday showing Christie palling around with Port Authority appointee Wildstein, who is in a red-speckled tie, on September 11, 2013—day three of the four-day traffic jam caused when Wildstein ordered that lanes onto the George Washington Bridge be shut to cause a traffic jam on the Jersey side.
In a video accompanying his story, WSJ reporter Ted Mann said of the photo, "If it doesn't contradict him, at the very least it means that we'll have to know more about what the governor meant last week."
In his two-hour sort-of confessional presser last week, Christie told the public that Wildstein called for the traffic jam all of his own accord, with advice from a since-fired deputy chief of staff in Christie's office—but the governor had no knowledge of the plot. "You know, I could probably count on one hand the number of conversations I've had with David since he worked at the Port Authority," he said. "I did not interact with David."
Yet the Journal photo shows the two clearly interacting in the middle of the foulup, at ground zero in New York to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks:
Also present with Mr. Christie that day were Bill Baroni, the authority's deputy executive director, who was helping Mr. Wildstein manage the fallout from the closures among local officials, subpoenaed documents show. Also there was David Samson, the Port Authority chairman and close Christie ally, who has said he didn't learn of the lane closures and traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., until an email from a New York port official ordered the lane closures reversed. Messrs. Samson and Baroni didn't respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for Christie said well duh, yeah he was there. "He had numerous interactions with public officials that morning, including representatives of the Port Authority. They were all there for one reason – to pay tribute to the heroes of 9/11."
In other words, while pressed for answers on a momentum-threatening scandal at his news conference last week, it never occurred to the Republican governor of New Jersey to take a question about his interactions with David Wildstein and use it as an excuse to discuss "the heroes of 9/11." Which means Gawker's original analysis of the situation holds.