(TRENTON, N.J.) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is hitting back after allegations of his involvement in the widening lane closure scandal, sending an email to friends and allies going after his former political ally and classmate and again saying he had “no involvement, knowledge or understanding of the real motives behind David Wildstein’s scheme to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge.”
The letter, first reported by Politico and obtained by ABC News, is titled “5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That’s Not A Bombshell” and lists attacks against Wildstein’s credibility, as well as the New York Times.
Read the full text of Christie’s email here.
“Bottom line – David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein,” the letter reads at the end, referring to Christie’s appointee to the Port Authority who on Friday released a letter through his attorney Alan Zegas alleging “evidence exists” that Christie knew about the lane closings as they were happening.
It’s something Christie has denied repeatedly in both the letter and in a nearly two-hour press conference when the scandal broke in January, revealing top aides closed the lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge for political payback.
“The Governor first learned lanes at the George Washington Bridge were even closed from press accounts after the fact,” the letter reads. “Even then he was under the belief it was a traffic study. He first learned David Wildstein and Bridget Kelly closed lanes for political purposes when it was reported on January 8th.”
The letter begins by attacking the New York Times, saying the paper’s story created a “media firestorm” because of “sloppy reporting,” since their first version of the story said there was “evidence” when the letter actually alleged “evidence exists.”
Although Christie and Wildstein attended high school together and it was Christie who appointed him to the Port Authority, the letter becomes personal, describing him as “tumultuous” and even cites events from Wildstein’s teenage years to try and discredit him, including saying that he was “publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior.”
“David Wildstein has been publicly asking for immunity since the beginning, been held in contempt by the New Jersey legislature for refusing to testify, failed to provide this so-called ‘evidence’ when he was first subpoenaed by the NJ Legislature and is looking for the Port Authority to pay his legal bills,” the letter says.
The Christie administration answered Wildstein’s allegations Friday night, but that response was much more subdued.
“Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer confirms what the Governor has said all along – he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein’s motivations were for closing them to begin with,” the administration said. “As the Governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and as he said in his January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th. The Governor denies Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer’s other assertions.”
In that marathon press conference Christie said his friendship with Wildstein had been blown out of proportion and he had rarely seen him in recent months, but the Wall Street Journal published photographs showing Christie and Wildstein together at a Sept. 11 anniversary event during the four days the lanes were closed.
Christie appeared at a Super Bowl ceremony in New York City on Saturday and was greeted by both cheers and boos, but he did not mention the developing scandal.
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Dylan Byers Sara Murray and Kevin Liptak, CNN
Dylan Byers, CNN
Z. Byron Wolf, CNN