New Jersey Governor and ex officio University Trustee Chris Christie was allegedly aware that some of his top officials planned to shut down lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge and that the purpose of these closures was to penalize a local mayor who declined to support Christie, according to The New York Times.
The opening arguments by lawyers began on Monday in a trial that arose from the closing of access lanes to the bridge in 2013, according to the same article.
According to CNN, Christie, who has not been charged, has maintained that he was not aware of the closings until he learned about them in the media.
“I would have no problem if called to testify,” Christie said. “But the fact is that I won’t because I really don’t have any knowledge of this incident at all.”
According to The New York Times, prosecuting assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna said that Christie’s former aides, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, had allegedly “bragged” to Christie about the lane closings. They allegedly told the governor that the closures were intended to “mess” with Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee, N.J., a Democrat, for not endorsing Christie’s reelection.
The New York Times reported that Wildstein admitted to proposing the idea to close the lanes in a guilty plea as part of a deal to cooperate with the government.
Defense lawyers described Wildstein as “crazy, a liar described described even by witnesses for the prosecution as ‘a viscious guy,’ ‘maniacal’ and ‘a horrible person,’” and said it was Christie who had hired him at the agency to be his enforcer.
Christie’s spokesperson Brian Murray responded to the prosecutors’ assertion by referring to statements Christie made in 2014 that he was unaware of the plan to close the lanes. Murray declined to address the assertion that Christie had known about the lane closures as they were happening.
Correction: Due to an editing mistake, an earlier version of this article did not state the accusations against Christie is only allegations. The ‘Prince’ regrets the error.