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Ex-Christie ally says governor knew of closures

– New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew about possibly politically motivated lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, according to a letter released by an attorney for David Wildstein, a former ally at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

At a two-hour news conference Jan. 9, Christie said he didn’t know at the time about traffic jams that may have been engineered to punish the mayor of Fort Lee. Alan Zegas, Wildstein’s lawyer, contradicted him in a letter to the Port Authority saying that the agency, which runs the bridge, should pay his client’s legal fees.

“Evidence exists … tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the Governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference,” Zegas wrote. “Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the Governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some.”

The Republican governor’s office said the letter’s key allegation – that Christie knew about the closures as they happened – does not contradict the governor’s statements.

“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,” Christie’s office said in a statement.

The bridge plot apparently began in August when Christie’s then-deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, emailed to Wildstein: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” after the town’s Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, failed to endorse the Republican governor.

On Friday night, Christie appeared at a birthday party for radio personality Howard Stern, but did not take questions.

Christie had adamantly denied staff members were involved until private emails that were subpoenaed and released showed otherwise. Besides Wildstein, three others connected to Christie have been fired or resigned.

Twenty subpoenas for documents related to the lane closings are due to be returned to the legislative panel Monday. No subpoenas target Christie himself, a possible 2016 presidential candidate who has just begun a chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association.