And I use the term “met with” loosely. I’m skeptical that Christie’s innocent but this story’s getting way more hype today than it deserves.
Gov. Chris Christie was with the official who arranged the closure of local lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 11, 2013 — the third day of the closures, and well after they had triggered outrage from local officials beset by heavy traffic.
It isn’t known what, if anything, Mr. Christie discussed with David Wildstein that day, when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official was among the delegation of Mr. Christie’s representatives who welcomed him to the site of the World Trade Center for the commemoration of the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks there…
Mr. Christie addressed Mr. Wildstein in a news conference last week, saying he had not encountered him “in a long time.”
“I have had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time, a long time, well before the election,” which was held Nov. 5, Mr. Christie said last week. “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. I did not interact with David.”
Wildstein is the guy at the Port Authority who replied “Got it” when Bridget Kelly sent him the now famous e-mail about it being time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee. And here’s the Journal with proof that Christie met with him while the lanes were closed on the bridge! Except … it doesn’t really prove that. It proves that they spoke in full view of several people at some point on 9/11, when both of them had good reasons unrelated to Bridgegate to be in proximity to each other. (The Port Authority built and owned the World Trade Center.) Did Wildstein mention the bridge closings to him that day? The Journal doesn’t know. Did the two men ever even speak privately? They don’t know that either. Had enough complaints from local officials about the lane closings reached Christie at that point to make it probable that he would have pulled Wildstein aside and asked for an explanation? Still no idea. How ’bout what Christie said later about not having encountered Wildstein in “a long time, well before the election”? That’s surely a lie, right? I don’t know: If 9/11 was the last time he saw Wildstein before November 5th, would that qualify as a “long time”? It’s subjective. Given how many people Christie probably chatted with at Ground Zero, should he be expected to have remembered the encounter with Wildstein at all? What kind of scoop is it if it can instantly be defeated by the two of them saying, “Yeah, no, we never talked about bridge stuff”?
All we know is that the governor of New Jersey chatted with Port Authority officials at Ground Zero on the anniversary of the attacks. Go figure. If you’re looking to pin Christie to the closings, you’d be better off looking at his daily schedule to see if there were any unusual meetings with Kelly and Bill Stepien either when the closings were first ordered or when they finally went into effect. That’d be weak circumstantial evidence too, but at least you’d start without an obvious innocent explanation.
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