David Wildstein, one of the witnesses in the bridgegate trial, testified today that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo participated in a cover up after a phone conversation with Gov. Chris Christie. From Politico:
Cuomo, a Democrat, and Christie, a Republican, agreed that the agency would release a report washing over the incident, saying the lane closures were the result of a traffic study commissioned by officials on the New Jersey side of the agency and that there had been a “failure of communications,” Wildstein testified.
“My understanding was Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo has discussed this,” Wildstein told defense attorney Michael Critchley. “That if there was a report that was issued, that if New Jersey side accepted responsibility, that Mr. Foye would sign off on that.”
That was supposed to “put an end to this,” Wildstein said.
The “Mr. Foye” mentioned in this testimony is executive director of the Port Authority Patrick Foye. His lawyer tells Politico that Wildstein’s account is “not accurate.”
A spokesman for Gov. Cuomo also issued a strong denial, telling Politico, “To be clear, no such conversation between the governors happened, in fact no report of any kind was ever done, and whatever the admitted bridgegate architect thought or dreamt about New York’s involvement has no basis in fact. Anyone can say anything, especially a convicted felon spinning a tale, but it’s just false and delusional.”
The Wall Street Journal reported back in December 2013 on a call that supposedly took place between Governors Christie and Cuomo about the lane closures. The source of the information was not revealed in the story and the claim that Cuomo had agreed to participate in a cover up was absent. Here’s the opening paragraph from the WSJ story:
Mr. Christie, a Republican, complained in a private phone call to Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, that Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was pressing too hard to get to the bottom of why the number of toll lanes onto the bridge from Fort Lee, N.J. was cut from three to one in early September, according to this person. The lane closures occurred without notice to local authorities, officials have said, and snarled traffic for a week in the small borough on the Hudson River bluffs.
At the time, Cuomo’s office didn’t comment on the story and Christie’s office merely said he spoke frequently with Cuomo about many issues.