Embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie struck back over the weekend, calling allegations that he had knowledge of the George Washington Bridge lane closures as they were happening a lie while questioning the credibility of the man who made them.
In a letter to supporters from his office entitled “5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That’s Not A Bombshell,” Christie said that David Wildstein, a former high school classmate and the one who ordered the lane closures while head of the Port Authority, was trying to save his own skin by implicating Christie.
“Bottom line – David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein,” the letter, which was unsigned but sent from the governor’s office, said.
The letter also repeated the claim that Christie made at a two-hour press conference last month – that the first time he heard that the lane closures had occurred was when it was reported in early January.
“So what I can tell you is if people find that hard to believe, I don't know what else to say except to tell them that I had no knowledge of this – of the planning, the execution or anything about it – and that I first found out about it after it was over,” the letter said, quoting Christie from that press conference. “And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study. And there was no evidence to the contrary until yesterday that was brought to my attention or anybody else's attention."
The note to supporters also attempted to cast doubt on Wildstein’s credibility; it contains a laundry list of incidents that the letter argues reflect badly on him. It also painted Wildstein as a strange character.
“In David Wildstein's past, people and newspaper accounts have described him as 'tumultuous' and someone who 'made moves that were not productive,'” the letter said. “As a 16-year-old kid, he sued over a local school board election. He was publicly accused [by his social studies teacher in high school] of deceptive behavior. He had a controversial tenure as mayor of Livingston. He was an anonymous blogger known as Wally Edge. He had a strange habit of registering web addresses for other people's names without telling them.”
Christie's letter also took aim at The New York Times, the outlet that first reported Wildstein’s allegations. “A media firestorm was set off by sloppy reporting from The New York Times and their suggestion that there was actually 'evidence' when it was a letter alleging that 'evidence exists,'” the letter alleged.
The aggressive response from the N.J. governor was followed by the support of many in his party.
While on Friday afternoon it appeared as if Wildstein’s allegations could sink Christie’s 2016 GOP presidential ambitions or at least throw them into serious disarray, by Sunday others within the Republican establishment were publicly backing Christie. “I don't think he should step down. I think he should stay there,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said on CNN's "State of the Union,” referring to Christie’s term as head of the Republican Governors Association.
On ABC's "This Week," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) also backed Christie, saying, “Nothing has been proven" as of now as to whether Christie knew about or ordered the closures.
Even the head of the investigation in the lane closing said there is still no evidence Christie was involved. “We don’t have any proof right now that the governor said, ‘Go and close the lanes.’ We know that somebody who was in his office, Bridget Kelly, ordered the lane closures,” New Jersey assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) said on NBC's “Meet the Press.” “Nothing yet implicates the governor directly.”
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