Ex-ally: Christie seemed happy about bridge mess

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By David Porter Associated Press con­trib­uted.

NEWARK, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie was told about the epic 2013 traf­fic jam at the Ge­orge Washington Bridge while it was un­der­way, seemed happy about it and joked sar­cas­ti­cally that there was noth­ing po­lit­i­cal go­ing on, a for­mer loy­al­ist tes­ti­fied Tues­day in the scan­dal that helped de­stroy Christie’s White House am­bi­tions.

David Wild­stein, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive at the agency that over­sees New Yorkarea bridges and tun­nels, took the stand for the pros­e­cu­tion at the trial of two one-time Christie al­lies ac­cused of en­gi­neer­ing four days of grid­lock to pun­ish a Demo­cratic mayor for not en­dors­ing Christie. Wild­stein has pleaded guilty.

Wild­stein’s ac­count was the first tes­ti­mony to sug­gest that Christie knew about the scheme while it was un­fold­ing.

Christie has re­peat­edly de­nied that and has not been charged with a crime.

Brid­get Kelly, Christie’s for­mer deputy chief of staff, and Bill Ba­roni, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive at the Port Au­thor­ity of New York and New Jersey, are on trial, charged with con­spir­acy, fraud and civil rights de­pri­va­tion in the al­leged po­lit­i­cal re­venge plot.

Wild­stein tes­ti­fied that Christie was told about the traf­fic in Fort Lee on the third day of grid­lock dur­ing a Sept. 11 me­mo­rial event.

Wild­stein said Ba­roni told Christie there was “a tremen­dous amount of traf- fic in Fort Lee” that morn­ing and that Mayor Mark Sokolich was “very frus­trated” he wasn’t get­ting his phone calls re­turned.

Wild­stein said he and Ba­roni had talked the night be­fore about telling Christie be­cause they were proud of what they had done.

The clos­ing of two of three ac­cess lanes to the Ge­orge Washington Bridge caused bumper-to-bumper traf­fic in Fort Lee for hours.

MEL EVANS/AP

David Wild­stein leaves the Martin Luther King Jr. Fed­eral Court­house af­ter a hear­ing Mon­day in Newark, N.J.

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