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Ex-official claims evidence contradicts Christie on closures (w/video)

  • David Wildstein walks from a hearing Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Wildstein, a former appointee of Gov. Chris Christie, is refusing to answer questions from a legislative committee looking into a scandal involving punitive traffic lane closures. The Christie administration stands accused of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, linking New York and New Jersey, in order to create a huge traffic backup as retribution against a local mayor for not endorsing the governor's reelection. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie made inaccurate statements during a news conference about the lane closures near the George Washington Bridge, according to a letter released Friday by a lawyer for a former Christie loyalist who ordered the closures and resigned amid the ensuing scandal that has engulfed the New Jersey governor's administration.

The letter from David Wildstein's lawyer said evidence exists suggesting the governor knew about the closures as they happened in September — which, if accurate, contradicts some statements Christie made on the matter.

Attorney Alan Zegas' letter focuses on a nearly two-hour televised news conference Christie gave on Jan. 9 where his responses to questions about what he knew about the closures and when could be open to interpretation. But at a Dec. 13 news conference, the Republican governor said definitively he didn't know about the traffic problems until they were over.

Asked about the traffic backups, Christie noted a top leader at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the entity that runs the bridge, was slow to learn of the closures so it's no surprise Christie wouldn't hear about them until later.

"It was certainly well after the whole thing was over before I heard about it," Christie said.

The Republican governor's office said the letter's claim does not contradict Christie'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. "As he said in his Jan. 9 press conference, (he) had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of Jan. 8."

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