Monday, October 17, 2016

Bridgegate Witness Calls Out Cover-Up 'Lie' Courthouse News. Artwork by Aggie Kenny

Courthouse News

     NEWARK, N.J. (CN) — Gov. Chris Christie's office did not give much
thought to a messy traffic jam caused by New Jersey lane closures in
fall 2013, his former chief counsel testified Thursday, saying nothing
about it had seemed "nefarious" at the time.
     Prosecutors contend
that the four-day lane shutdown was intended as political retribution
against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who had disappointed the Christie
camp by revealing he would not be supporting the governor's re-election.
Traffic around the George Washington Bridge backed up for hours in Fort
Lee during the September lane closures, wreaking havoc on the small
community.
     Though the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
and the Christie administration explained away the lane closures at the
time, the traffic study they blamed proved to be nothing more than a
cover story.
   A trial over the plot has been building for weeks at the Newark
federal courthouse. Fifteen miles away meanwhile a Bergen County judge
approved a criminal summons today in a citizen's complaint against Christie, finding probable cause as to the governor's role in the scandal.
     The governor's potential indictment made little splash in at the federal
trial Thursday where prosecutors called to the stand Charles McKenna,
who served as Christie's chief counsel until 2014.

   "There was nothing nefarious about a traffic study," McKenna testified.
     Despite growing media attention, McKenna said it never dawned on him to investigate the issue further.
     "It wasn't something we worried about every day," said McKenna, a former prosecutor. "The world changed on January 8th."

 McKenna testified that he had been told by Christie's press secretary, Mike Drewniak, in November 2013 that one of the senior staff had emails regarding the lane closures.
   On that date, Jan. 8, 2014, media outlets began reporting on the incriminating personal emails and text messages that top Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly had sent before and during the lane closures. The United States brought charges shortly thereafter against her and William Baroni Jr., a deputy executive director appointed by Christie to the Port Authority.
     Both now stand trial for fraud and eight other charges related to the shutdown.
     During cross-examination by Kelly's lawyer, Michael Critchley, McKenna said that it had not seemed important enough in late 2013 to tell Christie or others in the administration about Kelly's emails related to the lane shutdown.