Christie camp knew ‘s–t was hitting the fan’ over Bridgegate

Christie camp knew ‘s–t was hitting the fan’ over Bridgegate

Officials within the Christie administration knew that “s–t was hitting the fan” over the George Washington Bridge lane closures as early as October 2013, according to an e-mail brought into evidence at the Bridgegate trial on Wednesday. “A new high level of s–t is hitting the fan tonight on the Ft Lee/GWB issue. Maybe you should know about it,” Christie’s then-press secretary Michael Drewniak said in an e-mail on Oct. 18, 2013 to Chief of Staff Kevin O’Dowd. Bridget Anne Kelly’s defense attorney, Michael Critchley, brought up the e-mail in an attempt to show that the lane closures were well-known throughout the Christie administration and that his client unfairly took the fall. Kelly, a former Christie staffer, and Bill Baroni, the Port Authority’s former deputy executive director, are currently on trial, accused of orchestrating the lane closures as an act of political retaliation against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who refused to endorse Christie’s election. Kelly is expected to take the stand in her own defense as early as Thursday — and insist she believed the lane closures were part of a legitimate traffic study, not an act of revenge. She will also likely say she spoke to Christie about the lane closures more than once while working as his deputy chief of staff — suggesting orders for the bridge fiasco came straight from the top. When asked about the e-mail to O’Dowd, Drewniak insisted the “high level of s–t” referred to state legislators asking questions about the scandal. “Why were the legislators of interest to you all of a sudden?” Critchley asked. “It had something to do with legislators,” Drewniak said. “Precisely what it was, I cant remember.” But earlier in the day, Drewniak admitted he told a grand jury that he became aware that Kelly and Bill Stepien, another former Christie aide, knew about the lance closures the same day he sent the e-mail. The former Christie spokesman also said he was asked by a reporter about whether the governor knew about the lane closures as early as Sept. 17th. But he didn’t bother asking the governor about it until Dec. 5 — the day after the government’s star witness David Wildstein told Drewniak over dinner that he’d discussed the scheme with Christie at a Sept. 11 memorial. “I didn’t see any reason to bother the governor,” Drewniak said of his decision not to ask Christie about it earlier. On Dec. 13, Christie held a press conference on Bridgegate and insisted he had “no reason to believe” anyone on his senior staff was involved in the lane closures.

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