The Bridgegate trial of two former Chris Christie allies began on Monday
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was well aware that his colleagues planned to close major traffic lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge – which spans the Hudson River – in 2013, prosecutors alleged on Monday, according to the New York Times.
During the opening arguments in the bridgegate scandal trial of two former Christie administration officials, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office stated that the Governor knew about the scheme as it was happening – despite his stance that he had no knowledge of the plans, the Times reports.
In September 2013, commuter traffic in Fort Lee, New Jersey, was at a near constant standstill after two of the three access lanes to the bridge were shut down for four consecutive mornings. Later, Baroni, the former Port Authority deputy executive director, admitted to conspiring to close the lanes to “punish” the city’s mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie’s re-election.
Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, allegedly aided in the plan. Both are charged with nine counts of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Prosecutors further said, Monday, that Baroni and another supposed co-conspirator, David Wildstein – the former director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority – allegedly bragged to the governor about the lane closings, the Times reports.
Christie has previously been accused of knowing about the plot, with Wildstein’s lawyer Alan Zegas making similar claims last year. Wildstein, a high school friend of Christie’s, will testify in the criminal trial, prosecutors said, according to The Newark Star-Ledger.
After Kelly and Baroni were indicted last year, Christie said in a statement that the “charges make clear that what I’ve said from day one is true, I had no knowledge or involvement in the planning or execution of this act.”
“The moment I first learned of this unacceptable behavior I took action, firing staff believed to be accountable, calling for an outside investigation and agreeing to fully cooperate with all appropriate investigations, which I have done.”
On September 14, Christie further asserted to MSNBC, “No one has ever been able to prove that I knew anything or had any role in this, and this trial will just confirm that.”