Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump once had very strong opinions on one of his diehard allies, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Christie’s knowledge and involvement about the controversial 2013 closing of the George Washington Bridge — the bridge between New York and New Jersey, and the most heavily traveled bridge in the U.S., carrying more than 100 million commuters per year.
Just months ago, in December, 2015, Trump opined that “there’s less than one percent chance” that Christie did not know of the decision to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge as reported by The Hill.
Speaking in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Trump mentioned the scandal which has come to be known as “Bridgegate,” and said that “The GW Bridge, he knew about it.”
“How do you have breakfast with people everyday of your lives. … They’re closing up the largest bridge in the world … they’re with them all the time … They never said ‘Hey boss, we’re closing up the George Washington Bridge.’ No, they’re talking about the weather right? So he knew about it. … He totally knew about it.”
Trump claim was prophetic. According to a text contained in a new court filing, Governor Christie “flat out lied” about the involvement of one of his top aides in the scandal. In a December, 2013, press conference — almost 2 years to the day before Trump’s claim — Christie was asked whether he was certain that no one on his staff had any involvement with Bridgegate.
Christie responded by stating that he was certain. Christie specifically said that his top aide and campaign manager Bill Stepien had not been involved. “Oh yeah. I’ve spoken to Mr. Stepien, who’s the person in charge of the campaign, and he has assured me the same thing,” Christie said.
According to Politico, as Christie was speaking at the press conference, two of his aides were texting to each other messages that squarely contradict what Christie was saying.
“Christie aide Christina Renna, the top deputy to one of the defendants charged in the lane closure scandal, then texted another Christie aide, Peter Sheridan, according to the filing by defendant Bill Baroni.
‘Are you listening? He just flat out lied about senior staff and Stepien not being involved,’ Renna wrote.
‘I’m listening… Gov is doing fine. Holding his own up there,’ Sheridan responded.
‘Yes. But he lied. And if emails are found with the subpoena or [Governor Christie’s re-election campaign] emails are uncovered in discovery if it comes to that it could be bad.’
Christie, himself, has denied having any involvement nor knowledge of the decision to close lanes on the GW Bridge. Opponents have said that Christie’s administration not only was involved, but ordered the closure of the lanes in order to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ — a Democrat — for failing to endorse Christie in his re-election run for New Jersey governor.
On Wednesday, Christie again denied any involvement when he appeared on a sports talk radio show in New York. “I absolutely dispute it. It’s ridiculous. It’s nothing new,” Christie told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “There’s nothing new to talk about.”
For now, neither Stepien, Renna, nor Sheridan have been charged in connection with Bridgegate. Stepien was fired a month after the press conference when it came out that he was aware of the closures, but had no involvement in the matter.