Christie blasts Wildstein, New York Times report

CNN
Sunday, February 2, 2014 - 1:26am

After The New York Times published new allegations about Chris Christie and the George Washington Bridge scandal, the New Jersey governor launched a full-scale verbal assault on both the newspaper and the former Port Authority official, David Wildstein, making those claims.

In a response obtained Saturday by CNN, Christie rebuked Wildstein's claim the governor was aware of lane closures leading to the bridge -- and jabbed at the ex-appointee's reputation.

Christie also took shots at the The New York Times, slamming the paper for "sloppy" reporting on a letter written by Wildstein's attorney, Alan Zegas, to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Zegas contends 'evidence exists" that Christie had knowledge of the closures while they were happening.

The newspaper's initial online report Friday on the letter said Wildstein "had the evidence" to prove those allegations, contradicting statements made by Christie at a January news conference. A later version of the story adhered to Zegas' more nebulous claim that "evidence exists" contradicting Christie's assertions.

Christie has said he was unaware of the bridge closure until press accounts surfaced about the traffic snarl in October.

Wildstein resigned amid allegations that Christie appointees had ordered access lanes to the nation's biggest river crossing in Fort Lee closed last year as part of a political revenge scheme.

"Bottom line -- David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein," the letter from the governor's office said.

Politico first published Christie's response to that letter and the corresponding Times' article.

In a enumerated, point-by-point attack on both Wildstein and the Times bearing the subject line, "5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That's Not A Bombshell," Christie savaged Wildstein's personal history, listing newspaper accounts critical of his one-time high school classmate and assailing Wildstein's credibility.

"David Wildstein has been publicly asking for immunity since the beginning, been held in contempt by the New Jersey legislature for refusing to testify, failed to provide this so-called 'evidence' when he was first subpoenaed by the NJ Legislature and is looking for the Port Authority to pay his legal bills," the Christie letter said.

Wildstein was on the receiving end of text messages from now ex-Christie aide, Bridget Anne Kelly. In one of those messages, Kelly told Wildstein it was, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," to punish Fort Lee's mayor after he declined to endorse the governor during his re-election campaign.

After a more tempered initial response to Zegas' letter on Friday, the Christie camp's Saturday statement was peppered with the unsparing personal attacks on Wildstein's public record.

CNN on Saturday reached out to Zegas to respond to the Christie letter, but the attorney did not immediately respond.

Criticizing The New York Times for its coverage of comments made by Zegas in his letter, the Christie camp pointed to edits made to the story -- first posted online shortly before 4 p.m. Friday -- after its initial publication.

In a statement Saturday night, the Times defended its editorial process.

"We regularly update web stories for clarity as we did in this case," a spokesperson told CNN. "We do not note changes unless it involves an error."
 

News

Reader Comments

Post new Comment