Former official testifies: Christie told about lane closures as they happened

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For as far as Chris Christie has fallen politically over the last three years, there has always been one saving grace: No evidence existed to directly tie him to the incident that sank his presidential ambitions. Until, at least according to US prosecutors, now.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was informed about the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 as they were happening, according to the testimony Tuesday from a former Port Authority executive.

While at Ground Zero during a 9/11 memorial event on September 11, 2013, Bill Baroni, the former Port Authority deputy executive director, and David Wildstein, the Port Authority director of interstate capital projects, had a discussion with Christie about the lane closures, Wildstein testified Tuesday in federal court.

The testimony is part of the trial for Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and Baroni, whom have both pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges in connection to the lane closures, an incident that has come to be known by some as “Bridgegate.”

Christie has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing or involvement with the lane closures, and he has never been charged with any crime related to the handling of the incident.

At an unrelated event Tuesday, Christie publicly said his version of events has not changed and denied any wrong

“I had no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments,” he said. “I had no role in authorizing it. I had no knowledge of it and there has been no evidence ever put forward that I did.”

Wildstein said in court that Baroni told Christie, “Governor, I have to tell you there’s a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee this morning, major traffic jams.” Wilstein said Baroni had a sarcastic tone during the conversation.

The lane closures began two days prior on September 9.

“You’ll be pleased to know that Mayor (Mark) Sokolich is having trouble getting his telephone calls returned,” Baroni continued, according to Wildstein.

Wildstein testified that Christie replied, “I imagine he wouldn’t be getting his calls returned.”

Sokolich had not endorsed Chris Christie in his re-election bid. Previous testimony during this case illustrated an administration policy of “radio silence” the governor’s office and the Port Authority implemented.

Baroni then informed Christie that Wildstein was monitoring the traffic in Fort Lee.

Later in the conversation, Christie reiterated that the Port Authority was to have no contact with Sokolich.

The lane closures lasted four days.