At the nearly two-hour news conference on Jan. 9, Christie gave responses open to interpretation about when he first learned about the closings while saying flatly he knew nothing about an apparently political motive until months later.
When asked if he understood why people would have a hard time believing “you didn’t know about this thing,” he responded: “I don’t know what else to say except to tell them that I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it — and that I first found out about it after it was over.”
“And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study,” he said.
In another instance, asked if he had authorized the retribution, Christie said: “Oh, absolutely not. No. And I knew nothing about this. And until it started to be reported in the papers about the closure, but even then I was told this was a traffic study.”
Christie’s account that he learned of the matter from newspapers mirrored his statement at a news conference almost a month earlier.
On Friday night, Christie appeared at a birthday party for radio personality Howard Stern, but did not take questions after introducing a performance by Jon Bon Jovi.
Zegas’ letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey requests that the agency pay his legal bills. Wildstein was Christie’s No. 2 man at the Port Authority, the agency that runs the bridge, before resigning in December.
The letter is unclear about whether Wildstein is suggesting he has material that has not been made public previously or whether he is referring to information that has been reported in recent weeks.
Christie had adamantly denied that staff members were involved until private emails that were subpoenaed and released showed otherwise. Besides Wildstein, three others connected to Christie have been fired or resigned.
New Jersey legislators are investigating whether Christie aides engineered the lane closures in the community of Fort Lee to send a message to the town’s Democratic mayor. The U.S. Attorney’s office is also investigating. Twenty subpoenas for documents and correspondence related to the lane closings are due to be returned to the legislative panel on Monday.
No subpoenas target Christie himself, a possible 2016 presidential candidate who has just begun a yearlong chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association.
Some Democrats pounced on Friday’s letter. Milly Silva, a union executive who ran for lieutenant governor last year issued a statement saying, “If these allegations are proven, it raises serious questions about how New Jersey can continue to move forward under Gov. Christie’s leadership.”