In a truly fascinating turn of events, David Wildstein, a former senior official with the Port Authority of NY & NJ and the current star witness in the ongoing Bridgegate trial, claims Andrew Cuomo colluded with Chris Christie in an attempt to make the Bridgegate scandal go away in 2013. Wildstein says Cuomo helped the embattled NJ Governor in his alleged quest to cover up the George Washington Bridge lane closings by claiming they were part of a traffic study.
Wildstein testified today that the two governors had "conversations" about lane closings from Fort Lee to the GWB in October 2013, when Port Authority executive director Pat Foye threatened to look into them.
Though it's unclear whether Cuomo knew exactly why the lanes were closed—as an apparent act of retaliation against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for failing to endorse Christie—Wildstein's testimony alleges that Cuomo and Christie both agreed that Christie's administration would fake the traffic study report and have Foye sign off on it.
"My understanding was Gov. Christie and Gov. Cuomo had discussed this, if the New Jersey side (of the PA) accepted responsibility, Foye would sign off on this and that would put an end to this issue," Wildstein, who has pleaded guilty to a number of felony counts pertaining to his role in the lane closures, said in court today. "This report would be issued, there would be an explanation to the public, the Port Authority would take responsibility for the failure in communication ... and the question of lane closures would go away."
Cuomo had previously claimed, three months after the Bridgegate scandal broke, that he didn't "know anything more than basically what has been in the newspaper, because it was basically a New Jersey issue," though in July, WNYC reported that Cuomo and his top aides were in close contact with the Port Authority as soon as Foye ordered the lanes open, in September of 2013. Top officials with Cuomo were apparently emailing with the Port Authority, referencing Cuomo right-hand man Howard Glaser and Bill Baroni—Christie’s top staff appointee at the Port Authority and a defendant in the Bridgegate trial—to find out "how they want to get out of Fort Lee and what role we can play," suggesting possible involvement in the cover-up.
Cuomo's office, meanwhile, denies any involvement in the scandal. A spokesperson provided us with the following statement:
The only role New York played in this episode was a positive one: it was our executive director who blew the whistle and ordered the bridge reopened. To be clear, no such conversation between the governors happened, in fact no report of any kind was ever done, and whatever the admitted bridgegate architect thought or dreamt about New York’s involvement has no basis in fact. Anyone can say anything, especially a convicted felon spinning a tale, but it’s just false and delusional.
Christie also claims Wildstein is lying about Christie's involvement in the scandal.