Ex-Port Authority Big Implicated In 'Bridgegate' Refuses To Talk, Charged With Contempt

David Wildstein declined to answer state Assembly committee questions, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent.

David Wildstein speaks during a hearing Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Wildstein, a former appointee of Gov. Chris Christie is refusing to answer questions from a legislative committee looking into the Bridgegate scandal.
David Wildstein speaks during a hearing Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Wildstein, a former appointee of Gov. Chris Christie is refusing to answer questions from a legislative committee looking into the Bridgegate scandal.

Written by Keith Brown and Anthony Bellano

David Wildstein, the former high-raking Port Authority official close to Gov. Chris Christie, was held in contempt Thursday after he refused to answer the questions of a state Assembly committee investigating his role in the manufactured closure of four lanes on the George Washington Bridge.

Wildstein, who tried unsuccessfully to quash a subpoena requiring him to appear before the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities committee Thursday, declined to answer each question from the committee, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent.

Wildstein was held in contempt, opening the possibility for a prosecutor to pursue Wildstein’s refusal to answer as a fourth-degree crime.

At the completion of the hearing, committee Chairman Assemblyman John Wisniewski read from the rules governing the committee, which call for the imposition of the misdemeanor if anyone called before the committee refuses to answer the panel's questions.

Wisniewski called for a vote of the committee on whether the committee's questions were pertinent to the investigation. The vote was unanimous.

"Mr. Wildstein, I'm getting the feeling that I'm wasting my time here,'' Wisniewski said about 15 minutes into the hearing.

Wildstein, who resigned after questions about the lane closures intensified, is cited in emails sent from Christie's office calling for the lane closures.

Emails first obtained by The Record show former Deputy Chief of Staff Brigette Anne Kelly told Wildstein that it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” about two weeks before the lanes were closed.

“Got it,” Wildstein replied.

Wildstein's refusal to answer questions came less than an hour after Christie ended a press conference announcing that Kelly was fired for her involvement in the lane closures.

Wisniewski asked about the emails between Kelly and Wildstein in which the former Port Authority executive appeared to agree to close the four lanes leading to the bridge. Wildstein refused to answer.

Millie Silva, a Democratic Lt. Governor candidate in the November election, said it was "like watching a bad episode of Boardwalk Empire.''

"The bullying, lies, political games and jigsaw puzzle of responsibility is government at its worst," Silva said. "New Jersey residents deserve better."

After about 30 minutes of getting no answers from Wildstein, Wisniewski let other members of the committee attempt to elicit a response from Wildstein. None were successful.

Wisniewski, appearing somewhat frustrated, questioned whether Wildstein had not already waived his right to remain silent by providing the documents to the committee that they were now asking him about.

"It's no secret where the documents came from, so it would seem to me that the privilege that you're asserting has already been waived in providing these documents,'' he said.

Following the hearing, Wisniewski called Gov. Chris Christie’s credibility “strained” as a result of the situation.

“It strains his credibility to say this was a rogue operation,” Wisniewski said.

He said the committee’s focus would likely shift to Kelly and Bill Stepien, Christie’s former campaign manager who was pulled from consideration as the head of the state Republican Party committee in the wake of the email revelations.

“They were the focus of the governor’s ire,” Wisniewski said. “I think it’s appropriate we ask what they knew.”
Mike King January 09, 2014 at 06:05 PM
That's the big one Joel. Do we even want a real leader? Our track record w/govs is pretty bad, and who has the energy to clean up this mess even if we did?
Jarhead January 09, 2014 at 07:04 PM
Milly Silva for governor. Lead us to the Promised Land, or wherever the public sector workers unions will lead us. Sheep to the slaughter. And Wisniewski, nice town you rule over, once the tide goes out! Go back to chasing ambulances. Capt. Joel, it hasn't been proven anyone died because of the lane closings, it HAS been proven Americans died in Benghazi because our fearless leader went to sleep and left Iron Pants in charge. Guess he had an early tee time the next day.
Metoo January 09, 2014 at 08:48 PM
Hey Jarhead, how many Marines died in Lebanon under RRs watch? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Beirut_barracks_bombing) How many Benghazi like attacks occured under Dubyas watch? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/13-benghazis-that-occurre_b_3246847.html)
Phil Brooks January 09, 2014 at 09:35 PM
Metoo, People like Jarhead are ideologues, quick to deflect and misdirect the argument when one of their boys is in the cross-hairs. // As for my taste, they're all connivers, so party affiliation doesn't matter to me. // In my mind, Christie's guilty and it's just a matter of time until that comes out. Kelly's email to Wildstein essentially said, "It's on," meaning that this traffic thing was discussed before the email. And it's difficult to believe that Kelly and maybe Stepian dreamed this up themselves and no one above them knew about it if even but to say, "Hey, folks, this isn't a good idea" as you'd like to think someone who's uncomfortable with this would want to say that and not get caught in the crossfire. My guess is that Kelly and Stepian getting thrown under the bus is Christie's way of distancing himself and giving himself plausible deniability. Nixon pulled the same thing and we know what happened to him.
Metoo January 09, 2014 at 09:43 PM
Phill, I couldn't agree more...
Captain Joel S. Fogel January 09, 2014 at 10:11 PM
Deceased was name Lilian who died waiting for an ambulance which got stuck in traffic due to the lane closings. She was 91.
Captain Joel S. Fogel January 09, 2014 at 10:36 PM
Here is your contact at 60 MINUTES....send him what you have via FB to 60 MINUTES: Jeff Fager....Exec. Producer / Chairman CBS News
anonymous January 10, 2014 at 03:06 AM
He will talk give him some time. We have given him no other choice. We did for the lulz anonymous
Mel Sharples January 10, 2014 at 07:48 AM
Phil, you are totally correct. What's bizarre about their behavior is that Christie had, by GOP standards, little issues with Democrats or liberals. He won the election handily, with support from left-leaning power-brokers and voters alike. Heck, I voted for him! His real enemies are the Tea Party and far-right wing. They're the ones with the motivation to destroy him, so that they can get the candidate of their choosing 2016 - an extreme conservative (who will lose every swing state...again). You'll see it today, on the airwaves and on Fox News. Bet on it.
Project Bluebeam January 10, 2014 at 08:26 AM
How many Obama administration officials have pleaded the fifth over the past 5 years as you turned a deaf ear?
Phil Brooks January 10, 2014 at 08:38 AM
Bluebeam, Why are you deflecting the issue? // This isn't about President Obama, who will likely go down as one of the more incompetent people to hold the office. And, if it'll make you feel any better, there have been plenty of connivers bordering on (if not over the line) criminals in both parties. // Stay on subject here, please. And the subject, for the moment, is Christie. And there's more than meets the eye that still has yet to surface. For instance, when Kelly sent the email to Wildstein, she essentially said, "It's on," meaning that the subject had already been discussed. Who was in on that discussion besides those two? Drewniak? O'Dowd? Stepien? The big man himself? Why would the Deputy Chief of Staff take it upon herself to do this? Like a cat, to bring a big rat back to its owner and show what she did? If it was done that way, then Christie's in the loop and the plausible deniability is out the window. If anyone else was in the loop and disagreed, did they make their viewpoints known, if but for the sole reason of distancing themselves from it when the hammer finally dropped? Did the Democrats know about this before the election and hold back for some reason, as in knowing full well that, like Nixon, Christie was a sure thing and the revelation, if made in November, wouldn't have had the effect that it does now as the win would have effectively been a vote of confidence? There are questions still to be asked on both sides. And deflecting or mis-directing, as you're doing, provides nothing but a blind eye. Open both, please.
Clyde January 10, 2014 at 09:35 AM
Chrisite is vindictive. He has canceled the PBA pensions COLA even for disability retireants because the Pba did not support him in his first election. Even thought Social Security still recognizes the COLA, the Pit Bull remains punishing those who oppose him.
Clyde January 10, 2014 at 09:36 AM
Can you imagine him as President getting mad at Russia and pushing the nuclear button?
makemyday January 10, 2014 at 09:42 AM
@jarhead & bluebeam, I agree with you 100%. Notice how the msm & the dems are trying to put focus on christie instead of the book from defense sec. Gates, which claims Obama & Billary said their decisions on the war surge was based on politics not what was best for our country, troops or the region. Stunning! But of course the dems will try the hand trick...look at this hand, while the other is doing the dirty work.
Mel Sharples January 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM
MMD - the surges were always political, they made zero difference in how that war ends (long-term). It was all about that for Bush, it was all about that for Obama. If you are old enough you know that was what it was about for LBJ. Only difference is that Bush launched the assault on Fallujah, a pointless exercise that generated high casualties, to avoid a hit in the polls. The surges, by comparison, were just PR ploys.
BN January 10, 2014 at 10:17 AM
At least Christie did something about it by firing the person responsible and didn't let them continue to collect a salary like Kathleen Sibelius.
. January 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM
BN I would put money that the person responsible is Christie. Bridget Anne Kelly was the "fall guy" and has probably been paid off in another way. She was close to Christie and no way that he didn't know about this!
BN January 10, 2014 at 10:35 AM
So using your logic, Obama should resign.
Roland C. Woodaka January 10, 2014 at 11:07 AM
We have already strongly hinted at what went into planning the Chris Christie press conference attempt to plan how they were going to accept responsibility and despite facing new evidence would steer blame away from Christie! rcw
Kelly Van Rijn January 10, 2014 at 11:11 AM
If you have fifth amendment right not to incriminate yourself by remaining silent, why would you then be charged with contempt? The bigger issue is why the lefties get so hot and bothered by some stupid prank orchestrated by political hacks, but are quiet when it come to the profound, almost magical failure called the obama administration...
Laura January 10, 2014 at 11:46 AM
Kelly Van Rijn, It was a prank? At what comedy club are you appearing? When anyone says I am not a bully, that's a problem. Plus schadenfreude is such a b.... This whole thing just gives Jersey another black eye.
ed mays January 10, 2014 at 12:07 PM
Complain, complain, complain. It has nothing to do with republicans or democrats but the issue at hand. What did Christie know before the lane closings? How does a deputy chief of staff have authority to start this fiasco? Four days and the governor didn`t know? It all will all be revealed in the end, you betcha. If Christie knew he should be tossed out of office. I voted for him twice. Quit ragging on Obama and Hillary Clinton...it`s not their story.
Phil Brooks January 10, 2014 at 02:17 PM
Kelly Van Rijn, Ah, another blind deflector/mis-director speaks. // A prank? A PRANK? Classic! // "I am not a bully." "I am not a crook." See any parallels in the two quotes?
Marlboro Mann January 10, 2014 at 02:38 PM
As bad as it looks, anytime the Democrats have the Governorship patronage runs rampant, taxes skyrocket, and the public employee unions get everything they want plus more. I'll take my chances with Christie any day.
Marlboro Mann January 10, 2014 at 02:44 PM
BTW-Anyone recall that as soon as Corzine took office he raised the sales tax from 6% to 7% for "property tax relief"? When that happened my taxes were $6800; it is now $8500. You call that relief? I guess the savings and the whereabouts of the millions collected by the Port Authority will continue to remain a mystery. Welcome to NJ-The Cesspool State.
Joe R January 10, 2014 at 03:16 PM
What else would one expect from Lung Cancer Mann? I'll admit though that we New Jerseyites have no luck with governors. Christie either lied or he is incompetent. Other than that, he's a loud mouthed boorish bully who didn't lower property taxes.
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Phil Brooks January 10, 2014 at 10:14 PM
Christina Paula, Do you get paid by the scam post? And how hot is it in that boiler room where you're working? Oh, and in which Third World country are you?
Sybilscavetroll January 11, 2014 at 04:36 PM
Christie is a Bully, a Clown, and a lying pig. The Port Authority is a corrupt organized racket that should have been dismantled long ago. These criminals pretend to care about the people of New Jersey, when in truth they care about as much as Obomba, Menendez, and Hitlery care about the innocent people of Africa and the Middle East. It's all one big lie and distraction while they plunder this once great nation and drive the citizenry into poverty, desperation and compliance with their fascist agenda. Meanwhile Fukushima is spewing out radiation that will destroy the entire northern hemisphere for thousands of years and future generations.
David Sileo January 11, 2014 at 04:51 PM
Yeah just like the sincerity of spineless posters here using an alias. There's credibility. Spineless cow.


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