Rachel Maddow: Chris Christie’s office knew from the start bridge lane closures were harmful
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow determined on Friday that emails released on Friday detailing the plan to close several lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 show the woman now serving as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) chief of staff was directly notified concerning their potential for harm and illegality.
Maddow explained that among the officials Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Patrick Foye contacted on Sept. 13, 2013 calling the closures — which brought the nearby town of Fort Lee to a near-standstill — a breach of “federal law and the laws of both states” was Regina Egea, a member of his staff who was named Christie’s chief of staff that December.
“The governor’s office directly had notice that this was happening in Fort Lee, and that it was a problem, and that it was maybe illegal and they had that notice directly the week that the shutdown happened,” Maddow said.
The emails, Maddow said, also show David Wildstein, who was appointed by Christie to the agency, advising his supervisor, Bill Baroni, to answer complaints from both the press and the town’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, with “radio silence.”
Wildstein is also depicted keeping Christie’s then-deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, in the loop the weekend before the closures began on Sept. 9. Wildstein emailed Kelly saying, “I will call you Monday AM to let you know how Fort Lee goes.” Wildstein also informed the bridge’s general manager, Robert Durando, that he would be at the bridge to observe the “new lane test.”
Within an hour after the traffic began to pile up, Durando wrote back to Wildstein saying the town’s police chief was “not happy about our new traffic pattern.” Maddow also pointed out that a Port Authority spokesperson, Tina Lado, later contacted both Wildstein and Baroni — himself a Christie appointee — warning them about concerns from Borough Administrator Peggy Thomas.
“How did she know that those were the guys she needed to get in touch with about this bridge thing?” Maddow asked, adding that Lado’s email mentioned the problems the traffic snarl caused for residents needing police or emergency medical help.
“The Chris Christie appointees at the Port Authority knew directly — they were advised directly — on the first morning that their plan was in effect that it was literally putting lives at risk,” Maddow said, before showing an email from Durando stating that he had been advised by a “DW” to continue the gridlock through the next day “at a minimum.”
“We knew before this that they did it,” Maddow explained, tapping a stack of the documents in question. “Now we know a lot more about how they did it. And we know that the governor’s office not only called for it on August 13th, but we know that that same deputy chief of staff in the governor’s office was told the weekend before the traffic jam started that it was teed up for Monday.”
Watch Maddow’s dissection of the George Washington Bridge closure scheme, as aired Friday on MSNBC, below.