Yesterday Governor Chris Christie’s Press Secretary, Michael Drewniak, testified before the New Jersey Legislature’s Special Investigative Committee on his role in handling the fallout from illegal lane closures on the George Washington Bridge aka Bridgegate.
Unlike other witnesses called before the committee Drewniak did not take the Fifth Amendment though did often confer with an attorney who accompanied him to the hearing and regularly declined to answer questions per his attorney’s advice. The typically stated rationale for declining to answer questions was a refusal to speculate or veer outside personal experience, though Drewniak also recurrently claimed to be unable to recall seemingly noteworthy personal events.
Yet some of Drewniak’s testimony was worth noting such as his disclosure that he had told Governor Chris Christie on December 5th about David Wildstein claiming Bridget Kelly was involved and that Wildstein told Christie himself about the “traffic study” on September 11th. Though there is some question as to whether that had been obscurely disclosed in the report from Christie’s internal investigation.
Whether it was previously disclosed or not, that testimony under oath makes it clear that Governor Christie misled the public in his December 13th presser regarding his claims that he had no knowledge of any of his staff being involved in what would become known as Bridgegate. Christie had previously mocked members of the press for suggesting otherwise.
Drewniak’s testimony also blew a hole in another claim Governor Christie made at his December 13 presser – that Bill Baroni and David Wildstein were not pushed out but had always planned to step down at that time. Drewniak testified that he knew previous to the press conference that Wildstein and Baroni were going to be “Asked to leave.”
But the central question went unanswered – who in the Christie Administration granted Wildstein’s request to implement his “traffic study”? Others testified Bridget Kelly did not have that kind of authority and Drewniak claimed that he was unaware how things worked at Intergovernmental Affairs, he did however offer a view that Bill Baroni was likely the one who authorized it at the Port Authority.
So who authorized the lane closures within the Christie Administration if not Bridget Kelly?