In July, one of Chris Christie’s top aides, Regina Egea, was called to testify before the legislature’s Bridgegate committee. At her hearing, Egea disclosed under oath that she had sent one unreturned text message to Chris Christie during the Port Authority’s testimony in December of 2013, and insisted that the message was “not at all substantive.” This, of course, was the testimony at which the Port Authority’s David Wildstein was eviscerated for his bogus “traffic study” explanation for the Fort Lee bridge closure.
Even at the time, Egea’s deleted text message story raised eyebrows and was rebuked by many as a clear attempt to hide something. Here’s how the Star-Ledger editorial board summarized her dubious narrative:
Last November, Egea — Christie’s top liaison to the Port Authority at the time — helped polish Bill Baroni’s traffic-study remarks to the Legislature’s Bridgegate committee. Baroni, you’ll remember, was Christie’s top staffer in the agency. Weeks later, testimony from other Port Authority officials discredited that tall tale. That, Egea says, is when she texted her assessment of their testimony (“fair and evenhanded”) to the governor.
Is that all she said? We don’t know, because Egea deleted the message.
Now, we know for certain that she was lying in her sworn testimony. According to WNYC, the newly released report from the legislative committee reveals that in fact, the text exchange was initiated by Governor Christie himself, and that there were 12 messages sent between him and Egea — a far cry from Egea’s claim of one innocuous text to Christie that went without response. Of course, all the texts have been deleted, so we can only speculate what they might have said.
For months Chris Christie has been brushing off Bridgegate allegations with the ol’ “nothing to see here, nothing to see!” routine. But it’s more clear at every turn that the governor and his aides involved in the scandal have gone to incredible lengths make sure there is literally nothing to see.
This is a major development — a key player in this scandal lied under oath about direct communications with Christie regarding the testimony of Bridgegate’s supposed architect. What was she covering up? That’s just one of a slew of questions that still remain for Chris Christie; see more below.
Legislative Report Found That There Were 12 Text Messages Exchanged Between Christie And Regina Egea On The Day Port Authority Officials Started To Question David Wildstein’s Explanation For Lane Closures. According to WNYC, “Contradicting sworn testimony and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s repeated accounts that he barely paid attention last fall to the burgeoning scandal surrounding politically-motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, a new report shows there were 12 text messages exchanged between the Governor and a top aide during an explosive day of testimony a year ago. That was the day that top officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began to dismantle key elements of the Christie administration’s official explanation of events — that the lane closures were a traffic study gone awry. AT&T did not release the content of the texts, and it’s not unusual that the Governor and the aide would have been exchanging messages that day with the aide, Regina Egea, his incoming chief of staff and head of his authorities unit, who was monitoring the testimony. But their previous denials raises the question of what other communications were deleted as the scandal unfolded.” [WNYC, 12/5/14]
Christie Initiated Text Exchange With Egea On December 9th, 2013, During Testimony Of Port Authority Officials When They Accused Wildstein Of Fabricating Traffic Study. According to WNYC, “But phone records subpoenaed from AT&T show the governor initiated the exchange, sending a total of three texts to Egea on December 9, 2013. Egea returned the text, and sent nine in total, all during the 6 hours of testimony by Port Authority officials in which they called the actions of Christie appointee at the Port Authority David Wildstein ‘odd’ ‘abberational’ and ‘illegal,’ denied the existence of a legitimate traffic study, said commuters had been grossly inconvenienced and public safety compromised, and said they feared for their jobs if they disobeyed Wildstein.” [WNYC, 12/5/14]
Egea Had Previously Testified That She Only Recalled Texting Christie Once That Day, And She Could Not Recall Any Response From Christie. According to WNYC, “Previously, Egea said in sworn testimony before the New Jersey legislature that she had texted the Governor just once during the morning of testimony, to comment on the ‘professionalism’ of Port Authority staff. She said she did not recall any reply. The Governor later told reporters he didn’t recall receiving a text, and in a lengthy report in which his own lawyers said they reviewed 250,000 pages of documents, there were no text messages to or from Governor Christie to any of his staff.” [WNYC, 12/5/14]
Egea Had Previously Said Her Text To Christie Was Not Substantive, And She Did Not Know When She Had Deleted The Text. According to WNYC, “In Egea’s own testimony last summer, the new report notes, she referred to a single text she sent that day as ‘not at all substantive.’ She said she ‘couldn’t recall’ a response from the governor. Egea acknowledged deleting the text, though she couldn’t say when.” [WNYC, 12/5/14]
New York Times Headline: “Report Cites Gaps Between Records And Christie’s Comments On Bridge Lane Closings.” According to the New York Times, “A long-awaited report by a New Jersey legislative committee says that there is ‘no conclusive evidence’ whether Gov. Chris Christie knew about the controversial lane closings at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 before or as they were happening. But in a detailed chronology, the report argues that the governor had many opportunities to know about the lane closings, the political motive behind them and the involvement of his administration, even as he insisted he knew nothing. Using testimony and records from the governor’s closest allies and staff members, the 136-page report argues that the governor, a Republican, was not telling the truth when he told a news conference almost exactly a year ago that his senior staff members and campaign team had assured him that they had not known about the closings while they were happening.” [New York Times, 12/5/14]
New York Daily News Headline: “Gov. Christie Not Ruled Out Of Bridgegate Scandal In New Jersey Legislative Report.” According to the New York Daily News, “A New Jersey legislative report into the Bridgegate scandal does not rule out Gov. Chris Christie’s involvement in the politically motivated debacle. While Christie has insisted he had nothing to do with the September 2013 lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, the joint legislative report did not draw the same conclusion.” [New York Daily News, 12/5/14]
Daily Mail Headline: Bridgegate Cloud Still Hangs Over Chris Christie After New Report FAILS To Clear Him Of Wrongdoing.” According to the Daily Mail, “New Jersey lawmakers probing politically motivated traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge last year have been unable to rule out that that Gov. Chris Christie was involved in the scandal. They have been trying to determine who ordered traffic lanes to be blocked in September 2013 at the bridge and why.” [Daily Mail, 12/5/14]
CNN Headline: “Bridgegate Panel Co-Chair: ‘We Are Not Done.’” According to CNN, “The legislative panel investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal was unable to determine whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew about the lane closures ahead of time, but the panel will continue to push for more answers, the co-chairman of the panel told CNN.” [CNN, 12/5/14]
New York Times: Report Was “Significantly Hindered” By A Lack Of Cooperation From Former Christie Aides And Appointees. According to the New York Times, “The report affirms the role of Ms. Kelly and Mr. Wildstein, but says that many questions remain about the role of Mr. Stepien and Mr. Christie’s two top appointees at the Port Authority — Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director, and David Samson, the chairman of the board. All of those people declined to speak with either lawyers conducting the inquiry for the governor or with the legislative committee, which has eight Democrats and four Republicans. Ms. Kelly and Mr. Stepien have declined to comply with subpoenas from the committee; Mr. Samson and Mr. Wildstein provided some initial documents, but subsequently stopped cooperating. The report, written by the private counsel to the committee, notes that its investigation has been significantly hindered by that lack of cooperation and a continuing federal investigation. Legislative investigators have not been able to interview key witnesses until the United States Attorney’s office finishes its review. So the report, the committee said, is only interim.” [New York Times, 12/5/14]