ALBANY, N.Y. — Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday denied an allegation that he and Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie discussed using a false report to defuse questions surrounding the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal.
Cuomo said the claim, from a key witness in the trial of two former Christie aides, amounts to inaccurate hearsay. He noted that the witness, former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive David Wildstein, admitted that he had no firsthand knowledge to back up his claim.
“This is a person who admitted that he committed a crime and he’s pled to a felony: ‘I heard a story that the governor said to the governor…'” Cuomo said of Wildstein. “That was not accurate. That’s gossip that he’s passing on.”
Wildstein has pleaded guilty in the bridge scheme and is cooperating with authorities. He testified Tuesday that former Port Authority Chairman David Samson told him the governors discussed issuing a report when the media began scrutinizing the lane closures, which gridlocked the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for four days in September 2013. No report was ever published.
The Christie aides, Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly, are charged with orchestrating the lane closures at the bridge, which connects Fort Lee with New York City, to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie’s re-election bid. They have pleaded not guilty.
Samson pleaded guilty to separate charges related to his tenure as chairman and is awaiting sentencing.
Wildstein has testified Christie was told about the traffic jam while it was underway. Christie has repeatedly denied that and has not been charged with a crime.