The third day of testimony in the federal Bridgegate trial suggested that a number of people were playing politics during and after the access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were closed, causing havoc in Fort Lee. Two witnesses acknowledged giving misleading information after the fact, with Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich telling a jury in Newark he was “petrified” that retaliation from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might hurt his town.
Pat Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who ordered the lanes reopened after days of massive traffic jams, said that after he sent the e-mail Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni tried to get him to change his mind, telling him “it’s important to Trenton.” Baroni, who resigned from the agency after the scandal became public, is on trial with Bridget Kelly, a former top aide to Christie.
Under cross-examination, Foye denied he knew about the traffic problems earlier than he acknowledged and delayed the reopening so he could look better, although lawyer Mike Baldassare suggested he will produce witnesses to tell a different story. But Foye admitted allowing the agency to release statements saying the lane closings were for a traffic study even though he knew that was untrue because that was what Baroni wanted.
An e-mail from Scott Rechler, the Port Authority’s vice chairman, hinted that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hoped to use the lane closings as a bargaining chip to get Christie to sign off on a project. While Foye wanted the agency’s board to discuss the issue in a closed executive session, Rechler said the decision should be based on “how New Jersey is behaving.”
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