As the final sentencing hearing for last year’s defendants in the 2016 George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal comes to a close, one of the state Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls is calling President Donald Trump’s official announcement of New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s new role in his administration a deliberate attempt to distract from the latest pieces of “Bridgegate” fallout.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who chaired the original state-level legislative committee to investigate the scandal, called Christie’s same-day appearance alongside Trump to announce his new advisory role on opioid addictiona play to the governor’s strengths at a time when he is suffering a barely-improved 20 percent approval rating at home. The assemblyman is running for his party’s nomination against frontrunner Phil Murphy and State Senator Ray Lesniak.
Wisniewski said that “it should be lost on no one that today’s announcement by President Trump naming Christie to head the opioid task force comes on the same day as the ‘Bridgegate’ sentencing. This is an obvious and transparent ploy to divert the conversation away from what will be his lasting legacy: traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Wisniewski also called for the Democratic majority in the Assembly to reopen the state-level investigation into Bridgegate, a proposition that may not be tempting for Democrats this late in Christie’s tenure. Christie was never charged despite defendants Bill Baroni, Bridget Kelly and David Wildstein alleging that he had knowledge of the lane closures as they were happening.
“I have long maintained the idea that Gov. Christie—a world-class micro-manager—did not know what his senior staff were doing to Fort Lee to be laughable,” Wisniewski said. “I am again asking Speaker Vincent Prieto to reconvene the Select Committee on Investigations so we can finish what we started. To finally resolve Bridgegate, we must put Gov. Christie under oath to demand he answer for what he knew and when he knew it.”