TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A former appointee of Gov. Chris Christie was found in contempt Thursday by a legislative committee after he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions.
David Wildstein asserted his right to remain silent on the advice of his lawyer. Wildstein refused to say where he previously worked and his lawyer said he would assert the right to remain silent to all questions.
“The committe has found him in contempt. It’s a misdemeanor, it will be referred to prosecutors for action. The committee’s going to continue its investigation,” Assembly Transportation Committee Chair John Wisniewski told WCBS 880 on Thursday afternoon.
Wildstein resigned last month as Christie’s No. 2 appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“It’s hard to understand how testifying to employment history, dates and communication formats require Mr. Wildstein to protect himself against self-incrimination. It makes one wonder what exactly he doesn’t want to discuss, and it raises even more questions about what happened with these lane closings when it comes to finding out who knew what and when,” Wisniewski said in a statement.
Wildstein’s attorney said his client would answer any questions the panel has if he’s granted immunity.
The Assembly panel is investigating why the lanes were suddenly closed in September, causing traffic gridlock in Fort Lee.
Emails and text messages revealed Wednesday that Christie’s aides may have closed the lanes to exact political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie for re-election last fall.
WEB EXTRA: Read The Emails
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in August in a message to Wildstein.
“Got it,” Wildstein replied. A few weeks later, Wildstein closed two of three lanes connecting Fort Lee to the bridge.
During a nearly two-hour news conference Thursday in Trenton, Christie said he had “no knowledge or involvement” of the lane closures and was stunned by the “abject stupidity that was shown.”
Christie, who had previously assured the public his staff wasn’t involved in the road closings, said Thursday he had fired Kelly “because she lied to me.”
Wisniewski also criticized and challenged the governor in his statement released following the Assembly hearing.
“We intend to continue our investigation, but this would all be made easier if Gov. Christie did the right thing and voluntarily released all communications so everyone could find out with certainty what happened. If he’s truly dedicated to transparency and the truth from here on out, he will take this step and cooperate fully with the committee’s work,” the statement said.
Wildstein knew Christie in high school. But Christie denies the two had a close, personal relationship.
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