News / World

The Latest: Witness says bridge authority used for politics

NEWARK, N.J. — The Latest on the fifth day of the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

A courtroom witness has testified Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's office used the bistate agency that runs the New York area's bridges, tunnels, ports and airports to funnel political favours aimed at gaining endorsements from local Democratic politicians.

David Wildstein testified Friday that among those directly involved in the effort were Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, who are accused of creating traffic gridlock at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 to punish one of those mayors for not endorsing Christie for re-election.

Wildstein has pleaded guilty in the scheme. Christie has denied prior knowledge of it and hasn't been charged.

Baroni was Wildstein's boss at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Kelly was Christie's deputy chief of staff and headed an office responsible for outreach to county and municipal officials.

They have pleaded not guilty and have said the government has twisted federal law to turn their actions into crimes.

___

2:25 p.m.

A former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official who pleaded guilty in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case testifies he considered himself the "bad cop" who would aggressively push Republican Gov. Chris Christie's agenda at the powerful bistate agency.

David Wildstein is testifying in the trial of two former allies of Christie. He pleaded guilty last year to orchestrating traffic jams in 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie. Christie wasn't charged.

On Friday, Wildstein said he and his then-boss Bill Baroni often talked of the "one-constituent rule," referring to Christie as the only constituent they needed to serve.

Bridget Kelly and Baroni are charged with closing access lanes to the bridge to punish the mayor. They claim Wildstein orchestrated the scheme.

___

12:45 p.m.

A former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official who pleaded guilty in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case has taken the stand as the government's star witness.

David Wildstein took the stand Friday in the trial of two former allies of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Wildstein pleaded guilty last year to orchestrating traffic jams in 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie. Christie wasn't charged.

Prosecutors say Wildstein will testify he bragged to Christie about the lane closures on the third day of the four-day shutdown. Christie has denied knowing about the closures in advance.

Wildstein and Christie attended high school together. Wildstein was hired by the Port Authority to a position created for him.

His testimony could last a week.

___

11:50 a.m.

A former campaign staffer for New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie who now works for Donald Trump has testified he told a defendant in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case that a Democratic mayor wouldn't endorse Christie.

Matt Mowers (MOW'-ers) testified Friday he told Christie's then-deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, about Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (SAHK'-oh-lich) in August 2013.

A day later, Kelly sent an email saying, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Kelly and former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive Bill Baroni are charged with causing traffic jams in September 2013 to punish Sokolich.

Kelly has claimed her emails were sarcastic. She and Baroni claim former Port Authority official David Wildstein orchestrated the scheme.

Wildstein was expected to testify Friday.

___

9:35 a.m.

A former official who pleaded guilty in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case and is expected to be the government's star witness is set to testify.

Attorneys say David Wildstein is one of the next three witnesses who could testify Friday in the trial of two former allies of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Wildstein pleaded guilty last year to orchestrating traffic jams in 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie. Christie wasn't charged.

Wildstein and Christie attended high school together. Wildstein was hired by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to a position created for him.

Earlier Friday, jurors are expected to hear from Matt Mowers (MOW'-ers), a former campaign staffer who sought an endorsement from Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (SAHK'-oh-lich).