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Ex-Port Authority official claims Christie knew about bridge lane closings, report says

The former Port Authority official who was part of the bridge lane closure scandal surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie claims evidence exists to prove the Republican governor knew what was happening, according to a report Friday in the New York Times.

Christie's office issued a statement Friday afternoon saying the governor "had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened."

According to the Times, David Wildstein, a childhood friend of Christie’s who has resigned from his appointed Port Authority post, says the order to close the lanes was given by Christie’s administration.

The paper said it had a letter released by Wildstein’s lawyer that said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago.

Wildstein’s lawyer also says Wildstein “contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him, and he can prove the inaccuracy of some.”

In its statement, Christie's office said, "“Mr. Wildstein's lawyer confirms what the Governor has said all along - he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein's motivations were for closing them to begin with.

"As the Governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and as he said in his January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th. The Governor denies Mr. Wildstein's lawyer's other assertions.”

The furor around the closure of the lanes on the George Washington Bridge erupted with the release of emails and text messages suggesting that a top Christie aide ordered the closings last year as political payback because the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., a Democrat, did not endorse Christie’s bid for re-election.

What followed were four days of gridlock at one of the busiest bridges in the world.

Since then, former federal prosecutor Reid Schar has been tapped to investigate the scandal for the state Assembly.

Click here for more from The New York Times.