Here’s the Unofficial List of Bridgegate Co-conspirators

Email a Friend
(From Left to Right) Bill Baroni, Governor Chris Christie, and David Wildstein talk at World Trade Center Site, September 11, 2013

Back in May, news organizations learned of a list naming unindicted Bridgegate co-conspirators developed by federal prosecutors. It’s a list of individuals about whom prosecutors believe there’s "sufficient evidence to designate as having joined the conspiracy.” 

Media organizations went to court to get the names, based on the fact that many were public officials or state employees. We lost the case. However, based on evidence presented at federal trial, much of it from the sworn testimony of Bridgegate mastermind David Wildstein, we can put together our own, highly unofficial list of people who allegedly knew about the scheme in advance, or participated in keeping it quiet. 

This is, needless to say, not a legal document and does not carry the legal weight of the prosecutor's actual list, which remains a secret.  It's just a handy guide to keep track of who knew what, when, according to Wildstein. All the individuals Wildstein named say he's a liar. 

The list may widen, but here’s what we know so far, based on the prosecution’s case.  

People who allegedly knew in advance or during the closures:

Name: Bill Stepien

Title: Christie Campaign Manager

What he knew: Of the lane closure plot, it’s retaliatory nature, and the cover story.

When he knew it: Prior to the beginning of the lane closures

Where he is now: National Field Director for the Donald J. Trump campaign.

The evidence at trial: According to Wildstein, sometime after March of 2011, Wildstein informed Stepien that he’d noticed the Fort Lee access lanes could be used as “leverage” to press for an endorsement by Fort Lee Mayor.  Wildstein says he discussed the lane closure plan, specifically, with Stepien in late August, 2013.

PROSECUTOR: After you received Miss Kelly's ‘time for some traffic problems’ email, did there come a time when you discussed it with Mr. Stepien?

WILDSTEIN: Yes, I did...I told Mr. Stepien that I had heard from Miss Kelly to close the Fort Lee lanes, and that I was moving forward to do so.

PROSECUTOR: How did Mr. Stepien respond?

WILDSTEIN: Mr. Stepien asked about what story we were going to use. And I explained to Mr. Stepien that I was going to create the cover of a traffic study.

The email chain corroborates that Stepien was aware of the closures while they were going on. There’s a far more specific, and venal, exchange between Stepien and Wildstein about retaliation against another Mayor, Steve Fulop of Jersey City, in which Stepien and Wildstein discuss giving Fulop favorable terms on a Port Authority lease for a private client in exchange for Fulop’s endorsement.

Stepien’s response: Kevin Marino, Stepien’s attorney, said in an email: “Other than his acknowledgement that Mr. Stepien expressly asked not to be involved in Port Authority business -- testimony which I suspect was elicited to explain away the undeniable fact that there is not a single email or other document corroborating Mr. Wildstein's claims about him -- Mr. Wildstein's testimony as to Mr. Stepien is, as the Government apparently concluded, simply not credible.”

 

Name: David Samson

Title: Chair of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Christie friend

What he knew: That there was a lane closure planned for political retaliation.

When he knew it: The weekend prior to the lane closures

Where he is now: Retired, living in South Carolina, awaiting sentencing for a charge of eliciting a bribe from United Airlines to get a special flight route to his S.C. home.

The evidence at trial:

PROSECUTOR:  Did there come a time when you discussed David Samson in relation to the lane reductions with Mr. Baroni?

WILDSTEIN: Yes...I had discussed the -- Mr. Baroni's conversation that Mr. Baroni had told me he had spoken to Mr. Samson...About the lane closures.

PROSECUTOR: Did Mr. Baroni tell you when that conversation took place? I don't recall when that conversation took place.

WILDSTEIN: I believe it was -- I believe it may have been the weekend before or the day before. I don't know that it was that day.

PROSECUTOR: Did Mr. Baroni convey to you the substance of what he had  told Mr. Samson?

WILDSTEIN: Yes. He told Mr. Samson -- Mr. Baroni told me that he had told Mr. Samson that lanes were closed to retaliate against Mayor Sokolich for not endorsing Governor Christie.”

Samson did most of his business by phone or in person. But an email introduced at trial shows Wildstein telling defendant Bridget Anne Kelly: “Samson is retaliating” -- after Wildstein learned that the New York appointee, Executive Director Pat Foye, had re-opened the lanes.

Samson’s response: Samson, who remained Chair of the Port Authority long after the lane scandal broke, has never taken any public questions on the lane closure.  His only public comment came at a Port Authority board meeting in February, 2014, when he said: “On behalf of the board of commissioners, we are deeply sorry for inconvenience caused to our travelers. While I would like to comment more specifically about some of the outstanding issues, I recognize that there are established efforts to examine the events that occurred. I defer to these procedures, and I trust that when the facts unfold, and they will unfold, the public will have a complete picture." Samson’s attorney, Justin Walder, did not respond to an inquiry concerning the latest testimony.

 

Name: Chris Christie

Title: Governor of the State of New Jersey

What he knew: That there was a traffic jam in Fort Lee, and the mayor wasn’t getting his calls returned.

When he knew it: On September 11, the third day of the closures.

Where he is now: Still Governor, and transition chair for the Donald J. Trump campaign

The evidence at trial: According to Wildstein, he and defendant Bill Baroni boasted to Christie about the lane closures when the three gathered at a memorial service at the World Trade Center on 9-11-13, the third day of the closures. Wildstein says the three joked about it, and photos take that day show them speaking and laughing.

WILDSTEIN:  Mr. Baroni said: You know, Governor, I have to talk to you about something. And this was -- it was in a very sarcastic tone. It was a sarcastic tone that Mr. Baroni had taken in the past. I had seen him take that in the past with Governor Christie. I had seen Governor Christie take that sort of sarcastic tone with Mr. Baroni as well. Mr. Baroni said to Governor Christie: Governor, I have to tell you, There's a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee this morning. Major traffic jams. And that you’ll be pleased to know that Mayor Sokolich is very frustrated that he can't get his telephone calls returned, that nobody is answering Sokolich's questions.

PROSECUTOR: How if at all did Governor Christie respond to that?

WILDSTEIN:  He responded by saying: Well, I would imagine that he wouldn't be getting his phone calls returned.

PROSECUTOR: Were you discussed in this conversation?

WILDSTEIN: Yes, I was. Mr. Baroni said to Governor Christie that I was monitoring the traffic, that I was watching over everything...Governor Christie said, you know, again in the sarcastic tone of that conversation, he said: Well, I'm sure Mr. Edge would not be involved in anything that's political. He referred to me -- he would refer to me as Mr. Edge, using the pseudonym of the website I had formerly written for.

Christie’s response: “I have not and will not say anything different than what I’ve been saying since January 2014. No matter what is said up there [in Newark federal court]. I had no knowledge prior to, or during these lane realignments.”

 

Name: Pat Schuber

Title: Port Authority Board Member, Professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, former Bergen County Executive.

What he knew: That there was going to be traffic on the George Washington Bridge, it was “aimed” at Mayor Sokolich, and that he should not take calls.

Where he is now: Still on the Port Authority Board.

The evidence at trial:

WILDSTEIN:  I discussed -- Mr. Baroni had asked me to meet with Commissioner Schuber to discuss an issue pertaining to his chairmanship of the Port Authority Security Committee. And had  also asked me to let Mr. Schuber know what was going on at the George Washington Bridge.

PROSECUTOR And when you say let him know what was going on, what are you referring to?

WILDSTEIN: I'm referring to a briefing as to the upcoming lane closures.

PROSECUTOR: And did Mr. Baroni share with you why he wanted you to do this?

WILDSTEIN: Yes, he felt that since Commissioner Schuber was from Bergen County, if there were local issues or local phone calls, that they would be most likely to come to Commissioner Schuber as opposed to anybody else on the Board of Commissioners. PROSECUTOR: Did you discuss with Mr. Baroni what you were going to tell Mr. Schuber about the lane closures?

WILDSTEIN:  Yes, I discussed telling Mr. Schuber that in a couple weeks there's going to be a lot of traffic in Fort Lee. It came from the Governor's Office because of Mayor Sokolich.

PROSECUTOR: Why would you trust Mr. Schuber with this knowledge?

Wildstein: I viewed Mr. Schuber as a loyal member of Governor Christie's team.

Prosecutors presented an email showing that Wildstein emailed Schuber on August 29, 2013, "Commissioner. Not sure if you were back yet. Hope your trip was enjoyable. I'd like to set up a breakfast to talk  about some proposed agenda items for the Security Committee meeting. Also need to brief you on a local Fort Lee/GWB issue." Wildstein says the two met at a diner, the following morning.

Schuber’s response: In sworn testimony before the New Jersey legislature on June 3, 2014, Schuber said: “I have had no involvement in, nor prior knowledge of,  the decision that led to the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge and I would like to say I would never condone the use of governmental powers to exact political retribution. Such actions can not be countenanced under any circumstances, and to the extent of the wrongdoers should be held accountable for their conduct.”

People who allegedly learned of the scheme after the fact, but kept it quiet:

Name: Michael DuHaime

Title: Christie’s outside strategist, partner at Mercury Public Affairs, LLC

What he knew: That there had been a politically motivated lane closure.

When he knew it: November 11, 2013

Where he is now: After running Christie’s presidential campaign, DuHaime is back at his firm and acting frequently as a GOP commentator on the presidential race.

The evidence at trial:

WILDSTEIN: I told Mr. DuHaime that the -- that I felt that -- first of all, I told Mr. DuHaime that the story was accurate, that I had directed that -- this was the first time I had discussed it with him. I told Mr. DuHaime that others in the Governor's Office were involved. That I had even discussed it with Governor Christie. I told him that I felt that this story was going to go in a very bad direction. That it needed to be cut off and that I felt perhaps it might be in Governor Christie's best interests if I resigned so that this story didn't hurt Governor Christie or any of my other friends that were involved.

PROSECUTOR: Did you tell Mr. DuHaime who was involved?

WILDSTEIN: Yes, sir, I did...I told him that Mr. Baroni was involved and I told him that Mr. Stepien -- that I had discussed it with Mr. Stepien. I told him that the direction had come from Miss Kelly. I told him I had discussed this with the Governor on September 11th, 2013.

PROSECUTOR: Did you tell Mr. DuHaime what had been the motivation for the lane reductions?

WILDSTEIN: Yes, I did..I told him that this was political. That this was retaliation for Mayor Sokolich not endorsing Governor Christie.

PROSECUTOR:  How did Mr. DuHaime respond to you?

WILDSTEIN:  Mr. DuHaime was upset with me. He thought this -- this had been a very bad idea.

DuHaime's response: DuHaime has in the past said Wildstein spoke to him about the lane closures in mid-November, but not explicitly about their political nature. DuHaime's attorney, Marc Mukasey, said prosecutors have assured him DuHaime is not on the legal list of un-indicted co-conspirators. "Mike DuHaime is not an unindicted co-conspirator, a bad actor or part of any supposed cover-up," Mukasey said in a statement. "He was never anything but a witness who cooperated fully with the government's investigation. Mike has been and will always be a person of unimpeachable honesty and integrity."

 

Name: Philip Kwon

Title: Port Authority First Deputy General Counsel. Former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Attorney General, both for Chris Christie, who then tried, unsuccessfully,  to get Kwon appointed to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

What he knew: That Wildstein, Baroni, Stepien, and Kelly had organized politically motivated lane closures.

When he knew it: Mid-November, 2013, prior to Baroni’s testimony before the legislature.

Where he is now: First Deputy General Counsel, Port Authority

The evidence at trial:

WILDSTEIN: I viewed Mr. Kwon as a loyal member of Governor Christie's team at the Port Authority.

PROSECUTOR: And did there come -- when you met with Mr. Kwon, did you discuss the lane reductions with him?

WILDSTEIN: Yes, I did.

PROSECUTOR:  And is this in the context of the invitation to Mr. Baroni to testify?

WILDSTEIN Yes, it was….After the invitations came and after I spoke to Mr. Baroni, the decision was that I should call Phil Kwon and he came up to my office and I told Mr. Kwon of my involvement, and that I had worked with members of the Governor's Office to close the lanes for political purposes.

PROSECUTOR: And did you discuss who in the Governor's Office you had worked with?

WILDSTEIN: Yes, sir, I did....I told him that I had spoken to Miss Kelly and that I had also dealt with Mr. Stepien.

PROSECUTOR: Did you discuss with Mr. Kwon whether you could testify before the Assembly Transportation Committee?

WILDSTEIN: Yes, I did. We specifically discussed whether -- how I could possibly -- I discussed with him how I could go -- appear before a legislative committee and testify without perjuring myself... Mr. Kwon told me that I could not testify.

PROSECUTOR: Did you discuss Mr. Baroni's testimony with Mr. Kwon?

WILDSTEIN:  He told me that it might make more sense for Mr. Baroni to go -- appear before the committee … because Mr. Baroni had not had any direct conversations with Miss Kelly about the lane closures.

PROSECUTOR: Now, did Mr. Kwon participate in preparing Mr. Baroni for his testimony?

WILDSTEIN: Yes, he did.

Kwon’s response: Kwon has been silent, so far. His attorney, Geoffrey Berman said, after Wildstein’s testimony: "Phil Kwon was never told that the lane closures were intended to punish the Mayor of Fort Lee.”

 

Name: Michael Drewniak

Title: Former press secretary to Gov. Christie

What he knew: That Wildstein, with Kelly and Stepien, had organized politically motivated lane closures.

When he knew it: December 4, 2013, after a steak dinner with Wildstein in New Brunswick.

Where he is now: Chief of Staff, New Jersey Transit.

The evidence at trial:

PROSECUTOR:  Did you tell Mr. Drewniak the true purpose of the lane closures?  

WILDSTEIN:  Yes, I did….Specifically that this was political retaliation to Mayor  Sokolich for not endorsing Governor Christie's campaign.

PROSECUTOR: How did Mr. Drewniak respond to you?

WILDSTEIN: He was quite upset. And he said that he would speak to [Christie Chief of Staff Kevin] O'Dowd in the morning.

PROSECUTOR: Before that dinner, had you expressly told Mr. Drewniak that the lane reductions had been punishment for Mayor Sokolich?

WILDSTEIN: No, I had not.

Drewniak’s response: In testimony before the legislature on May 13, 2014, Drewniak said Wildstein told him he “created this whole idea of a traffic study, it’s mine, but let others know about it.” On Wednesday, his lawyer, Anthony Iacullo, said Drewniak stood by his testimony, where he answered questions “truthfully and fully.”

This story was updated to include a statement from Michael DuHaime's attorney.