By Brent Johnson/The Star-Ledger
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on January 31, 2014 at 5:53 PM, updated January 31, 2014 at 6:34 PM
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie's office has released a statement responding to allegations made today that the Republican governor knew about the controversial lane closures at the George Washington Bridge when they happened last year.
The statement said the Republican governor stands by his position that he "first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press."
"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," the statement said.
"As the governor said in a Dec. 13 press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and as he said in his Jan. 9 press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of Jan. 8. The governor denies Mr. Wildstein's lawyer's other assertions."
The attorney for former Port Authority official David Wildstein said in a letter today that Christie knew of the lane closures when they occurred last September.
"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" last month, attorney Alan Zegas said in the letter.
Zegas added that Wildstein "contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some."
Wildstein, a longtime Christie ally who oversaw the closures, resigned from his Port Authority post last month.
Democrats have accused Christie's administration of closing the lanes as political retribution because Fort Lee's Democratic mayor refused to endorse the Republican governor for re-election.
On Jan. 8, emails surfaced showing Bridget Ann Kelly, Christie's deputy chief of staff, appeared to have advance knowledge of the closures. "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," one email read.
The next day, Christie fired Kelly and repeatedly apologized for the matter at a news conference, but the governor said he had no advance knowledge of the closures himself.
He has said on multiple occasions that he did not learn of the closures until he read about them in the press.