Ex NJ official in bridge scandal pleads Fifth

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Former New Jersey Port Authority official David Wildstein pleaded the Fifth Amendment during a state legislature hearing about allegations he closed lanes on the most heavily used bridge in the country in act of political retribution for the Christie administration. 

Wildstein was called to testify before the New Jersey General Assembly’s Transportation Committee a day after emails were released showing he discussed closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey to New York City, with a high-ranking administration official to Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.). 

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Christie’s administration is accused of ordering Wildstein to close the bridge lanes in response to the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., declining to endorse the governor’s bid for reelection last year.

Wildstein declined repeated requests to answer questions from New Jersey state lawmakers about his role in the bridge lane closure discussions on Thursday.

“On the advice of counsel, I assert my right to remain silent,” he said in response to multiple questions.

Wildstein had previously sought to convince a state judge to invalidate a subpoena from the New Jersey legislative committee, but the request was denied.

Christie announced during a marathon news conference on Thursday that he fired the aide, deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly, who had been emailing with Wildstein.

Christie is widely thought to be a likely 2016 presidential candidate, but national Democrats have seized upon the bridge allegations to dent his image as a bipartisan consensus-builder.