* Assemblyman says evidence on Christie not in documents
* Assemblyman says phrase that "evidence exists" is unclear
* Christie's head of intergovernmental aide resigns
* Aide faces Monday deadline on responding to subpoenas
By Victoria Cavaliere
NEW YORK, Feb 2 A New Jersey Democrat leading a
probe of the bridge traffic scandal that has engulfed Governor
Chris Christie said on Sunday he has seen no evidence to support
claims that the governor had been aware of the apparently
politically motivated traffic jams as they happened.
The remarks by Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who co-leads the
probe, came two days after a former Christie appointee at the
agency overseeing the bridge who personally oversaw the lane
closures said "evidence exists" that Christie had knowledge of
the blockage when it happened.
If such evidence does exist, a state panel investigating the
closures has not yet seen it, Wisniewski said.
Separately on Sunday, Christie's director of
intergovernmental affairs, Christina Renna, resigned.
Renna's lawyer, Henry E. Klingeman, confirmed to Reuters
that she had resigned, effective Jan. 31.
Klingeman also said that Renna was among several top aides
who have until Monday to respond to subpoenas in the scandal.
However, in a statement provided by Klingeman, Renna said
she had been considering leaving since shortly after Christie's
re-election last fall.
"I have spent almost four years working hard for a Governor
I continue to respect and admire," Renna said in the statement.
"The transition from term one to term two is a natural time to
pursue an opportunity in the private sector."
Christie, who is considered a leading Republican candidate
for the White House in 2016, has repeatedly denied any knowledge
of a plan to snarl traffic last September in Fort Lee, New
Jersey, near the busy George Washington Bridge that connects New
Jersey and New York City and severed ties with several top aides
over their role in the incident.
Christie has been dogged by scandal for more than a month
since it emerged that several of his top aides and appointees
called for lane closures leading to the busiest bridge in the
United States, apparently as retribution against the Democratic
mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing the governor's re-election
Christie has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the
scheme and dismissed two of his top aides for their roles in it.
Still, the scandal has hurt his image and recent polls show him
losing ground as a potential presidential contender.
"A CURIOUS CHOICE OF WORDS"
David Wildstein, the Christie appointee at the agency
overseeing the bridge who personally oversaw the lane closures,
on Friday made the claim that "evidence exists" of Christie's
knowledge of the blockage.
"We don't really know what the evidence is," Wisniewski told
NBC's "Meet the Press." "He (Wildstein) submitted over 900 pages
of documents in response to the subpoena. Apparently what he's
talking about must be something other than what he submitted."
Wildstein resigned from the Port Authority of New York and
New Jersey late last year amid the growing probe.
Wisniewski also said he was unclear from Wildstein's choice
of words that Christie was aware of the closures.
"The use of the words 'evidence exists,' as opposed to
saying, 'I have documents,' or, 'I have an e-mail,' it's a
curious choice of words," Wisniewski said. "Maybe this is
something else that is not within the scope of the subpoena the
committee issued. So it raises questions about what does he have
and why doesn't the committee have it?"
The legislator said that no evidence exists linking Christie
to the decision to close the lanes, nor was there indication he
knew about the plan as it happened.
The closures caused four days of headaches for commuters
around Fort Lee, at the New Jersey side of the bridge. It also
slowed school buses and emergency vehicles.
Colin Reed, a spokesman for the governor, did not comment
directly on Wisniewski's comments, but reasserted Christie's
stance that he had no knowledge of the lane closures.
Wildstein's attorney did not respond to Reuters request for
Meanwhile, the investigation of who else might have been
involved in the bridge lane closures was continuing, with nearly
two dozen subpoenas issued to New Jersey officials, many of them
in Christie's inner circle.
"As early as tomorrow (Monday), we hope to be starting to
get responses to the subpoenas," Wisniewski said.
The state probes are running parallel to an investigation
announced last month by the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Paul
As Sunday's Super Bowl put New Jersey in the national
spotlight, the Democratic National Committee launched an online
video ad comparing Christie to a struggling football player.
"They say he's unstoppable ... unless he chokes," the ad
intones, juxtaposing football images with video clips of news
coverage of Christie, before and after the scandal broke. "It's
just the first quarter. It's going to be a long game."
The scandal has tarnished Christie's reputation as a
politician ready to reach across the aisle at a time when
partisan gridlock has defined Washington.
It has also impacted his approval ratings. Support for the
governor, which soared over his handling of Superstorm Sandy in
2012, has fallen almost 20 points since his landslide
re-election in November, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll
released last month. Christie's approval rating among New Jersey
voters, at 65 percent just before he was re-elected last year,
slid to 46 percent, the poll indicated.