Nightly News   |  February 01, 2014

Chris Christie Battles Bridge Backlash

An aid to the New Jersey governor says Chris Christie knew about the lane foreclosures.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> about to host the super bowl but it is a sport of bare knuckles new jersey politics that has governor chris christie on the ropes tonight, facing a new allegation that he did indeed know all about a politically engineered traffic snarl on the george washington bridge , something he has strongly denied. the charge is being made by a lawyer representing a key figure in the controversy. so far it has not been backed up by any evidence. but with christie standing as a likely presidential contender the claim has quickly gained traction, and tonight christie is fighting back hard. nbc's kelly o'donnell has covered it from the start and joins us from fort lee , new jersey.

>> reporter: good evening, lester, this is a real balancing act for the governor with the public duties of having the big game here while his team is more sharply pushing back tonight against those new allegations, trying to undercut them, send the word out to christie supporters about what happened here, saying these new claims come without evidence. despite being the host governor, today new jersey's chris christie did not appear to get the home field advantage .

>> good afternoon, everybody.

>> reporter: a mix of boos and cheers from the crowd in new york city 's times square .

>> we look forward to hosting everybody in this group that has got a ticket over in new jersey tomorrow.

>> reporter: in what is supposed to be a celebrity-filled football party weekend? christie finds himself playing defense again. after a former christie ally, david wildstein who supervised the lane closures last fall and then took the fifth in january showed hints that christie may know more about the traffic scandal.

>> let me tell you everybody i was blind sided yesterday.

>> reporter: while wildstein wrote evidence exists that he knew about the period during when the lanes were closed. the claim was made in a letter specifically demanding that wildstein's former employer, the port authority , pay his legal bills and while wildstein may look for a deal.

>> if he gets what he is seeking here, that would be a very clear signal that the u.s. attorney believes there is something he has to offer.

>> reporter: christie 's office responded that while his lawyer backed up the claim he had no prior knowledge of the traffic mess and furthermore, denies while stein's other assertions. it makes the claims intriguing.

>> he claims that what is left exists, but what is left is the kind of evidence, who has that evidence and does it say anything about whether or not christie knew the motivation behind the lane closures.

>> reporter: late today, they obtained a christie office memo being sent to supporters that it aggressively pushes back both against the new york times which reported the allegations, and then takes on wildstein's personal character, saying that david wildstein will do anything to save david wildstein. and while it uses personal anecdotes regarding his character, we tried to reach him but were unsuccessful. and also the number of people to produce subpoenas by monday's deadline have been given an extension by new jersey lawmaker, meaning it will take more time before we get to know about what may be in the evidence that could support either the allegations by wildstein or the story that the governor maintains that he knew nothing