TODAY   |  February 01, 2014

Letter claims Christie knew about lane closures

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been confronted with new questions about the lane closure controversy as his state gets ready to host the Super Bowl. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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>>> but we begin this morning with a top story, and it's that claim from governor christie 's former aide that the governor did know about the plan to shut down the george washington bridge when it happened. kelly o'donnell has been covering this story from the beginning. kelly, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, lester. this was already going to be a very big weekend for chris christie , as his state hosts the super bowl game and all the festivities, but now new, potentially damaging questions bring the controversy back front and center over what christie knew about the bridge traffic scandal. amid controversy, governor chris christie hit the party scene friday night and posted this photo of himself off stage at a birthday bash for radio host howard stern . but this former associate of the governor is dangling new allegations. former port authority official david wildstein.

>> no cars are really coming our way.

>> reporter: who carried out the bridge traffic lane closures last fall and took the fifth before new jersey lawmakers in january.

>> i assert my right to remain silent.

>> reporter: now makes this claim in a letter written by his attorney. "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." but the lawyer does not describe the evidence and does not say that wildstein even possesses it. governor christie still maintains this position --

>> i had no knowledge of this, of the planning, the execution or anything about it, and that i first found out about it after it was over.

>> reporter: christie 's office released a statement, saying in part, "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." the wildstein letter also goes at christie 's personal credibility. "mr. wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some." the main focus of the three-page letter argues that wildstein's former employer, the port authority , should pay all his legal fees.

>> david wildstein is making a bid for an immunity deal. he's saying, i've got a story to tell, a story that can implicate governor christie , if you give me immunity from prosecution.

>> reporter: christie 's office also said in that statement that the government denies wildstein's other assertions and releases a list of quotes from the governor claiming he's been consistent about what he knew and when he knew it. one other figure in this bridge scandal, bill stepien, who ran both of christie 's gubernatorial campaigns, has told us through his lawyer that he intends to take the fifth and will not answer questions. lester?