January 9th, 2014
02:33 PM ET
11 months ago

Has Chris Christie changed his tune?

(CNN) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has spoken out several times as controversy simmered, strengthened and boiled over in a very public way with a marathon news conference on Thursday. The allegation is that Christie’s aides caused a traffic jam in one city to punish its mayor, who did not endorse Christie’s re-election.

Christie has expressed a range of reactions in public as the story developed. First he joked about it. Then he said mistakes were made. On Thursday, after more details became public, he said he was humiliated, embarrassed – and very sorry for the whole mess.

Here’s a look at what happened – and what Christie has said about it as the story developed:

WHAT HAPPENED

August 13: In e-mails that surfaced January 8, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, uses a private account to contact an official with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge connecting the two states. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” she writes, according to copies of the e-mails obtained by CNN. The official, a Christie political appointee named David Wildstein, writes back, “Got it.”

September 9-13: Two lanes of the bridge are closed, causing significant traffic backups. Allegations quickly begin to swirl that the closures – later attributed to a traffic study - are political payback for Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, declining to endorse Christie’s re-election campaign.

September 10: Fort Lee Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Paul Favia writes to the city’s mayor to highlight delays in medical care that he said were caused by unusual traffic jams on the bridge.

September 12: Sokolich writes Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni to complain that the closure is a political punishment, according to the Star-Ledger newspaper in Newark, New Jersey.

September 13: The Port Authority orders an end to the lane closures. Executive Director Patrick Foye says the closures didn’t follow policy and endangered public safety, the Star-Ledger reported.

HOW CHRISTIE RESPONDED

October 15: Christie doesn’t directly address the allegation but is combative when it’s brought up during his re-election campaign debate with challenger Barbara Buono. The Democratic state senator derides Christie as representing “the worst combination of bully and bossism” and brings up the lane closures as an example. Christie doesn’t talk about the bridge scandal but accuses Buono of endorsing a corrupt Democratic official. “You want to start throwing stones tonight, you better get out of your glass house,” he tells her.

WHAT HAPPENED

October 16: Foye tells reporters that a review of the closures is under way, according to the Star-Ledger.

November 27: Assemblyman John Wisniewski, chairman of the state’s Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee, subpoenas Foye to testify at a December 9 hearing on the issue.

HOW CHRISTIE RESPONDED

December 2: The governor laughs off the brewing controversy, joking at a news conference that he was out on the bridge, adjusting traffic cones to block traffic. "I worked the cones,” he said. “Unbeknownst to anyone, I was working the cones.”

WHAT HAPPENED

December 9: Wisniewski’s committee holds its first hearing on the traffic issue. Wildstein is scheduled to testify at the hearing but resigned the week before and does not appear.
At the hearing, Foye calls the lane closings illegal and improper, according to a statement on the legislator’s website that also describes testimony by agency employees who said Wildstein told them not to tell Foye about the closures.
In a statement after the hearing, Wisniewski says the revelations reveal a “culture of fear” and “rampant dysfunction” in the Port Authority and vows further inquiry.

December 10: The Port Authority inspector general begins an investigation, according to the Star-Ledger.

December 12: Wisniewski issues additional subpoenas seeking more records from officials involved in the lane closures.

HOW CHRISTIE RESPONDED

December 13: At a news conference, Christie, sounds more subdued than in previous statements on the issue. He announces the resignation of New Jersey’s top Port Authority official. He says Baroni accepted responsibility for not following protocols in approving the lane closures and describes himself as not angry but “bothered.”
"Mistakes are made, and when mistakes are made, people have to be held accountable for them," Christie says.

At the same news conference, he denies any spat with Sokolich, saying the drama was “created and manufactured.”

"I don't have any recollection of ever having met the mayor of Fort Lee in my four years," Christie said. "He was not somebody that was on my radar screen in any way - politically, professionally, or in any other way - until these stories came out in the aftermath of the closing."

WHAT HAPPENED

January 7-8: E-mails emerge showing that Christie’s top aides were aware of plans to shut down lanes of the bridge. They garner national news coverage.

HOW CHRISTIE RESPONDED

January 7: He issues a statement saying he was misled by his staff.
"What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.”

Two days later – on Thursday – Christie fires Kelly, the staffer who wrote the “time for traffic problems” e-mail, and apologizes in a nationally televised news conference. “I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of the some of the people on my team,” a contrite-sounding Christie says

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

January 9: State Sen. Ray Lesniak says he will formally request an investigation into Christie’s administration over the bridge controversy.

January 9: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announces that it is reviewing whether it should get involved. “The Port Authority Office of Inspector General has referred the matter to us, and our office is reviewing the matter to determine whether a federal law was implicated,” spokeswoman Rebekah Carmichael says.

This story is based on reporting from CNN’s Paul Steinhauser, Steve Brusk, Lindsey Knight, Steve Kastenbaum, Jonathan Auerbach, Bill Mears.


Filed under: Chris Christie
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. O'drama ya Mama

    "Christie has expressed a range of reactions in public as the story developed. First he joked about it. Then he said mistakes were made. On Thursday, after more details became public, he said he was humiliated, embarrassed – and very sorry for the whole mess."

    So pretty much he couldnt have cared less until he realized he was caught.

    January 9, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. Wake up People!

    Shouldn't it read? Has Christy flip flopped??

    January 9, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "He says Baroni accepted responsibility for not following protocols in approving the lane closures and describes himself as not angry but “bothered.”

    First honest statement he's made yet. Apparently, he only become angry when the e-mails went public. Has he yet addressed why he wasn't aware of what was causing the traffic gridlock as it was happening and why he did nothing to alleviate the situation for four days?

    January 9, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  4. Mark

    It was a good apology and believable. It will be interesting to see if anything shakes out differently if his aids testify. Otherwise, this will be put to bed soon. Better now than 1 week before election night.

    January 9, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Shouldn't it read? Has Christy flip flopped??"

    Nope. The MSM has declared this controversy is over. End of story. End of coverage.
    Back to Obama we go ... full speed ahead.

    Anyway, I'm on my way out: just wanted to stop and say "hi" and congrats on your promotion.

    January 9, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. current state of the union

    All you gop losers won't admit he was behind it all, why didn't he demand the road be opened, surely he knew about the closures and the threat to public health, it was front page, am I to believe he was unaware?

    January 9, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Wildstein was held in contempt by the State Assembly for failing to testify. At the end his attorney, who was with him, all but offered him as a songbird if he can have immunity.

    January 9, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "So pretty much he couldnt have cared less until he realized he was caught."

    Careful. HE hasn't been caught yet.

    January 9, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. current state of the union

    Instead of being held responsible, and charged with manslaughter, he has become the victim, how absolutely Republican of him! Never having to say your sorry is a gop right

    January 9, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    He is bunch of bull. You got to be kidding he is not involved. GOP way to lie.

    January 9, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  11. just asking

    Sniffit
    Wildstein was held in contempt by the State Assembly for failing to testify. At the end his attorney, who was with him, all but offered him as a songbird if he can have immunity.
    --

    sounds like a great move. give him immunity and then he testifies he was one that thought it up and did it and didn't tell chritie anything about it. he walks away scot free.

    January 9, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Randy, San Francisco

    Gov Christie squandered the trust of New Jersey voters by fostering an environment of cronyism and hardball politics. He is not someone who should be trusted to hold the highest office. His apology, no matter how sincere, dlid little to restore trust. Pending the outcome of federal and state investigations, a dark cloud will hover over the governor for many days to come.

    January 9, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    Thanks Lynda!! I pop in when I can. Sometimes they won't let me speak though.....

    January 9, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. current state of the union

    The old lady was collateral damage, not to be taken seriously, you mean nothing to these people! Wake up!

    January 9, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. Smitty

    Just like Obammy if he didn't know he should of. Im sick of the standard answer, Oh I didn't know. B.S. He will play the Obammy card of I didn't know, What a croc

    January 9, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. Ol' Yeller

    I'm looking forward to the release of the non redacted e-mails. If you releases redacted e-mails which are as damning as these... then you just know the redacted parts are even worse and more damaging.
    I'm sure some of the right wing ilk now wants to put this behind them, say he apologized, and accept this and move on.
    Many problems with that... as much as you republicants want toc ry about 'lefties' attacking poor old innocent Christie, you need t ogo turn on rush on one of these other RWNJ talking heads. We are tame in our criticism's of Christie as opposed to your te ab agger group. They want christie out so they can run one of their whackos (and lose).

    January 9, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. Smitty

    To all of you bashing Christie its bad he didn't know, But its fine when Obammy uses the lameo excuse ????
    I say clear both houses the pres and we start fresh, build a new franchise, it worked for the Colts, ravens and the Dodgers !!!!!

    January 9, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    The only thing I see that's missing from the article is when the "traffic study" excuse crept into the picture, and by whom.

    January 9, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge
    -------------------------------------------------
    What was made without your knowledge? The lane closings? You knew they were closed. You joked about it remember?
    I have questions too and they have nothing to do with whether or not he flip-flopped, because he didn't. He outright lied.
    My question is who has the authority to close down bridge lanes besides the guy in the Port Authority? I would think it would have to be someone in the Governor's office giving them the go-ahead. They can only give the go-ahead to the Port Authority if they have approval from the Governor's office. See where I'm going with this?
    Why wouldn't Christie ask the OBVIOUS question when he saw the lanes closed: WHO IN MY OFFICE AUTHORIZED THIS?
    Yeah. Toast.

    January 9, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. Len

    Liar, Liar Pants on Fire!!!!

    January 9, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. LovesIrony

    Maybe he shouldn't be so condescending and dismissive. He was so rude to those seeking the truth.

    January 9, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. Ol' Yeller

    "sounds like a great move. give him immunity and then he testifies he was one that thought it up and did it and didn't tell chritie anything about it. he walks away scot free."

    That's not exactly the way the deals work when Prosecutors grant immunity, but certainly spoken like a true republicant and just solidifies my feelings about you folks
    Promise anything to anybody to get what you want. Lie to the people you are dealing with. Go under oath and lie some more to protect you and your boss's hides and/or get what you want.
    Yep... that about sums up the thought processes of most every republicant I have ever met.

    January 9, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Wake up People!

    Thanks Lynda!! I pop in when I can. Sometimes they won't let me speak though.....
    -------------------------------------------------
    Girl I "hear" from Lynda that you got promoted (I'm going to serch out your post on that)! Congratulations babe!
    Christie is burnt toast because even if he did NOT give the orders he had KNOWLEDGE. It is kinda hard to ignore newspaper headlines and those front page pics of congestion on the GWB.
    He knew about the recklessness of that shutdown and he IGNORED IT. He probably laughed with Kelly about it is my personal feeling on th subject. But the inescapable fact is that he KNEW.
    He never thought to question in the midst of a FOUR DAY brouhaha who ordered the lanes to be shut down, or much less to reopen them.
    Thank God for the guy from the Port Authority who ordered the lanes reopened otherwise people would still be stranded on that bridge had it been up to Christie.

    January 9, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Smitty

    To all of you bashing Christie its bad he didn't know, But its fine when Obammy uses the lameo excuse ????
    ------------------------
    It's one thing to have subordinates making inexcusable mistakes. It's quite another to have a subordinate to usurp your authority and start issuing orders, supposedly without your knowledge, immediate consent, nor prior approval.

    Which is worse: Christie covering it up; Christie not knowing that his inner circle was out of control?

    Which scenario is more likely: Christie covering it up; Christie not knowing that his inner circle was out of control?

    January 9, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  25. PaulCat

    Chris Christie need to be fired and go to jail.
    Sent him to the federal county club.
    And take that Rep. from Florida with you.
    --but it's ok if your a republican---

    January 9, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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