January 16th, 2014
12:11 PM ET
8 months ago

Christie: What you need to know

(CNN) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie can’t get out of the spotlight. The Governor is surrounded by controversy over lane closures near the George Washington Bridge and possible misuse of Superstorm Sandy funds. Questions swirling around the controversies continue to come up and distract from his agenda. And they threaten to overshadow his message as he heads out on a trip to promote Republican governors and candidates and at the same time the Christie brand.

But let’s cut to the chase. Here’s what you need to know:

Lawyering up?

Christie's office has hired a law firm to help conduct an internal review and cooperate with a U.S. Attorney inquiry into allegations top staffers orchestrated a traffic logjam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, as political payback.

The Christie administration has retained Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP as outside counsel in a move the administration hopes "will bring an outside, third-party perspective to the situation."

It will also help Christie avoid any potential political and legal land mines. Christie held  a meeting for senior staff on Monday and said that this is a lesson “for all of us” to look at what they have learned: What it means about how to run a shop and manage people, that there are things that we can learn and grow from, a source close to the Governor told CNN's Dana Bash.

New details

The Port Authority has finally had its say. In a letter to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who leads the Senate committee with oversight of the agency, the Port Authority wrote that the lane closures were an “aberrational” event conducted outside normal protocol.

The agency also said Christie's Port Authority appointee David Wildstein kept the Port Authority leadership in the dark about the traffic study. While Wildstein initially informed the chief engineer about the coming study 12 days before the closing, he did not heed warnings about the impact on Fort Lee.  In addition, Wildstein ordered a Port Authority manager “not to communicate information about the lane reduction to official in Fort Lee” and indicated “he would control the communication about the toll lane closures.”

The responses underscore what was revealed in the more than 2,000 pages of documents released by the N.J. Assembly last week, but does not shed any more light on the reason for why the study was conducted outside of the normal operating procedure, the matter at the heart of the ongoing investigation by the Assembly.

New challenges every day

Christie appeared to refer to the political scandal facing his administration when he said at an event involving Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts on Thursday that "no one, I can assure you, ever told me or anyone on my team that it was going to be easy," adding that he faces new challenges every day and "whatever test they put in front of me, I will meet those tests." Separately, a source close to Christie said that he believes the investigations into the scandal will be a long process, and that Christie does not intend to address it in his inaugural address for his second term next week.

Subpoenas coming

A special state Assembly committee investigating the scandal plans on issuing subpoenas for documents as well as current and former aides, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN's John King.

House Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the chairman of the Select Committee on Investigators, said he expected 10 to 20 subpoenas to be issued.

Political vendettas 'as American as apple pie'

Former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, chief spokesman Mike Drewniak, and Bill Stepien, a sharp-elbowed Christie political confidante who managed both his successful gubernatorial runs, are on the subpoena list, sources told CNN's John King.

The new committee will take the lead from the Assembly's transportation panel, which had been investigating.

More investigations

The New Jersey Senate also has its own special panel conducting an investigation.

Additionally, the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, is looking into the bridge matter.

Pallone also said in the interview with "The Situation Room" that the issue goes beyond whether the governor is being honest in his account of his knowledge of the bridge scandal.

Keep on keepin’ on

Regardless of the controversies surrounding him, Christie will still travel to Florida this weekend to raise money.

Proof that he is maintaining his duties as head of the Republican Governors Association, a key assignment, especially since he could use it to lay the groundwork for a 2016 run or make his case to the conservative base.

Mute button

Christie is addressing Superstorm Sandy recovery Thursday. The question is if he will respond to a federal investigation that he misused recovery funds after the storm that devastated parts of the Jersey Shore.

We’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, the last we heard from Christie directly regarding the bridge scandal was during his State of the State address Tuesday, when he addressed the scandal briefly, saying that "mistakes were clearly made."

"I am the governor and I am ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch - both good and bad,” he said.

Is anyone paying attention?

A new Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday also indicates that a majority describe Christie as a "leader" rather than a "bully".  And while the Republican governor, who's seriously considering a 2016 run for the White House, gets positive marks on his personal characteristics, his approval rating among New Jersey voters has slipped, and half of them say the bridge controversy has hurt his potential presidential bid.

The poll indicates that 93% of New Jersey voters have heard or read about the controversy, and of those, two-thirds say the governor didn't personally order the traffic jams. Even a majority of Democrats (53%-32%) agree.

At last Thursday's news conference, Christie declared that "I am not a bully," in response to questions about his brash and in-your-face style of politics. According to the survey, New Jersey voters agree, with four in 10 labeling him a "bully" and 54% describing him as a "leader." Those results are similar to a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll of Garden State residents also conducted in the past few days. Only 32% in that poll described Christie as a "bully."

According to a Pew survey, Americans paid more attention to last week's frigid weather than to Christie and the George Washington Bridge controversy. Forty-four percent say they very closely followed the news about the cold weather, with just 18% saying the same thing about events in New Jersey.

New Jersey idol?

Christie’s music idol and fellow Jersey resident, Bruce Springsteen, took to late night TV to make fun of the Governor.

On NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" with the show's host to sing a parody about the bridge controversy surrounding the New Jersey governor.

Maybe fear of being sung about will keep Christie awake at the next Boss concert?

Need to know more…

Chris Christie bridge scandal: a primer

Who's who in Christie bridge scandal

Scandals of past may offer lessons for Christie

Traffic snarl delayed EMS, official says

Fort Lee Mayor accepts Christie apology

Gov. Christie's memorable moments


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    It is a nontroversy. A massive waste of time and taxpayer money.

    January 16, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Why is this man top news? CCN, this is the political dynamite that your making it out to be. Just more conspiracies from the left.

    January 16, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  3. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    I mean this is 'not' the political dynamite that your are making it out to be.

    January 16, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. Peace

    @Sniffit
    A massive waste of time because you do not like to hear these news? We, those who like to hear the truth and want to see people are treated in a good manner, do not take it at as massive waste of time. It is a massive useful time and beneficial to all of us.

    January 16, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. Pam from Iowa

    We already know all we need to know: Christie is a typical politician who uses unethical, un-professional, and un-American methods to get what he wants.....So whats new?????

    January 16, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. Thomas

    A lier , bully and he has no respect for orange traffic cones !

    He will !

    Christie once lobbied for the Securities Industry Association for Bernie Madoff - who was sentenced in 2009

    January 16, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Christie's see no evil, hear no evil strategy is going to fall flat on it's face. These lieutenants of his that he threw under the bus are already asking for immunity. Someone's going to snitch.

    January 16, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    "Lawyering up?" Christie wants to know how he can stop them from issuing a subpoena for his personal email and phone records.

    "New challenges every day" We keep noticing that known facts seem to contradict Christie's claims of being in the dark.

    "More investigations" Each investigation is taking a different path to the top of the mountain, Christie.

    "Keep on keepin’ on" As RGA President, Christie still plans to campaign for House and Senate candidates nationwide. LOL

    "Mute button" Christie's own words are coming back to roost.

    "Is anyone paying attention?" It's big news here in the tri-state area. You tell me.

    "New Jersey idol?" Now that was a put down with style.

    January 16, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. anonymus

    Christie is done – he'll never make it to 2016

    January 16, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. current state of the union

    Please give one of them immunity, I would love for the truth to come out

    January 16, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Sniffit
    It is a nontroversy. A massive waste of time and taxpayer money.

    And YOU KNOW this because...? He has an "R" after his name?

    Was economic damage caused by this? Were peoples lives affected/disrupted? Was this an abuse of power and the public trust? Were people who vote D and R affected by this? Go away Sniffy...

    January 16, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. Winston Smith

    Christie: What we need to know? As if the media hasn't placed a microscope up every orifice to sensationalize and demonize the rest of us. He's toast. That's really all anyone needs to know. Now put a cork in it.

    January 16, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. alex

    a move the administration hopes "will bring an outside, third-party perspective to the situation."

    Well, doesn't that just fit in perfectly with Christie's bizarro view of the world that attorneys that he hired to represent him would be that "outside, third-party perspective." Who does he think he's fooling?

    January 16, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Gurgyl

    Totally unethical man. End of the story.

    January 16, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. Omaha

    Christie will not only survive this Democrat witch hunt, he will emerge stronger and a better candidate for 2016. Democrats will be shown for the smear merchants they and their lackeys in the media truly are.

    January 16, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. Warren

    Omaha
    Christie will not only survive this Democrat witch hunt, he will emerge stronger and a better candidate for 2016. Democrats will be shown for the smear merchants they and their lackeys in the media truly are.

    LOL LOL LOL Can you say ISSA...

    January 16, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. rs

    J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Why is this man top news? CCN, this is the political dynamite that your making it out to be. Just more conspiracies from the left.
    __________________
    "Conspiracy" is the blather of the ill-informed used to support their world view. I.e. in the absence of facts- make something up. O.k. that explains the GOP's lust for the Benghazi/IRS/whatever blather they have been completely unable to get to stick.

    In Christie's case we have:
    1. broken laws (interfering with interstate commerce)
    2. a death
    3. a cover-up
    4. lies
    5. motive

    Now I'll concede Mr. Christie may not be directly involved, and may not have set this in motion (in which case he's a gross incompetent), but there is way more here than in Benghazi, or the IRS "scandals" to implicate him and his staff than for the President and his staff.

    January 16, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Democrat witch hunt ?

    No , this is a perfect example of a republican governor with a supper sized ego stepping into his own poop !

    January 16, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. CryBabies

    Sniffet....For thje very first time I agree with you that this is a waste of time. That being said, give the dems their dose of red meat I want to see a FULL investigation with results brought out as expediciously as possible with NO STONEWALLING! If any improper involvement by Christie is exposed,.....hes done.

    January 16, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. Ol' Yeller

    @ Omaha..."Democrat witch hunt"
    Yea... the old send in the democratic operatives to infiltrate the inner most circles of a an ex prosecutor. Instill fierce loyalty within your underlings, so much so they will do whatever you say (despite the fact they too work for this incredibly large powerful and vindictive man who is known for his vengeance). Then count on the fact that Gov. Christie is going to ignore the outcry from the citizens he is sworn to represent (You probably have about four months of his not looking into this and his fiercly loyal staff who are between you and him, also ignoring e-mails, letters, phone calls – radio silence). Don't worry about being charged with a crime or anyone being hurt or harmed... I mean you are a Democrat and you only dealing with incredibly stupid republicants, right? Hey, and if you are found out, it will only mean you are now in the middle of a huge scandal yourself- 10 x's worse than what Christie is in... he is exonerated and rides a wave of popularity to the White House and the newly elected totally republicant congress does away with the two term rule and Christi becomes king and rules benignly for decades...
    I know this is huge unrealistic fantasy....
    but, you started it.

    January 16, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. The REAL Truth...

    @Thomas Democrat witch hunt ?
    No , this is a perfect example of a republican governor with a supper sized ego stepping into his own poop !
    -------------------------
    I can see TX Gubner Perry foaming at the mouth in anticipation of one less candidate to beat in the primaries he has yet to come out for. If he can remember when they are...

    January 16, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    More of the same

    January 16, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. current state of the union

    Being a Republican means never having to say sorry, which he didn't, also, they always seem to be the victim,with the women I've dated, he could learn a few things, or so I thought.

    January 16, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. YUCK

    I'm surprise this governor is still working under the law,those that think that their above the law and breaks the law should be prosecuted under the law at full justice..America +Edomites+whites+lies+kill+cheating=oppressors.so the republican party is a party full of oppressors take a look in our American and human history.

    January 16, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. tom l

    Rudy, I think Burger King is calling you again. Yesterday you tried to claim that people were leaving in droves from Wisconsin when I brought up that their unemployment rate has fallen to 6.5% since Walker took office and their labor participation rate was up. You responded, as you are apt to do, haphazardly claiming that the only reason that happened was because people were leaving and that has led to the better numbers. Well well well. I looked up the population of Wisconsin and noticed that somehow, some way you were incorrect with your assessment as their population has GROWN every year since 2009. You should look into an endorsement opportunity with BK as they have a product that you know very well. It's called the Whopper.

    January 16, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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