January 12th, 2014
02:08 PM ET
9 years ago

Priebus doubts there’s a direct link between Christie and bridge scandal

(CNN) – While some Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach on the question of whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew about the now-famous plot to close access lanes to the nation’s busiest bridge, the chairman of the Republican National Committee said Sunday he doubts investigators will find any direct link between Christie and the politically motivated scheme.

“I don't think there will be one,” Reince Priebus said. “Because I think we've got a really smart person in Chris Christie, who's a former U.S. attorney, who understands what's out there.”

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Christie forcefully denied Thursday in a nearly two-hour press conference that he knew the plan was being orchestrated by his senior aides as part of an alleged political vendetta. As soon as he found out last week, he fired two of his aides, both part of his inner circle.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Priebus pointed to the thousands of subpoenaed documents that were released last week showing communications among Christie’s senior aides.

“Not one single link to Chris Christie has been found,” Priebus said. Indeed, none of the e-mails or text messages indicated that Christie himself was clued into the plot.

But the state legislature’s investigation continues, and a U.S. attorney is looking into whether any federal laws were violated.

The Republican reaction to the controversy surrounding the potential 2016 candidate has been mixed.

Some conservatives, who’ve long been critical of Christie, argued the incident further proves the brash governor is not ready for the White House.

Plenty in his own party happy to see Christie get comeuppance

Some Republicans have hesitated to comment, given the ongoing investigation, while others say Christie gave a strong performance Thursday and they believe him for now. But they also caution that if it turns out Christie had a role in the plot, it could bring his political doom.

For his part, Priebus stood behind Christie on Sunday, saying he exhibited leadership during his press conference.

“I think what you saw the other day was leadership,” he said. “Everyone is fallible. … I'm fallible, you are, everyone on this panel. We all make mistakes. But the real question is, what do you do when mistakes happen?”

Priebus hailed Christie for answering every question, owning up to mistakes, and taking disciplinary action.

“He stood there for 111 minutes, in an open dialogue with the press,” he said, before pivoting to controversies dogging the Obama administration.

“Now only if Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would give us 111 seconds of that, would we find out some things we want to find out about Obamacare, Benghazi, the IRS.?”

Pressed by NBC’s David Gregory on whether Christie “set the tone” in his office - in the same way Priebus accused Obama of creating a culture that led to last year’s scandal with the IRS - Priebus said it was different.

“Chris Christie gave us almost two hours of open dialogue and open … examination with the press,” he said. “You can judge a person's character. We had an opportunity to do that. And so that's what Chris Christie offered, not only to the people of New Jersey, but the people across the country. The President never offered … that open dialogue.”

Filed under: Chris Christie • Reince Priebus • RNC
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. wendel

    it does not matter what Christie knew. He should have. ol rancid is a joke. Put Obama in Christie's place and then listen to the repos. Is this a leadership problem. If it was the president the repo would be bashing away. The looser here is the average citizen who had their lives interrupted and put in danger buy a party that jerks that care little for the people they are suppose to serve.

    January 12, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. krivka

    To all you supporters of Christie who post about the liberal witch hunt, i would like to remind you that when the subpoenas are issued people will talk, more e-mails will come out and then, and only then, if Christie is absolved, everything will be fine. He should get in touch with Darrel Issa. He has a LOT of experience in burning evidence.

    January 12, 2014 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  3. BeenThereDoneThat

    Nothing's new here. Republicans defend Republicans & Democrats defend Democrats. And the Tea Party hates ALL of them!

    January 12, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  4. S. B. Stein

    Priebus doubts that there is a link because he doesn't doubt a fellow Republican. The problem is that Priebus didn't want to have fair comparison between Obama and Christie. The false comparison is that he expected the president to own up to things that he had no link to while Christie was showing leadership for firing people several months after the fact of the closing.

    January 12, 2014 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    Mr Priebus is taking a big risk here in that he may end up with and oversized case of "feet" in mouth disease"" i.e governor Christie's and his own!!
    There are more likely possibilities of why he can be connected to the GWBgate matter like appointment the supreme court bench.

    January 12, 2014 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    Looks like the big bad bully needs surrogates to fight his battles.

    January 13, 2014 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  7. Thomas

    Makes sense why Romney passed on Christie for VP spot .

    January 13, 2014 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  8. Sanders Kaufman

    It's time to start calling this what it really is – an act of domestic terrorism.

    January 13, 2014 04:49 am at 4:49 am |

    Delusional Guns Over People tea potty wingnut desperation grows and grows. November comes quickly for all of them.

    January 13, 2014 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  10. king

    Christi has been a prosecute for umpteen years, he was so good at it that he rose to the highest office in the state. do you really believe that a man of his statue and experience would leave paper trails lying around from illegal stuff that he did. why you think his aides were not coming out and saying what they were doing but sending hints instead. the only reason they got caught is because they didn't have the experience of the most powerful prosecutor in new jersey. so all these gullible repubs who took Christi at his words, in the face of the over whelming evidences against him, is just straight politics. why weren't these same people taking the same stands, when our president was faced with an independent arm at the IRS was doing their jobs and scrutinizing the thousands of right winged tea partiers that popped up out of no where when the first black president was inaugurated, claiming to not being political. breaking the laws of the american people then claimed they have been targeted because the IRS was picking on them when in actuality the IRS was doing their jobs. why was they so adamant that secretary of state Clinton and our president had something to do with Benghazi when the facts shows that it was a bunch of disgruntle citizens mad over a movie mocking their prophet. i've been to that region and i know how serious those folks take their religion. all these fake scandals these repubs have been pushing all of last year, that didn't have no connection with this president nor the white house, yet privious and those rich right winged host over at fox news who still refuse to hire a singe dem as host to rebuff all those right winged nonsense they've been pushing to the gullible for the past 5 years, are still adamant that hes involved with some kind of conspiracy. just like he's really a Kenyan that is mascaraing as an american, even though his long, and short form of his birth certificate is their for the whole nation to see.

    January 13, 2014 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sniffit, if he is being honest, must be so sad because there is no evidence to link him to this.
    Sniffit has gone out of his way to make clear his "wait and see what develops" approach to this scandal, and believe me, it IS a scandal, so stop trying to stir the pot tom l.
    Furthermore, there will be no link found to tie Christie to his top aide in this matter.
    Christie is much smarter than that.
    However, Christie will never be able to explain away to anyone's satisfaction, Republicans included, why he would allow the bridgegate to continue unabated for FOUR DAYS, nor why he would find such a dangerous inconvenience to his constituents, the citizens of New Jersey, something to joke about.

    January 13, 2014 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
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