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. faux scandals

    Obama has been under a microscope, from his birthplace to benghazi , to the IRS, and unlike Christie they have found nothing.

    January 12, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. bassman

    Imagine if Mr. Christie had said what difference at this point does it make? Would Democrats have given him a pass on that kind of attitude like they did with Hillary Clinton?

    January 12, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. liberal hogwash

    Of COURSE there's no direct link! It's the Democrats early start to ANOTHER dishonest, bought and paid for smear campaign against a good man who stated that he was running for the presidency in 2016!

    January 12, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. Expat American

    Well if Priebus sees no link, then the matter is closed. There is no link. The GOP Thug comedy routine keeps on rolling!

    But Christie (not his staff) is still PERSONALLY responsible for the death of an innocent woman.

    January 12, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Rick

    Oh, yes right--and it's doubtful that there's a link between smoking and lung cancer, too.

    January 12, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    How can anyone blame Krispy for naming his incompetent vindictive friends to high positions, never check to see what they were up to, and be completely unaware of the bridge lane closures for 4 months after the mess? Sounds like a republican leader to me.

    January 12, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. Tony

    Priebus is wrong. Christie did not exhibit leadership, because he claimed he did not know what most of his staff knew or were doing.

    January 12, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. Blinded by the republican lies

    It will come out eventually that Christie knew something...How can a traffic jam go on for 4 days and he didn't know...C'mon..This whole thing stinks to high heaven..The busiest bridge in the world?? Really??

    January 12, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. bcrunner

    Yeah!! This is the same guy who says President Obama was responsible for the IRS scandal....but Christie, No way!!

    January 12, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Norma jean

    It has been proven that one can talk for hours without a word of truth.......Where has this guy been????

    January 12, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. Marie MD

    Stop the presses, the man with the funny name spoke, put foot in mouth and he can't stay away from the Benghazi, IRS and what about Obamacare again stories?
    These fools are NEVER going to learn.
    Take a page from a dog . . . If you can't play with it or eat it, "urinate" on it and walk away. Even dogs have more sense.

    January 12, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  12. Down with Nazis

    I doubt that there is a direct relationship between Priebus and reality.

    January 12, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. Bubba

    Priebus is incapable of telling the truth, when it comes to a fellow Republican getting caught breaking the law. Actually Preibus is incapable of telling the truth; period.

    January 12, 2014 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. simplyput

    Repron/Demron- What difference does it make? Both parties are corrupt to the gills. If Christie swims out of this one, he might have a chance. If Bryan Schwietzer is nominated by dems, he might have a chance. They'll both get crossover votes.

    January 12, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. Lars

    From the very beginning, and being an experienced US Attorney, Christie has typically operated in a way whereas he could claim plausible denial. This time however, he has created an uncertain situation for himself whereby those who were closest to Christie and the true facts in this case are the very people whom he fired, and besmirched their reputations by calling them liars.

    Christie's actions against his closest confidants will come back to bite him in the butt in the form of testimony from them that contradicts his denials when he said that he know nothing, nor did anything wrong in the GWB lane closing.

    January 12, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  16. tom l

    So far there has not been one email that can link Christie to this. Not one. Only conjecture and vitriol from the left. It's palpable and kinda funny. If Christie did this, he should get out. But, unfortunately for the left, there hasn't been a direct link. And anything else is speculation, at best. Sniffit, if he is being honest, must be so sad because there is no evidence to link him to this.

    January 12, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    Whoa there Tom. Have you had a chance to look at all those e mails? I think you are just hoping Krispy was merely incompetent.

    January 12, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. don in albuquerque

    From several sites I have read on the web, its not the Libs Chris needs to worry about. Its the Baggers.

    January 12, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. bcrunner

    @Tom I: There was nothing, absolutely nothing even coming close to linking Obama to the IRS scandal, but you guys can't stop trying to link him somehow, someway, or to say he created the environment for this to have happened. You mean that Governor Christie had absolutely no idea? Let's say he didn't. After it happened, as a previous attorney general, he did not look into it and didn't get to the bottom of it??? Are you serious???

    January 12, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  20. Gary

    Priebus thinks Romney is gonna win too!
    To Tom, lecture us again about " Conjecture and vitriol." We've been hearing this nonsence for 5 years. Your boy Darrel has been inventing lies for years to the cheers of you righties.

    January 12, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. Gurgyl

    Don't idiotically again say Benghazi, people don't give darn hoot for Benghazi, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. They care USA–not your Benghazi.

    January 12, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  22. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    “I don't think there will be one,” Reince Priebus said.

    What he was thinking was... "Dear GOD, Please don't let the facts come out or we will be dead in the water for years to come!

    January 12, 2014 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  23. Jules

    In my opinion, if your top staff is involved, you are involved. If you ran an office where this is okay it is because you have set up your administration that way.

    January 12, 2014 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  24. Smitty

    He should play the Obammy card, Duh, I didn't know, If Christie tries maybe he take Obammys title of BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR away !!!!

    January 12, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  25. Smitty

    Regardless the Obammy lame brains will continue to make excuses for Oblunder

    January 12, 2014 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
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