January 16th, 2014
12:11 PM ET
9 years 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. Ol' Yeller

    Hey... I just noticed just sprayin/just askin/Donna (other than as fake Sniffit) are not posting on any of these christie topis. just sprayin wrote a book in the previous thread regarding the VA race, but she is crickets on this topic. I guess even without your medication, it is difficult to defend Christie (especially if you are a te ab agg er and Christie is too librul for you) with the usual projection or I'm a victim defenses employed by the righties.
    The only defense they have here (given the extreme pettiness of this shutdown) is to blame it on less powerful conservatives and then claim christie took responsibiliy... now move on.
    They want it to go away.
    I find that hilarious. Of course you want it to go away.
    Well, it's not... they haven't even began passing out the free subpeoanas
    Don't worry, there will plenty for everyone...

    January 16, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. YUCK

    Don't believes what any Edomites especially if he or she has a major position in the government forces,they're even worst,once again thee edomites have a very bad habit on lying cheating and killing,(don't let theri smilling faces fool you from lies.)because once they have you they will kill you.

    January 16, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. Fair is Fair


    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.
    I think it's a fake Sniffit.

    January 16, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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