March 28th, 2014
01:30 PM ET
8 years ago

Highlights from Chris Christie's news conference

Trenton, New Jersey (CNN) – Chris Christie did something Friday that he had not done in more than two months – hold a news conference.

The Republican governor of New Jersey's appearance in front of reporters at the statehouse in Trenton was his first since January 9, when he answered questions for nearly two hours about the George Washington Bridge controversy, which was starting to make national headlines.

Here are the latest developments from one hour and three minute long news conference:

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3:34 p.m. ET: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie concluded his news conference by saying to reporters that "it's such a joy and relief to be finally able to come back and interact with you in the kind and gentle way we always have. I'd love to say I missed you, but I didn't. But I'm looking forward to having you all back on a regular basis."

3:19 p.m. ET: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday he will talk to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about splitting the single Port Authority for the two states into separate entities for each.

3:09 p.m. ET:  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday he decided to fire former top aide Bridget Kelly because she lied to him about the controversial George Washington Bridge lane closings, and he had little confidence he would get the truth by meeting with her or keeping her on his staff any longer

3:02 p.m. ET: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday the internal investigation his office commissioned on the controversial George Washington Bridge lane closings indicated there was indeed a traffic study involved. But the review of the matter indicated a "nefarious or inappropriate" motive for the study by former Port Authority executive David Wildstein and Bridget Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff to the governor.

2:58 p.m. ET: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday that David Samson, who is resigning as head of the Port Authority, talked about stepping down a year ago because he was 74 years old and "tired." But he stayed on at Christie's request through last year's re-election and subsequent transition.

There have been questions about business links between Samson's powerful law firm and the Port Authority, prompting some news organizations to call for his resignation.

"He called me this afternoon," Christie said in Trenton. "It's effective immediately."

On the bridge scandal and Samson, Christie said he asked him in January whether he knew anything about it, and "he said he did not."

2:52 p.m. ET: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday an internal investigation his office commissioned on the controversial George Washington bridge closings was "limited in small part by some of the access that they had and didn't have to certain people." But he added the document exonerating him of any wrongdoing was exhaustive and thorough and he knew it was going to be criticized "no matter what."

2:48 p.m. ET:  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday his office immediately moved in January to fire Bridget Kelly, the one close aide involved in the controversial George Washington Bridge lane closings as a first step to set a "different tone" in his administration, adding that "anyone who thought something like this would be pleasing or acceptable to me doesn't know me in the first place."

2:41 p.m. ET:  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday he doesn't care about lower poll ratings now in the aftermath of the controversy over the George Washington Bridge lane closures, saying that if he were to run for office in the future, "the poll I'll care about" would be the one two days before the election. The Republican governor and potential 2016 GOP presidential contender said he's confident that if he does run for the White House, the scandal won't matter to voters.

"The fact of the matter is that I had nothing to do with this, as I said from the beginning, and this report has supported exactly what I said. And in the long sweep of things, any voters, if they consider this issue at all, in considering my candidacy – if there ever is one at all – I’ve got a feeling it’ll be a small element of it, if any element at all," said Christie

2:32 p.m. ET: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie began his first news conference since January 9 by saying Friday that the chairman of the New York-New Jersey Port Authority, David Samson, has resigned in the aftermath of a report on the controversial closing of traffic lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge last September.

 News conference follows release of internal review

Friday's question-and-answer session comes one day after the release of an internal review by a team of lawyers hired by Christie's office into last September's sudden closing of access lanes to the nation's busiest bridge that caused massive traffic jams in Fort Lee over several days.

Christie's administration is facing both federal and state investigations over suggestions top associates deliberately closed the lanes to punish the Democratic mayor of that town for not endorsing the governor's 2013 re-election.

The review blamed two top aides and backed up the governor's denials that he knew anything about the gridlock until after it occurred. Christie has said he knew nothing about any political mischief by members of his administration. But the controversy has clouded Christie's political future as he seriously considers a bid for the White House in 2016.

Christie and his lawyers stood by their review as an independent investigation, even though critics had their doubts.

A key entry in the report released Randy Mastro, who led the internal investigation, found that a senior appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at the time, David Wildstein, apparently told a top official in the governor's office that he informed Christie at a public event about the now-infamous lane closures as they were occurring.

But the report said Christie "does not recall" any conversation with Wildstein and it all wouldn't have "registered" anyway because the governor "knew nothing about this decision in advance" to close traffic lanes.

Although the review introduced new details and magnified allegations against key players - like Wildstein and former Christie Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly - it did not offer any clarity on why the lanes were closed beyond "some ulterior motive to target (Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich)."
Still, Christie's team said some things are now better understood.

"We are confident that, based on our thorough review, we have a clear understanding of what happened here, even if the participants' precise motives remain to be determined," the review said.

The scandal, under investigation by a state legislative committee and the U.S. Attorney's office over concern Christie appointees abused their authority, has called into question the governor's forceful governing style.

The report examined the claim that Christie had created a "culture" of bullying adversaries and found it "unsubstantiated."

Christie said on Wednesday night that the saga, which has engulfed a number of key officials he appointed since taking office in 2009, has not altered his thinking about a possible White House run.

Christie: Iowans "love me"

And on Thursday, Christie said in an interview for ABC's "World News" that he couldn't believe it when he first heard about the traffic jam allegations and that he felt "taken advantage of" by his aides.

"I said, 'This can't possibly be true because who would do something like that?' Sometimes people do inexplicably stupid things," Christie said, adding that "none of it made any sense to me and to some extent still does not."

While this is the first news conference Christie's held since early January, he has answered questions from listeners to his "Ask the Governor" radio appearances, and he's held a bunch of town halls over the past two months as well.

Wildstein, Kelly, and a number of others have been subpoenaed as part of the state legislative investigation. Wildstein has refused to testify before legislative investigators. Kelly is fighting her subpoena in court.

Investigators conducting the internal review were not able to speak with Wildstein, Kelly or other prominent figures in the scandal.

The review also found that Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien and Port Authority Executive Director Bill Baroni, another Christie appointee, knew of the plan to close the lanes in advance, but there was no evidence uncovered that the two men knew why.

The review alleged Kelly and Wildstein covered up the motive by telling members of the Christie administration that the gridlock was part of a traffic study, a claim that Democrats have questioned.

Lawyers for Wildstein and Kelly could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kevin Marino, the attorney for Stepien, said the internal review "only confirms" that Stepien, who managed Christie's two successful gubernatorial campaigns, "had no involvement whatsoever in the planning, execution or concealment of the lane closures."

CNN's Steve Kastenbaum, CNN Investigative Correspondent Chris Frates, CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser, and CNN's Tom Cohen and John Crawley contributed to this report

Filed under: 2016 • Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (238 Responses)
  1. tom l

    Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Hey, tom I. Share some of those happy faces with me ... please?

    I'm still pondering why I can't get mine to post from a few articles past.

    It's driving me batty
    What I'd like to know is: "WHERE'S THE BEEF CNN?!".
    It is Friday...where's the Red Meat?!
    You got poor tom l out there by himself trying to start some stuff because YOU cnn have fallen down on your solemn duty to get us all at each other's throats on Friday.
    Shame on you cnn!
    And shame on you for eating my friend Lynda's smiiley faces too!
    Girl, I'm tired!

    Lol! Maybe some day it will become apparent that is all that our wonderful politicians do to us. They pit us against each other every single day.

    March 28, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. David

    This is not news, this was a traffic jam.
    We've got Dems in Cali selling guns illegally and this is the main topic.
    At least Fox covers both the CC scandal and the Dem gun running.
    No mention of the Dem gun running here.

    March 28, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Iab

    I owe you folks an apology. It did post. Thank you, I'm an 83 yr old opinionated AA female who remembers history from years ago when current events were taught in school. We also learned the branches of the FED GOVRN. how each branch works. To this day I ask many ppl these questions, guess what they say? I'm not political, I don't pay any attention to what is going on. I am a PROGRESSIVE who believes like so many of the younger ppl throughout the world. The sooner we get rid of the OLD, OLD, archaic, backward thinking dictators, demagogues like in China, Islamic Countries, African,etc countries the world will be a better place for all mankind. We must all learn to coexist on this planet or self destruct. Education provides knowledge, power, freedom.

    March 28, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. Paul Cooper

    If the Left's many felons have taught us anything, it's never count a pol out until they've been dead and in the ground for at least six weeks. Ted Kennedy got away with killing a woman. Robert Byrd recruited for the Klan and still became their "Conscience of the Senate". Harry Reid has been caught lying, cheating AND stealing so many times it barely makes the news anymore. Hillary Clinton has been caught lying about anything and everything, and she's now their number-one pick for 2016. And Bill Clinton perjured himself before a federal grand jury but remains their hero and "the first Black president".

    I don't care for Christie myself, but assuming he's dead and gone politically would be a huge mistake. In the end, this was all just New Jersey politics as usual.

    March 28, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. Nameas nicka

    Don't be naive people.The Governor knew everything the GWB it's a big lie.

    March 28, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Rosslaw

    I was stunned when Krispy's own attorney did not declare his own client to be guilty when Krispy only paid his own attorney $1,000,000 to declare Krispy to be innocent. Krispy's attorney should have held out for more-heck, its just taxpayer's money.

    March 28, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. Iab

    Oh I forgot USA.

    March 28, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. steve

    paul cooper, when you open your mouth you remove all doubt

    March 28, 2014 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. josh

    Typical Christie bravado and malicious lying.

    March 28, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. CNN Propaganda Machine

    Obama-Clinton leave four Americans exposed to terrorists in Libya to die. They lie for weeks to win an election (at that time, Obama claimed Al Qaieda was dead), yet that's not a scandal. A lane gets closed and its a huge scandal to CNN requiring daily coverage? It certainly explains why few people watch CNN these days.

    March 28, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Dominoes starting to fall and big humpty dumpty fell off the wall so the nomination he'll never win so might as well run romney again or you can try cruz,palin,trump, huckabee lol can't wait for the repub comvention greatest show on earth....

    March 28, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. MaryM

    HA, look at all the deflection from the right. This story is about Krispy. If you want to talk about the CA problems than go to that comment blog on Fox news. If you are sooooooooo upset with CNN, then leave

    March 28, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. cpc65

    Time for all the King's horses and all the King's men to take the fall, 'cause Humpty don't do that.

    March 28, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ smith
    Good times today indeed, babe, and a happy weekend to you as well.
    @ tom l
    It's good to "hear" you relax and smile, and you're right about people being pitted against each other. The media is just as guilty if not moreso than the politicians because as my girl Lynda will tell you, if they'd stop sticking microphones in politician's faces and reporting their every lie as the truth most of this crap wouldn't be happenning.
    Please have a good weekend tom l.
    @ Lynda and Wake Up!
    My girls! God bless...always.

    March 28, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. guest

    mr. you have to take responsibility throws several people under the bus to avoid it.

    How much money changed hands here. I bet it more than $48,000 dollars (the amount of money needed to change hands before terms like 50 years in prison are thrown around apparently).

    Anyways even if they did convict him of something, he would just Tom DeLay it and never step foot in prison.

    March 28, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. DH

    Gee Paul, you sound like you have some issues with accepting truth and facts. Repubs have no plan and if they did there is no one who can beat Hillary.!!!!!!

    March 28, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. TheSilence

    Well since Mayor Sokolich said of Christie and his meeting:

    "I'm glad he came. I take him for his word, which is he had nothing to do with it. And I said this once, I said this 100 times. We in Fort Lee are not rooting for facts to, you know, come about and surface that would suggest in some shape or form that he was involved in it. We take him for his word."

    Also, Mayor Zimmer's accusations against Christie have been proven 'demonstably false.'

    Alas, we've come full circle and now the only people with egg on their face would be the pushers and spinners of this ridiculous non-scandal.

    Now, in other news: (D) Senator Yee, a California Govenor hopeful and Pro-Gun control advocate withdrew from a race for California Secretary of State on Thursday, a day after he was arrested by FBI agents and charged with corruption and conspiring to import and traffic firearms. (Just in case the Media forgets to inform)

    March 28, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Swing low, sweet chariot, coming forth to carry Christie's political future home."

    Indeed...altho swinging low is something GOP/Teatrolls quite obviously don't do themselves. You can tell by how insecure they are about allowing women to have their rights, how they chest-thump like angry gorillas when it comes to foreign policy and how they cuddle their guns at night.

    March 28, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. Common Sense

    I find it interesting that the governor is cleared of any wrongdoing here, and all the crybabies come out crying foul at the results. Yet, Obama has scandal, after scandal, after scandal, and all the crybabies can do is justify, excuse, ad nauseum.....Can not have it both ways crybabies......sorry

    March 28, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. califslim

    The dominoes are starting to fall big humpty dumpty fell off the wall now the nomination he'll never win so might have to run palin again....... or cruz, perry, huckabee just can't wait for the repub convention greatest show on earth......

    March 28, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Dave

    Republican 'echo chamber' exoneration. The same thing that allows Fox to get away with lying let's Christie off the hook: a base that would lie, cheat and steal to win every bit as much as their party does.

    Republican politicians, bullies like Christie, are a perfect reflection of the people who vote for them.

    March 28, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. the Hypochristie

    California Democratic State Senator and candidate for California Secretary of State, Leland Yee, a gun control advocate, has been charged with conspiring to traffic in firearms and public corruption.

    but not a word of it on CNN. But Christie, not having been caught with his hands in the cookie jar is guilty to the progressives and CNN.

    March 28, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "Can not have it both ways crybabies"

    Don't have to...the situations weren't at all the same, nor was the state of the evidence.

    March 28, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. budwhite451

    What does this guy have on you

    March 28, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. budwhite451

    that poor lady

    March 28, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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