Epic presser this morning for the embattled governor, as many, including Jersey boy Jon Stewart last night, claim Chris Christie is finished as GOP candidate for president (and possibly in his current position) because of Bridgegate. Latest report: US attorney now looking into it, amid claim that at least one life may have been lost due to planned traffic gridlock.
One problem: Can he possibly go after his usual whipping posts in the press? And will he quote Springsteen? (Maybe “stalling on the back streets.”) Advice to Bridget Kelly: if Silvio Dante asks you a ride today, run the other way.
The irony: today is Richard Nixon’s birthday. And see Christie’s remark, below, with Nixonian echoes, “I am not a bully.”
11:07 Opens with apology to Fort Lee, motorist and state legislators, claims he is embarrassed and blames underlings. And apologizes for not “understanding true nature” of the problem until now. Fires Bridget Kelly for “lying to me.” Says he’s asked staff now for “any information” on the lane closings and gave them one hour to report, or he would go out at this presser and say no one knew anything beyond what has already come out. And his chief of staff also tells him “no one on my staff involved.” This he says is clearly a “lie,” as the press reported. And no justification for that. So he has fired the one guilty party.
11:10 He’s now doing one-on-one interviews with folks. Announces further exit of political boss/campaign manager Bill Stepien, whom he was pushing for GOP state chief. Blames others but says yes “I am responsible.” But then blames others again. “I was blindsided” after learning stuff yesterday “after my workout.” Will go to Fort Lee today and apologize to folks there.
11:20 Claims this is great departure from past four years, “the exception not the role.” Says has tried to act bipartisan and represent all in Jersey. “The political overtones in documents release not acceptable.” But “human beings are not perfect and mistakes are made.” Closes his remarks by emphasizing he had no idea about any of this at all and he was “stunned” by revelations. Says he has 65,000 people working for him so how could he possibly keep tabs on all of them? Now to questions from press.
11:23 Replying to first question, yes, he will cooperate with probes, even though he has denounced some of people doing them in past. “Heartbreaking that I wasn’t told the truth.”
11:26 Won’t change his style because “politics ain’t beanbag.” But “I am not a bully.” (Will this be his “I am not a crook”?)
11:28 Says he has no evidence that this goes beyond what he knows, but that could change—trying to cover himself for future bombshells. Says he “absolutely” did not authorize the traffic stops. Thought it was just a “traffic study.” Gets a little testy now when reporter interrupts.
11:30 Asked what this tells about him that he allegedly did not know about this, he says it’s been false claim that he is a “micro manager.” And repeats “no way anyone would think” that he knows everything going on. If you find that hard to believe—“I had no knowledge until after it was over.” Thought it was just a “traffic study” until yesterday. Claims he had not reason to punish the Fort Lee mayor, didn’t really care about his endorsement for governor, don’t think he was even asked for it.