NJ Gov. Christie apologizes for lane closures, fires aide Bridget Kelly

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks about his  knowledge of a traffic study that snarled traffic at the George Washington Bridge during a news conference on January 9, 2014 at the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey. Credit: Getty Images
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks about his knowledge of a road study that snarled traffic at the George Washington Bridge during a news conference Jan. 9 at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Credit: Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apologized to the residents of his state in a press conference Thursday after emails from one of his top aides were released, revealing she played a role in lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in an act of political retaliation.

Christie remained steadfast in his denial of any prior knowledge that top aide Bridget Kelly asked Port Authority executive David Wildstein in August to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge after the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., didn’t endorse Christie for re-election. The governor said he fired Kelly on Thursday morning because she lied to him when he asked his staff weeks ago whether they had any knowledge of involvement in the lane closures when the accusations began to surface.

Christie’s statement came on the heels of an investigation opened into the legal implications of the scandal by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

“I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team,” Christie said. “I believe all the people who were affected by this conduct deserve this apology and that’s why I am giving it to them. I need to apologize to them for my failure as governor of this state to understand the true nature of this problem sooner than I did. I believe I have an understanding now.”

The controversy began after the public release of several incriminating emails, including one in which Kelly wrote to Wildstein in August, saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

The email came after Fort Lee’s democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, didn’t endorse Christie in his bid for re-election.

Wildstein, a high school friend of Christie, responded, “Got it.”

Four days of lane closures in September on the George Washington Bridge, which connects Manhattan to Fort Lee, N.J., resulted in massive traffic jams and have been blamed for the slow response times of emergency vehicles and severe delays in buses carrying young students to their first day of school.

Christie insisted he was shocked when he saw the emails for the first time after the story broke in the press Wednesday and had been under the impression the lane closures were part of a traffic study.

“I am heartbroken that someone I permitted to be in that circle of trust for the last five years has betrayed my trust,” he said Thursday.

Christie said he will continue to have one-on-one conversations with his staff members to determine whether there is any further information about their involvement in the incident, and will release that information accordingly. He also said he plans to meet personally with Sokolich on Thursday afternoon.

“Ultimately, I am responsible for what happens under my watch — the good and the bad,” Christie said. “When mistakes are made, I have to own up to them and take action I believe is necessary in order to remediate them.”

He capped his prepared remarks by saying, “I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or execution. I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here.  Regardless of what the facts ultimately uncover, this was handled in a callous and different way and not the way this administration has conducted itself over the last four years, and not the way it will conduct itself in the next four years.”

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman has opened an investigation into the lane closures, according to his office.

“The Port Authority Office of Inspector General has referred the matter to us, and our office is reviewing it to determine whether a federal law was implicated,” Rebekah Carmichael said in a statement, reported by Reuters.

Christie has been widely considered as a White House contender in 2016, though this scandal could compromise his public image.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Comments

1

  1. Mark Sokolich: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
    Captain Christiet: I’m shocked, shocked to find that traffic is going on here!
    [a PA official hands Christie a pile of money]
    PA official: Your payback, sir.
    Captain Christie: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
    [aloud]
    Captain Christie: Everybody stop at once!