Besieged by former employees’ allegations, resignations and legal theatrics, Governor Chris Christie sounded more like himself than he has in awhile on Monday night, Save Jerseyans, taking an unambiguous stand during this month’s edition of the NJ 101.5 “Ask the Governor” program:
“If there’s anybody else that needs to be held to account, I’ll hold them to account,” Christie added later on in the program. “And then to make changes hopefully so I can assure the people of New Jersey that something like this won’t happen again.”
The transcript of “unequivocally no” exchange is below the fold…
Governor Christie: Well Eric, listen let’s make one thing clear right off the bat which I think is the most important issue and the most important issue is did I know anything about the plan to close these lanes? Did I authorize it? Did I know about it? Did I approve it? Did I have any knowledge of it beforehand and the answer is still the same, it’s unequivocally no. And in fact, no one has ever accused me of that and that’s the thing that I think people in New Jersey care about the most. Now, when did I first know about the lane closures. You know the fact is that the first time this really came into my consciousness as an issue was when Pat Foye, the Executive Director of the Port Authority’s email about this incident was leaked to the media and reported on. And that was the first time that I got a sense of, there might be some issue here.
Eric Scott: And who brought that to your attention? Was that staff?
Governor Christie: No it was news accounts. I mean…
Eric Scott: But you read them personally or did somebody bring it to your attention?
Governor Christie: No I read it.
Eric Scott: You read it.
Governor Christie: I read it in the Wall Street Journal. And it was that day then when I read that Pat Foye was saying, ‘I didn’t know about this. It wasn’t cleared through me.’ And whatever else he said in that email. That’s when I asked my Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel. I said to them hey, would you look into this and see what’s going on here? Now if prior to that, I know prior to that that there were press accounts about traffic issues up there and you know if someone, if I either read that or someone said something to me about traffic issues up there, it wouldn’t have been meaningful to me. I didn’t know that there was any problem up there because you know I didn’t know that we had actually closed lanes up there before that.
So my dispute is two-fold. First, to make clear to everybody in the midst of all the things that were reported over the weekend that nobody has said that I knew anything about this before it happened and I think that’s the most important question. Secondly that when this first became an issue for me because let’s face it, Eric, there’s traffic every day at the George Washington Bridge, at the Lincoln Tunnel, at the Holland Tunnel. I hear those reports on the radio. We all hear about them. That’s not something that rises to the gubernatorial level. When this first became clear to me that this was a potential issue was when the Foye email was put out. Now like I said to you, there were press accounts before. Whether I read any of those, if I did or heard anything from anybody about traffic, it would not have been meaningful to me. Because now we’re looking at it in the prism of knowing everything we know since January 8. Back then this was not a major issue. And it became one to me in terms of finding out what was going on when the Foye email came out.