New Jersey Governor Chris Christie never took the stand in the now-concluded Bridgegate federal criminal trial, Save Jerseyans, but now that it’s over (pending appeal), he dropped in on CBS This Morning over the weekend to plead his case to veteran newsman Charlie Rose.
Both the defense and the prosecution did spend most of their energies suggesting it was Christie, not Bill Baroni or Bridget Kelly, who masterminded the infamous lane closures.
As far as the embattled Governor of New Jersey (and Trump transition chairman) is concerned?
The jury verified what he’s been saying all along:
Charlie Rose: You’ve been waiting for a while to talk about what happened at bridgegate. What is your reaction to the verdict?
Governor Christie: Well, Charlie, you know, my first reaction was that the jury confirmed what I thought on January 9th, 2014, nearly three years ago. I had twenty-four hours to make decisions back then. And I thought there were three people responsible: David Wildstein, Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly. Here we are three investigations later, a federal grand jury investigation, an investigation by a Democratic-led legislature and what is the conclusion? The conclusion is that there were three people responsible.
Rose: And the question is, though, what does it say about you and your staff? That these people who worked for you did this.
Governor Christie: I thought about this in the last week. I’ve had twenty-five people serve on my senior staff over seven years, and I have one person who didn’t get it. 1 out of 25. So I don’t think it says anything about me. I think it says everything about that person.
Rose: Why do you think she did it?
Governor Christie: I wish I knew, Charlie. I wish I knew. I never could figure it out. It was one of the most abjectly stupid things I’ve ever seen. I mean, think about. It. You know me. I’m pretty good at this political game. I’m up by twenty-five points in a re-election in a blue state and they decide they are going to create a traffic jam in a town that is a Democrat town that I wound up winning two months later in the election?
Rose: So it was stupid on the face?
Governor Christie: Absolutely stupid on the face.
Rose: And criminal?
Governor Christie: As determined by the jury.
Rose: But it is not just her. David said that he told you about it at the 9/11 memorial.
Governor Christie: That’s not what he said, by the way.
Rose: And that you laughed.
Governor Christie: First thing he said was that Bill Baroni told me.
Rose: That’s right.
Governor Christie: Right? And what they told me what? Even Wildstein said that all Baroni said to me was that there was traffic at the George Washington Bridge and that the Mayor was not getting his phone calls returned. Now, Charlie, I have to tell you, I have absolutely no recollection of any of them saying anything like that to me that day. So let’s be clear. But even if they had –
Rose: So you’re saying you have no recollection? You’re not saying I can swear to you they never said anything like that? You’re saying I don’t remember?
Governor Christie: I don’t remember any of it, but what I will tell you is this, Charlie. If they would have told me that, hey, we are creating traffic at the George Washington Bridge in order to punish the Mayor for not endorsing you, I would have remembered that. And they never said that, and in fact, in the whole trial by the way Charlie, I think this is a really important point. In the whole trial, no one, not even Bridget Kelly, Bill Baroni, or David Wildstein ever testified that anyone ever said to me that this was an act of political retribution
Rose: This is the Washington Post, Governor Chris Christie’s political career suffered a serious blow. It taints his legacy, his job approval is at 21%. 52% of the people said they think he knew. Even Donald Trump suggested that during the campaign.
Governor Christie: Yeah, well –
Rose: But that is what you’re suffering from. That’s what the impression is – that something happened at Bridgegate at the trial and the events there that have come down on top of you.
Governor Christie: Of course.
Rose: In what way?
Governor Christie: The way you just talked about. The fact is that if people — if the media and others attack you relentlessly for three years, and you cannot defend yourself because you are in the middle of cooperating in the judicial process, and cannot stain that process, then if there is only one line of information, then people will believe the line of information they are being given. But, you know, anything like that from “The Washington Post” or anybody else, that is a snapshot in time, Charlie. And now I get to talk.
Rose: But these were reporters who were covering the trial –
Governor Christie: But their conclusion. Their conclusion is a snapshot in time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told my political career was over. Here I am.