A day after the release of e-mails showing his office purposely created traffic jams in an act of political payback, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie held a marathon news conference Thursday to apologize on a day of several fast-moving developments in a growing scandal. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It was an unusually contrite Chris Christie who faced the cameras Thursday.
In the course of a nearly two-hour news conference, he said he was taking responsibility for the closure of several George Washington Bridge local access lanes in September,
but also distanced himself from the scandal, saying that a staff member lied to him about her involvement, and leaving no doubt how that made him feel.
At different points of the news conference, he said, "I'm incredibly disappointed," "I'm sick over this," "I'm sad," "I am embarrassed and humiliated," and "I am heartbroken that someone who I permitted to be in that circle of trust for the last five years betrayed my trust."
Christie fired that staffer, deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly, Thursday morning. He said he had little relationship with another person involved, former Port Authority official David Wildstein, who declined to answer questions on the matter at a legislative hearing Thursday.
"Mr. chairman, on the advice of counsel, I assert my right to remain silent," Wildstein said at the hearing.
The Port Authority, which controls the bridge, is a bi-state agency jointly controlled by Christie and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has generally avoided the controversy.
"This is a bi-state agency with significant tension all the time," Christie said. "Now, there's no tension between Governor Cuomo and I. We get along quite well, and when issues rise to our level, we've always been able to resolve them."
Later in the day, Christie went to Fort Lee to personally apologize to the mayor, Mark Sokolich.
"I take him for his word, which is he had nothing to do with it," Sokolich said.
Meanwhile, for the all talk of the scandal damaging Christie's presidential prospects, one local Republican, Rep. Michael Grimm, whose district covers Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, praised his leadership.
"He found out yesterday. Today, people are fired. People are being relieved of their position," Grimm said. "So I think that's bold, decisive leadership that this country's yearning for, and it is certainly a breath of fresh air."
Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are now reportedly looking into the incident. Christie, meanwhile, made clear that he never gave any thought to resigning.