NJ Gov. Christie on traffic jam scandal: “I am embarrassed and humiliated”
TRENTON, N.J. (CNN) – A governor, who was thought to be a presidential candidate in the next election, is now involved in a massive political scandal.
During a press conference on Thursday, Christie said, “I come out here today to apologize to the people of New Jersey. I apologize to the people of Fort Lee and I apologize to members of the state legislature.”
Lane closures that snarled traffic for days in Fort Lee, N.J. were originally blamed on a mishandled traffic study.
Officials say traffic was backed up over the George Washington Bridge for four days last September.
However, emails that surfaced on Wednesday seem to suggest the dangerous situation was an act of revenge.
Now, many are wondering if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie knew his staff was deliberately creating traffic problems to target a democrat who refused to back Christie’s reelection campaign.
One of the emails between top appointees of Gov. Christie said, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
It received a response from an official at the Port Authority that simply said, “Got it.”
On Thursday, he said, “I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team. There’s no doubt in my mind that the conduct that they exhibited is completely unacceptable. It showed a lack of respect for the appropriate role of government and for the people that we’re trusted to serve.”
He added, “I also need to apologize to them for my failure as the governor of this state to understand the true nature of this problem sooner than I did.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a DNC chairwoman, said, “His staff, and possibly him, exacted political retribution in retaliation for a democratic mayor in Fort Lee refusing to endorse him in his reelection.”
Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich said, “None of this surprises me. I am embarrassed for the people that are involved. I’m completely disheartened.”
Last month, Christie wrote it off as his opponents playing politics.
He said, “I don’t get involved in traffic studies. I don’t get involved in lane closures.”
However, his tone changed after the emails surfaced.
He said, “I was misled by a member of my staff. This completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”
David Wildstein, a friend that Christie appointed to the Port Authority, has been called to testify about those emails.
However, he is trying to fight that subpoena.