Christie: Bridgegate ‘one of the most abjectly stupid things I’ve ever seen’
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie told CBS's Charlie Rose this weekend a jury's verdict of guilty for former aides Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni confirmed what he has said all along about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.
Christie also said during the pre-taped interview, which aired on CBS This Morning Monday, Donald Trump never asked him to be his running mate. The New York Post in late October reported otherwise, saying Trump rescinded the offer over concerns about the Bridgegate scandal.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the Bridgegate trial started, Christie said "I thought there were three people responsible: David Wildstein, Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly." Wildstein, a former Port Authority executive, admitted his role in closing the bridge lanes last year. Kelly, the governor's former deputy chief of staff, and Baroni, who'd been appointed by Christie to be the Port Authority's deputy executive director, were both found guilty on several counts last week.
"Here we are three investigations later, a federal grand jury, (and) an investigation by a Democratic led legislature. And what's the conclusion? There were three people responsible," Christie told Rose.
The governor has denied any involvement in the closures. Kelly alleged in testimony she told the governor about the closures in advance, thinking they were part of a legitimate traffic study. Wildstein testified that the governor was made aware of the closures while they were happening, and that the governor joked Wildstein "would never be involved in anything political."
Christie said that of 25 people who have been part of his senior staff over seven years only one person didn't "get it," which Christie said is a reflection on Kelly and not him.
"It was one of the most abjectly stupid things I have ever seen," Christie said.
The governor denied that Wildstein told him about the traffic problems on the George Wasington Bridge during a 9/11 memorial ceremony in 2013.
"I have absolutely no recollection of any of them saying anything like that to me," Christie said.
Christie said he doesn't believe that Bridgegate has tainted him politically — despite his less-than-1-in-4 approval rating — and calls it a "snapshot in time" that he can now respond to.
"If the media and others attack you relentlessly for three years, and you cannot defend yourself because you are in the middle of co-operating in the judicial process and cannot stain that process, then if there's only one line of information that people are being given they believe the information they are being given," he said.
Bridgegate also never affected his chances to be Trump's running mate, according to Christie. He said the Republican candidate never asked Christie to be a running mate, and he believed that Indiana Governor Mike Pence was the better choice.
Christie is heading Trump's transition team.
Christie said he also doesn't regret declining to run in the 2012 race because he wasn't ready.
"You know what’d be worse than not being president for me? Would be being president when I was (not ready). You betcha. You don’t wanna be the dog who catches the garbage truck, Charlie, and figuring out what to do once you get there," he said.
Christie said he believes that Trump will win Tuesday's election, but said he doesn't necessarily want to serve in his administration as a attorney general.
“I don’t necessarily want to be anything, except helpful to him," said Christie.
He also did not close the door on running for another elected office.
“We’ll see. Right now I don’t, but, you know, you never say never in this life, Charlie,” Christie said.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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