Christie Says He Was ‘Nervous’ at Bridgegate Meeting [AUDIO]
The outwardly cool and ultra-confident Gov. Chris Christie admits he was nervous at a high-level meeting to discuss the growing Bridgegate scandal. That nugget can be found within interview notes newly released by the law firm hired to do the governor’s internal investigation.
On Jan. 8, the day the now-infamous “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email went public, Christie called together senior staffers, longtime advisors and even his brother to talk about the controversy. The meeting took place at Drumthwacket, the governor’s mansion in Princeton.
“When the meeting started, the Governor recalled being nervous because he did not know who else might be involved,” read one excerpt from the notes. “He got emotional, and with tears in his eyes asked if anyone else had anything else to do with the lane realignment, because he could not get sandbagged again. One by one, each person denied involvement.”
It was also at this meeting that Christie decided to fire deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly, who sent the “traffic problems” email, and to sever his relationship with Bill Stepien, his two-time campaign manager.
On Jan. 9, Christie held his marathon State House press conference to announce those decisions.
“Only after coming back did he realize that the press conference lasted nearly two hours,” the interview notes said.
The notes also show that Stepien was worried about Kelly, after she was grilled by a member of Christie’s staff about her knowledge of the unannounced lane closures leading up to the George Washington Bridge. Kelly denied involvement, but appeared distraught, and some in the administration were skeptical.
“The governor also recalled getting a call from Stepien on Dec. 14, 2013, while the governor was on his way to a doctor’s appointment,” the notes read. “Stepien told the governor that Kelly was fragile and worried. The governor responded that ‘we would keep an eye on her.’ He added that she should not be worried because no one had anything to do with the lane realignment. Stepien responded that was right.”
Throughout the notes, Christie repeatedly denied knowing about the lane realignments. He said he had no role and did not discuss it until it became the subject of media reports.
The interview notes from the law firm of Gibson Dunn were released Monday. They detail the 75 interviews conducted, but there are no audio or video recordings. The legislative committee probing the Bridgegate scandal also has the notes. The panel’s co-chair is considering his committee’s next course of action, which could include taking oral testimony from some of those interviewed by Gibson Dunn lawyers.