Internal Review Clears Chris Christie of Wrongdoing in Bridge Scandal

NJ governor's lawyer discusses his findings following investigation in controversial lane closures.
3:00 | 03/27/14

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

More information on this video
Enhanced full screen
Explore related content
Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Internal Review Clears Chris Christie of Wrongdoing in Bridge Scandal
This is a special room. What we found. Plus. Christine. And no involvement in the decision. To close these planes and no prior knowledge. Any shred of evidence. -- There you haven't lawyers for New Jersey governor Chris Christie today. Clearing their clients of any responsibility for the politically motivated George Washington Bridge lane closings. I'm Michelle Franzen in New York this is an ABC news digital special report. The 345. Page report published by the law firm of Gibson Dunn and -- And commission by Christie himself says that no one else had any knowledge of the plan or motivations for. Backing up that bridge traffic creating a nightmare and for commuters for emergency service providers. We're joined now from Washington by ABC news senior national correspondent -- -- gem. How much stock can the public put into this report commissioned by the man it is supposed to be investigating. Right there are three investigations going on this one was an internal investigation was commissioned by the governor. Have no sooner had no subpoena power it had no power to force. The three people who the governor. It says is responsible. To talk to they had no power to talk to them that would of course would be. His deputy chief of staff. Who was bridges -- Bridget that Kelly who was let go. David -- Steen who worked at the Port Authority who was who was when he was texting with her about. About the problems at Fort Lee. Think that couldn't talk to either one of those two. And they couldn't talk to -- that step via media the governor's right hand. Person and politics so those 3 central individuals. The individuals who really know. What happened there and who was responsible and did they get any orders from anybody. Were not available to this internal investigation. The other point to to keep in mind is that this was in fact the hand picked. Legal for law firm that was picked by the governor to investigate himself and does that legal firm also has ties to his office has been contracted by his office in the past has received money by his from his office. -- also he's friends with the clothes for with a person who was involved in the investigation. So -- have to take what's here. Didn't understand what it is and understand where it came from. In the critics of the governor Chris due course will reject this totally as saying it was they have a -- -- The governor will use it to say. Look I had some very powerful some very legitimate attorneys come in and look at all of my emails. All of my phone records the -- the governor's phone records and personal -- phone records. And they show that I had nothing to do with ordering this traffic. Mess well -- -- -- left with a -- certainly key players as you mentioned were not cooperative in this. Investigation by Christie's office and here's lawyer -- -- stroll on talking about who is to blame. -- -- -- It's the person who originated this idea and orchestrated it. David whilst he went to Bridget Kelly. For approval in the governor's office. To have a motive for implementing that decision. Two in some way target mayor's -- which unfortunately it. -- Jim what do we know about how these key players than their stories and how they match up with what the governor said. Well. One of the key things it and -- Bridget Kelly has sent an -- David while staying through his attorney. -- wrote to the Port Authority who use he used to work for. Asking for the Port Authority to pay his legal bills in in that letter he said the Governor Christie new. During the traffic mess what was going. Governor Christie has said he didn't -- and in fact in today's report. The -- that the investigators say that that Governor Christie was told. By while staying according to whilst in -- -- was going on at a Port Authority meeting. During the time the traffic -- was happening the governor says he doesn't call that. And that even if it did happen it's he wouldn't and -- not something that he wouldn't call that he has too many other big big things going on. Remember -- traffic mess at the George Washington Bridge. He does he did tell. The investigators that that he hired. That in fact he didn't believe that -- that he didn't know in advance and had nothing to do in the planning and that of course is what the investigators have to -- You know we've -- as you mentioned all these investigations going on this wasn't an internal investigation. Prompted by the governor himself. How often do we see internal that investigations. Sort of -- Federal and state investigation. Well this was important for the governor could put a couple of reasons he he -- He's lost a lot of credibility in his own state according to polls and of course in the nation where he was -- mentioned as a as the front runner in the Republican nomination for president -- 2060. So if he had to wait until the investigations at the state legislature. And especially at the federal government -- complete. There would be able he would be in limbo a long time. He would be it would be very difficult for him to come out and say look I've been cleared the federal government's and I didn't do it. State investigations that I didn't do it he has to wait for those that happen. By ordering his own investigation. His plan is now to -- that investigation as evidence that he had nothing to do with. In fact he'll begin a publicity blitz today. -- interview -- -- later in the afternoon by ABC news and world news anchor. I'm Diane Sawyer and shall put some tough questions too about this in -- opportunities to respond. But he will use this report as a basis for his response. He's gonna have a news conference tomorrow. So this is the coming out this is this. He's using this report as a way to come out and take the offensive -- get trying to get back some of that popularity some of that -- -- -- their credibility. With that said Jim where did a formal investigation stand -- do we expect any criminal charges including. Against Bridget Kelly the A Christie fired it was names by the lawyers today. Well there are two investigations that other than the one that. -- was released the state investigation. Is still in the information gathering phase as they've subpoenaed the records of lots of people in state government. That the world will go on in public. And they will that will happen over the next few months. As far as the US attorney's investigation we knew we do know that the US attorneys investigating on two fronts investigating quote unquote bridge -- The problems of traffic -- Fort Lee. They have subpoenaed. David while staying they subpoenaed Bridget Kelly. There are negotiations. According to sources for -- That there may be some kind of plea bargains going on some kind of immunity. Going on to get wants Steen and Kelly to tell all they know. And the -- and make him immune from prosecution. So they can point to people above them. Supremely. Whether that will happen or not whether that they have evidence we don't know yet David Wells and again in that letter to the Port Authority -- he did have evidence that the governor knew about this. That investigation. Is his ongoing those can take. A year to two years before there's any kind of indictment. Or any kind of resolution at all. The there along where that investigation of the bridge gate there's a separate investigation by the -- US attorney. Into whether or not. The miracle of Hoboken. Was intimidated. By the Christie administration as she claims because she wouldn't go along with the -- politically connected. Development in Hoboken in which he was supposedly threatened to get onboard or she wouldn't get any sandy funds. And Jim the firm also said it investigated that mayor. Let's let's -- met Randy maestro -- We find that. American sailors allegations. Members of the Christie administration. Delivered a message from the governor to her threatening. -- Oakland's sandy. Unless she supported -- private development. Project. I'm not only unsubstantiated. They are demonstrably false and material respects. Now beyond the public relations of Sharon these findings could Christie also use them as a defense if he or another top eight -- to end up -- quarter -- Well I think it. The that this administration this investigation is touring all over turning over all of its conversations and evidence to the US attorney's office -- -- So. Anything that was revealed in this investigation will. Will be had by the US attorney's office so yes he could. He could do that he can't use any of the statements that meant by these attorneys. Who investigated him in court. As exonerating him though they wouldn't hold any water and in fact what's interesting in this last. Clip you just played. One of the questions that still remains is what is that evidence they didn't reveal the evidence but what is the evidence that the mayor of Hoboken is line. What is the evidence that -- that there was no involvement -- no threat other than Governor Christie saying that there wasn't. And apparently the lieutenant governor saying there wasn't and and that perhaps. Haven't heard this yet for perhaps there's a document trail -- some kind of documents they look -- and didn't find any evidence of it. But it if I think it's premature to dismiss. The Hoboken. Material as well the US attorney is still investigating that he was -- has subpoena power. If you light of the US attorneys go to jail -- light of these guys nothing happens. Now Jim back to the bridge scandal the governor says it was simply two people acting badly within his office but his lawyers today. Proposed a plan to restructure she certain state offices suggesting in a systematic -- to prevent this. From happen in again. Now -- -- even plausible that Christie could not know about this in his office and if that is true how does that pose if he does have further political plans. The main suggestion from this Investigative Group the private group hired by Governor Christie. Is that. Employees of the governor's office no longer be able to use there's there's private cell phones. To communicate. -- amongst each other about state business. They should be compelled. -- -- -- They're there of state votes and their state blackberries. That's that's what these folks say they also say that there should be a restructuring. The office that was run by Bridget Kelly to make it will involve the legitimate business rather than what they were involved it. -- those of the two major things that they recommend now that to your other question whether or not Governor Christie cook -- cook. Could be -- ignorant to what was going on with his deputy chief of staff ordering this type of retribution against a major town. Fort -- New Jersey. Is the gateway to New York the gate way to the Port Authority. The gateway to the gold to the George Washington Bridge this is about it and -- in in his into the county Bergen County. Which is the richest county in New Jersey where a lot of political. There's a lot of political influence a lot of political donations. So. If there was a huge traffic problem in Fort Lee it is difficult for many to believe that the governor didn't know that there was a problem going on. In a very important part of the state. A problem that was. Who was evident on social media that was beginning to be covered by local newspapers. It's hard and for many people to believe -- -- didn't know anything about it. Did he know about the planning of it or was there. Some kind of political environment in his office which encouraged retribution. Which encouraged paying for friends in government. With the government funds if they cooperated and punishing them if they didn't that's still needs to be investigated. And is being investigated by the US attorney's. Well Jim Astro took a few tough questions also from reporters today here's his response. For people who he said my questioned how law firm hired by Christie can produce reliable report. -- law firm works for an individual -- law firm was retained by the office of the governor. We were -- by -- public office and we have an obligation to that public office and whatever the facts were that we found. Our obligation was publicly stated it was to report those findings back to that office. And out of office announced publicly long before we reach any point. Rendering findings -- knowing what our findings would be. Those findings will be put -- to the public. Do you think the public will find that a reasonable explanation. By the public -- so fractured you know like I really can't give an answer on that -- Governor Christie supporters. Who believe him will believe the Fermi hired. Those who are critical of a Governor Christie and think that. That he's done something wrong here. We won't believe that the firm that he hired. Into the governor's the governor's office these -- correct the governor's office is paying for that that's another concern is that. That one of the questions being raised today is. When Governor Christie let Bridget Kelly -- He didn't ask -- anything on the way out the door he'd ever asked her why did you do this he didn't ask her. Anything about what happened in -- it it during these those days in September. So since since he or his chief of staff didn't ask any questions on the way out the door. He had to hire this firm would charge the state a million dollars there's some criticism about that why didn't ask those questions why did he bring his chief counsel -- To the governor's to the governor's office -- -- his lawyer right there. Ask Bridget Kelly why did you do this. For for some reason the governor had a lack of curiosity. About the biggest scandal to hit his administration. And that's a question he needs to answer. A lot more questions than answers with this internal investigation report ABC news senior national correspondent Jim Matalin thank you for joining us. This programming note as Jim mentioned to ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer sits down with Chris Cristi for his first television interview since his January press conference on the Fort Lee George Washington Bridge lane closures scandal. You can see that exclusive interview tonight on world news. For now I'm Michelle Franzen this has been an ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"id":23087715,"title":"Internal Review Clears Chris Christie of Wrongdoing in Bridge Scandal","duration":"3:00","description":"NJ governor's lawyer discusses his findings following investigation in controversial lane closures.","section":"Politics","mediaType":"Default"}