Transcript for NJ Public Officials Demand Answers from Gov. Christie on Bridge Lane Closings
This is a special room. Hello I'm tired and is in New York with an ABC news digital special reports scandal in New Jersey governor Chris Christie. A top 2016 Republican presidential contender under fire. You emails obtained by ABC news that show that Christie's staff purposely close lanes of the George Washington Bridge one of the busiest in -- country. Back in September as part of the political -- data closures created a massive traffic jam on the first day of school. -- -- in new Jersey City at the foot of the bridge was hardest hit its mayor a Democrat did not -- Christie's reelection bid. Emails suggested closures were simple retaliation. Is message from the governor's deputy chief of staff to the head of the Port Authority reads quote. Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee we're joined now by ABC she shot a Wall Street -- Washington bureau and Jeff -- From Capitol Hill -- let's start with you Christie's denied that his staff has played any part in those lane closures. We've got those emails 23 pages of them surfacing today and they tell a very different story don't say. Exactly -- Christie as overt as this kennels come out over the last few weeks. He's repeatedly said that none of his staffer involved none of his aides except for the two that we -- have already resigned he said he's spoken directly with them. We now know to be senile that is not true and as Democrats in the -- just put it. -- two things are going on she didn't know what was happening in his own office or there's some lies being told what we don't know yet which of that is true. OK and Jeff how high up our David -- -- at the Port Authority and -- staffer bridging that detailing how closer today. To the governor. Tyler definitely part of his inner circle in fact one as a high school friend in this deputy chief of staff is a very close advisor to. The governor and really what this gets right to the heart of here. Is and the reason this is a story that's resonating a little bit out of New Jersey outside the status. It really hits to the heart of who Governor -- -- his personality part of his freshness as part of his brand he -- you know a truth teller he says it like it is but he's also in and I inheriting a reputation. As something of a bully and this goes directly to the heart of that and it's not just Democrats that are watching this -- as. I'm them as were saying it's also Republicans who are potentially. A running against him in 2016 in the primary they are delighting in seeing Chris Christie. Struggling a little bit here and we're not sure how far this a situations going to go he's not handle it all that smoothly so far he and it event this morning he cancel -- abruptly we still haven't heard from -- here so this goes right to the heart of his brand. Who he is is he a bully foresee a truth teller. So Jeff -- talking about someone who. It talks about his being able to garner bipartisan support the accusation here is that. Those Democrats or Republicans really who didn't back him in his reelection bid were personally punish. By his staff at the very least. At at traffic jams and closing lanes on a very busy bridge is something people can really relate to how dangerous is this for Chris Christie going forward. We'll certainly is easy to make a television commercial lot of that's kind of a judge in politics a rule in politics if it's easy enough to explain. In a 32 TV ad which this certainly is a mean their work school buses that work backed up on the freeway I'm all these traffic jams. And it is definitely easy to explain it's easy to. Show that this was really government at its worst are now we don't know if the governor actually knew about this that people close to him did. I know that itself as a -- was saying just a moment ago we're going to. Hear more and learn more about that is exactly what did -- know on when ditty for note if you will. But I'm it really speaks more to his brand and exactly -- what lengths would he go or the people around him go to carry out his orders. Just tell us a little bit more about the chaos that ensued in terms of the gridlock. What what could -- -- closing lanes of the George Washington Bridge. Meant for residents of new York and New Jersey. And also give us some context these -- thousand texts are pretty. Once -- pretty shocking in the way they laid out civil retaliation. Absolutely -- it and really it's shocking that anyone would print this kind of how clear was in these emails in an email me maybe people will be having a conversation about it but this is in black and white for everyone to see. And the email that you showed is that one of the most clear ones where they were when of his aides said to another it's time for some traffic problems in New Jersey and he said god it. But ask her what happened in Fort -- those days it was four days it was quite chaotic as you said because of the amount traffic. There were three lanes were closed and so that left all the traffic to the other lanes and this was the first week -- schools -- you have. -- that students that we're trying to get to school parent there were trying to get their kids to school school buses. And even spoke to. A mother today out at one of the schools in New Jersey whose daughter was. How to -- in detention issues 25 minutes late to school now that isn't that big of a deal compared to. Now we also know that there -- emergency vehicles acting get there also and that's really. Probably wanted to. Most importing or. Far out of this is that how many in -- it's coming get through other emergency vehicles and just what have the governor been saying about the lane closures what was the official reason. Still the official reason which one of his aides who have now stepped down said that it was a traffic study out reporters and and other people estate capital continue to dig. There was no traffic study and that. That aid that -- that the comments were not was gone under oath at that point but there will be hearings where there will be he's saying is under oath that. -- exposed to star as early as tomorrow as we might get more information then but. -- it's clear that we don't know the whole story we don't know how much involved Chris Christie was in this in and that's really the question that. That we need to find out now on that everyone's waiting for -- how much did he know when did he know it. And also another question is a lot of these in these emails in these text messages. There are people who are redacted phone numbers -- redacted and that's a big question to who else was involved directly. Said Jeff you talked a little better touched a little bit upon the governor's response. To what has happened now particularly this surfacing of -- email today's. Today let's go back to December of that when he was. Beginning to be asked about the bridge closing and his response let's -- -- -- I work with homes actually not. Undiagnosed everybody I was actually the guy out there are what's in overalls and pats -- with -- But I actually was the guy working at home that you really are not serious -- without question. What happened. Knowing that it listen just because John was news -- themselves. And -- one. It just shows you really have nothing to do. All right Jeff so Christine there. Using sarcasm and belittling reporters who are asking these questions at the time could those responses come back to -- Sure you know there are so many responses like this stuff from Governor Christie on a variety of topics that is his. His ammo on everything he tries to belittle reporters make fun of the situation make light of it and move on. But the reality here is you know known as sympathetic to. To a reporter so that's fine but there are other sympathetic victims here Ennis coached. As -- such as saying you know our our parents of children who are on the school buses people who were trapped. In the all these traffic jams he's lucky he's not running for the for a reelection a -- -- this didn't -- surface before the reduction to that would have been a big scandal but. It really. And gets to the heart of how he is able to control himself -- or conduct himself and did this and if this sort of and brash. Brand of politics is going to play in other parts of the country if he is going to succeed politically if he decides to run for president which we -- think he will. He is going to have to introduce himself in appeal to voters in other parts of the country where that type of attitude that we just saw. Probably won't -- I cannot. Picture him trying to. Have that tone with a -- -- Republican activist or voter in Council Bluffs, Iowa or natural New Hampshire where in South Carolina those three early primary states it just won't sell so. Hill how he conducts himself how he. Handles himself is really important here and this is not a very good indication now that he's able to sort of move beyond managers. Says she mentioned that there will be hearings about this and we already have a flurry of responses first from the very angry mayor of Fort Lee New Jersey who spoke to WABC here in New York here is. But mark so glitch had to say about those closures. For the people letter involved. I think they need to come up here. I think we need to hear an apology I think the families that had a week. Three to four times longer in response times from our emergency services because -- loved one was experiencing chest pains. -- the thousands of families that couldn't get their kids to school on time during that four day period. Or are the tens of thousands of dollars that Fort -- inevitably encouraged when we have to mobilized to deal with this type of our traffic disaster. Now that we know that it's man made. We need apologies we need explanations we need people to be accountable. -- the governor's staff one of the areas are people are looking for accountability here is new Jersey state. Assemblies deputy speaker responded. What we've seen today. It is a sad day for -- The documents that have been published. We're going shopping. And averages. They -- government. At its worst. Among the games. They quote the serious question the honesty. Of his governor. And his staff. As a result of what has been revealed today this governor has a lot of explained. So many questions remain unanswered. That's why some heated mr. Weill's team to testify. And that's why both people come testify tomorrow. And news in this bill. So far -- you know. This -- while he has been pointed to by everybody the governor. Executive director. As he bought. When we look at the documents we've seen today. It is clear that that's not the entire school this. -- -- -- that money can help fill in the blanks. And answer a lot of questions. Case -- the staff clearly under fire here but are they going to take the fall alone obviously people are working to connect. The governor to all of this but that's not been done yet correct. Right it has not been done yet but I think that it's possible that staffers could take the fall I think it's likely that they're going to -- a lot more people that resign or get fired. I think that the question that everybody's going to be asking on both sides of the aisle in New Jersey and across the country. Is how much of the govern -- and when did he know it and that is really the question that's gonna have to be answered. Directly from the governor you know act as a scandal Fuld -- won't go anywhere. And -- computer -- mention Christie canceled a news conference that was pre planned for today that looks good does it. No it doesn't mean it certainly looks like they're trying to plan their strategy rather than making a quick decision saying heads are gonna roll here so. You know it's one thing when I'm he'd just been reelected by huge percentage of the vote he has a big mandate here and they Christie campaign was looking a little bit beyond this. -- governor probably believe what he was saying when he was sort of belittling. Via the reporters -- ever think this was going to become an issue obviously is also the chairman of the Republican Governors Association so. His -- hit his outlook is on the country now is not focusing only on New Jersey. What they know they need to do is regroup and contain this and respond to it so. As with any type of scandal or crisis. The response is very critical so -- see in the next I would -- the next 24 hours he certainly has to decide and say something they can't keep canceling these events. Right very interesting developing story ABC she shot a loss to Washington just felony on Capitol Hill thank you both so much for joining us. Santo and you guys. Scandal for new Jersey's presidential hopeful governor -- the latest from the politics team right here at ABC news dot -- has been an ABC news. Digital special report on -- Hernandez New York.
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