Diane Sawyer's Exclusive Interview With Chris Christie

After 11 weeks of walking through a storm that rocked his political career, he discusses the bridge scandal.
3:00 | 03/27/14

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Transcript for Diane Sawyer's Exclusive Interview With Chris Christie
exclusive. One-on-one with the two-fisted New Jersey governor, Chris Christie. The man at the center of today's headlines. A big, new report was released today, concluding Christie did not order those two lanes of traffic on a bridge to be shut down for political revenge. But there's a question because the report that exonerates him came from lawyers hired by his side. So, I sat down with Chris Christie, today, at his home in New Jersey, to ask about the report, the fallout, and if he's really still in the game for the presidency in 2016. You'll remember, on America's busiest bridge, for four days straight, drivers used to 30-minute commutes, were suddenly locked in 2-hour, 3-hour, 4-hour gridlock. Emergency vehicles delayed. Children in school buss. Desperate people making calls to 911. It's an emergency. Reporter: And then, we read text messages showing some of kit Ty's assistants seemed to be charteling because this was causing stress to a political adversary. And tonight, some of the people who wrote those e-mails have still not talked about what they said or did not say to governor Christie. One of them, deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, seen here with the governor. Another, a member of the port authority, David wildstein, rumbling about getting immunity. Until they do, the governor points out, this report clears him. This report says I had no knowledge of it before it happened. And nor did I authorize it or have anything to do with it. That's the truth. That's what I said on January 8th. Reporter: Does it make you feel clueless? Like what was wrong with me? Not clueless. But it makes me feel taken advantage of. And more importantly, I feel like I let people down by not knowing. Sometimes people do inexplicably stupid things. Reporter: Do you really believe they didn't do it because they thought that's what would please you? If you didn't know about it, they were going to try to please you? I can't get into what their motivations were. Except to say, that anybody who really knows me, that they believe that doing something stupid was please me. Reporter: You say stupid. Yeah. Reporter: You hear the 911 calls, this is not just about stupid di. Stupidity to abrasiveness, sure. Reporter: I want to say what everybody is saying about the report. Words used, whitewash, expensive, scam, that the taxpayers of New Jersey just paid for your lawyers to find you blameless. Why should the taxpayers be paying for this report? A few things. First off, these are not my lawyers. Reporter: But the law firm that you've been affiliated with in the past. You've been one of the partners. You were chosen by the office. Sure. There's probably a law firm in this area that I haven't had some interaction with after being the United States attorney. But bottom line is, these people have their own professional and personal reputations. Six of them are former federal prosecutors. They're not going to whitewash anything for me. Reporter: If Bridget Kelly talks, will she blow this report out of the water? Not credibly, no. Absolutely not. Reporter: You think she'll come after you? I don't see any reason why she would. Reporter: David wildstein has said that at a 9/11 event, he talked to you about traffic. It's a little ambiguous exactly why. Did he? I don't have any recollection of that, Diane. David is one of hundreds of people I spoke to that day. We sit around and spoke briefly that day. I don't have any recollection of him saying anything. But I'll tell you this, I'll tell you what he didn't say. He didn't say, by the way, governor, I'm closing down some lanes on the George Washington bridge to stick it to the mayor. Is that okay? That, I'd remember. Reporter: As you know, the word bully, bullying comes up over and over again. Have you asked yourself, did I do anything to create the climate in which this happened? Sure. I spent a lot of time the last 11 weeks, thinking about what did I do, if anything, to contribute to this? And I don't believe that I did. But I'm certainly disappointed in myself that I wasn't able to pick up these traits in these people. I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't look closer, that I didn't -- that I trusted too much. Reporter: You don't think there's a single possibility that they thought that -- in your rough-and-tumble style, in Jersey politics style, that they thought this would please you? No. Reporter: That this was for you? No. I don't believe it was for me. Reporter: Is this personal? I don't believe it was for me. Reporter: What did you say to your children? What did you say? Our oldest son was home on break. And he asked me, did you do this? It was a tough question, that your son would ask you. And I said, no, I didn't. And he said, good, I'm glad. Reporter: Ronald Reagan said that leadership is not just about doing great things yourself. It's about inspiring great things in every person around you. Did you fail your definition of leadership? Well, in this instance, I certainly -- this is not something that I think I inspired. And to the extent that any of them thought this was acceptable conduct, then I fell short. And I don't think that in the end, I obviously didn't make it clear enough to these folks that this kind of stuff was unacceptable. This is an abuse of the trust of the authority that was granted to you. And that's unacceptable. And no one, that anyone didn't understand that, believe me, from this day forward, anyone who works for me will understand that. Reporter: Is it a change of the leadership style? No. I am who I am. And for some people, they love it. And I will tell you, when I travel around New Jersey, I hear from most people, that's what they love the most. Reporter: And what about Iowa? I think they love me in Iowa, too, Diane. I've been there a lot. I think they love me there, too. Reporter: Has this torpedoed your 2016 run? Your 2016 chances? I haven't made a decision about 2016. And I don't intend to make a decision about 2016 until a year from now. But it has nothing to do with what happened in the past ten weeks. What happened in the past ten weeks, I think ultimately, will make me a better leader. Whether it's governor of New Jersey or any job I might take in the public or private sector. Reporter: Has this been the toughest time in your life? Toughest time in my professional life. Not my personal life. But toughest time in my professional life, sure. Sure. Reporter: What's the measure of that? Is that up at 4:00 in the morning? Or getting to sleep at 4:00 in the morning. Reporter: Yeah. You don't sleep. You don't eat. You -- you know, you struggle. Reporter: Were you at any point, thought maybe I'll step down? Maybe this is just too -- this is too much? Never. Never. Just not a quitter. And by the way, there are other investigations under way. And we will be asking the governor a lot more in that interview tonight on "Nightline." And tomorrow morning, first thing, on "Good morning America."

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

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