Christie’s Bridge Scandal: From Jokes to Contrition

Jan 18, 2014 9:16am

This is a brief history of how New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went from jokes to denials to apologies, and finally, to trying to move past the scandal that has rocked his administration.

The controversy, now known as “Bridgegate,” started with a series of news reports, followed by questions from the press and then exasperation from Christie.

“You really are not serious with that question?” he asked an inquiring reporter in early December.

But a month later, the spark became a full-blown firestorm that engulfed the governor and led to a nearly two-hour-long mea culpa news conference, the firing of two prominent aides and opened the door to investigations, subpoenas and lawsuits.

With his inauguration for a second term just a few days away, Christie signaled by the end of this week that he was ready to move on. But for the Republican governor and potential 2016 presidential contender, getting back to business as usual might be easier said than done.

Here’s a timeline of how Christie has changed his tune over the past few months:

Dec. 2, 2013: “I worked the cones”

“I worked the cones, actually. Unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there. I was in overalls and hat … but I was actually the guy working the cones out there. You really are not serious with that question? … Just because John Wisniewski is obsessed with this and Loretta Weinberg, it just shows you they really have nothing to do — if they’re obsessed with this. And by the way, the fact is, I didn’t even know Fort Lee got three dedicated lanes until all this stuff happened, and I think we should review that entire policy ’cause I don’t really know why Fort Lee needs three dedicated lanes, to tell you the truth.”

–News conference, New Jersey State Capitol

Dec. 13, 2013: “Anger would probably be a little bit too strong a word”

“When others make the mistakes … it bothers me. But I think anger would probably be a little bit too strong a word. Bothered probably would be the better word, you know? … When I’m angry you tend to be able to see it. I don’t hide it all that well. I’m not angry but I’m bothered when people make mistakes that wind up reflecting poorly on their performance, because their performance is the performance of this administration.”

–News conference, New Jersey State Capitol

Dec. 19, 2013: ”You guys are obsessed”

“I know you guys are obsessed with this. I’m not. I’m really not. It’s not that big of deal. … Just because the press runs around and writes about it both here and nationally, I know why that is and so do you. Let’s not pretend that it’s because of the gravity of the issue. It’s because I am a national figure and anything like this will be written a lot about now.”

News conference, New Jersey State Capitol

Dec. 19, 2013: ”That was a pretty good answer”

“You guys want to keep chasing it around, chase it around. It’s your business. … In the meantime, when you all have been chasing around about this, I’ve been putting policies in effect that have lowered unemployment to a five-and-a-half-year low. I’ve come to a compromise agreement on the DREAM Act with the legislature. I’m putting forward nominations that will be considered in the lame duck session and I’m working with the Senate president and the incoming speaker on an agenda for the new year. Those things are much more important to the people of New Jersey than a couple of cones and a couple of lanes. … That was a pretty good answer. … I appreciate you giving me the chance to end on a dramatic flair ’cause we usually try to plan that, but that one just happened spontaneously.”

–News conference, New Jersey State Capitol

Jan. 8, 2014: ”The people of New Jersey deserve better”

“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better.”

Statement

Jan. 9, 2014 : ”I am embarrassed and humiliated”

“I’ve come out here today to apologize to the people of New Jersey. I apologize to the people of Fort Lee and I apologize to the members of the state legislature. I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team. There’s no doubt in my mind that the conduct that they exhibited is completely unacceptable and showed a lack of respect for the appropriate role of government and for the people that were trusted to serve.”

–News conference, New Jersey State Capitol

Jan. 9, 2014: ”I was betrayed”

“I’m sad. I’m sad. That’s the predominant emotion I feel right now is sadness, sadness that I was betrayed by a member of my staff, sadness that I had people who I entrusted with important jobs who acted completely inappropriately, sad that that’s led the people of New Jersey to have less confidence in the people that I’ve selected. The emotion that I’ve been displaying in private is sad.”

–News conference, New Jersey State Capitol

Jan. 14, 2014: ”Mistakes were clearly made”

“The last week has certainly tested this administration. Mistakes were clearly made. And as a result, we let down the people we are entrusted to serve. I know our citizens deserve better. Much better. I am the governor and I am ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch — both good and bad. Without a doubt we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure this breach of trust does not happen again.”

–State of the State address, New Jersey State Capitol

Jan. 16, 2014: ”1,400 days to go”

“Come next Tuesday we’ve only got about 1,400 days to go as Governor, so we’ve got plenty of time to get this job done, and we’re going to get it done, and a lot sooner than 1,400 days. But let me tell you: that is my focus. … No one — I can assure you — ever told me or anybody on my team that it was going to be easy. It hadn’t been up to this point, and there’s all kinds of challenges as you know that come every day out of nowhere to test you. But, I want to ensure the people of New Jersey of one thing: I was born here, I was raised here, I’m raising my family here, and this is where I intend to spend the rest of my life. And whatever test they put in front of me, I will meet those tests because I’m doing it on your behalf. So, thank you all very much for being here.”

After meeting with families affected by Hurricane Sandy, Manahawkin, N.J.

ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe contributed to this report.

 

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