Chris Christie: Bridge Scandal Is ‘Not That Big A Deal’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) dismissed a question Thursday about the George Washington Bridge traffic jam scandal by criticizing reporters for focusing on it and characterizing it as “not that big a deal.” 

“I have a lot of things to do. … I know you guys are obsessed with this. I’m not, I’m really not. It’s just — it’s not that big a deal just because press runs around and writes about it both here and nationally. I know why that is and so do you,” Christie said at a news conference. “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 about a lot now. So, let’s not pretend.”

Some Democrats have suggested Christie’s allies closed lanes on the bridge that led to days of gridlock in Fort Lee, N.J. in September because the mayor there did not endorse Christie’s re-election bid.

Two of Christie’s appointees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge resigned earlier this month amid criticism of the scandal and the governor said he believed their explanation that the lane closures were the result of a “traffic study.”

“I have no reason to believe that they lied,” said Christie. “I don’t assume people are lying.”

Christie also noted he had not had a “direct conversation” about the lane closures with either of his appointees, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni. Though critics have argued there is no evidences the traffic study occurred, Christie also noted there “has been no evidence presented” contradicting the claim. 

“Mistakes were made in the way this stuff was communicated,” Christie said. “They’ve taken responsibility publicly, both of them, for the mistakes that were made and, as far as I’m concerned, that’s it.”

Christie closed by arguing he had addressed many more substantive issues while the press was “chasing around” the bridge story.

“You guys want to keep chasing it around, chase it around. It’s your business,” said Christie. “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 lows. 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.”

Before ending the press conference, Christie patted himself on the back for his answer.

“That was a pretty good answer,” he said. “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.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com
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