This post has been updated.
A couple of Democratic members of the New Jersey state legislature were not entirely satisfied with Gov. Chris Christie’s claims Thursday at a press conference that he did not know that members of his staff ordered lane closures on the George Washington Bridge last year.
“This is beyond the pale,” Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) told the Newark Star-Ledger. “He has not asked a question in four months? He suddenly found out this was a big deal? Where was he four months ago?”
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D), who led the assembly’s investigation into the lane closures, was skeptical that members of Christie’s staff came up with the plan to cause traffic issues in Fort Lee all by themselves.
“[T]his in an administration that keeps a tight rein,” he told the Star-Ledger. “It strains credibility that Bridget Kelly would concoct this plan all by herself.”
Wisniewski said that the emails and text messages published Wednesday show that the plan was in the works for a while.
“An email that says, ‘Time for traffic problems in Fort Lee,’ implies prior conversations,” he said. “He made it clear he knew exactly what she was talking about.”
Weinberg said that even if Christie did not know about the plan for political retribution, he is responsible for hiring the people who ordered the lane closures.
“Who are these people he surrounded himself with? He created the atmosphere that allowed this to happen,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), who represents Fort Lee, said there is no way Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, came up with the plan by herself. He said he has met Kelly, who he found to be “a reputable person, a person of character.”
“For you to make me believe or anybody to make me believe she woke up one morning and decided she would … screw up traffic in Fort Lee is pretty ridiculous,” he said on MSNBC Thursday. “You don’t believe that, and I don’t believe that.”
Pascrell said that if Christie knew about the scheme, and is simply blaming it on members of his staff, the scandal will grow.
“If they’re the scapegoats in this thing, this is even bigger than I thought,” he said.