Gov. Chris Christie, looking to fix his battered public and political profile, said Monday the guilty verdicts in the Bridgegate scandal back up his long-held claim he wasn't involved in the 2013 lane closures, notwithstanding trial testimony that aides kept him in the loop during and after the traffic-snarling ordeal.
"Here I am", Christie said told CBS This Morning in his first interview since the jury passed down the guilty verdict Friday to Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of NY and New Jersey.
Christie told Charlie Rose on CBS' This Morning that, once again, he had no idea any of this was going on but when he found out, boy howdy, was he outraged. I had twenty-four hours to make decisions back then.
Christie: "No. The first thing he said was that Bill Baroni told me". And now here we are, three investigations later, federal grand jury investigation, an investigation by a Democratic-led legislature, and what's the conclusion? "The conclusion is that there were three people responsible".
That's the day after The Record published an email written by Kelly, his former deputy chief of staff, calling for "traffic problems in Fort Lee" that prosecutors say was an order to reduce access lanes to the bridge in Fort Lee.
"Now, Charlie, I have to tell ya', I have absolutely no recollection of any of them saying anything like that".
Wildstein, who pleaded guilty in the case a year ago and was the government's star witness, testified that at a 9/11 memorial service, Baroni bragged to Christie about "tremendous" traffic problems in Fort Lee, Bergen County, and that the Port Authority wasn't returning the mayor's phone calls. Rose asked. "You're not saying, "I can swear to you that they never said anything like this"?"
Even his friend Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, insisted during the primary campaign when Christie was still running that the governor "totally knew" about it. Christie has acknowledged that the scandal had some impact on Trump's decision to bypass him for his running mate. "You're saying, "I don't remember"?" Defense lawyers have said they planned to appeal the verdict.
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Christie added, falsely: "In the whole trial, no one - not even Bridget Kelly, Bill Baroni, or David Wildstein - ever testified that anyone ever said to me that this was an act of political retribution".
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Christie was scheduled to campaign for Trump in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania on Saturday, but the Trump campaign said Friday night that those events had been canceled.
Pressed by Rose to clarify that he didn't recall as opposed to being certain that nothing of that nature was said, Christie expanded on his comments.
Reports of Christie's political demise are premature. "I'm pretty good at this political game".
Rose asked the governor if the scandal still reflected badly on him since he hired the individuals at the heart of it. "I think he thought Mike was the better choice".
He also did not close the door on running for another elected office.
"We'll see. Right now I don't, but, you know, you never say never in this life, Charlie".