Governor Chris Christie spent nearly two hours in Trenton on Thursday, apologizing and taking questions from reporters about the controversial closures of some toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge last September that caused huge delays in travel time.
Mr. Christie announced that he had fired a deputy chief of staff and asked his campaign manager to withdraw his name as candidate for state Republican Party chairman after email and text messages, made public Wednesday, showed conversations with a Port Authority official about a traffic debacle designed to embarrass the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., who had refused to endorse Governor Christie's re-election bid.
Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director of the Port Authority agency, and David Wildstein, its director of interstate capital projects have resigned; both men have retained criminal defense attorneys. They were teaming up with top Christie staff to cause the horrific traffic jams on the bridge.
Internal emails released Wednesday show that top aids to Christie orchestrated the massive traffic problems as an act of political retribution against the city's Democratic mayor. For months, Christie and his administration have denied allegations that road closures in Fort Lee were politically motivated.
At the news conference Christie said that he didn't know about the traffic problems, however research indicates that he supported the supposed "traffic study" that caused them.
Christie told the press that he was blindsided by these revelations, and that months ago he had made inquiry of his staff concerning the problem after learning about the traffic tie-ups. He claimed he never bothered to ask his staff for any e-mails they sent or received about the matter.
He also said that he never asked his deputy chief of staff, Ms.Kelly, for any information about why the traffic, at a virtual standstill, had caused as much as fifteen minute delays in emergency vehicles trying to get through and had possibly contributed to the death of a car passenger.
Christie was downcast, contrite and apologetic at the press conference.
The assembled reporters lobbed softball questions at him and many were nodding in sympathy as Christie gave his answers. The evening news coverage on network and cable news was sympathetic to Christie. Judith Woodhead and guests from Newsweek and the Washington Times, on PBS' News hour, called it "a great performance," "a tour de force" and " the gut feelings of a moral man in deep sorrow."
Reporters at the press event pretended to not hear the extremely loud remarks of small seven-year-old child with a penetrating voice.
"Daddy, daddy," she exclaimed, " It smells like dead fish around here and there are scape goats everywhere. Doesn't everyone see the huge 500 pound elephant in the room wearing the "Big Fat Liar" sign? "
"And, daddy, that big fat man up there is wearing this strange suit made out of stuff in my Barbie doll collection. It's something worn by Ken. It's sort of made of rubber, plastic, or something I don't know about."
The father, amused, responded, "It's called 'teflon' sweetie, that's what he's wearing."