Rachel Maddow: Chris Christie lied about his staff’s knowledge of bridge closures
A growing paper trail continues to implicate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) with regards to the September 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said on Tuesday.
“The governor has absolutely and blatantly not told the truth about what was going on in his office,” Maddow said.
Maddow said that Christie’s argument that his administration was unaware of the four-day closures, which were ordered by his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, was undermined by an email Kelly received on Sept. 11 from state director of departmental relations Christine Genovese Renna. Renna mentions in the email that “Evan” — possibly meaning Christie aide Evan J. Ridley, who records show makes $52,000 a year — had been contacted by Mark Sokolich, mayor of Fort Lee, complaining about the traffic nightmare happening in his town as a result.
Sokolich also mentioned at the time that there was sentiment among his constituents that it was politically-motivated. (Sokolich later said he believed Christie when the governor told him that was not the case.)
“That means that during the shutdown, three people who work in the governor’s office are emailing about the ongoing bridge lane shutdown and the disaster that it’s causing and the allegation that it is politically motivated,” Maddow said. “There’s no discussion whatsoever about there being some traffic study, which the governor says was the prevailing belief about what was happening with that bridge.”
Maddow also pointed out that Renna snidely refers to Sokolich as “the fine Mayor” [sic] in the email, and does not appear to need to explain to Kelly who he is.
“The governor’s top staff were discussing the shutdown — the effect of it, the allegations of political retribution, and the mayor of Fort Lee in provocative terms while the shutdown was still happening,” Maddow explained. “Despite Governor Christie’s denials, it seems like something was going on between the governor’s office and that specific mayor, that specific man. And lots of people who work for Governor Christie and who work in the governor’s office and the governor’s inner circle were in discussions about that shutdown while it was happening.”
Besides those three, Maddow continued, Christie’s incoming chief of staff, Regina Egea, was contacted by state Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye regarding the possibly illegal shutdown; his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, was quoted as calling Sokolich “an idiot” in another email; his spokesperson, Michael Druniak, was alerted by David Wildstein and Bill Baroni — both Christie appointees — when the press began asking questions about the shutdowns; and despite Christie’s claim that he “could count on one hand” the number of coversations he has had with Wildstein, pictures have surfaced showing the two of them together on Sept. 11.
This, she said, flies in the face of Christie’s claim last week that “there is nobody on my staff who had any knowledge of this issue until after the issue was already done,” or his saying at his State of the State address on Tuesday that the crisis would not “define the people of New Jersey.”
“Not to be blunt, but nobody thinks that shutting down that bridge as an act of political retribution is something that defines the people of New Jersey,” Maddow said. “Nobody I know from New Jersey did that, except maybe Chris Christie, or at least the people who work for Chris Christie.”
Watch Maddow pick apart Christie’s argument, as aired Tuesday on MSNBC, below.