MSNBC host Rachel Maddow opened her show on Thursday mocking what she described as the defensive tone taken by the report exonerating New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) from any connection to the George Washington Bridge lane closures in September 2013, while not actually releasing material from the 70 interviews and 250,000 documents used to come to that conclusion.
“They released none of the documentation they said the looked at,” Maddow said. “They released none of these text messages, none of the emails they said they saw, no documents of any kind. They just published this one long narrative today, with unrelenting, glowing, gauzy characterizations of Governor Christie’s strength and leadership and character throughout this difficult time.”
Instead, she said, the report by the firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher — hired by Christie at a cost of $1 million in taxpayer money — pinned the blame for the closures on two former Christie staffers, ex-deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey appointee David Wildstein, even though neither they nor other administration members tied to the scandal were interviewed.
At the same time, however, the report did indicate that Wildstein talked to Christie about the mass traffic stoppage caused by the closures in Fort Lee, New Jersey during a 9/11 event taking place during that same four-day period.
“If that’s true, that would mean Governor Christie knew about it while it was happening,” she said. “He was in direct communication about the bridge lane shutdown with the guy who shut the lanes down. It would also imply that the governor did nothing to stop it.”
However, the document also stated on several occasions that such a conversation would not have registered because of the nature of the event and Christie’s multiple interactions there. Christie made a similar argument during an interview aired on ABC News Thursday night.
“Of course he doesn’t remember that,” Maddow said sarcastically. “Do you realize what a good guy he is? This is called protesting too much. The guy who did the lane closures says Chris Christie knew about it while it was happening. He says he told him while it was happening. There are pictures of them together on the day and on the occasion the guy says it happened. There is still no purported explanation from the governor’s lawyers, or from the governor himself as to why this happened.”
Maddow also criticized the report’s apparent focus on Kelly’s love life; her brief relationship with Christie’s former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, was mentioned both in the document and a subsequent press conference, with an emphasis on how it may have affected her state of mind — to the point that Stepien’s attorney released a statement doing the same. Stepien was not interviewed for the report, either.
“What they’ve printed throughout the report is gossip about what they heard about their relationship and how it was going,” Maddow said of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. “They just gratuitously bring that up as they blame the whole thing on her. In real life, this is called ‘slut-shaming.’ I’m not sure what they call it in New Jersey politics. But it’s amazing to see it in this report that New Jersey taxpayers paid for.”
Watch Maddow’s commentary, as aired on Thursday, below.