New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has not been known to use the words “embarrassed” and “humiliated” to describe himself, but he did just that at an unusually subdued press conference Thursday morning.
Usually, Christie is more likely to make other people feel embarrassed and humiliated, which is why he’s been tagged with a reputation as a “bully.”
So, when two toll lanes leading off the George Washington Bridge into Fort Lee New Jersey suddenly closed last September 9 and stayed shut down through September 13, causing a massive traffic crisis for Fort Lee commuters and residents, suspicions sprung up almost immediately that this was some sort of retaliation against Fort Lee’s Mayor Mark Sokolich, a critic of Chris Christie who refused to endorse the governor’s re-election bid.
Earlier this week, several media outlets uncovered e-mail correspondence between one of Chris Christie’s top aides and the man Christie named to oversee the bridge operations that seemed to show that the suspicions, which Christie had not only denied but ridiculed, were true.
In one of the e-mails, Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly told New York/New Jersey Port Authority Commissioner David Wildstein: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Today, at his press conference, Chris Christie announced that he had fired Kelly, kicking her when she was down by calling her “stupid” and “deceitful,” while continuing to insist that his aides lied to him, and he knew nothing of the real reason for the disastrous lane closures.
“I am heartbroken that someone who I permitted to be in that circle of trust for the last five years betrayed my trust,” he said, quoted in U.S. News and World Report. “I would never have come out here and made a joke about these lane closures if I had ever had an inkling that anyone on my staff would have been so stupid but to be involved and then so deceitful to not disclose the information of their involvement when directly asked by their superior.”
Chris Christie also took the opportunity to declare, “I am not a bully,” Time.com reported.
Later Thursday morning, Wildstein testified before New Jersey’s State Assembly Transportation Committee — and took the Fifth Amendment.
Wildstein invoked his constitutional protection against self-incrimination repeatedly in his testimony, The Bergen Record reported.
On Wednesday, CNN got its hands on documents showing that the apparent political squabble between Chris Christie and Fort Lee’s mayor created more than a headache for commuters, it could have cost lives.
Fort Lee’s Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Mark Favia wrote in a letter to Sokolich that ambulances and other rescue vehicles were being delayed, taking three times as long to reach their destinations as they normally would, due to the “new traffic pattern” caused by the lane closings.