tv Around the World CNN January 9, 2014 9:00am-10:01am PST
and that's my focus. my focus is on the people of new jersey and the job that they gave me. so all those considerations are, you know, the kind of hysteria that goes around this because everybody's in that world gets preoccupied with that job. i am not preoccupied with that job. i'm preoccupied with this one. and as you can tell i got plenty to do. so it's not like i got some spare time to spend. yes? because you roll your eyes and looking very disgruntled that i hadn't called on you yet. well, i've known brian longer than you. [ inaudible question ] >> can you elaborate on your feeling for his role in this in regard to him -- >> i think you've -- i'm sad. i'm sad. that's the predominant emotion i feel right now. is sadness. sadness that i was betrayed by a
member of my staff. sadness that i have people who i entrusted with important jobs who acted completely inappropriately. sad that that's led the people of new jersey to have less confidence in the people that i've selected. the emotion i've been displaying in private is sad. and as i said earlier and i think the answer to your question, i don't know what the stages of grief are in exact order, but i know anger gets there at some point. i'm sure i'll have that too, but the fact is right now i'm sad. let me just clear something up, okay, about my childhood friend david wildstein. it is true that i met david in 1977 in high school. he's a year older than me. we were not friends in high school, we were not even acquaintances. i had a three-year high school
that had 1,800 students in a three-year high school in the late '70s, early 1980. i knew who david wildstein was. i met david on the tom cane for governor campaign. he was a youth volunteer and so was i. really after that time i completely lost touch with david. we didn't travel in the same circles in high school. i was the class president and athlete. i don't know what david was doing during that period of time. and then we reacquainted years later in i think 2000 when he was helping bob franks with his senate campaign against john corzine. so we went 23 years without seeing each other. and in the years we did see each other we passed in the hallways. i want to clear that up. it doesn't make a difference except that i think some of the stories we have written impute
an emotional relationship with david that doesn't exist. i know david. and, you know, i knew that bill baroni wanted to hire david to come to the port authority. and i gave my permission for him to do it, but that was bill's hire. he asked for permission, i gave my permission for him to hire david. but let's be clear about the relationship, okay. and how do i feel about david now? listen, what i read yesterday makes me angry. that's the one bit of anger i felt. that language and that callus indifference in those e-mails from david yesterday are just over the top and outrageous. and should never, ever have been written or uttered by somebody with a position of responsibility like that. and those sentiments. so that's the way i feel about it. thanks for the opportunity to further on my relationship.
yeah, john? [ inaudible question ] >> john, i said i haven't spoken to them since i discovered the e-mails. but i spoke to them beforehand. and bridget clearly did not tell me the truth. and bill, you know, what he told me at the time is not contradicted by the e-mails, but the e-mails and color and character of the e-mails has -- have led me to conclude that i don't have confidence in his judgment any longer. and that's why i asked him to move on. and he has. so, you know, at this point there are legislative hearings that are going to come and all the rest and i don't want to get myself in the middle of that. chairman said pretty clearly yesterday that he intends to ask bridget kelly and bill to testify. my gut is that it wouldn't be appropriate for me to get in the middle of that because then
there would be all kinds of other allegations about those conversations. so the smarter thing for me to do is ask those two folks to move on and talk to others that are still in my employ. [ inaudible question ] >> i believe that i've spoken to everyone who was mentioned in the e-mails except for charlie mckenna who is away at a family funeral. i'm confident based upon my conversations with them that they had no prior knowledge nor involvement in this situation. yeah, well, that's your characterization, not mine. but there is nobody on my staff who had any knowledge of this issue until after the issue was already done. in the back, yes?
[ inaudible question ] >> it's awful. i've also seen conflicting reports of cause of death or whatever, but it doesn't matter. it's awful to hear. listen, all i can do is apologize for the conduct of the people who worked for me. i can't do anything else. i can't reverse time. if i could, believe me, i would. but i'm just going to apologize. i think that's all you can do. and there's really nothing else you can do. david. >> governor, along the lines of doing the job as governor have you said that you're focused on regaining the trust of the people of new jersey. a lot of people are upset about this and shocked. the first couple years you were governor you had a lot of town hall meetings, you traveled all over the state talking to people. any thought of possibly doing
something like that again? >> we are clearly going to do town halls in the second term, david. we suspended town halls during the campaign because of our concern that folks may raise the issue of in the midst of a campaign blurring the line between what would be a town hall event, what would be a campaign event. so during the campaign we made the determination we weren't going to do town hall meetings as the campaign heated up to avoid that concern. i certainly had no plans to do it during the transition. but we certainly intend to do town hall meetings in the second term, and try to do hopefully as many as we did in the first term. i enjoyed the town hall setting and process. and the fact is, david, you know, i think i don't believe i've lost the trust of the people of new jersey. i think the people of new jersey are looking to see when mistakes are made how their leader is going to react. and i believe that when they see me take the action i'm taking today that they'll say mistakes
were made, governor had nothing to do with that, but he's taking responsibility for it. and he's made the decisions that need to be made and promised us he'll continue to make those decisions if necessary going forward. michael. >> governor, two questions. do you think wildstein -- [ inaudible ] >> listen, that's between david and his attorney. he's represented by council now. i'd love to hear the whole story for my own purposes. but i can't, you know, advise them what to do. someone represented by counsel is going to make his own judgment. [ inaudible question ] >> i just did. i would like to hear the story, but i don't want to be in the position of instructing someone to do so. they're represented by counsel. he and his lawyer will determine what's in their best interest. certainly hearing the story would be good for everybody. >> governor, who initiated this whole thing?
>> i don't know. i don't know. i mean, listen, up to this point in time, up to the e-mail's released yesterday it was senator baroni's testimony that mr. wildstein initiated it at his approval -- with his approval. now, you know, i don't know given some of the e-mails that i saw yesterday. but clearly mr. wildstein played a major role in it, whether it was his idea initiation of senator baroni testify i guess time will tell. but clearly there was knowledge of this action whatever it was prior to the beginning of it with bridget kelly. and that was something i sit and direct answer to angie's question a few weeks ago was not the case. that's what we were told after repeated questioning of all the people around here. and i was lied to. and for that she's been
terminated. angie? >> how did you fail to get the truth from your own staff? >> first off, i would love, angie, for you and others to believe i interviewed hundreds if not thousands of people as u.s. attorney. i did not. interviewed hundreds if not thousands of people. it was a very rare occasion when the u.s. attorney himself or herself goes into a room and interviews a witness. it probably happened a dozen times in seven years. it's a very rare occurrence. angie, if you're trying to understand this on a personal level, if you've worked for someone for five years and they've been a member of your political team and governmental team, and you look at them and you say to them, what do you know about this and did you have any involvement in it, did you have any knowledge of it? and they look at you and they
say no, and you've never had any reason before to believe that they were anything but a truth-teller, why wouldn't you believe them? i mean, i work on the basis of trust in the people. and i assume over a period of time that most people are trustworthy unless proven otherwise. and so when we asked those questions and we got those answers, there was no reason at the time we asked the questions for us to believe that they weren't true based upon the conduct of that person. i think, even if you look at some of the stories today written about bridget kelly, i don't think you've heard anybody in those stories talk about her in any way but very positive ways, given her history here in the state house and working for the legislature. so i had no reason to believe that she was telling me anything other than the truth. and that's why i used the phrase before and i was heartbroken. because i trusted that i was being told the truth, and i wasn't. and i wasn't by somebody who i
placed a significant amount of trust in. so did i miss it? we missed it. i mean, that's why we're here, right? but what do you do when you find out you missed it? i found out at a little before 9:00 yesterday morning. by 9:00 this morning her position was terminated. and i think that's swift, appropriate action the people would expect from the chief executive of the state. [ inaudible question ] >> yeah. >> the nature of the e-mail -- >> you know, i understand what you're saying. i can't read anything else into it beyond i know you're inferring certain things from the e-mail. i think that's a reasonable inference, but i don't know. i don't know the answer. remember, when we ask questions we didn't even know about the
existence of the e-mail. i found that out for the first time at 8:50 yesterday morning. and you can only imagine as i was standing there in my bedroom with my ipad looking at that how incredibly sad and betrayed i felt. and so i don't know what to say beyond that. josh? >> governor, you were a u.s. attorney profile investigated -- taken over the governor's office. now you are a governor who has a u.s. attorney investigating people connected to your office. >> right. >> what instructions are you giving your staff? what will you do? and can we expect to see claims of executive [ inaudible ] >> listen, i have absolutely nothing to hide. and i have not given any instruction to anyone yet.
but my instruction to everybody will be to cooperate and answer questions. you know, josh, i have nothing to hide. so any questions anybody wants to ask me, they can ask. from law enforcement, you know, anything they want to ask they can ask. so we have nothing to hide. this administration has nothing to hide. yeah, bob. >> in terms of -- [ inaudible ] -- to be attorney general since he was chief of staff and probably -- >> oh, absolutely not. kevin's confirmation hearing will go forward on tuesday. and i expect, you know, he'll be vigorously questioned like any candidate for attorney general should be. and i expect that he'll get swift and certain confirmation because he deserves it.
elise. >> as much of this we saw of the e-mails, much of this discussion was taking place on private e-mail accounts. have you asked your staff [ inaudible ] >> i have not thought about that yet, elise. there's been a lot of things i've been thinking about. that wasn't one of them. i'll put it on my list of things to consider. >> have you had any other e-mails? yesterday's e-mails were just a small amount. >> we've been given no documents, elise. >> have you requested anymore documents? >> i don't know. but we certainly -- none were offered to us to review. the first time we saw any documents was on the website yesterday morning. we haven't been offered any. charlie. >> bridget kelly, did she have the authorization to carry out significant policy decisions
such as -- governor's office, traffic study, funding, without getting prior approval from you or your senior staff? or did she just read [ inaudible ] >> listen, i don't believe bridget had policy authority on any issue. bridget's job was to interact with the other governmental agencies and to have interaction with members of the legislature. and that was her job. so my understanding of her authority was that she had no authority on policy. that policy issues had to be run through the chief of staff's office. and so, no. now, again, i know there are certain suppositions in that question, but my understanding of bridget's authority was not
that it extended to policy, no. melissa. [ inaudible question ] >> -- without prior approval -- >> she had no prior approval. put aside the supposition. she had no prior approval from the chief of staff, who is her direct report. and she had no prior approval from the governor. she did not seek it. we weren't informed about it. and so if she acted in a matter which exceeded her authority, which seems to be a possibility, you know, that's what she did. but i had no knowledge of this and neither did the chief of staff. melissa.
[ inaudible question ] >> i spoke to mike last night. david at that time was considering whether or not to resign. and he made the determination the next day in a meeting with the administration to resign. but i don't believe from my conversation with mike last night that that was the main topic of the dinner that night. the dinner was a social dinner, not a professional dinner. jen jenna. [ inaudible question ] >> to the extent i can, jenna. from what i know at this point mr. baroni and mr. wildstein's
position is lanes were closed to do a traffic study. and i've heard nothing from them that changes their position. i now see e-mails which indicate that there is a political overtone to what went on. i don't know what the situation is. i don't know whether -- i think i answered this before, i don't know whether this was some type of rogue political operation that morphed into a traffic study, or traffic study that morphed into an additional rogue political operative. i don't know. well, listen, as best i can, but, you know, mr. wildstein is scheduled to testify at the legislature. not like he's available for interview. as i said in response to a question over here, i'm not going to get in the middle of the legislative process with people that they've already noticed to be witnesses. i think that would be inappropriate. let them do their job. because if i did then i'd be accused of trying to play around with testimony, which i'm not going to get involved in.
marsha. [ inaudible question ] >> listen, you think i'm suggesting any traffic studies any time soon, you got to be kidding me. i don't want a traffic study in front of my house. i think i'm out of the traffic study business for certain. never really in it and definitely don't want to be in it. listen, here's what we should do as a policy going forward, that should be left to the professional staff at the port authority. and let the professional engineers and those folks deal with whether those things should be done or not done. i'm pretty confident in saying that that is the current position of this administration. luke. >> moving forward, said yesterday that the assembly's investigation will continue. do you believe that he
[ inaudible ] should continue to [ inaudible question ] >> listen, i think they have every right to do what they're doing given what we revealed yesterday. and so, you know, i'm certainly not going to question that in terms of their right to conduct an investigation. i think given what was revealed yesterday, i was shocked by it. i assume they were too. and i have a good relationship with the incoming speaker. and i'll work with him in every possibly way i can to make sure we put this matter to rest. so i certainly am not going to question their right or ability to do that, no. john. [ inaudible question ] >> -- here's the latest polling, here's the new ad -- [ inaudible question ] >> his name was never mentioned
to me. his position was never mentioned to me. when i say, john, he was not on my radar screen, that means he was not on my radar screen. i never had bill stepien or anybody else connected with the campaign even mention to me like even an update, like, hey, we've had two meetings with the mayor, we think things are going well or poorly. i get those kind of updates. i never heard the fort lee mayor's name until all this stuff happened. so he was not on my radar screen at all. plenty of other mayors were. a number wound up endorsing us and a number i wound up having meetings with. he was never mentioned to me. that's why you go back to the question over here about making a joke about -- that's part of the reason i feel comfortable doing it. this can't have anything to do with politics. i don't even know this guy.
how could it be that someone would be doing something like this against a mayor that i never had any conversations with nor any sense that we were even seeking his endorsement. that's why this is such -- part of the reason this is such a mystery to me, john. and why i'm so upset about it. [ inaudible question ] >> i would have said who's hee. if somebody would have said to me i would have said who's he and what did he do? i mean, i don't know this guy. like i said, i may have met him in a greeting line or in a county event or something, but i'm telling you until yesterday when i saw his picture on tv, if he walked in the room i wouldn't have been able to pick him out. that's not to diminish him in any way, it's just that in this context this is not a guy who was on my radar screen in any
way, nor was his name ever brought up to me by bill stepien until after the story started to appear about the fort lee traffic problem. that's the first time that i heard about mayor sokolich. that's why, john, it's such a mystery to me. [ inaudible question ] >> sure, of course i was, kelly. but he wasn't one of them. he wasn't one of them. i'm happy to admit i was trying to run up the score. absolutely. that's what you do in a political campaign, try to get as many supporters, endorsers that turn into voters. that's part of your job. [ inaudible question ] >> of course. but i had to go get it. invariably in these things i ultimately had to make a phone call or do something to bring the person over the finish line. it was the rare occurrence that i never met a person or spoke to them or had that arrangement with them.
so, you know, my point to you is -- i'm trying to give you context for why i didn't think this was an issue. because i know the campaign that we ran. i know who i was pursuing as endorsers. i know who was close and we didn't get. i know who was never close. or we were trying to get. and i know the people we got. this guy never was on my radar screen. and i think he confirmed that last night by saying he was never really -- he doesn't have any recollection of being even asked for the endorsement. and that's, you know, that's why i don't get this. but it is what it is. and i'm responsible for it regardless of all that, john, i'm responsible for it. it happened on my watch. and you can't just say, well, listen, i didn't know about it so it's not my problem. go talk to somebody else. the buck stops at my desk. and so i have to act.
and i've acted as quickly as i could responsibly. i found out about this at ten to 9:00 yesterday morning, by 9:00 this morning bridget kelly was terminated. by 7:00 last night bill stepien was told to leave the organization. i was really blindsided by this. i'm not happy i was blindsided. i'm not proud i was blindsided. as i said when i came up here, i feel humiliated by this. i'm a person who cares deeply about doing my job well. i work extraordinarily hard at it. that's what i should do. i've taken an oath to that in fact. but i am humiliated by the fact that i did not know this and that i was deceived. and that's an awful way to feel. >> mr. governor? >> yeah. >> one person -- we talked to her yesterday. over the e-mail she was not
happy. and i said one of the texts said -- >> one of the supporters children. >> yeah. so two questions. part of the investigation, but also this is -- [ inaudible question ] can i just get your thoughts, please, on how serious this was? >> wasn't good. i mean, i think that's why i'm here apologizing. it was an awful callous, indifferent thing to do. and if it was part of a traffic study, that's one thing. once it has political overtones, that's an entirely different matter. and that's why i am upset about this. and that's why i apologized to the people of new jersey today. and why i apologized specifically to the people of ft. lee inconvenienced over those four days.
it's not right. and that's why i'm here apologizing. [ inaudible question ] >> i have no idea. again, i will respond to those questions as i always have. as a former u.s. attorney, when i was u.s. attorney i hated when politicians stood behind podiums and told the department of justice what to do. and i am not going to do that after complaining to my colleagues about it for seven years when politicians would do it. now that i'm one of those, i'm not going to do that. yes, sir? >> you just said i have nothing to hide. and then you repeated it, i have nothing to hide. >> right. >> [ inaudible question ] did you ever imagine standing in front of this many cameras and this many reporters and say i have nothing to hide? >> no. [ inaudible question ] >> that was a searing bit of
commentary, wasn't it? >> you said you got very little if any sleep last night, did you ever at any moment entertaining the idea of -- [ inaudible question ] >> oh, god no. brian, listen, i know you're asking. you know, i am. i heard in the back that's a crazy question, man. i'm telling you, i had nothing to do with this. so, you know, no, i never gave any thought to doing that at all, nor would i. what was i thinking about last night when i couldn't go to sleep? how did this happen? that's what i was thinking about. you know, when -- sure, when you're responsible and i spend a lot of time keeping mary pat up last night talking me through it. you know, that's when it's great to have a really supportive spouse.
she's willing to do four hours too. but, you know, that's what i was thinking. how did it happen, and why do people do this. i just don't get it. yeah, you work really hard, brian. i work hard at this job. and it's incredibly disappointing to have people let you down this way. i'm incredibly loyal to my people. and i expect in return their honesty and their candor and their loyalty. and i didn't get it. and it's a hard thing, hard thing after you work as hard as i do with them at it. but here's the thing, this is my job. and there are going to be mistakes. and there are going to be disappointments. i don't think there's a perfect government anywhere in the country. and i certainly never claimed to have one. i claim to have the best government i can possibly make. and sometimes there are going to
be mistakes. and when there are, i have to own up to them and take responsibility and act. and that's what i've done today. and my promise to the people of the state is that if there's any other evidence that comes forward that requires action to be taken, i will take it. no matter how much it hurts me personally or dismays me. because this is the job i asked for. and i got to do it. yes, luke. [ inaudible question ] that was something in the works and then -- looking back now and clarify how that process played out, do you think mr. baroni was jumping ship a little bit? or were you guys moving to replace him before that? >> neither. as i said that day, i had made
the determination during the fall campaign that i wanted to make a change at the port authority. bill was one of the longest serving deputy executive directors in recent history at four years. and i felt like it was time for a change. part of that is evidenced by my response to josh's question about the internal workings. i mean, there's a lot of hand-to-hand combat at the port authority, legitimately so between new york and new jersey about resources and whatever. and i thought as i said at the time that four years was enough for any one person. and so i had approached deb during the fall campaign who at the time was my policy chief and said i'm thinking about making a change at the port authority, would you be willing to take the job if i asked you? she said yes. so from the fall campaign i remember it was september or october, some time before election day, i had made the decision in my own mind. and very soon after the election that was communicated to bill
baroni. so what we were doing was trying to figure out the timing of all that. i wanted to get it done during the transition. i wanted deb to finish some policy work she needed to follow -- finalize for me. and i wanted bill to have an appropriate period of time to be able to get himself ready to move onto his next opportunities. and so that's the way the process worked. and so it was neither bill jumping ship nor us pushing for this reason. it was us saying, hey, it's time to go. you served four years. and i'd like to put someone else there. and so all that was very amicable at the time and something that, you know, he understood to be such once deb was willing to take the job. david. >> governor, a couple hours after the story broke yesterday the assembly transportation wisniewski -- thousands of page of documents, the list was
growing of people thinking about -- and he was asked if that could possibly include you. and he said he had the authority to issue a subpoena to anybody who needs -- he needs to get information from. if you were to get a subpoena for whatever reason, what would you do? >> i'm not going to speculate on that. matt. [ inaudible question ] >> wondering what else, what other e-mails -- [ inaudible ] did you know about that? is there a transparency issue in general? >> no. a, i don't know what you're talking about. this is the first i've heard of it. second, i don't believe there
is. we take these requests very seriously. and we have a person dedicated in council's office to use to review these matters. and they have individuals in the departments to review these matters. so, no, i don't think there is. i think in the main, you know, we respond to these requests appropriately under the law. that's my understanding from both my first chief council and my second chief council. so i don't have any reason to believe otherwise. if there are sometimes -- i don't know the incident you're talking about, but if there are sometimes mistakes that are made or oversights, i'm sure that can happen. but, no, there's no pattern or conduct of that. it's the law. we have to comply with it. and we comply with the law as written. >> governor? >> yeah. >> first comment on the story do you think this will effect your ability -- >> when was i first called for comment? i have no idea. i don't get those calls directly.
so i don't know. secondly, no, won't affect my ability to work at the rga at all. no. yeah. >> through this entire press conference you've said that you're a loyal person, you expect loyalty from each person on your staff. are you the victim here? or is -- [ inaudible question ] should she be fired because she wrote a traffic study that messed up traffic -- >> first of all. i don't know she ordered a traffic study. i know what i might infer and what you might infer from that. like i said earlier, we're going to have to find out -- [ inaudible question ] >> -- that's not what you asked though. i'm telling you when i ask a member of my staff and they lie, regardless of what the conduct is they lied about, they're gone. so i never had to get to the conduct -- the underlying conduct. if you lie when i ask you a
question, you're fired. that's it. now, if i had to have gotten to the underlying conduct, there was plenty underlying conduct to fire her onto, but i didn't even get there. because question one was, do you know anything about this? did you have any involvement in it? the answer was no. the e-mail's evidence that the answer should have been yes. i need to go no further than that in terms of making a determination about her future employment with me. >> governor christie, in terms of a client standpoint, the person that has probably most information about why she did this is the very person you cut off communication with, isn't that a management mistake? >> are you suggesting i should have kept her? >> well, i'm saying talk to her. >> listen, bob, and then if i did that then you'd have the legislature complaining that i'm talking to someone who the chairman has said yesterday publicly he intends to call as a witness. and i think the higher priority
is for me not to interfere with what the legislature's in the process of doing. so, no, i'm not going to do that because then -- listen, the political nature of this would lead to charges of interference. i'm not going to do that. if she's brought to testify there, which the chairman said he intends to do, and she testifies, if after that time i have -- we have other questions, then we can make the decision at that time whether to pursue that information. but it is my judgment -- you can disagree with it, but it's my judgment that for me to get involved with someone who the chairman has said he's going to call as a witness between the time i discovered this and the time that she may testify would be not the right thing for me to do. [ inaudible question ] >> i certainly wouldn't tamper with a witness, but i could be accused of tampering with the witness -- >> at what point does political
misconduct cross -- >> i don't know, bob. you know. and the fact of the matter is the best way for me to not involve myself in that is to not involve myself in that. and i'm just trying to be a safe and careful stewart of the public trust. and would i love to have more information yesterday? you bet. but i also have to understand the position i hold. and it's a position of extraordinary trust. and i have to execute that position with the acknowledgment of that trust. so that's why i'm not doing it. >> governor -- >> you. [ inaudible question ] >> i didn't quite understand your question. could you repeat it?
i had trouble hearing it too. i didn't get the last part. [ inaudible question ] >> because we didn't have the documents. we asked bridget kelly. she told us she didn't have any. we asked her if she was involved, she said she was not. we asked her if she had any knowledge of it, she said she didn't. that's why i was surprised. i'm surprised because i was told there was nothing there. and then there was. i mean, you know, this is not -- in that sense it's not a mystery. if you ask for something and someone deceives you and tells you it doesn't exist, what's the follow-up? are you sure? yes. you searched your e-mails? yes. you don't have anything? no. okay. were you involved in any way? no. any knowledge? no. after that, what do you do?
[ inaudible question ] >> you'd have to ask them. i don't know. i don't think so. i don't think so. no. yeah, i know. listen, i know you guys would love that if i actually did. i told you i'm not to that stage yet. i'm sure i might get to the stage where i'm angry. i don't break things. oh, gosh, no. you need to understand this. i am standing here resolved to do my job and do what i'm supposed to do. but i am a very sad person today. that's the emotion i feel. a person close to me betrayed me. a person who i counted on and trusted for five years, betrayed me. a person i gave a high government office to betrayed me. i probably will get angry at
some point, but i got to tell you the truth, i'm sad. i'm a sad guy standing here today. and very disappointed. and that's the overriding emotion. someone asked me that before. that's the overriding emotion. and i know that because of my bluntness and my directness that people think, well, of course he must get behind that door and be a lunatic when he's mad about something. if you asked this staff, it is the rare moment in this office when i raise my voice. the rare moment when i raise my voice. i reserve it for very special times. and i will tell you the last time i did, four weeks ago when i had them all in that office and i said if any of you have any information about this that i don't know, you need to tell me, kevin or charlie now.
that was the last time i raised my voice in that office. and so, no, i didn't break anything. i didn't yell and scream. i didn't curse anybody out. it's a sad day for me. and i'm doing what i'm obligated to do under this job. because it's the right thing to do. and i'm doing it. but it doesn't make me angry at the moment. it just makes me sad. [ inaudible question ] >> no. [ inaudible question ] >> i have had no contact with david wildstein in a long time, a long time. well before the election. you know, i could probably count on one hand the number of conversations i've had with david since he worked at the port authority. i did not interact with david. if david would be here for
meeting at the state house, we'd say hello, how's your family, we'd chat. we didn't have that kind of relationship. i understand how it's been characterized in the press. yes, he had an important job, but he was not interacting with the governor on any regular basis. there are channels to go through here. and he and bill baroni went through those channels. if something had to be brought to my attention -- i don't even remember in the last four years having a meeting in my office with david wildstein. i may have, but i don't remember it. bill baroni, yes, but david, no. nobody called and told me anything. i'm telling you at 8:50 yesterday morning i got done with my workout at 8:45. my trainer left. i'm getting ready to get in the shower and at 8:50 maria called me and told me about the breaking story. and it was the first i knew of any of the e-mails or the information that was contained in that story. [ inaudible question ]
>> no. kelly. [ inaudible question ] >> yeah, that's why i apologized to him, kelly. no, i don't think it's my credibility. i think if i didn't stand up and take responsibility and apologize directly to the people of new jersey as i've done today, then i think that would be a risk. but i'm not that kind of person. i understand the responsibility of this job. i've had it for four years now. and i think i said this at the press conference in december. there's plenty of times i get credit for things that i had little to do with as governor. and sometimes i get blamed for things that i have little to do with. but it doesn't matter. i'm the governor. and the things that happen on my watch are my responsibility, both good and bad. and you're darn right, what they
did hurt the people of new jersey, it hurt the people of ft. lee. and the person who needs to apologize for that is me. and i have. and i'm sorry to all the people of the state that they have to be, you know, occupied with this matter. it's embarrassing. and as i said before, the whole matter's humiliating to me. but all you can do as a person when you know this is to stand up and be genuine and sincerely apologize and hope the people accept your apology. i think i've built up enough good will over time with the people of new jersey that i'm very hopeful that they will accept my apology. marsha. [ inaudible question ] >> is it possible there could be other e-mails that bridget kelly sent to other people --
[ inaudible question ] >> i certainly -- first of all, the answer as of right now is i don't know. it is certainly something that i've talked to staff about looking at. but, you know, again marsha, we found out about this 24 hours ago. so things will take some time. i certainly have spoken to people in the interviews i conducted yesterday. i asked them specifically, you know, to check their e-mails and to let me know if there's anything that touches upon this. and we'll interview also folks who have -- who worked for bridget to see if there's anything that they know and can shed light on. so we're in the process of doing that, but it's going to be time consuming. we want to do it carefully. i just began that process yesterday and i'll work with my new chief council to get that stuff done so we can uncover whatever information we need to. but wherever the information comes from, you know, we'll take it into account. and if action is required, i'll take action.
terry. [ inaudible question ] >> you know, listen, political retribution, no, terry. political fighting, sure. and people go back and forth all the time. and you've seen that in this building no matter what administration was here. but the way we're different is we can fight. but then we get into a room and more times than not we're able to reach common ground with the other side to be able to move progress forward. i mean, the signing a few weeks ago is a perfect example of that. there was a lot of fighting about that.
and a lot of kind of hysteria in the media about who's saying what about whom and what's all this mean and the anger and the back and forth between me and the senate president and others who were supporters. you know, part of that is, you know, what you should be doing to engage in political debate and try to persuade folks to your particular point of view. and then ultimately what makes us different and the thing i was talking about known as politics as usual is this is an administration that has never shut down government over a budget dispute. this is an administration that has reached bipartisan consensus on issues that have been problems for new jersey for decades that no one else has been able to reach consensus on bipartisan or partisan. this is an administration that's gotten big things done with a legislature of the other party. that's what i mean as not politics as usual. but will we fight sometimes and will things get sharp-elbowed?
you bet. it goes both ways. but, you know, retribution as a word, no. >> governor, are there other examples of allegations of improper political -- [ inaudible question ] >> no. no. because that was a situation which was handled by the attorney general at the time. and now judge paul. and i have complete utter confidence in paula and her ability to make those decisions. i was not involved in that decision nor was anybody in this building because we don't get involved in law enforcement issues. there's no reason for me to go
back and look at that. [ inaudible question ] >> if so will it be undertones or will you approach it in any different way? >> no. nope. i won't. listen, this is one issue that we have to deal with. it's an important issue. but it cannot be the only issue because, you know, we have things to do in this state. important things to do for the people of the state. so i'm going to keep working. and i'll work some on this and on other things as well. but it's very important today within 24 hours of these revelations for me to take action and to apologize to the people of the state and the people of ft. lee. that's exactly what i'm doing. matt.
>> i'm not going to barge into his office. i wish the mayor would reconsider because i'd come up to genuinely apologize to him for the conduct of the people who were in my employ. but if he doesn't want a meeting, i don't know what he means how a meeting between he and i could be -- what were the words? premature and disruptive. i don't know how a meeting between two elected officials can be premature and disruptive. if he doesn't want to meet with me, that's his choice. i'll meet with other people in ft. lee then. >> governor? >> yeah. >> you said the buck stops here. >> yeah. >> [ inaudible ] significant overtime involved for first responders and police, is that maybe considered out of the campaign fund -- >> well, i don't know why it would be the campaign fund. i have no knowledge of that. and we would consider that in the normal course of business.
certainly not something that i'm prepared to talk about now. yeah. >> can you explain e-mails first published. [ inaudible ] >> no, i think it was -- it wasn't pat foy's e-mail, i think there was an earlier story. i don't remember exactly. >> it was about the traffic -- >> something about the traffic, yeah. >> why didn't you respond then, especially -- [ inaudible question ] >> we did. we did. and we were told it was a traffic study. >> they tell you traffic study, but the mayor is saying -- [ inaudible ] >> and we were told they did a traffic study where they did not want a normal flow of traffic to be interrupted so the traffic study would be a valid one. that's what we were told. so we did respond. we asked them and that's how we responded. you know, and again, i'm not somebody who's going to be, you know, getting into the details
of a traffic study and whether one is done appropriately or inappropriately, certainly at that time. and i can tell you that at that first moment that's when i became aware that there was some issue. but i didn't even at that point delve into it. it was not something i was personally delving into it. brian. [ inaudible question ] >> he's saying he appreciates your comments very much. [ inaudible ] >> you know, listen, my intention was whep i got out of here was to call the mayor. so i will call the mayor. and we'll see. in any event, you know, i'm going to go up to ft. lee today because i think it's important for me to do that. now, if the mayor doesn't want me to meet with him, that's certainly his choice. >> he said he meant no
disrespect. >> listen, i'm sure he -- listen, i don't know him. so i can't be offended. and i'm not offended. if he wants to meet with me today, i'm happy to meet with him. if he doesn't want to meet with me today, i'm still going to go to ft. lee today because i think it's important for me to be on the ground there today and to apologize to folks. so i'm going to do that. if he wants to be part of that, he's more than welcome to be and also meet with me privately. if he doesn't, that's his choice too. he's got independent will. that's his call. so i want to thank you all for coming today. and for your questions. and i will see all of you if not before on tuesday for the state of the state address. thank you very much. >> all right. there he is, the governor of new jersey chris christie. nearly two hours making an opening statement and then answering lots of reporters questions on the scandal that
has erupted in new jersey. a scandal resulting as a result of some closure of lanes going from ft. lee, new jersey, to manhattan over the george washington bridge causing disruption of traffic for three days in the ft. lee, new jersey area. disrupting not only residents of ft. lee but other communities in the area as well. he says i came to apologize to new jersey. i came to apologize to everyone there especially to the people in ft. lee. he said i am embarrassed. i am humiliated. he then announced that he had fired his deputy chief of staff bridget anne kelly. that he's asked bill stepien, his former campaign manager to step aside from future republican political organizations, at least for now. and he distanced himself from david wildstein, the representative on the port authority who had earlier stepped down. the governor insisting he is heartbroken, he's betrayed by
those he says who lied to him, but ultimately he also said, i am responsible. he said i was blindsided, but i am responsible. glor gloria borger is here, jake tapper, gloria, first you. what's your assessment of how he did? this was a major event not only for him but the people of new jersey and maybe the country if he decides to run for president. >> look, under the circumstances he was confronted with, wolf, i think he did well. i mean, he said he was humili e humiliated, blindsided, lied to and stunned. he called it a callous act. he called these e-mails stupid. he said he had no knowledge or involvement in this issue. and he tried to address the question of whether this is a culture that he would promote or that he has promoted. and he said it is not the environment that i worked hard to achieve. the answer -- the question we did not get an answer to, wolf, because it's clear that he was
being walled off from this and maybe that was his attorneys who were doing it is, why did bridget anne kelly -- why did she decide that this was a good, smart thing to do from the governor's office? >> out of political vengeance allegedly to go ahead and disrupt traffic in this town of ft. lee because the mayor supposedly had not endorsed his re-election. >> and the closest christie got to answering that question was he said why would this be a political vendetta? i did not know this man. i did not know that we had even asked him to endorse. this was not on my radar screen, so why would you do something on my behalf that was of no interest to me? so -- >> we're waiting for the microphone. >> you know, so i think -- and christie when he was asked why did you not ask why, he answered because he didn't speak directly
with this person that when he saw these e-mails he had her fired. and, you know, it's obvious that he's getting some legal advice that he should not get involved in the whys. >> we should know christie's onto something here assuming everything he said today is true, he's onto something here when he said he had no idea why there would be this vendetta. >> exactly. >> and he's not saying -- he's not giving any credibility to the idea this had anything to do with an endorsement. >> right. just the opposite. >> he's saying this was not on his list. he mentioned wolf's interview saying he was never contacted for endorsement. >> and said he doesn't even know the guy. he wouldn't be able to pick him out of a lineup. >> so the question is what was the reason? >> we don't know. >> assuming the e-mails present the case as we assume there was a vendetta. >> and christie's direct quote here is, "i never saw this as political retribution because i never thought he did anything to us."
and then later on he said, this was not on my radar screen. so the reasoning behind this still remains a mystery. >> and also with the other thing that he said he -- that this is not the tone he set. so he rejects the idea that he created an environment where this happens. he acknowledged there's political fighting but rejected the idea that retribution is part of how they do things in his administration. but the question remains, as you've said, why did bridget anne kelly feel this was an acceptable -- >> right. and he did say i am not a bully. >> i am what i am, but i'm not a bully. >> right. >> it's the top of the hour. let's reset for viewers who may just be tuning in here in the "cnn newsroom." i'm wolf blitzer in washington. and we've just seen an extraordinary nearly two-hour news conference by the governor of new jersey chris christie apologizing repeatedly for what occurred in his state by