The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 9, 2014

Christie fires aide and offers lengthy apology

TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie today apologized for highway lane closures apparently ordered by his aides as political retribution, said he had "no knowledge or involvement" in what happened and sought to assure New Jerseyans the actions are not typical of the way his administration does business.

"This is the exception, not the rule," he told a news conference.

Christie, who had previously assured the public his staff had no involvement in the road closings, said he had fired Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly "because she lied to me."

Kelly was the latest casualty in a widening scandal that threatens to upend Christie's second term and likely run for president in 2016. Documents suggest she arranged traffic jams to punish Fort Lee's mayor for not endorsing Christie.

The revelations thrust a regional transportation issue into a national conversation raising new questions about the ambitious governor's leadership on the eve of a second term designed to jumpstart his road to the White House.

The U.S. attorney in New Jersey, Paul Fishman, said he was "reviewing the matter to determine whether a federal law was implicated." The legislature is also investigating.

Christie on Thursday focused repeatedly not on the closures themselves but on how upset he was that his staff didn't tell him the truth when asked about the closures.

"I was blindsided," he said during a more than 90-minute news conference, speaking in a quieter tone than is typical for him.

"What did I do wrong to have these folks think it was OK to lie to me?" he asked.

Email and text messages obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press and other news organizations indicated that the lane closings were retribution against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie last fall.

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