During a mostly friendly hourlong "Ask the Governor" session on
local radio, Christie, a likely Republican candidate for the White
House in 2016, said he was awaiting "all the facts," but would not
allow the scandal known as "Bridgegate" to distract him from running
"The most important issue is, did I know anything about the plan to
close those lanes?" Christie said. "And the answer is still the
same. Unequivocally no."
"I'll be damned if I let anything get in the way of me doing my
job," he said.
Federal prosecutors and the Democrat-controlled state legislature
have opened probes into the incident last September, in which top
aides to Christie ordered the closure of access lanes to the busy
George Washington Bridge, which spans New Jersey and Manhattan.
The closures, which came in the midst of Christie's re-election
campaign and after the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee declined to
endorse Christie's bid, caused a massive traffic snarl over four
days in the town across the river from New York City.
Christie has said repeatedly he was unaware of his aides' actions,
and last month fired his deputy chief of staff and severed ties with
a longtime political advisor in connection with the lane closures.
Still, the scandal has hurt his image and polls show him losing
ground as a potential presidential contender.
Pressure mounted on Christie last Friday when David Wildstein, a
Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
who personally oversaw the lane closures, told the authority that
"evidence exists" Christie knew about the lane closures. Wildstein
resigned late last year.
Wildstein offered no details, and Christie's office quickly launched
a counter-attack challenging his credibility.
"Bottom line — David Wildstein will do and say anything to save
David Wildstein," Christie's office said in an email to supporters.
Christie did not mention Wildstein by name during the radio
interview. But he did say he feels a "game of gotcha" has been
[to top of second column]
Top Christie aides and the governor's re-election campaign were
among those subpoenaed by state lawmakers investigating the matter,
and documents began arriving on Monday.
The lawmakers did not give details of the documents they had
received, and said in a statement that many people had been granted
extensions "as is typical in such situations."
One aide served with a subpoena, Christie's director of
intergovernmental affairs, Christina Renna, said on Sunday through
her lawyer that she had resigned. In a statement, Renna said her
departure was long planned so she could "pursue an opportunity in
the private sector."
While Christie has not been directly implicated in the scandal, he
has struggled to counter questions about his truthfulness and the
tactics of his administration.
Over the last month, several other Democratic officials in the state
have come forward with other accusations.
The Democratic mayor of Hoboken has said that people close to the
governor withheld storm aid as a condition of the city supporting a
development deal. The administration has denied the allegation,
which is now the subject of a federal investigation.
Christie's approval rating among New Jersey voters, at 65 percent
just before his re-election last year, has slid to 46 percent, a
Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released last month showed.
(Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker)
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