Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks in Washington, on Sept. 6, 2011.
Evan Vucci/AP

Republican leaders come to Christie’s defense

Updated

Republican leaders cautioned against a rush to judgment on the most recent allegations against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Sunday, two days after a letter on behalf of a former Port Authority official alleged Christie knew of lane closures on the George Washington Bridge as they were happening.

Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, said it is still too early to make judgments based on what is publicly known. Former Port Authority official David Wildstein alleges that it was “the Christie administration’s order” to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which resulted in massive traffic jams on the bridge during the week of Sept. 9. The letter also claims that evidence exists that will prove Christie was not telling the truth when he said he only learned of the closures after the fact.

“Right now, all we know is one person’s word against another. You can’t base any conclusion on such a thing,” Ryan said. “And so unless something else is known or made clear, I don’t see why you would change what’s going on right now.”

The continuing “Bridgegate scandal should also not disrupt Christie’s second term, according to Ryan. “I don’t think he should step down because nothing has been proven, and you always give a person the benefit of the doubt in those kind of situations, in my judgment,” he said.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said on State of the Union that the ongoing scandal should not cost Christie his position at the helm of the Republican Governor’s Association. “I don’t think he should step down, I think he should stay there,” the RGA vice chair said.

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani again defended Christie from Democrats and the media, this time on CBS’ Face the Nation. “I think there’s a real incident that was unfortunate and bad, and the governor apologized for that. I don’t want to minimize that, but what I’m saying is you take that incident and now you’ve got pile-on,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani also acknowledged the seriousness of allegations that Christie did not tell the truth about when he learned of the lane closures. “If he’s lying, it’s a really bad situation. If he’s not lying, then something very unfair is being done to him. So let’s see what happens,” he said. “If the governor didn’t tell the truth, the governor is in serious trouble. We shouldn’t jump to that conclusion until there’s evidence to suggest that.”

Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the state representative leading the investigation into the lane closures, responded to Giuliani’s suggestion that he was biased against Christie when he began his investigation and had “pre-judged” the governor. “What I’ve said is I have skepticism about the governor’s statement. I haven’t said that the governor has responsibility for this. I haven’t said that the governor knew when this was happening,” Wisniewski said. “What I’ve said is the governor made a statement about what he knew and I said I have my doubts about that timeline. He could have known at any time but I have my doubts about what he said.”

On the question of what evidence Wildstein was referring to in the letter that came to light Friday, Wisniewski said that such evidence was not included in the information turned over in response to the investigation’s subpoena. “We don’t really know what the evidence is,” Wisniewski said on Meet the Press. “He submitted over 900 pages of documents in response to the subpoena. Apparently what he’s talking about must be something other than what he submitted.”

Christie’s administration responded to the letter Friday, saying a statement, “Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer confirms what the governor has said all along - he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein’s motivations were for closing them to begin with.”

The Governor’s office also sent out an email on Saturday titled, “5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That’s Not A Bombshell” that criticizes the New York Times, which was the first news organization to report on Wildstein’s lawyer’s letter, for its “sloppy reporting.” It concludes by stating, in bold font: “Bottom line - David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein.” Politico obtained the email and posted it in full on its website.

Up With Steve Kornacki, 2/2/14, 11:21 AM ET

Will Republicans stick with Christie?

The UP panel discusses the big question of whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be able to politically survive the dual scandals now plaguing his administration.

Republican leaders come to Christie's defense

Updated