One of the overarching challenges facing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is not just his ongoing bridge scandal, but also the veracity of his claims about the scandal. If Christie’s version of events had been consistent and reliable throughout, it’d be easier to believe his arguments about what role, if any, he played in his aides’ misconduct,
But the closer one looks at the governor’s claims, the more one sees nuances, changes, and contradictions.
It’s not just what Christie knew and when; it’s also what Christie claims he did about the now-infamous incident in Fort Lee.
In December, the governor belittled reporters and lawmakers who took the bridge controversy seriously. Asked about false testimony his top aide at the Port Authority delivered to the state Assembly, Christie said his “curiosity is more than satiated.” Asked whether he would look for additional information, the governor replied, “Why would I? … I have a lot of things to do. I know you guys are obsessed with this. I’m not. I’m really not. It’s just not that big a deal.”
Christie added during a mid-December press conference, “I’m not running around doing independent investigation…. If you’re asking me if I’ve done independent investigation, the answer is no.”
Except, as Rachel noted on the show last night, the governor said largely the opposite this week, telling the public during a radio show that he did launch an independent investigation – two months before he said he didn’t launch an independent investigation.
“As soon as I was aware of the fact that there was a problem, which was when [Port Authority Executive Director] Pat Foye’s email came out, I had my staff say, go find out what’s going on over at the Port Authority. Why are they fighting with each other over this? And what happened? […]“As soon as I knew that there was some issue here, I asked my staff to get to the Port Authority and find out what’s going on…. The first time this really came into my consciousness as an issue was when Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority’s email about this incident was leaked to the media…. That’s when I asked my chief of staff and chief counsel, I said to them, ‘Hey, would you look into this and see what’s going on here?’”
Really? Because that represents a pretty sharp break from Christie’s original story.
According to the governor’s latest version of events:
* In October, after learning of the trouble at the Port Authority, Christie dispatched the top two aides in his entire administration to get to the bottom of things.
* In December, in response to questions, Christie said he sees no need to get to the bottom of things.
* In January, during a two-hour press conference, Christie makes no mention of his chief of staff and chief counsel investigating the matter at his direction.
* In February, Christie boasts about an internal investigation he previously said he wouldn’t launch.
Remember, that’s not my story; that’s the governor’s story.
If the governor sent his top two aides to investigate problems at the Port Authority, why didn’t Christie mention this before? And what did his chief of staff and chief counsel find when they investigated the matter at the governor’s behest?
It would appear that Christie, just this week, came up with a new story with key details he neglected to mention during multiple press conferences in December and January.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the claims are untrue, but as a rule, evolving stories featuring new, previously unmentioned elements are harder to believe.