"Nobody cares [about Bridgegate]. They don't care cause here's why. They don't care because there's now been three independent investigations, all of which have said the exact same thing that I said the day after it happened. At some point people just say well after three investigations two of which were run by Democrats ... after a while people just say, 'Okay, I guess he's telling the truth.'"
In January 2014, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) held a lengthy press conference in which he tried to show at least some contrition. After scoffing at his "Bridgegate" scandal for weeks -- he even told reporters they would have to apologize to members of his team -- the Republican governor was confronted with so much evidence of wrongdoing within the Christie administration that he felt compelled to apologize.
Indeed, at the time, Christie went so far as to describe himself as "embarrassed and humiliated" by the actions of his own team.
It's a genuinely bizarre dynamic -- some of Christie's top aides conspired to cripple a community on purpose, abusing their power in the governor's name to a literally criminal degree, and Christie's defense is that he was simply too ignorant to know what was going on around him, creating a scandal that left him "embarrassed and humiliated."
And now he's waiting for journalists to apologize to him, as if Chris Christie were the victim of his own fiasco. The governor appeared on msnbc this morning, and continued to dismiss one of the biggest controversies of his career.
Continuing to feel sorry for himself, the scandal-plagued governor added, "Instead of just standing up and saying what they should say, which is, 'We're sorry governor, for having jumped to conclusions, we're sorry for not only having accused you, but convicted you,' they say, 'Oh, it's a culture.' ... It wasn't a culture because if it was, there would have been a lot more of these incidents."
Let's unwrap this a bit.
1. "Nobody cares." Well, it appears someone cares because Christie's approval rating in New Jersey tanked after the public learned of the scandal, and some of Republican Party officials and donors who expected to support the governor's presidential campaign walked away from him after learning of the allegations.
2. "There's now been three independent investigations." Actually, no. One of the three was led by a handpicked Christie loyalist, and his "investigation" was widely dismissed as an embarrassing joke. The legislature's investigation ran into trouble when the Christie administration was less than forthcoming, and the criminal trials against former Christie aides are still on the way. The Wall Street Journal's Ted Mann this morning described the governor's claim as "not true."
3. "It wasn't a culture." This is perhaps the unintentionally amusing argument, since in Christie's mind, if he'd created a culture of intimidation and partisan bullying, the list of scandals wouldn't be limited to Bridgegate. The trouble, of course, is that the list of scandals isn't limited to Bridgegate -- there are other, similar controversies.
Broadly speaking, I can appreciate why Christie is desperate to leave this debacle behind him, but the fact remains that talking about the bridge scandal in the past tense is itself a mistake, and lying about "independent" investigations and "exonerations" won't help matters.
One of Christie's top former aides has already made his guilty plea. Two other top former Christie aides are facing nine-count criminal indictments. One of the accused is represented by a lawyer who is still on record saying the governor is lying; he "knew of the lane closures as they occurred;" and that "evidence exists" that proves it.
If the struggling governor is waiting for an apology, he may be waiting a long while.