Just before New Jersey governor Chris Christie was about to convene a press conference, the chairman of the New York/New Jersey Port Authority, David Samson, handed him his resignation Christie said at the news conference.
According to Christie, Sampson’s resignation is effective immediately.
Federal prosecutors are looking at Samson’s involvement in the GW Bridge closure, the scandal that continues to plague the Christie administration. They are also looking at whether Samson steered $2.8 billion in construction contracts to companies that Samson’s law firm represents.
The standing room only news conference today comes on the heels of the completion of an internal investigation by the Christie administration that stated that Christie had no involvement in the bridge scandal.
Democrats are calling the investigation, that failed to call the three key officials at the heart of the scandal, a “whitewash.” During the internal investigation, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, Christie’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, or Christie’s appointee to the port authority, David Wildstein never got called to testify in the investigation. The approximately $1 million internal investigation was carried out by a law firm Christie brought in, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher.
All three of those officials are no longer at their jobs, having either been fired or resigned.
Randy Mastro turned in the report clearing Christie, said that the report vindicates the New Jersey governor. But, the report did mention that Christie was told about the traffic problems that the lane closures on the bridge were causing, but went on to say that Christie did not remember any such conversation.
At the press conference, Christie stated that the hiring of Wildstein “was a mistake,” continuing, “Let’s just leave it at that.”He also called the internal review, “thorough.” Once again, he laid all the blame on the former officials. Chiefly blamed was Kelly, who the report says was formerly in a relationship that Stepien ended. The report asserted that “events in Kelly’s personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind.”
Although the internal investigation, called by Christie, is now complete, Christie is still under scrutiny by a New Jersey Legislative Panel and the U.S. Attorney’s office. The chairman of the Legislative Panel, New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski, says that the internal report that came out yesterday, “reads more like a novel than a work of fact.”
Christie has stayed away from press conferences since his conference in January where he took two hours of questions by reporters. This conference today is his first in 76 days.
The closure of the George Washington Bridge lasted for four days in September, and snarled traffic in the community of Fort Lee. The closure is considered payback for the mayor of that city, Mark Sokolich, refusing to endorse Christie during the election.