New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday he had no knowledge of a plan to shut down traffic-heavy bridge lanes in political retribution last year, after emails have emerged showing top staffers were involved in the lane closures.
Christie said he was lied to by top aides, including Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, who Christie fired Thursday for her role in the scandal.
"I come out here to this office where I've been many times before," Christie said Thursday at the press conference. "I come out here today to apologize to the people of New Jersey. I apologize to the people of Fort Lee, and I apologize to the members of the state legislator. I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team. There's no doubt in my mind that the conduct that they exhibited is completely unacceptable and showed a lack of respect for their appropriate role of government and for the people that were trusted to serve."
Last year, after the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., declined to endorse Christie for reelection, lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey to New York City, were closed. Christie had denied involvement in the closures last year.
Emails emerged Wednesday directly tying Kelly, his deputy chief of staff, to the closures.
"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Kelly emailed David Wildstein, a top Christie ally at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, according to documents obtained by various news organizations.
Christie also said Thursday he would have never joked about the scandal if he had not been assured by his staff they were not involved in creating the traffic jam.
In December, Christie had mocked a reporter for asking about the scandal at a press conference, joking that he was personally involved.
"I worked the cones, actually," Christie joked. "Unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there. I was in overalls and hat, but I was actually the guy working the cones out there. You really are not serious with that question?"
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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