New Jersey Governor Chris Christie held a press conference this morning, in which he denied authorizing lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013.
The bridge closure backed up thousands of commuters from Ft. Lee, N.J., which has a Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, who did not endorse Gov. Christie's re-election in Nov. 2013.
At the time of the closures, Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, who was appointed by Gov. Christie, claimed the lane closings were for a traffic study.
However, three Port Authority officials said there was no September 2013 traffic study back in December 2013, and that the lane closures were ordered by David Wildstein, another Gov. Christie-appointee, noted CBS New York.
Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye told the transportation committee in December 2013 that he was unaware of any traffic safety study being done in September 2013, notes NJ.com.
The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2013 that Gov. Christie called New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and complained to him about Foye pressing too hard to get to the bottom of the bridge scandal.
Yesterday, emails and texts were leaked that showed Gov. Christie's top aide Bridget Anne Kelly telling Wildstein: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
There were also emails about the lane closures between Wildstein and Baroni, who both resigned back in December 2013.
According to CBS News, Gov. Christie fired Kelly today, but still suggested during his morning news conference that the September 2013 lane closures could have been for a traffic study, reports ThinkProgress.org.
“What I was told was that it was a traffic study, and there was no evidence to the contrary until yesterday [Jan. 8, 2014],” stated Gov. Christie today. “I don’t know if this was a traffic study that morphed into a political vendetta or a political vendetta that morphed into a traffic study.”
But there is clearly evidence as far back as December 2013 that the September 2013 lane closures were not because of a traffic study.
Gov. Christie also claimed today that he found about the emails and texts from Kelly and others yesterday morning, about 24 hours ago.
But RawStory.com reports that Gov. Christie said today that he hadn't had "a lot of sleep for the past two nights" over the bridge controversy, which would date him back to the day before yesterday (video below).
"That was the first time I knew about this, the first time I had seen any of the documents that were revealed yesterday,” stated Gov. Christie. “If people find that hard to believe, I don’t know that else to say except to tell them that I had no knowledge this, the planning, the execution or anything about it. And that I first found out about it after it was over.”
However, later in the press conference, he added, "I haven’t had a lot of sleep for the past two nights and I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. I’m sick over this. I have worked for the last 12 years in public life developing a reputation for honesty and directness and blunt talk, one that I think is well deserved.”