The Campaign Spot

Christie: ‘I am responsible for what happens under my watch.’

The key headlines coming out of Chris Christie’s press conference:

• Christie declared that his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, lied to him about the bridge closure, allowed him to go out and give false denials to the public, and that he fired her by 9 a.m. this morning. (The recipient of Kelly’s “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” message, David Wildstein, resigned in December.)

• Christie declared he was “disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude, callous indifference, that was displayed in emails by my former campaign manager,” Bill Stepien, and said he has instructed Stepien to remove his name from the running to be chairman of the state’s Republican party and has also asked him to step down from his consultancy role with the Republican Governors Association.

• Christie says he will travel to Fort Lee, apologize to Mayor Mark Sokolich face to face, and apologize to the people of Fort Lee.

• Christie says he and his administration will cooperate with state investigations of the decisions leading to the road closure.

Large stretches of Christie’s press conference made for a textbook example of authentic, emphatic expressions of contrition, including a raw, refreshing bluntness about his long ties to the aides in question, and direct, quick action to ensure consequences for wrongdoing. But there was a somewhat troubling aspect in that Christie remained to insist that not one but several members of his team behaved in reprehensible manner, abused the state’s authority, and were willing to lie to him about it. He may not have known about their actions, and may have been left in the dark the whole time . . . but he apparently has terrible judgment in who he hires and trusts.

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