New Jersey Governor Chris Christie departs City Hall in Fort Lee, New Jersey January 9, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apologized Thursday for recent revelations that Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly orchestrated a series of lane closures that crippled the George Washington Bridge for a week.
“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 state legislature. I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some people on my team,” Christie said. “There is no doubt in my mind that the conduct they exhibited is completely unacceptable and shows a complete lack of respect for their role in government and for the people they are trusted to serve.”
“I also need to apologize for my failure as governor of this state, for my failure to understand the true nature of the problem as soon as I did,” he continued. “There is no justification for that behavior. There is no justification for lying. As a result, I’ve terminated Bridget’s employment effective this morning.”
Christie explained that Kelly was terminated not only because she helped orchestrate the George Washington Bridge lane closures, but also because she lied to Christie and other members of his staff.
“I terminated her employment because she lied to me. I brought my senior staff together about four weeks ago and gave them one challenge: If there is any information you know about the decision to close these lanes in Fort Lee, you have one hour.”
Kelly did not reveal her knowledge of or involvement in the lane closures at the time. Christie stated that he was distraught Kelly violated what he called his “circle of trust.” He announced that he would personally sit down with every member of his staff to determine if there is any additional information on the bridge closure that he is unaware of.
“I am heartbroken that someone who I permitted to be in that circle of trust for the past five years betrayed my trust,” Christie said. “I would never have come out here four or five weeks ago and made a joke about these lane closures if I had even an inkling that any one on my staff would be so stupid as to be involved and to be deceitful about their involvement to me, their superior.“
Ultimately, Christie placed the blame for the lane closures not on Kelly alone, but on himself.
“I am responsible for what happens under my watch, the good and the bad,” he said.
Christie announced that he would travel to Fort Lee later in the day to personally apologize to not only Mayor Mark Sokolich, but individually to citizens of Fort Lee itself.