A House Democrat from New Jersey on Thursday said he doesn't believe that an aide to Gov. Chris Christie (R) devised the scheme to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge last year.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said he doubts Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, was the one who came up with the alleged plan to extract revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.
“If you think that she’s the engineer of all of this, I cannot believe that. He appointed every one of these individuals,” Pascrell, who represents Fort Lee, said Thursday on CNN after Christie held a press conference.
Emails obtained by media outlets on Wednesday appear to show that Kelly helped orchestrate a traffic jam on the bridge near Fort Lee, N.J., in September. The exchanges suggest she and others in Christie's administration were acting in revenge against the town’s mayor, who didn’t endorse Christie in last year’s election.
Christie fired Kelly on Thursday and said he would prevent former campaign manager Bill Stepien, who was also involved, from becoming head of the state’s Republican Party.
Pascrell said he wrote a letter to Christie appointee Bill Baroni, who was then the deputy executive director of the Port Authority, in September questioning the lane closures.
The congressman said the truth must come out, and said it’s still unclear whether Christie was directly involved.
Christie on Thursday said he had no knowledge of the bridge closures, and apologized to the people of New Jersey.
“The truth shall be known by everybody. This is going to be a big deal, Wolf [Blitzer], I guarantee you,” Pascrell said. “The Fort Lee residents deserve a lot more than just an apology.”
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) called the actions by Christie’s former staffers “disgraceful.”
“Governor Christie must come clean, take full responsibility and explain in detail exactly what occurred,” Pallone said in a statement. “Today's press conference served to raise more questions than it answered. All of the facts surrounding this incident must be put on the table immediately and any and all appropriate actions should be taken to hold everyone involved accountable."
Republicans, meanwhile, applauded Christie's response.
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) said Christie demonstrated “true leadership and accountability” during Thursday’s press conference.
"In an a time when President Obama and key figures in his administration shamelessly pass the buck and avoid accountability for one massive failure after another, the Governor's swift and immediate action to dismiss those responsible, commit himself to a full vetting of his staff, and embrace his responsibility as his state's chief executive is both uncommon and refreshing."
“I thought Chris Christie did what any leader ought to do,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) told CNN. “I thought he handled it you would hope the way an administrative leader would handle it.”