Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., told investigators about the emotional meetings he had with his staff as the scandal over the George Washington Bridge lane closures unfolded, detailing moments when his former aide Bridget Anne Kelly and himself were nearly brought to tears.
The details of these events were released Monday in a memo written by the law firm Gibson Dunn. Attorneys from the firm -- hired by Christie himself -- interviewed the governor to produce a report on the scandal, which ultimately exonerated Christie of any wrongdoing. The memo released Monday contained summaries of what Christie told the Gibson Dunn investigators, with no direct quotations.
The memo describes a staff meeting that took place on Dec. 13, 2013 -- before a press conference Christie gave later that day.
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"During the December 13, 2013 senior staff meeting, the Governor walked in, slammed the door, and stood the whole time. He was agitated and disappointed," the memo says. "He recalled saying 'this is a mess, and now I have to clean it up.'... He said that he needed to know everything so that he could clean it up. He said that if anyone had knowledge of or involvement in the lane realignment, they should tell [Chief of Staff Kevin] O'Dowd or [chief counsel Charles] McKenna in the next 45 minutes--'the confessionals are open.' The Governor said that the staff should not let him go out and say anything that is not true."
During the press conference later that day, the governor announced that certain Port Authority officials were resigning because of the bridge controversy, but he said that the lane closures were "absolutely, unequivocally not" politically motivated.
Christie told the Gibson Dunn lawyers about a conversation he had after the press conference, regarding his aide Bridget Anne Kelly -- someone later linked to the lane closures.
"The Governor recalled that O'Dowd had reported that Kelly was crying when she had said that she had nothing to do with the lane realignment, claimed she had no emails about it, and swore up and down that she had no knowledge about it," the memo says. "O'Dowd expressed concern because Kelly was so emotional."
According to the memo, Christie himself claims he was emotional when he read a Jan. 8 report suggesting that Kelly and others orchestrated the lane closures as a means of political retaliation. The memo says that Christie was "sick to his stomach" upon reading that report and called for a meeting at his official residence.
"When the meeting started, the Governor recalled being nervous because he did not know who else might be involved," the memo says. "He got emotional, and with tears in his eyes, asked if anyone else had anything else to do with the lane realignment, because he could not get sand-bagged again."