TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, in his first interview after last week’s conviction of two former aides in a revenge plot to create a massive traffic jam, contradicted their testimony and insisted he had “no recollection” of being informed about the events as they happened.
Christie, a 54-year-old Republican who heads presidential candidate Donald Trump’s transition team, attributed his own political slide to a campaign of negativity to which he was helpless to respond. A former top federal prosecutor, Christie declined to say whether he’s angling for appointment as U.S. attorney general in a Trump administration.
“I don’t necessarily want to be anything except helpful to him,” the governor told Charlie Rose in an interview taped at his home in Mendham and broadcast Monday on “CBS This Morning.” The governor also denied news reports that Trump had asked him to be his running mate and then changed his mind because of the bridge controversy.
The conspiracy convictions of Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, plus the earlier guilty plea of David Wildstein, all former Christie allies, comes as the two-term governor faces record-low approval of 21 percent. Most registered voters in polls believe that Christie had knowledge of the bridge plot, though he was never charged.
Wildstein, once a Christie enforcer at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, testified during the seven-week trial in Newark federal court about a conversation “that there was traffic at the George Washington Bridge and the mayor was not getting his phone calls returned,” Christie told Rose. “I have absolutely no recollection of any of them saying anything like that to me that day.”
“If they would have told me that, ‘Hey, we’re creating traffic at the George Washington Bridge in order to punish the mayor for not endorsing you,’ I would have remembered that,” Christie said. “In the whole trial, no one, not even Bridget Kelly, Bill Baroni or David Wildstein, ever testified that anyone ever said to me that this was an act of political retribution.”
Once a star in the Republican Party, Christie abandoned his own presidential campaign in February and became a Trump supporter, sticking by the real-estate investor and television reality star amid controversies about his use of tax loopholes and lewd comments about women.
Christie, who had been scheduled to campaign on Trump’s behalf this weekend, was not on the trail.
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