High-profile Republicans were adamant Sunday that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie should not resign from his post as chairman of
the Republican Governors Association after a recent claim from a former ally that there is evidence Christie knew about an apparently politically motivated traffic jam earlier than he has said.
The support from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan put Republicans on the offensive and the Democratic chairman of a state legislative committee investigating the September lane closures near the George Washington Bridge on the defensive.
Christie, a potential 2016 presidential contender, has been going about Super Bowl ceremonial duties and has not taken questions about the scandal in recent days. He didn’t respond Saturday when some spectators booed him at an appearance in New York City’s Times Square.
Giuliani on CBS took aim at the credibility of two figures central to the scandal: John Wisniewski, who’s leading the investigative probe, and David Wildstein, the former Christie loyalist who as an executive at the Port Authority last year ordered the lane closures, as someone with less than pure motives.
He said Wildstein “wants somebody else to pay his legal bills and he can’t get them paid unless the governor is responsible.” And Wisniewski has ulterior motivations as a “guy who’d like to be governor.”
Also appearing on CBS, Wisniewski defended his role and his previously stated doubts about what Christie knew and when.
“What I’ve said is I have skepticism about the governor’s statement,” he said. “I haven’t said that the governor has responsibility for this. I haven’t said that the governor knew when this was happening.”
By Saturday, Christie’s allies were striking back after Wildstein’s claim. The message to donors, journalists and voters: Christie was not ceding ground.
Ryan, appearing on ABC, described Wildstein’s allegations as “one person’s word against the other” and said, “Nothing has been proven and you always give a person the benefit of the doubt in those kinds of situations.”