Gov. Chris Christie said his biggest mistake was “hiring the people who pulled the shenanigans” at the George Washington Bridge in 2013.
The Republican, speaking Wednesday on MSNBC, said the lane closures were “done by a group of folks who clearly were on their own agenda and not mine.”
Christie says he does not want to see anyone go to jail, “but people have to be held responsible for their conduct.”
Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, Christie’s appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were convicted of wire fraud, conspiracy and misusing the bridge for improper purposes.
Kelly faces 18 months in prison while Baroni was sentenced to two years. Both have appealed and say their actions did not amount to criminal conduct under the law.
Another Christie appointee, David Wildstein, pleaded guilty to orchestrating the traffic jams to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse Christie’s re-election bid. Wildstein testified for the prosecution at Baroni and Kelly’s trial.
“How can you not feel sympathy for a woman who is a single mother with four children who’s going to have to go to prison?” Christie said of Kelly. “But I — also I am to this day still incensed at people who would use public power and public authority that was given to them by someone who was elected by the people to conduct themselves that way.”
Christie was not charged with any wrongdoing, and he denied any prior knowledge of the plot. But questions were raised at the trial over how much he knew about the scheme and when.
He said the idea that he would ever want something like that done was “ridiculous.”
Christie’s term ends in January and the state constitution prevents him from seeking a third term.