U.S. Rep defends fellow GOPer
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New York City’s lone Republican congressman was quick to come to the defense of fellow GOPer Chris Christie after the embattled New Jersey governor held a press conference Thursday to answer tough questions about the so-called “Bridge-gate” scandal that is threatening to upend his presidential ambitions.
U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island) said Christie “demonstrated true leadership and accountability” in the Trenton press conference.
Christie, considered by many in the GOP to be a rising star in the party with a shot at earning the party’s nomination for president in 2016, is seeking to contain the damage from the “Bridge-gate” mess.
The New York Times reported on Jan. 8 that emails and texts revealed that Bridget Anne Kelly a top Christie staffer, ordered David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to cause a traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Within days, two of the three lanes on the George Washington Bridge were closed, a move that caused traffic backups in Fort Lee, the borough closest to the bridge. The Port Authority operates the bridge.
Fort Lee was turned into a parking lot of snarled vehicles during the four days in September the lanes were closed, the Times reported. School buses and ambulances were stuck in the massive traffic jam.
The traffic jam was seen as an act of political retribution by Christie staffers to punish the Fort Lee mayor for his refusal to support the governor’s re-election bid, The Times reported. Christie won a second term in a landslide in November.
The Republican Grimm also took a swipe at the Democratic president.
“In 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,” he said.
Christie initially stated that no one on his staff had anything to do with the lane closures. He was forced to amend his statements after the emails came to light on Wednesday. At the press conference, Christie announced that he had fired Kelly. Wildstein had already resigned for the Port Authority.
Grimm, a former undercover FBI agent who worked with Christie when the governor was a U.S. attorney for New Jersey, was the first prominent Republican in the country to jump to Christie’s defense. He released a statement within an hour of the conclusion of the governor’s press conference.
“I have known Governor Christie since he was a United States attorney with a distinguished anti-corruption record and I was an undercover agent working a high profile public corruption case with his office. I know him to be a man of unquestionable honor and ironclad integrity, and I take him at his word,” Grimm said, referring to the governor’s repeated denials that he knew about the plot to snarl traffic in Fort Lee.