In a cable news exclusive, Megyn Kelly sat down with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) after he was cleared by an internal investigation of any wrongdoing in the George Washington Bridge scandal.
Christie said he feels exonerated by the report, but added, “I also always knew that this was where it would end up because I knew from the beginning that I didn’t have anything to do with this.”
Some of the governor’s aides were accused of creating a traffic jam by closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge back in September out of political retribution. Christie has maintained that he had no knowledge of the scandal.
He acknowledged tonight on The Kelly File that ultimately, he is responsible for what people do on his watch.
People have condemned Christie for creating an environment that allowed for his staffers to behave in such a manner.
“I’m a really passionate guy and I’m very direct," he said. "I am not one of these typical, blow-dried, focus group-tested, shellacked politicians. And some people love that and some people don’t. But at core, Megyn, this is who I am. And so if I try to change that, some people would see me as faking it.”
Kelly asked Christie if there is any validity to the idea that the approach of a chief executive infiltrates his or her staff.
The governor answered, “I don’t think anybody was calling me those names during Hurricane Sandy … I think that goes through to my staff also. I think when my staff sees me bring Democrat after Democrat into this room to craft deals that help make New Jersey a better state, that infiltrates my staff too.”
He added, “What we’re talking about with this most recent incident isn’t anything that I ever displayed publicly or would condone. And anybody who thought that they were doing something that would make me happy, didn’t know me.”
Christie fired his top staffer Bridget Anne Kelly after emails revealed that she helped orchestrate the traffic jam. He maintained tonight that he never had a conversation with her about the scandal, even after the emails surfaced in January.
“Why should the American people trust that you are a good judge of the people you surround yourself with as public servants?” Kelly asked.
Christie acknowledged that he made mistakes and said he’s sorry that it happened. However, he said he can’t be held to a level of perfection. In contrast to how President Obama has handled scandals plaguing his administration, Christie said the difference is that he acted swiftly.
“It’s how you respond after you find out something’s being done in your name that you believe is inconsistent with your values,” he said.
The governor said he has done a lot of soul searching in the past few weeks, including spending more time at home. He revealed that his oldest son once asked him if he was involved in the bridge scandal. "That was really hard," Christie admitted. "And I said of course I didn't. And he said, 'I didn't think you did, Dad, but I had to ask you.'"
Prior to this controversy, Christie was favored by the mainstream media as a 2016 GOP candidate. He said his view of the media hasn't changed. “I understand that you can be the flavor of the month sometimes in a good way and … in a bad way.”
"Do you have too much baggage now to run for president?" Kelly asked.
Christie responded, “That’ll be for other people to judge. There’s no baggage here because I didn’t do anything.”
Watch the interview above and tune in to The Kelly File, Monday at 9p/ 12a ET to see part 2!
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