By Geoff Mulvihill
and Angela Delli Santi
TRENTON, N.J.: 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 following a former ally’s claim 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 the day Christie’s state hosted the Super Bowl.
Also Sunday, a member of Christie’s administration who was subpoenaed by lawmakers investigating the lane closings confirmed she had resigned. Christina Genovese Renna left the governor’s office Friday, according to her lawyer. Renna had reported to ousted Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, who apparently set the lane closings in motion with an email saying “time to cause some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
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. He planned to watch Sunday’s game with his family from a luxury box at MetLife Stadium.
Giuliani, appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, 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 of New York and New Jersey last year, ordered the lane closures after receiving Kelly’s email.
Giuliani said Wildstein “wants somebody else to pay his legal bills and he can’t get them paid unless the governor is responsible.”
The unannounced lane closures caused massive gridlock in Fort Lee in September, delaying emergency vehicles and school buses and tying up some commuters for hours over four mornings. New Jersey legislators are investigating whether Christie’s aides engineered the lane closures to send a message to the town’s Democratic mayor. The U.S. Attorney’s office is also investigating.
On Friday, Wildstein’s lawyer wrote a letter to the Port Authority saying evidence exists that Christie knew about the traffic jams in Fort Lee as they happened. He did not disclose any evidence in the letter.
Giuliani said Wisniewski, a Democratic assemblyman, is prejudiced and has ulterior motivations as a “guy who’d like to be governor.”
Wisniewski also appeared on Face the Nation and defended his role and his previously stated doubts about what Christie knew and when.