The first news report linking his top aides to an alleged political payback scheme to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge made Chris Christie “sick to his stomach,” the New Jersey governor told investigators, according to a new memo first obtained by CNN.
After the report in a local paper, Christie called his senior staff to the governor’s mansion. As the meeting began, he was nervous, unsure who else on his staff might be involved in the lane closures.
“He got emotional, and with tears in his eyes, asked if anyone else had anything else to do with the lane realignment, because he could not get sandbagged again,” according to the memo.
The memo summarizes three interviews Christie did earlier this year with the lawyers he hired to investigate the political scandal. And it was a foundational element of a report, written by the law firm Gibson Dunn, that cleared Christie of any involvement in the scandal that has rocked both his administration and his presidential ambitions.
Christie did the interviews without a lawyer present and had not “read or reviewed the memorandum and has not adopted or approved its contents,” the memo said.
Christie’s memo was one of 75 that were publicly released on Monday, including interviews with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and other top staffers. Christie is providing the memos to the U.S. attorney’s office and a state legislative committee, both of which are investigating the matter. They were posted also online.
“The voluntary production of these interview memos to the U.S. attorney’s office, the Joint Committee and the public are being made at Governor Christie’s direction and reflect his commitment to be as cooperative and transparent as possible,” spokeswoman Maria Comella told CNN.
Much of the facts contained in the Christie memo were outlined in the final report when it was made public last month. But it does provide color and insight into Christie’s thinking.