Meet the Press   |  January 12, 2014

In ‘Bridgegate,' What Did Christie Know?

A Meet the Press panel discusses the extent of N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s involvement with the recent bridge scandal.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> here is the latest on what we know this sunday morning about the bridge scandal. there's been no smoking gun . that's important. no smoking gun found yet. no e-mails or correspondence that link governor christie directly to the scandal. the documents released, however, do show knowledge of the closures by christie 's closest aides. the motive for all of these lane closures, by the way, on the bridge remain a bit unclear. and investigations do continue both at the federal and the state levels. let me bring in everybody. chuck todd , the questions still on sunday morning.

>> right.

>> how much did chris christie know?

>> well, or why didn't he know more? right? there is sort of like -- there really isn't a good answer for him either way because his defense right now is i'm a hands-off manager. i did a lot of delegation. well, then that raises the question of the culture. that actually becomes the bigger impact on him as a potential presidential leader, as you're testing him as a presidential candidate .

>> right.

>> so far you read all these e-mails. there clearly is not a direct connection to the governor. so in the near term this is a survivalable, quote, unquote, scandal as far as his governance of the state of new jersey is concerned. but everything that this raises, it does make you question what his -- whether he has the judgment, whether he's got the culture that he can bring in, leadership ability to be president of the united states .

>> let's remind everybody, key e-mail, lot of players, lot of e-mails, this is the key one and it comes from his deputy chief of staff, governor christie 's deputy chief of staff, to an official at the port authority . and it's cryptic in its nature. august 13th . "time for some traffic problems in fort lee ." here's what's amazing, is that both parties know exactly what they're talking about and the response is immediate. but chris christie on thursday in this epic press conference, kim strassel, responds unequivocally. he says this.

>> i had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution. and i am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here.

>> better be telling the truth because when you come out and you are that definitive, if anything goes surface going forward that suggests that he does know, that is a game changer. look, i think to what chuck said, this is not -- this has to be put in perspective. this is not watergate. this is not even the irs targeting of last year. in fact, it's not even, if you think about this as a raw display of political power , it's not even this white house using the sequester and the shutdown to inconvenience millions of americans to make a political point. what this is is a teachable moment for governor christie , because going forward this is a level of scrutiny he's going to be getting from here on out. if he decides to continue running for the presidency. so he's going to have to up the level of staff that surround him and make sure that some of things that came out, these questions, is he a bully, does he have competent management, those are the things -- he can't afford to have another example of those happen. so he's going to have to ree re-evaluate who he's got working for him.

>> mayor, you are a mayor. you know as well as anybody that traffic matters a lot to people. when you start messing with it, it's more than just petty. it has a real impact on people's lives. what is this and what is it not at this point for governor christie ?

>> going to start by saying i'm loathe to criticize governor christie , who was so helpful to our president after sandy in the election. i'm loathe to criticize him, but when you set up --

>> you just hurt him with republicans by praising him.

>> well, when you set up this culture of callousness and when you have a history of telling people to go, you know, blank themselves and calling reporters idiots and things like that, you can't play it both ways. he set himself up as this gruff person that sort of, you know, plays by his own rules when it comes to being rough and tumble and the way that he treats people. so when you see the e-mail by one of his closest staff, it's hard to believe that someone after months and months of everybody else talking about it, that he doesn't know anything about it? he doesn't know because he didn't want to know. and at this level under this scrutiny that doesn't work