Meet the Press   |  January 12, 2014

Fort Lee Mayor on Christie: ‘I Take Him at His Word’

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich visits Meet the Press to share details of his meeting with Gov. Chris Christie regarding ‘Bridgegate.’

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

>> by the mayor of fort lee , mark sokolich. it was his town that suffered four days of traffic gridlock from the lane closures on the george washington bridge . the mayor met personally with governor christie on thursday. this is what he said after that meeting.

>> we view his appearance here as very productive. it was a very productive meeting. it was a cordial meeting. really the most important concern that we had or that i have on behalf of fort lee along with the council and the folks that are behind me are to make sure this never, ever happens again in the future. we are unconditionally, unequivocally provided with that assurance.

>> mr. mayor, welcome to "meet the press."

>> thank you, david .

>> i want to ask you about that meeting specifically. did you put pressure on governor christie ? was there a question about all of this that you asked him about what he knew, when he knew it, that he didn't answer satisfactorily for you?

>> i think the beginning of the meeting was basically a recant of -- or a mini version of the press conference where he unconditionally expressed that he had absolutely no knowledge or no involvement whatsoever in this plot. we then went on to request that he provide us with adequate insurance that fort lee and the area will never, ever experience this again.

>> do you believe him?

>> i take him at his word. i've said that now repeatedly. you know, initially he wanted to come up. i was discouraging of that because i thought that, in light of the ongoing investigations, allow them to ripen a little bit more and then come up. but you know what, fort lee always will open their arms to a sitting governor. he came. he was candid. it was i thought a productive conversation. so, again, i take him at his word. there's just a lot of stuff out there, though.

>> this weekend, talk about a lot of stuff out there, this weekend more e-mails have come to light. and i want to show one in just a second here that's a key one. it is from a port authority official, a crihristie appointee, to one of governor christie 's top advicers for all of the authorities, port authority , other authorities within the state. and it's about the lane closures. and he is saying, "i will get to the bottom of this abusive decision which violates everything this agency stands for." this is a port authority official who is making it very clear that he thinks this is an abusive decision and that conclusion as the lanes are reopened back in september of last year is getting to top cristy advisers. so my question to you, do you think he knew then that he knew more than he was saying just a couple days ago that he knew?

>> the issue is whether he knew, but if he didn't know he certainly should have known, and i think that's the catch-22 here. that e-mail, what you just read, came from executive director pat foye. look, i've always understood that the governor ran a very, very tight ship, very tight ship in the sense that he was in control of a lot of things and he would review everything and he made sure that anything his name was even remotely involved in he was involved in. so, you know, look, it's a difficult pill to swallow. i will tell you. but you know what, i'm a jersey guy. i don't appreciate the political jokes. i signed up to build little league fields and lower taxes. and, you know, i don't want to be the brunt of a joke. so, again, i'm taking him at his word, david . i really am.

>> taking him at his word.

>> i may sound naive here, but --

>> he insists as he looks at the support, 32% support among democrats, including 20 democratic mayors in new jersey, he insists he's not a bully. do you agree with that?

>> based on what i heard, i would take issue with that. i would. i mean, now what we're hearing and the other unrelated stories to the george washington bridge closure, i would probably -- you know, he's certainly tough. he's certainly hard. he's certainly strict. whether it rises to bully i leave that to your judgment. but he's tough and outspoken. and, you know, i think a lot of this he brought upon himself. i'm not so sure much of the issue and the attention that this is garnering would actually be the case if he hadn't conducted himself the way that his office has been conducting itself.

>> all right. mr. mayor, i'm going to leave it there. i certainly appreciate your time this morning.

>> thank you, david .