Meet the Press   |  January 19, 2014

N.J. Leader Reviews Christie Scandal

State Assemblyman John Wisniewski visits Meet the Press to discuss the bridge scandal plaguing Chris Christie's administration

Share This:

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

>> another big story in politics this morning and get to the latest on the new allegations of bullying by the administration of new jersey governor chris christie . a new development over the weekend, ho boekdon mayor dawn zimmer claimed christie 's lieutenant governor threatened to told hurricane sandy relief funds if they did not support a development project project backed by governor christie . this is part of what she said on the program "up" with stephen corn knack can i.

>> the fact is the lieutenant government came to hoboken and pulled me an aside in the parking lot and said i know it's not right, if you tell anyone, i'll deny it, and so these -- the bottom line is, it's not fair for the governor to hold sandy funds hostage for the city of hoboken because he wants me to give back to one private developer.

>> joining me now the man leading the investigation into the bridge scandal, assembly blman govern rudy giuliani . mayor giuliani. let me start with assembly mann wisniewski. how much weight do you give this charge at this point?

>> mayor zimmer is a serious voice, a well respected mayor of new jersey. i think we have to give the allegation serious thought because it is a an pattern that we've heard time and time again throughout new jersey. she is perhaps one of the first mayors to actually come forward and say this specific thing happened. i think the committee needs to look at the facts, hear her story, look at the e-mails and consider where we go next.

>> here's the response from governor christie that i want to put up on the screen. governor christie and his entire administration have been helping hoken get the help they need after sandy but the city already having been approved for nearly $70 million in aid and targeted to get more when the obama administration approves the next round of funding the governor and mayor zimmer have had a productive relationship in fact her saying she's very glad he's been the governor. they come out of the woodwork to try to get their faces on television. you just described it as a pattern you're hearing more and more of. the only pattern that's been in evidence with the governor re-elected is how much support he's had from elected democrats in your state.

>> the mayor zimmer was one of those elected democrats early on and said that have governor christie --

>> they held back till he looked weak?

>> i'm not sure what caused mayor zimmer to wait till now. clearly the allegation she was askeded to support a redevelopment project where there was funding from the port authority which we're investigating in turn for her getting money for her municipality raises serious allegations. we don't know where it goes. we don't know if there's more to it. but i think it's something the committee has to consider as part of the overall investigation.

>> so here's one of the criticisms of you thus far.

>> sure.

>> is that there's a rush to judgment here. you're a democrat. you used to run the state party.

>> that's true.

>> you've got the national democratic party piggy backing on aspects of this investigation. you've issued very broad subpoenas and you've said it's hard forred you to believe that will governor christie didn't know his top staff was ordering those lanes to be closed on the george washington bridge . isn't this kind i have stacked against him here?

>> no, it's not. first of all, this investigation started out because of a toll increase on the george washington bridge and other port authority crossings. we're looking at the finances and operations of the authority. somebody closed lanes from fort lee during that. we started asking questions about the lane closures and suddenly we're looking at e-mails where somebody in the governor's inner circle sent an e-mail to close those lanes for clearly what are not governmental purposes. this story, are interestingly enough, didn't start with the democrats. it started with the " wall street journal ." hardly a liberal paper. they started questioning what happened with the george washington bridge lane closures. there's been no ruch to judgment.

>> respectfully, you've talked about the specter of impeachment before you've gathered all this information.

>> what i said is there's absolutely no document that connects the governor to this. his office is sected, not him. i've said that, talking about impeachment is premature. there's no connection that he knew or that he directed. what we do know is that someone senior in his staff sent an e-mail to close the lanes. we know that will senior people in his staff were involved in trying to doing damage control and come up with a cover story for it. so we will have lots of questions. and i have said that with all of his senior people in the midst of a re-election year, it's hard to believe that he knew nothing until january 8th .

>> its what the end game then? a very broad subpoena for the office of the governor, presumably you want any communication that would indicate he had direct knowledge to shut down those lanes. is that what you're after?

>> no, what we want to know, first of all it's a legislative inquiry. we're not a prosecutorial agency. the fact that four people have lost their jobs over it doesn't stop this kind of abuse from happening again. so we have to change the laws. the only way we can doing that is to find out how it could happen in the first place. the subpoenas help us get to the root cause of who told bridget kelly she could send this e-mail? why would she send it? it seemed to be a preordained conversation. reading that you don't get any other conclusion that there was a communication before then.

>> here's what i really want to know.

>> sure.

>> is chris christie a bully who abused power or are you seekinging to criminalize the rough and tumble of new jersey politics.

>> new jersey politics is rough and 2u78able but abusing power should not be condoned. everybody mitt trusts government. when things liking this happen it gives them another reason to say there they go again. we have to make sure it can't happen again. that's the way we restore trust in government. we have no connection to governor christie . we're going to look to see who else in his office knew and follow the trail where it leads step by step .

>> assembly man, thank you very