Meet the Press   |  February 02, 2014

Christie in 'Fight of His Political Life'

A Meet the Press roundtable examines emerging allegations in the Chris Christie bridge scandal, including a dispatch with the latest developments from NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell.

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

>> tabloid treatment of christie over this weekend has been tough. look at it on the screen, christie new. your lying gov. is this more hype than real?

>> christie obviously believes it's more hype than real. you do have david wildstein with his own motivations, legal bills. this is the advice that is chris christie is in, he's got three people that essentially were thrown under the bus in some form or another is, wildstein, bridget kelly and his long-time campaign guy. all of them, if forced to pick between their own survival, this becomes a game of survival, that's where christie is in trouble. that's what wildstein has been hinting on this. this story is no longer whether chris christie kk survive to become a viable presidential candidate . it's about whether he can save his own governorship. stop thinking about the presidential race .

>> before getting through this. gwenn, one of the things they're doing in the governor's office is hitting wildstein hard. putting out five things you should know including as a 16-year-old kid he sued over a local school board election.

>> that didn't strengthen my faith in their argument, the idea you're going back to high school to make the case. his big mistake in his press conference was attacking wildstein saying he was a loser in high school . we've all been through high school and remember what those feelings were like. it seems like a distraction when the more serious question at hand is what he knew and what he was going to do about it and whether he was creating a culture among the people who worked for him who would do this even if he didn't know about it. this is supposed to be his big weekend . he was supposed to be in new jersey presiding over the super bowl everybody thinks is in new york.

>> that could be a whole discussion itself.

>> and instead, he's back in the corner again.

>> i want to get more comment on this. kelly o'donnell is up in new jersey today closely following the bridge scandal. i want to have you bring us up to date what we're dealing with, who david wildstein is. what have you got, kelly .

>> good morning, david . for governor christie , this really is a multifront media plan. governor christie has been trying to be visible with the super bowl -related events but his team had two responses to these latest claims. on friday, a pretty standard low key defense, but by sat this more personal attack on the former port authority appointee who has been making waves . despite being the host governor --

>> good afternoon, arf.

>> knowledges's chris christie did not appear to get the home field advantage saturday as noticeable boos came from a super bowl crowd in new york city 's times square .

>> and we look forward to hosting everybody.

>> late saturday nbc news obtained a christie office memo being sent to his supporters that aggressively pushes back against both "the new york times" which first reported the allegations made by former port authority david wildstein and then takes on wildstein's personal character concluding that?

>> david wildstein will do and save anything to save david wildstein." a former christie ali, wildstein and then took the fifth in january.

>> i respectfully assert my right to remain silent.

>> dangled hints that christie may know more about the bridge traffic scandal.

>> i had no knowledge or involvement in this issue in its planning or its execution.

>> reporter: wildstein's attorney wrote "evidence exists can tying mr. christie to having knowledge of the lane closures during the period when the lanes were closed contrary to what the governor stated publicly."

>> would you reconsider?

>> wildstein's central role in the scandal makes his claims intrig intriguing, but he offers no specific evidence.

>> well, david wildstein claims that evidence exists but what's left unanswered is what kind of evidence, who has that evidence and does it say anything about whether christie knew the motivation behind the lane closures.

>> reporter: and the context of thisler is important, too. . wildstein's lawyer was sending the letter to the wildstein's former employer, the port authority and making the argument that that agency should reverse its decision and actually pay wildstein's legal bills and indemny phi him against lawsuits. of course, like so many things in jersey politics, this has become oh, so personal.

>> thank you so much. rich lowry , look, wildstein provided 900 pages of information and communications to the legislature. none of it mentioned that he didn't seek the whole truth will about this. what's the big thing that could come out of this?

>> the facts really matter, and if christie wasn't telling the truth, he's left so many hostages to fortune here, the truth will come out. just the turn about in his fortune is incredible because the whole strategy was to win a huge re-election and then bragging about that all around the country and use that as a launching pad for his presidential campaign . now he's having to accepted out press reeses basically accusing one of his former associates of sticking gum under his desk to discredit him.

>> he's saying there's evidence to suggesting that christie wasn't being truthful when he said i only found out about this after the fact, after the lanes where is reopened. so he may have known about the closures while they were happening.

>> right. so that's the -- that still doesn't get us to whether he planned the thing.

>> the big danger has always been from the moment chris christie uttered the words that he had absolutely no knowledge of this and when he walked out from behind the podium after the two-hour press conference, he had entered into the record basically his testimony. if anyone could call into question the veracity of that testimony in the months ahead with lawyers and an investigation, this would crumble completely for chris christie . i agree with chuck. the notion that we're talking about this as what is this going to do to his presidential campaign , the largest newspaper in the state says if this is true, he should resign or be impeached. i think the clock is ticking on whether he's the chair of the rga. why wouldn't they get rid of this now and whether or not in a year we'll still call him governor christie .

>> big leadership moment, that's what you think about his leadership over time .

>> it certainly was a bravura performance when he made the two-hour press conference. he made it so convincing, that he left himself little alone. it seems the shadow of the presidency only falls on a few people and it fell on olympian christie after he did so well with sandy and the big election. that was the time when he had to evolve into i an different kind of leader. if he had done petty payback things, you have to say i'm on a bigger change, i've got to change my way being. what the whole thing calls into question even none of this gets further than it is is the culture he created that allowed aides to think i can do this thing, i can play without telling the guy. either he didn't know which says something bad or if he did know, it says something far worse.

>> i'm going to speak to the man leading the bridge scandal investigation. i'll talk to him later from the new