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Governor Backs Off Pension Threat, Dismisses Media Focus On Bridgegate

“The committee has begun receiving material responsive to its subpoenas, with more response expected in the near future in a cooperative effort with subpoena recipients,” Wisniewski and Weinberg announced in a joint statement yesterday afternoon. “Numerous extensions have been granted to subpoena recipients, as is typical in such situations.”

Christie said last night that the governor’s office “didn’t ask for an extension,” but would submit documents to the legislative committee “on a rolling basis.” He noted that his office has hired Randy Mastro, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney under Rudy Giuliani, who has been Christie’s most vocal defender on national news shows, to conduct an internal investigation.

“What I’m curious about is what happened here,” Christie said. “I can’t wait for them to be finished . . . What’s going on now with all this other stuff is just a game of gossip,” referring to the media’s focus on what the governor knew and when he knew it.

Christie, whose aides launched an all-out assault Saturday on Wildstein’s credibility in an email to supporters Saturday, offered his own explanation last night.

“I know that prior to that (the Wall Street Journal’s October 1 report on the Foye email), there were press accounts about traffic issues up there and you know if someone, if I either read that or someone said something to me about traffic issues up there, it wouldn’t have been meaningful to me,” he said. “I didn’t know that there was any problem up there because you know I didn’t know that we had actually closed lanes up there before that.”

Breaking Silence

For Christie, the decision to break his 25 days of silence on New Jersey 101.5’s “Ask the Governor” program was a logical one. The governor sounded like his usual ebullient self as he joked with callers last night to a radio station whose listenership has always been pro-Christie -- in sharp contrast to the crowd of football fans who booed the subdued Christie in New York City Saturday during a pre-Super Bowl event.

Christie is unlikely to subject himself soon to unfriendly crowds, much less a full-blown press conference with reporters eager to ask questions about Bridgegate and its coverup, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s allegation that Christie administration officials threatened to withhold Sandy aid if she did not push through a politically connected development, or his former Attorney General’s firing of a Hunterdon County prosecutor who tried to bring charges against the Republican county sheriff during Christie’s first year.

Scott did not ask at all about Hoboken or Hunterdon, but he did ask a few open-ended questions about Bridgegate, and Christie used his response to emphasize, as his staff did Friday in response to Wildstein’s allegation, that he should be judged on whether he ordered the lane closures, not on how he responded in the four months that followed. “Eric, listen let’s make one thing clear right off the bat, which I think is the most important issue and the most important issue is did I know anything about the plan to close these lanes? Did I authorize it? Did I know about it? Did I approve it? Did I have any knowledge of it beforehand and the answer is still the same, it’s unequivocally no,” he said. “And in fact, no one has ever accused me of that and that’s the thing that I think people in New Jersey care about the most.”

To New Jersey Democratic Chairman John Currie, Christie’s defense is setting the bar too low.

"Sadly, as predicted, Gov. Christie was not interested in answering the pressing questions that New Jerseyans have about the serious failures and potential illegalities of his administration,” Currie said in a statement. “And, unfortunately, now there are more new questions.

"Was superstorm Sandy funding used inappropriately? How could George Washington Bridge access lanes have been closed by Christie's top lieutenants without his knowledge, awareness, or even curiosity?” he asked. “After an hour of screened questions, the only thing we really learned is that Gov. Christie thinks the frustrating breakdown of his administration is just a distraction brewed up by others,” Currie said.

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