By Edith Honan
NEW YORK Feb 3 As documents subpoenaed by
investigating New Jersey lawmakers began pouring in on Monday,
Governor Chris Christie said he "unequivocally" had no knowledge
of a plan by some of his top aides to snarl traffic near the
busy George Washington Bridge.
During a mostly friendly hour-long "Ask the Governor"
session on local radio, Christie, a likely Republican candidate
for the White House in 2016, said he was awaiting "all the
facts," but would not allow the scandal known as "Bridgegate" to
distract him from running that state.
"The most important issue is, did I know anything about the
plan to close those lanes?" Christie said. "And the answer is
still the same. Unequivocally no."
"I'll be damned if I let anything get in the way of me doing
my job," he said.
Federal prosecutors and the Democrat-controlled state
legislature have opened probes into the incident last September,
in which top aides to Christie ordered the closure of access
lanes to the busy George Washington Bridge, which spans New
Jersey and Manhattan.
The closures, which came in the midst of Christie's
re-election campaign and after the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee
declined to endorse Christie's bid, caused a massive traffic
snarl over four days in the town across the river from New York
Christie has said repeatedly he was unaware of his aides'
actions, and last month fired his deputy chief of staff and
severed ties with a longtime political advisor in connection
with the lane closures.
Still, the scandal has hurt his image and polls show him
losing ground as a potential presidential contender.
Pressure mounted on Christie last Friday when David
Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey who personally oversaw the lane closures,
told the authority that "evidence exists" Christie knew about
the lane closures. Wildstein resigned late last year.
Wildstein offered no details, and Christie's office quickly
launched a counter-attack challenging his credibility.
"Bottom line - David Wildstein will do and say anything to
save David Wildstein," Christie's office said in an email to
Christie did not mention Wildstein by name during the radio
interview. But he did say he feels a "game of gotcha" has been
Top Christie aides and the governor's re-election campaign
were among those subpoenaed by state lawmakers investigating the
matter, and documents began arriving on Monday.
The lawmakers did not give details of the documents they had
received, and said in a statement that many people had been
granted extensions "as is typical in such situations."
One aide served with a subpoena, Christie's director of
intergovernmental affairs, Christina Renna, said on Sunday
through her lawyer that she had resigned. In a statement, Renna
said her departure was long planned so she could "pursue an
opportunity in the private sector."
While Christie has not been directly implicated in the
scandal, he has struggled to counter questions about his
truthfulness and the tactics of his administration.
Over the last month, several other Democratic officials in
the state have come forward with other accusations.
The Democratic mayor of Hoboken has said that people close
to the governor withheld storm aid as a condition of the city
supporting a development deal. The administration has denied the
allegation, which is now the subject of a federal investigation.
Christie's approval rating among New Jersey voters, at 65
percent just before his re-election last year, has slid to 46
percent, a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released last month showed.