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Gov. Christie Announces Samson PA Resignation [VIDEO]

Gov. Chris Christie has announced the resignation of David Samson as chairman of the Port Authority. He did so at the start of a news conference at the Statehouse this afternoon, his first since a marathon session Jan. 9 to address the unfolding Bridgegate scandal.

The news conference follows the Thursday release of a report, commissioned by his office, which clears him of any personal involvement in the controversial lane-closings at the George Washington Bridge last September.

The governor opened by referring to the report: “it’s an exhaustive report,” he said. “I told them to find the truth, no matter where it led. . . and to let me know what the truth was. . .  I’m fully embracing reforms as it pertains to my office. . . we owe that to the people of New Jersey and that’s what I intend to deliver.”

Christie also announced the resignation of Port Authority chairman Sampson and said he agreed with the recommendation for change at the Port Authority, including “dismantling” the two-state operation with New York and united administration.

Christie said he discussed the Bridgegate matter with Samson on Jan. 8 and was told the PA chairman knew nothing about the lane closings. The governor said Samson first raised the possibility of resignation during his re-election campaign last fall.  “He’s 74 years old and he’s tired. That’s what he told me.

Watch the news conference live here.

Video courtesy NJTV

 

 

 Chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., Sheldon Adelson, with his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson
Chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., Sheldon Adelson, with his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson (Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)

Christie has granted scant access to the media since Jan. 9, with the notable exception of three appearances on the Townsquare Radio Network’s “As the Governor” — the most recent Wednesday night.

He appears to be using the release Thursday of an internal report clearing him of involvement in Bridgegate to raise his profile in the national spotlight. He did a one-on-one interview in his home with ABC’s Diane Sawyer on Thursday night and will appear on “The Kelly File” with Megyn Kelly on Fox News Channel on Friday night.

This weekend, the New Jersey governor will be in Las Vegas at the Venetian resort of 80-year-old GOP super donor Sheldon Adelson who has invited potential candidates to make their pitch to him to win his financial support for a 2016 presidential run. It’s a private event except for a question-and-answer session that Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will participate.

Adelson and his wife donated more than $90 million to candidates and political groups in 2012, although his total political donations may never be quantified publicly because various politically active groups that operate as nonprofit organizations don’t have to report the sources of their funds. He supported Newt Gingrich in 2012 and then shifted to Mitt Romney when the former House speaker dropped out. Also attending: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Gov. Christie Announces Samson PA Resignation [VIDEO]

Gov. Chris Christie has announced the resignation of David Samson as chairman of the Port Authority. He did so at the start of a news conference at the Statehouse this afternoon, his first since a marathon session Jan. 9 to address the unfolding Bridgegate scandal.

The news conference follows the Thursday release of a report, commissioned by his office, which clears him of any personal involvement in the controversial lane-closings at the George Washington Bridge last September.

The governor opened by referring to the report: “it’s an exhaustive report,” he said. “I told them to find the truth, no matter where it led. . . and to let me know what the truth was. . .  I’m fully embracing reforms as it pertains to my office. . . we owe that to the people of New Jersey and that’s what I intend to deliver.”

Christie also announced the resignation of Port Authority chairman Sampson and said he agreed with the recommendation for change at the Port Authority, including “dismantling” the two-state operation with New York and united administration.

The governor said Samson first raised the possibility of resignation during his re-election campaign last fall.  “He’s 74 years old and he’s tired. That’s what he told me.”

Christie said he discussed the Bridgegate matter with Samson on Jan. 8 and was told the PA chairman knew nothing about the lane closings. He also defended Samson’s handling of the relationships he and his law firm have with entities doing business with the Port Authority. “I have every confidence in David’s integrity,” he said. The relationships have been widely criticized as potential conflicts of interest.

Watch the news conference live here.

Video courtesy NJTV

 

 

 Chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., Sheldon Adelson, with his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson
Chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., Sheldon Adelson, with his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson (Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)

Asked about the impartiality of his administration’s internal Bridgegate investigation, Christie said it was necessary to bring in an outside law firm to deal with the volume of work the probe would require.

“When you have a problem like this, you conduct an internal review to find out what happened and try to prevent these problems in the future,” Christie said. “No matter who I chose to do this questions would be raised about objectivity from certain quarters. My answer is, look at the report.”

He acknowledged that the report was limited by the lack of access to testimony from several key figures, including his fired former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and former PA staffer David Wildstein, who are largely blamed by the report for the lane closing scheme and an ensuring coverup.

“In the end, I don’t know if we’ll ever know what the motive was,” the governor said. “As I said on Jan. 8, it mystifies me on every level, why this was done.”

The report seems to indicate there was a traffic study of some kind,” Christie said, but added that it seems to have been “blown away” as the actual motivation for the lane closings. Instead, he suggested, the study itself may have been politically motivated, presumably by Wildstein.

“Some people that I trusted and relied on let me down,” Christie said. “And in turn we let down the people of New Jersey.”

The governor also defended his decision not question Kelly directly at the time he fired her, saying it could be viewed as trying to “manipulate or coach” her on potential testimony in ongoing investigations, especially the one still being pursued by the U.S. Attorney.

“David Wildstein never was and never has been a close personal friend of mine,” Christie said, adding that Wildstein was brought into the Port Authority by former deputy executive director Bill Baroni. Both men resigned their PA positions in December, as the Bridgegate scandal began to heat up.

“I obviously believe that having David Wildstein at the Port Authority was a mistake,” Christie said. “Let’s just leave it at that.”

Christie has granted scant access to the media since Jan. 9, with the notable exception of three appearances on the Townsquare Radio Network’s “As the Governor” — the most recent Wednesday night.

Asked about the infrequency of news conferences since January, Christie said: “My decision was all you would do is ask me about this [Bridgegate]. . . I’ve held regular press briefings throughout my administration. . . but if I know what you’re going to ask and I don’t know the answer, why would I submit myself to you?”

He appears to be using the release the internal report clearing him of involvement in Bridgegate to raise his profile in the national spotlight. He did a one-on-one interview in his home with ABC’s Diane Sawyer on Thursday night and will appear on “The Kelly File” with Megyn Kelly on Fox News Channel on Friday night.

This weekend, Christie will be in Las Vegas at the Venetian resort of 80-year-old GOP super donor Sheldon Adelson who has invited potential candidates to make their pitch to him to win his financial support for a 2016 presidential run. It’s a private event except for a question-and-answer session that Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will participate.

Adelson and his wife donated more than $90 million to candidates and political groups in 2012, although his total political donations may never be quantified publicly because various politically active groups that operate as nonprofit organizations don’t have to report the sources of their funds. He supported Newt Gingrich in 2012 and then shifted to Mitt Romney when the former House speaker dropped out. Also attending: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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