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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) says in a new ABC News interview that what his aides did when they shut down two access lanes from Fort Lee, N.J., to the George Washington Bridge was "inexplicably stupid" and he insisted that he does not recall discussing the matter with a Port Authority appointee at the center of the episode at the time it was happening.
Christie, in his first interview since his marathon press conference in January, continued to maintain his innocence in the bridge scandal.
"Sometimes, people do inexplicably stupid things," he told Diane Sawyer. "And that's what makes it so hard then, as the guy in charge. None of it made any sense to me." Anyone who knows him, added the governor, would know that doing something "inexplicably stupid" would not please him.
Earlier Thursday, a lawyer hired by Christie released his report into the matter, absolving the governor of any knowledge or responsibility. Christie reiterated that point to Sawyer and said he does not think the behavior of those involved in the incident was "inspired" by him.
"This report says that I had no knowledge of it before it happened nor did I authorize it or have anything to do with it. And that's the truth," he said.
The review found that Port Authority appointee David Wildstein hatched the apparently politically motivated plan to snarl traffic. According to the review, Wildstein, who has since resigned, told a Christie spokesman that he informed the governor about a traffic study on the bridge at the time of the jam. Christie said he has no recollection of such a conversation and that Wildstein most definitely did not inform him he was snarling traffic for political retribution.
"I'll tell you what he didn't say. He didn't say, 'By the way governor, I'm closing down some lanes at the George Washington Bridge to stick it to the mayor.' That I'd remember," said Christie.
The governor said that the episode has been the most politically trying of his life.
“It's been a very, very tough time professionally,” he explained, adding that he has had trouble eating and sleeping at times. “Not the toughest time in my life, but certainly the toughest time in my life professionally."
Critics of Christie responded to review released Thursday with some skepticism. State lawmakers and a federal prosecutor are separately looking into the matter. For his part, Christie rejected the notion that he would get special treatment by the lawyers he hired to conduct the review.
"They're not going to whitewash anything for me," said Christie.
The governor said the traffic scandal made him feel "taken advantage of" and that he "let people down" by not knowing about it. He said that he does not believe it has tarnished his reputation ahead of a possible 2016 presidential run, which he does not intend to decide on until "a year from now."
"I think they love me in Iowa, too," Christie said, adding, "I've been there a lot."
Updated at 7:12 p.m.