One of Gov. Chris Christie's signature lines to people who are preparing to ask questions the town hall meetings he holds throughout New Jersey goes something like this: "We're all from Jersey; if you give it to me, I'll give it right back to you."
But so far no one had pressed Christie (R) on a scandal stemming from lane closures last year on the George Washington Bridge that appear to have been engineered by Christie loyalists as political payback. Until now.
A man at a town hall in Flemington, N.J., asked Christie why he fired aide Bridget Anne Kelly, who wrote an e-mail stating that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
Christie responded with his most comprehensive remarks on the scandal since January.
Christie said that had Kelly been honest about what she did, she would have been fired anyway.
"But, let me be really clear, let me be really clear," Christie said, "that what happened in that circumstance is unacceptable, not approved by me, would never be approved by me, and the folks who were involved in that absolutely would have lost their jobs, whether they told the truth or lied about it."
The man pressed Christie on why he didn't fire Kelly "because she was involved in an illegal action."
But no charges have been filed against Kelly or anyone else involved with the lane closures. State and federal authorities have opened an investigation, and Christie has said he will comply with all investigations.
Christie said as a governor and former prosecutor he can't jump to the conclusion that Kelly's actions were illegal.
"But when you’re standing in this circle, and you’re the Governor of New Jersey, you don’t have the luxury to give your opinion on that when there’s an investigation going on that you have to cooperate with in every way," he said.