Fellow politicians on Sunday largely steered clear of the traffic scandal that has engulfed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), saying it was too soon to weigh in on the controversy.
“I think this is a story that’s still developing and we should reserve judgment,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” also declined to pass judgment. “I don’t know that I can shed a lot of light on it,” he said. “I mean, this is still early, and the people of New Jersey and the authorities up there will get to the bottom of things.”
O’Malley, Rubio and Christie are all potential presidential contenders.
The New Jersey scandal, in which some of the governor’s top aides appear to have orchestrated a multiday traffic jam in an act of political retaliation, has become an early test for the governor on the way to 2016.
One of the Republican Party’s rising stars, Christie has professed not to have known of his staff’s involvement in the decision to close two access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September. The episode has nonetheless raised questions about his management style.
Reince Preibus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said he did not think Christie had a direct role in the decision-making over the bridge or that he knew of a coverup. Rather, he said, the governor erred — and acknowledged having done so — in trusting aides who lied to him.
“We all make mistakes. But the real question is what do you do when mistakes happen?” Preibus said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “America’s a forgiving people. But they’re forgiving when you take ownership, you admit mistakes, you take corrective action, and that’s what Chris Christie showed.”
New Jersey lawmakers are in the process of investigating circumstances around the decision to close the lanes on the George Washington Bridge.
On Sunday, the Democratic lawmaker leading the probe said private e-mail exchanges provided to investigators prove the bridge was closed for political purposes. Assemblyman John Wisniewski said that investigators have not found any documents linking Christie to a coverup. He said, however, there was little doubt a crime was committed.
“When you use the George Washington Bridge for what the e-mail showed to be political payback, that amounts to using public property for a private purpose or for a political purpose, and that’s not legal,” he said.