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Chris Christie on January 9 2013 speaking on the lane closure scandal
It's no surprise that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he didn't know anything about his administration's involvement in the Fort Lee lane closure scandal until Wednesday of this week. But what is surprising is his explanation for why we should believe him, because it's a really flimsy one. According to Christie, last month he gathered his staff one hour before a press conference and issued an edict:
If there is any information that you know about the decision to close these lanes in Fort Lee, you have one hour to tell either my chief of staff, Kevin O'Dowd, or my chief counsel, Charlie McKenna.

And I told them that in an hour I was going to go out in a press conference. And if no one gave me other information to the contrary that I was going to say that no one on my staff was involved in this matter.

But telling your staff what you want to say and giving them a one hour deadline to be the outcast who spoils the party isn't about leading a serious investigation, it's about bullying them into telling you what you want to hear and giving yourself plausible deniability in the process.

I believe Christie when he says O'Dowd and McKenna reported back that they had received "no information that would change my ability to be able to say that no one [...] on my staff was involved in this matter." But it's obvious he knew this is exactly what they would say, otherwise there's no chance he would have asked the question literally moments before facing the press.

If he had been interested in doing a serious investigation, he wouldn't have rushed it, he wouldn't have pressured his staff by telling them what he wanted to say, and he wouldn't have conducted it without a paper trail. Two weeks ago, Christie described this as "a full briefing." But it was anything but. Instead, it was nothing but a session designed to cover his rear and give him a scapegoat, if need be. And its obvious flimsiness as an excuse for why he "believed" that there actually was a traffic study is a big reason why this story is not going to die.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:29 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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