HAMPTON, N.H. — Just days after referring to New Jersey’s newspapers as “rags,” Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday people should “just stop reading newspapers” when it comes to any investigations stemming from the George Washington Bridge lanes closure controversy.
The governor and Republican presidential candidate, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” lashed out at host Chuck Todd when the newsman questioned Christie’s judgment on picking senior officials in his administration. Todd referenced three people facing federal charges for their alleged roles in the bridge scandal, as well as the pending federal investigation into a top ally and friend, David Samson.
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“First of all, you have absolutely no idea, you have no idea as you sit here today that he did anything wrong — nor does anybody else,” said Christie, in defense of Samson.
“And so, let’s stop just reading the newspapers,” he said. “Let’s just stop reading the newspapers and just blathering back what that is. OK?”
Last week, United Airlines officials stepped down following an internal investigation at the company into the airline’s dealings with the Port Authority. Jeff Smisek, 61, resigned as chairman, president and CEO of Untied Airlines. The company said its executive vice president of communications and government affairs and its senior vice president of corporate and government affairs were leaving as well.
Company officials would not disclose what specifically sparked the ouster, other than to say “the departures announced today are in connection with the company’s previously disclosed internal investigation related to the federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.”
David Samson, a Christie ally and the former chairman of the Port Authority, is being investigated for his relationship with the airline.
Prosecutors in New Jersey have subpoenaed records in recent months from both United Airlines and the Port Authority, looking into a flight reportedly scheduled by United to benefit Samson, the long-time head of the powerful bi-state agency.
Samson, who was appointed by Christie in 2010 and resigned from the Port Authority board in March 2014, regularly flew on United Airlines out of Newark Liberty International Airport — which is managed by the Port Authority — to a South Carolina airport near a second home he and his wife own.
Christie offered his fiercest defense of Samson yet when in his “Meet the Press” appearance.
The governor balked at discussing his relationship with the longtime ally and confidant who could be tied to the recent resignations when first asked about them during a CNN appearance on Wednesday. Later that same day, he referred to Samson “a friend” and urged people not to jump to conclusions as investigators look into the possibility his former appointee traded favors with airline executives.
That same day, Christie referred to New Jersey newspapers as “rags” and said people should dismiss them.
The governor begins a busy week on the campaign trail Sunday afternoon with a visit to New Hampshire before jetting across the nation to take a spot on stage for the second Republican debate Wednesday.