It looks like CNN's Candy Crowley wasn't the only one reading straight from the talking points out of Gov. Chris Christie's office on the Sunday shows this morning. NBC's David Gregory used them to badger Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski over their investigation into Bridgegate and to diminish the accusations made by Hoboken mayor, Dawn Zimmer.
No one from the Christie administration made an appearance on any of the Sunday shows this weekend. Why bother when you've got the media happy to act as your surrogates instead?
DAVID GREGORY: Joining me now, the man leading the investigation into the bridge scandal, Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski. And from Palm Beach, Florida, this morning former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a close ally of Governor Christie. I'll get to you in just a minute, Mayor Giuliani. Let me start with Assemblyman Wisniewski. You hear this charge by the Hoboken mayor. How much weight do you give it at this point?
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: Mayor Zimmer's a serious voice. She's a well-respected mayor in New Jersey. I think we have to give the allegations serious thought. Because it is a pattern that we've heard time and time again throughout New Jersey. She is, perhaps, one of the first mayors to actually come forward and say that this specific thing happened. I think the committee needs to look at the facts, hear his story, look at the emails, and consider where we go next.
DAVID GREGORY: Here's a response from Governor Christie that I want to put up on the screen. "Governor Christie and his entire administration have been helping Hoboken get the help they need after Sandy, with the city already having been approved for nearly $70 million in federal aid, and is targeted to get even more when the Obama administration approves the next rounds of funding."
The governor and Mayor Zimmer have had a productive relationship, with Mayor Zimmer even recently saying she's, quote, "very glad he's been our governor." It's very clear partisan politics are at play here as Democratic mayors with a political ax to grind come out of the woodwork to try to get their faces on television. You just described it as a pattern you're hearing more and more of. The only pattern that's been in evidence here with the governor re-elected is how much support he's had from elected Democrats in your state.↓ Story continues below ↓
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: Well, and Mayor Zimmer was one of those elected Democrats early on who has always said very nice things and said that Governor Christie had done--
DAVID GREGORY: They held back until he looked weakened by this other issue?
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: Well, I'm not sure exactly what caused Mayor Zimmer to wait until now. But clearly, the allegation that she was asked to support a redevelopment project where there was funding from the port authority, which we're investigating, in turn for her getting money for her municipality raises serious allegations. We don't know where it goes. We don't know if there's more to it. But I think it's something the committee has to consider as part of the overall investigation.
DAVID GREGORY: So, here's one of the criticisms of you thus far.
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: Sure.
DAVID GREGORY: Is that there's a rush to judgment here. You're a Democrat. You used to run the state party.
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: That's true.
DAVID GREGORY: You've got the national Democratic Party piggybacking on allegations and on aspects of this investigation. You've issued very broad subpoenas. And you've said that it's hard for you to believe that Governor Christie didn't know that his top staff was ordering those lanes to be closed on the George Washington Bridge. Isn't this kind of stacked against him here?
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: No. It's not. First of all, this investigation started out because of a toll increase on the George Washington Bridge and of the port authority crossings. We were looking at the finances and operation of the port authority. Somebody closed lanes from Fort Lee during that.
We started asking questions about the lane closures, and suddenly we're looking at emails where somebody in the governor's inner circle sent an email to close those lanes for clearly what are not governmental purposes. This story, interestingly enough, didn't start with Democrats. It started with the Wall Street Journal, hardly a liberal paper, that started questioning what happened with the George Washington Bridge lane closures. And we followed this step by step. There's been no rush to judgment, I've said time and time again.
DAVID GREGORY: You said no rush to judgment. Respectfully, you've talked about the specter of impeachment before you gathered all this information.
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: What I said, David, is there's absolutely no document that connects the governor to this. His office is connected, not him. I've said that talking about impeachment is premature. There's no connection that he knew or that he directed it. What we do know is that someone senior in his staff sent an email to close the lanes.
We know that senior people in his staff were involved in trying to do damage control and come up with the cover story for it. And, so, we have lots of questions. And I have said that with all of his senior people in the midst of a reelection year, it's hard to believe that he knew nothing until January 8th.
DAVID GREGORY: What's the end game, then? A very broad subpoena for the office of the governor. Presumably, you want any communication that would indicate he had direct knowledge to shut down those lanes. Is that what you're after?
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: No. What we want to know, first of all, it's a legislative inquiry. We're not a prosecutorial agency. We want to make sure this can't again. The fact that four people have lost their jobs over it doesn't stop this kind of abuse from happening again.
So, we have to change the laws. The only way we can do that is to find out how it could happen in the first place. The subpoenas help us get to the root cause of who told Bridget Kelly she could send this email? Why would she send it? It seemed to be a preordained conversation. Because reading that email, you don't get any other conclusion that there was a communication before then.
DAVID GREGORY: Here's what I really want to know.
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: Sure.
DAVID GREGORY: Is Chris Christie a bully who abused power? Or are you seeking to criminalize the rough and tumble of New Jersey politics?
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: No. No. I mean, New Jersey politics is rough and tumble and that's not going to change. But abusing power should not be condoned. You know, everybody mistrusts government. And when things like this happen, it only gives them another reason to say, "There they go again."
And, so, we have to make sure that it can't happen again. And that's the one way we restore trust in government. But this is not preordained and we have no connection to Governor Christie. We're going to look to see who else in his office knew. We're going to follow the trail where it leads step by step.
DAVID GREGORY: All right. Assemblyman, thank you very much for your time this morning.
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: David, thank you.
"Rough and tumble" huh. David Gregory seems to be a little confused about just who did the "criminalizing" here.