Christie leaves a government building in Fort Lee, N.J., on Thursday, where he met with and apologized to the mayor. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Lawmakers issued reviews ranging from nondescript to positive of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s Thursday news conference, largely reserving judgment on the bridge scandal that’s embroiled the potential presidential candidate’s administration.
That could spell trouble for Christie in the weeks ahead.
The GOP governor asserted at the news conference that he had no involvement in the scandal involving unannounced lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. His comments could come under fire as Congress awaits answers to outstanding questions and plans to press authorities further.
In December, Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., sent multiple letters — both to the New Jersey Port Authority and to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx — demanding explanations for the traffic jam and oversight over the Port Authority itself. His original request asked the Port Authority for answers by Jan. 15.
Rockefeller said Thursday he does not yet plan to hold hearings, but said he is continuing to monitor the situation closely. If the requested response from New Jersey officials does not come back complete, or at all, either Rockefeller or other senators on the committee, such as freshman New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker, could take further action.
“I’ve spent all day watching MSNBC,” he told reporters.
“I don’t know, I’m never satisfied,” he teased, when asked if Christie’s answers allayed his previous concerns.
Booker said in an afternoon statement that he also demanded answers Thursday from the Department of Transportation. In the Capitol, Booker repeatedly rebuffed attempts for comment on Christie, noting only by the evening that he had heard part of the governor’s remarks.
Any congressional investigations would test Christie’s greater political viability for 2016, and his national ambitions would likely only amplify the debate, at least compared to other typical state scandals. And the longer unanswered questions linger, the more likely it is that senators and representatives will want to get involved or call hearings.