Thursday was a big, big day for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The former 2016 GOP front-runner has long maintained that he had nothing to do with Bridgegate, but beyond his own protestations, Christie hasn't had anything concrete to point to to bolster his case. Until now.
On Thursday, the Christie-ordered "internal inquiry," run by a law firm of his choosing that already has close ties, both professionally and personally, with the governor, was released to the public. Surprising few if any humans on the planet, the taxpayer-funded $1 million report exonerated Christie of all wrongdoing. (For more on the report's many limitations, read this.)
By Thursday night, Christie was on the airways, talking with Diane Sawyer, touting the report's findings and explaining how hard the whole Bridgegate affair has been for him. But outside of sympathetic Republican circles, Christie's self-auditing has received poor reviews.
Here's the latest happenings in the once again busy world of Chris Christie:
- A Diane Sawyer interview of Christie ran on ABC on Thursday evening. During the interview, Christie defended the independence of the authors of the report and spoke on the ways the Bridgegate scandal has caused him to suffer. "You don't sleep, you don't eat," he said of himself. "You struggle. You struggle." He said the closing of lanes at the George Washington Bridge was "inexplicably stupid" and that he did not believe he created an environment within his office that promoted such kinds of dirty tricks and retribution. He said Bridgegate has not changed his plans about potentially running for president in 2016.
- While Sawyer came off as rather sympathetic to Christie's pain, the New York Times editorial board has a response to the internal inquiry, and they're far less forgiving. Calling the report a "whitewash," the editors deride its various recommendations for reform, writing, "Perhaps that ethics officer might suggest barring the governor from spending taxpayer money on one-sided investigations."
- The report has also received criticism for placing the blame on former Christie top aide Bridget Anne Kelly in a manner that some observers consider to be unsubtly sexist. The implication made in the report is that Kelly and Bill Stepien, the former Christie consigliere who was also fired in the wake of Bridgegate, had a romantic relationship that Stepien tried to halt, which in turn drove Kelly to act irrationally and order the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.
- Predictably, Stepien's lawyer is pointing to the internal investigation's report as proof that his client is not to blame for Bridgegate.
- Christie is clearly going all-in on pushing this report to the media, however (perhaps hoping to persuade outsiders that it constitutes a genuinely viable piece of evidence in the governor's favor, one that will no doubt be pointed to if the multiple ongoing investigations into Christie's behavior being conducted by the U.S. attorney and the FBI reveal any damaging information). He'll hold his first press event in 76 days on Friday and he's agreed to sit down for a two-part interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly.