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Governor Christie: What Happened Was Absolutely Unacceptable

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Published on Mar 20, 2014

Flemington Town Hall - 3/20/14. (Partial Transcript Below)
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Governor Christie: Well, first off, there are lots of reasons for the firing and what I said the day afterwards was that I can't have somebody who works for me that lies to me, because that stuff can extend to a whole variety of subjects that are much broader than just the one that you talked about.

Audience Member: Agreed.

Governor Christie: Do not take from my silence, on the act, that the act was countless, in fact the whole press conference was about the fact that what happened was absolutely unacceptable and that I didn't know anything about it and if I had, I wouldn't have permitted it. So my view was that, inherent in what I was saying, was that I disapproved of the act also. And I did, and do. But don't take from the fact that I said I fired her because she lied, that that means if she had told me the truth—if she had told me the truth she would have gotten fired too because of what she did. But I never had the chance to hear the truth. And the offense -- the offense, first and foremost, is not being honest with the person you're working for.

The secondary offense was if she had been honest and told me, yeah she would have been fired anyway. But the fact is that when you're trying to run a government with 65,000 people that work for you—I used to say this at town hall meetings all the time, and I really didn't know how prophetic I was being, I used to say that the most frightening thing about being the Governor of New Jersey is that you have 65,000 people with letterhead with your name on it, and you don't know what they're doing. I found that out in real time on January 8th. But the fact is that you have to be able to trust the people that work with you. And if you don't, they have to go. Regardless of -- if she had lied to me about something I approved of, she would have been fired. So that was the point I was trying to make.

And I thought that the point of the entire discussion that day, for an hour and fifty minutes, was that I did not approve of what happened. I did think that what happened was wrong and abusive, and that it shouldn't have happened. Now I'm going to put aside the question of whether it's legal or illegal, because there are prosecutors looking at this and all the rest of it, and I've said all along as Governor, since I used to be a prosecutor, that I don't talk about that kind of stuff because I want the prosecutors to do their job and we're letting them do their job. But you shouldn't misunderstand, nor should anybody else, that by the fact that that's what I fronted as the cause for her firing that there weren't also sub-causes that I thought was part of the whole conversation I was having, that people who listen to it would understand.

I don't approve of what happened, I didn't approve of what happened, and I'm doing everything I can right now to make sure that something like that never happens again. One of the steps you do is get rid of the offending folks who thought that was ok, and who thought that it was ok that when asked directly: do you know anything about this? Did you have anything to do with it? And they say no, well then, that's the end of the ball game.

So, thanks for giving me the opportunity to expand on it. I thought -- and this is part of the challenge of communication in normal circumstances, but in a crisis it's an even bigger challenge is -- little did I know that in an hour and fifty minutes of answering questions, I didn't say enough. But, let me be really clear, let me be really clear -- and I thought I was really clear that day -- that what happened in that circumstance is unacceptable, not approved by me, would never be approved by me, and the folks who were involved in that absolutely would have lost their jobs, whether they told the truth or lied about it. But I will tell you, as the guy in charge, that when you can't count on people to tell you the truth in an enterprise this size, you're sunk. And so that's I think why I made the emphasis on it that I did, but please don't take from it that I thought the underlying conduct was somehow ok because it was not.

(applause)

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