By Dan Hirschhorn
March 27, 2014

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday lambasted former aides who shut down lanes on a busy bridge in an apparent political payback scheme as “inexplicably stupid.”

“When things were first reported, I said: ‘This can’t possibly be true. Because who would do something like that?’” Christie said during an interview airing Thursday night on ABC. “Sometimes, people do inexplicably stupid things.

“And so that’s what makes it so hard then to, as the guy in charge, you… none of it made any sense to me,” Christie added. “And to some extent [it] still does not.”

Christie’s denunciation of his former aides are some of his strongest to date in the “Bridgegate” scandal that has threatened his 2016 presidential ambitions. Documents which emerged earlier this year showed that Christie’s former deputy chief of staff and his ally at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had plotted to close lanes leading from Fort Lee, N.J. to the George Washington Bridge in what appeared to be retribution against the town’s mayor for not endorsing Christie’s reelection campaign. Lawyers hired by Christie’s to investigate the matter cleared the Republican of any wrongdoing in a report released earlier Thursday, but the events are still being probed by state lawmakers and federal authorities.

Documents show the lane closures, which caused severe traffic jams in Fort Lee, were overseen by Port Authority official David Wildstein and Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly. Wildstein resigned late last year as questions over the lane closures mounted. Christie fired Kelly and apologized for the scandal in January when the documents emerged.

Christie conceded Thursday that the scandal has taken its toll.

“You don’t sleep, you don’t eat … you struggle. You struggle,” he said. “But I do believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s been a very, very tough time professionally. Not the toughest time in my life, but certainly the toughest time in my life professionally.”

But he said the scandal won’t affect his decision about whether or not to run in 2016.

“I haven’t made a decision about 2016, and I don’t intend to make a decision about 2016 until a year from now, but it won’t have anything to do with what’s happened in the past 10 weeks,” Christie said. “What’s happened in the past 10 weeks, I think, will ultimately make me a better leader, whether it’s as governor of New Jersey or in any other job I might take in the public or private sector.”

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