New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the scandal over the George Washington Bridge lane closures has brought him closer to his family through a process of soul searching.
“It's brought me to reevaluate some of the way I've spent my time,” Christie told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview Thursday. “You can get caught up in this world and in this life pretty easily, in a public life that becomes so public. And I'll tell you that what it's done for me is just, I'll spend a lot more time at home than I ever have.”
“And not only that I needed to, but I wanted to,” he later added. “And sometimes in this business, what you want takes a back seat, at times, to what other people tell you you need to do. And I'm taking more control over what I want to do.”
Christie sat down with Sawyer in his first television interview since January’s George Washington bridge scandal, during which it was discovered that two members of Christie’s staff were involved in lane closures that led to major traffic delays in a New Jersey town. The interview came as a law firm retained by the Christie administration released a report exonerating the governor of any wrongdoing.
The governor said his family’s concern for his well-being during the last several months, which he described as “the toughest time” of his professional life, has been a crucial source of personal support.
“I think you realize that what your family cares about more than anything else is your father, your husband gonna be all right through all this,” he said. “And what can we do to support you. That's what I really found here. That they were all concerned about me.”
He told the story of his oldest son asking whether he had any involvement in the lane closures.
“Right after it happened, our oldest son was home on break and he asked me, ‘Did you do this?’” Christie recalled. “It was a tough question that your son would ask you. And I said, ‘No, I didn't.’ And he said, ‘Good. I'm glad.’”
Christie also talked about a day, early on in the scandal’s revelations, when he welled up with tears during a meeting with staff.
“At that point, you don't know who to trust,” he said. “Two weeks earlier, a member of my senior staff would look me directly in the eye and lied to me. And so I said to all of them … ‘If anybody else knows anything about this or had anything to do with this, you have to tell me now 'cause I can't go through this again.’ And that was the moment where I felt particularly emotional. And they all assured me that they didn't. And fortunately, now, ten weeks later, with this report, I'm convinced that they didn't.”
For more of the interview with Christie, including why he said he’s on the back nine in his life, check out this episode of “Power Players” and watch “ World News with Diane Sawyer.”