This Sunday on Face The Nation, host Major Garrett had on both former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Democratic New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is heading up the investigation into New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s involvement in Bridgegate. They were on for separate segments, with Giuliani appearing first.
During the interview with Giuliani, Garrett focused much of the time on Christie’s investigation and the recent revelation that former Port Authority official David Wildstein and his lawyer are willing to come forth with evidence implicating Christie. Below are excerpts from that interview:
MAJOR GARRETT: Now, David Wildstein’s attorney says there is evidence that Governor Christie knew more than he has disclosed and knew earlier than he’s disclosed. Not thinking about this politically, but thinking about it as your former role as a U.S. Attorney, does this strike you as legally significant?
RUDY GIULIANI: Well, no, it isn’t. I think the Times kind of acknowledged that when they kind of pulled back on the story. I mean, they first played it as a big bombshell evidence. Here’s what it is. It’s an offer from a guy who says he has evidence, hasn’t given the evidence yet. However, you have to take that into context.
This is a lawyer who’s writing for a man who wants somebody else to pay his legal bills and he can’t get them paid unless the governor is responsible. And he’s a guy that’s seeking immunity. You factor all those things in– well, first of all it’s not evidence. It’s the suggestion, the tantalizing suggestion, that there may be evidence.
And then you’ve got at least two big credibility issues with it. So my advice to everyone would be, instead of overplaying it as a bombshell which the Times did and then had to back off, I would say put this in context. This is a long investigation. It’s going to take a while. There’s going to be stuff like this that just jumps out and everybody’s going to exaggerate. They’re going to have to back off.
The governor has denied it. So far, there’s no evidence to suggest that he’s not telling the truth. I think the governor knows the consequences. If he’s lying, it’s a really bad situation. If he’s not lying, then something very unfair is being done to him. So let’s see what happens.
Later, after Giuliani stated that Christie should not resign his post as chair of the RGA and skirted around whether the governor should face impeachment, Giuliani stated that he felt the investigation was nothing more than a ‘pile on.’
MAJOR GARRETT: What I hear you saying, Mr. Mayor, is that you believe this is something of a political opposition witch hunt against the governor. Is that what you’re saying?
RUDY GIULIANI: I believe two things, Major. First of all, I think there’s a real incident that was unfortunate and bad and the governor apologized for that. I don’t want the minimize that. But what I’m saying is, you take that real incident and now you’ve got pile on.
You have a Democratic legislature with a guy who’d like to be governor, who very, very oddly announces at the beginning he doesn’t believe the governor. And no Democrat in the state sees that it’s odd that he should be running an investigation when he’s already announced that he knows the answer that none of us know the answer to. He knows the answer the governor is lying. He should not be running that investigation.
Immediately after Giuliani’s sit-down, Garrett brought on Wisniewski and asked him to react to Giuliani’s statements. Wisniewski wasted no time in tearing the former mayor to shreds.
MAJOR GARRETT: React to Mayor Giuliani. He says you have prejudged this investigation and are unfit and lack credibility.
JOHN WISNIEWSKI : He’s prejudged everything that’s been said. What I’ve said is I have skepticism about the governor’s statement. I haven’t said that the governor has responsibility for this. I haven’t said that the governor knew when this was happening. That’s something Mr. Wildstein said. We’ve I’ve said is the governor made a statement about when he knew, and I said that I have my doubts about that timeline. He could’ve known at any time, but I have my doubts about what he said.
Also, later on in the interview, Wisniewski pointed out that any discussion of impeachment is premature. While his committee will be receiving more information on Monday, he needs to see everything first before making any definitive statements.
MAJOR GARRETT: Impeachment, resignation– what do those words mean to you in the context of your investigation?
JOHN WISNIEWSKI: One word, premature. There’s a lot of talk about that. People are asking the hypotheticals. We don’t have enough facts to even get to that conversation. We need to get all the facts on the table. We need to make decisions about who knew what when. And when that’s done, maybe it might be appropriate at that time to have that conversation. But clearly we’re way ahead of that right now.
The most interesting part of the two interviews to me was the total contrast between Giuliani and Wisniewski. Giuliani came off like the typical GOP operative, making claims of a partisan witch hunt and overall blaming Democrats for all of Christie’s problems. On the other hand, Wisniewski came across as the adult in the room, relying on facts and calmly and easily dismissing Giuliani as the fool that he is.
The fact is, Chris Christie is in legitimately real trouble. Not only are his hopes of making a run at President going down the drain, but he may lose his job as New Jersey Governor. Many of his administration’s offices and personnel have to provide copies of all communications to the state’s attorney’s office this week, which is what Wisniewski was referring to in his interview. Combine that with the possible evidence against Christie that Wildstein is willing to release, and Christie is looking at the potential end of his political career. No amount of spin from guys like Giuliani is going to change that.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).