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Christie praises Bill Stepien years after driving him out amid a bridge scandal

“I’ve never seen anyone in politics work as hard as Bill Stepien,” said Christie. “One of the things I said in the wake of his appointment is that there won’t be a detail that will fall through the cracks if Bill Stepien is in charge.”

Christie’s warm approval of Stepien was in stark contrast to his assessment of Stepien in 2014, when the former New Jersey governor became embroiled in a political scandal involving the lanes on the George Washington Bridge connecting Fort Lee, New Jersey to New York, were closed. City. The lane closures were orchestrated by members of Christie’s administration, addressed to the mayor of Fort Lee, who had refused to endorse Christie’s reelection in 2013.

“I was disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude of insensitive indifference echoed in the emails of my former campaign leader, Bill Stepien,” Christie said in a press conference on Bridgegate in 2014. “And when I read that, I lost faith in Bill’s judgment. And you can’t have someone at the top of your political operation that you don’t trust. ‘

Stepien was expelled from Christie’s team as a result of the controversy. He had told Christie that he knew nothing about the lane closures on the bridge, a claim that later emerged in emails that Stepien made fun of Fort Lee and the traffic jams caused by the bridge plan.

Nonetheless, Stepien managed to make his way back through the ranks of Republican politics, as a field director role in the 2016 Trump campaign and later as Trump’s political director in 2017.

In mid-July, Stepien was selected to lead Trump’s reelection effort in place of Brad Parscale, who continues to lead the campaign for his digital operation. Christie told the Washington Post on Friday that he credits Stepien for Trump’s disrupted 2016 victory and supported his former assistant to do it again in November.

“I think the president bought one and a half or two points in all these important states by leading Bill Stepien,” said Christie.

Christie also gushed about Stepien’s work ethic.

“He will work 18 hours a day, he will inspire those around him to work almost as hard,” Christie told the Washington Post.