Christie stands by Samson, calls actions ‘lapse in judgment’

CLEVELAND (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie is standing by the friend and mentor who pleaded guilty last week to a bribery scheme involving the powerful transportation agency Christie appointed him to lead.

Speaking to reporters in Cleveland on Wednesday, the Republican governor called David Samson an “extraordinary person” and said Samson was “my friend and always will be.”

Samson is a former New Jersey attorney general who headed Christie’s transition team in 2010. Christie appointed him chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2011.

Samson admitted last week that he used his position to pressure United Airlines to reinstate a weekend flight between Newark and South Carolina, near his second home. The airline ended the flight shortly after Samson resigned in early 2014.