Christie attacks Clinton on emails

Story highlights

  • "Hillary Clinton doesn't want us to know what she's doing," says Christie
  • Hillary has been accused of mishandling emails as secretary of state
  • Christie has been accused of deleting texts and using private email during Bridgegate scandal

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN)On the campaign trail Saturday, it didn't take much time for Chris Christie to attack Hillary Clinton on her private email use.

"The real story is this -- I believe in my heart -- that Hillary Clinton doesn't want us to know what she's doing. She believes we don't have a right to know. When I'm president of the United States, you have a right to know what your president is doing, and we have the obligation to be held accountable for what we're doing," Christie said to around 130 voters gathered to hear him at a town hall event in Laconia, New Hampshire.
Christie spoke for around two hours and answered 13 questions. He told voters it was his 18th town hall in New Hampshire and contrasted his style of running with that of the Democratic frontrunner.
    "The worst thing about this is the arrogance of Mrs. Clinton -- that's the worst part of this. Here's a woman who won't answer questions," Christie said. "She's running for president of the United States. You think you'd see her in a room like this taking any question that comes up? No chance. She doesn't do that."
    Clinton's New Hampshire campaign has actually held several town halls with the candidate, but Christie has made the Q&A format a signature of his campaign. "Whenever there's been any questions raised about me as governor of New Jersey I stand up and I answer every question, that's what you need to do to be held accountable," he said Saturday.
    "If she mishandled classified information and obstructed justice, then she deserves to be prosecuted. She sure as hell doesn't deserve to be president of the United States," Christie said.
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    Christie also said recently that he would have been blasted in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal if he had done the same as Clinton, and wiped his server clean.
    "I had a private email account, but I didn't do my business on a private email account. She did everything on that account and then when she knows people are concerned about it, she gets the server cleaned," Christie said on CNN's "New Day."
    But some say Christie committed similar acts in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal.
    They point to Christie's own use of a private email account -- as well as the deletion of text messages -- during the height of the Bridgegate scandal in December of 2013.
    Emails from the governor, that were turned over to the New Jersey legislature in response to subpoenas about the bridge scandal, show Christie used a personal Yahoo account, said New Jersey Democratic Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, who led the investigation.
    Christie's private email use was revealed when the emails were first released earlier this year, but it has gained attention as the governor has used heightened rhetoric around Clinton's own email use.
    "This is the guy who's criticizing Hillary Clinton for using a private email account? That's exactly what he did. It's a case of the pot calling the kettle black," Wisniewski told CNN.
    According to Wisniewski, the set of emails discussed edits to a statement about the resignation of Port Authority official David Wildstein, who has since pleaded guilty to his involvement in lane closures affecting traffic over George Washington Bridge.
    When asked about the text messages earlier this week, Christie told CBS News his office wasn't under investigation at the time.
    "We have 12 missing text messages that were sent to me by someone when we weren't under investigation and didn't even know what was going on. Mrs. Clinton deleted emails when she was under subpoena. In my neck of the woods, we call that obstruction of justice," Christie said.
    Christie said on "Fox News Sunday" that he'd used a private email account for state government business only once -- and it was when an aide inadvertently sent an innocuous press release to the wrong account.
    "My press secretary sent it to my private email account I'm sure inadvertently and I responded to it," Christie said.
    "We cannot compare that can we? To someone having a private email server in the basement of their home? Where they did all the government business on a private email server in their basement," he said. "We can't compare that to having national security secrets."
    Wisniewski told CNN Saturday the text messages were sent while a state assembly panel on the lane closures was occurring and that Christie was well aware of the investigation at the time.
    "In his public statements, he maligned me and others for the investigation, so you can't have it both ways," Wisniewski told CNN.
    He added that Christie's criticism of Clinton is "off base" and shows that he is "trying to revive his failing presidential campaign." The latest polls from Quinnipiac University and CNN/ORC show the New Jersey governor with around 3-4% of the Republican vote and hovering around 10th place nationally.
    Christie's presidential campaign told CNN that the texts were deleted before the full extent of the scandal was known and that in January 2014, once it was clear there was an issue, all staff members were told not to delete or destroy any correspondence or documents.
    The campaign argues that Democrats are trying to distract from Clinton's flaws as a candidate and that Christie's email use is very different from Clinton's, due to the sensitive nature of her correspondence.
    Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for the governor's office, told CNN that there was no state law at the time that required the use of state email in official business.
    In early 2014 that policy changed and now requires state employees to maintain their records by using state issued email addresses.