Christie stands by friend who pleaded guilty in airline case

CLEVELAND – Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is standing by his friend and mentor who pleaded guilty last week to a bribery scheme involving the powerful transportation agency Christie appointed him to lead.

Christie said in Cleveland on Wednesday that David Samson is an “extraordinary person” and is his 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 he used his position to pressure United Airlines to reinstate a weekend flight between Newark and South Carolina, near his second home.

The Chicago-based airline ended the flight shortly after Samson resigned in early 2014.