TRANSPORTATION

Murphy maintains timeline, pledges cooperation in Brennan rape case

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

At the Trenton Transit Center, Gov. Phil Murphy held a wide open press conference on the Katie Brennan rape case. She alleges that a fellow Murphy administration official raped her a year ago. The governor was asked whether he still maintains that he first learned about this matter on Oct. 2, just as The Wall Street Journal was about to publish its story.

“Not only do I maintain it, it is unequivocally the case. It is the truth,” Murphy said. “I did not know the specifics of what had happened to Katie until, I believe, Oct. 2, so that is a fact. Secondly, when she reached out and mentioned that there was a matter that related to the campaign, it was a natural act for me to forward that to not only my counsel in the Governor’s Office, Matt Platkin, but also to John Berkon, who was campaign counsel. That was a fairly natural, easy, logical step for me to take. I will say that I only found out about exactly what happened to her, the awful tragedy to her, which obviously made me sick and continues to this day, and obviously we’ve put in place some investigations, some processes, to try and figure out what the heck happened.”

The legislature is holding hearings into the Katie Brennan case. Murphy was asked whether if they call him to testify he would do so and allow others in his office to do the same.

“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals, but there’s some notion out there in some corners, which I just want to address head on, that we’re not cooperating, that is completely, 1,000 percent false. I’m not going to say to you all publicly what is not the case privately, and that is that we respect the process that the legislators have put in place. We have to call balls and strikes, and it must be solutions focused and not political. And as long as it is, count us in. Secondly, its got to be the whole of government approach, not just one piece of government. And thirdly, its got to be what we are passionate about, and that is survivor-centric. So as long as it’s solutions focused, whole of government, and as we are, survivor-centric, you should assume that they will have extraordinary cooperation, as they have had already and will continue to,” Murphy said.

During Tuesday’s testimony, it was brought out that while Murphy was in the dark, at least six others in the executive branch knew about Brennan’s allegation against Al Alvarez. Murphy was asked Wednesday whether he should have been told earlier.

“I have no reason to believe, based on my standing here today, that folks didn’t do anything other than to adhere to their legal, ethical obligations given the rules of the road as they’re written — things like maintaining confidence, things like that. I have no reason to believe otherwise. But I would say with equal force, number one we have an investigation which is unencumbered by any limitation, is to figure out what the heck happened, so I’m very much looking forward to that. And secondly, even if they did adhere to what were obligations — legal, ethical or otherwise — we have to question ourselves and change the parameters, which is why we not only have an investigation underway, but we are also reviewing from top to bottom the rules and procedures that inform those obligations,” Murphy said.

Murphy came to the Trenton train station to announce some improvements to NJ Transit, including creating a new customer engagement unit. He said he is determined to get NJ Transit running smoothly, and he announced a new initiative called “Engage, Inform and Improve” aimed at customer communications.