On Friday, Bridget Anne Kelly, former Deputy Chief of Staff to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and author of the notorious “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email, took the stand in her own defense in the ongoing Bridgegate trial.
On the same day she wrote the infamous email, Kelly testified, she told the governor about the plan to conduct a traffic study on the bridge. Christie “really didn’t react” when she told him about the study, Kelly testified, other than to tell her to “make sure you run it by [Kevin] O’Dowd,” his chief of staff at the time. “He wanted to know what our relationship was and how are things with Mayor Sokolich,” she added. This was a month before the lane closures actually took place.
Kelly is accused of coordinating with Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, two former Port Authority officials, to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge as punishment against Sokolich, the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee who’d recently decided not to endorse Christie for re-election.
In her testimony, Kelly described the experience of working for Christie, who she described as prone to vulgarity and even violence. One day, not long after the lane closures, Kelly suggested that Christie introduce speakers at an event in Seaside Park following a fire. According to Kelly, Christie said: “What do you think I am a fucking game show host? And he threw the water bottle.”
Earlier on Friday, Mike DuHaime—a friend of Kelly’s and one of the governor’s closest political advisers—also testified. The Bergen Record reports:
In that testimony, DuHaime said he told Christie prior to a December 2013 news conference about Kelly and her former boss, Bill Stepien, having knowledge of the lane closures. Christie said at news conference that day that senior staff members did not appear to be involved in the lane closings.
But according to Kelly, Christie knew of the lane closures before they happened.
She said Wildstein, who has pleaded guilty to his role in the traffic plot, emailed her in August 2013, a month before the closures, of a plan to hold a joint event with Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The plan was that once the traffic jam was cleared, Kelly said, Christie could take credit for clearing it up and improving the lives of commuters.
“I thought it was a little crazy,” Kelly said. “He wanted signs. He wanted banners.”
Kelly said she told Christie of Wildstein’s plan.
“The governor said that’s typical Wildstein,” Kelly said.
Wildstein has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with federal investigators. Outside the federal courthouse in Newark on Thursday, Kelly’s attorney, Michael Critchley, said he would not rule out calling Christie to testify.