Tags: | Chris Christie | George Washington Bridge | scandal | Bridget Kelly

Indicted Ex-Christie Aide Breaks Silence on Bridge-gate

By    |   Monday, 04 May 2015 12:48 PM

Bridget Anne Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff Gov. Chris Christie fired for "lying" to him about her alleged involvement in the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, is emerging as the person to watch in the long-lasting Bridge-gate scandal.

Kelly has stayed silent on the matter since the news about it broke in late 2013, reports Talking Points Memo, but she came out swinging on Friday after she was indicted along with Port Authority appointees Bill Baroni and David Wildstein.

Kelly and Baroni both pleaded not guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Newark on charges of conspiracy and fraud, but Wildstein on Friday pleaded guilty to two counts, admitting that he helped plot lane closures in Fort Lee on an approach to the world's busiest bridge as political payback against that community's Democratic mayor for failing to support Christie's re-election campaign.

"If David Wildstein was willing to repeatedly lie to settle a petty political grudge, nobody should be surprised at his eagerness to concoct any story that he thinks will help him stay out of federal prison," said Baroni's lawyer Michael Baldassarre. "We're confident that everyone will see this desperate ploy for exactly what this is."

Kelly did not mince words on Friday during her own press conference, also calling Wildstein a liar but denying that she is a liar. She was the person who sent the email saying that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," but said Friday that she will "no longer allow the lies that have been told about me in the George Washington Bridge issue to go unchallenged," and asserted that she was not guilty.

Further, she called assertions that she was the only person in Christie's office to be aware of the impending closures "ludicrous," and spoke out against claims in an internal investigation by Christie's office that found the governor was not responsible for the closures.

"I am not stupid, weepy, insecure, unqualified, or overwhelmed," Kelly retorted against some comments made about her in the report by her former colleagues.

She did say that she was not proud of the tone she used in her email or her attempt at humor with the damaging bridge closure email.

Her attorney, Michael Critchley, said Friday that his client has not been able to find a new job, and she is in danger of losing her home. His firm has set up a legal defense fund for her because of "the overwhelming interest from the public to assist and support [her] during this very difficult time."

New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski told MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" that he does not think Kelly acted alone.

"We all know how governors' offices work," the Democratic lawmaker said. "Bridget Kelly didn't wake up one morning and decide to close these lanes because she thought it would be a fun thing to do. Somebody gave her the authority, somebody gave her the direction to do this. We don't know who that is."

Wisniewski was the co-chair of a special investigative committee that held hearings on the incident, but did not uncover any evidence that Christie was involved and, on Friday, the U.S. Attorney's office did not pin blame on the governor, who is considering a run for the White House.

Port Authority Chairman John Degnan told The Associated Press that there's an opportunity to learn from the indictments, "if there's anything we missed that we should do ... I view the indictments as another step in the healing process, reformation process."

Degnan was appointed by Christie last year to replace former Chairman David Samson, who resigned after the scandal broke. Samson was not named in Friday's indictments but could still be charged through a separate investigation.

Degnan told the AP that his agency supports employees who come forward if they see any potential violations, which could have avoided the Bridge-gate scandal altogether.

The scandal has cost New Jersey residents about $10 million in legal costs, according to documents from the state Legislature and the Department of Law and Public Safety. Most of that money, about $7.3 million, went for Christie's outside counsel, the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which produced his internal report.

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Bridget Anne Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff Gov. Chris Christie fired for "lying" to him about her alleged involvement in the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, is emerging as the person to watch in the long-lasting Bridge-gate scandal.
Chris Christie, George Washington Bridge, scandal, Bridget Kelly
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2015-48-04
Monday, 04 May 2015 12:48 PM
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