NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — There were tears in the courtroom Thursday as a key witness took the stand in the Bridgegate trial.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, the person at the center of the testimony Thursday was Christina Renna, a former aide to Gov. Chris Christie. She walked out of U.S. District Court in Newark after three hours on the stand, looking back on what happened.
Back on Dec. 13, 2013, Christie gave a lengthy news conference on the issue of the lane closures from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge, where he denied knowing anything about the closures and said his staff was not involved.
At the news conference, Christie said he had “made it very clear to everybody on my senior staff that if anyone had any knowledge about this that they needed to come forward to me and tell me about it, and they’ve all assured me that they don’t.”
During that news conference, Renna sent a text message to Peter Sheridan, who was working on Christie’s re-election campaign. The text read, “He just flat out lied.”
On Thursday, Renna corrected what she meant in the comment. She said she had no knowledge that Christie knew of the lane realignment, but she knew Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly was aware of it.
On the last day of the traffic jams, Renna sent Kelly an email detailing a message from democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, which stated that the mayor believed the lanes were closed as “political retribution.”
Kelly allegedly responded, “Good.”
Less than a week later, Kelly’s infamous email from before the closures came to light. It read, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
The email was sent to Port Authority official David Wildstein and got out to the press. When Renna began testifying about the incident, Kelly started crying in court.
Kelly defense attorney Michael Critchley said that day was the worst of his client’s life.
“You know, that day, so you understand context, she actually thought she was having a nervous breakdown,” Critchley said. “Her children were being chased at school. Her mother was calling up. Everybody was crying; doesn’t know what is going on. And today when that was mentioned about that day, it just brought back all of those memories.”
Renna testified that in January 2014, Kelly called her and asked her to delete the email about Fort Lee. Renna said before doing so, she sent it to a personal email address.
Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, Christie’s top appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, deprivation of civil rights and fraudulently using an agency that receives federal funds. The most serious charge carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence.
Renna returns to the stand on Friday.
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