NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A former aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that she twice told the governor about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge as they were occurring in September 2013.
Bridget Kelly is accused of plotting with two other former Christie allies to close lanes on the bridge as revenge against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee who wouldn’t endorse the Republican governor’s re-election effort. She is on trial along with former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive Bill Baroni.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, Kelly walked into U.S. District Court smiling, and left straight-faced, after her second day of the hot seat.
During testimony, she had to defend a text that read, “Is it wrong that I am smiling?”
It was sent during the second day of the traffic jams to former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official David Wildstein, after he alerted Kelly to a message from the Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. The email described maddening traffic that was delaying school buses due to Fort Lee lane closures to the George Washington Bridge.
Kelly also texted, “I feel bad for the kids.”
Wildstein replied, “They are children of Buono voters” – referring to Barbara Buono, Christie’s Democratic opponent in the 2013 governor’s race.
Kelly testified that she was not gloating, and that she was happy the traffic study was working the way Wildstein planned.
It was Kelly versus Christie on Monday. Her defense replayed a Dec. 2, 2013 news conference where Christie sarcastically said he moved the cones.
“I was the guy out there working the cones – you really are not serious with that question,” Christie said at the time.
That was the governor’s first public denial of knowing anything about the lane realignment, or the traffic study that Kelly said she believed it to be.
“It was like an alternate world,” Kelly said. “Nothing was making sense.”
That was because under oath, Kelly described three conversations she had with the governor about the lane closures and safety concerns. She said the governor told her each time to “let Wildstein handle it.”
Wildstein, a former Port Authority staffer, previously pleaded guilty in the case and is the prosecution’s key witness. The self-described mastermind of the plot, Wildstein has said the traffic study was just a cover story.
Kelly also testified Monday that she recalled Christie recounting a conversation with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in which Christie told Cuomo to tell Pat Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority in New York, to “stay the f**k out of it.”
Prosecutors on Monday began cross-examination focusing on Kelly’s prior role as head of “intergovernmental affairs.” It included recruiting Democratic officials to endorse Christie.
Christie has denied any knowledge of the lane closures and says anything to the contrary is untrue.
Kelly also testified Friday that Christie signed off on what she maintains was described to her as a traffic study. Christie’s spokesman denies that.
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