NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — We’re learning more about what a one-time aide to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says happened behind the the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal.
CBS2’s Kristine Johnson sat down with Kelly for an exclusive interview.
“I don’t understand how he can put his head on the pillow. He has four children… similar ages to mine… how does he look at them and think about saying goodbye to them to go to prison? He doesn’t have to,” said Kelly.
Kelly, however, will likely spend the next 13 months at the Alderson Federal Prison for her role in the Bridgegate scandal.
“Do they drive to West Virginia with me and let me off at the door? This isn’t like a doctor’s appointment. I’m going and not coming back for 13 months,” Kelly said.
A fact she blames on a misconstrued message. That’s something she says could happen to anyone.
“On August 13th, the infamous email,” Johnson said.
“Yes,” Kelly replied.
“‘It’s time for traffic problems in Fort Lee.’ On September 9th, that plan is executed,” Johnson said.
“Correct,” Kelly said.
“It’s those infamous eight words,” Johnson said.
“That will haunt me for the rest of my life, yes,” Kelly said.
“It doesn’t sound good, Bridget,” Johnson said.
“I know it doesn’t,” Kelly said.
“Considering these kids can’t get to their classrooms… people can’t get to work on time… . It’s September 11, people cannot get to the memorial on time,” Johnson said.
“If I had written ‘It’s time for a traffic study in Fort Lee,’ I wouldn’t have been going through what I’ve been going through for five and a half years, and if I could do it again, I’d rewrite it,” Kelly said.
“So in retrospect, when we see what took place over the course of those four days, that was not your intention?” Johnson asked.
“To cause traffic, no,” Kelly said.
She insists the message was meant only to greenlight a traffic study under the direction of David Wildstein, appointed to the Port Authority by Governor Christie. But she also admits to later deleting it.
“To me, it wasn’t evidence, it was… ‘This is going to read improper,” Kelly said.
“Bridget, what is the truth? Did the governor know about these lane closures and specifically, were they closed as political revenge?” Johnson asked.
“David Wildstein had told me this was going to be a traffic study,” Kelly said. “Whether there was malice and retribution and retaliation on anyone’s part, I was not a part of that.”
But she does say that Christie, despite his denials, knew about the so-called “study” and was on board with the plan from the very beginning.
“He basically said, ‘Let them do what they’re going to do,'” Kelly said.
“As you are watching all of this unfold, do you think to say ‘Hey, maybe we better do something?” Johnson asked. “There was also a public safety issue?”
“On September 11th, I did do that,” Kelly said. “I spoke to the governor about it and his exact words were ‘Let Wildstein handle it.'”
WEB EXTRA – CBS2’s Kristine Johnson takes you inside her interview with Bridget Kelly:
But it was more of Kelly’s words, sent in a text to David Wildstein a day earlier, that continued to raise concern. She wrote ‘Is it wrong that I am smiling?’ in response to a plea from Ft. Lee’s mayor calling the traffic “maddening.”
“There’s no room for being snarky, cute or anything in text messages or emails and if there’s one better lesson for my children, that’s it,” Kelly said.
“Do you feel at all responsible for any of this?” Johnson asked.
“I accept responsibility for my poor choice of words, that I absolutely understand that they were subject to interpretation by others but I don’t accept responsibility for anything to do with retribution… malice, none of that, not at all,” Kelly said.
“Do you owe the people of Fort Lee an apology?” asked Johnson.
“I believe that had I known the degree of issues there was going to be or problems, I would have asked more questions so absolutely, I’m not above that, I owe them an apology for my ignorance in not asking more questions,” Kelly said.
“If no one else is held responsible for this, can you let this go?” Johnson asked.
“I will never get over this. Not for what it’s done to me, not for what it’s done to my kids and my family and my friends,” Kelly said.
Christie responded to Kelly’s claims saying again that he had no knowledge of this scheme prior to or during the lane realignments and no credible evidence has ever been presented to contradict that.
Kelly has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.