NEWARK, N.J. (CN) — When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's staffer rose to the position in which she would be indicted, bitterness spread among her colleagues. Bridget Ann Kelly's defense attorney worked Friday to show jurors that this bitterness turned to sabotage.
Kelly has been on trial for three weeks, along with fellow Christie ally Bill Baroni, over the mysterious closing of two lanes of traffic leading to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013. Four days of gridlock traffic ensued with the city of Fort Lee able to use only one of its three lanes that connect the Garden State to New York City.
Prosecutors say Kelly and Baroni engineered the lane closures to get back at Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich after the Democrat had withdrawn his support of Republican Christie for re-election.
Kelly's defense attorney on Friday meanwhile painted his client as another victim of political retribution.
The court heard this morning that the governor blamed Kelly when the media learned in June 2013 that his own office had been making jabs at his weight.
That month late night host Jimmy Fallon had called the governor "Christie Creme doughnut," alluding to the popular pastry brand Krispy Kreme.
Interns with Christie's now-defunct Office of Intergovernmental Affairs were having a bake-off shortly thereafter. The intern who won the competition had doctored a box to mimic Krispy Kreme's memorable polka-dotted design, stamped "Christie Creme."
"Expanding nationwide in 2016," the box also said, alluding to Christie's aspirations of national office.
Christie's office had turned against Kelly months earlier, evidence showed Friday, shortly after Kelly's promotion to head of Christie's now-defunct Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
While cross-examining Christina Renna this morning, Kelly's former No. 2 at the IGA, defense attorney Michael Critchley read a series of text messages in which Renna talked about her hate of Kelly.
"Fuck them," Renna wrote at one point, referring to Kelly and her predecessor, Bill Stepien.
Stepien had chosen Kelly as his replacement when he transitioned from the IGA to Christie's campaign team.
Renna denied, however, that the text messages showed anything more than hurt feelings.
"I never hated Bridget," Renna said of Kelly.
"I was just angry," she also testified. "These are personal text messages, and I was just angry."
Critchley painted the witness to the jury as scheming and jealous, unhinged anytime someone got promoted over her.
One text shows Renna quoting her husband as saying that he wanted to assassinate Stepien for passing her over for promotion.
Renna's text messages with fellow Christie staffer Peter Sheridan have been a recurring theme of Bridgegate, long before the trial.
This past summer, attorneys unearthed a text message Renna sent Sheridan during a Dec. 13, 2013, press conference in which Christie denied knowledge of any involvement by his senior staff in the lane closures.
Renna told Sheridan at the time that Christie had "flat-out lied," but she recast this remark Thursday as speculation.
"That was a poor choice of words," Rena testified.
Critchley today showed the jury other poorly chosen words from the witness.
Upon learning in 2013 that the newly promoted Kelly was considering another staffer for her No. 2, Renna texted Sheridan that "was being fucked."
When trial began, attorneys often warned the courtroom about any profane language they were about to quote. Any pretense over the swear words has quickly fallen by the wayside.
Sheridan replied to Renna that he would ensure that other staffers at IGA turned their backs on Kelly.
"I will win," Sheridan said in the text.
Renna refused to adopt Critchley's characterization of the plan as "sabotage."
"That's your word, sir," Renna said.
Critchley pressed on that the text evinced a plot to sabotage Kelly.
"You can read it that way," Renna said, adding that she and Sheridan meant only that tey would turn their backs against Kelly.
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