NEWARK, N.J. (CN) — Painting a monstrous picture of Gov. Chris Christie for jurors Friday, the former political aide indicted in New Jersey's bridge scandal said the governor was abusive and physically violent to work for — and that he signed off on the lane closures whose stain still plagues his office.
Bridget Anne Kelly's testimony this morning comes five weeks into her trial on lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that caused unprecedented traffic in nearby Fort Lee over four days in September 2013.
One former ally of the Republican governor, David Wildstein, has admitted that the lane closures were meant to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie's re-election.
Kelly has been on trial in Newark this month alongside Bill Baroni Jr., who had been Christie's top appointee to the public agency that runs the bridge, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Taking the stand this morning, Kelly told jurors that Christie learned about the lane shutdown a month in advance, from her, on Aug. 12.
"I was scared if I didn't tell him what would happen ... I would be blamed for something I didn't do," Kelly said.
The defendant cried several times throughout her testimony Friday, recalling various heated confrontations with the governor. Christie's spokesman has not yet returned a request for comment.
One outburst Kelly described occurred after a fire in Seaside Heights on Sept. 12, 2013.
The governor and others were set to meet with small-business owners affected by the disaster, and Kelly said she pitched an idea for Christie to open up a press conference and then give the floor to people who would discuss their plans for helping the community.
Enraged at the idea, according to Kelly's testimony, Christie chucked the bottle of water he was holding, hitting her with it in the arm.
"What do you think I am, a fucking game show host?" he roared, Kelly said.
That week had been a particularly difficult one for Christie, as it coincided with the four days of lane closures whose origins remain under scrutiny.
Christie does not face charges over the plot, but testimony challenging his stance on the scandal has grown by the day in the trial of Baroni and Kelly this past month and a half.
Kelly testified Friday that she first learned about the lane-closure plan in mid-June 2013 from Wildstein, who had been Christie's diligent enforcer at the Port Authority.
When Wildstein revisited the idea on Aug. 12, Kelly said, he gloated about having something "extraordinarily weird, even by my standards, to tell you."
Kelly said Wildstein told her that the Port Authority wanted to close two of the three lanes leading on to the George Washington Bridge reserved for Fort Lee as part of a traffic study.
As she understood it, the closed lanes would cause some back-up traffic in Fort Lee, but its net result would reduce congestion on the busy span connecting New Jersey to New York City.
Years of investigation into the plot later revealed the Port Authority's traffic study to be a cover-up. Wildstein admitted as part of his plea deal that he orchestrated the lane closures to make Mayor Sokolich in Fort Lee pay for slighting Christie.
Casting herself as unaware of the traffic study's true motive, Kelly said she relayed Wildstein's sanitized plan to Christie later on Aug. 12.