NEWARK, N.J. (CN) — Returning to the witness stand Monday after detailing a water-bottle attack and other abuses, the woman indicted over New Jersey's politically orchestrated 2013 traffic jam said Gov. Chris Christie lied to distance himself from the scandal.
"They were all lying," Bridget Anne Kelly said Monday.
Kelly had been a deputy chief of staff under Christie when two of the three lanes reserved for Fort Lee access to the George Washington Bridge were shut down for four days in September 2013.
Just before the lane closures caused hours of gridlock traffic for commuters, emergency vehicles and school buses, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich had declined to endorse Christie's 2013 re-election.
Continued focus on the lane closures soon prompted the resignations of two top Christie appointees to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — the bi-state agency that runs the busy bridge connecting the Garden State and New York City.
Christie insisted at a Dec. 13 press conference, however, that he was not aware of any involvement by senior staffers in his office with the political-retribution scheme.
Kelly, whose fraud trial enters its sixth week today, told the court Monday about the surreal lead-up to Christie's press conference.
She said Christie's chief-of-staff at the time, Kevin O'Dowd, called her on Dec. 12, asking what she knew about political retribution.
Christie made a similar demand an hour before his Dec. 13 press conference, in a meeting with senior staff.
"I was like, he knew about Fort Lee," Kelly said of Christie. "In that room there were several people who knew about Fort Lee."
"I was at that moment petrified ... nobody was remembering," Kelly continued, under direct examination by her attorney, Michael Critchley.
"They were all lying," she added. As the court has heard from countless sources, the lane closures that began on Sept. 9 sent Sokolich pleading to the Christie administration and the Port Authority for help.
The Democratic mayor never got a reply, but Kelly testified Monday that she relayed the mayor's cries to an unconcerned Christie.
"It's a Port Authority problem," Christie said, according to Kelly's testimony. "Let Wildstein handle it."
Kelly said today that this is what she relayed to O'Dowd when he called her on Dec. 12.
After the press conference, Kelly went to O'Dowd again.
She said she had deleted most of her emails by this point but still had one she forwarded to Wildstein, relaying complaints Sokolich had made about perceived political retribution.
O'Dowd at some point passed along Kelly's printout of this email to the governor, Kelly said.
She noted that the chief of staff never replied when she texted him later that day about what she should do next.
In her first day of testimony, 44-year-old Kelly had told the court she believed the lane closures were part of a legitimate traffic study. Kelly said Monday that she believed this because she trusted David Wildstein.
Several witnesses have spoken to the fact that Wildstein acted as Christie's enforcer at the Port Authority. Both Kelly and her co-defendant, Bill Baroni Jr., want the court to see them as the pawns of Wildstein, who pleaded guilty to his role in the plot last year.