Former aide takes back Christie ‘flat out lied’ comments
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A former staffer for Gov. Chris Christie said she had no direct knowledge of what the governor knew about the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal and that a text message she sent claiming the governor was lying was a bad choice of words.
A text message from Christina Renna that said Christie “flat out lied” when he denied his senior staff and campaign manager were involved was released as part of a legal filing in August. Christie disputed her story then and called it ridiculous.
He noted that it came from a defense lawyer and not someone under oath.
Under oath on Thursday, Renna said she made those comments based on information Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, told her. Kelly is one of two former aides on trial in the case.
“It was a poor choice of words. I had no knowledge of whether or not the governor was lying,” Renna said. “I knew personally what Governor Christie was saying seemed to contradict what I was just told.”
Kelly and co-defendant Bill Baroni are accused of orchestrating the September 2013 closing of access lanes to the bridge to create traffic jams in the city of Fort Lee to punish its Democratic mayor for not endorsing the Republican governor, prosecutors say.
The text exchange between Renna, Christie’s then-director of intergovernmental affairs, and Peter Sheridan, a staffer on his re-election campaign, came while Christie was telling reporters at a December 2013 news conference that no one in his office was involved in the lane closings.
Renna texted Sheridan that Christie “flat out lied” when he said his senior staff and his campaign manager weren’t involved.
According to the court filing, Sheridan texted Renna to say Christie was “doing fine. Holding his own up there.”
Renna responds with, “Yes. But he lied. And if emails are found with the subpoena or (campaign) emails are uncovered in discovery if it comes to that it could be bad.”
Christie, who is advising GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, wasn’t charged in the lane-closing scandal and has denied knowing anything about it.
David Wildstein, the government’s key witness, testified last month that he informed others in Christie’s inner circle about the conspiracy and that the governor was told about the ensuing traffic jams on the third of their four days. Christie also denies that.
Christie is among the list of people who could be called to testify in the case.
A spokesman for the governor wasn’t immediately available to comment Thursday.