NEWARK – The attorney for Bridget Kelly, the former Governor Chris Christie aide currently on trial for her alleged involvement in the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, said during his opening statements that his client’s ability to control the governor’s administration was grossly overstated in order to wrongly implicate her in the scandal.
According to attorney Michael Critchley, Kelly’s role in the Christie administration mainly revolved around logistics and scheduling. Critchley also said that Kelly’s implication in the case was at the hands of David Wildstein, the Port Authority official who pleaded guilty to federal crimes in the bridge case earlier this year and is now working with prosecutors as a cooperating witness.
“The idea that Bridget Kelly could instruct David Wildstein to to do anything is absurd,” Critchley said, citing the fact that Kelly had only been Christie’s deputy chief of staff for three months at the time of the bridge closures.
Critchley referenced the widely-circulated email written by Kelly that has been at the center of much of the Bridgegate discussion. That email read “Time for traffic problems in Fort Lee.” According to the attorney, the email has been taken out of context due to Kelly’s high email volume and penchant for shorthand and quick responses. The attorney said that her word choice of “traffic problems” derived from previous information about the traffic study that caused the snarl. He said that Wildstein had told Kelly that there would be potential backups and traffic problems associated with the study. Critchley said she had just been repeating previously used language, not issuing instructions on how to proceed.
Kelly’s attorney also followed suit with Michael Baldassare—attorney for defendant Bill Baroni—and mentioned Christie directly in his opening statement. However, Critchley’s comments focused on Wildstein’s relationship to Christie. The attorney said that Kelly was thrown “under the presidential bus” by Wildstein as he orchestrated the bridge closures in order to curry favor with then likely presidential candidate Christie.
“Chris Christie gave this man power,” Critchley said. “He was tested. He failed.”
Kelly will testify at a later date of the trial. According to Critchley, will take the stand in order to correct untruths propagated by Wildstein.
“Bridget will get on the stand and tell the truth,” Critchley said. “They went hunting for a whale and settled for a minnow.”
The trail will reconvene on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. with the first witness.