August 10, 2016
Text messages from a former aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, presented Wednesday in a court filing, reveal that at least one member of his staff was alarmed by the statements of innocence he made during a December 2013 news conference on the George Washington Bridge lane closures.
Christine Renna worked in the office of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff who was fired in 2014 and later indicted on nine charges in connection to the scandal.
In a text message to Pete Sheridan, a staffer on Christie's re-election campaign, Renna allegedly implicated a campaign strategist and senior administration officials in the lane closures, according to NorthJersey.com.
“Are you listening? He just flat out lied about senior staff and (former deputy chief of staff Bill) Stepien not being involved,” Renna wrote on Dec. 13, 2013, per Wednesday's court filing. "He lied. And if emails are found with the subpoena of (campaign) emails are uncovered in discovery if it come to that it could be bad.”
The text appears to be in response to Christie telling a reporter that Bill Stepian assured him he did not have any knowledge of the lane closures.
Stepian managed both of Christie's gubernatorial campaigns and had been chosen by Christie to be state party chairman in January 2013 before the governor abruptly changed course, announcing he had lost confidence in him. Investigators later determined that Stepian had been in a romantic relationship with Kelly, his eventual replacement.
Kelly has maintained her innocence throughout the unfolding scandal and the indictment in May of two other officials, former Port Authority Deputy Director Bill Baroni and Christie ally David Wildstein. Wednesday's court filings, meanwhile, were presented by Baroni's attorneys, according to The Wall Street Journal. Wildstein pleaded guilty in May to two counts of conspiracy in connection to the lane closures.
As the September trial date approaches, both defendants have challenged the admissibility of various text message exchanges along with a list of alleged co-conspirators and visual evidence showing the effects of the lane closures. Information from Christie's own cellphone has also been a point of contention after a subpoena from the defendants requested certain materials from the governor that they claim contain evidence pertinent to the case.
Christie returned Wednesday for another appearance on WFAN's "Boomer and Carton Show," a sports broadcast on which he is a semi-regular guest. Throughout the Bridgegate investigation, he has denied any wrongdoing and even asserted that the closures — an alleged act of retaliation against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for refusing to endorse Christie's re-election bid — are not a stain on his record.