A day after the release of a new report that sought to clear New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie of any wrongdoing in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, one of the key figures who the report largely blames for the episode fired back.
Lawyers for Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, called the report, done by a firm hired by Christie, incomplete, slammed its tone as “venomous,” and its commentary as”sexist.”
The attorney, Michael Critchley, wrote on Friday that the only probe into the scandal with credibility is the one ongoing by federal prosecutors and the FBI.
There “appear to be two distinct versions” of what happened at the bridge — Christie’s and one told by former Port Authority official David Wildstein, Critchley said. Kelly, he added, could set the record straight, so “a pre-emptive strike to isolate Ms. Kelly and impugn her credibility is not surprising.”
But the report lays the blame for the idea, execution and the days’ worth of crippling traffic the lane closures caused squarely on Kelly and Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the agency that runs the George Washington Bridge and other transit links between New Jersey and New York.
Kelly and Wildstein had some sort of “ulterior motive” and “animosity” toward the mayor of Fort Lee, and orchestrated as payback the unannounced closing two of the three local access lanes at the Fort Lee entrance to the bridge, according to the document.
Kelly was fired by Christie in January.
“I terminated her employment because she lied to me,” Christie said at a Jan. 9 news conference.
Here is the full statement by Kelly’s attorney, Michael Critchley, on her behalf:
Having reviewed the report of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LP as well as listened to the comments of Randy Mastro we note that by Mr. Mastro’s own admission he did not have access to all information. Of course without reviewing all pertinent evidence any conclusions that are to be drawn are by definition incomplete. The report’s venomous, gratuitous and inappropriate sexist remarks concerning Ms. Kelly have no place in what is alleged to be a professional and independent report.
There appear to be two distinct versions of the GWB lane closings. On the one hand, Mr. Wildstein, through his counsel, has taken one clear position. On the other hand, Mr. Mastro has staked a different view. Thus, Ms. Kelly’s evidence could be critical to verifying either of the two competing versions of events. A preemptive strike to isolate Ms. Kelly and impugn her credibility is not surprising. Despite Mr. Mastro’s editorialized comments to the contrary, Ms. Kelly is not a liar. She is a single mother of four children who was deeply devoted and committed to her job at the Office of the Governor. She worked tirelessly to pursue the goals of the Office during her tenure.
The only credible investigation into the lane closings is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office. If Ms. Kelly were provided with the appropriate procedural safeguards she will be fully cooperative and provide truthful and complete answers to any questions asked by the appropriate law enforcement authorities.