One of Gov. Chris Christie’s top aides took the Fifth on Monday, almost a month after being fired when emails showed she helped orchestrate an alleged political scheme to shutter one of the country’s busiest bridges.
Through a letter from her lawyer, former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly cited her rights against self-incrimination, and refused to hand over subpoenaed documents in the New Jersey legislature’s probe into the scandal.
“Moreover, providing the Committee with unfettered access to, among other things, Ms. Kelly’s personal diaries, calendars and all of her electronic devices amounts to an inappropriate and unlimited invasion of Ms. Kelly’s personal privacy and would also potentially reveal highly personal confidential communications completely unrelated to the reassignment of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge,” Kelly’s lawyer, Michael Critchley, writes.
Christie addressed the ongoing inquiries into the scandal during a radio show with constituents Monday, and stuck to his earlier claim that he had nothing to do with the September traffic jam.
“I had nothing to do with this,” he said. “No knowledge, no authorization, no planning, nothing.”
The Republican governor also acknowledged that his office had been subpoenaed by by the U.S. attorney’s office, and that his administration was cooperating with its inquiry.
Christie was appearing on “Ask the Governor,” a monthly event during which he takes questions from local New Jersey callers. It was the governor’s first public appearance since Friday, when an attorney for ex-Port Authority official David Wildstein claimed “evidence exists tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference.”
Christie’s administration is now the subject of several federal and state inquiries into the handling of the bridge scandal, as well as a separate controversy over allegations that the administration withheld hurricane relief aid. Twenty top Christie staffers and entities have been subpoenaed by the legislative committee investigating the lane closures, including Kelly. Another subpoenaed staffer from Christie’s office, Christina Genovese Renna, quietly quit on Friday.
Under questioning from New Jersey 101.5 News Director Eric Scott, Christie said that while he might have heard something about traffic near the George Washington Bridge, it clearly wasn’t memorable to him.
“Things could have been mentioned to me about traffic at any point of time,” he said. But the first time he learned that lanes had been closed, he said, was when the press reported on a leaked email from Port Authority executive director Pat Foye on Oct. 1.
“I still don’t know whether there was a traffic study,” said Christie. Some of his appointees allegedly used a “traffic study” as pretext for instigating the traffic jam.
Nearly all of the callers into the show asked Christie about matters unrelated to the bridge scandal, including issues on taxes and local education. The one exception was a woman identified as Carol, who asked why Christie hadn’t called the Port Authority when he heard about traffic.
“As soon as I was aware of the fact that there was a problem…I had my staff go find out what’s going on over at the Port Authority,” said Christie.