Two of the top aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were involved in a “personal relationship” in the months before the lane closures onto the George Washington Bridge turned into a national headache for Christie, according to a new internal report released by Christie’s lawyers.
According to the report, former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien, Christie’s former campaign manager, became “personally involved” shortly after Stepien left Christie’s office to head his campaign last April. The report, which was prepared by Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher LLP, goes on to say that the personal relationship had “cooled” by August 2013, the same month the lane closures were ordered.
Here’s the relevant section from the report:
Kelly had become Deputy Chief of Staff, assuming the post left vacant by her predecessor, Stepien, who had departed in April 2013 to run the Governor’s re-election campaign. Because Stepien was her “benefactor,” Kelly relied heavily on him during this transition. And at some point after Stepien’s departure to run the campaign, Kelly and Stepien became personally involved, although, by early August 2013, their personal relationship had cooled, apparently at Stepien’s choice, and they largely stopped speaking.
On Aug. 13, 2013, Kelly sent a now-infamous email to former Port Authority Director of Interstate Capital Projects David Wildstein, a Christie ally: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
The report suggests that events in Kelly’s personal life “may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind.” The report goes on to note those events, including the “cooling” of the relationship between Kelly and Stepien.
“Indeed, that fact may have affected how Kelly and Stepien conducted themselves and whether they communicated about the lane realignment,” the report says.
“Finally, Kelly’s invocation of the Fifth Amendment rights in refusing to provide documents in response to a lawfully issued subpoena leads to a reasonable inference that her motives and actions here were, in whole or in part, improper. Such an inference corroborates the significant evidence described above.”
The Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher report concluded Christie played no role in the lane closures. It also said Kelly was the only member of his staff to be personally involved in the lane closures. Lawyer Randy Mastro, who heads the firm, said at a press conference that the report “vindicates” Christie.
You can read the full report below:
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