In the space of a few hours on Tuesday, a former member of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration went from raising questions about a report clearing Christie in the George Washington Bridge scandal to praising the work done by a legal team working for the governor’s office that put together that report.
Christina Renna was testifying Tuesday before the New Jersey legislative committee investigating the closing of Fort Lee, N.J.’s access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September. During the first portion of her testimony, Renna was asked by state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D), one of the committee’s co-chairs, about an interview conducted by lawyers from the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The firm had been hired to represent Christie’s office and do an internal review of the scandal.
In response to Weinberg’s questions, Renna said that she had problems with the way her language had been characterized in a summary of her interview that was later produced by Gibson Dunn.
Appearing to choose her words carefully, Renna said that there were “minor facts in my interview throughout it that are just, you know — there are some inaccuracies.” In particular, Renna said one part of the summary in particular had been “upsetting.” The portion described “mandatory directives” issued by the governor’s office regarding the treatment of certain New Jersey mayors. She said she would never have used a phrase like that.
Her lawyer, however, cut the questioning short, saying Renna had not been prepared to answer questions about the accuracy of the report.
But following a lunch break and several more hours of questions and answers, Renna was asked again about the Gibson Dunn report. This time it was by state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R), a longtime Christie ally. Renna responded and offered a much brighter assessment.
She repeated there had been a “few inaccuracies,” and again pointed in particular to the “mandatory directives” language. But she added that, overall, she was “pleased” with summary of her interview.
“Generally speaking I was pleased with the portrayal that Gibson Dunn laid out in my notes, I thought it was pretty well done,” Renna said. “There were some minor flaws that I pointed out earlier. … I was overall not unhappy with what Gibson Dunn did with the information I gave them.”
A former director of departmental relations in the governor’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, known as IGA, Renna worked under both Bill Stepien, who left the office in 2013 to run Christie’s re-election campaign, and Bridget Kelly, who succeeded Stepien and who is the administration figure most closely tied to the plan to close Fort Lee, N.J.’s access lanes to the bridge in September. At the top of her testimony on Tuesday, Renna read a statement saying that she had no knowledge of or involvement with the lane closures.