A top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) texted a colleague that her boss “flat out lied” to the media in 2013 about knowing his senior staffers weren’t involved in the scandal surrounding lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, court documents show.
Transcripts of a text message exchange between the two Christie staffers, which was included in filings submitted Wednesday by lawyers for former Port Authority executive Bill Baroni, took place as Christie gave a Dec. 13, 2013 press conference about the so-called Bridgegate scandal.
Christina Renna, Christie’s director of intergovernmental affairs at the time, texted Peter Sheridan, then a staffer on the governor’s re-election campaign, that Christie “lied” by telling reporters that his staff and campaign manager had no knowledge of the politically-motivated scheme to close lanes to the bridge.
“Are you listening? He just flat out lied about senior staff and Stepien not being involved,” Renna wrote, referring to Christie’s former campaign manager, Bill Stepien.
“It could be bad” if emails to the contrary were found, Renna warned Sheridan.
The New Jersey governor, who has long maintained that he had no knowledge of the plot, disputed Renna’s claim.
“I absolutely dispute it. It’s ridiculous. It’s nothing new,” Christie told reporters Wednesday morning, according to the Associated Press. “There’s nothing new to talk about.”
Baroni, who was appointed to his Port Authority post by Christie, faces trial next month for allegedly helping orchestrate traffic jams on the Fort Lee, New Jersey side of the bridge in an act of political retribution against the town’s Democratic mayor for refusing to support Christie’s re-election effort. Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, was also indicted in the scheme. David Wildstein, another former Christie appointee at the Port Authority, struck a plea deal.
Baroni’s lawyers stated in the filing that Renna deleted the exchange after the New Jersey Legislature began issuing subpoenas and never told the legislature about the text messages.
Renna, who testified before a New Jersey legislative committee that she had no knowledge of or involvement in the lane closures, left Christie’s office in February 2014. Neither she, Sheridan or Stepien were directly implicated in the scandal.
This post has been updated.