WASHINGTON (AP) — Allies-turned-adversaries sat uncomfortably close to one another in the gallery at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to hear arguments in New Jersey's “Bridgegate” case.
Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie was among the spectators as the high court heard arguments on whether to throw out the convictions of two of his former aides in the affair involving traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 engineered for political retribution. The story mushroomed into a scandal that sank his popularity at home and helped torpedo his 2016 presidential aspirations.
Sitting directly behind him was his former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, who Christie fired and who was convicted in 2016 and sentenced to prison for her role in the mess. Codefendant Bill Baroni, a top Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who also was convicted, also attended. Kelly and Baroni say the government misapplied the law when it charged them.
A third defendant who pleaded guilty to orchestrating the plot, David Wildstein, wasn’t present.
Christie wasn’t charged, but several witnesses at the 2016 trial contradicted his account of when he knew about the plan to create traffic jams near the bridge to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, who had declined to endorse Christie's 2013 reelection.
Kelly authored the infamous “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email before the traffic lanes were realigned and four days of gridlock ensued.
Kelly and her attorneys haven’t been shy about accusing Christie and others in his administration of evading prosecution and throwing her under the bus.
“I had a career with people I thought I knew well, and they all decided to change the rules and change their stories and change the truth,” Kelly told The Associated Press last week.
Christie has said he always thought a crime was never committed and has criticized the prosecution as politically motivated.
Kelly didn’t speak to her former boss before, during or after the hourlong arguments Tuesday.
“We were seated in our seats and then he was given his seat,” she said outside court. “I guess he’s as honored as I am that this came to the Supreme Court. And he was honored to be able to sit in and listen to the arguments. You know, I’m glad he’s paying attention.”
Kelly said she and Christie also ended up on the same train from New Jersey on Monday night. Asked if seeing him made her uncomfortable, she said, “I hope he has a harder time seeing me than I have seeing him.”
Christie left court without talking to reporters. A message was left with his spokeswoman.