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Christie ‘flat out lied’ in George Washington Bridge case, aide texted

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Traffic moved over the Hudson River and across the George Washington Bridge between New York City and Fort Lee, N.J.
Traffic moved over the Hudson River and across the George Washington Bridge between New York City and Fort Lee, N.J.John Moore

NEW YORK — Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey lied to reporters when he said he did not believe any senior member of his staff knew about the plot to block traffic to the George Washington Bridge, one of his aides told a colleague in a text message that was part of a court document filed Wednesday.

"Are you listening?" the aide, Christina Renna, texted a colleague. "He just flat out lied."

Renna added that if certain e-mails were discovered, "it could be bad."

According to a filing in US District Court in Newark, Renna sent those texts on Dec. 13, 2013, as Christie was fielding questions from reporters about his knowledge of the alleged scheme to tie up traffic three months earlier on the New Jersey side of the bridge. The filing was made by lawyers for Bill Baroni, who was Christie's top executive appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge.

Federal prosecutors contend that two lanes leading to the bridge were abruptly closed to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for declining to endorse Christie's bid for reelection. Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff to Christie, a Republican, are scheduled to stand trial in that case next month.

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Christie said he had been unaware of any plot at the time of the Dec. 13 news conference and had been assured by his staff members that they too were unaware. He said his campaign chief, Bill Stepien, had also vowed that he had no knowledge of such a plot.

"Oh, yeah, I've spoken to Mr. Stepien, who's the person in charge of the campaign, and he has assured me the same thing," Christie said during the news conference.

As soon as Renna heard that, she texted Peter Sheridan, a campaign worker: "He just flat out lied about senior staff and Stepien not being involved."

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Sheridan responded that Christie was "doing fine" and "holding his own up there," according to the filing.

Renna replied: "Yes. But he lied."

Christie, speaking to reporters Wednesday morning after appearing on a sports talk radio show, disputed Renna's claim, according to the Associated Press.

"I absolutely dispute it," he said. "It's ridiculous. It's nothing new. There's nothing new to talk about."

Henry Klingeman, a lawyer for Renna, said that "Ms. Renna will answer questions publicly when she testifies at the upcoming trial, not before."