In addition to clearing Chris Christie of all wrongdoing in the George Washington Bridge Scandal, the report the governor himself commissioned from his friends at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher took special care to thoroughly embarrass his former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly. Trapped firmly under the proverbial bus since the scandal broke, Kelly, who sent the infamous “Time for traffic problems in Fort Lee,” was named as the guilty party, along with former Port Authority official David Wildstein and ex-campaign-manager Bill Stepien, but only Kelly “seemed emotional.”
Christie’s emotions also factor into the report, released yesterday, but when he was “welling up with tears,” it was proof he had no idea about the revenge plot to shut down the bridge lanes.
Kelly, on the other hand, was “habitually concerned about how she was perceived by the governor” and “events in her personal life” — like her “personal relationship” with Stepien — “may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind,” according to the findings.
The New York Times reports today that the lawyers’ findings “double down on a strategy of portraying Ms. Kelly as duplicitous, weeping frequently and dependent on men for approval and stability.”
Ms. Kelly’s friends also said that they were struck by what they felt was a gender bias in the report, noting that the personal language describing Ms. Kelly is not used to describe David Wildstein, even though he is pegged as her co-conspirator.
“Maybe that’s what’s making me so angry,” State Senator Loretta Weinberg, whose legislative committee is also investigating Bridgegate, told the Daily Beast. “They’re talking about ‘a personal relationship’ and they put in the report that Mr. Stepien was the one who ended it — how do they know that? How do they know that? And was that done to add to the credence that this was some crazy woman, some woman who is no longer in control of her emotions?”
Stepien’s lawyer, in the pair’s defense, added, “The report’s inclusion of a gratuitous reference to Mr. Stepien’s brief dating relationship with Bridget Anne Kelly — which began after he left the Governor’s office, ended before the lane closure debacle began, and took place at a time when both he and Ms. Kelly were single — is a regrettable distraction that has no place in this report. Predictably, that has become a tabloid headline, masking the injustice done to Mr. Stepien and distracting the public from those aspects of the report that would otherwise have commanded its attention.”
At a marathon press conference this afternoon, his first since January, Christie said, “I think the report will stand the test of time.”