Defense calls Christie a coward


Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J.

A defense attorney thundered in closing arguments Monday in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial that Gov. Chris Christie and his inner circle were “cowards” for not testifying against a former staffer on trial for using gridlock for political retaliation.

In an emotional presentation that lasted more than two hours, Michael Critchley cast client Bridget Kelly as a single mother faced with an administration more concerned with keeping Christie’s nascent presidential hopes alive than with exposing the truth when details of the scandal surfaced three years ago.

In a rebuttal summation, a prosecutor urged jurors to ignore the insinuations about Christie and others and focus on the evidence against the two defendants, which he called “devastating.”

Jurors were given the case late Monday afternoon and left for the day after brief deliberations. They are scheduled to resume today.

Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, a former executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were named in a nine-count indictment in 2015 on charges they schemed to punish the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie. They face up to 20 years in prison on the most serious counts.

The scandal involving the nation’s busiest bridge, which connects Fort Lee and Manhattan, unfolded at a time when Christie was on the brink of a runaway re-election victory and was considered a top Republican presidential contender.

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