Ex-aide in text: Christie 'flat out lied' in bridge case

A former top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told a colleague in a text message that the Republican governor lied to reporters when he said his staffers knew nothing about the infamous George Washington Bridge scandal, according to court papers filed late Tuesday.

"Are you listening? He just flat out lied about senior staff and [former campaign manager Bill] Stepian not being involved," Christina Renna, wrote in a text message to campaign worker Peter Sheridan during the Dec. 13, 2013 press conference, when the so-called "Bridgegate" scandal was just beginning to unfold.

"I'm listening." Sheridan replied, later adding: "Gov is doing fine. Holding his own up there."

Renna fired back: “"Yes. But he lied. And if emails are found with the subpoena or [Christie’s election campaign] emails are uncovered in discovery if it comes to that it could be bad."

Christie on Wednesday denied that he lied.

"I absolutely dispute it. It's ridiculous. It's nothing new," Christie told reporters in New York City after appearing on a sports talk radio show Wednesday morning. "There's nothing new to talk about."

He also noted that the information came from a filing from a defense lawyer and wasn't from someone who was under oath.

A transcript of the text was submitted by attorneys representing Bill Baroni, who faces trial next month with Christie's ex-deputy chief of staff on charges they helped orchestrate the September 2013 lane closures.

The closures were meant to create traffic jams in the city of Fort Lee to punish its Democratic mayor for not endorsing the Republican governor, prosecutors say.

Christie, who is advising GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, wasn't charged in the lane-closing scandal and has denied knowing anything about it.

Stepien's lawyer, Kevin Marino, on Wednesday called the notion Stepien was involved "categorically false and irresponsible."

Renna's attorney, Henry Klingeman, said Wednesday his client "will answer questions publicly when she testifies at the upcoming trial, not before."

At the news conference in question, Christie said he had "made it very clear to everybody on my senior staff that if anyone had any knowledge about this that they needed to come forward to me and tell me about it, and they've all assured me that they don't."

Stepien was Renna's boss when she joined the office of intergovernmental affairs in 2010, Renna told a legislative committee in 2014. Christie's ex-deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, eventually took over for Stepien. The office was responsible for outreach to county and local officials.

Christie cut ties with Stepien in January 2014 after the nearly two-hour news conference in which the governor apologized for the lane closures but denied any knowledge of them or a cover-up.

Stepien, who is now executive director of a think-tank created by Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, has not been charged.

Baroni, a former high-ranking Christie appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey -- the agency that operates the bridge -- and Kelly are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and civil rights violations.

Former Port Authority official David Wildstein, a high school classmate of Christie's, has pleaded guilty and will testify for the government. Defense attorneys are expected to portray him as the driving force behind the scheme and the only one with the authority to effect the lane realignment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.