Gov. Christie skewered by Bridgegate defendant’s lawyer during closing arguments

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NEW JERSEY —The lawyer for Bridgegate defendant Bridget Kelly made Gov. Chris Christie the central theme of his closing argument on Monday morning, calling him a "coward" who made a scapegoat of one of his closest aides.

In a very passionate presentation in which he shouted at times, and whispered at others, attorney Michael Critchley argued that if Kelly were guilty, Gov. Christie would have testified in the case and said so.

Having not been called by the prosecution to testify, Critchley used a wide variety of rhetorical maneuvers to get the jury to see Ms. Kelly as an innocent victim.

"Where's Christie?" he asked the jurors, and referred both to the governor and his innermost circle of advisors. "They want that mother of four to take the fall for them," he said, pointing at Kelly.

At another stage in his argument, Critchley cupped his hands and yelled, "Chris Christie, where are you?"

"Cowards," he added, referring to Christie and his campaign manager, communications director and other senior advisors who never took he stand. It would end up being one of numerous times he referred to the governor in that way.

He also said that Christie and his inner circle had made his client a scapegoat in the September 2013 traffic debacle. David Wildstein, former senior executive at the Port Authority, which operates the George Washington Bridge, has admitted to orchestrating a four days-long traffic backup as a form of retaliation against the mayor of Ft. Lee not having endorsed Chris Christie for re-election at the time.

Wildstein is a high school classmate of Christie.

Kelly's attorney deftly made yet another attempt to disassociate his client from Christie.

He showed an image of the governor and Wildstein side by side, and described Christie as having "unbridled ambition" and Wildstein as being "a maniac."

"Where's Bridget Kelly" in all this, Critchley asked. "She's left holding that dripping bag of you-know-what."

Kelly is on trial on fraud, conspiracy and civil rights violation felony charges.

Being tried with her is her co-defendant, Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority.

Both face similar charges, which carry a sentence of up to 20 years.

Kelly wrote the infamous "Time for some traffic problems" email to Wildstein a month prior to the traffic backups.

She also wrote another email after the traffic tie-ups began, that asked, "Is it wrong that I am smiling," after the shutdown to bridge access started, on the first day of school in 2013.

Prosecutor Vikas Khanna pointed those facts out to the jury in a way that almost rivaled some of the dramatic flourishes of Critchley.

"Smiling at school children being stuck in traffic! That's her response," Khanna shouted. "Don't let them whitewash it."

"Not only did they execute this scheme," he told the jurors, "they delighted in it."

Christie, meanwhile, insists that he didn't know about the plan to alter traffic patterns on the Jersey side of the bridge until well after it had happened. Testimony at trial repeatedly and directly contradicts that.

On Monday afternoon, jurors deliberated for about an hour before being granted their request to break for the day.

They'll reconvene on Tuesday morning.

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