The indictment alleges that Kelly worked with Baroni, Wildstein and "others" to punish the town's Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, because he refused to endorse the Republican governor for reelection.
"They lied to put their plans into action and lied to get away with it", Khanna said.
Prosecutors say the two caused traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge that plunged Fort Lee into four days of gridlock.
In U.S. Federal Court yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna, arguing on behalf of the state, said that Christie knew about the closing of commuter lanes at the mouth of the George Washington Bridge in the fall of 2013 as they were happening.
Ironically, there was little doubt that Christie was going to win re-election to the state House. (The governor, who spent yesterday responding to the apprehension of the Chelsea bombing suspect in Linden, did not offer any comment beyond his previous statements, which maintain that he does not recall discussing the traffic jam or Sokolich with Wildstein.) In his opening argument, Michael Critchley, Kelly's defense attorney, sought to assign responsibility upward, projecting a large diagram called, "The Inner Circle", with Christie at the center of it. The mother of four going through a divorce at the time of the email was juggling lower-level duties - ordering food for events and scheduling meetings at the governor's mansion.
It's been a few years since the brouhaha over the George Washington Bridge's lane closures rocked the Christie administration. "They wanted to throw her under the presidential bus". The defense attacked Wildstein's credibility as a witness, calling him vindictive and a liar, the Associated Press reported.
"Certainly both sides, both the defense and the prosecution, seem to be putting the Governor's Office and perhaps the governor smack in the middle of all of this", said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, who observed the trial's opening day from the courtroom.
Even if he never takes the stand, it's another hard issue for Chris Christie, who was a candidate for the Republican nomination for president this year before dropping out in February and endorsing his longtime friend Donald Trump.
"He said he had one constituent - Chris Christie", Critchley said. Arrayed around the governor were six men - including Wildstein. She also noted that it would contradict the "Mastro Report", a taxpayer-funded investigation conducted by the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in 2014 that cleared Christie of wrongdoing in the controversy.
That official, David Wildstein, pleaded guilty in 2015 and will be the government's key witness. Baroni and David Wildstein, two of Christie's top appointees at the Port Authority, allegedly gave the governor an update while at a World Trade Center memorial service.
Baroni is a former Port Authority executive.
He was said to having stolen Frank Lautenberg's jacket at a 1982 U.S. Senate debate and took it home as a trophy. The callous emails and texts, including one saying it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" - and not "time for a traffic study", Khanna said.
Much of Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna's opening statement was familiar, at least to those who closely followed the legislative investigation and the federal charges announced nearly a year and a half ago. As the scandal began to bubble up, it took months for either governor to be questioned about it.
In the government's opening, Khanna described how crushing gridlock engulfed Fort Lee on four days beginning September 9, 2013, and how the defendants ignored Sokolich's texts, emails and voicemails seeking help.
Kelly's attorney Michael Critchley told jurors the government "went after a whale and caught a minnow". You know who is involved at that point in time?
"This is not a Chris Christie investigation,"Assemblyman John Wisniewski had said in a statement". They rattled off a list of names others have used to label the operative, including "bizarre", a "miserable prick", and an "asshole". He has claimed in the past that evidence exists showing Christie was aware of the scheme. "I've been more open about this than anybody in public life".
"I have known and liked Chris for 15 years", Trump said in a statement to The New York Times.
"Phone calls don't happen in a vacuum", Baldassare told the jury. He could still run for president again one day - but that may only be because there aren't video cameras allowed in the courtroom to capture some of this testimony.