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Bridgegate Report Author Denies Sexist Treatment Of Bridget Kelly

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Pool via Getty Images
Pool via Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- The lead lawyer behind the Bridgegate report that cleared New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) defended his work Sunday against accusations of a conflict of interest and sexist treatment of Christie's former aide Bridget Kelly.

On Thursday, Randy Mastro, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner at the law firm Gibson Dunn, released a report finding that Christie had not been involved in the Bridgegate scandal, which shut down two of Fort Lee, N.J.'s access lanes to the George Washington Bridge from Sept. 9 to the morning of Sept. 12 last year.

Mastro and his firm were hired by Christie, however, to conduct their review. The report also provided an incomplete picture of the events that took place, since the three individuals at the center of the controversy -- former Christie Deputy Chief of Staff Kelly, former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official David Wildstein and former Christie top adviser Bill Stepien -- all refused to cooperate and give their versions of what happened.

Kelly received especially harsh treatment in the Gibson Dunn report, which has been criticized for its sexist undertones. It said she became an "emotional" train wreck after Stepien, with whom she was reportedly involved, allegedly broke up with her. It also said she cries frequently and relies on men for approval.

Kelly's lawyer said the report contained "venomous, gratuitous, and inappropriate sexist remarks."

In an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Mastro denied those characterizations.

"We treated both David Wildstein and Bridget Kelly exactly the same," he said. "They deserved the assessment that we gave both of them about their personal conduct and about their actions, exactly the same way because they violated the public trust. And that's what the evidence showed. ... All of it relevant to not only their consciousness and guilt, but their culpability."

But even one of Kelly's critics, New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D) -- who is co-chair of a New Jersey legislative committee investigating Bridgegate -- said on Sunday that the report's language was unacceptable.

"How did they know who broke up a personal relationship?" asked Weinberg in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press." "That gratuitous, sexist language in that report is infuriating, and anybody who put their name on that report should be ashamed of themselves."

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who also appeared on the show, was less critical of the report's treatment of Kelly.

"I think the mention of it, as I could tell, seemed relevant to the fact that the two people [Kelly and Stepien] might not be communicating," he said, adding, "They had to explain why they weren't communicating."

Christie's choice of Mastro to conduct the review also came under fire for creating a potential conflict of interest. Mastro had been representing the Port Authority in unrelated litigation; he withdrew from that case in February.

Mastro denied any conflict of interest on Sunday in his ABC interview.

"Let me be clear," he said. "We've had no incentive at our law firm to do anything other than to get to the truth. We will be judged at the end of the day by whether we got it right, and ... we believe we got it right. We had to work harder to get it right."

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