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Bridgegate’s 30 Pivotal Hours: How Kevin O’Dowd Missed The Signs

O’Dowd said he asked Kelly why she didn’t send him a copy of the memo when she received it, then asked Kelly again if she had knowledge of the lane closures, and she said no. He concluded, however, that contemporaneous knowledge of complaints about the lane closures was not the same as advance knowledge.

He also did not seem to pick up on the implication in the email that Renna was apologizing to Kelly for Ridley taking the call from Sokolich -- who was evidently persona non grata -- which should have been another indication of Kelly’s deeper involvement in the lane closures. Wisniewski asked O’Dowd if he ever sought to interview Renna or Ridley either that morning or later, and he said he never did.

O’Dowd recalled that Stepien was hanging around in the doorway to Kelly’s office during at least some of his questioning of Kelly, and furthermore, that Kelly acknowledged deleting some of her emails in violation of standard government retention policy. O’Dowd simply told Kelly to check her deleted email files because she could probably get the deleted emails back.

In fact, the night before, a panicked Kelly had deleted the one-word response she had sent to Renna on the Sokolich email – “Good” – and had called Renna to ask her to delete it from her files because it indicated her state of mind toward Sokolich. Renna deleted it from her government email, as requested by Kelly, but she kept a copy in her personal email, which she later shared with investigators.

O’Dowd took the memo on the Sokolich call in to Christie, who was just minutes away from the start of the press conference where he planned to announce Baroni’s resignation. Christie read the memo, evidently was satisfied by O’Dowd’s report on his interview with Kelly, and went out and announced to the media that none of his senior staff had any knowledge of the lane closures.

During the press conference, Kelly texted O’Dowd, who was standing 15 feet away, to ask if she should ask to meet with the governor. He said he didn’t reply to the text.

To Weinberg, O’Dowd’s failure to follow up on all of the clues indicating Kelly might have been involved in Bridgegate was just the latest example of “the curious lack of curiosity in this administration” and its disinterest in getting to the root causes of the Bridgegate lane closures.

She pointed out to O'Dowd that by the time of the December 12 press conference, Foye had written a memo charging that federal and state laws had been broken, Christie had been questioned about the issue at a gubernatorial debate, Weinberg had shown up at three Port Authority meetings demanding answers, Baroni and other Port Authority officials had been subpoenaed to testify before Wisniewski’s Assembly Transportation Committee, and Wildstein and Baroni had been forced to resign.

Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) said the failure of the Christie administration to get to the bottom of the scandal was particularly inexplicable, given that Christie, McKenna, and O’Dowd had a total of 31 years of experience in the U.S. Attorney’s Office between them.

“You would agree with me that you are a skilled prosecutor,” Gill demanded of Christie’s choice to serve as the next attorney general.

“I will agree with that,” O’Dowd replied.

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