Peter Russo's secretary and girlfriend
An attractive woman in her late twenties, Christina Gallagher was hired by Representative Peter Russo, a divorced father of two, sometime in 2012 to be his executive assistant. They soon began dating and within months she moved into his D.C. apartment. Despite hiding their office romance, the relationship didn't go unnoticed by the House Majority Whip Frank Underwood's Chief of Staff Doug Stamper.
As their private and professional lives overlapped, the two functioned in tandem at work when dealing with Russo's constituency and financial donors from the Pennsylvania's 1st congressional district. Well clued into the nature and tone of his meetings, Christina did her part when needed to get her boss/boyfriend out of a jam. In early January 2013, when Henry Chapman, whose company donated $50,000 to Russo's congressional campaign, came to berate the congressman about not delivering on the promise of changing the zoning laws after he got elected to the House, Christina placed an urgent call saying that President-elect Garrett Walker wants to speak, thus providing Russo with an opening to act out a conversation with the President that increased his credibility in Chapman's eyes.
Seemingly emotionally fragile and delicate, Christina occasionally displayed insecurity about the level of Peter's commitment as she coaxed him into showing her more affection, reasoning that "it's been six months, it's not an office fling anymore" and seeking to be reassured he's "not going to toss her aside for some slut straight out of Vassar". Though not aware of the gory details of Russo's various vices, Christina is a first hand witness of the effects of his alcoholism and cocaine intake that were only exacerbated by Underwood's and Stamper's manipulation of Russo after they got him out of his January 2013 DUI arrest with prostitute Rachel Posner. For that particular incident Christina was only told about the DUI part. A few weeks later on the morning of 24 January 2013, she witnessed him receiving a 1am phone call while they were getting ready to go to bed. Russo then ran out of the house, giving Christina an unconvincing explanation about having to discuss policy with a colleague from Congress, all of which made her visibly perturbed. Not knowing where he went, she was even more disturbed when he returned a day and a half later, showing up to work visibly high and hungover.
Managing to deal with her concerns over Russo's troubled behaviour, by March 2013 she was still very much intent on developing their relationship. Wanting to become a real couple that doesn't hide due to the boss-staffer relation, she felt it would be good idea for her to work somewhere else, initiating a job search around Capitol Hill and getting an offer from the office of the Speaker of the House, Bob Birch, to be their Deputy Legislative Director. When she informed Peter about this over dinner at an upscale restaurant, he was initially visibly taken aback though he quickly composed himself enough to unconvincingly answer that he's fine with whatever she decides. When they got home later that night, while getting ready to go to bed, he came across his baggie of cocaine and decided to empty it clandestinely into the sink followed by walking out of the bathroom into the bedroom and admitting to her sheepishly that he doesn't actually want her to take the job — signs perhaps of his resolve to give up drugs as well as to invest himself more emotionally into the relationship with Christina. The next day, Sunday, she slept in, but he was already up, working on his presentation for the upcoming BRAC hearing. Pleasantly surprised to find him working on a Sunday, something he'd never done before, visibly happy Christina let him know playfully that her hypothetical decision to reject the job offer would be made for her and not for him, before joining him to help out with BRAC preparations.
Just as Russo seemed to be putting his vices under control, Underwood and Stamper began turning the screws on him even tighter. Seeking a House majority in order to get rid of the Speaker of the House Bob Birch who refused to put the education bill on the House floor, Underwood began pursuing Representative Terry Womack (D-MO), head of the 12-person strong Black Caucus, by promising him the House Majority Leader position as well as vowing to keep the 3,000-employee air force base open in his congressional district. Keeping Womack's base open required closing another military installation somewhere else and Underwood quickly made a choice — it would be the 12,000-employee Philadelphia naval shipyard in Russo's district and all Russo had to do is stay silent at the BRAC hearings.
To make sure Russo got the message, Underwood made an unannounced visit to his apartment the night before the hearing. There with his kids since his ex-wife decided to go down to Orlando with a date, Russo became devastated when Underwood put the request to him in threatening tone, alluding menacingly to the harsh consequences should he disobey.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, effectively forced into choosing between instantly having his congressional career destroyed forever and severely alienating his constituency thus risking re-election, tormented Russo decided to keep mum at the hearing. Overwrought with guilt and unable to cope with his choices, the same day he descended back into alcohol and drugs.
Returning from the shipbuilders' meeting in Philadelphia, Christina showed up at their apartment later that day only to find Russo's two kids there — thus meeting them for the first time — who didn't know where their father went. At night he staggered home completely wasted as disappointed Christina watched him crawl into bed, again completely emotionally disconnected from one another. Fed up and drained by her troubled partner's latest relapse, the next morning as she prepared his kids to take them to school, Christina told hungover Russo that she's leaving him and quitting her job as his secretary. They ran into each other one more time later in the day when he arrived at the office as she was tying up loose ends at work before leaving. Clearly distraught, Russo barely managed to say a coherent word to her as the burden of the shipyard closing outweighed his feelings for Christina for the time being.
Christina soon took the deputy LD job in Birch's office. As Russo began attending AA meetings he phoned Christina as part of his 12-step program in order to apologize for wronging her in the past. She didn't pick up and he left a message.
Getting back together with Russo and the gubernatorial campaign
After convincing Russo to run for the vacated Pennsylvania governor post and engineering his gubernatorial campaign, Underwood was also able to get Christina to return to Peter. As Russo was cleaning up his act through AA meetings as well as making amends with his constituency and campaigning around the state, Christina was firmly by his side offering comfort and emotional support. He even introduced her to his cranky mother and took her to his childhood home as their turbulent relationship seemed to be mending. However, it all started to unravel again after Russo got coaxed into having a drink by Posner who was put up to it by Underwood via Stamper. As Russo slipped back into alcoholism, Christina tries unsuccessfully to get through to him while the campaign went completely off the rails.
After Russo's death
After Peter Russo's death, Christina's way of dealing with the tragedy was making a swift emotional break that included not even attending his funeral. She immersed herself fully into work, running every aspect of the congressional office Russo left behind. After coordinating and getting approval from the DCCC, in late October 2013 she summoned Paul Capra, Russo's childhood friend turned adversary turned friend again, who is influential with the Philadelphia trade unions, to D.C. in order to get him to run for Russo's vacated seat in the House. Thinking she invited him to D.C. for emotional comfort he is shocked at hearing the offer, feeling that it being only one month since Russo's death that it's too soon, though remaining coy as to whether he'll accept to run.
Through her sources at the DCCC, Slugline journalist Janine Skorsky immediately learned of the plans to enter Capra in the race for Russo's seat as well as Capra's trip to D.C. to meet with Christina. Skorsky called Capra to confirm that information, but he remained coy on that particular topic though revealing, upon Skorsky's further questioning, that Russo was pressured from above to stay silent at the BRAC hearing. Skorsky began connecting the dots and, though lacking outright proof, started suspecting the pressure Capra mentioned must've come from Frank Underwood, reasoning that the fact Underwood had nothing to do with Russo before the shipyard closure and then suddenly started propping him up in the gubernatorial race was highly suspicious. Also long suspecting that Underwood had been feeding stories to her co-worker, Zoe Barnes, Skorsky mentioned her Russo-Underwood hypothesis to Zoe who expressed doubts about this version of events. Attempting to convince Zoe, Skorsky then directly confronted her younger colleague about Underwood being the source behind her January 2013 big breaking bombshell stories. However, Zoe wasn't ready to admit that to Skorsky, though conceding to knowing him and agreeing to ask him about the alleged BRAC-related strong-arming of Russo. She then met him in the Capitol corridor, framing the question as 'my colleague is investigating a story'. Underwood nonchalantly, calmly, and convincingly lied, passing it off as mere advice to Russo to stay silent at the hearings for a later benefit from Womack. He also immediately connected the dots that the colleague Zoe mentioned must be Janine Skorsky before somewhat sternly inquiring with Zoe if Skorsky knows the two of them are talking to which Zoe reassures him that Skorsky doesn't know.
Seeing Christina as a potential Achilles' heel due to her ability to provide further information that would lead to connecting Russo's death with Frank Underwood, Doug Stamper began monitoring her movements closely. When Skorsky approached Christina in the congressional cafeteria to ask her questions about Capra running for Russo's vacant seat and whether Russo was being pressured not to fight the shipyard's closing, she quickly got interrupted by Stamper who joined their table, effectively chasing Skorsky away before telling Christina to let him know if she's again "harassed into answering questions she doesn't want to answer". Shaken up by this encounter, Christina went back to the office to look through Russo's personal belongings, seemingly for the first time since his death, all of which got her very emotional. To Skorsky, Stamper's sudden appearance when she sat down to talk to Christina was further indication of Underwood's untoward involvement with Russo while Zoe, though open to question, still thought Underwood had nothing to do with Russo's silence at the hearings. Upon some investigating of her own by sifting through the recent congressional activity records, Zoe begins to think Russo's silence at the hearing was simply trading in a favour to Rep. Terry Womack for some benefit down the road. However, after reminding Zoe of Underwood's involvement in many different recent events around the Congress, Skorsky raised sufficient doubt in Zoe's mind about whether Roy Kapeniak's phone call to her to confirm that Michael Kern wrote the 1978 anti-Israel editorial was in fact also engineered by Underwood — something Zoe had been suspecting right from the start.
After flying out to talk to Kapeniak only to find his stripper girlfriend, but nevertheless discovering that Russo paid them a visit on 24 January 2013, Zoe got finally fully convinced of Underwood's scheming when it comes to Russo. Once she returned to D.C., Zoe started working with Skorsky as the two journalists finally seemed to have dropped any remaining traces of mistrust, jealousy, and antagonism. They agreed that their first order of business was to go back to Christina, deciding on the spot that it would be Zoe who does this due to Skorsky being watched by Stamper. Barging into Russo's former office to talk to Christina without an appointment, Zoe told her Russo flew out to see Kopeniak on the night of 24 January 2013, asking her if she remembered anything else. Though dismissive at first, Christina became clearly shaken up as she recalled the night Russo stormed out of their apartment at 1am without a convincing explanation.
Doug Stamper continued his close monitoring of Christina and soon arranged to meet her suspecting she hasn't been completely forthcoming about her contacts with journalists. She admitted that Zoe visited her and that "she knew things about Peter like something to do with Kern losing the nomination" all of which was enough for Stamper to raise alarms with Underwood.
As a result, in early November 2013, looking to move Christina out of Barnes', Skorsky's, or Goodwin's reach, Underwood (already tapped for VP at this point) and Stamper got her an interview for a position on the President's staff. Listing the fact she single-handedly ran Russo's office as well as the entire congressional district for the past nine weeks as an achievement that recommends her for the job, Christina got hired by the President's Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez.
Among her duties at the new job, Christina began traveling with the President, which worked out well for Vasquez who preferred being able to stay in D.C. as she got more done that way. Christina also proved useful to VP Underwood and his chief of staff Stamper as another set of eyes and ears within President Walker's inner circle that could relay information of interest such as occasions when Underwood's rival Raymond Tusk is in town to talk to the President.
For his part, the President has also been satisfied with Christina's contributions as evidenced during the February 2014 State of the Union address speech prep session in front of his staff and confidants, including VP Underwood and Tusk. Looking for a strong analogy to relay the Republican responsibility for the impending US Congress freeze, President Walker likes Christina's suggestion of "being thrown back into the Ice Age" and even invites the young staffer to further help hone his speech right alongside his seasoned Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez.
In the months following the death of Zoe Barnes, Christina was repeatedly contacted via e-mail by Lucas Goodwin who in an effort of getting Christina to open up even revealed to her his belief that Zoe was killed by Underwood. After ignoring all of Goodwin's attempts at establishing contact (though evidently not telling Stamper about them), Christina eventually got approached by Goodwin out in the public in February 2014, a few days before the President's 13 February State of the Union address. Responding to his suggestion that Peter Russo would still be alive if it wasn't for Frank Underwood, a visibly shaken Christina said she worked very hard to put Peter behind her before rebuffing Goodwin to his face, threatening to report him if his attempts persist.
In July 2014, recognizing the First Lady Patricia Walker's lack of poise and self-confidence, Second Lady Claire Underwood quickly pounced to exploit this circumstance for her husband's political gain by beginning to weave a manipulative web around the First Lady. The Second Lady first laid the groundwork by making a seemingly casual comment to Patricia about "never being very fond of Christina due to having a thing against women who sleep with their bosses" thereby deliberately unsettling the First Lady with a thought of her husband having an affair with Christina. Manipulative Claire then went to Christina, advising her to reach out to the First Lady along the lines of simply telling her about enjoying working for the president and offering to be of help to her in any way, which Christina agreed to do despite plenty of trepidation due to never really sensing any vibe from the First Lady that such an approach would be welcomed. One of their subsequent chance run-ins in a White House hallway turned into an awkward conversation as Christina approached the First Lady who, though courteous, was visibly rattled by the encounter. Patricia soon convinced the president to fire Christina.
A competent, skillful, and hard worker, Christina is very motivated when it comes to furthering her administrative career on Capitol Hill. On numerous occasions and in different situations, she displayed flexibility, quick thinking, and timely execution in regards to the work at hand.
Young, somewhat still wide-eyed, and completely non-confrontational, Christina also shows a mixture of naïvete and willful ignorance in certain situations.
While in a personal and professional relationship with Representative Peter Russo, Christina seemed willfully ignorant on occasion when it came to the extent of Russo's vices, a trait she much more obviously showed again later after his death with respect to the malign involvement of Frank Underwood and Doug Stamper in the life and death of her late boyfriend/boss.
As a member of the President Garrett Walker's staff, Christina was easily manipulated by the Second Lady Claire Underwood who used her as an instrument in order to unsettle the First Lady Patricia Walker.
Behind the Scenes
|"Chapter 1"||"Chapter 2"||"Chapter 3"||"Chapter 4"||"Chapter 5"|
|"Chapter 6"||"Chapter 7"||"Chapter 8"||"Chapter 9"||"Chapter 10"|
|"Chapter 11"||"Chapter 12"||"Chapter 13"|
|"Chapter 14"||"Chapter 15"||"Chapter 16"||"Chapter 17"||"Chapter 18"|
|"Chapter 19"||"Chapter 20"||"Chapter 21"||"Chapter 22"||"Chapter 23"|
|"Chapter 24"||"Chapter 25"||"Chapter 26"|