List Released to Bridgegate Committee
The New Jersey legislative committee investigating a traffic jam scandal orchestrated by former aides to Gov. Chris Christie has received the list of the 70 people that lawyers for the governor’s office interviewed to review the incident.
The interviews formed the basis of a 344-page, taxpayer-funded report clearing Christie of advance knowledge of the lane-blocking plot on the George Washington Bridge that apparently was carried out to retaliate against a local mayor who didn’t endorse the governor.
The co-chairs of the legislative panel said this week they would issue subpoenas for the list and interview memos if Christie’s lawyers did not hand them over.
The co-chairs, Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, have given the lawyers from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher a noon Monday deadline to turn over the memos.
“We’ll review what they provide and decide our next steps,” Weinberg and Wisniewski said in a joint statement Friday afternoon.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Randy Mastro, the lead lawyer for the governor, said Christie’s lawyers are sharing interview memoranda with the legislative panel.
The list of who was interviewed has not been made public and Mastro did not return a request from The Associated Press for the list.
Mastro and five other former federal prosecutors at the law firm charged $650 per hour to report on the lane closings, which created gridlock for four days in Fort Lee, the town at the base of the span, last September.
The scandal has overshadowed Christie’s administration and threatened any ambitions to run for president in 2016.
Mastro found that the only person inside the governor’s office who knew about the plot in advance was Bridget Kelly, a deputy chief of staff whom Christie fired after learning that she sent an email that said “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” that set the scheme in motion.
David Wildstein, a Christie appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that operates the bridge, was also implicated. He replied “got it” to Kelly’s email.
Christie also cut ties with Bill Stepien, his campaign manager and political adviser, and with Bill Baroni, his top deputy at the bridge agency. Both knew of the lane closing plan in advance, according to Mastro, but there is no evidence they believed it to be anything other than a traffic study.
Mastro’s team did not interview any of the people the report concluded were responsible.
A Superior Court judge ruled this week that Kelly and Stepien do not have to turn over emails and text messages to the legislative panel.
The legislative panel is considering an appeal.
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