Gov. Christie’s internal review of bridge flap expected to clear him
(CNN) — The law firm hired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office to conduct an investigation into the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge will release the results of the internal review Thursday morning.
After spending nearly three months looking into who orchestrated the lane closures and why, a team of lawyers led by Randy Mastro — a member of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s administration — is expected to clear the governor of any wrongdoing. The report concludes that there is no evidence linking Christie to “plotting or directing” the traffic jams that are at the center of a political scandal roiling his administration, the New York Times reported on Monday.
A state legislative investigative committee and the U.S. attorney’s office are looking into whether the tie-ups in Fort Lee were set in motion deliberately by top Christie appointees.
The governor’s office issued a statement saying that the legal team had full cooperation from Christie and his administration. That cooperation included handing over the governor’s iPhone and access to his government and personal e-mail accounts. Investigators also had access to the e-mails and cell phones of current and former administration officials.
Christie has said previously that he knew nothing about the traffic jams over several days in September until they were over, and found out only from media reports. He also denied having any knowledge of political mischief by his staff or other appointees.
Mastro and four other attorneys from the firm Gibson Dunn have been working on the internal review that the Times reported has cost $1 million so far.
Although Mastro and his team had unfettered access to members of the Christie administration, they were unable to speak with three people at the center of the controversy: Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff; Bill Baroni, former Port Authority deputy executive director; and David Wildstein, the Christie appointee at the bi-state transportation agency who, according to recently revealed e-mails and text messages, drove around Fort Lee to inspect the traffic tie-ups.
(Place link here to other ticker story on this evening’s radio show)
On his monthly “Ask the Governor” radio show, Christie said that interviews aren’t the only way to get answers about the lane closures.
“There’s lots and lots of documents that involve all those people which have been part of the public record or will become part of the public record as we go forward, and you can discern a lot from that,” he said.
New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the Democratic co-chairman of the special investigative committee looking into the matter, raised some doubts about the conclusions of the internal review.
He said questions remain unanswered, specifically by Kelly, whose purported e-mail to a Port Authority official weeks before the lane closures — “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” — has yet to be explained to the committee, according to Wisniewski.
“If we don’t know why she sent that e-mail, if we don’t know who gave her the authority to send that e-mail, if we don’t know what she thought she may be accomplishing by sending that e-mail, then we can’t have a complete picture of what happened here,” Wisniewski told the New Jersey Star-Ledger.