TRENTON, N.J. — The lawyer for a New Jersey Legislature joint committee probing the George Washington Bridge lane closure hinted in court Tuesday that more discussions about the incident took place involving two of the governor's key aides.
Lawyer Reid Schar argued that Gov. Chris Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and former Christie campaign manager William Stepien should be forced to turn over documents and electronic records that the joint panel has subpoenaed. He said the committee issued "very focused subpoenas" and was not engaged in a fishing expedition.
Judge Mary Jacobson of New Jersey Superior Court pushed the issue with Schar on whether more evidence exists than investigators know already.
"You're making inferences that more exist," Jacobson said.
"We know that more exist," Schar said.
Kelly is suspected of initiating lane closures to the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River that tied up traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., for four days starting the first day of school Sept. 9. The suspicion is based on e-mail she appears to have sent from a personal account to an associate at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Following the closures, as the incident became more political, Stepien was brought into a discussion of a published story about fallout and replied that the mayor of Fort Lee, who had complained about Port Authority response to the closures, was an "idiot."
Christie fired him for that remark. He also fired Kelly for her involvement.
In court, Stepien's lawyer argued that the subpoena was forcing his client to attest to the existence of documents and be a witness against himself. The Fifth Amendment offers protections against that action, Kevin Marino said.
Existing and known e-mails, which Marino read in court, "do not permit the fair inference that there are other documents," he said.
In rebuttal, Schar said the existence of additional documents is not an open question.
"I'm not guessing, judge," he said. "I know it because I've seen them."
Private messages between Governor’s Christie’s deputy chief of staff and two of his top executives at the Port Authority reveal a vindictive effort to create “traffic problems in Fort Lee” by shutting lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Read more...