Special counsel named in New Jersey bridge probe
January 15th, 2014
02:06 PM ET
7 months ago

Special counsel named in New Jersey bridge probe

(CNN) – The New Jersey General Assembly, which is investigating the George Washington Bridge controversy, on Wednesday named the same prosecutor that went after former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich as its own special counsel for a committee that will lead the bridge probe.

Assembly Democrats announced former Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar will help the Assembly Investigatory Committee as it further reviews the closure of access lanes to the nation's busiest bridge for four days last fall in an alleged act of political retribution by top aides to Gov. Chris Christie.

According to a release from Assembly Democrats, Schar is a partner at a law firm and specializes in white collar defense and investigations practice.

The newly created Assembly committee, which kicks into gear Thursday, will have subpoena powers. Previously, the Transportation committee was leading the investigation, but the new committee will take the reins.

Democratic assemblyman John Wisniewski, who chaired the Transportation committee, will also chair the new panel.

The state Senate has their own separate special committee that's also investigating the controversy.

Previously Schar was at the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois, where he served as the lead investigator and prosecutor in both corruption trials of Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who's now in federal prison.

"It's vital to have someone of the caliber of Mr. Schar joining us in this effort," Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said in a release announcing the appointment.

CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King reported earlier Wednesday that the first subpoenas are already planned. The committee will review the documents first, then hear testimony from witnesses. Christie's senior office and political staff, as well as his political team, are on the list the committee will consider.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, is also looking into the bridge matter.

Newly released documents suggested last week that Christie's top aides orchestrated the closing of the access lanes in an alleged act of political payback against the Fort Lee mayor, who declined to endorse Christie's re-election bid.

In a nearly two-hour press conference on Thursday, Christie announced he fired two of his top aides and forcefully denied that he was involved in or had any knowledge of the plot.

In his State of the State speech on Tuesday, Christie again addressed the bridge scandal, saying "mistakes were clearly made" but pledged his office would fully cooperate with the investigations.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Kelvin R. Stemplemeister

    this story was made up. it wasn't on Foxx news today and if its real and tru it is on Foxx news!

    January 15, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    "It's vital to have someone of the caliber of Mr. Schar joining us in this effort,"
    -----------------------------------------
    If I were Christie reading this quote, it would send chills up my spine.

    January 15, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    The guy who investigated, prosecuted and threw Blago in jail. Let's here the bias accusations anyway, Teatrolls...let the reality denial flow thru you...

    January 15, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. tom l

    @Sniffit,
    "The guy who investigated, prosecuted and threw Blago in jail. Let's here the bias accusations anyway, Teatrolls...let the reality denial flow thru you..."
    =====

    I think everyone wants to get to the bottom of this and find out if there was anything that Christie did with regards to this. We want the truth, whatever it may be, and let the chips fall where they may. I think you're making some sort of allusion to the lead "investigator" for the IRS scandal who has made large donations to only Obama but for some reason don't see the conflict of interest there. In the same vain, would you have felt comfortable with a major donor to the Christie campaign investigating this? Thought not.

    January 15, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. Jered

    First we went from an INQUIRY..Christie's group failed to have the evidence dismissed there, because it was elevated to an INVESTIGATION. Now it has progressed to a SPECIAL COUNSEL. HEARINGS are already going on. Next up will be CHARGES & a TRIAL.

    There is not many levels left in this progression here. People don't realize that.

    January 15, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    "In a nearly two-hour press conference on Thursday, Christie announced he fired two of his top aides and forcefully denied that he was involved in or had any knowledge of the plot."
    -----------------------------------------
    Christie has also claimed that he had no contact with his high school acquaintance that the had appointed to the Port Authority and resigned last month. There are pictures of Christie and the guy together since the debacle. One has them standing together laughing while attending a 9/11 memorial service, which is one of the days that the lanes were shut down. The pictures completely contradict what Gov. Christe has claimed.

    As for that special prosecutor, I'd be sweating bullets right about now, if my name were Chris Christie. I'm sure that Christie knows a little something about federal prosecutors having a fondness for high profile cases. He's got Blago in his resume. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let the man do his job, however he sees fit.

    January 15, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    tom l. wrote:

    ".... I think you're making some sort of allusion to the lead "investigator" for the IRS scandal who has made large donations to only Obama but for some reason don't see the conflict of interest there. In the same vain, would you have felt comfortable with a major donor to the Christie campaign investigating this? Thought not."
    ---------------------------------
    I agree with you. After reading that post, you thought not.

    January 15, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. Tampa Tim

    The baggers under Issa have tried to create all sorts of debunked conspiracies against the president. For the millions of dollars they have wasted, they have nothing.

    January 15, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Roger Ailes of Fox hand picked Krispy to run in 2016. It appears that he has gotten the word from the billionaires who buy elections, that Krispy is no longer viable. Fox is starting to report on the e mails, and when you lose Fox, the baggers will not support you.

    January 15, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    " I think you're making some sort of allusion to the lead "investigator" for the IRS scandal who has made large donations to only Obama but for some reason don't see the conflict of interest there."

    Because there isn't. That's nothing more than a gross assumption and would disqualify attorneys all over the country for all sorts of things. Unless you can produce concrete evidence that shows she is incapable of conducting a fair and impartial investigation, has failed to do so in the past or acted on such pecuniary interests in the past, then all you're doing is clinging desperately to baseless assumptions. Are you arguing that only attorneys who have never donated to anyone for anything can investigate political malfeasance? This nonsense rings just as ridiculous as GOPers/Teatrolls yelling and screaming that a gay judge should recuse himself from a gay marriage trial...leaving only a straight judge as the only option, despite their own arguments about the gay judge applying to indicate the straight judge would be biased against gay marriage. Shall we insist that the investigator be a Republican?

    But hey, if you really mean it, would you like to add to your "analysis" Clarence Thomas' obvious pecuniary interests in trying to strike down the ACA and other liberal or Dem policies and legislation...and his repeated failure to promptly recuse himself from argument of any such issue?

    January 15, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    --–GOP garbage is wasting tax payer dollar!!!!!!!!! Dinggggg.

    January 15, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Tampa Tim

    6 in 10 Americans will have a monthly premium under $100 with the ACA. It appears that, once again, the Republican Party is the real train wreck.

    January 15, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Smitty

    If he didn't know he should of, just like Bammy and Holder should of. How about going after Bamman for the IRS, NSA, Fast and furious and Ben Ghazi ???? I am tired of the Bamman getting a pass, he is still in over his head and the world knows it. Don't cross this line, eeer I mean this line etc. Remember Bamman just won BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR !!!!

    January 15, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. Tampa Tim

    Glenn Beck has lashed out against Krispy. When crazy Glenn dumps you, you will not make it to the republican primary prom.

    January 15, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Tampa Tim

    The baggers under Issa have tried to create all sorts of debunked conspiracies against the president. For the millions of dollars they have wasted, they have nothing.
    -------------------------
    I understand that Rep. Issa has announced a preliminary schedule on hearings that he will conduct in 2014. There will be hearings into the IRS, Benghazi, and Fast and Furious. It is not known how many meetings Mr. Issa has scheduled to address any legislative issues with his colleagues or his counterparts.

    January 15, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "In the same vain, would you have felt comfortable with a major donor to the Christie campaign investigating this? "

    Broken analogy is broken. What reason does an Obama donor, who apparently rejected HRC as the Dem nominee, have to attack Christie? Christie, for what it's worth, has been publicly benign towards Obama and some Dem positions. Setting aside this mess and the fact that his economic policies are disasterous and some of his social policy pandering, like attacking the schools and teachers, are abhorrent, he had, up to this point, done a very good job of creating the appearance that he's exactly the type of opposition we'd rather be dealing with than the radicalized dogmatic ideologue nincompoops from the Tea Party and far right.

    January 15, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    I read that efforts have been made by two billionaire brothers to make Scott Walker's dismal job creation in Wisconsin at 47th in the nation, be reported as 8th best. Does this mean that Jeb Bush may not be a shoo in?

    January 15, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. Randy, San Francisco

    With an independent special prosecutor investigating, Gov Christie won't be able to bully himself out of this mess.

    January 15, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. current state of the union

    I have to admit, jm enjoying this, he had it coming. All the rwnj got their panties twisted over this, calling it unfair. Even fox news said this is a real scandal, they just want it to stop, its so unfair, nothing like Obama scandals, don't worry fox will drop coverage, and continue with the ones you think are credible, yikes, how thick can you be?

    January 15, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Sniffit thew a high fastball, better known as a cutter:

    But hey, if you really mean it, would you like to add to your "analysis" Clarence Thomas' obvious pecuniary interests in trying to strike down the ACA and other liberal or Dem policies and legislation...and his repeated failure to promptly recuse himself from argument of any such issue?
    -------------------–
    ....and it went right over the batter's head. ... .. where it nicked the bat, which is a foul ball, for a call STRIKE.

    January 15, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    Are we supposed to believe that Issa and the GOP/Teatrolls, who have taken millions in donations from people who want them to do nothing but destroy Obama, are capable of a fair, unbiased and objective investigation of anything? The silliness about bias and recusal has to end somewhere. Funny enough, I don't see the attorney in question running around stating conclusions prior to collection of the evidence, making claims of a cover up simply because she can't find any evidence to support her accusations or any number of things indicative of bias and prejudgment that the GOP/Teatrolls in the House have been doing about EVERYTHING. Perhaps we should focus in on that difference.

    January 15, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. Jered

    If they appointed Special Counsel, a grand jury convening is just around the corner (nobody can plead the 5th to get out of testifying there). Must be why the feds haven't given out immunity deals to Christie's people who have already asked for them.

    January 15, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. current state of the union

    Smitty struggling with reality again, first thing you need to do is turn off fox news, not really even considered a news station by credible journalists. Then explain how denying funds when safety issues were raised, you forget the back tracking the gop did on that, then they had an empty suit come out and say funding would not have helped. Your party is nothing but a lying machine for the uber rich and if your not, voting for them is more than a little foolish .IMHO .the gop likes to play both sides of an issue, you have to be very dense to accept their excuses, as they change with every new development that comes up, getting hard to be a Republican.

    January 15, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  24. tom l

    @Tampa
    "I read that efforts have been made by two billionaire brothers to make Scott Walker's dismal job creation in Wisconsin at 47th in the nation, be reported as 8th best. Does this mean that Jeb Bush may not be a shoo in?"

    ====

    Lol. Unemployment is at 6.5% in Wisconsin (in 2010 it was 9.1%) and the labor participation rate has gone up since 2010, as well. Thanks though, for highlighting what a good job Scott Walker has done. Timmy Timmy Timmy

    January 15, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  25. IA

    Tampa Tim....Where do you get your mushrooms? You're bizzarro world sounds .....intriguing.

    January 15, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
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