Christie administration hires outside law firm amid bridge controversy
January 16th, 2014
09:39 AM ET
9 months ago

Christie administration hires outside law firm amid bridge controversy

(CNN) - Politically-embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration has retained a law firm to help conduct an internal review and cooperate with a U.S. Attorney inquiry into allegations top staffers orchestrated a traffic logjam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, as political payback.

The announcement comes on the same day a special state Assembly committee investigating the scandal plans on issuing subpoenas for documents as well as current and former aides, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

Documents released last week suggest members of Christie's inner circle ordered the closing of two access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September, causing massive traffic problems for four days in Fort Lee, which serves as the access point to the bridge on the New Jersey side.

Former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, the governor's chief spokesman, Mike Drewniak, and Bill Stepien, a sharp-elbowed Christie political confidante who managed both his successful gubernatorial runs, are on the subpoena list, according to the sources.

Other names are also being discussed by the panel that is led by Democrats and will be assisted by attorney Reid Schar, a key figure in the federal prosecution of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"Governor Christie made clear last week that he will conduct an internal review to uncover the facts surrounding the lane closures in Fort Lee," a statement from the governor's office read. "His administration is fully cooperating with the U.S. Attorney inquiry and other appropriate inquiries and requests for information."

The Christie administration has retained Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP as outside counsel in a move the administration hopes "will bring an outside, third-party perspective to the situation."

Randy Mastro, a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, will head up the legal team. Mastro has experience in organized crime cases and led the federal racketeering lawsuit that forced the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to hold democratic elections and to undergo court supervision. Mastro is also a former deputy mayor of New York City.

The pending legal showdown centers around whether the traffic gridlock was engineered as political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee, who did not endorse Christie for re-election last November.

Christie has said he was stunned by the suggestion, which was first made by Democrats and subsequently magnified by explosive e-mails released last week by state legislators.

Christie fired Kelly. Her name appeared in e-mails with an appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Wildstein, who left his job as the scandal unfolded last fall. One e-mail quoted her as saying: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

On Tuesday, Christie addressed the scandal briefly in his State of the State address, saying that "mistakes were clearly made." He said previously, however, that he knew nothing about any notion of a deliberate attempt to tie up traffic, much less exact revenge on Sokolich.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    DEBUNKTION

    -IRS Cincinnati Office is not in Washington D.C. – FACT
    -Susan Rice did NOT lie or mislead the public about Benghazi – FACT

    -Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly's office right down the hall from the Governor – FACT
    -David Samson with Gov. Christie on 9/11/13, but Christie claims he hasn't spoken to him in ages – FACT

    January 16, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Gary

    Maybe he can hire Darrel Issa. He will make up any facts you need.

    January 16, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. current state of the union

    Your " what difference does it make" is a typical for you righties, anyone who seen 1 minute before and after, will be able to put it in context, when you have to pick out one sentence in a paragraph, and remove the proper context, add yours and, wala, your a Republican, and in deep doo doo!

    January 16, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  4. GonzoinHouston

    Lawyer up! That's what innocent people always do.

    January 16, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. rs

    A True Conservative

    Where are your headlines for the Benghazi testimonies against the State Dept – Hillary Clinton – and Pres. Obama? Although the bridge fiasco is news – Benghazi is bigger....unless of course it no longer matters and might spoil the future of a politician that you know and love.....
    __________________________
    You know, the interesting thing about "comparing" "scandals" is this: no two events are the same, and, what comprises scandal is highly objective.
    Benghazi simply never met the mark- and Republicans admit it is no more than a tool to hit Democrats with. CIA operatives working in a hostal environment (where government simply did not exists) are by all measures at risk. Surprise. That's their job. The GOP's fake outrage could just as logically apply to soldiers dying in battle.

    The bridge thing? Well, we have clsure of access to a jointly owned/operated bridge that carries an interstate highway- federal offense. We have nightmarish traffic that at minimum causes delay, late school kids, and yes a death. We have lies and deceit on the part of members of the Governors' staff, and innuendo of politcal revenge. Surprise! We have a definable crime, we have evidence, and we have motive. Something Benghazi has none of.

    January 16, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    Democrats and Obama have scandals but are professionals at concealing evidence, stonewalling and lying. It also helps that our friends in the MSM help us out by refusing to investigate and report on the scandals. Thanks guys!

    January 16, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. just saying

    GonzoinHouston
    Lawyer up! That's what innocent people always do.
    ---

    that's what smart people do when they know they are the target of a massive political witch hunt.

    January 16, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. Marcus (from...?)

    Enough is Enough – YOUR comment is the one which is 'unbelievable'... Let's remember, the 'scandals' you talk about were investiagted by a Republican who didn't mind to spend and spend in his 'investigation' and 'hearings', and apparently still don't mind since he plans to keep on going after them this year, and found... NOTHING. He either wasted money (tax payer money) in fruitless searches or his investigative skill are way lower than he actually believes they are... In any case, the scandals were investigated... and nothing was found.
    Not to mention your lack of resoect for those who DARE to think different than you do...
    In this case? The investigation barely started, and there are already e-mails and three sets of debunked excuses for the fact.

    PS: my previous post was about 'robinwroberts' really unbelievable post! Sorry for not addressing it properly.

    January 16, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. Marcus (from...?)

    'Sniffit – Democrats and Obama have scandals but are professionals at concealing evidence, stonewalling and lying. It also helps that our friends in the MSM help us out by refusing to investigate and report on the scandals. Thanks guys!'

    Says the guy that is too ashamed to post anything in his name or pen-name and has to 'borrow' one for that!

    January 16, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. Monomachos

    Wow! The House Armed Services Committee releases previously classified transcripts of testimony proving that the president and his SecState lied about what happened at Benghazi – and not a whisper here. The bipartisan Senate intelligence committee issues its report, stating the same plus highlighting the ineptitude of the administration in taking necessary steps to protect the compound and that story lasted one day here.
    But close a few lanes on a bridge and all hell breaks loose! When people were saying that the President and his people had to know about what really happened at Benghazi, his defenders rushed out to say there was no proof and it was unfair to lay those charges on him. Now those same people are saying that Christie had to know and should be fired for his (as yet unproven) mendacity. The lack of logic and fairness is a really disturbing indictment of many here.

    January 16, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Darrel Issa would get to the bottom of this " NOT " !

    Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly's office right down the hall from the Governor.
    Ether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was too busy to ask important questions or he was just to important ?

    January 16, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    "that's what smart people do when they know they are the target of a massive political witch hunt."
    ---------------------------
    Even Fox News, Bill Kristol, has admitted that BridgeGate is a "legitimate scandal." But, Fox has not really informed its' viewers about the emails and their damning contents.

    "Time for some traffic problems in Ft. Lee." "Got it." Those ten words are shouting conspiracy. That message may have set the misguided plan in motion, but those words most certainly didn't originate the plan. It was obviously premeditated.

    January 16, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. current state of the union

    Pay attention saying, this is what a real scandal looks like, tangible evidence, you do know what that is, right?

    January 16, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. Monomachos

    DEBUNKTION

    -IRS Cincinnati Office is not in Washington D.C. – FACT
    -Susan Rice did NOT lie or mislead the public about Benghazi – FACT
    _________________________________________________________________

    You have your facts wrong
    The head of the Cincinnati office testified that she was ordered by her hire-ups in D.C. to forward ONLY applications from Conservative groups to D.C. The applications didn't stay in Ohio.
    Susan Rice did tell lies as is now proven by the recently released transcripts and the BIPARTISAN Senate Intelligence committee report The only question is whether or not she knew or was duped into being the patsy in place of Ms Clinton who was originally scheduled to appear on those shows.

    FACT: there is still no evidence after the release of 2000 emails that Christie knew. Until it can be proven, don't jump to conclusions.

    January 16, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Christie once lobbied for the Securities Industry Association for Bernie Madoff - who was sentenced in 2009.

    Christie might want to buy a few judges .

    January 16, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. Ol' Yeller

    @Enough is Enough

    "@sadly perturbed – are you serious? Trumped up scandals? How blind can the left be? My God – the comments from the progressives here are unbelievable. Scandal after scandal and you people see nothing – we are being overtaken by Sgt. Schultz!! And our President is unaware of ANYTHING going on around him – no wonder we are in the mess we are as a nation. But hey, give the all a free cell phone, some food stamps and a few joints and they will vote for you forever........"

    Yeah, I think sadly perturbed is serious.
    Yes, absolutiely... the 'scandals' were trumped up and despite what that loud screaming man on your radio is telling you, there has been no evidence of malfeance in any of the derwood issa 'investigations' into the self created partisan 'scandals' you are whining about.
    The left is not blind, you are just sadly misled by your 'ummmm 'leadership' and those rwnj media outlets you think are news.
    Uh.... I believe the 'Sgt. Schultz' metaphor has already been used and it really fits Christy way better... you oughtta stay away from that, and maybe try to come up with something original.
    I believe the President is VERY aware of what is going on around him... gridlock and a party whose main goal is to try and make him fail.
    Our Nations is the greatest in the world.
    Where do you get free joints?
    Sign me up!

    January 16, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
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