(CNN) – Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed documents and other information from the state legislative committee investigating the political scandal roiling the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The development represents a notable escalation in the overall probe of whether top Christie appointees abused their authority in orchestrating traffic jams at the foot of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee to punish that town’s mayor politically.
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U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman subpoenaed the Select Committee on Investigation for all documents related to the matter, which involved closing access lanes to the bridge for several days last September.
The Christie administration initially blamed the gridlock on a traffic study, a claim that has since come under scrutiny. Christie, himself, says he knew nothing about the traffic jams until after the fact.
Co-chairs of the Democratic-led committee confirmed that they received the subpoena, according to a statement.
“We will comply fully with the request,” the statement said. “This reaffirms our progress in uncovering important information about the apparent abuse of government power and threat to public safety. Our committee will continue to cooperate with the federal authorities as we pursue the investigation."
The U.S. Attorney’s office would not comment.
A grand jury in Newark has also been hearing testimony in the case.
The legislative committee has amassed thousands of documents through its own subpoenas, including emails and text messages sent between key figures in the controversy.
It also has hundreds of pages of memos containing information from 75 interviews conducted as part of a review of the case by lawyers hired by Christie’s office. That review cleared Christie of any wrongdoing, but critics question whether the examination was thorough.
Earlier this week, the legislative panel issued subpoenas for testimony in the case. Those served include Christie’s chief spokesman, a former member of the governor’s administration, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the nation’s busiest bridge, and another agency official. They were asked to appear on May 6 and May13.
In addition to the bridge controversy, the U.S. Attorney is also investigating allegations that members of Christie’s administration held Superstorm Sandy recovery funds hostage in Hoboken in exchange for the mayor’s support of a redevelopment project backed by the governor.
Christie administration officials deny the accusation.
Fishman’s investigation is expected to take several months, if not longer, before any conclusions are reached.