Special counsel named in New Jersey bridge probe
January 15th, 2014
02:06 PM ET
9 years 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.

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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. tom l

    "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?"

    Good point. I agree with you on that. And your first comment of the article appears to be wrong as nobody seems to be complaining at all. Someone has to investigate this that is independent. I don't know anything about the guy so let's see how this plays out. With regards to the IRS scandal, even Obama admitted problems and so did the IRS yet the first interviews with the groups who were targeted are just taking place. That reeks to me. It takes this long to interview those people? So far, that investigation is going so slow that it certainly has the appearance that the concerns of her political leanings make her a poor choice.

    January 15, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "don't worry fox will drop coverage"

    They already pretty much did a couple days ago. They have breathless, hyperventilating top stories on their website trying to resuscitate the IRS and Benghazi scandals, no real or major headlines whatsoever about this scandal and the new information that keeps coming out and then an opinion piece from that hack Howard Kurtz further down the page making an argument (as you'd expect) that the "liberal media" is going overboard and way too far in their coverage of Christie's scandal, that it's pretty much all a witch-hunt and lynching, and that coverage of this scandal should pretty much stop and back off. It's like the freekin Twilight Zone over there.

    January 15, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Seth A Drekin

    Sure do hope they stick to the facts on this one. Please don't go all Darrel Issa Witch Hunt and ruin any and all credibility of the investigation.

    January 15, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. IA

    I say "go after him". Throw everything you've got at him and lets see where it ends up. Its only fair!!!!

    January 15, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. current state of the union

    Yup failed policies by Obama, we need the gop policies that had our country running smooth under bush, losing hundreds of thousands of jobs every month, ah yes, the good old days, when you lost half your 401, and the top 5% took in 95% of the wealth, how dare you think that not acceptable, the rest of you got 5%, what are you complaining about?

    January 15, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. smith

    Where is all those people cryin` witchhunt and non-troversy? Come on now, you can`t cry witchhunt over fast furious and Benghazi and applaud at Bridgepoop.

    January 15, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. Honor Is Gone

    Sounds like a Bridge Over troubled Waters!!!!!

    January 15, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Jered wrote:

    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).
    I think that would be because the accused is not called to testify before a grand jury. A grand jury determines whether or not a crime was committed, and what crime, if any, that the suspect should be charged with.

    January 15, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. Jered

    How long before a grand jury is convened? I say, give it 2 weeks.

    Christie's staff should have been serious about those immunity deals months ago. Too late now -Their greed is their undoing.

    January 15, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    tom l wrote:

    "... ... With regards to the IRS scandal, even Obama admitted problems and so did the IRS yet the first interviews with the groups who were targeted are just taking place. That reeks to me. ... ..."
    Can I quote you on this when you accuse Pres. Obama of not taking responsiblity for problems at the IRS again?

    You're blaming Pres. Obama for the actions of a life long bureacrat, who is a registered Republican, that is at least dozen rungs down the chain of command, ...., and whose office is hundreds of miles way. Yet, you're absolving Christe of any possibility of culpability when the people he fired had desks less than 50 feet away from his. People who rode around with him on a daily basis as he traveled around the state. People who were in Christie's innermost circle, one rung from the top.

    January 15, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ tomI: "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"
    Let's get ALL the states ranked ... yes, tom? Just curious. Why do you think Wisconsin is lagging so far behind Minnesota?

    Bureau of Labor Statistics:
    Monthly Rankings
    Seasonally Adjusted
    Nov. 2013p
    Rank State Rate
    1 NORTH DAKOTA 2.6
    2 SOUTH DAKOTA 3.6
    3 NEBRASKA 3.7
    4 UTAH 4.3
    5 HAWAII 4.4
    5 IOWA 4.4
    5 VERMONT 4.4
    5 WYOMING 4.4
    9 MINNESOTA 4.6
    10 KANSAS 5.1
    10 NEW HAMPSHIRE 5.1
    12 MONTANA 5.2
    13 OKLAHOMA 5.4
    13 VIRGINIA 5.4
    15 IDAHO 6.1
    15 MISSOURI 6.1
    15 TEXAS 6.1
    15 WEST VIRGINIA 6.1
    19 ALABAMA 6.2
    20 LOUISIANA 6.3
    20 WISCONSIN 6.3
    22 FLORIDA 6.4
    22 MAINE 6.4
    22 MARYLAND 6.4
    22 NEW MEXICO 6.4
    26 ALASKA 6.5
    26 COLORADO 6.5
    26 DELAWARE 6.5
    29 WASHINGTON 6.8
    32 INDIANA 7.3
    32 OREGON 7.3
    35 NEW YORK 7.4
    35 OHIO 7.4
    38 ARKANSAS 7.5
    39 CONNECTICUT 7.6
    40 GEORGIA 7.7
    41 ARIZONA 7.8
    41 NEW JERSEY 7.8
    43 TENNESSEE 8.1
    44 KENTUCKY 8.2
    45 MISSISSIPPI 8.3
    46 CALIFORNIA 8.5
    48 ILLINOIS 8.7
    49 MICHIGAN 8.8
    50 NEVADA 9.0
    50 RHODE ISLAND 9.0

    January 15, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Where's the Ticker story on the Senate report on the Benghazi terrorist attack that the Obama administration lied about? What's the story CNN???

    January 15, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    tom l wrote:

    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
    Do not conflate job creation with unemployment rates. Job creation measures the total jobs in the state, and Wisconsin ranks near the bottom when it comes to increasing the number of jobs within the state. Also, after Gov. Walkers massive layoffs of state workers, more than 200,000 families have moved out of Wisconsin. In other words, the unemployment rate is artificially low because people are moving out of the state in droves. All of the most densely populated counties in Wisconsin have unemployment rates at 7.5% or higher.

    Source: Wisconsin dot gov. ; "Wisconsin County Unemployement Rates November 2013"

    January 15, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. Tampa Tim

    There is a group called idiots anonymous, or IA, who have tuned into the right wing lie machine, and refuse to accepts facts. Being brain dead is no excuse for the mentally challenged baggers.

    January 15, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. Tampa Tim

    tom l – The question is, " Why are you baggers in denial of reality?" I know you are super sensitive, but get real.

    January 15, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Rudy

    Your comment should read:

    "Governor Walker evicts 200,000 from State of Wisconsin: Touts low unemployment victory".

    January 15, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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