Documents Due in Chris Christie Probe, Requests for Extensions Fly
The documents requested from eighteen of twenty individuals and groups by the New Jersey Legislature tied to the investigation of Chris Christie's bridge scandal are due today, but despite the official nature of the subpoenas, the Legislature is expecting to see few of them. Most parties involved are requesting extensions on when to file them.
According to the Associated Press, the head of the investigation, State Assemblyman John Wisniewski, confirmed to the outlet that many of the requests for extensions are being granted, while others are in the process of being reviewed. As the Legislature is demanding a significant volume of emails, texts, and other correspondence and official documents related to the "traffic study" that shut off Fort Lee from the George Washington Bridge last September, some delays in producing the evidence have been deemed justified.
The New York Times expects the volume of documents released in this investigation to be in the thousands and for the analysis of documents before the hearing to take weeks. State Senator Loretta Weinberg told the publication that the process will be slow given the thorough nature of the requests and the time needed to digest all the information. The Times also notes that officials are also saying "most" of those subpoenaed are cooperating with authorities.
One notable exception is Christie's former political strategist Bill Stepien, whom Christie dismissed at his extensive two-hour press conference last month for his role in the bridge closings. According to the Times, Stepien is attempting to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights to withhold documents that could incriminate him.
Stepien is not the first in the Bridgegate saga to invoke the Fifth Amendment to keep silent. In the first round of investigative hearings, former Port Authority official David Wildstein pleaded the Fifth to every question and was held in contempt. Wildstein is threatening to do the same in this hearing unless given prosecutorial immunity and made headlines this weekend as The New York Times published a letter by his lawyer claiming "evidence exists" linking Christie to Bridgegate.
While it is unclear whether Wildstein has or will divulge that evidence, it is rightfully believed that Wildstein is one of the few capable of knowing first-hand if Christie was involved in the matter. The Christie campaign initially responded tepidly to the letter published in the Times but privately sent an email to supporters attacking Wildstein's character; they noted that a high school social studies teacher once accused Wildstein of "deceptive behavior," and Wildstein himself filed a lawsuit as a 16-year-old.
The New Jersey Legislature will post the documents once they become available on its official website, where the thousands of pages of emails and other private correspondence from the second hearing on the bridge scandal are also available.