New Jersey ‘Bridgegate’ defendants can subpoena Chris Christie documents: judge
Two former officials indicted in New Jersey’s so-called Bridgegate scandal won court approval on Friday to subpoena a law firm for emails and other documents it gathered during an investigation commissioned by Governor Chris Christie, according to media reports.
Christie, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, saw his reputation tarnished by the scandal, which involved the politically motivated closure of several lanes at the George Washington Bridge in 2013.
Prosecutors say the closures were political payback for a local New Jersey mayor who refused to endorse Christie’s re-election bid. The stunt caused massive rush-hour traffic delays for days on the heavily traveled bridge, which connects northern New Jersey to Manhattan.
The governor has denied any role or knowledge, blaming it on rogue aides, and he has not been accused of wrongdoing. Christie is campaigning in New Hampshire ahead of that state’s crucial primary election on Tuesday.
Only two people have been criminally charged in the scandal: Bill Baroni, a former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive appointed by Christie, and Bridget Kelly, the governor’s former deputy chief of staff.
U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton in Newark said on Friday that attorneys for Baroni and Kelly could subpoena Gibson Dunn & Crutcher for what they contend are thousands of pages of relevant documents, the Record of Bergen County newspaper and other news outlets reported.
In 2014, at Christie’s request, Gibson Dunn undertook a taxpayer-funded investigative report that eventually found the governor had no knowledge of the scheme. Critics of Christie dismissed the report as biased.
The lead author, former federal prosecutor Randy Mastro, did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. Lawyers for Baroni and Kelly did not respond to requests for comment.
Prosecutors have accused Baroni and Kelly of orchestrating the lane closures. David Wildstein, who like Baroni was a Christie appointee to the Port Authority, has pleaded guilty to taking part in the closures and agreed to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark against Baroni and Kelly.
Baroni and Kelly are scheduled to face trial on May 16.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)