March 24, 2014, 08:06 am
Report: Internal probe of bridge scandal found no link to Christie
By Rebecca Shabad
An internal investigation into whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) ordered in January has found that the governor was not involved in coordinating the George Washington Bridge lane closures, sources told The New York Times.
The investigation, conducted by law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, will soon be released to the governor, who has said it would be made public shortly after.
The taxpayer-funded inquiry results from 70 interviews a dozen lawyers conducted with members of the Christie administration and officials at the New York-New Jersey Port Authority.
Democrats are likely to question the investigation’s findings because of its drawbacks and connections to Christie.
Lawyers involved in the investigation, for instance, were unable to interview the three people who appeared to be directly responsible for the lane closures last September.
Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, his former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, and former Port Authority official David Wildstein were not questioned.
Another issue that could raise doubts is that Christie is friendly with top partner at Gibson Dunn, Debra Wong Yang, according to the Times.
Randy Mastro led the review, and said his team of lawyers combed government and private email accounts and even Christie’s iPhone, which the governor handed over.
“At the end of the day, we will be judged by whether we got this right,” Mastro told the Times, adding that the review was “comprehensive and exhaustive.”
Mastro said he expects the other government investigations will find parallels to the law firm’s probe. Reviews by the New Jersey state legislature and the U.S. attorney’s office have not yet been released either.
According to the Times, the legal fees for the law firm’s internal investigation will be paid for using at least $1 million in taxpayer money.