New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s press secretary, Michael Drewniak, appeared before a U.S. grand jury investigating politically motivated traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge, according to his lawyer.
“Mike testified before a grand jury today,” his attorney, Anthony Iacullo, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “I can’t get into any of the specifics.”
The testimony to a secret panel in Newark, New Jersey, by one of Christie’s closest advisers signals an escalation of the investigation by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. Federal prosecutors want to know who ordered lane closures at the bridge, which paralyzed traffic in Fort Lee, New Jersey, from Sept. 9 to Sept. 12. Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for Fishman, declined to comment on Drewniak’s testimony.
An internal investigation commissioned by Christie concluded on March 27 that he had no advance knowledge of a plot by an ex-aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, and a former ally, David Wildstein, to create traffic jams near the bridge. Those tie-ups were intended to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, for unknown ulterior reasons, according to the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, which prepared the report.
Gibson Dunn didn’t talk to several key figures in the scandal, including Kelly, Wildstein and former Christie campaign manager William Stepien. They have asserted their constitutional right against self-incrimination before a committee of state lawmakers investigating the lane closures.
Drewniak was interviewed by U.S. prosecutors on Feb. 27, Iacullo said at the time.
“We were assured that Mike is not a target of any investigation but a fact witness,” Iacullo said at the time. “He will continue to cooperate fully with federal authorities as needed.”
Drewniak is “at best a witness and a tangential figure in these events and proceedings,” Iacullo said then. “I am certain all fair, objective and nonpartisan parties will recognize that as we move forward.”
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