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Christie Panel to Subpoena Four Witnesses, Lawmaker Says

NJ Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is weighing a White House run in 2016, has seen his popularity slide amid the George Washington Bridge scandal. Photographer: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The New Jersey legislative committee investigating lane closings at the George Washington Bridge will probably subpoena four witnesses to testify next month, the panel’s co-chairman said.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the co-chairman, wouldn’t identify those who will be called to testify about the traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey, from Sept. 9 to Sept. 12. A law firm’s report commissioned by Republican Governor Chris Christie absolved him and blamed Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff, and David Wildstein, who worked at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which runs the bridge.

“We wanted to brief the members of the committee before anything went out, so we weren’t going to release the subpoenas or the names until the committee members were made aware of what the next steps were,” Wisniewski, a Democrat, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Christie, who is weighing a White House run in 2016, has seen his popularity slide amid the scandal. Lawyers from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP concluded on March 27 that he had no advance knowledge of the plot to close the lanes. Summaries released April 14 of Gibson Dunn interviews with 75 people, including Christie, raised questions about the report, Wisniewski said.

Among those set to be subpoenaed are Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority; William Schuber, a commissioner at the bi-state agency; Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie; and Christina Renna, who worked under Kelly, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who declined to be identified without authorization to speak publicly.

Drewniak, Schuber and Renna didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment. Chris Valens, a spokesman for Foye, had no immediate comment.

May Testimony

Asked when the witnesses would testify, Wisniewski said: “We’re looking at May, so coming up in a couple of weeks.”

The new round of witness testimony will follow subpoenas for documents issued by the panel to 28 people and organizations. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman is conducting a criminal investigation, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. also is probing the Port Authority.

“We thought it was important to get documents from individuals so that we had a basis on which to ask them intelligent questions,” Wisniewski said.

A state judge on April 9 rejected subpoenas issued by lawmakers for records from Kelly and Bill Stepien, a former Christie campaign manager. Judge Mary Jacobson ruled that the act of turning over the records would violate the constitutional rights of Kelly and Stepien against self-incrimination.

The judge said the subpoenas were too broad, and suggested that the committee write them more narrowly.

“We’re just taking our time with it,” Wisniewski said. “No sense in rushing it and not necessarily getting it right.”

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