U.S. prosecutors asked New Jersey legislators probing the George Washington Bridge lane closings to postpone public testimony by Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Foye was scheduled to testify June 3 before a 12-member panel examining which of Governor Chris Christie’s allies last September shut access lanes to the bridge, run by the Port Authority. The office of U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, who is leading a criminal investigation, yesterday sent a letter to the panel’s lawyer requesting the delay.
Fishman is investigating whether crimes were committed in the closing of access lanes from Sept. 9 to Sept. 12 in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The scandal has hurt Christie’s popularity as he eyes a Republican run for the White House in 2016. Lawmakers have said they won’t interfere with prosecutors, who can take grand jury testimony and subpoena documents. Legislators agreed to an earlier request to reschedule Foye’s testimony in May, according to the letter.
“Our office is requesting again that his appearance before the committee be postponed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Fortier Imbert wrote.
A law firm’s investigation commissioned by the governor absolved him and blamed the traffic tie-ups on a former top Port Authority official, David Wildstein, and Bridget Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff for Christie. They targeted the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for unknown political reasons, according to the law firm’s report.
The tie-ups ended early on Sept. 13 when Foye, an appointee of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, sent an e-mail to agency executives ordering the immediate reopening of lanes. In the e-mail, Foye said he had only just learned of the lane closings.
“I am appalled by the lack of process, failure to inform our customers and Fort Lee and most of all by the dangers created to the public interest,” Foye wrote. “I believe this hasty and ill-advised decision violates federal law and the laws of both states.”
Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for Fishman, and Chris Valens, a Port Authority spokesman, declined to comment.