Caught in multiple lies in his press conference on improper and possibly illegal lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, Governor Chris Christie has retained counsel today. The announcement comes as the New Jersey Assembly formally creates a new special investigative committee with special counsel to investigate what actions led up to the closure of lanes on the GW Bridge.
Christie’s legal team will be led by a former assistant US Attorney and Deputy Mayor in New York City working with the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP:
Heading up the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP team is former federal prosecutor Randy Mastro. Mastro is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he specialized in organized crime cases and spearheaded the federal government’s landmark racketeering suit that compelled the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to hold democratic elections and to undergo court supervision.
A key part there is “cooperate with the US Attorney.” While Christie had previously claimed he would cooperate with the legislative investigatory committees he change his tune at the State of the State speech and said he would only be cooperating with “appropriate” inquiries. What is appropriate is apparently at Governor Christie’s discretion.
Some might say it smells like the beginning of a cover up.
The Assembly investigation committee has also brought in some fire power, hiring a former federal prosecutor, Reid Schar, who worked on the Rod Blagojevich case. A well regarded prosecutor with a history of nailing Democrats as well as Republicans. It is going to hard for Christie and friends to claim partisanship.
The Assembly committee will likely drop subpoenas today for Bridge Kelly and Bill Stepien – the two staff members Governor Christie fired last wekk for allegedly being dishonest with him about their role in Bridgegate.
The New Jersey State Senate is also opening an investigative committee though the chairwoman, Senator Loretta Weinberg, suggested last night on MSNBC that she would rather have a joint committee with the Assembly than run her own investigation. Some bad blood between the chambers appears to be preventing that for now, especially as the Assembly has been leading the investigation up to this point.