ANGELA DELLI SANTI and GEOFF MULVIHILL
The Associated Press
NEW YORK —
Lawyers hired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration said Thursday the governor was not involved in the plot to create traffic jams last fall, a conclusion that left the lead lawyer defending the integrity of his report, which came ahead of the results of separate and ongoing federal and legislative investigations.
The taxpayer-funded report released by former federal prosecutor Randy Mastro relied on interviews with Christie and other officials in his administration — who were not under oath — and 250,000 documents, many of them emails and text messages. But the key figures in the political payback plot did not cooperate, leading Democrats to question the credibility of the report and its thoroughness.
The investigation concluded Christie had no knowledge beforehand of lane closings Sept. 9-12 near the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York that caused four days of massive gridlock in the community of Fort Lee.
The closings became a major scandal for the governor in January when he had to backtrack and acknowledge the involvement of a top aide and an associate in orchestrating the closings. He has repeatedly denied knowing about the plot or being involved in the closings.
“Governor Christie’s account of these events rings true. It’s corroborated by many witnesses, and he has conducted himself at every turn as someone who has nothing to hide,” the report found.
“We uncovered nothing contradicting the governor’s account,” it concluded.
Democrats blasted the findings, with the party’s national committee calling the report “nothing more than an expensive sham.”
New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, co-chair of the legislative committee investigating the same issues, said it “raises more questions than answers.”
Her co-chair, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, also a Democrat, was critical of the report for not including information from those who refused to cooperate. “It’s very hard to tell who’s telling the truth when you don’t hear from all sides,” he said.