TribLIVE

| USWorld

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

5th Amendment cited in N.J. bridge inquiry

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 7:15 p.m.
 

TRENTON — It's now up to a judge whether two key figures in a political payback scandal ensnaring Gov. Chris Christie's administration will have to turn over text messages and other private communications to New Jersey lawmakers investigating the case.

Fired Christie staffer Bridget Kelly and two-time campaign manager Bill Stepien risk self-incrimination if they comply with subpoenas for documents related to traffic tie-ups at the George Washington Bridge, their lawyers told a county judge.

A lawyer for the legislative panel countered that the law does not entitle them to the blanket protection they seek. Rather, any documents deemed potentially incriminating by Kelly and Stepien should be argued on a case-by-case basis, the lawyer said.

The subpoenas seek documents concerning the September blocking of approach lanes to the bridge, which caused hours-long backups in nearby Fort Lee, apparently to punish the town's Democratic mayor. Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson requested more briefs, so she is unlikely to rule before the end of the month.

Lawyers for Kelly and Stepien partially based their Fifth Amendment claims on a parallel criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney's office, which is seeking to uncover whether federal laws were broken. The legislative panel, which lacks authority to prosecute, wants to find out how high up Christie's chain of command the lane-closing scheme went and why it was hatched.

Christie, whose viability as a 2016 Republican presidential candidate has been called into question since the scandal erupted, has said he knew nothing of the plot's planning or execution. He said in December that no one on his staff was involved, a statement he was forced to retract in January when private emails showed otherwise. An email from Kelly saying “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” appeared to set the scheme in motion.

She received the reply “got it” from David Wildstein, a Christie loyalist at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Obama to mandate steeper emissions cuts from power plants
  2. 2 women advance to final phase of Army Ranger training
  3. State Department accuses top Clinton aide of violations
  4. Body of Forest Service firefighter recovered amid Northern California blaze
  5. U.S., Hong Kong researchers develop computer model to examine spread of influenza
  6. Pressure mounts for Biden to join 2016 White House race
  7. Marines finally ready to roll out controversial fighter jet
  8. Food industry players fighting proposed dietary guidelines drop millions on lobbyists
  9. ‘Fast, Furious’ pistol was sold to gunman in foiled Texas terrorist attack
  10. 4 dead, 65 sickened in Bronx by Legionella
  11. Obama’s nuclear deal lobbying sways Democrats