Two Christie Aides Fight Bridgegate Subpoenas, So It's Almost Like They Have Something To Hide
We might not see any more snow this year — fingers crossed! — but the George Washington Bridge lane closures that caused four days of extreme traffic for Fort Lee in September certainly continues to snowball downhill against NJ Gov. Chris Christie and his former top aides. Former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, fired by Christie in January, and former two-time campaign manager Bill Stepian, who resigned, are due in court today to try to convince Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson not force them to comply with subpoenas issued by state legislators that they claim would be self-incriminating.
The subpoenas were issued for Kelly and Stepian's text messages and emails, which may hold evidence into the intentional lane closures.
To date, Christie says he had no knowledge of his aides' actions to close bridge lanes despite the fact that former Port Authority official David Wildstein claims Christie did know about it. However, parallel investigations by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the state legislative panel are in full force to see just how far down the rabbit hole this scandal goes.
Kelly and Stepian have refused to cooperate with subpoenas, and are trying to plead the Fifth Amendment, claiming the subpoenas are too broad and complying with subpoenas will only lead to self-incrimination. Hmm, maybe they have something to hide?
Brigid Harrison, a Montclair State University political science professor, told NJ.com that a ruling in Kelly and Stepian's favor would hurt the legislative investigation, as the two are "so obviously linked to this that it would be a blow to public perception about the legitimacy of the investigation. There is a lot riding on the outcome of the hearing."
At this point, about 32 organizations and people have been issued subpoenas connected to the Bridgegate scandel and five individuals close to Christie through his administration or otherwise have resigned or have been fired. Stepian and Kelly are the only individuals not cooperating so far.
Michael Critchley, an attorney for Kelly, laid out arguments last week as to why Kelly should not be forced to comply with the subpoena. He says Kelly is probably a main source of the U.S. Attorney's investigation and by invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, she would be protected. According to Reuters, Critchley wrote that Kelly "finds herself ensnared in the very ambiguous circumstances for which the Fifth Amendment's protections are meant to serve."
Kelly is expected in court Tuesday, although Stepien says he will not be there.