Bridgegate Gets Federal Grand Jury Probe; Results To Be Released During GOP Presidential Primary
If Chris Christie thought his self-exoneration over Bridgegate was going to make the situation go away, he was wrong. The U.S. Attorney has convened a federal grand jury investigation into the lane closures in Fort Lee, and one of Christie’s closest staff members has already testified. In other words, the feds have moved beyond the inquiry phase and into the criminal investigation phase.
On Friday, Christie spokesman Mike Drewniak gave testimony to 23 jurors in a federal courthouse in Newark. The jury will meet for the next 18 months, during which time they’ll have the power to indict, subpoena and interview witnesses without attorneys present. After that, they’ll decide whether to file charges against Christie or anyone else in his office.
What does all this mean? Well, that’ll be hard to say before the grand jury reaches a decision; at the very least, though, it means Bridgegate will remain an open issue for the next year and a half, which probably isn’t what Christie wants. And because grand juries usually convene for about a year and a half, the results of the probe will probably be released around October of 2015 — that is, right in the middle of the Republican presidential primary. Depending on what the jury concludes, this could either be a moderately good or a very, very bad thing for Christie’s presidential prospects.
Christie’s own legal team released a report clearing their boss of any wrongdoing, but a poll released Wednesday showed that a majority of New Jersey residents think it was primarily intended “to help Chris Christie’s reputation.” As such, 61 percent of people in the state still believe that Christie hasn’t been “completely honest” about the bridge closures, which were ordered by his office and resulted in a week-long traffic jam in late 2013.