Friday, September 25, 2015

Subpoena in bridgegate reminds us that Chris Christie's headaches are far from over

Just in case New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie suddenly thinks he can slip through the 2016 opening left by Scott Walker's exit, bridgegate matters are still giving him a gut check. Attorneys for the two federal defendants in the 2013 week-long lane closure investigation—Christie staffers Bridget Ann Kelly and Bill Baroni—filed papers that would force a hand over of the documentation created by Christie's internal investigation into the fiasco. You might recall that the $5 million investigation—known as the Mastro Report for Randy Mastro, the partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher that created it—basically cleared Chris Christie of responsibility for the epic traffic jam at George Washington Bridge. Brian Murphy recaps:
But instead of producing the kind of Government Accountability Office-style report you might expect from a top-flight law firm using public funds to pursue a public investigation, the Mastro Report is transparently partial toward Christie. It lays blame for the Bridge operation at the feet of David Wildstein and Bridget Ann Kelly by painting them as rogue employees. Meanwhile, Gibson Dunn’s attorneys didn’t interview Port Authority chairman David Samson and seemed to avoid pursuing threads that might have implicated Christie in some way. What’s more, Mastro’s team didn’t provide transcripts or notes to support their adjective-heavy narrative – one in which the word “simply” is used sixteen times and “crazy” appears eight times.
The law firm claims that it didn't keep any additional records related to the 75 interviews it conducted with people working with and for Christie for the final report. Wow, that's a head scratcher. They also claim they came up with some process by which their lawyers summarized each interview electronically, edited them, and then released those "interview memoranda" publicly. But attorneys for the defendants aren't buying it.
U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton agreed to the defense’s request for a subpoena to force Gibson Dunn hand over MS Word documents and other electronic files and metadata.

Since then, the firm has put up a fight to keep that metadata from the defendants.

Bottom line: Bridgegate is far from over

by Kerry Eleveld

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