Asked for Documents, Christie Gives a Piece of His Mind

Matt Katz | September 18, 2014 | Katz on Christie

Faced with new accusations that he’s not providing all the Bridgegate-related documents he has promised to release, Gov. Chris Christie went on a 3 1/2-minute rant today about the Legislature’s “partisan” investigation into his administration.

“These are people who are addicted to MSNBC and the front pages of your papers,” Christie said of the Democrats running the Legislature’s special committee that has been investigating Bridgegate since the beginning of the year. “And no one wants to cover it anymore, so they need to leak something to get someone to cover it.”

Christie was particularly angry about a Bergen Record article that was published while he was on a trade mission to Mexico earlier this month, which he indicated was based on leaked information intended to embarrass him on the international stage. The article contained an exclusive document from the Bridgegate committee that indicated Port Authority police commanders were involved in the lane closures. 

“I am really growing tired of that committee,” he said. “I’ve known all along that this was a partisan pursuit, an absolutely partisan pursuit.”

To this point, Christie has avoided attacking the legislative committee, but he and his advisers are now trying to put Bridgegate in the rear view mirror once and for all. Yet in addition to the legislative investigation, federal probes into the lane closures continue.

Christie’s attack was provoked Thursday during a Statehouse press conference following the announcement of a new transportation commissioner. WNYC asked Christie about accusations from Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the Democratic co-chair of the committee, who says Christie’s attorneys have refused to hand over 13 documents in response to Bridgegate subpoenas, claiming they are “deliberative” and protected by “executive privilege.”

Christie flatly denied that: “Absolutely not true.”

“I’ve given complete cooperation to this committee even in light of the incredibly partisan way it’s been run,” he said. One example: He allowed his chief of staff to testify in an “unfettered way.”

“Fact is, they’ve been digging around for eight months and have found absolutely nothing that contradicts one factual statement that I made standing behind this podium on January 9,” Christie said, referring to the day after the “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” smoking gun email was released.

But Wisniewski said that the committee can’t determine if it has “full and complete answers” because “things are being withheld.” Christie’s lawyers from the Gibson Dunn firm have provided thousands of documents, Wisniewski said, but most are irrelevant to the inquiry.

It required a second subpoena, Wisniewski noted, to wrest from Christie’s lawyers documents related to the resignations of the state’s top Port Authority officials, Bill Baroni and David Wildstein.

“There’s ways to be cooperative, and there’s ways to look like you’re being cooperative,” he said.