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Much Ado About Nothing: No Tapes, Transcripts of Mastro Interviews

Wisniewski opened the committee hearing with an impassioned defense of the need for the investigative committee to continue its work -- a defense that seemed to be aimed equally at Sweeney’s statement Monday and at the growing barrage of Republican criticism. He noted that the committee’s job is “to understand how these politically motivated lane closures could have happened and to develop a legislative response.

“To suggest that the Gibson Dunn report provides all of the information that we need to know is to frankly deliberately ignore its critical deficiencies, which are numerous,” Wisniewski said. “To suggest that the U.S. Attorney’s work will suffice is to deliberately ignore the strictly criminal focus of the U.S. Attorney’s probe and the limited public disclosure that comes along with it.”

He reminded the panel that “our investigation had its genesis in its examination of the Port Authority and its deficiencies,” adding that it was the Assembly Transportation Committee’s original “painstaking work” that led the Bridgegate investigation to the governor’s office.

Wisniewski got into a shouting match at the end of the short public session with Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex), Christie’s closest ally on the investigative committee, and made it clear that he was exasperated with Mastro’s firm for holding back thousands of pages of documents subpoenaed by the committee until the evening before the release of the report.

Kevin Roberts, the governor’s press spokesman, did not respond to an emailed question asking whether Wisniewski was correct that no tapes or transcripts existed from the 70 interviews, but that appears to be the case based on Mastro’s statement, which referred only to interview memos.

"We reached out to counsel for the committee over a week ago to discuss sharing voluntarily the interview memoranda regarding the lane realignment upon which our report was partially based,” Mastro said in a statement forwarded by Roberts. “In light of the committee's statements this afternoon, we will look forward to continuing that cooperative dialogue.”

Wisniewski acknowledged that the committee’s legal team has had discussions with Mastro, but noted that it has been 12 days since the release of the Mastro report.

“The ultimate tool the committee has is subpoena authority that would compel production of the documents,” Wisniewski said. “We’re willing to wait a moderate amount of time for cooperation,” he said, but added, “The deadline is the end of the week.”

Wisniewski dismissed Handlin’s complaint that the committee has already spent more the $200,000 on legal bills for its special counsel, Reid Schar, the former assistant U.S. Attorney from Illinois who successfully prosecuted Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges.

“What is the price of truth?” he asked.

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