While the legislative investigative committee has the power to grant immunity for testimony before the committee, that limited grant of immunity could pose problems for the U.S. Attorney’s Office if it needs to rely on evidence presented before the legislative panel, Jacobson noted.
Wildstein, who also has been seeking immunity, met last week for several days with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but it is unclear whether Fishman would allow a potential star witness to testify publicly before a legislative panel before he completes his grand jury investigation, which could take up to 18 months.
It is unclear whether former Port Authority Executive Director Bill Baroni would agree to testify, but Samson has been slow to provide any documents and asserted “attorney-client privilege,” Christie said, in declining to be interviewed even by Mastro and his team of lawyers hired by the governor’s office.
However, it appears that the Wisniewski-Weinberg committee does have the opportunity to use its subpoena power to delve deeply into the issue of whether the Christie administration’s failure to ferret out the truth about Bridgegate before the release of the Kelly email on January 8 was due to a coverup, ineptness, or an “us against them” mentality that led Christie and his aides to simply accept Baroni’s assertion at face value that the George Washington Bridge lane closures were part of a legitimate traffic study.
Michael Drewniak, the governor’s press secretary who was a friend of Wildstein and played a pivotal role in preparing the administration response to Bridgegate inquiries, testified before the federal grand jury Friday.
Kevin O’Dowd, the Chief of Staff whom Christie had nominated to serve as his next Attorney-General before Bridgegate broke, has clear incentive to protect his reputation and career, as does Charles McKenna, the Chief Counsel who questioned Baroni on Bridgegate in early October at Christie’s directive, and is now head of the Schools Development Authority. McKenna reportedly met with Fishman’s investigators in mid-January shortly after the release of the Kelly emails.
Regina Egea, the director of the governor’s authorities unit who first received from Baroni a copy of the angry email from Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye alleging that federal and state laws had been broken by the lane closures, would presumably also need to answer questions if she plans to be Christie’s second-term chief of staff.
Finally, there is the question of whether the panel would exercise its subpoena power to call in Christie himself – a decision that would be fraught with complex political overtones and constitutional issues.