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Governor’s Office Ignored Report That Kelly, Stepien Knew About Bridgegate

While Wisniewski would only say that the committee will be discussing where to go next, both McKenna and Egea are likely candidates to be subpoenaed before the committee this summer.

Matt Mowers, who worked for Stepien in both the governor’s office and on the campaign, is scheduled to testify next Tuesday. It was Mowers who had responsibility for reaching out to Democratic mayors in North Jersey to seek their endorsement of the governor’s reelection, and it was Sokolich’s refusal to endorse Christie that reportedly triggered Wildstein and Kelly to close off GWB access lanes in Fort Lee as punishment. Mower is currently serving as executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, a post he took in November, evidently in part to lay the groundwork for Christie’s expected 2016 presidential bid.

Foye and William “Pat” Schuber, the Port Authority commissioner from Bergen County to whom Weinberg originally complained, are scheduled to testify before the committee June 3, then the panel will take a break from testimony until after the June 30 budget deadline, Wisniewski said.

Taking the Fifth

Wildstein already took the Fifth Amendment when he testified before the Assembly Transportation Committee on January 8, and Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled in March that Kelly and Stepien could invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to refuse to comply with an “overly broad” subpoena of their emails, phone records, and other documents by the legislative panel.

Wisniewski said yesterday that the committee’s lawyers were working on a narrower, more focused subpoena designed to meet Jacobson’s objections.

Republicans yesterday renewed their argument that the panel should focus its investigation on malfeasance at the Port Authority -- and not the governor’s office.

“We have heard testimony today under oath that Gov. Christie had nothing to do with the George Washington Bridge lane closures,” Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) said after the hearing. “The testimony from Mike Drewniak was clear. Now is the time to focus on policy instead of politics. Spending more money to try and embarrass the governor is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Let the prosecutors handle the potential criminal matters and let's move forward with (Monmouth County Republican) Assemblywoman (Amy) Handlin’s reform package.”

Drewniak is known to be a particularly acerbic defender of Christie and his policies, but it was a “kinder, gentler” Drewniak who appeared before the committee yesterday.

“What needs to be said right up front is that I had no knowledge or involvement in the planning or execution of this strange, unnecessary, and idiotic episode,” Drewniak said in his opening statement. “Nor did I play any knowing role in any actual or perceived ‘coverup.’”

Drewniak said the “conduct, callousness, and cavalier attitude expressed” in the Wildstein and Kelly emails about Bridgegate “was like nothing I’ve witnessed in my entire working lifetime, and certainly not in this administration,” and added that he was particularly hurt that “the personal betrayal by David Wildstein came from someone I trusted, someone I considered a friend.”

Drewniak related publicly for the first time Christie’s reaction when he told the governor that Wildstein not only was saying that Kelly and Stepien knew about the lane closures in advance, but also that he had told the governor about the GWB “traffic study” while they were together at the World Trade Center site on September 11.

Christie was “incredulous,” Drewniak said, adding that the governor dismissed Wildstein’s contention with the comment, “(He makes) some drive-by remark about traffic and I’m supposed to know what he’s talking about?”

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