Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Jersey pol leading Bridgegate probe says Christie impeachment ‘a possibility’ if governor lied


Assemblyman John Wisniewski told the Daily News that he is convinced that 'laws were broken,' and said Christie could possibly be impeached if it turns out he had knowledge of the political payback scheme. Hours earlier, State Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto announced he planned to subpoena more emails and documents in the investigation.

Updated: Sunday, January 12, 2014, 3:28 AM











New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reacts to a question in Trenton, N.J., Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, after he announced that Deborah Gramiccioni would replace Bill Baroni as executive deputy director of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Baroni, one of Christie's top appointees, resigned Friday amid an escalating probe into ramp closings on a bridge into New York City. The resignation of Baroni comes a day after the Democratic National Committee tried to link Christie, a Republican, to the controversy and a state lawmaker issued seven subpoenas to Baroni and other agency officials. Christie said he was certain the shutdowns were not politically motivated. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Mel Evans/AP

A New Jersey assemblyman says if Gov. Chris Christie had knowledge of the September lane closures on George Washington Bridge — which the governor has denied — he could possibly be impeached.

The New Jersey assemblyman leading the Gov. Chris Christie Bridgegate probe says he’s convinced “laws were broken.”
“We had public employees use public resources for a political purpose,” Assemblyman John Wisniewski told the Daily News Saturday.
“They closed the lanes of the George Washington Bridge to exact some kind of retribution on the town of Fort Lee or the mayor of Fort Lee.
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Assemblyman John Wisniewski, seen here at an earlier press conference, says he's convinced 'laws were broken' in the Bridgegate scandal.

Kurdzuk, Tony/SL

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, seen here at an earlier press conference, says he's convinced 'laws were broken' in the Bridgegate scandal.

“Last time I checked, that’s not legal.”
Christie has vehemently denied that he knew anything about the September lane closures. He has not commented on the mushrooming scandal since a marathon press conference Thursday.
Wisniewski, a Democrat from Middlesex County, said he doubts Christie’s story.
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New Jersey State Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto (right) plans to summon Assembly members to Trenton on Thursday to extend their subpoena power in the probe of the four-day traffic jam on George Washington Bridge.

Mel Evans/AP

New Jersey State Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto (right) plans to summon Assembly members to Trenton on Thursday to extend their subpoena power in the probe of the four-day traffic jam on George Washington Bridge.

“For the governor to say that the first time he learned about this was the morning of Jan. 8 really strains credibility,” he told The News.
“It’s just hard to believe that no one said to him earlier, ‘Hey, there’s this problem and we’re trying to resolve it.’”
Asked whether the Republican governor could be impeached if he’s exposed as a liar, Wisniewski called it “ a possibility.”
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Bill Baroni, a Christie Port Authority appointee, explains on Nov. 25 why the traffic entrances were closed onto the George Washington Bridge in September. The closures were exposed last week as political payback.

Chris Pedota/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bill Baroni, a Christie Port Authority appointee, explains on Nov. 25 why the traffic entrances were closed onto the George Washington Bridge in September. The closures were exposed last week as political payback.

“But I think we have a lot of steps that we need to get to first,” he added.
Wisniewski spoke out hours after State Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto said he hopes to subpoena even more emails and documents in the investigation of Christie’s administration and his vindictive appointees.
Prieto plans to summon Assembly members to Trenton on Thursday to extend their subpoena power in the probe of September’s four-day traffic jam — exposed last week as political payback.
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Bridget Kelly, once a top Christie aide, was fired by the New Jersey governor after she was implicated in the George Washington Bridge scheme. 'Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,' Kelly wrote in a damning email on Aug. 13.

Tim Larsen/AP

Bridget Kelly, once a top Christie aide, was fired by the New Jersey governor after she was implicated in the George Washington Bridge scheme. 'Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,' Kelly wrote in a damning email on Aug. 13.

Implicated in the Bridgegate scandal were top Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly and two of the governor’s Port Authority appointees: Bill Baroni and David Wildstein.
Christie’s hand-picked choice for PA chairman, David Samson, was also cited in the newly released emails as a participant.
And the governor’s chief spokesman, Michael Drewniak, along with senior staffer Regina Egea, were forwarded emails about the scandal that Christie claims completely blindsided him.
RELATED: GOV. CHRISTIE STUNNED BY STUPIDITY OF AIDES IN BRIDGEGATE
David Wildstein, another Christie Port Authority appointee, is sworn in to testify at a hearing held by the Assembly Transportation Committee on Jan. 9 in Trenton, N.J. Emails tie Wildstein to the Bridgegate scandal.

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

David Wildstein, another Christie Port Authority appointee, is sworn in to testify at a hearing held by the Assembly Transportation Committee on Jan. 9 in Trenton, N.J. Emails tie Wildstein to the Bridgegate scandal.

“The noose is tightening,” state Sen. Barbara Buono, who lost to Christie in the November governor’s race, told The News on Saturday.
“You wonder how people could be so drunk with power, how they could be so brazen in abusing it?” she said.
Buono said she was unmoved by Christie’s cascade of apologies after the emails indicated the lane closings were a petty attack on a local politician.
The traffic jam was reportedly a slap at Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for his refusal to endorse Christie, whose 2016 presidential hopes took a hit from the scandal.
The 2,300 pages of emails — dating to the days before the lane closures and continuing into December — show that Port Authority officials stonewalled for weeks as attention to the tie-ups at the world's busiest bridge escalated.

John Moore/Getty Images

The 2,300 pages of emails — dating to the days before the lane closures and continuing into December — show that Port Authority officials stonewalled for weeks as attention to the tie-ups at the world's busiest bridge escalated.

“I knew back in September when this first surfaced what had happened,” said Buono. “This is Chris Christie’s administration. ... Of course he knew. Of course.”
Documents released Friday showed PA officials stonewalled for weeks as attention to the tie-ups at the world’s busiest bridge escalated.
Wisniewski blasted Baroni for telling the Assembly Transportation Committee in November that the bridge was closed as part of a traffic study.
“It’s disturbing that someone with as high a position as Bill Baroni would come to the committee and tell a fairy tale about a traffic study that didn’t exist, was never prepared and wasn’t authorized,” he said.
lmcshane@nydailynews.com
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