At a news conference in Midtown Thursday, attorneys released the results of an investigation that essentially clears New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of any wrongdoing in the George Washington Bridge scandal, but the catch is that the report was commissioned by Christie himself, raising serious questions about its credibility. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
After a 10-week investigation commissioned by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's office, attorney Randy Mastro went public Thursday with the results.
"Our findings today are a vindication of Governor Christie and what he said all along, that he had no knowledge of this lane re-alignment beforehand and no involvement in that decision," Mastro said.
Indeed, the 344-page report clears everyone in the Christie administration of wrongdoing, except for former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Ann Kelly, who carried out the lane closures along with former Port Authority executive David Wildstein. According to the report, Wildstein has said that he told Christie of the lane closures at a September 11 memorial event, but Christie has no recollection of it.
"It's a common occurrence to have traffic issues, problems in the bridges and tunnels, so it would not have registered with the governor," Mastro said.
In addition, Christie could not have known about the scheme, the report suggests, because Kelly went to great lengths to cover her tracks.
"Bridget Kelly lied to her colleagues and even reached out to a subordinate and asked them to destroy a potentially incriminating document," Mastro said.
The report also refutes accusations by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that Hurricane Sandy aid was held hostage for political reasons.
Mastro rejected the idea that the report was anything but independent, noting that he'd previously never met Christie.
"We believe we have gotten to the truth," he said.
The report does make some recommendations, like restricting the use of personal email to conduct official state business and eliminating the Intergovernmental Affairs office that Bridget Kelly ran. It also recommends that Christie appoint an ombudsman and chief ethics officer, and recommends the appointment of a bi-state commission to find ways to reform the Port Authority.
The report, though, doesn't address the possible involvement of Port Authority Chairman David Samson, a close Christie ally. Mastro said that Samson wasn't made available to be interviewed.