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Federal Probe into George Washington Bridge Lane Closures

A probe has been started by federal prosecutors in New Jersey into the scandal involving the George Washington Bridge, according to Bloomberg. The traffic jam on the bridge, which lasted for days, was revenge for political actions.

The investigation was opened by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman the same day that Christie noted he was “embarrassed and humiliated” at the actions of his aides in the scandal.

“Our office is reviewing the matter to determine whether a federal law was implicated,” Rebekah Carmichael said. Carmichael is a spokeswoman for Fishman.

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The bridge closures were ordered by David Wildstein, a top official with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In Trenton, Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson refused the emergency bid by Wildstein to block the testimony he gave regarding the incident.

Wildstein then invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when asked dozens of questions at the State House during a hearing.

Documents released on Thursday included text message and emails that show top aides of Christie decided to close lanes on the bridge from September 9 to September 12. This was an effort to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich because he did not cross party lines to back Christie in his re-election bid as governor.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs, wrote to Wildstein on Aug. 13.

“Got it,” replied Wildstein.

Kelly was fired by Christie on Thursday and Wildstein resigned from his position on December 6.

Wildstein was subpoenaed by the Transportation, Public Works and Independent Works Committee.  Wildstein claimed that this was not under their authority.

“This is an abuse of power by a legislative committee,” Wildstein’s attorney, Alan Zegas, said.“This is a matter of whether power by a governmental branch has been lawfully exercised.

Jacobson responded with, “There is jurisdiction to give a subpoena. There’s no reason for the court to assume any bad faith on the part of this legislative committee. Where there’s a legitimate public end, it’s immaterial whether a political motivation is also present.”

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