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Documents show close friend joined interviews of Gov. Christie for internal review

Documents show New Jersey plans to pay lawyers to represent some state employees in "Bridgegate" investigations.
By Frances Burns   |   Updated April 15, 2014 at 3:21 PM
| License Photo
TRENTON, N.J., April 15 (UPI) -- Lawyers who investigated the "Bridgegate" scandal for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apparently did not record interviews, documents released this week show.

The interview summaries released Monday suggest that lawyers for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher made notes. The firm interviewed Christie and many members of his staff.

One of the lawyers interviewing Christie was Deborah Wong Yang, a friend of the governor's. Like Christie, she served as a U.S. attorney under President George W. Bush.

Randy Mastro, the lawyer in charge of the investigation, said he was the one who actually interviewed Christie. He said Wong Yang and a third lawyer sat in on the sessions.

"We had only one incentive here -- to get to the truth," Mastro said in a statement released by Christie's office. "In our search for the truth, the Governor made himself available to be questioned for as long and as often as we requested. And we will ultimately be judged by whether we got it right."

Christie fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, in January after an e-mail surfaced suggesting she was involved in closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, causing four days of massive traffic jams in Fort Lee, N.J., last September. Several Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials appointed by Christie have also been forced out.

The report cleared Christie of any involvement in the closings or in alleged threats to cut off aid to Hoboken for Hurricane Sandy damage unless Mayor Dawn Zimmer backed a development project Christie favored. Much of the blame went to Kelly and Bill Stepien, who served as Christie's campaign manager last year. Neither was interviewed for the report.

Documents released Monday also showed that the state will be picking up the legal tab for some employees caught up in the scandal. They include Michael Drewniak, Christie's chief spokesman, and Stepien, who worked in the governor's office before joining the campaign, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Five law firms had been contracted at $340 an hour. While the names of the employees involved were redacted from documents, a lawyer, Kevin Marino, told the Inquirer he had been retained to represent Stepien for anything involving his time as a state employee.

Taxpayers will also be picking up the tab for the internal review, although Gibson, Dunn has not yet submitted a bill.

[NJ.com]
[Philly.com]

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