New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. UPI/Molly Riley | License Photo
Two former aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie asked the federal judge overseeing an investigation into lane closures on the George Washington Bridge not to force them to turn over texts, citing their Fifth Amendment rights.
In court Tuesday, lawyers for Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Stepien, his former campaign chairman, said handing over text messages as ordered by subpoenas would be a violation of their constitutional right against self-incrimination.
Kevin Marino, Stepien's attorney, explained his client handing over the text messages would be tantamount to admitting to having knowledge of the bridge closure incident. Marino accused the Democratic-led legislative panel of "trying to enlist [Stepien] as an agent of the committee."
But Reid Schar, attorney for the committee, told Mercer County Superior Court Assignment Judge Mary C. Jacobsen that, by Marino's logic, no subpoena could be enforced.
"If that were true, essentially every single subpoena would be open to 5th Amendment protection," Schar said, adding that other documents received by the committee have already revealed Stepien and Kelly had knowledge of the closures.
Still, Kelly's attorney, Critchley, hinted her resistance to handing over the relevant communications would crumble if immunity were offered for her testimony.
“You act as if they could very easily afford immunity and that would take care of everything," Jacobsen said.
“Like that, like that,” Critchley said, snapping his fingers. “They don’t want to give us immunity, not that they can’t."