New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was questioned by federal investigators looking into the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closure scheme that has left a lasting stain on his administration, according to reports.
Federal prosecutors and FBI agents met with Christie—a potential 2016 presidential candidate—at the governor’s mansion in Princeton last month for more than two hours. The meeting was voluntary, according to ABC News, though prosecutors considered a subpoena. The Q&A was described as “professional, collegial and courteous.”
Christie has repeatedly denied any prior knowledge of the plot, in which some of his staffers and allies in September 2013 closed lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which created massive traffic jams for four days back – seemingly for political retribution. The governor has since fired top aide Bridget Anne Kelly and cut ties with his former campaign manager Bill Stepien, who were both allegedly involved. Several officials at the Port Authority, which controls the bridge, have resigned in the aftermath of the scandal.
The governor’s popularity took a big hit following the scandal but those numbers have since stabilized. The ongoing federal investigation, however, has left a cloud over Christie’s head, especially as he considers running for the nation’s highest office.
A joint legislative committee investigating the plot released an interim report in December on its year-long probe, saying it has found no conclusive evidence that Christie was either aware or not of the plot prior to or during the closures. But the report also made clear that several unanswered questions remain and the picture is not complete, including just why the lanes were closed and who ordered them closed in the first place.
News of Christie’s meeting with federal investigators come on the heels of additional reports that U.S. attorney Paul Fishman subpoenaed the governor’s re-election committee.
The governor’s spokesperson, Maria Comella, said Christie from the outset made clear that he would cooperate with the federal investigation. “That’s exactly what he has done and will continue to do, and he is very much looking forward to this matter’s conclusion,” she told WNBC.
Meanwhile, Christie is hitting the road this month to attend a slew of inauguration ceremonies for his fellow governors that he helped get elected as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. He was in the swing state of Florida earlier this week and has plans to go to the bellwether state of Ohio, in addition to the crucial, early voting states of South Carolina and Iowa.