An internal investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane closures conducted by lawyers hired by the Christie administration is expected to absolve additional members of Gov. Chris Christie's senior staff from being involved in the matter. The review narrows responsibility for planning the disruptive lane closures to those who have already been named: Bridget Kelly, Mr. Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official David Wildstein, according to a person familiar with the findings. No other Christie administration members were involved in planning the closures or seeking to cover them up after, the person said.
After New Jersey Gov. Chris Chrisite (R) acknowledged the seriousness of his bridge scandal in January, he hired a private law firm to conduct an internal investigation. The governor, at taxpayer's expense, relied on a firm with close, deep ties to the Christie administration.
And this week, the firm leaked word that as far as its investigators are concerned, the governor didn't do anything wrong and didn't know a thing about the corruption that surrounded him. The fact that lawyers hired by Christie chose to exonerate Christie wasn't exactly surprising. It wasn't exactly compelling, either -- the editorial board of New Jersey's largest newspaper openly mocked the findings, telling readers, "The governor paid a lot of money to have his lawyers find nothing. Now he owes taxpayers a refund."
Overnight, there was another leak, this time to the Wall Street Journal.
What a remarkable coincidence. There's already documented proof that Kelly decided last September that it was time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee, and that Wildstein received and acted on that message. But as far as Christie's lawyers are concerned, this was nothing more than a conspiracy of two -- no matter how implausible this may seem, we're apparently supposed to believe they acted alone.
Though it seems the top-line highlights have already been leaked, the full, 300-page report from the investigating firm, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, will be released to the public later this morning. In fact, it's supposed to be available in its entirety at this website, starting at 11:30 a.m. (There's nothing there now.)
About an hour later, at 12:30 p.m., reporters will have an opportunity to question Christie's taxpayer-funded lawyer about the report. If you're thinking it seems unrealistic that journalists can read, process, and prepare questions about a 300-page report in just one hour, you're not the only one.
As we talked about on Monday, this report's findings may offer some tidbits of interest, offering some previously unknown details, but given the circumstances, most observers will probably balk at considering this the definitive review of what transpired. "Christie's lawyers clear Team Christie" just isn't persuasive.
Separate investigations from the state legislature and the U.S. Attorney's office remain ongoing.