The long and winding road for embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took another twist Friday. Although a probe commissioned by the governor cleared him in the George Washington Bridge scandal, his problems are far from over.
ABC News reported this week a federal grand jury is looking into the case. The U.S. Attorney in New Jersey has convened a panel that now extends the coverage of the incident into a real threat of derailing Christie’s GOP presidential frontrunner status.
Before the scandal broke, Christie was the only possible Republican candidate polling favorable numbers higher than undeclared Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Many political experts are convinced the “bridge-gate” affair surfaced as a deterrent exploited by the governor’s Democratic enemies and an all-too-eager liberal New York media. With the convening of the grand jury, the federal investigation moves to a "criminal phase," ABC News reported.
Meanwhile, Christie’s press secretary Mike Drewniak took the stand Friday. His testimony took over two hours, but his attorney, Anthony Iacullo, claimed his client “... isn't a target of the probe. We're here to answer questions and that's what Michael did today."
Iacullo refused comment on questions concerning Christie’s knowledge, or direct role in the actual closure of the George Washington Bridge last September causing massive commute hour traffic jams.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the scandal erupted in January after Christie directly acknowledged one of his top aides and an associate were behind the bridge closure. Since that candid comment, he has denied being personally involved.
State prosecutors are monitoring the federal case and stand prepared to continue the case after the feds are through with theirs. ABC News reported the New Jersey Attorney General would not comment on the ongoing investigation.
As the investigation enters its fourth month, lawyers for two of Christie’s former associates, Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien, have not been called to testify. A lawyer for Bill Baroni, a former Christie deputy with the agency that runs the bridge, refused to comment, according to The Associated Press.
However, both Kelly and Stepien have been attempting to remove subpoenas by asserting their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Ironically, most of the other “less involved” people and organizations close to Christie receiving subpoenas have been cooperative.
This will be a black mark on Christie and his once-vaulted stature in preliminary presidential candidate polling. The Democratic machine knows that all too well.
No one is speaking in the Hillary-for-President camp.
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