Christie Staffer Subpoenaed in Bridge-gate Probe Quits

Sunday, 02 Feb 2014 08:38 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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A staffer from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration subpoenaed in the bridge-gate probe has resigned, her lawyer said Sunday, as the Democrat leading the investigative panel said he has seen no evidence to support claims that the governor had been aware of the apparently politically motivated traffic jams as they happened.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who co-leads the probe, came two days after a former Christie appointee at the agency overseeing the bridge who personally oversaw the lane closures said "evidence exists" that Christie had knowledge of the blockage when it happened.

If such evidence does exist, a state panel investigating the closures has not yet seen it, Wisniewski said.

“Nothing yet implicates the governor directly,” Wisniewski said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “We don’t have any proof right now that the governor said, go and close the lanes.”

Separately Sunday, Christie's director of intergovernmental affairs, Christina Renna, revealed she had resigned.

Renna's lawyer, Henry E. Klingeman, confirmed to Reuters that she had resigned, effective Jan. 31.

Klingeman also said that Renna was among several top aides who have until Monday to respond to subpoenas in the scandal.

In a statement provided by Klingeman, Renna said she had been considering leaving since shortly after Christie's re-election last fall.

"I have spent almost four years working hard for a Governor I continue to respect and admire," Renna said in the statement. "The transition from term one to term two is a natural time to pursue an opportunity in the private sector."

Christie, who is considered a leading Republican candidate for the White House in 2016, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of a plan to snarl traffic last September in Fort Lee, New Jersey, near the busy George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey and New York City and severed ties with several top aides over their role in the incident.

David Wildstein, the Christie appointee at the agency overseeing the bridge who personally oversaw the lane closures, on Friday made the claim that "evidence exists" of Christie's knowledge of the blockage.

Wildstein resigned from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey late last year amid the growing probe.

Wisniewski also said he was unclear from Wildstein's choice of words that Christie was aware of the closures.

The closures caused four days of headaches for commuters around Fort Lee, at the New Jersey side of the bridge. It also slowed school buses and emergency vehicles.

Colin Reed, a spokesman for the governor, did not comment directly on Wisniewski's comments, but reasserted Christie's stance that he had no knowledge of the lane closures.

Wildstein's attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, the investigation of who else might have been involved in the bridge lane closures was continuing, with nearly two dozen subpoenas issued to New Jersey officials, many of them in Christie's inner circle.

"As early as tomorrow (Monday), we hope to be starting to get responses to the subpoenas," Wisniewski said.

The state probes are running parallel to an investigation announced last month by the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Paul Fishman.

As Sunday's Super Bowl put New Jersey in the national spotlight, the Democratic National Committee launched an online video ad comparing Christie to a struggling football player.

"They say he's unstoppable ... unless he chokes," the ad intones, juxtaposing football images with video clips of news coverage of Christie, before and after the scandal broke. "It's just the first quarter. It's going to be a long game."

The scandal has tarnished Christie's reputation as a politician ready to reach across the aisle at a time when partisan gridlock has defined Washington.

It has also impacted his approval ratings. Support for the governor, which soared over his handling of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, has fallen almost 20 points since his landslide re-election in November, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released last month. Christie's approval rating among New Jersey voters, at 65 percent just before he was re-elected last year, slid to 46 percent, the poll indicated.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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