The Democratic chairman of a New Jersey legislative panel investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures said GOP Gov. Chris Christie could be impeached if it’s determined he knew of his top aides’ actions related to the closures, according to NBC News.
More than that, State Assemblyman John Wisniewski said he believes members of Christie’s camp engaged in a “cover-up” and that they violated the law.
“I do think laws have been broken,” he said, CNN noted.
“Using the George Washington Bridge, a public resource, to exact a political vendetta, is a crime,” Wisniewski, who’s also deputy speaker, told NBC News Saturday. “Having people use their official position to have a political game is a crime. So if those tie back to the governor in any way, it clearly becomes an impeachable offense.”
While Christie denied prior knowledge of plans to use bridge lane closures as political payback against Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee, for not endorsing his reelection, there was some confusion at the governor’s Thursday press conference; Christie indicated he found out about the situation a day earlier…but said he had endured two sleepless nights over the issue.
Wisniewski said Christie’s denials aren’t credible, NBC News reported, given how many people under him knew of the matter.
“It’s hard to really accept the governor’s statement that he knew nothing until the other morning,” Wisnieswki told NBC News. “These people travel with him, these people discuss things with him every single day. This is not an isolated, unknown story. … He knew there was an investigation. He knew people were looking at it, and his senior staff was involved (and) he expects us to believe he knew nothing? I just find that implausible.”
Christie has been a high-profile possibility for president in 2016.
Christie’s press secretary, Mike Drewniak, did not immediately return a phone call and email request from NBC News for comment. Wisnewski noted that Drewniak had some knowledge of the bridge lane closures himself.
After this week’s news hit, Christie fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, for her role in the lane closure, recorded in subpoenaed emails.
Democratic New Jersey Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto said he will call a special session Thursday so lawmakers can vote on extending the subpoena power of Wisniewski’s investigation, CNN noted.
The past week’s revelations “clearly show the need for a continued thorough investigation by the New Jersey General Assembly,” Prieto told CNN. “Many questions remain unanswered about this threat to public safety and abuse of power.”
Wisniewski, assuming he gets the extension, told NBC News he plans to subpoena official and private emails, text mesages and other documents from Christie’s current and former top aides and then call them in “one by one” to testify.
“If you know anything about New Jersey statehouse politics, this is a governor — all of our governors quite frankly — are governors who really tightly manage that operation,” he added to NBC News. “There are no freelancers or independent operations there. And so it strains credibility to believe that the governor knew nothing.”