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Christie Pledges to Comply with a Subpoena as Ex-Aide Invokes the Fifth

Monday, February 03, 2014

A former aide to Gov. Chris Christie is invoking her right not to incriminate herself and refusing to cooperate with a subpoena from a legislative committee looking into a political retribution scandal known as Bridgegate.

The lawyer for former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly sent a letter Monday to the committee's lawyer saying she would not comply because the information demanded "directly overlaps with a parallel federal grand jury investigation." Kelly and other Christie aides had been under deadline to respond to the subpoenas by Monday night.

Christie fired Kelly last month after it was made public that she told a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official in an email that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien made a similar argument last week and is also not complying with a subpoena.

Word about Kelly's decision came at the same time that Christie was giving his first broadcast interview since his two-hour news conference on Jan. 9, in which he denied knowledge about the apparent plot to close Fort Lee's access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Christie was asked again if he knew his aides were involved in it.

"The answer is unequivocally 'no,'" he said on New Jersey 101.5 FM's "Ask the Governor" program. The governor said the monthly visit had been rescheduled from late January.

Christie also confirmed his office had received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney investigating his administration. He said his office is cooperating with it.

"We are complying with that in the same way we'll comply with the legislative subpoenas," he said. "We'll comply and cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's inquiry into this and comply with any of the documents that they've requested that are appropriate to turn over as quickly as we uncover them."

When asked about Kelly's decision not to comply with a subpoena from the state legislature's investigative committee, Christie said he supports the right of any of his associates under investigation to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

"What I've said to all of these people that have lawyers now is that I hope they would share information with us," he said. "I also understand that people have rights and they're going to exercise those rights as they see fit and as their lawyers advise them to do so."

During the one-hour radio program, Christie's tone was calm, confident, and at times, contrite. It was markedly different from the tone of Christie's supporters who have been aggressive in recent days in attempting to discredit a key witness, David Wildstein. The former Port Authority official and high school classmate of Christie alleged in a letter through his lawyer on Friday that the governor was aware of the lane closures when they happened in September.

Christie has said repeatedly that he learned of the plot to close the lanes in Fort Lee through media accounts.

With the Associated Press.

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