New Jersey 'super committee' issues 20 subpoenas in Chris Christie 'Bridgegate' scandal including his CHIEF OF STAFF -- but doesn't intend to haul the governor in for questioning
- Four days of George Washington Bridge delays were allegedly caused on purpose in order to punish a Democratic Party mayor
- A new legislative committee in Trenton, N.J. has issued subpoenas to 17 people and 3 organizations, seeking documents and, eventually, testimony
- Gov. Chris Christie is not among those ordered to provide documents or show up in a committee hearing, but his closest aides are now involved
- The subpoenaed former Christie chief of staff Kevin O'Dowd likely knew 'anything Christie knew about the whole bridge plot,' one aids predicted
- A former Port Authority official has already pleaded the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify
By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor
PUBLISHED: 18:51 EST, 16 January 2014 | UPDATED: 19:28 EST, 16 January 2014
Gov. Chris Christie's former deputy chief of staff, his former political campaign manager, and his most recent chief of staff – now his nominee to be the state's attorney general – will be served subpoenas today or tomorrow over the Bridgegate scandal.
They are among 17 people and three organizations in New Jersey who will come under the gaze of a bipartisan New Jersey legislative 'super investigative committee,' sources inside the General Assembly's Democratic majority office told MailOnline late on Thursday.
But Christie himself is not among those being targeted for documents and forced testimony.
'There's no intention right now to subpoena the governor,' Select Committee on Investigation chairman John Wisniewski said Thursday after the panel's first meeting.
'We've seen nothing in the documents that has – you know, an email from the governor, or to the governor. We've not seen any kind of direct link.'
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Big fish: Former Christie chief of staff Kevin O'Dowd, now in line to be the state attorney general, is reportedly on the 'super investigative committee' subpoena list
John Wisniewski brought 17 names and 3 organizations to his bipartisan Special Committee on Investigations on Thursday, and all 20 subpoenas were approved in under two hours
Wisniewski spokesman Tom O'Donovan did not respond directly to a request for confirmation that the three Christie officials named to MailOnline – Bridget Kelly, Bill Stepien and Kevin O'Dowd – were among those the committee wants to interview in connection with the 'Bridgegate' scandal that has thrown the governor's political future into question.
But another Democratic legislative staffer said it would be 'unthinkable' if they were not on the list.
Christie said Tuesday that his administration would 'cooperate with all appropriate investigations' into the politically inspired traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge that backed up traffic in Fort Lee, N.J. on four days in September.
'We're certainly an appropriate investigation,' Wisniewski told reporters Thursday following the closed-door committee session.
He said the eight Democratic and four Republican assembly members reached 'consensus' that all 17 people on the final wide-ranging list were 'appropriate' targets for subpoenas.
Bill Stepien (L) was Christie's campaign manager and stood to cash in on a consulting contract with the Republican Governors Association, which the New Jersey governor leads this year. He's been let go, and is reportedly now under subpoena
Christie publicly announced a week ago that he had fired Kelly after he learned that she was linked to the bridge lane closures, which were reportedly an act of political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who declined to endorse Christie's 2013 re-election bid.
The governor was had less harsh words about Stepien, his former campaign manager, announcing only that he had lost a consulting contract with the Christie-led Republican Governors Association, and would not be permitted to run for the chairmanship of the state Republican party.
O'Dowd, however, is the closest of the three to Gov. Christie. As Kelly's direct supervisor, a Democratic assembly staffer told MailOnline, he is presumed to have known 'anything Christie knew about the whole bridge plot.'
'And if Bridget Kelly was following the governor's orders, there's no way O'Dowd wasn't the middle-man,' he said.
Business as usual: Christie spoke to media and homeowners about the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy in the town of Manahawkin on Thursday
Wisniewski (L) is driving the investigation into why the Port Authority temporarily closed some access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee in September 2013
Christie has forcefully denied having any knowledge of the scheme, or playing any role in directing it. His unequivocal statements have set up a political scenario where a single email, text message or statement to the contrary could sink his chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
O'Dowd's confirmation hearing for the attorney general role is on hold indefinitely until his status in the investigation is resolved.
The New Jersey Democratic majority announced Thursday afternoon that a total of 20 subpoenas will be issued, most by Friday morning.
Asked if any of the committee's targets would be surprised, he said, 'I don't think so.'
But he said several of those on the committee's list have already retained lawyers.
Wisniewski insisted Thursday that he would not publicly say who will receive the subpoenas until they have been served.
Bridget Kelly, O'Dowd's deputy, sent a now-infamous email to a Port Authority official predicting 'traffic problems' in the New Jersey town of Fort Lee. Christie fired her a week ago and is now reportedly under subpoena
'We just want to respect the process and give them an opportunity to be served. ... and that they didn't find out about it online or in the papers,' he said.
'We're not going to tell you,' he insisted.
But news quickly leaked out about a few of the people slated to join former Port Authority officials David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, who have been under subpoena since late in autumn.
Baroni offered lengthy testimony in November. Wildstein invoked the Fifth amendment and refused to answer questions during a Jan. 9 hearing of a separate committee, also chaired by Wisniewski
The Middlesex County, N.J. Democrat told reporters that his newly constituted committee would also extend the existing subpoenas, complaining that the Port Authority had tried to run out the clock' on the legislature's previous demands, which expired on Tuesday.
Kelly, O'Dowd and Stepien could not be reached for comment. Christie's office did not respond to a request for a reaction.
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