The FBI has begun questioning aides to Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer in the investigation into whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used Hurricane Sandy relief funds as leverage, according to a report in The New York Times.
The Times’ William Rashbaum reports that “several witnesses” told the FBI that Zimmer told them in May of the threat. Zimmer alleged in an interview with MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki last weekend that the Christie administration held Sandy relief funds “hostage” as leverage for a development project she said top Christie administration officials — Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, Christie’s commissioner of community affairs — pushed her to support.
According to the Times, the aides told FBI investigators that Zimmer told them about the threat shortly after it occurred. Zimmer told MSNBC last Saturday that a specific threat was made by Guadagno in a parking lot in May.
Multiple aides close to Zimmer didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on whether they were interviewed. Zimmer said Wednesday that she would no longer give media interviews while the investigation is ongoing, at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of New Jersey.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked that we not conduct additional media interviews and we are respecting their request,” she said in a statement. “I stand by my previous statements and remain willing to testify under oath about all of the facts in this case.”
The Christie administration has pushed back particularly hard on Zimmer’s claims — both at the network, MSNBC, that first aired them, and at Zimmer herself. On Monday, Guadagno disputed Zimmer’s account as “illogical” and “offensive.”
“Mayor Zimmer’s version of our conversation in May of 2013 is not only false but is illogical, and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined,” she said at a press conference.
The new investigation comes amid another investigation and increased scrutiny on the Christie administration over a top aide’s involvement in the decision to close access lanes onto the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, N.J., in September. The Christie administration is also under a separate federal investigation for its use of Hurricane Sandy relief funds.
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