Paul Fishman, the US attorney in Newark, New Jersey, who has been probing the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal that has haunted the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), is about to reveal some of his findings.
A source confirmed to Business Insider that documents related to the investigation into the September 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge will be released on Friday.
The news that the federal prosecutor plans to move forward with the case comes on the heels of a Bloomberg report published on Wednesday that said David Wildstein, who ordered the lane closures, plans to plead guilty on Friday.
According to NBC New York, Wildstein is expected to make his guilty plea on unspecified criminal charges at an 11 a.m. court appearance.
Wildstein is a former high school classmate and longtime associate of Christie. He was appointed by the governor to serve as the director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the George Washington Bridge.
Some Democrats have alleged Christie called for the September 2013 lane closures to retaliate against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D), who declined to endorse the governor’s reelection bid that year. The shutdown led to days of gridlock in Fort Lee, which is located at the base of the bridge.
Wildstein resigned from his position at the Port Authority in December 2013 as questions about the lane closures mounted. Christie has repeatedly denied having any involvement in the lane closures.
In spite of Christie’s insistence that he had nothing to with the scandal, it has cast a large shadow on his widely expected 2016 White House bid. Charges against Wildstein or other Christie associates and testimony that could emerge from them through any plea deals could further complicate Christie’s presidential ambitions. Wildstein’s attorney, Alan Zegas, has previously indicated his client may have information implicating the governor.
Christie’s office, New Jersey US Attorney Paul Fishman, and Zegas did not respond to requests for comment from Business Insider when reports Wildstein planned to plead guilty first emerged.
Last January, a special investigative committee in the New Jersey Legislature uncovered an August 13, 2013 email exchange where Wildstein and Bridget Ann Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs, discussed Fort Lee.
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote to Wildstein.
“Got it,” Wildstein replied.
The committee also found emails indicating Wildstein and Kelly discussed Fort Lee again via telephone on August 30, 2013. Wildstein ordered the bridge’s general manager to close the lanes one week later and the shutdown began on September 9.
Christie fired Kelly in January 2014 after those emails emerged. In February 2014, Alan Zegas, Wildstein’s attorney, released a letter where he claimed “evidence exists … tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures.”
Christie and his team have made several statements criticising Wildstein and Kelly. Last March, lawyers hired by the governor’s office released an internal report that found Kelly and Wildstein were the only two officials who “knowingly participated” in a scheme to target Sokolich by ordering the closures.
Kelly’s lawyer, Michael Critchley, declined to comment earlier in the week when Wildstein’s expected plea was first reported.
“I’ll await the events and respond in real time,” Critchley told Business Insider.
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