TRENTON, N.J. (AP) â” The lawyer hired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to review a traffic-blocking scandal that has engulfed Christie’s administration plans to release his findings.
The lawyer, Randy Mastro, has scheduled a news conference Thursday at his New York City offices to deliver the results and answer questions.
The New York Times reported that the review clears Christie of involvement in the plot to block traffic in Fort Lee, the town at the base of the George Washington Bridge, apparently to punish a local mayor who didn’t endorse Christie for re-election.
The scandal has overshadowed the Republican governor and jeopardized any plans to run for president in 2016.
But Christie said Wednesday night that he has made no decisions about his political future.
“There is certainly nothing that has happened in the last number of months … that would make me think any differently about my ability to pursue that job or to perform in it,” Christie said on his monthly radio call-in program, TownSquare Media’s “Ask the Governor.”
He did not comment on Mastro’s findings, saying he is still reading the report that totals about 300 pages.
Mastro told The New York Times this week that Christie, 51, turned over his cellphone and allowed his email accounts to be searched.
The Mastro-led team of lawyers also had access to thousands of documents on government servers and scores of current and former Christie staff, who were interviewed.
But Democrats say the report is incomplete because it does not include interviews with people central to the plot, including Bridget Kelly, the former aide who sent the message, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who chairs a legislative panel investigating the lane closings, also raised questions about the objectivity of a report on the governor commissioned by the governor and compiled by an ally.
Like Christie, Mastro is a former federal prosecutor. He is a former chief of staff to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, another former prosecutor who has staunchly defended Christie on talk shows since the scandal broke open in January. Several people in Christie’s circle once worked for Giuliani.
Federal authorities also are investigating the lane closings and related allegations that two members of Christie’s cabinet threatened to withhold Superstorm Sandy recovery aid to a flooded city unless its mayor OK’d a favored redevelopment project.
Five people close to Christie have lost their jobs in the wake of the scandal, including Kelly, whom he fired, and top political adviser Bill Stepien, who managed both of Christie’s gubernatorial campaigns and was said to be in line to run any presidential bid.
Emails already released during the investigation show that Stepien was aware of the lane closings while they were happening.
Christie maintains he knew nothing about the plot’s planning or execution, and found out about it later.
Mastro’s tab is said to top $1 million, which will be paid by New Jersey taxpayers.