The George Washington Bridge lane closures scandal may end up in a courtroom sooner than you think.
Over the past few weeks, New Jersey lawmakers investigating the closures have been going back and forth with Bill Stepien, Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) former campaign manager and one of the individuals who in January received a subpoena for documents related to the closures. Stepien responded by invoking his Fifth Amendment rights, and demanding that the subpoena be withdrawn. Earlier this month, state lawmakers informed Stepien’s lawyer that they had found his objections invalid, and reiterated their request for documents. On Tuesday, Stepien’s lawyer suggested his client is ready to go to court to keep up the fight.
In a letter sent to the special counsel working with state lawmakers, Stepien’s attorney, Kevin Marino, said his client still refuses to produce documents.
“[Stepien’s] principled objections to the Subpoena raise significant legal issues that are no less valid because they here arise in the context of a politically-charged investigation,” Marino wrote. “I respectfully suggest that if the Committee persists in its refusal to withdraw the Subpoena, we confer on an orderly process and schedule for seeking a judicial determination as to the validity of those objections.”
A first round of subpoenaed documents related to the lane closures released last month showed Stepien calling the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. an “idiot” in an email sent a few days after the lane closures. Following the release of the documents, Christie asked Stepien to leave his role as a consultant to the Republican Governors’ Association, and to take his name out of the running for chairman of New Jersey’s Republican Party.
Stepien might not be alone in his fight. An attorney representing Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that his refusal to provide documents to the committee has not changed “one iota.” Like Stepien, Kelly has also invoked her Fifth Amendment rights in response to the state lawmakers’ subpoenas.