The U. S. attorney for New Jersey, Paul Fishman, hasn't said much about his office's probe into Bridgegate since announcing his office was looking into the affair in February. But lawyers for Christie's former political chief, Bill Stepien, and his former chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, indicate they are targets of the federal investigation. Both argue that due to the federal probe, they shouldn't have to turn over documents to a state legislative panel investigating the snafu.
In the court filing released Monday, Stepien’s attorney Kevin Marino argued that, given the focus of the authorities on his client, complying with the subpoena would violate his Fifth Amendment protections.Kelly's lawyer, Michael Critchley, plans to file papers this week on behalf of his client making essentially the same argument.
“As a matter of fact, Mr. Stepien is under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice, as evidenced by the government’s telephone calls to him and his lawyer and the federal agents’ recent visit to his landlord,” Marino wrote.
On Jan. 17, a little over a week after Christie cut ties with Stepien, an FBI special agent called Stepien on his cellphone, Marino wrote. Two assistant U.S. attorneys called Marino shortly after that and said they were interested in speaking with Stepien, Marino wrote. He declined. More recently, in mid-February, the FBI agent and an investigator from the Department of Justice paid a visit to Stepien’s home when he was gone and asked his landlord “about his conduct and character – was he married, was he a rowdy tenant, did he pay his rent on time — and left behind their calling cards.”
Critchley, Kelly’s attorney, said an investigator from the U.S. Attorney’s Office contacted Kelly and her parents about a month ago, asking to interview them. They declined, said Critchley, who expects to submit court papers on Thursday also arguing that his client should not be forced to produce documents.If Fishman's investigators are already focusing on Stepien and Kelly this early in the investigation, it means that the probe is moving awfully close to the governor's office. And that is, to put it mildly, bad news for Christie.
“Basically, we’re saying the government through its subpoena is trying to compel a witness to produce documentation that could be interpreted to be incriminating, irrespective of her innocence,” Critchley said. “And the Fifth Amendment protects everyone, innocent as well as otherwise.”
3:00 PM PT: Since this made the rec list, I have to wonder why Kelly is stonewalling. After all, she's a single mom with four kids--she doesn't strike me as a hardened criminal.