Christie investigator says subpoena powers in doubt

John Wisniewski. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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John Wisniewski, the chairman of the New Jersey legislative committee investigating the Chris Christie Port Authority scandal, said on "Up with Steve Kornacki" this morning that he's not sure the next Assembly speaker will reauthorize the committee's subpoena power.

A decision not to reauthorize the subpoena power could at least temporarily halt the investigation that turned up the revelatory emails that the Republican governor claims made him aware of the involvement of at least one member of his staff in a scheme to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge and snarl traffic in Fort Lee, apparently as an act of political retribution against a local official. Without an extension, the subpoena powers expire Tuesday.

Incoming speaker Vincent Prieto, a Democrat from Hudson, NJ, had previously said that he "fully expect[ed]" the committee's investigation to continue into the new session.

When asked this morning whether the committee would get it powers reauthorized by the new speaker, Wisniewski, a Democrat from Middlesex who chairs the assembly's transportation committee, said, "Well, I've spoken to the speaker's staff and I've asked them--matter of fact, yesterday evening--I've asked them that on the day we reorganize, January 14, our first order of business ought to be to adopt a resolution just requires 41 votes of the General Assembly to reauthorize the committee subpoena authority going forward for this upcoming legislative session so there's no gap in the ability of the committee to do it's work. His staff said they'd take it under advisement--they'd 'get back to me.' I don't have an answer as of today."

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Subpoeanaed Port Authority documents released yesterday reveal that at least one additional senior Christie aide was aware of the lane-closure scheme and of concerns that it was a political operation, which Christie claims to have learned about only this week.

The aide, Regina Egea, is Christie's director of authorities. 

The governor fired longtime aide Bridget Anne Kelly after learning of her involvement in the lane-closure scheme in media reports,  and said that he wasn't aware of the involvement of any other aides.

Christie, a Republican, has strong ties to some of New Jersey's powerful Democratic county chairs.

UPDATE: MSNBC has posted video of the Wisniewski interview here.

UPDATE: Prieto now confirms the investigation will go forward, releasing the following statement:

"The documents released this week related to the George Washington Bridge situation clearly show the need for a continued thorough investigation by the New Jersey General Assembly. Many questions remain unanswered about this threat to public safety and abuse of power.

"I expect to call the Assembly into special session on Thursday to consider legislation that would reauthorize subpoena power so this investigation can continue. More detals on Thursday's session will be announced in the coming days.

"Chairman Wisniewski has done an oustanding and professional job leading this investigation, and I look forward to working with him as he continues to lead our inquiry."