Interesting related development: When Michael Drewniak disappeared from view for a while after it came out that he was kept in the loop on the Christie office GWB shenigans, his deputy Colin Reed became more visible. Today we learn Reed is leaving Christie for Scott Brown. TPM has it.
Via ABC News:
The U.S. Attorney in New Jersey has convened a grand jury to investigate the involvement of Governor Chris Christie’s office in the George Washington Bridge scandal, ABC News has learned.
Twenty-three jurors convened in a federal courthouse in Newark today to hear testimony from a key staff member, Christie press secretary Mike Drewniak, whose lawyer, Anthony Iacullo, said Drewniak was not a target of the investigation.
In a clear signal that this investigation will not go away as quickly as Christie’s self-exonerating report suggested it would, ABC reports that the grand jury will be meeting over a period of 18 months. The convening of the grand jury is evidence that the U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman’s investigation has progressed beyond an inquiry and moved to the criminal phase. Fishman, of course, occupies the top federal prosecutor position in New Jersey; it is the job from which Chris Christie launched his own meteoric political career as a USA known for rooting out political corruption.
The grand jury of 23 people was convened from North Jersey residents.
Michael Drewniak, Christie’s mouthpiece and close political colleague both as governor and as USA, was inside the courthouse today for two hours. His attorney Anthony Iacullo said Drewniak was not a target of the investigation. Iacullo called his client a “witness:”
“I’m not going to get into the specifics as to what would be discussed in the grand jury. I would say though that Mike is a witness and we have been assured that he continues to be a witness throughout these proceedings and Mike has continued to cooperate as requested by the government into this inquiry.”
A number of Gov. Christie’s prosecutors, left over from his tenure there, now work under U.S. Attorney Fishman.
I found this pull-out from the ABC News’ story interesting:
ABC News has also learned from two officials briefed on the investigation that a team of state prosecutors — tapped by Christie’s own attorney general — are monitoring the federal case and are prepared to continue the investigation on the state level if the feds turn it over to them.
Attorney General Hoffman has been widely criticized for failing to launch an investigation into how local lanes on the George Washington Bridge came to be suddenly closed for 5 days in September without notifying first responders, New York authorities and commuters. Port Authority Exec Dir Pat Foye has said the action likely broke both federal and state laws. The chain of authority to close the lanes – on the first day of school and over the 9/11 anniversary when the area goes on terror watch – includes members of Gov. Christie’s inner sanctum in both his governmental and political life, and his top appointees at Port Authority.