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Prosecutors seek bridge documents from N.J. lawmakers

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey subpoenaed all records from a state legislative committee probing politically motivated lane closings at the George Washington Bridge that tied up traffic last year.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, who is investigating whether crimes took place, is seeking "any and all records (in whatever form)" obtained by the 12-member committee. The panel is probing why allies of Republican Gov. Chris Christie closed access lanes in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Sept. 9-12. The April 17 subpoena seeks the panel's records by May 2.

"We are complying," said state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, one of two Democrats co-chairing the panel. "It's a sign of cooperation, and I think it was not unexpected."

Fishman's office previously subpoenaed records from Christie's re-election campaign and the state Republican Committee. The scandal has eroded the popularity of Christie as he weighs a run for the White House in 2016.

The governor commissioned a report by lawyers at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, which absolved him last month. The law firm said others tied up traffic to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for mysterious reasons.

Lawmakers have previously subpoenaed records from 28 people and organizations. Former campaign manager Bill Stepien and deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly resisted and asserted their constitutional rights against self-incrimination. A state judge blocked their subpoenas, saying they were overbroad and amounted to impermissible fishing expeditions.

The legislative panel this week requested testimony from Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates the bridge; William Schuber, a commissioner at the agency; Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie; and Christina Renna, who worked under Kelly. Schuber and Renna are to testify on May 6, while Foye and Drewniak will appear on May 13.

State lawmakers have said they won't interfere with prosecutors, who can seek grand jury testimony and subpoena documents as they decide whether to bring charges. Drewniak testified this month before a U.S. grand jury in Newark.

"They never indicate why they want documents," said state Assemb. John S. Wisniewski, the committee's other co-chairman. "We've always said we're fully willing and ready to cooperate with any of the federal investigations." The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the subpoena by Fishman's office.

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