In a court filing presented Tuesday night by New Jersey’s Governor law firm lawyers, they wrote that Christie’s personal cell phone was returned to him once the search was carried out. The phone was involved in the investigation to link the Governor with the case of the George Washington Bridge closure.
The law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher said in a court filing that the office had returned the phone after searching the device for any material or evidence to contribute in the government probe related to the massive traffic congestion caused in Fort Lee in September 2013.
“After preserving the Governor’s phone’s contents, GDC searched for any responsive material and, once the search was completed, returned the phone and non-responsive data,” Christie’s outside law firm wrote. “I haven’t had it for two plus years, but it’s in the hands of the government as far as I know,” said Christie.
Governor’s former allies, Bridget Anne Kelly, and Bill Baroni were charged in 2015 with conspiracy, fraud, and civil rights violations as a consequence of 2013’s lane closures. Both Christie’s former allies found guilty in the case are due to stand trial in September.
The Fort Lee lane case
Referred also like the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, or Bridgegate, it is a US political scandal in which staff members of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conspired to cause traffic jams in Fort Lee lanes.
It was during the week of September 9, of 2013, when the closure began. During the morning rush hour, two of the three toll lanes of the Fort Lee entrances to the upper level of the George Washington Bridge were closed to local use. Local authorities, emergency services nor civilians were advised about the lane closure, what meant a public collapse in an area that usually registered lots of traffic.
The traffic congestion lead to significant delays in school transportation, and that day was the very beginning of school activities, but also delays for emergency and police responses.
The traffic collapse ended when the two lanes were reopened on Friday 13, 2013. The order was sent from Port Authority Executive Director, Patrick Foye, who considered the impetuous measure as a decision that could have put in risk civilian’s lives and also a violation of federal and state laws.
Bridgegate Hidden Evidence: Christie's Texts, Cell Phone…And Now, Personal Emails – #BridgeGate https://t.co/gVMz7yGygR
— Brenda Walker (@SeaWalker196) June 30, 2016
The George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal was deeply investigated because it allegedly involved political issues. In May 2015, New Jersey’s prosecutors charged Bridget Anne Kelly (former Christie’s Deputy Chief Staff) and Bill Baroni (Christie’s staff member). Both women have been accused of closing access lane in an attempt to act against Fort Lee’s local Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, for not endorsing Christie (Republican) in the 2013 gubernatorial elections.
Fort’s authorities claimed fraud because the state’s resources were being illegally exploited for political purposes. Chris Christie alleged he was aware of any measure to close the lanes, nor did he approve or authorize it. Christie asked the law firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to conduct an internal probe concerned with the 2013 traffic congestion in Fort Lee.
The incident was declared by several Port Authority officials as a threat to public safety.