| NEW YORK, March 27
NEW YORK, March 27 The law firm hired by New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie to investigate the "Bridgegate"
scandal engulfing the potential Republican presidential
contender was set on Thursday to release its report, which was
expected to exonerate him.
The internal review was requested by Christie, whose top
staffers have been accused of orchestrating a massive traffic
jam at the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 as
political payback after the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey,
declined to endorse Christie's re-election.
The report was set for release by the New York law firm of
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which has close ties to the Christie
administration, at about 11:30 a.m. (1530 GMT).
New Jersey lawmakers and the U.S. Attorney's office in New
Jersey are undertaking parallel investigations into the traffic
Christie, who fired the staffers and denied any involvement,
was expected to be cleared by the report that took two months,
involved 70 interviews and cost more than $1 million in legal
fees paid by New Jersey taxpayers.
The New York Times on Monday reported the internal review
found no evidence Christie was involved with planning or
directing the lane closures which snarled traffic in the borough
of Fort Lee, New Jersey.
The internal report has no legal weight and is eyed
suspiciously by many critics because it was ordered by Christie
and because the law firm has close ties to Christie.
The lead attorney on the review, Randy Mastro, a deputy
mayor under former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said
attorneys had unprecedented access to the governor and his
office's internal communications and records.
Mastro said Christie handed over his iPhone, telephone
records and allowed investigators to search his private and
government email accounts.
What is missing from the report, however, are the accounts
of two main players in the scandal - Bridget Anne Kelly, the
governor's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Stepien,
Christie's former campaign manager.
Kelly, who apparently kicked off the lane closures by
sending an email that read "time for some traffic problems in
Fort Lee," and Stepien have been subpoenaed by a state
investigative committee seeking documents and emails related to
the lane closures and the aftermath.
Both have refused to comply, arguing the subpoenaed
documents would violate due process and their constitutional
guarantee against self incrimination.
(Additional reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia