By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Assemblyman John Wisniewski has been reading a lot of documents this holiday season.
As first reported in The Record today, the thousands of pages of e-mails, texts and other writings he subpoenaed have led him to believe someone higher up than David Wildstein was involved in the George Washington Bridge lane closure decision.
“It seems pretty clear to me that it came from outside the Port Authority but I want to be absolutely certain before I make what some people would call an accusation,” Wisniewski said.
All the testimony so far in Assembly hearings has said the order was given by Wildstein, the second highest ranking New Jersey appointee at the agency.
The highest ranking, Bill Baroni, told lawmakers Wildstein was conducting a traffic study.
Wisniewski says the documents don’t back that up and point at political retribution as the reason.
“You’re left to grasp what could possibly be a reason for doing this. That’s certainly a reason that rises to the top,” said Wisniewski.
Wildstein and Baroni have both resigned over the bridge scandal, and Wildstein has been subpoenaed to testify under oath next week.
Some have wondered whether he’ll invoke the Fifth Amendment, but Wisniewski suspects not.
Also left unsaid so far is whether anyone else will be called to testify under oath to the committee.
“No one has been ruled out definitively, and no one has been ruled in definitively,” said Wisniewski.
Wisniewski says his aim in continuing the probe is to reform the Port Authority, not to go after top allies of Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
“For those people who would say that this is a witch hunt, I would just say why don’t you wait til we’re done,” Wisniewski said.
He’s hoping more oral testimony, combined with the many documents, will tell the story.
“And so we’re looking at a puzzle, many different pieces, some fit together, some that have big gaps in it but it’s become clear that there was no rational governmental basis to have these lanes diverted. It seems pretty clear to me that at least in part the genesis of this originated from outside the Port Authority, but I’d like to have the opportunity to have the committee to question Mr. Wildstein to get more detail on that,” Wisniewski said.
Wisniewski was circumspect in his comments today and will not allow anyone to examine the documents closely. When we asked when this will all come to a head, he said we’ll know a lot more after next week’s hearing Thursday at noon.