With the investigations into the George Washington Bridge lane closures continuing, the New Jersey State Senate and the Legislative Assembly have decided to form a joint committee to continue the investigation. Chairman of the Select Committee on the GWB investigation, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the joint committee is in the works.
“This was something that has been in the works quite frankly since the legislative session started,” said Wisniewski. “There is a lot of negotiations going on and finally come together between the Senate president and the Assembly speaker coming to an agreement.”
Wisniewski said that both the Senate and Assembly working together will be much more efficient than having two committees working on the same investigation. Reid Schar will be the counsel within the committee and there will be a lot more focus moving forward in the investigation, according Wisniewski.
With the investigations ongoing, Wisniewski said that the testimonies are important but that most of the findings surrounding the GWB lane closures were found within subpoenaed documents. During David Wildstein’s testimony in front of the Transportation Committee, Wisniewski said that he expected Wildstein to plead the fifth on some issues. As the investigation continues, Wisniewski does not expect anyone who gets subpoenaed to testify to react the same way as Wildstein.
“We’ve gotten pretty far even though Mr. Wildstein took the fifth and my opinion, while I expected him to take the fifth on some issues, I didn’t expect him to take it even on issues like where did you most recently work and so there’s no reason to assume that other people who may be subpoenaed would abuse that in the same fashion,” said Wisniewski.
Meanwhile, as the GWB lane closures investigation continues, several New Jersey mayors have made claims of their own about Gov. Chris Christie’s administration. Wisniewski says that the investigation’s focus is on the GWB closures and that the committee needs to finish that investigation before even considering other claims.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made comments surrounding the GWB investigation and said Wisniewski should remove himself from the investigation because he is no longer impartial.
“Well I think it would be good if Mayor Giuliani would speak if he knew the facts, but clearly Mayor Giuliani doesn’t know all the facts,” said Wisniewski. “Perhaps he has RNC talking points that prompted him to say those things.”
According to Wisniewski, a dose of skepticism is important while continuing the investigation and that the committee will continue to look at the facts.
“The message that the committee has been discussing throughout this investigation has been an abuse of power and we uncovered an abuse of power and we uncovered an attempt to conceal that abuse of power. That’s the message,” Wisniewski said.
As for the Republican National Committee’s view on the GWB investigation, Wisniewski said, “If they can’t challenge the message, then it’s a typical strategy to challenge the messenger. The fact of the matter is they don’t have anything else to talk about.”