Lawyers representing indicted Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Bill Baroni and staffer Bridget Kelly are asking for the cell phone embattled Christie was using at the time of Bridgegate.
Baroni and Kelly’s attorneys cited Supreme Court precedent during the Watergate scandal, where it compelled President Richard Nixon to produce his audio tapes, as justification to force New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to turn over communications from his cell phone.
In a brief filed late Monday, attorneys for the defendants accuse lawyers representing Christie’s office of “holding back on records, including cell phone messages, texts and emails, sought in a subpoena issued earlier this year.” The brief stated that “President Nixon’s tapes were not immune from a subpoena, and neither is Gov. Christie’s phone.”
“These are the desperate allegations of criminal defense attorneys purporting to defend clients by unfairly smearing others,” the lead attorney representing the governor’s office said.
Baroni and Kelly are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and civil rights violations for allegedly scheming to close lanes of traffic leading to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., to create gridlock as an act of revenge against the town’s Democratic mayor who did not endorse Christie’s re-election. The bridge is a major artery into Manhattan and is one of the busiest bridge crossings in the world.
The attorneys for Baroni and Kelly are aggressively seeking the cell phone records, arguing Christie deleted text messages and hid emails that may contradict his claim that he knew nothing about the lane closure.
Christie told reporters in May he does not know where his cell phone is. Christie than backtracked and claimed it was “in the hands of the government.” Federal prosecutors have also stated they do not know where the phone is.
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