Lawyers for Bill Baroni, a former deputy director of the New Jersey Port Authority facing conspiracy, fraud, and civil rights charges in the ‘Bridgegate’ scandal, says that Governor Chris Christie has refused to release emails and other documents.
In a Wednesday court filing, Baroni’s defense team says that Christie has only provided “unintelligible, deficient, and practically useless” information. Attorney Michael Baldassare tells the Guardian that the governor’s office is still withholding “critical documents” from his client related to the September 2013 lane closures at the town of Fort Lee.
Claims made by Christie’s lawyers for why these documents should be kept secret do not “pass the red face test”, according to the filing. Among the documents are emails between Christie’s press secretary Michael Drewniak and David Wildstein, a state official who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, which were withheld on the basis of attorney-client privilege despite neither man being an attorney.
[…] Attorneys for allies of the governor facing criminal charges over the Bridgegate saga are asking judge Susan Wigenton to compel prosecutors to obtain and hand over files such as Christie’s text messages, emails from his official account and any testimony he gave to a federal grand jury.
Along with former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly, Baroni is on trial for conspiring to shut down lanes and cause a traffic jam in order to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for declining to endorse Christie’s reelection bid.
Lawyers for both defendants will appear in court Friday to ask the judge to compel Christie’s office to release thousands of emails from his official account; so far, he has only released material from his personal one.
Baroni’s defence team also said Christie’s office had wrongly asserted that many documents are protected by privilege, and released an unusable jumble of more than 17,000 unordered pages as a single PDF. It “seems as though documents were gathered from the governor’s office, dropped from a rooftop and, after gathering them willy-nilly, given to the government,” the filing said.
Baldassare and his co-counsel have been fighting to obtain critical evidence for months now. In fact, the very first defense team motions in November focused on the lack of information from prosecutors, including the names of alleged co-conspirators.
At the time, Baroni and Kelly’s legal representatives argued that the government had simply dumped 1.7 million pages of unsearchable documents on them. Apparently, that was the same condition in which Christie’s office had turned them over to the government.
Christie, who has made several campaign trail remarks attacking Hillary Clinton for supposed criminal faults in her emails during her tenure as Secretary of State, hopes that the voters of New Hampshire will invigorate his flagging presidential campaign in next Tuesday’s primary ballot.
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