For months, nobody seemed to know the whereabouts of a particular cell phone used by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to text with an aide regarding Bridgegate hearings in late 2013. Strangely enough, his lawyer had it the whole time.
“Right after Bridgegate I turned it over. I haven’t had it for two-plus years, but it’s in the hands of the government, as far as I know. I don’t know exactly who physically has it but I turned it over in response to requests from the government as I said I would to fully cooperate with them because, you know, they want the information they’re more than welcome to it,” Christie said in May. On Friday, the New York Times reported, a spokesperson for the governor’s office said that Christie’s personal attorney, Christopher Wray, has the phone.
Attorneys for Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly, who pleaded not guilty to charges that they manufactured a traffic jam on the George Washington bridge as political retaliation on Christie’s behalf, were seeking access to the cell phone because they wanted to review its contents themselves: specifically, deleted text messages between the governor and his former chief of staff, Regina Egea, sent while Port Authority employees testified before state lawmakers in Trenton about the lane closings. Egea has said she deleted messages routinely.
At a hearing last week, a federal judge considered arguments that Christie’s team should produce the cell phone. The governor’s office was represented at the hearing by lawyers from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who said they didn’t have the phone. The judge denied the defense’s request for access to the phone and its contents.
The governor’s office hired Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher after the lane closings to conduct an internal investigation of the Bridgegate scheme and cleared the governor of any involvement. The firm commissioned a forensic analysis of his phone, the relevant results of which it says it turned over to the government and the other defense teams. In 2010, NJ Advance Media notes, an attorney for the firm wrote an article for Law.com about the importance of preserving cell phone records when under federal investigation.
Wray, who was not present at last week’s court hearing, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Gawker.