U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman today acknowledged a need to finish his office's investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane closures as quickly as possible, though he wouldn't say how long that might take.
Asked by WNYC's Brian Lehrer whether, with Christie considering a run for president in 2016, he should "indict or clear before too long," Fishman said: "The answer to that question, of course, is yes."
"We try to move every investigation we have as fast as we possibly can, because if people know they're being investigated, that's always what we owe people," Fishman said. "In that respect, this investigation is no different.
"But certainly, we understand the need for us to finish this expeditiously as we can," he continued. "But I won't, and can't, let that goal get in the way of doing the kind of investigation that my office and the Department of Justice is known for. And that's what we owe the public."
The September 2013 lane closures at the bridge created massive traffic in Fort Lee, spurring investigation by news outlets and state lawmakers. In November 2013, Christie's now-resigned top appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, testified before lawmakers that the closures were part of a traffic study.
In January, Christie fired a top aide and cut ties with a political adviser after the disclosure of emails suggesting a different motive for the closures – including an email from the now-fired aide to a Port Authority official that read, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
The U.S. Attorney's Office said at the time that it was reviewing the matter to determine whether federal laws had been implicated.
Fishman refused to say whether his office was considering charges based on a particular clause of a fraud statute that would allow for people to be charged with using the bridge for other than its intended purpose – as the New York Times reported last week. He said the statute, which pertains to employees of a state government that receives a certain amount of federal money, was often used by his office in bribery cases.
He also would not disclose whether his office had interviewed Christie. "I never talk about ongoing investigations," he said.
"The most I will say is that we're doing the most thorough, complete, professional job that we know how," Fishman said. "And when we are done, people will know."