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Lawmakers Squabble Over Probe Of George Washington Bridge Lane Closures

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Republican lawmakers on Monday accused Democrats of unlawfully leaking documents during the legislative probe into the 2013 lane closures at the George Washington Bridge and cast the committee's work as overtly political.

The four Republican members of the Democrat-led legislative panel probing Gov. Chris Christie's connection to the traffic jams unveiled their own 119-page report Monday, just before the panel approved releasing the group's report to the public.

"Legislative Select Committee co-chairs John Wisniewski and Loretta Weinberg pushed the boundaries to advance their own political ambitions and what can be characterized as the dream agenda of national Democrats: to tarnish a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate,'' the Republicans said.

Lawmakers Squabble Over Probe Of George Washington Bridge Lane Closures

Wisniewski said Republicans were unhappy about the report "so they came up with a distraction.''

"They're going to accuse just about everybody on the committee of having some taint or some disqualification to try to distract attention away from the facts,'' Wisniewski said.

"There is nothing in this report that has been manufactured by anybody,'' Weinberg said. "The report stands for itself and to answer it with a personal attack on members of this committee without discussing what they want to refute, if anything, in the report was clearly, in my opinion, inappropriate.''

Republicans say confidential documents and information was routinely leaked to the media and "destroyed the credibility of the committee and its ability to carry out fair proceedings.''

Several media outlets obtained the legislative committee's report last week after it was released to lawmakers.

The GOP lawmakers said that they are turning their report over to the state attorney general and that lawmakers on the panel may have violated laws during the investigation.

At the start of the hearing, Wisniewski called the 12-member committee's interim report a "shining example'' of legislative oversight.

There was heated debate when Wisniewski told Republicans they could not talk about their own report, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported.

"Senator, we're not going to get into the minority report today," Wisniewski said.

"You now want to say I can't say what I have prepared to say?" Republican Sen. Kevin O'Toole said. "This is not North Korea, John. This is America."

That report says no evidence has been found showing Christie played a role in the scheme to close lanes or that he knew about it as it happened.

Wisniewski said the U.S. Attorney's Office, which is investigating the scandal, told the committee to hold off on interviewing a half-dozen people allegedly involved in the scandal, CBS2's Christine Sloan reported.

"If indictments come out ... that will be a document that we'll all look at. Some of the answers to those unanswered questions may in fact be in that document," Wisniewski said.

Democrats have called the lane closures political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not supporting Christie's reelection bid last year.

But a report commissioned by the Christie administration determined there was "not a shred of evidence Gov. Christie knew anything about the GWB lane realignment beforehand,'' its lead attorney, Randy Mastro, said in a statement.

Christie fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, over the scandal. His Port Authority of New York and New Jersey appointee, David Wildstein, resigned.

Panel Probing Christie, George Washington Bridge Lane Closure To Meet

Kelly sent an email to Wildstein reading, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." That message apparently triggered the lane closures.

Supporters of the governor say the report clears him, while his opponents say it shows a lack of curiosity about how his administration is run.

"I'd say that we are never going to find out with confidence why it happened,'' Fort Lee resident Phil Brainerd said.

"I love the governor, I think he does a great job, but I think he had to know somehow," one driver told 1010 WINS' John Montone.

"I wouldn't put blame on him directly, but I'm sure he had a hand in it," another driver said.

"I love the guy," another man said. "Forget about traffic -- there's a lot of cars, so forget about it. Let him just go about his work."

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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