Transcript: Former Port Authority executive David Wildstein’s appearance before the NJ Assembly transportation committee on Jan. 9, 2014 – Part III

Part III: Partial transcript of the New Jersey Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities committee hearing on the George Washington Bridge lane closures. David Wildstein, who was appointed to the Port Authority by Gov. Chris Christie, was subpoenaed to testify on Jan. 9, 2014.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
…So just to go through the preliminaries of the process today, Mr. Wildstein thank you for appearing here with counsel. I see him seated to your side and I’ve met with him prior to this hearing. So I understand you’re represented by counsel.

I just want to make sure Mr. Wildstein that you understand that the statements made here today, if willfully false – if you give a false answer – that you may be committing perjury and that you may be subjected to penalties under law. Do you understand that?

David Wildstein, former Port Authority executive:
Yes, Mr. Chairman, I understand.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
Thank you.

Did you receive a subpoena today from the committee – did you receive a subpoena from this committee compelling your testimony at this date and time?

David Wildstein, former Port Authority executive:
Yes, Mr. Chairman, I did.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
And did you receive a copy of the code of fair procedures together with that subpoena.

David Wildstein, former Port Authority executive:
Yes, sir.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
Do you understand that you have certain rights under the code of fair procedures, including the right to be accompanied by counsel who shall be permitted to confer with you during your questioning, advise you of your rights, and submit proposed questions on your behalf?

David Wildstein, former Port Authority executive:
Yes.

Oath administered to Wildstein.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
Mr. Wildstein, could you state and spell your last name for the record.

David Wildstein, former Port Authority executive:
David Wildstein. W-I-L-D-S-T-E-I-N.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
And where do you current reside?

David Wildstein, former Port Authority executive:
Montville, New Jersey.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
Okay. And are you currently employed?

David Wildstein, former Port Authority executive:
No.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
And most recently, where were you employed?

David Wildstein, former Port Authority executive:
On the advice of my counsel, I respectfully assert my right to remain silent under the United States and New Jersey constitutions.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
Okay. And I’ve had this discussion with your counsel. The witness is properly called and sworn, and the questions have begin. And so I want to be very specific about this.

Mr. Wildstein, you’ve been asked a question about where you formerly worked. Are you refusing to answer that question?

Alan Zegas, attorney representing David Wildstein:
He has asserted his rights under the New Jersey and federal constitutions, sir.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
Okay. Thank you very much.

I want to make clear that under the rules of fair procedures that you have been provided with and under state law – NJS52:133 – which, again, Mr. Zegas, you and I have discussed in advance of this hearing, the right to refuse to answer questions to this committee is not permitted under those rules.

Alan Zegas, attorney representing David Wildstein:
I understand this committee’s view of the rules and what the rules might say, but in my legal opinion, the federal and state constitutions trump the rules that the chair is making reference to.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
Okay. And I will direct this to counsel. Counsel, can you explain to me the basis of asserting the right for the Fifth Amendment on the basis of where you [Wildstein] worked most recently?

Alan Zegas, attorney representing David Wildstein:
If, for example – and all of this is hypothetical because there are certainly no criminal charges – but threats have been made by different persons to the media in connection with the alleged lane closures of the George Washington Bridge. And if, for example, there were charges relating to his former employment and whether he was a public official at the time, the answer to the question that the chair just posed would be evidential and could be used by prosecutors in his or her chain of proofs.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
Thank you. While I certainly disagree, we will continue with the questioning. The committee does have the right to find your client’s failure to respond to validly asked questions to be in contempt of this committee’s subpoena and to take a vote on that, and that matter may be referred to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. You understand that?

Alan Zegas, attorney representing David Wildstein:
That is understood, sir.

NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D):
So what I’d like to do is just continue with the questioning and we will address your client’s objections and failure to comply at the conclusion of those questions.

Alan Zegas, attorney representing David Wildstein:
That is acceptable.

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