NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The mystery over what happened to the cellphone New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used during the aftermath of the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal appears to have added another chapter.
Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, the law firm representing Christie's office in the federal probe of the lane closings, said in a court filing it returned the phone after it searched the device for any material responsive to a government subpoena.
While the specific language in Tuesday's filing doesn't say the phone was returned to Christie, it appears to contradict Christie's statement last month that he gave the phone to the government as part of the subpoena and didn't know who had it.
"After preserving the Governor's phone's contents, GDC searched for any responsive material and, once the search was completed, returned the phone and non-responsive data," the firm wrote.
Asked about the phone's whereabouts as he was leaving an unrelated news conference Wednesday, Christie declined to answer.
Christie's phone is one of the items sought in a subpoena by Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly, two former Christie allies indicted last year for allegedly closing access lanes to the bridge in September 2013 to punish a local Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie, a Republican.
Baroni, a former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive, and Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, contend text messages between Christie and former aide Regina Egea, believed to be deleted, could be relevant to their defense.
They are focusing on text exchanges that occurred during testimony by Port Authority officials to a state legislative committee probing the lane closures.
Christie hasn't been charged and has denied prior knowledge of the alleged scheme.
Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, which has billed New Jersey taxpayers more than $10 million for its work connected to the bridge case, also used Tuesday's filing to fire back at accusations by Baroni and Kelly that it deliberately withheld or destroyed evidence.
The firm urged the judge to "put an end to criminal defense counsel's unprofessional smear tactics" by granting the firm's motion to quash Kelly's and Baroni's subpoena.
Oral argument on the motion is scheduled for July 7 in Newark.
Associated Press writer Bruce Shipkowski contributed from Trenton.