Representative Frank Pallone said that the hearing in which U.S. Attorney Chris Christie and former Attorney General John Ashcroft were to testify in was postponed because the two would not agree to attend.
Although he’s not a member of the committee, Pallone said that based on his experience chairing the Health Committee, the next step may be to issue a subpoena.
“When we want to have a hearing, we contact the people we would like to see testify, and, if they don’t appear, you have to decide how you get them there, whether it’s through a subpoena or other means.”
Christie had told reporters that he would testify if asked by the Justice Department. But Pallone pointed out that there’s no law that says a sitting U.S. Attorney needs permission.
Michael Torra, chief of staff to Rep. Linda Sanchez [D-CA], who chairs the subcommittee, told PolitickerNJ.com earlier today that the committee has not gotten a yes or no answer from the justice department regarding Christie’s testimony and that they chose to delay the hearing while they figured out who from the Justice Department would testify.
Pallone is writing legislation to change the way deferred prosecution agreements are assigned, and said that hearing Christie and Ashcroft testify would help him write it.
Those agreements touched off this controversy after Christie gave Ashcroft a federal monitoring contract worth between $27 and $52 million that critics have compared to the types of no-bid contracts favored by the types of politicians Christie likes to prosecute.
“In order for us to sanction legislation, we need to hear form Christie and Ashcroft as to how they’ve been proceeding, and have them discuss and justify what they’ve been doing – in my opinion its not been justified,” said Pallone. “They’re the ones implementing all these deferred prosecution agreements. If they think they’re justified, why don’t they show up when the committee?”