Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who was the first elected official of consequence to endorse Donald Trump for president and later served as Trump’s transition chairman until he was fired shortly after the election, is out with a new book. In it, he defends Trump against the charge of collusion with the Russians.
In an interview to promote the book, called Let Me Finish, Christie says that he never saw any evidence of such collusion and that the campaign operation was “too disorganized and threadbare” to carry out what Christie described as “a Tom Clancy operation,” the former governor told New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman in an interview published this week.
In the same interview, Christie said that Trump thought that firing national security adviser Michael Flynn weeks into his presidency would end “the whole Russia thing.” Christie, however, has never worked in the Trump White House and was not present for such events, although he did have lunch with Trump at the White House on the day after Flynn’s firing in February of 2017.
The “Russia thing,” of course, was far from over, and Robert Mueller was named special counsel to investigate the matter following the firing of FBI director James Comey several months later.
The book focuses a lot on the work of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who Christie believes was responsible for his firing from the transition. Christie, New Jersey’s U.S. attorney in the early 2000s, was responsible for prosecuting Kushner’s father, Charles. Christie also says in the book that he argued against the hiring of various controversial employees of the Trump campaign and administration, including Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Steve Bannon.
Christie also reveals in the book that release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape in October of 2016 was one of the only times he has seen Trump embarrassed.
Lunch in February 2017
Trump: "This Russia thing is all over now, because I fired Flynn.”
Trump asks why.
Christie: "Sir, this Russia thing is far from over."
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) January 28, 2019
Chris Christie served two terms as the Republican governor of New Jersey, elected in 2009 and 2013. Immediately following his re-election, Christie became embroiled in a major controversy over whether he had ordered traffic blocked on a bridge from New York City to New Jersey in order to create trouble for the town’s mayor, a political rival. Christie has long denied having anything to do with the traffic maneuver and was never charged with any crime in relation to it.
Christie later drew criticism for appearing with his family on a closed public beach during a government shutdown in 2017.