2019-01-28 16:06:431 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie can't seem to figure out where he sits with Donald Trump. He initially challenged him for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, then worked in his transition and has now written a book that blows up Trump's time as president from his perspective as an insider.
Christie was a state's attorney for New Jersey for six years, was the governor of New Jersey for eight years, worked in Trump's transition until he was replaced by Mike Pence, chaired the Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission under Trump, and was also under consideration for numerous positions but turned them down, wanting to be attorney general. He was most recently considered for the role of chief of staff.
But none of that is stopping the former governor from revealing exactly what he thinks of Trump and his administration.
In his new book, "Let Me Finish," Christie recounts that Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner believed the "Russia thing" would end after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was fired.
Overall, Christie believes that while Trump was effective as a candidate, he was not prepared for the office of the president, as he relied on the wrong people for help, and his many advisers weren't much help, despite him relying on nepotism at times.
The book appears to be an honest account by Christie of what he observed in his team in the administration and when he was in consideration. He wasn't good with conflict with people he likes, was mean to subordinates, and seemed to always trust people he shouldn't.
Kushner certainly fits into the problem, as he often gives the president bad advice in areas such as Flynn, how the firing of former FBI Director James Comey would be seen by the Democrats, his support for Paul Manafort, and how White House and cabinet jobs were filled.
After he was dismissed from Trump's transition team, Christie says a number of unqualified people inserted themselves into the picture, attaching themselves to Trump and begging.
According to Christie's account, Manafort, Trump's embattled former campaign chair, told Christie in the spring of 2016 that he was succeeding over a rival campaign aide "because I'm smart enough to agree with Jared, and he is not."
The former governor and his wife Mary Pat had a lunch scheduled with Trump the day after Flynn was fired. Kushner attended the lunch as well, eating his "typical salad."
Trump said, "This Russia thing is all over now because I fired Flynn." Christie remembers laughing, leading Trump to ask why.
" 'Sir,' I said, 'this Russia thing is far from over,' " he recalls telling him.
Trump responded, "What do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It's over." Kushner added, "That's right, firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing."
Christie believed they sounded "naive" and remembers Kushner telling him he was "crazy" when he suggested they'd probably still be talking about it in February 2018. Here it is an entire year later, and it seems to only have heated up even more, with Flynn and Manafort both reaching plea deals.
Christie said in an interview this weekend he doesn't believe Flynn was fired because of the Russia investigation but because he was "untenable" after it was made public that he'd lied to Pence.
"I think they thought that a result of that would be that this Russia stuff was over with, but I did not ever hear anybody say that was the motivation," said Christie.
He found Trump's campaign to be too disorganized and lacking "to run a Tom Clancy operation" and never saw the collusion with Russian officials. But he doesn't believe Flynn and others should have been hired to begin with.
"Flynn was a trainwreck from beginning to end," he wrote in his book, reflecting that during an early debate session, Flynn suggested Trump change course and support abortion rights, as it would take an issue away from Hillary Clinton.
Christie also had issues with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He believes he mishandled the situation when he recused himself from the Russia investigation.
Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist is another one who is called out in the book, as Christie believes he manufactured stories about the former governor in books and interviews. Overall, he believes people such as him promoted themselves at Trump's expense.
He writes of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape as well. Trump had initially said he wouldn't use language like what he was being accused of, but after hearing the tape, acknowledged it was him. Christie believes it's one of the few times he's ever seen the president embarrassed.
It was Christie who introduced the president and vice president at a meeting where Pence led everyone in a short prayer. Trump asked, "Does he do that all the time?" When he was told he did, Trump responded, "Interesting."
Yet also described is another side to Trump that Christie doesn't believe others see, saying he'd had conversations with him where he was concerned for his adult children. "What's going to happen to them if I'm not there?" he'd ask.
"I think people draw him in very, very stark colors, and I don't think that's who he is," Christie described. "I think there's a lot more nuance to it."
It seems Christie has more bad things to say about Kushner than Trump. There is some history there, as when he was a U.S. attorney, he prosecuted Kushner's father, Charles, on tax evasion and other charges.
"He tried to destroy my father," Kushner said of Christie to Trump, when he wanted him excluded from the transition team. Kushner lost that fight and suggested he and Christie let go of their differences. But he continued to hear that Kushner was working against him.
Kushner asked Christie's son to take a picture of himself with the former governor. Yet three days after that picture, Christie was dismissed from the transition team.
But no matter how Christie paints it, Kushner is still there, and the former governor is still the guy looking in.
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