Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey laced into Donald J. Trump on prime-time tv on Monday evening, casting the previous president as an “indignant” and “vengeful” man who bears accountability for thrusting the nation into one other terribly divisive second, after Mr. Trump grew to become the first former president in American history to face federal fees.
Throughout a roughly 90-minute CNN city corridor in New York, a high-energy and often-polished Mr. Christie leaned on his background as a former federal prosecutor, saying he believed the indictment was “a really tight, very detailed, evidence-laden indictment, and the conduct in there’s terrible.” Mr. Christie, who’s working for president in opposition to Mr. Trump in a Republican main discipline the previous president dominates, mentioned he believed prosecutors had extra proof than had been put ahead to this point.
Mr. Trump faces 37 criminal counts associated to points together with withholding nationwide protection data and concealing possession of labeled paperwork.
“That is vainness run amok,” Mr. Christie advised the moderator, Anderson Cooper. “He’s now going to place this nation by means of this, after we didn’t should undergo it.”
“He’s saying, ‘I’m extra essential than the nation,’” Mr. Christie mentioned at one other level, as he questioned why Mr. Trump had, according to prosecutors, refused to show over essential authorities paperwork. He advised the previous president missed the “trappings of the presidency.”
“We’re in a scenario the place there are individuals in my very own celebration who’re blaming D.O.J.,” he mentioned, referring to the Justice Division. “How about, blame him? He did it. He saved — he took paperwork he wasn’t presupposed to take.”
When he was not tearing into the present Republican front-runner, Mr. Christie may sound like a pre-Trump-era politician. He emphasised the significance of discovering widespread floor and performed up his credentials as a blue-state govt, even when some within the viewers have been plainly skeptical of the concept of compromise.
“With all due respect to those governors from purple states who’ve Republican legislatures — man, I’m telling you, I’d have given my very own proper arm to have a Republican legislature for every week,” Mr. Christie mentioned at one level, seeming to attract an implicit distinction with Gov. Ron DeSantis, the highly effective and pugnacious Florida Republican and one other 2024 candidate who enjoys a supportive legislature in Tallahassee. “However what I realized was that, typically, getting 60 p.c of what you need isn’t dangerous.”
In Washington, he continued, “you’re going to need anyone powerful, who’s a fighter, however who fights to get to an finish, to perform one thing for you. We will all battle to get headlines.”
He additionally famous that even with a Republican-controlled Congress for a part of his tenure, Mr. Trump did not ship on a central marketing campaign promise of securing the southern border.
“Not one piece of laws to vary our immigration legal guidelines,” he mentioned, bashing Mr. Trump as a “dangerous govt.” “It’s an abject failure, and now he blames Joe Biden for it. However what the heck did you do to make it higher?”
For essentially the most half, Mr. Christie, who announced his campaign last week, has tried to reintroduce himself to the nation because the Republican candidate most prepared to forcefully confront Mr. Trump.
However Mr. Christie, who ran a short-lived marketing campaign for president in 2016, has gained little traction in accessible polling this yr and has a more unfavorable rating amongst Republican voters than every other candidate, in line with a latest Monmouth College ballot. And he occupies a comparatively lonely lane. A lot of the different 2024 hopefuls have shied away from a lot direct criticism of Mr. Trump.
“It was like he was Voldemort from ‘Harry Potter’ — no person needed to say his identify,” he mentioned of a latest Republican marketing campaign occasion, adopting a mocking voice. “Like, say his identify, man, say his identify.”
Mr. Christie was as soon as a key adviser to Mr. Trump, and was a comparatively early endorser of his 2016 marketing campaign after his personal bid collapsed. However he has since condemned Mr. Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and for his incitement of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol.
Within the city corridor, Mr. Christie in contrast Mr. Trump’s lies a few stolen election to how a baby may attempt to clarify away a nasty grade, by providing a litany of doubtful or false excuses.
“It’s a baby’s response. And I simply — I urge you to consider this,” he advised the Republican-leaning viewers. “Don’t enable the showmanship to obscure the details. The details are, he misplaced to Joe Biden. And he misplaced to Joe Biden, for my part, as a result of he misplaced unbiased voters.”
Mr. Trump lashed out final week in response to Mr. Christie’s earlier criticism, mocking Mr. Christie’s weight and writing on his Fact Social platform, “Exhausting to look at, boring, however that’s what you get from a failed Governor (New Jersey) who left workplace with a 7% approval ranking after which obtained run out of New Hampshire.”
Mr. Christie made few waves when questioned on points unrelated to Mr. Trump, however supplied a placing admission when a person whose son was killed within the 2017 Las Vegas bloodbath requested how he would scale back the large variety of mass shootings in america.
His response was successfully: I don’t know.
“I’m mad as a result of I don’t have an important reply,” he mentioned, after saying that legislation enforcement wanted to be extra attentive to warning indicators from potential attackers, however that he didn’t consider restrictions on weapons would make a distinction — partly as a result of People already personal lots of of thousands and thousands of them. He additionally mentioned that decreasing gun violence was in “pressure” with the Second Modification.
When reminded that early in his political profession he supported an assault weapons ban, he referred to as that “naïveté” and mentioned he not believed it was applicable.
On abortion rights, Mr. Christie declined to take a agency place on gestational limits — or whether or not he would signal a nationwide ban, ought to he change into president and one have been to achieve his desk — arguing that the matter was higher left as much as the states for now.
And on Social Safety, he reiterated his assist for means-testing this system, as he proposed throughout his 2016 marketing campaign.
Repeatedly, Mr. Christie bolstered a central argument of his marketing campaign: that he could be extra accountable than Mr. Trump, but additionally extra productive.
“Look, I feel the one greatest factor I can contribute to unifying this nation is to do away with Joe Biden and do away with Donald Trump,” he mentioned. “They’re previous their sell-by dates, OK? It’s executed. It’s time.”