How Christie and Trump’s Friendship Flourished, Then Deteriorated


Their friendship started after an introduction via Donald J. Trump’s sister. It ended almost 20 years later, when Mr. Trump refused to concede the 2020 election to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

In between, Chris Christie, the previous governor of New Jersey, and Mr. Trump had a relationship that may very well be genuinely heat, with chats about politics and present occasions, and at different occasions transactional.

Mr. Christie gave Mr. Trump a lift by endorsing his 2016 candidacy after ending his personal bid for the Republican nomination, after which coached him for debates and led his preliminary presidential transition crew. In return, Mr. Trump handed him over for the roles of vice chairman and lawyer common.

Mr. Trump finally turned again to Mr. Christie for different recommendation throughout his time period. However by the halfway level of the presidency, Mr. Christie appeared content material to be on the surface.

Their final change was in August 2021, in response to an individual briefed on the matter, when the previous president had an aide ship Mr. Christie a testy message.

Now, they’ve entered a brand new chapter: open hostility. Mr. Christie announced his second presidential campaign on Tuesday in New Hampshire, aiming to cease Mr. Trump from a second time period within the White Home.

“I believe he’s a coward and I believe he’s a puppet of Putin,” Mr. Christie, talking not too long ago to the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, mentioned of the person he as soon as supported.

Right here’s a glance again at how their relationship grew, thrived after which wilted.

Mr. Christie was a United States lawyer in New Jersey, the place Mr. Trump nonetheless had casinos, when the 2 males first dined collectively.

That Could 2002 introduction over dinner got here via an middleman, Maryanne Trump Barry, Mr. Trump’s older sister, who was a federal choose within the state on the time and described Mr. Trump to Mr. Christie as “my little brother.” In Mr. Christie’s 2019 memoir, “Let Me End,” he wrote about his first impressions of Mr. Trump, who in two years would start his run because the star of the fact TV present “The Apprentice.”

“Donald was opinionated,” Mr. Christie wrote. “He was bombastic. He was entertaining. He talked about his enterprise with infectious enthusiasm and appreciable element. I got here away with the impression that public Donald and the non-public Donald have been just about one and the identical.”

It was quickly clear that Mr. Christie might find yourself as a candidate for governor sometime. He received the workplace in his first try, in 2009, two years earlier than Mr. Trump thought of working for the White Home towards President Barack Obama.

Each males knew one another in the best way that distinguished folks within the New York media market are inclined to: casually, with paths that periodically crossed.

In 2015, each Mr. Christie and Mr. Trump ended up declaring presidential candidacies.

Mr. Christie, by then hobbled by the “Bridgegate” political retribution scandal, had nonetheless long-established a nationwide political model as a straight-talking candidate.

In contrast, some seen Mr. Trump as a sideshow who would finally fade, whilst he was main within the polls. On the time, Mr. Trump instructed Mr. Christie privately that he didn’t anticipate his marketing campaign to final past October 2015.

Their relationship started to be examined. Two months after Mr. Trump’s entrance into the race, Mr. Christie instructed Fox Information that the New York businessman didn’t have the “temperament” or expertise to be president. Mr. Trump taunted Mr. Christie for being absent from New Jersey, the place he was nonetheless governor.

In the end, Mr. Trump overshadowed his newfound rival — and all different rivals — with an infinite stream of inflammatory pronouncements, together with a proposal to ban Muslims from getting into the nation.

Mr. Trump saved his most hostile barbs for candidates apart from Mr. Christie. In flip, the governor skilled his most aggressive hearth on Senator Marco Rubio of Florida throughout a debate in New Hampshire shortly earlier than the state’s major, mocking him for a “memorized 25-second speech.”

However after staking his candidacy on New Hampshire, Mr. Christie completed a dismal sixth and dropped out of the race.

When Mr. Trump received the South Carolina major, Mr. Christie instructed allies the writing was on the wall — it was clear Mr. Trump was on observe to develop into the nominee.

“I’m proud to be right here to endorse Donald Trump for president of the US,” Mr. Christie mentioned at an endorsement event in Florida in February 2016, as astonished reporters watched him reward Mr. Trump’s candidacy. After Senator Jeff Classes of Alabama, Mr. Christie was one of many first distinguished Republicans to endorse Mr. Trump at a time when the get together’s management was nonetheless making an attempt to cease his ascent.

Quickly, Mr. Christie was a key adviser to Mr. Trump. He was additionally for a time thought of as a possible working mate, however a few of Mr. Trump’s advisers, together with members of his household, argued towards it. (Mr. Christie had additionally prosecuted the daddy of Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner years earlier, and Mr. Kushner was against the choice of Mr. Christie.)

Mr. Trump finally selected Mike Pence, then the governor of Indiana, who had been launched to Mr. Trump via Mr. Christie.

Mr. Trump tried to maintain Mr. Christie on the hook, the previous governor wrote in his memoir, insisting in a cellphone name to Mr. Christie that he hadn’t selected his working mate but, whilst he made plans to fly Mr. Pence to New York for a information convention.

Mr. Christie led Mr. Trump’s preparations for the general-election debates towards Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. However after the October 2016 launch of a recording by which Mr. Trump described grabbing ladies by their genitals, Mr. Trump privately griped that Mr. Christie had no more vocally backed him.

Mr. Christie additionally served as the top of his transition crew, a job from which he was dismissed shortly after Election Day by Mr. Kushner; Stephen Ok. Bannon, the chief strategist for Mr. Trump; and Reince Priebus, who would develop into Mr. Trump’s first White Home chief of workers.

Mr. Trump requested Mr. Christie to steer a process power on opioids, a difficulty Mr. Christie had been involved about as governor. Mr. Christie was additionally mentioned to be a private favourite of Mr. Trump’s spouse, Melania.

However Mr. Trump determined towards giving him the job of lawyer common, which went to Mr. Classes. As a substitute, Mr. Christie has mentioned, the president provided him varied roles at totally different factors, together with labor secretary and secretary of the Homeland Safety Division.

Mr. Trump additionally took a suggestion from Mr. Christie as to who might exchange the fired F.B.I. director, James A. Comey. It was Mr. Christie’s lawyer in the course of the Bridgegate scandal, Christopher A. Wray, who was appointed and stays atop the company. Mr. Trump quickly began complaining that Mr. Wray was not doing what he needed on the company, and blamed Mr. Christie for a nomination that Mr. Trump had put ahead.

Mr. Christie took himself out of consideration to succeed John F. Kelly as Mr. Trump’s chief of workers on the finish of 2018 after Mr. Trump had provided the job to Mr. Christie. By then, it had develop into clear that Mr. Trump was biking via workers members and firing them at a speedy clip.

In February 2020, Mr. Trump pardoned a former software program chief government whose clemency Mr. Christie had lobbied for.

That yr, Mr. Christie wrote Mr. Trump a prolonged memo instructing him how one can deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It was ignored.

Mr. Trump introduced Mr. Christie in for debate preparations as soon as once more, and a few of his aides faulted Mr. Christie when Mr. Trump’s preliminary debate towards Mr. Biden was disastrous. (Mr. Trump appeared bodily unwell on the debate and should have already been affected by the coronavirus; the information of his Covid diagnosis came days later.)

When each Mr. Trump and Mr. Christie have been hospitalized with severe bouts of Covid shortly after that debate, Mr. Trump referred to as his debate coach on the hospital. “Are you going to say you bought it from me?” Mr. Trump requested Mr. Christie, the previous governor later recounted in his second e-book, “Republican Rescue.” They each recovered, however Mr. Christie made clear he thought he ought to have worn a masks on the prep periods, angering Mr. Trump.

Hours after Election Day ended, when Mr. Trump delivered a speech claiming widespread fraud, Mr. Christie, by then a contributor for ABC Information, mentioned on air that Mr. Trump wanted to supply proof.

In an interview with The New York Occasions in November 2022, Mr. Christie mentioned he had final spoken with Mr. Trump in December 2020, after the president noticed him deride Mr. Trump’s authorized crew on tv. Mr. Christie instructed him he ought to concede the election to Mr. Biden and host the president-elect within the White Home.

“He instructed me he would by no means, ever, ever, ever do this,” Mr. Christie mentioned. “And that was the final time we spoke.”

In 2021, Mr. Trump described Mr. Christie as an “opportunist” to a reporter. 4 months later, he had an aide ship Mr. Christie a printout of a tweet by Mr. Christie associated to the pardon that he had searched for the previous software program government. “Chris,” he wrote, in response to the particular person briefed on it, “How shortly folks (some) overlook – Greatest Needs,” together with his signature.

Mr. Christie responded cordially, wishing Mr. Trump properly.

Shane Goldmacher contributed reporting.


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