Chris Christie became the third 2024 Republican presidential candidate to sit with CNN for a televised town hall discussion on Monday, this time moderated by Anderson Cooper. From the top, he was grilled about the second criminal indictment and 37 counts former president Donald Trump faces for taking hundreds of classified documents to his Mar-a-Lago estate after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden.
Asked for his take on the most damning part of the 41-page document, Christie struggled to pinpoint just one component. “The most?” he asked. “Can I get the three most? Because, you know, there’s so much.”
Before having the former New Jersey governor break down those three “most egregious” elements to Trump’s indictment from special counsel Jack Smith out of Florida, Cooper asked Christie to explain why he thinks a reelected Trump would be “worse than the original show was.”
“Because he’s so angry now. He’s angry and he’s vengeful and he said: ‘I will be your retribution.’ Well, I don’t want him to be my retribution, I don’t need him to do that and I don’t think anyone in America needs it, either. He wants to be retribution for himself,” Christie said. “I am convinced that if he goes back to the White House, that the next four years will just be all about him settling scores with everybody who he thinks wasn’t perfectly nice to him… [He] has shown himself, particularly in his post-presidency, to be completely self-centered, complete self-consumed and doesn’t give a damn about the American people.”
Cooper then requested Christie, a former U.S. attorney, to give his professional legal opinion of “the most egregious” of the 37 charges against Trump.
“Well, the most? Can I get the three most? Because, you know, there’s so much. I mean, first it’s the nature of the documents that he kept,” the politician began. “I mean, battle plans against Iran, nuclear secrets, the presidential daily brief which has the most important intelligence information that anyone in the country can get. These are not his personal documents. This isn’t, like, his doodle notes on his pad or a nice newspaper article about himself. These are intelligence documents created by the government of the United States.”
Second, Christie said, was the fact that Trump had his lawyers lie in response to the grand jury subpoena for the classified documents before the FBI ultimately raided his estate in August 2022.
“I’ve had a number of people ask me, ‘Why did his lawyer make those voice memos about each meeting?’ I know why he did: Because this guy was asking him to lie and break the law and he wanted a contemporaneous recording of exactly what was happening when it was happening because he also knew Donald Trump, as he’s done before, would throw his lawyer under the bus,” Christie said.
And Christie’s third most egregious element of the latest indictment against Trump was simply the fact that “he is voluntarily putting our country through this.”
“If at any point before the search in August of ’22, he had just done what anyone I suspect in this audience would’ve done, which is say, ‘All right, you’re serious, you’re serving a grand jury subpoena, let me just give the documents back’ — he wouldn’t have been charged, wouldn’t have been charged with anything even though he had kept them for almost a year and a half,” Christie posited. “None of this had to happen. This is all him saying — again, it’s what I was saying at the top — he’s saying, ‘I’m more important than the country.’”
All of the above was within the first 10 minutes of CNN’s town hall — a 90-minute televised event that covered everything from the presidential hopeful’s stance on gun reform to crime rates to Biden’s approval ratings. But when it came to the Trump indictment, Christie was certain of one thing: There’s more to come.
“There’s a lot more information to come when they come to trial,” he said, “specifically, I think, there are going to be a lot of witnesses that worked for Donald Trump.”