Saturday, January 19, 2019

How Jared Kushner Tried to Stop Me From Running the Trump Transition

Chris Christie
The below is an excerpt from the forthcoming Chris Christie book, Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.
On the morning of May 6, 2016, in the heat of the presidential campaign, I headed into the city to see Donald Trump. A couple weeks earlier, he had asked me to lead his government transition team, and I was ready to button down the announcement details and dive into this important responsibility. No one had to tell me how huge a job it was. But I was all in.

By this point in the presidential campaign, I’d become a semi-permanent fixture on the 26th floor of Trump Tower. The Secret Service agents didn’t bother me anymore. I didn’t have to check in with Donald’s executive assistant, Rhona Graff, or anyone else. On this particular morning, I walked past the receptionist —“Hello.” I nodded good morning to everyone, and I breezed into the main office.

“Hi, Chris. What’s up today?” Donald said without looking up as I dropped into one of the chairs in front of his desk.

“I’m doing the transition stuff,” I said.

“Oh, come on,” he said with a sigh, finally glancing up at me and scrunching his face a little. “I hate that stuff. It’s bad karma, Chris. You know that.”

I just smiled. “I know, Donald,” I assured him. “But you gotta do it.”

“I know, I know,” he admitted. “Let’s get Corey in here, and let’s finish this up.”

He called to Rhona, who summoned the campaign manager. Half a minute later, Corey Lewandowski walked in. Corey and I had talked about my chairing the transition, and we were on the same page. He handed me a draft of a news release announcing my appointment.

“Is this OK with you, Governor?” Corey asked as he sat in the chair next to mine.

I gave the release a quick glance. “Looks fine to me,” I said. Then Corey handed the paper to Donald, who picked up a black Sharpie, made a couple of minor edits and handed the sheet back to me. “I’m really happy you are doing this for me,” he said. “And I think it’s going to be good for you, too.”

“Yeah,” I answered cheerfully. “I think it will be good for both of us.”

The meeting was over. Our business was finished. Or so I thought. Actually, the meeting had hardly begun.

Just as Corey and I prepared to stand, I heard a soft voice coming from just inside the open office door.

“Good morning, everyone,” the voice said.

As Corey and I both turned around, there stood Jared Kushner, Donald’s 35-year-old son-in-law and close campaign adviser. Jared and I had spoken once or twice at Trump Tower. We didn’t really know each other well by then, despite both of us being close to Donald and both of us working on the campaign. But given the role I had played more than a decade earlier as the prosecutor of his father, real estate developer Charles Kushner, of course there was an added something between us.

“Governor, how are you?” Jared said.

“Good, Jared,” I responded.

The two of us shook hands. He sat in a third chair in front of the desk. Looking at Donald, he asked, as if no one had told him: “So what are we doing here?”

“Great news,” Donald said. “The governor has agreed to run the transition, and we’re so lucky to have him. He’s so smart. He’s so good. This is going to be great for us, and then I don’t have to worry about any of that. Chris will handle everything.”

Jared’s face remained stubbornly blank. But he filled in the picture soon enough. “I don’t think we need to rush on this,” he said. “I don’t think we have to do this now. Let’s take our time on this one.”

That’s when Corey jumped in. “Actually, Jared,” he said, “we’re already late on this. The law requires us to designate someone. Right now, we’ve had Michael Glassner. Michael shouldn’t be in a role like that. We need to get somebody with the governor’s experience.”

Jared clearly wasn’t sold.

“I think we’re rushing on this,” he said. “Donald, I’d like you to hold back and give us some time to talk about it. There are a lot of things to discuss about this.”

I’d been around politics long enough to grasp what was happening. Jared was trying — and not so subtly — to derail my appointment as transition chairman. The issue wasn’t the rushing. The issue was the guy. Donald didn’t sound as convinced as Jared did.

“Jared,” he said, “why would we have to wait on this? It’s going to be a great announcement for him and a great announcement for us.”

Jared let a beat pass before he spoke up. But when he started talking, he sounded like a person who’d been holding poison inside himself for a very long time. “You really want to know why?” Jared asked.

Read the rest here.


1 comment:

  1. Anyone who's followed this fiasco at all knew from the start that Jared kicked christie out, because Christie put jared's felon dad in federal prison for several years.