Chris Christie unleashed! Ex gov fires back at Jersey foes and dishes on Trump in new book

Posted January 29, 2019 

And Christie still has things to dish about New Jersey and its colorful cast of political characters.

“I thought that there was some interesting and important stuff to say that gives people a picture of who I am,” Christie told NJ Advance Media.

“I wanted to give people a picture of who I am and how I became who I am,” he said. “It’s a big part of my life and I wanted to talk about it.“

In the book, Christie  argues a federal prosecutor with a grudge who is nicknamed "Napoleon on Broad Street" carried out a political hit job on him with Bridgegate. 

He dishes on former elected officials and talks about a $3 million donation offer from Charles Kushner's attorney to build a homeless shelter in exchange for a more lenient prison sentence in a federal corruption case he pursued as U.S. attorney more than a decade ago.  

He has things to say about Cory Booker, Sharpe James, Jim McGreevey, and Steve Sweeney. The governor's friend Trump always looms, even on some Jersey issues.  

And of course, he something to say about "fly-over stalkers" who took that picture of him and his family lounging on a closed beach during a state government shutdown.

Here's a glimpse of the unvarnished Christie in his new book. 

 

He reveals how close he became to being Trump's vice president

Christie pulled back the curtain on how close he came to being Trump's running mate, how badly he wanted the position, and the odd way he learned he was out of the running. 

Christie writes Trump first asked him "one day in May" when he was at his office in Trenton if he would consider being his running mate. The answer was "yes," as Christie told Trump earlier during the campaign that the only two jobs he was interested in were vice president and attorney general.

"Luckily, I'd kept my Romney files in a safe at the Statehouse," Christie wrote, referring to the pile of vetting documents he filled out when former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney floated him as a possible running mate. 

Christie writes that he never thought Trump would pick him. But as the the race got closer to Republican National Convention, the time Trump would announce a running mate,  Christie was among the top three.

The other two were Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich.

According to Christie, "the vice presidency didn't feel like an exercise anymore or some theoretical possibility. It felt real." He went as far as to tell Mary Pat to tell their children "this is a real possibility now."

But, Christie continued, when Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka learned Trump "seemed to be on the verge of choosing me," they flew to see Trump to try and dissuade him.

The day before Trump made his announcement, however, Trump told Christie in a phone call: "I'm definitely making the decision today. I just want to make sure that you (and Mary Pat) are ready for this. These other people, I don't know them. You're my friends. I don't want to see my friends get hurt."

Looked promising? Yep. By this time, Christie writes, it was down to him and Pence.

But a few hours after that phone call, Christie wrote of this exchange:

"I got word from my New Jersey state troopers that Mike Pence was flying into Teterboro, the airport airport in Bergen County that handles many of the region's private jets," he wrote. "Now, that pissed me off."

Yes, Christie learned he wouldn't be Trump's pick from his own security detail.

That prompted a phone call to Trump where Christie scolded him for not telling him directly he went with Pence. In the exchange, Trump denied he made a choice.

"Well, then, explain to me why Mike Pence is landing at Teterboro in a half an hour," Christie said.

"I have no (expletive) idea," Trump responded, adding, "How do you know that?"

Christie responded: "I'm the governor of the state where he's landing!"

Trump swore to him he didn't land on Pence, according to the book. The next day, Christie described Trump calling him minutes before he tweeted that Pence would be his pick to tell him it wouldn't be Christie.

"'Of course, I'm disappointed,'" I said, 'but these are your choices, not mine.'"

 

Christie figured out how to really piss off Trump

Before Christie was ever considered to be Trump's running mate, he was his challenger in a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates.

Want to get under Trump's skin on the campaign trail? Score the highly-coveted endorsement from New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, The Union Leader, Christie says.

Christie detailed how the newspaper's decision to endorse him spurred Trump to come at his "skull with a rhetorical Louisville Slugger." 

It was all because Christie "snatched a prized endorsement and was advancing too close in the polls," he wrote. (The Union Leader's publisher would later call the endorsement a mistake after Christie backed Trump after he pulled out of the race.)

The endorsement prompted Trump to tell a crowd that Christie knew about the Bridgegate scandal and lane closures before they happened.

"Donald was not pleased," Christie wrote, recounting a portion of Trump's speech.

"'You have a very dishonest newspaper up here,' he told the crowd at his rally that night in Nashua. 'It's also a failing newspaper. It's really going down the tubers.'"

"Yes," Christie wrote. "He said tubers."

 

George W. Bush's Bridgegate pep talk to Christie

A day after the infamous "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email from a top Christie staffer to former Port Authority executive David Wildstein was made public, Christie held a nearly-two-hour-long press conference in Trenton on the unfolding Bridgegate scandal. 

He wrote that he wanted to put himself out there for reporters to ask whatever question they had, and that after the question-and-answer session he retreated to his office, took off his jacket to expose his shirt wet from the sweat.

 He then  got a phone call from a Dallas number.

It was former President George W. Bush.

"You did a great job today," Bush told the governor, according to Christie.

Christie worked on Bush's New Jersey campaign during his first presidential run. His work and fundraising would eventually lead to his nomination to be the U.S. attorney for New Jersey.

"I can't tell you how much it means to me to hear from you," Christie responded.

The conversation continued:

"I was on TV for almost two hours. Don't tell me you watched the whole thing."

"Buddy," he said. "I'm retired. I watched the whole damn thing. You're my guy. You know that. Don't you worry about it. I've just got one question for you."

"What's that?"

"Did you do it?"

"... 'Mr. President,' I said, 'I just spent all that time on national television saying I didn't.'"

"'Yeah, I know,' he said. 'Now it's just me and you, Chris. Remember, I'm the guy who made you U.S. attorney.'"

"'Mr. President,' I said, 'I did not do it.'"

"Well, then, you're going to be fine,' he said. 'You know, I've been through shit storms like this one. As long as you did the right thing, then it will all come out okay. Have faith and know there's a lot of people out here like me who believe in you.'"

But according to Christie's account, it wouldn't all be okay. In the book, he credits Bridgegate for likely costing him the presidency.

Apparently, so does his friend Trump.

Christie wrote about him and his wife, Mary Pat Christie, having lunch with Trump at the White House on Valentine's Day in 2017. As Christie described it, Trump welcomed them into the Oval Office and then said: "You know what?" ... "This might have been you guys here if it hadn't been for Bridgegate."

Christie continued: "I thought Mary Pat's head might explode at that, even though (I think) Donald was just trying to be nice."

They took pictures, Christie said. Mary Pat Christie had salmon and Trump ordered the meatloaf for himself and the former governor.

 

What Christie wants you to know about Bridgegate

Unsurprisingly, Christie felt there's more to say about Bridgegate since, as he wrote, "the facts often got misreported by everyone from Rachel Maddow to Donald Trump. Here are the real facts."

It wasn't a shutdown he insists. It was a "lane realignment." (The governor's correct. No lanes on the bridge were closed, rather local access lanes to the bridge in Fort Lee were closed and given to interstate traffic. Lost in this game of semantics is the gridlock that ensued in Fort Lee, the intended target of the operation according to David Wildstein, the admitted mastermind of the scheme.)

In his book, Christie also touted his office's internal review of the scandal, which would determine that Wildstein and his former friend and boss at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, and Bridget Anne Kelly, a former senior staffer for the governor, were to blame for the political hit job. The report, dubbed "The Mastro Report," would go on to be pushed aside — or, at times, mocked — as a "whitewash" by media outlets.

But, Christie argues, every other investigation landed on the same outcome, including the federal inquiry by his successor at the U.S. attorney's office, then run by Paul Fishman.

"On Nov. 4, 2016, four days before the election, the jurors finally returned a verdict with the exact same conclusion Mastro had laid out in his media-maligned March 2014 report. Kelly and Baroni were convicted on all counts," Christie wrote. "Wildstein, the truth-challenged mastermind of this idiotic plot, would get the lenient treatment he was promised by Fishman — three years' probation and five hundred hours of community service."

Christie added that out of the three people, Baroni "was the only one I considered a friend."

He continued: "I don't believe he came up with this plot. He is too smart for that. I think he was not strong enough to say 'no' to his best friend, lying felon David Wildstein. It was Bill's inability to do that one, simple thing ... that may ultimately cost him his freedom. And it was my failure to see that in him that may have cost me the presidency of the United States."

 

Christie unleashes on prosecutor who investigated Bridgegate

When it came to Paul Fishman, the federal prosecutor who investigated the Bridgegate scandal, Christie didn't pull any punches. 

"It was one of the worst-kept secrets in New Jersey legal circles that Fishman actively resented me. Nearly thirty assistant U.S. attorneys had left his office to join me in Trenton for less money and a longer commute. He complained bitterly about that to me and to anyone who would listen," Christie wrote.

He accused Fishman of aggressively pursuing the investigation to take him down, suggesting a successful prosecution of the Republican presidential frontrunner would curry favor with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the assumed Democratic nominee.

"What better way to increase his stock than by taking out her purported number-one 2016 rival?" Christie wrote, speculating it could catapult Fishman to be the country's next attorney general if Clinton won.

No jab was off limits for Christie in his book — right down to Fishman's height.

"His combination of bitterness, imperiousness, ambition and physical stature led to a nickname from the folks back at the office he once ran in Newark — Napoleon on Broad Street," Christie wrote, a reference to the street where the U.S. attorney's office is located.

 

You may not believe what Trump told Christie shortly after McGreevey resigned

Christie described 2004 as "one crazy summer in New Jersey politics," with former Gov. Jim McGreevey at the center of the madness.

His office had already investigaed the former Democratic governor for a bribery scandal where a cooperating witness used the codename "Machiavelli" to try and ensnare McGreevey.

It didn't go anywhere. But McGreevey, of course, wasn't out of the U.S. attorney's crosshairs.

In August, Christie's office received a call from McGreevey's attorney who asked them "to investigate a blackmail attempt by the governor's secret gay lover."

Christie continued: "Within hours, McGreevey, with his wife, Dana, at his side, announced he was 'a gay American' and would resign."

Before the day's end, Christie was still at his office in Newark when he received a phone call from none other than Trump.

"'Can you believe what's going on?' he roared out of the speakerphone as my staffers shot silent looks at one another," Christie wrote. "'I'd always heard the guy was gay, but I didn't know he was going to resign over it.'"

According to Christie, "Trump kept coming back to McGreevey's personal life. 'You know, Chris, he's different than me and you, right? We have all kinds of problems ourselves, but not this one. Me and you, just chicks — right buddy? Just chicks.'"

Christie continued: "The senior staffers all stared at me, wondering how I was going to field that one. I answered as vaguely as I could. 'Yeah, that would be right, Donald,' I said."

 

Christie writes this stunning offer was floated in exchange for a shorter prison term for Charles Kushner

In what he called a "sordid" case, Christie recounted some of the details of the prosecution of real estate developer and Democratic campaign donor Charles Kushner.

And he revealed a $3 million donation to build a homeless shelter he says Kushner's attorney made to negotiate a shorter prion term. 

Kushner would be sentenced to two years in prison for more than a dozen counts of tax evasion, making illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering. 

Kushner also hired a prostitute to sleep with his brother-in-law. The encounter at the Red Bull motel in Bridgewater was taped and the tape was subsequently sent to Kushner's sister in an attempt to blackmail or retaliate against the couple.

Christie recounted how a former captain at the East Orange Police Department, Jimmy O'Toole, "immediately squealed on everyone" and told investigators how he agreed to help Kushner "ensnare his brother-in-law."

According to Christie, O'Toole went to Kushner's office in Florham Park "a few days after the tape was made and held a private screening for Kushner and Kushner's wife's brother, Richard Stadtmauer."

Christie continued: "(O'Toole) said he felt nauseated at the men's raucous guffaws as they watched the raw video."

It was during that prosecution that one of Kushner's attorney's, Al DeCotiis, made Christie a stunning offer, he writes. It occurred as Christie and DeCotiis were negotiating sentencing timelines.

"'How 'bout this?' Al asked 'Charlie is willing to donate $3 million to set up a new shelter for homeless people in Newark or wherever you want in New Jersey,'" Christie wrote. In exchange, prosecutors would lower the amount of time behind bars they would ask a federal judge to hand down.

Christie said he declined the offer.

The case, however, has cost Christie powerful positions in the Trump administration. He writes Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Charlie Kushner's oldest son, carried out a political “hit job” on him in retaliation for the prosecution.

“The kid’s been taking an ax to your head with the boss ever since I got here,” former Trump official, Steve Bannon told Christie, according to the book.

 

Cory Booker led Christie to his most "personally satisfying" prosecution

Christie described his office's takedown of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James as one of the most "personally satisfying" prosecutions when he was U.S. attorney.

A federal jury convicted James on five counts of fraud after U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, then Newark's new mayor, "called to tell (Christie) that his people had discovered something interesting in City Hall: a pile of credit card statements that indicated that the former mayor had a Newark Police Department credit card that hardly anybody knew about."

Booker wanted Christie's office to subpoena the records, Christie wrote, which they did.

Christie's office also interviewed Newark cops, who identified Tamika Riley as James' girlfriend. James would go down for rigging the sale of city lots to Riley, who would then resell the properties for huge profits.

But that wasn't all Newark police had to say.

"'I'm sure you know the PC Richard stuff,' a police officer who'd been part of Mayor James' personal-security detail said to one of our investigators," Christie wrote. "'The air conditioner...'"

The investigator was unaware, so the member of Jame's security continued with what they described as "actually a funny story."

"'The mayor made me go and buy a window air conditioner one day. He told me to bring it to this woman's apartment, Tamika Riley,'" Christie wrote. "... 'When I got there that day, I didn't know where to put the air conditioner. So I called the mayor. I said 'Mayor, where do you want me to install the air conditioner?' He goes, 'In the bedroom, you fool. That's where I need to stay cool.'"

 

Who took credit for Christie's decision to have lap-band surgery? Yep, Donald J. Trump

When news broke in 2013 Christie secretly underwent lap-band surgery to help him lose weight, the governor credited former Jets coach Rex Ryan with pushing him to make the decision to get it done. Ryan had the same procedure done, and Christie again recounted Ryan helped push him into doing it when he was wavering.

But Ryan wasn't the first person to talk to him about lap-band surgery. The first person was Trump, Christie says.

"I want to tell you something because I'm your friend, and I love you, and someday I want you to be governor," Christie recalled from a 2005 dinner with Trump and Mary Pat Christie.

"You have to lose weight," Trump continued. "Forget about whether you're going to die of a heart attack or a stroke, ... forget that. You gotta look better to be able to win."

Christie devoted 10 pages in his book to talk about his weight and his ultimate decision to undergo lap-band surgery and the secrecy around the process.

It was originally scheduled for Nov. 10, 2013 but was pushed back three months after Hurricane Sandy hit the state. He tried to keep his protective detail out of it, telling them he had to go to New York City for a medical procedure and he wanted to go alone. They objected, but landed on a compromise: Mary Pat would drive the governor and a single State Trooper followed begin in a separate vehicle.

"I didn't want anything leaking out," Christie wrote.

For "a last hurrah," Christie said he "got a bright idea" to appear on David Letterman's Late Show less than two weeks before the surgery as a "fresh way to diffuse the weight issue."

That's when Christie, once in the green room at the Ed Sullivan Theater, ordered one of his staffers to race to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts and retrieve two cinnamon jelly donuts. He'd go on to pull one out of his pocket and take a bite during the show.

It took three months for the former governor to tell his senior staff about the procedure. Prior to that, only his family was in the loop. "Finally, I gave an exclusive interview to The New York Post."

And he finally revealed the number of pounds shed, something he was always reluctant to do in public, saying for years that the only person who knew his number was his wife. He lost 40 pounds in the first three months after having it done and shed 100 pounds "since that last donut with Letterman."

 

Here's where the bromance between Christie and Sweeney began

Christie had to work with State Senate President Stephen Sweeney for the eight years he was governor, and the pair generally worked well together aside from a few skirmishes here and there.

The scuffles came naturally. Christie is a Republican and Sweeney is a Democrat.

It's for that reason that there was a curious exchange between the two men after Christie's first debate against former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat Christie was fighting to unseat.

The debate was in Trenton in October. Christie described the "hostility between us" at "a fever pitch."

Christie continued: "That's why I was surprised by what happened when I came off the stage that night and began shaking hands in the audience. One man stood and reached out his huge palm to me. 'Good job tonight,' he said. 'I look forward to working with you.'"

The man was Sweeney, who at the time had just announced he planned to run for Senate president.

"When I learned later that Sweeney had been playing me in the Corzine debate prep, his congratulatory message that night took on an even deeper meaning," Christie added.

 

'Fly-over stalkers'

It's hard to imagine a Christie book that wouldn't include a swipe at "the fly-over stalkers" at NJ Advance Media for snapping a photo of him and his family on a beach that was closed to the public because of a state government shutdown.

"It just so happened that they chose the one hour I was sitting out there. Talk about bad luck!" Christie wrote. "Do I wish I hadn't gone on the beach for that one hour? Of course. I certainly didn't need the aggravation."

Christie argued media coverage at the time left out the fact that only two state beaches were closed — not the entire Jersey Shore.

Left out from his defense are mentions of the photos NJ Advance Media ran with the story of him on the beach that showed the rest of the Jersey coast packed with beachgoers. (Christie's office even used the photos NJ Advance Media took and published in tweets of their own at the time to show there were people on other beaches.)

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