Revealed: Why Trump Shut Chris Christie Out of His Administration
If you were inclined to place bets on who would or wouldn’t get a spot in Donald Trump’s administration last fall, Chris Christie would have easily seemed like one of the safest wagers you could make. Many regarded the New Jersey governor’s “kamikaze” mission in a February Republican debate as the straw that broke Marco Rubio’s back, clearing the way for Trump to begin winning state after state. And after dropping out of the race himself, Christie quickly endorsed the improbable frontrunner, becoming one of the few elected Republicans to do so at that point. While some were surprised when Trump passed over Christie to make Indiana Gov. Mike Pence – a Ted Cruz guy – his running mate, Christie’s job as chief of the transition team seemed to clearly indicate that he’d have his pick of top jobs.
As it turned out, of course, that wasn’t the case.
Since Trump’s snub of Christie, a number of theories have emerged attempting to explain what went south in the relationship. In the bestselling “Devil’s Bargain” book, author Joshua Green hinted that Trump grew tired of Christie’s boisterous, loudest-mouth-in-the-room personality, a bad trait to have around a man accustomed to being the center of attention. Others speculated that bad blood between Jared Kushner and Christie, dating back to the latter’s prosecution of Kushner’s father, may have finally caught up with the New Jersey governor. There were even reports that Trump found Christie’s innocence in the Bridgegate scandal tough to swallow and disapproved of the way his ally threw his employees under the bus.
But now, we may finally have the truth.
According to Steve Bannon, who sat down with “60 Minutes” host Charlie Rose this weekend, Christie cost himself a job with the administration when he bailed on Trump at a time when the nominee desperately needed friends to stand beside him.
In a discussion about the mood of the campaign after the infamous Access Hollywood tape dropped in early October, Bannon said that he regarded the tape as a “litmus test,” one that would prove who would really stand by Trump through thick and thin.
“It’s a line I remember from the movie ‘The Wild Bunch,'” Bannon said. “William Holden uses it right before that huge gunfight at the end. ‘When you side with a man, you side with him.’ The good and the bad. You can criticize him, but when you side with him, you have to side with him. And that’s what Billy Bush weekend showed me. Billy Bush Saturday showed me who really had Donald Trump’s back to play to his better angels.”
Bannon said that Christie didn’t fit the bill.
“Christie, because of Billy Bush weekend, was not looked at for a Cabinet position,” he said. “I told him, ‘The plane leaves at 11 o’clock in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.’ Didn’t make the plane.”
Instead, Christie was on New York radio with Boomer and Carlton, doing everything short of throwing his candidate under the bus.
“Let’s be really clear, it is completely indefensible,” Christie said of Trump’s remarks on the tape. “I won’t defend it and haven’t defended it. That kind of talk and conversation, even in private, is just unacceptable.”
With those words, and his absence from the war room over the weekend, Christie may have ultimately cost himself the only shot he’ll ever have to make something more of his political career. When the going got tough, he got the hell out of dodge.