Transcript for Reporter's Notebook: Chris Christie on new book 'Let Me Finish'
Everybody I'm Devin Dwyer thanks watching ABC news live on this reporter's notebook from here with Chris Christie former governor. I've New Jersey hangs out with the new book today let me finish trump the questioner is banned in New Jersey in a power in your face politics quite. A title governor thanks for being here thanks them appreciate congratulations on the book there is a lot to unpack a fascinating read I guess first question is have you given one of these to the president do you think he's gonna read it. I've given it to presently here tomb over the weekend and and and I think a look at idea. And I'll surely look at yeah I don't recall I think. You know I don't through what through through my childhood all the resident but I think you read the parts of these those interest. To getting your personal story is certainly compelling we'll get some of that. On anything here you think you'll be surprised by. No. I really don't I think it you know we're so we've been so close over the years who inference for seventeen years now. That most of our talk there. He was either in the room floor or. Or knew about knew the stories about subtlety will be much that'll that'll surprise in the book list Arnold. Well the big argument here book makes. Read the whole thing over the weekend is that so much of the dysfunction. Inefficiency the mistakes of the first couple years of the trump administration can be traced back in large part to one thing. Which you say was the decision to fire you. As the head of the transition and in literally tossing in the trash the plans that you and your team spent a lot of time making and you right where I think we had this quote the president elect. Had the plan he needed the plan was ready to go into effect self interest in folks around and decided to throw it into the trash. We are all still paying the price. That they were restored. They clearly threatens to find yours if frankly took binders in front of a group of transition people. And Sarah more only through in the trash to let them know that none of the stuff that you've been working on for less excellence matters were starting over. And it was an extraordinarily. Both arrogant. And naive decision. It was arrogant because to think that you could do something better in 71 days in a group of 440. People could do. In six months is just incredibly arrogant it was also naive about how complex this stuff is. A four trillion dollar federal government and literally not understanding that if you didn't replace people. Desks we're gonna be empty. All through our government on January 20. 2000 says not so much for what happened and it it when they got rid of it and you you know it's so it's it to me. You know it was both arrogant and naive and when you are people around you who combine arrogance and naivete. That's a very dangerous combination for a president. You certainly make it sound like a pretty inexcusable mistake community do you ultimately hold Donald Trump responsible for that or. Sure your finger Steve van and injured questioner I wouldn't want I don't think the president made that decision I think he's they said to him. We're gonna handle the transition don't worry about it. And I think the president a lot of things to worry about in that period is simply. Three days. After the election. And and so now I've you know ultimately win your president or governor. You're accountable for everything that happens on your watch you when you're not responsible. So I think he's a capital but I think the responsible parties. Or those sell pictures of folks I talked about. Who won at the power for themselves. And were not worrying about the president of the country. So were just we just hit the two year mark of the Donald Trump presidency and so I guess all things considered you write a lot about. The lead up to this day. Give us your grade for Donald Trump so far document be I mean I think that when you look at what he's been able to accomplish. With cutting taxes with rolling back regulation. With. Over a hundred judges. On the federal courts both Circuit Court in two with the United States Supreme Court. Hmmm when you're there are new trade deal with Canada and Mexico. Those are pretty significant accomplishments for two years and administration. That he deserves a lot of credit for that. Where he he's fallen down is you're not tune with obamacare. Not dealing with the immigration issue. Not being able to get traction on infrastructure at all. All things I think the country needs and so there's still more work to do look good look good for him he starts at least two more years. And maybe more. And so he's got to get to with though and and getting better people around them and executing. Development clinics funeral plans way to go. Indeed do you think that he was out fox by Nancy Pelosi do you think that this is yet this latest incident over the shut down a sort of continuation of that what feel I'm so to be exposed. Right knee if you're gonna close their recovery if ever planned. Pivotal player both had to give in and how to get out. And I don't think he had won an as a result it's a bluesy how to plant her plan was saying no. Say no to the wall money unless and until. There was too much political pressure her to withstand that but it with the exact opposite direction carding a large measure does the president have an early meeting. With senator Schumer and as speaker Pelosi. Recent Arctic response Weaver assert there are a proud to shut the thing down once you say that you own it. And people don't like with a government shutdown because that's a failure government what what. I think he hasn't attacked Nancy Pelosi are given her nickname Mikey did so many of his other rivals. Fact you're one of the few people he campaigned against it and given nickname and torn sixteen but what what why do you what do you think that is. Our viewers this torch respect for her for senate referred speaker Pelosi for the authority that she wields a speaker to humor nickname cry and Chuck Schumer is flying. But that's the minority leader of the senate but the speaker of the house I don't think you'll see Donald Trump do that. So one vignette that struck me read write in the book you describe it how candidate trump. I Jerryd Chris Schoen others were convinced voters president trump. Shortly after the election that as the Russia probe continued to two net nip at their heels that by the firing of Michael Flynn. The whole thing would be overstating you bring us inside that meeting sure. Shortly after it launched together on Valentine's Day and nom. And it was the day after the president have fired Mike Flynn now to make clear they didn't far Mike Flynn. To end the rush investigation. They fired Mike Flynn has explained to me because he lied to the vice president constructed to trust them anymore if you're right I think they've never should've trusted. But then they were cleaning house and while they be needed to because Unita vice pres the United States don't lose your job. Such as your national security advisor vice president has to know he could trust what you're saying and he couldn't and so he was he was fired. But what. The presence that he was well now and I fired when he's the only one who spoke to Russians you know did this recipe should be over. And I laughed and I said Mr. President I've run these investigations I can tell you. We're going to be on Valentine's Day in 2018. Still talking about this chart responded that I was Kris. We're not getting too. Donovan is day 2019. So we're still talking about its army of under sold. But what I knew from being a prosecutor who ran a big office was these type investigations if done correctly. Take time. And you can't make them shorter. If you wanna to you only make a longer. Yeah what I wanted to ask you that we are we're twenty months in counting that Bob Mueller has been looking into this 34 indictments. So far quarter Republicans and our latest polls. Are doubtful that Bob Muller can be fair where do you fall on that do you think this will be a fair report Meehan. I do. I work of Bob Laura US attorney in New Jersey and I was stranded to be a fair direct. On the sky has gone on too long. Well I think it's get in the area. I would hope I would have hoped to have wrapped up at the end of 2000 the team. Now listen I don't know what he knows and aren't always chasing so hot it's impossible for me to judge. Whether or not he really need the extra time. But is feels to me like it should be over and I think. Part of which is C within those poll and the poll and that is that curator who were really target hearing about it. They wanted to show me the beef moment when you don't let what are we got here haven't we already had that to a certain extent we've had. Six indictments are guilty pleas by some pretty big names in the president from circle Paul manna for Robert Gates Michael Flynn. I'm Michael Cohen George pop it up a list many of these people you know you know. When asked about pardons youth it obviously talked about the political pero a party people and suggests the president should do it for those reasons but. Do you think that any of those six people. Deserved to be pardoned do you think they've been caught up in have been a political storm and and really in our and a wrong way. Well listen I either or I think that I exercise pardon powers governor. And I think it's it's a purely personal decision to make that my opinion ruin the matter much I would just tell you that. I think what you're gonna pardon somebody you'd better. Understand. All of what they've done. All of what they know. And the ramifications. Of the party. And if you're caught with all that and then X you're in the Port Authority but you know I don't think that many of those folks should be win by the mailbox. For party I don't think the president's gonna do it to you would rule that out for him I don't listen it's Donald Trump. I'm so you don't rule anything out anything is in play and possible but. I don't think any rumor. Here it is you told George Stephanopoulos yesterday and this week that you actually think the president has sort of develop some political sense about the pardon game you said. I think he views pardons is not politically viable DC you really think he's just he's decided that this would not be a good move to parlance but I think he's. I think he's got real concerns about it as he rightfully should. He does not he has told wood from minute one he did nothing wrong. And I take him at his work. So if that's the case you do not want to put yourself. In a bad situation as president. Because few are trying to help other people who have admitted to crimes. And so you know with the exception of Roger Stone all the risk these folks are admitted their crimes and plenty else is pretty nice things about my plan. What it does he know it and I and I I just tell you that I don't completely understand that relationship I really don't. And I understand why the fail only has he affection for Mike Flynn that they do. But. It's good that he's our government. You write the book at near the end as we look torch 120. That people across the country are still genuinely angry about the failures of government to get things done. Not a practically partisan statement but just in general. Is there any doubt in your mind that Donald Trump will run for reelection in two points when you say you presume he's running. He had not as we sit here today there's going to be down I think you'll run now have listened. The president is 72 years old. Says a chance humane way you never know I mean he may wake up 1 morning just decide you know what. I don't want to spend the time so I'm nearly eighty. You know in the White House I wanna go off for insures some things well on healthy enough to do it. So nothing would shock me but it would surprise me significantly. If Donald Trump werder say lets us. Says you know some Republicans are keeping their options open publicly Mitt Romney look and at the alternatives. But even your friend your good friend you write about him in the book Larry Hogan Maryland governor. Is among those being rumored as a possible contender is defer primary challenge it. You think Claire Hogan to challenge president trump would you tone not to. Listen I would tell Larry I think is to be very difficult to beat any president in this primary. If that unit that the president is just popular in a unique way along the base the party's speaks to them. And you don't wanna try to channel sent I would source Barry asked me in my opinion as we stand here today are with Salem I think it's that it does look into. You know I really don't I think it's a lot more boomer than his reality but I guess. Are we currently spoken Larry about a sort don't know for sure OK and president trump to be clear as your full endorsement personally Edison I'm. I absolutely the president deserves to be reelected and and I'm. You know is it the into the today. Who's got another what you know two years you certainly know and how 10 Friday with those two years but as I sit right now I'm very happy with her present these. And you write about that in the book you also talk about you can't give a warning to Democrats that Donald Trump is going to be pretty formidable as you learned the line against him who do you think is most. Threatening to Donald Trump right now in the democratic field of and names as you see out there. Well I think he's different conservative vice president pressed for the Biden. I think he feels like he's a guy who can appeal. This internal white working class voters that Schroeder appealed to. And this kind of blue collar background that are bruised things and the key could be a problem. I he worrisome bit. About a property Sanders because he knows that for he's been there before and knows where it's like so be more relaxed. The key also feels strongly about. About. Carl Harris. And that she's somebody who could. You know if she survives the run up to make a real wave. We'll have to keep and I and that shifting gears a little bit at 10 people bring us inside your personal relationship you've talked about. You know Donald Trump for seventeen years I was struck in the book by. And the extent of that personal relationship which began when you're US attorney who got cold call out of the blue. And a first dinner at Sharon George yes or something what is now. Yeah the way hip the way it works with that I was used terms order to visit the judges and his sister. Is a third Circuit Court of Appeals judge Maryanne trump Barry and when I went to visit with her at the end of that meeting she said would you do in the Twomey favor. Harrison of course sure what do you mean she said would you go to that could should go to theater with my little brother. Was the way she put it. And I think you mean Donald and she said yes Michael we call my office and set an option is now here's what we're calling thinks it might be inappropriate. So he wants me to justify it's an up and so loosen up a few weeks later. We were at words on soared to new York new order for you. He did he did and he ordered re it was very bad ordering for me to give don't know what it the first course for scallops which I'm allergic to. And the second course was lamb which I can test how gosh so he went over to lot of it's a shame as four mile that cola will be a regular he. And and it was funny because. We went back here another time Easley. Let Chris order for himself nobody order form so. It's very funny he doesn't Ed have developed of a pretty close bond and including you talk about. Some pretty intimate subjects that that you two spoke about including the president. Then keep civilian Donald Trump suggesting that you'll lap band surgery yup tend to help control your weight he also talked about. I was struck by the anecdote on the campaign trail even trying to micromanage your appearance. Telling you crap Chris your ties too long there tell tell us that's very well. Who we're gotten some of the quotes here we were within a hum we were on trump force one his plane. And he was tying his tie in the mirror and he looked at me and said. Good to make your time longer as the Buckeyes finally let my tightest labor advocates that's fine because little hope it's longer its slender rising. His ties of course famously long yes thought you know I don't know if that's if the that's right that's it for him but that's what he was suggesting for Macy's and -- change I could not. Heated match I think another interest in story speaking of that bond was came you talked about and did and preparations for the first debate an officer in September. I'm stripper something that Mike Flynn is suggested it behind the scenes he's he came up with an idea in that debate prep session. Suggesting that Donald Trump come out on stage blow everybody away in suggest he's. Pro choice president pro life right what's the reaction in the room today. Actually it first was like people chuckled. Because they thought he must be kidding but that we realized he was serious. And at the Kennedy was listening to him. And we all kind of jumped and said no you know. This president or mr. trump at that point Donald you you're about to change once on the issue of abortion not twice and thought I've been for choice and change deprive. Diddy entertainment it's no not really I mean but with it was a disservice home awarded give. Life to wife Flynn was such a problem. That the put aside the issue itself the idea of stadium to bases in changing. Your mind that such a core issue as a tactic here to surprise her opponent. Was starting to most of us and and we and and I success was able to exclude Mike food from any future debate prep after that. You talk about you know you haven't joined the administration yet there were two jobs that you wanted badly told out front very up front you would were interest in the attorney general euros and Symbian vice president. I'm I was surprised by your telling of of it on the in the deep six how you were initially thought you didn't have a chance. But in the end you were actually very much in the running and end and end to tell Tulsa little bit about why do you think down from Bennett going with Mike Pence. And what those conversations work it's hard to tell. You literally on the Wednesday night before you meet the selection on Friday he called me on a hotel in Washington DC where I was working on the transition. And asked me are you ready. Brasserie forty was you know we're not talking about. Her so are you offering. And so will not yet Pritzker make sure you're ready Keating was trying to dissuade you know he was he was midyear adamantly. Wanting to have a last check. Because any S is Mary pat ready is she willing to campaign. Because I need around the campaign sure she's so good at center so I think he's just doing that's gut check on it and leader and I got a phone call from a senior member of the campaign staff. Who said to me that he had communicated that evening for the family that he was gonna pick me. And that chairman of rocket insist they're getting on the plane at 6 AM the next morning go to Indianapolis and talk some about it. And it was then two days later. That humanity like that do you think had not been for juror no vodka that you would be his vice president impossible for me to tell but I can tell you that that was the one new variable. That was put into it that I know off. Between Wednesday night when minority completely vetted his remember I was there for VP for Mitt Romney also. Prayers are so I've got through this show a couple of times in. Knew how worked in the had all the materials ready for the so I think he was ready to make its decision and he just decided at the end the go first president parents and mr. Mike's a good guy and I know our nor regret it because of the recent title to be vice president. It use you talk about your tents and awkward at times relationship with Jared Kushner. Some of that stemming from your prosecution of his father. When you were were US attorney article all of it part or all of it comes from America's I didn't know. Tell us about it didn't hit you paint the picture again of the scene of some of you talk about a meltdown pretty dramatic confrontation with crushed her early on. This is not about these states this is about. Transition as when you're going to be named to head the transition everybody seemed to be on board. Injured pressure comes and says wait a second yet. You got its stock slow down slow and every side now yeah I mean. Did the pellets at their release is to know that you're sitting there you for proved to press release. The candidates approved a press release and all of a sudden you know his subtle welcomes in the room. And initially just are small talking to think it's right to the point says he can't trust this guy because of what he did to my father heaped he outright set yet. Yeah and and you know the Donald replied you know directly the cause of Christians is doing his job. I don't know we can't blame him for that he's doing his job would be expected to do that can get that thing lever charity to get along way with the president. It was something he never got over Jerry Christian and we was he ever ever compartmentalize it moved he told me a couple times that he had that I haven't seen the evidence. You left elected office as governor just over a year ago. Hardwood as many years and you read the book on page street five. I knew my life would take some getting used to not been the constant center of political attention. Not been able to effect the day to day lives of the people I served. Like oh. On the better the longer it goes the better you get added. You're still I still farmers so frustrated at times. Because what I see something that's going to happen that's wrong are easier with a pick up the phone and have a pretty good chance to get somebody to fix it. Hum when your governor Sargent state now I can't. And I feel kind of a victim to whatever the problem is now. And it's it's a great reminder ago and I think it's one of the reasons why people shouldn't perpetually stay in public office but should leave and come back. Is I've been so. Educated about what. Regular folks were not in public office. Must feel like when they see problems that are obvious to be fixed and haven't been so as communal more empathy towards the people used want to be in the mall in the supermarket. And the strikers saying you've got to fix this you gotta do that. And it won't break my office you know but it really is important for you to have that feeling again because I think if you or public official again he'll be even better. And you do say in the book cure not finished now perhaps as a political future for you again but Chris Christie thank you so much for coming in and ABC news slot the book is. Let me finish trump the question is banned in New Jersey in a power in your face politics it's a great read. Appreciate it very much for extract so much and make you for watching ABC news live we'll see you next hour.
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