New Jersey Governor Chris Christie joined me today to discuss the latest developments swirling around Hillary Clinton and other issues including the Iran deal:
HH: Joined now by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Governor Christie, you’re the only prosecutor on that stage. Your reaction to the Hillary Clinton server and thumb drive being turned over to the Bureau?
CC: Well, I’m glad that the FBI has decided to step up and do their job here, and this Justice Department. As a former member of the Justice Department, you know, the thing they’ve got to stand for is what’s right. And let’s think about this now. This is a person in Hillary Clinton who was the leading diplomat in our country, didn’t use her office email, used a private server, deleted emails. If this was anybody else, this would have been done a long time ago. And so I’m glad they finally stepped up, and let’s get to the bottom of it. Classified information on that server would be a huge national security risk, and Secretary Clinton should have known that, but she cared more about averting the rules and applying her own rules to herself than she cared about following the law, apparently.
HH: In early March, Governor Christie, General Petraeus pled guilty to one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified information in violation of 18 USC 1924. NPR noted at the time that former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, former CIA director John Deutsch, had pled guilty to similar offenses in the past. Do you see any significant difference between what Petraeus, Berger and Deutsch did and what Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills have done?
CC: It doesn’t sound like it to me, no. And you know, let’s get the facts and look at everything that we need to look at, but no, it sounds no different. It sounds like there’s a double standard. And listen, the Clintons are used to getting double standards applied to them and getting the benefit of the doubt. And I think it’s almost because we’re numb. We’re numb to the things that happen with Hillary Clinton, and we shouldn’t be. And Hugh, I want all of our listeners today to think about it. Close your eyes for just a moment and think about what it would be like to have Hillary Clinton as president of the United States, and who do you want on that stage next fall debating her and holding her to account for her conduct? That’s what this race is about, in large measure, who’s going to be able to hold her to account.
HH: You know, I have talked earlier in the day with Marco Rubio and Donald Trump about this. The GOP is looking for someone who will bring a hammer to the Clinton idea of privilege, that there are two sets of rules. Are you that guy, Chris Christie?
CC: There’s no question I am, and I’m the guy who’s been able to do that all throughout my career. Look at me in New Jersey, Hugh. We have fought against the Democrats in New Jersey every day. I’ve fought and vetoed more tax increases than anybody on that stage, vetoed more spending than anybody on that stage, stood up for what was right. I was a U.S. Attorney and prosecutor for seven years, prosecuting Democrats and Republicans. I’m the person to get up there, and I think people know that about me. I’m a fighter. I’m the person who has been willing to stand up. I was the first one to fight the teachers’ union in New Jersey, and I continue to fight them to this day. That’s the kind of person you want on the stage against Hillary Clinton, someone who’s been through these battles in the toughest media market in America for a Republican, the New York media market. And we’ve been able to do that over the course of my 13 years on that stage – seven years as the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey and six years as the governor. We’ve been fighting the good fight for what’s right, and I’m absolutely confident that if people give me that chance, we’re going to be able to do that against Hillary Clinton next fall.
HH: Chris Christie, you mentioned your time as U.S. Attorney. That brings up what Chuck Todd asked me about. Until Sunday, I was under the impression that you had been sworn in on September 10th. I guess the understanding, my understanding was not correct. You actually got the call on September 10th.
HH: How much confusion is there about that?
CC: I don’t think there really is much. I think this was like after a debate, people trying to play gotcha with everything. I made it really clear in the past, and some people misunderstood. But I received the call from the White House on September 10th saying that I, President Bush, had chosen me to be U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, and that the confirmation process was going to start the next day. They were sending me my documents to fill out for my background check and to be ready to go. And then of course, the next day, the entire world changed. And so that’s why my confirmation was put off until the end of December. Every FBI agent in America and around the world was not doing background checks for appointees, but was working to try to solve what had happened in September 11th. And so I would have been in much earlier had it not been for that event, but September 10th was the day I got the call from the White House, and that’s been reported in the news. It was reported in the news in New Jersey in the September 11th newspapers that I had been named by President Bush. So that’s what I meant when I said appointed. I should have probably used the word named, but either way, that’s what I meant by saying that.
HH: I get it. Now let’s go back to substance. General Soleimani did fly to Moscow on the day, it was reported on the day of the debate. It came up only briefly. My frustration with that debate is they didn’t spend any time talking about the Iran deal or really any time talking about ISIS. What did you make of the question set, because I felt deprived of the opportunity, really the only opportunity that the country had to hear the Iran deal discussed in detail before the comes up.
CC: I have to say something. I was surprised that we didn’t spend more time on the Iran deal that night. Listen, everybody has a tough time. Ten people are on the stage. But you know, the fact is that the questions were very limiting. And I got three questions, I think, directly to me in the evening, one on my record in New Jersey, one on the NSA, and one on entitlement reform. And so I have a lot to say, as you know, and we’ve run advertisements on the Iranian deal in our campaign. We think it’s incredibly important, and when you look at some of the things that have come up, the side deal issues, Hugh, you know, this is again Hillary Clinton’s deal. She has said this is a good deal for America and a good deal for the world. I mean, this is the same person who had her stunts in Benghazi, the same person who hit the reset button with Russia, and the only thing that’s been reset is that Ukraine now has Russian troops in it. That’s what’s been reset. I mean, this is a ridiculous foreign policy by this administration, and a dangerous one for Israel and for the United States, and for our allies around the world.
HH: Is there a new axis of evil developing between Putin, the ayatollahs and the PRC?
CC: Well, listen, it’s possible if there’s no American leadership. This is what happened. I mean, can you think of any place in the world right now that is better off because of Barack Obama’s leadership in the last seven years? I certainly can’t. I can’t think of any place where we’re doing better, and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the architects of this foreign policy. And what we need is someone who’s going to say it like it is, and that’s what I’ve done my whole career. The fact is that we now have a real growing problem in the world because of a vacuum in leadership that America has left open because of Barack Obama’s weak, feckless leadership, and the no strategic plan that has come from Hillary Clinton. And how about this, Hugh, just last night, we heard from her team that she’ll get back to us in the coming weeks and months for a plan on ISIS. Well, Secretary Clinton, ISIS developed on your watch…
CC: …on your watch, because of your policies and the president’s policies. And now, it’s just like the Keystone Pipeline. She’ll tell us what her plan is for ISIS after she gets elected? This is ridiculous.
HH: Last question, Chris Christie. The filibuster is a dividing line between the Republican candidates. The Senators want to keep it, the governors that I’ve talked to think it’s crazy, it’s holding up Defense Appropriations. What’s Chris Christie think?
CC: Listen, I’m a governor, and I want action. And the American people, you know, it seems like these guys get dumped into Washington, D.C, and they get dumped into a vat of red tape and paperwork, and they forget what people sent them there for. The American people are tired of all these excuses that come from the sub-committees and the committees in Congress. They want things done. And the American people want action to improve our economy. They want action to improve our standing in the world. And as a governor, we should have that action. And there’s no excuse for it any longer. We control the Congress. We should be making things happen. How about the Democrats? When they wanted to make things happen when they were in control, they eliminated the filibuster, didn’t they? I mean, the fact is the American people want action. Our Republican Party voters want action. That’s what they’re going to get if they put me there. People can say a lot of different things about me, Hugh, but we have acted and acted boldly and strongly in New Jersey. It’s the same way I’ll lead the country.
HH: Chris Christie, thank you for joining me. I’m putting you down on the yes, break the filibuster list. I appreciate you joining me, Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie.
End of interview.