Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in “Face the Nation”, June 18, 2023

The following is a transcript of an interview with former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, 2024 Republican presidential nominee, which aired on “Face the Nation” on June 18, 2023.

ROBERT COSTA: Now we move on to the 2024 presidential campaign and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He’s in Bay Head, New Jersey. Good morning. Governor, were some Republicans, especially those in Congress, too quick to side with Trump this week without knowing the full extent of the evidence in the records case?

CHRIS CHRISTIE Look, if you’re reading this indictment, and if you remember Bob, I did this job for seven years at the United States Attorney’s office in New Jersey, the fifth largest office in the nation. I’ve filed 130 political corruption lawsuits, Republicans and Democrats, without defeat. So I know how to do this job, and this indictment lays out some very, very disturbing facts about not just the president – the former president, keeping all these documents and national security documents that he had no right to keep in the archives presidential law or any other law. But even worse, asking his lawyers to lie and prevent the government from recovering these documents. There are some very disturbing behaviors in there, including showing these documents to other people, who have not been authorized to see them. So I think we need to have a full trial here, and fair. The president – the former president is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but the conduct in this, Bob, is deeply troubling. And what worries me is, look, we need change at the Department of Justice. And if I’m president, you can rest assured that we’ll put an attorney general in there who will rule without fear or favor and weed out anyone who shows partisanship. But that’s a different matter from Donald Trump’s conduct. And in my opinion, that’s not the conduct we should have from someone who wants to be president of the United States again.

ROBERT COSTA: Governor, you just said you would make changes to the Department of Justice. Some of your rivals in the race have said the Justice Department, in their view, is weaponizing this investigation, targeting former President Trump. You’ve known FBI Director Chris Wray for years. Are your rivals wrong when they talk about arming the DOJ?

CHRISTIE: Look, I think the DOJ under Eric Holder has become a weapon, and the fact is when you look at what he’s done, like his time as Attorney General, both against Republicans and refusing , with Loretta Lynch, later suing Hillary Clinton…

ROBERT COSTA: But what about now, Governor?

CHRISTIE: Well, I’ll get to it, Bob. And I think now what we’re seeing is that people see things as being unfair. That if you don’t prosecute Hillary Clinton and you choose to prosecute Donald Trump, that raises real questions in the minds of Republicans, and it should. But that doesn’t change the ride. We wouldn’t be here if Donald Trump had simply returned the documents, the dozens of times the government asked him to return them, the times the grand jury served them with a subpoena. He waited and waited and waited, defied the government and ended up having his house ransacked. And when they did, they found over a hundred additional classified documents after he had told everyone months earlier that he had turned it all in. This conduct is indefensible, in my opinion, and if true, as alleged in the indictment, he is in serious legal trouble.

ROBERT COSTA: Indefensible. Disturbing your remarks about this alleged conduct of the Republican Party, right now, not only at a crossroads politically, but historically?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I said this when I announced the presidency, we’ve been at a crossroads many times in the history of our nation, 1776, 1861, 1941, 1961 and 1981. And all those years , we’ve had presidents like George Washington, like Abraham Lincoln, like FDR, like JFK, and like Ronald Reagan, who had a choice between going small and going big, and doing great things for America. We need a president who, once again, doesn’t look at these little things in the rear view mirror, who constantly whines, complains and complains about how unfair things are. What we need as a party and as a country is a president who will go big, lead America again to great accomplishments and great goals, and there’s no one, Bob , who can do better than me.

ROBERT COSTA: How will history see your own role with Trump?

CHRISTIE: Look, I made it very clear in 2016 that I didn’t want Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States and I think that was the right move. And my hope in 2016 was to make Donald Trump a better candidate, and if he won, a better president. I tried, and I was wrong. I couldn’t make him a better president. And he failed again and again. All you have to look at is the fact that he said he would build a wall, he didn’t build the wall. And in fact, he said he would make Mexico pay, we didn’t get our first peso. He said he would balance the budget in four years. He left the biggest deficit of any president in recent American history. He said he would only bring into government the best and brightest people. Yet you watch him as he belittles everyone who disagreed with him that he brought in. People like Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil, who he said was the embodiment of the American dream, and when Rex Tillerson disagreed with him, Bob, he called them lazy as hell and dumb as a rock. Now which one was it? Was he right when he called them all those things? Which means he didn’t choose the best people? Or was he right when he said it was the embodiment of the American dream, and because Rex Tillerson disagreed with him, the petulant child came out to Donald Trump, and when you don’t disagree with him, you are insulted. Look, Bob, if it’s Father’s Day today, and I want to talk to all the dads. If your child acted like this, you would send him to his room. You wouldn’t send them to the White House.

ROBERT COSTA: It’s a race for the White House. You’re not the only one running against former President Trump. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is ahead of you in the polls, does DeSantis have what it takes to become the leading alternative to Trump?

CHRISTIE: Well, we’ll find out. I don’t know Governor DeSantis very well. I hope that I will get to know him better during this campaign. But I’ll say this, Bob, and people can see this if they go to our website, they’ll see that in the last two polls in New Hampshire, we’re now solidly in third place after a week in the race, and just four points behind second-place Governor DeSantis. It is therefore a race to become the alternative to Trump. In New Hampshire, I’m now four points behind Ron DeSantis in our first week. And so if people want to see me present these arguments on the debate stage, we have to abide by these RNC rules of 40,000 donors, go to –

COSTA: Understood

CHRISTIE: Donate $1 so you can see me make these arguments live on stage.


If you make the scene and ultimately win the presidency, you’ll have to deal with foreign policy. Right now, Tony Blinken, the Secretary of State is meeting with Chinese officials. Do you think it’s the right decision for the Biden administration to engage with China in this way?

CHRISTIE: Bob, I think the problem is that the whole Biden administration has been filled with misadventures towards China. Let’s start with Ukraine first, where Joe Biden said a small incursion wouldn’t be a problem. He sent a signal to Russia and China that a war in Ukraine would be acceptable. China is funding it now because we gave them the signal that everything was fine, and Russia is killing innocent Ukrainian citizens who only want their freedom. He made mistakes by not being tougher on China over the theft of our intellectual property, by letting spy balloons fly over our country unharassed. Whatever he’s doing today is a day late and a dollar short, Bob. He should have been much more direct with China from the start. And I think people who know me know that there will be no confusion from President Xi when I am President of the United States, about what American policy is, and that every day we will fight to make America the winner of this competition against China.

COSTA: Governor Christie, we’ll see you soon on the campaign trail. We appreciate your presence and Face the Nation will be back soon. Do not go.

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