The following is a transcript of an interview with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that aired on “Face the Nation” on August 27, 2023.
NANCY CORDES: We turn now to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Governor, good morning. Thanks for being here.
2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE CHRIS CHRISTIE: Thanks for having me, Nancy. It’s good to be here.
NANCY CORDES: Let’s get right to it. Do you take issue with former President Trump making money off of his mug shot?
CHRISTIE: Look, there’s almost nothing anymore that he could do that would surprise me in terms of the ongoing grift. You know, Donald Trump promised the country when he ran in 2016, that he would drain the swamp, really all he did was rearrange the swamp, rearranged it so that he could make money off of regular voters to pay his own legal fees, to pay $208,000 for his wife’s stylist, and to set up a $2 billion grift, from the Saudis for his daughter, Ivanka, and his son in law, Jared. You know, we see the same thing with Hunter Biden and what he’s doing. We have two ruling families right now in this country who put themselves before the people they’re supposed to represent. We need a wholesale change. And that’s why I’m running for president.
NANCY CORDES: Do you think Trump supporters are being ripped off when they donate?
CHRISTIE: Absolutely. You know, when you see $40 million in legal fees in just the first half of the year, and that was before two of the indictments. These fees are only going to go through the roof. And Donald Trump maybe should sell one of his golf courses, or maybe sell his apartment at Trump Tower to fund it. But instead, he’s taking people who donate an average of $100 to him to try to get him to become president of the United States again, and he’s using that money to pay his legal fees. It’s- it’s unethical, it’s immoral. And it’s just another part of the grift that’s been going on in Washington DC, for much, much too long. And, you know, you look at him and you look at what’s going on, as I said, with Hunter Biden in the way he was selling access to his father, when he was vice president, I think that we should be tired of both of those acts. And I will tell you this, when I’m elected president, no one from the Christie family‘s gonna be making money off of my presidency. If you can’t run your own families and keep them in line that way, you hardly can be president of the United States.
NANCY CORDES: Got it, we’ll hold you to that. You know, you said at the debate, and it got a lot of attention that candidates need to stop normalizing Trump’s conduct. But you stood by him after he was accused of rape, after he praised Vladimir Putin repeatedly, after he was impeached. Didn’t you normalize his conduct for a long time as well?
CHRISTIE: The conduct I’m talking about Nancy is the one that is the greatest threat to our country and the greatest threat to our democracy. And that was standing in front of the cameras from the White House behind the seal of the president on election night and telling people the election was stolen. And for now, three years nearly, continuing to say the same thing with absolutely no proof and no evidence. That’s the problem, Nancy, you know, you can have policy disagreements with someone and believe me, I spoke out at the time about the things that I disagreed with Donald Trump on. That’s much different than taking classified documents from the White House and hiding them for 18 months from the government claiming you don’t have them when these are some of the biggest secrets that are in our country’s arsenal. It’s different than undercutting democracy in the way that he was doing so and leading to the right we had on Capitol Hill on January 6. You know, I’m gonna get on that stage and I’m going to tell the truth, regardless of what other people may think that is the truth. And that’s why, you know, I urge people to go to chrischristie.com, donate to support the truth, because that’s what we’re standing up for.
NANCY CORDES: One of Trump’s 18 co-defendants in Fulton County is his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who you know. And he’s going to be in court tomorrow arguing that his charges should be moved to federal court because the conduct in question happened when he was serving in the federal government. You are a former federal- federal prosecutor. What do you think of that argument?
CHRISTIE: He’s- He’s got an argument to make, Nancy, there’s no doubt that under the statutes, there’s an argument to make. But ultimately, all these change of venue decisions are at the discretion of the trial judge, here a federal judge, who’s going to be hearing that and he’s gonna want to hear all the different evidence and the balancing of the interests in these venue decisions are made on that basis. So is there an argument to be made? There’s definitely an argument to be made about switching venue to federal court. But in the end, it really won’t change matters all that much, except that the trial won’t be televised. Iit still has to be governed under the state laws of Atlanta. The only thing that will be different are some of the procedural things that lawyers care about. But in the end, all of the charges must remain the same. So I think that whether Mark Meadows wins that motion or doesn’t is not going to make a substantive difference on how ultimately a jury is going to be asked to make these decisions at the time of trial.
NANCY CORDES: I want to move to an issue that a lot of Republican voters in particular care about, which is immigration. On the debate stage, a couple of your opponents seem to suggest that they would send troops into Mexico to fight the drug cartels. Governor DeSantis said he would deploy US special forces. Do you think that that is a viable solution to the Fentanyl crisis? Wouldn’t Mexico view that as an act of war?
CHRISTIE: I think they would. And look, I see it also as an- as an act of war by China to be sending the precursor chemicals to these Mexican drug cartels in order to make the fentanyl that they’re sending up into the country. Look, I think there are ways to get this done. I think we have to use our intelligence assets, we have to be much tougher and stronger at the border to prevent people from coming through, finish the wall that Donald Trump never finished, only built 52 miles of in four years. We need to make sure that we put National Guard at the border to stop those folks from coming across the border with fentanyl. I think the invasion of Mexico issue is one that sounds good on the debate stage, but I think if any of them tried to implement that part of it, as President, they would find it’s much more complicated that they’re- than they’re making it sound.
NANCY CORDES: Wouldn’t it be illegal to have the National Guard serving in a law enforcement capacity at the border?
CHRISTIE: No, Nancy, look, I think that what we’re doing is protecting the border, they will be working with Customs and Border Patrol folks hand-in-hand, they can effectuate the arrest. But you obviously have greater force there to prevent them from coming over the border in the first place and so it’s a combination of the two of them, Customs and Border Patrol would still be the law enforcement agency, but they need backup, they need help. And we’re not getting that right now from the Biden administration. And that’s what you’re seeing and if the Trump administration had kept their promise, and it finished the wall, this would be a lot easier as well. But once again, Donald Trump told you he’s gonna give you a wall, he gave you 52 miles of one. This is absolutely another failure of his. The same way he said he was going to repeal and replace Obamacare and it’s still there, even though we had a Republican Congress. The same way he said he was going to balance the budget in four years and he added six and a half trillion dollars to the national debt. There’s a littering of broken promises on the road of the Trump administration and that presidency, and we need someone who can get results. And I’m a governor- a Republican conservative governor from a blue state who got things done. Same way Ronald Reagan did it in California. That’s the kind of leadership we need in America right now.
NANCY CORDES: I want to ask you about one of your Republican opponents. He was one of the biggest cheerleaders on the stage for Donald Trump. And that’s Vivek Ramaswamy, the entrepreneur, he praised him again and again. Why do you think he is challenging Mr. Trump for the nomination if he’s such a big supporter of him?
CHRISTIE: It’s a really good question, Nancy. I thought it myself standing on the stage. If you believe Donald Trump was the greatest president of the 21st century, which is what Vivek said on the stage, then what the hell are you doing running against him? The fact is that Vivek says one thing, does another. He stood up there and said, he’s not a politician. He looks to me to be the worst of what politicians are characterized to be. Someone who says one thing does another and then when you call them, like I did on the negative things he said about Donald Trump on January 6, in his book, he said he didn’t say it. And you see any number of people in the- in the analysis afterwards say, he absolutely said it and pulling those excerpts directly from the book. Look, I don’t try to change what I say. I say what I believe and I tell the truth, and maybe some of the other folks should try to do exactly the same thing. I think the most lasting moment of the debate from Wednesday night, Nancy, is when you had six of the eight candidates on that stage, raise their hands and say they would support a convicted felon for President United States. I think our standard should be higher. I think the President of the United States should be a role model for our children and grandchildren, and that’s exactly the kind of president I would be.
NANCY CORDES: No question that was a memorable moment and I’m sure it will be discussed at the next debate coming up in California. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie- former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, thanks so much for joining us today.
CHRISTIE: Thanks for having me, Nancy. Have a good Sunday.
NANCY CORDES: Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us.