The 2016 Christie Speech that Presaged the Trump Junta

As soon as the news broke about the FBI’s raid Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate Republican partisans declared it was a political witch hunt. Without any confirmed information of what the agents were looking for they are assuming the most corrupt motives of these public servants.

More than 18 months after Trump kneecapped the Biden transition and carried out a multi-prong attack on the peaceful transition of power, his partisans are casting the former president as a victim. They are also going to great lengths to encourage America’s distrust of institutions like the DOJ and even the IRS.

‘Only trust in Trump. The government’s out to get him and we must defend him.’

“The FBI raid on President Trump’s personal residence is unprecedented and raises a number of concerns about the power of the ruling party to investigate its political opponents,” wrote Bob Hugin, Chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee. “Just this week, Democrats here in New Jersey voted to fund another 87,000 new IRS agents. Make no mistake about it: this new robust agency will harass small business owners, political adversaries, and law-abiding Americans. It is more essential than ever to elect a Republican Congress this November to put an end to one-party rule.”

How did we come to this nadir where the Department of Justice had to go to a judge to sign a warrant to so they could search the residence of a former President? I flash back to that 2016 July night in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention when Chris Christie gave that ad hominem attack on Hillary Clinton during which delegates devolved into a mob yelling “lock her up, lock her up.”

I was on the floor of the convention at the lip of the stage as Christie threw the red meat over my head out to the vengeful crowd. I knew in that instant that America would never be the same because the Republican Party’s glue, what now held it together was an anger, a sense of grievance that Christie had channeled as he played judge, jury and executioner with a mob as his greek chorus.

He relished it. In all the years of covering conventions I had never heard a more incendiary speech.

And while Christie has now attempted to pirouette away from his persona as Trump’s hatchet man, he told America that night in Cleveland that Trump was “not only a strong leader but a caring, genuine and decent person.”

“I am here tonight not only as the Governor of New Jersey, but also as Donald Trump‘s friend for the last fourteen years,” he said. Christie was an early booster of Trump’s candidacy and as former chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association gave him legitimacy to compensate for Trump’s thin political resume.

He suggested that since the Obama Department of Justice had refused to prosecute Clinton he would use his speech to allow the American people to be “a jury of her peers, both in this hall and in living rooms around our nation” to “hold her accountable for her performance and her character.”

He took policy choices of the Obama administration, that Clinton as Secretary of State executed, and then tossed in how she handled her work emails and hit the juicer button on his rhetorical blender.

He went on to blame Clinton for the status of every global hotspot. And just as Trump would do with his attack on the integrity of election officials, Christie, himself a former DOJ employee, sought to undermine the sense of legitimacy of the Department of Justice for NOT prosecuting Clinton.

It was Strong Man 101. ‘Your institutions are rotten—only the junta will manifest your will!’

“Since the Justice Department refuses to allow you to render a verdict, let’s present the case now, on the facts, against Hillary Clinton,” Christie said. “She was America’s chief diplomat. Look around at the violence and danger in our world today every region of the world has been infected with her flawed judgment.”

Rereading this speech offers some real ironies in light of how Trump actually governed. Christie took Clinton to task for going easy on Putin by  “going to the Kremlin on her very first visit” and giving him “the symbolic reset button. The button should have read, ‘delete’ she is very good at that because she deleted in four years what it took 40 years to build.”

In the years since Christie recommended him, Trump pitted blue states against red states dividing a nation facing a once in a century mass death event that badly needed cohesion to heal but was thwarted from finding it. And when weary voters overwhelmingly rejected him, he obstructed the orderly transition of power as he plotted a multi-faceted insurrection to derail the peaceful transition of power.

And as we saw on Jan.6, this particular strain of self-righteous Republicanism, which Christie’s 2016 speech helped spawn, is capable of seizing the U.S. Capitol and building a gallows.  Now, as the American justice system attempts to hold Trump accountable, Republican members of Congress are calling for “defunding the FBI.

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5 responses to “The 2016 Christie Speech that Presaged the Trump Junta”

  1. Bob Hugin is a moron. The IRS lost a lot of manpower during the pandemic. Congress voted to fund the hiring of new agents. The Democrats aren’t hiring anyone. Did Hugin feed that line to Tea Bagger Bill Hayden?

  2. Hugin is a moron? Name calling get no where. Who is being decisive? Hennelly indicates Republicans are dividing the country. I suppose Hillary, Obama, the squad, Old man Biden, CNN, BLM, etc are sincere about uniting the country. Right.

  3. I believe Mr. Hennelly states, quite correctly, that the GOP and Mr. Trump in particular, HAS divided America. To say that “Name calling get no where (sic)” and then call the president “Old man” and a subset of Democratic House members “the squad” undermines your own point and proves Mr. Hennelly’s. After what we all witnessed on Jan. 6th how can there be any doubt as to which party has us fighting amongst ourselves. How on Earth can conservatives claim to support law enforcement and the rule of law, while they simultaneously besmirch the DOJ and FBI, not mention defend those who beat and killed Capitol Police Officers on Jan. 6th.

  4. Saying “name calling get no where (sic)” then calling the president “Old man” undermines your own argument and makes Mr. Hennelly’s. Donald Trump has taken a Party that claims to support law enforcement and replaced it with a Party that defends mob rule that beat Capitol Police Officers with flag poles carrying Thin Blue Line flags and now seeks to “Defund” of “Destroy” the FBI. This unites the country?

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