Toxic Forces and Prosecutorial Overkill

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Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is back in the public eye hawking his new book Let Me Finish: Trumps, the Kushner, Bannon, New Jersey and the Power of-In-Your Face Politics.” For anyone who has spent anytime around the Governor, it’s hard to fathom how there might be a person living who could prevent him from “finishing” anything he wanted to say, particularly because he is the originator of New Jersey’s “in your-face-politics.”

On one hand, as the first major elected official to endorse the President,  Christie was a sort of early guarantor for Donald Trump, who very much needed his legitimacy at the time. Yet, because Christie was so publicly ousted from his position as the leader of the Trump transition team, he has some wiggle room to save his reputation in the event of a total Trump meltdown.   

It’s a delicate balancing act to be able to benefit from having proximity to a controversial figure like Trump, but not so close that you risk getting pulled into the vortex of ignominy if history judges Trump a dangerous failure. 

From the advance press on the book, it appears Gov. Christie threads this needle by expressing support for the President by referencing his leadership qualities, while not ignoring the President’s spectacular fiascos, like firing FBI Director James Comey. He accomplished this nimble feat by attributing Trump’s rocky tenure to bad staffing choices.  In USA Today’s  preview of Christie’s book, it described the turn of events as “toxic forces” that were responsible for the “administration’s  failures.”

No doubt, Christie knows just how perilous a sceptic office culture can be. (See Bridgegate.)

While Christie is no Giuliani-like Trump sycophant, he has used his recent press rounds to blast Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI for “overkill” in how they executed  their pre-dawn raid on GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone’s Florida home after he had been charged with obstruction of justice, making false statements, and witness tampering.

Christie reasoned on CBS that Stone was no flight risk, was not armed and that the FBI show of force, with agents carrying semi-automatic weapons and wearing body armor, was unnecessary and only meant to intimidate Stone.

“I think it’s the wrong thing for prosecutors to do,” Christie said. “I think that Mr. Mueller made a mistake in authorizing that, because you’re going to be criticized, and rightfully so, if you’re a prosecutor using those means as a means of intimidation.”

He continued, ”These are tough decisions to make. But you always have to err on the side of having people having confidence in the justice system. I have confidence in Mr. Mueller and in his objectivity. I worked with him when I was U.S. Attorney and he was director of the FBI. I’ve defended Bob all throughout the investigation. I don’t believe it’s a witch hunt. But when you do stuff like that, those are unforced errors that make everybody take a step back and say, ‘come on.'”

Funny, that was exactly the same impulse I had in 2007 when I sat right in front of Governor Chris Christie and members of his family in Federal Court in Newark when he was U.S. Attorney and had former Mayor Sharpe James brought in for his arraignment in leg irons.

Photo credit Bob Hennelly Cleveland 2016

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