Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reported in her interview with Chris Christie that the former New Jersey governor stated in his new book that he did get a phone call from Donald Trump while he was hospitalized with Covid-19 in October of 2020.
It was not to check on his health.
Over a year ago, Christie tweeted, “In consultation with my doctors, I checked myself into Morristown Medical Center this afternoon. While I am feeling good and only have mild symptoms, due to my history of asthma we decided this is an important precautionary measure.”
In consultation with my doctors, I checked myself into Morristown Medical Center this afternoon. While I am feeling good and only have mild symptoms, due to my history of asthma we decided this is an important precautionary measure.
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) October 3, 2020
According to ABC 12, Christie later revealed “he tested positive a day after President Donald Trump’s own diagnosis. He was with the president for debate prep in Cleveland on Tuesday and at the Rose Garden event where Trump named Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his pick for the Supreme Court on Sept. 26.”
According to Haberman, Christie went into further detail about his encounters with Trump during his hospitalization in his book.
“Mr. Christie reveals how worried he and others were for his survival when he became infected with the coronavirus after being at the White House around the same time that Mr. Trump and several other aides contracted Covid-19. Mr. Christie writes that his priest arrived in the hospital and rubbed oils on his forehead in the sign of the cross, praying over him,” she wrote.
Quoting from the book, she added, “He got a call from a hospitalized Mr. Trump, who had one main concern: ‘Are you gonna say you got it from me?’ Mr. Trump asked him.”
This new information that shows Christie’s former ally in a not so positive light is what it looks like, a conveniently timed event to get out of the shadow of a man on his way down.
The apparent move by the former New Jersey governor to become a high-profile Trump opponent comes after he became the first high-profile establishment Republican to legitimize Donald Trump in 2016. It also comes after Christie, on many occasions, stated that his friendship with Trump was purely for political purposes.
By dismissing the possible benefits of such political expediency, Trump’s detractors do themselves a disservice.
Christie and Trump’s relationship has been fraught with complexities from the start.
Christie first referred to Trump as a “carnival barker” and an unserious entertainment moonlighting as a politician as they competed against each other in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries. Christie said that selecting Trump will assist Hillary Clinton win the presidency.
After quitting his own presidential candidacy, Christie dropped his previous Trump critiques to become the first really high-profile, establishment Republican to back Trump, giving Trump unparalleled political legitimacy. Christie abruptly changed his remarks regarding Trump’s unsuitability, declaring that “there is no one who is better prepared to provide America with the strong leadership that it needs, both at home and around the world, than Donald Trump.”
Following that, Trump inexplicably saddled Christie with a slew of humiliations. The events seemed to be designed to make Christie regret what he had done before Trump passed him over as a running mate.
Christie then tried his hand at seeming to be Trump’s better angel, criticizing him and his administration – often mildly – while attempting to keep his place at the table.
Trump’s challenge to the 2020 election results, as well as the Capitol incident on January 6, seem to have pushed Christie into a more militant anti-Trump stance.
All of this should be read in light of the background Christie has presented. While explaining his position on Trump, the former governor admitted to saying things he may or may not have actually believed for political purposes.
In September 2016, Christie said, “Yes, I disagreed with Donald Trump at the time. Big shock. I was running against him. … Of course I disagreed with him, because I was running against him.”
Following the Jan. 6 insurgency, Christie more clearly admitted that his 2016 support of Trump was a pragmatic one — and not necessarily what he purported to think about Trump’s electability at the time.
“I was absolutely convinced that there was no one left on that stage in the Republican primary who was going to beat Donald Trump. He was going to be our nominee,” Christie stated, despite at the time pitching Trump as the actual best nominee.
Christie added: “And, secondly, I was absolutely committed to Hillary Clinton not being president of the United States. So, given my relationship with Donald Trump over all those years, I felt like if I got in early and helped him I could have influence in making him a better candidate and, ultimately, a better president. And I think I did both those things.”
So we have a person who has basically stated that he merely… said stuff to acquire political power. Having said that, Christie is a potentially unique personality on a practical level.
Christie recently responded to Trump by noting that he easily won reelection in a blue state in 2013, yet Trump lost reelection in 2020.
“I’m not gonna get into a back-and-forth with Donald Trump,” Christie insisted. “But what I will say is this: When I ran for reelection in 2013, I got 60 percent of the vote. When he ran for reelection, he lost to Joe Biden.”
The parallel isn’t as favorable as Christie would want, particularly considering how badly his second term as governor of New Jersey was regarded and how much his political standing plummeted.
However, it is now undersold in the Republican Party. In 2020, Trump will become the first president since 1932 to lose the White House, the House, and the Senate all in the same term. Republicans, who initiated a “autopsy” after their 2012 defeat, don’t want to speak about it, or about how Trump, through his continuous grip on the base, makes it more difficult for his party to win. Christie is a man who is challenging one of Trump’s most basic beliefs: that he is a winner.
Given how much he has changed in the past and his confessions about the reasons for that development, Christie’s evolution on Trump should always be taken with suspicion. It may only survive as long as Christie deems it politically viable, rather than ethically. However, in a party where few individuals have the will or clout to properly push the case, it’s worth keeping an eye on him — to the degree that he’s actually devoted to his present course of action, that is.