Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie alleges that President Donald Trump thought firing his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, would end “this Russia thing,” The New York Times reported Sunday, citing an exclusive excerpt of Christie’s upcoming memoir.
Christie’s book Let Me Finish, set to release Jan. 29, paints a picture of meeting with Trump for lunch in February 2017 when the president made his comment regarding Flynn and Russia, according to the newspaper. The account is one of what the Times said are several stories in Christie’s book detailing how Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, dealt with a presidency Christie said they weren’t ready for.
“‘Sir,’ I said, ‘this Russia thing is far from over,’” Christie wrote, according to the Times. Trump, Christie reportedly writes, replied: “What do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It’s over.” Kushner allegedly responded with, “That’s right, firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing.”
Christie maintains, according to the Times, that he never saw evidence of Russian collusion and that the Trump campaign was too disorganized to be able to pull off such a stunt. But he also allegedly wrote in his memoir that Flynn should have never been hired in the first place, and that Kushner acts as a behind-the-scenes chief of staff who gives problematic advice on subjects like Flynn, the Times reported.
The former two-term governor is considered highly unpopular among New Jersey residents, partly due to the state’s budget issues and a political scandal widely known as Bridgegate. Christie became a key Trump ally after withdrawing from the 2016 presidential race, but was unceremoniously dumped from the Trump transition team immediately after the election, reportedly at Kushner’s direction.
In a previous excerpt released to Axios, Christie also criticized the administration for its lack of “high-quality, vetted appointees” and called Flynn a “Russian lackey and future federal felon.”
The federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the involvement of Trump’s campaign has so far led to the indictments or guilty pleas of multiple former campaign officials, including Flynn.