It’s been nine days since Mike Pence dutifully introduced Donald Trump as the President-elect to a stunned America in the wee hours of a Wednesday morning. A bit of the dust is just starting to settle as we learn of and speculate about who will be in senior slots in the forthcoming Trump administration. In politics, as in sports, there are winners and losers. Some of the losers don’t become apparent for some time. This week it became apparent that the biggest loser of 2016 is not the failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; it is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Shortly after his doomed from the start presidential bid failed Christie jumped on the Trump train. (The train must have had a super-sized baggage car.) Can anyone forget the image of Christie standing behind Mr. Trump (as Christie was obviously forced to call him) looking like he was a hostage?
Christie was already under the shadow of the Bridgegate scandal. My big wonder is what is happening about the Sandy Relief funds that Christie appropriated to do TV spots of himself at the beach with his family. Federal investigation notoriously move slowly and silently -unless they really don’t exist and involve Hillary Clinton – so that shoe could yet fall and I feel it would have the more serious personal consequences for New Jersey’s current Governor. All this baggage didn’t sink Christie’s ship with the Trump team; the fact that he actually did his job in 2005 did.
You see in 2005 the office of United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey accepted a plea deal from Charles Kushner in which he was sentenced to two years in prison (he served one year) and that was after having paid a six-figure fine. My readers are smart people and I bet you already guessed who ran that office in 2005; yes it was George W. Bush appointee Chris Christie.
Fast forward to the 2016 election: Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, his favorite daughter, Ivanka, is married to Jared Kushner who happens to be the son of the aforementioned Charles Kushner. During the campaign Christie is named head of the transition team. The team’s job is to coordinate putting together a staff for the Trump administration. There is a little catch here: nobody expected Trump to win so it was a meaningless job at that point. In a surprise to almost all, Trump ended up winning. Now Christie’s job became important. In a matter of days Christie is removed in favor (on paper) of Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
As far as most observers outside the Donald Dome can tell the person really running the transition show is son-in–law Jared Kushner who is still less than happy that Christie put his daddy in jail. Not only did Christie get the boot but so did a handful of other Trump loyalists who had close ties to him.
Now Jared’s daddy didn’t get hurt all that badly. In 2016 he donated $100,000 to a Trump PAC and held a fundraiser for The Donald at his summer home. Those are not the moves of a man left penniless after a brutal prison experience. The reality is that Christie gave the elder Kushner a good deal. In reality Jared should have been appreciative of Christie but in the world of the Lucky Sperm Cell Club any inconvenience is cause for a lifelong vendetta. Kushner tolerated (and marginalized) Christie while his father-in-law felt the Governor was useful. Once the election was over and Christie’s baggage seemingly got even bigger Kushner used his influence to eliminate him.
Christie’s political future for elected office has been over for some time. His only chance was to catch on with a rising star and hope for an appointment somewhere. If that rising star happened to be the next President all the better; remember a President can extend clemency in advance to anyone they choose to. A good job and his legal problems behind him was the optimal deal for Christie.
For Christie there are no good job prospects beyond his current term as Governor of the Garden State. He has to be constantly looking over his shoulder waiting for federal agents to visit him. If he thought he could make a living (like Newt Gingrich) by speaking and hawking wears to the extreme right wing with Trump’s blessing (Trump is the new darling of the radical right) that dream is dead too.
There will be many more before this is over, but in the first fortnight the biggest loser of the 2016 cycle is Chris Christie!
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