Chris Christie, the former Republican governor of New Jersey now running for president, called the facts in the indictment against his former ally Donald J. Trump “devastating,” and said the small group of Republicans now critical of the behavior of the former president would grow.
Appearing on NewsMadura Friday night, Mr. Christie point-by-point refuted claims by Mr Trump and many of his fellow Republicans that the charges represented a selective, partisan prosecution that would unnecessarily divide the country.
The charge would divide the nation, he said, but Mr. Trump had done that to himself with bad behavior “entirely self-inflicted.”
Mr Christie said he still believes Hillary Clinton should have been charged with mishandling classified documents on a private email server, and still does not believe the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the election of 2016.
But, he added, “Each case must be judged on its own merits, and the facts set out here are damning.”
The prosecution of Mr. Trump is about “holding accountable people in positions of responsibility,” he said.
Mr. Christie, who opened the air by pointing to his own record as a federal prosecutor, has made his willingness to draw critical attention to Mr. Trump central to his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. But only he and one other nominee, Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, spoke in favor of the administration’s case against the former president on Friday.
The other candidates, balancing their need to ingratiate themselves with Trump’s supporters against the need to dislodge him as a front-runner, have largely sided with the Republican base, which has sided with the former president. chooses.
Rather than say the Justice Department holds Mr Trump to an unfair standard, Mr Christie said a man of Mr Trump’s stature and aspirations should be held to a higher standard.
“The behavior is bad,” he said of the actions described in the indictment. “And it’s bad for anyone in this country to do it, but it’s especially terrible for someone who has been president and who wants to be president again.”