Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has accused White House senior adviser and President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner of a political "hit job" by engineering his ouster from Trump's transition team following the 2016 election.
Christie writes in his forthcoming book, "Let Me Finish" (excerpts of which were published by The Guardian on Tuesday) that while future White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was tasked with informing Christie of his dismissal days after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, Bannon "made clear to me that one person and one person only was responsible for the faceless execution that Steve was now attempting to carry out. Jared Kushner, still apparently seething over events that had occurred a decade ago."
That's a reference to Christie's prosecution of Kushner's father, Charles, while Christie was U.S. attorney for New Jersey in 2005. The elder Kushner eventually pleaded guilty to illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering and served 14 months in federal prison. As part of the plea deal, Charles Kushner admitted recording a sexual encounter between his brother-in-law and a prostitute and sending the tape to his sister in retaliation for what he believed was their cooperation with prosecutors.
"The kid's been taking an ax to your head with the boss [Trump] ever since I got here," Christie has Bannon telling him.
Christie, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate who endorsed Trump after withdrawing from the race, claims that Kushner pleaded with Trump in Christie's presence not to make him head of the transition team in April 2016.
"He implied I had acted unethically and inappropriately but didn’t state one fact to back that up,” writes Christie, who says Kushner's ire was based on "very raw feelings that had been simmering for a dozen years."
Christie also describes being told by a "high-ranking Trump staffer" that the candidate's family was "very upset" about the possibility that Trump might pick Christie as his running mate, a role that ultimately went to then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Christie was also passed over for the posts of attorney general (in favor of then-Sen. Jeff Sessions) and chair of the Republican National Committee (in favor of Ronna McDaniel). Christie is particularly critical of Sessions, whom he describes as "not ready for prime time."
Having been denied his choice of administration posts, Christie writes that he turned down offers to be secretary of labor, secretary of homeland security, ambassador to Italy and ambassador to Vatican City. Christie also turned down the role of "special assistant to the president in the White House," which he says Trump offered him personally.
"Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics" is due out Jan. 29.