President Donald Trump and his two-for-one son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner both thought the whole “Russia thing” would be over once the president fired former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to Chris Christie’s new memoir, “Let Me Finish.”
The book chronicles the former New Jersey governor and GOP presidential candidate’s time working on Trump’s transition team — a position from which he was fired a few days after Trump won the presidency, though the two are personal friends.
“This Russia thing is all over now, because I fired Flynn,” Trump said at lunch with Kushner and Christie on Feb. 14, 2017, according to Christie. It was the day after Trump fired Flynn.
“‘Sir,’ I said, ‘this Russia thing is far from over,’” Christie writes.
“What do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It’s over,” Christie recalls Trump saying.
“That’s right, firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing,” Kushner said, according to Christie.
Trump also told NBC’s Lester Holt in May 2017 that he fired FBI Director James Comey at least partly over the Russia investigation, although he later walked back that admonition and blamed the fake news media. That behavior could amount to obstruction of justice, as experts have noted, and special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly looking into the matter.
Trump forced Flynn to resign in February 2017 after it came to light that Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he’d had with the Russians. The former three-star general eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017 in connection to Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Of course, the “Russia thing” didn’t go away. After Flynn’s indictment, more Trump campaign staffers — including onetime campaign manager Paul Manafort — also pleaded guilty to federal charges in relation to the probe.
Much of Christie’s book, according to the New York Times, focuses on Christie’s troubled relationship with Kushner. According to one anecdote, Kushner tried to exclude Christie from the transition team by saying he “tried to destroy my father.” Christie is a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted Charles Kushner for tax evasion and got him sentenced to 14 months in prison in the 2000s.
Christie claims in the book that Steve Bannon fired him, but it was at Kushner’s behest. Christie faced off against Trump in the 2016 primaries and became an early supporter of the eventual president. Last month, he declined to be Trump’s chief of staff.
Cover image: White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, right, stands behind President Donald Trump, left, during a news conference as he announces a revamped North American free trade deal, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)