There have been many theories floated on why Chris Christie didn’t wind up working in the Trump administration, from Bridgegate to Trump’s disgust at the New Jersey governor’s germy cell phone. Steve Bannon offered a new one Sunday on 60 Minutes, when he suggested Christie was fired from his role leading the Trump transition because he didn’t stand with Trump during the darkest day of his campaign.
STEVE BANNON: The Billy Bush Saturday to me is a litmus test. It’s a litmus test. And I said it the other day to General Kelly during the Charlottesville thing, afterwards. It’s a line I remember from the movie The Wild Bunch. William Holden uses it right before that huge gunfight at the end. “When you side with a man, you side with him,” OK? The good and the bad. You can criticize him behind, but when you side with him, you have to side with him. And that’s what Billy Bush weekend showed me.
CHARLIE ROSE: Boy, you took names on Billy Bush Sunday, didn’t you?
STEVE BANNON: I did. O – I gotta – I gotta – you know, I’m Irish. I gotta get my black book and I got ‘em. I’ll never – you’ll – it – that’ll believe – Christie, because of Billy Bush weekend – and – was – was – not looked at for a cabinet position.
CHARLIE ROSE: He wasn’t there for you on Billy Bush weekend so therefore he doesn’t get a cabinet position?
STEVE BANNON: I told him, “The plane leaves at 11:00 in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.” Didn’t make the plane.
Christie got an opportunity to respond on Monday, when PBS NewsHour had him watch Bannon’s comments on air. He denied that the exchange with Bannon ever took place. “Never had any conversations with him. I didn’t need to convey those kind of feelings to staffers. I was speaking to the principal, to the man who’s now president of the United States,” Christie said.
The governor insisted that he actually did stand by his candidate even as video showed him bragging about sexually assaulting women. He said he led Trump’s debate prep on “Billy Bush Saturday,” and again for the third debate.
Christie claimed he was later offered an unspecified cabinet position, but he turned the president down. “So I suspect this ‘little black book’ that Mr. Bannon is talking about, the only one who read that black book was Mr. Bannon himself,” he said. “I know that no one else cares about it and, now that he’s been fired, no one is going to really care about anything else Steve Bannon has to say.”
Finally, he said he was honest with Trump about the Access Hollywood tape, suggesting that’s why the president likes him better than Bannon.
“We speak the truth to each other,” Christie said of his relationship with Trump. “And on that weekend, I spoke the truth directly to the president of the United States. And I didn’t need to go on the air or do it publicly or to self-aggrandize myself now as Mr. Bannon is doing by giving a 60 Minutes interview. This, I suspect, is his last 15 minutes of fame, and that’s fine, I hope he enjoys it.”
But the governor didn’t want Bannon to enjoy it too much, so he pointed out that he’s still super close with Trump. “I’ll always be here for the president to tell him the truth, which is exactly what I’ve always done, and why we’re still friends and why I was at the White House Thursday while Steve Bannon was off doing an interview with 60 Minutes,” he said.
So Bannon and Christie are arguing over who has the better relationship with the guy who fired both of them. There’s only one way this ends: The pair realizes that Trump did them both wrong, and teams up, “The Boy Is Mine” style.