To committed fans of palace intrigue, it’s no surprise that former New Jersey governor and Trump campaign official Chris Christie was cut from the administration roster just before the inauguration — after months of work as leader of the transition planning team — because the president-elect’s son-in-law didn’t like him. But in his upcoming book Let Me Finish, Christie takes an interesting approach to memoir-writing: airing some personal embarrassments and professional setbacks in the pursuit of self-promotion.
According to The Guardian, which published details from the book prior to its January 29 release date, Christie relays how Jared Kushner pushed to nix him from the team. “The kid’s been taking an ax to your head with the boss ever since I got here,” said Steve Bannon, according to Christie, when he was sent in to fire the former governor. Though both are close allies of the president, Kushner had personal reasons to want Christie out. In 2005, as U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, Christie was the head of the prosecution that put Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, in federal prison for illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering. The senior Kushner notoriously arranged for a prostitute to sleep with his brother-in-law, recorded the encounter, and had the tape sent to his sister. (Perhaps it’s why Kushner has added prison reform to the broad mandate of his Office of American Innovation.)
In the book, Christie describes the first time Kushner talked trash in his presence: In April 2016, he told Trump that Christie should not be transition chairman while the former New Jersey governor was in the room. “He implied I had acted unethically and inappropriately but didn’t state one fact to back that up,” Christie writes. “Just a lot of feelings — very raw feelings that had been simmering for a dozen years.” Kushner then told Trump that his father’s alleged sex tape and blackmail number was “a family matter, a matter to be handled by the family or by the rabbis” that did not need to be brought into federal court.
Christie also shares a few anecdotes in which President Trump tells him to lose some weight — as the president has done, repeatedly, to women in his orbit. At dinner in 2005, Christie says that Trump spoke to him as if he were a contestant in the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant, saying to win elections, he’d need to cut weight. During the 2016 campaign, Trump, who is not exactly the picture of physical fitness, suggested a tip from his own wardrobe: To make yourself look thinner, wear a long tie. (For Sopranos fans, the whole exchange — the power dynamic, the misogynistic background, the proximity to New Jersey — has an element of Tony’s hypocritical fat-shaming of Bobby Bacala.)
Elsewhere in Let Me Finish, Christie makes the argument that if his transition plan had been implemented, the Trump presidency would have started on a sure footing, and would be less chaotic today. It’s a solid, if unprovable, hypothetical, given that Mike Pence’s “thrown-together approach” helped lead to the hiring of former national security adviser Mike Flynn and former attorney general Jeff Sessions, two staffing decisions that thrust the Trump presidency into early chaos.
For Christie, the 2016 firing could have been a real blessing in disguise: Thus far, many cabinet members have resigned in disgrace or protest, and no one seems to be having much fun of it. After calls for his impeachment as governor, and felony convictions for close allies as a result of Bridgegate, perhaps it’s best for Christie’s long-term prospects for him to lay low at ABC News, sitting this administration out. It appears Christie has learned his lesson: In December, he passed on the job of White House bedlam-wrangler, otherwise known as Trump’s chief of staff.