Chris Christie has condemned Trump’s attacks against the election process as an ’embarrassment’. Photo / Getty
One of Donald Trump’s oldest political allies has labelled his legal effort a “national embarrassment” and urged him to concede defeat.
Chris Christie, a former prosecutor and governor of New Jersey, was the first mainstream Republican politician to endorse Trump during his longshot 2016 campaign.
His decision came as a surprise to pretty much everyone. And it gave Trump, then known as a reality TV host and real estate developer, a welcome boost in credibility at a time when the party establishment was still trying to stop him from winning the nomination.
Christie also nuked his own career in the process, alienating his constituents in the Democratic-leaning state of New Jersey.
In the subsequent months, he was reportedly on Trump’s shortlist of potential vice-presidents, but that job eventually went to Mike Pence.
And following Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, Christie initially led the president-elect’s transition team.
We’re not talking about an anti-Trump Republican here.
Today Christie appeared on This Week, one of the US networks’ Sunday panel shows. As a former prosecutor, he was mainly there to discuss the President’s legal efforts.
I need to give you a bit more context before we jump into Christie’s comments.
His appearance came the day after a federal court in Pennsylvania dismissed the Trump campaign’s biggest remaining post-election lawsuit.
Trump’s legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani, was attempting to stop the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results. Judge Matthew Brann issued a scathing judgment, concluding the campaign’s arguments were “without merit”.
“Plaintiffs ask this court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters,” he said.
“This court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated.
“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens.
“That has not happened. Instead, this court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence.
“In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.”
Pennsylvania’s Republican Senator Pat Toomey responded to the ruling by saying Trump had “exhausted all plausible legal options” to overturn Joe Biden’s lead in the state.
“With today’s decision by Judge Matthew Brann, a longtime conservative Republican whom I know to be a fair and unbiased jurist, to dismiss the Trump campaign’s lawsuit, President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania,” said Toomey.
“I congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Harris on their victory.
“Make no mistake about it, I am deeply disappointed that President Trump and Vice-President Pence were not re-elected. I endorsed the President and I voted for him.
“President Trump should accept the outcome of the election and facilitate the presidential transition process.”
I’m giving you that rather long preamble because ABC host George Stephanopoulos referred to Toomey’s statement in his first question to Christie.
“There have now been 34 court cases the President has lost. We saw Pennsylvania last night. We saw Pat Toomey, the Senator from Pennsylvania, say it’s time for the President to enable this transition, it’s time for the President to concede,” Stephanopoulos said.
“The President’s response was to attack Pat Toomey on Twitter. Is it finally time for this to end?”
“Yes,” Christie said.
“And here’s the reason why. The President has had an opportunity to access the courts. And I said to you [right after the election] George, if you’ve got the evidence of fraud, present it.
“And what’s happened here is, quite frankly, the content that the President’s legal team has presented has been a national embarrassment.
“Sidney Powell accusing [Georgia Governor] Brian Kemp of a crime on television, yet being unwilling to go on TV and defend and lay out the evidence that she supposedly has.”
In an interview with the right-wing network Newsmax over the weekend, Powell – one of Trump’s lawyers – claimed Kemp and his fellow Republican, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had taken money in return for letting Dominion, the company behind the electronic voting system in some of Georgia’s counties, rig the election.
You can read more about Powell’s debunked Dominion conspiracy theory in our broader summary of the campaign’s various fraud claims.
Kemp and Raffensperger have drawn the President’s ire, even though both of them hail from his own party, because they’ve both vouched for the election result in Georgia and certified Biden’s victory there.
The state completed a full recount by hand and discovered no evidence of fraud, nor any proof that Dominion’s system had changed a single person’s vote from Trump to Biden. That recount confirmed Biden had won the state by about 12,000 votes.
Anyway, Powell didn’t provide any evidence to back up her accusations, but did promise it was on its way any day now.
“We’ve got tons of evidence. It’s so much, it’s hard to pull it all together,” she said.
“Hopefully, this week we will get it ready to file, and it will be biblical.”