Politics

What Really Happened To Chris Christie?

| by Nik Bonopartis

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was one of president-elect Donald Trump's top lieutenants and supporters for months, but his involvement in the Bridgegate controversy and his eagerness to photo bomb at his boss' victory party were partly to blame for his demotion.

That's according to several Trump advisers who were quoted anonymously by Yahoo News, telling a reporter that Trump was already miffed at Christie for adding lobbyists to his White House transition team.

Christie was forced to distance himself from Trump during the final stretch of the campaign after two of his top aides and political allies were convicted of fraud and conspiracy for their roles in the Bridgegate scandal.

Bridget Anne Kelly, a top Christie aide, and the Port Authority's Bill Baroni were found guilty of closing down lanes on the busy George Washington Bridge  to cause major traffic problems in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The 2013 scheme was intended to punish Fort Lee's mayor for failing to endorse Christie during his last re-election bid, but also disrupted the lives of commuters and made it impossible for paramedics and firefighters to cross the bridge.

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Christie denied knowing anything about the retaliatory plan ahead of time, but Kelly, Baroni and a third official all testified that the New Jersey governor was aware of what they were doing, according to a Reuters report.

Despite taking a back seat and avoiding appearing in public with Trump, Christie continued on as the businessman's transition chairman until he reportedly got on Trump's bad side again.

Christie was pushy during the Election Night celebration, the source said, positioning himself near the president-elect during the night and "trying to get in shots" as photographers and media cameras documented the reaction to Trump's win.

"Trump got annoyed," with Christie's antics, the "high level campaign source" told Yahoo News.

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But the final straw which led to Christie's demotion was his mishandling of the post-election transition effort, the Trump sources said. It was what led Trump to hand the transition over to his vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

A Christie aide said the transition effort was botched from the beginning because Trump's campaign "didn’t think they were going to win" and didn't coordinate with staffers hired to vet professionals for administration posts.

But a Trump staffer, also quoted anonymously, said Christie "certainly wasn't planning the transition" and was absent from the campaign as Election Day approached. The little work Christie did accomplish, Trump officials said, involved hiring lobbyists to help organize the transition.

That led to an immediate backlash and negative press, in large part because Trump had pledged to purge lobbyists from top positions in government.

“The number of lobbyists appalled the s*** out of him,” a Trump campaign official said.

Sources: Yahoo News, Reuters / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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