WASHINGTON – Former Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie predicted that President Trump is going to take executive action on the border wall in the absence of a formal deal with Congress.
A bipartisan, bicameral conference committee met this week to try to hammer out an appropriations deal before the Feb. 15 deadline, but no agreement was reached on what to do about Trump’s $5.7 billion border wall demand.
“Everyone needs to win and there has got to be a way to give Democrats a win on some issues that are very important and dear to them in the immigration arena and give the president what he’s interested in, even if they don’t give him all of it. Because no one is going to get all of it, and if they don’t then they are pushing him to take executive action,” Christie said at a Washington Post Live discussion Thursday evening.
“I saw Speaker Pelosi today said there will never be any money for a wall – OK, well, then he’s going to take executive action, I can guarantee you that. Because there are no alternatives left, because he can’t close the government again – that’s untenable, and it’s untenable for the Democrats, too,” he added.
Christie said Trump’s executive action to bypass Congress in order to fund a border wall would end up in the courts.
PJM asked Christie if he personally thinks Trump should declare a national emergency to build more physical barriers or a “wall” on the southern border.
“It’s preferable to get a deal first, but if he can’t get a deal he’s going to have to do it,” Christie replied.
Christie, author of the new book, Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics, doubts that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is going to be able to help the administration reach an immigration deal with Congress.
“I don’t believe, right now, the president has the best team on the field right now to get a deal,” Christie said.
When asked why he thinks Trump continues listening to Kushner on projects like immigration, Christie replied, “You are aware he’s married to his daughter.”
Even though Kushner went to law school, Christie said he does not have the skills to achieve “something that the Clinton administration couldn’t do, that the Bush administration couldn’t do, that the Obama administration couldn’t do” on immigration reform.
Christie, who said he speaks with the president frequently, urged Trump to not pardon longtime political consultant Roger Stone, who has been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
“Absolutely not because he knows it will be political suicide,” Christie said of any potential pardon. “Everybody would conclude that the only reason he pardoned him was to shut him up and the president is not stupid, and so he’s not going to do it. One of the strongest instincts Donald Trump has is self-preservation and he’s pretty good at it.”
Christie continued, “I would be surprised if you see any pardons out of this because I think he knows, at least at the moment, that’s politically not viable.”
The former New Jersey governor said former Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz should run for president.
“Run, Howard, run. Let’s go baby. Get me a T-shirt. Let’s get Howard Schultz in the race. He’s going to be our Ross Perot, man,” he said.
In response to a possible Beto O’Rourke candidacy, Christie replied, “Who cares, I mean, seriously, Beto O’Rourke is delusional.” Christie said O’Rourke raised more than $37 million only because he was running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“Every Democrat in the world wants to beat Ted Cruz, right,” he said. “Beto thinks all that money is coming in when he runs for president – fat chance, not happening.”
Christie applauded Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) for supporting school choice and charter schools as mayor of Newark as well as being tough on crime.
“If he stays in that lane and is the articulate, inspirational guy that he is, then I think he’s got a legitimate chance to be a serious potential problem for the president in the general election,” he said. “If he goes way wacky left, then he’s just going to be another one of those people and he won’t be able to distinguish himself.”
Christie referred to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) as the “flavor of the month.”
“She’s a socialist…. We do not need to move this country toward full government control of our entire lives. It didn’t work in the Soviet Union, it didn’t work in China, it’s not working in Venezuela, it didn’t work in Nicaragua and it sure as hell shouldn’t even be tried here,” Christie said. “I admire her tenacity, but I can’t agree with a single thing she says from a policy perspective.”
Christie doubted that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will run for president because of his “moderate” record.
“They’re going to kill him on stop-and-frisk,” Christie said. “I think Bloomberg would be happy to take on Biden. I think Bloomberg has got the ambition and the confidence to do it. I do not think it is that.”
Christie said Bloomberg’s short time in the Democratic Party would hurt him when compared to former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I think Mike is going to look at his issue profile from when he was mayor of New York, which is really moderate,” he said. “He will see that’s not where the energy is in the Democratic Party.”