Fmr NJ Gov Chris Christie on Menendez: Charges are “Horrific” and “Not Surprising”

Chris Christie, former NJ Governor and 2024 Presidential candidate, joined the Guy Benson Show Tuesday to talk the upcoming GOP presidential debate taking place on Fox Business. He talks about fellow GOP rival VIvek Ramaswamy’s disasterous China foreign policy plan, and he also talks about the released NH presidential polls. Finally, Christie and Guy talk about the corruption scandal surrounding NJ Senator Menendez and the calls for him to resign. Watch the full interview below:

Full Interview:

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Christie had this to say on the charges against Senator Menendez:

“(The charges) are horrific and not surprising… the fact is that there have been stories about Bob Menendez being corrupt for as long as I’ve been in public life. Last time it was gifts… This is bigger than politics… that person should not spend another day in the United States Senate.”

Full Transcript:

GUY BENSON, HOST, FOX RADIO:  Back with us now is Chris Christie who’s a presidential candidate on the Republican side in the 2024 cycle and the former two-term governor in the great state of New Jersey.
Governor, welcome back to the show.
CHRIS CHRISTIE; 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (R):  Hi. Great to be back, Guy. Thanks for having me.
BENSON:  All right, another big night tomorrow on Fox Business Network, 9 pm Eastern Time. A two hour debate. Dana Perino, Stuart Varney and one of their counter parts from Univision will be moderating. Also the debate will also air simulcast on Fox News Channel, incase people were curious about that.
How are you preparing, what are your thoughts heading into tomorrow night?
CHRISTIE:  Well, you know, Guy, I kind of prepare the same way. I’ve been through this before, as you know. I — and aided these back in 2016 and now one so far this year. And so, you know, I sit with my team and we prepare to answer the questions. We actually like to answer the questions that are asked.
And so we go through all different kinds of topics and — and I give the answers and I get some critics from my team. But, you know, really tomorrow night my job is to get on the stage, listen to the questions that are asked and try to answer them in as direct a way as possible and understandable way so that the folks who are listening get a feel for what kind of president I would be.
And then if there’s some other comments made by some of my — some of my colleagues up there that I feel like I need to weigh in on either positively or negatively, I’ll look for the right moment to do that.
BENSON:  Seven Republicans have qualified for the debate tomorrow night. The front runner in the race, by far, Donald Trump, the former president, again, is not participating and there were some controversy around the first one, would he, wouldn’t he and then he made clear no, I’m not going to do it.
Round two, not going to do it. Is this just basically now the plan, he thinks he’s got it effectively sewn up so he’s just not going to lower himself to show up on a stage and make a case in front of rivals about why he should be the nominee?
CHRISTIE:  Well, Guy, he far from has it wrapped up, A. B, I can’t imagine how someone who cares about our democracy would think that getting on stage with seven other people who have qualified based upon their experience and their conduct in this campaign would be lowering themselves.
You know he belongs on that stage. He should be there making the case defending what he did while he was president and if he has plans, which I haven’t heard any, but if he has plans for the future, you know, to advocate for those as well.
So I think it’s a missed opportunity for him. But most importantly it shows disrespect to Republican Party voters who have given him the nomination the last two times around. The least he could do is show up. The RNC, by the way, has supported him with hundreds of millions of dollars over the last eight years and he shows no respect for them either.
BENSON:  But has he paid a price for it because since he made the choice no to participate last time and again this time, seems like his lead has been steady or grown.
CHRISTIE:  Well, you know, he hasn’t paid a price for it yet. But you know, we’ve talked about one debate so far. So we’ll see how things look like after tomorrow night‘s debate. And you know, the bottom line is it’s our job, my job as candidate, to continue to make the case against him. I shouldn’t say ours because no one else is making the case against him on that stage.
In fact, tomorrow night the other six people I’ll be standing with all raised their hands and said that they would support a convicted felon for President of the United States. I’ll be the only one on stage who said no, that’s not right. It’s beneath our party and it’s beneath our country.
BENSON:  Last time out in Milwaukee, it seemed like Vivek Ramaswamy, one of your rivals, got a little under your skin. You weren’t the only one. He was taking fire from various people on stage because he was also saying things like you’re all bought and paid for and everyone should listen to his brilliant ideas. That you guys are just too old and too establishment to understand or whatever his general thrust is.
One of the things that he talks about a lot is China and combating China. And that’s fine, I agree with a lot of what he says there. Our colleague here at Fox News, Marc Thiessen, he’s also a columnist at “The Washington Post”; he has a piece out today entitled “Vivek Ramaswamy Has a China Problem and a Hunter Biden Problem.” Quote, “just a few years ago Ramaswamy was doing business with high ranking members of the Chinese communist party, including the same CCP-linked family that paid millions of dollars to Hunter Biden.
So that’s an interesting little piece of you might call it opo (ph) research or revelation there from Thiessen. I wonder how Ramaswamy might answer that, especially if he gets some push back.
CHRISTIE:  Well, look, I — first of all, I think I read that this morning from Marc and — and it doesn’t surprise me at all. Look, Vivek is a hypocrite. We saw that both, you know, at the debate and during the campaign. And he’ll have some answer tomorrow night. This is like when he said Donald Trump is the greatest president of the 21st Century but absolutely land bassing him in his book. And when I called him on that in his debate he said it was untrue and then all anybody had to do was look at the book, which is what the news media did the next day and saw that’s exactly what he did do.
This is a guy who said he wanted to give Taiwan away to the Chinese by 2028, now denies that he said that. He said he wants to treat Israel like every other country in the Middle East, now denies that he says that. And so I’m sure he’ll deny whatever is said about him in Marc’s column today or any follow-ups at all of what’s happened.
I just don’t pay whole lot of attention to him to tell you the truth. I think he’s not a serious candidate. He shouldn’t be taken seriously by folks, and I think long term he won’t be.
BENSON:  A guy like Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, he’s putting a lot of his eggs in the basket of Iowa. You’re doing the same but in New Hampshire. To some success, I’ve seen some of the polling, Trump still has a large lead in New Hampshire but you’re, in some cases, up there at number two or three or four. How are you feeling about New Hampshire? What’s that play look like for you?
CHRISTIE:  I feel really good about New Hampshire. Look, you know I was the person — the last person to enter this race. And — and frankly, you know, I feel good about the progress we’ve made in New Hampshire. We’re in double digits now consistently in every poll in New Hampshire. Somewhere between 10 percent and 14 percent, depending on which poll you look at, which puts either in second place or third place in New Hampshire.
And we have a lot more to do. I mean look, it’s — it’s, to me, you know what New Hampshire offers is a group of very smart educated voters from the Northeast who understand what the stakes are here. And I think the most interesting thing we saw was that in New Hampshire Joe Biden would beat Donald Trump by 12 points, according to the last CNN University of New Hampshire poll.
His — his fav, un fav among these folks was 30 favorable, 62 percent unfavorable. It shows you in swing states like New Hampshire. New Hampshire is a swing state, as you know, that Donald Trump is going to lead us to defeat in everyone one of those swing states. I’m going to show I can win New Hampshire in a primary, which means I’ll win New Hampshire in the general.
And Donald Trump simply can’t win New Hampshire in the general. And that’s another (inaudible) electoral votes to give away in a swing state. And I don’t think the difference — it’ll be any different than how they’ll perform in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania or Georgia. And if we don’t win those states, Guy, you know the map, we’re not winning the presidency back and we’re going to get Joe Biden and probably President Kamala Harris at some point between now and 2028.
BENSON:  Yeah. And I did see that poll that you’re referencing. There’s a lot of attention being paid to national polling showing Trump tied or ahead of Joe Biden. I think that is significant. But state level polling also matters as well, despite being very far out. And the numbers that you’re talking about, I found it interesting, Governor, on the viability question they asked New Hampshire voters if they would feel dissatisfied if Trump or Biden were to win again.
And a large majority, almost the same number, roughly 60 percent of people in that state said they would be unhappy, basically, if one or the other one. And so there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with both of the leading contenders from each party.
But if they were forced head to head to pick between the two of them, at least in New Hampshire as you say, it was a 52 to 40 lead for Joe Biden. So a lot of unhappy campers out there with the current president, but at least in a state like New Hampshire, based on that survey, a lot of folks would go a hold and hold their nose and pull the lever for Biden anyway. Biden-Harris, to your point. And so that’s just one data point that cuts against some of the other prevailing narratives these days about polling.
I try to present a balanced look at all of that here on the program. Governor, I’m calling you governor because that’s your honorific. You were for eight years the governor of my home state of New Jersey. I have to ask you about the Garden State and the senior senator from that state, Bob Menendez, who has faced rumors and allegations about corruption for a very long time. And then federal charges on bribery, I think, in 2017. Hung jury in that case. Wins re-election anyway in a state that likes to elect Democrats, especially to federal office.
Now he’s under indictment again, there’s gold bars in his house. There’s wads of cash all over the place. He says it’s all his. Nothing to see here. He’ll be exonerated. What are your initial responses seeing the charges against Senator Menendez?
CHRISTIE:  They’re horrific and not surprising. You know I spent seven years as the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey before being governor for eight years. And the fact is that there have been about — stories about Bob Menendez being corrupt for as long as I’ve been in public life and which is now well over 20 years. I — he’s now been indicted a second time.
The problem for him here is, unlike the last time when they were kind of gifts and things that — private air flights or whatever that could be interpreted in different ways, his explanation yesterday that he had $500,000 in cash stuffed in all different kinds of jackets and drawers in his home was because he’s a Cuban national from Cuba who is afraid of confiscation and had the money there in case of emergency.
You know $500,000, Guy, is a lot more than you need to fix a blown hot water heater or a whole in your roof. You know this is — this is well beyond — you could buy a whole other house.
BENSON:  And he’s a senator.
CHRISTIE:  For what he had in cash.
BENSON:  He’s not living in Cuba. He’s a U.S. senator living in New Jersey.
CHRISTIE:  Yeah. Yeah. And making $174,000 a year gross, pre-tax, trying to make us believe that he saved all of this over that time. And the problem with that is if it’s money he took out of the ATM, was Fred Daibes, one of his co-defendants, at the ATM with him when he took it out. Because Fred Daibes DNA and fingerprints are all over a good portion of that money.
Look, he’s not going to be able to explain this. That’s why I’ve called on him to resign. And — and the fact is, you know, I see some people playing politics with this. This is bigger than politics. We should not have someone who has a half a million dollars in cash, gold bars and he — and how about the evidence that he was googling how much is a kilo of gold worth. And they have those Google searches from him. That person should not spend another day in the United States Senate.
And the idea that anybody from either party would say that it’s OK for him to continue to stay there, hearing the evidence that’s been uncovered here, to me is ridiculous. If he goes to jail or not it’s going to be up to a jury and a judge and federal court in Manhattan.
But being a United States senator is an honor that has got to be upheld with more care. And this is where we get ourselves in trouble, Guy. You know, I think a lot of people in our party are saying Menendez shouldn’t resign because they said that Trump should still be a candidate for president once he’s been indicted. And for the six candidates who will be on the stage with me tomorrow, they think he should be president even if he’s convicted.
I mean, we get ourselves – when we play politics in this stuff, we get ourselves in trouble. Folks –
BENSON:  Yes, and look. I’m –
CHRISTIE:  — who are (inaudible).
BENSON:  I’m cynical about a lot of it, and on that exact point, I remember – and I mentioned this on the air yesterday – the Bob Torricelli maneuver that they illegally did in New Jersey to win that election because of a scandal-plagued Democrat. They just swapped him out way too late, but they did it anyway. They nominated and then reelected Menendez in ’18.
I just wonder if you – let’s pretend. Let’s play pretend for a second. If you, Chris Christie, were still the Governor of New Jersey with appointment power, do you think all these Democrats who have magnanimously on principle come forward reluctantly but with sadness in their hearts but conviction in their souls called on the resignation of Bob Menendez, would those chorus members be singing that tune that loudly if a Republican governor had a chance to alter the balance of power in the Senate right now?
CHRISTIE:  Hell no they wouldn’t. You know it and I know it.
And by the way, we’ve proof of it. When Frank Lautenberg died in 2013 and I appointed a Republican to replace him, those folks were hoping for a resurrection back in 2013 rather than give me the opportunity to appoint a Republican, even for the period of time between then and the general election.
So no. As I was saying, both sides are playing politics with this guy, and what it should be is very clear. You know, if someone is accused of these kind of crimes, and let’s – we need to get to the underlying stuff where he was allegedly trading secrets that he came into possession of as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and ranking member of that committee to friends of his and his wife’s in Egypt and then in return getting money from a company who have a monopoly on food processing and certification going from America back to Egypt.
I mean, this is disgusting stuff that puts our national security at risk but also is beneath the job that he holds. And how about we just all look at this and say, you know what? When you engage in conduct like this, you absolutely have the right to the presumption of innocence, but you don’t have a right to hold high governmental positions.
BENSON:  A senate seat or a chairmanship of a powerful committee. Very quickly, Governor, before I let you go, there’s a rumor out there, some reporting that the wife of the governor, Phil Murphy’s wife in New Jersey, might want that seat. People might be talking about her getting that seat. Phil Murphy can’t call on Menendez to resign, quote, unquote, “on principle,” then give the seat to his wife. Can he?
CHRISTIE:  Well this is – this is the New Jersey Democratic Party. So as you and I have seen over the years –
BENSON:  Fair. Fair.
CHRISTIE:  — they’ll do whatever the hell they want, OK? But do I think she is by far in a way or even close to the best person to represent New Jersey in the United States Senate? I do not, and that’s regardless of partisanship. There are other Democrats who I don’t agree with but who bring a much greater ability, skill and experience to the job than the First Lady of New Jersey would. And I think –
BENSON:  All right, fair enough.
CHRISTIE:  — Phil Murphy –
BENSON:  Governor, we got to leave it there because I’ve already gone long. We’re up on a break. Chris Christie running for president, former Governor of New Jersey. We’ll be watching on the debate stage tomorrow night. Governor, always appreciate your time. Thanks so much.
CHRISTIE:  Thanks much for having me, Guy.