Chris Christie reacts to Trump’s pardoning of Charles Kushner

Daily Mail

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie responded on Sunday to Donald Trump’s pardoning of Charles Kushner, the wealthy real estate developer that he helped send to jail a decade and a half ago.

Christie, a longtime friend and ally of Trump whose known for his brash persona, offered few words on the motion during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, affirming only that he believed it further highlighted his ‘extraordinary’ work as a US attorney.

Trump announced Charles Kushner – the father of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared – would have his sentence commuted on December 22. He was sentenced to two years in prison in 2005 for tax fraud and witness retaliation.

‘What it doesn’t overshadow is the extraordinary work that my office did 16 years ago,’ Christie said in response Sunday.

‘Let’s remember, the case was not tried. Mr. Kushner pled guilty. So we’ll stand on the record of our prosecution at that time and of the conduct that was engaged in the case,’ Christie added.

Kushner was pardoned by the president last week alongside former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and longtime associate and political ally Roger Stone, in addition to numerous others.​

Christie’s comments Sunday mark a dramatic departure from ones he’s previously made about the case.

He once called the prosecution of the elder Kushner ‘one of the most loathsome, disgusting crime​s I prosecuted.’

Kushner, a multimillionaire property developer in New Jersey and top Democratic donor, pleaded guilty to 18 counts in 2004, including tax evasion and making illegal campaign contributions. He was sentenced to two years in a low security Alabama prison in 2005.

The plea came after Kushner admitted to hatching an unsuccessful plan to hire a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and former business partner, William Schulder, after discovering he was assisting federal authorities in an investigation into his finances.

He enlisted the services of the sex worker for $10,000 to swoon Schulder at a New Jersey motel, and arranged for the encounter to be filmed with a hidden camera so he could later blackmail him.

Kushner later showed the footage to Schulder’s wife – Kushner’s sister, Esther.

After securing Kushner’s prosecution, Chris Christie would go onto become a prominent Trump surrogate and the head of his transition team.

His history with the Kushner family would loom large over his ties to the Trump administration, in which Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump serve as senior White House advisers.

Christie was eventually ousted from the Trump campaign in 2016, with Jared Kushner largely blamed for his firing.

Still, Christie has routinely defended his prosecution of Charles Kushner, authoring a book centered in part on the case, named Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.

In his memoir, Christie said Jared Kushner had forced him out of the Trump administration as an act of revenge.

In an interview with PBS last year, Christie said: ‘Mr. Kushner pled guilty. He admitted the crimes. And so what am I supposed to do as a prosecutor? I mean, if a guy hires a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, and videotapes it, and then sends the videotape to his sister to attempt to intimidate her from testifying before a grand jury, do I really need any more justification than that?’

He continued: ‘I mean, it’s one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted. And I was U.S. attorney in New Jersey, so we had some loathsome and disgusting crime going on there.’

Charles Kushner’s familial ties weren’t mentioned by the White House in its statement announcing his clemency Tuesday, but his philanthropic work was heavily cited.

‘Since completing his sentence in 2006, Mr. Kushner has been devoted to important philanthropic organizations and causes, such as Saint Barnabas Medical Center and United Cerebral Palsy,’ according to the statement.

‘This record of reform and charity overshadows Mr. Kushner’s conviction and 2 year sentence for preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation, and making false statements to the FEC.’

Unlike Christie, several officials have blasted Trump’s pardoning spree, including Republican Senator Ben Sasse who called it ‘rotten to the core’.

Political consultant David Axelrod, meanwhile, called the pardons unsurprising but still ‘appalling’.

‘Everyone saw this raw sewage dump of pardons and commutations for @realDonaldTrump apparatchiks and loyalists coming,’ he tweeted. ‘It’s the least surprising news. Yet the spectacle is still appalling. And it’s not over!’

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