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Christie talks Trump Junior, WFAN, Murphy and Guadagno and Menendez at presser

7-17-17

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

At the scene of another road project, the repaving of eight miles of Route 206 North in Somerset County, the governor assured New Jersey residents the Transportation Trust Fund is working well.

“And remember that this TTF Plan is an eight-year plan, so the next governor will not have to re-visit the issue,” Gov. Chris Christie said.

From there, it turned into a wide-ranging press conference.

On Donald Trump Junior’s meeting with Russians operatives, he said, “My understanding of all this is that there’s concern by some people of collusion. Even from what we’ve heard so far I don’t see any evidence of that.”

We asked if it’s inappropriate to get opposition research from a foreign government.

“Yeah, I think it would be. I think it would be. I don’t think there’s any evidence they did, but I do think it would be, sure. I think, quite frankly, it’s probably against the law, Michael, in addition to being inappropriate. I think there’s a law that you can’t get anything of value from a foreign government,” Christie said.

On critics of his hosting a sports radio talk show two afternoons last week, like gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, who tweeted Christie should be focused on his day job.

“My response is, if he ever becomes governor he’ll realize how many hours he puts into the job. And the idea that somehow this job is like a 9 to 5 job is an absurdity,” he said.

It’s more like 12 to 14 hours, he said.

“But this is what you’d expect from a candidate who had absolutely no experience in office. He has no idea what this job entrails and he never has a public job other than one he bought being ambassador to Germany. And then I’m sure his heaviest duty was throwing parties at the embassy, so I don’t think you should take a critique of the governorship from a guy who has never held a job that has that kind of responsibility,” Christie said.

Christie said he has no problems with Republican candidate Kim Guadagno, his lieutenant governor, who has been critical of his use of the official beach house and other matters.

“You somehow think I should be offended by it, I’m not. She’s a candidate for governor. She has every right to speak her mind about any issue she believes is of public interest. And if she agrees with me on certain things, great. I would tell you that, you all want to emphasize the disagreements and I understand why, but we agree on much more than we disagree on,” said Christie.

Christie was critical of the GOP Senate health bill in Washington, saying it should do more for the less fortunate.

He commended New Jersey transit for its first week of coping with massive repairs, though he chided Gov. Cumo of New York for coining the phrase “summer of Hell.”

A reporter asked if he would call a special election this fall if there is a vacancy in the U.S. Senate.

“I don’t anticipate a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Menendez is presumed innocent until proven guilty. And he deserves that presumption of innocence, he’s earned that presumption of innocence as a United States citizen and it would be in my mind inappropriate for the governor of this state to be speculating based upon your assumption, which is subsumed in your question, that Sen. Menendez would be found guilty of these charges and removed from office. This is part of what I’m talking about. You want to get ahead of the story. This man has served the state of New Jersey for many years in many different capacities, and while we have significant policy disagreement, and have had those over the years, he is an American citizen who is deserving of the presumption of innocence just the same way you are,” Christie said.

The governor seemed at ease today. He stood for questions for as long as reporters could think of them. And though it was hot, he never removed his jacket.

“It’s part of the uniform, baby. Got to wear the uniform when you come to the game,” he said.

The game has six more months to go.