Chris Christie’s role as Donald Trump’s transition chief may be his last in politics, as guilty verdicts for two former allies further tarnish the New Jersey governor’s administration and bring corruption talk uncomfortably close to the Republican presidential nominee.
With four days before the presidential election, the timing couldn’t be worse for Christie, who is expected to campaign for Trump this weekend. The governor continues to say he had no knowledge of the plot to punish a mayor for refusing to endorse his re-election bid by closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in his town. During the trial, however, jurors were told that Christie was aware of the scheme and he was painted as a bully who rewarded loyalists and punished dissenters.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta on Friday said that the convictions should prompt Trump to fire Christie.
Ford O’Connell, a former presidential campaign official for Republican John McCain, said Trump’s strongest move might simply be to ignore the verdict until after Election Day, given the late focus on Clinton’s own investigations.
“The Democrats want to make this the latest thing that raises questions about Trump’s judgment, but it’s far too late in the game for that,” O’Connell said. “It’s only going to become an issue if Donald Trump wins.”
The verdict makes it increasingly unlikely that Trump would find a home for Christie, or that he would be able to survive nomination hearings in a Senate where Republicans may hold a slimmer majority after the election, O’Connell said.
“Christie is starting to hear footsteps in terms of the future of his political career,” he said. “If he wants to do something in the future this will be an albatross around his neck.”