Jared Kushner Is A Cheap Thug And Other Surprises From Chris Christie's 'Let Me Finish'
Chris Christie was the first major Republican to shamelessly throw his support behind Donald Trump in 2016. There were supposedly great rewards waiting for him in a Trump administration — attorney general, chief of staff, maybe even the VP slot. They all went up in smoke and the former New Jersey governor has nothing to do now but pen his own Shakespearean tragedy.
Falstaff's new book, "Let Me Finish," drops at the end of the month, and judging by excerpts in the Guardian, it's a blistering smackdown of Trump's idiot son-in-law, Jared Kushner. This is truly stranger than fiction because fiction makes reasonable efforts to not be stupid. Christie seriously believed he had a future in the Trump crime family despite having sent Kushner's father to an Alabama federal prison for 14 months. People tend to hold grudges, especially if you make them go to Alabama.
As a US attorney in New Jersey, Christie prosecuted Charles Kushner for witness tampering. Charles is a disturbingly gross man who hired a sex worker to seduce his own brother-in-law, Bill Schulder, and film them having sex in a sleazy motel for the purposes of blackmail. Charles Kushner had the tape sent to his own sister so he could pressure the Schulders to stay quiet about Charles's assorted crimes. This is 1980s primetime soap villain territory.
Christie is a jerk himself, the kind who orders bridges shut down out of spite, but it's also weird that Jared would blame Christie for his father's deranged actions. Yet, Jared viewed Christie as his own personal Moby Dick (this is a literary allusion to obsessive vengeance, not a fat joke). When Trump was considering hiring Christie to run his transition, Jared went so far as to read out Christie to his father-in-law while the governor was still in the room. He basically turned the meeting into a reunion episode of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."
"[Jared] implied I had acted unethically and inappropriately but didn't state one fact to back that up," Christie writes. "Just a lot of feelings – very raw feelings that had been simmering for a dozen years."
Jared believed it was unfair that his father went to prison for breaking multiple laws while white, which isn't even a crime. Like some common gangster, Jared insisted that his father's blackmail attempt was a "family matter, a matter to be handled by the family or by the rabbis." Oy gevalt! This is not how the criminal justice system actually works. Jared's fake job is "senior adviser to the president" not "the guy who leaves horse heads in people's beds."
Trump has never successfully negotiated anything in his life, and he continued the streak with his boneheaded idea to smooth everything over during dinner with Christie, Charles, and Jared. Jared shut down the idea -- to Christie's relief, since Christie lacked the self respect to say no himself. Christie did wind up leading Trump's disastrous transition, but Jared eventually won out and had him taken out to the curb for garbage collection.
A slight spoiler about "Let Me Finish" is that Christie offers up his dignity to Trump with depressing regularity. During their first meeting in 2002, Trump ordered Christie's food for him in a sociopathic demonstration of dominance. He chose lamb, which Christie didn't like, and scallops, which would kill him. Trump also repeatedly and non-ironically advised Christie to lose weight if he wanted to go anywhere in politics. During the 2016 election, Trump the fashion plate suggested that wearing longer ties would make Christie look thinner. (It would not.) Trump apparently thought "What Not to Wear" was yet another reality show he hosted. Christie "jokingly" wonders if Trump confused him for "one of his chicks." His sexist description here says a lot. This isn't how someone treats their "chick." It's how an abuser exerts control.
Christie appears still under Trump's thrall. According to the Guardian, he paints a relatively flattering picture of the president, attributing most of the failings of his administration to bad advice. Christie describes Trump, who we presume he's met, as an "utterly fearless and unique communicator" who surrounds himself with untrustworthy people. Trump is hardly King Lear, and he's never been in a room where he wasn't the most untrustworthy person present.
"Let Me Finish" also greatly flatters its own author, who argues that that if he hadn't run afoul of Trump's foul family, and were able to remain close to the president, events would've turned out better. It's unclear who would've benefitted from a less chaotically evil Trump administration. That list might just begin and end with Chris Christie.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."