President Donald Trump repeatedly sought the advice on how to deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into state-sponsored Russian electoral interference from former Gov. Chris Christie, according to a partially-redacted copy of Mueller’s report released Thursday.
Christie’s name appears 62 times in the 448-page report, though in many cases his name appears in citations.
Most notably, Christie advised Trump against firing Mueller because such a move would turn congressional Republicans against him, open him up to obstruction of justice charges and would not guarantee the end of the investigation.
The former governor told investigators he could not remember the exact date of the phone call during which he made that recommendation, but it likely took place sometime in early July 2017.
Politico New Jersey first reported Christie’s involvement in the Special Counsel’s investigation.
Christie told investigators that, during a lunch on Feb. 14, 2017, day after the dismissal of former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, he advised Trump not to discuss the investigation, even if it frustrated him and told the president that dismissing Flynn would not shorten Mueller’s investigation.
Flynn later pled guilty to charges that he made false statements to the FBI.
At the end of the lunch, Christie said, Trump asked him to call then-FBI Director Comey and “tell him he’s part of the team.”
The former governor did not do so because he viewed the request as “nonsensical” and because he did not want to put Comey in an uncomfortable position.
Christie previously worked with Comey, and he said told Trump the two were still friendly.
The evening of Comey’s firing on May 9, Trump called Christie and asked for his advice on how to handle negative press over Comey’s termination.
Christie advised told the president he ought to have Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein run interference. Rosenstein oversaw Mueller’s team because former Attorney General Jess Sessions recused from the matter due to his involvement with Trump’s campaign.
Mueller’s team spoke with Christie on or before Feb. 13, 2019, according to citations in the report.