- The Chris Christie beef with the Kushner family runs deep.
- Christie launched his presidential campaign on Tuesday in New Hampshire and took a shot at Jared Kushner.
- “The grift from this family is breathtaking,” Christie said, according to a video shared by Axios reporter Alex Thompson.
The ongoing acrimony between former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the Kushner family was once again center stage on Tuesday in what is shaping up to be a pretty petty presidential primary season.
Christie, who entered the 2024 ring in New Hampshire, laid into former President Donald Trump — who he supported in a shock endorsement in 2016 after he exited the primary and continued to aid as late as September 2020 when he helped Trump prepare for a debate with then-candidate Joe Biden.
While attacking Trump — who he called a “self-serving mirror hog” — he saved some ire for Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter, Ivanka Trump.
“The grift from this family is breathtaking,” Christie said, according to a video of his campaign stop shared by Axios reporter Alex Thompson.
“Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis. $2 billion from the Saudis,” he continued. “You think it’s because he’s some kind of investing genius? Or do you think it’s because he was sitting next to the President of the United States for four years doing favors for the Saudis?”
Christie seemed to be referring to a $2 billion investment from the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman-led Public Investment Fund in a deal with Kushner’s Affinity Partners. The deal was made six months after Jared left the White House and sparked concerns from ethics experts, The New York Times reported at the time.
But his beef with the Kushner family goes back much further than this campaign cycle.
Christie, then serving as US attorney in New Jersey, investigated and successfully prosecuted Jared’s father, Charles Kushner, who pleaded guilty to “16 counts of assisting in the filing of false tax returns, one count of retaliating against a cooperating witness and one count of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission,” per the DOJ.
Charles Kushner spent 14 months in prison.
Christie, then governor of New Jersey, dropped out of the GOP presidential primary in February after coming in sixth in the New Hampshire primary (despite savaging Sen. Marco Rubio in a debate).
Two weeks later, in a shock endorsement ahead of Super Tuesday, Christie backed Trump, who had very few mainstream politicians backing him and zero governors.
However, that pivotal endorsement did not get Christie a role on Trump’s team when he won the presidency. In November 2016, he was out as the head of Trump’s transition team and replaced by then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Jared Kushner went on to work for four years at the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law.
Christie claimed in his 2019 memoir “Let Me Finish” that more than ten years later, his successful prosecution of Charles Kushner led to Jared ousting him from the top spot of Trump’s 2016 transition team.
When asked about the beef between Christie and the younger Kushner in 2019 by PBS’s Margaret Hoover, Christie responded: “Mr. Kushner pled guilty, he admitted the crimes. So what am I supposed to do as a prosecutor?”
“If a guy hires a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and videotapes it and then sends the videotape to his sister in an attempt to intimidate her from testifying before a grand jury, do I really need any more justification than that?” Christie continued, referring to Charles Kushner’s plot: “I mean, it’s one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted when I was US attorney, and I was a US attorney in New Jersey, Margaret — so we had some loathsome and disgusting crime going on there!”
During Trump’s 2020 campaign, Christie again emerged and helped Trump, working to prepare him to debate Biden in late September 2020.
A defeated Trump pardoned Charles Kushner two months later, on December 23, 2020.
In the intervening years, Christie has changed his tune and stepped into a role as an outspoken critic of Trump.
An attorney for Ivanka Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A representative for Jared Kushner could not immediately be reached.