Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not hold back Sunday in his criticism of how former President Donald Trump has sought to depict the deadly attack against the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“Let’s face it. Let’s call it what it is. Jan. 6 was a riot that was incited by Donald Trump in an effort to intimidate Mike Pence and the Congress into doing exactly what he said in his own words last week: Overturn the election,” Christie said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Christie, a former GOP presidential candidate, made the comment in reaction to the back-and-forth between Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence. Trump incorrectly claims that Pence had the power to reverse the 2020 presidential contest, and the former president put his falsehoods in blunt terms in a statement last week.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!” Trump exclaimed.
Christie said Sunday that Trump’s statement let the truth slip: Trump lost the election to now-President Biden and was trying to cling to power.
“He actually told the truth by accident,” the ex-governor said. “He wanted the election to be overturned.”
Trump’s effort to get Pence to unconstitutionally change the election culminated on Jan. 6, 2021, the day of Congress’s certification of Biden’s Electoral College win. Pence, as vice president, held the mostly ceremonial position of president of the Senate, and presided over the certification.
“Unfortunately, the president had many bad advisers who were basically snake-oil salesmen giving him really random and novel ideas as to what the vice president could do,” Mike Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, recalled Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Trump, who has spun a web of false conspiracy theories alleging widespread voter fraud, headlined the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on the day of the attack, where he urged his supporters to “fight.” A mob of those supporters then assaulted the Capitol, with some of them even chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.” More than 100 police officers were injured, and five people died in connection to the riot. More than 700 people have been arrested by authorities and charged with federal crimes related to the assault.
At a recent campaign rally, Trump floated the idea of pardoning some of the Jan. 6 rioters, drawing more attention to his actions that day, which ultimately led to his second impeachment.
Rebutting Trump last week, Pence defended his own actions that day.
“President Trump is wrong,” Pence said in a speech. “I had no right to overturn the election.”
Trump, in turn, has kept his fire on Pence.
“I was right and everyone knows it,” he said in a statement blasting Pence’s defense.
Christie, a former Trump ally and a former federal prosecutor, has had harsh words for Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, previously saying the rioters were “driven from the top” by Trump’s rhetoric. On Sunday, Christie backed Pence in the dispute over the election certification.
“I think that the action the vice president took on Jan. 6 spoke loudly, and I’m glad he’s finally put words to it. I don’t know why it took him so long, but I’m glad that he did,” Christie said.
“Donald Trump did respond to what the vice president said, and I think it’s kind of akin to a kid standing in the corner holding his breath,” Christie added. “It’s immature, and it’s beneath the office that he held.”