Chris Christie is not resisting any chance to point out his criticisms of former President Donald Trump, and did so again on Tuesday over reports detailing the ex-president’s choice to divert a larger share of his campaign donations toward his legal defence efforts.
The change was first reported by The New York Times on Sunday, and came in the form of an edit to the fine print on Mr Trump’s donation page hosted by the WinRed platform. Previously, just one per cent of those donations through the platform were diverted to the Save America PAC, the outside spending vessel that the candidate has used to front the costs for his legal battles. According to new text that appeared this spring, that share has increased to 10 per cent.
It was a move that was seen by many political analysts as evidence of the mounting strain that the president’s numerous court fights are having on his finances; he faces, among other civil suits, more than 60 criminal charges spread across two indictments in New York state court and at the federal level.
On Tuesday, Mr Christie spoke to Politico about his rival’s increasingly serious legal entanglements: “This is a billionaire who refused to pay his lawyers with his own personal money, and instead, men and women out there who believe in him and wanted [him] to be elected president are donating money to try to forward his candidacy … and he’s diverting that money to pay his own legal fees.”
“What Donald Trump is good at is spending other people’s money,” the former governor added to Politico. “He’s the cheapest SOB I’ve ever met in my life.”
The tone of Mr Christie’s campaign has changed little since it began several weeks ago in New Hampshire with a CNN town hall hosted by St Anselm College. The ex-governor, formerly an ally of Mr Trump, has made clear his intention to wage an all-out brawl with the frontrunner for the GOP nomination as well as his willingness to hit Mr Trump on issues that other GOP candidates either will not touch or, perhaps to the detriment of their own campaigns, take his side.
Those issues include the criminal charges Mr Trump now faces, and especially the federal indictment resulting from Mr Trump’s hoarding of presidential records at Mar-a-Lago. In recent days, an audio recording has emerged in which the former president is heard at his Bedminster resort talking to several reporters and his own staffers, while claiming explicitly that a document he had produced for their viewing was classified material. Mr Trump has denied that the document he was heard speaking about actually existed, claiming instead that “bravado” spurred him to lie to those present.
Mr Christie’s poll numbers show him trailing the ex-president significantly in terms of overall support among GOP primary voters; the governor hopes that dynamic will change once he potentially gets a chance to confront his opponent in person onstage at at Republican debate.
Whether that will ever happen remains up in the air, as Mr Trump has signaled that he may skip one or more debates both due to his frustrations with moderators who refuse to play into his 2020 election conspiracies as well as his hesitation towards allowing an opportunity for his opponents to draw blood while the cameras roll.