Chris Christie: If Trump Tried To Pardon Himself, He Would Be Impeached


Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and 'Mediaite' founder Dan Abrams discuss the Mueller investigation on 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos.'

Earlier in the show, Trump legal team member Rudy Giuliani had suggested that the president had the power to pardon himself.

"Listen, there’s no way that’ll happen, and the reason it won’t is because then it becomes a political problem, George. If the president were to pardon himself, he’ll get impeached," Christie said.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we’re joined here live by our legal team, Chris Christie and Dan Abrams out with a new book this week, "Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency" is out on Tuesday. I had the chance to read it. Fascinating history. Welcome to both of you. You’ve also read this letter now and seen the interview. It seemed to me that -- that Mayor Giuliani walked back a couple of the most central claims in that letter.

DAN ABRAMS, CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Oh, two of the most controversial points. Right? Number one, this idea that -- he’s now saying that they could fight the subpoena, not just ignore it. Meaning -- ignoring the subpoena means no matter what happens, even if a judge were to instruct us for whatever reason that he’s got to testify, we wouldn’t have to abide by that.

Mayor Giuliani now saying that’s not the case. Also --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Just that we’ll take it to court.

ABRAMS: Exactly. We’ll fight it. OK, fair enough. That’s what one would expect him to do if that ever got to that point, which I don’t think it’s going to. I still don’t think they’re going to subpoena the president. And then number two, this idea that the president can simply just end the investigation, that simply the obstruction -- there’s no such thing when it comes to the president.

Again, it seems Mayor Giuliani’s walking that back as well. So now this letter has much less of a bite, I think, than before we heard from Mayor Giuliani.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: Yes, I mean not shocking that lawyers would make, you know, broadest claims they possibly when they thought --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that’s the thing (ph) about obstruction of justice, it’s (ph) about as broad as it gets.


CHRISTIE: And that’s why I think that Mayor Giuliani said this morning that that’s not the case, he doesn’t agree with it. And listen, you can tell any time that Rudy didn’t agree with something, he said you’ll have to ask John about that and go back to John Dowd. It’s an outrageous claim, it’s wrong. They were trying to make a broad argument, lawyers do that all the time in (inaudible). And Dan, I’ve seen that many times happen.

In the end, cooler heads prevail here, George. And -- and the president is going to have to, you know, acknowledge that if there’s a subpoena -- which I agree with Dan, I don’t think --

STEPHANOPOULOS: You don’t think he’s going to do it.

CHRISTIE: No, I do not think that -- listen, having been someone who had to make these kind of decisions for seven years as a U.S. attorney, you’re not going to want to swing for the fences on that one, swing and miss. That’ll make a -- a real -- really will discredit the investigation if he does. I don’t think he’s going to need to and I -- quite frankly, I do agree with the mayor on this. I don’t think they’ve (ph) shown anything yet -- and I’ve said this to you for months -- that should compel the extraordinary step of subpoenaing the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But -- but then -- but then what happens? And I want to ask you both this. It’s -- it was also pretty clear from listening to Mayor Giuliani this morning, hard to imagine the president’s going to do an interview. So he’s not going to be subpoenaed, he’s not going to do an interview. What does Mueller do then?

ABRAMS: Well look, I think that Mueller probably agrees with the general sentiment, which is that a sitting president can’t be indicted. Right? So if that’s the case, Mueller’s not preparing an indictment against the president of the United States no matter what he thinks. I think you’re going to see potentially other indictments from Mueller that don’t necessarily connect to the president himself.

And then there’s going to be a report --

STEPHANOPOULOS: On the obstruction of justice.

ABRAMS: -- on -- on the obstruction. And in that report, by the way, Mueller could decide we believe that the president obstructed justice even though they’re not going to indict him, basically hand it over with recommendations. That’s what Ken Star did.

STEPHANOPOULOS: With or without the president’s testimony.

CHRISTIE: Yes, I think he could do that, and in the end, I think that the key to this, George, is the president, at this point, should never, ever walk into that room with Bob Mueller. And I think we’ve been saying this for months --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well for the reasons that Rudy said, one that you’re -- they’re not sure he’s not going to make a mistake, not sure he’s going to tell -- what he’s going to say is going to match up with what other witnesses were saying.

CHRISTIE: Well of course, you can never be sure of that, and you don’t know if those witnesses were telling the truth or not. And he -- quite frankly, I think he’s gotten (ph) made a very valid point regarding the I.G. report.

You know, hopefully that report comes out next week, and I think it’s going to say a lot of damning things about what was going on in the FBI regarding the Hillary Clinton investigation.

And that investigation, there’s no doubt in my mind from being an observer at the time, that what Jim Comey did in October of 2016 certainly changed the conversation (inaudible).

STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you believe that was the reason that President Trump fired him?

CHRISTIE: For that?


CHRISTIE: Listen, there have been so many different explanations, I’m not sure. But he had plenty -- let me say this, and I’ve said this to you before on this show, if I had done as U.S. attorney when Jim Comey was the Deputy Attorney General what Jim Comey himself did as FBI Director, he would have fired me in five seconds.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Fair enough, but that -- he did that and that hurt Hillary Clinton, right? OK.

CHRISTIE: (Inaudible) hurt the process (inaudible).

ABRAMS: That’s fine, it hurt the process, it hurt Hillary Clinton, but it didn’t hurt Donald Trump and the notion that now that they’re saying oh well the reason James Comey was fired is because what he did was so unfair to Hillary Clinton. Right? That’s the argument. That’s the argument.

CHRISTIE: Was it -- was it absolute misuse of the authority of his office, that’s a -- listen, now as a -- as a former governor, that’s a perfectly acceptable reason whether it hurt me politically or not.

STEPHANOPOULOS: (Inaudible) coming into office, not a reason to fire him four months after the fact.

CHRISTIE: Oh, you know, listen, as we -- as we’ve discussed before, George, the transition was not quite a smooth running machine. And so those decisions maybe shouldn’t (ph) have been made.

I will tell you this, I recommended to the president elect at that time that if you’re going to fire Comey, do it now, meaning in the transition period between November and January.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One thing, and Mayor Giuliani didn’t want to go too deep into this, it does appear now that the FBI had -- there was no misconduct in the use of this FBI informant.

ABRAMS: Well look, and also Giuliani’s saying well you know, we’ve been -- for a year we haven’t gotten information on this. Why would they get information on this? I mean this informant, right, is working -- let’s say is working in conjunction with the FBI in whatever context.

Why would they turn it over? This is an ongoing, active investigation, and there’s zero, zero to indicate that there was anything improper about this. I mean calling it SpyGate (ph) doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a quote, unquote, spy involved as opposed to what see everyday in the --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- evaporating.

CHRISTIE: Well listen, I -- I think, again, this is one of those shifting sands arguments that’s going to change over the course of time and maybe go away. Unless you conduce -- misconduct by the FBI, which we have no evidence of yet in any way, I will tell you as a prosecutor, I wouldn’t have turned it over, that information to the other side.

STEPHANOPOULOS: To -- to the president.

CHRISTIE: No, I wouldn’t have. I mean, you know, the thing I said I -- that I always loved the most about being a U.S. attorney was only I knew what I knew. Bob Mueller understands that and -- and so does the FBI.

So you don’t -- you don’t willy-nilly turn that stuff over, you just don’t. If at some point you see misconduct you would, but you don’t do that (inaudible).

ABRAMS: I don’t know if it’s shifting sands or just throwing sand, that’s what it sort of feels like more to me.

CHRISTIE: Could be either.

ABRAMS: Yes, yes.

CHRISTIE: Could be either.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rudy left often the possibility of the president pardoning himself, even though he says he doesn’t expect him to do it, he would have the right to do it.

CHRISTIE: Listen, there’s no way that’ll happen, and the reason it won’t is because then it becomes a political problem, George. If the president were to pardon himself, he’ll get impeached.

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