GLADSTONE, N.J. — The White House should publicly disclose any and all contacts its staffers have had with foreign governments, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Monday, adding that the news Donald Trump Jr. had met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer “doesn’t help” ease cynicism about government.
“Everyone who had any contacts with any foreign nationals, especially anyone from Russia, should have been giving that information to the administration — should be put out publicly,” Christie, a Republican who led President Donald Trump’s transition team, said at an unrelated press conference.
Christie said it is never good when “stuff comes out a little bit at a time and a little bit at a time,” and said anyone working in the administration has a legal obligation to disclose their contacts.
While Trump Jr. is not part of the government, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, also attended the June 2016 meeting, along with then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The governor, who remains close to the president, said the disclosures have not reflected well on the White House, but said he saw nothing criminal.
“My understanding of this is there’s concern by some people of collusion,” said Christie, a former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. “Even from what we’ve heard so far, I don’t see any evidence of that. So we need to get back to what the bottom line is here. If there’s collusion, that’s a major issue. If there isn’t, then I don’t think it is. But none of it’s positive and I’m sure that nobody in the administration thinks that was a good week.”
Trump Jr. agreed to organize the meeting after he was told a representative of the Russian government would provide his father’s campaign with negative information about Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. insists nothing substantive came of the meeting and said there was nothing unusual about seeking “opposition research.” The president has also expressed a similar notion, saying on Twitter Monday that “most politicians” would have accepted the invitation.
But Christie said it would be inappropriate and possibly illegal for a U.S. political campaign to accept opposition research from a foreign government. He noted, however, that there hadn’t “been any evidence that they did.” He urged the public to wait and see what conclusions investigators come to and avoid “a frenzy of people jumping to conclusions every time there’s a piece of new information.”
“When they come to conclusions, they’ll either charge folks or they won’t,” Christie said. “Then we’ll know what’s going on.”