Christie re-emerges after his falling out with Trump. But is he back on the inside? – Washington Post
What is clear is that Christie has become an object lesson of the perils that face those who try to navigate Donald Trump’s world, a place where loyalty is demanded, but not always one where it is returned in kind.
Nine days after the public humiliation of being unceremoniously dumped as the head of Trump’s presidential transition, Christie on Sunday showed up among the parade of potential Trump administration job seekers to meet with the president-elect at his New Jersey golf course.
Asked if there would be a place for Christie in his administration, Trump did not exactly say yes. Instead, he declared Christie “a very talented” man, who is also “really smart and tough.”
A half-hour later, Trump ushered Christie out, following a private session that both men pronounced to have been a positive one.
Also among those who met with Trump on Sunday was former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is said to be under consideration for secretary of state.
How the Trump-Christie relationship came asunder — and whether there is any chance of putting it back together — suggests cautionary lessons for anyone in close proximity to the president-elect.
Trumpworld is a place where there are dueling centers of power, where actual motives are opaque and where only those related by blood or marriage are ever truly trusted and invulnerable.
“Trump’s little black book of people he trusts in politics is two pages long. The way it runs, which isn’t in Trump’s interest, is like court politics for some potentate in the 17th century,” said veteran GOP consultant Mike Murphy, who has been a vocal Trump critic. “It’s a snake pit where people die. But even when people die, they can get resurrected when there’s a vacuum.”
Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, who worked with Christie informally on the transition, said he would like to see the governor have a role in the new administration.
“My hope is that no one has sidelined Chris Christie. That would be a mistake. It goes beyond loyalty,” Steele said. “It’s about competence and that’s something I’m sure isn’t lost on Donald Trump, even if there are storms brewing in the family.”
Trump and Christie are old friends, going back years before either decided to run for the highest office in the land.
When his own bid faltered, Christie became the earliest big national name to get behind Trump’s campaign — awkwardly at times and at a cost to his own stature.
On Super Tuesday in March, Christie’s discomfort as he stood onstage behind Trump at his victory rally was so evident that it quickly became an Internet meme and prompted Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) to tweet that it looked like “a hostage situation.”
When Trump headlined a fundraiser in May to help Christie retire his campaign debt, he pointed at the portly New Jersey governor and asked: “You’re not eating Oreos anymore, are you?”
And then Trump passed over Christie in selecting his vice-presidential running mate, picking instead another governor whom he barely knew.