GLADSTONE, N.J. – Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Monday addressed Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with a Russian attorney, saying it’s “probably against the law” to get opposition research for his father’s presidential campaign from a foreign country.
But Christie, a friend and adviser to President Donald Trump, also said that it’s too early be “jumping to conclusions” and that there’s no evidence the campaign obtained such research.
“I think, quite frankly, it’s probably against the law in addition to being inappropriate,” Christie said. “I think the thing that bothers me the most is that we seem to have a frenzy of people jumping to conclusions.”
Christie, a former U.S. attorney, spoke Monday at an unrelated event in his first public appearance since he ended a three-day government shutdown earlier this month. He was widely criticized after an NJ.com photographer snapped photos of him on a state beach closed to the public during the shutdown.
He travelled to Monday’s news conference by state helicopter from another stay at Island Beach State Park.
Christie’s comments come a day after the Republican president’s attorney insisted there was nothing illegal in the meeting that Trump’s eldest son attended during last year’s presidential campaign.
The president’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, defended Trump and his son in a series of appearances Sunday on five television networks.
“Nothing in that meeting that would have taken place, even if it was about the topic of an opposition research paper from a Russian lawyer, is illegal or a violation of the law,” Sekulow said.
He said the president did not attend the meeting and was not aware of it.
The president himself tweeted Monday: “Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!”
Trump Jr. initially said the June 2016 meeting was about a Russian adoption program. Then The New York Times reported the meeting was actually to hear information about his father’s opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton. Finally, under pressure from The Times, which had obtained email correspondence, Trump Jr. was compelled to release emails that revealed he had told an associate that he would “love” Russia’s help in obtaining incriminating information about Clinton.
Christie served as campaign transition chairman and now leads an anti-opioid commission for the White House.