Do you remember way back in January 2014 when the press corps slobbered like dogs in heat over the Bridgegate e-mails, Save Jerseyans?
Well, Chris Christie dropped by CNN on Monday to ponder aloud what would’ve happened to him if he had pulled what Hillary Clinton apparently did (305 classified email and counting, but we’re still looking for nearly 18,000):
ALISYN: The next guest is looking to break out of that pack, it’s Governor Chris Christie. Welcome.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Great to be back.
ALISYN: Good to have you on “New Day.” Let’s talk about what happened recently where Trump put out his immigration plan. We want to get your response on how yours differs. Let’s put up a couple bullet points. He’s going to make Mexico pay for the border wall. He’s going to deport all criminal aliens, defund all sanctuary cities and end birthright citizenship. You’ve spoken about that too, do you like that part of the plan?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: You know listen, I think that’s got to be something that’s discussed but I don’t think that’s the first thing we should be worried about. We talked about four different ways to secure the border. Walling and fencing in certain places, not the entire border. It doesn’t make any sense.
ALISYN: How are you going to pay for that?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: The United States will pay for that. This makes no sense. I have met President Peña Nieto a number of times. I don’t think if we present him with the bill he is going to pay for it. This is not the negotiation of a real estate deal, ok? This is international diplomacy and it’s different. It is different. So we should build it in those places, especially urban areas along the border where it’s more difficult to control, you have a greater volume of folks. Second, we need to have FBI, DEA, and ATF agents embedded with border control folks to deal with the criminal element. They are much more trained to be able to deal with gun running and drug running than our typical border agents are. Third we need to use drones and other electronic surveillance in the more difficult parts of the border to show where we need to deploy the human resources more effectively. And then fourth and most importantly we need to use e-verify. The fact is, these folks are coming over here to work. They are not coming to vote. They are coming to work. If in fact, they know they can’t get jobs, then they are not going to come. So, that’s the most important element of all four. All four are important. But that’s the most important element.
CHRIS: You deal with this in a real way in New Jersey. There’s a very vibrant immigrant base. You have people coming in for the right and wrong reasons. E-verify. Nobody has owned the position of I’m going after the employers. If you don’t employ them the wrong way, they are not here the wrong way. It’s a third line for people. You think about owning that issue and making it the mainstay of a platform.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I am owning it. It’s the most important thing. I know they won’t like it. Make the profit legally. I want businesses to make as much profit as possible. If they do, they are going to create more jobs. You can’t do it by exploiting cheaper labor, especially when it threatens the national security. I absolutely own it. I said this last week in Georgia. The chamber of commerce crowd needs to get on board. They need to be part of the solution. You cannot only win people on the southern part of the border. We have people employing folks illegally. The reason is to make a bigger profit. I would make the fine so large that any profit is not only wiped out, but then some. People are going to continue to keep coming. If they believe they are going to be employed, they are going to continue to come and find ways to come and it will be more difficult to stop it.
CHRIS: Let’s talk about another wrinkle of exploiting cheaper labor. I’m talking the gender gap, of paying women less. Do you pay women on your staff the same as you pay men?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: You bet I do. And in fact, my chief of staff is a woman. My policy chief is a woman and they get paid no differently than the men on my staff. The fact is, what I care about is talent. What I care about is talent and commitment. Those are the kind of people that we had on my staff. And that’s not only now but when I was U.S. Attorney as well.
CHRIS: The only reason we’re asking is we put it to trump because of what happened with the misogynist comments and the ugly comments. He said ‘I take care of women the way it matters, which is what I pay them.’ I said, ‘Show me the proof.’ His guy came on with the proof. He hires them, puts them in position of power, he pays them and he says, ‘Now go chase everybody else the way you chased us.’ Do you think that the candidates – obviously we’ll ask the campaign for numbers about where women are in positions within your government. Do you think candidates can stand up to that if it’s true, that he puts women in positions of authority and pays them as much or more than men?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: If they don’t they should. The fact is that if you are the leader of a large organization like I am in New Jersey, what you care about most is putting the best people in the best positions and making sure they’re compensated fairly. Nowhere in that sentence do you hear anything about gender. To me, it just doesn’t even matter. The fact is, I have said to the women on my staff over the course of time, part of it is their obligation, too. I believe a lot in what Sheryl Sandberg talks about in terms of women in the professional mode leaning in and making themselves even bigger parts of these organizations. That helps to solve some of the problem, too. In the end, it’s my responsibility as the leader of an organization to set the tone. We have in New Jersey, and I feel comfortable for anybody to look at our record on that.
ALISYN: Well I am looking at your most recent, I believe, staff list, you are right your Chief of Staff is a woman, but I believe that you have three times as many men in your cabinet as you do women.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: A number of my women have left. My authorities chief –
ALISYN: Why is that?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well because they got better paying jobs in the private sector, God bless them. And you know, remember, this is also a sixth year of an administration. And so what happens then when your term limited, as I am in New Jersey, and it’s the sixth year, a lot of your folks who have been with you for a long time, they wind up wanting to get on to the next step of their career. They go into the private sector to make more money, help support their families, advance their careers. Here is what I feel like as the leader of an organization – and this is whether it is a man or woman working for me – when they serve me for a period of time, then it’s my obligation to help them advance their career in whatever way they think is best. If it’s staying in government that’s great, but if it’s not, they want to go to the private sector, that’s fine, too. And by the way, some of those women have also moved to my presidential campaign as well. And so a number of the folks – my communications director is no longer there and now been replaced by a man. She now is the person running my presidential campaign.
ALISYN: And you feel good on your campaign about the number of women and men and the pay equity.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: The person running my campaign for president is a woman, so I don’t think you can get a better job than that.
CHRIS: It’s interesting what he did. He was getting painted as a misogynist – this is what you think of women because of what you say. He’s saying judge what I do. It will be interesting. This is the reality for a lot of governments, you have a 3-1 ratio and we need to do better. Do you accept that?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Sure, of course. And you have to judge both by the way. I would reject the premise. You can’t just say, well, this is what I do, so it does not matter what I say. Words matter, too. When you are a leader out there, what you say from the bully pulpit, whether you are a governor, a business leader, a member of congress, and especially when you are president of the United States, you can’t excuse awful comments as part of – ‘Well, I do things differently.’ When you are a leader, what you say matters. What comes out of your mouth matters. And so all of it matters and I’m glad he’s putting that kind of proof forward. Good for him. Good for the women working for him who are being treated fairly. The fact is, all of it matters when you’re running for president.
ALISYN: Let’s look at the Democratic side of the race. The new poll shows Bernie Sanders is gaining. She’s at 49%, he’s 30%. Do you think that is directly tied to the e-mail issue with Hillary Clinton or is there something else going on with her campaign?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I think it’s two things. I think the first thing is that Mrs. Clinton doesn’t answer any questions. She doesn’t answer questions. You see the most recent stuff she was saying yesterday, trying to say everything being raised about her is about politics and it’s not. If she would just answer questions directly, why did you have a private server? Now I was U.S. Attorney for seven years working for the federal government. They made it clear from minute one, all official business is to be done on a government e-mail.
ALISYN: She says all her predecessors also used private email.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Not exclusively. Not exclusively. I had a private email account but I didn’t do my business on a private email account. She did everything on that account and then when she knows people are concerned about it, she gets the server cleaned. I mean, why not just answer that question instead of talking all the time like she does on television now about, ‘Oh, the politics and the republicans.’ It’s not about the politics.
ALISYN: What do you think the answer is.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I think she didn’t want people to see what was on that e-mail server.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well that’s a good question, isn’t it. She needs to answer that too. Why did you wipe it clean, Mrs. Clinton? Why? I mean seriously. Let’s just have an analogy Can you imagine if after the bridge investigation began I came out and said, ‘Oh by the way, I have done all of my business as governor on a private server and I have deleted now 30,000 of those emails, but trust me, none of them had to do with the bridge. Give me a break. She wants to talk about being held to a different standard? What she’s doing is refusing to be transparent. That’s the first problem with her polling numbers. Secondly, the problem is that she’s not speaking to the concerns that the American people really have because she won’t speak to her national security record and a failed national security record that are making people feel anxious in this country. If Mrs. Clinton starts to answer questions, interact with people, maybe her poll numbers would be different. Last thing, poll numbers now don’t really matter much any way.
CHRIS: There’s so much intensity going on. I hear ya. We have 400 days left. The intensity of the coverage is such that I think we are getting a more true measure early on than we usually do. When it comes to the e-mail thing, that’s fair pushback on it. Yeah, she was using private e-mail. There’s no disputing it. You used the bridgegate analogy. Some of your people got caught on that, they were like, ‘Well we’re using private email’ – so there is sometimes a dovetailing of this and if it were so bad, why did it never come up until she decided to run for president?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well first of all, again, exclusively, Chris. I mean, in today’s world, everybody has their own private e-mail account, even if they’re working and they use that for personal issues, family issues, those types of things. She was exclusively using it. she didn’t use her government e-mail account. she wanted every communication she had within her control while she was the highest ranking cabinet member in the United States. Why didn’t it come up before? Because no one knew. And the people that did know were part of the team. They were part of the team, Chris. They were part of the team. And God forbid that we question Secretary Clinton. Well, now she’s running for president and she’s going to be questioned. And you know what? I did this for seven years as U.S. Attorney, there is ample evidence here to criminally investigate her conduct. And we haven’t talked about the fact that any number of these e-mails may have contained classified information, which is clearly against the law. And let’s remember this, David Petraeus was prosecuted and convicted for this back in her husband’s administration. You had folks that were prosecuted and convicted for this. Why would she be any different?