This is a rush transcript for “This Week” on October 29, 2017 and it will be updated.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s bring in a man who has prosecuted cases, the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. Thanks for coming in this morning.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: My pleasure, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what’s your reaction to this news?
CHRISTIE: I want to respond to one thing that Dan said, that is a normal course of things. But when you’re going after the smaller fish to get the bigger fish, you usually don’t charge them, that’s usually stuff that is working behind the scenes, because what you want to do is keep that smaller fish having turned secret, because it helps them to be able to gather more information. Sometimes they can wear a wire for you, sometimes they can gather information for you that if they’re quiet, you’re going get it where if everyone knows they’ve charged, they’re going to be treated like they’re radioactive. No one wants to be near them. No one is going to talk to them.
So, I think that what it appears is going on here is that, you know, he is approaching this as a
normal case with discreet type of charges that may wind up intersecting at some point or may not and not keeping it all together for some big report like Ken Starr did, but rather to go ahead and begin to charge people as he moves along.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree with Dan on why this is being kept secret right now?
CHRISTIE: Well first off, it’s supposed to be kept secret. I mean, you know, let’s remember, too, Dan knows this, you know there are very strict criminal laws about disclosing grand jury information. Now, depending upon who disclosed this to CNN, it could be a crime.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think it was Mueller’s team?
CHRISTIE: Well, I would hope not, because listen, as a prosecutor I could tell you that was the thing that we emphasized the most with our prosecutors and our agents was let me tell you something, we will prosecute you if we find out you leaked this stuff, because we have to have the public have confidence in the fact that the grand jury system is secret and as a result fair. If you’re leaking stuff out of the grand jury, which happens, but you shouldn’t be doing that.
So, but again, we don’t know who leaked it to CNN, if it would be a crime if prosecutors or agents leaked it, defense lawyers leaked it, it might be less…
STEPHANOPOULOS: And anybody who has been before a grand jury is allowed to talk about it.
CHRSTIE: Absolutely. But the people who have been before the grand jury wouldn’t know
that there are charges. You go in there, you testify, you get out. And so I think what is really important to focus on here today is what we don’t know. And what we don’t know…
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot.
CHRISTIE: …is who the person is. We don’t know what the charges are. We don’t know anything except there’s a report that someone says there will be charges on Monday and that there is a
sealed indictment. And so once that happens, we’ll have a lot more to react to.
But the one thing that is clear here is, I heard someone say, are people nervous? Believe me, if you’re the person, you know. I mean, you have already been told you’re a target. Your lawyers have been — if you’ve been asked to come into the grand jury, they have got to advise you of your status as to
whether you’re a target. If you’ve been told you’re a target, believe me you’re not sleeping well any way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But how about this notion, though, as Dan was pointing out, this notion the president has pardon power here, and some — there’s been some talk that the president might issue preemptive pardons of Mueller targets before a trial. Would that be appropriate?
CHRISTIE: I have never seen the president talk about that. And quite frankly I think to have those kind of conversations now about pardons — if anybody is sitting around and saying I don’t have to worry about anything, because the president will ultimately pardon me, they should talk to Scooter Libby. They should talk to others who thought they were going to be pardoned, and all the people involved in Watergate, and the pardons they thought they might be getting from President Nixon. They’re still waiting, right?
So, that’s a very important power to use. And I haven’t heard the president say anything like that. And I think we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, and certainly those people shouldn’t be sitting around saying, hey, no problem.
ABRAMS: They’re looking at Sheriff Arpaio.
CHRISTIE: Well, that’s a different circumstance.
ABRAMS: It is. But I think that’s what led people to say, wait a sec, this is a president who is ready, willing, and able to use his pardon power.
CHRISTIE: But much different circumstance. The charges surrounding Sheriff Arpaio had absolutely nothing to do with the president or people around the president.
STEPHANPOULOS: Because you agree, the president pardoning somebody here would be pretty explosive.
CHRISTIE: Listen, it’s a big step.
And I think the other important thing for people watching this morning to remember is that the last public word we had on any of this was that the president himself was not under investigation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do we know that? Because we know that the White House chief of staff, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has been questioned by Mueller. We know that Sean Spicer has been questioned. We know that they were questioned about the possibility of obstruction of justice. So you would assume that that means there’s some kind of an investigation of the president. It may come to nothing, but we don’t know.
CHRISTIE: I don’t think you can assume that, George. I just don’t.
And I used to love — when I was U.S. attorney, I used to say to people all the time, the greatest part of my job was only I know what I know. And everybody speculates. And everybody outside speculates. And some of it is educated speculation, like Dan and I are involved in here this morning, because have experience in this.
But in the end, I think we both would be willing to admit, we have no idea.
STEPHANPOULOS: How about Robert Mueller? Back in August, you said he’s a good man. You worked with him when you were prosecutor. He was FBI director. But on Friday, you seemed to suggest that it might be appropriate for him to step aside.
CHRISTIE: What I said was if certain facts turn out to come out regarding his involvement with this in other manners, he has got to continue to evaluate that.
So let me be really clear about it, he has an obligation as a special counsel, and I think a heightened obligation, to be evaluating all the time, new facts that come in, and do they put him in a compromised position. And if they do he has to recuse, because the public already is nervous about this, because the attorney general of the United States has recused himself from it. The justice system is not working as it normally does. And so if there are any questions about Director Mueller, he has to really…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you haven’t seen that yet.
CHRISTIE: No. No. And that’s not what I said on Friday. What I said on Friday was, if certain facts develop on whether it’s his relationship with Director Comey or other issues, then he has got to think about that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you a final question — you’re also the chair of the president’s opioids commission. The took your recommendation to declare a public health emergency, but he’s facing some criticism for not coming forward and saying I need this much money.
CHRISTIE: Well, I think it’s going to be the subject of negotiation with congress. You know, there’s lots of bills out there — there was a $45 billion proposal that was part of the Graham-Cassidy legislation.
And so I think the president has got to sit down with congress now and congress has to put this money in. The public health emergency fund has only $57,000 in it. So, it’s time to fund that.
I would say that you’re going see this president initially ask for billions of dollars to deal with this. And the other thing people didn’t notice as much, George, I want to bring up briefly is, he talked about changing the Medicaid rules, and said he’s going to, that is going to open up thousands of Medicaid beds across this country for poor people who need drug treatment to get it. That is going to be game changing on the ground in individual states like mine and others.
So money is being committed. And now it’s congress’ job. I heard Congresswoman Pelosi say, where is the money? I said, well, I read the constitution. You appropriate, not the president. So get appropriating. Let’s see what the president will sign.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Christie, thanks very much.
CHRISTIE: Thanks, George.