Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) mocked Donald Trump on Wednesday after the former president was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation, criticizing him even as most of his opponents in the 2024 presidential race declined to do the same.
“His response yesterday to me was ridiculous, that he didn’t even know the woman,” Christie, a potential 2024 candidate, said in a radio interview with Fox News host Brian Kilmeade, referring to Trump’s denial and statement that he didn’t know E. Jean Carroll, who says he raped her in the 1990s.
“I mean, you know, how many coincidences are we going to have here with Donald Trump? I mean, he must be the unluckiest S.O.B. in the world,” Christie added. “I mean, this guy, it’s one person after another, one woman after another. The stories just continue to pile up. And I think we all know he’s not unlucky that he engaged in this kind of conduct.”
The New York jury reached its decision in the civil case between Carroll and Trump on Tuesday after less than three hours of deliberation, finding the ex-president liable for sexual abuse — but not rape — and declaring he owes the writer $5 million in total damages.
But most Republicans defended Trump on Tuesday by suggesting the jury that found him liable isn’t legitimate because it was drawn in a blue state. Some even said it made them want to vote for Trump even more.
Trump’s challengers and would-be contenders in the 2024 GOP race didn’t have much to say, either, reflecting his continued popularity with Republican primary voters.
“That’s something for Trump to respond to,” former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday. “I think the focus has to be not to be distracted. That’s why we’ve got to leave the baggage and the negativity behind.”
“It’s not my case. It’s his case,” she added later.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to jump into the 2024 race, also declined to weigh in.
“I think that’s a question for the American people. I really can’t comment on a judgment in a civil case,” Pence said in an interview with NBC News.
A rare exception was former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who called the verdict another sign of the former president’s “indefensible behavior.”
Christie is reportedly nearing a decision on a 2024 campaign. The two-term governor, now an ABC News commentator, hypothesized last week that his campaign would focus on challenging Trump head-on, unlike his other declared rivals in the race.
“The way to win is to beat the guy that’s ahead. And so what would a campaign look like? A campaign would look like a direct, frontal challenge to Donald Trump,” Christie said on the podcast The Dispatch.
In his interview with Fox News’ Kilmeade, Christie said that Trump was embarrassed in 2016 after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which he made his infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” comments. The former president went on to defend those remarks this year in the Carroll trial.
“I was there with him when the Access Hollywood tape came out,” Christie said. “And let me tell you something, Brian. He was embarrassed. He was embarrassed that he’s tried to change the whole history now, but he was embarrassing.”
“Look, this kind of conduct is unacceptable for somebody that we call a leader and who is wanting to take leadership again,” he added. “And so do I think this is a silver bullet that ends Donald Trump’s candidacy? No. I just think it’s additional weight of evidence that people are going to look at and say, you know, if he’s this unlucky Brian, if none of this has really happened, he’s just so lucky. We don’t want a guy this unlucky as president either.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.