President Donald Trump’s suggestion that former FBI Director James Comey move on from an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn was not a direct order and is not evidence of obstruction of justice, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday.
“That’s not an order,” Christie told reporters at a press conference in New Jersey as Comey was testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington. “Donald Trump knows how to give an order, believe me. He knows how to give an order — that’s not an order.”
The governor, who served as U.S. attorney in New Jersey and has been a top supporter of Trump, said he thought Comey’s prepared statement and his initial comments before the Senate committee on Thursday were all accurate.
“No reason to question any of it,” Christie said. “From reading that, it sounded very much like Jim to me. It sounded like the Jim that I know over all the years.”
Comey declined to say during the hearing whether he believes Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he allegedly told Comey, “I hope you can let this go,” regarding the FBI’s inquiry into into Flynn. Comey also alleged that Trump asked him what he could do to “lift this cloud” of the larger Russia investigation.
Christie said he saw nothing in the comments Trump had made to Comey that would suggest the president was trying to obstruct the investigation. He also disagreed with the former director’s assertion that the president was giving him “direction.”
“Everybody hears what they want to hear in these conversations,” Christie said.
The governor also doubled down on his remarks on MSNBC on Wednesday that Trump’s remarks in the private conversations were just “normal New York City" talk, saying the president was not familiar with the way lawyers and, especially, prosecutors talk.
“It’s not a legally sophisticated conversation or governmentally sophisticated conversation,” Christie said. “But that should surprise no one. This guy wasn’t in government before he was elected president. And he’s not a lawyer.”