MANCHESTER, N.H. – Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says comments from Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina – one of his rivals for 2024 Republican presidential nomination – that former President Donald Trump isn’t responsible for the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol are “ridiculous.”
And Christie, who’s making his second White House bid after unsuccessfully running in the 2016 cycle, said he’s going to target Trump at next month’s first Republican presidential nomination debate whether “he’s on the stage or he’s not on the stage.”
Scott, a rising star in the GOP and the only Black Republican in the Senate, has seen his poll numbers edge up in the latest surveys in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that hold the first two contests in the GOP presidential nominating calendar. That’s led some super PACs supporting rival candidates to start placing a bullseye on the senator’s back.
In an interview last week with WMUR-TV in New Hampshire, Scott was asked about the storming of the U.S. Capitol two and a half years ago by right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters who unsuccessfully attempted to halt congressional certification of President Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump in the 2020 election.
Last week the former president was informed – in a letter from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office – that he’s a target of a probe into the deadly attack on the Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Scott said that “Jan. 6 was a dark day for our nation.”
But he added that “I hold the folks who broke into the Capitol with ill will in their hearts, destroying property, responsible for their actions. I don’t hold the former president, who didn’t show up at Capitol and threaten my life, as responsible.”
“I can only hold responsible the very people who threatened my life and the former president did not threaten my life,” Scott emphasized.
Christie, in a Fox News Digital interview Monday as he arrived in New Hampshire for a busy two-day campaign swing, argued that “Tim saying that Donald Trump’s not responsible for what happened on Jan. 6. It’s ridiculous.”
Pointing to Trump, Christie said the then-president “invited all those people to come to a rally on the Ellipse on Jan. 6. He went out there and told them again that the election had been stolen. He urged them to march with him to the Capitol to stop it.”
“I’m disappointed in Tim that he won’t at least say that Donald Trump’s responsible for that. Whether he’s criminally accountable or not is something that the courts will decide and the special counsel will decide and he’ll have a full ability to defend himself. That’s not what I’m talking about,” Christie reiterated. “Is he responsible and Tim should answer that question. Is he responsible for it or isn’t he?”
And Christie charged “that’s what people are tired of already in this race is all these folks – good men like Tim Scott who are afraid to tell the truth about Donald Trump. I’m in this race because somebody has to.”
Christie’s campaign says the former governor has met the polling and donor thresholds mandated by the Republican National Committee for candidates to reach in order to make the stage at the first debate. Fox News is hosting the August 23 showdown in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Christie has said for months that he’s the best equipped candidate in the large field of GOP presidential contenders to take down Trump at the primary debates, thanks to his in-your-face campaign chops and his experience from the 2016 Republican presidential primary debate fireworks.
But Trump has indicated that due to his large lead over the rest of the field, he may skip the first couple of debates.
That doesn’t appear to phase Christie.
Christie told Fox News that if Trump’s not on the stage at the first debate, it “makes my life even better because then I won’t have to talk over him. You know him. He loves to interrupt everybody. So, my biggest debate prep would be to get my voice even louder than his, so I could talk over him.”
“Look – I’m going to talk about Donald Trump and his record whether he’s on the stage or he’s not on the stage. So, my suggestion to him is get on the stage” so that the former president can defend himself and his record in office.
Christie emphasized that Trump’s “better off in my opinion being on the stage to defend that because if he’s not I’m still going to talk about it.”