Republican Chris Christie spoke with Bush White House advisor Karl Rove about running for governor of New Jersey while Christie was serving as the states’s top federal prosecutor, testimony released by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday shows.
Although U.S. Attorneys are political appointments of presidents, the prosecutors aren’t supposed to carry out their law enforcement duties in a political manner. Gov. Jon Corzine (D) is lagging behind Christie in polls for the November election. The Corzine campaign has seized on the revelation to raise doubts about Christie’s tenure as U.S. Attorney from 2001 until last December, and to portray him as close to former President George W. Bush, who is unpopular in New Jersey.
In a July 7 appearance before the panel, Rove said of Christie:
“I talked to him twice in the last couple of years, perhaps one time while I was at the White House and once or twice since I left the White House, but not regarding his duties as U.S. Attorney, but regarding his interest in running for governor, and he asked me questions about who — who were good people that knew about running for Governor that he could talk to.”
Rove testified for the panel’s investigation of the Bush administration’s mass firings of U.S. Attorneys in 2006. His testimony was released on Tuesday.
Read the Star-Ledger story about it here.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who is Corzine’s lieutenant governor running mate, told the Star Ledger:
“This to me puts to bed the claim that he did not think about running for governor until he left the U.S. Attorney’s Office and had done a lot of soul searching before he made his decision,” Weinberg said. “He obviously was not only thinking of running for governor, he was seeking input from the White House deputy chief of staff, George Bush’s chief strategist.”
But Christie spokeswoman Maria Comella told the Star-Ledger:
“In this informal conversation, Chris discussed with Mr. Rove the fact he was being urged to run for elected office and Mr. Rove in turn offered to recommend people who could help Chris reach a decision if he eventually seriously considered running for office.”
Corzine communications director Sean Darcy gave this statement to TPM:
It’s pretty clear now that Christie was running a gubernatorial campaign out of the United States Attorney’s office with the Bush White House and Bush’s political brain, Karl Rove. Christie now has to answer a number of questions, including:
When did the planning start for his gubernatorial campaign?
Who was involved with the planning, including members of the United States Attorney’s office?
How did all of this impact his investigations, including prosecutorial decisions?