A Family Feud: Christie vs. Kushner
A years-long feud between Chris Christie and Jared Kushner just got a little messier.
Kushner’s estranged aunt and uncle have once again opened up their wallets and given the maximum amount allowed under federal law in a presidential primary to the former New Jersey governor. The $6,600 ($3,300 each) political donation from Murray and Lee Kushner is likely to add fuel to an epic family fight that’s involved fraud allegations, tax evasion, and a twisted revenge plot that landed Kushner’s father, Charles, in prison for 14 months.
A Scandalous Scheme
Christie, a former U.S. attorney, prosecuted Charles Kushner over his involvement in a scandalous scheme that he called “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes” he had ever prosecuted.
“Mr. Kushner pled guilty. He admitted the crimes,” Christie told PBS last year. “So what am I supposed to do as a prosecutor? I mean, if a guy hires a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, and videotapes it, and then sends the videotape to his sister to attempt to intimidate her from testifying before a grand jury, do I really need any more justification than that?”
Charles Kushner pleaded guilty in 2004 to 18 counts including tax evasion and witness tampering. He also admitted to hiring a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and then sending the video to his sister. He was sentenced in 2005 to two years in prison — the most he could get under his plea deal. He served 14 months at a federal prison camp in Alabama before being sent to a halfway house in New Jersey to complete his sentence.
Charles Kushner’s relationship with his siblings has been fractured ever since.
A Surprising Donation
Micah Rasmussen, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, told Politico he was surprised by the donation to Christie’s campaign.
“Given the family connections to the Trump White House, it is really just unbelievable,” he said.
Former President Donald Trump tapped Christie to lead his 2016 White House transition team but reversed course after his son-in-law allegedly intervened. Christie called the move a retaliatory “hit job” in his 2019 book, “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.”
Trump pardoned Charles Kushner in December 2020. The White House cited the elder Kushner’s charitable work since he completed his prison sentence in 2006 as justification for clemency.
“The record of reform and charity overshadows Mr. Kushner’s conviction and 2-year sentence for preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation, and making false statements” to the Federal Election Commission, the White House said.
Christie’s Presidential Bid
Christie announced his 2024 presidential bid in June at a town hall in New Hampshire. The state has embraced its “first in the nation” status for a presidential primary election in the GOP calendar and Christie has spent a significant amount of time there.
“I intend to seek the Republican nomination for president of the United States in 2024 and I want your support,” he said at the conclusion of a lengthy speech focused on character and history at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Christie ran for president in 2016, pitching himself as a no-nonsense candidate who would “tell it like it is.” He dropped out after his sixth-place showing in New Hampshire.
A recent Granite State Poll showed Christie fourth among a slate of GOP candidates, and more than 30 points behind Trump.
Christie told USA Today that he wasn’t worried about his lagging numbers and predicted he would leave the January primary a winner.
“And everyone will be completely shocked,” he told the news outlet, adding that polls leading up to the primary wouldn’t be an accurate reflection of how he performs.
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