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Former N.J. Gov. Christie makes another case to be the GOP presidential nominee

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is no stranger to the political spotlight. The Republican is running for president for a second time after falling short in 2016. Christie has said he believes the criminal indictments of Donald Trump disqualify the former president from holding further office. It's not a popular position in the Trump-dominated GOP, and that's not the only way that Christie is distancing himself from the rest of his party. He recently sat down with Susan Davis and Tamara Keith of the NPR Politics Podcast. Here's some of that conversation.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: First off, what I say disqualifies him are not the indictments themselves. It's the conduct that underlies those indictments. So to be clear, I think it's the conduct of the man that disqualifies him from being president much more than the judgment of any individual prosecutor. I've said publicly, too, that I think I would not have brought either the New York case or the Atlanta case against Donald Trump. But the two federal cases, I believe, are absolutely appropriate cases to have been brought. He is entitled to the presumption of innocence, as everybody in this country is. But I think particularly the classified documents case is one that he will have a very, very hard time, either legally or factually, getting out from under.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: There is a growing number of lawmakers in Congress, particularly in the House, that believe that they already have enough of a case to bring impeachment charges against the president for his son's business dealings. Do you think that case is there? Do you think that an impeachment case should be brought against the president?

CHRISTIE: Not at this point. But I do think that it's necessary, given what we've seen, for there to be oversight by the House. If that oversight then gives us evidence that the president was somehow involved - and he's been very clear about saying, as has his spokespeople, that he's had no involvement at any time with his son's business. Now, you know, whether those phone calls that we've heard about amount to enough to impeach, I would doubt. But I need to see the rest of the evidence. So, no, I don't think there's a case at the moment. But I do think there's enough smoke that the DOJ should be looking into it. And David Weiss, his special counsel, should be looking into that. And the House should be providing appropriate oversight to get the facts out.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: If Congress sends to your desk any legislation that would put restrictions on abortion access, would you sign it into law?

CHRISTIE: As I've said on this issue, I think we fought as conservatives for 50 years to say this is not a federal issue; it's a state issue. And so first, I hope that what happens over the course of the next 16 months or so is that each of the states and their people weigh in on this issue of abortion, whether it's through referenda or whether it's through actions by the legislature and the governor.

KEITH: Because this is such a live issue and you want to be president of the United States, I'm hoping that we could get you to tell us if you think there are any limits that should be in place. Should it be a 15-week ban? Should it be a six-week ban? As you say, the nominee of the party sets the agenda. So what do you think the agenda should be?

CHRISTIE: What I just said - that the state should make the determination.

KEITH: Are there any states that have limits that you think are too strict or too lenient?

CHRISTIE: Sure. I think Oklahoma having no abortion available except to save the life of the mother is too strict. And I think New Jersey allowing abortions up to the ninth month of pregnancy is too lenient.

KEITH: You are the only Republican in the race who opposes bans on specialized health care for transgender youth. And we're wondering what shaped your view on this.

CHRISTIE: Well, I thought what shaped my view is I'm a conservative Republican who doesn't want the government telling mothers and fathers how to treat their children. No one loves my four children more than I do, and my wife does. And no one knows what's better for our children than we do. Certainly no governor sitting in a state capitol knows better how my children should be raised than I do. And I believe that's a conservative Republican position. And I'm not a big government Republican. I think any type of government intervention of that kind between parents and their children is wrong. And that's why I oppose it.

FADEL: That full interview with Chris Christie will be on today's episode of the NPR Politics Podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.