During an interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose this week, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon claimed that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) lost a role in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet following Christie’s perceived lack of support for then-candidate Trump after the release of lewd comments Trump made about women.
In a clip that aired Friday morning on CBS, Bannon revealed how some of Trump’s allies reacted to the October release of Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape. Bannon revealed that Reince Priebus, then the chair of the Republican National Committee, told Trump that he would likely lose the presidential race after the tape was publicized. Bannon said that he told Trump at the time that he had a “100 percent probability of winning.”
The ousted chief strategist told Rose that the weekend following the release of that tape was a “litmus test” for those surrounding Trump, and that the President’s allies should back him no matter what.
“You can criticize him behind, but when you side with him, you have to side with him. And that’s what Billy Bush weekend showed me. Billy Bush Saturday showed me who really had Donald Trump’s back to play to his better angels,” Bannon said on CBS.
Asked if he “took names” that weekend, Bannon said he did, and revealed that Christie “was not looked at for a Cabinet position” because of his reaction to the tape.
“I told him, ‘The plane leaves at 11 o’clock in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.’ Didn’t make the plane,” Bannon recalled from a conversation he had with Christie.
It’s not completely clear what Bannon was referring to during the CBS interview. After the “Hollywood Access” tape was released, Christie said Trump’s comments on the tape were “unacceptable” and that he was “disturbed and disappointed by it and embarrassed for him and his family.”
The New Jersey governor did not pull his support for Trump at that time, but he did have a much lower profile as a campaign surrogate following that weekend.
The tape dropped just before a debate, and Christie reportedly visited Trump Tower in New York to help Trump prepare. However, he was not seen at the debate, which is perhaps the trip to which Bannon was referring.
A senior political campaign strategist for Christie’s presidential campaign disputed Bannon’s version of the events in a statement to the International Journal Review.
This post has been updated.