Chris Christie’s presidential campaign said Friday that the New Jersey governor did not lie, but rather misspoke, when he said during a Republican primary debate that he was appointed U.S. attorney the day before 9/11.
Christie made the comment in response to a question from moderator and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly about national security and mass government surveillance, which would lead to a shouting match between the governor and his longtime adversary Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
“I’m the only person on this stage who’s actually filed applications under the Patriot Act, who have gone before the Foreign Intelligence Service Court [sic], who has prosecuted and investigated and jailed terrorists in the country after Sept. 11,” he responded. “I was appointed U.S. attorney by President Bush on Sept. 10, 2001. The world changed enormously the next day and it happened in my state. This is not theoretical to me.”
Journalist Marcy Wheeler was the first to point out that Christie’s timeline was off. While it was widely expected around the time of the 9/11 terror attacks that Bush would appoint Christie as a U.S. attorney, the former President didn’t announce his intention to nominate Christie until December 2001. Christie was confirmed and began work as New Jersey’s top prosecutor in January 2002.
A Christie campaign spokeswoman told NJ.com that Christie had gotten a call from Bush about his intentions to nominate him on the day before 9/11.
“He was making the point that the world changed the next day, so that was the context: The point he was making was that on Sept. 10th, when he got the call (from Bush), it was a very different world than Sept. 11th,” spokeswoman Samantha Smith said, as quoted by NJ.com.
The campaign also denied that Christie’s statement during the debate amounted to a lie.
“Not a liar,” Smith told US News & World Report.