Following revelations of a new investigation into Trump’s inaugural committee, keep in mind that part of the reason former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie flipped Donald Trump the bird Friday when it came to taking a top White House post stems from how badly he got burned by Trump’s greed concerning the transition committee.
At the heart of the inaugural committee probe is whether top donors tried to buy access to Trump, and where exactly that record-setting $107 million inaugural haul went. If Chris Christie’s experience with temporarily running Trump’s transition committee is any gauge, Trump absolutely considered those inaugural funds to be contributions to his personal piggy bank marked “mine!”
In fact, the Michael Lewis book The Fifth Risk recounts some of Christie’s transition efforts in 2016 before Trump won the election—and then literally and figuratively trashed every shred of work Christie had done. Keep in mind that party nominees are legally required to form transition teams. Trump didn’t want one but Christie explained he must have one and he could either pay for it himself or pull from campaign funds. Trump refused to do either, so Christie was forced to fundraise for the committee in order to pay its hundred-plus staffers. Trump almost entirely ignored the transition work until he read an article reporting that Christie had raised several million dollars toward the effort. That’s when Steven Bannon walked into Trump’s Trump Tower residence to find Christie getting an earful from Trump. Lewis writes:
Trump was apoplectic, actually yelling, You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this?? Seeing Bannon, Trump turned on him and screamed, Why are you letting him steal my fucking money? Bannon and Christie together set out to explain to Trump federal law. […] To which Trump replied, Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money. Bannon and Christie tried to explain that Trump couldn’t have both his money and a transition.
Shut it down, said Trump. Shut down the transition.
Christie didn’t shut it down.
They temporarily convinced Trump that cable shows like Morning Joe would have a field day with Trump if he didn’t have a transition team in place—it would signal that he was already conceding defeat. But once Trump won the election he effectively fired Christie (actually, he made Bannon do it), fired the entire transition staff, and installed Mike Pence, who started over from scratch—or at least from a list of people for whom the Trumps wanted to do personal favors.
Anyway, figuring out where that $107 million in inaugural funds went is going to make for some rich reporting, because Trump thinks everything is his.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.