Demanding pledges of loyalty at a one-on-one dinner? Asking the FBI director to drop an investigation into one of your associates? That's just "normal New York City conversation" to President Trump, according to New Jersey governor and onetime member of Trump's inner circle Chris Christie.
Shortly after fired FBI Director James Comey's prepared testimony was released Wednesday afternoon, Chris Christie appeared on MSNBC to offer a defense of Trump's interactions with Comey, which Comey himself called "inappropriate."
In his testimony, Comey detailed a series of encounters with Trump that made him "uncomfortable" and led him to document every interaction. The testimony includes Comey's previously reported allegation that Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation into fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
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When MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace asked about this allegation, Christie blamed Trump's inexperience with government agencies, and said Trump considers that sort of thing "normal New York City conversation."
@MSNBC: Chris Christie: Trump's comments to Comey were 'normal' NYC conversation http://on.msnbc.com/2rMQNyL
Here's the extended quote:
What people don't understand is that they elected an outsider president. They elected someone who had never been inside of government and quite frankly didn't spend a lot of time interacting with government except at the local level. And so the idea of the way that the tradition of these agencies, it's not something that he's ever been steeped in. So I think over the course of time, what you're seeing is a president who is now very publicly learning about the way people react to what he considers to be normal New York City conversation.
People immediately took to Twitter to analyze — and in some cases to mock — Christie's response.
@chrislhayes: Emerging defense of Trump from GOP is basically that POTUS is too dumb/naive/or in over his head to have committed obstruction.
@jbarro: It's not normal to have conversations in New York. I'm always suspicious when someone tries to talk to me.
@EliStokols: Chris Christie tells @ NicolleDWallaceTrump's comments to Comey were "normal New York City conversation" he didn't realize was inappropriate
Comey will deliver his prepared testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday at 10 am. But in the meantime, Christie's early response offers a window into how the GOP and Twitter users might respond to Comey's statement and his answers to questions from senators on the committee.