He declared his intention to vote Trump in 2020—even despite he think Trump surrounded himself with awful people.

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About the author: Conor Friedersdorf is a California-based staff writer in ~ The Atlantic, wherein he focuses on politics and also national affairs. He is the founding editor of The best of Journalism, a newsletter specialized to outstanding nonfiction.

Former brand-new Jersey Governor kris Christie desires to it is in clear: He supports Donald J. Trump. But don’t you challenge presume that he supports what trumped says or does.

Sure, that voted because that Trump in 2016, but only reluctantly. And also okay, the plans to poll for trump again in 2020. Yet he’s adamantly opposed to countless of the most consequential plot Trump has taken together president. He’ll also say therefore in public. Doesn’t that make the a good guy?

Christie did his damnedest Monday to convince a group at the Aspen concepts Festival and his interviewer, the Atlantic editor in chef Jeffrey Goldberg, the his support for the president of the United says is morally and logically defensible.

It was hard in part because that his scathing, multi-count indictment of Trump. In 2016, Christie recounted, Jared Kushner referred to as to say that Trump to be “off the rails” in his strikes on Khizr Khan, whose child was killed in Iraq. Christie claimed credit for getting Trump to ultimately stop going ~ the gold-star father.

Read: chris Christie claims his new book no an act of revenge

He said that Trump has actually a bad temperament; the his tweets, his outbursts, and also his sense of entitlement aren’t ever going come change; and also that he surrounded himself through “awful people” indigenous the beginning of his presidency.

Christie agreed through the characterization that Trump’s hiring process as “a rojo shit show.”

In Christie’s telling, Trump hired an incompetent national security adviser, Mike Flynn, ~ being repetitively warned versus doing for this reason in the strongest terms; need to not have actually tapped Tom Price as the Health and also Human services secretary; and erred again by hiring Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Reince Priebus to be a poor choice for White house chief the staff, the said, and also Jeff Sessions one incompetent lawyer general. He no think Steve Bannon should have been permitted to stick around after the campaign. “And what the hell was Omarosa act in the White House?” the demanded.

Jared Kushner? the lacks the experience and also savvy to be in the White House, Christie said.

Ivanka? Christie claimed he warned Trump no to provide formal jobs to any family members, together doing for this reason would put them in the political crosshairs and also hamper other staffers as they go on eggshells to protect against giving any offense.

A couple of the sexual-assault allegations versus Trump may be credible, Christie said, but he doesn’t know whether they’re true and also the statute of limitations has actually passed.

Trump’s call for a Muslim half was “ridiculous,” that said, and “absolutely no what this country is about.” The truth that trump didn’t recognize what the nuclear triad was throughout a presidential dispute scares that “to a degree,” Christie acknowledged. Trump’s statement after ~ the hate march in Charlottesville to be unacceptable, he said, as was his criticism of Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation.

In Christie’s telling, Trump’s fail to win Iran was a failure that sent out the not correct signal. His child-separation policy was “simply the wrong point to do.” and also on immigration generally, Christie stated he disagrees with the president.

Read: Echoes of the old kris Christie and shades the the new

So why does he support Trump? Goldberg kept pressing for answers.

Christie says that ~ Trump’s showings in Iowa, new Hampshire, and South Carolina, he was certain that the real-estate mogul would be the Republican nominee. He felt he might stay on the sidelines or assistance Trump, obtain a seat at the table, and improve Trump’s behavior.

What’s more, he said, even though that has arguments with Trump, the felt much more aligned v the businessman than with Hillary Clinton and also the democracy in an unusual election when numerous voters disliked both candidates.

In general, he argued, Republicans space sticking v Trump since they prefer his plans to Medicare because that All, college-debt forgiveness, and the Green brand-new Deal, amongst other progressive ideas, simply as Democrats stuck with Bill Clinton in 1996, regardless of all his negative behavior, because they much desired his agenda ~ above a wide variety of issues.

That’s how the device works, Christie said.

But yes a glaring hole in his logic.

Early in his appearance, Christie said a story about going to an event on long Island, brand-new York, where David Stern, the previous NBA commissioner, to express a desire come “save his soul.” Stern ticked turn off a lengthy list of objections come Trump. “When space you ultimately going to was standing up?” Stern finally demanded that Christie.

“I ran against him!” Christie replied.

The single greatest point you can do in American democracy to oppose a politician, Christie said the group in Aspen, “is come run and to shot to beat that person.” what’s more, the suggested, America needs more moderates.

Christie could run versus Trump again. Or he might urge an additional Republican to run versus him in an attempt to obtain a premium standard-bearer through the GOP primary.

But he no doing that. He is talking together if choosing in between Trump and also whomever democracy nominate is the just option. In the circumstances, it is mad.

To review:

As Christie speak it, Trump wasn’t his very first choice in 2016.

Then Trump was nominated and also elected, and also quickly staffed his management with “awful people,” appointing many incompetents to lead Cabinet agencies.

He decided an unfit nationwide security adviser, took the wrong side on immigration, failure in a nationwide tragedy, shackles White home staff with his nepotism, irresponsibly criticized the Russia investigation, and also made egregious political and also moral errors besides.

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And now Christie’s first choice in 2020 is … Trump?

That’s no a morally or logically meaningful stance because that Christie. In the past, Republicans tested incumbents in their own party, including Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush. Today, republicans who understand Trump’s shortcomings, as Christie demonstrably does, have actually a ethical obligation to protest his renomination. Those that don’t try are complicit hereafter in the really worst things that trump card does. Verbally scolding him is not almost enough.