New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is taking a nuanced approach to President Obama’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. He recently wrote to Obama to signal disappointment with Obama’s decision.
But he also demanded, as a result of supposedly improved relations with Cuba, that its political leaders give up convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard, a member of the Black Liberation Army who killed a New Jersey police officer in 1973 before fleeing the country.
Chesimard is the first woman ever placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List.
“I am very disappointed that returning a convicted killer of a police officer was not already demanded and accomplished in the context of the steps you announced regarding this dictatorship,” Christie wrote in the letter to the president.
But shortly after Christie’s letter was sent to the president, two police officers were brutally murdered in New York City on Saturday, thrusting his message into the national political conversation.
On Sunday, the contents of the letter were released to Fox News, which published a story on it as the nation was in mourning. Christie is a natural ally for law enforcement officials, as a former U.S. Attorney for the State of New Jersey.
In August, Christie pushed back against what he described as “generalizations” about police officers as a result of the Ferguson protests.
“I’m not going to get into this business of generalizing against law enforcement officers. It’s not right,” he said, praising the “millions of dedicated men and women” who protected the public.
Over Thanksgiving, Christie was again asked about the violent events in Ferguson, prompting a veiled criticism of Obama’s leadership.
“The country has anxiety over a lot of things and he only thing that clears up anxiety is leadership and direction,” Christie said. “And so as everyone figures out what they’re thankful for, hopefully they can also pray for some leadership that will be strong and help bring us together.”
At a time when the nation is re-examining the effect of political leaders getting involved with the national conversation of police fairness, Christie is already at the forefront of potential presidential candidates who are siding with law enforcement officials.
After protests raged in New York in response to the failure of the grand jury to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner, Christie reminded reporters of his law enforcement background.
“When I was U.S. Attorney, I used to really, really dislike when politicians who didn’t know a tenth of what the prosecutors and the grand jury knew would second guess their work purely for political reasons or out of ignorance,” he said in December. “So I’m not going to second-guess that work.”