Whoa! Chris Christie Calls Trump a ‘Liar AND Coward’ As First GOP Debate Looms Large | WATCH

David Wright, CNN

*(CNN) — Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie sharpened his attacks on former President Donald Trump on Sunday, calling his rival for the 2024 GOP nomination a “liar” and a “coward.”

The former New Jersey governor was reacting to Trump’s speech at a conservative gathering Saturday in Florida, where he declared, “I’m being indicted for you,” as he sought to defend himself against charges in the special counsel’s investigation of his alleged mishandling of classified material after leaving office.

“He’s indicted because of his outrageous conduct,” Christie told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

“There’s no other, of the 200 million Americans he spoke about, who illegally retained classified national secrets after being asked politely, quietly, and professionally for 18 months to voluntarily turn them back over after he left the White House,” the former governor said.

“He now has the opportunity to go to court and make the government prove that case beyond a reasonable doubt. But now he says he doesn’t want to have a trial until after the election in 2024. I don’t think he’s doing that for us, either. He should resolve this thing before people vote so that we know exactly who we’re voting for.”

Trump was indicted last month under charges related to his alleged willful retention of national defense information. The first hearing in the probe takes place Tuesday when lawyers from each side will discuss how the classified materials in the case should be handled.

Trump and his co-defendant Walt Nauta cited the need for more time to go through the evidence as a reason for pushing back setting a trial date. Their lawyers have also suggested it would not be possible to seat a fair jury before the 2024 election, with Trump running for the GOP nomination. The special counsel overseeing the probe has rejected those reasons for delaying the trial.

Trump, who was also indicted earlier this year in Manhattan over alleged business irregularities related to a hush money payment in 2016, faces further potential indictments in Washington and Atlanta with investigations underway into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Christie also reiterated Saturday that he’s met the Republican National Committee’s donor threshold to qualify for the first presidential primary debate in Milwaukee next month, saying that his campaign has “almost 45,000 individual donors” and that “we will be there on August 23, and we will be waiting for Donald Trump.” His campaign raised about $1.7 million in the second quarter that ended June 30, according to his latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Chris Christie - Donald Trump (Getty)
Chris Christie – Donald Trump (Getty)

Trump, in an interview that aired on Fox News on Sunday, continued to tease the possibility of skipping the first debate.

“I haven’t really made up my mind,” he said while nodding to his current advantage in GOP primary polling. “When you have a big lead, you don’t do it.”

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