In an interview with NJ.com’s Steve Adubato Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie blasted President Obama’s “awful” deal with Cuba, saying that allowing the “thugs” in Cuba to grant political asylum to convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard and failing to defend those whose human rights are violated in Cuba is yet another example of the president’s failed international negotiations.
Citing a recent AP story reporting Cuban official Josefina Vidal’s rejection of the governor’s demand that Cuba return a convicted cop killer to New Jersey, Abudato noted that Vidal asked what authority Christie had to make the request since the president is not asking for Chesimand’s release. Christie noted the hypocrisy of Cuba claiming that Chesimand was “persecuted” by the U.S., and then launched into his critique of Obama’s “awful” Cuba deal:
Christie: Well first off I think it’s very interesting the quote you used. She said that every sovereign nation has the right to grant asylum to people who have been persecuted. So Joanne Chesimard, a cold-blooded cop-killer, convicted by a jury of her peers, in what is without question the fairest and most just criminal justice system in the world – certainly much more just than anything that’s happened in Cuba under the Castro brothers – she is now, according to an official of the Cuban government, persecuted.
Adubato: Was the president wrong in not asking for this?
Christie: The president was wrong in not asking for it and the president is getting his proof right now through that comment. The president said this is going to change things in Cuba, this opening up. And another thing she said in that story that you didn’t mention was that she said we’re happy to accept the entire package the president has offered. What did the United States get? And, more importantly, what did those people who are persecuted and whose human rights are violated in Cuba get in return for America now opening up its economic and travel doors and full diplomatic relations with the power and the majesty that that has to have an American embassy in your country?
Adubato: Was it a bad deal?
Christie: It was an awful deal, and it is typical of this president, unfortunately, in negotiations. The Iranian nuclear deals extended six months at a time over and over and over again while they continue to move towards a nuclear capability. Now we normalize relations with Cuba without getting anything in return? We have a hostage exchange and that’s what we get in return? We for 50 years have demanded that they have free elections, that they open the internet, that they allow political prisoners to be released. None of those things happened. We’re just going to take that on the come, I guess.
Christie then defended his vocal stance on Cuba’s “unacceptable” actions:
Christie: Listen what I’m going to do is do what I need to do as Governor of New Jersey which is one of our State Troopers was murdered in cold blood, his killer was convicted and these thugs in Cuba have given her political asylum for 30 years. It’s unacceptable and I’m going to continue to speak out. I don’t know if I’m going to put any pressure on the president or not but I’m certainly going to continue to speak out.