President Donald Trump selected a new U.S. attorney general Friday, and it’s not former Gov. Chris Christie, who has coveted the position and was a contender.
Trump announced he plans to nominate William Barr, who served as U.S. attorney general under then-President George H.W. Bush’s administration.
Christie was one of a few people who remained on Trump’s shortlist, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to NJ Advance Media last week.
The list has whittled down in recent weeks, but Christie — a longtime friend and ally to Trump, a fellow Republican — was still “a top contender” and “checks all the boxes,” according to the source.
New Jersey’s 55th governor long has coveted the position. After Trump pushed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of as the country’s chief law enforcement officer Wednesday, Christie’s name emerged as a possible replacement.
Christie on possible AG role: Trump hasn’t asked
Trump announced his pick outside the White House as he prepared to board a helicopter.
“I want to confirm that Bill Barr,” Trump told reporters.
Barr “will be nominated for the United States Attorney General and hopefully that process will go very quickly,” he said.
Christie didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The job of attorney general was one of only two that Christie said he would have accepted in the Trump administration that would have prompted him to resign as governor.
The other position was to be Trump’s vice president.
But neither post was offered to Christie, who instead served the rest of his second term in office until Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, succeeded him in January.
Despite being in the running, Christie said as recently as the middle of last month that he had not talked to the president about the job.
“No,” the ex-governor said in response to a question about whether Trump talked to him about it.
Christie, who was in Atlantic City for a public event, wouldn’t tell reporters whether he would have taken the job if it was offered.
“The only person I owe that answer to is the president of the United States, and he hasn’t asked,” Christie said.
Since he left office, Christie has worked as a private lawyer and a political analyst for ABC News.
“I love my life that I have right now,” he said at the time. “I’m more relaxed than I have been in 16 years,” Christie added. “(Wife) Mary Pat and I are enjoying our time.”
The week before Christie made the comments, Trump that while he likes Christie, he had not spoken to him about becoming attorney general and that his administration was “looking at other people.”
NJ Advance Media staff writer Brent Johnson contributed to this report.
Matt Arco may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.