Now that a friend and fellow Republican is leading the country, Gov. Chris Christie is urging the White House to demand the return of a convicted cop-killer who fled to Cuba four decades ago.
Joanne Chesimard, a leader of the Black Liberation Army, was convicted on March 25, 1977, of eight counts of murder, robbery and assault in the killing of State Trooper Werner Foerster on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973. Six years later, in 1979, Chesimard escaped and fled to Cuba, where she has lived in political asylum since. She now goes by the name Assata Shakur.
In 2015, when then-President Barack Obama reopened relations between the United States and Cuba, there was hope that Chesimard would be returned to finish her life sentence. But she remains free today, even though the Obama administration said her return would be part of diplomatic negotiations with the communist regime.
Appearing Friday night on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Christie said “it’s outrageous” that Chesimard lives in freedom, and he pressed the administration of President Donald Trump to fight for her extradition to the U.S.
“I hope that what the Trump Administration is going to do is, before we take any further steps with a relationship with Cuba, that they say, ‘Listen, first and foremost, return this fugitive from justice back to New Jersey so that she can rightfully serve the rest of her term for murdering a police officer,'” said Christie, a friend and supporter of Trump. “I think this is something that Secretary of State [Rex] Tillerson and others in the Trump Administration should make a top priority in any dealings they have with Cuba,” Christie added.
Christie’s interview with Carlson was brief, about five minutes. But he confirmed what many lawmakers and intelligence officials have already said over the last few weeks about Trump’s claims that Obama wiretapped his phones.
“There certainly doesn’t seem to be any evidence of that at this point,” Christie, a former federal prosecutor, said. He added, “We’ll continue to listen, but I can tell you from my experience that kind of stuff is really difficult to get.”
Christie also declined to indulge in speculation, stoked by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, that he could end up with a job in the White House someday. His term as governor ends in January.
“Will I ever go work there? I have no idea,” Christie said. “I don’t have a crystal ball.”