- Associated Press - Sunday, February 26, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie does not believe a special prosecutor is needed to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election.

Speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Christie said the Justice Department has shown its ability to investigate such matters.

“This is whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, we’ve seen it happen on both sides, when a special prosecutor gets involved, the thing gets completely out of control,” the Republican governor said. “And I think that doesn’t serve anybody’s purposes.”

The possibility of appointing a special prosecutor was raised Friday by California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who said a political appointee such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions shouldn’t perform the investigation. Citing similar concerns, Democrats have also been calling for an independent probe into allegations that Trump’s campaign aides were in contact with the Russian government before the election and other related topics.

Christie also spoke on recent reports that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had asked top FBI officials to dispute media reports that Trump’s campaign advisers were frequently in touch with Russian intelligence agents during the election. The officials said the FBI first raised concerns about The New York Times reporting but told Priebus the bureau could not weigh in publicly on the matter. The officials said Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Comey instead gave Priebus the go-ahead to discredit the story publicly, something the FBI has not confirmed.

Christie said he has “absolute confidence” in Priebus’ integrity, adding that he doesn’t think Priebus did anything wrong. But Christie, who was the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey before he ran for governor, said “you need to have the sensibility of a prosecutor when you’re dealing with these issues, because perception matters.”

Christie said the White House counsel should have those conversations with the FBI if deemed necessary, not Trump’s nonlegal advisers.

“I can guarantee this: I don’t think the chief of staff will ever have that kind of conversation with the FBI, with an FBI personnel again, nor should he.”

Later in the program, Christie showed no sympathy for congressional Republicans who won’t hold town hall meetings because they fear they could become rowdy. Christie said he has held more than 160 town hall meetings as governor of New Jersey, noting that “if I walked away from every town hall where I got yelled at, I would have never done one.

Noting that the GOP controls the White House, both houses of Congress and most governorships, Christie said the “heat is on the Republicans” to produce results and said one thing lawmakers need to do is engage with the public.

“Welcome to the real world of responsibility,” Christie said. “You know what? You asked for the job. Go do it.”

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