Defending Donald Trump's charitable giving, Gov. Christie said Wednesday that the GOP presidential nominee had given away "tens of millions of dollars" of his own money, even though Trump has not released, and news media have not found, evidence of such sizable giving.
Christie's office did not respond to a request for comment on what donations the governor was referring to in his interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. In the interview he asserted that Trump had behaved more ethically than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in managing their respective charitable foundations.
The governor also contended that all Trump Foundation money had gone to "charitable causes." The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Trump spent more than $250,000 from his foundation to settle lawsuits involving his businesses.
Warning Clinton to "be careful what door you open," Christie said: "You're not going to want people to be talking about the Clinton Foundation and comparing it to anything Donald Trump has done in his life, including giving away tens of millions of dollars of his own personal money."
From the start of 2009 until May this year, the Post said, it had found only one personal donation by Trump, an amount between $5,000 and $9,999.
The Post said it had contacted more than 250 charities with ties to the businessman in efforts to verify his claims of charitable giving.
Trump moved to make a personal contribution of $1 million to a veterans group in May, after news organizations asked his campaign for details on the donation, which he had pledged during a fund-raiser four months earlier.
Earlier, in 1985, Trump contributed $1 million toward a Vietnam veterans memorial in New York, and in 1995, between $200,000 and $400,000 to help pay for a veterans' parade, according to the Post, which did not find other donations of that size.
The newspaper noted that Trump has not released his tax returns, which would show recent charitable giving.
On Wednesday, a longtime aide to the Trump family told the Des Moines Register that some donations to the Trump Foundation by third parties should be considered contributions to it by Trump, because in some cases parties contributed to the foundation instead of paying Trump. The aide, Lynne Patton, did not provide specific examples.
In the interview Wednesday, Christie took aim at Clinton, who has drawn scrutiny over the relationship between donors to the Clinton Foundation and her work for the State Department.
"When you made a donation to the Trump Foundation, you didn't get anything except a thank-you," Christie said. With the Clinton Foundation, he alleged, "you got a meeting with the secretary of state." Clinton has denied that allegation.
According to the Post, Trump spent $258,000 from his foundation to settle lawsuits, possibly violating laws against self-dealing. Trump's campaign said the story was "peppered with inaccuracies and omissions," but did not cite any, the newspaper said.
At the Republican National Convention, Christie said Trump had donated to a charity for Hurricane Sandy victims at a request from Mary Pat Christie, his wife.
After reporters could not find a record of the donation, a Christie spokesman said that the governor misspoke, and that Trump had given to the Drumthwacket Foundation. The Trump Foundation reported giving $20,000 to the historic gubernatorial mansion in Princeton.