A Politico story published on Friday claims that an anecdote published in the New Yorker during the 2016 presidential campaign about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fetching McDonalds for Donald Trump was made up. But Ryan Lizza, the original reporter, is standing by his story.
As part of a long report in the New Yorker during the 2016 election, reporter and CNN contributor Ryan Lizza referred to Christie as “a sort of manservant” for then-candidate Trump.
“One Republican told me that a friend of his on the Trump campaign used Snapchat to send him a video of Christie fetching Trump’s McDonald’s order,” Lizza reported at the time, a claim that instantly went viral.
The response forced Christie’s office to release a statement denying the charges, calling the story a “bit of sleaze” and “pure trash.” But the on-the-record denial only helped fuel coverage of the salacious anecdote.
But was the anecdote simply made up?
Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg told Politico’s Josh Dawsey he was the one to leak the embarrassing story about Christie in a lengthy piece about the outgoing governor published on Friday. Nunberg, who was fired by the Trump campaign after racially charged Facebook posts he allegedly wrote became public, admitted to Dawsey he made up the entire incident as part of a larger attempt by Trump’s campaign to embarrass Christie.
“The sad reality is that it was believable,” Nunberg told Dawsey, who reported Nunberg was “chuckling” while he spoke about it.
On Friday night, Lizza stood by his reporting, saying that Nunberg wasn’t his source for the anecdote.
“Sam Nunberg was not the source of The New Yorker’s anecdote about Chris Christie and McDonald’s,” Lizza wrote on Twitter, adding that neither Politico nor Dawsey contacted him for their story.
This is incorrect. Sam Nunberg was not the source of The New Yorker’s anecdote about Chris Christie and McDonald’s. https://t.co/ZG7Re6W7z7
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) November 18, 2017
Gregory Korte, the White House corespondent for USA Today, speculated that both could be true, asking Lizza on Twitter, “He could have made it up, and told it to someone else who was the source. No?”
Both could be true. He could have made it up, and told it to someone else who was the source. No?
— Gregory Korte (@gregorykorte) November 18, 2017
“No. Read the original anecdote and you’ll see why,” Lizza responded.
Politico is sticking by its story, though the website added, “UPDATE: New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza says Nunberg was not the source for his story.”
Christie endorsed Trump after ending his own presidential campaign, and was put in charge of the campaign’s transition team before being fired by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. According to Dawsey, Christie suspected that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, was behind the decision, but said Bannon wouldn’t tell him.
“Oh, I asked,” Christie said “[Bannon] didn’t answer. But [based on] subsequent conversations I’ve had with the president, I just don’t believe this was the president’s decision.”
During his time as U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Christie prosecuted Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, who pleaded guilty to 18 counts of making illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering and spent 18 months in federal prison.