Grappling with governing: Rep. Chris Stewart’s support of Trump

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Editor’s note: Daily Universe reporters examined how Utah’s congressional delegation responded not only to the Capitol breach on Jan. 6 but the shift in the Republican Party over the last four years in a series of stories.

Utah Rep. Chris Stewart has been a supporter of the Trump administration since his election in Nov. 2016. (Samuel Corum, The New York Times)

The violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol has pushed away some of Donald Trump’s most avid supporters, including Utah Rep. Chris Stewart.

“You have been a strong supporter of President Trump. Are you less of a supporter of the president today?” a KUTV interviewer asked.

“You know, honestly, I am,” Stewart said. “It’s really too bad because the policies that he’s initiated, and the success that he’s had … I think yesterday is going to diminish and overshadow that to some degree.”

Stewart serves as the representative for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, which spreads from Salt Lake City through St. George.

A timeline of Stewart’s statements regarding Trump’s presidency and policies from early 2016 through the present shows shifts in his opinion of the president.

March 2016 — ‘Donald Trump does not represent Republican ideals’

“If some of you are Donald Trump supporters, we see the world differently, because I can’t imagine what someone is thinking,” Stewart said to a group of students at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah on March 10, 2016.

“Donald Trump does not represent Republican ideals; he is our Mussolini.”

November 2016 — ‘I think we’ve put the right person in office’

Shortly after Trump won the 2016 election, Stewart expressed confidence in his presidency.

Stewart appeared on C-SPAN on Nov. 30, 2016 to discuss the president-elect’s national security appointments.

“That’s not changed by the Electoral College — that’s changed by putting the right person in office,” Stewart said in response to a caller’s concerns about the election’s impact on job security. “And I think we’ve done that.”

“Let’s give Mr. Trump a little time to implement some of his policies, because he seems truly committed to helping some of those people who have been forgotten.”

February 2019 — ‘President Trump is making a mistake’

Trump declared immigration a national state of emergency in early 2019 in order to increase funding for border security, specifically the wall he promised to build between the United States and Mexico.

Stewart expressed his disapproval of this declaration on Twitter on Feb. 14, saying “Whether the President has the authority or not, it sets a dangerous precedent and places America on a path we will regret.”

September 2019 — ‘It makes me uncomfortable’

Stewart was not in support of any impeachment proceedings for Trump’s involvement with the Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“He clearly asked the foreign opponent to — or the foreign government — to do an investigation of what he felt was corruption,” Stewart said in an interview with CNN.

“Now, I’ve got to tell you to be honest, I don’t think I would have said that. It makes me uncomfortable. But presidents do things that make me uncomfortable all the time. And you don’t impeach them for it.”

December 2019 – “They want to take away my president”

Stewart staunchly defended the president during impeachment hearings in Dec. 2019.

“This vote this day has nothing to do with Ukraine,” Stewart said on the House floor. “This vote, this day is about one thing and one thing only: they hate this president. They hate those of us who voted for him. They think we’re stupid. They think we made a mistake.

“They want to take away my vote and throw it in the trash. They want to take away my president and delegitimize him so he cannot be reelected.”

February 2020 — Stewart considered for director of national intelligence position

Dan Coats retired from his position as the director of national intelligence, leaving an opening for the position beginning in March 2020. The New York Times reported that Trump’s national security advisor was pushing for Stewart to be nominated for the job.

January 4, 2021 — ‘I will not vote to certify the election’

One of Stewart’s first tweets of the new year declared he would not certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. “I believe there are critical questions that need to be answered,” he said.

Stewart was one of 147 Republican members of Congress who objected the certification of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes during the Congressional session on Jan. 6.

“I’m trying to think how many Republicans voted on Pennsylvania, not to sustain the electorals,” Stewart said. “I think it was nearly three-fourths of us. I mean the facts didn’t change because of the sad spectacle.”

January 6, 2021 — Inappropriate, especially from our commander in chief

Following violent demonstrations and the invasion of the United States Capitol by pro-Trump protesters and others, Stewart condemned the protests on Twitter and called Trump’s encouragement of the protests “inappropriate.”

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