No one is talking about Russian collusion with the Donald Trump campaign anymore, says Utah’s only member of the House Intelligence Committee.
“We are unraveling or peeling back an onion there that is extraordinarily concerning to me,” Stewart, Utah’s only member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday on the Utah Senate floor. “When it comes to the politicalization of agencies like the FBI, the Department of Justice and frankly, in my opinion, worst of all, the CIA, where they’ve been turned into political operatives.
“Obviously, there are dedicated public servants that work there,” he added. “But a few individuals in very senior positions. We cannot allow that to go unanswered if that is true.”
“You don’t hear [collusion] anymore from either side of the aisle because the reality is there just simply isn’t evidence on it,” he said.
There is, however, an ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling led by special counsel Robert Mueller III, whose team interviewed Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week, according to press reports that were confirmed by the Department of Justice. Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, also was subpoenaed, The New York Times reported last week.
Praising President Trump’s achievements in his first year in office, Stewart began his speech by comparing the president to Rodney Dangerfield, the comedian who starred as the golfer with an unorthodox swing and loud behavior in the movie “Caddyshack.”
“Halfway up the swing he stops and he tweets something out,” Stewart said of Trump, who is an avid golfer. “Halfway down the swing he throws a toy out and the press goes running over there to look at the toy and then he swings, and it’s just as ugly as anything you’ve seen, but the ball goes down the middle of the fairway.
Stewart — who during the 2016 campaign called Trump “our Mussolini” — told the House Republican Caucus he now has become a “huge convert” to the president.
“He has really won my respect,” he added. “He has had an incredibly effective first year” despite “all the distractions, and all the diversions and all the media polls.”
He added, “It’s surprising to me that he has a 44 or 46 percent approval rating” while in the news media, “90 percent of the coverage is negative” that offers a “continuous beat-down.”
Stewart added that he keeps a list of where the news media “doesn’t just get it wrong, they actually deceive, actively lie.”
Reporter Lee Davidson contributed to this report.