Utah congressman says there’s no proof Trump colluded with Russian president

U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart speaks last October at Southern Utah University in this file photo. At the same venue Thursday, the Utah Republican told the audience that there is no evidence linking Donald Trump to Russia's apparent meddling in the 2016 presidential election. File photo | St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – While many in Washington may believe the U.S. president won favor with Moscow by colluding with the former Russian KGB, U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart still maintains “there is absolutely no evidence,” to prove that charge.

Speaking in front of a packed crowd at Southern Utah University Thursday, the Utah Republican addressed the ongoing accusations of collusion between President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump during the 2016 U.S. election.

“I’ve said, I’m not here to defend the president, we’re here to find the truth, but over the last of couple of months I’ve made the point that we’ve been looking at this for over a year and there is no evidence of collusion,” Stewart said.

The CIA, NSA and FBI reached the consensus in an intelligence report released in January, saying Putin ordered a cyberassault on the election with a “clear preference” for Trump.

Stewart, who has been a member of the House Intelligence Committee since 2015, said he has spent hours scrutinizing that report but does not agree with its assessment arguing Russia didn’t care who won the election.

He pointed to the erroneous reports released by the intelligence community prior to the Iraq War that concluded the country was harboring chemical weapons.

“I love the IC. They do incredible work,” Stewart said. “But once in a while they don’t get it right. And I’ll give you one more example, they told us there was weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and then we went in there and found out there weren’t. They do incredible work but they are not infallible.”

While he doesn’t doubt the Kremlin’s interference in the election, Stewart does not believe the Russians were responsible for the billionaire’s victory to the White House.

“There is no doubt they tried to meddle in our election, and they did it in various ways,” Stewart said. “But again, there is no evidence at all, zero, that they had access to the voting machines.”

The congressman said he remains unpersuaded that Russia’s intentions were to bolster Trump over his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton. Rather, he said, they thought she would win and wanted to “weaken her” in office.

Stewart touched on other intelligence issues, including the recent attempts by Kim Jong Un to intimidate the United States, assuring the group that the North Korean dictator “is not crazy” and “does not want to die.”

A former Air Force pilot for 14 years, Stewart criticized previous administrations for continuing to make idle threats through the years, allowing the country to build up its military weapons.

“There was a time (1990s) when we were planning and strategizing to stop him from developing nuclear weapons. That was our official policy,” Stewart said. “Were we successful? No, very clearly, we weren’t. We know he’s got a nuclear program. We know he’s got nuclear weapons. We know he’s got mobile weapons. So, we failed at that.

“Once failing at that, we said, we don’t let him build ICBMs capable of reaching the United States. Did we fail in that policy? Yes, we did – very clearly. That has been our stated policy for more than a dozen years now and we failed in that because he has developed missiles that are capable of reaching the United States.”

Stewart praised Trump for following through with the Syrian missile strike in April, adding that the action conveyed a message of strength to the world, specifically the 33-year-old Korean leader.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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20 Comments

  • Caveat_Emptor September 2, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Rep. Stewart is entitled to his opinion, just like every American.
    His “nothing to see here” storyline is getting tedious for those folks who are invested in Robert Mueller’s investigation.

    Intellectual honesty must not be important to Rep. Stewart’s base here in Utah. Perhaps he is angling for a position in this administration and needs to adopt the alternate facts strategy of Team Trump…….Sad.

    • ladybugavenger September 2, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Intellectual honesty is the most absurd wording used. It means absolutely nothing in the terms of the truth.

      • ladybugavenger September 2, 2017 at 10:25 am

        The liar of all lies can be said to be “intellectually honest.” The most delusional (hi theone) person can be called “intellectually honest” as long as the believe what they are saying. Absolutely a meaningless term.

        • Chris September 2, 2017 at 12:51 pm

          As usual, your comments are stupid. Intellectual honesty refers to an approach to a line of inquiry that is not clouded by preconceptions or biases. In other words, intellectual honesty is absolute objectivity. Puny intellects like yours are never honest.

          • theone September 2, 2017 at 2:56 pm

            Chris,

            Your comment it a perfect example of why intellectual honesty is subjective and not based in purity.
            You yourself tossed in your own personal belief lauded from preconception toward ladybug.
            Good job of proving her right.

        • theone September 2, 2017 at 1:15 pm

          Hi bug, I agree

        • bikeandfish September 2, 2017 at 2:56 pm

          That is misunderstanding of the meaning of the phrase. By definition, a liar is intellectually dishonest. The definition of liar is someone who lies which means “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive”. To lie implies intent and awareness of mistruth.

          Intellectual honesty is basically the willingness to follow the path of truth no matter one’s position or worldview. Its an adherence to the ideal that in research and conversation a person is not only willing to speak truth but also refuse to ignore or purposefully omit relevant ideas. Its avoiding deception in the face of opposing views especially when there is a benefit to winning.

          Someone who is unaware of or ignorant of information contrary to the ideas isn’t intellectually dishonest though.

          Intellectual dishonest is knowingly doing the opposite of the above definitions. It means using deception, omission and fallacies to obstruct truth when it doesn’t align with your personal worldview.

          We see intellectual dishonesty in the website comments all the time. It can be as simple as refusing to believe cited fact, ad hominem attacks to the intentional spreading of fake news. Intellectual dishonesty is running rampant the last decade and its made more powerful by social media and the internet.

          We still see intellectual honesty though. Retractions in newspapers. Politicians who change their stance when enough facts are presented. Etc. Its the day to day ideal we should strive for if we care about fact-based decision making and problem solving in society.

          • ladybugavenger September 2, 2017 at 4:25 pm

            And I suppose you know everyone’s intent too.

        • bikeandfish September 2, 2017 at 10:49 pm

          Nope, never claimed to know everyone’s intent. Never made statements about Stewart’s; only clarified why the term is important and valuable.

          You can see my points below on why I think representatives sticking to “innocent until proven guilty” is important. Until reports and analysis goes public its hard for citizens to judge the intellectual honesty of most parties involved.

          • ladybugavenger September 2, 2017 at 11:41 pm

            This is America- you’re guilty until proven innocent 🙂

  • theone September 2, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Saying there is no proof and providing the evidence that there is no proof, well you get it……………………….

    • bikeandfish September 2, 2017 at 3:09 pm

      Kind of. How do you prove a negative? In law, which this fundamentally is about, the negative hypothesis, innocence, is the accepted outcome until the positive hypothesis, guilt, is proven. Its the framework we all know and cherish judicially in this society. Its also true in statistics and emperical science, ie”fail to reject null hypothesis.”

      So the notion that Stewart must provide evidence that he must provide proof that there was no evidence of collusion isn’t a fair legal or social standard. In fact, until the intelligence agencies actually release documents and findings, we are legally bound to assume innocence. The leaks are currently hearsay even if they have often been proven true with time in past issues. If/when Mueller decides to proceed with charges he will have to present his evidence and then the public will know the truth. Or the truth could be there simply was no illegal collusion. Time will tell.

      • bikeandfish September 2, 2017 at 3:10 pm

        Ugh….

        *So the notion that Stewart must provide proof that there was no evidence of collusion

      • ladybugavenger September 3, 2017 at 7:35 am

        One would have to assume the government isn’t corrupt.
        I have seen for myself that the gov”t people lie, falsify documents, do cover ups, have midnight shredding of documents, and come after the people that tell the truth and speak up against it. (My husband worked for the gov’t) it’s an ugly truth.

        So facts and proof are irrelevant. It’s all an ugly game of lies and deceit.

        Perhaps that’s why so many fight against Trump. They don’t want it exposed.
        My vote for Trump did not come from Russia.

        • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 11:32 am

          Right now there is no evidence that anyone intentionally voted for Trump because of Russian state influence.

          We do have plenty of proof that internet bots based out of Russia manufactured a ton of fake news on social media in 2016. At least a thousand of these botnets are affiliated with Russian intelligence agencies and targeted swing States. This has been reported by bipartisan teams in Congress and through on the record FBI testimony. It’s fact:

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/russian-trolls-hilary-clinton-fake-news-election-democrat-mark-warner-intelligence-committee-a7657641.html

          The question is wether or not there was coordination within the Trump campaign. Currently there has been no proof released to the public but clearly Mueller is taking whatever crumbs he has seriously as the FBI continues to subpoena Trump associates. The fact that Trump family and associates have been found to work with Russia through meeting and even do so under the guise of finding information to harm Clinton’s campaign and that a business meeting with Russia was designed in a way that “will get Donald elected” is only adding steam to that engine.

          The government is capable of corruption but the allegations and FBI investigation in this case are largely unprecedented in modern American history. The public has no conclusive evidence that there was collusion by Trump’s campaign but its fair to conclude that the way falsehoods were strategically spread on the internet from bots that all of us were affected in some fashion. The way in which Americans consume and share political news is implicated in ways that should concern anyone who cares about election integrity. But instead the President wants to fabricate a war with #fakenews against real journalist doing an ethical job.

  • commonsense September 3, 2017 at 8:02 am

    Russia has been interfering in elections around the world for a decade. They probably influenced Obama’s win over Romney. There were voting districts in Philadelphia where Romney received zero votes. To me, this is stronger proof than anything on the Trump election.

    • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Undoubtedly, Russia is a foreign state that has continously tried to influence the US for its own benefit. But there is no proof or evidence beyond memes that there was Russian related voter fraud in Obama’s election win. And for now we can say the same for Trump.

      The rumor you are continuing to spread was covered, officially investigated and debunked. First, they weren’t districts but divisions within voting districts. They were relatively small, like 600 registered voters total. Out of a total of 1700 divisions in Philadelphia, only 59 registered zero votes for Romney. Those divisions were registered democrat 20 to 1, as often the case in coastal cities. Newspapers and officials tried to interview the few registered Republicans in the divisions and didn’t find any at addresses listed, ie moved, were actually democrats with misfiled party registration, etc. To make the matter even more clear, there is not a physical way to deduct a vote on the machines Philadelphia used. So either the voters didn’t exist or didn’t vote but there was no support for accusations of fraud or foreign intervention.

      Its a false equivalence and mistruth. Please fact check before posting such old internet rumors.

  • ladybugavenger September 3, 2017 at 9:23 am

    b&f every comment I read of yours is like reading a google search. Do you believe everything you read on the internet?
    I have no idea where you stand, you are all over the place writing a google search. I can read what the internet says about intellectual honesty but I’m telling you it’s 2 words put together to cover a lie. It’s meaningless when it comes to the truth.

    I certainly hope you get away from google search and share your worldly experiences so we can see where you stand.

    I know where bob and theone stand and 42214, real life, commonsense and even mesaman and Chris, but b&f you are just a google search. You’re standing on quicksand.

    Have a blessed day!

    • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 11:54 am

      I have told you were I stand, and its definitely not on quicksand. I don’t believe in spreading information before vetting it. Misinformation is a disease and our country is sick with it right now. Somewhere along the line we as a nation have been encouraged to focus on valuing personal opinion no matter how unsecure its foundations are. Our county is being harmed by citizens who chose this route and all the while told to blame our country’s failures on Congress, the President and the mainstream media. Anybody but ourselves.

      Intellectual honesty is a critical part of a democracy and the sciences. Its not defined by those who misuse it to attack opponents anymore than the Bible is at fault because bigots use it to justify white supremacy. Our founding fathers placed immense value on the critical role of knowledge and an educated populace because they knew intellectual honesty would protect citizens from themselves and demagogues.

      I get skepticism but that doesn’t mean weaponizing ourselves against the value of fact. Skepticism is a tool that protects us from intellectual dishonesty while seeking truth.

      I think you want me to step up and behave like most internet commentors. I won’t. I don’t hold allegiance to anyone party or ideology. I have never held allegiance to a president. And on the internet I think we have reached a tipping point with sharing extreme, partisan viewpoints that are hurting real people. I won’t participate in that way.

  • Redbud September 5, 2017 at 2:19 am

    Ladybug, I am so glad you said something because I have noticed that about bikeandfish also. On a previous article, he quoted some other article from Slate.com which is the website for Slate Magazine. It’s a haven for people who hate Trump, so people like bikeandfish are drawn in like a magnet, and ooh and ahh at all the false controversy this website tries to stir up. I will admit right off the bat that I voted for Trump, and no, he is not perfect. But our only other option was Hillary Clinton! I am not so closed-minded that I would never vote for a democrat. I would vote for one if I felt like they would be the best president for our country. The thing I have to laugh at most, is that Hillary is SO extremely butt-hurt that she lost, she just can’t let it go! There are a lot of other people who can’t let it go either. If you lose to a game of chess, basketball, poker, football, an election, whatever, then MAN UP and admit you LOST. Want to prove you are the better player? Dust yourself off, come back to the next fight better prepared, and win! Don’t cry like a spoiled brat, which is exactly what Hillary did. Her true colors really showed after she lost, and it makes me think we dodged a bullet with someone of her character. If Trump had lost the election, he would not whine and cry like a little B**** like Hillary did, he would have been a good sport about it! If Hillary thinks she is so great, then she needs to STOP whining, and BRING IT to the next election, and stop Trump from running again.

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