ST. GEORGE — Speculation that Utah’s Chris Stewart may be tapped as the next director of national intelligence may have been put to rest over social media by the Republican congressman Saturday. Media reports also said President Donald Trump dumped Stewart as a potential nominee when he learned about a comment Stewart made in 2016 comparing him to World War II Axis dictator Benito Mussolini.
It was reported by news media last week that Stewart was being considered for the job of national intelligence director. He is currently a member of the House Intelligence Committee and has also been a staunch defender of Trump since his election. He has also been very vocal in challenging claims that the president colluded with Russia during the 2016 election cycle.
Addressing speculation over the possible nomination, Stewart posted over social media that he was staying put.
“Though I’m honored by much of the speculation regarding the Director of National Intelligence position, I am committed to serving Utah, and my country, through my work in the House,” Stewart said. “I look forward to continuing the vital work on the Intelligence, Appropriations, and Budget committees and working with the President to keep our nation safe and our economy booming.”
Stewart’s response is in keeping with responses to previous speculation that Trump was considering nominating him for the Secretary of the Air Force position in 2016 and 2019. Both times, Stewart said he was dedicated to his congressional role and serving the people of his district.
However, according to a Bloomberg article published Friday, Trump was supposedly close to nominating Stewart. That possibility was dropped when Trump learned about Stewart’s 2016 comments made while visiting the University of Utah in March 2016 comparing him to Mussolini.
“As a Republican, I’m telling you, Donald Trump does not represent Republican ideals,” Stewart said. “He’s our Mussolini.”
While speaking with St. George News in October 2016 after Trump had been made the Republican presidential nominee, Stewart said that even while he was disappointed by aspects of Trump’s behavior, he was still the Republican nominee at the end of the day and a better choice for president than Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Because of this, the Utah congressman said he would vote for Trump despite previous statements to the contrary.
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