This week for the first time in his life, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, consumed an energy drink.
He needed it. A 2 a.m. alarm woke him early Tuesday morning to catch a flight from Washington, D.C. to get to the Utah State Capitol in time to regale the Senate with, among other tidbits, an analogy comparing President Donald Trump to Rodney Dangerfield’s schlubby, offensive, decorum-bucking character in the 1980 classic golf comedy Caddyshack.
“Halfway up the swing, he stops and tweets something out; halfway down the swing, he throws a toy out and the press goes running over there to look at the toy,” Stewart said. “Then he swings—and it’s just as ugly as anything you’ve seen—but the ball goes down the middle of the fairway. And the goals that he’s trying to achieve, sometimes the ball’s gone a long way down the fairway.”
In essence, Trump’s off-putting antics are overshadowed, in Stewart’s mind, by his policy results. The congressman’s approval shows in his voting record, too. Analytics website FiveThirtyEight gives Stewart a 93.4 percent Trump Score, meaning he almost always sides with the president’s positions.
Stewart took a few moments in the Utah Senate Chamber to tee up examples of Trump’s successes: sitting Justice Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court, regulatory reform and tax reform.
But Stewart has insight that others don’t as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, where he’s been able to learn about Russian meddling with our elections. But there are two ways to think about the Russian scandal, and he outlined both angles: one alleges collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. Quickly, Stewart dismissed that one. “You don’t hear that anymore from either side of the aisle because the reality is that there just simply isn’t any evidence of it,” he said.
(Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team keeps plugging away; the latest news revealed that investigators interviewed Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week.)
Much more concerning to Stewart are the details that revolve around a leaked dossier—though he is less bothered by the content of the document than its existence.
“You had the other candidate, Hillary Clinton and the [Democratic National Committee], who paid Fusion GPS, who used a foreign agent, who certainly worked—in my opinion, this isn’t verified yet, but in my knowledgeable opinion—who almost certainly had contact with Russian agents, who wrote a dossier that there is nothing in it that is true.”
Stewart then accused unnamed, senior members of the FBI, CIA and Department of Justice of acting as “political operatives.”
“We cannot allow that to go unanswered if that was true. You can’t allow that to go unanswered if you care about freedom and the future of this country,” he said, with what seemed like an extra oomph of energy.