During an interview with MSNBC’s Katy Tur on Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee member Chris Stewart (R-UT) was asked if he’s concerned about President Trump’s ongoing efforts to purge the Department of Justice of officials who won’t do his bidding and undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of his campaign.
“President Trump wanted to fire Director Comey and he wanted him gone after he refused to drop the Russia investigation,” she said. “He said it was about Russia with NBC’s Lester Holt. Comey was fired. President Trump railed against Andrew McCabe on Twitter and repeatedly insulted him and his wife even. McCabe is stepping aside. President Trump has repeatedly called out Rod Rosenstein. Now this memo which many are saying is basically Devin Nunes’ version of events supposedly shows Rosenstein in a bad light. How do you not see this as a deliberate purge of everybody who the president doesn’t like or who could threaten the president in a Russia investigation?”
Stewart dismissed the question with a bizarre reference to Tur’s gender.
“Katy, I know you and I see the world differently, and this is one of those cases where we’re just, you know, men are from Mars and women are from Venus,” he said.
But as Tur pointed out, the question has nothing to do with worldviews.
“I’m sorry, hold on, you think we see the world differently?” Tur said. “I just laid out a number of facts.”
Stewart, however, had no interest in engaging with Tur’s question on the merits.
“Look, people can say — look at things and claim facts or claim their interpretation of facts, but they clearly have different views on that,” he said.
Without a hint of irony, Stewart went on to suggest that any suggestion Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe resigned because of Trump’s public attacks on his integrity is “silly,” because “the FBI is independent.”
Stewart may claim to be motivated by concerns about possible FBI misconduct, but he’s repeatedly downplayed Trump’s Russia ties and the president’s attempts to meddle in law enforcement institutions.
During an appearance on CNN earlier this month, Stewart said the string of meetings between Trump officials and Russian agents during the campaign didn’t concern him, because “U.S. citizens meet with Russians every day. That doesn’t mean they’re conspiring!”
During another CNN interview days earlier, Stewart decried Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, and said he thinks it might be time for him to resign.
“We need a director there who can take the reigns and be assertive in that,” he said. “He can’t do that once he’s recused.”
With regard to Sessions false sworn testimony about his meeting with the Russian ambassador, Stewart said he believes “he simply forgot about it.”
In November, Stewart told CNN he wasn’t particularly concerned about revelations that Donald Trump Jr. exchanged direct messages with WikiLeaks during the election.
“I just don’t think that taken in its totality it leads to criminal behavior,” he said.