Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) on Thursday morning argued that President Donald Trump is right to question the intelligence community’s assessment that the Russian government tried to help Trump win the 2016 election.
During an appearance on CNN, host Alisyn Camerota asked Stewart to react to Trump’s argument in a Christian Broadcasting Network interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin likely wanted Hillary Clinton to win the election.
“I actually agree with him,” Stewart said.
Camerota tried to clarify Stewart’s response, asking if he believes Russia wanted Clinton to become President.
“No,” he replied, before moving on to argue that Trump made a good point that Clinton’s policies could have helped Putin.
“They have been dominating the previous administration in Crimea, they did it in Ukraine, they did it in Syria. The energy policy point is such an important point. The greatest sanction we could impose on Russia is cheap energy prices. Because as you know, it’s their most powerful and most successful export. It’s what they use to fund their government,” Stewart said. “I think those are fair points, that there’s lots of reasons why a Hillary presidency would have been more favorable to the Russians than a Trump presidency.”
Camerota noted that the intelligence community concluded that Russia tried to help Trump win the election.
Stewart said that he disagreed with the intelligence community’s analysis and noted that not all 17 intelligence agencies signed onto the assessment, peddling a favorite GOP talking point. None of the intelligence agencies dissented from the assessment, which Stewart acknowledged. However, he went on to try to discredit the U.S. intelligence agencies.
“The intel community is not perfect. They’ve missed meaningful events before,” the congressman said. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”
Asked if he agrees with the assessment that Russia meddled in the U.S. election, Stewart said that he does.
“The thing I disagree with is that there’s this clarity that they preferred one candidate over the other,” he said.
On Wednesday, Stewart offered some praise for Donald Trump Jr. after the President’s son released emails showing that he attended a meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer pitched as part of an effort by the Russian government to help the Trump campaign. Stewart said that Trump Jr. deserves “credit” for releasing the emails, though he said the revelation “raises questions.”