Even as Trump’s reelection co-chair, Stefanik doesn’t say much about him. That may change

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, left, takes a tour Friday afternoon of Electro-Metrics Corp., a high-tech antenna and satellite company in Johnstown. At right is employee Bill Slocum. (Provided photo — Michael Anich, The Leader-Herald)

Though U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik is a chairwoman on President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign in New York, she is focusing more on her own campaign.

Interviewed over the phone Friday, the Republican from Schuylerville said she learned about her appointment — one of six in the state — last week from the Trump campaign, but she did not say anything about what her role in it will be and what accomplishments of Trump’s she will extol. She did not say much about Trump at all, focusing more on her work in Congress.

She may start talking about him more soon. Trump’s impeachment trial is underway in the Senate, and on Monday night the White House announced Stefanik is part of a “defense team” of eight Republican Congress members to “combat this hyper-partisan and baseless impeachment.” Others are Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Doug Collins of Georgia, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, John Ratcliffe of Texas and Lee Zeldin of Long Island.

“Honored to be named by @realDonaldTrump as a Member of the President’s Impeachment Defense Team,” Stefanik tweeted. “I am proud to stand up for the Constitution, my constituents and the American people’s vote.”

A press release from White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the members provided “guidance” to the White House while impeachment was being discussed in the House.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, right, takes a tour Friday afternoon of the Electro-Metrics Corp., a high-tech antenna and satellite company in Johnstown. At left is company President Paul Sikora showing off a text fixture part. (Provided photo — Michael Anich, The Leader-Herald)

Asked Friday what her responsibilities as a chairwoman for Trump’s reelection campaign are, Stefanik said, “My responsibilities are continuing to be an excellent congresswoman, as I have been since I’ve been sworn into office.”

She noted that Trump won her district — New York’s 21st — by 14 percentage points in 2016, and she is confident he will win it again.

“My focus is always 100% on my district,” Stefanik said. “President Trump is popular here. He’s delivered significant results.”

Stefanik has been one of Trump’s more tentative Republican supporters in Congress throughout most of his presidency. Whereas many other Republicans in Congress make supporting Trump a central part of their political identity, she has disagreed with him on occasion and said she’s not a fan of his tweeting style.

But in November when Trump’s impeachment trial reached the House Intelligence Committee, which Stefanik sits on, she played a pivotal role in defending him. She opposed Democrats’ efforts to bring charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress across multiple weeks of hearings. For that, Trump called her “A new Republican Star.” She appeared on Fox News several times to say Democrats’ case for impeachment was crumbling. She received millions of dollars in campaign donations as a result.

Asked if her thoughts on Trump have changed over the years, Stefanik said she voted for him in 2016. Now she is in charge of getting people to vote for him again.

Asked which of Trump’s results she had mentioned will be her focus as a chairwoman, she gave a list of her own priorities that have been accomplished.

These included the 2018 farm bill, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which gave troops their largest pay increase in years and was signed by Trump at Fort Drum in 2018, and the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which the Senate passed on Thursday and which is awaiting Trump’s signature.

As the co-chair of the House Northern Border Caucus, she said she was “integral” in passing the USMCA and “kept pressure on (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi” to bring it to the floor.

Stefanik said her Democratic challenger in 2020, Tedra Cobb, is “vehemently anti-Trump.”

Cobb could not be reached in time for comment on this article.


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