Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said he wishes former President Donald Trump was still president at a town hall in Lehi on Wednesday.

An 80-year-old Lehi resident pressed Lee, a Republican, on whether he was prepared to defend his allegiance to Trump and willing to endorse him to be the next president.

“Why have you not denounced him publicly? Why have you not voted for his removal from office?” the resident asked.

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The crowd reacted with both applause and boos.

“Since Jan. 20th, 2021, the day Joe Biden took office, the average Utahn has been incurring $1,000 of additional monthly living expenses month after month,” said Lee.

“Do I wish Donald Trump was the president of the United States? Absolutely, without a question,” he said.

Lee added that he has not endorsed any presidential candidate for 2024, including Trump.

“As a U.S. Senator, I always have several colleagues running and so, I don’t typically make endorsements in presidential races until well into the presidential year in question,” he said.

“But I wish he were still president and if he gets elected president again, that’d be good for America,” Lee said. “America suffered enough under Joe Biden.”

Sen. Lee opposes the Restrict Act

Another attendee asked the senator for his thoughts on the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act, or RESTRICT Act, which seeks to address threats posed by technology from foreign adversaries, like TikTok.

Lee said he strongly opposed the bipartisan legislation for a number of reasons. He explained that TikTok scrapes the data of American users and said the fact that it is owned and operated by Chinese-owned company ByteDance is a problem.

But he said he doesn’t think the proposed bill will fix the problem. It also “sets a precedent that the government can just shut down a business that it doesn’t like.”

Lee talks about problems at the southern border

On the topic of the southern border, Lee called the upward trend of illegal immigration “unprecedented.”

“We’ve always struggled a bit. We’ve got a very long southern border, we’re talking a couple thousand miles roughly and it can be difficult to control,” he said. “We’ve had periods of time when there have been large waves of illegal immigration but nothing even close to what we’ve had in the last couple of years. ... we’re talking about millions of people who have poured in illegally.”

Those who cross the border this way are subjected to human rights abuses, Lee said.

“These global transnational criminal organizations, including and especially the Mexican drug cartels, have been very enterprising. These guys make a lot of money... and they’ve discovered they can supplement their income while facilitating their drug trafficking by introducing human trafficking into the mix,” he said.