Chris Stewart said he’s ‘best-qualified,’ but GOP leader skips over Utah congressman for top spot on intelligence committee
Stewart was among several House Republicans vying for the job
Utah Rep. Chris Stewart will not replace Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, despite telling Politico in early December that he was the “best qualified” politician for the role.
Instead, Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, will replace Nunes, who announced in September he was leaving Congress to run former President Donald Trump’s new social media company.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy made the announcement Thursday, calling Turner, who is the most senior Republican on the committee, “a national security leader and ardent supporter of truth.”
Stewart was among several House Republicans vying for the job, according to Politico. In December, the former Air Force pilot told the outlet: “Between my 14 years of military service and seven years on the committee, I strongly believe that I am best qualified for the position of ranking member.”
“I spent more time than anyone studying our enemies and the threats they pose. From China to the Ukraine, Africa to Afghanistan, I have seen firsthand the dangers we face,” he said in a statement.
Stewart is the third-most senior Republican on the committee, behind Reps. Turner and Brad Wenstrup, also from Ohio. Wenstrup told Politico that he was also interested in the position.
It’s not the first time in recent years that Stewart has been passed over for a high-ranking intelligence position.
He was a staunch supporter of Trump during his presidency, who was reportedly considering the Utah Republican to be his national security adviser. But when Trump learned of a 2016 video of Stewart dubbing the former president “our Mussolini,” it cost him the job.
The House Intelligence Committee is chaired by California Democrat Adam Schiff, and oversees the country’s intelligence agencies. It also led the high-profile investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, a process Trump has repeatedly dubbed a “witch hunt.”