During an appearance Wednesday on Newsmax TV's The Steve Malzberg Show, U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was confronted by the show's host about his apparent reluctance to endorse Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting Donald Trump.
Lee appeared on the program to promote his new book, Our Lost Constitution, when the host quickly changed gears to ask why Lee wasn't "out there ... trumpeting Trump." The senator said he understood that Malzberg wanted him to endorse the GOP's likely nominee, but he had very clear reasons to withhold that endorsement.
"I mean we can get into the fact that he accused my best friend's father of conspiring to kill JFK," he said. "We can go through the fact that he has made some statements that some have identified correctly as religious intolerance. We can get into the fact that he is so unpopular because my state consists of members who were a religious minority church—a people who were ordered exterminated by the governor of Missouri in 1839 and statements like that make them nervous."
Lee said those were all issues he could "get over," if Trump were to "say all the right things." He said he hoped he could get over those "concerns," but he then blasted Malzberg for telling him he had no reason to be concerned about Trump.
Malzberg countered forcefully, as well, saying he wasn't telling Lee anything, but that from his own perspective the concerns with Democratic presidential nominee-in-waiting Hillary Clinton "dwarf most, if not all" concerns with Trump. He then offered his own list of reasons.
"She is under FBI investigation, takes money from countries that kill gays, that treat woman like garbage," he said. "We know about the email scandal. I mean the list goes on. The Clinton Foundation, the conflict of interest—I mean the corruption, the lifelong corruption—I mean it goes on and on and on."
Lee acknowledged part of his reluctance to endorse Trump is based on the attacks on U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), with whom he has a very public friendship, during the Republican presidential primary. He also said there is a means by which Trump can still win his support, as well as the support of other conservatives who are still holding out.
"I would like some assurances on where he stands," he said. "I would like some assurances that he is going to be a vigorous defender of the U.S. Constitution. That he is not going to be an autocrat. That he is not going to be an authoritarian. That he is not somebody who is going to abuse a document that I have sworn an oath to uphold and protect and defend.
"I am sorry sir, but that is not an unreasonable demand."
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