In the not-too-distant past, Rep. Elise Stefanik was a relative moderate in her party. As regular readers may recall, the New York Republican, as recently as 2016, was reluctant to even say Donald Trump’s name out loud for fear that voters might see her as an ally to the former president. It was around this time when the congresswoman encouraged voters to see her as one of Congress’ “most bipartisan” members.
For the first half of Trump’s term, Stefanik voted against some key elements of the Republican White House’s agenda, including the party’s 2017 tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations. She was the kind of GOP member Trump generally dismisses as a “RINO.”
Stefanik soon after concluded, however, that to get ahead in GOP politics, she would need to put her principles aside and start embracing partisan nonsense. By 2020, the congresswoman had adopted an entirely new persona as a hard-liner and Trump loyalist, and after the 2020 race, Stefanik joined with radicals and urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn election results she didn’t like. Weeks later, she also voted against certifying election results.
We continue to see mounting evidence that the previous iteration of the New York Republican is gone. NBC News reported:
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., on Sunday wouldn’t commit to certifying the 2024 election results during an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” … When asked if she stood by the comments that she made on the House floor calling Jan. 6 a “truly tragic day for America,” Stefanik said, “I have concerns about the treatment of Jan. 6 hostages.”
Yes, she really did refer to accused Jan. 6 rioters as “hostages.”
When she wasn’t refusing to commit to certifying the 2024 election results and echoing Trump’s ridiculous Jan. 6 rhetoric, Stefanik also balked at criticizing Trump for echoing Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric.
It was difficult not to get the impression that the GOP congresswoman was auditioning to be Trump’s running mate. Indeed, watching Stefanik in recent months, it’s increasingly easy to believe that Stefanik is going out of her way to try to impress a certain former president.
Over the summer, she responded to Trump’s classified documents scandal by criticizing the National Archives. Around the same time, Stefanik helped launch an effort to “expunge“ Trump’s impeachments. A month later, she joined the partisan crusade against federal law enforcement.
In the fall, she filed an ethics complaint against the judge overseeing Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York. The same week, Stefanik pressed the Justice Department to prosecute Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer who has since become a fierce critic of the former president.
Over the winter, the House Republican Conference chair has pulled her support for a congressional candidate in Ohio who mildly criticized Trump, helped lead a crusade against university presidents, and appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where she refused to say she’d certify the 2024 election results, called suspected Jan. 6 rioters “hostages,” and shrugged off Trump echoing Hitler.
No one should want to be vice president this badly.
This post revises our related earlier coverage.
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