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Comment comparing Trump to Mussolini kept Rep. Chris Stewart from national intelligence job

File photo of Rep. Chris Stewart, photographed on Oct. 16, 2018. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred / Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — After being considered for the position of national intelligence director, Rep. Chris Stewart was not chosen by President Donald Trump — and some think it’s because of a comment he made four years ago.

A news article from Bloomberg reported Friday that Trump was closely considering nominating Stewart for the position, but didn’t after he watched a video clip of Stewart comparing Trump to Mussolini in 2016.

“As a Republican, I’m telling you, Donald Trump does not represent Republican ideals,” Stewart told University of Utah students at a Hinckley Institute of Politics forum in March 2016. “He’s our Mussolini.”

Dan Coats was the previous national intelligence director, resigning in August 2019. Joseph Maguire, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, filled in as the acting director but must step down next month because of current limits on how long-acting

Cabinet-level officials can serve.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Stewart was being considered for the position — especially after Stewart showed to be a supporter of the president during the impeachment trial.

However, Trump nominated Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, for the position instead.

On Twitter, Rep. Chris Stewart tweeted congratulations to Grenell, saying he has been a “fantastic ambassador and I am confident he will do a great job in his new role.”

A member of the Intelligence committee, Stewart was among the Republicans who challenged the conclusion about Russia’s support for Trump in a briefing done by Maguire — where officials warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 campaign.

“I’d challenge anyone to give me a real-world argument where Putin would rather have President Trump and not Bernie Sanders,” Stewart told the New York Times after the briefing, referring to the Democratic presidential front-runner.