Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York State is often described as a “moderate Republican” who hasn’t been afraid to part company with President Donald Trump at times. But journalists Alayna Treene and Stef W. Kight, in a November 20 article for Axios, assert that when it comes to impeachment, the congresswoman has become an aggressive Trump defender.
Stefanik, Treene and Kight note, has “built a reputation as a moderate” and “opposed President Trump on Vladimir Putin, women, tariffs, the travel ban and the border wall.” But the Axios reporters go on to say that Stefanik’s “fierce defense of Trump during the impeachment hearings — along with her attacks on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff — has made her a champion among the pro-Trump community.”
A GOP aide, quoted anonymously, told Axios that Stefanik “needs to be better aligned with (Trump) and the admin to stay on track. She did a good job of framing centrist for 2018 during a Democrat year — and now, the goal changes.”
Stefanik, however, denies that her defense of Trump during the impeachment inquiry is a strategic move. The congresswoman told Axios, “Impeachment is a constitutional matter, and this is an important precedent for future congresses.”
Stefanik went on to say, “we have an overwhelming amount of support in the district. The calls are three-to-one from constituents supporting, and I’m focused on the facts and the truth — and I work every day very hard for my district, and I think that’s why you see such large margins consistently.”
Another GOP aide working on impeachment compared Stefanik to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — not from a policy standpoint, but because she has often been described as a young rising star in her party. The aide, interviewed by Axios, said of Stefanik, “She’s an attractive young woman that can contrast perfectly against Adam Schiff. That’s what the Dems do with us: say we’re a party of old white guys, while they trot out AOC as the young face of the party.”
But Ocasio-Cortez found the comparison to Stefanik problematic, telling Axios, “the fact that they have to invoke me to define (Stefanik) tells you everything about that.”