Utah Congressman Chris Stewart applauded the White House for expelling 60 Russian diplomats from the U.S. and urged the Trump administration to keep up pressure on the country, along with China and North Korea.
Stewart hosted a national security summit in Salt Lake City Monday, featuring fellow Republicans Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy, both of South Carolina.
The three congressmen fretted about the widening political divide in the U.S, worrying it makes America vulnerable.
“The conflict in our society, in my opinion, is a real national security risk” Sen. Scott said.
“I don’t believe any nation could destroy this country, but they could assist us as we commit suicide,” Stewart added. “That’s almost what we’re watching here, is they will help us as we divide and tear ourselves asunder.”
The two Republicans from South Carolina said it’s too early to judge President Trump’s performance on national security and foreign relations. But Stewart said he’d like to see Trump continue to apply pressure on the leaders of China, North Korea and Russia.
In an interview with KUER during the conference, Stewart said Russia’s use of a chemical weapon on a former U.K. spy is serious.
“That tears up the playbook on international relations,” he said. “That’s not something we’ve seen even in the Cold War. The administration needs to send a message to Russia that we know that they did this and that it’s entirely unacceptable.”
Stewart is also on the House Intelligence Committee, which called off its own investigation into Russian interference in U.S. elections earlier this month.
Coordinated sanctions against Russia won’t repair fragile relations with the country, Stewart said. “But do I think we’re going to be at war by Thursday? I really don’t,” he added.
“It’s [Russia’s] philosophy. It’s their approach to government, how they treat their people, and how they integrate with the rest of the world community that I think is … the primary threat.”
Earlier this month, Stewart said Russia did try to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, but said there was no evidence of collusion with the Trump campaign.