U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, admitted Friday he “took the scenic route” to becoming a supporter of President Donald Trump.
But after many conversations with the president and watching him fulfill campaign promises such as appointing a record number of federal judges and moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Lee said he’s boarded the Trump train. And he’s going to help drive it in Utah next year as Trump vies for another four years in the White House.
Utah’s senior senator announced Friday morning that he will co-chair Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign in Utah. He was speaking at an event headlined by Second Lady Karen Pence, who visited Utah to file the election paperwork to put Trump on Utah’s Republican primary ballot.
“President Trump has done exactly what he said he would do, and my hat goes off to him,” Lee told close to 50 Utah GOP donors and supporters.
Other Utah co-chairs of the Trump campaign include former Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart, state Senate President Stuart Adams and longtime Utah Trump supporters Don Peay and Ron Fox.
Lee told reporters he’s “quite confident” Trump will visit Utah to campaign next year, though there aren’t firm plans yet.
While he said he never called himself a “never-Trumper,” Lee called on Trump to withdraw from the presidential race after the “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced weeks before the election. He said he cast a “protest vote” for Evan McMullin in 2016.
Lee, who worked closely with the White House last year on the First Step Act, predicted that the president would “emerge stronger” from the House impeachment inquiry.
Trump hasn’t done anything criminal, impeachable, or even wrong, Lee said, adding that he hasn’t seen any evidence that would convince him to vote to remove the president if an impeachment trial happens in the Senate.
“The Democrats have overreached on this. I think he’s been treated unfairly in the House, and I think people throughout our state and in many other places across the country will see that,” Lee said. “People will be more sympathetic to him as a result.”