Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers could lose his Republican primary for an open Senate seat this week, after testifying before the Jan. 6 committee about former President Donald Trump’s lobbying campaign and his associates to overturn the results of the presidential election in the state.
Bowers has drawn the ire of the Arizona GOP, which censored him earlier this month, and former President Trump. But he makes no apologies for his congressional testimony and his decision not to overturn the Arizona results.
“If we’re going to build a party and an authority and get people to solve problems, you can’t base it on a lie. Ultimately it falls apart,” he told the co-presenter of “This Week”, Jonathan Karl, in an exclusive interview. at his home in Mesa, Arizona.
Bowers takes on Trump-endorsed nominee David Fansworth in an Aug. 2 primary that makes Bowers the first Republican to face voters after testifying before the Jan. 6 committee.
“I’ve had people stand up and say, you know, just cold turkey, ‘I’m ashamed of you,'” he told Karl.
Bowers says he was also called a “traitor” and told that “the price of treason hangs.”
In his June testimony, Bowers detailed several conversations with former President Trump and his personal attorney at the time, Rudy Giuliani, asking him to replace Arizona voters with those who would say Trump won the election of 2020.
Biden won Arizona in 2020 by nearly 11,000 votes.
“Have you ever considered accepting it?” Karl asked Bowers.
“I said, this is new to me. The idea of rejecting the election of the president is like, okay, so what part of Jupiter can I land on and colonize?” said Bower.
Giuliani “never” provided evidence to support claims that thousands of dead people voted in Arizona, Bowers said.
“You asked [Giuliani] for proof of fraud? Karl asked.
“Over and over again, and he said, ‘yes, yes.’ And he never gave us anything. No names, no data, nothing.”
Bowers, whose tenure is limited to the State House, has previously said it would take a “miracle” for him to win his bid for the state Senate. He told Karl “my race demographics are heavily Trump.”
In an unusual move for a run for state legislature, former President Trump campaigned against Bowers in Arizona.
“Rusty Bowers, he’s a RINO [‘Republican in name only’] coward who participated against the Republican Party in the totally partisan commission of thugs and political hacks the other day, and disgraced himself, and he disgraced the State of Arizona,” he told a crowd in Prescott Valley, Arizona on July 22.
In response, Bowers told Karl: “I’ve sometimes thought that someone born the way they were, raised the way they were – they have no idea what a hard life is and what people have to cross into the real world. He has no idea what courage is, and the last place on Earth I would want to do evil would be the state of Arizona.”
A fifth-generation Arizonan, Bowers served in public office for 17 years. Bowers, like other Republicans who broke with the former president, has been harassed and threatened.
“How do you explain the hold he has, however, on Republicans, including a lot of Republican leaders here in Arizona?” Karl asked Bowers.
“Well, these rulers in Arizona are an interesting bunch on their own. They rule through brutality and intimidation,” Bower said. “So, you know, they’ve found a niche, they’ve found a way, and that’s fear. And people can use fear, demagogues like to use fear as a weapon. And they weaponize everything. That’s not is not leadership for me to use violence.”
After his testimony, Bowers was criticized for telling a reporter he would vote for Pres. Trump in 2024. He told Karl that was absolutely not the case.
“So just to clarify, you don’t support Trump anymore?” Carl asked.
“I’m not,” Bowers said. “My vote will never tarnish his name on a ballot.”
“You will never vote for Donald Trump again? Karl reiterated.
“I will never vote for him,” Bowers replied. “But I won’t have to, because I think America is tired. And there are absolutely energetic, qualified, morally, defensible and upright people. And that’s what I want. That’s is what I want in my party. And that’s what I want to see.”
When asked if former President Trump could be trusted again in a position of authority, Bowers said: “I certainly hope not. I certainly don’t trust this authority that ‘he would exercise.’
Bowers echoed comments made by the House Committee’s Jan. 6 deputy chair, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump after the Capitol riot.
“Liz also said that ‘the reality we face today as Republicans is that we have to choose whether to be loyal to Donald Trump or to be loyal to the Constitution’. And you can’t be the two,” Karl said.
“I see no question in that. No question. The Constitution was designed to last and be the light of freedom for the whole world. It’s not a legacy that I would want to play with,” Bowers said.
Bowers also told Karl he had not been contacted by the Justice Department, which is conducting its own investigation into the Capitol attack, but would cooperate if asked to do so.
“I have nothing to hide and I want to tell the truth,” he said.
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