Queen of Spades: Elise Stefanik, Trump’s Top Pick for VP?




“I don’t even know if she believes the Big Lie. But she is absolutely responsible for propagating a lie that will undermine our democracy.”

– Margaret Hoover, a center-right commentator who worked with Stefanik at the Bush White House and now hosts PBS’s Firing Line.

Stefanik says she ‘would not have done what Mike Pence did’ on Jan. 6.

Steve Bannon, the far-right activist and alleged fraudster, who was Trump’s campaign chair and White House strategist and remains a close ally, told NBC Stefanik was “at the top” of the running-mate race.



By Ron Filipkowski

Feb. 28, 2024

Daily Beast


Stefanik says she ‘would not have done what Mike Pence did’ on Jan. 6



House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said that she would not have allowed 2020 election results to be certified on Jan. 6, 2021, had she been in former Vice President Mike Pence’s position.

“I would not have done what Mike Pence did. I don’t think that was the right approach,” Stefanik said Thursday evening on CNN. “I specifically stand by what I said on the House floor.’

Stefanik, widely seen as a top contender to be former President Trump’s vice presidential pick in 2024, voted against certifying election results in Pennsylvania on Jan. 6 after rioters breached the Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the election.

Stefanik did, however, vote to certify election results in Arizona, the only other state to be contested in Congress that day.

“There was unconstitutional overreach in states like Pennsylvania, and I think it’s very important that we continue to stand up for the Constitution and have legal and secure elections, which we did not have in 2020,” Stefanik said.

Speaking on the House floor in 2021, Stefanik had referenced a 2020 Pennsylvania court case that said mail-in ballots could not be rejected because of comparisons on signatures, which infuriated Trump allies.

CNN host Kaitlan Collins pushed back with a reference to a different case, saying the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had rejected another Republican-led case that challenged mail-in voting itself as unconstitutional — a mail-in voting law that was approved under a Republican-controlled state legislature.

“It was unconstitutional when there was circumventing state legislatures, unilaterally changing election law,” Stefanik said.

Trump had urged Pence to try to use his position as president of the Senate, presiding over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, to simply not count election results from certain states that had voted for Biden and reverse the ultimate outcome of the election.

Pence declined to do so, writing in a statement that day: “My considered judgment is that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”


Trump reportedly said Elise Stefanik ‘a killer’ amid running mate speculation

The New York congresswoman ‘at the top’ of the race, Trump’s close ally Steve Bannon told news outlet



The New York congresswoman Elise Stefanik is “a killer”, Donald Trump reportedly said, amid a flurry of speculation around who might be his presidential running mate for 2024, after his crushing victory in the Iowa caucuses.

Citing eight unnamed sources, NBC News said Trump discussed his options for a potential vice-president in Florida late last month.

Stefanik, a Harvard-educated 39-year-old former moderate who has risen in House leadership while aggressively supporting Trump, had just grilled leaders of Ivy League universities over alleged antisemitism on campus, a hearing that preceded the resignations of two of those college presidents.

“She’s a killer,” Trump reportedly said.

Steve Bannon, the far-right activist and alleged fraudster who was Trump’s campaign chair and White House strategist and remains a close ally, told NBC Stefanik was “at the top” of the running-mate race.

A “Republican campaign operative” said: “If you’re Trump, you want someone who’s loyal above all else. Particularly because he sees Mike Pence as having made a fatal sin.”

Pence was Trump’s vice-president, unswervingly loyal until he refused to block certification of election results in key states. On 6 January 2021, the former Indiana governor was forced to flee from a mob Trump sent to the Capitol, some chanting that Pence should be hanged.

Witnesses to the House January 6 committee said Trump told an aide Pence “deserved” that fate.

Stefanik is now campaigning with Trump in New Hampshire, ahead of its primary on Tuesday.

Trump faces 91 criminal charges (for election subversion, retention of classified information and hush-money payments), attempts to keep him off the ballot for inciting an insurrection, and civil lawsuits over his businesses and a rape allegation a judge called “substantially true”.

[Boldface added]


GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik won’t commit to voting to certify 2024 election results


In an interview Sunday, one day after the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik — a prominent member of House GOP leadership  — would not commit to voting to certify the 2024 election.

Stefanik, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump who has been oft speculated as a possible running mate for the former president, joined over 140 of her Republican congressional colleagues to vote against certifying the 2020 presidential election results in at least one state even after the violent Capitol riot spurred by unfounded election fraud claims by Trump and his allies. The investigation into the attack has resulted in over 1,200 individuals charged with crimes and over 800 guilty pleas or convictions, including over 150 guilty of assaulting, resisting, impeding and/or obstructing officers and some convicted of sedition against the U.S. government.

“We will see if this is a legal and valid election. What we’re seeing so far is that Democrats are so desperate they’re trying to remove President Trump from the ballot that is the suppression of the American people,” Stefanik said Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” citing constitutional challenges to Trump’s place on the ballot in some states and the criminal prosecutions of the 2024 GOP frontrunner as evidence of a coordinated effort to keep him from the White House.

[Boldface added]


What Stefanik should’ve said

I read in the Nov. 16 Adirondack Daily Enterprise that U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21) endorsed Donald Trump for president in 2024. Instead of endorsing Trump, this is the speech that Rep. Stefanik should have delivered:
“I, Representative Elise Stefanik, will not support Donald Trump’s candidacy for President in 2024. In addition, I am announcing my Agenda for America’s Renewal.“Donald Trump is unfit for any elective office or other position involving the public trust. In 2016 he was unfit based on his boasting about sexual assaults and his insulting of the war hero, Senator John McCain. During his presidency, his lies, his malignant ego, his cozy relationship with the murderous Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his attempted insurrection made him even more unfit.
“Since leaving the White House, Trump’s rhetoric has spiraled downward into profanity, insults, threats, crazy policy proposals, and autocratic aspirations.“I was wrong to oppose Trump’s two impeachments, which I now consider to be among the most-important accomplishments in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. Trump may soon be a convicted felon.“Not only is the Republican Party morally bankrupt for having supported Trump, we’ve become intellectually bankrupt — with no guiding principles, goals, or public policy agenda. Congressional Republicans have devolved into little more than tools of Trump’s whims and urges, responding reflexively to each of his deranged social media posts and triggering government shutdowns.
“The Republican Party must begin a reformation, so that we can again offer something to voters beyond obstruction and resentment. We must undertake an Agenda for America’s Renewal, beginning with the following components:–The Republican Party must reject Trump, Trumpism, election deniers, insurrectionists, racists, anti-Semites, misogynists, anti-LGBTQ, and other haters. On a related point, Republicans must stop vilifying immigrants. Our immigration laws and processes need to be updated, but in a manner that reflects appreciation for the many ways immigrants contribute to the American economy and enhance our culture.— Reproductive medical decisions should involve a woman and her physician, and perhaps her partner or religious advisor, but not her congressman.— Climate change is real, and it is deadly. Republicans must support efforts to wean ourselves from fossil fuel by supporting renewable energy, energy-efficient buildings and transportation, and a carbon tax.— Guns are not the solution to crime; guns are the problem. We have far, far too many deaths from guns, and too many of the wrong kinds of guns in the wrong hands. Republicans must support reasonable gun control measures, including gun buy-back programs, banning high-capacity gun magazines, limiting access to certain types of guns, and keeping guns out of the hands of violent people.

— Federal budget deficits are a problem, but Republican calls to slash spending and attack “waste, fraud, and abuse” represent laughably inadequate responses. I point to the excellent Adirondack Daily Enterprise commentary, “Fixing the deficit, billions at a time,” by Tony Goodwin, as a beginning roadmap for addressing this problem.

— On a related point, Republicans must stop pointing to markets and deregulation as solutions for every public policy challenge, because markets are incapable of addressing many of our needs. Public education, roads and other public infrastructure, protecting our environment and our borders, preventing crime, foreign affairs, safe food and drugs–a robust role for government is essential to these and many other aspects of a civilized society. Republicans must stop denigrating government and trying to slash it, and instead work with Democrats to help make it work better.

— Republicans must also start working with Democrats on other pressing public policy concerns, as well as our shared Constitutional responsibilities, because Republicans do not hold a monopoly on virtue or reason. Our differences in policy preferences can and must be negotiated. Our policy dialogues should be based on reason, evidence, and public policy options, not name-calling and threats of fist-fights.

— Dark money has corrupted American politics. Political campaigns are heavily financed by dark entities who do not reveal their identity or intentions, and campaign finance limits and disclosure requirements must be restored.

— Gerrymandering, or corrupt drawing of legislative districts at the state and federal level, has corrupted federal and state government. We must reform the drawing of legislative districts so that elected representatives are collectively representative of those they serve. Republicans must also stop discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting, otherwise known as voter-suppression.

— Parts of our Federal Judiciary have been corrupted by politics and dark money influences. Term limits must be implemented for the Supreme Court, along with strict ethical rules.

“A healthy American political party does not attempt an insurrection, and decisive steps need to be taken so that the Republican Party can again contribute to America. Donald Trump must have no future role in government, but other pressing problems must also be addressed. We are all threatened by Trumpism, infringement on reproductive rights, climate change, guns, overt efforts to hobble or destroy government programs people rely on, Congressional dysfunction, money and dark influence in politics, unequal representation in government, and a corrupted federal judiciary. I offer my Agenda for America’s Renewal as a constructive path forward for the Republican Party and our nation.

“Democracy is under assault around the world, often because people see government as corrupted and self-serving. We must offer an example of ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ that motivates, liberates, empowers, and enables people to again contribute for the betterment of all Americans. I urge you to join me in this effort.

“Thank you, and God Bless America.”

Again, this is the speech Rep. Elise Stefanik should have delivered, so that she would be respected and admired by future generations as a leader of America’s renewal, instead of being shamed in history as a major contributor to the potential downfall of this great nation.

The choice is hers — and that of voters in NY-21.

[Boldface added]

— — —

David Banks is a current resident of Rockville, Maryland and former resident of Lake Clear.


GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik files ethics complaint against Trump NY fraud trial judge

  • House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik has filed a complaint calling for the removal of the judge presiding over the $250 million business fraud trial of former President Donald Trump.
  • Stefanik claimed that Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron has shown “clear judicial bias” against Trump.
  • Engoron is presiding over New York Attorney General Letitia James’ case accusing Trump, his two adult sons and others of fraudulently inflating their asset values for various financial benefits.

The letter from Stefanik, who is not a lawyer and has no relation to the case, could also be meant to support Trump’s argument if he appeals any of Engoron’s eventual rulings.

It comes after a week of testimony in the trial by members of the Trump family that some legal experts say did little to help their case.

The case will settle claims brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who accuses Trump, his two adult sons, his company and some of its top executives of fraudulently inflating the values of Trump’s assets to boost his net worth and rake in financial benefits.

Engoron will deliver verdicts in the no-jury trial, because neither side requested one.

[Boldface added]


Washington, D.C.- House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik formally nominated Speaker-Designate Jim Jordan (R-OH) as the next Speaker of the House. Stefanik cited how Jordan will be America’s Speaker “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14) and lead House Republicans in delivering results for the American people.

Watch her full remarks here.


“Mr. Speaker Pro Tempore, Madam Clerk, colleagues, on behalf of the House Republican Conference, I rise today to nominate the gentleman from Ohio, Jim Jordan, as Speaker of the People’s House.

As this body convenes for the sacred responsibility to elect the next Speaker of the People’s House, I am reminded of The Book of Esther: ‘for such a time as this.’ Jim Jordan will be America’s Speaker ‘for such a time as this.’

Whether on the wrestling mat or in the committee room, Jim Jordan is strategic, scrappy, tough, and principled. He is a mentor, a worker, and above all – he is a fighter. And the American people know, we know, that Jim Jordan is a winner on behalf of the American people.


The ‘Handmaiden of Trump’: How Elise Stefanik Went From Moderate to MAGA




When Elise Stefanik was elected to the House of Representatives in 2014, she was hailed as the fresh face of the new GOP. Stefanik had run for office in her 20s, determined to modernize the Republican Party to attract more women and appeal to her fellow millennials. In her victory speech, she praised her opponents for their good-faith participation in the miracle of American democracy. “No matter their party, our democratic process is strengthened by those individuals willing to put forth their ideas,” she said on the night she became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Today Stefanik is still a politician on the rise, but for very different reasons. As soon as next week, she is widely expected to ascend to the position of House GOP conference chair, which would make her the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress. And she will have gotten there by lashing herself to a cause that undermines the same democratic process she once hoped to strengthen.

The opening for Stefanik to become the No. 3 House Republican has been created by the anticipated ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney, who has lost the support of her colleagues for insisting the party stop parroting President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Rejecting Trump’s fictions about a stolen election is enough to make Cheney, a rock-ribbed conservative and daughter of a former vice president, an outcast in today’s GOP.

“Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair,” Trump said in a statement. To replace Cheney with Stefanik would send a powerful signal: that anyone who refuses to carry water for Trump’s conspiracy theories cannot carry the Republican mantle.

But Elise Stefanik is no Matt Gaetz or Marjorie Taylor Greene. She was not always a MAGA warrior. Not long ago, she was a widely respected moderate Republican known for her embrace of facts, her trust in science and her push to build a more diverse party, highlighted by her successful efforts to recruit more GOP women to run for office.

She was a prominent member of the moderate Tuesday Group, a caucus of center-right Republicans. And she was widely credited for a bipartisan spirit—”every Democrat’s favorite Republican,” as one former aide to GOP leadership puts it now.

Yet over the last five years, Trump has redefined the GOP. Today the party primarily judges its representatives not by any particular policy positions but by their allegiance to a defeated President and an embrace of his conspiracy theories. Stefanik has adapted. It’s a calculation that has made her a fundraising star and a party leader-in-waiting. It’s also dismayed many Republicans who have worked with and admired her in the past.

“To be a handmaiden of Trump and get a little pat on the head from Trump is not a leadership move,” says former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), who worked closely with Stefanik and helped organize a small, bipartisan shower in her honor ahead of her 2017 wedding. “It’s embarrassing. It’s sad.” [Boldface added]

So how did Elise Stefanik go from praising the democratic process to standing on the House floor in the aftermath of the Capitol riot and voting to object to the Electoral College results? How did she go from saying that one particular Republican candidate was “disqualifying themselves with untruthful statements” in 2015 to feeding vague conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden on Steve Bannon’s podcast in 2021? Her evolution mirrors the transformation of her party, while her rise within its ranks is a fall from the modern, millennial conservatism she once was on track to define.

Stefanik’s office declined to make her available to comment for this story, which is based on interviews with former colleagues, aides, friends, classmates and mentors, and draws on others I conducted with Stefanik in 2018 and 2019 for my book, The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For. Stefanik’s embrace of Trump has disappointed her high school teachers, alienated her from her alma mater and puzzled former allies and mentors who envisioned a different future for her.

“Elise could have been the face of a new generation of Republicans that could represent a real big-tent party, that could build beyond the base, that could lay the foundation for a coalition that could win elections nationally,” says Margaret Hoover, a center-right commentator who worked with Stefanik at the Bush White House and now hosts PBS’s Firing Line. “It shows that she was never motivated by principles, and that’s deeply disappointing.”Now, as her tolerance of baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election propels her toward Republican leadership, many of the people who knew her in the past are asking: what happened to Elise Stefanik?

From Harvard, Stefanik rocketed through the traditional Republican establishment. She worked in various roles in the George W. Bush White House, then as an adviser to vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan during the 2012 presidential campaign. After that defeat, the GOP released an autopsy that argued the GOP was struggling to reach young voters, women and voters of color. Stefanik saw it as an opening to help transform her party. With support from Ryan and deep-pocketed donors, she handily won her seat in New York’s North Country to become the youngest woman elected to Congress in U.S. history. (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has since beaten that record.)

When she arrived on the Hill, Stefanik was part of a cohort of young Republicans focused on helping the GOP appeal to younger, more diverse voters. With Ryan as her mentor, she staked out moderate positions on climate change and immigration consistent with her fellow conservative millennials, and pushed the GOP to recruit more women to run for office. She also built a strong record of bipartisanship. Stefanik was the 31st most bipartisan members of Congress in her first term and 19th in her second term, according to an index compiled by Georgetown University’s Lugar Center.

Stefanik tended to steer clear of hot-button right-wing issues, focusing instead on those that affected her district, like military funding and support for rural farmers. She voted against Trump’s signature domestic policy achievement—the 2017 tax cuts—because she felt they unfairly penalized high-tax states like New York. In 2017, she introduced a House resolution to commit to addressing climate change, calling environmental stewardship a “conservative principle.”

This relatively moderate record didn’t make her especially popular with Republican hard-liners. As Stefanik emerged in recent days as a top candidate to replace Cheney, the president of the conservative Club for Growth called her “very much a liberal.” Other conservative groups, from Heritage Action to the American Conservative Union, have ranked Cheney’s record as more conservative than Stefanik’s.

But Stefanik was cultivating a reputation among colleagues as a rising star. “She had developed a really good brand: she was the young, smart, vivacious millennial who could appeal to constituencies that Republicans had difficulty with,” says a former GOP congressman who worked closely with Stefanik. “She had that real up-and-coming thing.”

When Trump first emerged as a political phenomenon, Stefanik mostly ignored him. She said she would “support my party’s nominee” in the 2016 election, but largely avoided mentioning him by name. From time to time, she carefully spoke out against him, adopting a tone of dutiful scolding. In August 2015, she said in a radio interview that Trump had been “insulting to women” and said his campaign had “hurt the effort” to reach out to them. After Trump’s Access Hollywood scandal, she said his “inappropriate, offensive comments are just wrong.” When Trump moved to ban travel from some Muslim-majority countries, she said she opposed his “rushed and overly broad Executive Order.” She said she didn’t think his plans for a border wall were “realistic” and that the President “wasn’t exactly right on that.” When Trump blasted immigrants from “sh-thole countries,” Stefanik released a statement that the comments were “wrong and contrary to our American ideals.”

But as Trump’s presidency wore on, Stefanik’s party transformed. So did her district, which voted twice for Obama before breaking heavily for Trump. “It’s only become more and more supportive of President Trump over time,” Stefanik said on Bannon’s podcast. “I represent farmers, manufacturers, and hardworking families who want someone who stands up for them, and President Trump spoke to those people.”

“If you’re looking for a through line, it’s that her district has changed and she’s always been attuned to what her district wants,” says Brendan Buck, a former top aide to Speaker Ryan. “A swing purple district got a middle-of-the-road moderate member, and now it is a Trumpy district, and they have a Trumpy representative.” [Boldface added]

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Stefanik’s own evolution began. Some suspect it started in August of 2018, when Trump joined Stefanik for a visit to Fort Drum, a key military base in her district. “You’re standing in front of a crowd, and all of a sudden you see there’s a bigger crowd than you normally would have,” says one former Republican Congresswoman who recalled that event. [Boldface added]

Others point out that the political downsides of anti-Trumpism became clear around the same time. In the 2018 midterms, many Republicans who had criticized Trump lost their seats. Among them was Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a close friend of Stefanik’s who had been outspoken in his opposition to Trump’s immigration policy.[Boldface added]

Then came Trump’s 2019 impeachment trial on charges he solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election. That’s when a switch flipped, according to a former aide to GOP House leadership. Stefanik was named a member of Trump’s impeachment defense team and emerged as a vehement advocate, earning favorable press on Fox News and praise from the President himself. “She became a darling of the right and an enemy of the left,” says a former Republican Congressman who knew her well. “And she just decided to own that and monetized it.” [Boldface added]

In the last three months of 2019, Stefanik raised a whopping $3.2 million—a seven-fold increase from the previous quarter’s haul—making her the second-highest fundraiser in the House. She had picked her side. “She has become a star,” Trump gushed on Fox & Friends. [Boldface added]

Stefanik soon became the co-chair of Trump’s re-election campaign in New York. She gave a rousing speech at the 2020 GOP Convention about “the Democrats’ baseless and illegal impeachment sham and the media’s endless obsession with it.”

“This attack was not just on the President, it was an attack on you: your voice, and your vote,” she added. “Our support for President Trump is stronger than ever before.” This would be the basis of her defense of Trump before, during, and after the 2020 election. Her constituents were Trump’s voters, and they perceived any attack on Trump to be an attack on them.

Others see it differently. “Trump has won the Republican Party. Trump owns it. It is the key to her re-elections, it is the key to her fundraising, it’s the key to her advancement within Congress,” says Hoover. “She knows how to play it, so that’s what she’s doing. Never mind that it’s undermining democracy. She’s made a calculation that she can rise to power by backing the Big Lie.”

In the aftermath of Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, Stefanik stopped short of adopting Trump’s false claims that the election was “rigged’ or “stolen.” But she perpetuated the baseless claims around the election outcome.

In a Newsmax interview a month after the election, she parroted conspiracy theories about “irregularities,” then mentioned she had “concerns” about “Dominion software,” indirectly alluding to a false conspiracy theory that the voting-machine company had been part of an effort to rig the election against Trump. (Officials from Trump’s Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” and Dominion has filed several lawsuits against people and organizations that spread the conspiracy theory, including one that forced Newsmax to retract its claims and apologize.)

In December, Stefanik was one of 126 Republicans who signed onto an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to consider rejecting election results in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin. She then announced in an open letter to her constituents that she would object to electors from the same four states. Amid the insurrection, when House Republicans forced a vote on only two states, Stefanik voted to certify Biden’s win in Arizona but reject his win in Pennsylvania. She continued to make baseless claims about “voting irregularities” and “lack of ballot integrity and security,” though no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud ever emerged. (Harvard, her beloved alma mater, stripped her from the Senior Advisory Council of the Institute of Politics after she voted to challenge the election results.)

Some people who know Stefanik said she may have cultivated genuine concerns about election integrity, given that votes were cast under the extraordinary circumstances of a pandemic and the race was extremely close in some states. On Bannon’s podcast, she said she was concerned about “unprecedented, unconstitutional overreach” and “unelected judges and bureaucrats who were rewriting election laws in real time,” and raised questions about a “lack of chain of custody” for ballots. Her aides say she is simply representing the concerns of the millions of Americans who don’t believe the election was fair, including her constituents, who voted for Trump by a wide margin.

But no one I spoke to inside or outside her office believes she actually thinks the election was stolen. When asked directly, aides often pivot to “concerns” about “irregularities.” [Boldface added]

“I don’t even know if she believes the Big Lie,” says Hoover, Stefanik’s former colleague. “But she is absolutely responsible for propagating a lie that will undermine our democracy.”

Whether she believes the lies or not, Stefanik has now aligned herself with Trump for good. She may still be the face of the GOP’s future. But that future looks a lot different than anyone thought.

“Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving.”

— Elizabeth Cady Stanton