SALT LAKE CITY — Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said his faith in President Donald Trump was not shaken by reports that Trump gave highly classified information to Russian officials.
The move had the potential to threaten a steady source of information on the Islamic State and upend years of diplomacy, media outlets reported, but the revelation has no bearing on Chaffetz' trust in Trump, he said Monday.
Trump made disclosures to Russia without permission from the U.S. ally that provided the information, news organizations reported. Such a move goes against years of protocol and could lead the source to cut the United States off from a stream of information on the Islamic State, the outlets said.
"I'm not buying the idea that there were sources and methods shared," the representative said. He questioned the validity of the report published by The Washington Post story.
Chaffetz made the comments after a Monday evening on-air conversation in the KSL-TV studio with Utah's four congressional representatives to discuss topics raised by KSL viewers. One question involved probing possible Russian meddling in the presidential election.
"Do the four of you support a special prosecutor in this instance?" asked anchor Dave McCann.
The representatives did not wait a beat before responding with a chorus of "no"'s.
The delegates said existing congressional probes and a pending FBI investigation suffice. Those inquiries into Russian interference should play out before any special investigator is involved.
"This is still in the investigation phase," added Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah.
Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last week, but it did not affect the representatives' faith in the agency's ability to carry out the inquiry.
"There hasn't been exactly the smoking gun about collusion that some law has been violated," said Chaffetz, who co-chairs the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Rep. Chris Stewart said he warned his colleagues of Russian officers trying to meddle with election long before November but believes there was no push for one specific candidate to be elected.
The group was in unison on other issues, too.
They believe Utah is best poised to take care of its vast public lands and its air pollution problem, without interference from federal managers.
In discussing the Bears Ears National Monument, Rep. Mia Love said Utahns would benefit more from voting on how to preserve public lands within their state, rather than having a federal directive dictate use of the vast acreage covering about two-thirds of Utah.
The delegates also touched on health care. They believe their new health proposal will lower insurance premiums and remove unnecessary red tape for Utahns who use it to buy coverage.
"We think we could do it better," Stewart said.
He and his colleagues in the U.S. House approved the proposal in April, but its fate is uncertain.
Many of the specifics have yet to be ironed out, and the measure has yet to win approval from the U.S. Senate.
Senators, meanwhile, are hammering out their own versions of a replacement for the American Health Care Act passed under former President Barack Obama.
After the panel, with his foot raised and bandaged after emergency surgery that briefly pulled him away from Washington, D.C., Chaffetz echoed H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, who said no damaging top-secret specifics were given to Russian officers.
But Chaffetz also said such allegations should be taken seriously.53 comments on this story
"We have to be always vigilant on that," he said, "because if those are given up, you're potentially putting people's lives in danger.
Chaffetz said he would not have any role in a congressional probe related to the Monday revelations. That would be the purview of U.S. House or Senate intelligence committees, and not his oversight committee, he said.
He did not give more information about his decision to not run for re-election, and reiterated that he might leave office before his term ends in 2018.
"I feel no compulsion to talk about what I might do after I leave Congress," Chaffetz said.