Bowers backs Trump despite ‘big lie’

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Rusty Bowers, the Arizona Republican House speaker who made national headlines and his refusal to help Donald Trump topple the 2020 election, has said he will vote for Trump again if he becomes president in 2024.

“If he’s the nominee, if he’s up against… [Joe] Biden, I’d vote for him again,” Bowers said told the Associated Press† “Simply because what he did the first time, before Covid, was so good for the country. In my eyes it was great.”

The statement, made Monday, was shocking in light of Bowers’ testimony before the Jan. 6 commission in Washington on Tuesday.

Related: ‘A Dangerous Cancer’: Fourth Hearing Reveals How Trump’s Big Lie Devastated People’s Lives

But it echoed comments from other Republicans, former Attorney General William Barr prominent among themwho have said they will still support Trump even after denouncing his attempt to undermine American democracy in the service of his lie about voter fraud in his defeat to Biden.

Bowers told the AP: “I supported him, I ran for him, I campaigned with him. But I wouldn’t do anything illegal for him.”

He said the effects of Trump’s attempt to reverse the election, including the deadly attack on the US Capitol, were “horrific”, adding: “The result of throwing the pebble into the pond – the reflection off the pond, I think, is very destructive.”

He also said: he did not share many Republicans’ opposition to the Jan. 6 hearings, which he said were “lit”[ing] something we need to see big… and I hope it will make us sober”.

On Tuesday, shortly before Bowers testified, Trump released a statement abusing the Arizonan, claiming, “You told me the election was rigged and I won Arizona.”

Bowers testified that he did speak to Trump after the election, but if “someone ever said I said the election was rigged, it wouldn’t be true.”

When asked if he had told Trump that he had won Arizona, Bowers replied, “That’s not true either.”

He described the pressure from Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies and the toll it took.

Reading from a journal he kept at the time, he said: “It hurts that friends who have helped me so much turn against me with such resentment.

“I may not, in the eyes of men, have the right opinion or act according to their views or beliefs, but I … don’t want to win by cheating. I will not play with laws to which I have sworn allegiance with an contrived desertion or deflection of my deep fundamental desire to follow God’s will.”

Bowers also described how he and his family were harassed.

“We received … over 20,000 emails and tens of thousands of voicemails and texts that saturated our offices and we were unable to work.

“Home…it’s the new pattern of worrying about what’s going to happen on Saturday because we’ve seen several groups pass by and they’ve got trucks with video panels… around my neighborhood and leaving literature on my property and arguing and threaten neighbors and myself.”

Related: ‘I don’t feel safe anywhere’: Georgia election workers on how Trump turned their lives upside down

Bowers added: “At the same time, we had a daughter who was seriously ill, upset by what was happening outside.”

According to Bowers’ Facebook pagehis daughter, Kacey Rae Bowers, died on January 28, 2021.

In May 2022, Bowers was one of five recipients of the John F Kennedy Profile in Courage Prize.

But on Monday, he said he would still vote for Trump.

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