Rusty Bowers, the Arizona Republican House speaker who made national headlines describing his refusal to help Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election, has said he will vote for Trump again if he runs for president in 2024.
“If he is the nominee, if he was up against [Joe] Biden, I’d vote for him again,” Bowers told the Associated Press. “Simply because what he did the first time, before Covid, was so good for the country. In my view it was great.”
The statement, made on Monday, read jarringly in light of testimony Bowers delivered before the January 6 committee in Washington on Tuesday.
But it echoed comments from other Republicans, the former attorney general William Barr prominent among them, who have said they will still support Trump even after denouncing his attempt to subvert US democracy in service of his lie about electoral fraud in his defeat by Biden.
Bowers told the AP: “I supported him, I walked for him, I campaigned with him. But I wouldn’t do anything illegal for him.”
He said the effects of Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, including the deadly US Capitol attack, were “horrendous”, adding: “The result of throwing the pebble in the pond – the reverberations across the pond, have, I think, been very destructive.”
He also said he did not share many Republicans’ opposition to the January 6 hearings, which he said were “illuminat[ing] something we need to see big time … and I hope it would sober us”.
On Tuesday, shortly before Bowers testified, Trump issued a statement in which he abused the Arizonan and claimed: “You told me the election was rigged and that I won Arizona.”
Bowers testified that he did speak to Trump after the election, but if “anyone, anytime has said that I said the election was rigged, that would not be true”.
Asked if he told Trump he won Arizona, Bowers said: “That is also false.”
He described 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 is painful to have friends who have been such a help to me turn on me with such rancor.
“I may, in the eyes of men, not hold correct opinions or act according to their vision or convictions but I … do not want to win by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to with any contrived desertion or deflection of my deep foundational desire to follow God’s will.”
Bowers also described how he and his family were harassed.
“We received … in excess of 20,000 emails and tens of thousands of voicemails and texts which saturated our offices and we were unable to work.
“At home … it is the new pattern to worry what will happen on Saturdays, because we have had various groups come by and they have had video-paneled trucks … proclaiming me to be a pedophile and a pervert and a corrupt politician and blaring loudspeakers in my neighborhood and leaving literature on my property and arguing and threatening neighbors and myself.”
Bowers added: “At the same time we had a daughter was gravely ill, was upset by what was happening outside.”
According to Bowers’ Facebook page, his daughter, Kacey Rae Bowers, died on 28 January 2021.
In May 2022, Bowers was one of five recipients of the John F Kennedy Profile in Courage award.
But on Monday, he said he would still vote for Trump.