U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger urged people to await the results of a special counsel’s probe into ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, while praising Trump’s leadership as “extraordinary.”
The Charlotte Republican talked about the president as part of a wide-ranging Facebook Live interview with the Observer on Monday that also covered health care, foreign policy and other subjects.
Last week Pittenger dismissed reports about Trump’s comments to Russian officials as “24 hour tabloid reporting.”
“There’s been a lot of speculation, a lot of conjecture in the absence of real facts,” he said Monday. “Let’s wait on the facts. As Sgt. Friday said on Dragnet, just the facts ma’am. Just the facts.”
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Asked his assessment on Trump’s first four months, Pittenger said, “I think you’ve seen the leadership of the president be extraordinary.” He mentioned the choice of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and executive orders peeling away federal regulations.
He also touched on:
▪ Trump: “I think yesterday was absolutely remarkable when we saw 50 countries in the Middle East … gather in Saudi Arabia to work with President Trump in the defeat of Islamic terrorism,” he said. “Contrary to all the reports that he’d offended the Muslim world, here the king of Saudi Arabia … greets him with warmth and respect.”
▪ Health care. Asked by a reader how he justified his vote for a Republican bill she said would result in less coverage, he took issue with the premise. “Let’s get the record clear,” he said. “The current health care system … is gravely faltering. It’s finally collapsing.”
▪ Pre-existing conditions. Pittenger said they would be covered under the bill, though critics say the measure could increase the cost of getting coverage of such conditions. The Kaiser Family Foundation said in a new report that 6.3 million people could face higher costs under the GOP bill for re-existing conditions.
Pittenger and other Republicans say the higher costs would only be for a year. Kaiser’s Cynthia Cox said any insurer “would likely use deterrent pricing” to avoid enrolling people with severe pre-existing conditions. “In other words,” she said, “the premium would be so high that many people would be unable to afford it for a month, much less a full year.”
▪ The federal investigation: The U.S. Attorney announced this month that a federal investigation into Pittenger and his company, Pittenger Land Investments, was closed. Last week the N.C. Real Estate Commission closed its own investigation.
“I know I’ve acted (with) principle and with integrity,” Pittenger said.