Fresh off his Tuesday primary win in Virginia, noted alt-right sympathizer and Republican Senate nominee Corey Stewart gave a bizarre interview to CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday in which he put forth a conspiracy theory that Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine was at the “center” of the so-called “Spygate” scandal.
“I’ll tell you something, I really do believe that Tim Kaine has been at the center of all this stuff that you’re seeing with regard to the FBI. You know, the whole problem is having the FBI spying by federal agency on a presidential campaign,” Stewart said.
Stewart claimed without evidence that his opponent is deeply involved in an arrangement that involved an FBI informant meeting with members of the Trump campaign who had contact with Russians. President Trump has dubbed what happened “Spygate“ and generated a completely fabricated scandal alleging that former President Barack Obama planted spies in his campaign to help Hillary Clinton win.
When Cuomo pushed back and said there was no proof of this, Stewart responded, “We’re not in a court of law, are we?”
“That doesn’t mean the truth doesn’t apply, my brother,” Cuomo replied.
Stewart, who has styled himself after Trump and espoused similar hardline approaches to immigration, has wasted no time embracing the president’s animus toward the Clinton campaign. “Lock him up! Lock her up!” members of the crowd chanted at his victory rally on Tuesday, referring to Kaine and Clinton. “That might just happen,” Stewart said, despite evidence to the contrary.
Stewart’s securing of the nomination is widely seen as a drag on the Republican Party in Virginia, where Democrats have a shot at recapturing as many as four seats in the House of Representatives. Nominating a candidate mainstream Republicans aren’t excited about could further diminish turnout.
Stewart: “You play the race card every time”
As part of the interview, Cuomo also pressed Stewart to explain some of his neo-Confederate viewpoints and alt-right connections, a conversation that quickly devolved into a shouting match. Stewart, who has called himself a “proud Southerner” and made defending Confederate statues part of his Senate platform, has previously endorsed Paul Nehlen, a far-right Wisconsin House candidate who’s espoused anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views.
“I have always condemned … any white supremacists or bigots or anything like that. We want nothing to do with that. But that’s the only thing that you and the left have. You claim, you play the race card every time,” Stewart said. But as Vox’s Jane Coaston explained, Stewart’s connections to white supremacists are quite extensive indeed.
“This guy Nehlen isn’t the only one in your past, now is he? You also cotton to someone else named Hines. You took his endorsement. … That’s you in front of a Confederate flag taking his endorsement,” Cuomo said, prompting Stewart to say: “By the way, your own father said anti-Semitic things. Did you condemn him?”
”Oh, please. My father is dead and buried and was 10 times the man you’ll ever be on your best day. So stay comparing yourself to the bigots that you cotton to,” Cuomo responded. “You never want to condemn the extremism on your own side of the aisle,” Stewart argued.
Given his past, this heated exchange likely won’t be the first time Stewart will have to defend his far-right connections as the midterms approach in November.