Former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, the Arizona governor’s choice to replace John McCain in the U.S. Senate, has been critical of President Donald Trump in the past. However, he was also chosen to help guide Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, through the confirmation process in Congress. Thus, his comments and attitude toward Trump seems somewhat mixed.
On other occasions, Kyl has defended Trump. He’s also a long-time Republican politician who has served in positions of Republican leadership in Congress in the past (he was once Senate minority whip.) Kyl did not endorse Donald Trump in the GOP primary for president in 2016.
With impeachment concerns at a height for the president, Governor Doug Ducey’s choice of Kyl will be closely scrutinized, and Kyl’s impressions of the president become more important. The late Senator McCain, who died of brain cancer in late August, was no fan of Trump (and vice versa). This was reiterated at McCain’s memorial services when his daughter and other speakers took subtle jabs at the president, and Trump was not invited to attend.
Kyl is a Republican; under Arizona state law, the governor’s pick to serve out the remainder of McCain’s current term (through 2020) had to be a Republican. Thus, Democrats won’t have the opportunity to pick up the seat until that time. Kyl is a former Senator and Congressman who served in those positions for years in Arizona.
There was controversy in Arizona over whether Ducey should pick someone who adheres more to the Trump perspective or McCain perspective on politics. “I think it should be a conservative, someone that supports President Trump — I think that should be the main issue,” said Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff, to The New York Times.
“I want somebody in there who will protect the back of our president and somebody that will not pursue impeachment if there is impeachment.”
However, The New York Times reported that Kyl is seen as acceptable to both wings. AZCentral took it one step further, arguing that Trump will like the Kyl selection because Kyl is already helping him get confirmation for Kavanaugh. The choice tilts more in favor of the Trump side than the McCain side, argued AZCentral. Kyl has been ranked in the past as one of the country’s most conservative senators.
McCain’s widow, Cindy, tweeted out her support for the pick, writing, “Jon Kyl is a dear friend of mine and John’s. It’s a great tribute to John that he is prepared to go back into public service to help the state of Arizona.”
What has Jon Kyl said about Donald Trump?
Here’s what you need to know:
Jon Kyl Once Called President Trump ‘Boorish’
Jon Kyl has not minced words when describing President Trump in the past. He once referred to Trump as “boorish.”
“I don’t like his style. I think it is boorish. I think he’s own worst enemy. He could be much more effective if he were more politique, more diplomatic — of course that’s one of the things that people like about him — the fact that he isn’t that way. But I think there’s a happy medium,” Kyl said in February 2018, according to KJZZ.org.
He said in the interview that he was glad the nation has checks and balances and added that Trump was a “phenomenon that has to be dealt with.”
The headline on the story by Phil Latzman reads, “Former Sen. Jon Kyl Is No Fan Of President Trump.”
However, some observers have said that Kyl, with his long service in Arizona politics, is one of the least controversial choices Ducey could have made from the list of possibilities floating around. For example, some people had urged Ducey to name McCain’s widow Cindy McCain to the position.
In 2014, John McCain said of Jon Kyl: “He is respected by one and all, Republican and Democrat. I wish I were as good a public servant as Jon Kyl. I think he’s a wonderful man.”
Kyl Endorsed Marco Rubio During the Presidential Primary
Did Jon Kyl endorse Trump? He endorsed Marco Rubio, another Republican, during the 2016 presidential primary.
“I know him. I like him a lot,” Kyl told The Arizona Republic of Rubio. “I came to respect him as a real expert in matters related to our national security. He is on the Intelligence Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee. He knows the subject very well, and he also has very good instincts about what we should do.”
In 2016, Kyl, who declared himself a Republican in the mold of Ronald Reagan, said the Republican Party was not the same as the one he first joined, according to The Hill. He said there was a trend toward isolationism and added, “a couple of leading candidates have hit a chord with some segment of American populism that is very skeptical about U.S. leadership.”
Kyl Has Defended the President & Said the News Media Should Cut Trump Some Slack
Kyl hasn’t only been a critic of Trump, however. He’s also been a defender. During the 2016 presidential election, Trump caused controversy when he said he could “shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Kyl said people and the media should give Trump a break from criticism over the remark. “I think we all recognize that Donald Trump speaks loosely; I don’t think anybody actually thought that he would shoot somebody,” Kyl said, according to AZFamily.com.
AZFamily reported that Kyl had a reputation when he was a Republican Senator for not trashing fellow Republicans. He has been somewhat muted on Trump at times, though.
For example, the newspaper reported that Kyl was asked in 2016 if he thought Trump would damage the Republican Party. Kyl didn’t answer yes or no. Instead he said this, according to AZFamily: “The reality is the American people have not seen their incomes increase, their paychecks increase, they’ve been threatened by ISIS here in the United States there’s a lot going on in the world that they would like to see our federal government do something about it and their frustrated that the government hasn’t done that. And sometimes people that out that frustration by reaching out to the candidates that seems to be the loudest or the most boisterous and that may explain part of the appeal of Donald Trump.”
Kyl Was Chosen as Brett Kavanaugh’s ‘Sherpa’ in Congress
According to CBS News, Jon Kyl was chosen as Kavanaugh’s “sherpa” so to speak – his role is to help guide Kavanaugh through to confirmation.
A White House spokesman confirmed as much, saying, according to CBS, that Kyl “has agreed to serve as the Sherpa for the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court.” Jon Kyl has worked for a Washington D.C. lobbying firm since leaving public office.
“The White House hopes Kyl’s close ties to Senate Republicans will help smooth the path for Mr. Trump’s eventual selection to win confirmation,” CBS News reported.
Jon Kyl Once Raised Impeachment Talk – About Barack Obama
With impeachment rhetoric looming, it’s interesting to take a look at what Jon Kyl has said on impeachment. He once raised the prospect of impeachment – for former President Barack Obama. He was upset with Obama’s immigration policies.
“If the president insists on continuing to ignore parts of the law that he doesn’t like, and simply not enforce that law, the primary remedy for that is political,” Kyl, then a Senator, said, according to Politico. “Now if it’s bad enough and if shenanigans involved in it, then of course impeachment is always a possibility. But I don’t think at this point anybody is talking about that.”