A county Republican Party leader in southeast Ohio is getting a lot of state and national attention for his decision to resign after watching President Trump’s press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. But unlike Trump, he’s not walking back or changing what he said.
Chris Gagin says “something just snapped” as he says he watched Trump appear to emphatically side with Putin over the U.S. intelligence community, claiming he didn’t see “any reason” that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
“I just didn’t feel that my conscience would allow me to continue to serve in that leadership role,” Gagin said.
So he resigned as the chair of the Republican Party of Belmont County, a West Virginia border county that Trump won by nearly 40 points.
I remain a proud conservative and Republican, but I resigned today as Belmont Co Ohio GOP Chairman. I did so as a matter of conscience, and my sense of duty.
— Chris Gagin (@cgagin) July 16, 2018
“I fully expect that I’ll be ostracized, in a sense, from the party because of this action,” Gagin says. “But this really is not meant to destroy the party.”
Gagin says negative reaction has shown him some of the tribalism within the GOP, but says he’s a proud conservative and still supports the Ohio Republican Party and its ticket this fall.
Trump later walked back his statement and said he accepts the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies, although he said he doesn’t believe Russia is still targeting U.S. elections, another statement in conflict with