Elise Stefanik emerges in hearings as key Trump defender — and GOP celebrity

“This is a matter of constitutional importance, and I’m asking substantive, fact-based questions to the witnesses,” she said. “I have one of the top 10 percent most bipartisan records in this House and one of the most independent records. But when it comes to constitutional matters, we should focus on the facts. We should not let this be a partisan attack the way Adam Schiff is conducting himself.”

Some Democrats see something else at work in Stefanik’s newly prominent role on the Intelligence Committee — stage management by a largely male corps of Republican lawmakers. Stefanik is the only GOP woman on the panel and, at 35, the youngest of the 13 Republican women in the House.

“I think everything they did today was strategy,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), one of three Democratic women on the committee. “She’s one of the newer members on the committee, and she’s a woman. . . . When they are badgering a female witness who is a career Foreign Service officer with an impeccable record, and they want to badger her, I think it’s a better look when a woman is taking the lead on that.”

Stefanik has not shied away from her party’s fraught record on gender, delivering stern warnings to the men running her party that the GOP needs to do a better job recruiting female candidates and appealing to female voters.

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