Though she insists she is enraged by the Democrat-led impeachment of President Donald Trump, the process has been a publicity boon for Rep. Debbie Lesko, the Republican who represents District 8.
Last week was a huge one for Lesko, who lives in Peoria. It started Monday, Jan. 20, when Lesko received a call from the White House. She learned she was one of eight members of Congress selected for Trump’s impeachment defense team. (The others were Reps. Jim Jordan, John Ratcliffe, Mike Johnson, Mark Meadows, Lee Zeldin, Elise Stefanik and Doug Collins.)
“I’m very honored,” Lesko said, from her Surprise office.
Friday afternoon, she appeared calm and relaxed, laughing frequently as she reflected on a strange, busy week. “My life is a little surreal,” she said with a chuckle.
On Jan. 22, Lesko appeared on “Hannity,” which has been the most-watched show on cable news.
Lesko’s 90-year-old mother, who lives in Youngtown, was not one of the 4 million viewers. “She doesn’t have cable,” Lesko said, again laughing. “She’s frugal.”
Lekso was also on “CBS Evening News,” another national TV show, Monday, Jan. 27. Her mother may have seen that, as CBS doesn’t require cable.
But her mother missed Hannity’s introduction: “Joining us now, two members of president’s legal team, New York Congressman Lee Zeldin and Arizona Congresswoman Debbie Lesko … You guys deserve more pay to have to sit through the Schumer-Schiff sham show.”
Lesko was thus served up to offer her commentary about the beginning of the Senate impeachment trial.
“Watching this today is just like reliving the nightmare in the House,” she said. “I just can’t believe the audacity of these Democrats. The way they lie and carry on, the hypocrisy is beyond belief.”
She summarized the whole process, from the House to the Senate, as a “political hit job. That’s all it is. It’s disgusting. Quite frankly, sickening.”
Lesko was in a Phoenix production studio for “Hannity” and her same-day appearance on “Fox News at Night,” when she was interviewed by Shannon Bream.
Lesko aggressively defended Trump for months. She learned her appearances on national TV lead many to give her thoughts or thumbs-up — meanwhile, others used foul language to describe how they feel about her.
After her “Hannity” appearance, Twitter user Jlane03323668 stated, “Debbie Lesko said it exactly right! Thank you for fighting for Americans.”
Cher47, on the other hand, put Lesko on her “who to get out of office this year” list.
And Barry Winters (@AZsilvertip) proclaimed, “Lesko is an intellectual twit. I have to suffer her uselessness as I live in the district she claims to represent. She doesn’t and has produced not to benefit anybody. A brain dead Trump sycophant.”
Lesko said she avoids the electronic free-for-all.
“I don’t look at the comments on Facebook and Twitter,” she said. “I don’t have the time.
“And it’s not good for the soul.”
But she does post herself.
Her “four facts still haven’t changed: Transcript shows NO link between aid & investigations; Aid was released WITHOUT commitment to new investigations; Ukraine didn’t know aid was withheld at the time of the July 25 call; @realDonaldTrump & Zelensky agree there was NO pressure” tweet last week was retweeted 4,000 times, with more than 12,000 likes.”
Lesko said more people are recognizing her in the real world, and laughed at the hearty reaction she got when checking out at a Glendale furniture store.
One person not amused by Lesko’s big week: Michael Muscato, who said he will run against Lesko for the District 8 seat.
“Ms. Lesko has been my representative for one-third of my entire life,” Muscato said. “Watching the representative of our families and our children continue to heckle fellow members of Congress and refer to serious government proceedings as a ‘sham’ is nothing shy of embarrassing for our state and our country. It’s beneath the office which she holds and it doesn’t represent the hard-working, patriotic, and genuinely good people of our hometown.
“Her celebration of and actions as a member of the ‘Impeachment Team’ shows she isn’t running for re-election on solutions to solve our problems, ideas to help fix them, or by fighting for us. She is relying on the president’s coattails to fund her campaign, elevate her profile, and win re-election.”
Indeed, if her passionate defense of Trump somehow costs her an election, how would Lesko feel?
“I would not have done anything differently,” she said.
“This is what I believe in.”