Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah delivered a forceful response when asked on Wednesday why he hasn't endorsed Donald Trump.
Lee chastised Trump for parroting conspiracy theories about Ted Cruz's father and called some of Trump's statements "religiously intolerant."
"Hey look, Steve, I get it. You want me to endorse Trump," Lee told NewsMaxTV's Steve Malzberg when asked why he wasn't "trumpeting Trump."
"We can get into that if you want," he continued. "We can get into the fact that he accused my best friend's father of conspiring to kill JFK. We can go through the fact that he's made statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant. We can get into the fact that he's wildly unpopular in my state, in part because my state consists of people who are members of a religious minority church. A people who were ordered exterminated by the governor of Missouri in 1838. And statements like that make them nervous."
Lee said he could get over Trump's statements, but Trump would need to say the right things.
"I can go on if you like," added Lee. "But don't sit here and tell me, Steve, that I have no reason to be concerned about Donald Trump."
When Malzberg commented that Trump merely said Cruz's father might have conspired to kill former President John F. Kennedy Jr., Lee said, "Right, right, he said that. He actually said that. He said that without any scintilla, without a scintilla of evidence. Now that concerns me."
Lee said he wanted assurances from Trump that he would defend the Constitution.
"I'm sorry, sir, but that is not an unreasonable demand," Lee said.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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