Sole House Republican considering support for impeachment announces his retirement

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Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), the only Republican in the House who has said he is considering supporting the impeachment of President Donald Trump, said Saturday that he would not seek another term in office, the Washington Examiner reported

Rooney was asked by reporters on Saturday whether he would seek a third term in the House. He said he didn’t really want to.

“I don’t really think I do, and I don’t really think I want one,” Rooney said. “I’ve done what I came to do.”

Rooney’s district is solidly Republican, so his retirement likely won’t risk adding to a Democrat majority in the House — but it does mean that an eventual impeachment vote could fall exactly along party lines, which would make it look even more like Democrats just want to tarnish Trump’s presidency, whether there is any merit to the charges of wrongdoing or not.

Rooney’s reasons

In announcing his retirement, Rooney said he wanted to be “a model for term limits.” Even the strictest term limits bill introduced in recent years would allow representatives more than two terms in the House, however.

Rooney will join more than a dozen Republican members of Congress retiring this term, most of them in the House and nearly all in districts that seem sure to remain Republican-led. The House would need to flip at least 19 seats for Republicans to retake the majority in 2020.

Still, the high number of GOP retirements seems to indicate doubtfulness about regaining control. Many Republicans who held committee chairmanships and other powerful positions prior to 2018 may have just grown tired of being the party out of power in the House, and don’t want to stay on in lesser positions.

Rooney on impeachment

Rooney first came to the media’s attention last week when he said he might support impeaching Trump over a phone call with Ukraine’s president that Democrats have suggested involved withholding aid to the nation unless it investigated Joe Biden’s involvement in getting a prosecutor there fired.

The possibility of Rooney supporting impeachment came after White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said that Trump’s administration had withheld aid to Ukraine partially so that it would investigate the hacking of Democrats’ servers and other corruption under the previous president.

Mulvaney suggested that it was normal operating procedure in the U.S. government to tie aid to such cooperation, and that it had nothing to do with an investigation into Biden as House Democrats are suggesting in their impeachment efforts.

But Mulvaney’s comments didn’t sit well with Rooney. “He said there’s a quid pro quo,” Rooney said Friday. “I just don’t think that the power and prestige of our country is supposed to be used for political things.”

But while his concern about Trump’s actions made him an instant media darling, it’s not likely Rooney will even be around when Democrats actually decide to vote on impeachment — at least, not at the rate they’re going.

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