Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), who was the first House Republican express openness to voting to impeach President Donald Trump, announced his retirement on Saturday.
“I thought the idea was you came and did your public service and left, you accomplish what you want to accomplish and you left,” Rooney said on Fox News. “And that’s what I want to be an example to do. And I’m also tired of the intense partisanship that stops us from solving the big questions that America needs solved.”
The two-term congressman confirmed his plans shortly afterward in an interview with POLITICO.
The news came one day after Rooney, a former construction company owner and major GOP donor, told CNN he couldn’t dismiss the possibility that the president committed an impeachable offense in his dealings with Ukrainian officials. “I don’t think you can rule anything out unless you know all the facts,” he said.
Rooney, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also called on outgoing Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to comply with a House subpoena and cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.
Rooney told reporters Friday he was still deciding whether to run for reelection, saying it would depend on “family things, business, wanting to do some different things.” But he strongly hinted that he was considering leaving.
“This is kind of a frustrating job for me. I come from a world of action, decisions, putting your money down, and seeing what happens,” said Rooney, who was a successful businessman before coming to Congress in 2017. “This is a world of a talk. It’s very difficult for me to just stand up and talk.”
Rooney, who has been sitting in on closed-door depositions connected to the House’s impeachment probe, has been one of the few Republicans to publicly express alarm over Trump’s communications with Ukraine.
The Florida Republican said Friday he was “shocked” by Mick Mulvaney’s admission of a quid pro quo, saying it would be difficult for the White House to walk back the comments and that it “very well could be” a turning point in the Ukraine saga.
But Rooney, a former ambassador to the Holy See, added that “every time an ambassador comes and talks, we learn a lot more.”
“It’s painful to me to see this kind of amateur diplomacy riding roughshod over our State Department apparatus,” Rooney said.
Rooney, for his part, insisted this week he wasn’t concerned about invoking Trump’s wrath with his impeachment remarks. “What’s he’s going to do to me?” he told reporters.
“I took this job to do the right thing, at all times, and if that means I gotta go back to my other job, that’s okay, too,” Rooney added. “There’s a lot of people around here who are seriously concerned about being criticized by the president.”
“I want to get the facts and do the right thing,” he said. “Because I’ll be looking at my children a lot longer than I’m looking at anybody in this building.”
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