The Slatest

Rep. Francis Rooney, First House Republican to Not Rule Out Impeachment, Will Retire

Francis Rooney, who was then the new American Ambassador to the Holy See, arrives at the Regia Hall for the pope's annual "state of the world" speech on January 9, 2005 in Vatican City, Italy.
Francis Rooney, who was then the new American Ambassador to the Holy See, arrives at the Regia Hall for the pope’s annual “state of the world” speech on January 9, 2005 in Vatican City, Italy. Pool/Getty Images

Florida Rep. Francis Rooney raised more than a few eyebrows Friday when he became the first House Republican to say the would be open to considering supporting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. A day later, Rooney said he would not run for reelection. “I’ve done what I came to do,” Rooney told Fox News. He said he ran for Congress to “get the money for the Everglades projects that had been languishing for many years, and to try to get this offshore drilling ban passed to protect Florida.” Although he initially thought it would take three terms, “I think I’ve done it in less than two.” Rooney also said he wanted to be an example for term limits. “People need to realize … this is public service, not public life,” he said.

Rooney, a former ambassador to the Holy See, insisted on Saturday his decision to retire was unrelated to his claim that he was willing to consider voting to impeach Trump due to the president’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. The Florida Republican also harshly criticized Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, and the way he tried to walk back a previous statement that essentially confirmed the president was involved in a quid pro quo involving U.S. aid to Ukraine. “I couldn’t believe it — I was very surprised that he said that,” he said. “It’s not an Etch a Sketch.”

Although Rooney recognized that his words could open him up to criticism from Trump, he insisted that it didn’t bother him. “What’s he going to do to me?” Rooney said. “I mean, he could say bad things, but it just is what it is. Let’s just let the facts speak.” But he also recognized that his constituents may not be too happy with him. “They don’t understand how anyone could say anything remotely at variance with President Trump,” he told the New York Times. “I’m sorry, but I’m just going to call ‘em like I see ‘em.”