A day after “acting “ White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney remarkably admitted military aid to Ukraine was contingent on their investigation into an insane conspiracy theory involving the 2016 election, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) said that he could not rule out impeachment while saying Mulvaney laid out a “clear” quid pro quo.
“Whatever might have been gray and unclear before is certainly clear right now,” Rooney told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Friday morning. “That the actions were related to getting someone in the Ukraine to do these things. As you put on there, Senator Murkowski said it perfectly: We’re not to use political power and prestige for political gain.”
Harlow, meanwhile, wanted to know if Rooney felt this rose to the level of an impeachable offense.
“That’s something I can’t answer,” the Florida lawmaker replied. “I’ve been reading about this impeachment business. I’m not really—I went to law school but didn’t practice law. I did read something today. That impeachment is whatever the House members and majority say it is. I guess anything is.”
This prompted the CNN anchor to press Rooney on the issue of impeachment, noting that he had said it was “very clear” there was a quid pro quo as it relates to Ukraine.
“I don’t know. I want to study it more,” he responded. “I want to hear the next set of testimony next week from a couple more ambassadors. But it’s certainly very, very serious and troubling.”
Harlow continued to grill Rooney on why he was still unsure on the matter, causing the Republican congressman to say he still wants to see if this is “grave and serious” enough to impeach the president.
“I don’t think this is as much as Richard Nixon did,” Rooney continued. “But I’m very mindful of the fact that back during Watergate everybody said it’s a witch hunt to get Nixon. Turns out it wasn’t a witch hunt but it was absolutely correct.”
Moments later, during a discussion on the situation in Syria and the bipartisan backlash the president has faced for abandoning America’s Kurdish allies following Turkey’s invasion, Rooney said he was worried about America’s safety as Trump was ceding the Middle East to Russia.
“Do you agree at all with the assessment then from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the private meeting with the president earlier this week where she reportedly said to him, ‘Sir, all roads lead to Putin, lead to Russia.’ Do you share that concern?” Harlow wondered.
“Well, I’ve read some of that,” the GOP lawmaker answered. “I was skeptical of it, like most Republicans. But I have to say this business about the Ukraine server, which no one heard about until it was mentioned recently, tells me what—are we trying to exculpate Russia, who all our trained intelligence officials have consistently corroborated that Russia was behind the election meddling, not the Ukraine.”
Asked whether he agreed with Pelosi, the Republican eventually stated that “she has a point.”
Rooney isn’t the only potential crack in the Republican dam when it comes to impeachment. Following Mulvaney’s disastrous comments, which he’s since tried to walk back, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) said: “You don’t hold up foreign aid that we had previously appropriated for a political initiative.”