POCATELLO — Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho Falls said he’s seen no evidence yet of an impeachable offense by President Donald Trump as the Democrats press ahead with an impeachment inquiry.
The 11th-term Republican congressman is concerned, however, by the closed-door nature of the hearings into Trump’s alleged wrongdoing.
Simpson briefly addressed the impeachment issue after making remarks during a Thursday afternoon event at the Idaho State University campus.
“I’m concerned about the investigation in that they’re doing it in secret and releasing the testimonies that they want to release instead of doing all of them,” Simpson said.
A report from an unidentified whistleblower spurred the investigation. Trump has been accused of attempting to coerce leaders in the Ukraine to investigate his 2020 political opponent, Joe Biden. Trump allegedly withheld military aid approved by Congress for Ukraine as leverage.
“We’ll see if there’s an impeachable offense there. So far, I have not seen impeachable offenses,” Simpson said. “I’ve seen some that you kind of go, ‘Nah, maybe that wasn’t too smart,’ but is it impeachable? I don’t think so. They’re going to have to discover a lot more before it becomes an impeachable offense in my opinion.”
By selectively releasing information from the hearings, Simpson argues the Democrats are “trying to drive the story before they release the ones that actually play up the president’s side of the story.”
Simpson also believes it’s improper that the Democrats have chosen California Congressman Adam Schiff, who is the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to spearhead the investigation.
“It should be done by the Judiciary Committee, which is traditionally the way it’s always been done, not by the Intelligence Committee, which doesn’t do impeachments,” Simpson said. “It’s just bizarre how they’re doing it.”
It’s unclear to Simpson what the political fallout of the impeachment inquiry will be.
“There’s been debate about whether it will cost Democrats seats by trying to impeach the president. I don’t know whether it will or not,” Simpson said. “It cost Republicans seats when they did impeachment against President Clinton.”
Other members of Idaho’s congressional delegation are also firmly on Trump’s side. The Post Register reported that Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, disagrees that Trump has done anything to warrant impeachment, and the investigation has come at the expense of progress on more important issues.
The Idaho Tribune reported about a radio interview with Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, in which the politician described impeachment as a political maneuver to impede the president’s progress. The Press Tribune reported that Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, also sees no evidence of an impeachable offense and believes the Democrats have prioritized “politics over facts.”