During an interview on Friday, Rooney was pressed by CNN’s Poppy Harlow while discussing acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s Thursday admission that Trump engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Rooney said he hadn’t come to any conclusions but added, “I don’t think you can rule anything out unless you know all the facts.”
Rooney continued, “Whatever might have been gray and unclear before, is certainly quite clear right now. The actions [by Trump] were related to getting Ukraine to do some things… We’re not supposed to use government power or prestige for political gain.”
Also on Friday, according to the Washington Post, Rooney spoke with reporters about impeachment and said he wanted “to get the facts and do the right thing because I’ll be looking at my children a lot longer than I’m looking to anybody in this building.” Rooney added, “I didn’t take this job to keep it… I took this job to do the right thing at all times.”
When asked about possible backlash from the president, Rooney said, “What’s he going to do to me? I mean, he can say bad things, but it’s just what it is.” Rooney continued, “There’s a lot of people around who are seriously concerned about being criticized by the president. Seriously. I just want to call them as I see it.”
Then, on Saturday, Rooney went on Fox News and announced his retirement. Rooney said his job as a congressman was fulfilled, saying, “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 also said he’s grown tired of Washington gridlock: “I’m also tired of the intense partisanship that stops us from solving the big questions that America needs solved.”
Rooney signaled a lack of fear of Trump when speaking out on Friday. However, his quick announcement to not run again seems to tell a different story. After betraying the Kurds in favor of Turkey, Trump has received more than the usual amount of pushback from Republicans this week, but they are well aware that if they come close to forcefully speaking out against this president they will get the Mitt Romney treatment. And most want no part of that.