A group of Republicans supporting impeachment investigations has targeted U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney’s Southwest Florida district with a new ad.
The broadcast spot from Republicans for the Rule of Law, titled “What is Trump Afraid Of?,” will air during Fox and Friends every morning this week. It specifically calls on the White House to allow four witnesses to testify to the House: White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
“The impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives have presented startling evidence that the President of the United States abused his power, strong-arming a foreign government to interfere on his behalf in the upcoming election, and damaging national security in the process,” said Republicans for the Rule of Law Executive Director Sarah Longwell.
The footage splices video of individuals with explanations they have knowledge of communication between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The White House in September released a rough transcript of a phone call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy for a favor. He wanted Ukraine government to look at CrowdStrike and see if there was involvement in meddling in the 2016 elections, and he asked about an investigation of an energy company connected to Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The conversation remains central to an ongoing impeachment inquiry of Trump.
The Republicans for the Rule of Law ad specifically highlights a press conference where Mulvaney was asked if the conversation included a quid pro quo, or if Trump was asserted aid to Ukrainian would be held up until the country investigated the Bidens.
“There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney said.
Inclusion of that Mulvaney quote seems especially relevant as the group target’s Rooney’s district.
Rooney made national news when he criticized Mulvaney’s remarks. While Mulvaney later tried to clarify his comment, Rooney said the words needed to be taken at face value.
“It’s not an Etch-A-Sketch,” Rooney told reporters. “The only thing I can assume is, he meant what he had to say — that there was a quid pro quo on this stuff.”
That put Rooney at odds with most House Republicans, who have ardently said the President did nothing wrong. A day after making remarks critical of Trump and Mulvaney, Rooney announced he would not seek reelection in Florida’s 19th Congressional District.
Notably, Rooney said he still had not made up his mind about whether an investigation should morph into an impeachment inquiry. Indeed, Rooney in October ultimately voted against formal rules for an impeachment process.
Republicans for the Rule of Law has steadfastly criticized the President since the start of the Trump administration, and the group was formed by many “Never Trumpers,” conservatives who view Trump as a particular threat to democracy and the Republican Party.
Longwell has a longer list of witnesses she would like to see in hearings.
“The president denies the allegations, but won’t let key administration officials — including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — testify to Congress,” she said. “If the president did nothing wrong, what does he have to hide? If they tell the truth, what is he afraid of? Most importantly, will Republicans in Congress allow the president to simply ignore their constitutionally mandated oversight role?”