Mike Simpson Forum

Idaho Republican congressman Mike Simpson speaks during a recent forum at Boise Centre West.

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson said earlier this week he doesn’t know yet whether President Donald Trump should be impeached, but he was skeptical of some of the arguments of impeachment supporters.

“I’m one of those guys who kind of likes to have information before me before I make a decision,” Simpson, a Republican who represents eastern Idaho in Congress, told the Idaho Falls City Club Tuesday. “They’re doing an impeachment inquiry. Fine, go ahead with that. But let’s find out what the facts are before we decide. Novel concept.”

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is investigating whether Trump did something impeachable in calling on Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is one of the frontrunners for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump, and Biden’s son Hunter, who was involved with a gas company there. Simpson fielded several written questions from the audience on the topic.

“If you remember, for three-and-a-half years all we heard was ‘Russian collusion, Russian collusion,’ Adam Schiff saying ‘I’ve got the evidence of Russian collusion, Mueller’s going to show all this,’ and then all of a sudden what happened? Couldn’t find any evidence of Russian collusion,” Simpson said. “We’ve been led down this primrose path before. You’ve seen what they did to (Supreme Court) Justice (Brett) Kavanaugh, which I thought was disgraceful. And now all of a sudden, we’ve got another impeachment thing going on. Let’s see what the facts are, what comes out of the inquiries that they’re conducting, and then we’ll see.”

Simpson accused the media of a “lack of intellectual curiosity” in its reporting on former Vice President Biden’s role in withholding loan guarantees from Ukraine unless prosecutor Viktor Shokin was fired. He also criticized Schiff, a California Democrat who heads the House Intelligence Committee, for reading an exaggerated paraphrase of a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a congressional hearing last month.

“What I’m saying is, what we all need to do is take a step back, take a deep breath and let this play out,” Simpson said. “The one thing I can tell you, I will honor my oath of office.”

Simpson did say he thinks Trump should be more cooperative with Congress’ subpoenas and let members of his administration testify.

“I don’t know, but I think he would if it was an official impeachment inquiry,” Simpson said. “Every time we’ve done impeachment before, the whole House has taken a vote. I think (House Speaker) Nancy (Pelosi) has the votes right now to start an official impeachment inquiry. And so I think he would have a different take on it, but that’s just me saying it, I don’t know if it’s true or not.”

Simpson also said he isn’t sure yet whether Trump made the right decision in withdrawing U.S. forces from northern Syria, a move that was immediately followed by a Turkish invasion and attacks on Kurdish militias that had fought the Islamic State alongside the U.S. Simpson said he has concerns about abandoning America’s Kurdish allies, but he has heard arguments from people in the military on both sides of the question.

“I hate to leave that place in the mess that it currently is, but how long are we going to stay there?” he said. “How long can we stay there? Twenty years. Lot of blood and toil. A lot of cash has been spent over there. I’ll wait till I see what the people I consider experts on the arena talk about before I know.”

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.