Republican Congressman Jim Hagedorn said during a visit to Rochester Tuesday that he doesn't believe President Trump committed an impeachable offense when the president tried to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate and find dirt on his political opponent, Joe Biden.
"I don't think anything on that phone call is an impeachable offense, and I don't support it," Hagedorn said in an interview with the Post-Bulletin. "I believe the Democrats are making it overtly political, and they've been trying to get at him for years."
Hagedorn made his comments Tuesday following a tour of the Rochester Community and Technical College campus and before making an appearance on a local public access television show.
Hagedorn, a first-term GOP congressman, made clear that he doesn't view the impeachment inquiry launched by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic House leaders as any different than the Mueller investigation and the "Russian thing." The Mueller probe failed to find evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian but it did describe a pattern of obstruction into the investigation.
"I think it's reckless. It's political. And it's unwarranted," Hagedorn said. "They're trying to remove a duly elected president, and on top of everything else, it's really no different than what they've been trying to do since he was sworn into office."
Public opinion polls show that Americans are taking a more critical attitude towards the Ukrainian controversy than they did the Russian collusion allegations that sparked the Mueller probe.
A Washington Post-Schar School poll found that, by a margin of 58 percent to 38 percent, Americans say the House was correct to open an impeachment inquiry. Among all adults, 49 percent say the House should go further by impeaching the president and calling for his removal from office.
The growing support for the impeachment inquiry reflects a sea change in public attitudes. Throughout the year prior to the Ukrainian controversy, polls showed support for an impeachment inquiry at only 37 percent to 41 percent.
Hagedorn was dismissive of polls showing support for impeachment proceedings.
"Most polls have been wrong for years, and nobody predicted (Trump's) victory, and they were all wrong in '16," he said.
Hagedorn said instead of being consumed by impeachment proceedings, Congress should be focused on the half dozen legislative areas where bipartisan consensus exists. That includes a free trade agreement among the U.S., Mexico, and Canada that "builds momentum for other trade agreements;" strengthening the border with Mexico; and passing transportation and infrastructure legislation.
"But, frankly, the Democrats don't seem to want to give him any wins," Hagedorn said.
During the interview, Hagedorn also took a swipe at his likely DFL opponent, Dan Feehan, saying Feehan lacked the "courage of his convictions" by declining to talk about impeachment at a town hall in Rochester on Sunday even though Feehan supports impeachment, according to an Roll Call article.
Feehan announced last week that he would be making a second bid for the 1st District seat. The Iraq War veteran fell short by only 1,300 votes when he lost to Hagedorn in 2018.
"It's not something I'm focused on," Feehan said in an interview with Roll Call about an impeachment inquiry. "I'm worried it will become the single and sole focus in Washington when the farm economy is on the brink and prescription drugs are rising."
Trump won the district by 15 points when he won the presidency in 2016. Hagedorn said Feehan was being evasive.
"He supports impeachment. He's afraid to talk about it," Hagedorn said.