Congressman Says Republicans Find 'Courage' to Criticize Trump Only After They Leave Office

Congressman Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois, lamented the fact that it appears unlikely that any of his Republican colleagues will vote in favor of impeaching Donald Trump, arguing that GOP lawmakers find "courage" to criticize the president only after they leave office.

Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives formally announced Tuesday the articles of impeachment they will bring for a vote before the full legislative chamber. Despite witness testimony and evidence presented during the impeachment inquiry, Republican lawmakers appear unmoved in their opinions and continued to support the president. Asked about this fact during a Tuesday interview with CNN, Quigley suggested it has to do with GOP lawmakers' concerns over upcoming elections.

"They're currently filing for their primaries," the representative said. "They have decided to put party above the rule of law, party above what is right." Quigley added that he'd "like to think if the roles were reversed and a Democratic president had done this, we would do the right thing and move forward as we are now."

"Director Comey said the Russians will be back. We are not ready. And the President of the United States is moving us in the opposite direction."@RepMikeQuigley tells @JimSciutto the US is not prepared to protect against election interference.https://t.co/UPevgGzu0p pic.twitter.com/XLQsjG0nKj

— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) December 10, 2019

"There are some things that transcend party," the congressman said, voicing his hope that some Republicans would change their minds. "Unfortunately, all we've seen with my Republican colleagues is they get to the point of profiles in courage after they've left [office]." He noted that former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, began criticizing the president after he retired from Congress.

"That's all too often the pattern," Quigley said.

Ryan chose not to seek re-election in 2018, which was seen by many as partly due to his opposition to Trump's leadership. He strongly criticized the president in American Carnage by Timothy Alberta of Politico, a book published this summer after Ryan left office.

"I'm telling you, he [Trump] didn't know anything about government. I wanted to scold him all the time," Ryan said. "Those of us around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions. All the time."

Trump and his supporters have repeatedly dismissed the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry as purely "partisan." Although Democrats have raised what many—including former GOP lawmakers—consider to be legitimate concerns about the president's conduct, Republicans in Congress have remained loyal to the president. Additionally, polling throughout the inquiry has shown that Trump's support among GOP voters has not wavered, despite the revelations brought to light by witnesses and evidence.

Republicans in Congress
House Minority Leader Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California) defends President Donald Trump during the weekly GOP leadership press conference on December 10 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty

While GOP representatives will not publicly voice support for the president's impeachment, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who was elected as a Republican but officially declared himself to be an independent in July, has backed the Democratic-led effort. Amash has been described as one of the most conservative members of Congress and has repeatedly urged members of his former party to reconsider their support of the president.

"This should be unanimous, not partisan. Impeachment in the House is not a conviction. The trial happens in the Senate. All the House does is charge impeachable conduct. All we need is probable cause," the congressman tweeted on Friday. "That threshold is easily met with the existing evidence."