Updated Oct. 11 to reflect a new public statement from Idaho Sen. Jim Risch regarding the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry.
Idaho Senator Jim Risch was in no mood to talk about President Donald Trump’s increasing controversies during a stop in Idaho Wednesday at a forum in Nampa organized by the National Women’s Business Council.
Risch has a key position on Capitol Hill as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. But the reliable Trump ally abruptly ended a Boise State Public Radio interview when asked about controversies swirling around the president.
“I’m not going there. If you want to have an interview with me about the business center, please do so,” Risch said, before turning and walking away.
“Don’t do that again,” he said.
Since taking over chairmanship of the foreign relations committee from Former Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, a Trump critic, Risch has been steadfast in his defense of the president. In the midst of a House impeachment inquiry, he has repeatedly dodged questions about Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders and countries.
Following backlash over the interview, Risch's office released a statement on impeachment. Notably, Risch neither defended the president nor dismissed the impeachment inquiry, despite being a steadfast ally. Here's the full statement:
“We are in a very partisan and volatile time in American politics, and the House’s impeachment inquiry has clearly enflamed these ongoing tensions. It’s unproductive to weigh in on each and every development. Rather than commenting on every new piece of information, the senator is monitoring these issues and will comment if and when impeachment proceedings move to the Senate and he has cast his official vote as a juror in those impeachment proceedings. In the meantime, as chairman, he will of course weigh in on the status of and path forward on foreign relations and other matters.”
There has been mounting criticism of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president — in which he asks for an investigation of political rival and former vice president Joe Biden— and his public request that China investigate Biden. Even some Republicans have rebuked Trump. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a former Republican presidential candidate, called Trump’s Ukraine call “wrong and appalling.” Here in neighboring Idaho, though, none of the state’s Congressional delegation has publicly broken with the president.
Follow Heath Druzin on Twitter, @HDruzin
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