MARYVILLE — U.S. Rep. John Shimkus called the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump “pretty bogus.”
Shimkus, R-Collinsville, said he’s been to Ukraine twice this year — most recently during the investigation and accusations of “quid pro quo.” While there, he spoke with many leaders, including members of parliament, foreign ministers and the defense minister.
“Not a single person raised this issue,” said Shimkus. “President Volodymyr Zelensky has rejected it numerous times publicly that there was any quid pro quo, or that he felt pressured.”
Shimkus said from his Maryville office Tuesday morning he has prior personal travel commitments and won’t be voting on matters this week in Washington, D.C, including on the two articles of impeachment.
However, he said if he were present he would vote no on both articles.
“You will not have seen any votes cast by me today or the rest of the week,” said Shimkus on Tuesday. “But, we felt it was important to be on the record, had I been there, you’d know how I would have voted.”
Shimkus said in a conference call to the media that he and his wife, Karen, have plans to leave on Wednesday for Tanzania, where their son, Joshua, is serving in the Peace Corps. The trip he said has been planned for six months
Votes on the articles of impeachment are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in the House.
Shimkus said he was “embarrassed by both articles” of impeachment. He said the second article is a constitutional debate about separation of powers.
“They’ve never given President Trump the opportunity to defend his executive privilege through the court and they are demanding he give up his constitutional power in Article II,” said Shimkus. “If I were to be there, I would be voting no on each of these.”
Shimkus voted during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings, supporting three out of the four articles.
“We all took it very seriously,” said Shimkus. “There was a difference between the two. It was proven that he (Clinton) lied under oath. Under the Trump provision, it is all second-hand information. It was second- and third-person information.”
Shimkus said in the investigation of Trump’s alleged abuse of power, there “was no smoking gun,” but there might be a “hot revolver.”
Shimkus said the accusations stem from partisan politics.
“Remember, the Democrats, since they took the majority on Day 1, said they would impeach the president,” said Shimkus. “It has evolved into too much of a partisan exercise.”
One vote Shimkus missed Tuesday is on the spending bill.
Shimkus said when it comes to the appropriations bill, he would have voted yes to using funds on border security, agriculture research, military funding and pro-life matters.
“There is funding for 1,200 new officers for the border and processing coordinators,” said Shimkus.
When it comes to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Shimkus said he would vote for it and described the bill as an “Illinois win”. This agreement is designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Illinois is No. 5 exporter to Canada and the No. 1 importer for Canadian products,” said Shimkus.
Shimkus said Illinois farmers export 40 percent of their corn to Canada alone. Two out of 10 acres of Illinois farms are planted to feed Mexico and Canada, which together purchase about a third of all of the state’s agriculture products, he said.
“All of my trade votes have always been yes primarily because I represent 33 counties – the biggest ag district in Illinois – and this is a big ag victory,” said Shimkus. “For Illinois, it’s a very big win.”
In August, Shimkus announced he will not seek his 13th term to the United States House of Representatives, ending his long career in Washington in January 2021.
Shimkus has worked with four United States presidents: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.