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The news seemed to dominate the Capitol as lawmakers returned from a two-week recess, but some of them weren’t even aware of the charges as they arrived for votes Monday evening.
CQ Roll Call talked with more than two-dozen lawmakers Monday evening. Responses ranged from ”I feel for him” (Dennis A. Ross, R-Fla.) to ”[T]his is America. And you’re innocent until proven guilty, and that’s true of all United States citizens.” (Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas)
Even liberal Democrats like Jerrold Nadler of New York wouldn’t say Grimm should resign. “You don’t want to set a precedent that elected officials should step down [because] you’re innocent until proven guilty,” he said. Energy and Commerce Ranking Democrat Henry A. Waxman of California called resignation a personal call: “That’s up to him.”
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had called on Grimm to relinquish his spot on Financial Services, in a press release that was sent within minutes of Grimm’s own announcement he was doing just that. A spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner called it the right decision, but leadership mostly appears to be waiting to meet with Grimm before offering any real condemnations.
A formal response from GOP leaders is expected to come at their weekly press conference Tuesday morning. CQ Roll Call asked Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., if Grimm should resign. His answer was simply, “I have not met with him yet.”
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., told CQ Roll Call that “members should be held to the highest ethical standards,” but that she was still gathering information.
Other’s had a sharper take.
“What can you say? It speaks for itself, right? The guy’s in legal trouble, he’s innocent until the process finds otherwise but obviously if you’re running for re-election it’s a bad place to be,” said Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who is attempting to oust Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu this fall.
Cassidy, who wouldn’t say whether he felt Grimm ought to resign or decline to seek a third term in office, worked closely with the New Yorker on shepherding an overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program through the chamber earlier this year.