Gov. Ron DeSantis scoffs at Trump impeachment talk

The Florida leader, a Trump ally, says Washington should “focus on issues that really matter.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses citizens of Mexico Beach Thursday at city hall.
Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses citizens of Mexico Beach Thursday at city hall. [ DOUGLAS CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Sept. 26, 2019|Updated Sept. 26, 2019

MEXICO BEACH — Gov. Ron DeSantis said he did not watch the congressional testimony today of the nation’s intelligence chief, Joseph Maguire, as an impeachment inquiry swirls around President Donald Trump.

Florida’s leader, a devoted Trump ally and former congressman, derided federal politics as “such a charade."

“I just wish they’d focus on issues affecting the American people,” he said of legislators, adding they’re instead “preoccupied with investigations.”

RELATED STORY: Whistleblower complaint says Donald Trump abused power

DeSantis said people often ask him: "Do you miss being in Washington?

“No," he said, laughing. "Never.”

At issue is whether Trump tried to push the president of the Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival and potential 2020 election opponent. Democrats, who announced an impeachment investigation earlier this week, have said the president may have solicited a foreign power to interfere with an election. A whistleblower complaint released Thursday suggested that White House officials tried to cover up Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian leader.

DeSantis was in Mexico Beach, the small town of 1,200 thrashed nearly a year ago by Hurricane Michael, to announce a $1.1 million grant to support the city’s fire department. The city had an annual budget of $3.5 million before the storm and is facing tens of millions of dollars in cleanup and recovery costs.

Congress took months to pass a disaster aid package that included money for the Panhandle after Hurricane Michael, and the governor invoked that delay Thursday to emphasize he thinks there are more important issues than the impeachment investigation.

RELATED STORY: ’I’m going home to a disaster’: Panhandle Republican rips Congress inaction on Hurricane Michael aid

A crowd of residents and local officials, who gathered under a small pavilion next to city hall to hear the governor speak, applauded. He then walked away from the lectern.

Earlier, the DeSantis team used the impeachment issue for a fundraising pitch to supporters.

“When I served in Congress, I fought back against the Democrats’ witch hunts every single day. ... Now that Democrats are officially moving to impeach our duly elected president, my duty to protect him isn’t over,” read the Republican Party of Florida email with DeSantis’ signature.

“Please make a contribution to our Presidential Protection Fund.”

Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau reporter Emily L. Mahoney contributed to this report.