When he cast his vote finding President Donald Trump guilty on two articles of impeachment, Illinois’ senior U.S. Senator, Dick Durbin, called it a “sad and angry moment.” But now that the trial is done, he said it’s the duty of those in elected office to work to “bind the wounds of the nation.”
Still, Durbin on Monday had nothing but harsh words to say about Trump.
“This isn’t going to end just because there was a trial that he was acquitted on in the Senate. He’s going to continue this because he believes it’s the wining way. He’s going to try to engage foreign countries into interfering in our election because he believes it will help him get reelected,” Durbin said. “I don’t think he’ll stop at all.”
Durbin called it “disgusting and shameful” that Trump over the weekend fired two key impeachment witnesses: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council and ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
“It’s no surprise that this president would have this own version of a Wednesday or Thursday night massacre, when it comes to ridding his ranks of those who decide the truth’s more important than serving for him,” Durbin said.
Durbin held a media event Monday at the Erie West Town Community Center to defend the Affordable Care Act, which extended health coverage, including by expanding eligibility for Medicaid.
Medicaid and other social safety net programs would be cut (and defense spending boosted) under Trump’s just-unveiled budget.
“Thanks to that Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to anyone with a preexisting condition,” Durbin said. “And we all know ‘em, don’t we? Members of our families, friends, maybe personally.”
While he didn’t hold back on criticism of the president, Durbin was less outspoken when asked by journalists about the ongoing corruption probe that’s already led at least two Democratic state legislators to resign. Federal investigators, interested in ComEd and Exelon’s lobbyists’ activities, last spring raided the home of lobbyist Mike McClain, a close confidant of House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Madigan is also chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.
Durbin said he’s spoken with Gov. J.B. Pritzker about the ethics issues in Illinois, and hopes the governor succeeds in pushing ethics reforms.
“Let this investigation continue uninterrupted by any political influence in Washington or other places. Let them find the truth, whatever it is, and if anybody’s violated the law, let them pay the price. Already a couple of them have, there may be more,” Durbin said.
When pressed about whether he has confidence in Madigan, Durbin said the state party chairman has “made some significant changes in the party.”
“I work with the (Illinois) county chairman’s association too. Turns out, I’ve got a full-time job in Washington. And I don’t spend as much time worrying about the structure of party politics of Illinois. I’m glad when we can come together for an election,” Durbin said. “At this point I work with him (Madigan). There are times we disagree. That’s the nature of politics.”
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