MOORHEAD — Rep. Collin Peterson says he will wait to hear the evidence before deciding whether he would support any eventual House impeachment action against President Donald Trump, but he acknowledged many of his constituents have not been shy about letting him know their opinion.
"Just about everybody who talks to me about this calls it BS. So, right now that's where they're at," Peterson said Friday, Nov. 8, after an agricultural town hall meeting held in Moorhead's Hjemkomst Center.
Peterson, D-Minn., said he understands when some Democratic lawmakers say they support pursuing an impeachment inquiry based on a sincere belief it is their duty to do so under the Constitution.
On the other hand, he said, it's clear to him that some in his party have been hungry for impeachment literally from Day One.
"Half of my colleagues, they were going to impeach Trump the day after the election, and they're looking for a way to justify what they want to do. That's not how you should approach this," Peterson said.
"Then on the other side," he added, "you have Republicans who won't even consider anything. And that's just as bad as the other way."
Peterson said he will announce sometime after the first of the year whether he will run for reelection, but he hinted at which way he's leaning. "I went to 42 parades last summer. If you go to 42 parades, you haven't given up, right?" he said.
He added that he believes campaign seasons are too long, and he didn't want to contribute to that trend.
Referring to the National Republican Congressional Committee, which works to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives, Peterson said the committee was looking "to spend millions of dollars beating me up, so I don't want to start that whole process any sooner than I have to."
Peterson was joined at Friday's town hall meeting by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Bill Northey, U.S. Department of Agriculture under secretary for farm production and conservation.
The three heard from a variety of voices in the farm community, many of whom focused on the disaster unfolding this fall as many farmers have been unable to harvest crops because of saturated ground.
Donavon Johnson, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, said about 60% of the potato crop in northwest Minnesota has gone unharvested. He said one farmer was able to harvest only 7% of their crop this fall.
Johnson said the situation is very stressful for producers and raises questions no one has answers for, including what will happen come spring, when farmers must face the question of how to plant in fields still full of last year's crop.
"How do you work them?" Johnson said.
Johnson said a number of farmers didn't buy insurance because they believed it was too expensive, and he asked if there was a chance those farmers could receive some form of relief payments.
Northey said the answer to that question is yes, if a farm is in a county designated as a disaster area.
He added, however, that it becomes more complicated to apply for relief payments if someone didn't have insurance, and he said farmers who accept relief payments will be required to purchase insurance for several years going forward.
Hoeven said Friday that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had approved secretarial disaster designations for 47 counties in North Dakota. Peterson said the same designation was being sought for 14 counties in Minnesota.