Politics & Government

Shimkus tells staffer to ‘Pull my name off of the I support Donald Trump list’

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, who is not running for re-election, has pulled his support for President Donald Trump’s campaign.

Shimkus made the comments on Wednesday during an interview with Mark Reardon on KMOX radio.

Trump on Sunday announced his decision to pull U.S. military personnel out of Kurdish-held areas. U.S. troops had been protecting Kurds from an attack from Turkey. On Wednesday, Turkey launched an attack on Kurdish held areas in northern Syria.

Shimkus, who was elected to Congress in 1996, called the decision to leave the Kurdish areas “terrible” and “despicable.”

“I’m heartbroken, and in fact I called my chief-of-staff in D.C. and said ‘Pull my name off of the I support Donald Trump list.’ We have just stabbed our allies in the back. The Kurds go back all the way to the first Gulf War. We protected their airspace and the no-fly zone. They, of all the areas, have been loyal supporters and have been doing well. This shocked, embarrassed and angered me.”

On Thursday, Shimkus released a statement clarifying his comments, saying he was “heartbroken” that Turkey had been enabled to launch an attack in Syria.

“The Kurdish people are not a major global power, but they have been friends to the United States for decades,” Shimkus said. They’re not asking for asylum or refuge in our country because they’re fighting for a secure, peaceful space in the land they call home. But long ago fate ordained that their fight, and their values, would align with our own military campaigns in that part of the world.

“As a result, next to Israel, the Kurds have become America’s most loyal allies from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Japan through decades of conflicts,” Shimkus said. “They’ve fought our battles in Syria and Iraq so that countless American sons and daughters didn’t have to. I’m angry and embarrassed. While my votes will continue to support the president’s domestic policy agenda, because of this terrible foreign policy decision I asked that my name be removed from his campaign’s official list of supporters.”

Shimkus, along with U.S. Reps. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, had been named as honorary co-Chairs of Trump’s re-election campaign in Illinois.

On the show, Shimkus said he was sad for the Kurdish people.

“I think President Trump is a populist who wants to put America first and to the detriment to our allies and friends and people we have been associated with for decades,” Shimkus said. “Some people in this country like that. I do not. I think that your allies and friends, people who have been with you for years, you develop relationships, and I’m a very loyal person. Loyalty is very important to me.”

A White House spokesman said Trump is firm in his belief that Republicans outside the Beltway support his decision.

McClatchy White House correspondent Michael Wilner contributed information to this story.

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.
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