In his first interview following his landslide re-election Tuesday, GOP Congressman Michael Grimm called for cooperation across party lines in the now-Republican dominated Congress–while still taking a few shots at his failed Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia Jr. and at the federal prosecutors who have charged him with 20 counts of tax fraud and perjury.
Speaking on-air to longtime friend and radio host Geraldo Rivera, Mr. Grimm said he hoped to see Republicans and Democrats work together to end the paralysis of the federal government, which he argued was causing widespread disaffection both among Americans and the planet’s populace at large.
“This division is stifling our economy, it’s not helping anyone but our enemies. We need to stop this partisan bickering and really put America first,” he said. “Most people are disgusted and are losing hope. And when the American people are losing hope, that’s a problem. We need to inspire people again. We need to show the world that we can lead.”
One place Mr. Grimm argued there could be consensus is on the contentious issue of how to deal with the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“Republicans and Democrats are much closer than where the media has portrayed with immigration reform,” Mr. Grimm said.
The victorious Republican, however, did not give any specifics on how to achieve such an agreement–beyond saying that he wanted to see the proposal broken into three separate “digestible” bills, and to “secure our borders.” He also rejected what he claimed was President Barack Obama’s call for amnesty.
The Republican did break from the conciliatory message to reiterate his talking points on U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who has accused him of hiring and underpaying undocumented immigrants at a restaurant he owned prior to his 2010 election, and with lying about it to investigators.
“I definitely think this was a referendum on the Obama Justice Department and the Eastern District,” Mr. Grimm said.
But if Mr. Grimm believes voters have rejected Ms. Lynch, the president has not — after Mr. Grimm’s interview, CNN reported Mr. Obama would name Ms. Lynch his nominee for Attorney General.
Despite his calls for unity, Mr. Grimm also hit Mr. Recchia, a former councilman from Brooklyn, for what he claimed was a hollow campaign based solely on attack ads.
“After the negativity, people said was, ‘well, what do you have to offer?’ And they knew he didn’t really have anything to offer,” Mr. Grimm said, recalling another of his favorite lines about his routed opponent. “I think the last thing people wanted was someone who would be a puppet or a rubber stamp for de Blasio.”
Mr. Grimm has indicated in the past that he may step down as a result of his legal battle, slated to start in January 2015–which would prompt a fiercely contested special election.