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Retiring GOP rep: 'I don't understand' the 'hold that President Trump has over' Republican leaders

Retiring GOP Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyGrowing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting Lawmakers express concern about lack of young people in federal workforce The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Today: Vaccine distribution starts, Electoral College meets. MORE (Fla.) said Monday that he doesn't understand the unquestioning loyalty some of his fellow Republicans have for President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE.

In an interview with CNN's Jim Sciutto, the Florida congressman responded to questions pertaining to why more GOP lawmakers haven't come forward to acknowledge former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFear of insider attack prompts additional FBI screening of National Guard troops: AP Iran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries MORE's (D) projected victory in the 2020 presidential election amid threats of legal challenges from the president.

"There will be books written about this hold that President Trump has over a lot of the Republican leadership and base, and I don't understand it," Rooney said Monday.

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"It was never that way with previous Republican leaders, and I think the peaceful transfer of power is a critical element of our democracy," he added.

A handful of Republican lawmakers including Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (R-Utah) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocratic lawmaker says 'assassination party' hunted for Pelosi during riot Impeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate MORE (R-Alaska) have released statements congratulating Biden on his victory, but the vast majority have remained silent amid threats of legal challenges in several states where the president trails Biden closely in votes.

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Rooney, who voted against impeaching the president in January, announced his plans to depart from Congress in October of last year, months before he would be removed from the Republican Steering Committee by GOP leadership due to missed votes.

“I was honored to be asked by my sophomore class to represent them on the committee that makes decisions about the committee assignments and the leadership of the committee,” Rooney told The Hill at the time of his removal.

“Issues relating to the steering committee are supposed to be confidential, which is why I have no comment,” he added of his colleagues' criticism.