Live

Watch CBSN Live

Democrat Denny Heck to step down from Congress, says investigations made his "soul weary"

Feldman: Trump committed high crimes

Washington Democrat Denny Heck announced Wednesday this term would be his last. The four-term congressman said in his announcement, via Medium post, that the "countless hours" spent on the impeachment inquiry and investigating Russian election interference "rendered my soul weary."

"I will never understand how some of my colleagues, in many ways good people, could ignore or deny the President's unrelenting attack on a free press, his vicious character assassination of anyone who disagreed with him, and his demonstrably very distant relationship with the truth," Heck wrote.

Heck, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, also wrote that Mr. Trump's presidency is a symptom of a "civic discourse" that "began degrading before him." He said in his letter he made the decision after wrapping up "the bulk of the Intelligence Committee's work on impeachment." On Tuesday, he said the Judiciary Committee's turn with the impeachment inquiry is an "important step to begin translating our work product" into potential articles of impeachment.

"I think tomorrow is going to bring about a great civics lesson for America," he told CBS News on Tuesday.

The Washington Democrat, first elected in 2012, is the sixth House Democrat to announce their retirement in 2020. Four others have either resigned or are running for higher office. By comparison, more than 20 House Republicans are retiring or running for another office or have resigned.

Heck touted his work completing construction of state roads and reauthorizing the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, and his time on the Intelligence Committee, which is considered a prestigious assignment for a member of Congress. 

Political analysts are not expecting his western Washington district to be competitive. It has been represented by a Democrat since it was created due to the 2010 U.S. Census, and the Cook Political Report says it remains a "Solidly Democratic" district. As of Wednesday, only one Democrat and one Republican has filed with the Federal Election Committee for the seat.

Heck said he's confident "outstanding" candidates will step forward to take his seat, and that in his post-Congress life, he looks forward to spending time with his wife in Washington state and writing at least two books.

"None of this discouragement in any way diminishes the bone-deep gratitude I feel for the privilege to serve in Congress and for all who have made this incredible journey possible — my family, the voters of the 10th District, my staff and all the countless people who have extended a thousand kindnesses along the way. So, in less it hasn't been clear enough: Thank you! But it is time for me to retire."

View CBS News In