Casey Says New Witnesses Should Be Called In Senate Impeachment Trial

Dec 19, 2019

Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation in the U.S. House voted along party lines to impeach President Trump this week, and Pennsylvanians can see a similar divide between the state’s two U.S. Senators.

After the House impeached Trump Wednesday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn't send articles of impeachment to the Senate until fair rules for conducting the trial are set.

Democrat Bob Casey said Pelosi is well within her rights to do that. And he supports Senate Democrats' calls for additional witnesses -- specifically, former National Security Advisor John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

"[I]f everything's okay with the phone call and the President did nothing wrong, let's just put all the facts in front of the American people see how they decide this," Casey told WESA Thursday. "But at a minimum, the Senate needs to see this information by way of testimony."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shut down Democrats requests for new witnesses. Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey offered a more measured view in a recent appearance on Meet the Press, saying that the decision about new witnesses should be made after arguments from both sides are heard in the Senate.

“I think it would be extremely inappropriate to put a bullet in this thing immediately when it comes over,” he said. “I think we ought to hear what the House impeachment managers have to say, give the President’s attorneys an opportunity to make the defense, and then make a decision about whether and to what extent it would go forward from there.”

The split between Casey and Toomey has been clear ever since the House announced the official inquiry in September.

Casey was early to call for Trump’s impeachment – less than a day after the House announced the inquiry. Later that month, Casey told WESA the president’s now-infamous call with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky -- in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden -- was a “textbook case of abuse of power.”

Toomey has repeatedly said that while he believes Trump “has made errors in judgment,” he does not think the president’s actions rise to the level of impeachment.

As the House impeachment investigation continued this fall, Casey tweeted his support for the witnesses called to testify before the House Intelligence committee, saying they “put country over politics” and that “we should all be inspired by these and countless other public servants who work to further U.S. national security, moral leadership and democratic institutions abroad.”

In contrast, Toomey told WESA in November that he’s “not following every transcript that was leaked and every story that’s been told. I’ll wait to see what, if anything, the House produces.”

Still, now that the House has impeached the president, both Toomey and Casey will sit as jurors during the Senate trial.

"I agree with Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer’s call for a fair trial and to hear from four witnesses with direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the delay of United States’ security assistance to Ukraine," Casey said in December. "The United States Senate was given by the Founding Fathers the grave responsibility to ‘try all impeachments,’ and we have a constitutional obligation to conduct a fair and thorough trial. Every Senator will swear an oath to hear evidence as an impartial juror, and we owe it to the American people to fairly consider all available information related to these articles of impeachment."

Toomey said in November that it was his responsibility to pay attention to the case House impeachment managers (members of Congress who act as prosecutors outlining the case) make: "[A]t that point I’ll examine all the evidence they present.”

“I think there’s a big disagreement about what rises to a level of impeachment,” Toomey said on Meet the Press. “So after the arguments are made, then I think that’s the time to decide whether witnesses are necessary.”

The Constitution requires a two-thirds majority of senators for conviction and removal from office. Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the chamber: None have given any public indication that they are likely to vote for removal.