Casey: ‘There’s no question of obstruction’ by Trump | Friday Morning Coffee

June 7, 2019 7:00 am

Then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr at the Justice Department, discussing the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election (screen capture)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

So let’s get one thing out of the way right away: if you were expecting U.S. Sen. Bob Casey to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, we’d urge you to skip ahead right now to today’s Heavy Rotation pick or today’s Gratuitous Hockey Link for news that would truly surprise you.

To be sure, Pennsylvania’s senior United States senator had plenty to say about America’s 45th president when we caught up with him during a stop in suburban Harrisburg on Thursday morning. And while the word “impeachment”did show up, it did not result in Casey calling for Trump’simpeachment.

That is partly a function of Casey being Casey, cautious and deliberative — almost to a fault.

But, perhaps more importantly, it’s also a function of the fact that, as a member of the Senate, Casey would be called to sit in judgment during any impeachment trial. And while he may privately believe that Trump should be exiled to some malarial colony for high crimes and misdemeanors, he can’t actually say that alone.

Appearances, at minimum, dictate that.

“Well, first of all, my role is going to be on the second part of [an impeachment proceeding]; which is if there is an impeachment [trial in the Senate], then you have to decide whether … that individual should be removed,” he said. “So I’ve got to consider the evidence when it gets there.”

But not to worry, there is an alternative:

“Remember, one of the best ways that people learned about Watergate was not through impeachment hearings, it was through Senate hearings that were called the ‘Watergate Hearings,'” Casey said Thursday. “So I would hope that we will try to continue to try to push for ways that more Americans can become engaged in terms of what’s in [the Mueller] report.”

Casey said his own review of Mueller’s 448-page door-stopper revealed clear evidence of Russian tampering in the 2016 election. And “yet there’s no administration initiative that substantial enough to meet the threat from Russia,” he said.

He continued, “There’s no question that there were multiple instances of obstructive conduct.”

A few more takeaways from our conversation with Casey:

Trump’s planned 5 percent tariffs on Mexico as a way to stem illegal immigration “make no sense,” Casey said. Administration officials on Thursday were trying to resolve some outstanding issues with the Mexican government before the planned tariffs kick on in Monday.

“And this is one of those rare moments where people in both parties are on the same page. It makes no sense to use a tariff in this manner, to force some kind of progress on immigration and border security,” Casey said of Republican senators who have voiced similar concerns about the White House’s heavy-handed tactics.

Meanwhile: A comprehensive agreement on immigration reform remains out of reach — even after House approval of a bill earlier this week that provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers and those with “temporary protected status.”

“I wish the President would just come to the House and the Senate, and have one meeting and say, ‘You know what, let’s dust off that 2013 immigration bill, which was … negotiated with a lot of conflict and division.”

The end product of that 2013 bill, which vanished in the House, was an “[investment] in border security that works use all the best technology,” Caseyreflected. “We know that ports of entry are where the big problem is [with illegal] drugs [coming into the United States], for example. We could invest in new infrastructure there. We could put people on a path to citizenship and deal with the guest worker issues. In other words, I don’t know why for the life of me, he doesn’t want to take on comprehensive immigration reform that we know has bipartisan support.”

And, yes, for God’s sake: The president does need to go to Congress and get permission before he starts World War III with Iran.

“We are long overdue,” for a new authorization of the use of military force, Casey said. “This is a bipartisan failure … The impediment here is [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell. He should allow a vote on the authorization of military force — or a series of votes. No one likes to do that. It’s difficult for a public official to do that. But I think it’s our duty to have that kind of debate, and to have that kind of vote, so we can update the authorization, which I think is pretty stale.”

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And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.