Pa.’s Toomey had the chance to impeach Trump. Will he finally do the right thing now? | Monday Morning Coffee

January 11, 2021 7:13 am

Capital-Star file

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey became the second Republican member of the U.S. Senate to call on President Donald Trump to resign for fomenting the violence that wracked the Capitol last week, dealing a body blow to our system, and leaving five people dead (one of them from Pennsylvania).

“The president’s behavior after the election was wildly different than his behavior before he descended into a level of madness and engaged in activity that was just absolutely unthinkable and unforgivable,” Toomey told CNN’s State of the Unionthe Guardian reported.

Toomey continued, telling CNN that “the behavior was outrageous. And there should be accountability. I think the president has disqualified himself from ever serving in office again.

“It’s the best path forward, the best way to get this person in the rearview mirror,” Toomey concluded.  “There’s no question there’s a lot of a very objectionable behavior over the way. I just think that what we witnessed this week is orders of magnitude more egregious than anything we’ve ever seen from Donald Trump before.”

At first blush, it was tempting to ask where this Pat Toomey had been hiding for the last five years. His remarks came barely 24 hours after he told Fox News that he believed Trump had committed impeachable offenses.

Reading the fine print, however, reveals the typical Toomey cageiness. The Lehigh Valley Republican stopped well short of saying whether he would vote in favor of removing Trump from office if the U.S. House sends over articles of impeachment, which is expected as early as today, and if the Senate puts Trump on trial. Toomey said he’d have to see the bill. Given a previous opportunity, Toomey voted against impeaching Trump.

Toomey also noted that there probably isn’t time for a House vote and a Senate trial before Trump leaves office on Jan. 20. And it’s entirely unlikely that Trump is going to step down under his own steam.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A pro-Trump mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Which means, at best, that Toomeywho at least had sense enough to oppose his fellow Republicans’ catastrophically stupid attempt to block certification on the Senate floor last week, was shouting into the void, without much consequence or, ultimately, much impact.

Toomey isn’t running for re-election in 2022, and says he plans to retire from politics, placing him in a long line of politicians who discover candor only when there’s no political price to pay for it. And it’s worth noting that, whatever misgivings or disagreements Toomey may have had about, and with, Trump, the Republican said last weekend that he’d both campaigned for him, and voted for his re-election.

So it’s only now, after four years of giving Trump free rein to trample the constitution and take a wrecking ball to our democratic norms, that Toomey believes Trump has finally gone too far?

True, inciting your followers to commit insurrection and sack the seat of the United States government is an unambiguous bright line. But it’s also about as courageous as saying that you don’t like broccoli. No rational human thinks that an attempted coup against the U.S. government is something that can be excused away.

But finally, now? This is the breaking point? Not after a bungled response to a health crisis that’s left 373,000 Americans dead? Not after one foreign policy crisis after another that’s demolished our prestige abroad? Not after the undisguised racism of our summer of unrest?

From playing it coy about his pro-Trump vote during a difficult 2016 re-election campaign, and Impeachment V1.0 to the six weeks of lies and baseless accusations of fraud leading up to last Wednesday’s constitutional crisis, Toomey has tried to have it both ways on the man-child in the White House.

Toomey’s criticized Trump when it’s convenient, but faithfully stood by him during those moments when he could have used the power and prestige of his office to say enough’s enough. He didn’t have to look any further than his colleague, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, to figure out how to thread that needle.

The damage done Wednesday will take years to undo. And the nation is holding its breath over the prospect of more violence before Joe Biden takes the keys to the White House on Jan. 20.

Toomey and every other Republican who’s waking up with buyer’s remorse as the warranty is about to expire had their shot. It’s far too little, far too late.

Make it right.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
Pennsylvania saw a boost in its 2020 year-end tax collectionsCassie Miller reports, as she dives into the data for this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

Last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol has laid bare the electoral misinformation campaign waged by legislative Republicans in Harrisburg, Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison report.

If you missed it, here’s our full story on U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s, R-Pa., comments about Trump and the attempted coup at the Capitol.

And pro-Trump Republicans ‘reaped what they sowed’ with the violence, a Black pastor tells our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune.

On our Commentary Page this morning, the Pittsburgh Public Schools are heading into the New Year with many of the same, old fiscal challengesColin McNickle writes. And add opinion regular Dick Polman to the ranks of pundits wondering why Republicans are mystified by the violence at the Capitol.

En la Estrella-Capital: El tribunal estatal falla contra la certificación de la enmienda de las víctimas de delitos de La Ley de Marsy. Y Pa. anima a los distritos escolares a regresar a los estudiantes más jóvenes al salón de clases.

(Photo via Flickr Commons)

A Philadelphia police detective is the subject of an internal affairs investigation for allegedly attending President Donald Trump’s pre-riot rally, the Inquirer reports.
U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, has made the case for President Donald Trump’s immediate removal, the Post-Gazette reports.
There were 22 homicides in Harrisburg in 2020, the deadliest year in more than 30 years, PennLive reports.
U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th Districtsays she’s tested negative for COVID-19 after sheltering in-place in the Capitol last week, the Morning Call reports.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown talks to the Citizens-Voice about his first year in office.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

Philadelphia has 3,600 murals and not very many ways to protect them, WHYY-FM reports.
Younger Pennsylvanians don’t know much about the Holocaust and genocide, WITF-FM’s Smart Talk reports.
York Mayor Michael Helfrich has appointed an acting substitute as he heads out of town for two weeks to visit family, the York Daily Record reports.
Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper and former Gov. Tom Ridge have talked to GoErie about the Capitol riot. profiles states’ efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccinations.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
, says the House will move ahead with impeachment if Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t remove TrumpPolitico reports.

What Goes On.
The House comes in at noon today. State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine holds an 11:30 a.m. online briefing on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out this morning to longtime reader, and Friend O’the BlogMandy Fleischer Nace, and to our pal, Alex Roarty, of McClatchy Newspapers, both of whom celebrated on Saturday. Hope it was a good one, friends.

Heavy Rotation.
We marked five years of a world without David Bowie over the weekendAnd if there was ever a time that we needed the Starman to help us make sense of things, it’s right now. Here’s one to remember him by. It’s ‘Golden Years.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
The Guardian rounds up this weekend’s third round of FA Cup action, which saw League 2’s Crawley Town get past Leeds 3-0 on Sunday.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

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