WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania’s two United States senators, Democrat Bob Casey Jr. and Republican Pat Toomey voted with their colleagues Tuesday to uphold the Senate’s authority to hold an impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
Toomey, who is retiring in 2022 and says he’s leaving politics, was one of five Republican senators to join Democrats. The others were Sens. Bill Cassidy, of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Mitt Romney of Utah. The measure passed the chamber by a vote of 56-44.
On Tuesday, Cassidy issued a withering critique of Trump’s defense team, led by former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor, saying the lawyers did a “terrible” job on the opening day of the trial.
Cassidy, who took fellow Republicans aback by reversing the position he took in a vote last month, contrasted that erratic performance to that of the “focused, organized” House Democrats who argued for Trump’s conviction.
The Democratic impeachment managers “relied both upon precedent, the Constitution, and legal scholars. They made a compelling argument,” Cassidy said, according to a pool feed. “President Trump’s team was disorganized. They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand. And when they talked about it, they kind of glided over it, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments.”
Cassidy continued: “Now if I’m an impartial juror, and one side is doing a great job, and the other side is doing a terrible job on the issue at hand, as an impartial juror, I’m going to vote for the side that did the good job.”
All five of those GOP lawmakers, including Toomey, also supported the trial’s constitutionality in a procedural vote last month. Cassidy did not.
No other president has been tried on impeachment charges after leaving office, and no other president has faced impeachment twice. Trump is charged with inciting the violent mob that lay siege to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, disrupting the tallying of presidential Electoral College votes and resulting in five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer.
Toomey said Tuesday evening that Trump’s attorneys “had a weaker case to start with, and I don’t think it was very persuasive.”
Even Trump supporters were dismayed. “I’ve seen a lot of lawyers and a lot of arguments, and that was, it was not one of the finest I’ve seen,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who added that Castor “just rambled on and on and on.”
Asked by a reporter for a response to the GOP criticism, Castor, a onetime Pennsylvania acting attorney general and former Montgomery County commissioner, said, “We had a good day.”
Cassidy had said heading into the trial that he would listen to both sides with an open mind. Asked how Tuesday’s initial arguments may affect the odds of conviction, he replied: “I don’t know. We haven’t heard that yet. I’m an impartial juror.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., a Trump loyalist, said he was “surprised” by Cassidy’s vote.
“I have not spoken to him, but I can tell you a lot of people from back home are calling me about it right now,” Johnson said Tuesday, according to a pool feed.