Toomey: Available evidence doesn't merit Trump's ouster
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said Thursday that he wouldn't vote to convict President Donald Trump if the House were to send impeachment articles to the upper chamber based on the evidence now available.
Toomey's stand came as the impeachment battle rages in the House, and Senate Republicans were set to vote on a resolution condemning the House's probe into Trump's call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The Republican on Thursday, Oct. 24, said he wouldn't vote to convict Trump in the Senate for urging Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, despite admitting the phone call demonstrated "poor judgment."
"While President Trump exercised poor judgement in suggesting that foreign countries investigate Vice President Biden, nothing I’ve seen thus far rises to the level of removing him from office," Toomey said.
If all of the Democrats in the Senate voted for impeachment after a trial, about 20 Republicans would have to back a conviction to oust the president.
The Pennsylvania Republican, who at times has broken with his own party over Trump, echoed GOP criticisms of the House's impeachment inquiry, especially about the procedure House Democrats have employed to investigate the White House.
Most of the GOP's gripes revolve around the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is continuing the inquiry without holding a vote to formally open the impeachment process.
"Because impeachment is a grave matter, it has traditionally been conducted in a transparent, accountable, and fair manner," Toomey said. "Unfortunately, House Democrats are disgracefully breaking with that bipartisan precedent."
While the impeachment inquiries launched against former Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon included a vote on the House floor, House rules have changed and committee power has expanded, Pelosi has countered.
Republicans contend Pelosi has ducked a vote in order to rob House Republicans of subpoena power. They've also demanded Trump's attorneys be allowed to cross-examine witnesses.
Such a vote could potentially allow Republicans to subpoena Biden or his son, who served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company.
Many House Republicans have pushed to be involved in the closed-door investigations that have led to leaked testimonies. On Wednesday, House Republicans stormed a deposition being held in a SCIF, or sensitive compartmented information facility — an area where electronic devices are not allowed, as a security measure to protect classified information — with cell phones in hand.
Most notably, Bill Taylor, an American diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, reportedly testified that Trump withheld nearly $400 million to Ukraine in an effort to pressure that country to publicly announce it would launch an investigation into the Bidens.
The Senate GOP's frustration with the inquiry boiled over on Thursday, when Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced a resolution to condemn the House's inquiry. The resolution had 44 co-sponsors as of 4:30 p.m. — one of which was Toomey.
"We believe that a lot of people want to get Trump, and they don't give a damn about how they get him," Graham said, adding that he believes the Democrats' impeachment inquiry is out of line and dangerous to the country.
Senate Republicans nationwide have been plagued by questions about whether they would vote to convict should a trial commence in the Senate. That scenario is likely, as the House is expected to easily muster a simple majority to impeach Trump and put the case in the Senate's hands.
Some, such as Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, have recently faced backlash from constituents at town halls as they refuse to take a firm stance on whether to vote to convict the president.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., did not respond Thursday to inquiries for comment. Casey has, however, previously called for Trump's impeachment.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.