GOP senator: Trump ‘committed impeachable offenses’

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who has played a leading role in opposing efforts to throw out the results of the 2020 election, on Saturday said President Trump has “committed impeachable offenses.” 

“I do think the president committed impeachable offenses,” Toomey said during an interview on Fox News’s “The Journal Editorial Report.”

Toomey is the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee. He plans to retire from Congress at the end of 2022 to return to the private sector.

Toomey said he did not know whether the Senate would act on any articles of impeachment passed by the House during the final 11 days of Trump’s term in office and voiced concern that Democrats may try to “politicize” the process.

“I don’t know what they are going to send over, and one of the things that I’m concerned about, frankly, is whether the House would completely politicize something,” he said.

While Toomey said he believes Trump “committed impeachable offenses,” he added, “I don’t know what’s going to land on the Senate floor if anything.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to colleagues Friday that if Trump does not leave office “imminently and willingly,” the House will proceed with action.

During a phone call that lasted more than three hours on Friday afternoon, an overwhelming majority of House Democrats voiced support for impeaching Trump for a second time.

Pelosi expressed hope that the threat of impeachment would mobilize Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

Pelosi had not announced as of Saturday afternoon a final decision on how the House will move forward.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday circulated a memo laying out the procedures for another impeachment trial if the House votes a second time to impeach Trump.

McConnell’s memo stated that while the Senate could receive a message from the House informing the upper chamber that it has passed articles of impeachment, the secretary of the Senate could not notify the Senate of the message until Jan. 19, when the senators are scheduled to return from a recess.

As a result, the House impeachment managers could not exhibit the articles of impeachment on the Senate floor until Jan. 19 unless all 100 senators agree to allow business to take place before the recess is scheduled to end — an unlikely possibility, according to McConnell’s memo.

The Senate’s impeachment rules do not allow the upper chamber to begin the trial until one day after the House impeachment managers exhibit the articles of impeachment, which means another trial couldn’t begin before 1 p.m. on Jan. 20, after Joe Biden is sworn in as president — unless all 100 senators agree to return earlier.

McConnell’s memo stated that it’s not clear whether Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over Trump’s second impeachment trial, if it happened, because he would no longer be president when it started.

Two other Republican senators have expressed willingness to remove Trump from office over what they see as his role in whipping up a pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol Friday.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) told “CBS This Morning” that if the House comes together on an impeachment process, “I will definitely consider whatever articles they might move because, as I told you, I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office.”  

Sasse said he “swore an oath to the American people to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” and that Trump “acted against that.”

Sasse later said he heard from senior White House officials that Trump was “delighted” to learn that his supporters broke into the Capitol building. The melee resulted in the death of a Capitol police officer and several rioters.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that Trump should resign.

“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” she said.

Toomey said in the interview that aired Saturday that Trump’s false claims of widespread election fraud cost Republicans control of the Senate by depressing GOP turnout in two runoff races in Georgia.

“We lost those races because the races were about Donald Trump and not about our candidates. I think we had better candidates. He had a very, very good rationale to present to the voters, which is you don’t want to risk the Democrats who have gone to this extreme left in recent years, you don’t want to give them power,” he said.

But Toomey said that message “got eclipsed.”

“We had turnout problems. It’s hard to turn out voters when you’re telling them that the election is rigged against them anyway. It’s not a great message to inspire people to go to the polls,” he said. “I think we could have won both of those races.”

Toomey defended McConnell’s handling of Republican objections to electoral votes for Biden in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

The GOP leader warned his colleagues not to support objections to electoral votes, which he argued would put fellow Republicans in a tough spot and undermine states’ rights to set their own election rules.

“Mitch McConnell has been handling some very, very difficult circumstances about as well as anybody could,” Toomey said. “He knew that it was a very bad idea to go down this road of rejecting electors that states had duly authorized, and he made the case for why we shouldn’t go down that road.”

Asked if Senate Republican colleagues bore some responsibility for a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol on Wednesday when Congress was counting the Electoral College vote, Toomey said, “I think there’s a lot of soul searching that’s going to have to happen.”

“There are people who perpetrated the big lie that Donald Trump won in a landslide and it’s all been stolen from him. That’s not true,” he said.

He said there was “a compounding of dishonesty” by people who propagated the idea that Congress’s tallying of the Electoral College vote on Wednesday “could result in a different outcome and therefore it was reasonable to try to pressure lawmakers.”

“That was never going to happen. That was never possible. And so to willfully mislead people about that, that’s a real problem,” Toomey added.  

Updated 5:52 p.m.

Tags Ben Sasse Capitol breach Capitol Riots Donald Trump Impeachment Joe Biden Lisa Murkowski Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Pat Toomey Trump impeachment

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