Sen. Bob Casey labels Trump call ‘a textbook abuse of power’
Calling President Trump’s request that the Ukrainian president investigate former Vice President Joe Biden “a textbook case of abuse of power,” Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, on Wednesday called on his colleagues to hold the president accountable and came out firmly in support of a formal House impeachment inquiry.
Speaking to the press following the release of a transcript of Trump’s comments in his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Casey said the timing of the call and Trump’s comments one day after the completion of the Mueller hearing aired concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 election, suggest Trump sees himself as invincible.
Casey insisted the transcript supports his concerns. He said Trump’s decision to bring his personal attorney into the conversation and ask that Zelenskiy cooperate with Rudolph Guiliani underscored the political nature of his request.
“That is a serious, grave circumstance for a president to ask for any favor that has a political objective,” Casey said. “If there is not a law against this, then I’d say damn it, we should pass a law to make it illegal. … This isn’t obstructive conduct that relates to the breaking in of a headquarters in the 1970s. … This isn’t obstructive conduct as we saw in the Clinton years.
“This is conduct related to a foreign adversary interfering with an American election,” Casey said.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania’s junior senator, released a brief statement that took issue with that. He said Trump’s comments were “inappropriate,” but did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
Casey said he has not spoken with Toomey, but said his colleague’s comments, coupled with the Senate’s unanimous vote requiring that the whistleblower’s report that flagged the controversial call be transmitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee, reflect growing concerns about the president’s conduct.
“Not a single senator objected. … All of that is encouraging in a Senate that is often divided on a range of issues,” Casey said. “This reaction indicates the gravity of what we’re talking about here. I don’t think it’s ever happened in American history or in recent history that we know of.”
Although the House, which is in Democratic hands, is responsible for conducting impeachment inquiries, it would be up to the Republican-controlled Senate to vote on whether to convict the president should the House hand down articles of impeachment.
Casey said he would keep an open mind should the House send articles of impeachment to the Senate.
“What I would hope is that impeachment would act as a deterrent, and the president would not abuse his power,” Casey said.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .