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Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.
Following the news out of Washington over the last week has been a bit like having whiplash.
So if you’re unsure how your own elected officials have responded to the scandal-enveloped White House, you’re probably not alone. We’ve scoured what’s out there and contacted Pennsylvania’s federal elected officials to get their take — Republican or Democrat — on some of the reports regarding the president.
Below is what every member of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation has said so far about Trump’s reported actions since the firing of now-former FBI Director Jim Comey. We’ll start with senators, then move onto the House delegation, which is in order of congressional district. (Not sure what your district is or who your congressman is? Use this handy tool.)
His stance in brief: Firing of Comey was “Nixonian.” Disclosure to Russians “makes us less safe.” And “no one, not even the President, is above the law.”
What he’s said so far: Bob Casey’s Twitter account has been a firehose since Trump’s inauguration; that’s only intensified as scandals surrounding the White House pile up. Following the firing of Jim Comey, Casey released a statement saying in part: “This is Nixonian.”
With regard to the sharing of classified information with Russian diplomats, Casey said in a statement to The Post-Gazette: “Any president can declassify intelligence information. However it is not a question of legality. Rather it’s about the appropriate use of highly classified, sensitive intelligence and how to use that intelligence in a manner that will increase the likelihood that the U.S. and our coalition partners will defeat ISIS and keep our country safe. This disclosure to Russian officials undermines that effort.”
This week, Casey tweetstormed following The New York Times‘ report that Trump had asked Comey to shut down the investigation into one of his associates. Casey tweeted, in part: “No one, not even the President, is above the law.”
Casey also commended the appointment of a special counsel.
His stance in brief: Applauds special counsel. Says Trump’s disclosure to Russia was “extremely imprudent.” Also, “There need to be serious changes at the White House, immediately.”
What he’s said so far: Most recently, Toomey released a statement on the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as a special counsel investigation Russian ties to the President and his advisors. Toomey said in the statement that he has “every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute these responsibilities with integrity and professionalism.”
In the same statement, he also reiterated that he continues to believe “the President should promptly nominate an FBI Director who is above politics — ideally a Democrat — to restore public trust. Such an appointment would obviate the need for an independent counsel.” Toomey said publicly he would support a nomination of Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Garland isn’t interested.
Following the Washington Post’s report that Trump disclosed classified information to Russian diplomats, Toomey released a statement that read in part: “Russia is not a friend to the United States, and protecting our country’s classified information from our adversaries is essential. While it is fully within the President’s powers to manage classified information and direct our country’s foreign policy, if classified information was divulged without good reason, it could not only be extremely imprudent, but also hamper our ability to gather intelligence in the future.”
And perhaps his strongest statement was to the New York Times when he appeared in a story about how the White House was sowing confusion and frustration on Capitol Hill. Toomey told The Times: “There need to be serious changes at the White House, immediately.”
Rep. Bob Brady
District he represents: The 1st congressional district, which covers eastern, northeastern and southern parts of Philadelphia.
His stance in brief: “No doubt we need an independent special prosecutor.” It doesn’t appear Brady has yet weighed in on the appointment of a special counsel.
What he’s said so far: Following Comey’s firing, Brady released a statement saying: “Now that the person handling the main investigation of the Russian attack on last year’s presidential election has been fired, there can be no doubt that we need an independent special prosecutor more than ever.” He tweeted something to a similar effect:
Following the appointment of Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation, Brady released a statement that read in part: “This appointment does not dismiss the need for an independent commission to investigate Russia’s attack on our electoral process.”
Rep. Dwight Evans
District he represents: The 2nd congressional district of Pennsylvania, which includes parts of west and north Philadelphia, as well as parts of Montgomery County.
His stance in brief: Russia disclosure is “troubling and unacceptable.” Russia investigation needs a special prosecutor and an independent commission.
What he’s said so far: Following the Comey firing, Evans wrote on Facebook that “the Trump Administration is not ready for primetime” and tweeted “I am now even more skeptical of how we as a Congress will be able to conduct our independent investigation of the Trump Administration’s suspected involvement with #Russia.” On Tuesday, Evans shared the Times story that reported Trump attempted to shut down the FBI investigation into his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and wrote the following:
On Wednesday following the announcement that a special counsel had been appointed, Evans tweeted:
Rep. Mike Kelly
District he represents: The 3rd congressional district of Pennsylvania, which includes parts of northwestern Pennsylvania.
His stance in brief: Well, Kelly’s stance remains… unclear.
What he’s said so far: It’s been radio silence from Kelly regarding Trump’s actions since the firing of Jim Comey. We’ll update this story if we hear anything from Kelly’s office.
Rep. Scott Perry
District he represents: The 4th congressional district of Pennsylvania, which includes parts of Adams, York and Cumberland counties.
His stance in brief: “We need facts, not rumor or conjecture.”
What he’s said so far: Perry’s commented very little on the president’s reported actions, though he did release a statement to The York Dispatch following the news of Trump’s disclosure of classified information to Russian diplomats: “National security is of paramount importance. We need facts, not rumor or conjecture. While we recognize Russian hostility toward our national interests at home and around the globe, we’ll continue to monitor the situation as it develops.”
Rep. Glenn Thompson
District he represents: The 5th congressional district of Pennsylvania, which includes the central and northwestern parts of the state.
His stance in brief: Looking forward to new FBI leadership. Special counsel appointment is a thing.
What he’s said so far: Following director Comey’s firing, Thompson released a statement saying: “The American public is losing faith in our institutions and it is incumbent upon the White House to nominate someone who will ensure the hard working men and women at the FBI have a strong leader who will put the rule of law before party and politics. The American public deserve no less, and I am looking forward to new leadership focused on renewing faith and confidence in the agency.”
Then, he was featured in a Huffington Post story about members of Congress ducking reporters.
“You got me. Is there something new that’s out?” Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) said when asked if he was concerned the president may have shared classified information with the Russians.
On Wednesday, Thompson shared a story that noted a special counsel had been appointed, but he didn’t appear to comment on it.
[twitter url=” https://twitter.com/CongressmanGT/status/864975270146699265 “]
Rep. Ryan Costello
District he represents: The 6th congressional district, which includes parts of the Philadelphia suburbs north and west of the city.
His stance in brief: Explanation for Comey firing “insufficient.” Mueller appointment “the right decision.”
What he’s said so far: We haven’t heard from Costello since Comey was fired and he released this statement: “To date, the explanation for the firing has been insufficient and the timing raises additional questions. I have always maintained that any investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election must have the confidence of the American people. My constituents must have assurances that a non-partisan investigation will yield independent, well-grounded conclusions, and I certainly support that effort. At this time, I am continuing to gather more information.”
Costello also released the following statement after Mueller’s appointment: “Appointing Robert Mueller was the right decision. It is my sincere hope and expectation that the work being done by congressional committees and the special counsel at the Department of Justice will yield the full and verifiable answers I have called for, and that the American people deserve.”
Rep. Patrick Meehan
District he represents: The 7th congressional district, which includes the Philadelphia suburbs and parts of Chester, Montgomery, Delaware and Lancaster counties.
His stance in brief: Has confidence in special counsel. “This whole process is very difficult.”
What he’s said so far: Meehan, a former federal prosecutor who worked in the Justice Department during Mueller’s tenure, said in a statement Wednesday following the appointment of a special counsel: “Bob Mueller is a man of integrity and I have every confidence he will pursue this investigation and follow the facts, wherever they lead him.”
He said more in a conversation with The Inquirer about Mueller, who he worked with on the Corporate Fraud Task Force established by former President George W. Bush.
“I think he will have a calming influence, while going to work in a very serious and frankly expeditious way,” Meehan told The Inky, adding: “He is capable of both creating a sense of confidence in the American people that he is on the job and will do the job right and it will also serve to contain, I believe, some of the activity that’s taking place around this issue, up to and including the leaks of information that constantly create more chaos.”
Meehan also talked to Politico about Trump’s interactions with Comey, saying: “This whole process is very difficult because we are seeing the central institution — the Justice Department, and the independence of the Justice Department — stretched. And people want to have confidence in the independence of [DOJ’s] activities. I’m hoping that throughout this long process, it can get back into a place where there could be confidence in the ability of the institutions to do their work.”
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick
District he represents: The 8th congressional district, which includes parts of Bucks and Montgomery counties.
His stance in brief: Jim Comey’s “a man of principle.” And “we need to be suspect about what’s going on.”
What he’s said so far: Fitzpatrick’s statement following Comey’s ouster may have been the most interesting: He worked as an FBI Supervisory Special Agent under Comey’s leadership. In a statement, Fitzpatrick wrote: “In recent months, Director Comey found himself in the middle of partisan crossfire – being both praised and blamed by both parties. While the President clearly has the legal authority to remove the Director, both the timing and reasoning for his removal clearly raise questions. It is incumbent upon all of us, as Americans — regardless of party — to allow all of the facts to be revealed in a timely and thorough manner and to react accordingly based on those facts. That is precisely what we will do.”
At a panel with other PA congressmen following the firing, Fitzpatrick said “Let’s figure out what the facts are, but we need to be suspect about what’s going on.”
Fitzpatrick also made national news this week after a Democrat called for Trump’s impeachment on the House floor. Fitzpatrick reportedly told lawmakers that “members are reminded to refrain in engaging in personalities toward the president such as accusations that he committed an impeachable offense.”
Rep. Bill Shuster
District he represents: The 9th congressional district of Pennsylvania, which includes parts of southwestern Pennsylvania.
His stance in brief: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What he’s said so far: We haven’t been able to locate a statement on any of the president’s reported actions over the last week or so. We’ll update if we hear anything out of Shuster’s office. Shuster has spent much of the last week focused on hearings about FAA regulations in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which Shuster chairs.
Rep. Tom Marino
District he represents: The 10th district of Pennsylvania, which includes parts of central PA.
His stance in brief: No idea.
What he’s said so far: Like some of his colleagues in the PA congressional delegation, we haven’t heard much — or, at this point, anything — out of Marino’s office about the recent reports regarding President Trump’s dealings with Russian diplomats or former director Comey. We’ll update if we hear anything.
Rep. Lou Barletta
District he represents: 11th district of PA, which includes parts of the central-eastern part of the state.
His stance in brief: Anyone’s guess!
What he’s said so far: We also haven’t heard anything out of the office of Barletta, a congressman who is rumored to be considering a run for Senate in 2018. We’ll update if he releases a statement.
Rep. Keith Rothfus
District he represents: The 12th congressional district of Pennsylvania, which includes parts of western Pennsylvania.
His stance in brief: If Trump revealed classified info to Russians, Rothfus would “be concerned.”
What he’s said so far: The only thing we’ve heard from Rothfus is what was reported in a Huffington Post story about members of congress ducking out on reporters asking questions related to Trump.
Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) said that if it were true, he would be troubled. “I would be concerned if he revealed highly classified information to the Russians,” Rothfus said, adding that we didn’t have all the facts yet.
Rep. Brendan Boyle
District he represents: The 13th congressional district, which covers Northeast Philadelphia and parts of eastern Montgomery County.
His stance in brief: Trump, bad.
What he’s said so far: Boyle, who is active on Twitter and, well, a Democrat, has said some things. A lot of things. We can’t include all of the things. But we’ll pull out some highlights.
Following director Comey’s firing, Boyle released a statement saying: “The stunning firing of FBI Director Comey demonstrates yet again why we must have a special prosecutor looking into the connections between Trump and Russian officials and Russia’s meddling in our election on his behalf, just like we had for Watergate.”
And on Wednesday after the appointment of a special counsel, Boyle wrote in a statement: “While the appointment of an independent counsel is a positive step, there is still an urgent need for a full, independent investigation into the Trump-Russia connection.”
Then, following the Times report that Trump asked Comey to shut down the investigation into Flynn, Boyle tweeted this:
Rep. Mike Doyle
District he represents: The 14th congressional district, which includes parts of Allegheny (yes, Pittsburgh) and Westmoreland counties.
His stance in brief: “They don’t want to get up and defend this.”
What he’s said so far: Doyle most extensive comments came following reports that Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russian diplomats visiting the White House. Doyle spoke to The Post-Gazette, saying: “They’re hiding. They don’t want to get up and defend this. The most benefit of the doubt you can give [Trump] is that he unwittingly revealed information that not only threatened our security but also raises concerns among our allies that are sharing information with us. They’re going to be reluctant to share information with the United States if it can’t be treated in a classified way.”
He continued: “Why did he have a Russians in the Oval the day after firing Comey? He doesn’t even understand the optics of what he does. This is sensitive information that was given to our country by another country — an ally of ours. To reveal that to an adversary is just really shocking. The next time that country has something very sensitive to tell us, how can they be sure we’re not going to tell the Russians? That’s where the concern is.”
Rep. Charlie Dent
District he represents: The 15th congressional district, which includes parts of the Lehigh Valley.
His stance in brief: He wants an independent commission to investigate Russia ties to the election and the Trump administration.
What he’s said so far: Following the firing of Comey, Dent wrote in a statement that “his firing by President Trump is both confounding and troubling, and it is now harder to resist calls for an independent investigation or select committee.” Dent also warned against the power of Vladmir Putin following reports that Trump disclosed classified information. “This man, we need to deter him,” Dent said of Putin, according to The Morning Call. “If he sees an open door, he will walk through it.”
The Washington Post also reported that Dent favors an independent commission over a special prosecutor:
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, said the political fallout from the last week “will make it difficult” for Republicans to resist creating some sort of independent investigative body. Dent said he does not like independent prosecutors because they “tend to take on a life of their own” and instead preferred an independent commission of outside experts.
“We may have to move in that direction,” Dent said Wednesday at a forum moderated by Center Forward, a moderate Democratic organization.
Dent also put out the following statement after Mueller was named special counsel:
Rep. Lloyd Smucker
District he represents: The 16th congressional district, which includes parts of the southeastern part of the state like Lancaster, Chester and Berks counties.
His stance in brief: “It’s certainly incumbent on Congress to be sure that the American public know what is happening”
What he’s said so far: Smucker released a statement following the firing of Jim Comey, saying: “It’s certainly incumbent on Congress to be sure that the American public know what is happening in instances like this and that we uncover everything that can be uncovered.” We haven’t heard much since then, but we’ll update this story if we do.
Rep. Matthew Cartwright
District he represents: The 17th congressional district, which includes parts of northeast Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.
His stance in brief: “It’s hard for people not to jump to the conclusion that something nefarious is being covered up.”
What he’s said so far: For a Democrat, it appears Cartwright’s actually said very little. Though he did take part in a panel and was asked about the firing of Comey.
Cartwright said he expected Comey’s days were waning as FBI head, and that many in Congress had grown weary of his “grandstanding.” “But the timing of this firing is very unfortunate and critical, and it’s hard for people not to jump to the conclusion that something nefarious is being covered up,” he said.
Rep. Tim Murphy
District he represents: The 18th congressional district, which includes parts of southwestern Pennsylvania.
His stance in brief: It’s unclear.
What he’s said so far: We haven’t heard anything out of Murphy over the last week or so regarding the president’s reported actions. We’ll update this story if we do.