Chesco Congressmen React

April 2, 2018
witf
How would Pa.’s U.S. House delegation react if Mueller is fired?

robert_mueller.jpg

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 file photo, Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs the Capitol after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Undated) — President Donald Trump’s recent public criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has raised concerns he may be laying the groundwork to derail the probe.

While the president and members of his administration have consistently denied any action would be taken to silence the investigation, top Republicans in Congress don’t seem too concerned. They have said they won’t back legislation to protect the special counsel.

Other members of the House and Senate have avoided answering questions about the topic.

So, where does Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation stand?

WITF teamed with our public media colleagues at WESA in Pittsburgh, WHYY in Philadelphia, and WPSU in State College to find out what your elected congressman would do if Trump made a move against Mueller.

We contacted all 18 members, with a request they answer three questions. They were initially given a deadline of at least three days, which was extended for some that expressed an interest in responding.

1. How would you respond if President Trump fired Robert Mueller?

2. Would you take any specific actions and, if so, what would they be?

3. Should the president be able to fire Mueller?

Our reporting shows more than half of the House members from the commonwealth refused to answer any of the questions. Eight of the 18 members (six Republicans and two Democrats) simply did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A few issued statements. A handful were willing to talk about their views on tape.

How Pennsylvania's U.S. House Delegation Responded

Find out how your congressman responded below:

congressman_bob_brady.jpgRep. Robert Brady, D-PA (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

1st District:  Democrat Bob Brady represents parts of Philadelphia, the city of Chester and parts of Delaware County.

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

 

2nd District: Democrat Dwight Evans represents parts of Philadelphia and portions of Montgomery County.

How would you respond if the Trump administration fires Robert Mueller?

“He is obstructing justice if he attempts to do that, and I believe that’s more than cause for him to be impeached.”

Would you take any specific actions and, if so, what would they be?

“I would seek articles of impeachment…Last December, I voted not to table a house resolution calling for the impeachment of Trump. I voted for it twice when it came up.”

Should the president be able to fire Mueller?

“I do not believe that he should be able to fire the special counsel that is investigating him. I believe that is not acceptable…. I signed onto a discharge petition to support the special counsel’s integrity. It’s called house resolution 4659, which would prohibit the removal of the special counsel without cause.”

3rd District: Republican Mike Kelly represents the Armstrong, Butler, and Mercer counties and areas of Clarion, Crawford, Erie, and Lawrence counties.

Kelly’s director of communications emailed WESA this statement:

“I spoke with Rep. Kelly about your questions and he has decided to respectfully decline your request. Considering that does not serve on the Judiciary Committee and that each question is based on a hypothetical situation, he does not believe that he is in a proper position to issue a public response at this time.”

scott_perry_hearing.jpg

Photo by AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

GOP Congressman Scott Perry

4th District: Republican Scott Perry represents Adams and York counties, as well as parts of Cumberland and Dauphin counties.

“I’m not going to speculate on hypothetical situations. Factually, it’s within any President’s jurisdiction to fire a Special Counsel. The Mueller investigation should be allowed to run its course, but it clearly has turned into a fishing expedition prompted by the illegal use of federal surveillance powers and discredited information that was bought and paid for by operatives related to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign.  I’ve said previously the scope of this investigation should include such actions undertaken by the Clinton Campaign and the Obama Administration. The truth is the truth and it should have no agenda.”

 

5th District: Republican Glenn Thompson represents Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Huntingdon, Jefferson, McKean and Potter counties and parts of Clearfield, Crawford, Erie, Tioga, Warren and Venango counties.

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment

 

ryan_costello.pngCongressman Ryan Costello. Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News

6th District: Republican Ryan Costello represents portions of Philadelphia, Montgomery and Berks counties.

How would you respond if the Trump administration fires Robert Mueller?

“At this moment in time, knowing what I know, if Mueller were fired, I would take issue with that. I think he should be allowed to proceed with the investigation as he has been charged to do by the department of justice.”

Would you take any specific actions and, if so, what would they be?

“It’s difficult to say what actions I would propose taking if he were to be fired, because number one, it’s a hypothetical, and number two, I don’t know what basis would be alleged to have him fired. Without knowing those two elements, it’s difficult to provide any more clarity. But I think he should be allowed to continue with his investigation.”

Should the president be able to fire Mueller?

“My view is that whatever is customarily or constitutionally prescribed should remain…If we make changes to the independent counsel, it should be done at the conclusion of this investigation, not in connection with this investigation. I think that would only further politicize or poison an already very controversial situation.”

 

7th District: Republican Pat Meehan represents portions of Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lancaster counties.

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

How Democrats Responded
How Republicans Responded

8th DistrictRepublican Brian Fitzpatrick represents Bucks County and parts of Montgomery County.

How would you respond if the Trump administration fires Robert Mueller?

“I called for the appointment of a special counsel, and I have fully supported the decision to appoint former FBI Director Mueller – who I served under as an FBI Special Agent – as special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election. The special counsel must see his investigation through to the end.”

Would you take any specific actions and, if so, what would they be?

“I would join Congress in voting to have the special counsel resume his operation. As I’ve said before: At the FBI, all of my colleagues – regardless of our role – put the pursuit of the truth and the defense of our nation above all else. Our mission was to follow the facts wherever they lead, and to report those facts with unimpeachable integrity. Congress should follow that lead.”

Should the president be able to fire Mueller?

“Although the President has executive authority to do any number of things, it is Congress’ job to provide checks and balances to that authority. As DAG Rosenstein noted at the onset of the investigation: ‘Our nation is grounded on the rule of law, and the public must be assured that government officials administer.”

 

9th District: Republican Bill Shuster represents Bedford, Blair, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton and Indiana counties, as well as parts of Cambria, Greene, Huntingdon, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland counties.

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

 

APtommarinoPax1200-768x475.jpgRep. Thomas Marino. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

 

10th District: Republican Tom Marino represents Mifflin, Juniata, Snyder and Union counties and parts of Perry County.

His office provided the following statement:  “Unfortunately, Congressman Marino cannot comment on if something will happen but is happy to speak to you when something does happen.”

 

11th District: Republican Lou Barletta represents Bradford, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Pike, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union and Wayne counties and portions of Lackawanna, Monroe, Northumberland, Perry and Tioga counties.

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

 

12th District: Republican Keith Rothfus represents of Beaver County and parts of Allegheny, Cambria, Lawrence, Somerset and Westmoreland counties.

Representative Rothfus’s communications director told WESA in a phone call that the Congressman does not wish to speculate during this time. While she initially said Rothfus might have further comment, the office did not respond

 

13th District: Democrat Brendan Boyle represents Montgomery County and parts of Philadelphia County.

How would you respond if the Trump administration fires Robert Mueller?

“If the President were to fire the special counsel Robert Mueller, I would file an article of impeachment. That would constitute obstruction of justice.

It would be an exact replay of what President Nixon did in October of 1973, which has been subsequently referred to as the Saturday night massacre, when President Nixon was attempting to end the Watergate investigation. He fired the special counsel and it was after that event that you saw the first articles of impeachment filed against President Nixon.”

Would you take any specific actions and, if so, what would they be?

(see answer to #1)

Should the president be able to fire Mueller?

“No president should be able to obstruct a criminal investigation of any kind, especially an investigation into his own conduct.”

 

14th District: Democrat Michael Doyle represents portions of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

How would you respond if President Trump fired Robert Mueller?”

“Well, I think if he does that it would be the beginning of the end of his presidency. What the president needs to do is stop making himself look guilty by his behavior and let the special counsel do his job. If he’s done nothing wrong, he has nothing to fear from the special counsel.

Robert Mueller is a man of integrity unquestioned on both sides of the aisle. He’s a Republican and he has a reputation for fairness and thoroughness, and the president just needs to let him do his job.

And the president should do his job and not spending most of his time Tweeting about how unfair this is that there’s an investigation going on.”

Would you take any specific actions if President Trump decided to fire Mueller? If so, what that would they be?

“Well, I wouldn’t take any specific actions personally, but I think the Congress would. I think if he would [fire Mueller], this would trigger serious action by the House and Senate leadership.

I think it would be joined by members of both parties in the Congress. As to what specifically that is, I wouldn’t be the one that would be formulating that. That would be formulated by the leadership in the House and the Senate.”

Should the president be able to fire the special counsel?

“I mean the president has the power to do that. So it’s not a question of whether or not he’s afforded that power but in this particular instance where he is the one being investigated, it would certainly, I believe, spark many different kinds of actions against him.

So I think, you know, if he were smart, he would stop what he’s doing and he would focus on the job that people elected him to do … This is a distraction that’s not good for him and it’s not good for the country.”

 

600X340-charlie-dent-AP.pngRep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

 

15th District: Republican Charlie Dent represents Lehigh County and parts of Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon and Northampton counties.

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

 

16th District: Republican Lloyd Smucker represents Chester County and portions of Lancaster and Berks counties.

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

 

17h District: Democrat Matthew Cartwright represents Schuylkill County and parts of Carbon, Monroe, Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Northampton counties.

“I agree with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: the special counsel should be allowed to finish his job. That investigation has already yielded guilty pleas from three individuals, a grand jury indictment of another, and prosecutor indictments of 13 Russians for allegedly trying to undermine our national democratic process.  This investigation predates Robert Mueller, and Mueller has a reputation for only being interested in the facts.  Both Congress and the president should allow him to get to the bottom of the issues underlying the indictments that are within the scope of his assignment.”

conor_lamb_win.jpgCongressman Conor Lamb. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

18th District: Democrat Conor Lamb represents parts of Greene, Washington, Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. 

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Source

 

Jan 27, 2018
Reading Eagle
GOP grapples with fallout over U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan

A day after U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan announced he will not seek re-election, party leaders were working on a plan-B to help them hold on to the suddenly vulnerable seat in the 7th Congressional District.A Delaware County Republican who represents part of Berks County, Meehan dropped out of the race amidst the outcry over reports that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint lodged by a former aide. He abandoned his campaign three days after the state Supreme Court ordered state lawmakers to draw new boundaries for Pennsylvania’s congressional districts in time for the 2018 primary.

“The timing is terrible,” said U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, an Allentown Republican representing part of Berks County.

“The redistricting will complicate matters because of the uncertainty that has been injected into the situation,” Dent said. “If they draw a new map, people will have very little time to make up their mind if they are going to run.”

Val Digiorgio, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, called it an unprecedented challenge for Republicans, brought on by a hyper-partisan judiciary.
“You have a compressed amount of time to see if there is someone interested and vetted enough to be endorsed – someone with a good resume and ties to the community. With the right candidate, we have a good chance of holding on to the seat.” Digiorgio said.

The state GOP will file an appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court next week asking it to issue a stay in redistricting until after the 2018 election, Digiorgio said.

‘It’s just disappointing’

A former federal prosecutor, Meehan had planned to run for a fifth term. But last week, Meehan lost his seat on the House Ethics Committee after The New York Times reported on the settlement of a sexual harassment claim. The committee has launched an investigation of Meehan and House Speaker Paul Ryan said Meehan should repay any taxpayer money used in the settlement.

Initially, Meehan said he was still going to run despite the controversy and some calls for his resignation.

But in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Meehan described the former aide as his “soul mate” and acknowledged he had strong feelings for her. He said he never pursued her romantically and denied ever harassing her. Nonetheless, political analysts said the interview and a letter he released describing his fondness for his former aide derailed his chances of weathering the storm.

“Before the interview maybe he could have survived,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College. The “soul mate” comment made it appear he was smitten with her, Madonna said.

Meehan, 62, a married father of three, announced Thursday night he would not seek re-election.

“That is a personal choice. He knows the details behind the decision better than anyone else,” said state Sen. Bob Mensch, a Montgomery County Republican. “It is not necessarily a sign of guilt.”

Dent said it is appropriate for the Ethics Committee to investigate Meehan and he would let that process take its course. Dent is retiring and not seeking re-election, leaving his long-held Republican seat in the 15th District also without an incumbent. Now, two of the four congressional districts in Berks County won’t have incumbents on the ticket in November.

“I’ve been a friend of (Meehan’s) for 30-years. He has been a friend on many issues,” said Dent. “The situation is what it is. He has been a guy I’ve grown to respect and admire. We have worked together on a number of matters.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, a Lancaster County Republican who represents part of Berks County, said in an email statement that Meehan made the right decision to not seek another term.

“It was disturbing to learn of Congressman Meehan’s behavior, and frankly it’s just disappointing. Everyone needs to be treated with respect at all times, and members of Congress should be setting that example,” Smucker wrote.

Joe Rudderow, chairman of the Berks County Republican Committee, had a similar message in an email statement.

“The Berks County Republican Committee believes that our elected officials need to always preserve the public trust and be good financial stewards of the offices that they hold. Without exception, their actions and deeds need to always be honorable and forthright. Congressman Meehan’s decision not to seek re-election is the right decision for himself, his family and the voters of the 7th Congressional district,” Rudderow write.

U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, a Chester County Republican who represents part of Berks County, said he does not want to pile on to the situation, but it should be investigated by the Ethics Committee.

“Obviously the situation is a serious issue,” Costello said. “I do think that when you look at his 30 years of public service, he did a lot of good as district attorney of Delaware County, as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District, and he has been an effective legislator.”

The 7th Congressional race is unpredictable not only because there is a short time to find a candidate, Costello said, but the state Supreme Court decision to invalidate the map also causes additional confusion about what the district might ultimately look like.

Across the state, candidates may have invested time and money into running and could find, after a new map is drawn, that they live in a different district and face a new incumbent.

The 7th district is now a prime target to be reshaped, Madonna said, because Republicans have no incumbent to protect.

“Given the state Supreme Court’s order that to redistrict you can’t create all these funny fingers (on the map), there is a good likelihood that the district will have more Democrats,” Madonna said.

In the spring, Joseph Billie of Aston Township in Delaware County filed as a Republican primary challenger to Meehan. He didn’t get too much attention but suddenly his phone is ringing off the hook.

“People are reaching out to me,” said Billie, 45, a machine operator working in paper manufacturing. “I’ve been running for months and I’ve had people come to me quietly. Now people from the party had been meeting with me. I had been getting a little bit of support but nothing like now.”

Billie was at an event for U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Hazelton Republican, Thursday night when he learned that Meehan is out of the race.

“I kind of expected it, but not now,” Billie said. “I thought it would happen later. My whole game plan is changed now. I’m still in the process of waiting to see who will come in. We will deal with that in May.”

Sean Gale, a Plymouth Township attorney, is exploring a run for the Republican nomination. Gale is the brother of Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale.

“I’m very happy Pat Meehan has decided not to run,” Gale said.

“If Pat was going to run, I was going to run. I always thought he was a fraud. He runs like a Republican and votes like a Democrat,” Gale, 26, said.

Gale is going to wait to see how redistricting goes and to see if there is a candidate he can get behind.

Digiorgio said the party will sit down with interested candidates and pick the best one to endorse.

There are five Democratic candidates vying for the party’s nomination: attorney Dan Muroff of Springfield Township, Montgomery County; Molly Sheehan, 31, a biochemistry researcher from Delaware County; Elizabeth Moro, a Chester County real estate agent; Drew McGinty of Jenkintown, who works in Information Technology; and state Rep. Daylin Leach of Upper Merion Township.

Leach was recently accused of sexual harassment and said he was stepping back from his campaign but he has not dropped out of the race.  Source

 

Jan 26, 2018
Ryan Costello’s Website

No Press Release at this time on Congressman Meehan
Go to website here

Jan 26, 2018
Lloyd Smucker Website
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-16) today issued the following statement:

“It was disturbing to learn of Congressman Meehan’s behavior, and frankly it’s just disappointing. Everyone needs to be treated with respect at all times, and members of Congress should be setting that example. I believe he has made the right decision to not seek another term.”   Source

 

Jan 12, 2018
The Guardian
Trump’s ‘shithole’ remark makes global headlines – but it doesn’t quite translate

Some countries struggled to find an appropriate translation for the president’s offensive comments– and others chose to employ the censor’s pencil

Donald Trump’s description of Haiti, El Salvador and unspecified African countries as “shitholes” in an Oval Office meeting with US senators to discuss immigration on Thursday quickly shot around the world.

But by the time the story arrived on screens and front pages in some countries the offensive language had been somewhat lost in translation, while in the more conservative corners of America – Utah, network TV – it was hidden by euphemism.

Taiwan’s central news agency led the confusion in Asia by translating “shithole countries” as, in phonetics, “niao bu sheng dan de guo jia”, which means, mysteriously, “countries where birds don’t lay eggs”.

In China, the People’s Daily decided it meant “countries that suck”, while Vietnam’s Youth newspaper in Ho Chi Minh City went for “rubbish states”. In Europe, Greece’s daily Ta Nea settled on “thieving countries”.

France’s venerable Le Monde did not quite get there with “pays de merde” – shit countries. But a sister French news site, Courrier International, went straight for the jugular with “trou a merde”, or hole of shit.  Read more

How Chesco Congressmen reacted – through press releases on their websites
Courageous or Cowards? You Decide

Jan 12, 2018
Ryan Costello Website
Press Release

REP. COSTELLO STATEMENT ON REPORTED REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP
January 12, 2018 Press Release
Washington, D.C. — Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06) today issued the following statement on reported remarks made by President Trump:

For decades, my wife and her family have done missionary work in Haiti. I’ve always been impressed and inspired by the stories they have shared with me about their experience of service, grounded in faith, and the commonalties we all share as human beings. As Americans, we have a proud history of advancing economic, educational, and personal opportunity for millions of people around the globe, and as a country we should recognize the countless contributions and positive impact immigrants have made on our country.

Our country is a nation of immigrants, and we should appreciate and value what each person brings to this country. We should take pride in the fact that most of us have passed down the stories of our families traveling from somewhere else in pursuit of the American Dream. I’m proud to be the descendant of Irish, Italian, and German immigrants who sought a better life in the United States. I believe it is inappropriate, unfortunate, and offensive that the President of the United States reportedly said what he did. I hope he clarifies what was said, apologizes, and focuses on addressing the immigration-related issues for which many of us are seeking bipartisan solutions.  Source

Jan 12, 2018
Congressman Patrick Meehan 
Press Release

Meehan Statement on Reported Comments by President Trump
Jan 12, 2018 Press Release
Springfield, Pa. — Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) issued the following statement following reported comments by President Trump yesterday:

“If accurate as reported, the President’s words were offensive, divisive, unproductive and unbecoming of the office. They come at a time when important negotiations on immigration issues are at a critical point. It’s possible to fight for principles without resorting to hurtful rhetoric.”   Source

Jan 12, 2018
Lloyd Smucker Website
Press Release

January 12, 2018 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-16) issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s reported comments on immigration:

“If true, the president’s comments are inaccurate and unhelpful. I am part of many ongoing and productive discussions to fix our broken immigration system. We cannot let this distraction impede the progress being made in Congress. Furthermore, this sort of rhetoric does not reflect the decency of our community.”   Source

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