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SENATORS (WHO DIDN’T TUNE IN) WEIGH IN ON COHEN TESTIMONY

March 2, 2019
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SENATORS (WHO DIDN’T TUNE IN) WEIGH IN ON COHEN TESTIMONY

Michael Cohen testimony

Sen. Pat Toomey: “I didn’t watch it. I’ve seen glimpses of the media coverage of it. I’m not sure that we learned anything new that’s important from what I’ve seen. I am very dubious that there’s a campaign finance violation. Assuming for a moment, that the president did pay off some woman, I think it’s a very, very hard thing to make the case that it’s a campaign violation. First of all, there’s no limit to what an individual (candidate) can contribute to a campaign (of his own). If those were his personal funds, even if you thought that they were for the purpose of protecting his campaign, there’s no limit to what he can do. Secondly, I can think of lots of reasons why a wealthy guy might do that, separate and apart from a campaign. So I’m not condoning, I’m just saying. It wouldn’t be the first time that a rich guy wrote a check to a woman outside of politics, that had nothing to do with the campaign. I’m not convinced that there’s anything that’s material that’s new.”

He doesn’t think there’s any evidence that indicates the House should impeach the president.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

Sen. Bob Casey: “I didn’t watch all but a few excerpts and I’ve read one longer account, one or two longer accounts in the Washington Post, so I have some general sense of it. ... Obviously it’s testimony that we’ve rarely if ever heard about (the) president, about someone who worked very closely with him, but I don’t have a sense of what it does to the overall debate or the various investigations.”

“When you watch someone, you have an instinct about whether you think they have credibility or not. My sense is he was giving truthful testimony about the interactions he’s had over all these years with then not President Trump, but Donald Trump ... as a citizen. My view of his testimony could be colored by, influenced by the fact that I think the president lies on a regular basis and lacks the character to be the kind of leader we would hope he would be. So I have a very strong opinion about how the president conducts himself and his basic integrity. That was my gut. Some of that is colored by which side of the debate you stand.”

Collapse of North Korea nuclear talks

Toomey: “I’m glad the president was willing to walk away from the table when the North Koreans were not willing to agree to what they have to agree to if we’re going to lift sanctions. They have to agree to verifiable, irreversible denuclearization if we’re going to lift sanctions and treat them like a normal country. Clearly, they were not willing to make that commitment so the president was right to walk away.

“It is very unusual to have a summit with the two principals, two heads of state and two heads of government, when the two sides were clearly so far apart. So it appears to me that one or both sides maybe overestimated their ability to persuade the other. This would not have normally gotten to this point because they were miles apart ... There’s a very high risk that this has always been and continues to be a play for time (by the North Koreans) that allows them to refine their (nuclear) capabilities. There’s a big risk that they have no intention of giving up nuclear weapons because they see that as the insurance policy.”

Casey: “I was hoping for some measure of success. I don’t think any of us (were) assuming that even at a second summit there would be a breakthrough such that there’d be a denuclearization plan on the table. So I wasn’t hoping for something that grand or substantial, but I was hoping that there could be something that was a sign of real progress. I was reminded the other day by a colleague that one of the first things that has to happen in these circumstances is the country, in this case the DPRK, the North Koreans, would have to agree to a declaration where you basically say ‘yes,’ I’m simplifying this, but ‘yes we have a nuclear weapons program and here are the sites,’ or make some kind of declaration that kind of sets the table. And then the next step is OK, how do we reduce that? Or what can we negotiate to lessen the threat posed by that? But we’re not even there yet.”