U.S. Sen. Bob Casey read from the Mueller Report on Wednesday during a town hall meeting at Northampton Community College, but he declined to take a position on whether the House of Representatives should impeach President Donald Trump.
The Pennsylvania Democrat also reiterated his support for Joe Biden as his party's nominee in the 2020 presidential election. Both men were born in Scranton. Casey talked to a friendly crowd of about 100 at the Bethlehem Township campus.
Casey said that if the House moved to impeach Trump, the Senate would decide on whether the president would be removed from office. He said he could not take a position before seeing evidence presented at that time. As to whether the House should proceed to impeach Trump, "I'm really torn," he said. "It's not for me to tell them what to do."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election mentions "substantial evidence" of potential obstruction of justice by Trump, Casey said, citing the president's attempts to remove Mueller from the probe.
Casey touched upon several topics, including gun control, climate change, health care and what he called a "rigged" tax system that favors corporations and wealthy Americans, "the 1%." He gave this advice to Democrats who want action: "Win elections."
Sen. Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican-controlled Senate, has committed to holding a vote on universal background checks for gun buyers, but Casey expressed doubts.
"My fear is the majority leader will want to water that down," Casey said.
He said the National Rifle Association has swayed Trump against background checks.
Casey said he would also like to see a series of votes including one on a "red flag" law that would allow the seizure of weapons from people deemed to be dangerous. He also wants to see votes on restoring a ban on military-style assault weapons, limiting the number of bullets in weapons' magazines, and a "no fly, no buy" proposal to bar gun sales to people who are barred from flying because of suspected terrorist ties.
The senator was applauded when he took a firm stance on the climate.
"Climate change is real," he said. "It is caused by human activity and it will lead to the deaths of millions of people around the world."
On health care, Casey said he supports universal coverage, but that the goal can be achieved without "Medicare for all." He called for resistance to Republican attempts to wipe out the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010. He also objected to cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs.
Republicans are trying to "sabotage" the health care exchanges set up under the ACA, he said. A Republican legal challenge to "Obamacare" could be a disaster for Americans who rely upon expanded access to health care, he added.
"If that lawsuit succeeds, it will be one of the worst days in American history," Casey said.
When asked for a yes-or-no answer on whether he supports a Medicare-for-all bill, Casey said he does not support it. Universal coverage is the goal, he said, but "The question is, how do we get there?"
Casey said he would support a plan to give a tax cut to the middle class and an increase in the minimum wage, but first the 2017 federal tax bill should be reviewed. That Republican bill "gave a windfall to major corporations" and provided most of its benefits to wealthy Americans, not workers. The bill was "rigged," he said. "We should revisit that."
The senator said after the meeting that Biden has the experience to lead the U.S. and the free world, and that the former vice president has the "character, integrity and decency" to be the next president.
The 2020 election is a must-win for Democrats, Casey said: "It's a national-security imperative."
He asked his fellow Democrats to "keep doing what you've been doing" by raising issues and solutions.
"We don't want another two years like the last two years," he said. "I'm very optimistic about the next two years."