In the midst of making decisions about who to forgive and pressuring Congress to provide more relief in a relief package for negotiated coronaviruses, President Donald Trump will set aside time on Wednesday to have lunch with some Pennsylvania senators.
Four senators confirmed that Senator Doug Mastriano invited other members of the Republican Senate Caucus to lunch at the White House with the president.
Attempts to contact Mastriano on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning for comment were unsuccessful. The White House contact point identified in the invitation, William Crozer, special assistant to the president and deputy director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, referred questions to the White House press office, which did not respond immediately.
In addition to the opportunity to see festive decorations with the theme “America, Beauty” at the White House, the senators said they had received no clue as to the purpose of the meeting.
“Nothing in the invitation gave any indication of the purpose,” said Sen. Lisa Baker, of R-Luzerne County, who did not plan to attend due to a previous appointment for today.
Three other senators – Sens. Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington County; Mike Regan, R-Cumberland / York counties; and Ryan Aument, of R-Lancaster County – said they are also declining the invitation.
Bartolotta said the invitation came in a short time and she was traveling. Regan said he has a family meeting planned. Aument said he is too busy making preparations for the work ahead of us for a special committee for which he has been appointed to review the 2020 elections and return constituent calls, mainly on the election and issues related to COVID-19.
“I cannot take a day and go down [to Washington, D.C.]. And it seems to me that I don’t know if there is much to come out of this conversation, frankly, ”said Aument.
Acting Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman of R-Center County will also be absent, said spokeswoman Jenn Kocher. Spokesmen for mayor Bryan Cutler of R-Lancaster County and majority leader in the House, Kerry Benninghoff of R-Center County, said they had not received lunch invitations.
Attempts to speak to other senators Tuesday night and / or Wednesday morning, including, among others, Sens counties. John DiSanto R-Dauphin / Perry and Kristen Phillips-Hill, R-York County, were unsuccessful.
The White House lunch invitation via Mastriano reached the senators’ inboxes on Monday evening or Tuesday morning. Started:
“You are cordially invited to join President Donald J. Trump at the White House for lunch on Wednesday, December 23 at 12:30 pm Eastern. Find pertinent registration information and other details below, including the COVID-19 test and arrival protocols. Please note that this invitation is non-transferable and we cannot accommodate additional guests, family members or employees ”.
He then described other necessary procedures, including the COVID-19 test. “In accordance with CDC guidance, we ask that you wear a mask when you arrive. If you have been exposed or are showing symptoms, we ask you to refuse participation ”, said the invitation.
This invitation comes while Trump is waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to act on a petition presented by his campaign to reverse three Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions dealing with postal ballots. The campaign is asking the court to override the state’s certified electoral results that declared President-elect Joe Biden as the winner and to allow the Pennsylvania General Assembly to choose the state’s list of voters.
Biden beat Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, but Trump and his supporters have launched a series of unsuccessful legal challenges here and in other states. Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, certified the state’s results on November 24. Following the tradition of the state of winner of the popular vote in the presidential election of voters, the electoral college met last week and voted unanimously to give Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to Biden.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia certified their results and cast their electoral votes. On January 6, Congress formally counts electoral votes.
Earlier this month, a group of Pennsylvania Republicans met to cast “conditional” electoral votes for Trump if long-term legal challenges to the election were successful.
This is the second time in a month that Pennsylvania lawmakers have been invited to the White House to meet with Trump. The last time was an evening meeting that followed a nearly four-hour meeting of the Senate Republican Party Policy Committee that featured Trump’s lawyers – Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Wise – who called witnesses and made claims to discredit the integrity of the Pennsylvania election.
It was at that meeting at the White House when Mastriano learned that his test was positive for COVID-19 through screening visitors at the White House.
* This story has been updated to include Senator Mike Regan’s response that arrived moments after publication.
Jan Murphy can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @JanMurphy.