Schumer Floor Remarks Calling For A Fair & Honest Bipartisan Impeachment Trial In Senate If Articles Are Approved By The HouseDecember 18, 2019
Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today on the Senate floor called for a fair and honest bipartisan impeachment trial in the Senate—including specific documents and testimony from four key witnesses—if the House votes today to pass articles of impeachment. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here.
In response to the limited set of relevant witnesses I proposed for a potential Senate trial earlier this week, the Republican leader gave a lengthy speech on the floor yesterday and another speech today. In neither of those speeches could the Republican leader offer one salient argument as to why the witnesses I proposed—all senior Trump administration officials—shouldn’t be allowed to testify.
Instead, he made what are, in my view, irrelevant and incomplete comparisons to the 1999 Clinton trial. When faced with the fact that it’s only fair to have these witnesses—who are witnesses to the major, major, allegations against the president, and who have not testified before—come before the Senate, the Leader can’t talk about 2019. He has to go back to 1999, because he has no good argument as to why they shouldn’t testify.
We’re not asking to be dilatory. We’re not asking for a list of 4,000 witnesses. We are simply asking that those who know best the truth come and talk to us in the Senate and to the American people .
There is one fact that is impossible for the Senate to ignore: in the two presidential impeachment trials in the history of this body, the Senate heard from witnesses. But Leader McConnell continues to push for no witnesses in the Senate trial. I have yet to hear an explanation why less evidence is better than more evidence, particularly when it comes to something as somber, as serious, as important as the impeachment of the President of the United States of America.
Leader McConnell keeps talking about 1999 because he doesn’t want to talk about 2019. The two situations are not analogous. Rather than focus on the past, the Republican leader should focus on the present, and offer one good reason why relevant witnesses shouldn’t testify in an impeachment trial of President Trump, particularly in light of the fact that we have not heard from them and they probably have better evidence than anybody, even though the evidence that the House has prepared, in the eyes of so many, is overwhelming.
I was disappointed to hear yesterday that Leader McConnell declared that he would not be an impartial juror when it comes to the serious charges against President Trump. He said it proudly. What kind of example does that set to the country, which is looking for fairness and impartiality? In the event of a trial, every Senator will swear an oath, different from our standard oath of office, to “do impartial justice.” But yesterday, Leader McConnell told reporters: “I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process. I’m not impartial about this at all.”
Let me repeat that: let the American people hear it loud and clear, the Republican leader said, proudly, “I’m not an impartial juror. I’m not impartial about this at all.”
That is an astonishing admission of partisanship. The president may demand these public displays of fealty, but they are troubling for the leader for an independent branch of our government. I hope all Senators will take seriously the oath to do impartial justice that we seem likely to take in the near future.
Now, the House of Representatives, of course, will take a historic vote today on the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump. If the articles of impeachment are passed, the focus will quickly move to the Senate, where our chamber will serve as a court of impeachment.
We must, very soon, figure out the rules and procedures that will allow the Senate to rise to this occasion. Despite our disagreements, I do expect to sit down with Leader McConnell in the near future to discuss these matters.
I have proposed a very reasonable structure for a trial based on the grand American tradition of “a fair and speedy trial.” We propose four witnesses—only those with direct knowledge of the charges made by the House, only those who could provide new, relevant and potentially illuminating testimony—and placed strict time limits on each stage of the process to prevent the trial from dragging out too long. No one is interested in delay.
The Senate’s goal—above all—should be to conduct a trial with dignity, fairness to both sides, and one that examines all the relevant facts. There are large partisan divisions these days, but I suspect most Senate Republicans would agree with those goals.
I suspect that even President Trump would agree with those goals (or at least say that he did). The president repeatedly has complained about a lack of due process and said he “would love”—his words—“would love” for aides like Mr. Mulvaney to testify in the Senate.
Setting aside for a moment that the president has refused to participate in the House process, despite multiples invitations…setting aside for a moment that he has blocked witnesses from appearing and documents from being produced…Mr. President, we are offering you due process you sought in your letter last night.
Allow your current or former aides—Mulvaney, Blair, Duffey, Bolton—to testify on your behalf. Turn over all the requested documents and show that you and your aides didn’t try to use taxpayer money to force a foreign government to announce an investigation against your political opponent. Let the truth come out.
Mr. President, we’re offering you due process. Due process means the right to be heard. Please take it. Don’t ask for it and then refuse to take advantage of it. President Trump, you have a habit of accusing others of the offenses that you have, in fact, committed. You accuse the House of affording no due process while obstructing the process every step of the way. If you truly want due process to present your side of the case, President Trump, let your aides testify and turn over the documents we’ve requested.
We want to conduct a fair trial—fair to both sides. We don’t know whether the witnesses we’ve proposed will incriminate the president or exonerate him. They’re the appointees of President Donald J. Trump—they are hardly biased. We don’t know what their testimony will be, but we do know one thing, we should hear from them.
We just want the facts, “just the facts, ma’am,” as Detective Friday says—facts that will allow Senators to make fully-informed decisions about something as serious, so serious, as the conviction or acquittal of an impeached president.
Each individual Senator will have the power, will have the responsibility to help shape what an impeachment trial looks like.
Do my Republican colleagues want a fair, honest trial that examines all the facts? Or do they want to participate in a cover-up?