Schumer Floor Remarks Calling On Republicans To Examine The Facts In The House Impeachment Inquiry, The Need To Protect Whistleblowers, President Trump’s Abandonment Of His Promise To Act On Background Checks, And President Trump’s Dangerous Decision To Formally Withdraw The U.S. From The Paris Climate Agreement

November 5, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor, calling on Republicans to examine the facts in the House impeachment inquiry, the need to protect whistleblowers amid calls from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and President Trump to disclose the IC whistleblower’s identity, President Trump’s abandonment of his commitment to pass background checks legislation, and the president’s official notification that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Last week, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a set of procedures to govern its impeachment inquiry, laying out a formal process to examine the facts in the deliberate and fair-minded process. But our Republican colleagues keep changing their arguments as to why they’re opposed to what the House is doing.

First, there needed to be a vote. There was a vote.

Second, make it public. Now it’s public.

Third, there’s no quid pro quo. Now there’s a quid pro quo, they even admit.

And so now they’re just saying it’s not impeachable. The shifting sands of the Republican’s argument in the House and Senate, which seems to shift all the time, indicates that they don’t seem to have a real interest in following the facts to where they lead, but rather just defending President Trump regardless of the facts. That’s a huge mistake for the republic and for the Senate and how we should conduct ourselves.

So let me elaborate. For weeks, Congressional Republicans criticized House Democrats for not scheduling a vote. As soon as the vote was taken, the same Republicans criticized the process once again. Republicans criticized House Democrats for conducting classified hearings, even though the material discussed concerned our national security and Republicans readily participated in those hearings. Then, the House voted on the plan for open hearings and, predictably, the same Republicans kept criticizing the process, coming up with another new argument. The president’s allies in Congress then went on to the idea that there was “no quid pro quo,” which the president himself stated, although he was contradicted by Mr. Mulvaney. And that seemed to be the lynchpin of their defense of the president in the last few days and weeks.

But now, all of a sudden, knowing maybe what’s coming out, all of a sudden our Republican colleagues are saying, “Yeah there was a quid pro quo, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not impeachable.” Some of them even think it’s not even wrong, which is absolutely absurd.

So, instead of the shifting sands of defenses of the president on a near-daily basis, my Republican friends should let all the facts come out and make their judgments based on the facts. Instead of changing their argument every third day when faced with new facts, they should remain dispassionate and say we’re going to look at the facts instead of just jumping to finding a new defense of the president no matter what the facts. If you’re defending the president because there’s no quid pro quo, and then there is quid pro quo, you should be saying, “maybe something’s going on here” but no, a new argument pops up.

The investigation is not yet complete. Jumping to conclusions before all the facts come out is misguided. It’s unbefitting of a Senator’s role as judge and juror of a potential impeachment case.

Now, last night, the president held a political rally in Kentucky with several Republican elected officials, including the junior Senator from Kentucky, who publicly and explicitly urged the media to disclose the identity of a federal whistleblower. The president, of course, quickly praised the senator’s idea.

I cannot stress just how wrong this is. We have federal whistleblower laws designed to protect the identity and safety of patriotic Americans who come forward to stand up for the Constitution. There are members on the other side of the aisle, including senior members and chairs of committees, who have spent their entire careers defending whistleblowers and the laws that protect them and their families.

Where are they now? I was pleased to hear that my colleague Senator Thune spoke out and said whistleblowers must be protected. I believe Senator Grassley said the same. They’re both right, but there should be bipartisan outrage at the public attempts by the president and a member of this body to expose the identity of a federal whistleblower. You don’t get to determine when our whistleblower laws apply and when they don’t. Whether you like what the whistleblower said or whether you don’t. They are laws. This whistleblower, whose complaint was deemed “credible” and an “urgent matter” by a Trump appointee, is protected by these statutes. Every single member of this body should stand up and say that it is wrong to disclose his or her identity.

Our rhetoric can sometimes be overheated, but I am appalled by these developments. There is no other word for it. We are in a moment in history when Republicans, over only a few weeks, have shifted from saying that no laws were broken to saying that laws were broken, but it’s not impeachable, to outright advocating that laws be broken. What? Where is the internal gyroscope, the clock of decency and honor on the other side? They’re twisting themselves in contradictory pretzels. To defend this president is going to bounds that we have rarely seen in this body with any party, with any president. I don’t understand what sort of effect President Trump has on them. People of integrity and some degree of strength just fold whenever he says something. Twist their arguments, change their arguments, do 180 degree hair-pins about their arguments – all because they’re afraid of speaking truth to power. The truth to this president who never likes to hear it.

On guns. On August 5th, days after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, President Trump declared that “we cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain.” He said, “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks.” Those are the words of President Trump.

A few weeks later, Leader McConnell promised that a debate on background checks would be “front and center” in the Senate after the summer work period. These are Leader McConnell’s words: “What we can’t do is fail to pass something,” he said.

Well, it has been three months since those statements. Leader McConnell’s Senate has not only failed to pass something; it has not even debated something. And then on Friday, the Washington Post released a story that all but confirms the worst fears of families torn apart by gun violence.

The headline of the Washington Post: “Trump abandons proposing ideas to curb gun violence, after saying he would, following mass shootings.”

According to the Washington Post, the president has abandoned his brief flirtation with supporting expanding background checks because his advisors believe it will hurt his chances of re-election, “a reversal from the summer when the president insisted he would offer policies to curb firearm deaths.”

Maybe it’s not surprising, with this president it isn’t unfortunately, he goes back on his word day after day, but it’s profoundly disappointing. Democrats, despite our skepticism, tried to work in good faith with our Republican colleagues to respond to the tragedies in El Paso and in Dayton. Many of my colleagues—Senators Murphy, Senator Manchin, as well as others—worked with Republican Senators and ferried back and forth to the White House to find a proposal that could become law and save American lives.

We gave the White House every chance to get to “yes.” But despite those efforts, Leader McConnell has not moved even one gun safety bill to the floor, and President Trump is reportedly closing the book on any, any potential compromise.

Just like on infrastructure, just like on immigration reform, just like on a myriad of other issues, President Trump would rather do nothing to help the American people because it would upset political allies like the NRA. He’ll make bold and sometimes surprising promises, in the heat of the moment, when there was huge pressure to do something about background checks because of the shootings across the country. He said he would, but then, this man who tries to portray himself as a tough guy backs off when lobbyists say “you can’t do it.” That doesn’t show strength, it shows weakness. It shows a lack of candor and honesty with the American people.  It shows he’s using the American people for his own political purposes, which he does over and over again. 

Only time will tell how many lives it will take before President Trump and Congressional Republicans come to their senses and work with us to finally do something about the epidemic of gun violence in America.

Now climate. Yesterday, the Trump Administration formally sent a notice to the U.N. that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement in 2020. In the long list of dangerous policy decisions that President Trump has advanced over the last three years, this ranks as one of the very, very worst.

Future generations will look back on this decision as a dramatic step backward in the fight to address climate change. Future generations will note this date and how it hurt our planet, our economy, and our national security in the decades that followed.

President Trump has been an enemy of climate science in ways no other president has been. Before becoming president, he called climate change a hoax, and unfortunately his presidency has treated it like one. He has stuffed his Administration to the brim with lobbyists for Big Oil and Big Coal; he’s crippled the federal government’s ability to research climate change, he’s rolled back emissions standards, and he’s used fake science to underreport the effects of climate change.

Instead of protecting the interests of the people, President Trump has catered shamelessly to the interests of oil companies and corporate polluters. History will look harshly on President Trump’s failure to lead the United States through our planet’s climate crisis. And they will equally look unkindly on Republican Senators who have just stood mute as he has done this. I yield the floor.