Schumer Floor Remarks On The Announcement of A Formal House Impeachment Inquiry Of President Trump

September 25, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the House of Representative’s formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump. Below are his remarks, which can also be found here.

Last night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

I have spoken with her many times over the past few days. I know she did not make this decision lightly and took no pleasure in making it. It is her carefully considered judgment that it is now in the best interest of our country and our Constitution to proceed with an impeachment inquiry.

I strongly support Speaker Pelosi’s decision. If we don’t reckon with President Trump’s persistent transgressions, the very foundation of this great republic is at risk. The president kept pushing and pushing and pushing the constitutional envelope. Finally, the president’s conduct made an impeachment inquiry unavoidable.

The events of recent days have brought sharply into focus the question of whether the President Trump abused the powers of his office and betrayed the public trust for personal political gain. In open defiance of the law, his administration has thus far sought to block the transmission of an official whistleblower complaint to Congress. The nature of that whistleblower complaint has been deemed both “credible” and “urgent” by one of President Trump’s own senior-level appointees: the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community. According to public reports, this complaint may detail how the President of the United States corrupted America’s foreign policy by pressuring the leader of a foreign nation to damage a leading political rival—an offense the president may have committed whether there was an explicit quid pro quo or not. The President went on to admit on live television that he spoke to the President of Ukraine about his political rival and about military aid to the country.

The timeline of events that led to the whistleblower complaint must be scrutinized. The nature of President Trump’s communications with President Putin, as well as Ukrainian President Zelensky, should be requested and provided—with special focus on the phone call that took place with Mr. Putin a few days after the Zelensky call on July 25th. The timing of the departures of the United States Ambassador to Ukraine and the former Director of National Intelligence and his principal deputy must be investigated, as well as the movements of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, the correspondence between him and the White House, and his interactions with foreign governments. We must learn what actions President Trump or his aides took to withhold Congressionally-directed security aid to Ukraine and why. And more besides.

The answers to these questions, and others, can be pursued by the House committees involved in the impeachment inquiry, and that is precisely what the inquiry is for. The release of the transcript of one of President Trump’s calls with President Zelensky—which just came out—will not assuage our concerns or the public’s concerns. Based on early reports, it may heighten them. We must remember: the president was reported to have several calls with President Zelensky over the summer, and his administration has a well-earned reputation for dishonesty, altered facts, and incomplete disclosure in public releases.

We need to see the complete, un-redacted whistleblower complaint without further delay, the whistleblower must be allowed to testify without fear of intimidation, and then we must pursue the many relevant avenues of inquiry that I just described.

Yesterday afternoon, the entire Senate—all 47 Democrats and 53 Republicans—agreed to my resolution calling for the whistleblower complaint to be transmitted immediately to Congress, a reflection of the seriousness with which these events are viewed on both sides of the aisle. This was unexpected. In the past, when we’ve asked to look into President Trump, our Republican colleagues have stonewalled. But to their credit, they realized the seriousness of this situation and unanimously agreed to support our resolution. I hope, I pray, it is a harbinger of things to come—where we can look at the facts, not the politics, and come to conclusions.

Because without doubt, the White House and the president’s congressional allies will rush to call this effort a partisan witch hunt, no matter how serious the allegations or how evenhanded the inquiry. I’d remind everyone that just yesterday, every Senate Republican agreed that the White House’s decision to block the whistleblower complaint from Congress was wrong. There was unanimous, bipartisan agreement in the Senate on that point. Not a single Senator objected. But let me be clear, nonetheless, because I know accusations of partisanship are already being written: this inquiry was not taken up for partisan reasons and it does not prejudge an outcome.

Our Framers, in their wisdom, assigned to one chamber of Congress the right to accuse, and the other the right to judge. The House of Representatives will investigate and determine whether sufficient evidence exists to accuse the president of an impeachable offense, or impeachable offenses. If it comes to that, the Senate will be the scene of the trial, Senators the jurors.

We must take our responsibility with the utmost gravity. Our Framers—not trusting our liberty to one branch of government alone, afraid of the ever-present danger of tyranny of an overreaching executive—provided a remedy to Congress should the executive attempt to subvert or violate the Constitution of the United States. We are not at the stage yet where any judgments can be made one way or the other, but I remind my colleagues today that if the day should come when we are called upon to carry out our constitutional duty, history will judge whether we did so faithfully or not. History will judge if each of us acted as a solemn juror of democracy, who placed fidelity to the constitution and our system of government above the narrow considerations of partisan politics. 

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