Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Pass Legislation To Protect The Special Counsel’s Investigation From President Trump

November 15, 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor (at approx.. 10:20 a.m. EST)  regarding the need to uphold democratic norms, protect the special counsel’s investigation, and a bicameral resolution to honor Shirley Chisholm's legacy. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:
 
The President of the United States swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, including bedrock principles – rule of law, the sanctity of our elections. But nearly every day, President Trump ignores this fundamental responsibility and tramples on the values that have made our country the light of the world. No president has come close to defaming and trying to destroy the democratic values of this country. No president has come close.
 
This morning, for what seems like the millionth time, the President angrily, wildly, and baselessly ranted about the special counsel’s investigation. It doesn’t matter to him that his claims have no basis. It doesn’t matter to him that his words may degrade faith in our independent law enforcement agencies and the rule of law. He proceeds only according to self-interest. He’s offended that someone might look into the fact that he did something wrong. This happens with every president, and he lashes out in ways that hurt our democracy permanently.
 
Just look at how, over the past few weeks, President Trump has tried to intimidate and bully election officials in Florida and Arizona with fantastical claims of voter fraud. It doesn’t matter to him that there is no evidence for the charges. It doesn’t matter to him that in both states, Arizona and Florida, Republican officials have said there’s no fraud, debunking the president’s claims. It doesn’t matter to him that his claims erode faith in the integrity of our elections among a segment of his supporters. If the president thinks it helps him personally, he’ll say it.
 
The most recent example of this happened just yesterday. The president, he keeps getting more and more absurd. He makes up things. He most recently claimed in an interview with the Daily Caller, that “illegal” voters “go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, and vote again.” Mr. President, name one. Name a few. Where did it happen and when? Or did you just read this on some right-wing, nasty, dishonest blog and just repeat it? Donald Trump you are the President of the United States. Because you read something in a blog that has no basis in fact, you don’t have right to repeat it, not if you’re president and behaving presidentially. And yet he does it over and over again. It’s the height of irresponsibility. It’s the height of irresponsibility.
 
Since his first day in office, President Trump has made these ridiculous claims about voter fraud that even his sham voting commission, led by the Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kobach, couldn’t prove. The real disgrace is how low the president and some Republicans will stoop to prevent American citizens from exercising their right to vote and how far they’ll go to undermine faith in our democracy – even to the point of disenfranchising military voters – people who may be overseas protecting our freedom risking their lives, who want to vote, and if their ballot doesn’t come in at exactly at the right moment it shouldn’t be counted. Disgraceful.
 
The tendency is to treat the president’s words as, ‘oh, that’s our modern, partisan politics.’ Well, we have too much partisan politics. But the truth is, the president’s blatant disregard for basic norms, constitutional constraints, and truth is unique to him. No president has come close to going as far in destroying democratic norms. He is doing severe and possibly irreparable damage to our democracy, all to suit his goal, and often it seems, just his ego.
 
We Democrats condemn this behavior. But where are our Republican friends? They should know better. They do know better. I hear the private chatter. The silence of the Republican majority, as the president takes an axe to democratic norms, will go down as one of the least bright moments in the history of the Republican Party. It will go down as one of the black marks in the history of the Senate. And we don’t hear a peep. Are our Republican colleague afraid? Are they just being mercenary? After this last election, I wouldn’t think that would be the case. President Trump didn’t lead them to overwhelming victory. When are we going to hear from them? This is not an issue of partisanship -- when a president, Democrat or Republican, does so much to destroy democratic norms, does so much to just make up things, like people going into a car and putting on a different hat and shirt, then voting. Where are our colleagues decrying this, at least saying the president shouldn’t do it?
 
Their embrace of the president, who they know has done so many bad things, I’m not talking ideologically, I’m talking about honor and respect for democracy, is something that they should not be proud of.
 
Now, on the Russia investigation itself…
 
There is this idea out there on the Republican side that the president does not intend to interfere with the Russia investigation. Republicans, including my friend the Republican Leader, say President Trump has not threatened the special counsel investigation, so there is no need to protect it. That’s a laugh. He threatens the investigation almost every day. He did this morning in his tweets. To say that the president hasn’t threatened the special counsel is not only logically dubious but it is just dead wrong and untrue.
 
A few weeks ago, President Trump said the investigation “should end.” This morning, again, President Trump made it clear that he does not want the Mueller investigation to reach a fair and impartial conclusion.
 
And last week, President Trump went around the traditional line of succession in the Justice Department – what we believe to be a violation of the Constitution – to install an acting Attorney General whose only qualification for the job seems to be that he has publicly criticized the Russia probe.
 
My friends, particular my friends again on the Republican side, the writing is on the wall. Let’s avoid this constitutional crisis. Let’s at least stand up for the rule of law. We should pass legislation now, in the lame duck, to protect the special counsel’s investigation from the president, and from his woefully unqualified henchman, Mr. Whitaker. Senators Flake and Coons tried yesterday, bipartisan, the Republican Leader objected. They’re going to keep trying, as they should, and Democrats will try to add this proposal to the must-pass spending bill because we believe it is so important for our democracy.
 
There is too much at stake for us to sit around and wait until the president crosses a line, creating a constitutional crisis we all abhor. But, waiting until that happens it will be too late. We need to act on legislation to protect the special counsel, to protect the rule of law, to protect Democracy, accountability and the fundamental checks and balances that are a hallmark of our great nation.  
 
Finally Madam President, last Tuesday’s election was historic for not only the number of ballots cast by Americans in a midterm but also for who those ballots were cast. Americans sent to our nation’s capital the most diverse Congress in the history of the country. In several states, the first Native American women, first African-American women, the first Muslim women were elected in history in those states.
 
Finally, the men and women walking the corridors of power are beginning to look more like the nation they represent. At least on our side of the aisle, I’m proud to say. We aren’t there yet, but we are a lot closer.
 
In light of this progress, it is perhaps fitting that exactly half a century ago, a fellow Brooklynite, Shirley Chisholm, became the first African-American woman elected to Congress, and eventually the first African-American woman to run for a major party’s nomination for president, breaking that glass ceiling and paving the way for so many others to follow. Whether they know Shirley Chisholm or not, so many who were elected on in the House of Representatives owe a lot to her, as do all Americans. 
 
So I have introduced a resolution in the Senate, along with my friends Representative Yvette Clarke -- my congresswoman, who I was proud to vote for in November -- and Barbara Lee of California in the House, to honor Shirley Chisholm's achievements and her legacy of public service.

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