Schumer Floor Remarks On The Senate’s Duty To Investigate Whistleblower’s Complaint And President Trump’s Conduct With Ukrainian President Zelensky

September 23, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Senate’s duty to investigate the intelligence community whistleblower complaint. Below are his remarks, which can also be found here.

Over the weekend, details emerged about President Trump’s conduct with the Ukrainian President, Zelensky. Specifically, the president’s phone calls with the Ukrainian leader were the subject of an official whistleblower complaint by a member of the intelligence community.

The Intelligence Community Inspector General, a Trump appointee, determined that this whistleblower’s complaint is “credible” and a matter of “urgent” concern, whose subject matter “not only falls within the DNI’s jurisdiction, but relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.” By law, a whistleblower complaint labeled in this way must be transmitted to Congress. Not shall be transmitted to Congress—must be. The Trump administration has not allowed that to happen.

So far, in the face of this dire warning and the Trump administration’s effort to cover it up, the Republican-led Senate has remained silent and submissive, shying away from this institution’s constitutional duty to conduct oversight. That’s an obligation we have. It’s not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. That’s our job. Republicans are in the majority in the Senate. With that majority comes the power to call hearings, issue subpoenas, and decide what legislation comes to the floor. The majority in the Senate, therefore, has an obligation to consider and act on the Senate’s behalf, particularly when it comes to matters of oversight and matters of separation of powers.

And yet, so far, we have no indication that Senate Republicans are planning to act. Most have yet to speak out. The Senate Republican “see no evil, hear no evil” attitude is unacceptable and must change. This again is an issue of solemn obligation. There is no wiggle room here. None. The obligation of the Inspector General is to turn over the information, the whistleblower information, now that he has found it credible and urgent. And here, typically, are Senate Republicans and the Senate Leader sit supinely in obeisance to President Trump’s reckless law-breaking. This is a democracy. This is a democracy and we’ve heard nothing from our Republican colleagues in what the president has done—abhorrent as that is—and in the stonewalling of information. What is the president afraid of in this whistleblower report? We don’t know, we can only speculate. But we do know there is an obligation for it to come to Congress.

So today, I’ve sent the Republican Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, a letter calling on him and the Republican chairs of the relevant Senate committees to fulfill their constitutional duties and immediately take the following actions:

One, convene hearings to determine exactly what prompted the whistleblower to file this urgent complaint. At a minimum, these hearings should include testimony from Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and President Trump’s private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, among others.

Two, to issue a subpoena to compel the delivery of the whistleblower complaint to Congress, as required by law.

Three, request the White House to release the transcript of President Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky during which President Trump reportedly pressured the government of Ukraine to investigate Vice President Biden and his family.

Four, identify the administration officials who directed that $341 million of security assistance to Ukraine be delayed, and request that all records related to this decision be turned over to Congress.

And five, insist that the Department of Justice provide any legal opinion or other guidance it has given regarding the administration’s obligation to transmit the whistleblower complaint to Congress.

It is the Senate’s duty to take this national security matter seriously and investigate now. Senate Republicans have the sole power—and the overwhelming responsibility—to see that it does. How long must we wait for our Republican colleagues to rise up to their responsibilities to the Constitution, to separation of powers, and to rule of law?  When President Trump brazenly violates that law? When are we going to hear the voices? It is unbelievable. As President Trump erodes the very fabric of this democracy, our Republican colleagues—I believe out of fear—do nothing. That is not a profile in courage. That is even not what Senator, after Senator, for generation after generation, regardless of party, has done. But we’re obviously in a new era here, where on the Republican side, anything President Trump wants to do he can get away with, whether it violates the law, violates our principles, violates the grand traditions of this democratic republic or not.