Schumer Remarks At Press Conference On House Impeachment Inquiry And The Senate Passage Of Resolution To Terminate President Trump’s National Emergency Declaration

September 25, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today gave the following remarks at a press conference on the House’s impeachment inquiry and the Senate’s passage of a resolution to terminate President Trump’s national emergency declaration. Senator Schumer also discussed today’s release of a transcript of a call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. Below are his remarks, which can also be found here.

So, I’m going to talk about two things. First, what happened in the Senate, and then what’s happening in the House, and here in Washington. But the two are related. There’s a common theme to the events on both sides of the Capitol and this is dealing with an overreaching executive.

Now here in the Senate we just sent a strong message to President Trump that under our Constitution the executive branch and the legislative branch are co-equal. After President Trump decided to divert $3.6 billion from our military, our military families, to a wall that he promised again and again would be paid for by Mexico. Congress stood up today and said in a bipartisan voice that the President was just simply wrong. It’s our job in Congress to limit executive overreach. To defend our core powers. To prevent a president, any president, from ignoring the will of Congress every time it fails to align with the will of the president. That’s what the separation of powers means. That’s what checks and balances are for. That’s what today’s vote reflected.

All too often in the past two years, Republican Senators in blind obeisance to this president have indulged his worst impulses. But those Republican Senators who voted to buck the president and voted against his wall, to them I say: thank you. To Senators Wicker and Toomey, Romney, Collins: thank you for standing up for the Constitution. Thank you for showing some sense and some courage. These Republican Senators said, plain and simple, that President Trump was wrong and they voted against funding his wall by taking money from the military. The Senators who did not vote with us should be ashamed. Ashamed that they just gave cover to this president to trample our Constitution and steal from the military.

But the bipartisan vote today suggest that perhaps my Republican colleagues are beginning to rise to the occasion.

Now, on the transcript and the ensuing events. Earlier this morning President Trump released a quote-unquote “document” of his call with President Zelensky. Considering this document was something the White House chose to release, it was far more damaging to the president’s case than any of us anticipated.

In this telephone conversation, the President of the United States made an extraordinary request of the President of Ukraine: to investigate Trump’s political opponent and aid President Trump’s reelection campaign. Does anyone think this conversation was in the national interest? Or was it in the president’s personal, political interest? Let me repeat: Do any of my Republican colleagues think this phone call reflects a president pursing the national interest, or was he pursuing his own personal, political ambitions? Every Republican, every one of them, needs to answer this question.  The document also raises a host of new questions that I expect the House impeachment inquiry will seek to answer, here are some of them. Do my colleagues believe it’s appropriate, after the Ukrainian President brings up a request for military aid, for the president to say, “I would like you to do us a favor though” before asking him to investigate a right-wing conspiracy theory?

President Trump mentioned multiple times during the call he wanted President Zelensky to speak with Attorney General Barr and Rudolph Giuliani.  What conversations between Barr, Giuliani and President Zelensky or other Ukrainian officials occurred? Did that actually speak to one another. What did they say? And what promises or requests were made by Attorney General Barr and Mr. Giuliani? Why would the president involve his personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani, in what President Trump claims was official government business? And was that done to get around some official channels in the State Department and elsewhere? There are many more questions. And those are just the one that come from the document we were given.

This White House has a history of doctoring public disclosures to save the president from embarrassment. If they do it for the small things—like when they changed a transcript of the White House communications director saying the president, “sinks 3-foot putts” into saying he sinks “30-foot putts” — then there’s no telling what they do in a document as consequential as this one. Even with the possibility that the administration doctored or left out major sections though, this document demonstrates that President Trump made it abundantly and redundantly clear to the president of the Ukraine that he wanted him to investigate his political opponent. And further that he wanted him to work with Attorney General Barr to make it happen. Let me say that again. This document absolutely validates the wisdom of Speaker Pelosi’s decision to open up a formal impeachment inquiry.

President Trump and his allies, like Leaders McConnell, like Leader McCarthy will say this is about politics and of course they’ll do what they usually do – accuse Democrats of trying to re-litigate 2016. There is no credible or straight-faced reason to believe that. This is about our national security, the integrity of our foreign policy and democratic elections. This is about abuse of power by an overreaching executive. Something the Founding Fathers feared. And what they feared at the top of the list? Was that the overreaching executive would be involved with foreign powers to jaundice (7:18) what happens here in America.

There should be bipartisan concern about these issues. It shouldn’t be Democrats or Republicans, it should be congressmen- senators- of either party who are saying we need to look into this. Indeed, just yesterday, every single Republican Senator said that the administration’s decision to withhold the whistleblower complain from Congress was wrong. We just had a vote where a number of my Republican colleagues said the administration was wrong to divert funds from the military to build the wall.

So it’s beginning to seems with the crescendo of events, Republicans are beginning to stand up to the president when he’s wrong. That hasn’t happened much in the past, but I hope that my Republican colleagues will see that Leader McConnell’s strategy of defending the president at all costs is a losing one and stand up for the rule of law and our democracy.  

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