Schumer Floor Remarks On The First Year Of The Mueller Investigation, The Deficit, And Net Neutrality

May 17, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the importance of protecting the Mueller investigation as it enters its second year, the deficit, and the fight to restore net neutrality. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Thank you, Madame President, and before I get into the substance of my remarks, I always listen diligently to my friend from Kentucky. There’s a number missing from his charts, $1.5 trillion. The reason we don’t like government spending is because – he thinks – a lot of its wasteful. Okay, but the reason ultimately is because there’s a huge deficit, and our side scratches our heads, not only over our friend from Kentucky, but from everyone on the other side who rails about too much government spending and creation of the deficit, when they created the deepest hole they could’ve with the tax break that could’ve been paid for by closing loopholes. And a group – a bipartisan group – had put something together that would’ve reduced the corporate rate to twenty-five, brought the money overseas at eight, nine percent, increase the child tax credit, left the individual side alone, and it barely increased the deficit. 

So, our side, at least, rankles when hear these budgets that relate to spending when on the tax side that doesn’t seem to apply at all. I say that with due respect to my friend -- who I know is sincere in his beliefs and he’ll argue with me that cutting taxes increases the economy -- I would say spending on education and infrastructure also increases the economy, and it’s a slippery slope when you say, “We can cut all the taxes we want, and the deficit doesn’t matter. It would be like us saying, “You can spend all the money you want, and the deficit doesn’t matter.” Anyway, I thank my friend.

Now, other remarks, Madame President. Yesterday was a good day for the future of the internet. Democrats forced the Senate to take an important step closer to restoring net neutrality. Another step closer to ensuring that large internet service providers don’t get to hold all the cards. Another step closer to protecting equality of access to the internet. In doing so, Senate Democrats stood with the eighty-six percent of Americans who oppose the repeal of net neutrality.

I’m proud to say that Senator Markey’s Congressional Review Act resolution passed yesterday afternoon with the votes of every single Democrat, as well as three of our Republican colleagues. I thank Senators Collins, Murkowski, and Kennedy for supporting this fine legislation.

Here’s what my friend the Republican senator from Louisiana had to say after the vote: “If you trust your cable company, you won’t like my vote. If you don’t trust your cable company, you will like my vote.” He’s right. It’s that simple. And so you have to wonder why forty-seven Republicans voted “NO” yesterday. Do they trust the cable companies and the large ISPs to do what’s level best for the average American family? Do they believe that cable companies are really popular with the American people? I don’t think so.

Now, Republicans in the House have to take up this bipartisan resolution. We hope they will. This isn’t some partisan stunt, absolutely not. It is a real, bipartisan effort to right the FCC’s wrong, and protect the free and open internet. It’s very crucial to the future of the country. House Republicans don’t have to choose the same path that the vast majority of Republicans in the Senate decided. Speaker Ryan should bring this up for a vote immediately. The American people have spoken. The Senate has spoken. Speaker Ryan should listen and bring the Net Neutrality CRA to the floor of the House.

Now, on another subject. The one year anniversary of Robert Mueller. One year ago, former FBI-Director Robert Mueller was appointed to lead the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Of course, the investigation began long before that. According to the New York Times, it began in the middle of 2016, as a result of information we received from the Australian ambassador, who told the FBI that Russian intelligence was working to share information with the Trump campaign.

At that time, we heard a lot about the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails, but remarkably, we heard nothing about this other investigation. Now we know that one of those two investigations is much more serious than the other one. We also know that if it was a “witch hunt,” as the president seems to think it was, if they were out to get him, they certainly would’ve leaked information about that during the election campaign. They didn’t.

The probe led by Special Counsel Mueller, a Republican and decorated Marine veteran, concerns the campaign of a hostile foreign power to interfere in and influence the outcome of an American election. There is nothing – nothing -- more serious to the integrity of a democracy than the guarantee of free and fair elections. The Founding Fathers warned about foreign interference. When I used to read that clause in high school, I said, “What do they mean? That’s not going to happen.” Well, they’re a lot smarter than we are, as always. They knew this danger, and here it is, 2018, and we see how real it was, and it’s what’s the core of the special counsel’s investigation.

The investigation has already yielded multiple indictments and guilty pleas. Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a bipartisan manner, confirmed that Russia sought to interfere with our elections, to sow discord, and tip the scales towards Donald Trump and against Secretary Clinton. The Trump administration itself has even taken punitive action against Russia’s actors named in Mueller’s investigation, and I salute the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, the Republican senator form North Carolina, for being straightforward about this. Not so many on the other side of the aisle are.

Yet, again this morning, President Trump called the investigation a “disgusting, illegal, and unwarranted witch hunt…the greatest witch hunt in American history.” It’s amazing the rhetoric this man uses.

I would say to the president: It’s not a witch hunt when seventeen Russians have been indicted.

It’s not a witch hunt when some of the most senior members of the Trump campaign have been indicted.

It’s not a witch hunt when Democrats and Republicans agree with the intelligence community that Russia interfered in our election to aid President Trump.

Any fair-minded citizen, even the most ardent partisan, should be able to look at the facts and say that this investigation is not a “witch hunt.” The FBI Director Christopher Wray, appointed by President Trump – a Republican -- said as much yesterday.

So, truly, we should all be aghast on this one year anniversary of Mueller’s appointment at the smear campaign by the president and his allies. We should all be aghast at the relentless parade of conspiracies manufactured by the most extreme elements of the Republican Party and conservative media to distract from the special counsel’s investigation: from “deep state” leaks to unmasking requests, phone taps at Trump Tower, Uranium One, Nunes’ midnight run to the White House, and the Nunes memo. These are all attempts to derail a legitimate and important investigation. Now, House conservatives are badgering DOJ officials for classified documents, hunting desperately for any scrap of information that would help them sully the investigation, and by the way for all their ranting, and raving, and interfering they don’t have a centile of evidence that this is a “witch hunt”, that this is unfair, that it is politically motivated.

The president and his allies don’t quit with all these conspiracy theories, with all these ridiculous fomentations, but frankly because they’re afraid of what Mueller’s investigation will reveal. Every American who looks at the president’s actions says he’s afraid of what the Mueller investigation will reveal.

And yet the volume of mistruth, the weight of all the distortion and fabrication, is hurting our democracy. The double standard is enormous. The Times article shows no leaks when Trump was under investigation during the campaign. Obviously, Hillary Clinton was. Again, if this was a witch hunt, why didn’t the FBI, which the president seems to feel is politically motivated with no centile of proof, why wouldn’t they leak it?

And one more point, Madame President, before I leave the floor. The words of former Secretary of State Tillerson, yesterday – former Secretary Tillerson I might say – the words of Secretary Tillerson were quote, “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as a people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on the pathway to relinquishing our freedom.” He is exactly right. When distortions, lies, intimidation come repeatedly from the other side and some conservative news media, and that becomes the accepted way and it’s just “he said, she said,” when one side is bluntly distorting and lying, and that becomes accepted our democracy is at risk. We’re a beautiful thing here, and it’s founded on facts, real facts, and what we’ve seen from the president and some of his allies makes you worry about the future of this democracy, the way they’re behaving. Now, ultimately, I have a firm belief that they will not succeed.

The Founding Fathers were geniuses – geniuses – and they set up a system of checks and balances that we read about in our classes, and study, but it’s almost mystical. It always rises to the occasion. It will again, despite the efforts of the president, despite the efforts of some of his allies – who have gone way overboard, and I might mention Chairman Nunes on the other side. The checks and balances of this country, I believe, will hold, and we will eventually find out the truth, no matter where it leads.

So, today is a good day to remember that the special counsel’s investigation is serious; it’s nonpartisan; and it’s critical to the integrity of our democracy. We must allow it to proceed, without political interference, without intimidation, to follow all the facts in pursuit of the unvarnished truth on such an important issue.