Schumer Floor Remarks On The Declassified Whistleblower Complaint, The Need For The Senate To Pass A C.R. To Keep The Government Open, And The Nomination Of Eugene Scalia To Be U.S. Labor SecretarySeptember 26, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor after the House Intelligence Committee made public the declassified portion of the whistleblower complaint this morning, the need for the Senate to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open through the end of the November, and urged Senate Republicans to oppose the nomination of Eugene Scalia to be U.S. Labor Secretary. Below are his remarks, which can also be found here.
Mr. President, after Speaker Pelosi decided to open a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday evening, there have been several developments.
Yesterday, the President released the “memorandum of conversation” of his July 25th call with President Zelensky of Ukraine. In plain text—plain text, no ‘and’s’ ‘if’s’ or ‘buts’—the president pressured the leader of Ukraine to investigate one of his leading political rivals, confirming public reports.
Yesterday as well, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees received the official whistleblower complaint that precipitated this series of events. I read the complaint yesterday afternoon and came away even more concerned than when I had read the memorandum of the president’s conversation. This morning, the House Intelligence Committee made public the declassified portion of the complaint and the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s cover letter.
That was the correct decision. The American people have a right to read the whistleblower’s complaint for themselves, and I hope that they will.
The whistleblower’s complaint begins: “In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.”
Those are his words. The complaint goes on to describe specific, deliberate maneuvers by White House lawyers and officials to “lock down” records of the presidential communications in question, including and especially the “official word-for-word transcript” of the president’s phone call with President Zelensky.
The whistleblower complaint contains allegations of underlying crimes—a campaign of soliciting the interference of a foreign government in an American election, using the power of an official government position for personal and political gain—as well as many allegations of an attempted cover-up. If this was all so innocent, why did so many officials in the White House, in the Justice Department, and elsewhere, according to the complaint, make such large efforts to prevent it from being made public? Both sets of allegations are said to have multiple witnesses and multiple co-collaborators.
If confirmed, the allegations contained in the whistleblower complaint are nothing short of explosive. The complaint unquestionably validated Speaker Pelosi’s decision to open a formal impeachment inquiry into these matters.
Mr. President, we’re living in an incredibly delicate time for our democracy. We have a responsibility now to corroborate the facts in the whistleblower’s complaint, solicit testimony from those involved, and pursue the relevant avenues of inquiry that arise. We have a responsibility to consider the facts that emerge squarely, and with the best interests of our country—not our party—in our hearts. We have a responsibility not to rush to final judgment or overstate the case, not to let ourselves be ruled by passion but by reason.
For if the House, at the end of its inquiry, sees fit to accuse the president of impeachable offenses, we in the Senate will act as jury. And our role as the solemn jurors of democracy demands that we place fidelity to country and fidelity to the Constitution above all else.
Now, on the appropriations committee. The business of the American people and the responsibilities of Congress do not pause while the House prepares to formally begin an impeachment inquiry. Today, for example, the Senate must pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open through the end of the November and give appropriators time to complete the twelve appropriations bills.
I expect the continuing resolution will pass this morning and head to the president’s desk. That’s the easy part. The hard part is getting a bipartisan appropriations process back on track here in the Senate.
Senate Republicans unilaterally departed from our bipartisan negotiations earlier this month by proposing to divert as much as $12 billion from military construction and health programs to the president’s border wall. Obviously that was a non-starter with Democrats, and the Republican leader and the leaders of the Appropriations Committee on the Republican side had to know that, and as yesterday’s vote for the national emergency declaration showed, it’s a non-starter with a double-digit number of Republicans as well.
Now that Republican Leaders have shown the president they tried to get his wall again; now that the Senate has taken two proxy votes on the wall again this work period—neither of which came close to passing—it’s time for Leader McConnell, Chairman Shelby, and our Republican colleagues on the appropriations committee to sit down with Democrats and get a bipartisan process moving again.
Finally, on the Scalia nomination. Today, the Senate will consider the nomination of Eugene Scalia to serve as Secretary of Labor. Typical of the Trump Administration, Mr. Scalia’s nomination is a slap to the face of Labor because Mr. Scalia’s life’s work has been utterly opposed to the mission of the agency to which he’s nominated. He has sided repeatedly with the large corporate interests against working people. If any working person doubts that President Trump does not have their interests at heart, look who he’s nominating. This guy shouldn’t even make it for Secretary of Commerce, let alone Secretary of Labor, which is supposed to defend and protect the working people of America.
President Trump could have chosen a card-carrying union member for the job. He could have chosen someone who understands the needs of workers and unions, the history of the labor movement and the established right of workers to collectively bargain for better wages and safer conditions.
Instead, President Trump nominated Mr. Scalia, a corporate lawyer who has spent his entire career protecting the interests of CEOs, big corporations, and the wealthy elite—not workers, not labor. Worse, he’s proactively fought to weaken worker protections, he’s opposed minimum wage increases, even opposed protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s a disgrace. My guess is if every working person knew Mr. Scalia’s record and that President Trump nominated him, Mr. Trump would hardly get the vote of a single worker.
This shows who President Trump is. This shows who our Republican colleagues are. They talk about the rights of workers but vote for somebody—I hope they won’t, but in all likelihood will vote—for somebody who is anti-worker up and down, in the very bones of his body.
Mr. Scalia is part of a larger pattern. President Trump has claimed to be a champion for working Americans, but he has filled our government with millionaires and CEOs and folks like Scalia who work for them with proven records of putting corporate interests before worker interests. Anyone who still thinks that President Trump is a friend of the working person should look at Scalia’s nomination.
The Republican Majority, rather than using its advise and consent powers to check the president when he does the wrong thing, rolls over and approves these nominees. Do all these Republicans here oppose the Americans with Disabilities Act? Do all these Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage? Well if you’re against those kind of things vote for him, but we’ve gotten a lot of doubletalk. People who say they’re for those things and then vote for nominees who oppose them and rip them apart.
We should not confirm Mr. Scalia as Secretary of Labor, and I urge my colleagues to oppose this nomination. I yield the floor.