Schumer Remarks At Press Conference Calling For Production Of Specific Set Of Documents And Testimony From Witnesses To Ensure A Fair Senate Impeachment TrialDecember 23, 2019
New York, NY – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today spoke at a press conference in New York City calling for a specific set of documents and witnesses necessary to ensure a fair Senate impeachment trial. Below is a rough transcript of Senator Schumer’s remarks:
Now, more than a week ago, I sent a letter to Senator McConnell outlining a proposed-structure for a fair and honest impeachment trial in the Senate. Nothing dilatory, nothing prolonged, but what Joe Friday said on Dragnet, “just the facts ma’am.”
President Trump says he wants due process – well, our proposal gives it to him. The tradition of due process is when you are accused, you get to confront your accuser and make your case. We urge President Trump to do that through documents and witnesses.
Now we have said from the beginning that there are two components that make up a full and fair trial:
First, the Senate should hear testimony under oath from four key witnesses, all of whom would have eyewitness, direct knowledge of what happened in relation to these charges. They should include Michael Duffey, the Associate Director for National Security at the Office of Management and Budget.
And second and just as importantly: I proposed that the Senate issue subpoenas for a limited set of documents that we believe will shed additional light on the Administration’s decision-making regarding the delay in security assistance funding to Ukraine and it’s requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine.
Now the need for the Senate to review documentary evidence has received far less attention, than the need for witness testimony, despite being an equally important aspect of the trial and getting the facts to come out. We don’t know what these documents will say, just as we don’t know what the witnesses would say. They may actually be exculpatory of President Trump, or they may be further condemning of President Trump. But they should come out. We should see these documents no matter what they say.
So today I sent a letter to all of my Senate colleagues – 99 of them, every Democrat, every Republican – detailing the specific documents we are requesting.
The documents can be broken down into three evidentiary categories:
First, documents related to the Effort To Induce & Pressure Ukraine To Announce Certain Political Investigations;
Second, documents related to the Order To Hold, And Later Release Military Assistance To Ukraine
And third, documents related to the Withholding Of A White House Meeting That Was Desperately Sought By Newly-Elected President Of Ukraine;
And it’s hard to overstate how important this meeting was to President Zelensky. It’s hard to overstate how withholding it was so harmful to him and could have been used as a lever.
It’s especially astonishing that President Trump has hosted Russian officials below the level of the president in the oval office, but withholds such a meeting with the Ukrainian President? Why? Ukraine’s our ally, Russia’s our adversary.
Withholding a meeting from one of our allies while welcoming our adversaries with open arms sends a stunning message to the world, especially Putin, and raises many many questions. The emails and documents we are requesting are necessary to get to the bottom of it. Why this happened, why secondary Russian officials had meetings with President Trump and President Zelensky was denied one.
Let me be clear: our request for documents this is not a new demand, nor would it create a time-consuming document production effort. I think most of America wants to see all the facts come out, but not in a dilatory way. We have a slogan in America that is at the core of our justice. It’s called a speedy and fair trial. That is just what we want. We don’t want it be dilatory, but we want it fair. And fair means documents and witnesses. It’s hard to imagine a trial not having documents and witnesses. If it doesn’t have documents and witnesses, it’s going to seem to most of the American people that it is a sham trial, a show trial, not to get the facts.
It’s simply about getting the truth.
Senator McConnell has come up with no good reason why the trial shouldn’t have these witnesses or these documents. He does a lot of name-calling. He does a lot of partisanship. He does a lot of digging back in past history and mis-stating the case, but he still hasn’t answered the question: what is wrong with witnesses? What is wrong with documents? One argument, Leader McConnell, give us one argument why they shouldn’t be a part of the trial.
We had asked Mr. Duffey to come as a witness before the stunning, explosive information was released about President Trump’s efforts to freeze military aid to Ukraine and the documents that Duffey has sent. These have only, what happened over the weekend with Duffey’s emails that were made public, has only emboldened the case that these documents be produced and the witnesses testify. The White House press secretary says Duffey’s memo meant nothing, then release the documents surrounding it.
Now, new emails from top Trump officials were released, as you know, including one that was sent 91 minutes after President Trump’s July 25th call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, in which President Trump asked for “a favor”.
In the email, the top Trump administration official, Michael Duffey, ordered the military assistance to Ukraine be withheld – and he demanded the order be kept hush-hush. Why? If everything was on the up and up, if the call was “perfect,” as President Trump said, why does one of his top aides, who is a political appointee, say “let’s keep it hush hush.”
These new email from Mr. Duffey and the Trump administration show why it is so important for the White House to produce the documents we have requested, they will shed light on who ordered the aid cut and why they ordered it.
If there was ever an argument that we need Mr. Duffey and others to come testify under oath and an argument that we need documents related to what was revealed about Mr. Duffey’s actions – this is it.
So, we say to President Trump, if you are so confident that you did nothing wrong, then: why won’t you let your men testify? If you did nothing wrong, Mr. President, why do you seem so eager to avoid the truth, to hide the truth? And why, Leader McConnell, if you want the truth and you want a fair trial, whether you’re a partisan or not, are you withholding? So far, and including today, Leader McConnell has not come up with a single reason why we shouldn’t have witnesses and documents. He does a lot of name-calling. He does a lot of finger-pointing, but he hasn’t given a single reason why there shouldn’t be documents and witnesses.
So we say to Mr. President, we say to President Trump: release the emails, let your aides testify. We say to Leader McConnell: a fair trial with facts, only the facts.