TRANSCRIPT: Senator Schumer Appears On ABC’s The View To Discuss Need For Witnesses And Documents In Senate Impeachment Trial And Senate Democrats’ Efforts To Pass War Powers Resolution On Iran

January 14, 2020

Washington, D.C.— Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer appeared on ABC’s The View today and discussed the president’s erratic and impulsive foreign policy in the Middle East and Senate Democrats’ efforts to have witnesses and documents in the Senate impeachment trial. Below is a transcript of the interview: 

Whoopi Goldberg: Well, we're going to start with the guy in the White House. He retweeted a doctored photo image showing you and Speaker Pelosi in front of an Iranian flag dressed in traditional Middle Eastern-style clothing with the caption, “the corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah's rescue.” Now, why he would make it about the clothing or any of this, what is the point of this? Is this just him being dumb?

Sen. Schumer: Well, if it were just that … it's, you know, I say how low can the president go?

Whoopi Goldberg: Yep.

Sen. Schumer: It relates to a larger point, Whoopi, which is the foreign policy that he has created, whether it's in North Korea or in Syria or in Russia, can be summarized in three words: erratic, impulsive and egotistical. And that's why we're so worried about what's happening in Iran. The mothers and fathers of America don't want another endless war in the Middle East, and yet the president could force us into one or, even more likely, bumble into one, and that's why, I know we're doing impeachment later in the week, but earlier or hopefully in the next day, we'll vote on something called the War Powers Resolution which says he can't go to war, increase large numbers of troops in the Middle East without Congressional approval. That's what our Founding Fathers wanted. They didn't want the president to be able to declare war on his own.

Whoopi Goldberg: That's right. I want to make sure people understand, you know, there's lots of folks who wear the hijabs and a lot of folks who wear the headpieces and there's nothing wrong with it, and this idea of showing it like there's something wrong with people wearing it – there is nothing wrong with it. I want to clear that up.

Sen. Schumer: You bet, and he seems to like to appeal to bigotry and divisiveness instead of smart policy, bringing us together, keeping us safe.

Sunny Hostin: Senator Schumer, this is Sunny. Turning to Iran, President Trump claims he ordered the killing of General Soleimani because he had been planning attacks on four U.S. embassies. You were in the classified briefing. Did you hear any intelligence about threats against four embassies?

Sen. Schumer: Well, Sunny, I'm not allowed to talk about these briefings because they're highly classified, these Gang of Eight briefings, but I can tell you I am totally unconvinced that there was any imminence that required an immediate attack.

Sunny Hostin: Well, the president himself told the American people that there were attacks against four people – four embassies, planned attacks against four embassies.  Can you confirm that? Did you hear that?

Sen. Schumer:  I can tell you this, that even the Secretary of Defense walked that back.

Sunny Hostin: Right.

Sen. Schumer:  I have never heard anything to that effect.

Sunny Hostin: So is he lying to the American people?

Sen. Schumer:  This president plays so fast and loose with the truth, not only on that issue. The other day, he just said, he's defending, protecting our health care, our preexisting conditions. He's doing everything to undermine it! And the families of America need good health care. You know, I'm going to make a broader point and it relates to impeachment and everything else.

The greatest thing America has is its honor and its values. That's what the Founding Fathers focused on. That's what all of our great political thinkers have focused on, and no person, no person has done more to destroy the honor and values of America than Donald Trump, and that's why I think he's got to go, in the election, if not sooner.

Abby Huntsman: All right, Senator. I do want to get to impeachment because there has been some movements there. Nancy Pelosi is preparing to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate after she withheld them. It's been sort of a standstill for three weeks, insisting that Mitch McConnell outline the ground rules for the trial. McConnell didn't budge, and the question is a political one because I would make the argument that this standstill for three weeks has made it so people aren't talking about impeachment. If there was this urgent and this dire need from Democrats to get this done, Nancy and the Democrats would have found a way to do this, and I'll speak for this table. We haven't talked about impeachment for the last two weeks. Is this a good thing for Democrats?

Sen. Schumer: I'm not sure I agree with that, Abby. The bottom line is this: three weeks ago, I sent a letter to Mitch McConnell saying, we wanted the truth to come out in this trial. We wanted witnesses. We wanted documents. Who has ever heard of a trial without witnesses and documents? And we requested a limited number of witnesses, all of whom were eyewitness to what President Trump is alleged to have done. And what he is alleged to have done is very serious, to tell Ukraine you interfere in our elections or I'm going to withhold your aid is exactly; do we Americans want foreign powers interfering in our elections? It should be the American people who decide. It's serious stuff, and over the last three weeks, we have been able to focus on getting witnesses, documents. And these witnesses, by the way, are not what Republicans say, that they're Democratic plants. They're the people appointed by President Trump: Mulvaney, and Bolton, and Blair and Duffey. And I don't know what they'll say here at the trial. It could be exculpatory. It could be further incriminating. And we'll let the chips fall where they may, but we will not rest until we get the truth. You know what Joe Friday used to say, “just the facts, ma'am,” on the old Dragnet show. That's what we want, “just the facts, ma'am,” and we're making progress. Some of the Republicans are now beginning to say, maybe we need witnesses and documents. Had Nancy sent the stuff right over and McConnell moved to dismiss, who knows what would have happened.

Joy Behar: So Senator, 71% of Americans do want to hear from witnesses at the Senate trial.

Sen. Schumer: Yes.

Joy Behar: Mitt Romney himself says he wants to hear from witnesses. We're not so sure about Mitt Romney because he has been flakey in the past, but is this enough to pressure moderate Senators to push for witnesses do you think?

Sen. Schumer: Here's something interesting, Joy. The American people overwhelmingly want witnesses and documents, and 64% of Republicans, Republican voters, in a recent survey said, we want witnesses and documents. So there is tremendous pressure on Republicans from their constituencies.

Joy Behar: Why isn’t that enough Mitch McConnell though? You say the Republicans want it. Why doesn't he do it?

Sen. Schumer:  You know what Mitch McConnell said; he'll listen to whatever Donald Trump wants. And one thing we seem to know, Joy, is Donald Trump does not want the truth to come out. If he were so sure that he was right, he would have said to us, have the witnesses; have the documents; they'll tell the truth. But he's afraid of the truth. But in something as sacred and profound as an impeachment, we need the truth. There have been 18 impeachment trials, 2 for president, 15 for other things in the history of this republic, in only one was there no witnesses and that's because they stopped it before that discussion would happen. Every other trial has had witnesses. Every other trial has had documents. Common sense: how do you run a trial with no witnesses and documents, no evidence? That's what McConnell wants.

Joy Behar: He can't handle the truth.

Sen. Schumer:  That's it. You got it.

Meghan McCain: Senator Schumer, this is Meghan. Nice to see you again even via satellite even though Democrats and Republicans aren't supposed to be friends, but, you know, we go back a little.  You have criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after he described himself as not an impartial juror, but during the Clinton impeachment trial, you made similar statements on CNN. You said, quote, “this is not a criminal trial. It's not like a jury box. It's susceptible to the whims of politics, it’s quite different from a jury.” Do you find that hypocritical?

Sen. Schumer: No. There are two differences, Meghan. The first personally to me, I'm sort of a historical footnote because I was in the House in 1998, and so I was on the prosecution, on the voting for impeachment, and then I went over to the Senate. So sort of a unique position, I was then. But more important, the witnesses that were being called on in trial in '98 as you may remember had already testified. They had given grand jury testimony. Everyone had looked at it. The American people knew what they said, so people wanted to bring them back again. The witnesses we are seeking have not been heard from, and they are the people with the greatest knowledge as to whether the president did what is alleged to, what he is alleged to have done, which is influence a foreign power, cut off their aid to get them to affect our election. You know, it's funny. When I was in high school, and maybe this happened to you, Meghan. We read that the Founding Fathers were most afraid of a foreign country interfering in our elections. And I shrugged my shoulders and said, what's that all about? Well, once again the Founding Fathers were a lot smarter than all of us.

Whoopi Goldberg: Or they had already experienced it one too many times, interference and knowing what that meant. Listen, when you come back to New York please come back to the table, we are always happy to have you here.