Schumer Floor Remarks Demanding A Fair & Honest Impeachment Trial And Stating That Senate Dems Will Force Votes On Key Witnesses & Documents

January 8, 2020

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today on the Senate floor called for a fair and honest Senate impeachment trial with key witnesses and documents, stressing that Senate Democrats will force votes on key witnesses and documents. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks,  which can also be viewed here:

Yesterday, Leader McConnell announced that he has the votes to pass a partisan resolution to set the rules for the impeachment trial of President Trump. It was another unfortunate confirmation that Leader McConnell had no intention of working with the minority to establish the rules of a fair and honest trial that examined the evidence, heard from witnesses, and received the relevant documents.

I’ve asked Leader McConnell repeatedly, to sit down and negotiate a plan where we would have witnesses and documents and he has refused. Instead, Leader McConnell, by his own admission, took his cues from the White House when it came to setting the parameters of the trial. Rather than engaging in any serious negotiation with the Senate minority, he only spent time trying to convince his caucus that we should punt the questions of witnesses and documents to a later date.

I have explained why this proposal makes very little sense from the perspective of having a fair trial. The evidence should inform arguments in a trial; evidence should not be an afterthought. Why would it make sense for both sides to present their entire case, and then decide whether the Senate should request the evidence that we already know is out there?

It’s extremely telling that Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans are not willing to take a forthright position on whether we should call witnesses and request documents, they can only say that the issue should be addressed later. Their only refuge (not much of one), is to kick the can down the road.

No one—no one—has advanced an argument as to why the four eyewitnesses we’ve proposed should not testify. No one has advanced an argument as to why the three specific sets of documents related to the charges against the president should not be provided. Republicans can only get behind kicking the can down the road because they know we have the full weight of the argument on our side. There’s virtually no argument why we shouldn’t have witnesses, why we shouldn’t have documents.

But I want to make one thing very clear: there will be votes—repeated votes—on the question of witnesses and documents at the trial. The initial votes will not be the last votes on the matter. Republicans can delay it, but they cannot avoid it.

And when those votes come up, Senate Republicans, not Leader McConnell, who has already cast his lot completely with the defendant—the president—but all other Republicans will have two crucial things to worry about.

First, if Senate Republicans runs a sham trial—without witnesses, without documents, without all the facts—then the president’s acquittal at the end of the trial will be meaningless. A trial without all the facts is a farce. The verdicts of kangaroo courts are empty.

Leader McConnell is fond of claiming that the House ran the “most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.” I know that’s his talking point, but in truth, Leader McConnell is plotting to run the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment trial in modern history. If the Senate rushes through the president’s impeachment, if we actually fail to try the case as the Constitution demands, then the true acquittal the president craves will be unobtainable.

The American people will see right through a partisan trial, and understand that a rush to judgment renders that moot. They will understand that when you don’t want witnesses and documents, you’re afraid of the truth and that you’re covering something up. That the likelihood is strong that you did something very wrong. That’s common sense. That’s what all the polling data shows most Americans believe.

Second, when the Senate has votes on witnesses and documents, my Senate Republican colleagues will have to answer to not just the president. The American people do not want a cover-up. Whatever their view of the president, the American people want the Senate to have a fair trial. All the data shows that. There have been two more polls in the last few days. Every Senator will be under massive public pressure to support a fair trial that examines all the facts.

The American people understand the gravity of the charges against the president. The House has impeached President Trump for using the powers of his public office to benefit himself. The president was impeached because the House believes he tried to shake down a foreign leader into investigating his political opponent, pressuring a foreign power to interfere in our elections. He was impeached because he undertook an unprecedented campaign of obstruction to prevent Congress from investigating his wrongdoing.

The articles of impeachment suggest the president committed a grave injury to our democracy; the conduct they describe is exactly what the founders most feared when they forged the impeachment powers of Congress.

If the Senate fails to hold a fair hearing of those charges, if one party, the president’s party, decides to rush through a trial without hearing all the facts, witnesses, and documents, it won’t just be the verdict of history that falls heavy on their shoulders. The American people, in the here and now, will pass a harsh judgment on Senators who participated in a cover-up for the president.