Schumer Floor Remarks In Solidarity With Jewish Communities After Jersey City Shooting, On The Need To Use Facts Not Conspiracies In The House Impeachment Inquiry, And On The Failure Of The Trump-Republican Tax Law

December 5, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today stood on the Senate floor in solidarity with the Jewish communities following the shooting in Jersey City, NJ. Senator Schumer also spoke regarding the need for Republicans to stop spreading conspiracy theories and instead listen to facts in the impeachment inquiry. In addition, he detailed how the Trump-Republican Tax Law has failed the American people in light of the second anniversary of its passage later this month. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here.

I learned yesterday that two of the innocent victims of the shooting in Jersey City earlier this week are from my hometown, my home borough, the great borough of Brooklyn—Moshe Deutsch and Mindy Ferencz—and that the Kosher deli where they were killed, in all likelihood, was targeted as a part of a hate crime.

This morning, I stand in solidarity with the Jewish communities of NJ and NY as they confront the anti-Semitic poison that motivated that hateful attack, and I stand in sorrow at the loss of innocent lives from my community. May their memory be a blessing and salutes to the brave police officer as well who fell in the line of duty trying to apprehend these brutal thugs.

Now on impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee will continue today its markup of Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump. The articles charge that President Trump abused the office of the presidency by soliciting the interference of a foreign power in our elections to benefit himself personally. The articles also charge the president with obstruction of Congress in the investigation into those matters.

Those articles were drafted after a months-long investigation into the president’s dealings with Ukraine, which included scores of fact witnesses and expert testimony. Throughout that time, and still today, the White House refuses to participate in the House process. It has blocked key witnesses. It has withheld relevant documents. It has instructed members of the administration to defy congressional subpoenas and not to testify. Those that did testify did so bravely against the wishes of the White House.

What is the president hiding? What do these witnesses know? What do these documents show? That is a fair question that every American could ask. And because the president has not presented, nor have the Republican Congressmembers presented, any refutation of the facts in the impeachment charges, any exculpatory evidence other than grand conspiracy theories, the American people have a right to say: the president must be hiding something.

If there are documents or witnesses that the president believes could provide exculpatory evidence, nothing is stopping the witnesses from testifying, the documents from being sent over, except the President of the United States, who in all likelihood is afraid of what they show because they confirm and corroborate the lengthy factual basis that the House compiled to come up with the Articles of Impeachment.

The fact that President Trump is blocking witnesses from testifying and blocking documents from release means that—more likely than not—those witnesses, those documents do not and cannot refute the charges against the president. When someone who might be guilty of a crime says he doesn’t want witnesses of the crime to come forward, what do you think that means? Why haven’t the president and his allies presented exculpatory evidence, evidence that says this is not true? Why instead have they created these baubles, these objects far away and say, ‘there’s a conspiracy here, there’s a conspiracy there?’

It’s the old lawyer saying: when you have the facts, argue the facts. When you have the law, argue the law. When you have neither, pound the table. In this case, pounding the table means coming up with diversionary, conspiratorial theories.

House Republicans, rather than mount a vigorous defense of the president on the merits, attacked the process. If House Republicans could focus on the merits, could find evidence that says ‘no this is not true, that is not true, he did not try to influence Ukraine to help his campaign,’ they would have presented it. Why has no evidence been presented directly refuting the core of the charge against the president? Because there probably isn’t any.

Here in the Senate we have several members who are swimming in the murky waters of conspiracy to divert attention from the fact that they don’t have the facts on their side, they don’t have the law on their side. The only way they can defend the president’s comments is to come up with crazy, out-of-line, and not-based-on-any-evidence conspiracy theories. Some Senate Republicans find it so difficult to argue the president’s defense on the facts, they resort to fiction.

For instance, for the past few weeks, certain Senate Republicans have actually helped spread disinformation invented—invented —by Putin’s intelligence services, which said that Ukraine—not Russia—interfered in the election. It’s absurd! No one believes it. There’s no factual basis of it. Of course Putin would say it, he wants to divert attention from Russia. But it’s amazing that Senators would traffic in those theories. Totally made up. Not one bit of fact. It’s a low moment for the Senate, when their blind obeisance to President Trump, overshadows any need to find truth and to defend the rule of law. That is not what a democracy is about. That is the edge of dictatorship.

Chairman Graham conducted an entire hearing yesterday to give public viewing to the now completely debunked conspiracy theory that the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign began with political motives. Inspector General Horowitz, to his credit, stuck to the findings of his report, found no evidence of bias. So Senator Graham, as he tends to do these days, put on a big show! Lot of ranting, lot of raving, no refutation of the fact of what the IG found. So it’s just like Ukraine, where certain members are so unable to defend what the president did with Ukraine, they latch onto Russian propaganda. Or they come up with these histrionics, again to try and divert attention—a shiny object to take the American people’s attention away from the wrongdoing that the House is accusing him of.

In fact, the Deputy Counsel of the FBI actually said that the department would be “derelict in its responsibility” if it did not open an investigation into President Trump. She’s not a political person. She’s a law enforcement officer. And if you think President Trump is above the law, go right ahead, but that’s not what George Washington, or Benjamin Franklin, or Thomas Jefferson, or Alexander Hamilton thought this nation was about. That’s not what generations of Americans who fought and died for our country thought it was about. We’ve reached a low moment in American history, and a very low moment for the Republican Party, now that it’s been taken over by President Trump. This is not the Republican party of the last 150 years.

So, all of this is a backdrop to the impending trial of President Trump, where two lines of argument may be presented in a court of impeachment. One line of argument—accusations against the president—has relied on facts, public record, and the sworn testimony of dozens of officials with knowledge of the events. The other line of argument—the defense of the president—has so far relied on conspiracy, innuendo, and hyperventilation about the process, with no refutation of the specific facts that the House has found.

The American people will be savvy enough, over the next several months, to tell the difference.

Now on taxes. This month marks two years since President Trump and Congressional Republicans passed a trillion-dollar tax cut for large corporations and the richest Americans. Republicans made many promises to sell this legislation as a boon for jobs and the middle-class— they were outlandish even at the time and now recent history has proven them even crazier. Two years later, those phony promises have not come close to living up to their billing.

President Trump promised that his tax bill would be a “middle-class miracle,” creating a $4,000 raise for every American family. No way—ask the average American family. The richest Americans will say yes; the top 1% will say yes, but of course, they received an average tax cut 64 times the size of the one given to the middle class.

President Trump and Republicans promised the bill would prompt businesses to increase investment in their companies, leading to job growth and higher wages. This, too, has proved a fantasy. Less than 5% of all workers in America were ultimately promised pay increases or bonuses as a result of the tax cut. Out of 5.9 million employers, only 413 announced bonuses to workers or wage hikes.

Want to know where the lion’s share of the profits from Republican tax cuts went? Shareholders, not workers. In the two years since the tax bill, the annual total of corporate stock buybacks has shattered records, over a trillion dollars in 2018.

It’s impossible to look at the last two years with a straight face, and say that the Republican tax bill was designed or is helping middle-class families. If anything, the Republican tax bill exacerbated the already staggering inequalities of wealth and income in our country.

We need to start moving the needle in the completely opposite direction. Next year, voters will have a chance to make that happen by voting for a change in Senate leadership.