Schumer Floor Remarks on the Budget, DACA, and the Right-Wing Campaign to Discredit the FBI

January 25, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the budget, DACA, and the right-wing campaign to discredit the FBI. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Mr. President, there are now only thirteen days remaining until the continuing resolution expires on February 8th.

In that short amount of time, we must seek a budget deal, an agreement on health care legislation, and a bipartisan bill to protect the Dreamers and provide for border security.

All of these items are important. All of them are urgent. And we are working hard to get them all done.

On the issue of immigration, the bipartisan group of moderate Senators should continue trying to find a consensus. I think that’s an excellent idea. The White House has proven unreliable and wildly unpredictable. Within the course of hours they say different things. Every time the President moves forward on one thing, his staff pulls him back and undoes what he said. The action should be here in the Senate to find a narrow deal on DACA and border security.

As we’ve found time and time again, when we open up the negotiations to discussions of broad immigration reform, there is no end to what each party says could be on the table. Republicans want vast curtailment of legal immigration, Democrats want to discuss a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million. That’s a recipe for delay when we can’t afford one. Some on the other side are insisting on expanding this beyond the DACA and border security issues. That will just delay. That will just make sure that things won’t work.

My Republican colleagues, particularly the Leader and his more moderate members, should feel the pressure to get this done, or else this Administration will start separating families, taking kids out of school, service members out of our military, workers out of our companies. They will rip them from the American fabric in which they’re embedded. What a tragedy that would be.

So, the clock is ticking on Dreamers and we don’t have time for extraneous issues that some on the right or the left might want to add that have nothing to do with DACA or border security. 

The clock is also ticking for pensioners, victims of opioid addictions seeking treatment, and for our veterans’ seeking quality health care. We have other issues; rural infrastructure, childcare, things that Democrats want to get done in this deal. We have to get a budget deal and a DACA deal that can get sixty votes. Thirteen days before the Dreamers get closer to deportation. Thirteen days to help our economy and our communities, the middle class, whose been waiting for over a year for this Congress to do something for them instead of just helping business interests.

Now, Mr. President, I want to focus on one more thing that really should disturb every American, certainly disturbs me – the recent events concerning the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

For decades, The FBI has been our nation’s premier law enforcement agency -- admired from one end of the country to the other, trusted with protecting our country against many-faced threats, from drug trafficking to white collar crime to terrorism. In 2016, the FBI was tasked with another mission of great importance: investigating Russia’s interference in our elections.

As that investigation progressed, it found that members of the Trump Campaign had concerning associations with the Russians in the lead-up to the election. That was pure law enforcement, that wasn’t some political direction. Now that that investigation, led by Special Counsel Mueller, has resulted in two guilty pleas and two more indictments of top Trump campaign officials, there seems to be a fervor on the other side to discredit it. What the Special Counsel’s investigation has already revealed should give serious pause to Democrats, Republicans, all Americans. A foreign power, probably the one that is most, most in our face, Russia, interfering in our elections. I don’t care if it’s Democratic elections or Republican elections, national elections or local elections. When a foreign power interferes in our elections, that gnaws at the wellspring of our democracy. All of us – all of us – should be giving the FBI space and encouragement to finish their investigation without delay or interference.

Instead, ever since Special Counsel Mueller was appointed, Republicans and the right-wing media have been desperate to distract the nation from his investigation.

First they waged an aggressive and coordinated -- and I would say shameful -- attack on the integrity of the Special Counsel. I was in the gym this morning and I spoke to one of my senior Republican colleagues who said he knew Special Counsel Mueller and he knew what a fine man he was. He’s a model public servant who spent decades earning the trust and reverence of both parties, he was known as somebody who was a registered Republican through my years here in Washington. He wasn’t regarded as a partisan figure, somebody who would have vendettas, political or otherwise. No. It got so out of hand, I couldn’t believe this, that a Republican congressman suggested Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation was a “coup” on the floor of the House. That congressman ought to go back and read his constitution and read his history books. Rule of law is not a coup. And I would say to that Republican congress member: no person, not even the President, is above the law.

That political smear campaign has now bled into a spiraling and delusional attack on the FBI itself.

The Republican Majority on the House Intelligence committee has, according to Rep. Schiff, manufactured a secret memo of partisan talking points, full of innuendo and glaring omissions, intended to suggest widespread corruption at the Dept. of Justice and the FBI. Very, very serious allegations if they had any truth to them or backing. Adding to the impropriety, some of those same Republicans are now trying to release the slanderous memo and that’s what it is, a slanderous memo to the public.

Since this investigation started, our nation has to endure conspiracy after conspiracy from the right wing, Republican congressmen, Senators, and of course, the right-wing press. Conspiracies about “deep state” leaks and unmasking requests; phone taps at Trump Tower; Uranium One; who paid for the so-called Steele Dossier…today, it’s this memo. On, and on, and on, conspiracy theories with virtually no fact. Paranoia, delusion. Why? Are they afraid of the truth of the Mueller investigation?

Meanwhile, Republican members of this body, I am ashamed to say, have picked up on casual texts sent between FBI agents to peddle the nonsense that there is a “secret society” at the Department of Justice, without a shred of evidence.

What began as an attempt to discredit the investigator has now devolved into delusional, self-serving paranoia.

The Republican Party, which used to hold itself up as the law and order party, seems intent on destroying the credibility of our premier law and order agency, and the hardworking men and women who serve there.

…All to assist a president who knows and cares little about the boundaries of the rule of law. Imagine, the FBI which for decades, the Republican Party upheld. I remember lots of political debates here. And now they’re discrediting them for a temporary political purpose with virtually no basis in fact. And guess who has joined the Republican campaign to attack the FBI?

The Republican campaign to attack the FBI has been joined by the same forces that interfered in the 2016 election – WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Russia. Just a few years ago those things were attacked by our Republican friends, particularly the hard right. Now, they’re joining them, wittingly or unwittingly. Can you imagine the outrage on the right if President Obama’s message was being spread by WikiLeaks or Julian Assange or Kremlin sources?

Within hours of GOP lawmakers and Fox News calling for the release of the Nunes memo, Russian-linked bots began pushing the narrative, using the hashtag “#releasethememo.” Use of the hashtag spiked and was used 100 times more than any other hashtag by the Kremlin-linked accounts. We are witnessing an effort by the Russian government to intervene and influence our democratic processes in real time.

Every single American should be concerned by this, particularly when their elected officials are willing to work, wittingly or unwittingly, alongside Russia to manipulate our opinion. Some of our Republican colleagues – sadly, unfortunately, wittingly or unwittingly -- are acting as allies of Russia’s disinformation campaigns. Can you imagine? Can you imagine? It’s hard to make this stuff up. It seems like you’d make this stuff up but it’s real. Hard right Republicans and the Russians trying to discredit our premiere law enforcement agency.

Mr. President, this country erected institutions like the FBI and the Dept. of Justice to defend the vital interests of the nation without deference to political parties. Much like the federal judiciary, they act as an essential check on political power, whosever political power it is, a defense against creeping authoritarianism. What the FBI is investigating right now is about shielding our democracy from the disinformation campaigns of foreign adversaries. Russia wants nothing more than to undermine our democracy by eroding the people’s faith in its institutions. For without resilient democratic institutions, there can be no democracy. And make no mistake about it, today Russia may be doing the same thing, a lot of our Republican colleagues are, tomorrow they may be attacking our Republican colleagues, they have no interest other than hurting America.

The Republican attacks on the credibility of the FBI and DOJ are playing right into Putin’s hands. They constitute an attack on democracy itself.

There has to be a line, Mr. President. There has to be a line where the interests of your political party stop because to go any further would be to diminish our country. I say that to my colleagues here and in the House who have participated in this besmirching, unfairly, self-interestedly of the FBI. Peddling delusions of secret societies and deep states and coup d’états cross that line of what anyone of any party should do.

It has to stop.