Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor [at approx. 12:09 p.m.] regarding the failure of a bipartisan resolution reaffirming that Russia interfered in our elections and the upcoming vote on a resolution affirming Congress’ opposition to allowing the Russian government to question U.S. officials:
Madame President, first before I talk about the resolution that Senators Menendez, Schatz and myself have authored that will be voted on at 1:45 p.m., I’d like to say a few words about the work of my friends from Delaware and Arizona and my severe disappointment that there was objection from the Republican leadership.
The bottom line is very simple, President Trump has put our country in a foreign policy crisis. President Trump has weakened the security of this country. A resolution is the minimum we can do, the minimum. We should be acting. And the idea that we cannot even pass a resolution in this body because of the objection of the other side, when this was done in a bipartisan, careful way by the senators from Arizona and Delaware shows something very bad. That our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are so cowed by the president that they cannot stand up for national security, they cannot stand up to Vladimir Putin just as the president seems not to be able to.
And I’d say one more point. From what I am told, one of the major objections from the other side was the including of contemporaneous notes, that Congress wished that contemporaneous notes in that secret meeting for two hours be made available. That is key. What are they hiding? What are they afraid of? Don’t the American people have a right to know what went on in that meeting, particularly when President Putin gets up and talks about some agreements that it seems not even our higher ranking officials in the State, Defense, Intelligence Departments know about?
This is amazing. We have come to a really low moment in this body when a bipartisan resolution that is rather modest, that is limited - I had talked to my friend from Delaware he knows I wanted much more in this resolution, but in an effort to get something done we limited it. My view, the view of most Americans: the notes should be made available, the translator should be made available. The translator wasn’t specifically referred to in this resolution, but when they talked about relevant people coming, my view, and I believe the view of the senator from Delaware, is that would include the translator. I’m not sure if it was the view of my friend from Arizona. But it doesn’t matter, we’re not even passing this resolution.
I have to say, this was a moment for bipartisanship. This was a moment for America pulling together. This was a moment when the president doesn’t serve the country well, and Americans of all parties, of all ideologies come together and fill that void and undo the misdeeds that occurred in Helsinki. Unfortunately, because of weakness, fear, my guess is if you looked inside the hearts and minds of every member on the other side, all but maybe one or two would feel this is the right resolution, but they’re afraid. Fear will not get us anywhere. Letting a bully push us around, meaning President Putin as he pushed President Trump around, will not serve this country well. It’s a sad moment that this resolution was rejected.
Now, before I yield to my good friend, the hardworking and very able Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I just want to talk on our resolution which we are going to get a vote on. Lord knows if we couldn’t have even gotten a vote on that.
The idea that an American ambassador who served us so well should be brought before Putin and his minions to be questioned when there is no charge against him, no issue against him - it’s not like the 12 Russians who were indicted for trying to interfere with our elections, there’s not even an analogy, there’s not even an evenness.
And President Trump amazingly called this an “incredible offer.” Our president is saying that one of our ambassadors to be hauled before an authoritarian regime that twists the truth, that lies at will, that even seems to kill people they want to with poison in other countries, and that’s an incredible offer?
Well, this resolution is a fine resolution. It’ll pass. It doesn’t undo what just happened. It doesn’t make up for the fact that our colleagues are afraid to take real action and even a resolution that posits action in terms of the major misdeeds at Helsinki. But at the very least, we’re protecting the integrity of men and women who serve us, because if today it is the ambassador, tomorrow it could be somebody in the military or somebody in the intelligence agencies or elsewhere.
So this resolution is very clear. What it says is when President Trump called Putin’s offer, “an incredible offer,” he was incredibly wrong. No president, no president can put one of our fine servants who’ve worked hard, in this case for the diplomatic corps, at risk. And this resolution, a bare, bare, bare minimum of what we should be doing here, I’m glad it will be on the floor and I suspect that it will pass, hopefully unanimously.