Schumer Floor Remarks On The House Intelligence Committee’s Report, The Need For Senate GOP To Stop Spreading Putin’s Propaganda, And The Need For A Bipartisan Appropriations ProcessDecember 4, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the House Intelligence Committee report on the evidence gathered in the impeachment inquiry and urged Senate Republicans to stop spreading the unsupported and false narrative promoted by Russia that Ukraine was responsible for 2016 meddling. Senator Schumer also spoke regarding the need for a bipartisan appropriations process. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Yesterday afternoon, the majority on the House Intelligence Committee released a report on the evidence it has examined thus far in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The report asserted that the inquiry has “uncovered a months-long effort by President Trump to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election,” going on to say the “president placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States.”
Those are extremely serious charges, and the conduct they describe is undoubtedly worthy of Congressional investigation, which is precisely what the House impeachment inquiry is designed to do. Whatever your party affiliation, it is up to us in Congress and particularly in the Senate to examine the evidence, remain impartial, and treat this matter with the seriousness it deserves.
But, at the moment, too many members of the president’s party are stretching the bounds of truth in an attempt to defend the president’s behavior.
Certain members on the other side have parroted the fiction invented by Vladimir Putin’s intelligence services that Ukraine—not just Putin—interfered in the 2016 election. One member repeated this falsehood, recanted on live television, and then went back to making similar comments a few days later. Yesterday, Leader McConnell, when asked to set the record straight, said that it was a matter for the intelligence committees to look into.
Well, Leader McConnell, the Intelligence Committees have looked at it. In fact, according to reports, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee investigated the allegations that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election and found no evidence to support the claims. The Republican-led intelligence committee found no evidence and Leader McConnell and so many of our Republican friends, in febrile obeisance to President Trump and his falsehoods and lies, have refused even to rebut that. This is a dark day for America, when a foreign leader, who is our enemy, can spread a false truth and is either defended, or there’s a lack of rebuttal from my Republican colleagues. What the heck is going on here in this America?
David Hale, the number three official at President Trump’s State Department, was asked by Senator Menendez yesterday whether he was aware of any evidence of Ukrainian interference in 2016. He said, “I am not.” He was not aware. Fiona Hill, another Trump appointee, and a former NSC official, testified under oath that it was a “fictional narrative.”
There is no doubt that the idea of Ukrainian interference in 2016 is a hoax perpetrated by Putin’s intelligence services, echoed by Fox News and acolytes of President Trump who similarly show no regard for truth—none. The fact that Republican Senators are repeating and amplifying this fiction or playing coy about it, as Leader McConnell is, is just wrong for America, wrong for the future of our country, a turning point, a dark point in our history. And in my view, it shows the extreme depths, the febrile depths, to which certain members of the other side will stoop to provide cover to a president accused of serious wrongdoing. A president who almost no Americans believe is credible any longer.
On another matter where we could use some bipartisanship, in sixteen days, funding for the government will expire. We have several important pieces in place to avoid a shutdown, including the recent agreement on allocations, known as the 302(b)s. Several sticking points remain, but overall this is good news; because I believe left to our own devices, Congress could work through the final issues and make sure the government stays open.
However, a report came out yesterday suggesting President Trump may refuse to sign any funding agreement without securing funding for his border wall first. If all of this seems a little familiar, it’s because it is. Nearly a year ago exactly, the president torpedoed bipartisan negotiations by demanding the very same thing—funding for his border wall—and the result was the longest government shutdown in history.
Funding for a border wall was a non-starter for Democrats then, and it remains a non-starter for Democrats now. The votes did not exist even within the president’s own party then, and they have not materialized now. We had hoped the president had learned his lesson, but it appears that exactly a year after losing this same battle, the president is considering a repeat of history and another Trump shutdown.
I hope cooler heads will prevail, and I believe they will. But I’d warn President Trump and my Republican colleagues: the last Trump shutdown was terrible for the American people and terrible for Republicans. It is in all of our interests to keep the president away from the appropriations process and avoid another Trump shutdown before Christmas.