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Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need For Judge Kavanaugh’s Documents, President Trump’s Bailout Of Farmers, and President Trump’s Continued Refusal To Stand Up To President Putin

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor [at approx. 10:59 a.m.] regarding the need for the Senate to review Judge Kavanaugh’s documents, President Trump’s bailout of farmers hurt by his administration’s tariffs, and President Trump’s continued refusal to stand up to President Putin. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Mr. President, eight years ago, when Elena Kagan was nominated to the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans said we must get all of her documents from the Clinton Library and have enough time to analyze them so we can determine whether she should be a Justice.

The Republican leadership did not say some of the documents, not a subset of the documents, not the documents for just one administration job – they said “all of her documents.” And I showed this letter yesterday to my friend, now Chairman of Judiciary, Senator Grassley, and he said it’s totally different. Now he’s a man of integrity, but I know sometimes he gets twisted by his leadership and the president to do things that aren’t consistent, and this is one of them, because the Republicans didn’t ask for only certain documents, they asked for all, and we are asking for all. This is one of the most important positions in the world, and certainly in America. Shouldn’t we know everything? Not just some of the stuff and some of the stuff the White House wants us to know, but everything.

So our friends on the other side of the aisle demanded all of the documents for Justice Kagan. And Democrats agreed, because it was the right thing to do – and because Elena Kagan had nothing to hide, she went happily forward and said, ‘Go right ahead.’ Now, Republicans ought to do the same for Judge Kavanaugh, particularly if he has nothing to hide.

For the last week, Senator Feinstein has been ready to jointly request the same documents of Judge Kavanaugh that Republicans demanded of Justice Kagan.

But our Republican colleagues are dragging their feet and refusing to agree. They are the reason this whole activity has been slowed down. It’s not Democratic obstruction, it’s Democratic desire for transparency and openness, which Republicans are blocking. They are being the obstructionists. Now the Republicans rationale: they downplay Judge Kavanaugh’s role as White House staff secretary. They argue that we don’t need to see documents from that part of his career, but they have no argument against it. They don’t think we don’t need them, we think we do. Why not show them to us?

And here is what Judge Kavanaugh himself said: He said that “my three years as staff secretary for President Bush were the most interesting and in many ways among the most instructive.” Kavanaugh himself says that the very documents that we want to see and Republicans want to block us from seeing are the “most instructive.” Shouldn’t the American people see the writings of what their own nominee calls the “most instructive”?

As staff secretary, Kavanaugh said he “participated in the process of putting together legislation.” He drafted and revised executive orders. He consulted on judicial nominations, including the replacement of Chief Justice Rehnquist. Isn’t that something where we’d want to know what his thoughts were, about who should be a justice? Wouldn’t that inform us of what kind of justice he might be? He was one of the most senior officials in the Bush White House, one of only 17, out of hundreds of presidential aides, who was paid the maximum White House salary. I’m sure he deserved it; that’s not the issue. The issue is that he was an extremely high-ranking official there, it’s not looking when he was some clerk. It was a major, defining part of his career.

And so here we go. Once again, Republicans are against transparency, are against the full record for one of the most powerful positions in the world that will last a lifetime. All of this stonewalling on getting Judge Kavanaugh’s records from his time as staff secretary raises the question, it looms: What are Judge Kavanaugh and the Republicans hiding? Why are Republicans hiding his full record from the Senate and the American people? What don’t they want us to see? What don’t they want the American people to see? Is there something there so damning that it might Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination? If there is, we’re entitled to see it, and if there’s not, then what’s the problem moving forward?

Just last week, we saw our Republican colleagues defeat a judicial nomination based on something that nominee wrote in college. Are they really going to turn right around and say that the nominee for the highest court in the land doesn’t need to release documents that he wrote far later in his career, when his views were far more formed? 

Mr. President, this is about transparency. This is about making sure the Senate does its job in the right, complete, and open way. Democrats have made a completely reasonable request for documents – the same request we agreed to when the shoe was on the other foot. We’re being consistent, our Republican colleagues are being hypocritical. What’s good for them in the minority when President Obama nominated someone is not good for us in the minority when President Trump nominates someone. So I tell our – the old saying in the Farmer’s Almanac and elsewhere, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. It applies so, so really in this situation.

Our request is eminently reasonable. The quickest way to get this nomination moving forward is to get the documents and record, and it’s for Leader McConnell and Chairman Grassley to agree to our request.

Just today - parenthetically – we saw that the White House doctored, supposedly,  the transcript and the tape of what Mr. Putin said right after he and the president met. It’s sort of like an autocratic country, and non-democracy. That’s what dictators do, they change the facts and change the records. Are our Republican colleagues here, so many of them who stood for transparency, going to join this cover-up of records and truth because they don’t like the results? That’s not America. That’s not the America the American people know and love.

Now on the farmer bailout. Yesterday, President Trump announced a $12 billion bailout for farmers who have been hurt by the president’s economic policies. Obviously, the farmers are hurting or else the president wouldn’t have done this.

The drawbacks of this particular policy aside, the bailout is another example of the president chasing his own tail. It is becoming a leitmotif in this administration: President Trump’s impulsiveness and incompetence, his lack of thoroughness and study of an issue, leads him to act impulsively, he creates a massive problem, and then he’s forced to hastily contrive a way to make it look like he’s saving the day.

The irony of this policy should not be lost on anyone. The president’s bailout is like a Soviet-style program where the government props up an entire sector of the economy, and that characterization is not what I spoke of this morning to several of my colleagues. And now I’ve been told that it was one of my Republican colleagues who used the same characterization, ‘Soviet-style program.’ Freedom, the Freedom Caucus, the Koch Brothers. This is not what even the hard-right in America stands for. Knowing this administration, they will design the bailout to help only massive agri-businesses who will use the money for stock buybacks. Knowing this administration, family farmers are likely to be left to suffer.

Now it was not so long ago that Republicans complained bitterly about “picking winners and losers” in the market. What is the president doing here? He’s picking winners and losers.

The president’s policies have hurt scores of Americans. He proposes a massive bailout in this case, but tries to slash health insurance for tens of millions of middle-class Americans. His pushes a bailout in this case, but his budgets continue to decimate infrastructure, education, health care, environmental protection, and more. I’d say that’s picking winners and losers.

The bailout is another example of President Trump lighting a fire and grabbing the nearest thing off the shelf to douse it, and then patting himself on the back as to what a great guy he’s been. It’s not good policy, it’s not good politics, and it’s incredibly telling of this administration’s failure to anticipate the consequences of its decisions. And one more point. If you talk to our farmers, they’d rather have long-term contracts and good markets. A bailout, and storing all of these agricultural products on the shelves will lower prices, and cause the people we sell to overseas to find other suppliers and sign contracts with them. In the long run it’s going to make things worse, and where does the bailout stop? What about people who use steel and aluminum? What about other goods that have been targeted by our foreign competitors, are they going to get bailouts too? Is it going to go up from $12 billion to $50 billion, to $100 billion? And amazingly, our Republican colleagues – this is against their principles – are they going to go along? We shall see.

Now one more point: Russia. After President Trump’s inexplicable behavior in Helsinki last week, many of us were forced to wonder whether President Putin had something on President Trump, because his behavior was so obsequious in front of Putin.

Well, it seems that it’s not just a few Democrats who are wondering. Yesterday’s Quinnipiac poll showed that 51% of Americans believe that the Russian government has compromising information about President Trump. That’s astounding. Our leading enemy has information, compromising information, and then our president acts obsequiously? Where are we in this country? Let me repeat that poll: A majority of Americans believe the Russian government has something on President Trump. That’s astounding.

The fact that millions of Americans are wondering if our president is compromised by our leading adversary is a message to the White House: America wants you to be tough with President Putin.

The president will say, ‘Oh this is fake news, this is made up.’ Well, President Trump, if Putin has nothing over you, why aren’t you being tough with him? The best way to show that Putin has nothing over you is if you stand up to him, not be so obsequiously and fawning, not invite him here to the White House this fall. No more accepting Putin’s denials over the consensus of American intelligence. No more bending over backward to avoid criticizing Putin for interfering in our elections. And no more one-on-one meetings with Putin where no one knows – not the intelligence community, not our military leaders, not the Congress and not least of which the American people – know what was said or agreed to.

So the writing is on the wall for the White House. This White House keeps reaching new lows. The American people so disturbed by the president’s posture towards Russia believe that President Trump may be compromised, compromised by our biggest enemy. I don’t think that’s ever happened, certainly not in my memory, my lifetime, and I can’t remember an incident in history where this has happened this way. President Trump ought to reverse course immediately. He can start by revoking his invitation to President Putin to visit the White House this fall.