Schumer Floor Remarks Urging President Trump To Stand Strong In Face Of Kim Jong-Un Threats To Withdraw From Summit, The Judiciary Committee Report On The Trump-Russia Investigation, The President’s Broken Promise On Rising Prescription Drug Prices, And Police WeekMay 16, 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer spoke on the Senate floor regarding Police Week, American foreign policy in regards to North Korea, the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee’s recently released report on the Russia investigation, and President Trump’s failure to deliver for the middle class regarding rising prescription drug prices. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:
Mr. President, this week is “Police Week.” It’s a time to honor the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep our streets safe.
Every morning, police officers all across the country wake up and put on their uniform praying for the kind of day the rest of us typically enjoy: a routine one.
Praise God, most days that’s the case, but sometimes our police officers are asked to put their own lives at risk in defense of others. Back in my hometown, New York, we are protected by the finest law enforcement organization in the world – the NYPD. Just two weeks ago, two rookie New York police officers – Flavio Chauca and Jason Truglio – rushed into a burning apartment building and up nine flights of smoke-filled stairs to pull several people to safety. It was an extraordinary act of heroism…or just another day in the line of duty for the over 35,000 men and women of the NYPD.
All of us here in Congress are indebted to the U.S. Capitol Police, who spend long hours every day protecting us every day. We saw their bravery in action last year when a gunman attacked a Congressional baseball practice. If it weren’t for the grit and valor of Officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner, things would have gotten much, much worse.
And we should all take a moment to thank the hardworking law enforcement officers at the FBI. Over the last year, our nation’s top law enforcement officers have been unfairly maligned by this president. It’s unheard of, particularly on the Republican side, to be so anti-law enforcement, and it maligns the brave men and women who work under them, too. Our FBI agents are patriots, just like the men and women out on the beat.
So today I want to salute the men and women in blue, particularly my friends at the NYPD and our fine Capitol Police, as we commemorate the lives of their colleagues lost in the line of duty.
Now, on another subject: North Korea. Last night, we received reports that Kim Jong-Un is threatening to pull out of a planned meeting with President Trump as a result of a routine and scheduled joint military exercise by American and South Korean forces.
After weeks of halting progress, it is a reminder that the North Korean regime has not suddenly moderated. Remember, all that’s happened so far is that North Korea has announced it’s closing a nuclear test site that was defunct anyway, and returned American citizens it never should have detained. We’re all thankful those three Americans have returned home, but it was not some major give by Kim Jong-Un. Americans should never be imprisoned unlawfully by a foreign power and treated as diplomatic bargaining chips, and we as a country should not be giving huge kudos to a leader who does just that.
President Trump, on the other hand, made a significant concession when he agreed to meet with Kim Jong-Un. We are rooting for the president’s gamble with this mischievous and dangerous regime to work.
Now that push is coming to shove, Kim Jong-Un is baiting the president into making more concessions - to ensure a meeting that was a concession to them in the first place.
I strongly urge President Trump: Mr. President, don’t give Kim Jong-Un anything for free. North Korea is threatening to cancel the summit over our joint military exercises with the South. That would be a mistake for the president to cancel this exercise - to begin making further concessions before Kim has dismantled a single nuclear weapon or agreed to a single inspector. If we show weakness the minute Kim Jung-Un threatens we go along, he will continue to take advantage of us. We must show strength and fortitude. By continuing these military exercises, we will do just that, and I urge the president not to blink an eye but to say, “We’re going forward with these exercises.” We’ve seen North Korea play these games before. When North Korea wants or needs something, exercises are a problem. When they don’t need something, the exercises are not a problem.
Kim is clearly testing the United States and President Trump, trying to see if there is any weakness, or desperation, or division on our side. We must be strong, we must be resolute – this exercise should move forward. The best way to head into these negotiations with the North is to make clear that we will not be bullied, and to show strength. We have to be willing to walk away from an insufficiently robust deal, and making concessions before we’ve even sat down at the table would send the opposite signal.
To achieve an enforceable, verifiable, enduring agreement to denuclearize the North Korean peninsula, the United States cannot give away leverage before even getting in the room.
Now, on another matter: the Judiciary Committee report. This morning, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee released the transcripts of interviews conducted as a part of its investigation into Russian meddling. It was a perfunctory move, apparently intended to signal the end of the Judiciary Committee’s on-again, off-again halting investigation.
Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans are rushing to declare their investigation complete when they have barely scratched the surface.
After more than a year of intermittent effort, Senate Republicans interviewed only twelve witnesses in total. Today, they are releasing the transcripts of the testimony of just five witnesses who were interviewed about the notorious June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. And one of the witnesses – an infamous Kremlin-connected lawyer – was allowed to provide only written answers, no follow-up questions, no probing. Astoundingly, our Republican friends decided not even to interview two of the other key participants in that meeting: Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort.
To call the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Trump-Russia investigation half-hearted is too generous. It has been no different than the effort taken by Rep. Nunes. It is designed to let the president and his lawyers interfere with Mueller probe and get a peek at any potential evidence.
That’s why Democrats on the committee, led by Senator Feinstein, have today released a document detailing the open threads of the committee’s investigation: the interviews not conducted, the leads not followed. The information Judiciary Committee Democrats provided today shows one thing: the committee Democrats made crystal clear that committee Republicans are prematurely saying “pencils down.” There is much left to investigate, many witnesses still to be heard, many facts left to follow.
The message of Senate Republicans on this investigation is “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” But the American people won’t be fooled. They know the difference between a genuine search for truth and a whitewash.
I remain hopeful that Senators Burr and Warner are running down every lead and every thread, but there is no doubt that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation will be the next target of the president’s talking heads on Fox News.
Finally, Mr. President, on prescription drugs.
I read a headline in this morning’s Washington Post: “Trump’s drug price retreat adds to list of abandoned populist promises.” That headline is spot on. The president has repeatedly talked like a populist, but governed like a plutocrat.
On taxes, the president said his bill would be for the middle class. It turned out to be a trillion dollar boondoggle for the rich and powerful.
On prescription drugs, it’s no different. After saying that pharmaceutical companies were “getting away with murder” and that he’d bring down prices, President Trump proposed only the policies most palatable to the drug industry. Just today, I read about a company that proposed tripling the price of a widely-used cancer drug. They ultimately backed down after a public outcry, but it shows you that this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
We Democrats have proposed an independent group to go after egregious increases in drug prices, such as the one mentioned today. Where is the president on this issue? He’s got to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, but President Trump was giving his speech last Friday outlining his plan on prescription drugs, and guess what the reaction was? The stocks of major pharmaceutical companies shot upwards. That says all you need to know about how tough President Trump’s plan on prescription drugs really is.
Just like on the issues of taxes, healthcare, infrastructure, and draining the swamp, on the issue of prescription drugs, President Trump continues to fail to deliver for the middle class.