Schumer Remarks Demanding A Fair & Honest Impeachment Trial And Stating That Senate Dems Will Force Votes On Key Witnesses & Documents

January 9, 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today on the Senate floor called for a fair and honest Senate impeachment trial that includes key witnesses and documents. He also highlighted that Senate Democrats will force votes on those key witnesses and documents. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks,  which can also be viewed here:

First, I have to respond to Leader McConnell’s hyperbolic accusation that the Speaker is trying to dictate the terms of a Senate trial. I know the Republican Leader must be upset that he cannot exert total control over this process, but Speaker Pelosi has done just the right thing. And I can understand why Leader McConnell is so frustrated.

If the Speaker had sent the Articles of Impeachment over to the Senate immediately after they passed, Senate Republicans could have moved to dismiss the articles—there was a lot of talk about that a while ago. There wouldn’t have been a fair or even a cursory trial, and they might even have tried to dismiss the whole articles before Christmas.

Instead, over the past few weeks, not only have they been prevented from doing that, there have been several crucial disclosures of evidence that appear to further incriminate the president—each disclosure bolstering the argument we Democrats have made for a trial that features the relevant witnesses and documents.

That has been Speaker Pelosi’s focus from the very beginning; that has been my focus from the very beginning: getting a fair trial that considers the facts and only the facts. As I’ve said repeatedly on this Senate floor, as Joe Friday said in Dragnet, “just the facts ma’am.”

The Speaker and I are in complete agreement on that point. And because the Republican Leader has been unable to bring up the articles, and dismiss them, or stampede through a trial over Christmas period, the focus of the country has been on witnesses and documents.

Leader McConnell will do everything he can to divert attention from that focus on witnesses and documents. He knows that his Senators are under huge pressure not to just truncate a trial and have no evidence. That it will play very badly in America and back home in their states.

And, he’s a very clever fellow. So he doesn’t just say no. He says, let’s delay this for a while and see what happens. But I have little doubt, most people who follow this, most Republicans probably quietly, have little doubt that Leader McConnell has no interest in witnesses and documents. No interest in a fair trial. And when we say fair trial, we mean facts, we mean witnesses, we mean documents.     

So, when the impeachment trial begins in the Senate, the issue will return to witnesses and documents. It has been out there all along but it will come back even stronger. That question won’t be decided fortunately just by Leader McConnell, every Senator will have to vote on that question.

And those votes at the beginning of the trial will not be the last votes on witnesses and documents. Make no mistake: we will continue to revisit the issue. Because it’s so important to our constitutional prerogative to hold a fair impeachment trial.

The American people believe overwhelmingly, and regardless of partisan affiliation, that the Senate should conduct a fair trial. And a fair trial means that we get to hear the evidence, the facts, the truth. Every presidential impeachment trial in history has featured witnesses and documents. The trial of the President should be no different.

The Leader has accused the Speaker of making up her own rules. Mr. Leader, you’re making up your own rules. Every trial has had witnesses. Will you support this trial having witnesses? Or are you making up your own rules to serve a President’s purpose of covering up.

The argument in favor of witnesses is so strong and has such common sense behind it that my Republican colleagues cannot even argue against it on the merits. They can only say, we should punt the question…maybe we’ll decide on that later, after both sides finish making their cases.

As already explained over and over again—but it’s worth repeating—that position makes no sense from a trial perspective. Have both sides finish their presentations and then vote on whether there should be evidence? The presentations should be based on the evidence, on witnesses, on documents. It should not be an afterthought.

But I say to my Republican colleagues: this strategy of voting on witnesses later lives on borrowed time. To repeat: once the trial begins, there will, there will, be a vote about the question of witnesses and documents. And the spotlight will be on Republican Senators, who at any point, just four could join Democrats and form a majority in favor of witnesses and documents.

Four Republicans could stand up and do the right thing. Four Republicans could make a difference between a fair trial and a cover-up. Four Republicans could do what the founding fathers wanted us to do—hold a fair trial with all the facts.    

All Leader McConnell can do right now is try to divert attention—call names, he’s good at that—and delay the inevitable. But he can only delay it. Every single one of us, in this Senate, will have to have to take a stand. How do my Republican friends want the American people, their constituents, and History to remember them? We shall see.