Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor, urging courts to quickly resolve cases involving subpoenas for witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Yesterday, the Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, provided some of the most significant testimony in the House impeachment inquiry to date. Ambassador Sondland asserted a “quid pro quo” linking the offer of a White House meeting—an official act—in exchange for Ukrainian officials announcing an investigation into Burisma and the 2016 elections. President Trump tries to rebut that “quid pro quo” by saying that he told Sondland on the phone there was no “quid pro quo.” President Trump is not known for telling the truth, particularly when his own self-interest is at stake. So it doesn’t stand up very well compared to Sondland’s words. Sondland went on to testify to his understanding that President Trump’s suspension of military aid to Ukraine was also conditioned on the announcement of these same investigations. Those investigations, of course, had nothing to do with the national security or any other interests of the United States. On the contrary: they were solely in the personal, political interests of President Trump.
Ambassador Sondland also testified that Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Perry, Chief of Staff Mulvaney, and other senior advisors to those individuals were well aware of these activities and the connection between White House policy and requests from the president to have Ukraine announce investigations that would be politically advantageous to President Trump.
Let me repeat: those individuals I just mentioned—Pompeo, Perry, Mulvaney, and a few of their senior advisors—were identified by Ambassador Sondland as having information and knowledge of the events that are central—central—to this impeachment inquiry. All of them are currently refusing to testify, defying subpoenas from the House of Representatives, and in some cases challenging those subpoenas in court.
So this morning, I would strongly urge courts with jurisdiction over these cases to quickly resolve them. The individuals named in these subpoenas are fact witnesses in the pending House impeachment inquiry. In addition, these officials and others are withholding evidence in the form of documents that are unquestionably material to the impeachment inquiry. Ambassador Sondland’s testimony demonstrated even more pointedly why it is so essential that the witnesses who have been summoned must comply, and that the courts should promptly enforce House subpoenas in the pending cases.
When I hear that the courts say in five weeks, in six weeks, we’ll have a court hearing or a decision—I’ve never practiced in these Washington courts, I have a law degree but I’m not a practicing lawyer—but I don’t understand and I think Americans don’t understand why the courts take so long when there’s such an important issue before them. Each judge has a responsibility to make a decision quickly and soon so that if they agree, and I don’t know what the decision will be, that these people should be compelled to testify, that their testimony would be received in a timely manner.
We have two groups of people at the moment: one group is testifying under oath in the House inquiry that there was a “quid pro quo” and substantial wrongdoing; another group that is denying any wrongdoing but refusing to comply with subpoenas or testify under oath.
If these individuals feel that they have exculpatory evidence to provide, or that testimony provided to the House is incorrect, they should testify under oath. Otherwise, the American people will rightly wonder why they refuse to do so. And then just let me repeat what I said in the last few days: if President Trump tweets away at how wrong these witnesses are, let him come before the committee under oath and testify to what he tweets. Speaker Pelosi has said she would welcome President Trump coming and testifying. President Trump has not been silent on these issues, he’s been tweeting away, ridiculing the witnesses, saying what they’ve said is wrong. Well if he’s right, if he has nothing to hide, if he wants to convince the American people and the House of Representatives, let him come under oath and tell his side of the story. When he doesn’t come under oath—and he can do it tomorrow or in the next few days—the American people will say, “Mr. President, what are you hiding? What are you not telling the truth about?”