TRANSCRIPT: Schumer Remarks at Press Conference Urging Four Republican Senators To Heed Call From American People And Support Calling For Documents & Testimony From Key Witnesses In Senate Impeachment TrialJanuary 24, 2020
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer spoke today at a press conference ahead of the fourth day of Senate impeachment trial proceedings. Sen. Schumer urged his Republican colleagues to rise to the occasion and do their duty to the Constitution, to their country, and to seek the truth. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Our quest for the truth continues. As you know, this is one of the most solemn and sacred moments we face in the country. When a president abuses the power of the office, when he threatens the rule of law, it is our job as Senators to get at the truth. “Just the facts, ma'am,” as Joe Friday said. And we're focusing on getting the truth.
The way to get the truth? Have witnesses, have documents that were very contemporaneous to the charges against the president. And we continue to do that and the American people continue to be overwhelmingly on our side.
Every day, the poll numbers—which were high to begin with—go up further that even a majority of Republicans believe there ought to be witnesses and documents.
Now, yesterday's argument by the House Managers was precise, was dramatic, was emotional. Representative Schiff gave a commanding closing argument at the end of the day. There are lots of constitutional precedents, there are lots of legal and factual arguments to make, but he spoke to the American people's common sense and appealed to the sense of right and wrong. No Senator, Democrat or Republican, would deny it had an effect on the chamber.
And I looked around at the Republican members. A lot of what they're hearing, they don't want to hear. They don't want to hear the true facts because it puts them in such difficult positions. We're seeking light and the truth, and as you see, the truth always prevails, despite a few detours along the way.
In any case, they don't like to hear it but they were compelled. At several moments yesterday, the testimony was so compelling that their eyes were focused—almost to a person—last night on what Adam Schiff had to say.
Another moment was when Congressmember Garcia talked about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. It was touching and got to every American and I hope every Senator. Well, it didn't get to all Senators, we heard about one of them and what she said yesterday. But when Vindman stepped forward, a Purple Heart veteran, and said his dad called him and said, “Aren't you worried this will hurt you?” He said, “This is America. We believe in the truth. The truth matters. Right maters.” And that's what we want, the plain truth.
The managers also increased the case even further for witnesses and documents. The granular discussion of the White House meeting, the infamous meeting where Bolton said to Fiona Hill that he didn't want to be part of any “drug deal,” it was clear who was the chief cook and bottle washer in this whole horrible scheme, this whole evil scheme: Mick Mulvaney. Because Bolton said Mulvaney, you and Sondland are doing this, I'm not part of it.
Why can't we hear from Mulvaney? He knew exactly what President Trump did, he knew exactly what President Trump's motivations were, he knew who else was in on the deal. There seem to be many of them. So, it was incredible.
And one more thing stood out: The managers were anticipating the counterarguments from the president's counsel. Since the president's counsel goes second, they wanted to go forward. I thought Representative Nadler did an excellent job showing how the president doesn't need to have committed a criminal offense to be impeached and removed from office—reflecting on what impeachment meant to the Founding Fathers. Representative Garcia explained how the president's insinuations about the Bidens are baseless, anticipating that the president's lawyers would focus on the Bidens. And Representative Schiff discredited the absurd idea that President Trump cared deeply about corruption in foreign countries.
It was a brilliant strategy. If the president's counsel now gets up and make those arguments, every Republican Senator and the American people will have heard already why those arguments are utter nonsense.
So in short, the House Managers have already set a very high bar for the president's counsel to meet. They've laid out a series of facts, none of which are in dispute. As the president's counsel prepares to mount their defense tomorrow, I hope they don't just sound like President Trump's tweets. That they don't simply resort to finger pointing, name calling and debunked conspiracies. As the American people know, this moment is far too important for that.
So after the very compelling case that the House Managers are presenting, boy oh boy, the president's counsel have their work cut out for them.
Now as you know, every day we hear a different story from the Senators, from many Senate Republicans about why they oppose a fair trial and why we can't have witnesses and documents. It is usually some shiny object that has nothing to do with the actual facts and law of the case.
So now here's the latest one: and that is it will take too long if we do it later. That's the diversion of the day. They have one a day.
And so let me say this: first, we heard the Republicans all vote to delay things. The Mitch McConnell scheme was to say because he knew that a lot of Republicans were seriously thinking, and are seriously thinking, of witnesses and of documents, they said, “let's not do it now. Let's hear the argument and then do it.” And now they're saying, “We don't have enough time to do it.”
Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth, holy moly.
So, it's a very flimsy excuse. First, as I said, Democrats attempted to settle this question at the beginning of the trial so there would be no delay. We warned them. You say you want to do it later, it's going to take longer.
But, second, it's not going to cause much more of a delay. They point back to the House and said it will take months and months and months and months. But if subpoenas are issued from the Senate, by definition, the subpoenas will be bipartisan and they will be signed by the Chief Justice of the United States. And those who are subject to those subpoenas are expected to comply. Mr. Bolton already announced he'd testify if the Senate issued a subpoena. He's not in the Executive Branch. So executive privilege cannot be used against him because it can’t be used to prevent a witness who’s willing to testify.
But even if witnesses don't comply with the subpoena, and those who work for the president might not, despite the bravery of people like Hill and Taylor, they would be given very prompt judicial review given the urgency and stakes of an impeachment trial.
And finally, there's a simple answer. When our Republican friends claim it would take too long, they really want a fair trial, go tell the president not to invoke executive privilege. He's the one delaying it. Not us. And if this is as serious as it should be to them, they'll go to the president and say we don't want executive privilege invoked.
If the president believes he did nothing wrong, that everything's perfect, he should have nothing to fear from these witnesses and documents. They're his appointees. The documents are written by people who are allies of him.
In Watergate, President Nixon considered invoking executive privilege to prevent White House aides from testifying in the Senate, but quickly realized it would be untenable, as it is here now. The Senate Watergate Committee on a bipartisan basis told President Nixon they would not accept an assertion of executive privilege to shield wrongdoing.
So the bottom line is the argument that we shouldn't call witnesses because it would provoke a fight over executive privilege or take too long is flimsy. If you believe the Senate ought to hear all the facts, you can say so and vote so. And if you do, stand by it. Well, don't say, I really want witnesses but it will take too long. That's not the case.
The bottom line, we're seeking the truth at a momentous time in the American Republic. It is the on the shoulders of four Republican Senators to join us in demanding it. We've made the argument forcefully, the American people have made the argument forcefully that they want the truth. Will four Republican Senators, just four, rise to the occasion, do their duty to the Constitution, to their country to seek the truth?