TRANSCRIPT: Schumer Remarks—On Impeachment And President Trump’s Comments About Cutting Social Security And Medicare After 2020 Election—At Press Conference Ahead Of Today’s Senate Impeachment Trial Proceedings

January 23, 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer spoke today at a press conference ahead of today’s Senate impeachment trial proceedings. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The president said in an interview yesterday at Davos that he will take a look at cutting Social Security and other entitlements after the 2020 election. It is, “actually,” he said, “the easiest of all things.” The president promised that unlike other Republicans, he wouldn't touch Social Security and Medicare. He's already broken that promise and gone after Medicare. Now it looks like Social Security is in the president's crosshairs as well. Even as this important trial continues, Americans should hear that the president is casually talking about cutting their Social Security at a Swiss ski resort with the global financial elite.

Now we get to the matter at hand. Tuesday was a discussion over amendment votes. But yesterday the managers got to lay out their case uninterrupted. As manager after manager stepped up to lay out the evidence amassed against the president in precise and devastating detail, the atmosphere in the Senate took on an entirely different dimension. It may have been first time that many of my Republican colleagues heard the full story, the complete narrative from start to finish, uninterrupted, and not filtered through the kaleidoscope lens of Fox News, where at best things are left out and at worst things are terribly distorted. It may have planted the first seed in their minds that, yes, perhaps the president did something very wrong here.

Mr. Schiff and the other managers did an exceptional job laying out the facts of the president's alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, meticulously walking through the chronology and anticipating and rebutting the most predictable counterarguments from the president's counsel along the way and knocking those arguments down before they got there. I was particularly impressed how Mr. Schiff undid the ability of the president’s counsel to say, “Well, the president said there is no collusion,” and they kept pointing out in a very clear way that, in the same phone call, in the same letter or in the same conversation, the president went back to holding back the aid.

It has been only one day, but the House Managers are setting the bar very high for the president's counsel to meet. At this point I'm not sure how the president's counsel, as unprepared, confused, and tending towards conspiracy theories as they have been, can clear it. And I would say one other thing, particularly in the last two hours, when Mr. Schiff summed everything up. I was there and I like to watch my Republican colleagues. And many of them really don't want to be there. And so for some of it they're looking the other way, they may be chatting with somebody, sitting this way. Schiff had such power in his speech that he almost forced them to look at him and listen and just about every Republican’s eyes were glued on Mr. Schiff. So it was a powerful rendition.

Now, what are the Republicans saying after yesterday? Well, some Republicans are saying that they heard nothing new. But these Republicans voted nine times on Tuesday against amendments to ensure new witnesses and new documents to come before the Senate. Let me repeat, the same Republicans saying they heard “nothing new” just voted nine times on Tuesday to hear nothing new. If they want new stuff, there is plenty of it. As the managers made clear, a lot of the documents are sitting there, all compiled, all ready to go, with simply a vote of four Republicans to subpoena them. So this argument that they heard nothing new when they vote against new evidence repeatedly, rings very, very hollow. If my Republican colleagues are interested in some new evidence, on top of the very substantial House record, there is a very simple answer. Vote with Democrats to call relevant witnesses and documents.

The presentations themselves argued both implicitly and explicitly for witnesses and documents. At key points yesterday, it was so clear that we ought to hear from Mulvaney and Blair and Duffey and Bolton, who were at the center of these events. It was so clear that we must review relevant documents. If someone doubts a witness reporting a phone call, the way to verify it, to see if it is true, is look at the underlying document. They don't want that. The managers kept referring back to important documents that we know exist and that we know concern the charges, but are being hidden from the Senate and the public by the president. One example, Ambassador Taylor's memo to Secretary Pompeo after he spoke to [Ambassador] Bolton, in which he gave a contemporaneous account of his concerns about the president's corrupt scheme in Ukraine. Why wouldn't my fellow Republicans want to see it? Why wouldn't they want the American people to see it? I don't see how any Senator, Democrat or Republican, could sit on the floor, listen to Adam Schiff and the House Impeachment Managers and not demand witnesses and documents. Unless, that is, they're not interested in the truth, that they're afraid of the truth, that they know the president is hiding the truth.

I think the case for witnesses and documents is so self-evident that many of my Republican colleagues are desperate to talk about anything else. They're so eager to change conversation from witnesses and documents, from the question of fairness of the trial, that they're inventing shiny objects and so-called outrages. We don't know what the next one will be. But it will surely be something irrelevant to a fair trial. Because they don't want to debate that issue. So they try to turn you, the press, and the American people away to look at something else that has nothing to do with the trial. But make no mistake about it, the issue of relevant evidence, documents and witnesses is going to come back up and Senate Republicans will have the power to bring that evidence into the trial. We saw how Leader McConnell was forced to modify his resolution on Tuesday after certain Republicans raised objections. Republican Senators—four of them, it is in their hands—can make this trial more fair if they want to. The question is, will they use that power when it really matters?