Jan 25, 2020
Chuck Schumer Press Conference Transcript: Schumer Refutes Trump Legal Team After Trial
Senator Chuck Schumer spoke to the media in a conference on January 25, 2020 refuting Trump’s lawyers’ arguments. The trial continued with a day dedicated mostly to Trump’s defense team. Read the full transcript of Schumer’s press conference right here on Rev.com.
Senator Schumer: (00:01)
Okay, good afternoon, folks. Now, the first point that I would like to make is that the President’s counsel did something that they did not intend. They made a really compelling case for why the Senate should call witnesses and documents. They kept saying there are no eyewitness accounts, but there are people who have eyewitness accounts, the very four witnesses and the very four sets of documents that we have asked for. They made the argument that no one really knows what the President intended. It’s speculation, what the President intended when he cut off aid. But there are people who do know, Mick Mulvaney knows. In all likelihood, Mr. Blair knows. Mr. Bolton may know. Why shouldn’t we have witnesses and documents here. I thought … and one other point about witnesses and documents, they make the argument, the President’s counsel, that the President couldn’t participate in the House process because they believe, I don’t believe it’s right, but because the President couldn’t participate in the House process because it didn’t go by the rules of the Constitution and what was required.
Senator Schumer: (01:23)
Here in the Senate, we’re doing it exactly as the Constitution requires. Will they participate? Or will they find some other excuse? So the President’s counsel is criticizing the case against the President for lack of sources close to the President, while at the same time blocking testimony from witnesses close to the President. It makes no sense. And even if you’re on the Republican side, I don’t think the House managers did … I don’t think the President’s counsel did a very good job. There are gaping holes in their testimony. They spent about 30 minutes refuting something that the House never said. That in July and August, the quid pro quo was for military assistance. It wasn’t, it was for a meeting. But I’ll leave that, the House managers are coming in here and I’ll leave that to them to refute point by point. But they have a very good website where they do refute this.
Senator Schumer: (02:28)
But the bottom line is that, even if you’re a Republican, even if you think that they made a good case, as I hear some of the Republicans saying. No one denies that the House made a good case. Even Republicans say the House managers made a good case. So if you’re a Republican and you think that the case that was made today was strong, then why not have witnesses and documents if you think both sides made their case. That’s what a trial would do. To just quote one of my colleagues, Senator Gillibrand, “To my colleagues, don’t bury your head in the sand and then complain about it being dark.” There’s real evidence, there’s real facts. And another thing, Mr. Philbin talked about the judicial right of cross examination and how it was so sacred in Western jurisprudence. What does cross-examination involve? Witnesses. So the bottom line is very simple. We’ve been making the argument that we need witnesses, we need documents. We’re making the argument that it won’t take very long to get them as part of the trial. Today, we thank the President’s counsel for one thing, they made our case even stronger. Senator Merkley.
Senator Merkley: (04:08)
The President’s counsel emphasized three words from the beginning, burden of proof. That the House managers carry that responsibility. Burden of proof. Well, they’re absolutely right, that is the way it works. But the only way you can fulfill the burden of proof is to have access to witnesses and documents. So for anyone to argue there was a burden of proof, but then say, “But I’m sorry, we’re not going to let you call witnesses. You have the burden of proof, but we’re not going to let you have access to the documents.” That is called a rigged trial. That’s the type of trial you would expect in Russia or in China, but not here in the United States of America, not here in the U.S. Senate, where we have a constitutional responsibility to have a full and fair trial. And in the course of their presentation, they kept emphasizing the importance of witnesses and documents.
Senator Merkley: (05:24)
They raised the argument, well that possibly the President had a policy reason for denying aid. Now remember that every time the team was asked, a top team was asked, they’d say, the President gave no reason, no reason. Well, so if they want to prove that the President had good policy reasons, that’s access to witnesses and documents. They said, well, maybe, maybe his reason was burden of proof, but that’s not burden of proof, but that it was burden sharing. Well, do they have documents that show the President saying, “I’m withholding this aid because of burden sharing?” They made the case for access to witnesses and documents. And then they made this big claim that the entire denial of the subpoenas was based on, well, the full House never authorized the committee. Well, the whole House did on October 31st, they passed a resolution. And they proceeded to say that we, the whole House are authorizing the subpoenas that have been issued by the investigative committees.
Senator Merkley: (06:46)
So even if the President’s team had a point before October 31st, they certainly didn’t have it after October 31st. In other words, they have no case to make for completely stonewalling the access to witnesses and documents.
Senator Schumer: (07:05)
Thanks Jeff. Senator Duckworth.
Sen. Duckworth: (07:06)
Hi everyone. Before I talk about my reaction to the President’s counsel’s presentation today, I just want to say one thing about the attacks on Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and the questioning of his loyalty to this country. It is a soldier’s duty to carry out the missions and the orders that he has given, but it also is his duty to question unlawful orders and to speak up when he thinks that something is wrong. And some of my colleagues have attacked him because he did what he thought was right. That is not acceptable. That is un-American. Ambassador Taylor served with honor in Vietnam and he I think also remembers a lesson about people who carried out orders that were unlawful. The My Lai Massacre is one of those lessons. So let me make it clear, you may not agree with the witnesses, but we do not attack them. And we do not attack, especially a combat veteran’s service and dedication and duty to this country.
Sen. Duckworth: (08:18)
That said, America is about freedom and justice. We are about what is right. I’ve served on a jury, I’ve been a jury foreman in a trial and one of the things that we had in a jury were witnesses and documents. And both sides were able to present their case. I would think that the President’s counsel and the President’s team would want to call witnesses in order to exonerate him. That they would want to show us the evidence that proves his innocence. Instead of this, this what we get. Highly redacted statements from members of his administration that we cannot even read what’s under there. Show us, show us the evidence that proves the President’s innocence. Many people are getting their news solely on Fox News and are not getting the full story of the trial because they’re not even airing the trial.
Sen. Duckworth: (09:19)
I think those folks would want to see witnesses and hear from the witnesses and hear and see the cross examination. That’s the American thing to do. You get to face your accusers, you get to bring your documents, your witnesses, and you get to make your case. Well, then let’s do it. The final presenter this morning talked about how rushed the House trial was at 70 plus days. And there was such a rush to get to the end because we wanted to go home for Christmas. Well, then let’s not rush this process. Let’s go ahead and take the time and let American democracy work. So that the rest of the world can see that in America, no one is above the law, but also in America, everyone gets a chance to present their witnesses, get a chance to have their say. Let’s show that to the world what America and American justice is about. After all, we have the absolute right person preceding right now, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Who better? When is the better time? Now is the time, let’s have witnesses. Let’s have the full documents. Thank you.
Senator Schumer: (10:28)
Senator Smith: (10:34)
Thank you. Well, here’s what I think we saw today. After three days of the House managers thoroughly and compellingly laying out the data and the evidence around the two charges against the President, obstruction and abuse of power. We saw today very much what Manager Schiff predicted we would see. Facts or information that appeared to more muddy the water than layout anything in particular, attacks on the managers and the whistleblower, whatever the heck that means. The most important thing that I came away with from today, now unlike Senator Duckworth, I’ve never served on a jury before. This is my very first jury service and it never occurred to me that on my first jury service, I would be involved in a trial where there is no cross examination of the witnesses. There is no documents and evidence that we are able to see brought forth. I agree with Senator Schumer, that was the primary point that I felt was made today by the President’s counsel, whether they intended it or not.
Senator Schumer: (11:41)
Great, thank you. And yeah, one just final point, all we’re after is the truth, the facts. The Senate … The President’s lawyers said, “Well, it’s just speculation what was in President Trump’s mind.” Well, it wasn’t, there were real facts there. But even if you were one of the Republican senators and you buy their argument that it was just speculation that was in the President’s mind. The President’s lawyers totally speculated. They said, “Oh, he’s for fighting corruption elsewhere.” But no direct evidence that he said, “I want to cut off the aid to fight corruption.” They said, “Oh, well he’s cut off aid to other countries.” But no direct facts about why he cut off the aid here. Well, there were some, but they say the exact eyewitnesses weren’t there. Witnesses, documents are the exact eyewitnesses. You want to get the truth, the President’s lawyers proved today, if you really want the truth, you want witnesses, you want documents. We hope our Republican colleagues will agree with that. Yes.
Speaker 5: (12:57)
What is your level of confidence at this point that you will find those four Republicans you need to join with you to introduce new evidence and what do you say to people like Lisa Murkowski, Senator Murkowski, who seems to have misgivings about the delay that would be caused when and if the White House [crosstalk 00:13:12]
Senator Schumer: (13:12)
Okay, let me answer both questions. I say to my colleagues that this is truth. We want truth. That’s what we’re pursuing. We don’t know what the outcome will be, but we want truth and it’s a hard road to get four Republicans because of be enormous pressure they might feel. But if you keep … What I have learned through all my years in politics, and in all my years in life, if you’re right and you keep fighting for the truth, you will prevail. We would be derelict in our responsibility if we didn’t fight for the truth. Do I think it’s easy to get four Republicans? Absolutely not. Do I think we have a chance if we keep pushing and pushing and after today maybe even a little more so because of the case that was made inadvertently by the President’s managers? Yes, I do.
Senator Schumer: (14:05)
In terms of length of time, I think that’s a red herring. When you have a subpoena signed by the Chief Justice supported by both parties and enshrined in the Constitution, I don’t think that any court is not going to honor that subpoena and I think it will happen very fast. [crosstalk 00:14:28] Yes, Manu.
Why shouldn’t have the House have gone to court and fought to get this witness testimony? Because they were concerned that this could drag out the process. They’re making this [crosstalk 00:14:37].
Senator Schumer: (14:37)
Manu, I mean, Manu, they made it very clear it would have taken us past the election. They cited the case of the President’s former lawyer. What was his name? You know who it is.
Senator Schumer: (14:48)
They cited the case of McGahn, that it would take forever. In the Senate, we believe it’s different and with the documents for sure. You could get those documents in a minute. They’re all piled up. They’re all compiled. You get them very, very fast. Yes.
Speaker 7: (15:04)
Senator, the President’s defense today charged over and over again that Democrats hid evidence, even using clips from the public hearings and public testimony to say that [crosstalk 00:15:15]
Senator Schumer: (15:15)
It was just false. There was not a thing they hid. They talked about the whole letter. They emphasize different parts of it. If you want to make that argument. Did the President’s lawyers refer to the most important part of that letter, which is “I need something from you?” No. Yes.
Speaker 8: (15:36)
But I think to that point, they are arguing that the transcript of the call, shows that the President did talk about a burden of balancing out the support of Ukraine. And also that by using the word “us,” the President was showing that it was not his own personal interest.
Senator Schumer: (15:52)
Okay. Look, the bottom line is first, it’s not a full transcript, there are still a little dots there. But they left out the most important parts of the letter and all the evidence that the House managers very laboriously went over for three days, made it very clear that what the President was intending. The language indicates it. The proof of all the other witnesses and what happened in the following several months is exactly the case. When they cited, “Well, the President said it’s not a quid pro quo.” I thought Schiff demolished that argument yesterday. Said, “Well, it’s well known in the criminal law when the defendant says I didn’t do it, we should drop the case.” Yes.
Speaker 9: (16:38)
Senator Schumer, you mentioned a few moments ago the pressure that Republicans might be feeling to acquit or to vote against witnesses and documents. What kind of pressure do you believe they are facing to vote against witnesses and documents?
Senator Schumer: (16:52)
Well look, I mean, you’ll have to look at each person in each situation, but you know, obviously President Trump is not somebody who sees the other side when it comes to what he thinks he needs. And is someone who doesn’t take compromise, doesn’t take argument against and proves pretty vindictive when you oppose him. Ask Jeff Flake, ask Bob Corker.
Speaker 10: (17:16)
Senator, the President’s attorneys have made, at least judging by a lot of [inaudible 00:17:21] on a lot of statements that are materially false, things that really never get away with it in a courtroom. But this is a trial, do you think that these attorneys should possibly be subject to some sort of professional sanction in the same way they- [crosstalk 00:17:37].
Senator Schumer: (17:36)
No. Look, I’m not going to get into that at all. I’m not going to get into that at all. I think, again, as I said, they help make our case for witnesses and documents. They did not make … They had a very case that was totally full of holes. They didn’t contest any of the facts. Again, it was diversions. They didn’t contest the fact of why the military aid was cut off and why everyone was so concerned. And why Mr. Bolton said, “I don’t want to be part of a drug deal.” They talked about, oh, he cut off aid to other places. It wasn’t very strong. So when you don’t have the facts or the law, you try to distract and deflect. Yes.
Speaker 11: (18:17)
Senator, was it at all uncomfortable for Democrats, the amount of time they spent on Congressman Schiff and the way he handled that hearing? That this is one thing that they latched on to.
Senator Schumer: (18:28)
Look again, I think they always look for diversions. A few days ago it was Nadler, a few days before that it was Pelosi. That’s what they do. We have to look forward for … We have to go forward and look at the truth and not be diverted by these kinds of ad-hominem attacks. Thank you everybody.