Jan 23, 2020
Chuck Schumer Speech Transcript: Schumer Speaks Before Trump Impeachment Trial
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke before the Donald Trump impeachment trial on January 23, 2020. He reiterated the Democrats’ intention to call witnesses in the trial if they have the votes to do so. Read his full statement right here on Rev.com.
Chuck Schumer: (00:00)
And before I begin on the impeachment issue, I want to say this. 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 and that 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. Another one? Now, we get the impeachment stuff.
Chuck Schumer: (01:09)
Okay. To the matter at hand. Today was a discussion, sorry, Tuesday was a discussion over amendment folks, 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 of the Senate took on an entirely different dimension. It may have been the 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.
Chuck Schumer: (02:12)
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. Anticipating and rebutting the most predictable counter-arguments 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 manners to say, well, the president said there is no collusion and they kept pointing out in a very clear way, in the same sentence, in the same phone call or in the same letter or in the same conversation. He then went back to holding back the aid. It has been only one day, but house managers are setting the bar very high for the president’s council to meet.
Chuck Schumer: (03:06)
At this point, I’m not sure how the president’s council as unprepared, confused and tending towards conspiracy theories as they have been, can clear it. And I’d 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, the same 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.
Chuck Schumer: (04:16)
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’s 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’s a very simple answer, but with Democrats to call relevant witnesses and documents. The presentations themselves argued both in implicitly and explicitly for the importance of witnesses and documents. At key points yesterday, it was so clear that we ought to hear from Mulvaney and Blair and Duffy and Bolton who 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’s 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, Taylor ambassador Taylor’s memo to secretary Pompeo, after he spoke to 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.
Chuck Schumer: (06:42)
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 over the question of fairness of the trial, that they’re inventing shiny objects and so-called outrageous. We don’t know what the next one will be, but it’ll 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. 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’s 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? Senator Hirono.
Senator Hirono: (07:59)
Thank you very much. I’m glad our leader started by saying that the president has said that he is going to cut social security. And this reminded me of in the midnight hour on Tuesday when Cipollone got up and said that the president is a man of his word. I wrote on my notebook, what a whopper. That’s not the only time. The house manager’s [crosstalk 00:08:24]
Chuck Schumer: (08:23)
She didn’t mean a hamburger.
Senator Hirono: (08:26)
Definitely not. The house manager gave a powerful presentation, the factual basis for why the household had to impeach this president. And it’s good to be reminded of the human dimension of what the president did, because we all know that the president doesn’t give a rip about the human dimension and the consequences of what he does because he only cares about himself. But when Jason Crow said during his presentation that as a veteran having fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, what it felt like to search for a scrap metal. To fortify their vehicles because they didn’t have those kinds of protections or to watch ambassador Taylor on video saying that when he went to Eastern Ukraine and talked to the commander who was fighting the Russians there, the commander thanking him for the American aid.
Senator Hirono: (09:20)
And ambassador Taylor knowing full well that that aid had been held up. Who of us would not feel like, you know what? He said he felt badly. I’m sure he felt worse than badly, because our country did not keep our word. So the human dimension of what the president did is something we should not forget. And yes, we’ve all heard that our colleagues are saying, well, why don’t we have new evidence? Which by the way, we spent the 12 hours or 13 hours on Tuesday, they spent shutting down. So that’s total hypocrisy on their part or that they’re getting restless. Most of us get restless, and when we are presented with information we don’t want to hear, right? And they don’t want to hear what the president.
Senator Hirono: (10:03)
Right? And they don’t want to hear what the president did, and if they were to ask themselves, there’s just a simple question of is it okay for the president to have shaken down the president of another country, a very vulnerable country, who needed our support and almost 400 million in taxpayer money, so his troops can fight against Russian aggression? And the president used our taxpayer money to bribe that president. Just ask themselves that question. They don’t want to face that, so they’re squirmy. Why? Because the truth hurts.
Speaker 1: (10:39)
Thank you, Mazie. Senator Casey.
Senator Casey: (10:41)
Thanks very much. I want to thank my colleagues. I was listening yesterday with a degree of attentiveness that maybe some of us don’t always exhibit in our daily work because of the gravity of the story, the consequences for the country, but also the manner in which the House managers presented the case. This record, which came over from the House, is substantial, it’s compelling, and I think it lays out the fundamental case for both abusive power and obstruction of Congress. But when you add into that what has transpired since they voted, all the new information we’ve seen, and then when you hear the presentation by the House managers yesterday, which should be supplemented by the testimony of witnesses as well as documentary evidence, you can see the power of this case and how disturbing it is.
Senator Casey: (11:41)
I’m still stunned that Republicans don’t want to hear from relevant witnesses. The ones we’ve asked for, the ones that leader Schumer put in his December 15th letter, Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Bolton, Mr. Duffy and Mr. Blair are all relevant, and we’re only asking for those four and the documents are pertained to their testimony. I think that’s why you see these high numbers of Americans that want to hear from witnesses and documents beyond what’s already in the substantial record the House developed.
Senator Casey: (12:16)
But I want to echo both what Senator Schumer said and Senator Hirono on Ambassador Bill Taylor. That moment, which was proof positive of how important a document can be, the cable from Mr. Taylor to Secretary of State Pompeo, which by the way, written by a decorated Vietnam war vet who understands the horror of combat, understands what military aid can mean on the battlefield putting those words in a classified cable in real time contemporaneously. Then we’re told by the evidence that Secretary of State Pompeo brought the cable with him to a meeting in the White House, in the Oval Office with the president in a meeting which we’re told, and we’d like to know more about that meeting, was meant to persuade the president to finally, finally release this aid, so those Ukrainians on the battlefield could have the benefit of that aid.
Senator Casey: (13:20)
So when he said, “Wouldn’t you like to read that cable?” I think Republican heads were shaking, at least mentally. I’m sure they didn’t want to be caught. The president might see them on camera shaking their head up and down, “yes,” but they know how important that cable is. They know how relevant it is to the underlying charges. They know that, and they also know that to make the case, as the lawyers do in their brief, or try to make the case that the president did nothing wrong, no one believes that. That just doesn’t pass any test that most Americans would apply to credibility.
Senator Casey: (13:57)
So the last thing I’ll say is just to highlight again what leader Schumer said and Senator Hirono said as well. Here’s what Bill Taylor said on page 129 of the House intel report talking about that cable. It says, and I quote, “Ambassador Taylor worried about the public message that such a hold on vital military assistance would send in the midst of Ukraine’s hot war with Russia.” Quote, and he’s quoting Taylor: “The Russians, as I said at my deposition, would love to see the humiliation of President Zelinsky at the hands of the Americans. I told the secretary,” meaning Secretary Pompeo, “that I could not and would not defend such a policy.” This is from a decorated Vietnam veteran who always would follow his duty, who understands what that duty is to the country, who’s saying, “I cannot follow that policy. It is so egregious, so offensive, so damaging that I can’t follow that order or that policy.”
Senator Casey: (15:06)
I don’t know what more we can say to our colleagues to say why don’t we have the benefit of that cable? Why don’t we have the benefit of the testimony of Mr. Bolton, who can also testify about that vignette and time where Bolton says to Taylor, “Send a classified cable to the secretary of state,” which he by the way had never done before in his long career and distinguished career as a diplomat. I’ll end with asking Adam Schiff’s question, wouldn’t you want to read that cable, among many other things we should read? Senator Udall.
Speaker 1: (15:47)
Senator Udall: (15:48)
Thank you, Senator Schumer, for asking us to accompany you. I also feel that that Ambassador Taylor was very powerful. I think that one moment where he was standing with the Ukrainian commander at the line with battling the Russians and his story he told there was just so, so powerful. I would agree with both Senator Schumer, Senator Romo, Senator Casey. The House managers, Adam Schiff, and his team have done an incredible job in terms of presenting a powerful case, a compelling case. As a former attorney general and a former federal prosecutor, I’ve seen many cases presented. They are really at the top of their game and doing an excellent, excellent job.
Senator Udall: (16:44)
What is the contrast here? President Trump, as leader Schumer has said, is over in Davos. Over in Davos. Number one, what he’s doing in Davos, which I find outrageous, is he’s playing with the jury, jury intimidation. He said, there in Davos at the camera, he says, “Don’t call Bolton as a witness.” He said it could hurt our national security. I think that’s a very, very dangerous road to go down to say that Congress cannot handle the national security issues. Obviously Bolton has a lot to say in public just about what went on in the meetings, but we can handle the national security part in our secure facilities, and I think we’re willing to do that.
Senator Udall: (17:33)
The other thing that I found was really upsetting in terms of President Trump’s behavior over in Davos was, and this is his quote: “Honestly, we have all the material, and we don’t. …” He says, “Honestly, we have all the material, and they don’t have the material.” Here he is gloating, gloating over the fact that he has the documents. He’s not turned them over to Congress. He’s violated that special relationship, Article One, Article Two where Congress is supposed to be able to subpoena documents and to do oversight. Here he is gloating in it while he’s sitting over in Davos. It is beyond belief that the president of United States would even go to Davos in the middle of an impeachment trial, and then make statements like that to intimidate the jury and to gloat over the fact that he has not turned documents over.
Senator Udall: (18:41)
Then let me just say, finally, that Senate Democrats take their oath very, very seriously. As a former federal prosecutor and attorney general, I know how trials use evidence. I’ve seen it over and over again, and the case here to be made is that we’ve got to have the evidence, we’ve got to have the documents, we’ve got to have the witnesses, so it’s pretty astounding that Republicans would be going around the Hill saying, “Well, we haven’t seen anything new,” when all they’re trying to do is shut down this trial and make sure that nothing new comes in. I think when it comes to history, a lot of this is going to break over time. If they don’t want to see this information now, a lot of it’s going to come out, and I think they’re going to regret it.
María Peña: (19:38)
Speaker 1: (19:38)
The lady in the orange over there. She’s very [crosstalk 00:19:41].
María Peña: (19:41)
This is María Peña with Telemundo. Thank you for doing this. Two questions. How close are you to persuading at least four Republicans to join you in calling individual witnesses and documents, number one. Number two, president Trump has tweeted over a hundred times saying that democrats are doing this because they can’t accept the defeat of the 2016 elections, so are you concerned about …
Speaker 2: (20:03)
…2016 elections. So are you concerned about any political risks for the democratic party in November?
Chuck Schumer: (20:07)
We’re looking for the truth. The impeachment, the ability to impeach and then try that impeachment is one of the most fundamental solemn and sacred rights given to the Congress to deal with a President who might abuse his power, who might overreach, who might break the law. And we feel that’s our obligation. We have asked for witnesses. We didn’t ask for democratic witnesses who might be talking on our side, these are the President’s appointees. The documents are all written by the President’s appointees. We want the truth. Now, maybe that evidence will be exculpatory, helpful to Trump. Maybe it’ll be further, further incriminating, but we want the truth and the political chips will fair where they may. I will tell you this, the American people, there was another new poll today by Reuters, I think it was, that showed that the overwhelming number of people, the overwhelming majority of Americans want the witnesses and documents, want the truth, want the new evidence.
Chuck Schumer: (21:15)
It was asked that way and one of them. And in most of the polls and majority of the Republicans, every poll, more Republicans than not, want witnesses and documents. And it’s rare for the Republican rank and file to break with Trump, but I think the American people and particularly after yesterday, saw the gravity of this situation and the need to make it fair. And I will say this to the President and any of my Republican friends, if the American people believe this is not a fair trial, which right now they seem to believe because there were no witnesses and documents, acquittal will have zero value to the President or to the Republicans.
Chuck Schumer: (21:55)
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Well there are lots of conversations going on. I’m not going to comment on anything explicit. Yes.
Speaker 3: (22:03)
Mr. Leader, can you clarify your remarks yesterday about witnesses and Ted Cruz was talking about a one to one deal. Are you saying that you’re close to any potential deals or only those involving…
Chuck Schumer: (22:16)
No Republicans. No Republicans are talking to us about deals. We want these four witnesses, these four sets of documents. They go to the truth. But not a single Republican has approached me and said, what about this? What about that? It’s not happening. There was one report that I thought was false and now everyone’s jumping on it. Yes.
Speaker 4: (22:37)
Leader Schumer, are Senate Republicans complicit in a cover up by not accepting witnesses and documents at this point?
Chuck Schumer: (22:43)
The bottom line is the President is clearly covering up. His people are covering up. And the question is will our Republican colleagues rise to their constitutional mandate to create a fair trial? And I don’t think it will sit very well with history or with the American people if they don’t.
Speaker 5: (23:04)
Leader Schumer, this is supposed to be, as Chief Justice John Roberts put it, the world’s greatest deliberative body. What should the American people make of the fact that so many senators appear to have already made up their minds long before this trial is even over?
Chuck Schumer: (23:18)
Well, again, I give faith to the wisdom of the founders. When I read in high school, I mentioned this once before, when I read in high school, one of the greatest things we’ve got to worry about is foreign interference in our elections. I sort of crinkled my eyes and said, “What? That doesn’t happen.” But of course once again, the founders were a lot smarter than all of us and they realized what a danger it would be and now it’s reared its ugly head. It happened in 2016 and there are countries aiming to do it in 2020. We know that. Well, it’s the same here. People say they’ve made up their minds, some, not that many. I don’t think a majority of senators on either side have said they’ve made up their minds. There are some. But the weight of history, the weight of that trial, the requirement that people are forced to sit at their desks and listen and not be punching things out on their iPhones is very, very powerful.
Chuck Schumer: (24:13)
And as I said, towards the end last night, Mazie Hirono was right, people squirm. People look the other way. They don’t sit still when they don’t want to hear it. But the evidence was so compelling and Shift’s arguments were so powerful that just to … I looked around several times, every Republican was looking right at them and listening. So our hope is this will have an effect. It will also have an effect on the American people and everyone here who’s elected has some duty to listen to their constituents. Their constituents are saying witnesses and documents. Yes.
Speaker 6: (24:49)
You’ve been a politician for a long time, and you’ve seen good political environments and had to carry both good messages and bad messages in those environments. You seem pretty confident right now with the argument you have on witnesses, do you believe that the Republican position against witnesses is sustainable politically?
Chuck Schumer: (25:10)
Look, I think it’s not sustainable substantively, for sure and the American people seem to agree with us. And we are … Look, I don’t know what’ll happen. Am I certain that we’ll get those four Republicans? Absolutely not. Am I certainly won’t absolutely get those for Republicans? Certainly not. You’ve got it … When you have truth on your side, when you have facts on your side, you often win because that’s the way, my belief, God made the world and that’s the way our Republic is structured. So you just keep at it and keep at it and keep at it. And I can’t tell you the outcome, but I feel my whole caucus, from one end to the other, feels very confident of these arguments. We’re the ones out there, you don’t find many Republicans going and talking to the press. Someone told me if you looked at who’s going on the shows, it’s overwhelmingly Democratic.
Chuck Schumer: (26:09)
Now, that’s because of the faith in argument that we have and that’s because a lot of them … Look, I heard the press asking two Republicans yesterday, I just happened to overhear it. Do you think the President did anything wrong? They couldn’t even answer that question. Yeah, please, Bobby. I have hope is a better way to put it. Hope that we might get the witnesses and documents by the end of the day and we’re going to keep fighting and fighting and fighting. Bobby.
Senator Casey: (26:46)
Two points. One is and it’s relevant to a couple of questions. The reason why having a witness give testimony in this proceeding, in this trial, is not just because of the consequences, the determination the Senate has to make, but because they’re not just walking in and talking about what they saw. They’re coming in, they’re having to swear under oath, taking the oath in a deposition or other testimony, and having to be subjected to both examination and cross-examination, can reveal a lot about a person. We saw as well how serious and quiet and somber the chamber got when people were signing the oath book after taking the oath collectively. So that’s important here, having people under oath. I don’t know, maybe I missed something but I have not seen any person yet, in the house proceedings, who was under oath who made the argument for the President.
Senator Casey: (27:48)
Nothing wrong, perfect call, all of that. I don’t know of anyone who’s been under oath doing that now. Maybe as Chuck said, maybe John Bolton would say something exculpatory, but we just want them under oath and they’re relevant. Last point is that on this question of what’s going through the minds of Republicans, look, I’ve been there for every single minute of presentation and when I look across at the Republicans for even a second, I see most who are listening very carefully. I think Chuck was right. I think they were paying very close attention yesterday, especially to the end when Adam Schiff was making a presentation.
Senator Casey: (28:27)
And final point here is that when we were getting the printout of the slide yesterday, it was my sense from looking at the Republican side was they weren’t taking those slides, just throwing them in their desk. They wanted to see those slides. They may not admit that to you. They wanted to see them. In fact, one Senator, I won’t tell you who, Republican Senator, was inquiring about the fact that they couldn’t see the slides on the screen and having a printout was helpful. So they want to see this information. A lot of them, even the ones that claimed that there was nothing new. They knew there was a lot that was relevatory in those slides.
Chuck Schumer: (29:06)
Thank you everybody.
Senator Casey: (29:07)