Jan 30, 2020
Impeachment Trial Q&A Day 2 Transcript – Thursday January 30, 2020
The Senate held another day of Q&A’s in the Donald Trump Impeachment Trial. Senators were able to ask questions to the Impeachment Managers and the Trump Legal team. Read the transcript of Rev.com’s key moments from the Thursday January 30, 2020 Impeachment Trial.
Key Q&A 1
Rand Paul: (00:01)
Mr. Chief Justice.
Chief Justice: (00:03)
Senator from Kentucky.
Rand Paul: (00:04)
I have a question to present to the desk for the House Manager Schiff and for the President’s counsel. Thank you.
Chief Justice: (00:36)
Chief Justice: (00:38)
Thank you. The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted.
Key Q&A 2
Chief Justice: (00:01)
The question from Senator Baldwin is addressed to the house managers. Given that the White House counsel could not answer Senator Romney’s question that asked for the exact date, the president first ordered the hold on security assistance to Ukraine, what witness or witnesses could answer Senator Romney’s question?
Jason Crow: (00:57)
Thank you, Chief Justice. Thank you, Senator, for the question. You’re right. They were not able to directly answer that question, and we believe that there is a tremendous amount of material out there in the form of emails, text messages, conversation and witness testimony that could shed additional light on that including an email from last summer between Mr. Bolton, Mr. Blair, where we know from witness testimony this issue was discussed.
Jason Crow: (01:24)
What we do know is from multiple witnesses. Ukrainian officials knew that President Trump had placed a hold on security assistance soon after it was ordered in July of 2019. So we know that not only did US officials know about it and OMB communicate about it, but the Ukrainians knew about it as well. We know from former Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Olena Zerkal. She stated publicly in fact that the Ukrainian officials knew about it and had found out about it in July.
Jason Crow: (01:57)
We also know from the testimony of Laura Cooper that her staff received two emails from the State Department on July 25th revealing that the Ukrainian Embassy was “asking about security assistance,” and that “the Hill knows about the FMF situation to an extent and so does the Ukrainian Embassy,” and that was on July 25th, the same day as President Trump’s call with President Zelensky.
Jason Crow: (02:24)
What we also know is that career diplomat Catherine Croft stated that “she was very surprised at the effectiveness of my Ukrainian counterparts, diplomatic tradecraft, as in to say they found out very early on or much earlier than I expected them to.”
Jason Crow: (02:41)
We also know that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman testified that by mid August, he was getting questions from Ukrainians about the status of security assistance. So there is a lot of evidence surrounding it. The administration continues to obstruct wholly our to get the emails and correspondence that we have asked for, that obviously can be remedied by this body with the appropriate subpoenas, namely a subpoena to Ambassador Bolton to testify and a subpoena to the State Department and Department of State and Department of Defense and others to actually provide that material.
Jason Crow: (03:20)
Last thing I’d like to say is last evening counsel for the president was asked the question about why did the hold for Ukraine differ from holds in the Northern Triangle and other holds like Afghanistan. He provided an explanation that I’m still trying to wrap my brain around because he seems to be the only person in the administration that actually has an explanation. And as far as I could tell, the explanation was somewhere along the lines of one was public in trying to put public pressure on the countries in question and one was not. It was a private conversation in a private effort to put pressure.
Jason Crow: (04:03)
If that were true, then of course there would be plenty of evidence, plenty of emails, text messages, and other correspondence within the entire interagency process that we know is robust that would illustrate that to be the case, but they have failed to provide any evidence to corroborate that. And let me finish with this, I happen to know that a lot of people in this chamber, a lot of people in the chamber on the other side of the Capitol, including me, have often described much consternation about red tape and bureaucracy and layers of government that run too slow.
Jason Crow: (04:37)
And I sometimes share that concern, right, that sometimes it takes a long time. There are memos for everything, emails for everything. There’s paper trails for everything in this town. I think that is true with respect to this issue and as time that we actually see that information so we can get to the bottom of what actually happened, this body could get that information.
Chief Justice: (05:00)
Thank you, Mr. Manager.
Key Q&A 3
Chief Justice: (00:00)
The question from Senator Warren is for the house managers. At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the Chief Justice, the Supreme court and the constitution?
Adam Schiff: (00:37)
Senator, I would not say that it contributes to a loss of confidence in the chief justice. I think the chief justice has presided admirably, but I will say this. I was having a conversation the other day on the house floor with one of my colleagues, Tom Malinowski from New Jersey, a brilliant colleague and I was hearkening back to what I thought was a key exchange during the course of this saga.
Adam Schiff: (01:05)
This is when ambassador Volker in September, is talking with Andrii Yermak and Volker is making the case that the new president of Ukraine should not do a political investigation and prosecution of the former president of Ukraine Poroshenko and he’s making the case that we often make when we travel around the country, we meet with other parliamentarians about not engaging in political investigations. And when he makes that remark, Yermak throws it right back in his face and says, “Oh, you mean like the investigation you want us to do of the Clintons and the Bidens.” And I was lamenting this to my colleague. What is our answer to that?
Adam Schiff: (01:48)
What is the answer to that from a country that prides itself on adherence to the rule of law. How do we answer that? And his response I thought was very interesting. He said, “This proceeding is our answer. This proceeding is our answer.” Yes, we are a more than fallible democracy and we don’t always live up to our ideals. But when we have a president who demonstrates corruption of his office, who sacrifices the national interest for his personal interest, unlike other countries, there is a remedy.
Adam Schiff: (02:25)
And so, yes, we don’t always live up to our ideals, but this trial is part of our constitutional heritage that we were given a power to impeach the president. I don’t think a trial without witnesses reflects adversely on the chief justice. I do think it reflects adversely on us. I think it diminishes the power of this example to the rest of the world, if we cannot have a fair trial in the face of this kind of presidential misconduct.
Adam Schiff: (02:56)
This is the remedy. This is the remedy for presidential abuse, but it does not reflect well on any of us, if we are afraid of what the evidence holds. If this will be the first trial in America where the defendant says at the beginning of the trial, if the prosecution case is so good, why don’t they prove it without any witnesses? That’s not a model we can hold up with pride to the rest of the world. And yes, Senator, I think that will feed cynicism about this institution, that we may disagree on the president’s conduct or not, but we can’t even get a fair trial.
Adam Schiff: (03:36)
We can’t even get a fair shake for the American people. We can’t, Oh my God, we can’t hear what John Bolton has to say. God forbid we should hear what a relevant witness has to say, hear no evil. That cannot reflect well on any of us. It’s certainly no cause for celebration or vindication or anything like it.
Adam Schiff: (04:00)
Now, my colleague says that I’m a Puritan who speaks in dulcet tones. I think that’s the nicest thing he’s ever said about me. I wouldn’t describe myself as a Puritan, but yes, I do believe in right and wrong, and I think right matters. I think a fair trial matters. And I think that the country deserves a fair trial. And yes, Senator, if they don’t get that fair trial, it will just further a cynicism that is corrosive to this institution and to our democracy.
Key Q&A 4
Chief Justice: (00:01)
Senator Brown and Wyden asked the following question for the House Managers. “During yesterday’s proceedings, the President’s counsel failed to give an adequate response to a question related to whether acceptance of information provided by a foreign country to a political campaign or candidate would constitute a violation of the law and whether offers of such information should be reported to the FBI.” FBI Director, Christopher Wray, who was appointed by President Trump, has said, quote, “If any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation state or anybody acting on behalf of a nation state about influencing or interfering with our election, then that is something that the FBI would want to know about,” end quote. “And we’d like to make sure people tell us information promptly so that we can take the appropriate steps to protect the American people,” end quote. “If President Trump remains in office, what signal does that send to other countries intent on interfering with our elections in the future and what might we expect from those countries and the President?”
Hakeem Jeffries: (01:29)
Mr. Chief Justice, distinguished members of the Senate, thank you for that question. To take the last part first, it would send a terrible message to autocrats and dictators and enemies of democracy and the free world for the President and his team to essentially put out there for all to consume that it’s acceptable in the United States to solicit foreign interference in our free and fair elections or accept political dirt simply to try to cheat in the next election.
Hakeem Jeffries: (02:14)
I was certainly shocked by the comments from the President’s Deputy White House Counsel yesterday, right here on the floor, when he said, “I think the idea that any information that happens to come from overseas is necessarily campaign interference is a mistake.” No, it’s wrong. It’s wrong in the United States of America.
Hakeem Jeffries: (02:42)
He also added, “Information that is credible, that potentially shows wrongdoing by someone that happens to be running for office, if it’s credible information is relevant for the voters to know to be able to decide on who is the best candidate.” This is not a Banana Republic, it’s the Democratic Republic of the United States of America. It’s wrong.
Hakeem Jeffries: (03:10)
Now, the single most important lesson that we learned from 2016 was that nobody should seek or welcome foreign interference in our elections. But now we have this president and his counsel essentially saying it’s okay. It is not okay. It strikes at the very heart of what the framers of the constitution were concerned about. Abuse of power, betrayal by the president of his oath of office, corrupting the integrity of our democracy and our free and fair elections by entangling oneself with foreign powers. That’s at the heart of what the framers of the constitution were concerned about.
Hakeem Jeffries: (03:53)
Don’t just trust me. We have several folks who have made this observation. The FBI Director, the Trump FBI Director, said that the FBI would want to know about any attempt at foreign election interference, and the Chair of the Federal Elections Commission also issued a statement reiterating the view of us law enforcement. She said, in part, “Let me make something 100% clear to the American people and anyone running for office. It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election.”
Hakeem Jeffries: (04:39)
This is not a novel concept. Election intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginning of our nation. It is wrong. It is corrupt. It is lawless. It’s an abuse of power. It’s impeachable and it should lead to the removal of President Donald John Trump.
Chief Justice: (05:09)
Thank you, Mr. Manager.
Key Q&A 5
Chief Justice: (00:01)
Senator Tester asked the house managers, yesterday, Mr. Dershowitz stated, “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” Do you believe there is any limit to the type or scope of quid pro quo a sitting president could engage in with a foreign entity, as long as the intent of the sitting president is to get reelected in what he or she believes is in the public’s best interest?”
Adam Schiff: (00:46)
Chief Justice, Senator, there is no limiting principle to the argument that we heard last night from the president’s team. That is, if there’s a quid pro quo that the president believes will help him get reelected and he believes his reelection is in the national interest, then it doesn’t matter how corrupt that quid pro quo is. It’s astonishing that on the floor of this body, someone would make that argument. Now, it didn’t begin that way in the beginning of the president’s defense, but what we have seen over the last couple of days is a descent into constitutional madness, because that way madness lies. If we are to accept the premise that a president essentially can do whatever he wants, engage in whatever quid pro quo he wants, “I will give you this if you will give me that to help me get elected. I will give you military dollars if you will give me help in my reelection, if you will give me elicit foreign interference in our election.”
Adam Schiff: (01:53)
Now, the only reason you make that argument is because you know your client is guilty and dead to rights. That is an argument made of desperation. Now, what’s so striking to me is almost half a century ago, we had a president who said, “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” that of course was Richard Nixon. Watergate is now 40 to 50 years behind us, have we learned nothing in the last half century? Have we learned nothing at all? It seems like we’re back to where we were. The president says it, it’s not illegal. Or Donald Trump’s version under article two, “I can do whatever I want,” or Professor Dershowitz point if it’s, if a president believes it helps his reelection, it is therefore in the national interest, he can do whatever he wants.
Adam Schiff: (02:57)
In fact, much as we thought that we progressed post-Watergate, we enacted Watergate reforms and we tried to insulate the justice department from interference by the presidency, we tried to put an end to the political abuses of that department, as much as we thought we enacted campaign finance reforms, we are right back to where we were half century ago. And I would argue we may be in a worst place, because this time, this time, that argument may succeed. That argument, “If the president says it, it can’t be illegal,” failed and Richard Nixon was forced to resign, but that argument may succeed here, now. That means we’re not back to where we are, we are worse off than where we are. That is the normalization of lawlessness.
Adam Schiff: (03:58)
I would hope that every American would recognize that it’s wrong to seek foreign help in an American election, that Americans should decide American elections. I would hope, and I believe that every American understands that, and every American understands that’s true for Democratic presidents and Republican ones. I would hope that we would understand it, I would hope that this trial would be one conducive of the truth. The Senator asked what witnesses could shed light on when the president ordered the hold and why? Well, we know Mick Mulvaney would, that instruction came from OMB. You remember the testimony, Ambassador Taylor, the shock that went through the National Security Council and the shock he experienced in that video conference when it was first announced, and the instruction was, “This comes through the president’s chief of staff, OMB, but it’s a direct order from the president.”
Adam Schiff: (04:52)
Well, Mick Mulvaney knows when that order went into place and he knows why that order went into place and he made that statement publicly, which he now wishes to recant. I’m sure he got an ear full from the president after he did, but apparently it doesn’t matter. None of that matters, because if the president believes it’s his interest, it’s okay. Now, there was an argument also, “Well, what if it was a credible reason?” Of course, there is no evidence that this was a credible reason to investigate the president’s rival, but let’s say it was a credible reason. Does that make it right? What president is not going to think he has a credible reason to investigate his opponent? What president is going to think he doesn’t have a credible reason or wouldn’t be able to articulate one or come up with some fig leaf? They compounded the dangerous argument that they made, that no quid pro quo is too corrupt if you think it’ll help your reelection. They compounded it by saying, “And if what you want is targeting your rival, it’s even more legitimate.” That way, madness lies.
Speaker 3: (06:03)
Mr. Chief Justice-
Key Q&A 6
Chief Justice: (00:00)
The question from Senator Johnson and the other senators for both parties.
Chief Justice: (00:06)
Recent reporting described to NSC staff holdovers from the Obama administration attending an all hands meeting of NSC staff held about two weeks into the Trump administration, and talking loudly enough to be overheard saying, “We need to do everything we can to take out the president.”
Chief Justice: (00:31)
On July 26, 2019, the House Intelligence Committee hired one of those individuals, Sean Misko. The report further describes relationships between Misko, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, and an individual alleged as the whistleblower. Why did your committee hire Sean Misko the day after the phone call between President Trump and Zelensky? And what role has he played throughout your committee’s investigation?
Chief Justice: (01:02)
The House will begin.
Adam Schiff: (01:11)
First of all, there’ve been a lot of attacks on my staff. As I said when this issue came up earlier, I’m appalled at some of the smearing of the professional people that work for the Intelligence Committee.
Adam Schiff: (01:25)
Now this question refers to allegations in a newspaper article which are circulating smears on my staff, and asked me to respond to those smears. I will not dignify those smears on my staff by giving them any credence whatsoever. Nor will I share any information that I believe could or could not lead to the identification of the whistleblower.
Adam Schiff: (01:52)
I want to be very clear about something. Members of this body used to care about the protection of whistleblower identities. They didn’t use to gratuitously attack members of committee staff. But now they do. Now they do. Now they’ll take an unsubstantiated repress article, and use it to smear my staff. I think that’s disgraceful. I think it’s disgraceful.
Adam Schiff: (02:17)
Whistleblowers are a unique and vital resource for the intelligence community. Why? Because unlike other whistleblowers who can go public with their information, whistleblowers in the intelligence community cannot, because it deals with classified information. They must come to a committee. They must talk to the staff of that committee or to the inspector general. That is what they’re supposed to do. Our system relies upon it. When you jeopardize a whistleblower by trying to out them this way, then you are threatening not just this whistleblower, but the entire system.
Adam Schiff: (02:54)
Now, the president would like that. Nothing better than that. I’m sure the president is applauding this question, because he wants his pound of flesh. He wants to punish anyone that has the courage to stand up to him.
Adam Schiff: (03:06)
Well, I can’t tell you who the whistleblower is, because I don’t know. But I can tell you who the whistleblower should be. It should be every one of us. Every one of us should be willing to blow the whistle on presidential misconduct. If it weren’t for this whistleblower, we wouldn’t know about this misconduct. That might be just as well for this president, but it would not be good for this country.
Adam Schiff: (03:27)
I worry that future people that see wrongdoing are going to watch how this person has been treated, the threats against this person’s life, and they’re going to say, “Why stick my neck out? Is my name going to be dragged through the mud?” Will people join our staff if they know that their names are going to be dragged through the mud?
Chief Justice: (03:51)
Thank you, Mr. Manager.
Jay Sekulow: (03:57)
Senate, there’s two responses that I’d like to get to. One, with regard to the issue of witnesses and in this case, the whistleblower.
Jay Sekulow: (04:07)
Mr. Schiff put the whistleblower issue front and center with his own words during the course of their investigation. He talked about the whistleblower testifying.
Jay Sekulow: (04:20)
Retribution is what is prohibited under the statute against a whistleblower. That’s what sort of whistleblower statute protects, that there’s no retribution. In other words, I am not going to be fired for blowing the whistle.
Jay Sekulow: (04:34)
But this idea that there’s complete anonymity, and I’m not saying that we should disclose the individual’s name. You handle that in executive session or any way you’d want. But we can’t just say it’s not a relevant inquiry to know who on the staff that conducted the primary investigation here was in communication with that whistleblower, especially after Mr. Schiff denied that he or his staff initially had even had any conversations with the whistleblower.
Jay Sekulow: (05:06)
It goes back to the whole witness issue. I want to go to that for just 30 seconds here. It seems to me that the discussion for witnesses… I heard what Mr. Schiff said about the 30… We’ll do depositions in a week. Democratic leaders said, “I could have any witnesses I want yesterday.” I’ve got it in the transcript.
Jay Sekulow: (05:26)
You couldn’t get all the witnesses you’d want in a week. You couldn’t get the discovery done in a week. But if in fact they believe that they presented this overwhelming case that they have, all… They talk about subterfuge and smokescreens. The smokescreen here is that they used 13 of their 17 witnesses to try to prove their case, and we were able to use those very witnesses to undercut that case. So I think we just have to keep that in perspective.
Jay Sekulow: (05:57)
Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
Key Q&A 7
Chief Justice: (00:00)
Thank you. The question from Senator Braun and Barrasso for counsel for the President, the House managers have said the country must be saved from this President and he does not have the best interest of the American people and their families in mind. Do you wish to respond to that claim?
Eric Herschmann: (00:27)
Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Senate, while the House managers are coming before you and accusing the President of doing things in their words, “Solely for personal and political gain.” And claiming that he is not doing things in the best interest of the American people. The American people are telling you just the opposite. The President’s approval rating while we are sitting here, in the middle of these impeachment proceedings, have hit an all time high. And recent polls shows that the American people are the happiest they’ve been with the direction of the country in 15 years. Whether it’s the economy, security, military preparedness, safer streets or safer neighborhoods, they’re all way up.
Eric Herschmann: (01:19)
We, the American people are happier and yet the House managers tell you that the President needs to be removed because he’s an immediate threat to our country. Listen to the words that they just said. We, we the American people, cannot decide who should be our President because as they tell us, and these are their words, “We cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won.” Do you really, really believe that? Do you really think so little of the American people? We don’t. We trust the American people to decide who should be our President. Candidly, it’s crazy to think otherwise. So what’s really going on?
Eric Herschmann: (02:18)
What’s really going on is that he’s a threat to them and he’s an immediate legitimate threat to them. And he’s an immediate, legitimate threat to their candidates because the election is only eight months away. Let’s talk about some of the things the President has done. We’ve replaced NAFTA with the historic MCA. We’ve killed a terrorist Al-Baghdadi and Soleimani. We secured $738 billion to rebuild the military. There are more than 7 million jobs created since the election. Illegal border crossings are down 78% since May and a hundred miles of the wall have been built. The unemployment is the lowest in 50 years. More Americans, nearly 160 million are employed than ever before.
Eric Herschmann: (03:06)
The African American unemployment, the Hispanic American unemployment, the Asian American unemployment has the lowest rate ever recorded. Women’s unemployment recently hit the lowest rate in more than 65 years. Every US metropolitan area saw per capita growth in 2018. Real wages have gone up by 8% for the low income workers. Real median Household income is now the highest level ever recorded. 40 million fewer people live in households receiving government assistance. We signed the biggest package of tax customer forms in history. Since then, over $1 trillion has poured back into the US. 650,000 single mothers that have been lifted out of poverty.
Eric Herschmann: (03:51)
We secured the largest ever increase for childcare funding, helping more than 800,000 low income families access high quality, affordable care. We passed as Manager Jeffries will recall, bi-partisan criminal justice reform. Prescription drugs have been seen the largest price decrease in over half a century. Drug overdose deaths fell nationwide in 2018 for the first time in nearly 30 years. A Gallup poll from just three days ago says that President Trump’s upbeat view of the nation’s economy, military strength, economic opportunity, and overall quality of life will likely resonate with Americans when he delivers State of the Union Address to Congress next week.
Eric Herschmann: (04:48)
If all that is solely, solely in their words, for his personal and political gain and not in the best interest of the American people, then I say, “God bless him. Keep doing it. Keep doing it. Keep doing it.” Maybe if the House managers stop opposing him and harassing him and harassing everyone associated, with him with the constant letters and the constant investigations, maybe we can even get more done. Let’s try something different now. Join us. Join us. One nation. One nation, one people. Enough is enough. Stop all of this. Thank you.
Key Q&A 8
Chief Justice: (00:00)
Senator Murkowski asks counsel for the President, “You explained that Ambassador Sondland and Senator Johnson both said the President explicitly denied that he was looking for a quid pro quo with Ukraine. The reporting on Ambassador Bolton’s book suggests the President told Bolton directly that the aid would not be released until Ukraine announced the investigations the President desired. This dispute about material facts weighs in favor of calling additional witnesses with direct knowledge. Why should this body not call Ambassador Bolton?”
Patrick Philbin: (00:46)
Mr. Chief Justice, Senators, thank you for the question. I think the primary consideration here is to understand that the House could have pursued Ambassador Bolton. The House considered whether or not they would try to have him come testify and subpoena him. They chose not to subpoena him. And this all goes back to the most important consideration, I think, that this chamber has before it in some ways. Especially on this threshold issue of whether there should be witnesses or not, has to do with the precedent that’s established here for what kind of impeachment proceeding this body will accept from now going forward.
Patrick Philbin: (01:31)
Because whatever is accepted in this case becomes the new normal for every impeachment proceeding in the future. And it will do grave damage to this body as an institution to say that the proceedings in the House don’t have to really be complete. You don’t have to subpoena the witnesses that you think are necessary to prove your case. You don’t really have to put it all together before you bring the package here, even when you’re impeaching the President of the United States, the gravest impeachment that they could possibly consider. You don’t have to do all of that work before you get to this institution. Instead, when you come to this chamber, it can be kind of half-baked, not finished, we need other witnesses and we want this chamber to do the investigation that wasn’t done in the House of Representatives. And then this chamber will have to be issuing the subpoenas and dealing with that. That’s not the way that this chamber should allow impeachments to be presented to it.
Patrick Philbin: (02:38)
And we’ve heard there was some exchange the other day about, well, there were a lot of witnesses in the Judge Porteous impeachment, and that this chamber was able to handle that. It’s very different in the impeachment of a judge, which is being handled by a committee. My understanding is that under Rule 11 of the Senate procedures, there was a committee receiving that evidence. But in a presidential impeachment, there’s not going to just be a committee. It’s the entire chamber that is going to have to be sitting as a court of impeachment and that will affect the business of the chamber.
Patrick Philbin: (03:13)
And so I think the idea that something comes out because someone makes an assertion in a book, allegedly. It’s only an alleged… It’s simply alleged now that the manuscript says that. Ambassador Bolton hasn’t come out to verify that, to my knowledge. That then we should start having this chamber call new witnesses and establish the new normal for impeachment proceedings as being that there doesn’t have to be a complete investigation in the House, I think that’s very damaging for the future of this institution. Thank you.
Key Q&A 9
Chief Justice: (00:01)
The question from Senator Reed and the other senators is for both parties, beginning with the house managers. It has been reported that President Trump does not pay Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney, for his services. Can you explain who has paid for Rudy Giuliani’s legal fees, international travel, and other expenses in his capacity as President Trump’s attorney and representative?
Adam Schiff: (00:44)
The short answer to the question is, I don’t know who’s paying Rudy Giuliani’s fees and if he is not being paid by the president to conduct this domestic political errand for which he has devoted so much time, if other clients are paying and subsidizing his work in that respect, it raises profound questions, questions that we can’t answer at this point, but there are some answers that we do know. As he has acknowledged, he’s not there doing foreign policy. So when counsel for the president says, “This is a policy dispute. You can impeach a president over policy.”
Adam Schiff: (01:22)
What Rudy Giuliani was engaged in by his own admission has nothing to do with policy. It has nothing to do with policy and let me mention one other thing about this scheme that Giuliani was orchestrating and the consequence of the argument that they would make that quid pro quos are just fine. Let’s say Rudy Giuliani does another errand for the president, this time an errand in China, and he says to the Chinese, “We will give you a favorable deal with respect to Chinese farmers as opposed to American farmers. We will betray the American farmer in the trade deal, but here’s what we want. The quid pro quo is we want you to do an investigation of the Bidens. You know the one, the one the president’s been calling for.”
Adam Schiff: (02:08)
They would say that’s okay. They would say that’s a quid pro quo to help his reelection. He can betray the American farmer, that’s okay. That’s their argument. Where does that argument lead us? That’s exactly the kind of domestic, corrupt, political errand that Rudy Giuliani was doing gratis without payment, at least not payment apparently from the president. So who’s paying the freight for it?
Adam Schiff: (02:36)
Well, I don’t know who’s directly paying the freight for it, but I can tell you the whole country is paying the freight for it because there are leaders around the world who are watching this and they’re saying, “The American presidency is open for business. This president wants our help and if we help him, he will be grateful. He will be grateful.” Is that the kind of message we want to send to the rest of the world? That’s the result of normalizing lawlessness of the kind that Rudy Giuliani was engaged in.
Chief Justice: (03:12)
Thank you. I’m sorry your time has expired. Counsel?
Jay Sekulow: (03:23)
Came out of the manager’s mouth, “Open for business.” I’ll tell you who is open for business. You know who is open for business? When the vice president of the United States, who is charged by the then president of the United States with developing policies to avoid and assist in removing corruption from Ukraine and his son was on the board of a company that was under investigation for Ukraine and your concerned about what Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer was doing when he was over trying to determine what was going on in Ukraine.
Jay Sekulow: (04:04)
By the way, it’s a little bit interesting to me, and my colleague the deputy white house counsel referred to this. It’s a little bit ironic to me that you’re going to be questioning conversations with foreign governments about investigations when three of you, three members of the Senate, Senator Menendez, Senator Leahy and Senator Durbin sent a letter that read something quickly like this. These were… They wrote the letter to the prosecutor general of Ukraine.
Jay Sekulow: (04:34)
They said they’re advocates, talking about the Congressman. They’re strong advocates for robust and close relationship with Ukraine and we believe that our cooperation should extend to such legal matters regardless of politics and their concern was ongoing investigations and whether the Mueller team was getting appropriate responses from Ukraine regarding investigations of what? The president of the United States and you’re asking about whether foreign investigations are appropriate? I think it answers itself.
Chief Justice: (05:07)
Thank you, counsel.
Key Q&A 10
Chief Justice: (00:00)
The question from Senator Rosen is for the House managers. During the president’s phone call with Ambassador Sondland, he insisted that there was no quid pro quo involving the exchange of aid and a White House meeting for an investigation but he also said according to Sondland, that the stalemate over aid will continue until President Zelensky announces the investigations.
Chief Justice: (00:26)
Isn’t that the definition of the exact quid pro quo that the president claimed didn’t exist?
Adam Schiff: (00:46)
The short answer is yes. That’s exactly what a quid pro quo is. When someone says, “I’m not going to ask you to do this,” but then says, “I’m going to ask you to do this,” that’s exactly what happened here. Sondland calls the president and the first words out of his mouth are no quid pro quo. Now that’s suspicious enough. When someone blurts out what we would find out is a false exculpatory, but then the president goes on nonetheless to say no quid pro quo, at the same time as Zelensky has got to go to the mic to announce these investigations; that’s the implication and he should want to do it. So no quid pro quo over the money, but Zelensky’s got to go to the mic. If you have any question about the accuracy of that, you should demand to see Ambassador Taylor’s notes, Tim Morrison’s notes and of course Sondland goes and tells Ukraine about this coupling of the money in order to get the investigations. Let me just, if I can, go through a little the history of that.
Adam Schiff: (02:08)
You’ve got Rudy Giuliani and others trying to make sure that Ukrainians make these statements in the run up to that July phone call. This is the quid pro quo over the meeting. So they’re trying to get the statement that they want. They’re trying to get the announcement, the investigations. And around this time prior to the call, the president puts a freeze on the military aid and then you have that call and the minute that Zelensky brings up the defense support and the desire to buy more Javelins, that’s when the president immediately goes to the favor he wants.
Adam Schiff: (02:41)
So the Ukrainians at this point know that the White House meeting is conditioned on getting these investigations announced. But in that call, the military aid is brought up, the president pivots to the favor he wants of these investigations they already know about.
Adam Schiff: (02:57)
Now after that call, the Ukrainians quickly find out about the freeze and aid. According to the former deputy foreign minister, they found out within days; July 25th is the call. By the end of July, Ukraine finds out the aid is frozen. The deputy foreign minister is told by Andriy Yermak, “Keep this secret. We don’t want this getting out.” She had planned to come to Washington. They cancel her trip to Washington because they don’t want this made public.
Adam Schiff: (03:28)
So in August, there’s this effort to get the investigations announced. That’s the only priority for the president and his men. So Ukrainians know the aid is withheld. They know they can’t get the meeting. They know what the president wants, these investigations and the Ukrainians, like the Americans, can add up two plus two equals four but if they had any question about that, Sondland removes all doubt on September 1st in Warsaw, when Sondland goes over after the Pence Zelensky meeting, he goes over to Yermak and he says that, “Until you announced these investigations, you are not getting this aid.” He makes explicit what they already knew, that not just the meeting but the aid itself was tied.
Adam Schiff: (04:11)
On September 7th, Sondland tells Zelensky directly, the aid is tied to your doing the investigations and it’s at that point on September 7th, when Zelensky is told by Sondland directly of the quid pro quo that Zelensky finally capitulates and says, “All right. I’ll make the announcement on CNN,” and then the president is caught. The scheme is exposed. The president is forced to release the aid and what does Zelensky do? He cancels the CNN interview because the money was forced to be released when the president got caught.
Adam Schiff: (04:50)
But that’s the chronology here. To make no mistake, Ukrainians are sophisticated actors. As one of the witnesses said, they found out very shortly after the hold, the Ukrainians had good tradecraft. They understood very quickly about this hold and what would you expect when you’re fighting a war and your ally is withholding military aid without explanation and the only thing they tell you that they want from you are the announcement of these investigations, and if it wasn’t clear enough, they hammer them over the head with it. They told Yermak on September 1st, “You’re not getting the money without announcing these investigations.” They tell Zelensky himself when September 7th, “You’re not getting the money without these investigations,” and finally, the resistance of this anti corruption reformer Zelensky is broken down. He desperately needs the aid. Finally, the resistance have broken down. “All right, I’ll do it.” He’s going to go on CNN.