Feb 10, 2021
Rep. Madeleine Dean Opening Statement Transcript February 10: Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial
Rep. Madeleine Dean gave a speech arguing why the Senate should vote to convict Trump during Trump’s second impeachment hearing on February 10, 2021. Read the full transcript of her opening statement remarks here.
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Madeleine Dean: (00:00)
Mr. President. Esteemed members of the Senate, it is my solemn honor to be before you today. I am Madeleine Dean, Congresswoman from the 4th congressional district of Pennsylvania. I’m a lawyer, I’m a former professor of writing, I’m a sister, I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother to three with fourth on her way, I’m a person of faith and I’m an American. A long with Manager Lou, I will present the actions of a desperate president and we will present evidence today of a class of public servants who standing up to enormous pressure from the president of the United States, did the right thing and upheld their oaths. My colleagues just presented evidence of a President Trump’s months long efforts to incite his base, leading them to believe the election was stolen. That they needed to fight like hell to stop the steel on January the sixth.
Madeleine Dean: (01:08)
These weren’t President Trump’s only efforts to overturn the results. Manager Lou and I will present evidence of President Trump’s relentless escalating campaigns to fabricate an election victory by ignoring adverse court rulings. Pressuring and threatening election officials, attacking senators and members of Congress. Pressuring the justice department and finally bullying his own vice-president. President Trump and his allies filed 62 separate lawsuits in federal courts across more than half a dozen States and the district of Columbia, including Pennsylvania, my home state, as well as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin.
Madeleine Dean: (02:05)
Of the 62 post-election legal challenges, he lost 61. Only one was successful. And that case involved ballot curing in Pennsylvania and had no impact on President Biden’s 80,555 vote victory in our Commonwealth. To be clear, not a single court, not a single judge agreed that the election results were invalid or should be invalidated. Instead, court after court reviewing these challenges said, these cases were quote not credible, without merit, based on nothing but speculation and flat out wrong. The judiciary resoundingly rejected Trump’s fraud allegations and upheld the election results. But it was more than that.
Madeleine Dean: (03:00)
The court said these cases were different. They were dangerous to our democracy. For an example, in an opinion, by United States district court Judge Matthew Brann from Pennsylvania, he said, and I quote, “This court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations in the United States of America. This cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people and laws and institutions demand more. Because this court has no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens, it cannot grant plaintiff’s requested relief.”
Madeleine Dean: (03:54)
That decision by Judge Brann was affirmed on appeal by Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee who agreed and wrote, and I quote, “The campaign’s claims have no merit. The number of ballots it specifically challenges is far smaller than the roughly 81,000 vote margin of victory. And it never claims fraud or that any of the votes were cast by illegal voters. Plus, tossing out millions of mail in ballots would be drastic and unprecedented disenfranchising a huge swath of the electorate and upsetting all down-ballot races.” Similarly, as Judge Linda Parker of the Eastern district of Michigan framed it, she said, “Stunning in its scope and breathtaking in its reach. If granted the relief would disenfranchise the votes of more than 5.5 million Michigan citizens who, with dignity and hope and a promise of a vote, participated in the 2020 general election.”
Madeleine Dean: (05:05)
Donald Trump told his supporters, they are stealing the election. They took away your vote. It’s rigged. That was not true. According to judge after judge, the truth was exactly the opposite. Trump was not suing to ensure election integrity. He was pursuing lawsuits that would in effect strip away American votes so that he could win. In other words, Donald Trump was asking the judiciary to take away votes from Americans so that he could steal the election for himself. Then after losing in all the courts, Trump turned to another tactic, pressuring and threatening election officials. You saw what happened in Michigan after Trump attacked the state and its election officials, his supporters surrounded the secretary of state’s home, as you saw in the earlier slide, chanting, calling her a felon. On November 17th, the board of canvassers for Wayne County, Michigan, home to Detroit, unanimously certified the election results for Biden.
Madeleine Dean: (06:18)
That same night after their vote to certify the results. Trump called the two Republican members of that board, pressuring them to change their minds. The call worked. The next day, both Monica Palmer and William Hartman, the Republican board members, attempted to rescind their vote to certify Michigan’s election results, but they simply couldn’t. President Trump didn’t stop there, he then contacted majority leader of the Michigan Senate, Mike Shirkey and the speaker of the Michigan house Lee Chatfield to lobby them to overturn Michigan’s results.
Madeleine Dean: (07:00)
Trump invited Mr. Chatfield and Mr. Sharkey to Washington to meet with him at the white house where the president lobbied them further. Let’s be clear. Donald Trump was calling officials, hosting them at the white house, urging them to defy the voters in their state. And instead award votes to Trump. The officials held strong. And so Trump moved on to a different state. My home state of Pennsylvania. I am certain my senators, Casey and Senator Toomey, remember what happened there. In early December, as he did in Michigan, he began calling election officials, including my former colleagues in the Pennsylvania legislature, Republicans majority leader, Kim Ward and speaker of the house, Brian Cutler. Majority leader Ward said the president called her to, “Declare. There was a fraud in the voting.” Then on November 25th, President Trump phoned into a Republican state Senate policy hearing, trying to convince the Republican legislators, senators and house members there had been a fraud in the vote. He even had his lawyer hold a phone up to the microphone in that hearing room. So the committee could hear him. Here’s what he said.
President Trump: (08:25)
We can’t let that happen. We can’t let it happen for our country. And this election has to be turned around because we won Pennsylvania by a lot. And we won all of these swing states by a lot.
Madeleine Dean: (08:39)
This was a gathering I’ve attended many, I have to tell you as a former state legislator, a lot of policy hearings, I have to say with some confidence, that was likely the first time a president of the United States of America called into a state legislative policy hearing. And remember here is the president saying he won Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania had been certified that Biden had won by more than 80,000 votes. Less than a week after calling into that meeting, he invited multiple Republican members of the Pennsylvania legislature to the white house, the same scheme he had used on the Michigan legislators. It didn’t work with those public servants either. Think about it. The president of the United States was calling public officials, calling from the white house, inviting them into the oval office, telling them to disenfranchise voters of their state, telling them to overturn the will of the American people.
Madeleine Dean: (09:44)
All so he could take the election for himself. And then in Georgia, a state Trump had counted on for victory, his conduct was perhaps the most egregious. On November 11th, Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, confirmed that he believed ballots were accurately counted for Biden. Trump went on a relentless attack. Here are just a few examples, in all Trump tweeted at Raffensperger 17 times in the coming week, let me show you just a few, calling him a disaster, obstinate, not having a clue, being played for a fool and being a so-called Republican. All because Raffensperger was doing his job, ensuring the integrity of our elections and these attacks had consequences, Mr. Raffensperger and his family received death threats, “Your husband deserves to face a firing squad.” “You better not botch this recount, your life depends upon it.” “The Raffensperger should be put on trial for treason and face execution.” Just some of the threats they received. After these death threats on November 25th, Mr. Raffensperger wrote an op-ed where he said, “My family voted for Trump, donated to him and are now being thrown under the bus by him.”
Madeleine Dean: (11:17)
But he also noted, “Elections are the bedrock of our democracy. They need to be run fairly and perhaps more importantly, impartially. That’s not partisan. That’s just American.” It’s important to remember that this wasn’t just a random attack. Trump wasn’t just criticizing a politician over policy. We’re saying he didn’t agree. Donald Trump was savagely attacking a secretary of state because the official did his job and certified the state according to how the people in that state voted.
Madeleine Dean: (11:53)
Donald Trump was trying to undermine our elections by taking votes away from the American people so that he could remain president. And he was willing to blame and betray anyone, anyone, even his own supporters, if they got in the way. Remember senators, those threats were to Mr. Raffensperger’s family. So some may say Trump didn’t know his attacks against Mr. Raffensperger would result in death threats except that all of this was very public. The secretary published his op-ed in USA Today and major networks, including Fox, covered the threats against the Raffensperger. What did Trump do? Did he stop? Did he say, “No, no supporters. That isn’t what I meant.” No, he doubled down. Let’s see the evidence.
President Trump: (12:47)
This was a massive fraud. This should never take place in this country. We’re like a third world country. Look at Georgia… but I understand the secretary of state who is really, he’s an enemy of the people, the secretary of state. And whether it’s Republican or not, this man what he’s done… this character in Georgia, who’s a disaster.
Madeleine Dean: (13:15)
Let that sink in. A Republican public servant doing his job whose family had just received death threats and the president of the United States labeled him an enemy of the people. And that’s why this is different because this was not just one attack or one comment. This was attack after attack in the face of clear threats of violence. And on December 1st, another official Gabriel Sterling, a Republican who voted for Trump, made this point and appealed directly to our president to stop his dangerous conduct.
Gabriel Sterling: (13:54)
Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia. We’re investigating. There’s always a possibility. I get it and you have the rights to go through the courts. What you don’t have the ability to do, and you need to step up and say this is, stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed.
Madeleine Dean: (14:18)
Mr. Sterling put this perfectly. In this country we can appropriately challenge a close count or go to the courts or disagree with others or make bold statements. But what Trump was doing was different. Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed. Mr. Sterling saw what Trump’s conduct was fomenting. He warned him on live TV, that violence was already happening and that more violence was foreseeable and inevitable. Sterling’s plees were played over and over on every network. Rather than heed that warning, trump escalated again. In early December, Trump called Brian Kemp, the governor of Georgia, and pressured him to hold a special session of the state legislature to overturn the election results and to a point electors who would vote for Trump. A few weeks later on December 23rd, Trump called the chief investigator for the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, who was conducting an audit. An audit of the signature matching procedures for absentee ballots.
Madeleine Dean: (15:37)
Trump urged him, “Find the fraud,” and claimed the official would be a national hero if he did. Let’s call this what it is. He was asking the official to say there was evidence of fraud when there wasn’t any. The official refused and the investigation was completed. And on December 29th, Raffensperger announced that the audit found, “No fraudulent absentee ballots with a 99% confidence level.”
Madeleine Dean: (16:09)
On January 3rd, Trump tweeted about a call he had with a Georgia election official the day before, he said, and I quote, “I spoke to secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, yesterday about Fulton County and voter fraud in Georgia. He was unwilling or unable to answer questions such as the ballots under the table scam, ballot destruction, out of state voters, dead voters, and more, he has no clue.” On January the fifth, The Washington Post released a recording of that call, which had occurred on January 2nd. Remember just four days before the attack on the Capitol. Here is what President Trump said.
President Trump: (16:56)
It’s more illegal for you than it is for them, because you know what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal offense and you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyers, that’s a big risk.
Madeleine Dean: (17:15)
Let’s be clear, this is the president of the United States telling a secretary of state that if he does not find votes, he will face criminal penalties. And not just any number of votes, Donald Trump was asking the secretary of state to somehow find the exact number of votes Donald Trump lost the state by. Remember President Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes. In his own words, Trump said, “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes.” He wanted the secretary of state to somehow find the precise number plus one so that he could win. Here is what he said.
President Trump: (18:00)
So look, all I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.
Madeleine Dean: (18:16)
He says it right there. The president of the United States telling a public official to manufacture the exact votes needed so he can win. Senators, we must not become numb to this. Trump did this across state after state, so often, so loudly, so publicly. Public officials like you and me received death threats and calls threatening criminal penalties, all because Trump wanted to remain in power. These public officials exercised great political and personal courage, in the face of unprecedented pressure from a president of the United States. Senators, ours is a dialogue with history, a conversation with the past with a hope for the future. Senators, I thank you today for your kind attention.