Feb 10, 2021
Rep. Ted Lieu Speech on Why Senate Should Convict Trump Transcript: Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial
Rep. Ted Lieu 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 his opening statement remarks here.
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Ted Lieu: (00:01)
Good afternoon. I’m Congressman Ted Lieu. My colleague, Congresswoman Dean, went through President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election through the courts, and when that started failing, his deeply disturbing attacks on state and local officials. I’m going to walk through President Trump’s extraordinary efforts remaining until January 6, when he tried again to overturn the election.
Ted Lieu: (00:26)
I first want to highlight Representative Raskin’s question to all of you today, is this America? Like all of you, I love this country. I am an immigrant. My parents came to Ohio and we started off living in the basement of a person’s home. We were poor and they went to flea markets to sell gifts to make ends meet. Over many years, they built a small business, opened six gift stores and achieved the American dream. It’s one reason I joined United States Air Force on active duty. I believe America is an exceptional country. I was trained as a prosecutor at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, and I remain in the Reserves because we’re the greatest country in the world.
Ted Lieu: (01:11)
But how did our exceptional country get to the point where a violent mob attacked our Capitol, murdering a police officer, assaulting over 140 other officers. How did we get to a point where rioters desecrated, defiled, and dishonored your Senate chamber, where the very place in which you sit became a crime scene and where National Guard troops still patrol outside, wearing body armor.
Ted Lieu: (01:42)
I’ll show you how we got here. President Donald J. Trump ran out of non-violent options to maintain power. After his efforts in the courts and threatening officials failed, he turned to privately and publicly attacking members of his own party in the House and in this Senate. He would publicly bait senators, naming them in social media.
Ted Lieu: (02:10)
For example, on December 18th, president Trump named Senate majority leader and Republican senators, telling them they have to get tougher, or they won’t have a Republican party anymore. “We won the presidential election by a lot. Fight for it. Don’t let them take it away.” President Trump was suggesting to members of this Senate that if they didn’t help him try to overturn the election, there would be consequences.
Ted Lieu: (02:38)
On December 24th, President Trump wrote, “I saved at least eight Republican senators, including Mitch, from losing into last rigged for president election. Now they almost all sit back and watch me fight against a crooked and vicious foe, the radical left Democrats. I will NEVER FORGET!” President Trump was telling you that you owe him, that if you don’t help him fight over the results, he will never forget, and that there will be consequences. These are threats, just like the threats he made to state and local officials.
Ted Lieu: (03:18)
And it continued. On December 29th, President Trump tweeted, “Can you imagine if the Republicans stole a presidential election from the Democrats? All hell would break out. Republican leadership only wants the path of least resistance. Our leaders (not me, of course!) are pathetic. They only know how to lose. P.S. I got many senators and congressmen and congresswomen elected. I do believe they forgot.” President Trump targeted senators and members of Congress on social media, calling them pathetic for letting the election get “stolen from them”.
Ted Lieu: (03:59)
On January 4th, two days before the attack, President Trump tweeted, “The ‘Surrender Caucus’ within the Republican Party will go down in infamy as weak and ineffective guardians of our nation, who were willing to accept the certification of fraudulent presidential numbers.” Now he’s mocking some Republican members as a surrender caucus, calling them weak and ineffective guardians of our nation, because they would not pretend that he had won when in fact he had not.
Ted Lieu: (04:31)
And then the very day before the attack, President Trump’s threats grew even more heated and specific towards Republicans that he considered to be part of that surrender caucus. Now, we’ve shown you this tweet before, but I want to draw your attention to how the president was not just inciting his base, but how he was also calling out specific Senate Republicans at the end of this tweet. This is a specific warning to anyone who won’t help him overturn the results, anyone who was against the president became an enemy. Let me be very clear. The president wasn’t just coming for one or two people or Democrats like me. He was coming for you, for Democratic and Republican senators. He was coming for all of us, just as the mob did at his direction.
Ted Lieu: (05:24)
In addition to going after senators and members of Congress, President Trump also pressured our Justice Department to investigate the false claims that the election was stolen. At the president’s direction, Attorney General William Barr, a loyal member of the president’s cabinet, authorized federal prosecutors to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities. Bill Barr pursuing these allegations sparked and outcry. Sixteen assistant US attorneys in the Trump administration urge the attorney general to cease investigations because they had not seen evidence of any substantial anomalies. That means they did not find any evidence of real fraud.
Ted Lieu: (06:09)
Attorney General Barr pursued the investigations anyways, and after his investigation, this is what he found. “We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.” Two weeks later, on December 14th, the electors voted to give Joe Biden 306 electoral votes and ensured his victory. The following day, Bill Barr resigned. Attorney General Barr had loyally served President Trump. He had never publicly come out against the president, but for Bill Barr, making up election fraud claims and saying the election was stolen was a bridge too far. Bill Barr made clear that attempting to overturn election results crossed a line. According to a news report, Bill Barr, the highest law enforcement official in the land told President Donald Trump to his face, that his theories of election fraud were “bullshit”.
Ted Lieu: (07:15)
When Bill Barr resigned, his former deputy Jeff Rosen took his place. President Trump initially tweeted about Mr. Rosen, that he was an outstanding person, when he announced that he would become acting attorney general. But when Rosen took over, President Trump put the same pressure on him that he had done with state officials, members of Congress, US senators, and his former attorney general. President Trump reportedly summoned Acting Attorney General Rosen to the Oval Office the next day, and pressured Rosen to appoint special counsels to keep investigating the election, including unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud, and also to investigate Dominion, the voting machines firm. According to reports, Mr. Rosen refused. He maintained that he would make decisions based on the facts and the law, and reminded President Trump what he had already been told by Attorney General Bill Barr, that the department had already investigated and “found no evidence of widespread fraud”.
Ted Lieu: (08:18)
But President Trump refused to follow the facts and the law, so the president turned to someone he knew would do his bidding. He turned to Jeffrey Clark, another Justice Department lawyer, who had allegedly expressed support for using the Department of Justice to investigate the election results. Shortly after Acting Attorney General Rosen followed his duty and the law to refuse to reopen investigations, President Trump intended replaced Mr. Rosen with Mr. Clark, who could then try to stop Congress from certifying the electoral college results. According to reports, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone advised President Trump not to fire Acting Attorney General Rosen. Department officials had also threatened to resign en masse if he had fired Rosen.
Ted Lieu: (09:07)
President Trump’s actions, time and time again, made clear that he would do anything, and pressure anyone, if it meant overturning the election results. We watched President Trump use any means necessary to pursue this aim, feverously grasping for straws and retaining his hold on their presidency, but all his efforts prior to January 6, kept failing.
Ted Lieu: (09:33)
And finally, in his desperation, he turned on his own vice president. He pressured Mike Pence to violate his constitutional oath and to refuse to certify the oath. President Trump had decided that Vice President Pence, who presided over the certification, could somehow stop it. As Pence would later confirm, the vice-president does not have that power in the Constitution. And President Trump never tried to explain why he thought the vice-president could block the certification of election results. He just began relentlessly attacking the vice president. Publicly, President Trump attack Pence on social media and at rallies, getting his supporters to believe that Mike Pence could stop this certification on January 6. Here’s what President Trump said in Georgia on January 4th.
Donald Trump: (10:24)
And I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you. I hope that our great vice president, our great vice president comes through for us. He’s a great guy. Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.
Ted Lieu: (10:44)
Behind closed doors, President Trump applied significant pressure to his second in command. Multiple reports confirm that President Trump used his personal attorneys and other officials to pressure the vice president. Trump reportedly told almost anyone who called him, to also call the vice president. According to reports, when Mike Pence was in the Oval Office, President Trump would call people to try to get them to convince the vice-president to help him. And President Trump kept repeating the myth that Pence could stop the certification to his base, to anger them, hoping to intimidate Mike Pence.
Ted Lieu: (11:22)
On the morning of the rally on January 6, President Trump tweeted, “All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the states AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage. President Trump later went on to attack Pence nearly a dozen times in his speech at the Save America March. Privately, in person before Pence headed to oversee the joint session on January 6, President Trump again threatened Pence. “You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to people briefed on the conversation, “Or you can go down in history as a pussy.”
Ted Lieu: (12:09)
As a veteran, I find it deeply dishonorable that our former president and commander in chief, equated patriotism with violating the Constitution and overturning their election. You will see and hear the consequences of President Trump’s repeated attacks on the vice-president, the chants of “traitor”, and the chants of “hang Mike Pence”. Thankfully, Vice President Pence stood his ground like our other brave officials stood their ground. He refused the president and fulfilled his duty on January 6, even after the Capitol was attacked, even after he was personally targeted, even after his family was targeted. Vice President Pence stood strong and certified the election. Vice President Pence showed us what it means to be an American, what it means to show courage. He put his country, his oath, his values, and his morals above the will of one man.
Ted Lieu: (13:10)
The president had tried everything in his attempt to seize power from the rightful victor of the election. President Trump’s extraordinary actions grew increasingly more desperate. You saw him go from pursuing claims in the courts, to threatening state and local election officials, to then attacking members of Congress and the Senate, to compromising our Justice Department, and then to attacking the Republican vice president. These brave public servants were being pressured by our commander in chief to overturn the results. Some of them, and their families got death threats. Thankfully at every turn, our democratic processes prevailed and the rule of law prevailed. It was only because all of these people stayed strong and refused President Trump that our republic held fast and the will of the electorate was seen through. And at this point, President Donald J. Trump ran out of non-violent options to maintain power.
Ted Lieu: (14:17)
I began today by raising the question of how we got here. What you saw was a man so desperate to cling to power that he tried everything he could to keep it. And when he ran out of non-violent measures, he turned to the violent mob that attacked your Senate chamber on January 6. As you cast your vote after this trial, I hope each of you will think of the bravery of all these people who said no to President Trump, because they knew that this was not right, that this was not America.