Feb 3, 2020
Transcript: Trump Impeachment Trial Monday, February 3, 2020 Key Moments
The Donald Trump Impeachment Trial continued on Monday, February 3, 2020 after the Senate voted to not call witnesses. Read the transcript of the key moments right here on Rev.com.
Key Moment 1
Adam Schiff: (00:00)
– Of the president’s misconduct were very different from one impeachment to the next. The Republican party of Nixon’s time broke in to the DNC and the president covered it up. Nixon too abuse the power of his office to gain an unfair advantage over his opponent. But in Watergate, he never sought to coerce a foreign power to aid his reelection, nor did he sacrifice our national security in such a palpable and destructive way as withholding aid from an ally at war. And he certainly did not engage in the wholesale obstruction of Congress or justice that we have seen this president commit.
Adam Schiff: (00:40)
The facts of President Clinton’s misconduct pale in comparison to Nixon and do not hold a candle to Donald Trump. Lying about an affair is morally wrong and when under oath it is a crime, but it had nothing to do with his duties in office. The process being the same, the facts of President Trump’s misconduct being far more destructive than either past president, what then accounts for the disparate result in bipartisan support for his removal? What has changed?
Adam Schiff: (01:15)
The short answer is we have changed. The members of Congress have changed. For reasons as varied as the stars the members of this body and ours in the house are now far more accepting of the most serious misconduct of a president as long as it is a president of one’s own party. And that is a trend most dangerous for our country. 50 years ago, no lawyer representing the president would have ever made the outlandish argument that if the president believes his corruption will serve to get him re-elected, whether it is by coercing an ally to help him cheat or in any other form, that he may not be impeached, that this is somehow a permissible use of his power.
Adam Schiff: (02:05)
But here we are. The argument has been made and some appear ready to accept it and that is dangerous for there is no limiting principle to that position. It must have come as a shock, a pleasant shock, to this president that our norms and institutions would prove to be so weak. The independence of the justice department and its formerly proud office of legal counsel now mirror legal tools at the presence disposal to investigate enemies or churn out helpful opinions not worth the paper they are written on.
Adam Schiff: (02:46)
The FBI painted by a president as corrupt and disloyal. The intelligence community not to be trusted against the good counsel of Vladimir Putin. The press portrayed as enemies of the people. The daily attacks on the guardrails of our democracy so relentlessly as sailed have made us numb and blind to the consequences. Does none of that matter anymore if he’s the president of our party?
Adam Schiff: (03:18)
I hope and pray that we never have a president like Donald Trump in the Democratic Party. One that would betray the national interest and the country’s security to help with his reelection. And I would hope to God that if we did, we would impeach him, and Democrats would lead the way. But I suppose you never know just how difficult that is until you are confronted with it. But you, my friends, are confronted with it. You are confronted with that difficulty now and you must not shrink from it.
Adam Schiff: (03:54)
History will not be kind to Donald Trump. I think we all know that. Not because it will be a written by never Trumpers, but because whenever we have departed from the values of our nation, we have come to regret it and that regret is written all over the pages of our history. If you find that the house has proved its case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel and for all of history. But if you find the courage to stand up to him, to speak the awful truth to his rank falsehood, your place will be among the Davids who took on Goliath. If only you will say, “Enough.”
Adam Schiff: (04:42)
We revere the wisdom of our founders and the insights they had into self-governance. We scour their words for hidden meeting and try to place ourselves in their shoes. But we have one advantage that the founders did not. For all their genius they could not see but opaquely into the future. We on the other hand have the advantage of time, of seeing how their great experiment in self-governance has progressed. When we look at the sweep of history, there are times when our nation and the rest of the world have moved with a seemingly irresistible force in the direction of greater freedom. More freedom to speak into assemble, to practice our faith and tolerate the faith of others. To love whom we would and choose love over hate. More free societies, walls tumbling down, nations reborn.
Adam Schiff: (05:36)
But then like a pendulum approaching the end of its arc, the outward movement begins to arrest, the golden globe of freedom reaches its Zenith and starts to retreat. The pendulum swings back past the center and recedes into a dark unknown. How much farther we’ll travel in its illiberal direction, how many more freedoms will be extinguished before it turns back, we cannot say. But what we do here in this moment will affect its course and it’s correction. Every single vote, even a single vote by a single member, can change the course of history. It is said that a single man or woman of courage makes a majority. Is there one among you who will say enough?
Adam Schiff: (06:32)
America believes a thing called truth. She does not believe we are entitled to our own alternate facts. She recoils at those who spread pernicious falsehoods. To her truth matters. There is nothing more corrosive to a democracy than the idea that there is no truth.
Adam Schiff: (06:52)
America also believes there is a difference between right and wrong and right matters here. But there is more. Truth matters, right matters, but so does decency. Decency matters. When the president smears a patriotic public servant like Marie Yovanovitch in pursuit of a corrupt aim, we recoil. When the president mocks the disabled, a war hero who was a prisoner of war or a gold star father, we are appalled. Because decency matters here and when the president tries to coerce an ally to help him cheat in our elections and then covers it up, we must say, “Enough. Enough.”
Adam Schiff: (07:40)
He has betrayed our national security and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What’s right matters even less and decency matters not at all. I do not ask you to convict him because truth or right or decency matters nothing to him, but because we have proven our case and it matters to you. Truth matters to you, right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.
Adam Schiff: (08:24)
In Federalist 55, James Madison wrote that there were certain qualities in human nature, qualities I believe like honesty, right, and decency, which would justify our confidence in self government. He believed that we possessed sufficient virtue, that the chains of despotism were not necessary to restrain ourselves from destroying and devouring one another.
Adam Schiff: (08:53)
It may be midnight in Washington, but the sun will rise again. I put my faith in the optimism of the founders. You should too. They gave us the tools to do the job, a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to constrain: Impeachment. They meant it to be used rarely, but they put it in the constitution for a reason. For a man who would sell out his country for a political favor, for a man who would threaten the integrity of our elections. For a man who would invite for an interference in our affairs. For a man who would undermine our national security and that of our allies. For a man like Donald J. Trump. They gave you a remedy and they meant for you to use it. They gave you an oath and they meant for you to observe it. We have proven Donald Trump guilty now do impartial justice and convict him. I yield back.
Key Moment 2
Jason Crow: (00:03)
Mr Chief Justice, members of the US Senate, council for the president; almost 170 years ago, Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts took to the well of the old Senate chamber, not far from where I’m standing. He delivered what would become perhaps his most famous address, the 7th of March speech. Webster sought to rally his colleagues to adopt the compromise of 1850, a package of legislation that he and others hoped would forestall a civil war brewing over the question of slavery. He said, “It is fortunate that there is a Senate of the United States; a body not yet moved from its propriety, not lost to adjust sense of its own dignity and its own high responsibilities, and a body to which the country looks with confidence, for wise, moderate, patriotic, and healing counsels. It is not to be denied that we live in the midst of strong agitations and are surrounded by very considerable dangers to our institutions of government. The imprisoned wins are let loose, but I have a duty to perform and I mean to perform it with fidelity, not without a sense of surrounding dangers, but not without hope.”
Jason Crow: (01:18)
Webster was wrong to believe that the compromise of 1850 could prevent succession of the South, but I hope he was not wrong to put his faith in the Senate because the design of the constitution and the intention of the framers was that the Senate would be a chamber removed from the sway of temporary political winds. In Federalist, 65 Hamilton wrote, “Where else than in the Senate could have been found a tribunals sufficiently dignified or sufficiently independent? What other body would be likely to feel confidence enough in its own situation to preserve an odd and uninfluenced, the necessary impartiality between an individual accused and the representatives of the people, his accusers?”
Jason Crow: (02:03)
In the same essay, Hamilton explained this about impeachment: “The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be dominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them for this reason will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or an amicable to the accused… In such cases, there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”
Jason Crow: (02:49)
Daniel Webster and Alexander Hamilton placed their hopes in you, the Senate, to be the court of greatest impartiality, to be a neutral representative of the people in uninfluenced by party or preexisting faction, the innocence or guilt of the president of the United States. Today, you have a duty to perform with fidelity, not without a sense of surrounding dangers, but also not without hope. I submit to you on behalf of the house of representatives that your duty demands that you convict president Trump.
Jason Crow: (03:29)
Now I don’t pretend that this is an easy process. It’s not designed to be easy. It shouldn’t be easy to impeach or convict a president. Impeachment is an extraordinary remedy; a tool only to be used in rare instances of grave misconduct. But it is in the constitution for a reason. In America, no one is above the law, even those elected president of the United States, and I would say especially those elected president of the United States. You’ve heard arguments from the president’s council that impeachment would overturn the results of the 2016 election. You have heard that in seeking the removal and disqualification of the president, the house is seeking to interfere in the next election. Senators, neither is true, and these arguments demonstrate a deeply misguided or I think intentional effort to mislead about the role that impeachment plays in our democracy.
Jason Crow: (04:27)
If you believe, as we do and as we have proven, that the president’s efforts to use his official powers to cheat in the 2020 election, jeopardize our national security and are antithetical to our democratic tradition, then you must come to no other conclusion that the president threatens the fairness of the next election and risk putting foreign interference between the voters and their ballots.
Jason Crow: (04:51)
Professor Dershowitz and the other counselors to the president have argued that if the president thinks that something is in his interest, than it is by definition in the interest of the American people. We have said throughout this process that we cannot and should not leave our common sense at the door. The logical conclusion this argument is, is that the president is the state, that his interests are the nation’s interests, that his will is necessarily ours. You and I and the American people know otherwise, and we do not have to be constitutional scholars to understand that this is a position deeply at odds with our constitution and our democracy.
Jason Crow: (05:39)
That believing in this argument or allowing the president to get away with misconduct based on this extreme view would render him above the law. But, we know that this cannot be true. What did you decide on these articles will have lasting implications for the future of the presidency, not only for this president, but for all future presidents. Whether or not the office of the presidency of the United States of America is above the law; that is the question. As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in his 1835 work Democracy in America, “The greatness of America lies not in being made more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” In May of 1974, Barry Goldwater and other Republican congressional leaders went to the white house to tell President Nixon that it was time for him to resign, and that they could no longer hold back the tide of impeachment over Watergate.
Jason Crow: (06:43)
Now, contrary to popular belief, the Republican party did not abandon Nixon as the Watergate scandal came to light. It took years of disclosures and crisis and court battles. The parties stood with Nixon through Watergate because he was a popular conservative president and his base was with him. So, they were too. But ultimately, as Goldwater would tell Nixon, “There are only so many lies you can take, and now there have been one too many.”
Jason Crow: (07:15)
The president would have us believe that he did not withhold aid to course these sham investigations, that his July 25th call with the Ukrainians was perfect; that his meeting with President Zelensky on the sidelines of the UN is no different than a head of state meeting in the Oval Office; that is only interest in having Ukraine announce investigations into the Bidens was an altruistic concern over corruption; that the Ukrainians interfered in our 2016 election, not Russia; that Putin knows better than our own intelligence agencies. How many falsehoods can we take? When will it be one too many? Let us take a few minutes to remind you one last time of the facts of the president’s misconduct as you consider how you’ll vote on this important matter for our nation. Those facts compel the president’s conviction on the two articles of impeachment.
Key Moment 3
Ken Starr: (00:02)
Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Senate, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, House Impeachment Managers and they’re very able staff, as World War I, the war to end all wars, was drawing to a close, an American soldier sat down at a piano and composed a song. It was designed to be part of a musical review for his Army camp out on Long Island, Suffolk County. The song was God Bless America. The composer, of course, was Irving Berlin who came here at the age of five, son of immigrants who came to this country for freedom. As composers are want to do, Berlin worked very carefully with the lyrics. The song needed to be pure. It needed to be above politics, above partisanship. He intended to be a song for all America. But he intended it to be more than just a song, it was to be a prayer for the country.
Ken Starr: (01:21)
As your very distinguished chaplain, Admiral Barry Black has done in his prayers on these long days that you’ve spent as judges in the high court of impeachment, we’ve been reminded of what our country is all about. That it stands for one nation under God. Nation is about freedom. We hear the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream-filled speech about freedom echoing the great passages inscribed on America’s temple of justice, the Lincoln Memorial, which stood behind Dr. King as he spoke on that historic day. Dr. King is gone felled by an assassin’s bullet, but his words remain with us.
Ken Starr: (02:19)
During his magnificent life, Dr. King spoke not only about freedom, freedom standing alone, he spoke frequently about freedom and justice. In his speeches, he summed up regularly the words of a Unitarian abolitionist from the prior century, Theodore Parker, who referred to the moral arc of the universe, the long moral arc of the universe points toward justice, freedom, and justice. Freedom, whose contours have been shaped over the centuries in the English-speaking world by what Justice Benjamin Cardozo called, “The authentic forms of justice through which the community expresses itself in law.”
Ken Starr: (03:18)
Authentic, authenticity, and at the foundation of those authentic forms of justice is fundamental fairness. It’s playing by the rules. It’s why we don’t allow deflated footballs or stealing signs from the field. Rules are rules, there to be followed. So I submit that a key question to be asked as you begin your deliberations, were the rules here faithfully followed? If not, if that is your judgment, then with all due respect, the prosecutors should not be rewarded, just as federal prosecutors are not rewarded. You didn’t follow the rules. You should have.
Ken Starr: (04:14)
As a young lawyer, I was blessed to work with one of the great trial lawyers of his time. I asked him, “[Dit 00:04:23], what’s your secret?” He had just defended successfully a former United States Senator who was charged with a serious offense, perjury, before a federal grand jury. His response was simple and forthright. His words could have come from prairie lawyer, Abe Lincoln. “I let the judge and the jury know that they can believe and trust every word that comes out of my mouth. I will not be proven wrong.”
Ken Starr: (05:03)
Here’s a question as you begin your deliberations, “Have the facts as presented to you, as a court, as the high court of impeachment, proven trustworthy? Has there been full and fair disclosure in the course of these proceedings, fundamental fairness?” I recall these words from the podium last week. A point would be made by one of the President’s lawyers and then this would follow. The House Managers didn’t tell you that. Why not? Again, the House Managers didn’t tell you that. Why not? At the Justice Department on the fifth floor of the Robert F. Kennedy building is this simple inscription, “The United States wins its point when justice is done its citizens in the courts.” Not, “Did we win?” Not, “Did we convict?” Rather the moral question, “Was justice done?”
Ken Starr: (06:19)
Of course, as it’s been said frequently, the House of Representatives does under our constitution enjoy the sole power of impeachment. No one has disputed that fact. They’ve got the power, but that doesn’t mean that anything goes. It doesn’t mean that the House cannot be called to account in the high court of impeachment for its actions in exercising that power. A question to be asked, “Are we to countenance violations of the rules and traditional procedures that have been followed scrupulously in prior impeachment proceedings?”
Ken Starr: (07:07)
And the Judiciary Committee, the venerable Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives compare and contrast the thoroughness of that committee in the age of Nixon. It’s thoroughness in the age of Clinton with all of its divisiveness within the committee in this proceeding. A question to be asked, “Did the House Judiciary Committee rush to judgment in fashioning the articles of impeachment? Did it carefully gather the facts, assess the facts before it concluded?” We need nothing more than the panel of very distinguished professors and the splendid presentations by both the Majority Council and the Minority Council. We asked them questions. The Republicans asked them questions. We heard their answers. We’re ready to vote. We’re ready to try this case in the high court of impeachment.
Ken Starr: (08:19)
What was being said in the sounds of silence was this, “We don’t have time to follow the rules. We won’t even allow the House Judiciary minority members, who have been besieging us time and again, to have their day, just one day to call their witnesses. Oh, yes. That is expressly provided for in the rules. We’ll break those rules.” That’s not liberty and justice for all. The great political scientist of yesteryear, Richard Neustadt of Columbia, observed that the power of the President is ultimately the power to persuade. Oh, yes. The Commander in Chief and yes, charged with the conduct and authority to guide the nation’s foreign relations, but ultimately it’s the power to persuade.
Ken Starr: (09:28)
I suggest to you that so to the House’s sole power to impeach is likewise ultimately a power to persuade over in the House. A question to be asked, “In the fast track impeachment process in the House of Representatives, did the House majority persuade the American people?” Not just partisans, rather, did the House’s case win over the overwhelming majority, a consensus of the American people? The question fairly to be asked. Well, I cast my vote to convict and remove the President of the United States when not a single member of the President’s party, the party of Lincoln was persuaded at any time in the process.
Ken Starr: (10:28)
In contrast, and when I was here last week, I noted for the record of these proceedings that in the Nixon impeachment, the House vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry was 410 to four. In the Clinton impeachment, divisive, controversial, 31 Democrats voted in favor of the impeachment inquiry. Here, of course and in sharp contrast, the answer is none. It is said that we live in highly, and perhaps hopelessly, partisan times. It is said that no one is open to persuasion anymore. They’re getting their news entirely from their favorite media platform. That platform of choice is fatally deterministic. Well at least, the decision of decision makers under oath who are bound by sacred duty by oath or affirmation to do impartial justice, leaves the platforms out. Those modern day intermediaries and shapers of thought, of expression, of opinion are outside these walls where you serve.
Ken Starr: (11:57)
Finally, does what is before this court, very energetically described by the able House Managers, but fairly viewed rise to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor? One so grave and so serious to bring about the profound disruption of the Article Two branch, the disruption of the government? To tell the American people, and yes, I will say this is the way it would be read, “Your vote in the last election is hereby declared null and void. By the way, we’re not going to allow you, the American people, to sit in judgment on this President and his record in November.” That is neither freedom, nor is it justice and certainly not consistent with the most basic freedom of we the people, the freedom to vote.
Ken Starr: (13:05)
I thank the court.
Key Moment 4
Adam Schiff: (01:12)
Some of those staff, including some singled out in this chamber, have been made to endure the most vicious false attacks to the point where they feel their lives have been put at risk. The attacks on them degrade our institution and all who serve in it. You have asked me why I hired certain of my staff and I will tell you, because they’re brilliant, hardworking, patriotic, and the best people for the job and they deserve better than the attacks they had been forced to suffer.
Adam Schiff: (01:44)
Members of the Senate, Mr. Chief Justice, I want to close this portion of our statement by reading you the words of our dear friend and former colleague in the house, the late Elijah Cummings who said this on the day that the speaker announced the beginning of the impeachment inquiry. As elected representatives, he said of the American people we speak not only for those who are here with us now, but for generations yet unborn. Our voices today are messages to a future we may never see. When the history books are written about this tumultuous era, I want them to show that I was among those in the house of representatives who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny.
Adam Schiff: (02:26)
We the managers are not here representing ourselves alone or even just the house. Just as you are not here making a determination as the president’s guilt or innocence for yourselves alone. You and we represent the American people, the ones at home and at work who are hoping that their country will remain what it is always believed it to be, a beacon of hope, of democracy, and of inspiration to those striving around the world to create their own more perfect unions, for those who are standing up to lawlessness and to tyranny. Donald Trump has betrayed his oath to protect and defend the constitution, but it’s not too late for us to honor ours, to wield our power to defend our democracy.
Adam Schiff: (03:17)
As president Abraham Lincoln said at the close of his Cooper Union address on February 27 1860, neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the government, nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it. Today we urge you in the face of overwhelming evidence of the president’s guilt and knowing that if left in office, he will continue to seek foreign interference in the next election, devote to convict on both articles of impeachment and to remove from office Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States. Mr. chief justice, we reserve the balance of our time.
Key Moment 5
Adam Schiff: (00:00)
Would not make it, at least he wouldn’t in 1998, but this has become the President’s defense, and yet this defense proved indefensible. If abusive power is not impeachable, even though it is clear the Founders consider it the highest of all high crimes and misdemeanors, but if it were not impeachable, then a whole range of utterly unacceptable conduct in a President would now be beyond reach. Trump could offer Alaska to the Russians in exchange for support in the next election, or decide to move to Mar-a-Lago permanently, and let Jared Kushner run the country, delegating to him the decision whether to go to war.
Adam Schiff: (00:42)
Because those things are not necessarily criminal, this argument would allow that he could not be impeached for such abuses of power. Of course, this would be absurd. More than absurd, it would be dangerous. So, Mr. Dershowitz tried to embellish his legal creation and distinguish among those abuses of power, which would be impeachable from those which wouldn’t. Abuses of power that would help the President get reelected were permissible, and therefore unimpeachable, and only those for pecuniary gain were beyond the pale. Under this theory, as long as the President believed his reelection was in the public interest, he could do anything and no quid pro quo was too corrupt, no damage to our national security too great.
Key Moment 6
Patty Murray: (00:00)
Mr. President, I have been in the Senate now for two presidential impeachment trials and I can tell you this is never a situation I want to find our country in. Not back then, certainly not today, when the odds of bipartisan cooperation, even on responsibilities as solemn as these are brutally low. In spite of this, I called for impeachment proceedings to begin in the house in July of this past year, and I did so because of the gravity of the threats to our democracy outlined in Special Counsel Mueller’s report. At the time I felt if we did not fully explore those threats, we would fall short of our constitutional duty and set a precedent of congressional indifference to potentially flagrant violations of our constitution, ones that could jeopardize our core democratic institutions.
Patty Murray: (00:55)
After hearing both sides presentations and reviewing every available source of information and testimony, I believe it is painfully clear the President of the United States has abused his power and obstructed Congress and he should be removed from office. I want to talk about how I reached this conclusion, which I did not do lightly, and take a few minutes to reflect on the consequence of the decision each of us is individually about to make. Throughout the trial, the contrast between the presentations by the House managers and the president’s defense team could not have been starker, or more damning for the president.
Patty Murray: (01:39)
The House managers built an ironclad case showing the president abused his power and obstructed Congress in ways that present grave, urgent threats to our national security and to the rule of law. Over the course of their arguments, it became undeniably clear. The corruption we have learned so much about in recent months starts at the very top with the President of the United States. President Trump demanded a foreign government to intervene in our elections for his own political gain, and he did so by withholding American tax payer dollars and ignoring congressional authority. The president’s associates acted with his full knowledge and consent and he himself pressured Ukraine’s leader, knowing how much Ukraine depends on United States support.
Patty Murray: (02:37)
These actions have already made us less secure as a nation by delaying vital military aid to Ukraine, a key partner, President Trump has emboldened Russia, one of our chief adversaries. He’s undermined our credibility with other allies worldwide. And critically, the president is also given every indication he will continue to put his own interests ahead of American interests, including in our upcoming elections. And has time and time again refused to recognize Congress’s constitutional authority to oversee the Executive Branch. In addition, information continues to come out further implicating the president and demonstrating not only his intent to abuse the power of our highest office, but his direct personal engagement in efforts to do so.
Patty Murray: (03:34)
To summarize, the House’s arguments made it impossible to ignore a reality our founders deeply feared, a president who betrays our national security for his own personal benefit and disregards the system of checks and balances on which our democratic institutions depend. Who believes he is above the law, contrary to the most fundamental American principles. The president’s defense did not directly refute those charges against the president, or the thorough case that the House presented. In fact, the president’s defense only has served to illustrate how indefensible the president’s actions are.
Patty Murray: (04:17)
We heard complaints from the president’s defense about the House process, which the president refused to engage in. We heard a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukrainian election interference, even though the president’s own advisors repeatedly explained to him that Russia, not Ukraine, interfered in our 2016 election. We heard denial of a quid pro quo that as the House managers laid out in excruciating detail, was born out not only on the president’s July 25th call with President Zelensky, but in hundreds of documents from before and after that call.
Patty Murray: (04:57)
We did not however, hear any substitutive defense of the president’s actions, and tellingly the president’s defense vehemently opposed common sense requests for the president’s own key aids to testify and for consideration of his aids documents as part of this trial. If the president was as innocent as he claims, surely his aids and his administration’s materials would bear those claims out and he would want them considered. He and his team do not. I said in 1999 that if we were to remove a sitting president, none of us should have any doubts. Today based on the facts we have heard and the distraction and [obstigation 00:05:41] offered in response, none of us should have any doubts the president committed the impeachable offenses of which he’s accused.
Patty Murray: (05:50)
What we now know is the President of the United States demanded a foreign government interfere in our elections to help him win his upcoming campaign. And that truth is indisputable. And the question is, what does each of us as individuals do with that information? Sitting here, I’ve been reminded this trial is so much larger than any one of us, larger than any political party and much larger than President Trump. It is fundamentally about whether we will stand up for the institutions that secure our autonomy as a people. Institutions we hope to leave stronger for our children and grandchildren and to go a step further, really, this trial is about freedom in our country. Because if the president feels he owes his office to a foreign government, not Americans then who does the president truly serve? How can he be trusted?
Patty Murray: (06:51)
If foreign governments can skew our elections in their favor, if they interfere with Americans at the ballot box this November, then are Americans truly represented in the White House? Is there any American really free if a president can owe their election to an entity outside and aside from the American people and foreign governments can help decide who is in our highest office? These questions and their chilling answers have led me to my final decision and I hope others consider them carefully as they make their own.
Patty Murray: (07:27)
And I also want to speak for a minute about fear. There are really two different kinds at work in this moment. One is a fear of political consequences. I remember how many members of Congress felt compelled to vote for the war in Iraq. The political pressure was palpable. Today, that kind of political fear is palpable again, but fear of political consequences must never supersede concern for our country. And today we should be fearful for our country. We should be fearful for our future, for our safety and the rule of law. If the evidence we’ve heard cannot persuade this body to act on the painful truth before us. Our president has betrayed the public trust, flagrantly violated our laws and proved himself a threat to our national security.
Patty Murray: (08:19)
So I asked my colleagues how they want to feel, not in this moment here today, but in the years ahead and as part of our nation’s history. As more information continues to come out about this administration and it will, as we get closer to an election, we still have a unique opportunity to help protect. And as we explain this difficult, but pivotal time to our grandchildren. Looking back, what will you want to have stood for? This president or our country? I believe as Representative Shiff said so simply and powerfully that in America, “right matters.” But I also know right matters only because so many people have throughout our history stood up for what is right, even when, especially when it may be difficult. Today, each United States Senator is called to do the same. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.
Key Moment 7
Sen. Stabenow: (00:00)
Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, I rise today to speak during a sad and perilous moment in our nation’s history. Our nation was founded on important basic principles that all men and women are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. With rights, of course, always come responsibilities. America is a nation of laws and no person, not even the president of the United States, is above these laws.
Sen. Stabenow: (00:48)
No person, not even the president of the United States is above these laws. That’s been true since our nation was founded and it is still true today. Unfortunately, President Donald Trump has abused his power and acted as if he is above the law. He did this by holding up critical military aid to pressure a new foreign leader to investigate a political rival for his own political benefit. Then he did everything he could to try and cover it up after he got caught. As United States senators, it’s our constitutional duty to fairly and thoughtfully consider articles of impeachment, listen to the evidence and make a decision that honors our nation’s values and our fundamental belief that no one is above the law.
Sen. Stabenow: (01:58)
That is exactly what I did and it’s why I will vote to convict president Trump and remove him from office. The facts show the president did everything he could to cover up the truth, put our elections under even greater risk of foreign interference and damaged the constitutional checks and balances essential to our democracy. Let’s be clear, we are here because of one person. We are here because of one person, President Donald J. Trump. The president was provided multiple opportunities to prove his innocence as he should be.
Sen. Stabenow: (02:48)
The House made countless requests for documents during the impeachment inquiry. The White House ignored them. The House issued 42 subpoenas. The White House refused to comply and even went so far as to threaten and intimidate those people who chose to appear. Yet even with this unprecedented level of obstruction, the House made a strong case for impeachment. Once impeachment moved to the Senate, the president again had numerous opportunities to defend himself. The American people and the people of Michigan strongly supported having additional documents and relevant witnesses, firsthand witnesses who could speak to the articles of impeachment.
Sen. Stabenow: (03:47)
That’s what a trial is supposed to be about. Yet, the Senate did not hear from people who clearly have key relevant information, including former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who’s willing to testify and in fact it’s just a matter of time and we will hear publicly, all of us, what he would have said to the Senate. Acting White House Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, OMB Associate Director of National Security Programs Michael Duffy, and White House National Security Aide Robert Blair.
Sen. Stabenow: (04:30)
Common sense, common sense says that if President Trump’s top staff have evidence of his innocence, he would have insisted that we hear from them, as we should. They would have rushed into this chamber. Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened, lending strong support for the evidence presented by the House of Representatives. Instead, the president’s defense team argued that abuse of power is not a crime and therefore not an impeachable offense. And it became clear that they believe, as the president himself has said on many occasions, that he has power to do anything he wants under article two of the constitution.
Sen. Stabenow: (05:27)
They also argued that if the president thinks his reelection is in the public interest, and if he does anything to benefit his reelection including getting help from a foreign country, then that too is in the public interest and not an abuse of power. Common sense would tell us otherwise. Keep in mind that these are far from mainstream legal arguments, even in conservative legal circles. These arguments have been made up to protect President Trump and cover up his wrongdoing. These arguments are nothing short of appalling, and I’m alarmed at what they suggest President Trump could do next week, next month, in November, or what any president in the future could do.
Sen. Stabenow: (06:29)
Is it now okay for the president of the United States to ask a foreign leader to investigate a member of Congress or any citizen if it helps them get reelected and thus in his mind, benefits the country? Is it now okay for the president of United States to tell a governor that they’re not getting any critical disaster relief until they endorse him in the next election? Is it now okay for the president of the United States to ask foreign leaders to give campaign contributions or other political help in exchange for official visits?
Sen. Stabenow: (07:11)
I don’t think any of this is okay. The people of Michigan don’t think any of this is okay, and I intend to do everything I can to ensure that it doesn’t become our new normal. The founders were smart. They’d lived under a king and they had no intention of doing so ever again. I have to wonder why so many of my Republican colleagues seem so eager to give it a try. This is the United States of America. In our country, no president is above the law and it is illegal for a candidate or any elected official to receive political help from a foreign government.
Sen. Stabenow: (08:04)
Americans must decide American elections. This is fundamental to our democracy and worth continuing to fight for, which I intend to do. Having said that, I’m also deeply concerned about the divisions in our country, in our families, in our communities. It’s critical that we find ways to listen to each other, respect differences, and find common ground so that we can address the important issues affecting our families in our country. These are indeed serious and perilous times. It’s up to all of us to stand up for what we believe is right and to work to strengthen our democracy by coming together as Americans, by finding ways to work together to solve problems.
Sen. Stabenow: (09:16)
Our children and our grandchildren are counting on us. I yield the floor.
Key Moment 8
Joe Manchin: (00:01)
Madam, I rise today to speak on the impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump. I know this was not a difficult decision for many of my friends and colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but it is one that has weighed heavily on me. Voting whether or not to remove a sitting president is no easy decision, and it shouldn’t be, as the consequences for our nation are severe.
Joe Manchin: (00:24)
As a moderate, centrist Democrat from West Virginia with one of the most bipartisan voting records in the Senate, I have approached every vote I have cast in this body with an open mind, and pride myself in working across the aisle to bring my Republican and Democrat friends together to do what is best for our country. Where I come from, party politics is more often overruled by just plain old common sense, and I have never in over 35 years of public service approached an issue with premeditated thoughts that my Republican friends are always wrong and my Democrat friends are always right.
Joe Manchin: (01:02)
Since the people of West Virginia sent me here in 2010, I have never forgotten the oath I took to defend the Constitution and faithfully discharge the duties of the office of which I’m honored to hold. It is by the Constitution that we sit here today as a court for the trial of impeachments. It is the Constitution that gives us what Hamilton called the awful discretion to remove the president from office.
Joe Manchin: (01:27)
At the start of this trial, my colleagues and I took an oath, swearing to do impartial justice. I have taken this oath very seriously throughout this process, and I would like to think that my colleagues have done the same, because as the House managers and our former colleague Republican Senator John Warner from Virginia said, it is not just the president who is on trial here, but the Senate itself.
Joe Manchin: (01:54)
The framers of the Constitution chose the Senate for this grave task because, according to Hamilton, they expected senators to be able to preserve, unawed and uninfluenced, the necessary impartiality to discharge this awesome responsibility fairly, without flinching. The framers knew this would not be easy, but that is why they gave the job to us, the senators. They believed the Senate was more likely to be impartial and independent, less influenced by political passion, less likely to betray our oaths and more certain to vote on facts and evidence.
Joe Manchin: (02:30)
This process should be based simply on our love and commitment to our country, not to relationship any of us might have with this president. I have always wanted this president and every president to succeed no matter what their party affiliation, but I deeply love our country and must do what is best for the nation. The Constitution refers to impeachment trials and says the Senate must try impeachments. The framers chose their words carefully. They knew what a trial was and what it meant to try a case.
Joe Manchin: (03:01)
By using the term standards of judicial fact-finding, it calls on us to do what courts do every day and receive relevant evidence and examine witnesses. Sadly, the Senate has failed to meet this constitutional obligation set forth by the framers to hold a fair trial and do impartial justice, and we have done so in the worst way, by letting tribal politics rule the day.
Joe Manchin: (03:28)
I supported President Trump’s calls for a fair trial in the Senate, which he suggested himself would include witnesses. Instead, this body was shortchanged with a majority of my Republican colleagues, led by the majority leader, voting to move forward without relevant witnesses and evidence necessary for a fair trial as our framers intended. History will judge the Senate harshly for failing in its constitutional duty to try this case and do the impartial justice to defend the Constitution and to protect our democracy. Sadly, this is the legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren.
Joe Manchin: (04:12)
Removing a president from the office to which the people have elected him is a grave step to take, but the framers gave the Senate this solemn responsibility to protect the Constitution and the people of this nation. Over the duration of this trial, I have listened carefully to both the House managers and the White House counsel make their case for and against the articles of impeachment. I commend both sides for their great and grueling work in defending their respective positions.
Joe Manchin: (04:44)
The House managers have presented a strong case with an overwhelming display of evidence and shows what the president did was wrong. The president asked a foreign government to intervene in our upcoming election and to harm a domestic political rival. He delayed much-needed security aid for Ukraine to pressure a newly elected President Zelensky to do him a favor. And he defied lawful subpoenas from the House of Representatives.
Joe Manchin: (05:10)
However, the president’s counsel, too, defended their actions by laying out their case of the president’s actions. They pointed to the unclassified transcript of President Trump’s July 25th call with newly elected Ukrainian President Zelensky to make the argument that Trump discussed burden-sharing with other European countries and a mutual interest in rooting out corruption. They presented their views that the president was not given due process in the House of Representatives and highlighted the expedited nature of the House’s proceedings. Finally, they argued if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected and reelected to the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.
Joe Manchin: (06:00)
Over the long days and nights of this trial, I have listened to both sides present their case and answer our questions. I remain undecided on how I will vote, but these points I believe to be true.
Joe Manchin: (06:13)
First, it was not a perfect call. A newly elected President Zelensky with no experience in international politics gets a call from the leader of the free world asking for a favor related to U.S. domestic political affairs. No one, regardless of political party, should think that the president did and what he did was right. It was just simply wrong.
Joe Manchin: (06:41)
Pressuring a NATO ally who is actively fighting off Russian aggression in its country is wrong. President Zelensky or anyone else should never feel beholden to the superpower of the world for a favor before it can receive military aid. It’s not who we are as a country. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies and never ever condition our support of democracy for political favors.
Joe Manchin: (07:07)
Of all the arguments we have heard from the House managers and White House counsel during the long days and nights that we have set here, the most dangerous, the most troubling to me is the false claim that the president can do no wrong, that he is above the law, and if it’s good for the reelection of the president, that it’s good for our country. That is simply preposterous.
Joe Manchin: (07:29)
That is not who we are as Americans. That is not how I was raised in the small coal mining town of Farmington, West Virginia. Where I was raised, no one believed they were better than anyone else and could act with total disregard for the well-being of their neighbor if it was for their best interest. That is not why over 230 years ago, the founding generation rebelled against the king and refused to crown a new one in this republic.
Joe Manchin: (07:56)
Let me be clear. No one, not even the president, is above the law.
Joe Manchin: (08:03)
Finally, the purpose of impeachment is not to punish the president, but to protect the public. The ultimate question is not whether the president’s conduct warrants his removal from office, but whether our nation is better served by his removal by the Senate now with impeachment or by the decision the voters will make in November.
Joe Manchin: (08:24)
As Hamilton warned us, impeachments seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community. They divide us on party lines and inflame our animosities. Never before in the history of our republic has there been a purely partisan impeachment vote of a president. Removing this president at this time would not only further divide our deeply divided nation, but also further poison our already toxic political atmosphere.
Joe Manchin: (08:53)
In weighing these thoughts and all the arguments brought forward in the case, I must be realistic. I see no path to the 67 votes required to impeach President Trump, and haven’t since this trial started. However, I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his actions in this manner. Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines and, as an equal branch of government, to formally denounce the president’s actions and hold him accountable. His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate, and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms.
Joe Manchin: (09:33)
History will judge the Senate for how we have handled this solemn constitutional duty, and without bipartisan action, the fears of the great Senator Byrd will come true. As he said during the Clinton impeachment, “The Senate will sink further into the mire because of this partisanship.” “There will be no winners on this vote,” Byrd said.
Joe Manchin: (09:53)
Each senator has not only taken a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution, but also to do impartial justice to help the nation, so help me God. That oath does not say anything about political party. Politics should have nothing to do with it.
Joe Manchin: (10:11)
I am truly struggling with this decision and will come to a conclusion reluctantly, as voting whether or not to remove a sitting president is the most consequential decision that I or any U.S. senator will ever face. But regardless of my decision, and in the absence of 67 votes, I am reminded again of the words of Senator Byrd. The House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats, and the president “must come together to heal the open wounds, bind up the damaged trust, and by our example, again unite our people.”
Joe Manchin: (10:44)
For the common good, we must now put aside the bitterness that has infected our nation. We must begin by putting behind us the distrust and bitterness caused by this sorry episode and search for common ground instead of shoring up the divisions that have eroded decency and goodwill and dimmed our collective vision. It is not the legacy of the individual senators that we should be concerned about, but it is the legacy of this great institution, the United States Senate, that we leave for generations to come.
Joe Manchin: (11:19)
I want to thank you, and I want to ask the good Lord to continue to bless this great country of ours during this trying time. Thank you, Madam President.
Key Moment 9
Lisa Murkowski: (00:00)
Mr. President, I rise this evening to address the trial of Donald John Trump. The Founders gave this body the soul power to try all impeachments and exercising that power we all know is a weighty, weighty responsibility. This was only the third time in the history of our country that the Senate convened to handle a presidential impeachment and only the second in the past 150 years. I was part of a small group that worked to secure a fair and honest and a transparent structure for the trial. And we based it on how this chamber handled the trial of President Clinton some 20 years ago.
Lisa Murkowski: (00:54)
So there were 24 hours of arguments for each side, 16 hours of questions from members with a full House record admitted as evidence. That should have been more than enough to answer the questions. Do we need to hear more? Should there be additional process? But, Mr. President, the structure we built should have been sufficient. But the foundation upon which it rested was rotted.
Lisa Murkowski: (01:30)
The House rushed through what should have been one of the most serious, consequential undertakings of the Legislative branch simply to meet an artificial, self-imposed deadline. Prior presidential impeachments resulted from years of investigation where subpoenas were issued and they were litigated. Where there were massive amounts of documents that were produced and witnesses deposed. Where resistance from the Executive was overcome through court proceedings and through accommodations. The House failed in its responsibilities. The House failed in its responsibilities. And the Senate. The Senate should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display here. We cannot be the greatest deliberative body when we kick things off by issuing letters to the media instead of coming together to set the parameters of the trial and negotiate in good faith on how we should proceed. And for all the talk of impartiality, it is clear to me that few in this chamber approached this with a genuinely open mind.
Lisa Murkowski: (03:00)
Some have been calling for the president to be impeached for years. Indeed, we saw just today clips that indicate headlines 19 minutes after the president was sworn into office calling for his impeachment. Others in this chamber saw little need to even consider the arguments from the House before stating their intentions to acquit. Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve all seen the videos from 20 years ago where members who were present during the Clinton trial took the exact opposite stance than they take today.
Lisa Murkowski: (03:53)
That level of hypocrisy is astounding even for a place like Washington, D.C. The president’s behavior was shameful and wrong. His personal interests do not take precedence over those of this great nation. The president has the responsibility to uphold the integrity and the honor of the office. Not just for himself, but for all future presidents. Degrading the office by actions or even name calling weakens it for future presidents and it weakens our country.
Lisa Murkowski: (04:42)
All of this rotted foundation of the process. All of this led to the conclusion that I reached several days ago that there would be no fair trial. While this trial was held here in this Senate, it was really litigated in the court of public opinion. For half the country, they’d already decided there had been far too much process. They considered the entire impeachment inquiry to be baseless and they thought that the Senate should have just dismissed the case as soon as it reached us.
Lisa Murkowski: (05:25)
And then for the other half, no matter how many witnesses were summoned or deposed, no matter how many documents were produced, the only way, the only way the trial could have been considered fair was if it resulted in the president’s removal from office. During the month that the House declined to transmit the articles to the Senate, the demon of faction extended his scepter, the outcome became clear and a careless media cheerfully tried to put out the fires with gasoline.
Lisa Murkowski: (06:10)
We debated witnesses instead of the case before the Senate rather than the president’s conduct, the focus turned to how a lack of additional witnesses could be used to undermine any final conclusion. And what started with political initiatives that degraded the office of the president and left the Congress wallowing in partisan mud, threatened to drag the last remaining branch of government down along with us. And, Mr. President, I’ve taken tough votes before to uphold the integrity of our courts and when it became clear that a tie vote here in the Senate would simply be used to burn down our third branch of government for partisan political purposes, I said, “Enough, just enough.”
Lisa Murkowski: (07:14)
The response to the president’s behavior is not to disenfranchise nearly 63 million Americans and remove him from the ballot. The House could have pursued censure and not immediately jumped to the remedy of last resort. I cannot vote to convict. The Constitution provides for impeachment, but does not demand it in all instances. An incremental first step to remind the president that as Montesquieu said, “Political virtue is a renunciation of oneself.” And this requires a quote, “Continuous preference of the public’s interest over one’s own.” Removal from office and being barred from ever holding another office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States is the political death penalty. The president’s name is on ballots that have already been cast. The voters will pronounce a verdict in nine months and we must trust their judgment.
Lisa Murkowski: (08:33)
This process has been the apotheosis of the problem of congressional abdication. Through the refusal to exercise war powers or relinquishing the power of the purse, selective oversight, and an unwillingness to check declarations designed to skirt Congress, we have failed. We have failed time and again. We as the Legislative branch cannot continue to cede authority to the Executive. The question that we must answer, given the intense polarization in our country is where do we go from here? Where do we go from here?
Lisa Murkowski: (09:28)
And I wish that I had that magic wand, but sadly I have no definitive answers, but I do have hope because we must have hope. As I tried to build consensus over the past few weeks, I had many private conversations with colleagues and so many in this chamber share my sadness for the present state of our institutions. It’s my hope that we’ve finally found bottom here. That both sides can look inward and reflect on the apparent willingness that each has to destroy not just each other, but all of the institutions of our government. And for what? Because it may help win an election? At some point, Mr. President, at some point for our country, winning has to be about more than just winning or we will all lose. With that, Mr. President, thank you. I yield the floor.