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tv   The Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump  CNN  January 24, 2020 9:30am-4:00pm PST

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in just a few minutes, democrats will start their final day of opening arguments. then tomorrow trump's legal defense team will begin. they get their turn. kaitlan collins is live at the white house. what do we know about the strategy so far? >> reporter: the president is not happy they are starting this on a saturday to make their arguments, and of course they will have monday and tuesday as well. right now they're only expected to use two of those days, and tomorrow they're not expected to go very long based on conversations they've had with members over on capitol hill, so expect them to keep it short tomorrow and come back on monday. one thing that's interesting, anderson, as we're speaking to sources talking about prepping for this trial, they're paying close attention to what the democrats are saying, but something unusual is happening. i've heard a lot of praise from
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the president's allies for adam schiff, which is really unusual given the president's obvious disdain for him. they don't think adam schiff will change their minds. but they said they think he actually did a good job of stitching together a polished narrative from the senate floor. so that's something they're keeping in mind as they prepare to rebut that, make their own argument. it's something you don't often hear from this side of the president's allies. of course, the question will turn after today of what their defense is going to look like. jay sekulow, and the president's white house counsel pat cipollone, will be leading this. you've seen him every day on the senate floor taking in what the democrats are saying. something else we've picked up on, ken starr and alan dershowitz are also expected to pick up some of the slack.
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but they have not spoken on capitol hill in recent days and they haven't been part of any formal prep sessions. so it doesn't make you wonder what the defense is going to look like, how they'll stitch together their own narrative and what they'll say to counter democrats as they've been painting this picture with all the details they've gathered from testimony. it will be interesting to contrast the two and see how they compare to one another. >> kaitlan collins, thank you very much. appreciate that. profess dershowitz is separating himself and he'll be commenting on the constitution's perspective. that's what he says. >> that's what he says, but he seems to be migrating closer and closer to the defense team. he talks about how hunter biden should be a witness. the issue jerry nadler talked about yesterday really is a profound one, and that's the one
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alan dershowitz says he's going to talk about, which is, what is an impeachable offense? does it have to be an actual criminal offense to be an impeachable offense? the broad consensus is no. jerry nadler made the argument no. alan dershowitz has made the argument that essentially yes, although he modifies it a little bit. but that constitutional issue about what constitutes an impeachable offense is at the core of what's going on here. >> and what is a high crime and misdemeanor? >> exactly. that is the constitutional argument. the constitution says, you know, bribery, treason and high crimes and misdemeanors are the basis for impeachment, but those mysterious phrases have been the subject of a lot of dispute over the years, and that's what nadler talked about yesterday, that's what dershowitz says he's going to talk about before the senate. >> the white house is saying it has to be actually a crime, dershowitz says it has to be
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kr criminal-like, whatever that exactly means. >> i think they're saying it can't be a vague concept. it has to be more than an umbrella term. it can't be something that a future president would not be able to either guard against or not engage in. it has to be the term, anderson. unless you're able to articulate a reason why this is conduct you do not want to have happen, it correlates with some society ill we don't want to in any way facilitate, they're left without having the term of impeachment. criminal-like is not going to get there. >> she made the argument it has to be not just an abuse of power but a very important abuse of power. significant, but not a minor abuse of power. >> whether it's an abuse of power or non-abuse of power, a crime or not a crime, the focus is the gravity of it. it has to be a great offense
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that someone does in their physical capacity that keeps them from being in office. >> we're just minutes away from the start of the final day for democrats to make their case. we'll hear what senators are doing when the cameras aren't on, ahead. we made usaa insurance for members like martin. an air force veteran made of doing what's right, not what's easy. so when a hailstorm hit, usaa reached out before he could even inspect the damage. that's how you do it right. usaa insurance is made just the way martin's family needs it -
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i do want to address one
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issue that the president's team has been pushing out not in the senate chamber but evidently everywhere else. and that is their last refuge, the last refuge of the republican -- not the republican, of the president's team's effort to conceal the evidence from the american people. and that is this claim of executive privilege. now, we urged at the beginning of the trial that any witness issues be resolved at the beginning of the trial. the president's team wished to push that off, as did senator mcdonnell, so that later in the process they could say, well, if we were to entertain those questions now, it would simply take too long. that's nonsense. this is not a trial or a speeding ticket or shoplifting. this is an impeachment trial involving the president of the united states. these witnesses have important firsthand testimony to offer. the house wishes to call them in the name of the american people, and the american people overwhelmingly want to hear what they have to say.
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now, unlike in the house, where the president could play rope-a-dope in the courts for years, that is not an option for the president's team here, and it gives no refuge to people who want to hide behind executive privilege to avoid the truth coming out. we have a very capable justice sitting in that senate chamber empowered by the senate rules to decide issues of evidence and privilege. and so if any of these witnesses have a colorful claim that they wish to make for the president on their behalf, we have a justice who is able to make those determinations and we trust that the chief justice can do so. the senate will always have the opportunity to overrule the justice, but what the president's team fears is that the justice will, in fact, apply executive privilege to that very narrow category where it ma
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may apply. and here that category may be nowhere at all because you cannot use executive privilege to hide wrongdoing or criminality or impeachable misconduct. >> you cannot use executive privilege to hide impeachable misconduct. i guess we'll see. lead impeachment manager adam schiff, democrat from california, pushing back on the white house argument against having any witnesses or new evidence because the president ultimately will claim executive privilege and block that from happening. >> let's go to our congressional correspondent, phil mattingly. he's up on capitol hill. we're only moments away from this trial resuming. what are you hearing, what are you seeing? >> i want to talk about the importance of what you heard from house manager adam schiff as well as chuck schumer. there is now evidence that the concerns they spoke about at a
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private lunch with former general mckazie earlier this week, there is a recognition they needed to push back, and they needed to push back hard. because the result of republicans starting to settle in on that is the concern on the side of the democrats, that there would be no chance they could get four republicans to come join them and subpoena witnesses later on in this process. that's what you're seeing today, and i think it underscores the effectiveness of what mcconnell is trying to do about this conference. but there is no black and white area. there are significant gray areas when it comes to the house's work in the impeachment trial. will they rule on them? will they just go to chief justice roberts or will they go to the supreme court? all of these questions are fairly gray or there's differing opinions on them now, and democrats clearly recognize this is a problem for them both in the future and trying to address it and push back on it today. >> phil mattingly on capitol hill, thank you.
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so much today in the midst of his impeachment trial. president trump is making history as the first president to attend in person the moderate march for life. in 44 years this protest has been held in the roe v. wade hearing. george w. bush only addressed the rally by phone or satellite link. the president just finished speaking. what did he say? >> reporter: well, look, he spoke for just a short amount of time, about 10, 12 minutes, and he really stayed on message. president trump by speaking here today has really become the face of the anti-abortion movement. there is a reason that no other president in the last 47 years has come here, either the president or himz adviser, realy
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alienate those modern numbers. they are not facing that same issue. it comes when the president is trying to shore up his support among the evangelical voters. it was just last month that we saw that editorial published in an evangelical publication that called for president trump's removal. it really set the white house in damage control mowed. this is part of that damage control. we saw -- and one thing i want to know separately is this all happened in the middle of the impeachment trial. that is very obvious why president trump would want to speak here today. there are tens of thousands of people chanting, four more years, standing in front of him giving this speech, saying nothing about impeachment at a time where something very different is happening on the senate floor, something we know president trump has been watching very closely.
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>> kirsten holmes on the white house floor, thank you very much. they're bringing in banned electronics during the trial and they're pacing. i must admit. i had a few good tricks
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welcome back to cnn's special coverage of the impeachment trial of president trump. i'm dana bash on capitol hill, and i'm joined by two members of
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our intrepid team that covers capitol hill, particularly during this trial, and can bring you what some of the cameras aren't allowed to show inside this trial, and that is namely the senators, the jurors and judges, how they are responding to it. alex rogers and michael warren, thank you so much. alex, i know you have been in your seat in the press gallery at the start of every trial. tell us your impressions of how the senators are acting and reacting. >> that's right, is to i think the senators have been very attentive, they've been very present. when there have been clips shown, they've all turned and watched them. there have been a few exceptions, though. yesterday i looked down and i saw rand paul drawing a little doodle of the capitol with a blue pen on a white notepad. >> i saw some of it. he's a good artist. >> he's great. really impressive. >> maybe not what he should doing when he's watching a trial. >> then i looked a little bit over and i saw senator burr, and he just took all the stuff from
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his desk and put it inside and took out a fidget spinner and just started playing with it. for the most part, all 100 senators have been very interested in what the house has said this week. >> tom cotton got one of the fidget spinners. these are toys for young children because they're the ones that normally buy them where you just fidget with them. if i was in there for 45 minutes and time was taken on that the whole time. >> think about it rp, you're sitting in your seat all that time. senators were still getting up and standing behind their chairs, it's sort of a marathon every single day. the other thing that's interesting, we know there are a lot of current presidential candidates in the chamber as well as recently former presidential candidates. elizabeth warren walked by -- this is sort of after a break --
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walked by bernie sanders, gave him a little wave. he didn't really react. of course, we know about that back and forth they had last week about that conversation. of course, the "new york times" story where it's reported that kamala harris is considering endorsing biden, joe biden for president. about 30 minutes after that story posted, hillenbrand walked over and talked to kamala harris. we don't know what they talked about. that's the sort of stuff that happens on these breaks. >> i actually had senator guillergil she wouldn't confirm or deny what she was going to do. thank you for being with us. stay with us.
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hello, i'm wolf bliltstzer washington. welcome to the live coverage of the impeachment trial of president donald j. trump. >> i'm john berman with dana bash up on capitol hill. thanks for joining us. we're about to hear the finish of the opening arguments of the
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house. they'll tell how president trump abused his power, and then they'll use what's left of the 7 hours and 53 minutes, a lot of them today, on the other article of impeachment, obstruction of congress. the president's lawyers will then begin their arguments on saturday, a time slot that president trump described in a tweet as "death valley in tv." >> they've gone, the democratic house managers, for approximately eight hours. as you say, they have seven hours and 53 minutes left. presumably they'll use all that time for eight hours with a couple breaks in between. that's been the general procedure. they'll wrap things up, we don't know what time. we're told tomorrow, the white house lawyers, that whole team will begin to make their rebuttal, their case, and what we're hearing, it's going to be a shorter -- it's not going to be eight hours. they'll have three days, 24 hours, but supposedly it's going to be shorter tomorrow. >> the house impeachment manager
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said basically two audiences. they're trying to convince four of the 53 republican senators to vote with the democrats in the senate to try to subpoena more witnesses and get more evidence. that seems a tall order as of right now to even get just four. and then the other audience, the larger audience, is, of course, the american people who they are trying to convince did -- that president trump did wrong and deserves to be removed from office. let's bring in cnn's dana bash back in. dana, it does not look, as of right now, at least from what i'm hearing of the four senators who seem the most open-minded of the 53, which is not to say that they are open-minded, it does not sound like collins or murkowski or necessarily alexander or romney are ultimately going to vote for more evidence and more witnesses. >> reporter: well, we don't know. but what we do know is that
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there is a lot of pressure on them from their fellow republicans to say no, no, that they're not going to do that, and arguments being made in closed-door lunches that it would be hypocritical for the senators to say, yes, we will grant you witnesses in the trial when the house democrats decided not to go to the courts to try to force that back when this issue was completely before the house. at the same time, jake, you did see susan collins as this trial began. she's been very careful not to say anything since then, but she released a statement saying she is likely to support witnesses. so as much as we are hearing from the managers for hours on end about their arguments for why the president should, in fact, be convicted, for why he should be thrown out of office, they've continued to weave in
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the "yeah, but," but it would be easier to convince you of this if we had direct knowledge of what the president is saying would be. we'll have more of that when we go to the final argument they'll make today which is the second article, obstruction of congress, jake. >> i'm basing my observations on the most recent comment by senator lisa murkowski, republican from alaska, who said, if we could put up full screen 2, the house made a decision they didn't want to slow things down by having to go through the courts, but now they're basically saying, you guys have to go through the courts. we didn't but we need to. that's the argument that the white house and republican leaders are making, and for lisa murkowski to be repeating it suggests it's still going to be a tall order to get four republican senators. >> you're exactly right. that was really a very key quote that our colleague, jeremy herb,
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got last night. and it comes directly from that lunch she was in with other sna senators where they brought in experts on how these things work through the courts, trying to convince her and others who are on the fence about witnesses, that it's a bad idea. and again, hypocritical for the house democrats to argue, okay, now we can go to the courts but we couldn't back then. there are all kinds of questions about the speed of which it could happen versus back then. you're right, that was a telling quote lisa murkowski put out there, and really leaves a question of whether four republicans will come out next week when they vote on witnesses and documents. >> i have to point out the seven managers. they are there. they are on the senate floor. the white house legal team, they are there as well. we're waiting for the chief justice to walk in. he will be presiding. we'll hear an opening prayer and
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pledge of allegiance, and then we'll hear from the senate majority leader. they will give us a little outline of when there will be breaks. usually in the 3:00 p.m. eastern hour, maybe again in the 6:00 p.m. hour. they have up to eight hours to make their case, and the republicans keep complaining it's repetitious. one of the goals of the house managers is to get their message across to the american public as well, and they know that most americans are not spending eight hours watching this like we are. they're spending a half hour, an hour, so there is repetition. >> the repetition is to try to shame those four republicans. they believe they need further witness votes. there is crystal clear proof that the democratic argument has been made before. in your interview today, you had mike braun just elected in the state of the indiana.
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he said what the president did was inappropriate, but he also said he didn't think it rose to removal from office. and last night it was said, there were things done that were not appropriate. so there are more republicans feeling the need to come out and cover themselves, basically, to say, this is not good. but they have not gotten more republicans to say, their case is so compelling, i need to hear more. they're affecting what the republicans are saying many but they're not getting the votes yet. >> it's important to remember. what the president did was wrong, it was inappropriate, he never should have done it, but they argued it didn't rise to the level of removal.
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>> the senate will convene as a form of impeachment. the chapel will please lead us in prayer. >> let us pray. oh, mighty god, as we resume this impeachment trial, let your will be done. enlighten our senators as you show them your will. lord, guide them with your wisdom, supporting them with your power. in spite of disagreements, may they strive for civility and respect. may they respect the right of the opposing side to differ
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regarding convictions and conclusions. give them the wisdom to distinguish between facts and opinions without lambasting the me sssenger messengers. we pray in your strong name, amen. >> and citing the pledge of allegiance to the flag. >> i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands. one nation under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. >> would the senators please be seated. >> if there is no objection, the
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journal and seatings of the trial are approved today. hearing no objection, so ordered. the sergeant-in-arms will make the proclamation. >> hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. all persons are to remain silent on the pain of imprisonment. the senators are sitting in trial on articles of impeachment from the house of representatives of donald j. trump, president of the united states. >> per our colleagues' information about scheduling, today we'll plan to take short breaks every two three hours, and we'll accommodate a 30-minute recess for dinner assuming it is needed until the house managers have finished their opening presentation. tomorrow the session will begin at 10:00 a.m. and run for
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several hours as the president's counsel begins their presentation. >> pursuant to the provisions of senate resolution 483, the managers for the house of representatives have seven hours and 53 minutes remaining to make the presentation of their case. the senate will now hear you. >> mr. chief justice, senators, distinguished counsel of the president, i keep wanting to say good morning, but good afternoon. i just wanted to give a very brief orientation to the argument you'll hear today. we will begin with jason crow who was talking about the conditionality of the military assistance. this is the latter part, although not the end of the argumentation on the application
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of the constitution and law as it respects article 1, the abuse of power. i'll have a presentation after mr. crow, and soon thereafter, we will conclude the presentation on article 1. we'll then begin the presentation on article 2, once again applying the constitution and law to the facts on the president's obstruction of congress. we will then have some concluding thoughts, and then turn it over to the president's counsel. and that is what you should expect for the day, and with that i will now yield to mr. crow of colorado. >> good afternoon. i woke up this morning and walked to my local coffee shop where, unlike my esteemed colleague mr. jeffries from new york, no one complained to me about colorado baseball. so i can only conclude this is
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only a new york yankees problem. as mr. schiff mentioned, we talked last night about the july 25th call, and the multiple officials who have confirmed the intent of the president in withholding the aid, so now i'd like to turn to what happened around the time that the aid was lifted. we know that the aid was lifted ultimately on september 11. but it wasn't lifted for any legitimate reason. it was only lifted because president trump had gotten caught. let's go through how we know that. on august 26th, the whistleblower complaint had been sent to the director of national intelligence. and public reports indicate that president trump was told about the complaint by white house counsel pat cipollone. on september 5th, though, the scheme became public.
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an editorial in the "washington post" on that day for the first time publicly explicitly linked the military aid hold in the investigations president trump wanted. keep in mind that public scrutiny of the president's holding speaks exponentially after it was made public. this is where things start moving really fast. a few days later on september 9th, the house committee proudly announced their investigation to ukraine. they learned about the investigation after it was announced. on that same day the house intelligence committee learned that the administration had withheld the whistleblower complaint from congress. the scheme was unraveling. and what happens two days later? president trump released the
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military aid. he only released it after he got caught. but there is another reason we know the president lifted the aid only because he got caught. because there is no other explanation. the testimony of all of the witnesses confirms it. both lieutenant colonel vindman and ms. williams testified they were not provided any reason for lifting the hold. vindman testified that nothing on the ground had changed in the two months of the hold, and mark sandy of the omb also confirmed that. and ambassador taylor, too, testified that, quote, i was not told the reason why the hold had been lifted. now, let me take a moment to address another defense i suspect you will hear, that the aid was released and the investigations were never announced, so, therefore, no harm, no foul, right? well, this defense would be
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laughable if this issue wasn't so serious. first, i have spoken over the past three days about the real consequences of asserting politics into matters of war. real people, real lives are at stake every d stake. every day, every hour matters. so no, the delay wasn't meaningless. just ask the ukranians sitting in trenches right now. to this day they are still waiting on $18 million of the aid that hasn't reached them. jennifer williams, who attended the warsaw meeting with vice president pence, described president zelensky's focus during this time. >> and you testified in your deposition that in that conversation, president zelensky emphasized that the military assistance, the security assistance, was not just important to assist ukraine in fighting a war against russia but that it was also symbolic in
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nature. what did you understand him to mean by that? >> president zelensky explained that -- or equally with the financial and physical value of the atssistance that it was the symbolic nature of that assistance that really was the show of u.s. support for ukraine and for ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. i think he was stressing that to the vice president to really underscore the need for the security assistance to be released. >> and that if the united states was holding the security assistance, is it also true, then, that russia could see that as a sign of weakening u.s. support for ukraine and take advantage of that? >> i believe that's what president zelensky was indicating, that any signal or sign that u.s. support was wavering would be construed by russia as potentially an opportunity for them to strengthen their own hand in ukraine.
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>> this is an important point, particularly when the president and his attorneys tried to argue no harm, no foul. the financial assistance itself was really important for ukraine, no question about it. but the aid was equally important as a signal to russia for our support for ukraine. regardless whether the aid was ultimately released, the fact the hold became public sent a very clear message to russia that our support for ukraine was wavering, and russia was watching very closely for any sign of weakness. the damage was done. now, any possible doubt about whether the aid was linked to the investigations has been erased by the president's own chief of staff. we've seen this video before during the trial, but there is a really good reason for this. it's a complete admission on national tv that the military aid was conditioned on ukraine helping the president's political campaign. here once again is what mulvaney
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said. >> did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the dnc server? absolutely. no question about that. that's it, and that's why we held up the money. >> when pressed that he had just confessed to the very quid pro quo that president trump had been denying, mulvaney doubled down. >> to be clear, what you described is a quid pro quo. it is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the democratic server happens? >> we do that all the time with foreign policy. if you read the news reports, and you believe them, what did mckinney say yesterday? mckinney said he was really upset with the political influence in foreign policy. that's one of the reasons he was so upset about this. i have news for everybody. get over it. there is going to be political influence in foreign policy. >> remember, at the time he made these statements, mulvaney was
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both the head of onb. he knew about the legal. he knew exactly what was going on in the oval office and ordering the hold. they ordered the hold not to convince the ukranians to have additional reforms, and it was not to hold off ukraine. i want to give the arguments i expect them to make. you will notice they are ignoring certain parts of the order, but don't be fooled. one defense you may hear is that the aid was held up to allow for a policy review.
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this is what the administration told the gao at one point. but the evidence shows the opposite. the evidence shows that the administration didn't conduct a review at any time after the president ordered the hold. laura cooper was not aware of any review of the funding conducted by d.o.d. in july, august or september. and similarly, george kent testified that the state department did not conduct and was never asked to conduct a review of funding administrated by the state department. in fact, they confirmed with ukraine that they had complied with all the additions and the aid was released. this was confirmed with the press release announcing the funding. and do you remember rthe review
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process? that was made, too. next, the president's counsel keeps saying this was about corruption in ukraine. president trump is not concerned about fighting corruption. it's difficult to even say that with a straight face. the president never mentioned corruption on either call with president zelensky. but let's go through the evidence. the d.o.d. had already concluded they made significant process with goals consistent with the act to pay the funds. in fact, the man responsible for concluding the hold said he was never made aware of corruption in all the discussions he had
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about it. similar to the anti-corruption argument, there is simply no evidence to support the president's after-the-fact argument that he was concerned about burden sharing. that's all other countries contribute to go ukraine. i imagine the president may say that the emails provided in june, the reference to other's contributions in the july 25th call, and requests from sandy. but there is certainly no evidence that tie is the concern about holding the aid. the slide in front of you shows that other european countries have significantly contributed to ukraine since 2014. their european total has given far more than the u.s. they provided more than 16
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billion in grants and loans. the president's assertion that other countries did not support ukraine is meritless. and there are other reasons, too. after d.o.d. and omb responded to the president's request, presumabli presumablily. nobody in the trump administration mentioned burden sharing as a reason for the hold to any of the 17 witnesses we're talking about. testified that he was never asked to sfeek it president trump. if he was truly concerned about that, he was the guy to talk to. but it never happened.
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how could it? the president had told him. it wasn't until after the scheme began to unravel, after "politico" publicly revealed the existence of the hold that the issue of burden sharing came up again. if the president's concern brp bird sharing. he never ordered his officials to push turp increase their contributions. then he released the aid without any changes in europe's contributions. this last point is important. you know the president's purported concern about rkts not because the eu or any european country made any contributions. as lieutenant colonel vindman
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testifi testified. finally, you may hear counsel say ukraine didn't know about the hold until august 28, long after the hold was implemented, therefore they could not have felt pressure. but this makes no sense. first they found out about it long before august 28. multiple witnesses testified the ukranians showed, quote, impressive diplomatic trade craft and learning quickly about the hold. and, of course, they were announced in june. u.s. agencies knew about it in july. so it should be no surprise that the inquiry about the aid was made the same day as the call. it doesn't matter that extortion that lasts. other ukranian officials also expressed concerns that the ukranian government was being singled out and penalized them.
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president zelensky finally relented and was planning to do the cnn interview. right around the time of cnn's conversation with president trump, which is the subject fortunate classified document that i urge all senators to look at, president zelensky canceled the cnn interview. but the damage was already done. the evidence it clear. the question for you is whether it's okay for the president to hold aid for an ally for personal benefit. whether it's okay to sacrifice our national security for his own election. it's not okay to me, it's certainly not okay to the american people, and it should
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not be okay to any of you. mr. chief justice, members of the senate, the president's counsel, the american people. once again we are gathered here not as democrats or republicans, not as the left or the right, not as progressives or conservatives, but as american . doing our constitutional duty during this moment of presidential accountability. and as house managers, we thank you for your courtesy, your
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attentiveness and your hospitality. at the heart of article 2, obstruction of congress, is a simple troubling reality. president trump tried to cheat. he got caught, and then he worked hard to cover it up. the president tried to cheat. he got caught, and then he worked hard to cover it up. patrick henry, one of the nation's great patriots, once said that the liberties of the people never were nor ever will be secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. let's now address the effort by
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president trump and his team to cover up his wrongdoing. by july of 2019, white house officials were aware of serious allegations of misconduct by president trump regarding ukraine. but instead of halting the president's corrupt scheme, they worked overtime to conceal it from the american people. as additional evidence mounted, the republicans worked hard to keep the american people from learning about the president's misconduct. secretary of state pompeo, secretary of state esper and john bolton tried to convince president trump to lift the hold on the security assistance.
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they failed. president trump was determined to carry out this corrupt scheme. the ukraine security aid was only released on september 11, after the hold became public, after the house launched an investigation, and after congress learned about the existence of a whistleblower complaint. the $391 million in security aid was only released because president trump was caught red-handed. the actions of president trump and high-level white house officials allowed the abuse to continue behind the watchful eye of congress, and most importantly, the american people. as we have discussed at length, on july 10th, ambassador
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sondland told the ukranians and other officials that he had a deal with mick mulvaney to select the white house meeting president zelensky wanted if the new ukranian leader committed to the phony investigations that president trump sought. as you've seen in testimony shown during this trial, following that meeting, national security council officials dr. fiona hill and lieutenant colonel alexander vindman immediately reported this information to john eisenberg, the legal adviser for the national security council and a deputy council to the president. according to dr. hill, mr. eisenberg told her that he was also concerned about that july 10th meeting. on the screen is dr. hill's
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deposition testimony where she explains dr. eisenberg's testimony. he was also concerned. i mean, he wasn't aware that sondland, arm sondland was kind of running around doing a lot of these meetings and independently. we talked about the fact that ambassador sondland said he's been meeting with giuliani and he was very concerned about that. and he said he would follow up on this. mr. eisenberg was very concerned about that and said that he would follow up on this. dr. hill further testified that mr. eisenberg told her that he followed up with his boss, the distinguished white house counsel pat cipollone. however, because the president blocked mr. eisenberg from testifying in the house, we do not know what, if anything, he or mr. cipollone did in response
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to this deeply troubling informati information. what we do know is that president trump's effort to cheat continued with reckless abandon by failing to put the brakes on the wrongdoing after that july 10th meeting. even after they were notified by concerned national security officials, the white house attorneys allowed it to continue unchecked. right around the same time that july 10th took place, they began to work on an order to withhold all military assistance to ukraine. assistant to the president communicated the hold to the director of management and
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budget. the management and budget official concluded the hold to other branches and agencies, including the department of state and the department of defense. and a week later, on july 25th, president trump had his imperfect telephone call with president zelensky and directly pressured the ukranian leader to commence phony political investigations as part of his effort to cheat and solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. the july 25th call marked an important turning point. if there was any question among senior white house officials and attorneys about whether president trump was directly involved in the ukraine scheme
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as opposed to just a rogue operation being led by rudolph giuliani or some other underlings after july 25th, there can be no mistake. the president of the united states was undoubtedly calling the shots. thereafter, the complicity of white house officials with respect to the cover-up of the president's misconduct intensified. immediately after the july 25th call, both lieutenant colonel vindman and his direct supervisor, tim morrison, reported their concerns about the call to mr. eisenberg and his deputy, michael ellis. in fact, within an hour after the july 25th call, lieutenant
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colonel vindman returned again a second time to mr. eisenberg and reported his concerns. >> i was concerned by the call. what i heard was inappropriate. and i forwarded my concerns to mr. eisenberg. it is improper for the president of the united states to demand a foreign government investigate a u.s. citizen and a political opponent. i was also clear that if ukraine pursued an investigation, it was also clear that if ukraine pursued an investigation into the 2016 elections, the bidens and burisma, it would be interpreted as partisan play. this advanced russia's strategic advancement in the region. i want to emphasize to the committee that when i recorded my concerns on july 10th related to ambassador sondland, and july 25th relating to the president,
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i did so out of a sense of duty. i privately reported my concerns in official channels to the proper authority in the chain of command. my intent was to raise these concerns because they had significant national security implications for our country. i never thought that i would be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the american public about my actions. when i reported my concerns, my only thought was to act properly and to carry out my duty. >> timothy morrison, the national security council. also reported, the call to mr. eisenberg, and asked him to review the call which he said would be damaging if leaked. >> now, mr. morrison, shortly after you heard the july 25th call, you testified that you alerted the nsc legal adviser john eisenberg pretty much right
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away, is that right? >> correct. >> and you indicated in your opening statement, or at least from your deposition, that you went to mr. eisenberg out of concern for the potential political fallout if the call record became public and not because you thought it was illegal, is that right? >> correct. >> but you would agree asking a foreign rival to investigate a political rival is illegal, correct? >> it's not what we discussed. >> the july 25th call was at least the second call that national security officials had reported concerns about president trump's pressure campaign to white house lawyers. the second time who now clearly understood the gravity of the ongoing misconduct. but because the president
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blocked mr. eisenberg from testifying without any justification, the record is silent as to what, if any, actions he or the white house counsel took to address president trump's brazen misconduct and abuse of power. we do know, however, that instead of trying to halt the scheme, white house lawyers facilitated it by taking further steps to conceal evidence of president trump's misconduct. for example, after lieutenant colonel vindman and mr. morrison reported their concerns related to the july 25th call to the national security council lawyers, they tried to bury the call summary.
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they tried to bury it. colonel vindman testified that the national security lawyers believed it was, quote, appropriate to restrict access to the call summary for the purpose of the leaks and to preserve the integrity of the transcript. according to lieutenant colonel vindman, mr. eisenberg gave the go-ahead to restrict access to the call summary. mr. morrison testified that he learned in late august, after he raised concerns that the call record might leak and politically damage the president, that the call summary had been placed on a highly classified national security council server. the call record was placed on a server that is reserved for america's most sensitive
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national security secrets and covert operations, not routine calls with foreign leaders. apparently mr. eisenberg claimed at the time that burying the call transcript on a highly classified server was a mistake. >> after the second meeting with mr. eisenberg, what did you recommend he do to keep the call record from leaking? >> i asked that we restrict access. >> had you ever asked to restrict access before? >> no. >> did you speak to your supervisor before you went to speak to john eisenberg? >> no. >> did you subsequently learn that the call record had been placed in a highly classified system? >> i did. >> what reason did mr. eisenberg give you for why the call record was put in the highly classified system? >> it was a mistake.
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>> he just said it was a mistake? >> it was an administrative error. >> in mr. morrison's view, the july 25th call record did not meet the requirements to be placed on a highly classified server. at his deposition, mr. morrison testified that the call record was placed there by mistake. even after that, the summary was not removed from the classified system, because someone was trying to hide it. it was not until the launch of the house impeachment inquiry in late september, and after intense public pressure, that the rough transcript of the july 25th call was released. again, because mr. eisenberg and
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mr. ellis refused to testify in the house, we do not know exactly how the july 25th call record ended up on this highly classified national security council's server. what we do know is that mr. eisenberg ordered access restricted after multiple officials like dr. fiona hill and lieutenant colonel vindman advised him of the scheme to condition a white house meeting on phony political investigations. this strongly suggests there was an active attempt to conceal the clear evidence of the president's wrongdoing. instead of addressing the president's misconduct, mr. eisenberg seemingly tried to cover it up. why did mr. eisenberg place the july 25th call summary on a
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server for highly classified material? did anyone senior to mr. eisenberg direct him to hide the call record? why did the call record remain on the classified server even after the so-called error was discovered? who ordered the cover-up of the call record? who ordered the cover-up of the call record? the american people deserve to know. following the july 25th call, the president's scheme to pressure ukraine for political purposes intensified. apparently unchecked by any effort to stop it from the white house counsel's office. after the july 25th call rkts ambassador sondland and volker
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worked with giuliani to release a public statement to president zelensky to release investigations into joe biden and the conspiracy theory being peddled by president trump. at the same time president trump continued to hold a white house meeting and security assistance from ukraine in a manner that broke the law. as these efforts were ongoing, white house attorneys reportedly received yet another warning sign that the president was abusing his power. according to a published report in the "new york times," the week after the july 25th call, an anonymous whistleblower reported concerned that the president was abusing his office for personal gain. the whistleblower complaint landed in the cia general counsel's office. although the concerns related
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directly to the president's own misconduct, the cia's general counsel, courtney elwood, alerted mr. eisenberg. over the next week, ms. elwood and the deputy reportedly discussed mr. eisenberg's concerns, and they recorded that it had a reasonable basis. so late in august, the white house began working along with the department of justice to cover up the president's wrong do wrongdoing. they were determined to prevent congress and the american people from learning anything about the president's corrupt behavior. although senior justice department officials, including attorney general bill barr, were
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reportedly made aware of concerns about corrupt activity, no investigation into president trump's wrongdoing was even opened by the department of justice. as white house and justice department lawyers were discussing how to deal with the whistleblower's concerns, on august 12th, another important date, the whistleblower filed a formal complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community. in accordance with federal law, on august 26th, the inspector general transmitted the whistleblower complaint to the acting director of national intelligence, joseph mcguire. along with the inspector general's preliminary conclusion that the complaint was both credible and related to a matter of urgent concern. urgent concern.
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but instead of transmitting the whistleblower complaint to the house and to this senate's distinguished intelligence committee as required by law, the acting director of national intelligence notified the white house. >> i'm still trying to get a chronology. you first went to the office of white house counsel and then you went to white house counsel? >> repeat that, please, sir. >> you first went to the office of legal counsel and then you went to the white house counsel? >> no, no, no, sir. no, sir. we went to the white house first to determine -- to ask the question -- >> that's all i want to know is the chronology. so you went to the white house first. you went to the subject of the complaint for advice first about whether you should provide the complaint to congress.
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>> there were issues in this -- couple of things. one, it appeared it had executive privilege. if it does have executive privilege, it is the white house that determines that. i cannot determine that as the director of national intelligence. >> under federal law, the acting director of national intelligence was required to share the whistleblower complaint with congress. period, full stop. if that had occurred, the president's scheme to withhold security assistance and a white house meeting being sought by the ukranian leader, to pressure ukraine for his own political gain, would have been exposed. to prevent that from happening, the president's lawyers and top-level advisers adopted a two-pronged cover-up strategy.
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first, block congress and the american people from learning about the whistleblower complaint. second, try to convince president trump to lift the hold on the security assistance before anyone can find out about it and use that evidence against him. as to the first prong, sometime after the acting director of national intelligence told the white house counsel's office about the complaint on august 26th, mr. cipollone and mr. eisenberg reportedly briefed the president. they likely discussed with president trump whether they were legally required to give the complaint to congress. they stated that they were consulting with the office of legal counsel at the department of justice. the acting director of national
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intelligence testified that he and the inspector general consulted with the office of legal counsel who opined without that he did not have to turn over the complaint to congress. on september 3rd, the day after the statutory deadline for the director of national intelligence to provide the complaint to this body and to the house, the office of legal counsel issued a secret opinion concluding that contrary to the plain language of the statute, the acting director of national intelligence was not required to turn over the complaint. the cover-up was in full swing. the office of legal counsel opined that the whistle-blower complaint did not qualify as an
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urgent concern, and therefore, did not have to be turned over. what can be more urgent than a sitting president trying to cheat in an american election by soliciting foreign interference? what can be more urgent than that? that's a constitutional crime in progress, but they concluded it wasn't an urgent matter. acting director of national intelligence mcguire testified that the office of legal counsel opinion did not actually prevent him from turning over the complaint to congress. instead, based upon his testimony, it is clear that he withheld it on the basis that the complaint might deal with information that he believed could be covered by executive
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privilege, but president trump never actually invoked executive privilege. he never actually invoked executive privilege, nor did he inform congress that he was doing so with respect to this complaint. instead, the white house secretly instructed the acting director of national intelligence to withhold the complaint based on the mere possibility that executive privilege could be invoked. by doing so, the white house was able to keep the explosive complaint from congress and the american public without ever having to disclose the reason why it was withholding this information, but truth crushed to the ground will rise again. there's a toxic mess at 1600
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pennsylvania avenue, and i humbly suggest that it's our collective job on behalf of the american people to try to clean it up. president trump tried to cheat. he got caught, and then he worked hard to cover it up. in the many great presidents throughout the history of this republic, great republican presidents and great democratic presidents, perhaps one of the greatest presidents was abraham lincoln. he once said that any man can handle adversity, but if you want to test a man's character,
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give him some power. america is a great nation. we can handle adversity better than any other country in the world. whenever america has found itself in a tough spot, we always make it to the other side. we were in a tough spot during the civil war when america was at risk of tearing itself apart, but we made it to the other side, a tough spot in october of 1929 when the stock market collapsed, plunging us into the great depression, but we made it to the other side. we were in a tough spot in december of 1941 when a foreign power struck plunging us into a great conflict with the evil empire of nazi germany, but america made it to the other
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side. we were in a tough spot in the 1960s dealing with the inherent contradictions of jim crow, but we made it to the other side. we were in a tough spot on september 11th, when the towers were struck and young men and women like jason crow were sent to afghanistan to fight the terrorists there so we didn't have to fight the terrorists here, and we made it to the other side. america is a great country. we can handle adversity better than any other nation in the world, but what are we going to do about our character?
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president trump tried to cheat and solicit foreign interference in an american election. that is an attack on our character. president trump abused his power and corrupted the highest office in the land. that is an attack on our character. president trump tried to cover it all up and hide it from the american people and obstruct congress. that's an extraordinary attack on our character. america's a great nation. we can handle adversity better than any other country in the world, but what are we going to do about our character?
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>> crisis around the president's hold deepened throughout our government, the president's own top advisers redoubled their efforts to lift the hold on military aid and tstem the fallout in case it went public, and it did go public. on august 28th, "politico" publicly reported that the president was withholding the military aid, and as you've heard the public disclosure of the president's hold in late august caused deep alarm among ukrainian officials. it also caused u.s. officials to redouble their efforts once again. at the end of august, secretary
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of state pompeo, defense secretary esper, and ambassador bolton reportedly tried to convince president trump to release the aid, but they failed. the president wanted the hold to remain. that prompted duffey, the political appointee charged with implementing the hold to send an e-mail on august 133030th to th d.o.d. stating, and i quote, clear direction from potus to hold. now this is consistent with laura cooper's deposition testimony when she said that they were, quote, hopeful this whole time that secretary esper and secretary pompeo would be able to meet with the president and just explain to him why this was so important and get the funds released. but instead, the president held firm, and even as the president's own cabinet officials were trying to convince him to lift the hold, white house lawyers were receiving new reports about
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their president's abuse. on september 1st, vice president pence met with president zelensky in warsaw and immediately after, sondland had a side conversation with the top ukrainian presidential aid. morrison was privy to these conversations, and when he returned from warsaw, he reported to eisenberg the detai details. >> what did ambassador sondland tell you that he told mr. yermak? >> that the ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted. >> and you testified that you were not comfortable with what ambassador sondland had told you. why not? >> well, i was concerned about what i saw as essentially an additional hurdle to
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accomplishing what i had been directed to help accomplish, which was giving the president the information he needed to determine that the security assistance could go forward. >> so now there's a whole other wrinkle to it, right? >> there was the appearance of one based on what ambassador sondland represented. >> and you told ambassador taylor about this conversation as well, is that right? >> i reached out to ambassador taylor to schedule a secure phone call. >> you testified that his testimony other than one small distinction between president zelensky and the prosecutor general was accurate as to what you told him, is that correct? >> about that conversation, yes. >> and generally speaking, you confirmed everything that ambassador taylor told you except for that one thing and a small other ministerial matter relating to the location of a meeting, is that correct? >> correct. did you tell ambassador bottolt about this conversation as well? sfw >> i reached out to him as well. >> what was your response when you explained to him what
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ambassador sondland had said? >> tell the lawyers. >> did you go tell the lawyers? >> when i returned to the states, yes. >> and did he explain to you why he wanted you to tell the lawyers? >> he did not. >> this wasn't the first time, and it wouldn't be the last that ambassador bolton instructed other government officials to report details of the president's scheme to white house lawyers. now, let's be clear, when government employees have concerns about whether something is legal, they often go to their agency's lawyers, and it was happening an awful lot around this time. recall that bolton also instructed dr. hill to report to the lawyers sondland's statements about requiring an announcement of the investigations as a condition for a white house meeting. what bolton called sondland's, quote, drug deal with the president's top aide, mick mulvaney, ambassador bolton's testimony would obviously shine further light on these concerns in what -- or who, if anyone at the white house or the cabinet
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did to try to stop the president at this time. after the president's hold on military aid became public in late august, there was increasing pressure on the president to lift the hold. on september 3rd, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney. an excerpt from ta letthat lett in front of you. the senators expressed, quote, deep concerns that the quote, administration is considering not obligating the ukraine security initiative funds for 2019. the senator's letter also urged that the vital funds be obligated immediately. on september 5th, the chairman and the ranking member of the house foreign affairs committee sent a joint letter to mulvaney and omb director russell vaugt. that letter expressed concern
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about the continuing hold on the military aid. the same days senators murphy and johnson visited kyiv and met president zelensky along with ambassador taylor. >> on september 5th, i accompanied senators johnson and murphy during their visit to kyiv. when we met with president zelensky, his first question to the senators was about the withheld security assistance. my recollection of the meeting is that both senators stressed that bipartisan support for ukraine in washington was ukraine's most important strategic asset and that president zelensky should not jeopardize that bipartisan support by getting drawn into u.s. domestic politics. i had been making and continue to make this point to all of my official ukrainian contacts, but the odd push to make president zelensky publicly commit to investigations of burisma and alleged interference in the 2016
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election showed how the official foreign policy of the united states was undercut by the irregular efforts led by mr. giuliani. >> the senator sought to reassure president zelensky that there was bipartisan support in congress for providing the military aid. also on september 5th, "the washington post" editorial board reported concerns that president trump was withholding the aid and a meeting to force president zelensky to announce investigations to benefit his personal political campaign. the editors wrote, quote, we're reliably told that the president has a second and more venal agenda. he is attempting to force mr. zelensky to intervene in the 2020 u.s. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading democratic candidate joe biden. mr. trump is not just soliciting ukraine's help with his presidential campaign, he is using u.s. military aid the
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country desperately needs in an attempt to extort it, end quote. despite these efforts to get the president to lift the hold in the now public discussion about the president's abuse of power, the scheme continued. two days later on september 7th, morrison went back to white house lawyers to report additional details he had learned from ambassador sondland about the president's scheme. again, at the direction of ambassador bolton. >> now, a few days later on september 7th you spoke again to ambassador sondland who told you that he had just gotten off the phone with president trump, isn't that right? >> that sounds correct, yes. >> what did ambassador sondland tell you that president trump said to him? >> if i recall this conversation correctly, this was where ambassador sondland related that there was no quid pro quo, but president zelensky had to make the statement and that he had to
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want to do it. >> and by that point, did you understand that the statement related to the biden and 2016 investigations? >> i think i did, yes. >> and that that was essentially a condition for the security assistance to be released? >> i understood that that's what ambassador sondland believed. >> after speaking with president trump? >> that's what he represented. >> now, you testified that hearing this information gave you a sinking feeling. why was that? >> well, i believe if we're on september 7, the end of the fiscal year, september 30th, these are one-year dollars. the d.o.d. and the department of state funds, so we only had so much time and, in fact, because congress imposed a 15-day notification requirement on the state department funds, september 7th, september 30th, that really means september 15th
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in order to secure a decision from the president to allow the funds to go forward. >> did you tell ambassador bolton about this conversation as well? >> i did, yes. >> and what did he say to you? >> he said to tell the lawyers. >> why did he say to tell the lawyers? >> he did not explain his direction. >> again, tell the lawyers. ambassador sondland's call with president trump on september 7th also prompted deep concern by ambassador taylor, which you've already heard about. on september 8th and 9th ambassador taylor exchanged whatsapp messages with ambassador sondland and volker describing his, quote, nightmare scenario, that quote, they give the interview and don't get the security assistance. as he then goes on to say, quote, the russians love it, and i quit. after the hold and the military aid became public, the white house took two actions in early september. first, the white house and the
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justice department ensured that the acting d and i continued to withhold the whistle-blower complaint from congress, in clear violation of the law. and second, the white house attempted to create a cover store are story for the president's withholding of the assistance. approximately two months after president trump had ordered the freeze. mark sandy received an e-mail from his boss, michael duffey that for the first time gave a reason for the hold. sandy testified that in early september he received an e-mail from duffey, quote, that attributed the hold to the president's concern about other countries not contributing more to ukraine. again, after months of scrambling, this was the first time any reason had been provided for the hold, and according to sandy, it was also only in early september, again, after the white house learned of the whistle-blower complaint and the hold became public, that the white house requested data from
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omb on other countries' assistance to ukraine. so let's recap why we know the concern about burden sharing was bogus. first, for months no reason was given to the very people executing the military aid who had been actively searching for answers about why the aid was being held. second, remember the supposed interagency process performed by omb? well, it was fake, and third, after the hold went public and the white house became aware of the whistle-blower, they started scrambling to develop another excuse. public reports confirm this. a november 24th news report, for instance, revealed that in september, mr. cipollone's lawyers conducted an internal records review. the review reportedly, quote, turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after the fact justification for the decision in a debate over whether the
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delay was legal. the president's top aides were trying to convince the president to lift the hold in late august and early september, and white house officials were actively working to develop an excuse for the president's scheme and devise a cover story in the event that it was exposed, and soon it would be on september 9th, the chairs of the house intelligence committee, the committee on foreign affairs and the committee on oversight and reform publicly announced the joint investigation of president trump and mr. giuliani's scheme. and this is when the music stops and everyone starts running to find a chair. word of the committee's investigations spread quickly through the white house to the nsc. morrison recalled seeing and discussing the letter with nsc staff. lieutenant colonel vindman also called discussions among nsc staff members including morrison's deputy about the investigation. the same day there were efforts at omb to create a paper trail to try to shift the blame for
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the president's hold on security assistance away from the white house. duffey sent an e-mail to elaine mccusker that contradicted months of e-mail exchanges. it stated falsely that omb had in fact authorized dod to proceed with all process necessary to obligate funds. duffey was attempting to shift all the responsibility for the delay onto the pentagon. mccusker replied -- and i quote -- you can't be serious. i am speechless. now, all of this including omb's efforts to shift blame to the pentagon, the white house's effort to create a cover store are ri for the hold on security assistance were a continuation of the cover-up. it started with the white house's lawyers failure to stop the scheme after the july 10th meeting was reported to them, continued with attempts to hide the july 25th call summary, and escalated with the white house's illegal concealment of the
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whistle-blower's complaint from congress. on september 10th, the house intelligence committee requested that the dni provide a copy of the whistle-blower complaint as the law requires, but dni continued to withhold the complaint for weeks. the same day it was announced that ambassador bolton was resigning or had been fired, it is unclear whether ambassador bolton's departure from the white house had anything to do with his opposition to the hold on military aid, but of course ambassador bolton could shed light on that himself if he were to testify. the next day on september 11th, pru president trump met with vice president pence, mulvaney and senator portman to discuss the hold. later that day, the president relented and lifted the hold after his scheme had been exposed. the president's decision to release the aid just like his decision to impose the hold was
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never explained. cooper testified that president trump's lifting of the hold, quote, really came out of the blue. it was quite abrupt. the only logical conclusion based on all of this evidence is that the president lifted the hold on september 11th because he got caught. the president's decision to lift the hold without any explanation is also very telling. if the hold was put in place for legitimate policy reasons, why lift it arbitrarily with no explanati explanation? by lifting the hold only after congress had launched an investigation, when as lieutenant colonel vindman testified, none of the facts on the ground had changed since the hold had been put into place, the president was conceding that there was never a legitimate purpose. since the hold was lifted, the president has paid lip service to purported concerns about corruption and burden sharing, but the administration has taken
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no concrete steps before or since those statements were made to show that it really cares. the record is clear, before he got caught the president had no interest in anticorruption reforms in ukraine, and as you've already learned, those people who really were concerned about these issues like congress, this senate, the d.o.d. and the state department had already gone through the process to address them. as ambassador sondland testified, at no point did the president ask him to discuss additional contributions to ukraine from eu countries, nor did president trump push ukraine to undertake any specific anticorruption reforms. now, the president's counsel will likely say that his lifting of the hold shows his good faith. they will say that because ukraine ultimately received the aid without president zelensky having to announce the sham investigations, that there was no abuse of power. as a legal matter, the fact that the president's corrupt scheme
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was not fully successful makes no difference. trump's abuse occurred at the moment he used power of the presidency to assist his re-election campaign undermining our free and fair elections and our national security. but importantly, president trump almost did get away with it. as discussed earlier, president zelensky agreed during his september phone call with ambassador sondland to do a cnn interview during which he denounced the investigations. on september 12th, ambassador taylor personally informed president zelensky and the ukrainian foreign minister that president trump's hold on military assistance had been lifted, and on september 13th, ambassador taylor and david holmes met with president zelensky and his advisers and urged them not to go forward with the cnn interview. it was not until september 18th
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and 19th, around the time that president zelensky spoke with vice president pence that the ukrainians finally canceled the cnn interview. the president has also repeatedly pointed to president zelensky's public statements that he did not feel pressured by trump, not only unsurprising, it's also irrelevant. the question is whether president trump used the power of the presidency to coerce president zelensky into helping him win a political campaign, but we know that president zelensky was pressured. he kept delaying and delaying because he did not want to be a pawn in u.s. domestic politics. in fact, president zelensky remains under pressure to this day. as holmes testified, there are still things the ukrainians want and need from the united states, including a meeting with the president in the oval office, which has still not been
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scheduled. and yes, ukraine remains at war and needs u.s. military aid, including aid that is still delayed from last year. for these reasons, mr. holmes explained, quote, i think the ukrainians are being very careful. they still need us now going forward. in fact, right now president sle zelensky is trying to arrange a summit meeting with president putin in the coming weeks, his first face-to-face meeting with him to try to advance the peace process. he needs our support. he needs president putin to understand that america supports zelensky at the highest levels, so this doesn't end with the lifting of the security assistance hold. ukraine still needs us, and as i said, still fighting this war this very day. when president trump for his own personal political gain asked for a favor from president
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zelensky, he did exactly what the framers feared most. he invited the influence of a foreign power into our elections. he used the power of his office to secure that advantage and jeopardize our national security. yet, president trump maintains that he was always in the right and that his july 25th call with president zelensky was perfect. president trump has made it clear that he believes he is free to use his powers the same way to the same ends whenever and wherever he pleases, and even more troubling, he's even doubling down on his abuse inviting other countries to interfere in our elections. what does all of this tell you? it tells you that ambassador sondland was correct when he told holmes after hanging up with president trump on july 26th that the president doesn't
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care about ukraine. he only cares about the quote, big stuff, meaning stuff that helps him personally. the bottom line is that the president used the powers of his office for personal political gain. he did so knowingly, deliberately, and repeatedly, and his misconduct continues to this day. >> senators, just for your orientation, this will be the last presentation on article i
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and mr. leader, i think at the conclusion of this presentation i think will be a logical point to take a break. this last section on article i deals with the injury to our national interests and our national security. when president trump used ukraine's leader for a political favor and withheld critical military aid to an ally in exchange for that favor, he did exactly what our framers feared most. he invited foreign interference in our elections and sold out our country's security for his personal benefit and betrayed the nation's trust to a foreign power. the president's scheme to pressure ukraine to do his political dirty work harmed our national security, undermined our free and fair elections, and even today, even today threatens the very foundation of our democracy. when the president argues that
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his call was perfect, that he did nothing wrong, what he's really saying is that there's nothing wrong with a president asking a foreign government to do a personal favor, that there's nothing wrong with a president pressuring that foreign country to interfere in our elections for his personal benefit, that there's nothing wrong with withholding congressionally appropriated taxpayer funded military assistance to that foreign country to extort that country to help the president cheat to win an election. but there are a great many things wrong with that, most significant for the purposes that bring us here today, the constitution does not permit it, and the constitution does not permit it because that conduct is the quintessential abuse of power. the use of official power for personal gain putting personal interests over the national interest and placing personal benefits over our nation's
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security. the president's conduct that we outlined yesterday harmed our national security, that is without a doubt. it endangered our elections, and it sent our country on a dangerous path that if left unchecked will cause irrevocable damage to the balance of power contemplated in our constitution. if someone sacrifices the national interests in favor of his own and is not removed from office, our democracy is in jeopardy. it's just that simple. the grave consequences of president trump's misconduct demand our attention. let me take these issues in turn beginning with this harm to national security. first, the president's abuse of power had immediate consequences to our security. ukraine is a burgeoning democracy entangled in a hot war with russia. by withholding military aid, president trump not only denied ukraine much needed military
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equipment but also weakened ukraine's position in negotiations over the end of the war with russia. because of president trump's corrupt actions, vladimir putin was emboldened at a pivotal moment ahead of those sensitive negotiations to attempt to end the war. an emboldened russia is a threat to the united states and global security around the world. the president's willingness to put himself over country undercut our european allies confidence in america's commitment to deterring russian aggression, and it signaled to adversaries and friends alike that the president of the united states, the most powerful man in the world, our commander in chief, could be influenced by manipulating his perception of what was best for his personal interests. now, i have no doubt that the
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russians and probably every other nation that has the capacity does a psychological profile of the presidents of the united states, as we profile other leaders. if a president can be so easily manipulated to disbelieve his own intelligence agencies, to accept the propaganda of the kremlin, that is a threat to our national security. and that is just what has happened here, but that's not all. president trump's willingness to entangle our foreign allies in a corrupt political errand also undermined the credibility of americans to promote the rule of law and fight corruption abroad. this is trump first, not american first, not american ideals first, and the result has and will continue to be grave harm to our nation if this chamber does not stand up and
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say it is wrong. if you do not stand up and say this is not only wrong, not only unacceptable, but conduct incompatible with the office of the presidency, and if it really is incompatible with the office of the presidency, if you cannot faithfully execute that responsibility, if you cannot bring yourself to put your nation's interests heahead of yr own, it must be impeachable or the nation remains at risk. let's consider the big picture here and probably a question many people around the country are asking, why does ukraine matter to the united states? why does ukraine matter to the united states? because we're talking about a
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small country that many people know very little about. well, this small country, this ally of ours is a country hungry for reform and eager for a stronger relation with its most powerful important ally, the united states, and we're talking about ourselves and what it means to the strength of our own democracy and democracies around the world when countries like ukraine are fighting our fight against authoritarianism. at least that used to be our fight, and god help us if it's not our fight still. russian president putin declared the collapse of the soviet union to be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. ukraine's vote for independence
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in december 1991 was the final nail in the soviet union's coffin. that made ukraine's greatest moment putin's greatest tragedy. when it declared independence from soviet domination, ukraine inherited roughly 1900 soviet nuclear warheads, enough fire power to level every major american city several times over, 1,900 soviet nuclear warheads. in exchange for ukraine surrendering this arsenal, the united states, russia, and the united kingdom reached an understanding called the budapest memorandum of 1994. they continued -- they committed in this memorandum to respecting the borders of an independent ukraine, and also to refrain from using the threat or use of force against ukraine. this was an early success of the
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post-cold war period. despite its commitment to respect ukraine's independent, of course, russia continued to meddle in ukraine's affairs. ambassador taylor recounted how events took an even more sinister turn in 2013. >> the west but in 2013 vladimir putin was so threatened by the prospect of ukraine joining the european union, he tried to bribe the ukrainian president. this triggered mass protests in the winter of 2013 that drove that president to flee to russia in february of 2014 but not before his forces killed 100 ukrainian protesters in central kyiv. >> angered by the fall of the kremlin-backed leader in kyiv, president putin ordered the invasion of ukraine, specifically a region known as crimea.
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russia's aggression was met with global condemnation. >> we lack the sound there, but you can see the images of that conflict on the screens before you. deputy assistant secretary of defense laura cooper testified as to the stakes for u.s. national security. >> russia violated the sovereignty of ukraine's territory. russia illegally annexed
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territory that belonged to ukraine. they also denied ukraine access to its naval fleet at the time and to this day russia is building a capability on crimea designed to expand russian military power projection far beyond the immediate region. >> in 2014, were there concerns in washington, here in washington and european capitals that russia might not stop in ukraine? >> i was not in my current position in 2014, but it is my understanding that there was significant fear about where russian aggression would stop. >> one american war hero and statesman who is no stranger to this body recognized the threat posed by russia's invasion of crimea, senator john mccain.
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in an interview, he declared, quote, we are all ukrainians. senator mccain advised that this is a chess match reminiscent of the cold war and we need to realize that and act accordingly. he was, of course, absolutely right, consistent with the commitments made to ukraine in 1994, the united states and europe responded to russia's invasion by imposing significant sanctions on russia. we joined europe in providing ukraine billions of dollars in economic support to help it resist russian influence, and the senate approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority vital security assistance to help rebuild ukraine's military, which the former russian-backed leader of ukraine had starved of resources. this strong bipartisan support for ukraine reflected what senator mccain said was an opportunity for the united
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states to undermine russian leverage in eastern europe by building, quote, a success in ukraine. senator mccain outlined this vision. >> putin also sees here's this beautiful, large, and magnificent country called ukraine, and suppose ukraine finally, after failing in 2004, get it is right. democracy -- gets rid of corruption, economy's really improving and it's right there on the border of russia, and so i think it makes him very nervous if there were a success in ukraine in bringing about a free and open society and economic success, which is not the case in russia, as you know, which is propped up by energy. >> achieving the ukrainian success that senator mccain and many of us hoped for proved to be a daunting task, but several witnesses who testified before the house said zelensky's
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landslide election was a game changer. here is how u.s. diplomat david holmes explained the, quote, historic opportunity created by his election. >> despite the russian aggression over the past five years, ukrainians have rebuilt a shattered economy, adhered to a peace process, and moved economically and socially closer to the west toward our way of life. earlier this year, large majorities of ukrainians again chose a fresh start by voting for a political newcomer as president, replacing 80% of their parliament and endorsing a platform consistent with our democratic values, our reform priorities, and our strategic interests. this year's revolution at the ballot box underscores that despite its imperfections, ukraine is a genuine and vibrant democracy and an example to other post-soviet countries and beyond from moscow to hong kong.
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>> support for ukraine security and reform is critical not only to our own national security, but that to other allies and emerging democracies around the world. the widely accepted fact makes president trump's abuse of power and withholding of vital diplomatic and military support all the more disturbing. first witnesses assess that withholding the military aid likely helped to prolong the war against russia. when wars drag on, more people die. ambassador taylor testified to this sober reality. >> i take it if the provision of the u.s. military assistance would save ukrainian lives that any delay in that assistance may also cost ukrainian lives. is that true? >> of course it's hard to draw
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any direct lines between any particular element of security assistance and any particular death on the battlefield, but it is certainly true that that assistance had enabled ukrainian armed forces to be effective and deter and to be able to take counter measures to the attacks that the russians had -- >> and i think you said that a ukrainian soldier lost their life while you were visiting dun bas. >> we keep very careful track of the casualties, and i noticed on the next day in the information that we got one was killed, four sole vdiers were wounded on tha day. >> and indeed ukrainians lose their lives every week? >> every week. >> david holmes also testified that prolonging the war in ukraine results in additional casualties. >> as we sit here today, ukrainians are fighting a hot war on ukrainian territory against russian aggression.
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this week alone, since i have been here in washington, two ukrainian soldiers were killed and two injured by russian-led forces in eastern ukraine despite a declared cease fire. i learned overnight that seven more were injured yesterday. >> withholding the aid has real consequences to real soldiers with real families, and bear in mind that u.s. aid is fully 10% of ukraine's defense budget, 10%. that's not an extra bonus. that's necessary aid for ukraine to defend itself on the front line. now, a second consequence of president trump's withholding of military assistance was that it emboldened russia, our adversary. here is laura cooper, a pentagon official who oversaw the military aid. >> what about today? if the u.s. to withdraw its military support of ukraine, what would effectively happen?
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>> it is my belief that if we were to withdraw our support it would embolden russia. it would also validate russia's violation of international law. >> and which country stands to benefit the most -- would stand to benefit the most from such a withdrawal? >> russia. >> russia was not only embatt d embattled -- emboldened on the battlefield, ambassador taylor testified that president trump's corrupt withholding of military assistance and his failure to host president zelensky in the oval office was, quote, a sign of weakness to moscow, and it harmed ukraine's negotiating position even as recently as december 9 when zelensky and putin met to discuss the conflict in the east shown in this photo. ambassador taylor explained. >> i think you also testified
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that russia was watching closely to gauge the level of american support for the ukrainian government. why is that significant? >> this is significant, mr. chairman, because the ukrainians in particular under this new administration are eager to end this war, and they are eager to end it in a way that the russians leave their territory. these negotiations, like all negotiations, are difficult. ukrainians would like to be able to negotiate from a position of strength or at least more strength than they now have. part of that strength, part of the ability of the ukrainians to negotiate against the russians with the russians for an end to the war in davos depends on united states and other international support. if we withdraw or suspend or threaten to withdraw our security assistance, that's a
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message to the ukrainians, but it's at least as important as your question indicates, mr. chairman, to the russians who are looking for any sign of weakness or any sign that we are withdrawing our support for ukraine. >> and so when the ukrainians learned of the suspension of the military aid, either privately or when others learned publicly, the russians would be learning also, and they would take that as a lack of robust u.s. support for ukraine, is that right? >> that's correct, sir. >> ask that would weaken ukraine in negotiating an end to the r war? >> it would. >> indeed, the aid doesn't just supply much needed weapons to ukraine. it is a symbol of support, a signal of strength, a signal of the backing of the united states, and withholding that aid even for a period of time undermined all of those things.
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president trump's actions towards ukraine also undercut worldwide confidence in the united states as a reliable security partner. maintaining that confidence is crucial to the strength of our alliances in europe to deterring russia, and ultimately protecting and projecting democracy around the world. the united states has roughly 68,000 troops stationed in europe. they serve alongside troops from 28 other countries that comprise the north atlantic treaty organization or nato. they are holding the line against further russian aggressi aggression. it was u.s. leadership that led to the creation of nato 70 years ago as the iron curtain was descending across the heart of europe, and it is american leadership that makes nato work today. nato is also affected because other countries, friends and foes alike, know that we are committed to our collective defense, that an attack against
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one nation is an attack against all of us. that principle deterred a russian invasion of europe during the cold war. it's only been invoked once by nato in the aftermath of the september 11th terrorist attacks. new york is a long way from the front lines with russia, but our european allies stood with us after that dark day. they deployed tens of thousands of troops to afghanistan and joined us in fighting the al qaeda terrorists who attacked the twin towers and the pentagon. now, ukraine is not a member of nato, but russia's invasion of ukraine was a threat to the peace and security of europe. moscow's aggression threatened the rules of the road that have kept the peace in europe since world war ii. the sacrosanct idea that borders cannot be changed by military force. if we had not supported ukraine in 2014, if members of this body had not voted overwhelmingly on
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a bipartisan basis for military assistance to rebuild ukraine's military, there is no question it would have invited further russian adventurism in ukraine, and perhaps elsewhere in the heart of europe. it would have weakened our allies and exposed u.s. troops stationed in europe to greater danger. deterring russia requires persisten persistence, not just one military aid package or one oval office meeting but a sustained policy of support for our partners. we only deter russia by consistently demonstrating support for our friends, friends like ukraine. george schultz who served as ronald reagan's secretary of state understood this. he compared diplomacy to gardening. he said, quote, if you plant a garden and go away for six months, what have you got when you come back? weeds. diplomacy he said is kind of like that.
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you go around, talk to people, you develop a relationship of trust and confidence, and then if something comes up, you have that base to work from. president trump's decision to transform the military aid and oval office meeting into leverage was the equivalent of trampling all over george schultz's garden, crushing ukraine's confidence in the united states as a partner. he also caused our nato allies to question whether we would stand with them against russia. leaders in european capitals now wonder whether personal political favors and not treaty obligations guide our foreign policy. colleagues this is how alliances wither and die, and how russia wins. ambassador taylor made clear that is why it is so important to our security that we stand with ukraine. mr. chairman, as my colleague
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george kent described, we have a national security policy, a national defense policy that identifies russia and china as adversaries. the russians are violating all of the rules, treaties, understandings that they committed to that actually kept the peace in europe for nearly 70 years until they invaded ukraine in 2014, they had abided by sovereignty -- sovereignty of nations of inviability of borders. that rule of law, that order that kept the peace in europe and allowed for prosperity as well as peace in europe, was violated by the russians, and if we don't push back on that, on those violations, then that will
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continue, and that, mr. chairman, affects us. it affects the world that we live in, that our children will grow up in and our grandchildren. this affects the kind of world that we want to see overall, so that affects our national interests very directly. ukraine is on the front line of that -- of that conflict. >> now, we understood that in 2017. the first year of the trump administration, and it appeared the trump administration understood it as well, and we understood it in 2018 and the trump administration understood that as well, and we understood that in 2019, and the trump administration appeared to as well, at least it did until it didn't. it did until something of greater importance and
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significance came along, and that event of greater significance to the oval office was the emergence of joe biden as a candidate for president. and then that military support which had increased during the trump administration was suddenly put on hold for inexplicable reasons. ukraine got the message. it wasn't very inexplicable to ukraine, and what's more, russia got the message. it wasn't very inexplicable to russia that had pushed out the whole propaganda theory that it was ukraine that had interfered in our election and not russia. and so that consensus among the congress and the administration, among the right and the left and the center that as ambassador taylor explained, this is not only vital to ukraine's security
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in the post -world war ii order that has kept the peace for 70 years, but is vital to us and our security as well. that all broke down. that all broke down over an effort led by the president and his agent rudy giuliani and his agents parnas and fruman to overturn all that, overturn a decades' long commitment to standing up to russian aggressi aggression. we have so tremendously benefitted, no country has benefitted more from the international rules of the road, the international order than the united states, gave us the peace and stability to prosper like no other nation has before.
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and we're throwing it away. we're throwing it away. we're undermining the rule of law. we're undermining the principle you don't invade your neighbor. we're undermining the key to our own success, and for what? for help with a political campai campaign. to quote bill taylor, that's crazy. that's crazy. if our allies can't trust us to stand behind them in a time of need, we will soon not have a single ally left. look, i know it's painful to see some of our allies and how they talk about this president because when they talk about this president, they're also talking about the united states,
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and it's painful to see our allies distance themselves from the united states, and it's more than painful. it's dangerous. it's dangerous to us. i think it was churchill who once said there's nothing worse than allies except having no allies. but if we're going to condition our support for our allies on their willingness to to be dragged kicking and screaming into our politics, if we're going to condition the strength of our alliance on whether they'll help us cheat in an election, we're not going to have a single ally left, and not a single one of us in this chamber is ever going to be able to say one of our counter parts to respect the rule of law without it being thrown in our
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face. promoting the rule of law and fighting corruption is central to our foreign policy. it distinguishes u.s. global leadership from the transactional approach favored by authoritarian adversaries. the inherently corrupt nature of the president's demand that ukraine investigate his political opponent undermined the credibility of efforts to promote the rule of law and combat corruption in ukraine and around the world. indeed the president enfwgagingn the very conduct at home that our policy fights abroad sabotaging long-standing bipartisan pillars of american diplomacy. this was a problem not least because the pervasive corruption with ukraine leaves its politics and economies susceptible to russian influence and subterfuge, ambassador yovanovitch emphasized that u.s. policy in ukraine has long
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recognized that the struggle against corruption and defending against russia are, in fact, two sides of the very same coin. >> corruption makes ukraine's leaders ever vulnerable to russia and the ukrainian people understand that. that's why they launched the revolution of dignity in 2014 demanding to be a part of europe, demanding the transformation of the system, demanding to live under the rule of law. ukrainians wanted the law to apply equally to all people, whether the individual in question is the president or any other citizen. it was a question of fairness, of dignity. here again, there is a coincidence of interest. corrupt leaders are inherently less trustworthy while an honest and accountable ukrainian leadership makes a u.s./ukrainian partnership more reliable and more valuable to the united states. a level playing field in this
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strategically located country, bordering four nato allies, creates an environment in which u.s. business can more easily trade, invest, and profit. corruption is also a security issue because corrupt officials are vulnerable to moscow. >> during that conversation that we related in the past when ambassador volker urged his ukrainian counter part andriy yermak not to investigate the past president of ukraine and yermak threw it back in his face. you remember the conversation. oh, you mean like the investigation you want us to do of the of clintons and the bidens? they taught us something in that conversation. they taught us that we'd forgotten for that moment our own values. you know, just listening to the ambassador right now, i was thinking how interesting it is
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that the ukrainians chose to describe their revolution as a revolution of dignity, and maybe that's what we need here, a revolution of dignity at home. a revolution of civility here at home. maybe we can learn a lot more from our ukrainian ally. in short, there's america's national security interests who helped ukraine transform into a country where the rule of law governs and corruption is held in check. as we heard yesterday, anticorruption policy was a central part of the talking points provided to president trump before his phone calls with president zelensky on april 21st and july 25th. president trump, of course, didn't mention corruption, but importantly, those same foreign policy goals remained intact
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following the call. as tim morrison testified, anticorruption reforms, institutional reforms remain a top u.s. priority to help ukraine fight corruption. president zelensky was swept into office on an anticorruption platform. immediately he kept his promise and introduced numerous bills in ukraine's parliament in a sign that he intended to hold himself accountable, zelensky even introduced a draft law on presidential impeachment. he also introduced a bill to restore top punishment of top officials found guilty of elicit enrichment. president trump's self-serving scheme threatened to undermine zelensky's anticorruption work. zelensky's successful anticorruption reforms would have advanced u.s. security. instead, president trump's demands undermined that effort to bring about reform to ukraine.
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here's george kent, a rule of law and corruption expert at the state department. >> u.s. efforts to counter corruption in ukraine focus on building institutional capacity so that the ukrainian government has the ability to go after corruption and effectively investigate, prosecute, and judge alleged criminal activities using appropriate institutional mechanisms. that is to create and follow the rule of law. that means that if there are criminal nexuss for activity in the united states, u.s. law enforcement should pursue the case. if we think there's been a criminal act overseas that violates u.s. law, we have the institutional mechanisms to address that, it could be through the justice department and fbi agents assigned overseas or through treaty mechanisms such as the mutual legal assistance treaty. as a general principle, i do not believe the united states should ask other countries to engage in selective politically associated investigations or prosecutions
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against opponents of those in power because such selective actions undermine the rule of law, regardless of the country. >> and so it's clear what president trump did when abusing his office and demanding ukraine open an investigation into joe biden was not fighting corruption. it was not part of established u.s. anti-corruption policy. that corrupt pressure campaign for his own personal political benefit, in fact, subverted u.s. anticorruption efforts in ukraine and undercut our national security. president trump was not fighting to end corruption in ukraine. as my colleague in the house mr. himes pointed out during one of our hearings, he was trying to aim corruption in ukraine at vice president biden and our 2020 election. selective politically motivated prosecutions of political opponents undercut governance in ukraine. president trump's demand that
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zelensky help him do precisely what u.s. diplomats for decades advised ukrainian officials not to do completely undercut the credibility of efforts to promote the rule of law there. the demand also undercut the united states' moral standing and authority in the eyes of a global audience. here once again is george kent. >> is pressuring ukraine to conduct what i believe you've called political investigations a part of u.s. foreign policy to promote the rule of law in ukraine and around the world? >> it is not. >> is it in the national interests of the united states? >> in my opinion, it is not. >> why not? >> because our policies, particularly in promoting the rule of law, are designed to help countries and in eastern europe and central europe, that is overcoming the legacy of
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communism, in the communist system in particular, the prosecutor general office was used to suppress and persecute citizens, not promote the rule of law. so in helping these countries reach their own aspirations to join the western community of nations and live lives of dignity, helping them have the rule of law with strong institutions is the purpose of our policy. >> so in other words, it is a purpose of our foreign policy to encourage foreign nations to refrain from conducting political investigations, is that right? >> correct, and in fact, as a matter of policy, not of programming, we oftentimes raise our concerns usually in private with countries that we feel are engaged in selective political prosecution and persecution of their opponents. >> marie yovanovitch aptly summarized the global consequences and harm to u.s. national security resulting from president trump's demand that ukraine investigate his political opponent.
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>> such conduct undermines the u.s., exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for autocrats like president putin. our leadership depends on the power of our example and the consistency of our purpose. both have now been opened to question. >> the issues i just covered are not a matter of policy disagreement over foreign policy and national security. article i asserts that the president was engaged in no such policy at all, but instead sold out our policies and our national interests for his own personal gain and to help him corrupt the next election. that is the core conduct of an impeachable offense. the president's abuse of power also affected our election integrity. the framers of our constitution were particularly fearful that a
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president might misuse or abuse the power of his office to undermine the free and fair elections at the heart of our democracy. sadly, that moment has arrived. president trump's repeated solicitation of a ukrainian investigation was a clear effort to leverage foreign interference to bolster his prospects in the 2020 election. in other words, to cheat in his election. in our democracy power flows from the will of the people as manifest in free and fair elections. one person, one vote is fundamental in our democracy. president trump's invitation of foreign interference in the 2020 election for the purposes of helping him win an election undercut the constitution's commitment to popular sovereignty. americans are now left to wonder if their vote matters or if they're simply pawns in a system being manipulated by shadowy foreign forces working on behalf of corrupt interests of a
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lawless president. over the long-term this weakens our democratic system's capacity for self-governance by encouraging apathy and nonparticipation. cynicism makes it easier for enemies to influence our politics and undermine the national good. indeed, this is precisely what vladimir putin intended when he meddled in the 2016 election, for us to become more cynical. for us to lose faith in the notion that the american system of government is superior to the corrupt autocratic model of government that has erected in russia and sought to export to places like ukraine. these are not the free and fair elections americans expect or demand if foreign powers are interfering. how can we know that our elections are free from foreign interference whether by disinformation or hacking or
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fake investigations? we must not become numb to foreign interference in our elections. our elections are sacred. if we do not act to put an end to the solicitation of foreign interference in our election by the president of the united states, the effect will be corrosive to our elections and our values. future presidents may believe that they too can use the substantial power conferred on them by the constitution in order to undermine our system of free and fair elections. that they too can cheat to obtain power or keep it. that way lies disaster for the great american experiment in self-governance. as you have seen, there is powerful evidence that president trump will continue to betray the national interests to a foreign power and further undermine both our security and our democracy. this creates an urgent need to
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remove him from office before the next election. to explain the nature of that continuing threat, let me describe russia's ongoing efforts to harm our elections. the president's corrupt refusal to condemn or defend against those attacks. his statements confirming that he welcomes foreign interference in our elections, so long as it meant to help him and his conduct proving that he will persist in seeking to corrupt elections at the expense of our security and at the expense of those elections. let's start with russia's ongoing attacks on our democracy. at the heart of the president's ukraine scheme is his decision to subscribe to that dangerous conspiracy theory that ukraine, not russia, was responsible for interfering in 2016. president trump and his men pressured ukraine into investigating this bogus piece of russian propaganda and in doing so they aided putin's concerted plot to undermine our
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security and democracy. special counsel mueller warned that putin's plot was ongoing. >> is this, in your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the russians to get involved in our election, or did you find evidence to suggest they'll try to do this again? >> it wasn't a single attempt. they're doing it as we sit here, ask they expect to do it going in the next campaign. >> not a single attempt, they're doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign. that was special counsel mueller's stark warning, and we now know that director mueller was right. just the other week we saw public reporting that russian hackers may be using phishing e-mails to attack the ukrainian gas company burisma, presumably in search of dirt on joe biden. those are the same tactics deployed by the same adversary russia that special counsel warned about in the last
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election. it may be russia once again attempting to sway our election for one candidate, this time through ukraine. indeed, president trump to this very day refuses to accept the unanimous assessment of our intelligence community and law enforcement professionals that russia interfered in the 2016 campaign and poses a threat to the 2020 presidential election. instead, he views it from his own personal lens, whether it is an attack on the legitimacy of his 2016 electoral victory. special counsel mueller's testimony on july 24, 2019, the day before the president's call with president zelensky contradicted president trump's claim that his was, quote, a clean campaign. mueller found that individuals associated with the 2016
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campaign of the president welcomed russia's offers of assistance and adjusted their political strategy so that then candidate donald trump might benefit from russia's assistance. when they were subsequently asked by u.s. law enforcement about their activities, president trump's advisers repeatedly lied. in helsinki in july of 2018, however, president trump refused to acknowledge the russian threat to our elections. when a reporter explicitly asked whether he believed putin or the u.s. intelligence agencies on the issue of foreign interference in the 2016 election, president trump said, quote, i don't see any reason why it would be russia. and talked about the dnc server. >> so let me just say that we have two thoughts. you have groups that are wondering why the fbi never took the server, why haven't they
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taken the server. why was the fbi told to leave the office of the democratic national committee? i've been wondering that. i've been asking that for months and months, and i've been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. where is the server? i want to know where is the server? and what is the server saying? with that being said, all i can do is ask the question. my people came to me, dan coats came to me and some others. they said they think it's russia. i have president putin, he just said it's not russia. i will say this, i don't see any reason why it would be, but i really do want to see the server, but i have -- i have confidence in both parties. i really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but i don't think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. what happened to the servers of the pakistani gentleman that worked on the dnc?
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where are those servers? they're missing. where are they? what happened to hillary clinton's e-mails? 33,000 e-mails gone, just gone. i think in russia they wouldn't be gone so easily. i think it's a disgrace that we can't get hillary clinton's 33,000 e-mails. >> i'm sure you remember this, it was, i think, unforgettable for every american, but i'm sure it was equally unforgettable for vladimir putin. i mean, there he is, the president of russia standing next to the president of the united states and hearing his own kremlin propaganda talking points coming from the president of the united states. now, if that's not a propaganda coup, i don't know what is. it's the most extraordinary thing. it's the most extraordinary thing. the president of the united states standing next to the
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president of russia, our adversary saying he doesn't believe his own intelligence agencies. he doesn't believe them. haes he's promoting this crazy server theory cooked up by the kremlin right next to the guy that cooked it up. it's a breathtaking success of russian intelligence. i don't know if there's ever been a greater success of russian intelligence. whatever profile russia did of our president, boy did they have him spot on, flattery and propaganda, flattery and propaganda is all russia needed, and as to ukraine, well, they needed to deliver a political investigation to get help from the united states. this is just the most incredible
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propaganda coup because as i said yesterday, it's not just that the president of the united states standing next to vladimir putin is reading kremlin talking points. he won't read his own national security staff talking points, but he will read the kremlin ones. but it's not just that he adopts the kremlin talking points. that would be bad enough. it's not bad enough, it's not damaging enough, it's not dangerous enough to our national security that he's undermining our own intelligence agencies. it's not bad enough that he undermines those very agencies that he needs later that we need later to have credibility. we just had a vigorous debate over these -- the strikes against general soleimani and the president has made his argument about what the intelligence says and supports.
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how do you -- how do you make those arguments when you say the u.s. intelligence community can't be believed? now, we've had a vigorous debate about what that intelligence has to say. that's not the issue here. the issue here is you undermine the credibility of your own intelligence agencies, you weaken the country. for when you need to rely on them, for when you need to persuade your friends and your allies you can trust us when we tell you this is what the intelligence shows. how do you make that argument as the president of the united states when you've just told the world you trust the russians more than your own people? you trust rudy giuliani more than christopher wray? how do you make that case? and if you can't make that case, what does that mean to our security? but that's not the end of it it's not just a propaganda coup. it's not just the undermining of our agencies, it's also that the
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buy-in to that propaganda meant that ukraine wasn't going to get money to fight the russians. i mean, that's one hell of a russian intelligence coup. they got the president of the united states to provide cover for their own interference with our election. they got the president of the united states to discredit his own intelligence agencies. they got the president of the united states to drive a wedge between the united states and ukraine. they got the president of the united states to withhold aid from ukraine in a war with russia n a war that is claiming ukrainian lives every week. has there ever been such a coup? i would submit to you in the entire length of the cold war, the soviet union had no such
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success, no such success, and why? because a former mayor of new york persuaded a president of the united states to sacrifice all of that for a cheap shot at his political opponent, for a smear against his political opponent. was it worth it? i hope it was worth it. i hope it was worth it for the president because it certainly wasn't worth it for the united states. now, you could see president trump did not blame vladimir putin and the russian intelligence agencies who interfered in our election for the questions surrounding his victory. he did not blame the people who worked for his campaign and were subsequently convicted of lying to our law enforcement agencies. no, he blamed the investigators,
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especially counsel mueller, the man charged with getting to the bottom of russia's interference in 2016, and he chose to believe vladimir putin, a former russian intelligence officer rather than his own intelligence agencies. we can see a pattern here. president trump solicited interferen interference from russia as a candidate in 2016, and then his campaign welcomed russian interference in the election. in helsinki president trump chose to believe putin over his own agencies. i don't see any reason why it would be referring to russia. instead of denouncing russia's interference, he denounced those investigating russia's interference. and he raised that now familiar dnc crowdstrike server thing. i really do want to see the server. i don't think we can go on without finding out what happened to the server.
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that's the exact same server that president trump demanded ukraine investigate during his july 25th call with zelensky. when the president talked about the dnc server in helsinki with vladimir putin standing by his side, he was referencing the same discredited conspiracy theory about ukraine interference in 2016 that putin repeatedly promoted. let's look at this "washington post" article from july 2018. in the end, trump's performance alongside putin in the finished capitol seemed like a tour through his most controversial conspiracy theories. tweets and off the cuff musings on russia, except he did it all while abroad stand just feet from putin, the leader of one of america's greatest geopolitical
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foes. the spectacle in helsinki also underscored trump's eagerness to disregard his own advisers, his willingness to flout the conclusions of his own intelligence community, that russia interfered in the 2016 elections and his apparent fear that pressing putin on the assumption might cast dout on his electoral victory. white house officials told "the washington post" that president trump's remarks in helsinki were, quote, very much counter to the plan. that's another understatement of the century. if that sounds familiar, it's because the witness who testified before the house as part of the impeachment inquiry, they all said the same thing about the july 25th phone call, the president ignored vital national security issues he was supposed to raise and instead raised disproven conspiracies about 2016 and the dnc server, the very same russian propaganda
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he publicly endorsed in helsi i helsinki. do you think it's going to stop now? do you think if we do nothing, it's going to stop now? all of the evidence is to the contrary. you know it's not going to stop. the president just told one of the members of this body he still wants biden investigated. it's not going to stop unless the congress does something about it. president trump's betrayal began in 2016 when he first solicited russian interference in our election. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> that betrayal continued in
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helsinki in 2018 when as we saw, he rejected the intelligence community's assessment about russian interference in that same election. when he criticized u.s. officials investigating the russia interference, and instead promoted putin's conspiracy theory about ukraine. the betrayal continued in 2019 when he carried out a scheme to cheat in the 2020 election by demanding that the leader of ukraine, a u.s. partner under military attack by russia announce an investigation into the same baseless conspiracy theory about a dnc server and the bogus allegations about vice president biden and the abuse of power continues. he is still trying to cheat in the next election, even after the scheme came to light, even after it became the subject of an impeachment inquiry, it continued, and the false statements about it continued. president trump repeatedly asserted that he had a
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prerogative to urge foreign nations to investigate u.s. citizens who dare to challenge him politically. you know, i mean, just for a minute we should try to step into the shoes of someone else. my father used to say you don't understand a person until you step in their shoes. i always thought he invented that wisdom himself until i watched "to kill a mockingbird" and found out that atticus finch said it first. but let's just try to step into someone else's shoes for a moment. let's imagine it wasn't joe biden. let's imagine it was any one of us. let's imagine the most powerful person in the world was asking a foreign nation to conduct a sham investigation into one of us. what would we think about it then? would we think that's good u.s. policy? would we think he has every
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right to do it? would we think that's a perfect call? let's step for a minute into ambassador yovanovitch's shoes. and were the subject of a vicious smear campaign that no one in the department that we work for up to the secretary of state has a shred of credibility, let's step into her shoes for a minute. spent our whole life devoted to public service, served in dangerous places around the world, and we're hounded out of our post, and one day someone releases a transcript of a call between the president of the united states and a foreign leader and the president says there's going to be some things happening to you or to you or to you or to you or to you or to
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you. how would you feel about the president of the united states? would you think he was abusing the power of his office? and if you would, it shouldn't matter that it wasn't you. it shouldn't matter that it was marie yovanovitch. it shouldn't matter that it was joe biden because i'll tell you something, the next time it just may be you. it just may be you. do you think for a moment that any of you, no matter what your relationship with this president, no matter how close you are to this president, do you think for a moment that if he felt it was in his interest, he wouldn't ask you to be investigated? do you think for a moment that he wouldn't? and if somewhere deep down below you realized that he would, you cannot leave a man like that in office when he has violated the constitution. it shouldn't matter it was joe
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biden. it could have been any of us. it may be any of us. it shouldn't matter that it was marie yovanovitch. it will be some other diplomat tomorrow for some other pernicious reason. it goes to what mr. jeffries said. it goes to character. you don't realize how important character is in the highest office in the land until you don't have it. until you have a president willing to use his power to coerce an ally, to help him cheat, to investigate one of our fellow citizens, one of our fellow citizens. yes, he's running for president. he's still a u.s. citizen. he's still a u.s. citizen, and he deserves better than that. of course it wasn't just ukraine. it wasn't just russia.
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there's the invitation to china to investigate the bidens. it's not going to stop. on september 19th rudy giuliani was interviewed on chris cuomo on cnn, you've probably all seen the clip. when asked specifyingly ically giuliani replied immediately, of course i did, of course i did. shouldn't matter that it was joe biden. wasn't hunter biden there? it was joe biden. wasn't hunter biden on that call? it was joe biden. it shouldn't matter whether it's hunter biden or joe biden. we're talking about american citizens. shouldn't matter to any of us which american citizens. and he hasn't stopped urging ukraine to conduct these
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investigations. mr. giuliani hasn't, donald trump hasn't t. to the contrary and consistent with everybothing we know about the president, he has done nothing but double down. during his first week, the first week of december, mr. giuliani traveled to ukraine and hungary to interview the corrupt former ukrainian prosecutors, who had been pushing these false narratives about vice president biden and this conspiracy about 2016. mr. giuliani met with current members of the ukraine parliament who have advocated for that same fraudulent investigation. june of last year, president trump told abc news that he would take political dirt from a foreign country if he was offered it again. if he has learned anything from the tumult of the last three
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years, it is he can get away with anything. he can do it again. can't be indicted, can't be impeached, can't if you believe our attorney general even be investigated. our founders worried about a situation just like this. james madison put it simply, president, quote, might betray his trust to foreign powers. in his farewell address, george washington warned americans to be constantly awake since history and experience proved that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. john adams in a letter to thomas jefferson wrote, you are apprehensive of foreign interference, intrigue influence, so am i, but as often as elections happen, the danger of foreign influence recurse.
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or to quote the president's chief of staff, get over it. there's going to be politics in foreign policy. well, i don't think that was john adams' point, and i don't think that was james madison's point, and i don't think that was george washington's point. if it was, they would have said get over it. but they recognized, as i know we recognized what a profound danger that would be for that to become the new normal. another election is upon us, ten months voters will undertake their most important duty as citizens by going to the polls and voting for their leader. and so we must ask what role
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will foreign powers play in trying to influence the outcome? and if they take the president's side, who will protect our franchise if the president will not? as charged in the first article of impeachment, president trump has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the constitution if allowed to remain in office and has aboutct instead a manner gry incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. based on the abuse of power for which he was impeached, and his ongoing efforts to solicit foreign interference, both directly and through mr. giuliani, there can be little doubt that president trump will continue to invite foreign interference in our elections again and again. that poses an imminent threat to the integrity of our democracy.
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our founders understood that a president like donald trump might one day grasp the reins of power, an unremorseful overreaching executive faithful to himself only and willing to sacrifice our democracy and national security for his own personal advantage. his pattern of conduct repeatedly soliciting foreign interference in our elections for his own benefit confirms that he will stop at nothing to retain his power. he willfully chose to place his own personal interests above the country's and the swintegrity o our elections. there is every reason to believe that will continue. he has stone walled congress and ordered executive branch agencies, organizations that work for the american people, not for the president to join in his obstruction. he deployed mr. giuliani to ukraine to continue advancing
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his scheme that serves no other purpose than advancing his 2020 re-election prospects. he attacked witnesses, public servants, patriots who stayed true to their oath and levelled with the american people about the grave national injury that resulted from the president's misconduct. and he continued to urge foreign nations to investigate american citizens that he views as a threat. the threat that he will continue to abuse his power and cause grave harm to the nation over the course of the next year until a new president is sworn in or until he would be reelected is not hypothetical. merely exposing the president's scheme has not stopped him from continuing this destructive pattern of behavior that has brought us to this somber moment. he is who he is.
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that will not change and nor will the danger associated with him. every piece of evidence supports that terrible conclusion that the president of the united states will abuse his power again, that he will continue to solicit foreign interference to help corruptly secure his re-election. he has shown neither remorse nor acknowledgment of wrongdoing. if you can believe that july 25th was a perfect call, that asking for investigations of your political opponents and using the power of your office to make it so is perfectly fine, then there is nothing that would stop you from doing it again. president trump has abused the power of his office and must be removed from that office. mr. mcconnell, i yield back. >> the majority leader is recognized.
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>> mr. chief justice, i suggest a 15-minute recess. >> without objection, so ordered. all right, so another two and a half, almost two and a half hours that we just heard from the house manager's very passionate statement once again from the lead house manager adam schiff. earlier passionate statements from hakeem jeffries and jason crow. this is going to continue the, and jake, this is wrapping up, except for the 16 hours of debate that will follow the white house lawyers, three days, potentially three days of presentations starting tomorrow, saturday, this will be effectively the last chance that these democrats, the house managers have to convince four republican senators to join them in supporting witnesses and documents in this trial. >> and what we largely heard the last two and a half hours had to do with national security and assertions that the trump
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administration and specifically president trump had put the national security of the united states at risk by his conduct. there was a long presentation that had to do with whether by making this alleged threat to ukraine, alleged extortion or bribe of ukraine to conduct these investigations, the president was essentially boosting russia's power in the region, and there was use -- i thought interestingly -- of a lot of republicans and trump administration officials in making that case, both in using an old clip of the late senator john mccain talking about the threat of russia in the region and also using a number of trump administration officials including former russia expert tim morrison, who was at the national security council who talked a great deal. the other part of the argument had to do with at the very end there mr. schiff, congressman schiff, trying to make the point
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to the republicans, okay, forget for a moment that president trump did this to force investigations of joe biden. what if he had done this to you? if he's not stopped, then you might be next. and i was thinking about that, because i've been thinking about the fact that when candidate trump didn't have this power, he used other levers of power, other attempts to do this. first of all, obviously his calls to russia. russia, if you're listening, please hack hillary clinton's e-mails, but before that, when he was pursuing the nomination, when he didn't have these relationships or even any outreach by the russians to his campaign, he had american media, which is the publisher of the "national enquirer" and other super market tabloids, and that organization did his bidding with fake news, false information that they used against trump's rival ted cruz. there was story after story
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before trump had secured the republican nomination, story after story, smear after smear against republican senator ted cruz. so ted cruz doesn't need to imagine what this would be like because a much smaller version of this was already done to him by trump allies, in this case david pecker and the american media empire, and we know what ted cruz's response ultimately was after president trump referred to the "national enquirer" crack pot story about his father having been rofd in the jfk assassination, a completely deranged story that president trump went on television and told people to look into, not to mention smears against ted cruz's wife skps, a what we see today is senator ted cruz is one of president trump's biggest boosters in the u.s. senate, all apparently has been forgiven. so they don't need to imagine what it would be like, one of their own, and to a much lesser
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degree marco rubio has been in their shoes, and the reaction seems to be, well, i don't want that to happen, therefore i'm not going to do anything to get president trump angry with me. >> i was going to say, they're scared, clearly these republicans are scared of the president, and his enormous power right now. >> let's go in to jeffrey toobin who's in new york. your response to the presentation we've seen so far? >> well, you know, there were two things that really jumped out at me about adam schiff's statement. the first was he really addressed the question of like why should we care? why should we care about ukraine? why does any of this matter, and i thought, you know, that's where he very effectively used john mccain to remind the republican dominated u.s. senate that, you know, ukraine is a bulwark against russia, and to be doing russia's bidding as the accusation is here, is to put american national security at
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risk. and then the second part, which is what you were just discussing, is do you think donald trump would hesitate to throw any of you under the bus? and you know, that's a pretty effective argument when you look at the casualty rate within trump world. i mean, if you look at the people he started with in the white house, who's left? i mean -- kellyanne conway and his daughter and son-in-law, and that's about it. everybody else has been cast aside, and you know, he's saying to those senators, do you think he has any interest at heart except his own? now, i don't think that's going to get adam schiff any votes, but he's certainly making a point that even people who will be voting against him cannot miss. >> and you know, gothe lead hou manager adam schiff went one step further saying donald
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trump, the president of the united states represents a threat to u.s. national security and as a result must be removed from office, in his words, before the next election. >> right, you know, he portrayed him as a cheater, and throughout the entire presentations this afternoon, that is the word. if you did a word cloud and you looked at the word that was used the most, it would be cheater, and this is how they're por trying him to the american public. he is a cheater who is still cheating. he is somebody who would sacrifice national security, who provided a coup for the russians in helsinki. he's a cheater who got caught cheating, and that is why he lifted the hold on the aid to ukraine, and as congressman hakeem jeffries said, he is a man of no character. he used the word character, and he kept coming back to it, and i think so in addition to sort of
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making the case about abuse of power, they made the case about the president as a man and as a person who cannot be trusted. and instead of talking about, oh, o oh, lies all the time and kind of all that because kind of that's been accepted, what they were talking about is is this the kind of person who you want in the oval office? because you know, as schiff said, do you think if we do nothing it's going to stop now? >> so dana bash on capitol hill right now, and she has with her one of the two independents in the u.s. senate. this is senator angus king who caucuses with the democrats. he's on the senate intelligence committee. dana. >> reporter: thank you so much, jake, and thank you for joining me today. first your thoughts on when a you heard this morning -- or this afternoon? >> i thought adam schiff hit an important point at the end because i don't want to be too ne nerdy but in england under impeachment, you not only lost your job, you could be killed,
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put in jail, lost your land. our framers expressly didn't say that. it's only loss of office. therefore, the question really is not did you do something bad you should be punished for, but is it likely you would do it again? in other words, it's not punishment. it's prevention, and the keyword here is remorse. the president hasn't expressed a scintilla of remorse -- >> would that matter? >> well, it matters because that says the only way to prevent him doing it again is to remove him from office. do you see what i mean? >> yes. >> bill clinton in his case stood before the american people and said i made a mistake. i did something that was wrong. this is a case where the president tried to -- it appears anyway, get a foreign country to interfere in our election, and he doesn't regret it. he doesn't understand that he did anything wrong, therefore there's some likelihood he'll do it again. >> he'll do it again, and you're right, that was sort of the crux of what adam schiff was saying. what was your takeaway from the
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use of john mccain and the clip of what he was saying about how important ukraine is, particularly given how russia is trying to use ukraine? >> well, i thought it was really important. i mean, i was looking across at my colleagues, i'm on armed services as you know, and arguing for lethal aid to ukraine -- >> armed services, which he chaired? >> >> that's right. it was one of the blessings of my life to be on that committee when he was the chair, but the republican argument was we've got to give more lethal aid to ukraine and by the way, obama didn't, and i suspect you're going to hear a lot of attacks saying, well, trump has given more lethal aid to ukraine than obama did, and that's true. but the question is what about the suspension, and why did he do it, and all of the bad ramifications that flow from that. >> so the other senator from maine is susan collins. i'm not going to ask you about her because she's doing her own thing, you're doing your own thing, but you share constituents. >> sure. >> what are you hearing from the
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constituents back home in maine about how they want you to vote and how they're reacting to what they're hearing on the senate floor? >> i haven't checked today, but as of last night when i did check this week, something like over 90% of the calls that we've gotten in the office have been we want witnesses. we want evidence, we want to see the documents, and that's -- that's what i'm hearing. not so much let him go, or you know, acquit, or guilty or not guilty, it's right now the intensity of the calls is why aren't they going to call witnesses. >> okay. senator, thank you so much for coming out during the break. appreciate it. thank you. >> jake and wolf back to you. >> thanks very much, john king, what did you think of the two and a half hour presentation by the house managers so far today? >> they know it's their last chance, yes, they will get 16 hours of questioning pretty evenly split. they'll be in consultation with the managers. so after the president's presentation, they will use that time for rebuttal, strategically ask questions to get their
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rebuttal in. they also know this is their last uninterrupted chance. i thought the way they went about it is creative, in the sense you have congressman crow getting into the details, going into the case, then hakeem jeffries gets up and gives more of a sermon, think about this, the character of our country. look yourselves in the eye because the democrats know -- and we've talked about this -- the republicans privately don't like the way the president conducts himself, most of them, not all of them. most of them. especially the group of six or seven you're looking at as the potential four votes, whether it's susan collins, lisa murkows murkowski, lamar alexander, mitt romney, presidential nominee, from a very different part of the party, rob portman of ohio, former white house staffer and budget director in the george w. bush, they don't like the way the president conducts himself. they've said so to a degree publicly. they don't like the way -- they don't like what rudy giuliani did. they're trying to essentially keep shaking these people to look in the mirror, give us
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witnesses. that's what it's about. as of today you would need 20 votes if all the democrats stuck together to convict and remove. that math is not there. the only way to put that into play is to get witnesses and home for some bomb shell testimony from a mick mulvaney, from a john bolton, from new documents, and so they're trying to get the four. this is their last several hours. they've got five and a half hours left, and the way they're going back and forth, part of it is facts and part of it is a conscious appeal to these four votes. give us more time by giving us more witnesses. >> i thought they were trying to make those senators and the viewing public feel something, right? they flash back to the summit in helsinki when trump was standing next to putin. >> that was stunning. >> it was stunning, and it never gets -- it'sn never not stunnin, right? and you heard schiff there i think express some outrage, express some anger and sometimes express fear and just somberness at this idea that this is an american president who stood next to putin and threw the intelligence agencies under the
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bus and i thought the sort of repetition of do you think this is going to stop now. if we do nothing, do you think it is going to stop now? it is not going to stop unless the congress does something about it it. that i thought was a very powerful way to end this emotional day of testimony. >> everyone, stick around, we are waiting for the senate to come back into session. we're going to squeeze in one quick break. come back for more live cnn special coverage of the senate impeachment trial of president donald trump. stay with us. ♪ limu emu & doug [ siren ] give me your hand! i can save you... lots of money with liberty mutual! we customize your car insurance so you only pay for what you need! only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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let's listen in on the president's attorney jay sekulow. >> important rights to weigh our separation of power under our form of government. next question.
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>> by bringing up the steele dossier are you suggesting another president was involved. >> another president was involved? >> yeah. >> you're not, right? so how does the steele dossier -- >> no, no, no, how did the steele dossier -- the question is there was all this discussion about why was the president so suspicious of some of his intelligence information, some of the leaders he was dealing with within his own government. well, the number three at the department of justice was working for a firm that was working on a dossier against the sitting president of the united states, so don't put words in my mouth. let me be crystal clear, yeah, we're concerned about it. that was the number three at the fbi who for the life of me i can't figure out, he's still there in some capacity, but think about that. she was also working on ukraine, next question. >> monday to present your defense next week? >> well, i mean, as far as how long we'll go? i can't make that determination yet. look, here's what happened. the senate asked for an accommodation.
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we were prepared to go as long as they wanted us to go tomorrow. they asked 10 to 1 was the final decision. we'll present from 10 to 1ish. we're ready to go. it's the senate's decision. we respect the senate's process. >> they gave you 24 hours, they said we don't want you to use all 24 hours? no, they said can you proceed for three hours tomorrow and then we will make the case. >> can you -- >> no, we are going to be live on 10:00 tomorrow morning i suspect and trust me, plenty to cover. >> is the the defense team at all concerned about abc's reporting of a recording purportedly showing that trump said to take her out of the ukrainian ambassador? >> is that the one where they said that there was a conversation about -- >> yes. >> yeah, yeah, no, i am not concerned about at that at all. >> are you a paid adviser and
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still being -- >> well, i am not a paid adviser, but i am the president's retained counsel, and so i don't discuss my legal fees, but we are paid for the legal services. i am not getting into that. go ahead. >> and the senators -- go ahead. >> and tomorrow, can you talk about how we won't see ken starr or anybody like that tomorrow? >> tomorrow? >> yes. >> i think that you will see, i guess we would call it a trailer, and a coming attractions would be the best way to say it. and obviously, three hours to put it out, so we will take whatever time is appropriate in the three hours to lay out how the case is going to look like and next week is the full presentation. >> good afternoon. well, there you can have it. jay sekulow is one of the president's private attorneys speaking on behalf of the white house counsel, and the president is not happy that they will do it in three hours tomorrow. he tweeted it early in the day, and it looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on
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saturday which is called death valley in tv. manu raja is up on capitol hill, and you have a chance to speak with senator lindsey graham? >> yes, and the conversation that he had with the president. the president has been clearly watching the proceedings, and according to lindsey graham who spoke to him tonight before last and he said that the president is quote bored by what he saw, and the president doesn't like the way he is being talked about by the house democrats and, graham said apparently to him, look, i understand what you are saying, and then graham apparently told the president that he thought that adam schiff did a pretty good job, and the president thought that schiff did a bad job, and then graham explained his comments by saying that, look, he thought that his presentation was doing a good job in the presentation, and the president apparently, and i asked graham, how did the president respond when you said that schiff did a pretty good job, and he said, i guess so. and then graham explained that it is about the way he delivered
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this, and he was like, yeah. so we will see. and obviously, the president is not happy about this and he has asked the allies to come tout defend him forcefully and of course, we will see it tomorrow. and it is clear from this conversation at least that the president is watching what is happening on the senate floor very closely, guys. >> all right. manu raja on capitol hill, and thank you very much. we will get a couple of thoughts. abbey philip, what do you think of the presentation so far and the arguments made? >> one of the elements of the argument all put together is the president sort of his own threat to national security. that is in part what the argument about the president standing next to vladimir putin and puppeting russian talking points is that, this is part of the democrats' effort to show that not only a pattern of going into the past, because pattern they believe will go into the future of the president disregarding american foreign policy interests in the interests of his own political well-being or what have you.
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i think that in some cases, there is sort of a question mark about what exactly the motivation is for some of this, but i do think that it is a big part of the argument to the american people that it is not just about what is being done allegedly to joe biden and to joe biden's family, but about the country, the interests of america on the world stage. you also saw hakeem jeffries the congressman talking about what is not known. and making a direct plea to the senators to say we don't know the answer to the question of why the transcript of the president's call with ukraine was put into that secure server. we need to know the answer to that question. here are all of the individuals who can give us those answers. >> everybody, stick around. there is a lot more that we are covering and much more of the live cnn special coverage of the impeachment trial of the president of the united states right after a quick break. hi! we're glad you came in, what's on your mind?
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blitzer. and right now the senate is in a short break and the managers will pick up with impeachment article two which is obstruction of congress. let's chat about this, all, and kerry, you are joining us here, and we will start with you. what do you expect to hear from the democrats when it comes to obstruction of congress? >> what they have to lay out is first of all what documents they want and what witnesses they want and why they want them. whether they start, and if they were to start with the witnesses, they are going to have to explain why each witness, john bolton, mick mulvaney and why those individuals have specific knowledge, firsthand knowledge which is such an issue that came up in the house proceedings, and the firsthand knowledge of what is going on and what they observed and the president's involvement in wanting the assistance and the announcements from the president of ukraine directly. they are individuals who have not been heard from before, and
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they did not come and appear before the house proceedings, and so that is new information for the senate to consider. >> what is also interesting about this is that basically the attorney general bob barr has taken the argument that, you know, you can't pursue a president in any other venue other than impeachment. there is a memo that came out. and so, if you -- if there is no oversight over the president except through the impeachment process, and you can't get documents or evidence through the impeachment process. >> right. >> then you have a king. >> it is a president who is not accountable to any branch of government, and that is not what the constitutional system is, and that is not the way that the framers designed it. the entire purpose of the impeachment provision is so that the congress as a political branch could hold a president accountable for his behavior in office for actions that he took are abuse of power or high crimes and misdemeanor, and so
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if you subscribe to the position of the justice department across many administrations that the president cannot be indicted for any behavior, and also, we are not going to cooperate with documents and witnesses, then what we have is an unaccountable executive. >> i wanted to bring in dana bash who is anchoring the coverage from capitol hill. and dana, the white house lawyers now are saying that they will only do three hours tomorrow and they could have done as many as eight hours and then eight monday and tuesday, but they aare obviously clearin out, and so you have seen that the white house counsels don't necessarily need three days the or 24 hours to make their case? >> well, not only that, you heard jay sekulow talking to the reporters a short while ago saying it is not up to us if we have a long day saturday or not. when it is coming to what they want, the client wants, the
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president, you saw that he does not think them arguing on a saturday is a great thing for him. the president is thinking about the show and ratings. so for them to just do a short session on saturday and really start in earnest on monday is actually something that the president's legal team is clearly welcoming. one of the quick things they wanted to add which is noteworthy to what we have to hear from the house managers when they start on obstruction, and we have been talking about the republicans and whether they will come along to the democratic side. wet ha we have not been talking about the moderate democrats and whether they will break with their own party on at least one of the articles and this second article obstruction of congress is one that people like kristen s sinama of arizona or joe manchin don't agree with the fellow
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democrats who are prosecuting this case on, because you will hear the president's team make a strong argument that you can't say that they have obstructed congress when the congress never went to the courts to help settle it. >> that is an interesting point, dana bash. john king, there was actually a member of the house democratic congressman who was a freshman who just won that seat in maine's second congressional district, a trump district who voted that way. he voted in favor of article impeachment one, abuse of power and against the article ii of impeachment obstruction of congress. if you are talking to the people who are talking to the president professionally, they are saying it is not abusing the power or obstruction, but balance of power and executive privilege. we will listen to val demings the democratic house manager. >> i will tell you that we were closer today than we were on
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yesterday. because i am prepared to present article 2, obstruction of congress. the second article of impeachment charges the president with misusing the powers of his high office to obstruct the house impeachment inquiry. we are here today in response to a blanket order by president trump to directing the entire executive branch to withhold all documents and testimony from that inquiry. president trump's obstruction of the impeachment inquiry was c categorical and indiscriminant and the purpose was clear to impede congress' ability to carry tout duties under the constitution, to hold the
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president accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors. as part of his effort to cover up evidence of his scheme to solicit foreign interference in the upcoming election, president trump did something that no president has ever dared to do in the history of our republic. president trump directed the entire executive branch not to cooperate with the house's impeachment inquiry. president trump blocked every person who works in the white house and every person who works in every department, agency, and office of the executive branch from providing information to the house as part of the impeachment inquiry. this was not about specific narrowly-defined security or
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privacy issues, nor was it based on the potential privileges available to the executive branch. indeed, president trump has not once asserted executive privilege during this process. this was a declaration of total defiance of the house's authority to investigate credible allegations of the president's misconduct, and a wholesale rejection of congress' ability to hold the president accountable. the president's order, executed by his top aides substantially interfered with the house's constitutionally authorized power to conduct an impeachment inquiry. at president trump's direction, the white house, itself,
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released, refused to produce a single document or record in response to a house subpoena that remains in full force and effect, and it continues to withhold those documents from congress and from the american people. but it is not just the white house. following president trump's order the office of the vice president, the office of management and budget, the department of state, the department of energy and the department of defense all continued to refuse, to produce a single document of record in response to 71 specific requests, including five subpoenas. additionally, following president trump's former ore current administration officials
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continued to refuse to testify as part of the house's impeachment inquiry. not only current administration officials, but former administration officials as well. nine of those witnesses, including senior officials with direct firsthand knowledge of the president's actions continued to defy subpoenas for testimony, because of the president's order. and yet despite president trump's obstruction, as you have heard and seen throughout the house manager's presentation of the facts of the president's scheme, the house gathered overwhelming evidence of his misconduct from courageous public servants who were willing to follow the law, comply with
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subpoenas and tell the truth. on the basis of that formidable body of evidence, the house adopted the first article of impeachment. these witnesses also testified with great specificity about extensive documents, communications and records in the possession of the white house and other agencies regarding the president's scheme to coerce ukraine's leader to help his re-election. as you have heard over the past few days, the house was therefore able to develop an extensive catalog of specific documents and pertinent communication that go to the heart of the president's wrongdoing and in which the president has ordered be concealed from congress and the american people.
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revelations harmful to the president have continued since the house compiled the investigative reports. recent court ordered releases under the freedom of information act as well as thdisclosures to the media have demonstrated that the white house, the omb and other state department agencies and groups are withholding highly relevant documents that could further implement the president and his subordinates. over time, these documents and evidence will undoubtedly come to light. i ask this body to not wait to read about it in the press or in a book. you should be hearing this
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evidence now. hearing this evidence now. now, there is one point they would like to make very clear. president trump's wholesale obstruction of congress strikes at the very heart of our constitution and our democratic system of government. the president of the united states could undertake such come plen z -- comprehensive obstruction only by the powers given to him by the american people. only one person in the world has the power to issue an order to the entire executive branch. that person, senators, as you know is the president. and president trump used that power not to faithfully execute
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the law, but to order agencies and employees of the executive branch to conceal evidence of his misconduct. now, i know that no other american could seek to obstruct an investigation into his or her wrongdoing in this way. we all know that no other american could use the vast powers of our government to undertake a corrupt scheme to cheat, to win an election, and then use the same powers to suppress the evidence of his constitutional crime. we would not allow -- i am convinced that we would not allow any member of our state or local governments to use the official powers of their office
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to cover-up crimes and misdeeds. as this body is well aware, mayors and governors have gone to jail for doing so. sheriffs and police chiefs are certainly not immune. if we allow president trump to escape accountability, we will inflict lasting damage on the separation of powers among our branches of government. our fundamental system of checks and balances. it would inflict irreversible damage by allowing this commander in chief and establishing precedents for future presidents to act corruptly or abusively and then use the vast powers of their office, the office of the
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presidency, to conceal their own misconduct from congress and the american people. in other words, we would create a system that allows this president, and any future president to really do whatever he or she wants. it is an attack on congressional oversight, and not just on the house, but also on the senate's own ability to oversee and serve as a check on this and future presidents, both republican and democratic administrations. without meaningful oversight, and without the power of impeachment, americans will have to come to accept a far greater likelihood of misconduct in the oval office, and they would not
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be able to look to other branches of government to hold their president, the people's president accountable. executive power without any sort of restraint, without oversight, and without any checks and balances is absolute power. and we know what has been said about absolute power. absolute power corrupts absolutely. this is the very opposite of what the framers intended. the framers of the constitution purposefully entrusted the power of impeachment to the legislative branch so that it may protect the american people from a corrupt president. well, the times, senators, have found us.
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if congress allows president trump's obstruction to stand, it effectively nullifies the impeachment power. senators, we are to keepers, the protectors, the defenders of what the framers intended. and we must hold any unprincipled and undisciplined executive accountable. senators, i know that this is not easy. i don't take this moment lightly. these are tough times. i remember quite a few tough times during my 27 years as a law enforcement officer. but we must stop this president. today, we will explain why.
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first, we will review key facts regarding the scope and breadth of president trump's unprecedented actions to stop the house's impeachment inquiry. as you well know we covered many of these facts on tuesday when we explained in depth what evidence the president had blocked from congress. we addressed documents that we know that the white house and other agencies are concealing, and we addressed testimony the president's aides would provide if they testified under oath. we will therefore review the documents and witnesses briefly. second, after surveying relevant history and constitutional law, we will explain why obstruction of congress in and of itself warrants impeachment and removal
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from office. finally, we will demonstrate that president trump is without question guilty of obstruction of congress that his defense has lacked any legal foundation and that his actions pose a dire and continuing threat to the foundation of our constitutional framework. this is very simple. it is simple. the president abused the powers entrusted in him by the american people in a scheme to suppress evidence, escapes accountability, and orchestrates a massive cover-up. and he did so in plain sight.
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and his obstruction remains ongoing. >> mr. chief justice, senators, president's counsel. before i start, i, too, want to thank the senators for being so patient and being good listeners. it reminds me quite frankly of one of the first days that i went to what is affectionately called baby judge school when we first started. those are the two first things that they told us that we needed. we needed to be patient and we needed to listen, and we needed to be fair and always give the
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opportunity to be heard to each side. i must say that you have certainly been playing a very good role as judges. because although i know that the press calls you jurors, i know that you are in the role of judges. i commend you for being good listeners and for having the patience to listen to us this last two days and our final remarks today. so thank you, all. now, ms. demings has given us an overview of the second article of impeachment, obstruction of congress. so let us now turn to the facts of the case. because to fully appreciate the scope and the scale, the scale of the president's wrongdoing and the size of the cover-up, he has orchestrated requires an
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understanding of the evidence that he has lawlessly, lawlessly hidden from congress and the american people. president trump categorically and indiscriminantly and in an unprecedented fashion obstructed congress' impeachment inquiry. in other words, he orchestrated a cover-up. and he did it in plain sight. first from the beginning. the trump administration sought to hide the president's misconduct by refusing to turn over the intelligence committee whistle-blower complaint. that complaint would sound the first alarm of the president e' wrongdoing. second, the president issued an order prohibiting the entire, the entire executive branch from
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participating in the impeachment inquiry. no cooperation, no negotiation, nothing or as we say in texas, nada. following the president's orders, federal agencies refuse to produce documents and key witnesses refused to testify. in fact, the president sanctioned specific directions to officials ordering them to defy congressional subpoenas. third, and perhaps the most reprehensible of all, the president waged a campaign of intimidation against those brave public servants who did come forward to comply with their obligation under the law. senators, as i have mentioned, i am a lawyer and a former judge.
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i have never, ever seen anything like this from a litigant or a party in any case, not anywhere. but from the very beginning of this scandal, president trump has sought to hide and cover-up key evidence. the cover-up started even before the house began to investigate the president's ukraine-related activity. it began when the white house sought to conceal the record of donald trump's july 25 call with the president of ukraine by placing it on a highly classified system, but as we have said before, there was no legitimate national security reason to do so. the cover-up continued. a top omb official instructed
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the freeze to be quote d closel held. in other words, don't say anything to anybody. senators, you know, in order to lawfully withhold the funding, the president was required to notify congress about the amount of money involved and why he was intending to freeze it. instead, the white house tried to keep the fact of the freeze secret. maybe they kept it a secret, because a senior white house aide rob blair accurately predicted to his boss mick mulvaney, quote, expect congress to become unhinged if it learned that bipartisan aid approved for a valuable foreign partner was being frozen for the president's
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personal gain. but the cover-up reached its peak soon after august 12th. because on august 12th, a whistle-blower filed a lawful and protected complaint intended for congress with the inspector general of the intelligence community. the president who is the subject of the complaint learned of the filing well before congress and the american people. in an effort to reveal the whistle-blower's concerns, the white house and the department of justice took an unprecedented step. no administration had ever intervened in such a manner before. but president trump maneuvered to keep the whistle-blower's concerns from the congressional intelligence committees.
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in the history of the intelligence community whistle-blower protection act, no credible and urgent complaint had ever, ever been withheld from congress. not ever before. it was through immense public pressure and vigorous oversight by the house that the trump administration ultimately produced a complaint to the house and senate intelligence committees. i'll add that even when it was produced, it was weeks after the legal deadline. if the president's efforts to conceal the whistle-blower's concerns had succeeded, congress would never have learned about the existence of the complaint, let alone the allegations that it contained. but this attempt to hide key information from congress was
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only the first sign of what was to come. following new deeply troubling revelations of the president's july 25 call, on september 24th, the speaker of the house announced that the house investigations into the president's scheme to pressure ukraine for personal gain would be folded into the ongoing impeachment inquiry. just days later, the president began to attack the legitimacy of the house impeachment inquiry. while standing on the tarmac of andrews air force base, president trump argued that the house impeachment inquiry, quote, shouldn't be allowed. he claimed that there, and i quote again, that there should be a way of stopping it. maybe legally through the
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courts. let's watch the president and what he had to say. >> my call was perfect. the president yesterday of ukraine said that there was no pressure put on him whatsoever. none whatsoever and he said it loud and clear for the press. what these guys are doing, democrats are doing to this country is a disgrace and it should not be allowed. there should be a way of stopping it, maybe legally through the courts. >> there should be a way of stopping it. soon after, president trump took the matters into his own hands. the president used his authority and his office to wage a relentless and misleading public campaign to attack the impeachment inquiry. the president spent time at rallies, at press conferences and on twitter trying to
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persuade the american people that the house's inquiry was invalid and fraudulent. here are just a few of the president's comments about the impeachment inquiry. he called it a witch hunt. a coup, an unconstitutional power grab, a fraud against the american people. he said that it is the phony impeachment scam. the phony impeachment hoax. the ukraine hoax. and a continuation of the greatest scam and witch hunt in the history of our country. and those are probably some of the ones that can repeat here. it didn't stop. the attacks did not end there. president trump turned from rhetoric to action.
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on october 8th, the white house sent a letter to speaker nancy pelosi informing her that president trump would seek to completely obstruct the impeachment inquiry. sent out this letter on white house stationary, and i should not say it, but i am a lawyer, but very lawyerly, it is an eight-page letter and we can't do anything in one page, but it is eight pages, and it is long and no worries, i'm not going to read it all, but i just want to get to the bottom line. it says president trump cannot permit his administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances. he was just saying we are not going to cooperate. and the let ster is dated octob
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8th, and it is signed by pat cipollone who is here of course with us today as the lead counsel for the president. the president did not make any claim of privilege. the president did not make any attempt to compromise. he had no valid excuse, and although, we are all too familiar with president trump's rhetoric and rants, these words and in this letter on white house stationary signed by his lead counsel here today have consequences. these words had consequences. they were more than just ink on the page and more than just eight pages of words. in the days that followed,
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president trump's agencies and officials followed his order to conceal information from congress. over the past few days, you have heard in extensive detail from all of us about the specific and the incriminating documents that the president has withheld from congress. but again, here is the bottom line. the house and investigating committees sought a total of 71 specific categories of documents from six different agencies and offices. president trump blocked every single one of these requests. all of them. between september 27 and october 10, the investigating committee issued subpoenas to the department of state, to the white house, the office of management and budget, the department of defense and the
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department of energy. the committees always remained open to working with the executive branch to discuss and prioritize the subpoenas. some agencies initially suggested that they might comply. for example, a few days after receiving the subpoena, the department of state sent staff and reached out to committee to quote discuss accommodations. as you all know, the accommodation process is when congress and the executive branch discuss priorities and concerns. so that the committee would get what it needed most efficiently without burdening the agency. so on october 7th, the committee staff met with officials and in that meeting they made a good
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faith attempt to negotiate the department in negotiations to request that they prioritize the production of a narrow set of nonprivileged documents, the department representatives stated they would take the requests back to senior department officials, but that was the end. that was the end. those priority documents were never provided to the committees. in addition, to the state department, the department of defense also showed an initial interest in cooperating. during an october 13 television appearance secretary of defense mark esper stated repeatedly that the department of defense would seek to comply, he said on air, on tv, that they would seek to comply with the subpoenas. in an exchange on "face the nation" he was specifically
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asked, question, very quickly, are you going to comply with the subpoena that the house provided you and provide documents to them regarding the halt of military aid to ukraine. and the answer from the secretary, yeah, we will do everything that we can to cooperate with the congress. just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note as we typically do in these situations to ensure documents are retained. but again, the question is, is that a yes? answer by secretary, that's a yes. question, you will comply with the subpoena. answer again by the secretary, we will do everything we can comply. these are his very own words. we will comply, we can comply.
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but remember, that october 8th letter from the white house that counsel sent to the speaker stating that the president's position of total defiance. president trump, again, i'll quote it, he had said that president trump cannot permit his administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances. so, every department, every office, top to bottom of the executive branch was under these instructions. there are about 2 million civil servants top to bottom, and the executive branch all ordered by president trump not the provide information to congress. the president offered no accommodation and no opportunity
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for negotiation. ultimately, each agencyand office followed the president's order. in response the each subpoena, the trump administration produced no documents. nothing. nada. and the agencies and offices made clear that it was due to the president's instructions. they always deferred to that october 8 letter. for example, despite the secretary's initial signal of cooperation, i gave you the quote when he was asked specifically on tv, and he said that they would try to cooperate, but despite that, the department of defense later refused to respond to the committee's subpoena. in a letter for the committee of department of defense, in light of these concerns of the view of
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the president's position as expressed in the white house counsel's october 8 letter, and without waiving any other objections to this subpoena that the department may have, the department is unable to comply with your request for documents at this time. again, on a tv interview on "face the nation" they tried to ask him again. so when asked by chris wallace on fox news, and question, but do you feel congress has the right to oversight and to be able to see documents about a program approved by congress. answer? they provide it is done in the right way and proper way and i
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think that is the issue. again, i think that my reputation is pretty good and in terms of being very parent, and i would like to communicate with members of congress, and in this case, my recollection is that they were tech ninical and lega issues that kept us from cooperating with congress. so instead to cooperate and seek to comply, and now they are back pedalling. and senators, there was no valid technical and legal arguments and none were put forth to justify the stonewalling of the impeachment inquiry and the documents that president trump are withhold iing are responsiv and in furtherance of the
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president's scheme. here is a sampling of the documents that we know that exist that are currently being withheld. national security adviser john bolton's notes, ambassador's cables, and emails of the omb and other agencies about the president's directive to place a hold on the ukraine military aid and the hundreds of heavily redacted documents that the administration now turned over to third parties under foia court orders. certainly the documents released pursuant to the foia lawsuits were not subject to any claims of privilege or confidentiality or burden. yet the administration released them publicly. by contrast, the president turned the over nothing in response to the house impeachment investigation.
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now, senators, there still is another component of the president's obstruction that i want all of us to focus on. not only did the president block agencies and offices from reproducing the documents, his administration also blocked current and former officials from identifying, producing or even reviewing relevant documents. first, the trump administration actively discouraged its employees from even identifying documents responsive to the committee's request. deputy assistant secretary george kent testified in his deposition that he informed the state department attorney about additional responsive records that the department had not collected. according to kent, the
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department attorney, quote, got very angry, end quote and objected to kent raising the additional information. quote, made clear that he did not think it was appropriate for kent to make the suggestion. so here is a lawyer telling the witness, you know, don't say that. you know, i just frankly is again as a lawyer and former judge, i can't believe that something like this would happen. but kent responded that he was just trying to, quote, make sure that the department was being fully responsive. second, the trump administration refused to permit individual witnesses to produce relevant documents themselves.
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after the state department failed to respond to voluntary requests for documents at the beginning of the investigation, the committee sent document requests to six individual state department employees. secretary pompeo objected to the committee's request to state officials calling them, quote, it is an act of intimidation and an invitation to violate federal court laws. he also claimed that the housing inquiry is to attempt, intimidate, bully and treat improperly this distinguished professionals of the department of state. now we were the bullies. but let's be clear. his statement has been contradicted by actual state department professionals from whom the committee sought documents.
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kent testified that he had quote not felt bullied, threatened or intimidated by the house. in fact, kent said that the language in secretary pompeo's letter, which had been drafted by a state department attorney was without consulting mr. kent. he said quote it was inaccurate. inaccurate. then the state department ordered witnesses to withhold documents from congress. for example on october 14, the department sent a letter to kent's personal attorney warning, warning quote, your client is not authorized to disclose to congress any records relating to official duties.
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certain witnesses defied the orders and produced the substance of key documents. providing critical insight into the president's scheme. others produced documents to the trump administration so they could be turned over the congress. but now the administration is also sitting on those documents and is refusing to turn them over. ambassador taylor testified that he turned the over documents to the trump administration, but to his knowledge, they had not been produced to the house. let's watch. >> have any of the documents that you turned over to your knowledge been turned over to the committee? >> no.
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>> well, senators, i will confirm that the committee has not seen these documents not one. finally, if it could be any worse, and well, it is. a trump administration official, ambassador sondland informed us that he was not even permitted to review his own relevant records in preparation for the testimony. again, his own records to prepare to testify. >> i have not had access to my emails or documents and many, many state department document and i was told that i could not work with my eu staff to pull together the relevant files and information. having access to the state department materials would have been helpful to me in trying to
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resk reconstruct with whom i spoke and met and what was said. my lawyers have made multiple requests to the state department and the white house for these materials, yet, these materials were not provided to me. and they have also refused to share these materials with this committee. these documents are not classified, and in fairness, and in fairness should have been made available. >> of course we agree. the refusal to give documents in response to the committee's request and the refusal to allow individuals to do so either. so recap. no documents, zero, goose egg, nada in response to over 70
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requests, 70 requests and five subpoenas. no attempt to negotiate. no genuine attempt to accommodate. categorical, indiscriminant and unprecedented stone walling. again, never in my time as a lawyer or as a judge have i seen this kind of total disrespect and defiance of a lawfully issued subpoena. and all on president's orders and this could continue, because this obstruction of congress is real, and it is beyond, beyond comparison. this president should be removed.
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>> mr. chief justice and senators, let's turn to president trump's efforts to stop others from testifying. no other president facing impeachment has taken the extreme step to prohibit executive witnesses, branch witnesses from testifying before congress. even president nixon who famously attempted to defy a subpoena for tape recordings of his conversations, he let his most senior staff testify before congress. now, i remember listening on tv of john dean testifying, and the president did not block him. not only did president nixon allow the staff to testify
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before congress, but he demanded they testify and without demanding a subpoena. actually with the senate watergate investigation, president nixon said, and this is a quote, all members of the white house staff will appear voluntarily when requested by the committee. they will testify under oath, and they will answer fully all proper questions. now, compared to president trump. he public attacked the house's impeachment inquiry and calling it quote, a constitutionally invalid. and he ordered every single person working in the executive branch to defy the house impeachment inquiry. as just discussed in the letter to the speaker of the house, the white house counsel said that president trump, quote, cannot permit his administration to participate.
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no president has used his office to blanket such an indiscriminant manner. there is no telling how many government officials would have come forward if the president had not issued this order. let's look at some of the witnesses who followed the orders. the house issued subpoenas to compel the testimony of three officials at the office of management and budget, acting director russell vaught, associate director michael duffey and associate director michael mccormack. now, according to the testimony in the house which was reinforced by emails recently revealed through the freedom of information act lawsuits, omb was just sinful to the president's hold on security assistance to ukraine. the officials served as conduits
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for the white house to implement the hold without directly engaging the agencies that actually supported release of the aid. president trump directed these three omb officials to violate their legal obligation by defying lawful subpoenas, and they followed his orders. this is not just an argument. it is a fact. in response to house subpoenas, the omb sent a letter to chairman schiff refusing to comply, and this is what the letter said. as directed by the white house counsel's october 8th, 2019 letter, omb will not participate in this partisan and unfair impeachment inquiry. in that simple statement, omb admitted several key points. first, mr. cipollone's letter of october 8th was an official directive of the white house.
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second, president trump's blanket order applied to omb and the three officials subpoenaed by the white house. third, president trump's blanket order not only directed them to refuse to participate voluntarily, it also directed them to defy house subpoenas. fourth, president trump's blanket order directly prevented the three omb officials from providing testimony to the house. there's no question about the scope of the president's order. it was total. there is no question about the intent of the order. it is clearly understood by administration officials as shown by omb. and there is no question that the order had an impact. it directly prevented the house from getting testimony from the three senior officials at omb. so, here we are. the president of the united states issued an official order
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forbidding every single person who works for the executive branch of our government from giving testimony to the house as part of the impeachment investigation. that order prevented the house from getting testimony from witnesses who knew about the president's conduct. the matter is simple, and plain to see. the question that we here in congress must ask is whether we are prepared to turn a blind eye to a president's obstruction. obstruction not only of oversight, but also the power to determine whether congress may gather evidence in an impeachment proceeding. if the senate is prepared to accept that, it means that not only president trump, but all presidents after him will have veto power over congress' ability to conduct oversight and the power of impeachment. the house was not prepared to
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accept that, and that is why the house approved article 2. as you consider what you think about this, please know that the president's order was not the end of the campaign to obstruct the impeachment inquiry. it was the beginning. in addition to the total ban of the government witnesses, president trump also sent explicit specific orders and he directed key witnesses to defy subpoenas and refused to testify as part of the house's imimpeachment inquiry. as you know, the house subpoenaed acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney. we wanted his testimony. at a white house press briefing in october and i know that you have seen it before, mr. mulvaney confirmed what we had suspected. mr. mulvaney admitted that
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president trump withheld the aid to pressure ukraine into announcing an investigation into the conspiracy theory that ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections. here's his words. >> did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the dnc server? absolutely. no question about it. that is it. that is why we held up the money. >> after this really stunning admission, the house issued a subpoena to require mr. mulvaney to testify. but on the day of mr. mulvaney's scheduled deposition, the white house sent a letter to his personal attorney. it prohibited from obeying the subpoena, and the letter said, quote, the president directs mr. mulvaney not to appear at the committee's scheduled deposition. when he issued this order, president trump doubled down on the previous blanket order and he did so after the house voted
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to approve resolution 660 which in no uncertain terms made clear that mr. mulvaney was being subpoenaed to testify in an impeachment investigation. this order was the first of many. president trump also ordered another white house official robert blair not to testify. mr. blair is mr. mulvaney's senior adviser and his closest aide. he was involved in the communications about the hold on ukraine aid. the day after his initially scheduled deposition, mr. blair's personal attorney sent a letter to the house. it said, quote, mr. blair has been directed by the white house not to appear and testify. the house also wanted testimony from john eisenberg, the senior attorney and the president's national security council and as
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you have heard over the last few days, key witnesses, ms. hill and lieutenant colonel vindman said they were pressured about the holds on ukraine, and told to report to mr. eisenberg. the white house sent a letter from his personal attorney. the president directs mr. eisenberg not to appear at the committ committee's deposition. that language is starting to sound familiar. mr. eisenberg's personal attorney sent a letter to the house. the letter said this, under these circumstances, mr. eisenberg has no other option that is consistent with his legal and ethical obligations except to follow the direction of his client and employer, the president of the united states, accordingly mr. eisenberg will not be appearing for a deposition at this time. now that language i think it is important. and it is telling.
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it shows that president trump's order left mr. eisenberg with quote no other option that is consistent with his legal and ethical obligations. by directing him to defy a lawful subpoena, president trump created a legal and ethical problem for mr. eisenberg. i am sure that you know contempt of congress can be punished as a criminal offense. it carries a possible sentence of up to 12 months in jail. no president has ever dared during an impeachment inquiry to officially and explicitly order government witnesses to defy house subpoenas. you don't have to consider high minded constitutional principles to understand why this is wrong. it is simple really. by ordering specific government officials to defy congressional subpoenas, president trump forced those officials to choose
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between submitting to the demands of the boss or break the law. nobody should abuse a position of power in that way. but president trump specifically ordered all three of these three senior white house officials, mulvaney, blair and eisenberg to defy the house's subpoenas and refuse to testify. president trump's efforts to conceal the actions did not stop there, and they did not stop at the front door of the white house. no less than 12 other witnesses were specifically ordered not to testify. one of those witnesses ulrich brechbuhl has not been highlighted over the past few days, but the way he fits into the story is worth noting. he is a senior official at the state department and like these other senior officials, he was ordered not the testify. in a letter for the house, his attorney said, quote, mr. brechbuhl has received a letter
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of instructions from the state department directing that he not appear. mr. brechbuhl is still another person who could shed light on president trump's actions. he was kept updated on rudy giuliani's broader efforts in ukraine. he had firsthand knowledge of secretary pompeo's involvement. for one thing, he handled ambassador yovanovitch's recall from ukraine, and though he refused to meet with her in the aftermath. and also, messages by ambassador volker show that mr. brechbuhl knew about mr. giuliani's efforts in the ukraine as they occurred. on july 10th, ambassadors taylor, volker and sondland discussed rudy giuliani's push abroad. while discussing the problems
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that rudy was creating by meddling, he said that he briefed brechbuhl. and then mr. sondland asked him to brief mr. pompeo on a negotiation with president zelensky and making the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation. ambassador sondland wrote to him, kurt and i negotiated a statement from z, to be delivered for our review in a day or two. the contents will hopefully make the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation. now, the state department executive secretary lisa kenna answered ambassador sondland later to say that she had passed that information on the secretary pompeo, and let's consider and pause here why this message to mr. brechbuhl which the state department continues to conceal is important.
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in this exchange, brechbuhl had said that he had executed a statement that he hoped would make the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation. it shows that senior department state leadership, e including secretary pompeo were quite aware of the deal. to trade an invitation to the white house for a statement from president zelensky. indeed, ambassador sondland confirmed that he kept them in the loop. here's his testimony. >> we kept the leadership of the state department and the nsc aware of our communications which included secretary pompeo,
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his counselor ulrich brechbuhl and his secretary lisa kenna and communications with dr. bolton, and dr. hill, mr. morrison and their staff at the nsc. they knew what we were doing and why. >> eight other witnesses were also ordered not to testify adds part of the impeachment inquiry, but those witnesses came forward anyway despite the president's efforts to prevent them from testifying. all of the following witnesses were told not to testify -- ambassador marie yovanovitch, ambassador gordon sondland and deputy assistant of state george kent, ambassador bill taylor, deputy assistant secretary of defense laura cooper and director assistant at omb mark sandy, and state department official catherine croft and
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state department official christopher anderson and each of the eight witnesses followed the law. they obeyed the house subpoenaed and testified before the house. in all, we know that by issuing the blanket order and later the specific orders, president trump prevented at least 12 current or former administration officials from testifying during the house's impeachment inquiry. he specifically forced nine of the witnesses to defy dually authorized subpoenas. the facts are straight forward and they are not in dispute. first, in the history of our republic, no president ever dared to issue an order to prevent even a single government witness from testifying in an impeachment inquiry. second, president trump abused the power of his office by using the official power in an attempt to prevent every single person
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who works in the executive branch from testifying before the house. finally, president trump's orders in fact prevented the house from attaining key witness testimony from at least 12 current or former government officials. president trump's orders were clear. they were categorical. they were indiscriminant and they were wrong. they prevented key government witnesses from testifying. there's no doubt. that is obstruction plain and simple. now, let us turn to a final set of facts. in a further way to silence the
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administration, the president brazenly attacked the public servants who came forward to testify. to be clear, these witnesses did not seek the spotlight in this way. for years they had quietly and effectively performed their duties on behalf of our national interests and on behalf of the american people. why would they seek the spotlight in this way, knowing that the president of the united states would lead the chorus of attacks against them. and he did. he discussed threats and openly retaliation, and attacked their character and patriotism and subjected them to mockery and other insults.
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the president. the president's attacks were broadcast to millions of americans and including the witnesses, their families, their friends and their co-workers. this campaign of intimidation risked discouraging witnesses from coming forward voluntarily or complying with the mandatory subpoenas for documents and testimonies. and as we all know, witness intimidation is a federal crime. there is not enough time today to talk about all of the attacks. but we will walk through a few. if you will recall, marie
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yovanovitch came for public testimony and her first tour was in somalia and increasingly dangerous place as that country's civil war progressed. during a different tour, when ambassador yovanovitch helped to open a u.s. embassy in a time when the embassy was attacked by a gunman who sprayed the embassy building with gunfire. ambassador yovanovitch has served as ambassador to armenia and served the u.s. embassy in moscow. as chairman schiff said earlier, she has served in some dangerous places around the world on behalf of our interests and the interests of the american people. and the secretary over state of political affairs described ambassador yovanovitch as, i quote, and a exceptional officer
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doing exceptional work at a critical embassy in kiev. but during ambassador yovanovitch's public testimony, president trump tweeted everywhere marie yovanovitch went turned bad. she started off in somalia, and how did that go? then fast forward to ukraine where the new ukrainian president spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. it is a u.s. president's outright or absolute right to appoint ambassadors. and in that same hearing, chairman schiff asked ambassador yovanovitch for her reactions to the president's attacks during her testimony before the house. let's listen to that exchange.
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>> ambassador, you have shown the courage the come forward and testify and notwithstanding the fact that you were told by the white house and the state department not to and not despite the fact that you testified to earlier that the president implicitly threatened you in that call record. and now the president in real time is attacking you. what effect do you think that has on other witnesses' willingness to come forward to expose wrongdoing? >> well, it is very intimidating. >> designed to intimidate, is it not? >> i mean, i can't speak to what the president is trying to do, but i think that the effect is to be intimidating. >> well, i wanted to let you know that, am ambassador, some
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us take witness intimidation very, very seriously. >> the house also received the testimony of another career servant who was at the top of his class in west point and served and infantry combat man in vietnam and received a commendation for valor. but shortly after he came to congress, public trump referred to him as a never trumper without any basis. and then when a reporter noted that secretary of state mike pompeo had hired ambassador taylor, president trump responded and i quote, hey, everybody makes mistakes.
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he then had the following exchange about ambassador taylor. let's listen. >> he is a never trumper and his lawyer is the head of the never trumper and they are a dying breed, but they are there. >> and ambassador taylor has since stepped down from his position as our chief diplomat in ukraine. in addition to the relentless attacks, the president repeatedly attacked a member of the intelligence community who filed the anonymous whistle-blower complaint in more than 100 statements about the whistle-blower over a period of just two months, the president publicly questioned the
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whistle-blower's motives and disputed the accuracy of the whistle-blower's account. but most disturbing, president trump issued a threat against the whistle-blower and those who provided information to the whistle-blower. let's listen. >> i want to know who is the person who gave the whistle-blower, who is the person who gave the whistle-blower the information, because that is a spy. you know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right with the spies and treason, right? we used to handle it a little differently than we do now. >> the president's need to conceal the actions were so extreme that he even attacked the credibility of those witnesses who served our country in combat. this included active duty military personnel and veterans who earned the purple heart and
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bronze star among other battlefield recognition. but president trump showed ultimate disregard for such patriotism. and for example, the president attacked then colonel lieutenant vindman and questioned his loyalty to the united states. the president retweeted, lieutenant colonel vindman was offered the position of defense minister for the ukrainian government three times. lieutenant colonel vindman, the national security director for ukraine has been an active duty army officer for more than 20 years.
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lieutenant colonel vindman received a purple heart for injuries he obtained in iraq. and the record of the president's comments are irreprehensible and meant to obstruct the impeachment inquiry. the fact that it is the president of the united states making these threats tells us something. it tells us that the president wanted to keep witnesses from testifying and thus further obstruct congress' inquiry. senators, we cannot and we must not condone the president's attacks on whistle-blowers and witnesses and people who truly have the ability to put our
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country first. now that we have carefully reviewed the facts and described the president's obstruction of justice, we address the questions of law. this discussion need not be abstra abstract. the president's impact is directly and it impacts the constituents that you represent. it impacts you. because your job as a member of congress is to hold the executive branch in check. this is true no matter who occupies the white house or which party controls the house or senate. and the further the president, any president departs from the law and the constitution, the more important it is for you to
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do your job. i suspect that there is common ground here, and we all know that in order for congress to do its work, we must have information. what is reasonable policy, what is to a administration doing? should we support it? oppose it? should we enact legislation to correct the problem? asking questions, gathering information and making decisions based on the answers is really fundamental functions of congress. i suspect that we agree on this as well, our ability to do that work depends upon our gathering information. it depends upon the power of the congressional subpoena. en when you make a polite request for information from a friendly administration, that request is backed by the threat of a subpoena. and although the power of the congressional subpoena has been affirmed repeatedly by the courts and enshrined for the rules of the house and the senate and respected by the executive branch agencies for
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centuries and if the president chooses to ignore the subpoenas the power as a branch of government, and the ability to do our jobs, and the ability to keep an administration in check, our ability to make sure that american people are represented by a congress and not just by a president is diminished. please know that we are not talking about a disagreement over the last few documents at t the end of a long production schedule, but this is a direct order of the president of the united states to completely disregard all of our subpoenas, and to deny us all of the information that the president wants to keep secret. this is in order to deprooi congre deprive the executive branch accountable, and to neuter us nonaccountable without
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information that the president did not want us to have. without information, we cannot act. so we must ask, is there a consequence for the president who defies the subpoenas absolutely and who says that to all branchs of the administration, do not obey a single congressional subpoena, categorically without knowing the subject of the subpoena. just never answer a congressional subpoena who denies congress the right to anyone formation necessary to challenge his power. would madison and hamilton and washington allow a president do whatever he wants, and brazenly adds that he can ignore any effort to investigate even backed by subpoenas that the law requires him to obey? the answer to all of the questions is a resounding yes. but before diving in, i would like to set the historical scene. the framers were wise, and so
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they worried that the presidents would abuse their powers for personal gain. they feared that some day, a president might mistake himself for a king whose decisions cannot be questioned, whose conduct cannot be investigated, whose power transcends the rule of law, and such would be king would certainly think things like quote, i have the right to do whatever i want as president, and he might believe that the quote is illegitimate for anybody to investigate him. of course not even the framers could have imagined a president would say these things out loud. a president with this view of raw power would attack anyone who tried to hold him to account. branding them quote human scum and quote the enemy of the people. he would argue that courts have no power to enforce the subpoenas against him. he would conscript the allies to ridicule congress and harass
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witnesses who testified against him to declare it disloyal to question the conduct. he would use the powers of the office to sabotage our system of checks and balances. all of this we have seen in the last few years. indeed in the last few months. the framers wrote the impeachment clause to protect the american people from such a president. the impeachment clause exists to protect the freedom and the democracy in between elections. it exists through presidents that they serve the public and not the other way around. it is a reminder to presidents that they answer to something greater than themselves. it confirms that nobody in america is above the law. not even the president. but as we have discussed the impeachment power does not magically protect us when the president commits high crimes and misdemeanors. in benjamin franklin's words,
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they have left aus republic if we can keep it. one way to uphold the promise is to as elected members of congress is to hold the executive branch in check. that responsibility is part of the constitutional design. the burden is ours regardless of the political party and no matter who sits in the oval office. in the ordinary course when we do our jobs, we do our nation a service by holding the executive branch both the political leadership and the professional core accountable to the people for the actions. when the president's conduct exceeds the usual constitutional safeguards, it falls on the house to investigate presidential wrongdoing and if necessary to approve articles of impeachment. then it falls on the senate to judge, convict and remove presidents who threaten the constitution. this entire framework depends on congress' ability to discover, and then to thoroughly
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investigate presidential malfeasance. if the presidents could abuse their power and then conceal all of the evidence from congress, the impeachment clause would be a nullity. we the people would lose a vital protection. that is why the officials throughout history have repeatedly recognized that subpoenas served in the impeachment inquiry must be obeyed, including by the president. it is why before president trump only a single official in american history has defied the impeachment subpoena and why that official richard nixon faced an article of impeachment for doing so. as the house judiciary committee reasoned in the analysis of nixon's obstruction, quote, unless the defiance of the house subpoenas is considered grounds for impeachment, it is difficult to conceive of any president acknowledging that he is obligated to supply the relevant
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matters necessary. and robert mccory from illinois explained this. if we refuse to recommend that the president is impeached because of the defiance of the congress with respect to the subpoenas that we have issued the future respondents will be in the position to determine themselves what they are going to provide in the impeachment inquiry and what they are not going to provide, and this is, this would be particularly so in the case of an inquiry directed toward the president of the united states. so, not only affects this president, but future presidents. and that is where we find ourselves now. but with even greater force. president nixon authorized other executive branch officials and agencies to honor their legal
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obligations. he also turned over many of his own documents. president trump in contrast, directed his entire administration, every agency, every office, every official, not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. as in nixon's case, president trump's obstruction is merely an extension of the cover-up. as in nixon's case, president trump's obstruction reveals consciousness of guilt. innocent people do not act this way. they do not hide all the evidence. and like nixon, president trump is offering an assortment of arguments to excuse his obstruction, but as was true in m nixon's case, none of the excuses can succeed. and to the clause that the president can dictate the terms of his own impeachment inquiry. and so congress has defined the grounds to be weak and limit and apply here only one time, and it is the house and not the president who broke from
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precedent. that he would gladly comply with subpoenas if only the house would do as he insists. that is pure fantasy. the president's arguments are not a one-ride ticket. they are not unique to the facts. unless they are firmly and finally rejected here, the bogus excuses will reappear every time congress investigates any president for serious abuses of power, every single time. they were constitute a playbook for ignoring the oversight available to all future president, democratic or republican. these arguments are not consistent with the constitution. they are lawyerly window dressing for the unprecedented dangerous power grab. plenty of judges and others have complained about the impeachment inquiries and declaring their own innocence, and saying that due process entitles them to
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other protections, but no president other than president nixon has ever defied and no other president or judge has said to defy subpoenas categorically across the board. they recognize the subpoenas under the law. president trump stands alone. and president trump is permitted to defy the subpoenas here in the impeachment inquiry and when the courts have said that the congressional power of inquiry is at the highest, imagine what future presidents will do when we attempt to conduct routine oversight. president trump is the first leader of the nation to declare that nobody can investigate him for unofficial misconduct except on his terms. so in word and deed he has declared himself above the law. he has done so because he is guilty and wishes to conceal as much of the evidence from the american people and from this body as he can.
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in that he must not succeed. if president trump is allowed to remain in office after this conduct, historians will mark the date that this senate allowed this president to break one of our mightiest defenses against tyranny. they will wonder why congress so readily surrendered one of the core constitutional powers and admitted that a president can get away with anything, and violate any constitutional rule, and any liberty. any request for information and get away with it simply by saying that i don't have to answer your questions. congress has no power to make me answer questions about my conduct. that is what is at stake. the future people will despair that the future presidents can abuse the power without fear of consequence or constraint. let's begin with a legal premise of the second article of impeachment. congress has the power to
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investigate presidents for official misconduct. this premise is indisputable. article one of the constitution, all legislative powers herein granted will be vested in the congress of the united states which shall consist of a senate and house of representatives and each house may determine the rulings of its own proceedings and the however, the investigations are grounted in article one of the constitution which grants congress all legislative powers and authorizes each house to determine its own rules. as the supreme court has explained the constitution thus vests the house and the senate with the power of inquiry that is, and i quote, penetrating and far reaching, close quote. moreover, congress can effectuate that power of inquiry by issuing subpoenas and commanding the recipient to provide documents or testify under oath. compliance with subpoenas is mandatory. it is not at the option of the executive or the president, as
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the supreme court has explained, quote, it is unquestionably the duty of all citizens to cooperate with the congress in the efforts to obtain the facts needed for intelligent legislative action. it is their unremitting obligation to respond to subpoenas, to respect the dignity of the congress and its committees and to testify with respect to matters within the province of proper investigation. more recently, the united states district judge brown jackson has elaborated. the blatant defiance of the congress' centuries' old powers to defy subpoenas is not an abstract injury or benign insult to the democracy. it is an affront for curbing abuses of power that the framers carefully crafted for our protection, and thereby recalcitrant witnesses undermine the broader interests of the people of the united states. in recognition of the important
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rule that congrern nal inquiries play in the democracy and in guarding the american people, it is unlawful to obstruct them. of course while congress investigates many issues, one of the most important is misconduct in the executive branch. there is a long history of congressional investigations into the executive branch. to name a few and especially famous cases, congress has investigated claims that president lincoln mishandled civil war military strategy and the infamous teapot dome scandal, and president nixon in watergate, and president reagan's involvement in the iran contra deal and the president clinton and lewinski scandal, and also, the warrantless wiretapping under president george w. bush and attacks on american personnel in benghazi under president obama. even in the sensitive
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investigations involving national security and foreign policy, the presidents have provided congress with access to senior officials and important documents. for example, the iran-contra inquiry former reagan's national adviser oliver north, and the former national secretary of national affairs testified and there were excerpts that were permitted to congress. and in the clinton administration, congress obtained testimony from top advisers including chief of staff mack mclarty and erskine bowles. and in ben gghazbenghazi, presia allowed to bring forth testimony
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from his chief of staff and there were also emails and other documents from the national security adviser. and meanwhile, the response to the benghazi investigation was deemed insufficient. and imagine how they would have reacted if president obama had reacted to total defiance of subpoenas. there would have been outrage, and why? because congress has the authority to investigate presidential misconduct. and not only the power to investigate the executive, but as we have discussed in article one of the constitution, it gives the house the sole power of impeachment. this is intended by the framers to check on out of control presidents. but does it not work automatically, because the house must investigate and question wntss and review documents and
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only then decide to approve or disapprove articles of impeachment. therefore when the house determines that the president may have committed high crimes and disdemmisdemeanors, it has constitutional duty to investigate the conduct. so the house is acting not only in pursuant to the legislative authority, but also serves as a grand inquest of the nation, because an impeachment inquiry is one to constraint presidents, and subpoenas are backed with the full force of the impeachment clause. they cannot be thwarted by ordinary executive privileges or ordinary objections. it is therefore presumed as president polk conceded 150 years ago that quote, all of the archi archives and the papers of the executive departments public or private would be subject to
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inspection. quote, every facility and power of the executive would be able to afford the house to prosecute the investigation. what investigation? the impeachment investigation of president polk. presidents polk's statement which we will return to is no outlier, and the presidents have long understood that they must comply with the impeachment inquiries. consistent with this understanding in the history of the republic no president has ever claimed the unilateral prerogative to categorically defy a house impeachment inquiry. on the contrary. every president facing this issue has agreed that congress possesses a broad and penetrating power of inquiry when investigating grounds for impeachment. this is directly refutes president trump's claim that he obstructed congress to protect the office of the presidency. every prior occupant of his office has disavowed the limitless power that he asserts.
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that matters. as the supreme court explained a few years ago and i quote, long settled and established practices are a consideration of great weight in a proper interpretation of the constitutional provisions regulating the regulation of the congress and the president. and so let's take a quick tour of the historical record. to begin at the beginning a. sweltering summer in philadelphia 1887, the framers discussed at length the balance between presidents and congress. remember, they had just fought a bloody war to rid themselves of a tyrant. they were very conscious, that they did not want another tyr t tyrant. when impeachment came up, greeted to limit the president's authority, but a strong majority of the framers saw it as a virtue and not a vice. they wanted to give him power, but also to keep his power from out of stand.
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and impeachment yet could not serve that role if the house were unable to investigate the president for high crimes and disdemeanors and this is recognized early on starting with the first president. in 1796, the house requested that president washington provided with sensitive diplomatic materials relating to the hugely unpopular gray treaty with great britain. president washington declined because the request included upon his executive function, but washington agreed that impeachment would change his calculus. in the ensuing debates it is noted on the house floor that washington had admitted quote that where the house expresses an intention to impeach, the right to demand from the executive all papers and information in his possession belongs to it. all papers an information. this was only the first of many references to that point in our constitutional tradition. for example, less than 40 years
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later in 1833, justice joseph story remarked on the dangers of the presidential obstruction. he wrote, the power of impeachment will generally be applied to persons holding high offices under the government, and it is of great consequence that the president should not have the power of preventing a thorough investigation of their own conduct. consistent with this teaching, president polk later offered his clear and insightful explanation of why presidents must honor all impeachment subpoenas. as i mentioned just a moment ago he said, and i quote, it may be alleged that the power of impeachment belongs to the house of representatives and that with a view to the exercise of this power, that house has the right to investigate the conduct of all public offices under the government, and this is cheerily admitted. decades later in the first presidential impeachment inkwquy
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president andrew johnson was investigated by his subordinates. and the house judiciary committee obtained executive and presidential records, and the cabinet interviewed presidential aides about other top aides. and the statement and advice given to the president. there is no evidence that johnson asserted any privilege to prevent disclosure of the presidential conversations to the committee or failed to comply with any of the committee's requests. thus, in the first 80 years of the republic, presidents washington, polk and johnson and along with members of the committees in the house and the supreme court justices all recognized that congress is authorized by the constitution to investigate for impeachment and that presidents are
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obligated to give all information requested. president trump's attempt to stonewall congress would have shocked those presidents. with only a few exceptions in vocations of the impeachment power subsided. from 1868 to 1972. and yet even in that period, while objecting to ordinary legislative oversight, presidents ulysses s. grant and theodore roosevelt and grover cleveland said that congress could obtain key documents in the impeachment inquiry and thus confirming that impeachment is different. under the constitution, it requires full compliance. then came watergate. then president nixon abused the powers of the office to undermine his political opponents, but even nixon,en nixon understood that he must comply with subpoenas for information relating to his misconduct. thus he stated in march of 1973
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regarding the senate's watergate investigation, i quote, all members of the white house staff will appear voluntarily when requested by the committee. they will testify under oath, and they will answer properly all questions. as a result, many senior white house officials testified, including the white house counsel john dean, white house chief of staff holderman and deputy to the president alexander butterfield. in addition, nixon produced many documents in response to the congressional subpoenas including the notes from the meetings of the president. as the house judiciary committee explained at the time, 69 officials had been subjected to impeachment investigations throughout american history, and yet and i quote that with the possible exception of one minor official who invoked the privilege of self-incrimination, not one of them challenged the power of the committee conducting the investigation to compel the production of
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evidence that it deemed necessary. president nixon's production of records was incomplete however in a very important respect. he did not produce tape recordings of key oval office conversations. in response to the house judiciary committee, approved in article of impeachment against the president for obstruction of congress. 24 years later, the house undertook impeachment proceedings against president clinton and consistent with the congress unlike president trump, he pledged to fully cooperate with the impeachment investigations and answered 81 written interrogatories to the ju judiciary committee, and three witnesses provided testimony in the senate trial. as this review of the historical record proves that presidents have long recognized that the constitution compels them to honor subpoenas served by the house in an impeachment inquiry. stated simply, president trump's
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categorical blockade of the house and the refusal to honor any subpoenas and the order that all subpoenas without knowing what they were to be defied has no analog in the history of the republic and nothing comes evenb close. the engagement of the obstruction that several of the predecessors have said is forbidden and that led to the article of impeachment against nixon. president trump is an outlier. he is the first and only president ever to declare himself unaccountable. and to ignore subpoenas backed by the constitution's impeachment power. if he is not removed from office, if he is permitted to defy the congress entirely, categorically, to say that subpoenas from congress in an impeachment inquiry are nonsense, then we will have lost the house will have lost and the senate certainly will have lost all power to hold any president
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accountable. this is a determination by president trump that he wants the be all powerful, and he does not have to respect the congress, and he does not have to respect the representatives of the people and only his will goes. he is a dictator. this must not stand, and that is why another reason that he must be removed from office. >> mr. chief justice, senators, we have now shown how the extreme measures of the president to block subpoenas and witnesses has defied centuries of historical practice, but there is more to the story and it only further undermines president trump's case. the position that he has taken is not only baseless as a
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historical matter, it is also inconsistent with the justice department's stated reason for refusing to indict or prosecute presidents. now, the department of justic'ss unwillingness to indict a sitting president creates the danger that the president cannot be held accountable by anyone even for grave misconduct and two, the credit of the department of justice recognized that risk. in its view, quote, the constitutionally specified impeachment process ensures that the immunity would not place the president above the law. this argument from the justice department is important, in its view that the president cannot be held criminally liable while in office, d.o.j. relies on
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congress' ability to impeach and remove a president, but the justice department's rationale, it falls apart if the constitutionally specified impeachment process cannot function because the president, himself, has obstructed it. the supreme court correctly noted in nixon versus fitzgerald and that not richard nixon, sxwr judge nixon that vigilant oversight of congress is necessary to make relevant the threat of impeachment. the president should not be treated with criminal immunity because he is subject to impeachment, and then be allowed to sabotage the impeachment process that places him dangerously above the law and beyond the separation of powers. presidents can't be above the law. presidents like everyone else
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must obey subpoenas served in an impeachment itchingry. in 1880 the supreme court explained, quote, were the question of such impeachment is before either house of congress, acting in its appropriate sphere on that subject, we see no reason to doubt the right to compel the attendance of witnesses and their answer to proper questions in the same manner and by the use of the same means that courts of justice can in like cases. almost a century later, judge john surricas' influential opinion on the watergate roadmap in 1974 emphasized the special weight assigned to congress in an impeachment. he wrote, it should not be forgotten that we deal in a matter of the most critical moment to the nation. an impeachment investigation
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involving the president of the united states. it would be difficult to concede of a more compelling need than that of this country for an unswervingly fair inquiry based on all the pertinent information. that same year, the supreme court could decided the famous case of nixon versus the united states, that's president nixon. i was standing just across the street from the court when the case was handed down. and i remember seeing the reporters running down those marble steps clutching the court's unanimous decision. the decision forced the release of key oval office tapes that president nixon had tried to cover up by invoeksing executive prej. in short order it led to the
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resignation of president nixon. the plaintiff was leon jaw warski who had been appointed to investigate it and had issued subpoenas for the tapes. the supreme court upheld the subpoenas against president nixon's claim of executive privilege. it reasoned that his asserted interest in confidentialality could not overcome the constitutionally grounded interest in the fair administration of criminal justice. now, in reaching that conclusion, the court said this. quote, the ends of criminal justice would be defeated if judgments were to be founded on a partial or speculative presentation of the facts. the very integrity of the judicial system and public kochb dense in the system depend on full disclosure of all facts within the framework of the rules of evidence. that reason which was unanimous
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applies with full force, endooed greater force, to impeachments. the house judiciary committee recognized that when it approved an article of impeachment against president nixon for obstruction of congress. it reasoned as follows, quote, if a generalized presidential interest in confidentiality cannot prevail over, quote, the fundamental demand of due process of law in the fair administration of justice, then neither can it be permitted to prevail over the fundamental need to obtain all the relevant facts in the impeachment process. whatever the limits of legislative power in other contexts and whatever need may otherwise exist, for preserving the confidentiality of presidential conversations, in the context of an impeachment, proceeding the balance was struck in the favor of the power
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of inquiry. accordingly, president trump's conduct is unprecedented and actually offensive to the presidents, and it is inconsistent with his duty, his oath, to faithfully execute the laws. now, that obligation to see that the laws are faithfully executed is not just not enforcing statutes. it's a duty to be faithful to the constitution, every part of it, as stated in the text and understood across history, and it is a duty he has violated by obstructing congress here. i want to make one additional point regarding the judiciary. now, presidents have an obligation to comply with the congress' impeachment inquiry regardless of whether a court has reviewed the request. we make this point even though, i think, president trump's lawyers would be making a mistake to raise it.
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after all, the president's lawyers can't have it both ways. they can't argue here that we must go to court, and then argue in court that our case can't be heard. anyway, the house's sole hour of impeachment wouldn't be sole or much of a power if the house could not investigate the president at all, without spending years litigating before the third branch of government. it would frustrate the constitution for the house to depend entirely on the judiciary to advance its impeachment-related investigatory powers. consistent with this understanding, before president trump, the house had never before filed a lawsuit to require testimony or documents in a presidential impeachment. we didn't have to. no president ever issued a
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blanket ban or compliance with house subpoenas or challenged the house to find a way around his unlawful order. in this strange and unprecedented situation, it's appropriate for congress to reach its own judgment, that the president is obstructing the exercise of its constitutional power. as then-representative lindsey graham explained in 1998, during the clinton proceedings where we served together on the judiciary committee, quote, the day richard nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day he was subject to impeachment, because he took the power from congress over the impeachment process away from congress, and he became the judge and jury. there's still another reason why it would be wrong and daj routs to insist that the house cannot take action without involving
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the courts, and that reason is delay. consider just three lawsuits filed by house committees over the past two decades to enforce subpoenas against senior executive branch officials. now, i served on the judiciary committee when we decided that we needed to hear from former white house counsel harriet meyers. in committee on the judiciary versus meyers, the judiciary committee tried to enforce a subpoena is that required her to give testimony about the contentious firing of nine u.s. attorneys. the committee served the subpoena in 2007. we negotiated, as courts indicated you should, with the white house, and we finally filed suit in march of 2008. we won a favorable district court order in july 2008. but we didn't receive testimony
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from meyers until june of 2009. that was two years. in committee on oversight and reform versus holder, the committee on oversight and reform tried to force attorney general eric holder to produce additional documents relating to the so-called operation fast and furious. the committee served the subpoena on october 2011. they filed suit august 2012. they won a series of oerds requiring production of documents but the first did not issue until august of 2014, nearly three years. in committee on the judiciary versus mcgahn, the house judiciary committee sought to enforce a subpoena to require white house counsel, don mcgahn, to give testimony regarding matters relating to the special counsel's investigation. now, we served that subpoena in
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april of last year. we filed suit in august of last year. we won a favorable district court order in november of last year. the court of appeals has stayed that ruling and didn't hear arguments until early this month with an opinion and potentially, unlikely, supreme court application likely to follow. we will not have an answer likely this year. sometimes courts move quickly, but here they haven't, not at all. even when the house urges expedited action, it yourly takes years, not months, to get evidence through judicial proceedings. now, the president can't put off impeachment for years by ordering total defiance of the house and then insist the court go to court even as he argues that they can't go to court. that's especially true where the president just doesn't just raise one or two objections to
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specific subpoenas, but orders a blanket government-wide coverup of all evidence. that kind of order makes this clear. the president sees himself completely immune from any accountability, above the law. it reveals his pretentious to absolute power. it con firms he must are removed from office. here's the key point. president trump's obstruction of office is not merely unprecedented and wrong. it's also a high crime and misdemeanor, as the framers used and understood that phrase, warranting his immediate removal from office. to see why, let's return to first principles. as the framers deliberated in philadelphia, george mason posed a profound question.
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shall any man be above justice? that question wasn't a hypothetical. the framers had just rebeld against england where one man, the king, was in fact above justice. but authorizing congress to remove presidents for egregious my conduct, the framers rejected that model. unlike britain's king, the president would answer to congress and thus to the nation if he engaged in serious wrongdoing. because the impeachment power exists not to punish the president but to check presidents. it can't function if presidents are free to ignore all congressional investigation and oversight. an impeachment scholar, frank bowman, said this, without the power to compel compliance with
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subpoenas and the con commitant right to impeach a president for refusal to comply, the impeachment power would be nullified. to the consequences of presidential obstruction go beyond any particular impeachment inquiry. they go to the heart of the impeachment power itself. they weaken our shield against a daj routs or corrupt president. now of course presidents are still free to raise privacy, national security, or other concerns in the course of an impeachment inquiry. there's room for good faith negotiations over what evidence will be disclosed. although there is a strong presumption in favor of full compliance with congressional subpoenas. but when a president abuses his office, abuses his power, to completely defy house investigators in impeachment inquiry, when he does that,
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without lawful cause or excuse, he attacks the constitution itself. when he does that, he con firms that he sees himself as above the law. president nixon's case is informative. as noted president nixon let his senior officials testify. he produced many documents. he did not direct anything like a blanket, indiscriminate block of the house's impeachment inquiry. he still did defy subpoenas seeking records and recordings of the oval office. now president nixon claimed that his noncompliance was legally defensible, he invoked the doctrine of the executive privilege, the judiciary committee rejected that excuse. the committee emphasized that quote, the doctrine of separation of powers cannot justify the withholding of information from an impeachment inquiry.
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after all, the very purpose of such an inquiry is to permit the house acting on behalf of the people to curb the excesses of another branch, in this instance, the executive. quote, whatever the limits of legislative power and other context, and whatever need may otherwise exist for preserving the confidentiality of presidential conversations in the context of an impeachment proceeding, the balance was struck in favor of the power of inquiry when the impeachment provision was written into the constitution. now, ultimately, the committee approved an article against nixon because he sought to prevent the house from exercising its constitutional duty. article three charged nixon with abusing his power by interfering
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with the discharge of the judiciary committee's responsibility to investigate fully and completely whether he had committed high crimes and misdemeanors. president nixon's third article of impeachment explained it this way. quote, in refusing to produce these papers and things, richard m. nixon, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the house of representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment as vested in -- by the constitution and the house of representatives. in all of this, richard m. nixon acted contrary, in a manner contrary, to his trust as president, sub virsive
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constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the united states. president nixon's case powerfully supports the conclusion that presidential defiance of the house impeachment inquiry constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors. you know, i've been thinking a lot about the founders. i've been rereading the constitution and the notes from the constitutional convention. it was just a little over 230 years ago that they met in philadelphia not too far from here. they had been at it for a long time. they didn't know whether the constitution they were trying to write would sustain freedom, but they were trying to create a completely different type of government. on july 20th, governor morris
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said this. the manlis trait is not the king. the people are the king. george mason of virginia on that same day said, shall any man be above justice? above all, that man may be above it who can commit the most extensive injustice? and he wi and eldrij jerry argued he hoped that the chief magistrate could do no wrong would never be adopted here. now finally on september 8thth, they adopted the impeachment clause in the u.s. constitution. but i hope that we will remember the add monition that we should never accept the fact that the magistrate, the president, can do no wrong. they crafted a constitution to protect our liberty and the
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liberty of those who will follow us. professor noah feldman talked about the kojconstitution in hi testimony before the house. >> a president who says, as this president did say, i will not cooperate in any way, shape or form with your process, robs a coordinate branch of government. he robs the house of representatives, of its bang constitutional power of impeachment. >> you know, a president who does that also endangers the american people by stripping away the constitution's final safeguard against presidents who abuse power and harm the nation. such a president acts like a king, which the founders were fighting against. that's what they wrote out of the constitution. a president cannot be immune from oversight, accountability, and even simple justice in the
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exercise of the powers entrusted to him. we can't let that stand in this case. the president must forfeit the powers that he has abused, and be removed from office. mr. chief justice, distinguished members of the senate, counsel for the president, my colleagues, the american people, who are as assembled here today, i think we have our next break scheduled for within the hour. and so i find myself in the unenviable position of being the only thing standing between you and our dinner.
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[ laughter ] but be not discouraged. because i'm going to try to follow the advice of a former sunday school teacher of mine, grew up in the cornerstone baptist church in brooklyn. she said jeffries, on the question of public presentations, be brief, be bright, and be gone. and so i'm gonna try to do my best. presidents are required to comply with impeachment subpoenas. this president has completely defied them. that conduct alone is a high crime and misdemeanor. the facts here are not really in dispute. president trump's defense appears to be, i can do whatever
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i want to do. only i can fix it. i am the chosen one. >> then i have in article two where i have the right to do whatever i want as president. nobody knows the system better than me. which is why i alone can fix it. somebody had to do it. i am the chosen one. somebody had to do it. >> is that who we are as a democracy? president trump can address the substance of our case. he therefore complains about process. but these procedural complaints are baseless excuses.
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and they do not justify his attempts to hide the truth from congress and from the american people. the president's arguments fail for four simple reasons. first, the house, not the president, has the sole power of impeachment. and the sole power to determine the rules of its proceedings. that's article one, section two whe of the constitution. second president trump's due process argument has no basis in law, no basis in fact, no basis in the constitution. president trump may not preemptively deny any and all cooperation to the house, and then assert that the house's procedures are illegitimate because they lack his cooperation. third, president trump's claim that he is being treated
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differently completely lacks merit. despite what he contends, the house provided president trump with greater protection than what was given to both president nixon and president clinton. the fact that president trump failed to take advantage of these procedural protections does not mean they did not exist. president trump is not the first president to complain about house procedures. he won't be the last. he's not the first one to challenge the motives of any investigation or certainly an impeachment inquiry. such complaints are standard operating procedure from the article two executive branch. presidents johnson, president nixon, president clinton, had plenty of complaints. but no president, no president,
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no president has treated such objections as a basis for withholding evidence, let alone categorically defying every single subpoena. none. except donald john trump. finally the obligation to comply with an impeachment subpoena is unyielding. it does not dissipate because the president believes house committee es should invite different wittess ins, give his defenders unfettered subpoena power or involve his personal lawyers at the deposition stage of the process. when that has never been done. and if a president can defy congress on such fragile grounds, then it is difficult to imagine why any future president would ever comply with an impeachment or investigative subpoena again.
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throughout our history, impeachments have been rare. and the supreme court has made clear that it's wary of intruding on matters of impeachment. this of course leaves room for inter-branch negotiation. but it does not allow the president to engage in blancht defiance. president trump's objections are not genuinely rooted in the law. they are not good faith legal arguments. we know that because president trump said early on he would fight all subpoenas. we know that because he declared the impeachment inquiry illegitimate before it even adopted any procedures. we know that because he has denounced every single effort to investigate him as a witch hunt. and we know that because he
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never even claimed executive privilege during the entire impeachment proceeding. president trump's first excuse for obstructing congress is his asserted belief that he did nothing wrong. that his july 25th call with president zelensky was perfect. in the october 8th letter sent by his counsel, president trump asserted the prerogative to defy all house subpoenas because he has declared his own innocence. as mr. cipollone put it, at president trump's behest, the president did nothing wrong. and there is no basis for an impeachment inquiry. he had the white house counsel include this in a formal letter to the house, defying every
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single subpoena. as we have shown in our discussion of the first article of impeachment, these claims of innocence with baseless. they lack merit. we have provided overwhelming evidence of president trump's guilt. a president cannot lawfully obstruct the house impeachment inquiry because he sees no need to be investigated. one of the most sacred principles of justice is that no man should be the judge in his own case. and yet that is exactly what president trump has been determined to do. but this is america. he cannot be judge, jury, and executioner. moreover, the president cannot simply claim innocence and then walk away from a constitutionally mandated process. even president nixon did not do
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that. as we have previously established. congress has a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control executive branch. our responsibility is not to this president, it is to the american people. blanket presidential defiance would bring a swift halt to all the congressional oversight of the executive. that prisnciple would have authorized cat goeral construction in the impeachments of president johnson, president nixon, and president clinton. in each of those cases, the house was controlled by a different party than the presidency. and the president attacked those inquiries as partisan. yet those presidents did not view their concerns with
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excessive partisanship as a basis for defying every single subpoena. the purpose of an impeachment inquiry is for the house to collect evidence, to determine on behalf of the american people, whether the president may have committed an impeachable offense. because the constitution vests the house with the sole power of impeachment. a president who serves as the judge of his own innocence is is not acting as a president. that's a dictator. that's a despot. that is not democracy. the president also believes it appears that his blanket obstruction was justified because the house did not expressly adopt the resolution authorizing an impeachment inquiry or properly delegate such investigative powers to its
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committees. now, the full house voted in january in advance of the inquiry to adopt rules authorizing committees to conduct investigations, issue subpoenas, gather documents, and hear testimony. beginning in the spring and summer of 2019, evidence came to light that president trump and his associates might have been seeking the assistance of another foreign government, ukraine, to influence the upcoming 2020 election. on september 9th, the house investigating committees announced they were launching a joint investigation. they requested records from the white house and the department of state. this investigation was consistent with all rules ofa proved by the full house. at the same time evidence emerged that the president may have attempted to cover up his actions and prevent the transmission of a whistle-blower complaint to the intelligence
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committee of the senate and the house. given a gravity of these allegations and the immediacy of the threat to the next presidential election, the speaker of the house, a constitutional officer, explicitly named in article one, announced on september 24th that the house would begin a formal impeachment inquiry. there is nothing in the constitution, nothing in federal law, nothing in supreme court jurs broouns that required a vote at the time. the president has put before fake arguments against process because he cannot defend the substance of these allegations. following the announcement of the impeachment inquiry, the house investigating committees issued additional requests and
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then subpoenas for documents and testimony. the committee's made clear that this information would be collected as part of the house's impeachment inquiry and shared among committees as well as with the committee on the judiciary as appropriate. then on october 31st, the full house voted to approve house resolution 660. which directed the house committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the house of representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeachment donald john trump. in addition to affirming the ongoing house impeachment inquiry, h res 660 set forth procedures for open hearings in the intelligence committee and for additional proceedings in the judiciary committee. every step in this process was fully consistent with the
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constitution, the rules of the house, and house precedent. the house's owtonmy structure its own proceedings is grounded in the constitution. the president's principle argument to the contrary is that no committee of the house was permitted to investigate any presidential misconduct until the full house acted. as a federal district court recently confirmed, the notion that a full house vote is required to authorize an impeachment inquiry has no textural support in the u.s. constitution or the governing rules of the house. the investigations into misconduct by presidents andrew johnson, nixon and clinton, all began prior to the house's consideration and approval of a resolution authorizing the investigation.
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recently under republican control, the judiciary committee considered the impeachment of the commissioner of the internal revenue service, following a referl from another committee and absent a full vote of the house for an impeachment inquiry. there is no merit to president trump's argument that the full house had to vote. the sequence of events in this particular case largely track those in the nixon proceedings. there the house judiciary's proceedings began in october of 1973 when resolutions calling for president nixon's impeachment were introduced in the house and referred to the judiciary committee. over the next several months the committee investigated the
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watergate break-in and coverup, among other matters, using its existing investigatory authority. the committee also hired a special counsel and other attorneys to assist in these efforts. most importantly, all of this occurred before the house approved a resolution directing the judiciary committee to investigate whether grounds to impeach richard nixon existed. in this instance, the committees began the investigation with their existing powers, authorized by the full house. that coarse urse of events is entirely consistent with the richard nixon precedent. it is also commonsense. after all, before voting to conduct an impeachment inquiry, the house must ascertain the nature and seriousness of the allegations. and the scope of the inquiry that may follow thereafter.
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president trump's second excuse also fails. let's now address the president's so-called due process and fairness arguments. the president has phrased some of his complaints in the language of due process. he has complained that the procedures were not fair even though they reflect prior practice and strike a reasonable balance between presidential involvement on the one hand and the house's obligation to find the truth on the other. presidents come, and presidents go. they have all sharply criticized house procedures. but no president has ever treated those on jeks as a basis for complete defiance. no president has ever done that.
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in a context of a house impeachment inquiry, it's fair to say that a president is a suspect, a suspect who may have committed a high crime or misdemeanor. he cannot tell the detectives investigating the possible constitutional crime what they should do in the context of their investigation. in the president's october 8th letter mr. cipollone says he was denied protections demanded under the constitution. including the right to cross-examine witnesses, receive transcripts of testimony, have access to evidence and have counsel present. it sounds terrible.
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but it's not accurate. the president appears to have mistaken the initial phases of an impeachment inquiry for a full-blown trial. the trial phase is taking place right now. a chairman once observed as it relates to the impeachment proceedings against president nixon, it is not a right but a privilege or a courtesy for the president to participate through counsel. an impeachment inquiry is not a trial, rather it entails a collection, an evaluation of facts before the trial occurs. in that respect, the house acts like a grand jury or prosecutor,
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investigating the evidence to determine whether charges are warranted or not. federal grand juries and prosecutors do not allow targets of their investigation to coordinate witness testimony. the protections that the president label as due process. label as due process. do not apply here. because those entitlements that he sought, many of which were actually afforded to him, but those entitlements that he sought would not necessarily be available to any american in a grand jury investigation. moreover, it should be clear
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that the house notwithstanding this framework, has typically provided a level of transparency in impeachment inquiries, particularly as it relates to presidents. and past impeachment inquiries, this has typically meant that the principle evidence relied upon by the house is disclosed to the president and public. those some evidence in past proceedings has actually remained confidential. the president has typically been given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings, at a stage when evidence has been fully gathered and presented to the judiciary committee. president trump was given the chance to do that in this case, but he declined. presidents have been entitled to
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present evidence that is relevant to the inquiry and to request that relevant witnesses be called. president trump was given the chance to do that in the house impeachment inquiry. before the judiciary committee, but he declined. under house resolution 660, president trump received procedural protections, not just equal to but in some instances greater than that afforded to presidents nixon and clinton. so let's be clear. the privileges described in the october 8th letter were in fact offered to president trump, as they had been in prior impeachment inquiries. the president was able to review all evidence relied on by the house investigating committees
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including those identified as favorable to president trump. during the judiciary committee proceedings, the president had opportunities to present evidence, call witnesses, have counsel present to raise objections, cross-examine witnesses, and respond to the evidence raised against him. as the rules committee report, accompanying house resolution 660 noted, these privileges are commensurate with the inquiry processes followed in the cases of nixon and clinton. president trump simply chose not to avail himself of what had been offered. the fact that president trump declined to take advantage of these protections does not excuse his blanket unconstitutional obstruction. unlike the nixon and clinton impeachments, in this particular instance, the argument that the president has made, the argument that he has made as it relates
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to the investigative process, is not analogous. in this case, the house conducted a significant portion of the factual investigation itself, because no independent prosecutor was appointed to investigate the allegations of wrongdoing against president trump. attorney general william barr refused to authorize a criminal investigation into the serious allegations of miss conduct against the president. they tried to whitewash the whole sordid affair. left to their own devices, the house investigative committees followed standard best practices for investigations, consistent with the law enforcement investigations, into presidents nixon and clinton, in advance of their impeachments.
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the committees released transcripts of all interviews and depositions conducted during the investigation. during the investigation, more than 100 members of the house participated in the so-called closed-door proceedings. more than 100 members of the house, 47 of whom were republicans. they all had the opportunity to ask questions. they all had the opportunity to ask questions with equal time. intelligence committee held public hearings where 12 of the key witnesses testified, including several requested by the house republicans. it is important to note that the very same procedures and house
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resolution 660 was supported by acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney when he served as a member of the oversight committee, and by the secretary of state mike pompeo, when he served as a member of the select committee on benghazi. ? >> tell you in the private interviews, there is never any of what you saw thursday. it is one hour on the republican side, one hour on the democrat side, which is why you're going to see the next two dozen interviews done privately. because it is, i mean look at the other investigations that are being done right now. the lois lerner investigation that was just announced, was that public or private? >> if this process was good enough for other presidents, why isn't it good enough for president trump? representative goudy finished
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that statement by saying, the private ones have always produced the best results. the private ones, according to trey goudy, have always produced the best results. president trump complained his counsel was not afforded the opportunity to participate during the intel committee's proceedings. but neither president nixon nor president clinton were permitted to have counsel participate in the initial fact gathering stages when they were investigated. by special counsel independent counsel. president nixon certainly had no attorney present when the prosecutors and grand juries began checking evidence about
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watergate and related matters. president nixon did not have an attorney present in this distinguished body when the senate select committee on watergate began interviewing witnesses and holding public hearings. nor did president clinton have an attorney present when prosecutors from the office of independent counsel kenneth starr deposed witnesses and elicited their testimony before a grand jury. president trump's attorney could have cross-examined the intel committee's counsel during his presentation of evidence before the house judiciary committee. that would have functioned as the equivalent opportunity afforded to president clinton to have his counsel cross-examine
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kenneth starr, which he did at length. president trump was provided a level of transparency and the level to participate given to other presidents who found themselves in the midst of an impeachment inquiry. the president, and i'm winding down, the president's next procedural complaint is that it was unconstitutional to exclude agency counsel from participating in congressional depositions. the basis for the rule excluding agency counsel is straightforward. it prevents agency officials who are directly implicated in the abuses congress is investigating from trying to prevent their own employees from coming forward to tell congress and the american people the truth.
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it's common sense. the rule protectors the rights of witnesses by allowing them to be accompanied in depositions, by personal counsel, a right that was afforded to all of the witnesses who appeared in this matter. agency attorneys have been excluded from congressional depositions of executive branch officials for decades under both republicans and democrats. including republican chairman dan burton republican chairman darrel icen, republican chairman jason chafe its, republican chairman trey goudy, republican chairman kevin brady, and republican chairman jeb henceling, just to name a few. again, the constitution provides the house with the sole power of
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impeachment and the sole authority to determine the rules of its proceedings. which were fair to all involved. given the constitution's clarity on this point, the president's argument that he can engage in blanket obstruction is just dead wrong. president trump also objects that the house minority lacks sufficient subpoena rights, but the subpoena rules that were applied in the trump impeachment inquiry were put into place by my good friends and colleagues on the other side of the aisle, house republicans, when they were in the majority. we are playing by the same rules devised by our republican colleagues.
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president nixon did not engage in blanket obstruction. president clinton did not engage in blanket obstruction. no president of the united states has ever acted this way. lastly, we should reject president trump's suggestion that he can conceal all evidence of misconduct based on unspecified confidentiality interests. those are his exact words, confidentialality interests. but not once in the entire impeachment inquiry did he ever actually invoke executive privilege. perhaps that's because executive privilege cannot be invoked to conceal evidence of wrongdoing. perhaps that's because executive privilege does not permit blanket obstruction that includes blocking documents and
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witnesses from the entire executive branch. perhaps president trump didn't invoke executive privilege because it has never been accepted as a sufficient basis for completely and totally defying all impeachment inquiries and subpoenas. or perhaps president trump didn't invoke executive privilege because when president nixon did so, he lodecisively, unanimously, clearly before the supreme court. whatever the explanation, president trump never invoked executive privilege, so it is not a credible defense to his obstruction of congress. president trump has lastly
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suggested that his obstruction is justified because his top aides are absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before congress. every federal court to consider the so-called doctrine of absolute immunity has rejected it. 2008 a federal court rejected an assertion by the 43rd president of the united states that white house counsel harriet meyers was immune from being compelled to testify. noting that the president had failed to point to a single judicial opinion to justify that claim. and on november 25th of last year, another federal judge rejected president trump's claim of absolutely immunity for former white house counsel don mcgahn.
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the court concluded executive branch officials are not absolutely immune from compulsory congressal process. no matter how many times the executive branch has asserted as much over the years, even if the president expressly directs such officials not to comply. the court added, simply stated, the primary takeaway from the past 250-some odd years of recorded american history is that presidents are not kings. the president is not a king. president trump tried to cheat. he got caught. and then he worked hard to cover
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it up. he must be held accountable for abusing his power. he must be held accountable for obstructing congress. he must be held accountable for breaking his promise to the american people. >> my foreign policy will always put the interests of the american people and american security above all else. has to be first. has to be. that will be the foundation of every single decision that i will make. >> what does it mean to put america first? america is a great country. but above all else, i think america is an idea. a precious idea.
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an idea that has withstood the toast of time. an enduring idea. year after year, decade after decade, century after century, as we continue our long necessary and majestic march toward a more perfect union, america is an idea. one person, one vote. liberty and justice for all. equal protection under the law. government of the people, by the people, and for the people. the preeminence of the rule of law. america is an idea. we can either defend that idea, or we can abandon it. god help us all if we choose to
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abandon it. leader is recognized. >> mr. chief justice, we'll take a 30-minute break for dinner. >> without objection, so ordered. all right, very strong words from representative ha came jeffries, very strong words from zoe lofgren, adam schiff, accusing the president of the united states of abuse of power, lofgren saying he failed faithfully to obey the laws of the united states and the constitution. adam schiff the lead house manager saying the president of the united states is an imminent threat to our democracy. they didn't mince any words at all. they still have another three hours to go. >> and beyond the interpretations and arguments, there are the facts they laid out which are accurate. the facts are that the previous
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chairs of the house intelligence committee -- republican ones, held their hearings behind closed doors with the same basic rules that adam schiff held these hearings, and the facts are that the stonewalling, the denial of documents that we have seen from the trump administration, just as a matter of fact walt, is way beyond anything we saw from any previous president including two previous presidents charged in impeachments with obstruction of congress, richard nixon and bill clinton. let's talk about this, though, if we can with a couple of the legal experts. shan where you're new here. let's ask you. when they say the trump administration has just done a blanket rejection, and you can't even compare it to nixon and clinton, explain what that means and do you agree? >> i agree. they're trying to lay the foundation for what they expect is coming up, all these attacks on the process. they want to preemptively do
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that. but i'll tell you one thing, the lack of trial laur experience is beginning to show. they do have to lay some legal foundation, they need to turn the corner, make it more pointed and say, you're going to hear from the president's lawyers that the president has a right too executive privilege. when they tell you that, i want to you remember what i am telling you. he has never invoked it. they need to point it that way, put them in a box. they got to lay the foundation. homely later tonight they'll make it more pointed. >> we've seen the president's counsel pat cipollone went to the floor of the house earlier this week and lied. he said that none of the republicans were allowed into that hearing room for the deposition, just factually inaccurate. all the members, democrats and republicans of three committees were allowed, including i think 48 republicans. >> right. so we'll see tomorrow. it's interesting, i don't think that the white house lawyers and the lawyers defending the president actually have to take an oath before they appear
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tomorrow. and i think that freeze them up a little bit to potentially do the same type of thing. but what i really thought the takeaway from the last fuse hours was, was the case that the house managers were trying to make in terms of if the senate doesn't accept this article on obstruction, it will fundamentally, they're arguing, change the country. it will change how the branches work together. it will change whether a president ever has to answer questions or subpoenas to congress. and it will change the foundational balance between these branches of government and whether or not a president ever can be held accountable. rand i think that was the main point that they were trying to impress upon the senators today. >> they have another three hours tonight to finish up. they've had 24 hours over three days, the republican white house lawyers will start tomorrow morning. this is really their last opportunity to try to convince
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let's say four republican senators to support a resolution that would call for witnesses. >> and sort of who does the duty, the cleanup duty, the closing duty. we've heard from adam schiff, hakeem jeffries, in emotional presentations, i think all afternoon and into the evening. so we'll see who comes up. this is their last bite at the apple. i do think as kerry said they are trying to set up this whole idea of this is a precedent you are setting not only in terms of the relationship that the executive branch has to congress but also what a president is allowed to do, right? is a president now allowed to call on a foreign country and say that this foreign country or foreign leader can interfere in american election? what does that mean for american democracy? they're trying to make the stakes very big. >> jamie, before they got to the obstruction charges, the article
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two, in article one, they were talking about the threat that they say president trump poses to national security. i want you to take a listen to this one part where they played a tape of senator john mccain, republican of arizona, and how he talked about the importance of ukraine as a counterweight to russia. >> one american, a war hero and statesman who is no trainingstr this body, recognized the threat of russia to crimea, senator john mccain. his strong bipartisan support was the opportunity for united states to undermine leverage in eastern europe by building, quote, a success in ukraine. senator mccain outlined this vision. >> putin also sees here's this beautiful and large and magnificent country called ukraine.
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and suppose ukraine finally after failing in 2004 gets it right, democracy gets rid of corruption, economy's really improving and it's right there on the border of russia? so i think it makes him very nervous if there were a success in ukraine in bringing about a free and open society and econom economic success which is not the case in russia as you know which is propped up by energy. >> now, a lot of republicans were critical of obama administration for not providing lethal aid that the ukrainians wanted. and that's the aid we're talking about here. why do you think that was important? >> it was clearly important on the issue. he spoke to exactly what was going on, but i think it was important on a completely different level. and that was john mccain, someone who has gone up against donald trump someone who you have to wonder today what would john mccain be doing and saying?
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what did -- how did the republicans, lindsey graham, react to seeing that? so, i think it was both substantive, but it had an emotional impact on them. you notice that congressman schiff has said repeatedly, have some courage. john mccain was the have some courage moment. >> they need four votes. the four votes they're targeting were friends of john mccain, very close friends of john mccain. ron portman, they respect him very much. there have been several different ways where the democrats try to get the republicans. we know it, you don't like the way the president conducts business, you don't like the way the president undermines ukraine here, have the courage to buck your leadership and buck your president. that's what that was. >> i also think afternoon, later
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this afternoon, was about telling the american public that we, meaning the house democrats, we played by the rules and they outlined in chapter and verse how they played by the rules. but this president did not play by the rules. and he has been worse than any president in history or anybody that they've tried to subpoena or get before the american congress. it makes the richard nixon, you know, 18-minute gap look like nothing here. and they're saying, you know, this is blanket obstruction. you can't claim privilege when you're engaging in obstruction. and they're doing their prebuttal tonight which i think shan was talking about saying i think schiff will probably go into that in greater detail. but they wanted to tell the american public we were not unfair. we did this in a fair way and the white house and the president in particular decided it wasn't going to work for them, so they didn't cooperate. >> allen, you're the former
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senate parliamentarian, the argument that is being made on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of congress, the argument if you let this happen, if you sanction this, codify this, you are forever letting the executive branch run russia over the legislative branch. do you think that is a compelling one for u.s. senators? >> for a parliamentarian process, it's everything. that's what the second article is all about. i think there's a great deal of merit in the case that the house managers are laying out. i predict in the next several days we'll see a lot more of the chief justice. i think procedurally, things are going way too smoothly, and i think you're looking at 24 hours of a presentation on the part of the president's counsel, 16 hours of questions, and then 4 hours on debating whether or not to debate whether there will be motions to subpoena witnesses and documents. there's an awful lot in there for, gris for procedural battles. i think you'll see the chief
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justice getting involved whether he wants to or not. i think it's time he earns his keep. >> dana bash has been there, what are you seeing? what are you hearing? what's the mood? >> first of all, people are hungry. that went pretty late. so, they're diving into their dinner break. but, you know, we talked a little bit before the trial resumed this evening about the fact that we were going to hear as we did the arguments that the house managers were going to make for the second article, for obstruction of congress. and i was in the chamber for a lot of jerry nadler's argument. the fact at one point he got pretty close again to admonishing the senate by saying if you don't support the legislative branch's ability and right and responsibility to keep the executive branch in check,
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history will not look kindly on you. i was watching to see the reaction of some republicans on that. they were a little bit stone faced on that, particularly those republicans like lisa murkowski and susan collins who democrats are trying to get on board. one thing i want to tell you is i just spoke briefly with senator joe man chin. he's a democrat and comes from a state where donald trump won by 43 percentage points. he said he was listening very carefully. he supports the idea of witnesses but number two is saying that he is very, you know, open minded about maybe splitting. he's going to take each article separately, and it is possible that he could vote yes, for example, on article one and no on article two or, you know, vice versa. so, again, those democrats, there aren't a lot of them, moderate democrats, but they're the ones we should also keep in mind and keep our eyes on in addition to the republicans.
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>> thank you dana bash. once again underlying how difficult the math is on this, the idea they need to get 67 republicans and democrats to vote to remove the president. forget the 51 vote hurdle which they're having trouble getting four republicans to join, they might not get all democrats to get to vote for witnesses. i think we'll get the witnesses, but for the removal of the president, that may be impossible. >> that would require something we don't know right now for them to hold hands and jump to that level. i do want to say there's a little bit of through the looking glass. we see donald trump's twitter feed. but i think it's worth taking a look at the white house, the official twitter feed that we all pay for. and they're already putting on
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their case including saying that president trump has unequivocally denounced foreign interference in our elections and accepted the conclusions of the intelligence community. except i think we all remember russia are you listening? >> helsinki, he stood next to putin and said i don't know why putin would lie to me. he said it was ukraine. >> when he