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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 21, 2020 12:29pm-12:58pm EST

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and we feel very strongly of these documents, that's what it's our first call. i will then -- i will then offer a series of amendments on the documents we requested, the witnesses we requested, and amendments to fix the most egregious the part you that mcconnell made in his proposed resolution from the clinton rules. let me be clear. we have no intention to be dilatory. there is no guarantee that leader mcconnell will allow these votes to take place later in the trial, so now before any resolution passes we must do it. we feel speeded the democratic leader chuck schumer part of his, from within the hour. you're on c-span2 be with a july next to the senate floor as they will gavel and to start the session. the senate trial, the impeachment trial against at 1 p.m. eastern.
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the support of the majority of the senate. that's because it sets up a structure that is they are, evenhanded, and tracks closely with past presidents that were established unanimously. after pretrial business the resolution establishes the four things that need to happen next. first, the senate will hear an opening presentation from the house managers. second, we will hear from the president's council. third, senators will be able to seek further information by posing written questions to either side through the chief justice. and, fourth, with all that information in hand the senate will consider whether we feel any additional evidence or
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witness, witnesses are necessary to evaluate whether the house case has cleared or failed to clear the high bar of overcoming the presumption of innocence and undoing a democratic election. the senate it's their process will draw a sharp contrast with the unfair and president breaking inquiry that was carried on by the house of representatives. the house broke with president by denying members of the republican minority the same rights that democrats had received when they were in the minority back in 1998. here in the senate and every single senator will have exactly the same rights and exactly the same ability to ask the students. the house broke with fairness by cutting president trump's council counsel out of their inquiry to an unprecedented degree. here in the senate the
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president's lawyers will finally receive a level playing field with the house democrats. and we will finally be able to present the president's case. finally, some fairness. on every point our straightforward resolution would bring the clarity and fairness that everyone deserves. the president of the united states, the house of representatives, and the american people. this is a fair roadmap for our trial. we need it in place before we can move forward so the senate should prepare to remain in session today until we complete this resolution and adopt it. this basic four-part structure lines with the first steps of the clinton impeachment trial in 1999. 21 years ago, 100 senators agreed unanimously that this
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roadmap was the right way to begin the trial. all 100 senators agreed the proper time to consider the question of potential witnesses was after, after opening arguments, and senators questions there now, so outside voices have been urging the senate to break with president on this question. loud voices, including the leadership of the house majority, included with senate democrats and tried to force the senate to precommitment ourselves to seek specific witnesses and documents before senators had even heard opening arguments or even ask questions. these are potential witnesses, mr. president, whom the house managers themselves, themselves declined to hear from a, whom the house itself declined to pursue through the legal system during its own inquiry.
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the house is not facing any deadline and they were free to run whatever investigation they wanted to run. if they wanted witnesses who would trigger legal battles over presidential privilege, they could've had those fights. but the chairman of the house intelligence committee and the chairman of the house judiciary committee decided not to. they decided their inquiry was finished, and moved right ahead. house chose not to pursue the same witnesses they apparently would now like, would now like the senate to precommitment to pursuing ourselves. as i've been saying for weeks, nobody, nobody will dictate senate procedure two united states senators. majority of us are committed to upholding the unanimous bipartisan clinton precedent against outside influences with respect to the proper timing of
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these mid-trial questions. and so if any amendments are brought forward to force premature decisions on mid-trial questions, i will move to table such amendments and protect our bipartisan precedent. if a sanded and moves to amend the resolution and order subpoenas specific witnesses or documents, i will move to table such motions because the senate will decide those questions later in the trial, just like we did back in 1999. now, mr. president, today may present a curious situation. we may hear house managers themselves agitate for such amendments. we may hear a team of managers led by the house intelligence and judiciary committee chairman argue that the senate must precommitment ourselves to
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reopen the very investigation they themselves oversaw and voluntarily shut down. it would be curious to hear these house and chairman argue that the senate must precommitment ourselves to supplementing their own evidentiary record to enforcing subpoenas they refused to enforce, to supplementing a a e that they themselves have recently described as overwhelming, overwhelming and beyond any reasonable doubt. so, mr. president, these mid-trial questions could potentially take us even deeper into even more complex constitutional waters. for example, many senators including me have serious concerns about blurring the traditional role between the house and the senate within the impeachment process. the constitution divides the power to impeach from the power
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to try. the first belong solely to the house, and with a power to impeach comes the responsibility to investigate. the senate agreed to pick up and carry on the houses inadequate investigation would set a new precedent that could incentivize frequent and hasty impeachment from future house majorities. it could dramatically change the separation of powers between the house and the senate at the senate agrees we will conduct both the investigation and the trial of an impeachment. what's more, some of the proposed new witnesses include executive branch officials whose communications with the president and what of the executive branch officials lie at the very core of the president's constitutional privilege. pursuing those witnesses could indefinitely delay the senate
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trial and draw our body into a protracted and complex legal fight over presidential privilege. such litigation could potentially have permanent repercussions for the separation of powers and the institution of the presidency that senators would need to consider very, very carefully. so, mr. president, the senate is not about to rush into these weighty questions without discussion and without deliberation, without even hearing opening arguments first. there were good reasons why 100 out of 100 senators agreed two that get to go to cross these bridges when we came to them. that is what we will do this time as well. fair is fair. the process was good enough for president clinton and basic fairness dictates it ought to be good enough for this president as well.
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so the eyes are on the senate. the country is watching to see if we can rise to the occasion. 21 years ago, 100 senators including a number of us who sit in the chamber today did just that. the body approved a fair common sense process to guide the beginning of a presidential impeachment trial. today, two decades later later, the senate will retake that entrance exam, the basic structure would propose a vicious is imminently fair and evenhanded as it was back then. the question is whether senators are themselves ready to be as fair and as evenhanded.
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the senate made a statement 21 years ago. we said presidents of either party deserve basic injustice and a fair process. a challenging political moment like today does not make such statements less necessary, but all the more necessary, in fact. so i would say to my colleagues across the aisle, there is no reason why the vote on this resolution ought to be remotely -- no reason other than base partisanship to say that a particular president deserves a radically different rulebook than what was good enough for a past president of your own party. so i would urge every single senator support our fair resolution. i urge i going to vote to uphold the senate unanimous bipartisan precedent of a fair process.
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>> mr. president? >> democratic leader. >> now before i begin there has been well-founded concern that the additional security measures required for access to the galleries during the trial could cause reporters to miss some of the events on the senate floor area i want to assure everyone in the press that i will most vociferously oppose any attempt to begin the trial unless the reporters try to enter the gallery are seated. the press is here to inform the american public about these pivotal events in our nation's history. we must make sure they are able to. some may not want what happens here to the public. we do. now, mr. president, after the conclusion of my remarks, the
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senate will proceed to the impeachment trial of president donald john trump for committing high crimes and misdemeanors. president trump is accused of coercing a foreign leader into interfering in our elections, to benefit himself, and then doing everything in his power to cover it up. it proved, the president's actions are crimes against democracy itself. it's hard to imagine a greater subversion of our democracy than for powers outside our borders to determine the elections from within. for a foreign country to attempt such a thing on its own is bad enough. for an american president to deliberately solicit such a thing, to blackmail a foreign country with military assistance, to help him win an election is unimaginably worse. i can't imagine any other president doing this. beyond that, for then the
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president to deny the right of congress to conduct oversight, deny the right to investigate any of his activities, to cite article ii of the constitution gives him the right to, quote, do whatever he wants, we are staring down and erosion of the sacred democratic principles to which our founders fought a bloody war of independence. such is the gravity of this historic moment. now, one -- the ceremonial functions at the beginning of a presidential trial will be complete. the senate then must determine the rules of the trial. the republican leader will offer an organizing resolution that outlines his plan, his plan for the rules of the trial. it is completely partisan. it was kept secret until the
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very eve of the trial, and now that it is public, it's very easy to see why. the mcconnell rules seem to be designed by president trump for president trump. it asks the senate to rush through as fast as possible and makes getting evidence as hard as possible. it could force presentations to take place at two or three in the morning of the american people won't see them. in short, the mcconnell resolution will result in a rushed trial with little evidence in the dark of night. literally, the dark of night. if the president is so confident in his case, if leader mcconnell is so confident the president did nothing wrong, why don't they want the case to be presented in broad daylight? on something as important as
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impeachment, the mcconnell resolution is nothing short of a national disgrace. this will go down, this resolution as one of the darker moments in the senate history. perhaps one of even the darkest. now, leader mcconnell has just said he wants to go by the clinton rules are rules and whe change them in four important ways at minimum to all make the trial less transparent, less clear, and with less evidence? he said he wanted to get started in exactly the same way. it turns out contrary to what the leader said, amazed he could sit with a straight face, that the rules are the same as the clinton rules. the rules are not even close to the clinton rules. unlike the clinton rules, the mcconnell resolution does not admit the record of the house
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impeachment proceedings into evidence. so leader mcconnell wants a trial with no existing evidence and no new evidence. i trial without evidence is not a trial. it's a cover-up. second, unlike the clinton rules, the mcconnell resolution limits presentations by the party to 24 hours per side over only two days. we started one, 12 hours a day where at 11 a.m. and that's without breaks. it would be later. leader mcconnell wants to force the managers to make important points of their case in the dark of night. number three, unlike the clinton rules, the mcconnell resolution places an additional hurdle to get witnesses and documents by requiring the vote on whether such motions are even in order. if that vote fails then no motions to subpoena witnesses and documents will be in order.
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i do what anyone on the other side you say i'm going to vote no first on witnesses, but then later i will determine if they vote for mcconnells resolution they are making it far more difficult to vote in the future later on in the trial. and finally, unlike the clinton rules, the mcconnell resolution allows the motion to dismiss at any time, any time in the trial. so in short, contrary to what the leader has said, the mcconnell rules are not at all like the clinton rules. the republican leaders resolution is based neither in precedent nor in principle. it is driven by partisanship and the politics of the moment. today, i'll be offering amendments to fix the many flaws in leader mcconnell's deeply unfair resolution and see the witnesses and documents we requested beginning with an amendment to have the senate subpoena white house documents.
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let me be clear. these amendments are not dilatory. they only seek one thing, the truth. that means relevant documents. that means relevant witnesses. that's the only way to get a fair trial. and everyone in this body knows it. each senate impeachment trial in our history, all 15 the were brought to completion feature witnesses. every single one. the witnesses we request are not democrats. they are the president's own men. the documents are not democratic documents. they are documents, period. we don't know if the evidence of the witnesses for the documents will be exculpatory to the president or incriminating. but we have an obligation, a solemn obligation, particularly now during this most deep and solemn part of our constitution to seek the truth, and then let the chips fall where they may.
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my republican colleagues have offered several explanations for opposing witnesses and documents at the start of the trail. none of them has much merit. republicans have said we should deal with the question of witnesses later in the trial. of course it makes no sense to hear both sides present their case first and that afterwards decide if the said it should hear evidence. the evidence is supposed to inform arguments, not come after they are completed. some republicans have said the senate should not go beyond the house record by calling any witnesses but the constitution gives the senate the sole power to try impeachments. not the sole power to review, not the sole power to rehash, but to try. republicans have called a request for witnesses and documents political. if seeking the truth is political, then the republican party is in serious trouble. the white house has said that the articles of impeachment are brazen and wrong.
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well, if the president believes his impeachment is so brazen and wrong, why won't he show us why ask why is the president so insistent that no one come forward, that no documents be released? it the president's case is so weak that none of the president's men can defend him under oath, shame on him and those who allow it to happen. what is the president hiding? what are our republican colleagues hiding? because if they were not afraid of the truth a would say go right ahead, get at the truth, get witnesses, get documents. in fact, at no point over the last few months have heard a single solitary argument on the merits of why witnesses and documents should not be part of the trial. no republicans explained why less evidence is better than
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more evidence. nevertheless,, leader mcconnell is poised to ask the think the begin the first impeachment trial of a a presit in history without witnesses. the russians did arguments as quick as possible. that in ways both shameless and subtle will conceal the truth, the truth from the american people. leader mcconnell claimed the house had ran the most rush, patient inquiry in modern history. the truth is leader mcconnell is plotting the most rushed, lease thorough and most unfair impeachment trial in modern history. and it begins today. the senate has before it very straightforward questions. the president is accused of the coercing a foreign power to interfere in our elections, to help himself. it's the job of the senate to determine if these very serious charges are true. the very least we can do is
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examine the facts, review the documents, here the witnesses, try the case, not run from it, not hide it, try it. because if the president commits high crimes and misdemeanors and congress refuses to act, refuses even to conduct a fair trial of its conduct, then residents, this president and future presidents can commit impeachable crimes with impunity, and the order and rigor of our democracy will dramatically decline. the final failsafe of our democracy will be rendered moot. the most powerful check on the executive, the one designed to protect the people from tyranny will be erased. in short time, my colleagues, each of us will face a choice about whether to begin this trial in search of the truth, or in service of the president's
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desire to cover it up. whether the senate will conduct a fair trial and a full airing of the facts, or rushed to a predetermined political outcome. my colleagues, the eyes of the nation, the eyes of history, the eyes of the founding fathers are upon us. history will be our final judge. will senators rise to the occasion? i yield the floor. >> under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order the senate stands in recess subject to the call of the chair. >> in the impeachment trial of


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