tv U.S. Senate Senate Impeachment Trial Part 4 CSPAN January 31, 2020 6:30am-7:47am EST
members of the house permanent select committee on intelligence of which manager schiff sits as the chairman conducted a number of depositions related to the impeachment inquiry. one of the individuals they post was intelligence community inspector general, michael atkinson. as the white house provided a copy of that is deposition transcript and do you believe it would be helpful? if so, why? >> mr. chief justice and senator, we have not been provided that the transcript. my understanding is that the inspector general for the community, mr. atkinson testified in executive session and has retained the transcript in executive session. it wasn't transmitted to the judiciary committee and therefore in the term of the house resolution 660 wasn't turned over to the white house
counsel so we have not seen it. i just want to clarify we don't think there is any need to start getting into any more evidence or witnesses, but if one were to start going down that road, i think that transcript could be relevant because in my understanding from public records, there were questions asked of the inspector general about the interactions with the whistleblower and there's some question in the public reports about whether the whistleblower was entirely truthful with the inspector general on the forms that were fillewere filled out r not that certain representations were made about whether or not there had been any contact with congress and back then ties into the context the whistleblower apparently had with the staff of the committee, which we also don't know about. so, if we were to go down the road, we don't think it's necessary. we think these articles of
impeachment should be rejected but if one were to go down the road and need more evidence or witnesses would be more relevant to find out what the inspector general of the community had to say about the whistleblower along with the others mentioned about whistleblowers by the motivation. what were his connections with the whole situation of the bidens and if he worked with vice president biden, he worked on issues according to the reports. how did that all tie in? all of those would become relevant. thank you. >> thank you mr. chief justice. >> the senator from alabama. >> i send a question to the best on behalf of myself, senators manchin.
the question from senators jones, mansion in the cinema is directed to the house managers. so much of the questions and answers as well as the presentations have focused on the completeness of the house record. should the house have initiated a formal accommodations processed with the administration to negotiate for documents and witnesses after the passage of house resolution 660. regardless whether the house record is sufficient or insufficient to find a president guilty or not guilty, what if any duty does the senate over to the american public to ensure that all relevant facts are made known and not at some point in the future?
>> senators, thank you for the question. it was apparent from the very beginning when the president announced they would fight all subpoenas. when the white house counsel issued its october 8 diatribe saying they would not participate in the inquiry, but they were not interested in any accommodation, we tried to get don mcgann to testify. we tried for quite some time before we took the matter to court with absolutely no success. and i think what we have seen is there was no desire on the part of the president to reach any accommodation. quite the contrary, the president was adamant that they were going to fight in every single way.
now, if they had an interest in accommodation, we wouldn't be before you without a single document. there would have been hundreds and hundreds of documents provided. we would have entered in accommodation process over claims of narrow claims of privilege as to this sentence or that. they would have had to make a particular guys claim that we could have negotiated over. but of course they did none of that. they said your subpoenas are invalid, you have to depart from the bipartisan rules of how you conduct. our idea of a combination is you have to do it our way or the highway. and the president's instructions, the presidents marching orders were go pound sand. what is the senate's response ability in the context of the house impeachment for which there was such an blanket of obstruction. compare this to the nixon impeachment. richard nixon told his people to
cooperate, provided documents to the congress. yes, there were some that were withheld and that led to litigation and the president lost that litigation, but the circumstances here are different. the president could have made this difficult case but didn't because of the obstruction. in terms of senate responsibility, the constitution says the senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachment. when sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. and so, you have the sole power. that expression is used to believe only twice in the constitution. one that holds the house we have the sole power to conduct an impeachment proceeding, and begin the process we use and they can repeat this as often as they like. it's the same process used in the clinton and the nixon impeachment and i'm sure clinton and nixon thought that was unfair but nonetheless, we use the same process. but here, you have the sole power to try to case, and if you
decide that one week is not too long in the interest of a fair trial to have the positions of the key witnesses, that is for you to decide. you get to decide how to try the case. and so, if you decide that you have confidence in the chief justice supreme court to make decisions about materiality and relevancy of privilege and make those line by line reductions as warranted, if you decide to trust the chief justice to decide if the privilege is being applied properly or improperly for legitimate national security purpose, you have the sole power to make that happen. that is within your right. and we would urge you to do so. council for the president says constitution doesn't require that. the constitution doesn't prohibit that. it gives you the sole power to
try this case. and under your power, you can say we've made a decision. we are going to give the parties one week. we are going to let the chief justice naked fair determinati determination. we are not going to let the house decide who the president's witnesses are were the president decide who the witnesses are. we are going to look at both the their top priority is and let the chief justice decid decide e materiamaterials and who is not. that is within your power. and so, in sum and substance, there is no evidence of an intentional willingness in any way, shape or form to accommodate in the house. if there was, we wouldn't be here. instead, we will fight all subpoenas and under two, i can do whatever i want. now, we are here and they make the claim that their case is so good, let them try it without witnesses.
witnesses. that wouldn't fly before any judge in america, and it shouldn't fly here either. >> thank you, mr. manager. >> [inaudible] >> the senator from tennessee. >> i send it to the desk a question on behalf of myself and senators lee and johnson. >> thank you. >> the question from senator blackburn and senators lee and johnson is for counsel for the president. what was the date of the first
contact between any member of the house intelligence committee staff and the whistleblower regarding the information that resulted in a complaint? how many times have house intelligence committee members or staff communicated in any form with the whistleblowers in the first date of contact? >> mr. chief justice, senator, thank you for that question. the answer is we don't know. nobody knows. we don't know when the first contact was. we don't know how many contacts there were over the substances of the contact was. that all remains shrouded in some secrecy. and as i said a moment ago, we think that the way this case has been presented to this body should simply quit.
there is no reason to get more evidence to probe into that. but if we were to go down the road of any evidence or witnesses those are relevant questions and things to know about it, to understand what those contacts were and what the whistleblower's motivation was, but the connection between the whistleblower and any staffers that played any role in the formulation of the complaint, that is all relevant to understand how this whole process began. now, i do want to mention something else while i have a moment. in response to some things manager schiff said. the house managers, and it seems like they keep saying the same thing and we keep pointing to actual evidence in letters that disprove what they are saying. they say that the president said it's my way or the highway, there's nothing you can do. they say well if they would have
accommodated, if we were willing to participate in the accommodation process. the october 8 letter that the council for the president, who mr. schiff said after the statement called duplicate it here on the floor of the senate, sent a letter on october 8 to mr. schiff and others explaining, quote, if the committees wish to return to the regular order of oversight requests, we stand ready to engage in the process as we have in the past and the american system was well established with constitutional protection and respect for the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution. that was followed up on october 18 letter that i mentioned before. elizabeth specified the subpoenas that have been issued, not blink at defiance or we don't cooperate, specifying the errors and subpoena. and it concluded, quote, as i stated in my letter october 8,
if the committees wish to return to the regular order of oversight requests, we stand ready to engage in the process as they have in the past and in a manner consistent with constitutional protections and respect for the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution. the president stood ready to engage in the process. if anyone sent my way or the highway, it was the house, because the house was determined that they wanted just to get their impeachment process done on the fastest track they could. they didn't want to do accommodation, litigation, anything to slow them down. they wanted to get it done as fast as they could so that it was finished by christmas. it was a partisan charade from the beginning. it resulted in a partisan impeachment was bipartisan opposition, and it's not something the chamber should come down. >> thank you, counsel. >> mr. chief justice.
>> the senator from nevada. >> i have a question for the best from the house managers. >> thank you. >> the question is for the house managers. during the president's phone call with ambassador sondland, he insisted there was no quid pro quo involving the exchange of aid and white house meeting for investigation. but he also said, according to sondland, that the stalemate over aid would continue until president zelensky announces the investigations. isn't that the definition of the exact quid pro quo that the the
president claimed didn't exist? >> the short answer is yes, that is exactly what a quid pro quo is. when someone says i'm not going to ask you to do this but then says i'm going to ask you to do this, that's exactly what happened here. sondland calls the president and the first words out of his mouth are no quid pro quo. that's suspicious enough when someone blurts out what we would find out is because exculpatory. but then the president goes on nonetheless to say no quid pro quo at the same time zelensky has got to go to the microphone to announce these investigatio
investigations, that's the implication, and he should want to do it. so no quid pro quo over the money, but zelensky has to go to the microphone. and if you have any question about the accuracy of that, you should demand to see ambassador taylor's notes, tim morrisons notes, and of course, sondland goes and tells ukraine about this coupling of the money in order to get the investigations. and let me just, if i can come and go through a little of the history of that. you've got rudy giuliani and others trying to make sure the ukrainians make these statements in the run-up to the july phone call. this is the quid pro quo over the meeting. so, they are trying to get the statement they want, trying to get the announcement of the investigations. and around this time, prior to the call, the president puts a freeze on the military aid.
then you have to call the the ce into the minute but zelensky brings up the defense support and the desire to buy more javelins, that's when the president goes immediately to the favor he wants. so the ukrainians at this point know the white house meeting is conditioned on getting these investigations announced, but do not call the minute the military aid is brought up, the president gets into the favor he wants of these investigations they already know about. now, after that call, the ukrainians quickly find out about the freeze in aid according to the former deputy foreign minister, they found within days. july 25 is the call. by the end of july, ukraine finds out it's frozen. the deputy foreign ministers told by andriy yermak keep this secret. we don't want this getting out. they canceled a trip to washington because they don't want this made public. and so, in august there is an
effort to get the investigations announced that the only priority for the president and his men. so, the ukrainians to the aid is withheld. they know they can't get the meeting. they know that the president wants these investigations come once these investigations come into the ukrainians, like the americans, can add up to plus two equals four. but if they had any question about that, sondland hasn't ruled out in warsaw when sondland goes over after the meeting him he goes over to andriy yermak and says until you announce these investigations, you are not getting this aid. he makes explicit what they already knew. not just the meeting with the aid itself. the 27th they tell him it's tied to getting these investigations and it's at that point on september 7 when zelensky is told by sondland directly of the quid pro quo that zelensky finally capitulate and says
alright, i will make the announcement on cnn. and then the president has called. the scheme is exposed. the president is forced to release the aid, and what does zelensky do, he cancels the cnn interview because the money was forced to be released when the president got caught. but that's the chronology. let's make no mistake ukrainians are sophisticated actors. as one of the witnesses said, they found out shortly after the hold. the ukrainians have good tradecraft. they understand very quickly about this whole. what would you expect when you're fighting youare fightingr allies holding military aid without explanation and the only thing they told you they want from you is the announcement of this investigation, and if it wasn't clear enough, they hammered them over the head with it. they told andriy yermak on september 1, you are not getting
the money without announcing these investigations. they tell zelensky himself on september 2 you are not getting the money without these investigations, and finally, the resistance of this anticorruption reform zelensky is broken down. he definitel desperately needs d it's broken down. i will do it. he's going to go on cnn. >> the senator from kansas. >> thank you, mr. chief justice. i have a message to be sent to the desk, and it's on my behalf and on behalf of senator rubio, senator p7 and senator risch. click the question from senator moran,
crapo and senator risch is as follows impeachment for the council for the president. and impeachment and removal are dramatic and consequential as the presidential conduct. especially in an election year with a highly divided citizenry. its checks and balanc balances d important constitutional principle. does the congress have other, such as appropriations, confirmations and oversight hearings less damaging to the nation? >> mr. chief justice, senators, thank you for the question. and yes, congress has a lot of incremental steps. a lot of means for conflicts with the executive branch, and that was the point i was making a moment ago with respect to the department of justice had said
in litigation today where the absolute immunity for senior advisers, actually i think it's a different issue in that case, but in any event, there's a dispute about any information requests. the point the doj was making is the constitution requires incremental steps where there is friction between the branches. as i mentioned the other day, friction between the branches and between congress and the executive on information requests in particular is part of the constitutional design. it's been since the first administration. george washington denied requests from congress for information about the negotiation of the treaty. and so, from the very beginning, there has been this friction leading to jockeying for positions and confrontations and a way of working things out when congress demands information from the executives, and the
executive asserts to protect the institutional authorities of the executive branch, this year where the executive can be able to keep information confidenti confidential. but the first step in response to that should be the accommodations process. and the courts have described that as constitutionally mandated. it's something that furthers the constitutional scheme to have the branches negotiate and try to come with an arrangement that addresses a legitimate need of both branches for the government. part of the accommodations process as the confrontation continues can involve congress exercising the authority that it has under article one to try to put pressure on the executives, so for example, appropriation, not funds in the policy priority is of a particular administration, or cutting funding on some priorities or legislation, not passing legislation that the president favors or passing other
legislation that the president is in favor, or the senate has a power nothe power not to approve nominees as i'm sure many of you well know, holding up nominees in committee can be effective in some planes and putting pressure on an administration to get particular policies kicked loose and things accomplished in a particular department or agency. all of these elements at play. that is part of the constitutional design. but impeachment is the very last resort for the most serious consequence conflict where there is no other way to resolve it. so there are all of these multiple intermediate steps, and they all should be used and exercised in an incremental fashion. that is exactly what didn't happen in this case. there was no attempt at the accommodation or attempt to even respond to the legal issues and defects of the council for the
presidenpresident and the depars and agencies pointed out in each of the subpoenas that were issued by the house committees, and even the issue of ancient he counseled there was no attempt to try to negotiate on that and that is something that even last april with the house committee on oversight and government reform there was a dispute about that. and they wouldn't allow a witness to go to the agency counsel and then we had a meeting with chairman cummings and it got worked out and was turned in to a transcribed interview i think that the agency counsel was permitted to be fair. the committee got the interview. they talked to the person and got the information they wanted the executive branch protected the executive branch interest and that's the way it's supposed to work. but there was no attempted anything like that from the house in this case. thank you. >> thank you, counsel.
the senator from massachusetts. senator from massachusetts. >> thank you. i send a question to the desk for the house managers. >> thank you. the question for the house managers reads as follows it has recently been reported that the russians have hacked the ukrainian natural gas company that i burisma. our intelligence community has warned us the russians would be interfering in the 2020 election. if donald trump is acquitted of these pending charges, what is later found to have invited russian or other foreign interference in the 2020 election, what recourse would there be for congress under the dershowitz standard for impeachment, which requires a president to have committed a
statutory crime? >> senator, absolutely no recourse whatsoever. if in fact it were later to be shown that not only did the russians pack -- hack burisma, let's say it's found that they did so at the request of the president of the united states. that in one of these meetings the president had with vladimir putin who is content is unknown, but the president of the united states asked the president of russia to hack into burisma because he couldn't get the ukrainians to do what he wanted so now he was turning to the russians to do it. under the dershowitz theory of the case, that's perfectly fine,
but that's not how bad it is because it goes further than that. if the president went further and said i want you to hack into burisma, i couldn't get the ukrainians to do it, and i tell you what, if you hack burisma and gave me good stuff, i will stop sending money to ukraine. and i will do with stuff further, i will stop sending money to ukraine so they can't fight you and what's more, the sanctions that we impose on you for your intervention on my behalf in the last election, i'm going to make those go away and i'm going to make those go away. i will call it a policy difference. that is perfectly fine under their standard. that is not abuse of power.
you can't say that is criminal. maybe it is akin to crime, maybe it is not but that is what acquittal means. it means the president is free to engage in the rest of that conduct and it is perfectly fine. what is the remedy to that abuse? you can hold up a nominee. that seems out of scale with the magnitude of the problem. that process of appropriations or nominations is not sufficient for chief executive officer of the united states who will betray national security for his own national interest. he got on the phone with zelenskyy asking for the same the day after bob mueller testify. what will he do the day after he is acquitted here? the day after he feels i dodged
another bullet, i really am beyond the reach of the law. my attorney general says i can't the indicted, can't even the investigated, he closed the investigation into this matter before he even opened it and i can't be impeached either. i have the best of both worlds, william barr saying i can't be investigated, i can't be prosecuted, i can be impeached, that is what william barr says but i can't be impeached. that is a recipe for president who is above the law. that only is not required by the constitution, quite the contrary. founders new from a monarchy that if they were going to give
extraordinary powers to their new executive they needed an extraordinary strain. they needed a constraint commensurate with the evil they sought to contain. that remedy is not holding up a nomination. the remedy they gave her an executive that would abuse their power, endanger the country, that would endanger the integrity of elections was the power of impeachment. as one of the experts said in the house if this conduct isn't and impeachable offense, then nothing is. >> thank you, mister manager. mister chief justice? >> senator from south carolina. >> i send a question to the desk on behalf of myself, senator alexander, to me, sullivan, murkowski and counsel for the president. >> thank you.
the question for senator graham and the other senators is for the counsel to the president. assuming for argument's take that bolton were to testify in the light most favorable to the allegations contained in the articles of impeachment, isn't it true the allegations still would not rise to the level of and impeachable offense and therefore for this and other reasons his testimony would add nothing to this case? >> mister chief justice and senators, thank you for the questions. let me start by making clear that there was no quid pro quo. and there is no evidence to show that.
there was not a linkage the house managers have suggested but let me answer the question directly which i understand to be assuming for the sake of argument that ambassador bolton would come and testify the way the new york times article alleges, the way his book describes the conversation, then it is, the articles of impeachment wouldn't rise to the level of and impeachable offense for two reasons and let me explain. the first is on their face the articles of impeachment as they have been laid out by the house managers, even if you take everything that is alleged in them they don't, as a matter of law, rise to the level of and impeachable offense. because even house managers haven't characterized them as involving a crime. so that is one level of the answer. and impeachable offense would
require a crime. even going beyond that to the second level, the abuse of power they allege, put aside whether it is a crime. the theory of abuse of power they asserted is not something that conforms with the constitutional standard of high crimes and misdemeanors. it depends on subjective intent and is subject of intent alone. as professor dershowitz explained, don't mean in the radical portion but in terms of high crimes and misdemeanors, he explained something based entirely on subjective intent, equivalent to maladministration, the standard
that the framers rejected because it is completely malleable. it doesn't define any real standard for an offense. it allows you to take any conduct that on its face is perfectly permissible and on the basis of your projection of a disagreement with that conduct, a disagreement for the reasons for it, it will make it impeachable. and that doesn't conform to constitutional standard. at the common-law reacting to a charge like this, you simply say even if everything you say is true, that is not and impeachable offense under the law and that is an appropriate response even if everything you allege is true and john bolton would say it is true that is not and impeachable offense under the constitutional standard. the way you tried to define the constitutional standard, the theory of abuse of power is too malleable. it is the subject of intent and
it can't be relied upon. the third level of my answer is this, we demonstrated that there is a legitimate public policy interest in both matters raised on the telephone call, the 2016 election interference in the biden burisma affair. there is legitimate interest in both of those issues, even if it were true that there was a connection, even if it were true the president suggested or thought i should hold up his aid and till we do something that is vividly permissible where is that legitimate public policy interest. it is just the same as if there is an investigation going on, the president wants a foreign country to provide assistance, it is legitimate foreign policy interest to get that assistance, legitimate to use the levers of foreign-policy to
secure that interest and because there is a legitimate public policy interest and we demonstrated that clearly, it would be permissible for there not to be that linkage but i will close where i began which is there was no such linkage here but taking the sake of argument where the question is raised, even if ambassador bolton testifies that you assumed it were true there is no impeachable offense stated in the articles of impeachment. >> thank you. senator from illinois. >> thank you. question from senator durbin or house managers, please respond to the answer that was just given by the president's counsel.
>> it has been a long couple days. let me be blunt where i think we are. i think we know where -- what the president did here. i don't think we doubt why president zelenskyy couldn't get in the door of the oval office. i don't think there is a conclusion why he wanted joe biden was investigator or pushed the crowd straight conspiracy theory. i don't think there is question about that or any question about what we could expect if and when john bolton testifies although the details we don't know. i don't think there is much question about that but what is extraordinary is although they
can claim this was a radical mistake or notion of professor dershowitz they are distancing themselves from, they are accusing dershowitz of maladministration in his argument of the defense, they are still embracing that idea. what they just told you in outline of abc, what they just told you is accept everything the house said, the president withheld military aid to force ukraine into helping him cheat in the election, accept that these investigations are a sham, accept that the -- obstructed all subpoenas and witnesses, accept all of that, too bad, there is nothing you can do. that is not impeachable.
a president of the united states, this is where we are at this moment in our history, the president of the united states can withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid that we appropriated, can do so in violation of the law, to force now i in order to help him cheat in an election and you can't do anything about it except hold up a nomination. that is not impeachable. they can abuse their power all they want, this president, next president can abuse power of a want in furtherance of their reelection as long, here is the limiting principle, as long as they think their reelection is in the national interest. that is quite a constraint. that is where we have come after 2 and a half centuries of
our history. i think our founders would be aghast that anyone would make that argument on the floor of the senate. i think they would be aghast. having come out of the monarchy, having literally risked their lives taking this great gamble that the people could be entrusted to run their own government and choose their own leaders, recognizing that we are not angels, sitting the system that would have ambition counter ambition, that we would so willingly abdicate that responsibility and say the chief executive now has the fool power to coerce our ally, a foreign power to intervene in our election because they think it is in the national interest that they get reelected. is that really what we think the founders would have
condoned? what do we think this is the precise kind of character of conduct they provided a remedy for? i think we know the answer to that. they wrote a beautiful constitution. they understood a lot about human nature. they understood as we do that absolute power corrupts absolutely. and they provided a constraint. but it will only be as good or as strong as the men and women of this institution's willingness to uphold it, to not look away from the truth. the truth is staring us in the eyes. we know why they don't want john bolton to testify. not because we don't really know what happened here. they just don't want the american people to hear it in
all its ugly graphic detail. they don't want the national security adviser on live tv or even non-live deposition to say i talked with the president and he told me in no uncertain terms john, thank you, mister manager, to be continued. >> senator from georgia. >> question to the desk on behalf of myself, senators holly, perdue, lankford, hoven, scott of florida, portman and fisher. >> thank you. >> excuse me.
question from the senators is for the council for the president. as reported by politico, quote, in january of 1999, then senator joe biden are argued against additional witnesses or seeking new evidence in a memo sent to fellow democrats ahead of bill clinton's impeachment trial. politico reports senator schumer agreed with biden. why should the biden rule not apply here? >> mister chief justice, members of the senate. in a memorandum dated january 5th, 1999, that is captioned arguments in support of summary impeachment trial senator biden discussed some history first regarding two senate impeachment proceedings put forward in the senate that
were summarily decided and this is what he said. these two cases demonstrate the senate may dismiss articles of impeachment without holding a full trial or taking any evidence. put another way the constitution does not impose on the senate the duty to hold a trial. the senate need not hold trial even though the house wishes to present evidence and hold a full trial in the element of jurisdiction present. he went on to say the senate has reached the judgment that its constitutional role does not require it to take new evidence or here live witness testimony. this follows from the senate's considerations for motions for summary disposition in at least three trial that listed the three tiles of judges, in each they considered a motion for summary disposition on the merits and in no cases did the senate decline to consider a mission for senate his position as written by the constitution.
the framers did not mean his political process was to be a partisan process. they meant it to be political in the higher sense. the process was to be conducted in the way that would best secure the public interest or in their phrase the general welfare. that was the biden doctrine of impeachment proceedings. some members of this chamber agreed with that. some members that serve as managers also agree with that but now the rules are different. the rules are different because adam shifted what he is now famous for and created a conversation purportedly from the president of the united states regarding russian hacking of burisma. the same he did when he started these hearings.
this is a common practice but if we want to look at common practice and common procedures the biden rule is one. i want to address something else because we have heard it time and again about two judges decided the issue of executive privilege. my very first case at the supreme court was a long time ago. over 30 years ago, 33 years ago. my client lost in the district court and said we will appeal to the ninth circuit court of appeals, went to the ninth circuit court of appeals, not so successful and we didn't win there either. my client says what do we do? one option, we could file a petition for the supreme court of the united states, chances are they are not going to take the case but at this point it is an important issue so why don't we proceed? my client agreed to proceed. the petition was granted and the court reversed 9-0 the court of appeals in the district court and that is why
you continue to use wise courts when appropriate. that is why you do it and don't rely on what district court said. last thing i want to say, they are asking you as a senate body to waive executive privilege on the president of the united states. think about that for a moment. they are asking you to vote for the chief justice, in his capacity as presiding judge, vote to waive executive privilege as relates to president of the united states. that is what they think is the appropriate role in this proceeding to continue. i think you should adopt the biden rule. thank you. >> thank you, council. >> the senator from colorado. >> i would like to send a question to the desk on behalf of myself and senator warner.
>> thank you. >> the question is to the house managers. mister sekulow said he would call a long chain of witnesses that would greatly lengthen the trial. isn't it true the senate will establish by majority vote how many witnesses there will be? is it also true that prior impeachment trials in the senate have heard witnesses who did not testify in the house?
>> i thank the distinguished senators for their questions. certainly is the case that all we are asking the senate to do is to hold a fool and fair trial consistent with the senate's responsibility. article 1 section 3 of this constitution the senate shall have the sole power with respect to an impeachment trial. this great institution has interpreted that during the 15 impeachment trials that have taken place, a full and fair trial means witnesses because this institution every time it has held a trial has heard witnesses.
all 50 times. witnesses who did not testify in the house, to testify in the senate. the point was raised earlier about benghazi. trey gowdy is a very talented -- he is pleased. trey gowdy according to one of the questions said the administration didn't cooperate, the white house in that instance and the state department have turned over tens of thousands of documents pursuant to a house subpoena. that is cooperation. several witnesses appeared
voluntarily in benghazi including general david petraeus, former cia director, susan rice, time with the national security visor, ben rhodes, national security adviser, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general carter ham, former commander of africa, defense secretary leon panetta showed up. general michael flynn, former dia director. who else showed up? secretary of state hillary clinton. she testified publicly under oath for 11 hours. that is cooperation. what happened in this instance in the house? no documents, no witnesses, no information, no cooperation, no negotiation, no reasonable accommodation, blanket defiance.
that resulted in obstruction of congress article. all we are asking is for the senate to hold a fair trial, at every single trial the senate has held, average number of witnesses is 33. we cannot normalize lawlessness. we cannot normalize corruption. we cannot normalize abuse of power. lastly the witnesses that did testify voluntarily showed up. these were trump administration witnesses. ambassador sondland, how did he characterize the geopolitical shakedown at the heart of these
allegations? ambassador sondland, quid pro quo. ambassador taylor, crazy. doctor fiona hill, a domestic political errand, lieutenant colonel vindman, improper. what with the framers of said? the highest of high crimes against the constitution. >> thank you, mister manager. >> senator from utah. >> i have a question to send to the desk. >> thank you. >> the question from senator romney's from both parties and the house manager will go first.
do you have any evidence that anyone was directed by donald trump to tell the ukrainians that security assistance was being held on the condition of an investigation into the bidens? >> the evidence that is currently in the record, two people have direct -- about conditioning of 8 on the performance of the investigations. the first was gordon sondland who had a conversation with the president, related to tim morrison as well as ambassador taylor. in the conversation ambassador sondland described at the time, no quid pro quo but went on to say zelenskyy should want to. the president made a direct
link to ambassador sondland who made the direct link to andre y yermok and was informed by the present that zelenskyy would make the commitment to go on cnn. so ambassador sondland acknowledged the time between the two, so did mick mulvaney and that video is now etched in our minds for all history. tried to walk that back, he was quite adamant and part of the reason they held the 8 his desire for the investigation in 2016. what you are saying is a quid pro quo.
you don't get the money unless you do this investigation of the democrats and the chief of staff's answer was we do it all the time. get over it. you have it from the chief of staff, you have it from one of the three amigos. bear in mind ambassador sondland was not a never trumper, someone the president deputized to have significant part of the ukraine portfolio. if this was about burden sharing, he didn't. he said it was about the investigations. the third direct witness would be john bolton. if we are allowed to bring him before you. there are already witnesses and evidence in the record. people spoke directly to the president about this to which the conditionality was made clear.
after the conversation. >> mister chief justice. >> thank you for your question. the question was is there any evidence that anyone told that donald trump had anyone tell the ukrainians directly that the aid, that was the question. >> the answer in the house record is no. i described this on saturday when i walked through at length, so i refer back to that presentation, ambassador sondland and senator johnson.
ambassador sondland indicated in the september 9th timeframe, asked the president and the president said i want nothing, i want no quid pro quo and you heard a lot from the house managers about go out to the microphones and do the right thing. the statement is he needs to do what he campaigned on. even earlier, senator johnson, because ambassador sondland told senator johnson that there was a linkage. senator johnson asked the president directly and we know the answer to that. the president said is there -- when senator johnson asked if
there was any connection between security assistance and investigations the president answered no way, i would never do that, who told you? the answer was sondland. ambassador sondland came to that perception prior to speaking to the president and without a montage about presumptions and assumptions and guessing and speculating and belief. we also remember the montage which ambassador sondland was asked did anyone on the planet tell you that the aid was linked to the investigations? his answer was no. in the house record before us there is no evidence the president told anyone to tell the ukrainians that the aid was linked. in fact the article -- thank you. mister chief justice.
>> the senator from oregon. >> mister chief justice, i sent a question to the desk for senator carper and myself. >> thank you. >> the question is for the house managers from senators merkley and carper and schatz. alan dershowitz said the president cannot be impeached for soliciting for interference in his reelection campaign if he thinks it is in the public interest. the president's counsel stated the president cannot be prosecuted for committing a crime. the president himself has said, quote, i have the right to do whatever i want as president.
aren't these views what are framers warned about? and imperial president escaping accountability? if these arguments prevail won't future presidents have the unchecked ability to use their office to manipulate future elections like corrupt foreign leaders in russia and venezuela? >> thank you for the question, senators. before i address i want to complete my answer to the last question. on september 7th the president has a conversation with gordon sondland and the president says no quid pro quo, but zelenskyy has got to go to the mic and should want to do so. this is the context of whether the aid has been withheld in order to secure the investigations. after that call, on the same day, sondland calls sondland
and says you are not going to get the money unless you do the investigations. you have to medication between the president and sondland conveying message to the ukrainians. in short, succession. i think you see that the message the president games to sondland was communicated immediately to the ukrainians and sondland went on to explain to ambassador taylor and kim morrison that the president wanted zelenskyy in a public box, he wanted to announce publicly these investigations if he was going to get the money. sondland explained the president is a businessman and before he gives away something, before he signs a check he wants to get the deliverables and ambassador taylor says that doesn't make sense. ukraine doesn't owe him anyone. it was clear even to the ukrainians they weren't going
to get the money unless they did the investigation the president wanted and that is the connection on september 7th, makes it crystal-clear. in terms of the dershowitz argument, when coupled with the president who believes under article 2 he can do whatever he wants, yes, this is a prescription of a president not just and imperial president but an absolute president with absolute power. if a president can take this action and extort, one country can extort any country. if he can make a deal with the president of venezuela or taken action antagonistic to what congress has legislated with respect to the country, can violate the law in doing it to get help in his reelection and the example senator king asked
about his directly on point. there is no limiting principle as long as he thinks is in the interest of his reelection so yes, he can ask the israeli prime minister to come to the united states, call his opponent in and isolate if he wants to get us military aid. that can be applied anywhere to anything. to the great danger of the country. that is the logical extension not just of what professor dershowitz said yesterday but what the president's counsel said today. you can accept every fact in the articles, we still think it is fine and beyond the reach of the constitution. the president can extort an ally but withholding military aid, withhold meetings, can ask them to do sham investigations even if you acknowledge the fact that they are sham, you don't even have to be done, they just have to be announced and there is nothing congress can do about it.
that is a prescription for a president with no constraint. >> thank you, mister manager. >> mister chief justice. >> the senator from indiana. >> the question for the president's counsel. >> question is for the council for the president. under professor dershowitz's theory, is what joe biden alleged to have done potentially impeachable in contrast to what has been
alleged against donald trump? >> thank you for the question and i believe under professor dershowitz's theory, he tried to categorize things into three buckets. one is purely good motive, one is you might have some motive for your personal political gain as well as public interest motives for doing something, and private pecuniary game. that is doing it for private pecuniary gain that is a problem. that would be the distinguishing factor in potentially present in the facts known about the biden and the reason the incident. the conflict of interest that
would be apparent on the fact that are known is there would be a personal family interest in that situation. president biden is in charge of ukraine policy, his son is sitting on the board of a company known for corruption, public reports are the prosecutor general was investigating that and its owner, the oligarch of the time, vice president biden openly said he leveraged $1 billion in loan guarantees to make sure that prosecutor was fired and at that time one could put together fairly easily from those facts, suggestions that there was a family financial benefit coming from the investigation, with the younger biden on the board. and the third bucket professor
dershowitz was describing that is necessarily problematic, that is going to be a problem where you have a crime and potentially impeachable offense. that would be the distinction that that is one that if all those facts lined up under professor dershowitz's categorization of things would be the problematic category. >> thank you, counsel. >> mister chief justice, on behalf of myself and senator cardin and senator van hollen i have a question for house managers i would like to submit to the desk. >> the question from senator klobuchar and the other senators.
>> thank you very much. question from senator klobuchar to the house managers. can you respond to the answer just given by the president's counsel and provide any comments the senate would benefit from hearing before we adjourned for the evening. >> mister chief justice, members of the senate, we just heard from the president's counsel, the usual nonsense. there are only three things to remember. one, this is a trial. in any trial we should have witnesses. we are told we can't have witnesses because the house
says we proved our case as we have, so why should we need witnesses. that is like saying that in a bank robbery, the da announces he has proved his case. he had all the witnesses. then an eyewitness shows up and he shouldn't be allowed to testify because after all, the da was sure he proved his case first. that is absurd, any 10-year-old knows it is absurd. that is the president's case against witnesses. we had enough. always more. there are not too many more here. there are witnesses to be asked, they should be asked. second, there is only one real question in this trial. everything else is distraction. of 3 card monte game being played by the president's counsel, distractions.
don't look at the real question. look at everything else. look at the whistleblower, irrelevant. look at the house procedures. irrelevant. look at hunter biden, irrelevant. look at whether president obama's policy was as good as or better than donald trump's policy with respect to ukraine, irrelevant. look at the steel dossier. irrelevant. there is only one relevant question. did the president abuse his power by violating the law to withhold military aid, to extort that country into helping him, helping his reelection campaign by slandering his opponent? that is the only relevant question for this trial. house managers have proved that question beyond any doubt. one thing the president's counsel got right was quoting me saying it was beyond any doubt. it is indeed beyond any doubt.
that is why all these distractions. that is why the president's people are telling you to avoid witnesses, they are afraid of the witnesses. they know the witnesses, they know mister bolton and others will only strengthen the case. if house managers say the case is so strong, why do you need more witnesses? because the truth can be bolstered. i yield back. >> thank you, counsel. the majority leader is recognized. >> mister chief justice can i ask unanimous consent the trial adjourned until 1:00 pm friday january 30 first. >> without objection the trial was adjourned. >> donald trump withheld hundreds of millions of military aid to a strategic partner at war with russia to secure foreign help with his reelection.
in other words, to cheat. >> they are asking you not only to overturn the results of the last election but as i said before they are asking you to remove donald trump from the ballot in an election that is occurring in approximately 9 months. >> the senate impeachment trial of donald trump continues today. watch live coverage starting at 1:00 pm eastern on c-span2. on demand, c-span.org/impeachment, or listen on the free c-span radio apps. >> as the senate impeachment trial of donald trump continues watch all of the impeachment process from the intelligence and judiciary committee hearings to house floor debate on the articles, abuse of power and obstruction of congress and reaction from lawmakers