tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC January 21, 2020 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
and good evening as we come up on 8:00, we are rejoining our special live coverage of what is the first full day in the third impeachment trial of a president in the republic's history, the impeachment trial of donald j. trump. the senate has taken a brief dinner recess, 30 minutes, although they have been running slightly behind. i'm chris hayes in new york, we have a bunch of folks with us at the table, chuck rosenberg, michael steele, claire mccaskill, ar ri mel burn. if -- ari melber. two amendments that have been proposed and both have been voted on, voted down in fact, to be tabled, specifically the first amendment proposed by the senate democrats was to subpoena documents from the white house. the second to subpoena documents from the state department. the third, which we just had was to subpoena documents from omb. we are now entering the fourth
amendment which is the first amendment calling for a witness. and that would be mick mulvaney, of course the man who's held many different positions in this white house. he's currently the chief of staff. we have geoff bennett who's on the hill who's been reporting there throughout the day. geoff, what's the expectation right now on capitol hill about what happens next? >> reporter: chris, as you mentioned, the senators are in the back half of their 30 minute dinner break. we should say, though, that senate time is very much unlike realtime so this 30-minute break could last, who knows, potentially an hour or so. i'm told by our team that is really canvassing the hill, speaking with members and their aides that during this break, the democrats are going to have a conversation, they're having a conversation about how many more amendments they plan to introduce. at the start of the day, we were told they would introduce somewhere in the ballpark of six amendments. you do the math on that, each side, they have an hour to make their case. neither side so far that i can
tell has used the full hour, but mike brahm, the senator from indiana expects today's proceedings could go another three or four hours. what's interesting is the democrats started with subpoenas from the documents, from the state house, omb, you heard both adam schiff and chuck schumer say in their mind, the documents in many ways are more important because where as witnesses can might not tell the whole story, the documents don't. the documents, and we're talking about potentially thousands of pages of documents about meetings between president trump and key officials, about the r entire ukrainian gamut, they should serve as a road map to witnesses beyond the mick mulvaney and the john bolton's that we expect these democrats to introduce additional subpoenas for later this evening. we should also say our team also
caught up with eric yuland, the legislative affairs director, he told our team he's leaving the door very much open to the white house potentially introducing this motion to dismiss. they have until tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. to do that. they are holding that in their back pocket. you could ask the question, why are democrats introducing all of these subpoenas knowing that they're going to fail on a party line vote, yes, to introduce evidence into this trial, to have it be a real fair trial, but also i think they're trying to prepare the political arena once this senate trial wraps up where we expect, as i stand here and talk to you, that president trump would be acquitted. it would be much more difficult for him to make that argument, that hey, i'm fully exonerated when democrats can say, yes, but that's only because the trial was rigged, chris. >> geoff bennett on capitol hill, you can see a united states senators streaming in right now, back into the chamber. there's senator mark warner of virginia, we saw martha mcsally, and before her amy klobuchar who
is of course off the campaign trail along with bernie sanders and elizabeth warren, due to the activity in that chamber there of course senate majority leader mitch mcconnell who's sort of the tactician who has been running this entire thing. lawrence, geoff just said something interesting here. there are a lot of audiences for today's proceedings, on the republican side, there's one audience member, that's the most important that's the president of the united states, and the republicans have tended to conduct themselves with his approval foremost in mind. there are of course the audience of the senators who are serving as jurors, sworn to do impartial justice, and then of course there's mass public opinion as geoff was noting which has its own kind of dynamics, and it seems to me that one of the dynamics today is republicans thinking most about the audience of one and democrats thinking as much as possible about both public opinion and what kind of senators they may be able to nudge over the line from the republican party. what do you think? >> exactly. so i think the democrats, the managers two audiences are those
senators right in the room with them, mitt romney, susan collins, lamar alexander and others, and the viewers in maine, the viewers in utah, the viewers in colorado, the voters that cory gardner has to face in colorado. so the idea that this is going to be stretched over many hours of television is actually helpful in that particular approach helpful in that particular approach because you're going to have viewers in colorado, which is a different time than the viewers in colorado. the democrats are wisely using this opportunity to make their evidentiary case to these viewers and no one is going to, no voters are going to be able to watch every minute of this or every hour of this every day, and so the democrats have to take every opportunity that they have to present evidence. they're always presenting evidence, even when they're in a procedural argument. they're always presenting evidence as if the trial on the
evidence is already underway, and i think they have been taking tremendous advantage of that in this situation, and we'll continue to see that tonight. >> you know, chuck, schiff made an argument earlier which is a basic logical one about the order here, and you were making it earlier, so again, for folks that haven't been watching, different documents by different entities, the white house, state department and omb, explanations and arguments for why those would be materially relevant to the case and what they might show, and now we have the first witness amendment in mick mulvaney. >> one of the points schiff makes is the organizing revolution as perceived by mitch mcconnell, is you have to listen to all of these arguments with no one making rulings about what the body of evidence is and then afterwar afterwards decide, after those arguments making absent the frame work for what the universe of available facts is if you want more facts and slchiff called this, this is ass backwards in the well of the senate which struck me as both
blunt and true, as someone who has spent a lot of times in krooms, what's your -- courtrooms, what's your reaction to that argument. >> it's blunt and true. even if we don't know the technical trials, understand the federal rules of evidence, from the federal rules of procedure, they're fundamentally smart, they're logical and smart and so they understand what a trial ought to look like, which means you call witnesses, they're sworn in, they tell the truth, we hope. they understand the rhythm of a trial, and what it should look like and smell like and feel like, they understand that prosecutors introduce documents into evidence and witnesses testify about those documents and so here's the fundamental mistake republicans are making, the thing they are staging doesn't look like a trial. the thing they are staging doesn't look like a trial.
even if the president is not removed, not convicted in this proceeding, it doesn't look fair, but americans want things that look fair. >> k fair >> merrick garland, he does it proudly. he says of course i'm trolling you, of course i don't believe in anything, of course it's hypocritical, i'll take a victory lap over that. chuck is right, that may catch up with him, the rules he put out are a game with rules he pu with time. when do you need a hurricane warning? before the hurricane. it doesn't help much if you're like oh by the way, there's a hurricane right now, there's your warning. they have a whole process here whereby he's trying to say it's too early for you to ask for
witnesses even though the outlines of the case are clear. then a few days later mitch mcconnell will be saying it's too late, we don't need witnesses. when people say that's unfair, he says that's the whole point, this is what i do. >> documents are really important if you are going to depose someone. >> yes, precisely. >> we need documents because you tie the witness to the words that are attributable to them. so if you don't have the documents, let's assume that witnesses are called. let's assume there are depositions taken. if the documents aren't introduced before them, it is a huge advantage to the white house fwhauz because that remov tool for those house managers to cross examine witnesses and corroborate information they are presenting today with those written documents through the witnesses' testimony. >> one of the reasons they don't want documents is because every con timp rain yous document more
or less that we have seen almost without exception has been inculpatory for the president of the united states. this is really true when we were talking about things like omb and state. what was happening throughout this scheme was that it wasn't a small group of people that knew about it. it kept moving out, the concentric circumstanles knew at and more and more people were saying what are we doing here, folks? bill taylor putting it in writing and filing a cable to mike pompeo to memorialize it at the direction of john bolton, whose deputy told him to do that. george kent with the file, omb e-mails, d.o.d., all these people putting in writing saying this is not kosher or lawful or proper or right. if you're the white house, you got to think that further documents would only hurt your case. >> that's exactly right, which is what you've seen so far play out with the shutting all that down. we'll come to it later. i think, though, the fundamental question for me is when we get
past this stage, chris, and this really hits on what ari was saying and mcconnell goes, okay, you've had all this time to layout this case and i've listened, i just don't see anything that merits -- i think we're done here. time for lunch. then all of a sudden that motion to dismiss begins to come into play. the white house says that the case wasn't put on in terms of documents, it wasn't put on in terms of witnesses to corroborate any of the underlying allegations. and we move on. >> here's my question for you, senator. i always wonder about the sort of subjective point of view if you're sitting in a chamber during this period of time. two things i think are true. senators are naturally political animals and if they weren't they wouldn't be in the united states senate. they're usually pretty adept at being politicians. also they've taken this oath to
impartial justice. is anyone ever persuaded? does anyone ever go, you know what, that is a good point? does that happen inside the mind of a senator and is there any universe in which that moment of awareness or awakening can actual lly f lly effectuate a v? >> i think it's more likely to occur on other issues. sometimes it's not from somebody at the podium talking. it's rather one on one conversations with other senators in the chamber. i can think of a number of times that i was really kind of -- so that happens. but this is a little different because it's so political with a capital p. i'll tell you what those senators are thinking. what is the worst thing that happens to me if i vote for witnesses and what is the worst thing that happens to me if i don't vote for witnesses. that's their calculation. especially for those senators from north carolina and florida and ohio and pennsylvania and
colorado and arizona and iowa and wisconsin where you've got the potential of sending somebody of either party to the united states senate. >> can i make one plea as we all sit and reflect on this first day of this trial of a president? we can be realistic and know that the politics are infused. the shift that we're seeing that is different from other times that were highly polarized. the clinton time was partisan and polarized. nixon, although sometimes it gets rewritten, had a lot of politics especially early on. it was a party prism for it. the johnson impeachment, of course, was a controversial thing. but there was much less rank confessions in public that this was not going to even attempt to be fair. there was a lot more use of well, the evidence lines up for my guy or gal and i'm going to root it that way but of course anything could happen.
we're seeing, yes, politics may god forbid enter into war votes which is a terrible thing when you think about the solemn obligation you've had on this panel. you never want to think that. what senator stands up and admits i'm going to see how this plays out for my job before i send men and women off to war. we're talking about adjudicating whether a president misused power. be honest, let's go forward. there is a defense of this president. we've heard from the lawyers. let's have that evidence base debate. for the leader of the senate and others to back him up and stand up and say no we don't even pretend to be fair or partial or look at evidence, that's a low watermark. >> they have ended their dinner recess as they file back in. chief justice roberts preceding. we will listen to hakeem jeffreys. >> my name is hakeem jeffreys. i have the honor of representing the eighth congressional
district of new york in brooklyn and queens. it is one of the most diverse districts in the nation. in fact, i've been told that i have the ninth most african-american district in the country and the 16th most jewish. and here on the hill some folks have said hakeem, is that complicated? but as my friend leon goldenberg says back at home, hakeem, you've got the best of both worlds. you see, in america our diversity is a strength. it is not a weakness. one of the things that binds us together, all of us as americans, regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of region, regardless of sexual orientation, regardless of gender, is that we
believe in the rule of law and the importance of a fair trial. the house managers strongly support this amendment to subpoena witness testimony, including with respect to mick mulvaney. who has ever heard of a trial with no witnesses? but that is exactly what some are contemplating here today. this amendment would address that fundamental flaw, it would ensure that the trial includes testimony from a key witness, the president's acting chief of staff and head of the office of management and budget. mick mulvaney. and it will ensure that the senate can consider his testimony immediately. let's discuss why the need to hear from mick mulvaney is so critical. first, leader mcconnell's resolution undercuts more than 200 years of senate impeachment
trial practice. it departs from every impeachment trial conducted to date and goes against the senate's own longstanding impeachment rules, which contemplates the possibility of new witness testimony. in fact, it departs from any criminal or civil trial procedure in america. why should this president be held to a different standard? second, the proposed amendment for witness testimony is necessary in light of the president's determined effort to bury the evidence and cover up his corrupt abuse of power. the house tried to get mr. mulvaney's testimony. we subpoenaed him. mr. mulvaney, together with other key witnesses, national security advisor john bolton,
senior white house aide robert blair, office of management and budget official michael duffy and national security council lawyer john uiz eisenberg were called to testify. but president trump was determined to hide from the american people what they had to say. the president directly the entire executive branch and all of his top aides and advisors to defy all requests for their testimo testimony. that cannot be allowed to stand. third, mr. mulvaney is a highly relevant witness to the events at issue in this trial. mr. mulvaney was at the center of every stage of the president's substantial pressure campaign against ukraine.
based on the extensive evidence the house did obtain, it was clear that mulvaney was crucial in planning the scheme, executing its implementation and carrying out the coverup. e-mails and witness testimony show that mr. mulvaney was in the loop on the president's decision to explicitly condition a white house meeting on ukraine's announcement of investigations beneficial to the president's reelection prospects. he was closely involved in implementing the president's hold on the security assistance and subsequently admitted that the funds were being withheld to put pressure on ukraine to conduct one of the phony political investigations that the president wanted, phony political investigations. a trial would not be complete
without the testimony of mick mulvaney. make no mistake, the evidentiary record that we have built is powerful and can clearly establish the president's guilt on both of the articles of impeachment. but it is hardly complete. the record comes to you without the testimony of mr. mulvaney and other important witnesses. that brings me to one final preliminary observation. the american people agree that there cannot be a fair trial without hearing from witnesses who have relevant information to provide. the constitution, our democracy, the senate, the president and most importantly the american people deserve a fair trial. a fair trial requires witnesses. in order to provide the truth,
the whole truth and nothing but the truth. that is why this amendment should be adopted. before we discuss mr. mulvaney's knowledge of the president's geopolitical shakedown, it is important to note that impeachment trial without witnesses would be a stunning departure from this institution's past practice. this distinguished body has conducted 15 impeachment trials. all have included witnesses sometimes those trials included just a handful of witnesses as indicated on the screen. at other times they included dozens. in one case, there were over 100 different witnesses. as the slide shows, the average number of witnesses to appear at
a senate impeachment trial is 33. and in at least three of those instances, including the impeachment of bill clinton, witnesses appeared before the senate who had not previously appeared before the house. that's because the senate, this great institution, has always taken its responsibility to administer a fair trial seriously. the senate has always taken its duty to obtain evidence including witness testimony seriously. the senate has always taken its obligation to evaluate the president's conduct based on a full body of available information seriously. this is the only way to ensure fundamental fairness for everyone involved.
respectfully it is imimportapor honor that unbroken precedent today so that mr. mulvaney's testimony without fear or favor as to what he might say can f m inform this distinguished body of americans. this amendment is also important to counter the president's determination to bury the evidence of his high crimes and misdemeanors. as we've explained in detail today, despite considerable efforts by the house to obtain relevant documents and testimony, president trump has directed the entire executive branch to execute a coverup. he has ordered the entire administration to ignore the powers of congress, a separate and coequal branch of government, to investigate his offenses in a manner that is
unprecedented in american history. there were 71 requests by the house for relevant evidence. in response, the white house produced zero documents. in this impeachment inquiry, 71 questio requests, zero documents. president trump is personally responsible for depriving the senate of information important to consider in this trial. this point cannot be overstated. when faced with a congressional impeachment inquiry, a process expressly set forth by the framers of the constitution in article i, the president refused to comply in any respect. and he ordered his senior aides to fall in line.
as shown on the slide as a result of president trump's obstruction 12 key witnesses including mr. mulvaney refused to appear for testimony in the house's impeachment inquiry. no one has heard what they have to say. these witnesses include central figure in the abuse of power charged in article i. what is the president hiding? equally troublesome president trump and his administration did not make any legitimate attempts to reach a reasonable accommodation with the house or compromise regarding any document request or witness subpoenas. why? because president donald john trump wasn't interested in cooperating. he was plotting a coverup. it is important to take a step back and think about what
president trump is doing. complete and total presidential obstruction is unprecedented in american history. even president nixon, whose articles of impeachment included obstruction of congress, did not block key white house aides from testifying in front of congress during the senate watergate hearings. in fact, he publicly urged white house aides to testify. remember all of those witnesses who came in front of this body? take a look at the screen. john dean, the former white house counsel testified for multiple days pursuant to a subpoena. hr halderman president nixon's former chief of staff was subpoenaed and testified. alexander butterfield, the white house official who revealed the existence of the tapes testified
publicly before the senate. and so did several others. president trump's complete and total obstruction makes richard nixon look like a choir boy. two other presidents have been tried before the senate. how did they conduct themselves? william jefferson clinton and andrew johnson did not block any witnesses from participating in the senate trial. president trump, by contrast, refuses to permit relevant witnesses from testifying to this very day. many of president clinton's white house aides testified in front of congress. even before the commencement of formal impeachment proceedings. during various investigations in the mid '90s the house and senate heard from more than two
dozen white house aides, including the white house counsel, the former chief of staff and multiple senior advisors to president clinton. president clinton himself gave testimony on camera and under oath. he also allowed his most senior advisors, including multiple chiefs of staff and white house counsels, to testify in the investigation that led to his impeachment. and as you can see in the chart, their testimony was packaged and delivered to the senate. there were no missing witnesses who had defied subpoenas, no aides who had personal knowledge of his misconduct were directed to stay silent by president clinton. we have an entirely different situation in this case. here we are seeking witnesses
the president has blocked from testifying before the house. apparently president trump thinks that he can do what no other president before him has attempted to do in such a brazen fashion, float above the law and hide the truth from the american people. that cannot be allowed to stand. let me now address some bedrock principles about congress's authority to conduct investigations. our broad powers of inquiry are at their strongest during an impeachment proceeding. when the house and senate exercise responsibilities expressly set forth in article i of constitution. nearly 140 years ago the supreme court recognized that when the house or senate is determining a question of impeachment, there
is no reason to doubt the right to compel the attendance of witnesses and their answer to proper questions in the same manner and by use of the same means that courts of justice can in like cases. our nation's founders and greatest legal minds recognize these principles early on. supreme court justice joseph story explained that the president should not have the power of preventing a thorough investigation of his conduct or of securing himself against the disgrace of a public conviction by impeachment, if he should deserve it. president trump cannot function as judge, jury and executioner of our democracy. and it wasn't just the court who
is confirmed this for us. some of our nation's leading public servants. representative john quincy adams speaking on the floor of the house after he had served as president, once exclaimed, what mockery would it be for the constitution of the united states to say that the house should have the power of impeachment, extending even to the president of the united states himself, and yet to say that the house had not the power to obtain the evidence and proofs on which their impeachment was based. that's hamilton, story, adams and others have recognized the president cannot insulate himself from congress's investigations of his wrongdoing. the president could decide what evidence gets to be presented in his own trial that would fundamentally nullify the
constitutional power of impeachment. this amendment is important because president trump simply cannot be allowed to hide the truth. no other president has done it. the supreme court does not allow it. and the president is not above the law. witnesses matter. documents matter. evidence matters. the truth matters. let me now turn to a third justification for this amendment. mr. mulvaney's testimony is critical to considering the case for removal. it is imperative that we hear from the president's closest aide, a man intimately involved at key stages of this extraordinary abuse of power.
president trump knows this. why else would he be trying so hard to prevent mick mulvaney from testifying before you? there are at least four reasons why mr. mulvaney's testimony is critical. to begin with, as acting white house chief of staff and head of the office of management and budget, mick mulvaney has firsthand knowledge about president trump's efforts to shake down ukraine and pressure its new president into announcing phony investigations. mr. mulvaney was in the loop at each critical stage of president trump's scheme. he was in the loop in the planning of the scheme. he was in the loop in its implementation. and he was in the loop when the
scheme fell apart. he even admitted publicly that the aid was withheld in order to pressure ukraine into announcing an investigation designed to elevate the president's political standing. mr. mulvaney, perhaps more than any other administration witness, excepting the president, has firsthand insight into the decision to withhold $391 million in military and security aid to a vulnerable ukraine without justification. indeed, our investigation revealed that president trump personally ordered mr. mulvaney to execute the freeze in july of 2019. mr. mulvaney holds the senior
most staff position at the white house. he's a member of president trump's cabinet, and he is responsible for president trump's team at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. he remains the director of the office of management and budget, which implemented the hold on the security assistance in violation of the law. as the government accountability office recently concluded. in short, respectfully, the senate's responsibility to conduct a complete and fair trial demands that mr. mulvaney testify. second, mr. mulvaney's testimony is critical because of his knowledge of the planning of president trump's abuse of power. ambassador gordon sondland, the u.s. ambassador to the european
union, testified that there was a quid pro quo. ambassador son ladland is not a so-called never trumper. mr. sondland gave $1 million to president trump's inauguration. he testified that everybody was in the loop and that it was no secret what was going on. in fact, as early as may of 2019, ambassador sondland made clear that he was coordinating on ukraine matters with mr. mulvaney. here is what david holmes, an official at the u.s. embassy in ukraine, had to say on that matter. >> well, ambassador sondland's mandate as the accredited ambassador to the european union, did not cover individual
member states, let alone nonmember countries like ukraine. he made clear that he had direct and frequent access to president trump and chief of staff mick mulvaney and portrayed himself as the conduit to the president and mr. mulvaney for this group. >> after the u.s. delegation returned from the inauguration of the new ukrainian president in april, they were able to secure an oval office meeting with president trump to brief him on their trip, in part because of ambassador sondland's connections to mick mulvaney. then during a june 18th, 2019, meeting, ambassador sondland informed national security council senior director dr. fiona hill that he was in charge of ukraine and that he had been briefing senior white house
officials, including mr. mulvaney, about his efforts to undertake, as dr. hill put it, a dou domestic political errand in ukraine. >> so i was upset with him that he wasn't fully telling us about all of the meetings that he was having. and he said to me but i'm briefing the president, i'm briefing chief of staff mulvaney, i'm briefing secretary pompeo and i've talked to ambassador bolton. who else do i have to deal with? and the point is we have a robust interagency process that deals with ukraine that includes mr. holmes, that includes ambassador taylor. it includes a whole load of other people. but it struck me yesterday when you put up on the screen ambassador sondland's e-mails and who was on these e-mails. and he said these are the people who need to know, that he was absolutely right because he was
being involved in a domestic political errand and we were being involved in snanl secur d security foreign policy and those two things had just diverged. >> there's more, much more. a month later president trump's national security advisor at the time, john bolton, told dr. fiona hill to tell the national security council's lawyers that he was not part of whatever drug deal sondland and mulvaney were cooking up. he made that statement after ambassador sondland specifically said that he had a deal with mr. mulvaney to schedule a white house visit for president zelensky if ukraine announced two phony investigations involving the bidens and 2016
election interference, investigations that were sought by president donald john trump. here is the testimony about sondland describing this drug deal he had with mulvaney. >> when i came in, gordon sondland was basically saying, look, we have a deal here that there will be a meeting, i have a deal here with chief of staff mulvaney there will be a meeting if the ukrainians open up or announce these investigations into 2016 and burisma. by this point having heard mr. giuliani over and over again on the television and all of the issues that he was asserting, by this point it was clear that burisma was code for the bidens, because giuliani was laying it out there. i could see why colonel vindman was alarmed. he said, this is inappropriate.
we're the national security council, we can't be involved in this. >> the referenced agreement between ambassador sondland and mick mulvaney was so upsetting that dr. hill reported it to national security council legal advisors. here is the testimony of dr. hill explaining these particular concerns. >> he was making a very strong point that he wanted to know exactly what was being said. when i came back and related it to him, he had some very specific instruction for me. i'm presuming that's -- >> what was that specific instruction? >> the specific instruction was that i had to go to the lawyers, to john eisenberg to basically say you tell eisenberg, ambassador bolton told me, that i am not part of whatever drug deal that mulvaney and sondland are cooking up. >> what did you understand him to mean by the drug deal that
mulvaney and sondland were cooking up? >> i took it to mean investigations for a meeting. >> did you go speak to the lawyers? >> i certainly did. >> sondland's testimony not only corroborates dr. hill's account, he actually says that mick mulvaney, the subject of this amendment, who should appear before the senate if we're going to have a free and fair trial. sondland says mick mulvaney knew all about it. >> what i want to ask you about is he makes reference to a drug deal cooked up by you and mulvaney. it's the reference to mulvaney that i want to ask you about. you've testified that mulvaney was aware of this quid pro quo
of this condition that the ukrainians had to meet, that is announcing these public investigations to get the white house meeting, is that right? >> yeah. a lot of people were aware of it. >> including mr. mulvaney? >> correct. >> the documents also highlight the extensive involvement of mick mulvaney in this geopolitical shakedown scheme. e-mail messages summarized by ambassador sondland during his sworn testimony show that he informed mr. mulvaney as well as secretary pompeo and secretary perry of his efforts to persuade president zelensky to announce the investigations desired by president trump. for example, as shown on the screen, on july 19th, ambassador sondland e-mailed several top
administration officials, including mr. mulvaney stating that he had talked to president zelensky to help prepare him for a phone call with president trump. and he reported that president trump zelensky planned to assure president trump that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will turn over every stone. ambassador sondland made clear in his testimony that he was referring to the burisma/biden and 2016 election interference investigations that were explicitly mentioned by president trump on the july 25th phone call. mr. mulvaney wrote in response, i asked nsc to set it up. what exactly did mr. mulvaney know about the ukrainian commitment to turn over every
stone? and when did he know it? these and many other questions require answers under oath from mr. mulvaney. mr. mulvaney is also a central figure with respect to how president trump implemented this pressure campaign. according to public reports and witness testimony, mr. mulvaney was deeply involved with implementing this scheme, including the unlawful white house freeze on $391 million in aid to kyrste aid to ukraine. but this isn't just other people fingering mr. mulvaney. mr. mulvaney has himself admitted that he was involved.
>> i was involved with the process by which the money was held up temporarily. >> the public reports confirm mr. mulvaney's own account that the h he has information that goes to the heart of this inquiry, specifically related to why the president ordered the hold on aid to ukraine and kept it in place despite deep seated concerns among trump administration officials. this "new york times" article on the screen summarizes an e-mail conversation between mr. mulvaney and robert blair. a senior administration advisor on june 27th when mr. mulvaney asked did we ever find out about the money for ukraine and whether we can hold it back? what prompted that e-mail?
according to public reports, mr. mulvaney was on air force one, air force one with president trump when he sent it. what other conversations did mr. mulvaney have with the president and white house officials about this unlawful freeze? the american people deserve to know. there is other significant evidence concerning mr. mulvaney's role in implementing the scheme. according to multiple witnesses, the direction to freeze the security assistance to ukraine was delivered by mick mulvaney himself. office of management and budget official mark sandy testified about a july 12th e-mail from
mr. blair stating that president trump is directing the hold on military support funding for ukraine. was mr. blair acting at mr. mulvaney's express direction? the members of this distinguished body deserve to know. on july 18th, the hold was announced to the agencies in the administration overseeing ukraine policy matters. those present were blindsided by the announcement that the security aid appropriated by this congress on a bipartisan basis to ukraine, which is still at war with russian backed separatists in the east, they were alarmed that aid had inexplicably been put on hold. meanwhile, officials at the defense department and within the office of management and budget became increasingly
concerned that the hold also violated the law. their concerns turned out to be accurate. public reports have indicated that the white house is in possession of early august e-mails, exchanges between acting chief of staff mick mulvaney and white house budget officials seeking to provide an explanation for the funds. an explanation, i should note, that they were trying to provide after the president had already ordered the hold. mr. mulvaney presumably has answers to these questions. we don't know what those answers are, but he should provide them to this senate and to the american people.
finally, on october 17th, 2019, at a press briefing at the white house, mr. mulvaney left no doubt that president trump withheld the essential military aid as leverage to try to extract phony political investigations as part of his effort to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. this was an extraordinary press conference. mr. mulvaney made clear that the president was, in fact, pressuring ukraine to investigate the conspiracy theory that ukraine, rather than russia, had interfered in the 2016 election. a conspiracy theory promoted by none other than the great purveyor of democracy, vladimir putin himself.
when white house reporters attempted to clarify this acknowledgment of a quid pro quo related to security assistance, mr. mulvaney replied, "we do that all the time with foreign policy." i have news for you, get over it. let's listen to a portion of that stunning exchange. >> did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the dnc server? absolutely, no question about that. but that's it, that's why we held up the money. so the report -- >> the demand for the investigation into the democrats is part of the reason to withhold funding to ukraine? >> the look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing he was worried about in corruption with that nation, and that is absolutely appropriate. >> let's be clear. what you just described is a quid pro quo. it is funding will not flow unless the investigation into
the democratic server happened as well. >> we do, we do that all the time with foreign policy. we were holding money at the same time for, what was it, the northern triangle countries. we were holding up northern triangle countries so that they -- so that they would change their policies on immigration. by the way, and this speaks to an important -- i'm sorry? this speaks to an important point because i heard this yesterday. i can never remember the gentleman, mckinney, is that his name? i don't know him. he testified yesterday. and if you go -- if you believe the news reports, okay, because we've not seen any transcripts of this. the only transcript i've seen was sondland's testimony this morning. if you read the news reports, and you believe them, what did mckinney say yesterday? mckinney said he was upset with the political influence in foreign policy. that was one of the reasons he was so upset about this. and i have news for everybody. get over it. there's going to be political influence in foreign policy. >> in this extraordinary press conference, mr. mulvaney spoke
with authority and conviction about why president trump withheld the aid. he did not mince his words, but then following the press conference he tried to walk back his statements as if he had not said them or had not meant them. we need to hear from mick mulvaney directly so he can clarify his true intentions. having gone through the need for the evidence, let's briefly address the president's arguments that he can block this testimony. that argument is not only wrong, it fundamentally undermines our system of checks and balances. step back for a moment and consider the extraordinary position that president trump is trying to manufacture for himself. the department of justice has already said that the president cannot be indicted or prosecuted
in office. as we sit here today, the president has actually filed a brief in the supreme court saying he cannot be criminally investigated as well while in the white house. so the senate and the house are the only check that are left when the president abuses his power, tries to cheat in the next election, undermines our national security, breaks the law in doing so, and then tries to cover it up. this is america. no one is above the law. but if the president is allowed to determine whether he is even investigated by congress, if he is allowed to decide whether he should comply with lawful subpoenas in connection with an impeachment inquiry or trial, then he is the ultimate arbiter of whether he did anything
wrong. that cannot stand. if he can't be indicted and he can't be impeached, and he can't be removed, then he can't be held accountable. that is inconsistent with the united states constitution. now, you will no doubt hear that the reason that the president blocked all of these witnesses, including mr. mulvaney from testifying, is because of some lofty concern for the office of the presidency and the preservation of executive privilege. let's get real. how can blocking witnesses from telling the truth about the president's misconduct help preserve the office of the presidency? this type of blanket obstruction undermines the credibility of the office of the presidency and deals the constitution a
potentially mortal death blow. to be clear, executive privilege does not provide a legally justifiable basis for his complete and total blockage of evidence. in fact, as you heard earlier today, president trump never even invoked executive privilege, not once. and without ever asserting this privilege, how can you consider his argument in a serious fashion? instead, speaking through mr. cipollone, the distinguished white house counsel, in a letter dated october 8th, 2019, president trump simply decided that he did not want to participate in the investigation into his own wrongdoing. it was a categorical decision not to cooperate without
consideration of specific facts or legal arguments. in fact, even the words that president trump used through his white house counsel were made up. in the letter, mr. cipollone referred to so-called executive branch confidentiality shield. it is not a shield. it is an an executive privilege. to the extent there are executive privileges to be considered, those can be resolved during the testimony, as they have been for decades. and finally, the president claimed that mr. mulvaney could not be compelled to testify because of so-called absolute immunity. but every court to address this legal fiction has rejected it.
as the supreme court emphatically stated in unanimous fashion, in its decision on the nixon tapes, confidentiality interests of the president must yield to an impeachment inquiry when there is a legitimate need for the information. as there is here today. there can be no doubt that mr. mulvaney as the president's chief of staff and head of the office of management and budget is uniquely situated to provide this distinguished body with relevant and important information about the charges in the articles of impeachment. the president's obstruction has no basis in law and should yield to this body's co-equal authority to investigate impeachable and corrupt conduct. one final point bears mention.
if the president wanted to make witnesses available, even while preserving the limited protections of executive privilege, he can do so. in fact, president trump expressed his desire for witnesses to testify in the senate just last month. let's go to the videotape. >> so when it's fair, it will be fair in the senate, i would love to have mike pompeo. i'd love to have mick. i'd love to have rick perry and many other people testify. >> if president trump has nothing to hide, as he and his advisors repeatedly claim, they should all simply testify in the senate trial. what is president donald john trump hiding from the american people? the constitution requires a fair
trial. our democracy needs a fair trial. the american people deserve a fair trial. a fair trial means witnesses. a fair trial means documents. a fair trial means a consideration of all of the available evidence. a fair trial means testimony from mick mulvaney. mr. chief justice, the house managers reserve the balance of our time. >> mr. cipollone? >> thank you, mr. chief justice. [ inaudible ] counsel to the president will make the argument. >> thank you. counsel? >> mr.
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