Pelosi announces the impeachment managers for the impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the Senate.
Good morning, everyone.
This is a very important day for us and, as you know, I reference temporal markers that our founders and our poets and others have used over time, to places in time, to emphasize the importance of time because everything is about time. How we use it, how we mark it.
And today is an important day, because today is the day, that we name the managers who go to the floor to pass the resolution to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate. And later in the day, when we have our engrossment, that we march those articles of impeachment to the United States Senate.
As I have said, it has always been our founders when they started, "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary" – when.... Abraham Lincoln, “Four score and seven years ago.” Thomas Paine, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” The times have found us.
Again and again, even our poets: Longfellow, remember, “Listen my children and you will hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, on 18th of April in ’75, hardly a man is now alive that remembers that famous day and year.”
It is always about marking history, using time. On December 18, the House of Representatives impeached the president of the United States, an impeachment that will last forever. Since December 18, there have been comments about when are we going to send the articles over? Well, we had hoped that the courtesy would be extended, that we would have seen what the process would be in the Senate. Short of that, that time has revealed many things since then.
Time has been our friend in all of this, because it has yielded incriminating evidence, more truth into the public domain. Since we have passed the articles, on December 20, two days later, new emails showed that 91 minutes after Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky, a top Office of Management and Budget aide asked the Department of Defense to hold off on the Ukraine aid.
On December 29, revelations emerged about the OMB director and acting chief of staff Mulvaney’s role in the delay of the effort by lawyers in the administration to justify the delay, and the alarm… this is very important, that the alarm that the delay, time, caused within the administration.
On January 2, newly unredacted Pentagon emails which the House subpoenaed and the president blocked, raise serious concerns by the Trump administration officials. By Trump administration officials. They were concerned about the legality of the president’s hold on the aid to the Ukraine.
On January 6, former Trump National Security advisor John Bolton said he would comply with a subpoena to testify and that he has new relevant information.
On January 13, reports emerged the Russian government hacked a Ukranian gas company, Barisma, as part of their ongoing effort to influence U.S. elections in support of President Trump.
And just yesterday, the House committee, two of our chairmen here, Chairman Nadler of Judiciary, Chairman Schiff of Intelligence, Chairman Eliot Engel of Foreign Affairs and Chairwoman Maloney of Government Reform. They released new evidence pursuant to a House subpoena of Lev Parnas, you know who that is, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, that further proves the president was the central player in the scheme to pressure Ukraine for his own benefit in the 2020 election.
This is about the Constitution of the United States. And it is important for the president to know, and Putin to know, the American voter… voters in America should decide who our president is. Not that Vladimir Putin in Russia.
So today, I am very proud to present the managers who will bring the case, which we have great confidence in, in terms of impeaching the president and his removal.
But this further evidence insists that, and we would not be in this situation had we not waited, insists that there be witnesses, and that we see documentation. And now you see some of that change happening on the Senate side. I hope it does, for the good of our country and to honor our Constitution.
So today on the floor, we will pass a resolution naming the managers, as I mentioned, appropriating the funds for the trial, and the transmitting the articles of impeachment of the president of the United States for trying to influence a foreign government for his own personal and political benefit.
Chair Adam Schiff of California, lead manager. Chairman Schiff is, as you know, chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is serving his 10th term in Congress. Excuse me. Before Congress, Mr. Schiff was a California state senator, and served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, for six years, most notably prosecuting the first federal FBI agent ever to be indicted for espionage.
Chairman Jerry Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee is serving his 15th term in Congress. Mr. Nadler served as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties for 13 years. Before Congress, Mr. Nadler served in the New York State Assembly for 16 years. Wow.
Chair Zoe Lofgren. Chair Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Committee on House Administration, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee. Ms. Lofgren is serving her 13th term in Congress. This is Chairwoman Lofgren’s third impeachment, as a Judiciary Committee staffer in the Nixon impeachment, as a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Clinton impeachment, and now as a manager in this impeachment of President Trump.
Chair Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Chairman Hakeem Jeffries is the chair of the House Democratic Caucus and is currently serving his fourth term in Congress. He is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Before being in Congress, he served in the assembly of New York for six years, an accomplished litigator in private practice before running for elective office. Mr. Jeffries clerked for the Honorable Howard Baer Jr. Of New York District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida. Congresswoman Val Demings is a member of both the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee. Ms. Demings is serving her second term in Congress. Before Congress, Ms. Demings served at the Orlando Police Department for 27 years, part of that time as the first woman police chief in Orlando.
Congressmen Jason Crow of Colorado was a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Mr. Crow served his country, our country, bravely as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan, before running for Congress. Mr. Crow was a respected litigator in private practice in Colorado.
Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia of Texas. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Before Congress, Ms. Garcia served in Texas state senate. Previously, she was the director and presiding judge of the Houston Municipal System and was elected city controller. Ms. Garcia was later elected the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right, to the Harris County Commissioners Court.
As you can see from these descriptions, the emphasis is on litigators. The emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom. The emphasis is making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our Constitution, to seek the truth for the American people. I am very proud and honored that these seven distinguished members have accepted this serious responsibility, again to protect and defend, for the people, defending our democracy.
When we leave here, a little bit later at noon, we will go to the floor and pass the resolution naming the managers officially. But I wanted to say more about them here, and to say that the decision to come down in favor of litigators is necessitated by the clear evidence that we should have witnesses, and we should have documentation, and we have to make the strongest prosecution, not only of our very strong case, but of all the information that has come forth since.
We are willing to take a few questions.
REPORTER 1: Speaker Pelosi?
PELOSI: Yes sir?
REPORTER 1: If time has only strengthened your case, why did you rush to have a vote before Christmas? And Mr. Chairman, why hold public hearings for just two weeks? Why could you not stretch this out longer, in order to get this more information that you consider has only bolstered your case?
PELOSI: Well, I will yield to the distinguished chairman, but I will say that we had a strong case for impeachment of the president and removal for the president. Anything more would be in terms of where we go in the Senate and I will yield to the chairman.
SCHIFF: We have always felt a certain urgency about this impeachment, given that the president was trying to get foreign help in cheating in the next election. But as soon as we did take up and pass the articles, Mitch McConnell made it clear that he did not want a trial in the Senate, that he did not want to hear from witnesses, that he did not want documents. And this time has given us the ability to show the American people the necessity of a fair trial; to expose the degree to which McConnell is working hand in hand with the subject of the impeachment, the president, to essentially turn what should be a trial into a sham. And that time has been very effective in not only bringing new evidence to light, and the evidence was already overwhelming, but also forcing senators to go on record. Do they want a fair trial, one that is fair to the president, but also fair to the American people, or are they going to participate in a coverup? So I think it has been very effective. And as you have seen, additional evidence continues to come to light that not only has bolstered an already overwhelming case, but has also put additional pressure on the Senate to conduct a fair trial. And the last thing I will say is Mr. McConnell has taken to saying that the Senate should only consider the closed record that comes from the House, and as if what the Senate is, is not a trial but an appeal from a trial. But of course, the Senate, the framers had in mind, a real trial with witnesses and evidence. And if McConnell makes this the first trial in history without witnesses, it will be exposed for what it is, and that is an effort to cover up for the president. Finally, some have suggested as part of your question, why didn't we wait to get more testimony? Well, we have sought McGahn’s testimony, Don McGahn, the president’s lawyer, since April of last year. We still don't have a final court judgment. So yes, we could have waited years to get further testimony from all the people the president has been obstructing, but essentially that would completely negate the impeachment power; that is, allow the president by virtue of obstruction, to prevent his own impeachment. And that was an unacceptable course, particularly when the whole object of the president’s scheme was to cheat in the election, which is the ordinary mechanism for dealing with a corrupt presidency.
PELOSI: Let me just say, I was very discouraged to see Mitch McConnell sign on to a resolution dismissing the case. That, to me, dismissal, is cover up. Dismissal is cover up. Do you want to speak to that, Jerry?
NADLER: Let me add to that. There is an overwhelming case, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the president betrayed the country by withholding federal funds appropriated by Congress, breaking the law in doing so, in order to extort a foreign government into intervening in our election, to try to embarrass a potential political opponent of his. There is overwhelming evidence of that. We could not wait because…some people said, “Let the election take care of it.” He is trying to cheat in that election. So it is essential, that we bring this impeachment to stop the president from trying to rig… not from trying, he tried, from rigging the next election. From conspiring with a foreign government as the Russian government attempted to rig our last election. The evidence is overwhelming. The latest evidence with Parnas and Giuliani, makes it even more so. It made sense to wait a while, as more evidence piled up, but we have to proceed, because the integrity of the election is at stake. Let me add one other thing. This is a test of the Constitution. The president’s conduct violates the Constitution in every single way. Trying to rig an election. Stonewalling the Congress, saying, “No one may testify, because I can have a cover up despite Congress.” But it is a test of the Constitution now. The Senate is intended by the Constitution to conduct a fair trial. The American people know that in a trial, you permit witnesses, you present the evidence. If the Senate does not permit the introduction of all relevant witnesses and of all documents that the House wants to introduce, because the House is the prosecutor here, then the Senate is engaging in an unconstitutional and disgusting coverup. So the question is, does the Senate… the Senate is on trial as well as the president. Does the Senate conduct the trial according to the Constitution to vindicate the Republic? Or does the Senate participate in the president’s crimes by covering them up?
REPORTER 2: Thank you so much. You talked about the push to try to have witnesses, try to have documents in the Congress, and maybe some of the matters would be better taking into question, but based on your understanding of the Senate rules, what do you see as procedural options to try to force the Senate to do something, A, or just make the best case that you can, and then if they do not, try to go down that route, say, “Okay, this is what they have decided to do.”
PELOSI: Well, I have often quoted, and Mr. Jeffries quotes Abraham Lincoln, “Public sentiment is everything.” Over 70% of the American people want to see a fair trial, whatever the outcome, a fair trial with witnesses and documentation. And we have not seen even the rules. We put our rules out in October for the next few months that followed, for our making the case. We have not seen what the rules are in the Senate, but we do know that in the time that has transpired since December 18, the American people have come down in favor of a fair trial, which they always want it, but meaning that it would entail having witnesses as well as documents. Anyone else want to speak to that? My colleagues? Mr. Jeffries?
JEFFRIES: Well, the evidence is overwhelming, that Donald Trump corruptly abused his power, by pressuring a foreign government to target an American citizen for political and personal gain, by withholding $391 million in military aid to Ukraine without justification. There is a mountain of evidence in that regard. In America, no one is above the law. That is why the House proceeded with great leadership from Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Schiff and Chairman Nadler, to hold this president accountable. The Constitution required it, our democracy required it. Given the evidence that has been built to date, the American people deserve a fair trial. Our democracy deserves a fair trial. The Constitution deserves a fair trial. So we are going to simply follow the facts, apply the law, be guided by the Constitution, and present the truth to the American people. Speaker Pelosi has given us the space for the American people to weigh in, over the last few weeks, which has led at least four senators, which is the magic number, to publicly indicate that in their view, a fair trial does include the presentation of documents and the presentation of witnesses. We certainly hope that is what will take place.
SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, can I just add, if I could just add really quickly onto this, and I thank Chairman Jeffries, I just want to underscore the importance of documents, because we spent a lot of time talking about John Bolton and other witnesses. Witnesses may tell the truth and witnesses may not tell the truth. Documents do not generally lie, and in the documents that we submitted to the Judiciary Committee just last night, you see the importance of documents. Because included among the Parnas documents we obtained is a letter from Giuliani trying to set up a meeting with the president of Ukraine, Zelensky, to discuss a particular matter. Of course, we know that matter is the investigations that the president wanted Ukraine to undertake of his political opponent. There has been speculation from time to time: maybe the president or his allies will throw Mr. Giuliani under the bus. That letter makes clear that Giuliani, in his own words, is acting at the behest and with the knowledge and consent of the president. There is no fobbing this off on others. The president was the architect of this scheme. These documents are important. We have only obtained a very small sample of the universe of documents that the president is withholding. If Mr. McConnell wants to follow the Clinton model, as he keeps professing, all of the documents were provided before the trial. Those documents should be demanded by the senators. If the senators want to see the evidence, they should demand to see the documents, and not participate in an effort to stonewall or cover up the president's misconduct.
PELOSI: Witnesses were deposed.
SCHIFF: Yes. As the speaker mentions, the other, of course, profound distinction between now and the Clinton case is that the witnesses that the House managers sought in the Clinton trial had already testified. Their testimony was known. So the question for the senators then was, “Do we want to hear them again?” And there was another question not present here, which is, “Do we really want to hear witnesses talking about sex on the Senate floor?” That is not the issue before us. The issue here is, “Does the Senate want to hear from witnesses who have never testified?” People who, like other witnesses, have firsthand information. And unless the president is willing to concede everything that House has alleged, these witnesses are very pertinent and relevant. And so this is another profound distinction between the Clinton investigation and trial, and where we are today.
REPORTER 3: Madam Speaker, having witnesses for the prosecution opens up potentially having witnesses for the defense, and Republicans have suggested they would like to call Hunter Biden. Are you, the managers, prepared for that?
PELOSI [to the managers]: Would you like to speak to that?
NADLER: Let me say, we are prepared, but the relevant question is relevance – is relevance. In any trial, you call witnesses who have information about the allegations, about the charges. The allegations, for which there is a mountain of evidence, are that the president betrayed his country by trying to extort Ukraine, by withholding $391 million in military aid that Congress had voted, in order to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of a domestic political opponent. That is the allegation. Any witness who has information about whether that is true or not true is a relevant witness. Anybody like Hunter Biden, who has no information about any of that, is not a relevant witness. Any trial judge in this country would rule such a witness as irrelevant and inadmissible. If someone is accused of robbing a bank. Witnesses who say, we saw him run into the bank, we saw him someplace else, are relevant. A witness who says, “He committed forgery on some other document,” is not relevant to the bank robbery charge. That is the distinction.
PELOSI: Well, let me just say, that what is at stake here is the Constitution of the United States. This is what an impeachment is about. The president violated his oath of office, undermined our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our elections, tried to use the appropriations process as his private ATM machine to grant or withhold funds granted by Congress in order to advance his personal and political advantage. That is what the senators should be looking into. This is a president who said Article II says that I can do whatever I want. It does not. He is undermining the beautiful, exquisite, brilliant genius of the Constitution, the separation of powers, by granting to himself the powers of a monarch, which is exactly what Benjamin Franklin said we did not have, a republic, if we can keep it. So this is a very serious matter and we take it to heart in a really solemn way, in a very solemn way. It is about the Constitution. It is about the Republic, if we can keep it. And they should not be frivolous with the Constitution of the United States, even though the president of the United States has. The president is not above the law. He will be held accountable. He has been held accountable. He has been impeached. He has been impeached forever. They can never erase that. I am very proud of the managers that we have. I believe that they bring to this case and the United States Senate, great patriotism, great respect for the Constitution of United States, great comfort level in a courtroom, great commitment, again, to the Constitution. Jerry being the chair of that Constitutional subcommittee for 13 years, Zoe being involved in three impeachments, and the others bringing their intellectual resources and their knowledge to all of this. So I thank them for accepting this responsibility. I wish them well. It is going to be a very big commitment of time, but I do not think we could be better served than by the patriotism and dedication of the managers that I am naming here this morning. Thank you all very much.
C-SPAN (2020, Jan. 15). Announcement of Impeachment Managers [Video]. Retrieved on Feb. 5, 2020 from https://www.c-span.org/video/?468170-1/announcement-impeachment-managers.