Transcript of House Impeachment Managers Announcement
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chair Adam Schiff of California, Chair Jerry Nadler of New York, Chair Zoe Lofgren of California, Chair Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado and Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia of Texas to announce their appointments as Impeachment Managers. Below is a full transcript:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone.
This is a very important day for us. And as you know, I've referenced temporal markers that our Founders and our poets and others have used over time to place us in time, to emphasize the impeachment to the United States Senate.
As I've said, it's 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 Payne, now are the times, ‘These are the times that try men’s souls,’ ‘The times have found us.’ Again and again, even, even our poets, Longfellow, remember, ‘Listen my children and you will hear the midnight ride of Paul Revere, on the 18th of April, in ‘75, hardly a man is now alive that remembers that famous day and year.’ It's always about marking history, using time.
On December 18th, the House of Representatives impeached the President of the United States. An impeachment that will last forever. On, since December 18th, there have been comments about when are we going to send the articles over? Well, we had hoped that the courtesy could 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 passed the articles, on December 20th, 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 Justice to hold off on the Ukraine aide.
On December 29th, 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 2nd, newly unredacted Pentagon emails, which the House subpoenaed and the President blocked, raised 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 6th, 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 13th, reports emerged the Russian government hacked a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, as part of their ongoing effort to influence U.S. elections to support, in support of President Trump.
And just yesterday, the House committee, two of our Chairmen here, Chairman, 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. 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's important for the President to know and Putin to know, that the American voter, voters in America should decide who our president is, not Vladimir Putin and Russia.
So today, I’m 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 wouldn't be in this situation had we not waited – insists that there be, 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'll pass a resolution naming the Managers as I mentioned, appropriating the funds for the trial and 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, as you know, Chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is serving his tenth 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 fifteenth term in Congress. Mr. Nadler served as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for thirteen years. Before Congress, Mr. Nadler served the New York State Assembly for sixteen 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 thirteenth term in Congress. This is Chairwoman Lofgren's third impeachment. As a [staffer for a Judiciary Committee Member] 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's 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 elected office. Mr. Jeffries clerked for the Honorable [Harold] 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 in the Orlando Police Department for 27 years – part of that time as the first woman Police Chief in Orlando.
Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado is 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 coming, 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 was, 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 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 as strong as possible a case to protect and defend our Constitution, to seek the truth for the American people. I'm very proud and honored that these seven Members, 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'll go to the Floor and pass a 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're going to take a few questions.
Q: Speaker Pelosi –
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, sir.
Q: If time has only strengthened your case, why did you rush to have the vote before Christmas, and Mr. Chairman why hold the public hearings for just two weeks? Couldn't you stretch this out longer in order to get more information that you consider would really bolster the case?
Speaker Pelosi. Well I'll 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'll yield to the Chairman.
Chairman Schiff. We've always felt this 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 didn't want a trial in the Senate. That he didn't want to hear from witnesses, that he didn't 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, I think, 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's fair to the president, but also fair to the American people, or are they going to participate in a coverup?
So I think it's been very effective, and as you’ve seen, additional evidence continues to come to light that not only has bolstered an already overwhelming case, but has also put additional pressure, I think, on the Senate to conduct a fair trial and the last thing I’ll 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 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 as 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 McGhan, 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 testimony – 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.
Speaker Pelosi. Let me just say, I was very discouraged to see Mitch McConnell sign onto a resolution dismissing the case. Dismissal is cover-up. Dismissal is cover-up. Do you want to speak to that, Jerry?
Chairman Nadler. Let me add to that. There is an overwhelming case beyond any reasonable doubt that the President betrayed the country by using – by withholding federal funds appropriated by Congress, breaking the law in doing so, in order to extort a foreign government into intervening to embarrass – to try to embarrass a potential political opponent of his. There is an overwhelming evidence of that.
We couldn't wait because some people said well, let the election take care of it. He's 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 even more evidence piled up, but we have to proceed, because the election – 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's 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 doesn't permit the introduction of all relevant witnesses and all of documents that the House wants to introduce – because the House is the prosecutor here – then the Senate is engaging in an unconstitutional and disgusting cover-up.
The question is: does the Senate – the Senate is on trial as well as the President. Does the Senate conduct a trial according to the Constitution to vindicate the republic or does the Senate participate in the President's crimes by covering them up?
Q: Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Chad.
Q: You talked about the push to try to have witnesses, try to have documents and maybe some of the matters of witnesses, 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 don't try to go down that route say okay, this is what they decided?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I've always often quoted – and Mr. Jeffries quotes – Abraham Lincoln, ‘Public sentiment is everything.’ Over 70 percent of the American people want to see a fair trial – whatever the outcome – with witnesses and documentation, and we haven't seen even the rules.
We put our rules out in October for the next couple of months that – the next few months that followed – for our making the case. We haven't seen what the rules are in the Senate, but we do know that in the time that's transpired since December 18th, the American people have come down in favor of a fair trial, which they always wanted, but meaning that it would entail having witnesses as well as documents. Anyone else want to speak to that, my colleagues?
Chairman 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 aide 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're 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 a presentation of witnesses. We certainly hope that is what will take place.
Chairman Schiff. Madam Speaker, can I just add – if I could just add really quickly onto this, and I thank the 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 don't 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 have been – there's 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 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.
Speaker Pelosi. And the witnesses were deposed.
Chairman Schiff. Yes. As the Speaker mentions, the other 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 the House has alleged, these witnesses are very pertinent and relevant. So, this is another profound distinction between the Clinton investigation and trial and where we are today.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.
Q: Madam Speaker, having witnesses for the prosecution opens up potentially having witnesses for the defense and the Republicans have suggested they would like to call Hunter Biden. Are you, the Managers, prepared for that?
Speaker Pelosi. Would you like to speak to that?
Chairman Nadler. Let me say, we are prepared, but the relevant question is relevance. Relevance. In any trial you call witnesses who have information about the allegations, about the charges. The allegations, for which there's a mountain of evidence, 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's 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 running into the bank and somewhere else is relevant. A witness who says he committed forgery on some other document is not relevant to the bank robbery charge. That's the distinction.
Speaker Pelosi. Let me just say, 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 in order to advance his personal and political advantage. That is what the Senators should be looking into.
This is a president who said the Second Amendment – excuse me, Article II ‘says that I can do whatever I want.’ It does not. He's 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 didn't have: ‘A republic, if we can keep it.’ So this is a very serious matter, and we take it to heart and, really, in a solemn way, in a very solemn way.
It's about the Constitution. It's about the ‘republic, if we can keep it.’ And they shouldn't 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's been impeached forever. They can never erase that.
I’m very proud of the Managers that we have. We believe that they bring to this case in the United States Senate great patriotism, great respect for the Constitution of the United States, great comfort level in a courtroom, great commitment, again, to the Constitution; Jerry being the Chair of that Constitutional Subcommittee for thirteen years, and Zoe being involved in three impeachments and there are others bringing their intellectual resources and knowledge to all of this.
So, I thank them for accepting this responsibility. I wish them well. It's going to be a very big commitment of time, but I don't 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.