Transcript of Speaker Pelosi, Committee Chairs Press Availability Following Passage of Articles of Impeachment
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters and Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Carolyn Maloney for a press availability following the impeachment of President Trump. Below is a full transcript:
Speaker Pelosi. Good evening. December 18th, a great day for the Constitution of the United States. A sad one for America, that the President's reckless activities necessitated us – our having to introduce articles of impeachment.
May I thank our six chairs who, for a long period of time, have been legislating, investigating and litigating. Today, that came to a culmination on the Floor of the House. The Judiciary Committee, under the leadership of Jerry Nadler of New York, and the Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of Adam Schiff of California, brought articles of impeachment to the Floor to a conclusion, where they have passed. I thank them for their tremendous leadership.
I thank Congresswoman – Chairwoman Maxine Waters of California – Richie Neal – of the Financial Services Committee, Richie Neal of Massachusetts, the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Carolyn Maloney, the Chair of the [Oversight and Reform] Committee and of course, Adam Schiff, the Chair of the Intelligence Committee, for their great work over a period of time.
I want to say before yielding to the Chairmen that I could not be prouder or more inspired by the moral courage of the House Democrats. We never asked one of them how they were going to vote. We never whipped this vote. We saw the vote. You saw the public statements some of them made. We saw the result when everyone else did, the statements on the Floor about patriotism and about being very true to the vision of our Founders.
And so, I view this day, this vote as something that we did to honor the vision of our Founders to establish a republic, the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform to defend our democracy and that republic and the aspirations of our children that they will always live in a democracy and that we have tried to do everything we can to make sure that is their reality.
We will hear from our Chairmen and then take three questions.
I now am honored to yield with great appreciation and respect to the distinguished Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Chairman Nadler.
Chairman Nadler. Thank you. The Framers reserved the power of impeachment for the gravest offenses against our Constitution, against our liberty and against our democratic institutions.
President Trump used the powers of his office for his own personal, political gain, to the detriment of the national security interests of the United States. That is the very definition of an impeachable offense.
When Congress began to investigate President Trump's wrongdoing, he engaged in an unprecedented pattern of obstruction. That, too, is why the impeachment power exists. A president who both subverts our elections and our Constitutional system of checks and balances puts himself above the law, and it is Congress's duty to hold the President, any president, accountable.
It gives us no pleasure, no pleasure to stand here today, but President Trump's conduct has put our next election at risk. President Trump’s behavior puts our Constitutional order at risk and President Trump's continued actions put the rule of law at risk.
The Framers gave us the power of impeachment for exactly this reason, and in fulfillment of our oath and obligation to the American people, today we took action to hold President Trump accountable for the serious and undisputed risk he poses to our free and fair elections and to the separation of powers that safeguards our liberty.
A president must not be allowed to become a dictator. I want to thank Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Schiff, my fellow investigative Chairs and to all of my colleagues, who today defended the principles upon which our nation was established. Today, the House of Representatives did its Constitutional duty. Today, we lived up to our responsibility to the American people by taking action to defend our national security, to preserve our democratic elections and to show that no one, not even the president, is above the law.
I am now happy to introduce the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff.
Chairman Schiff. The President of the United States has been impeached for now only the third time in history. The President of the United States should be tried. And the question is now whether Senator McConnell will allow a fair trial in the Senate, whether the Majority Leader will allow a trial that involves witnesses and testimony and documents, a trial that should be fair to the President, yes, but should be fair also to the American people.
The American people want to hear from people like John Bolton. The American people want to hear from people like Mick Mulvaney. The American people want to see what is in those documents that the President has been hiding at the State Department, in the Office of Management and Budget, in the White House itself.
We have done our duty here in the House. We have upheld the Constitution. We have done as the Framers would have us do when a president abuses his office and obstructs a coequal branch of government.
The question is now, will the Senate uphold its duty? Will the Senators uphold their oath? Do the Senators want to hear from the witnesses? Do they want a real trial? We have to hope that they do.
The reason we undertook this extraordinary step is because the President not only abused his office, but threatens to abuse it again, threatens to interfere again by inviting foreign interference in our election. The remedy is incomplete as long as the President is free to continue to invite foreign interference in our affairs.
I just want to close by thanking the Speaker for guiding the Congress through this tumultuous time. There is no one I think who could have guided the Congress with a steadier hand or with more insight and intellect than the Speaker of the House.
And, I also want to thank my colleagues – in particular, so many new Members of the House who have displayed such courage; who have shown they truly have the courage of their convictions.
Speaker Pelosi. I want to add that one person who wasn’t with us physically in this room, but I know is present – was present all day for the deliberations, our former – our Chair of the [Committee on Oversight and Reform], our Committee Chair, our North Star, Elijah Cummings.
He said, ‘When the history books are written about this tumultuous era, I want it to show I was among those in the House of Representatives who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny.’
He also said, somewhat presciently, ‘When we are dancing with the angels, the question will be, what did you do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?’
We did all we could, Elijah.
We passed two articles of impeachment.
The President is impeached.
Q: Madam Speaker, do you view the House's role in this as complete now, or are there steps you might take to try and ensure, like the Chairman suggested, a more fair trial in the Senate?
Speaker Pelosi. You mean more fair trial than they’re contemplating, because we had a very –
Q: Yes, Ma’am.
Speaker Pelosi. – fair process in the House of Representatives. I would yield to our – let me just put it another way. We have legislation approved by the Rules Committee that will enable us to decide how we will send over the articles of impeachment.
We cannot name managers until we see the process is on the Senate side, and I hope that will be soon, as we did with our legislation, our Resolution 660, to describe what the process would be. So far, we have not seen anything that looks fair to us, so hopefully it will be fair and when we see what that is, we’ll send our managers.
Q: You would wait to send the articles until you understand what the Senate is going to do?
Speaker Pelosi. We will make a decision as a group, as we always have, as we go along.
Q: Could you presumably withhold the articles – could you presumably withhold the articles of impeachment until you get what you consider to be a fair trial?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, again, we will decide what that dynamic is, but we hope the resolution of that process will be soon in the Senate.
Speaker Pelosi. Sheryl, did you have one? Sheryl, did you have a question? Sheryl.
Q: I do have a question. What do you consider a fair trial? What are you looking for in terms of specific –
Speaker Pelosi. Could you give me those documents?
Q: Do you agree with the plan that Senator Schumer has?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me tell you what I don't consider a fair trial. This is what I don't consider a fair trial: Leader McConnell has stated he is not an impartial juror, that he is going to take ‘his cues’ from the White House, and he is working ‘in total coordination with the White House counsel's office.’
Any comments my colleagues want to make?
Chairman Nadler. Let me just say that obviously Senator McConnell, by that declaration, he has said he is – in effect, the foreman of the jury working with the defense counsel. That is not fair and we’ll have to see what else, but that is certainly an indication of an intention to have an unfair trial.
Q: Can you tell us what you would like to see?
Speaker Pelosi. What we’d like to see – look, it is up to the Senators to make their own decision, working together, hopefully in recognition of their witnesses that the President withheld from us, the documents the President withheld from us. And we would hope that information would be available in a trial to go to the next step, because that is another level in terms of conviction, in terms of this. But, right now, the President is impeached.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, would you –
Speaker Pelosi. Go ahead.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, would you never send the articles, if it was possible –
Speaker Pelosi. We are not having that discussion. We have done what we have set out to do. The House has acted on a very sad day to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, to do so in a manner that was fair, even though the other side was mischaracterizing it, nonetheless it was fair and appropriate and urgent, and urgent. So, we will make our decision as to when we will send it, when we see what is happening on the Senate side, but that is a decision that we will make jointly.
Speaker Pelosi. Okay, one – wait a minute. You’re starting to act like another country. Don't shout, okay? Who is not going to shout a question?
Q: Speaker Pelosi –
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, sir.
Q: Can you guarantee that the impeachment articles will be, at some point, sent to the Senate?
Speaker Pelosi. I’m not –
Q: Can you guarantee that?
Speaker Pelosi. That would have been our intention, but we will see what happens over there.
Q: So you may not –
Speaker Pelosi. That is not – you are asking me, are we all going to go out and play in the snow? That has not been part of our conversation.
Q: That is why we are asking. We need clarification, since you have raised the prospect of not sending the articles over.
Speaker Pelosi. No, I never raised the prospect. You asked the question. I never raised the prospect. I said we are not sending it tonight because it is difficult to determine who the managers would be until we see the arena in which we will be participating. That's all I said. I never raised the prospect.
Q: Any timetable? Any timetable?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we will see what they – when they come forward. It is up to the Senate to say what their rules will be. My colleagues, do you want to say anything about this?
Because, it is – you know, this is a serious matter, even though the Majority Leader in the United States Senate says it is O.K. for the foreman of the jury to be in cahoots with the lawyers of the accused, that doesn't sound right to us.
But, let’s see when they understand we have acted and now, they will understand what their responsibilities are, and we will see what that is. But, I never raised that possibility. No.
Thank you, that is it.
Any other comments, anyone? No?
Well anyway, let me again thank our Chairmen, all six of them, and our darling Elijah. They did a remarkable job. And, I think you probably – hopefully you will be inspired by the moral courage of our Caucus, especially as the distinguished Chairman recognized, our Freshmen Members, who came here, reviewed the facts, understood the Constitution, made their decision, again, to honor their oath of office.
We are very proud of them.