tv U.S. Senate Sen. Mc Connell on Impeachment CSPAN December 19, 2019 11:15pm-11:48pm EST
bad news and the counted upon to do the right thing. someone decided that kennedy would come to 70th and broadway straight to address the crowd that had gathered. the great sense that you have as you walk through the space is how understated it is. it's not ostentatious but if anything it speaks deeply of quality, and i think that is harrison's character through and through, understated but of quality. >> senate majority leader mitch
mcconnell spoke on the floor flf the house voted to impeach president trump. he called the proceedings they, quote, rushed in. inquiry. >> last night house democrats did what they decided to do a long time ago. they voted to impeach president trump. over the last 12 weeks house democrats have conducted the most rushed and unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history. now their process has concluded and the partisan presidential impeachment since the wake of the civil war. the opposition was bipartisan.
only one part of one faction wanted this outcome. the misconduct risked deeply damaging institutions of american government. this particular house of representatives has let its partisan rage at this particular president create a toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future. that's what i want to discuss right now. the historical degree to which the house democrats have failed to do their duty and what it will mean for the senate to do ours. so let's start at the beginning. let's start with the fact washington democrats made up their mind to impeach president trump before he was even
inaugurated. here's a reporter in april of 2016, april of 2016. donald trump isn't even the republican nominee yet. but impeachment is already on the list of funded, newspaper editorials, constitutional scholars, and even a few members of congress. april, 2016. on inauguration day, 2017, the headline in the "washington post" the campaign to impeach president trump has begun. that was the number one. in april, 2017, three months into the presidency, the senior house democrat said i'm going to fight every day until he is impeached. that was three months into the administration. december, 2017, two years ago,
congressman jerry nadler was openly campaigning to be the ranking member on the house judiciary committee specifically because he was an expert on impeachment. the campaign to be the top democrat on the judiciary. this week wasn't even the first time house democrats introduce articles of impeachment. it was actually the second time. they started less than six months after the president was sworn in. they tried to impeach president trump for being impolite to the press, for being mean to professional athletes, for changing president obama's policy on transgender people in the military. all of these t things were high crimes and misdemeanors?
according to the democrats. now this wasn't just a few people. scorers of democrats move to go forward on impeachment on those prior allegations. so let's be clear, the house voted yesterday wasn't done with neutral judgment. it was the predetermined end of a partisan crusade that began before president trump was even nominated, let alone sworn in. for the very first time in modern history, we have seen a political faction in congress promised from the moment the president election ended to find some way to overturn it. a few months ago, democrats
three year long in peachpit and search for articles found its way to the subject of ukraine. house democrathouse democrats ee most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history. the chairman's inquiry was poisoned by partisanship from the outside. its procedures and parameters were unfair and unprecedented. democrats tried to make it into a de facto special prosecutor notwithstanding the fact that he's a partisan member of congress who already engaged in strange and pious behaviors. he scrapped the president to cut the minority out of the process. key denied him the same sort of
procedural rights that the houses of both parties provided the past presidents of both parties. presidents council could participate in the hearings, present evidence or cross-examineia witnesses. the house judiciary committee was even more ahistorical. it was like they ordered one and impeachment. they found no facts on their own, did nothing to identify the report. there only witnesses were law professors and congressional staffers. so there is a reason it required about 14 months of hearings in addition to the special prosecutor's investigation.
with president clinton and the council's inquiry had been for yearsiterally before the house judiciary committee actually dug into it. mountains of evidence and testimony from first-hand witnesses, serious legal battles to get what was necessary. this time around, house democrats skipped all of the incident told the more than the multiple years of investigation for clinton and if they impeached him and 12 weeks. let's talk about what the house actually produced. house democrats rig the inquiry and the two articles two of
impeachment. they are fundamentally unlike any articles any prior house of representatives has passed. the first article concerns the core events which house democrats claim are impeachable. the timing of aid to ukraine. but it ibut it is and prefer wae any actual crime. instead, they deploy the phrase abuse of power. to impugn the actions in a general and indeterminate way. the house jus just a bit of a temptation that every other house in history has managed to resist. me say that again. the house just gave into the temptation that every other
house in our history has managed to resist. they impeach a president they do not allege has committed an actual crime known to the law. simply because they disagree with a presidential act and question the motives behind it. so let's look at history. andrew johnson and impeachment involved are not a violation of a criminal statute albeit unconstitutional statute mentioned obstruction of justice a felony under the law. clinton had perjury, also a felony. now the constitution doesn't say the house can impeach only those presidents who a violate a law. but history matters and
precedence matters and there are reasons every previous restraint itself from crossing the rubicon very specifically discuss this issue whether the house should be able to impeach presidents just for a quote now administration. in other words because they thought he had bad judgment. they talked about all of that when they wrote the constituti constitution. the records of the debate show a specifically rejected this. they realized it would create a total dysfunction to set the bar for impeachment of low. james madison himself explained
that allowing impeachment on that basis would mean they serve at the pleasure of the congress instead of the pleasure of the american people. it would make a president a creature of congress, not aheade head of a separate and equal branch. so there are powerful reasons why for 230 years required for presidential impeachment to revolve around clear recognizable crimes even though that was not a strict limitation. powerful reasons why for 230 years, no house opened the pandora's box of subjective, political impeachment.
the 230 year tradition died last night. house democrats are trying to say they had to impeach president trump on this subjective basis because the white house challenged their request for more witnesses and that brings us to the second article of impeachment. the house titled this one obstruction of congress. what it really does is impeached a president for asserting presidential privilege. the concept of executive privilege is another two centuries old constitutional tradition. the president starting with george washington, federal courts have repeatedly affirmed it is a legitimate
constitutional power. house democrats requested extraordinary amounts of sensitive information from president trump's white house. exactly the kind of things over which presidents of both parties have asserted privilege in the past. predictably and appropriately they didn't simply roll over. he defended the constitutional authority of his office, no surprise there. it's not a constitutional crisis for the house to want more information than a president wants to give up. that's not a constitutional crisis, it is a routine occurrence. separation of powers is messy by design. here's what should have happen happened. either the president and congress o negotiate a settlemet or the third branch of government, the judiciary
address the dispute between the other two. the nixon impeachment featured disagreements over presidential privilege. so they went to court. the clinton impeachment over presidential privilege so they went to the courts. this takes time. it's inconvenient. that's actually the point. the new processes and meant to maximize the convenience of the prosecutor. it's been to protect the accused. but this timeif was different. remember 14 months of hearings for richard nixon coming years of investigation for bill clinton, 12 weeks for donald chung.
democrats didn't have to rush this. if they chose to stick to the political timetable at the expense of pursuing or evidence through proper legal channels. nobody made the chairmanship do this. he chose to. the tuesday before last on live television, adam schiff explained the entire country if house democrats have let the justice system follow its normal course, they might not have gotten to impeach the president in time for election night. the courts were allowed to do their work. only these house democrats decided due process is too much work. they would rather impeach with no proof.
mr. president, they tried to cover it with their own partisan inpatients by pretending the routine occurrence of a president exerting constitutional privilege is itself a basic and impeachable offense. the following is something adam schiff lederle said in early october. any action that forces us to litigate or to have to consider litigation will be considered further evidence of obstruction of justice. here's what the chairman effectively said and one of the committee members restated it just this week if the president asserts his constitutional rights if that's much more
evidence, he's guilty. if the president asserts his constitutional rights if that's much more evidence he's guilty. that is antithetical to american justice. so, those are house democrats two articles of impeachment. that's all they could generate. itng is a nonsensical claim exercising a legitimate presidential power is somehow an impeachable offense. this is by far the thinnest basis for any house passed presidential impeachment in america history and nothing else even comes close.
and candidly i don't think i'm the only person around here that realizes that even before the house voted yesterday, democrats have already started to signal the own easiness. before the articles have been passed, the leader went on istelevision to demand that this body redo a the homework for them and the senate should supplement the work so that is more persuasive. of course every such demand simply confirms house democrats have rushed forward withth a cae that is much too weak to. back in june speaker pelosi promised the house would build
an ironclad case nevermind that she was basically promising impeachment is a separate matter. she promised an ironclad case. and in march she said and impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there is something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, i don't think we should go down that path because it divides the country. the speakers own senators, she's failed the country, th the cases not compelling, not overwhelming and as a result of not bipartisan. it was made clear to everybody this week when senator schumer
began searching for ways the senate could step out of our proper role and try to fix the house democrats failures for them and it was made even more clear last night when speaker pelosi suggested house democrats may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the senate. it looks that the prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country and second guessing whether they even want to go to trial. they said it was the urgent it couldn't wait for due process now they are to sit on their hands.
they are blessed by the senate if we could easily see the impeachment of every future president of either party. let me say that again. if the senate passes this historically low bar he will invite the impeachment of every future president. democrats obligations and was presented or incompatible with our constitutional order. they are unlike anything that's been seen in 230 years of this republic. house democrats want to create new rules because they feel uniquely enraged. long after this moment is broken, the institutional damage will remain. i described the threat to the
presidency and also imperils. they've created an unfair product that looks nothing like any impeachment inquiry in american history and if the speaker aggregates her house in order, that ms will be dumped over here. if the senate blesses this impeachment, if we say that from now on this is enough, then we invite e an endless tirade of trials. future houses of either party will feel free to any time they feel angry, free to swap the senate for trial after trial no
matter how baseless the charges. we would be giving future houses of either party the power to paralyze the senate that there will. more incomplete evidence, more partisan deterrents. in fact the same house of representatives has already indicated that they themselves may not be finished impeaching. the house judiciary committee told the federal court thisy vey week that it will continue its investigation even after voting on these articles and multiple democratic members have already called publicly for more. if the senate blesses this into the nation accepts this, the presidential impeachment may cease being a once in attrition.
cogeneration event and it may become a constant part of the political crowned boys. this extraordinary tool of last resort may become another part of the arms race of polarizati polarization. real statesman would have recognized training to remove him on this partisan basis could unsettle the foundations of our republic. real statesman would have recognized no matter how much partisan animosity might be coursing through their veins that cheapening the impeachment process was not the answer. historians regarded this as an irony of r our era that so many that profess such concerns for the norms and traditions themselves prove willing to tramplel our constitutional ordr
to get their way. it's long past time for washington to get a little perspective. president trump isn't the first with a populist streak, not the first to make and trench elites and comfortable. he's certainly not the first president to speak bluntly to mistrust the administrative state or two wrangle unelected bureaucrats. and heaven knows he's not the first to assert a constitutional privileges of his office rather than roll over when the congress demands unlimited, sensitive information. none of these things, none of them is unprecedented. i tell you what will be unprecedented, it would be an unprecedented constitutional crisis if the senate literally
has the house of representatives a new partisan vote of no-confidence, but the founders intentionally withheld destroying the independence of the presidency. it will be unprecedented if we agree that any future house dislikes any future president can rush through and skip the legal system and paralyze the senate witheg a trial. the house could do tha house col under this president. it would be unprecedented if the senator says secondhand and third hand testimony from the civil servants is enough to overturn thehe people's vote. it would be an unprecedented constitutional crisis if the senate agrees to set the bar this low forever. it's clear that this moment
requires. it requires the senate to fulfill our founding purpose. the framers spoke the senate to provide stability, to take the long view of our republic, to safeguard institutions from the momentary hysteria that sometimes consumes our politics, to keep the partisan passions from literally boiling over. the senate exists for moments like this. that's why this body has the ultimate say in impeachment. the framers knew the house would be too formidable for the violent factionalism. they needed a body that would
consider legal questions about what has been proven, and political questions about the common good of our nation requires. hamilton said explicitly in federalist 65 impeachment involves not just legal questions but inherently political judgments about what outcomes best serve the nation. the house can't do both. the courts can't do both. this is as grave an assignment as the constitution gives to any of our acts of government and the framers knew only the senate could handle it. while i'm a, the moment they fed has arrived. as the political faction in the lower chamber have succumbed to
partisan rage. a political faction in the house of representatives has succumbed to a partisan rage. they've fulfilled hamilton's philosophy that impeachment will, quote, connect itself with the pre-existing factions, then list all of their animosities and they will always be the greatest danger that the decision will beer regulated mop by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt, alexander hamilton. that's what happened in the house last night the vote did not reflect what has been proven. it reflects how they feel about the president.
the president did it come senate must put this right. we must rise to the occasion. there is only one outcome suited to the evidence that failed the inquiry in the case. only one outcome suited to the fact that they are incoherent. one party still cannot accept the american people's choice in 2016. there is a fever breaking role for which the united states senate was created and which
outcome would portray it. the senate's duty is clear that when the time comes they must fulfill. now mr. president, last night the house of representatives voted to impeach president donald trump. it's only the third time inin te nations history that the president of the united states has been impeached
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