Schiff pleads to Senate GOP: ‘Right matters. And the truth matters.’
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead House impeachment manager, made an impassioned effort to break through to Senate Republicans on Thursday night in his closing argument by exhorting them to remove President Trump from office because “you know you can’t trust” him “to do what’s right for this country.”
Senate Republicans have said for months that there are nowhere close to 67 votes in the upper chamber to convict Trump on articles of impeachment, yet Schiff, the California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, pleaded with them to follow their consciences.
“Do we really have a doubt about the facts here? Does anybody really question whether the president is capable of what he’s charged with? No one is really making the argument, ‘Donald Trump would never do such a thing’ because of course we know that he would, and of course we know that he did,” Schiff said after a marathon day of presentations.
House prosecutors on Thursday presented a litany of facts and arguments to support their charge that Trump abused his power.
“The Framers couldn’t protect us from ourselves if right and truth doesn’t matter,” he said, arguing that if Trump is allowed to remain in office, he’s likely to put his own interests ahead of the nation’s again and could even let Russia interfere in this year’s presidential election.
“You know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country,” Schiff said, pointing to Russia’s recent hacking of Burisma Holdings, the energy company that paid Hunter Biden to serve on its board.
Schiff claimed that if Russian operatives try to influence the outcome of this year’s election by releasing a mix of authentic and fake documents related to former Vice President Joe Biden’s (D) son’s work for Burisma, it’s unlikely Trump would try to stop it.
“Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will stand up to them and protect our national interest over his own personal interest? You know you can’t, which makes him dangerous to this country,” Schiff said, looking at the Republican senators sitting at their desks before him.
As Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), two moderate Republicans and possible swing votes, sat solemnly just a few rows in front of him, Schiff warned that Trump has put his own interests ahead of the nation’s and would do so again.
“You may be asking, how much damage can he really do in the next several months until the election,” Schiff said, before answering his own question. “A lot. A lot of damage.”
“This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Because right matters and truth matters. Otherwise we are lost,” he said.
Schiff used his final minutes of floor time to reexamine the transcript of Trump’s July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked his counterpart for a “favor” and to look into debunked allegations that operatives who interfered in the 2016 election were based in Ukraine.
Schiff noted that Trump has tweeted throughout the impeachment process that people should read the transcript of his call.
“Now that you know a lot more of the facts of this scheme, it reveals a lot more about that conversation,” he said.
Schiff said Zelensky’s statements, as recorded on the transcript, showed that he was prepared to address corruption in Ukraine because he knew that’s what the president wanted to talk about.
The California lawmaker also alleged that the transcript showed how quick the Ukrainian president was to promise that he would be willing to meet with the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was pushing for an investigation of the Bidens.
He argued the evidence showed that Zelensky knew Trump wanted “deliverables” promised before he would give the Ukrainian president what he wanted — military assistance and a personal meeting.
He said the transcript shows “time after time” the Ukrainian president felt “the need to assure the president he’s going to do those political investigations that the president wants.”
Schiff noted the parallel between earlier in the call, when Trump talks about prospective military assistance and then adds he wants “a favor” to later in the call when Zelensky thanks Trump for the possibility of a personal meeting and promises to announce the investigations Trump and Giuliani wanted.
Zelensky was “linking the two because he’s told the two are linked before the call and he’s conveying to the president, ‘I got the message,’” Schiff said.
Schiff said the call was one of several examples of Trump soliciting foreign help in an election, highlighting when Trump asked months before the 2016 election for Russia to help find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.
“Maybe you could give him a freebie and say he was joking. But now we know better. Hours after that, Russia did in fact try to hack Hillary’s emails,” he said.
“What if China does overtly or covertly start to help the Trump campaign? You think he’s going to call them out on it? Or you think he’s going to give them a better trade deal on it?” he said.