Jan 27, 2020 was the second day Trump’s lawyers had to refute the House’s impeachment case. There were many hours of arguments from Ken Starr, Michael Pupura, Jane Raskin, Pam Bondi, Patrick Philbin, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Ray, Eric Herschmann and Pat Cipollone.
Eric Herschmann argued that “The case against President Obama would have been far stronger than the allegations against President Trump.”
“Think about the managers’ position,” he said about accusations that President Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president gives grounds for impeachment. “That our president decided with corrupt intent to “shake down” (in their words) another foreign leader and he decided to do it in front of everyone in a documented conversation in the presence of people he did not even know just so he could get this personal benefit which was not in our country’s interests. The logic is flawed, it is completely illogical because that is not what happened. And that is why manager Schiff ran away from the actual threat. That is why he created his own fake conversation.”
Herschmann also spent a long time going over the alleged corruption involving former Vice President Biden’s son Hunter and the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, asking: “Your family can accept money from foreign corrupt companies, no problem. You can pay family members from our highest government officials and no one is allowed to ask questions? What was going on? We have to just accept now the House manager’s conclusory statement like a sham, discredited, even though no one has ever investigated. Why? Can you imagine what House manager Schiff and his Democratic representatives would say if it were President Trump’s children on an oligarch’s payroll?”
“Let’s take a step back and realize what actually transpired, because the House managers would have us believe this had nothing at all to do with our government, nothing at all to do with our country’s interests, nothing at all to do with our vice president, nothing at all to do with the State Department,” Herschmann said. “It’s simply private citizen Hunter Biden doing his own private business, it was purely coincidental that it was in his father’s portfolio in Ukraine in the exact sector, the energy sector, that his father said was corrupt.”
The original clips contained more than 54 minutes of video, this compressed version is only 48 minutes after removal of silences and pauses.
For many comments, check out here
“Does it merit an inquiry that a corrupt company in a corrupt country is paying our vice president’s son $1 million per year?” Trump attorney Eric Herschmann asked on the Senate floor. “Did he know anything about the natural gas industry at all? Of course not.”
To point out the “absurdity” of Democrats‘ impeachment standards, Mr. Herschmann also brought up Mr. Obama’s private conversation in March 2012 with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, caught on a hot mic, in which he pleaded for “space” from Moscow until after his reelection to negotiate on missile defense systems.
“President Obama knew the importance of missile defense in Europe but decided to use that as a bargaining chip with the Russians to further his own election chances in 2012,” Mr. Herschmann told senators. “President Obama used the powers of the presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States. The case against President Obama would have been far stronger than the allegations against President Trump.”
Eric Herschmann refuted the House’s case in Senate impeachment trial (Jan 27, 2020) https://t.co/GFa74eWXW7
— HYGO News (@HygoNews) January 29, 2020
Eric Herschmann Defense Argument
Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Senate, I am Eric Herschmann. I have the honor and privilege of representing the President of the United States in these proceedings. I have been carefully listening to and reviewing the House managers’ case. That case pretty much boils down to one straightforward contention: that the President abused his power to promote his own personal interests and not our country’s interests. The House managers say that the President did not take the steps that they allege for the benefit of our country, but only for his own personal benefit. But if that’s wrong, if what the President had wanted would have benefited our country, then the managers have not met their burden, and these articles of impeachment must be rejected. As we will see, the House managers do not come close to meeting their burden. Last week, manager Schiff said that the investigations President Trump supposedly asked President Zelensky about on the July 25th call could not have been in the country’s interest because he said they were quote-unquote, “Discredited entirely.” The House managers say that the investigations had been debunked. They were sham investigations. So now we have the question, were they really? The House managers, in the over 21 hours of their repetitive presentation, never found the time to support those conclusory statements. Was it in fact true that any investigation had been debunked? The House managers do not identify for you who supposedly conducted any investigations, who supposedly did the debunking, who discredited it, where and when were any such investigations conducted, when were the results published, and much more is left unanswered.
Attorney General Bondi went through for you some of what we know about Burisma and its millions of dollars in payments to Vice President Biden’s son and his son’s business partner. There is no question that any rational person would like to understand what happened. I’m going to go through some additional evidence which was easily available to the House managers, but which they never sought or considered. Based on what Attorney General Bondi told you and this additional evidence, you can judge for yourself whether the conduct was suspect.
As you know, one of the issues concerned Hunter Biden’s involvement with the Ukrainian natural gas company, which paid him millions of dollars while his father was vice president and was in charge of the Ukrainian portfolio during the prior administration. I’ll get to those supposedly-discredited allegations identified by the House managers in a few minutes.
The other issue was what manager Schiff called quote, “The baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election,” close quote. Manager Schiff said that President Trump wanted to quote, “Erase from history his previous political misconduct,” close quote. But there was no previous political misconduct. If any theory has actually been discredited, it’s the theory that President Trump colluded with Russia in 2016. It was that theory that was discredited and discredited entirely by Mr. Mueller’s massive investigation. The same investigation the Democrats demanded since President Trump took office. The same investigation they knew, they were absolutely sure would expose such collusion. The same investigation, which after 22 months of exhaustive work at a cost to the taxpayers of $32 million, found no conspiracy and no evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. And as we will see, the Democrats are as wrong now about the articles of impeachment as they were in 2016 about the Russian collusion.
As to the other incident President Trump mentioned, the one concerning the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, well, I actually think this is something that is undisputed. That Ukraine had a particularly bad corruption problem. It was so corrupt that dealing with corruption and solving the corruption was a priority for our US foreign policy. Here is how one knowledgeable observer of Ukraine put it in 2015. Quote, “It’s not enough to set up a new Anti-Corruption Bureau and establish a special prosecutor fighting corruption. The Office of the General Prosecutor desperately needs reform. The judiciary should be overhauled. The energy sector needs to be competitive, ruled by market principles, not sweetheart deals. It’s not enough to push through laws to increase transparency with regard to official sources of income. Senior elected officials have to remove all conflicts between their business interests and their government responsibilities.” Now, as Attorney General Bondi said, here are the facts we do know about Hunter Biden’s involvement with Ukraine. Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company, paid Hunter Biden millions of dollars to serve on its board of directors. He did not have any relevant expertise or experience. He had no expertise or experience in the natural gas industry. He had no known expertise in corporate governance nor any expertise in Ukrainian law. He doesn’t, so far as we know, speak Ukrainian.
So why? Why did Burisma want Hunter Biden on its board? Why did they want to pay him millions of dollars? Well, he did have one qualification. He was a son of the Vice President of the United States. He was the son of the man in charge of the Ukrainian portfolio for the prior administration. And we are to believe there is nothing to see here. That for anyone to investigate or inquire about this would be a sham. Nothing to see here. But tellingly, Hunter Biden’s attorney, on October 13th, 2019, issued a statement on his behalf. He indicated that in April 2014, Hunter was asked to join the board of Burisma, then states Hunter stepped off Burisma board in April 2019.
Now listen to the commitment that Hunter Biden is supposedly willing to make to all of us. “Hunter makes the following commitment: Under a Biden Administration, Hunter will readily comply with any and all guidelines or standards a President Biden may issue to address purported conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts, including any restrictions related to overseas business interests.” That statement almost tells us all we need to know. That’s the rule that should’ve been in place in 2014 because there already was an Obama-Biden administration. What changed? What changed? Remember a couple of minutes ago when I quoted an expert on Ukraine? The one who said that Ukraine must clean up its energy sector. The one who said that Ukraine’s senior elected officials have to remove all conflicts between their business interests and their government responsibilities. You know who said that about Ukraine? Vice President Joe Biden in December of 2015.
Vice President Biden went to Ukraine approximately 12 to 13 times. He spoke with legislators, business people, officials. He was purportedly fighting corruption in Ukraine. He was urging Ukraine to investigate and uproot corruption. One thing he apparently did not do, however, was to tell his son not to trade on his family connections. He did not tell his son to especially stay away from the energy sector in the very corruption-ridden country Vice President Biden was responsible for. And manager Schiff says, “Move along, there’s nothing to see here”? What are the House managers afraid of finding out?
In an interview with ABC in October of last year, Hunter Biden said he was on the board of Burisma to focus on principles of corporate governance and transparency.
Bottom line is that I know that I was completely qualified to be on the board, to head up the corporate governance and transparency committee on the board. And that’s all that I focused on.
But when asked how much money Burisma was paying him, he responded he doesn’t want to open his kimono and disclose how much. He does refer to public reports about how much he was being paid, but as we now know, he was being paid far more than what was in the public record.
You were paid $50,000 a month for your position?
Look, I’m a private citizen. One thing that I don’t have to do is sit here and open my kimono as it relates to how much money I make or make or did or didn’t. But it’s all been reported.
So what was the real reason that Hunter Biden, the Vice President’s son, was being paid by Burisma? Was it based on his knowledge and understanding of the natural gas industry in Ukraine? Was he going to discuss how our government regulates the energy industry here? Was he going to discuss how we set gas rates? Was he going to discuss pipeline development, construction, or environmental impact statements? Did he know anything about the natural gas industry at all? Of course not.
So what was the reason? I think we do not need to look any further than the explanation that Hunter Biden gave during the ABC interview. When he was asked why, here’s what he had to say.
If your last name wasn’t Biden, do you think you would’ve been asked to be on the board of Burisma?
I don’t know. I don’t know. Probably not. I don’t think that there’s a lot of things that would have happened in my life that if my last name wasn’t Biden.
And as if to confirm how suspect this conduct was, that it should be a concern to our country, Hunter Biden and his lawyer could not even keep their story straight. Compare the press release that was issued by Burisma on May 12th, 2014 with Hunter Biden’s lawyer’s statement on October 13th of 2019. The May 2014 press release begins, “R.,” for Robert, “Hunter Biden will be in charge of holdings’ legal unit.” He was going to be in charge of a Ukrainian gas company owned by an oligarch’s legal unit. However, in his lawyer’s statement in October of 2019, after his involvement with Burisma came under renewed public scrutiny, he now claims, “At no time was Hunter in charge of the company’s legal affairs.” Which is it? What was Hunter Biden doing at Burisma in exchange for millions of dollars? Who knows? What were they looking to hide? So much for his corporate governance and transparency.
But let’s take a step back and realize what actually transpired, because the House managers would have us believe this had nothing at all to do with our government, nothing at all to do with our country’s interests, nothing at all to do with our vice president, nothing at all to do with the State Department. It simply was private citizen Hunter Biden doing his own private business. It was purely coincidental that it was in his father’s portfolio in Ukraine in the exact sector, the energy sector, that his father said was corrupt.
But we have a document here, again, something that House managers did not show you or even put before the House before voting these baseless articles of impeachment. If you look at this email, it’s an email from Chris Heinz. And as Attorney Bondi already told you, he is the stepson of the then-Secretary of State John Kerry and who was the other business partner with Hunter Biden and Devon Archer. Our Secretary of State’s stepson and our Vice President’s son are in business together.
It was sent on May 30th, 2014 to the official government email addresses of two senior people at the State Department. And who are these two people? The Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State and the Special Advisor to the Secretary of State. The subject line in the email is not “corporate transparency.” It’s not “corporate governance.” It’s not “here’s a heads up.” The subject line is “Ukraine.” Chris Heinz certainly understood the sensitivity to our US foreign policy.
And what does the Secretary of State’s stepson say about Hunter Biden and Devon Archer? He says this: “Apparently Devon and Hunter both joined the board of Burisma and a press release went out today. I can’t speak to why they decided to, but there was not investment by our firm in the company.” What is the most telling thing about this? It is clear that the Chief of Staff and the Special Assistant to the Secretary already knew who Devon was because Mr. Heinz did not include his last name. It’s just “Devon.” And they obviously knew who Hunter was because, again, it’s Hunter Biden.
This is Chris Heinz saying, “I can’t speak to why they decided to join the board of Burisma.” He’s their business partner. Not that there are good corporate reasons, and they’re going there for corporate governance. Not that they’re there to enhance corporate transparency. Not that they are there to further US policy. Not that they are there to help fight corruption in Ukraine. Not that they are there to ensure that boards of directors’ compensation and benefits are publicly disclosed. Nothing like that. He cannot say those things because he knows Devon and Hunter well, and he knows they have no particular qualifications whatsoever to do those things, especially for a Ukrainian gas company.
Instead, Mr. Heinz is plainly going on the record to report what Hunter and Devon were doing through official channels and to take pains to disassociate himself from what they were doing. And what did the State Department do with this information that the Secretary of State’s stepson thought they needed to know? Apparently nothing. They did not tell Mr. Heinz to stay away. They did not tell Mr. Heinz there was no problem. Nothing. But all this the House managers want us to believe does not even merit any inquiry. Anyone asking for one, anyone discussing one is now corrupt.
Does it matter in an inquiry why a corrupt company in a corrupt country would be paying our vice president’s son a million dollars per year plus, it appears, some additional expenses, and paying his business partner an additional million dollars per year? Secretary of State Kerry’s stepson thought it was important enough to report. Why aren’t the House managers concerned? And I ask you, why would it not merit an investigation?
And you know something else about Vice President Biden? Well, back in January of 2018, as you heard, former Vice President Biden bragged that he had pressured the Ukrainians, threatened them, indeed, coerced them, into firing the state prosecutor who reportedly was investigating the very company that paid millions of dollars to his son. He bragged that he gave them six hours to fire the prosecutor or he would cut off $1 billion in US loan guarantees.
Said, “No.” I said, “We’re not going to give you the billion dollars.” They said, “You have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said” … I said, “Call him.” I said, “I’m telling you you’re not getting the billion dollars.” I said, “You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here.” And I think it was what, six hours? I looked at … I said, “I’m leaving at six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money.” Well, son of a bitch got fired, and they put in place someone who was solid at the time.
Are we really to believe that it was the policy of our government to withhold a billion dollars? A billion dollars of needed guarantees in aid to Ukraine unless they fired a prosecutor on the spot? Was that really our policy? We have all heard continuously from the managers, and many agree about the risks to the Ukrainians posed by the Russians. We have heard the managers say …
To the Ukrainians posed by the Russians. We have heard the managers say that a slight delay in providing funding to Ukraine endangers our national security and jeopardizes our interests, and therefore the President must immediately be removed from office. Yet, they also argue that it was the official policy of our country to withhold one billion unless one individual was fired within a certain matter of hours. Was that really or could it ever be our United States policy?
According to the House Managers theory, we were willing to jeopardize Ukrainians unless somebody who happened to be investigating Burisma was promptly fired. Were we going to jeopardize the Ukrainian economy because a prosecutor was not fired in the six hour time period Vice President Biden demanded? Does anyone really believe that was or ever could be our United States foreign policy? Just in case the managers or others try to argue, “No, no, no. He wasn’t serious about that. He was just bluffing.” What kind of message would that send to the Russians about our support for the Ukrainians, that we would bluff and bluff with the Ukrainian economy?
From 2014 to 2017, Vice President Biden claimed to be on a crusade against corruption in Ukraine. He repeatedly spoke about how the cancer of corruption was endemic in Ukraine and hobbled Ukraine, how Ukraine faced no more consequential mission than confronting corruption, and he encouraged Ukraine to close the space for corrupt middlemen who rip off the Ukrainian people. The Vice President railed against monopolistic behavior where a select few profit from so many sweetheart deals that has characterized that country for so long. In known as the last official visit to Ukraine, four days before he left office, he spoke out against corruption and oligarchy that eats away like a cancer, and against corruption which continues to eat away at Ukraine’s democracy within.
Why was Vice President Biden doing this? Was he so concerned about corruption in Ukraine, even singling out that country’s energy sector, because corruption in Ukraine is a critical policy concern for our country? But during this whole time, what else was happening? His son and his son’s business partner were raking in over a million dollars a year for what was regarded as one of the most corrupt Ukrainian companies in the energy sector owned and controlled by one of the most corrupt oligarchs. Were Vice President Biden’s words and advice to Ukraine just hollow? According to the House Managers, the answer apparently is yes. They were empty words, at least when it came to anyone questioning his sons own sweetheart deal, his own sons deal with Ukraine’s corruption and oligarchy.
Again to raise Manager Schiff’s own question, what kind of message did this send to future U.S. Government officials? Your family can accept money from foreign corrupt companies, no problem? You can pay family members of our highest government officials and no one is allowed to even ask question. What was going on? We have to just accept now the House manager’s conclusory statements like sham, discredited, even though no one has ever investigated. Why? Can you imagine what House Manager Schiff and his fellow democratic representatives would say if it were President Trump’s children on an oligarch’s payroll? When it finally appeared that a true Ukrainian corruption fighter had assumed the country’s presidency, President Trump was not supposed to, he was not permitted to follow up on Vice President Biden’s own words about fighting corruption, and tried to make those words something other than empty. According to the House Managers, Ukrainian corruption is now only a private interest. It no longer is a serious, important concern for our country.
Now, I want to take a moment to cover a few additional points about the July 25 telephone call in which the House Managers believe that the President in the United States, in their words, was shaking down and pressuring the President of Ukraine to do his personal bidding. First of all, this was not the first telephone call that the President of the United States had with other foreign leaders. So, think about this for a moment. The call was routed through the situation room. It was a scheduled call. There were other people on the call. There were other people taking notes, and obviously the President was aware of that fact. The House Managers talk about the fact that the President did not follow the approved talking points, as if the President, any President, is obligated to follow approved talking points. The last time I checked, and I think this is clear to the American people, President Trump knows how to speak his mind. But remember the fake transcript that Manager Schiff read when he was before the Intelligence Committee, his mob gangster-like fake rendition of the call?
Well, I prosecuted organized crime for years. The type of description of what goes on, what House Manager Schiff tried to create for the American people, is completely detached from reality. It is as if we were supposed to believe that mobsters would invite people they do not know into an organized crime meeting to sit around and take notes to establish the corrupt intent. Manager Schiff, our jobs as prosecutors, and I know you were one, would have been a lot easier if that were how it worked. Think about what he is saying. Think about the Manager’s position, that our President decided with corrupt intent to shake down in their words another foreign leader, and he decided to do it in front of everyone in a documented conversation, in the presence of people he did not even know, just so he can get this personal benefit that was not in our country’s interest. The logic is flawed. It is completely illogical because that is not what happened. That is why Manager Schiff ran away from the actual transcript. That is why he created his own fake conversation.
But I would like to just address another point from the transcript of the July 25 phone call. The House Managers allege that an Oval Office meeting with the President was critical to the newly elected Ukrainian President, because it would signal to Russia, which had invaded Ukraine in 2014, and still occupied Ukrainian territory that Ukraine could count on American support. They actually argue that it was a quid pro quo, that the President withheld this critical Oval Office meeting that would deter the Russians and save the Ukrainians because he wanted something personal. Now, if that was in fact critical to President Zelensky for the safety of his own citizens, he would have immediately jumped at the opportunity to come to the Oval Office, especially when President Trump offered him that invitation during the July 25 call.
But let’s see what President’s Zelensky actually says when he’s invited to Washington on that call. He does not say, “Oh, this is what I would like to do. It’s critical for my people. We will arrange it immediately.” His response is, “I would be very happy to come and would be happy to meet you personally and get to know you better. On the other hand, I believe that on September 1, we will be in Poland, and we can meet in Poland, hopefully.” In an Oval Office meeting, if an Oval Office meeting was critical to President Zelensky, that was a time to say so, not suggest another venue.
When we look at the evidence that is before us, it is clear that the only people who talked about having an Oval Office meeting were lower level government employees who thought it was a good idea, but the principals involved, those who actually make the decisions, President Zelensky and President Trump, to them, it was not critical, it was not material, and it was definitely never a quid pro quo. What was important to President Zelensky was not an Oval Office meeting, but the lethal weapons that President Trump supply to Ukraine, and the sanctions that President Trump enforced against the Russians. That is what the transcript of the July 25 call demonstrates.
Let us now consider what Presidents Zelensky knew about the support that President Trump had provided to Ukraine compared to the support, or more accurately lack thereof, that the prior administration had provided to Ukraine. In February 2004, Russia began its military campaign against Ukraine. Against the advice and urgings of Congress and many in his own administration, president Obama refused then and throughout the remainder of his presidency to provide lethal assistance to Ukraine. In the House, Manager Schiff joined many of his colleagues in a letter writing campaign to President Obama, urging that, “The U.S. must supply Ukraine with the means to defend itself” against Russian aggression, and urging President Obama to quickly approve additional efforts to support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereign territory, including the transfer of lethal defense weapons to the Ukraine military.
On March 23, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging President Obama to immediately exercise the authority by Congress to provide Ukraine with lethal defensive weapon system. The very next day, this Senate passed a unanimous resolution urging the President to prioritize and expedite the provision of defensive lethal and non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine, consistent with United States national interest in policies. As one Senator here stated in March 2015, providing non-lethal equipment, like night vision goggles, is all well and good, but giving the Ukrainians the ability to see the Russians coming, but not the ability to stop them, is not the answer. Yet, President Obama refused. He refused even the face of support by senior career professionals recommending he provide lethal weapons to the Ukrainians. By contrast, what did President’s Zelensky and the Russians know? They knew that President Trump did, did provide that support. That clearly was the most material thing to him, much more, much more important than a meeting in the Oval Office. The House Managers also make much of their contention that President Trump supposedly wanted President Zelensky only to announce an investigation, not conduct anything, but that contention makes no sense. President Trump’s call with Presidents Zelensky was in July of 2019, almost a year and a half before our next election. Would only a bare announcement so far in advance, with no follow-up, really have had any effect on the election as the managers claim? Would anyone have remembered the announcement a year or more later? Ironically, it is the House Managers who have put Burisma and its connection to the Bidens front and center in this proceeding, and now the voters will know about it and probably will remember it. Be careful what you wish for.
Manager Schiff, well, there he goes again. He’s putting words in the President’s mouth that were never there. Again, look at the transcript of the July call. President Trump never asked about any announcement of any type of investigation, and President Zelensky tells President Trump, “I guarantee as the President of Ukraine, that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you. What happened next? The House Managers say President Zelensky did not want to get mixed up in U.S. politics, but it’s precisely the Democrats who politicize the issue. Last August, they began circling the wagons trying to protect Vice President Biden, and they’re still doing it in these proceedings. They contend that any investigation into the millions of dollars of payments by a corrupt Ukrainian company, owned by a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch, to the son of the second highest office holder in our land, who was supposed to be in charge of fighting corruption Ukraine, they’re calling that type of inquiry a sham, debunked. But there has never been an investigation. So, how could it be a sham? Simply because the House Managers say so?
Which brings me to yet another one of the House Managers baseless contentions, that President Trump raised the matter with President Zelensky because Vice President Biden had just announced his candidacy for President. But of course it was far from a secret that Vice President Biden was planning to run. What had in fact changed? First, President’s Zelensky had been elected in April on an anti-corruption platform. In July, running on the same platform, his party took control of the Ukrainian parliament. That made it the opportune time to raise the issue, because finally there was a receptive government in Ukraine, committing to fighting precisely the kind of highly questionable conduct displayed by Burisma in its payments to Hunter Biden, and his partner, just as Joe Biden had raised years before.
Two other things. In late June, ABC News ran a story entitled Hunter Biden’s Foreign Deals: Did Joe Biden’s Son Profit Off of His Father’s Position as Vice President? Then just a couple of weeks before President Trump’s telephone call with President Zelensky, the New Yorker magazine, not exactly a supporter of President Trump, ran an expose. Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign? Going through some of the facts that we do know about Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma, and his involvement with a Chinese company. The New York reporter, again, this was in July, just a couple of weeks before the phone call, said that some of Vice President Biden’s advisors were worried that Hunter would expose the Vice President to criticism. A former senior White House aide told the New Yorker reporter that Hunter’s behavior invited questions about whether he was, “Leveraging access for his benefit.” The reporter wrote that, “When I asked members of Biden’s staff whether they did raise their concern with the Vice President, several of them said they had been too intimidated to do so.”
Everyone who works for him has been screamed at, former advisor told the reporter, I don’t know whether anyone has been intimidated by Vice President Biden, or has been screamed at by him about Burisma or his son’s involvement. Do we want the type of government where questions about facially suspect conduct are suppressed or dismissed as illegitimate because someone is intimidating or screams at, or is just too important? No, that is precisely when an investigation is most important.
Now, last Thursday night, Manager Jeffries provided us with the Democrats’ standard for abuse of power. He said, “Abusive power occurs when the President exercises his official power to obtain a corrupt personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the national interest.” Mr. Jeffries and the House Managers contend that under this standard, President Trump has committed an impeachable offense and must be immediately removed from office. But if Manager Jeffries standard applies, then where were these same Democrats’ calls for impeachment when uncontroverted, smoking gun evidence emerged that President Obama had violated their standard? The American people understand this basic notion as equal justice under the law. It is as American as apple pie. Yet, the House Managers want to apply their own version of selec-
Yet the house managers want to apply their own version of selective justice here, which applies only to their political opponents. They want one system of justice for Democrats and another system of justice for everyone else. But you do not need to take my word for it, let’s walk through the facts. On March 26, 2012 on the eve of the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, President Obama met with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev to discuss one of the pressing issues in the United States’ national security interest, military defense. How important was the issue of milla, millis, I’m sorry, missile defense, to the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Russia? As President Obama’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in June, 2010, upgraded missile interceptors and development, “Would give us the ability to protect our troops, our bases, our facilities, and our allies in Europe.” Gates continued, “There is nothing of the minds on missile defense,” sorry, “There is no meeting of the minds on missile defense. The Russians hate it, they’ve hated it since the late 1960’s, they will always hate it, mostly because we’ll build it and they won’t.”
During the Nuclear Security Summit, President Obama had a private exchange with Russian President Medvedev that was picked up on a hot microphone.
[inaudible 00:37:34] Yeah. And after my election I have more flexibility. Yeah.
Yeah. I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir and I stand with you.
President Obama said on all these issues, but particularly missile defense, “This can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space.” President Medvedev responded, ” Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space, space for you. President Obama, “This is my last election. After my election, I will have more flexibility.” President Medvedev responds, “I understand. I will transmit this information Vladimir.” As we all know, it’s Vladimir Putin. As you just saw on 2012 President Obama asked the Russians for space until after the upcoming 2012 election, after which he would have more flexibility. Now let me apply Mr. Jeffries and the house manager’s three part test for abuse of power.
One, the president exercises his official power. President Obama’s actions clearly meet the test for exercising official power. Because in his role as Head of State, during a nuclear security summit after asking President Medvedev for space, he promised him that, “Missile defense can be solved.” What else could that mean but solved in a way favorable to the Russians who were dead set against the expansion of a U.S. missile defense system in Europe? Two, to obtain a corrupt personal benefit. President Obama’s actions were clearly for his own corrupt personal benefit because he was asking an adversary for space for the express purpose of furthering his own election chances. Again, President Obama said, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” President Obama knew the importance of missile defense in Europe, but decided to use that as a bargaining chip with the Russians to further his own election chances in 2012. Three, while ignoring or injuring our national interest. As President Obama’s defense secretary said, ” Missiles would give us the ability to protect our troops, our bases, our facilities, and our allies in Europe, surely sacrificing the ability to protect our troops and our allies would injure to the national interest.”
Yet President Obama was willing to barter away the safety of our troops and the safety of our allies in exchange for space in the upcoming election. In short, President Obama leveraged the power of his office to the detriment of U.S. policy on missile defense in order to influence the 2012 election solely to his advantage. And we never would have known had President Obama realized that the microphone was on, that there was a hot mic. One could easily substitute President Obama’s 2000 exchange with President Medvedev into article one of the house’s impeachment articles against President Trump. Using the powers of his high office, President Obama solicited interference of a foreign government, Russia, in the 2012 United States presidential election. He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the government of Russia to give him space, “One missile defense that would benefit his reelection and influence the 2012 United States presidential election to his advantage. In doing so, President Obama used the powers of the presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process. He thus ignored and injured the interest of the nation.” Does it sound familiar house managers? It should, as the case against President Obama would have been far stronger than the allegations against President Trump. President Obama’s abuse of power to benefit his own political interests was there and is here now for everyone to hear. It was a direct unquestionable quid pro quo. No mind reading was needed there. Where were the house managers then? And that points out the absurdity of the house managers case against President Trump. It was President Obama, not President Trump who was weak on Russia and weak on support to Ukraine. President Obama caved to Russia and Putin on missile defense when he decided to scrap the U.S. plans to install missile bases on Poland, yet he criticized Senator Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign when Senator Romney said Russia was the greatest geopolitical threat to the U.S.
Senator Romney I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaeda’s a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked, “What’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America?” You said, ” Russia,” not Al Qaeda, you said, “Russia.” And the 1980’s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.
Now, when it is politically convenient, the Democrats are saying the same thing that President Obama criticized Senator Romney for saying. In fact, they’re basing their entire politicized impeachment on this inversion of reality. This claim that President Trump is not supporting Ukraine far more than the prior administration. President Obama caved on missile defense in late 2009, his hot mic moment occurred in March 2012, his reelection was eight months later. Two years later in March 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine in Annex Crimea. President Trump refused to provide lethal aid to Ukraine to enable it, I’m sorry, President Obama refused to provide lethal aid to Ukraine to enable it to defend itself. Where were the house managers then? The house managers would have the American people believe that there is a threat, an imminent threat, to the national security of our country for which the president must be removed immediately from the highest office in the land, because what? Because he had a phone call with a foreign leader and discussed corruption, because he paused for a short period of time giving away our tax dollars to a foreign country? That is their theory.
It is absurd on its face. Not one American life was in jeopardy or lost by the short delay, and they know it. And how do we know that they know it? Because they went on vacation after they adopted the articles of impeachment. They did not cancel their recess. They did not rush back to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate because of this supposed, terrible, imminent threat or national security. What did they do?
Speaker 6: Urgency.
Speaker 5: The timing is really driven by the urgency.
Speaker 3: Urgency.
Speaker 4: Nothing could be more urgent.
Speaker 7: The urgency.
Nancy Pelosi: And urgent. And urgent.
Speaker 8: There’s an urgency to this.
Speaker 4: And we must move swiftly.
Speaker 8: Or the time to screw around.
Nancy Pelosi: It’s about urgency.
And House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi is still holding onto the articles of impeachment.
Urgency? Urgency for which you want to immediately remove the president of the United States? You sat on the articles for a month, the longest delay in the history of our country. They adopted them on Friday, December 13th, 2019. Friday the 13th, went on vacation and finally decided after one of their democratic presidential debates had finished, and after the BCS football championship game, that it was time to deliver them. What happened to their national security interest argument? Wasn’t that the reason that they said they had to rush to vote? “It’s urgent,” they told us, “No due process for this president. It is a crisis of monumental proportion. Our national security is at risk every additional day that he’s in office,” they tell us. The house managers also used the same excuse for not issuing subpoenas for testimony. They had no time for the normal judicial review. They even complain about the judicial review process sitting in this chamber before the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme court, a judicial review in which the judge agreed to an expedited schedule. Even that was not good enough for them when they issued the subpoenas.
One of the lawyers for the subpoenaed witnesses wrote to the house general counsel, “We are dismayed that the house committees have chosen not to join us in seeking resolution from the judicial brands of this momentous constitutional question as expeditiously as possible.” He continued, “It is important to get a definitive judgment from the judicial branch determining their constitutional duty in the place of conflicting demands of the legislative and executive branches.” Isn’t that the point? Isn’t that how our system of government works? Isn’t that how it’s always worked? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? These same Democrats defended other administrations who fought judicial review of congressional subpoenas, and I think we all remember fast and furious. The same attorney when he wrote to the house chairs said, “The house chairman, Mr. Schiff and Mr. Nadler are mistaken to say the lawsuit is intended to delay or otherwise obstruct the committee’s vital investigatory work.”
He continued, “Nor has this lawsuit been coordinated in any way with the White House any more then it has been coordinated with the House of Representatives. If the house chooses not to pursue through subpoena testimony, let the record be clear, that is the house’s decision.” Yet they come before you and they blame the administration, and they blame you if you don’t subpoena witnesses and have them before you. Yet even in the face of this overwhelming evidence, they claim that the president is to blame for their decision to withdraw their own subpoenas or not issue others. Their choice, but the president is responsible. That is one of their claims, it is ludicrous. They are blaming the president because they decided on their own not to seek judicial review and enforcement of their own subpoenas, and for some witnesses never to even issue subpoenas. In their minds, that is impeachable.
Manager Nadler spoke eloquently back before the house judiciary committee hearing in December of 1998, he said, “There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other. Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come, and will call in to question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.” Manager Nadler was right then, and it is equally true today. Divisiveness and bitterness. Divisiveness and bitterness. Listen to his words, “Impeachments by one party cause divisiveness and bitterness in our country.” That is what a partisan impeachment leads to. Sadly, while Manager Nadler eloquently warned against divisiveness and bitterness, the house did not follow his admonition. They did not heed his advice, and that is one of the reasons we are sitting here today with articles of impeachment that are not founded in our constitution or the evidence, and are brought simply for partisan politics.
This is a sad time for all of us. This is not a time to give out souvenirs, the pens used to sign the articles of impeachment, trying improperly impeach our country’s representative to the world. This is not the time to try to get digs in that, “The president will always be impeached, because we have the majority and we could do it to you and we did it to you.” It is wrong. It is not what the American people deserve or want. Sadly, the house managers do not trust their fellow Americans to choose their own president. They do not think that they can legitimately win an election against President Trump, so they need to rush to impeach him immediately. That is what they have continually told the American people, and that, that is a shame. We on the other hand, trust our fellow Americans to choose their president. Choose your candidate, let’s senators that are here who are trying to become the democratic nominee, try to win that election, and let the American people choose.
Maybe they’re concerned that the American people like historically low unemployment. Maybe the American people like that their 401K accounts have done extremely well. Maybe the American people like prison reform and giving people a second chance. Tellingly some of these house managers work constructively, constructively with this administration to give Americans a second chance. That was the public interest. That is what the country demands, that’s what society deserves. Maybe the American people like an administration that is fighting the opioid epidemic. Maybe the American people like secure borders. Maybe the American people like better trade agreements with our biggest trading partners. Maybe the American people like other countries sharing of the burden when it comes to foreign aid. Maybe the American people actually like lower taxes. In other words, maybe the American people like their current president, a president who kept his promises and delivered on them.
If you think Americans want to abandon our prosperity and our unprecedented successes under this president, then convince the electorate in November at the ballot box. Do not try to improperly interfere with an election that is only months away based on these articles of impeachment. In your trial memorandum that you submitted here before the Senate, you speak about the framers of the constitution believing that President Trump’s alleged conduct is their, “Worst nightmare,” and that they would be horrified. In fact, sadly, sadly, it is the house manager’s conduct in bringing these baseless articles of impeachment that would clearly be their and our worst nightmare. Thank you.