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tv   U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial Day 4 Part 2  CSPAN  January 25, 2020 4:59am-7:42am EST

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>> is the chief justice and senators, first of all i want to join my colleagues in just thinking for your patience and your indulgence. what i can tell you today is that we are closer today than we were yesterday. because i'm prepared to present article 2, construction of congress. the second article of impeachments charges the
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president misusing the powers of his office the house impeachments inquiry. we are here today in response to a blanket order issued by president from directly directing the entire executive branch to withhold all documents and testimony from inquiry. president trump obstruction of the impeachments inquiry was categorical, indiscriminate and hit historically unprecedented. and its purpose was clear. to impede congress ability to carry out its duties under the constitution. to hold the president accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors. as part of his effort to cover up evidence of his scheme to solicit foreign
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interference in the upcoming election, president trump did something no president has ever dared to do in the history of our republic. president trump directly the entire executive branch not to cooperate with the houses impeachment inquiry. president trump bought every person who worked in the white house and every person who works in every department , agency and office of the executive branch. from providing information to the house as part of the impeachments inquiry. this was not about specific, narrowly defined security or privacy issues. nor was it based on potential privileges available to the executive branch. indeed, president trump has
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not once asserted executive privilege during this process . this was a declaration of total defiance of the houses authority to investigate credible allegations of the presidents misconduct and a wholesale rejection of congress ability to hold the president accountable. the presidents order executed by his top aides substantially interfere with the houses constitutionally authorized power to conduct an impeachments inquiry. as president from direction, the white house itself refused to produce a single document or record in response to a house subpoena that remains in full force and effect and it continues to withhold those documents
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from congress and from the american people. but it is not just the white house. following president trump's orders, the office of the vice president, the office of managementand budget , the department of state, the departments of energy and the departments of events all continue to refuse to produce a single document or record in response to 71 specific requests, including five subpoenas. additionally, following president trump'sorders , 12 current or former administration officials continue to refuse to testify as part of the houses impeachment inquiry. not only current administration officials but
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former administration officials as well. nine of those witnesses including senior officials would direct firsthand knowledge of the president's actions continued to defy subpoenas for testimony because of the presidents orders. and yet, despite president trumps instruction, as you have heard and seen throughout the house managers presentation of the facts of the presidents scheme, the house gathered overwhelming evidence of his misconduct from courageous public servants who were willing to follow the law, comply with subpoenas and tell the truth. on the basis of that formidable body of evidence,
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the house adopted the first article of impeachments. these witnesses also testified with great specificity about extensive documents communications and records in the possession of the white house and other agencies regarding the presidents theme to course ukraine's leaders to help this reelection. as you have heard over the past few days, the house was therefore able to get out an extensive catalog of specific documents and communications that go to the heart of the presidents wrongdoing. and which the president has ordered be concealed from congress and the american people. revelations of evidence harmful to the president only continued. since the house compiled is investigating report. recent court ordered releases
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under the freedom of information as well as the disclosures to the media have further demonstrated the white house, omb, state department and other agencies are actively withholding highly relevant documents that can further implicate the president and his subordinates. over time, these documents and this evidence will undoubtedly come to light. i ask this body do not wait to read about it in the press or in a book. you should be hearing this evidence now. hearing this evidence now. now, there is one point i would like to make very
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clear. president trump and his wholesale obstruction of congress strikes at the very heart of our constitution and our democratic system of government. the president of the united states could undertake such comprehensive obstruction only because of the exceptional powers entrusted to him by the american people. only one person in the world has the power to issue an order to the entire executive branch. that person senators, as you know is the president. president trump use that power not to faithfully execute the law but to order agencies and employees of the executive branch to conceal evidence of his misconduct.
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now, i know that no other american could seek to obstruct an investigation into his or her wrongdoing in this way. we all know that no other american could use the vast powers of our government to undertake a corrupt scheme to teach, to win an election and then use those same powers to suppress evidence of his constitutional crimes. we would not allow, and i am convinced that we would not allow any member of our state or local governments to use the official powers of their office to cover up crimes and misdeeds. as this body is well aware, mayors and governors have gone to jail for doing so.
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sheriffs and police chiefs are certainly not immune. we allow president trump estate accountability, we will lasting damage on the separation of powers among our branches of government. our fundamental system. of checks and balances. it would inflict irreversible damage by allowing this commander-in-chief and establishing president for future presidents to corruptly or abusively and then use the vast powers of their office, the office of the presidency, to conceal their own misconduct from congress and the american people. and in other words, we would
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create a system that allows this presidents and any future presidents to really do whatever he or she wants. it is an attack on congressional oversight, not just on the house but also on the senates own ability to oversee and serve as a check on this and future presidents , both republican and democrat. administrations. without meaningful oversight, without the power of impeachment, americans will have become to accept a far greater likelihood of misconduct or misconduct in the oval office. they would not be able to look to other branches of government to hold their presidents, but people
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president accountable. executive power without any sort of restraint, without oversight and without any checks and balances is absolute power. and we know what has been said about absolute power. absolute power corrupts absolutely. this is the very opposite of what the framers intended. framers of the constitution purposefully entrusted the power of impeachments to the legislative branch so that it may protect the american people from a corrupt president. well, the time senators has found us. if congress allows president trumps instruction to say, it effectively nullifies the impeachments powers.
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senators, we are the keepers, the protectors, the defenders of what the framers intended. and we must hold a unprincipled discipline executive level. class senators, i know that this is not easy. >> i don't take this moment lightly. these are tough times. i remember quite a few tough times during my 27 years as a law enforcement officer. but we must stop this presidents. today we will explain why. first, we will review he backs regarding the scope of president trumps unprecedented action to stop
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the housesimpeachment inquiry . as you well know, we covered many of these back on tuesday when we explained in depth what evidence the president had blocked from congress. we address documents we know the white house and other agencies are concealing and we address testimony the presidents aids would provide a testified under oath. we will therefore review the documents and witnesses briefly. second, after surveying relative history constitutional law, we will explain why instruction of congress in and of itself warrants the impeachments and removal from office. finally, we will demonstrate president from is without question guilty of obstruction of congress, his defense is like any legal
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foundation and that his actions hold pose a dire and continuing to the foundation of our constitutional framework. this is very simple. it's simple. the president of use power and trusted in him by the american people. in a seem to suppress evidence, estate accountability and orchestrate a massive cover-up. and he did so inflamed sites. in his obstruction remains ongoing.
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>> mister chief justice, senators. presidents council. before i start, i too want to thank all the senators for being so patient being such good listeners. it reminds me quite frankly of one of the first days i do what was essentially called baby judge school, when we first got started and those are the first to think that they told us. that we needed to be patients and we need to listen and that we needed to be fair and always give the opportunity to be heard to each side. and i must say you have certainly been playing a very good role as judges, because
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although i know the press calls you jurors, i know that you are in the role of judges. i commend you are being good listeners and for having the patience to listen to us this last two days. in our final remarks today. so thank you all area now, miss dennings has given us an overview of the second article of impeachment. obstruction of congress. so let us now turn to the facts of the case. because you fully appreciate the scope and scale, the sale of the presidents wrongdoing, and besides, he has orchestrated, requires an understanding of the evidence that he has lawless the, flawlessly in from congress and theamerican people . president from categorically,
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indiscriminately and in an unprecedented fashion obstructed congresses impeachment inquiry. in other words, the orchestrated a cover up. and he get it in plain sight. first from the beginning, but from ministrations sought to hide the presidents misconduct by refusing to turn over the intelligence committee whistleblower complaints. complaints would sound the first alarm of the presidents wrongdoing. second, the president issued an order prohibiting the entire, the entire executive branch from participating in the impeachment inquiry. no cooperation, no negotiation, nothing. or as we say in texas, not.
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following the presidents orders, federal agencies refused to produce documents and key witnesses, refused to testify. in fact, the presidents sanctions specific directions to officials, ordering them to defy congressional subpoenas.third and perhaps the most reprehensible of all , the president waged a campaign of intimidation against those brave public servants who did come forward to comply with their obligation under the law. senators, as i mentioned, i am a lawyer and a formerjudge . i have never, ever seen anything like this from a litigant or party in any case
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, not anywhere. from the very beginning of this scandal, president trumps has sought to hide and cover-up the evidence. cover-up started even before the house began to investigate the presidents ukraine -related activities. began when the white house sought to conceal the records of donald trump's july 25 call with the president of the ukraine by placing it on a highlyclassified system . but as we said before, there was no legitimate national security reason to do so. the cover-up continued. a top omb official instructed the free to be closely held, in other words don't say anything to anybody .
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senators, you know in order to lawfully withhold the funding, the president was required to notify congress about the amount of money involved and why he was intending to freeze it. instead, the white house tried to keep the fax of the freeze a secret. maybe they kept it a secret cause a senior white house aide rob blair accurately predicted to his boss mick mulvaney, expect congress to become unhinged if it learns that bipartisan aid approved for a foreign partner was being frozen for the presidents personal gain. but the cover-up reached its peak soon after august 12. because on august 12, a
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whistleblower file a lawful and protected complaints intended for congress with the inspector general of the intelligence community. the president who as the subject of the complaint learned of a filing well before congress and the american people. in an effort to conceal the whistleblower's concerns, the white house and department of justice took an unprecedented step. no administration had ever intervened in such a manner before. but president trump maneuvered to keep the whistleblower's concerns from the congressionalintelligence committee . in the history of the intelligence community whistleblower protection act, no credible and urgent complaint had ever, ever been
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withheld from congress. not ever before. it was through immense public pressure and vigorous oversight by the house that the trump administration ultimately produced a complaint to the house and senate intelligence committees. even when it was produced, it was weak after the legal deadline. if the president's efforts to conceal the was a lower concerns and succeeded , congress would never have learned about the existence of the complaint, let alone the allegations that it contained . this attempt to hide key information from congress was only the first sign of what was to come. following new, deeply
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troubling revelations about the president's july 25 call, on september 24 the speaker of the house announced that the house investigations into the presidents scheme to pressure ukraine for personal gain would be folded into the ongoing impeachment inquiry. just days later, the president began to attack the legitimacy of the house impeachment inquiry. while standing on the tarmac at andrews air force base, president trump argued that the house impeachment inquiry quote should be allowed. he claimed that they are, and i quote again, there should be a way of stopping it. maybe legally through the courts. let's watch the president and what he had to say.
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quick's my call was perfect. the president yesterday of ukraine said there was no pressure put on him whatsoever, none whatsoever and he said it loud and clear for the press . what these guys are doing, democrats are doing to this country is a disgrace and it shouldn't be allowed. there should be a way of stopping it, maybe legally through the courts . >> there should be a way of stopping. soon after, president trump took matters into his own hands. the president used his authority and his office to wage a relentless and misleading public campaign to attack the impeachment inquiry. the president spent time at rallies, press conferences and on twitter trying to persuade the american people that the houses inquiry was invalid and fraudulent.
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here are just a few of the president trumps comments about the impeachment inquiry . he called it a witch hunt, to , and unconstitutional power grab, a fraud against the american people. he said that it's a phony impeachment scam. the phony impeachmenthoax . the ukraine hoax and a continuation of the greatest scam and witchhunts in the history of our country. and those are probably some of the ones i can repeat here . and it didn't stop. the attacks did not end there. president trump turned from rhetoric to action. on october 8, the white house sent a letter to speaker nancy pelosi informing her that president trump would
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seek to completelyobstruct the impeachment inquiry . they sent this letter, white house stationery, i shouldn't say this buti'm a lawyer , but very lawyerly, it's an eight page letter. you know words, lawyers can do things in one page, we've got to doseven or eight . this was eight pages and its long and no worries, i'm not going to read it all area i just want to get to the bottom line area says president trump cannot permit his administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under the circumstances area he is just saying we're not going to cooperate and this later is letter is dated october 8 and it's signed by pat
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crowdstrike. the president made no claim of privilege or attempt to compromise. he had no valid excuse. we are all too familiar with president trumps rhetoric and rants. these words in this letter on white house stationery signed by his great counsel here today have consequences. these words have consequences. they were more unjust on a page. they were more than just eight pages of words. in the days that followed, president trumps agencies and officials followed his order to conceal information from congress. over the past few days, you
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heard an inexpensive detail from all of us about some of the specific and incriminating documents that the presidenthas withheld from congress . but again, here's the bottom line. the house investigating committees sought a total of 71 specific categories of documents from sixdifferent agencies and offices . president trump blocked every single one of these requests. all of them. between september 27 and october 10, the investigating committee issued subpoenas to thedepartment of state , to the white house, the office of management and budget, the apartment of defense and the department of energy. the committee always remained open to working with the executive branch to discuss and prioritize the subpoenas.
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some agencies initially suggested that they might comply. for example, a few days after receiving the subpoena, the department of state sent staff and reached out to the committee to quote, discuss accommodations. as you all know, the accommodation process is when congress and the executive branch discuss priorities and concerns so that the committee gets what it needs most efficiently while minimizing any burden to the agency. so on october 7 a committee staff met with state department officials. during the conversation the committee made a good faith attempt to engage the department in negotiations. to start the committee's request that the department prioritize the production of a set of nonprivileged
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documents. the department representatives stated that they would take the request back to senior state department officials area but that was the end. that was the end. those priority documents were never provided to the committees. in addition, to the state department, the department of defense also showed an initial interest in cooperating . during an october 13 television appearance, secretary of defense mark esper said the department of defense would seek to comply. he said on air, on tv that they would comply with the subpoenas. in an exchange on face the nation the was specifically asked questions very quickly, are you going to comply with a subpoena that the house provided you and provide documents to them regarding
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the hold to merrill military aid to the ukraine area answer from the secretary. yes, we will do everything we can to cooperate with congress. just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note as we typically do in these situations to ensure documents are retained. but again the question is is that a yes? answer by the secretary, that's a yes. question, you will comply with the subpoena? answer again by the secretary. we will doeverything we can to comply. these are his very own words . we can comply, we can comply. but remember that october 8 letter from the white house counsel sent to the speaker stating that the president's
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position of total defiance. president trump again i'll quote it and said president trump cannot permit his administration toparticipate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances . so every department, every office top to bottom of the executive branch was under these instructions.you know, it's about 2 million public servants top to bottom . the executive branch all ordered by president trump not to provide information to congress. the president offered no accommodation and no opportunity for negotiation. ultimately each agency and office followed the
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president's orders. in response to each subpoena, the trump administration produced no documents. nothing. and the agency's offices made clear that it was due to the president's instructions. they always referred to that october 8 letter. for example, despite the secretary's initial signal of cooperation , i gave you the quote when he was asked specifically on tv, he said they would try to cooperate but despite that, the department of defense later refused to respond to the committees subpoena. in a letter to the committee the department of defense an many of the whitehouse's unsupported legal arguments and concluded and i quote , in light of these concerns and in view of the president's position as
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expressed in the white house counsel's october 8 letter and without waiving any other objection to the subpoena that the department may have, the department is unable to comply with your request for documents at this time. again, on a tv interview on face the nation, they tried to ask him again so were asked by chris wallace on fox news question, but do you feel congress has a right to oversight and to be able to see documents from the pentagon about the program that was approved by congress ? answer: well, they do but provided it's done in the right way and proper way andi think that was the issue . again, i think my reputation is pretty good in terms of being very transparent.
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i like to communicate with members of congress but in this case, my recollection is that they were technical and legal issues that prohibit us from doing exactly what was requested by congress. so it said he would try to cooperate, would seek to comply but now they are backpedaling. but senators, there was no valid technical or legal argument. none were put forth to justify the stonewalling of the impeachment inquiry. the documents president trump is withholding are highly relevant, responsive and would further our understanding of the president's scheme . here's just a sampling of the documents we know exist that are currently being withheld. national security advisor john bolton's notes.
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ambassador taylors first-person cable to secretary pompeo. emails between omb and other agencies about the president's directive to place a hold on the ukraine military aid and the hundreds of heavily redacted documents that the administration now turned over to third parties under foia court orders. certainly the documents related to the foia lawsuits were not subject to any claims of privilege or confidentiality or burden, yet the administration released them publicly. by contrast the president turned over nothing in response to the house impeachment investigation. now senators, there still is another component of the president obstructionthat i want all of us to focus on .
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not only did the president block agencies and offices from reducing documents, his administration also blocked current andformer officials from identifying , producing or even reviewing relevant documents. first, the trump administration actively discourage its employees from even identifying documents responsive to the committee's request. deputy assistant secretary george kent testified in his deposition that he had warned a statedepartment attorney additional responsive records that the department had not collected . according to kent, the department attorney quote, got very angry. and quote, objected to kent
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raising the additional information. he quote, made clear that he did not think it was appropriate for kent to make a suggestion. here's a lawyer telling the witness you know, don't say that. as a former judge i can't believe something like this would happen but kent responded he was just trying to quote, make sure that the department was being fully responsive. second, the trump administration refused to permit individual witnesses to produce relevant documents themselves. after the state department failed to respond tovoluntary requests for documents at the beginning of the investigation , the committee sent document requests to six individuals, state department
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employees.secretary pompeo objected to the committee's request to state officials calling them quote, it's an act of intimidation and an invitation to violate federal court laws. he also claimed that the house inquiry quote, is an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat them properly this distinguished professionals of thedepartment of state . now we were the bullies. but let's be clear. his statement has been contradicted by actual state department professionals from whom the committeesought documents . kent testified that he had not threatened or felt intimidated by the house. in fact kent says the
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language and secretary pompeo's letter which had been drafted by a state department attorney was without consulting mister kent. hesaid quote , it was inaccurate. inaccurate. then the state department ordered witnesses to withhold documents from congress. for example, on october 14 the department a letter to kent's personal attorney warning quote, your client is not authorized to disclose to congress any records relating to official duties. certain witnesses define these orders and produced the substance of key documents, providing critical insight into the president's scheme.
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other witnesses produced documents to the trump administrationso they can be turned over to congress . but now the administration is also sitting on those documents. and is refusing to turn them over. ambassador taylor testified that he turned over documents to the trump administration, but to his knowledge they had not been produced to the house area watch. >> as any of the documents that you turn over to your knowledge been turned over to the committee -mark . >> no. >> senators, i will confirm the committees have not seen not one of these documents. none. finally, if it could be any worse, it is.
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a trump administration official, ambassador sondland informed us that he was not even permitted to review his own relevant records in preparation for the testimony. again, this would be his own records so that he could prepare to testify, so let's watch. >> i have not had access to all of my phone records, state department emails and many, many other state department documents. and i was told i could not work with my eu staff to pull together the relevant files and information area having access to the state department materials would have been very helpful to me in trying to reconstruct with whom i spoke and met and when and what was said. my lawyers and i have made multiple requests to the
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state department and white house for these materials area yet these materials were not provided to me and they have also refused to share these materials with this committee area these documents are not classified and in fairness, should have been made available. >> of course we agree. as president trumps order, agencies and offices refuse to produce documents in response to the committee request and they refused to allow individual witnesses to do so either. so let's recap. no documents, zero, goose egg, not a in response to over 70 requests. 70 requests and five subpoenas. no attempt to negotiate. no genuine attempt to accommodate.
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categorical, indiscriminate and unprecedented tone walling. again, never in my time as a lawyer or as a judge after i seen this kind of total disrespect and defiance of a lawfully issued subpoena. and all on president trumps orders. and it could continue, because is obstruction of congress is real and it's beyond comparison. this president should be removed . >> mister chief justice and senators, let's turn to president trumps efforts to
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stop witnesses from testifying. no other president facing impeachment has taken the extreme step to prohibit executive witnesses from testifying before congress. even president nixon who famously attempted to define a subpoena or tape recordings of his conversations, he let his most senior staff testify before congress. i remember listening on tv as john dean testified beforethe senate watergate committee . he was the president's lawyer . president nixon didn't block him area not only in president nixon allowed his staff to testify before congress, he publicly directed them to testify and without demanding a subpoena. actually, with the senate watergate investigation, president nixon said this is a quote, all members of the
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white house staff will appear voluntarily when requested by the committee. they will testify under oath and they will answer fully all proper questions. now compared to president trump. he publicly attacked the houses impeachment inquiry, calling it quote, constitutionally invalid and ordered every single person working in the executive branch to define the house impeachmentinquiry . as just discussed in the letter to the speaker of the house, the white house counsel said president trump quote, cannot permit his administration to participate . no president ever used the official power of his office to prevent witnesses from giving testimony to congress in such a blanket and indiscriminate manner.
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there is no telling how many government officials would have come forward if the president hadn't issued this order. let's look at some of the witnesses who follow the president'sorders . the house issued subpoenas to compel testimony of three officials at the office of management and budget. acting director russell bought, associate director michael duffy and associate director michael mccormick. according to the testimony in the house which was reinforced by email recently revealed to through the freedom of information act lawsuits, omb was disabled to the hold on security assistance to theukraine . officials served as conduits to the white house to implement the whole without directly engaging the agencies that actually supported relief of the eight . president trump directed
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these three omb officials to violate their legal obligation by defying lawful subpoenas and follow his orders. this isn't justan argument. it's a fact . in response to housesubpoenas , the omb sent a letter to chairman schiff refusing to comply and this is what the letter said area as directed by the white house counsel's october 8 2019 letter, omb will not participate in this partisan and unfair impeachment inquiry . in that simple statement, omb admitted several key points. first, mister cipollone's letter of october 8 was an official directive of the white house. second, president trumps like it order applied to omb and the three officials
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subpoenaed by the house. third, president trumps blanket order not only directed them to refuse to participate voluntarily, it also directed them to define house subpoenas area for, resident trumps blanket order directly prevented the three omb officials from providing testimony to the house. there's no question about the stove of president trumps order. it was total. there's no question about the intent of the order. it was clearly understood by administration officials as shown by omb and there's no question the order had an impact. it directly prevented the house and getting testimony from the three senior officials at omb. so here we are. the president of the united states issued an official order forbidding every single person who works for the executive branch of our government from getting testimony to the houses as
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part of an impeachment investigation. that order prevented the house from getting testimony from witnesses who knew about thepresident's conduct . the matter is simple, it's plain to see you a question we hear in congress must ask is whether we are prepared to turn a blind eye to a presidents obstruction. obstruction not only of oversight also the power to determine whether congress may gather evidence in an impeachment proceeding. if the senate is prepared to accept that, it will need that not only president trump , all presidents after him will have veto power over congress's ability to conduct oversight and the power of impeachment.the house was not prepared to ask that and that's white houseapproved article 2 . as you consider what you
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think about this, please know that president trumps blanket order was not the end of his campaign to obstruct the impeachment inquiry. actually, it was just the beginning. in addition to his total ban of government witnesses, president trump also sent specific explicit orders. he directed key witnesses to defy subpoenas and to refuse to testify as part of the houses impeachment inquiry. as you know, the house subpoenaed acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney. the white house press briefing in october and i know you seen it before, mister mulvaney confirmed
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what we suspected. mister mulvaneyadmitted president trump withheld the aid to pressure the ukraine into announcing an investigation into the conspiracy theory that ukraine interfered in the 2016 election . here's his words. >> did he also mentioned to me that the corruption related to the dnc server left and mark absolutely, no question about that andthat's why we hold up the money . >> after this stunning admission, the house issued a subpoena to require mister mulvaney to testify but on the day of mister mulvaney's deposition the white house sent a letter to his personal attorney. prohibited from obeying the subpoena and the letters", the president directs mister mulvaney not to appear at the committee's scheduled deposition. when the issue disorder, president trump doubled down on his previous blanket order . he did sell half of the house voted to approve resolution 660 which in no uncertain terms made clear that mister mulvaney was being subpoenaed
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to testify in an impeachment investigation. this order was the first of many. president trump also ordered another white house official robert blair not to testify. mister blair is mister mulvaney's senior advisor and closes a. he was involved in communications about the hold on ukraine aid. the day after his initially scheduleddepositions , mister blair's personal attorneysent a letter to the house . ", mister blair has been directed by the white house not to appear and testify. the house also wanted testimony from john eisenberg , the senior attorney on president trumps national security council area as you heard over thepast few days , he witnesses including doctor hill, lieutenant colonel vindman said they were concerned by trumps efforts to pressure the ukraine. they were told to report
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these concerns to mister eisenberg. on the day before his scheduled deposition, the white house a letter to mister eisenberg's personal attorney. it said quote, the president directs mister eisenberg not to appear at the committee's deposition. language is starting to sound familiar. mister eisenberg personal attorney and sent a letter to the house rent a letter sent this area under these circumstances, mister eisenberg has no other option that is consistent with his legal and ethical obligations except to follow the direction of his client and employer, the president of the unitedstates. accordingly , mister eisenberg will not be appearing for a deposition at this time. that language i think is important and it's telling. it shows president trumps order left mister eisenberg
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with quote, no other option that is consistent with his legal and relations. >> .. no president has ever deirdre and impeachment inquiry to explicitly ordered government witnesses to defy how subpoenas. you don't have to consider high-minded constitutional principles and understand why this was wrong. it's simple really. by ordering specific government officials to comply to congressional subpoenas president trump forced those officials to choose between submitting to the demands of their boss or to break the law. nobody should abuse a position of power in that way.
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but president trump specifically ordered all three of these senior white house officials mulvaney player eisenberg to defy the houses subpoena and refuse to testify. president trump's efforts to conceal his actions didn't stop there and they didn't stop at the front door of the white house. no less than 12 other witnesses were specifically told not to testify. one of those witnesses hasn't been highlighted much over the past few days but the way he fits into the story is worth noting. he is a senior official at the state department. like these other senior officials he was ordered not to testify. in a letter to the house his attorney said quote ps received a letter of instruction from the state department directing that he not appear. he is still another person who could shed light on president trump's actions. was kept updated on rudy
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giuliani's broader efforts in ukraine. first-hand knowledge of secretary pompeo's involvement. for one thing he handled ambassador yovanovitch' recalled from ukraine though he refused to meet with her in the aftermath. also messages by ambassador volker showed that mr. brechbuhl knew about mr. giuliana's efforts in the ukraine as they occurred. on july 10 ambassador's taylor, volker and sondland discussed rudy giuliani's push abroad. while discussing the problems rudy was creating by meddling in official u.s. foreign-policy ambassador taylor noted that he quote briefed brechbuhl this afternoon and on august 11 ambassador sondland e-mailed mr. brechbuhl to ask him to
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briefed secretary pompeo in a statement he was negotiating with president zelensky. the aim of quote making the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation. ambassador sondland wrote to him quote curt and i negotiated a statement from z to be delivered for all of you in a day or two per the contents will hopefully make the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation. state department executive secretary lisa cannot answered ambassador sondland several hours later letting him know that she passed that information on to secretary pompeo. let's consider and pause hear why this message from mr. brechbuhl which the state department continues to conceal is important. in this exchange ambassador sondland told brechbuhl he had negotiated a deal for president
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zelensky to make a statement and that sondland hoped the promised statement would quote make the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation. it shows the senior state department leadership including secretary pompeo were quite aware of the deal. to trade an invitation to the white house for statement from president zelensky. indeed ambassador sondland confirmed that he kept them in the loop. here is his testimony. >> we kept the leadership of the state department and the nfc informed of iraq to the these. that included communications with secretary of state pompeo, his counselor oelrich brechbuhl his executive secretary lisa can i and also communications with ambassador volker, dr. hill
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mr. morrison and their staff at the nfc. they knew what we were doing and why. >> eight other witnesses were also ordered not to testify as part of the houses impeachment inquiries at those eight witnesses came forward anyway despite the presence of efforts to prevent them from testifying. all of the following witnesses were told not to testify. ambassador marie yovanovitch ambassador gordon sondland deputy assistant secretary of state george kent ambassador bill taylor deputy assistant secretary of defense laura cooper deputy associate director of omb mark sandy state department official catherine croft and state department official christopher andersen. each of these eight witnesses followed the law. they obeyed how subpoenas and they testified before the house. in all we know that by issuing a
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blanket order and later specific orders president trump prevented at least 12 former administration officials from testifying during a house impeachment inquiry. he specifically forced nine of those witnesses to defy duly authorized subpoenas. the facts are straightforward and they are not in dispute. first in the history of our public no president ever in dared to issue an order to prevent even a single government witness from testifying in an impeachment inquiry. second, president trump abuse the power of his office by using his official powers in an attempt to prevent every single person who works in the executive branch from testifying before the house. finally president trump's orders in fact prevented the house from
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obtaining key witness testimony from at least 12 current or former government officials. president trump's orders were clear. they work categorical, they were indiscriminate and they were wrong. they prevented key government witnesses from testifying. there is no doubt. that's obstruction, plain and simple. >> let us turn to some vinyl sets of facts. in a further effort to silence his administration president trump engaged in a brazen effort to publicly attack and intimidate the dedicated public servant who came forward to testify. to be clear these witnesses
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didn't seek the spotlight in this way. for years they had quietly and effectively performed their duties on behalf of our national interest and on behalf of the american people. why would they seek the spotlight in this way knowing that the president of the united states would lead the chorus of attack against them, and he did. in response the president issued threats, openly discussed possible retaliation, attacked their character and patriotism and subjected them to mockery and other insults. the president. the president's attacks were broadcast to millions of americans including the witnesses, their families, their
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friends and their co-workers. this campaign of intimidation wrist discouraging witnesses from coming forward voluntarily. mandatory subpoenas for documents and testimony's and as we all know witness intimidation is a federal crime. there is simply not enough time today to walk through each of the presidents attacks on the houses witnesses but let's talk about a few. as i am sure my colleagues recall the house has seen ambassadors marie yovanovitch. ambassadors yovanovitch's first tour was in somalia an increasingly dangerous places that country's civil war
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progress. during a different tour when ambassador yovanovitch helped to open the u.s. embassy during which time the embassy was attacked by gunman who sprayed the embassy building with gunfire. ambassador yovanovitch has served as ambassador to slovenia and serbia is embassy in moscow. his chairmanship there earlier. she has served in some dangerous places around the world on behalf of all of our interests and the interests of the american people. president trump's undersecretary of state for political affairs described ambassador yovanovitch as and i quote and exceptional ambassador doing exceptional work at a critical embassy in kyiv but during ambassador yovanovitch's public testimony president trump tweeted
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everyware marie yovanovitch went turned bad pitch he started off in somalia. how did that though? then fast-forward to ukraine where the new ukrainian president spoke favor of -- unfavorably about her in my second phonecall with him. it is a u.s. president absolute right to appoint ambassadors. at that same hearing chairmanships asked ambassador yovanovitch for her reaction to the presidents attacks during her testimony before the house. let's listen to that exchange. >> ambassador you have shown the courage to come forward today to testify. notwithstanding the fact you were urged by the white house or state department not to,
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notwithstanding the fact that as you testified earlier the president implicitly threatened you in a call record. now the president in real time is attacking you. what effect do you think that has some other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing? >> well it's very intimidating. >> it's designed to intimidate, is it's not? >> i mean i can't speak to what the president is trying to do but the effect is to be intimidating. >> i want to let you know ambassador that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously. >> the house succeeded the
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public testimony of ambassador william b. taylor another career public servant who graduated at the top of his class at west point served as an infantry commander in vietnam and earned a bronze star and an air medal for valor. yet surely after ambassador taylor came forward to congress president trump publicly referred to him as a never trumper without any basis. and then when a reporter noted that secretary of state mike pompeo had hired ambassador taylor president trump responded and i quote hey everybody makes mistakes. he then had the following exchange about ambassador taylor. let's listen. >> he's a never trumper. his lawyers the head of the
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never trumper. >> ambassador taylor has since stepped down from his position as a chief diplomat in ukraine. in addition to his relentless attack on witnesses who testified in connection to a house impeachment inquiry the president also repeatedly threatened the member of the intelligence community who filed the anonymous whistleblower complaint. in more than 100 statements about the whistleblower over a period of just two months the president publicly questioned the whistleblower's motive and disputed the accuracy of the whistleblower's account. but most disturbing president trump issued a threat against
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the whistleblower and those who provided information to the whistleblower. let's listen. >> who is the person that gave the whistleblower the information? you know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart. we used to handle them at little bit differently than we do now. >> the president need to conceal his reactions were so -- he attacked the credibility of those witnesses who served our country in combat. this included active duty military personnel and veterans who earned the purple heart and bronze star amongst other battlefield recognitions. for president trump to show disregard for such patriotism
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for example president trump attack lieutenant colonel vindman during his testimony on november 19 to question his loyalty to the united states. the president retweeted lieutenant colonel vindman was offered the position of defense minister for the ukrainian government three times. lieutenant colonel vindman the national security director for ukraine has been an act of duty army officer for more than 20 years. lieutenant colonel vindman earned a purple heart for wounds he sustained in an improvised explosive attack or device in iraq. president trump's campaign witness intimidation is reprehensible.
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it debases the presidency and was part of an effort to obstruct the impeachment inquiry the fact that it is the president of the united states making these threats tells us something. it tells us that the president desperately wanted to keep witnesses from testifying and thus further obstruct congress is inquiry. senators we cannot and we must not condone president trump's attacks on the whistleblower's and witnesses. people who truly have the ability to put our country first.
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>> now that we have carefully reviewed the facts and have described the president's categorical obstruction of congress we address the questions above previous discussions may be in -- may not be contrast that impacts their people you represent and it affects you because this is true no matter who occupies the white house or which party controls the house and senate. the further the president any president departs from the departs from the lard the constitution the more important is for you to do your job. i suspect there is common ground here. we'll know in order for congress to do its work we must have information.
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what is reasonable policy class what is the administration doing should we enact legislation to correct the problem? asking questions gathering information and making decisions based on the answers, this is one of the fundamental functions of congress. i suspect that we agree on this as well. their ability to do that work depends on our gathering of information. it depends on the power of the congressional subpoena. even when you make a request for information from an administration that request is backed by a threat of a subpoena although the power of the congressional subpoena has been affirmed repeatedly by the courts enshrined in the rules of the house and senate and respected by executive branch agencies for centuries if the president chooses to ignore subpoenas our powers of the branch of government, rebel of the to do our jobs, our ability
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to keep in administration and check ability to make sure the american people are representative by a congress and not just by president are diminished. please know where not talking a disagreement over the last few documents at the end of a long reduction series. we are talking about a direct order to the president of the united states to completely disregard all of our subpoenas. to deny all the information the president wants to keep secret. this is in order to deprive congress of her ability to hold the administration accountable. it's new to congress to render the president all-powerful because congress did not have any information that the president didn't want us to have without information we cannot act. so we must ask is there a consequence for president who defies our subpoenas absolutely, who says to all branches of the
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administration do not obey a single congressional subpoena categorically without knowing the subject of the subpoena? never answer a congressional subpoena? he denies congress the right to any information necessary to challenge his power. would madison and hamilton and washington support for moving president let him do whatever he wants and brazenly had taken up nor any effort to investigate even when backed by subpoenas as the law requires him to obey? and to do all these questions is a resounding yes. before diving in i'd like to set the historical scene. the framers were wise and so they worried presidents would abuse their powers for personal gain. they fear that someday the president might mistake himself for a king whose decisions cannot be questioned whose
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conduct cannot be investigated whose power transcends the rule of law. such a would-be king would certainly think things like quote i have the right to do whatever it wants as president. he might believe that it is quote illegitimate for anyone to investigate him. of course not even the framers could have imagined the president would say these things out loud. the president with this power would attack anyone who tried to hold them to account grant ding them quote human and quote the enemy of the people. he would argue the court had no power to enforce subpoenas against him. he would conscript its allies to ridicule congress. he would harass witnesses who testified against him declaring it was disloyal to question his conduct. he would use the powers of the office to sabotage our system of checks and balances.
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all of this we have seen in the last few years, indeed in the last few months. the framers wrote the impeachment clause to protect the american people from such a president but impeachment clause exists protect our freedom and democracy. exists that the president serve the public and not the other way round mitre to presence that the answer to something greater than themselves. he converted nobody in america is above the law, not even the president. as we have discussed impeachment powers do not magically protect those when the president commits high crimes and misdemeanors. benjamin franklin's words the framers to the republic, if we can keep it. one way we can impose that promises to do her duty as elected members of congress to hold the executive branch in check.
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that responsibility is part of the constitutional design. the burden is ours regardless of our political party no matter who sits in the oval office. in the ordinary courts and we do our jobs we do our nation a service by holding the executive branch both its political leadership and its professional core accountable to the people for its actions. with the presidents conduct exceeding the usual safeguards had trying to investigate presidential wrongdoing and necessary to improve our -- approve articles of impeachment. that falls on the senate to judge convict and remove president to threaten the constitution but this entire framework depends on congress's ability to discover and to thoroughly investigate presidential malfeasance. the presidents can abuse their power and then conceal all the evidence from congress than the
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peach when close to be a nullity. we the people would lose a vital protection. that is why throughout history have repeatedly recognized subpoena serve as an impeachment inquiry must be obeyed including by the president. it is white before president trump only a single official in american history has ever defied an impeachment subpoena. that is why that official richard nixon faced an article of impeachment for doing so. as the house judiciary committee reasons in its analysis of nixon's instruction quote unless the defiant of the house subpoenas is considered grounds for impeachment it is difficult to conceive of any president acknowledging that he is obligated to supply the relevant evidence necessary for congress to exercise its constitutional responsibilities in an impeachment proceeding. representative robert mcqueary a republican from illinois explains the importance of this article of impeachment for
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separation of powers he said if we refuse to recommend that the president should be impeached because of his defiance of the congress with respect to the subpoenas we have issued the future respondents will be in a position where they can determine themselves what they are going to provide in an impeachment inquiry and what they are not going to provide and this would be particularly so in the case of an inquiry directed towards the president of the united states who not only affects this president and future presidents, future presidents and that's where we find ourselves now with even greater force. president nixon authorized other executive branch officials and agencies to honor their legal obligations and turned over many of his own documents could president trump in contrast directed his entire administration every agency come every office and every official not to cooperate with the
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impeachment inquiry. as in nixon's case president trump's obstruction is merely an extension of a cover-up. as in nixon's case president trump's obstruction reveals consciousness of guilt or innocent people do not act this way. they do not hide all the evidence. like nixon president trump's offered an assortment of arguments to excuse his obstruction. as was true in nixon's case none of these excuses can succeed. these arguments mounted under the president can dictate the terms of his own impeachment inquiry. president trump lawyers may grounds for defying congress are unique and limited and they only apply here just this one time. it was the house not the president that broke the president and that he would gladly comply with subpoenas if only the house would do as he insists. that is pure fantasy. the president arguments are not a one ticket ride, one right
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ticket. they are not unique to these facts. unless they are firmly and finally rejected here these bogus excuses will reappear every time congress investigates any president for serious abuses of power, every single time. it will constitute a playbook for ignoring oversight failing all future presidents democrat or republican. these arguments are not consistent with the constitution they are lorelei window dressing for an unprecedented power grab. plenty of presents and judges have complained about impeachment inquiries. declaring their own innocence attacking the house's motives and insisting due process entitles him to also do things that no president or judge except richard nixon has ever defied subpoenas that basis and no president or judge, none has ever directed others to defy subpoenas categorically across-the-board.
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they have all eventually recognize their obligations under the law. president trump stands alone. president trump is permitted to defy her subpoenas hear in the impeachment inquiry where the courts of sets the power of inquiries imagine what future presidents will do when we attempt to conduct routine oversight. president trump is the first leader of this nation to declare that nobody can investigate him for official misconduct except on his own terms. in word in a deep president trump has declared himself above the law. he has done so because he is guilty and wishes to conceal as much of the evidence from the american people and from this body as he can. his act must not succeed per president trump is allowed to remain in office after misconduct marking the date that the senate allow this president
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to break one of our mightiest defenses against tyranny. they will wonder why congress over italy surrendered one of its core constitutional powers. they will wonder why congress admitted that a president can get away with everything and violated the constitutional rule, any liberty, and a request for information and get away with it simply by saying i don't have to answer your questions. congress has no power to make me answer questions about my conduct. that's what it states. the future people will despair that future presidents can abuse their power without fear of consequence or constraint. let's begin with a legal premise of the second article of impeachment. congress sets the power to investigate presidents for official misconduct. this premise is indisputable. article i of the constitutional legislative powers granted to be vested in the congress of the
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united states and shokin insist each house may determine the rules of its own proceeding. our investigations are grounded in article i of the constitution which grants congress all legislative power and authorizes each house to determine its own rules. as the supreme court has explained the constitution does that not house and the senate with the power of inquiring quote penetrating and far-reaching closed quote. moreover congress can effectuate the power of a great by issuing subpoenas demanding the recipient to provide documents or testify and her oath. subpoenas are mandatory. it's not that the option of the executive for the president as the supreme court has explained quote it's unquestionably the duty of all to corporate with the congress and its committees.
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it is their unremitting obligation to respond to subpoenas, to respect the dignity of the congress and its committees and to testify fully with respect to matters within the province of proper investigation. more recently the united states district judge brown jackson collaborated quote congress centuries-old power to compel the performance of witnesses is not an abstract injury nor is it a mere denial insult to our democracy. it is an affront to the mechanism for curbing abuses of power that the framers carefully crafted for our protection and thereby recalcitrant witnesses actually undermine the broader interests of the people of the united states. in recognition of the important role that congressional inquiries play in protecting our democracy and guarding the american people it's unlawful to obstruct them. of course while congress investigates many issues one of
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the most important is misconduct in the executive branch. there's a long history of congressional investigations into the executive branch. to name a few especially famous cases congress is investigating claims that presently can mishandle civil war military strategy the infamous teapot dome scandal under president harding president nixon's involvement in the watergate scandal president reagan's involvement in the iran-contra affair president clinton's real estate dealings and the monica lewinsky scandal warrantless wiretapping under president george bush attacks on american personnel in benghazi under president obama. since the dawn of the republic presidents have recognize congress power to investigate the executive branch. even in sensitive investigations involving national security and foreign-policy presents have provided congress access to senior officials with important documents. for example the iran-contra
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inquiry president reagan's former national security adviser oliver north and the former assistant to the president of the national security affairs john poindexter testified before congress. president reagan also produced relevant excerpts of his personal diaries to congress. during the clinton administration congress obtained testimony from top advisers including the president chief of staff his chief of staff erskine bowles white house counsel and white house counsel jack quinn. in the benghazi investigation president obama made many of his top aides available for transcribed interviews including national security advisers susan rice deputy national security adviser of communications benjamin rhodes. the obama administration in that case produced more than 75,000 pages of documents including 1450 pages of white house e-mails with indications with senior officials on the national
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security council. to be sure house republicans complained loudly that the obama administration's response to the benghazi investigation was insufficient. just imagine how they would have reacted if president obama recorded total defiance of all subpoenas. they would have been outraged. why? congress to question we have had the authority to investigate presidential conduct. not only does congress have the power to investigate the executives but as we have discussed article i of the constitution gives the house the sole power of impeachment. the framers intended it be an essential check on out-of-control presidents but it does not work automatically. the house must investigate question witnesses and review documents. only then can it decide whether to approve articles of impeachment. therefore when the house determines the president may have committed high crimes and misdemeanors it has the a
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constitutional duty to investigate misconduct. in such cases the house act not only pursuant to his ordinary legislative authority and also serves as the grand inquest of the nation because an impeachment inquiry wields one of the greatest powers of the constitution, the power that exist specifically to constrain a president. subpoenas with the full force of the impeachment clause. they cannot be thwarted by ordinary executive privileges are ordinary objections. it is therefore presumed as president pope conceded over 150 years ago that quote all the archives and papers of the executive department public or private would be subject to inspection. quote every facility of the power of the executive would be afforded to enable the house to prosecute the investigation. the impeachment investigation of
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president pope. president polk's statement to was no outlier. they have long understood they must comply with impeachment inquiries are consistent with this understanding in the history of the republic no president has ever claimed unilateral prerogative categorically to defy a house impeachment inquiry. on the contrary. every president facing this issue is agreed that congress possesses a broad and penetrating inquiry with investigating grounds of impeachment. it's directly refutes president trump's claim that he obstructed congress to protect the office of the president. every prior occupant of his office has disavowed the limitless power that he asserts. that matters as the supreme court explained a few years ago that quote long settled and established practices of consideration and great weight
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in the proper interpretation of constitutional provisions regulating the relationship between congress and the president. so let's take a quick tour of the historical record. to begin at the beginning the sweltering summer in philadelphia in 1787. the framers discussed at length the balance between presidents and congress. remember they had just fought a bloody war to rid themselves of the tyrants and they didn't want another tyrant. when impeachment came up they agreed it would limit the president's authority. a strong majority framers sought as a virtue, not a vice but they wanted to empower the president and also to keep its power from getting out of hand. impeachment could not serve that role if the house were unable to investigate the president for suspected high crimes and misdemeanors. this is recognized early on starting with their very first
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president. in 1796 the house requested president washington provide sensitive diplomatic materials relating to the hugely unpopular jay treaty with great britain. present washington declined and said the request intruded on his executive functions but washington agreed that impeachment would change his calculus. in the ensuing debate on the house floor washington admitted quote that where the house expresses an intention to impeach the right to demand from the executive all papers and information in his possession belongs to it. all papers and information for this is only the first of many references to that point in our constitutional tradition. for example less than 40 years later in 1833 justice joseph story robart upon the dangers of presidential obstruction. he wrote the power of impeachment will generally be applied to persons holding high
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office is under the government and it is of great consequence that the president should not have the power to prevent and thorough investigation of their own conduct. consistent with this teaching president polk later offered his clear and insightful explanation of why presidents must honor all impeachment subpoenas. as i mentioned just moments ago he said in that quote it may be alleged that the power of impeachment belongs to the house of representatives and that with a view to the exercise of this power the right to investigate the conduct of all public offices under a government. this is cheerfully admitted. decades later during their first presidential impeachment inquiry president andrew johnson recognize congress's power to thoroughly investigate him and his executive branch to support this. in 1867 for example the house judiciary committee obtained executive and presidential
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records. the committee interviewed cabinet officers and presidential aides about cabinet meetings and private conversations with the president by his top aides and cabinet officials. multiple witnesses there over and/or questions the opinions and statements made by the president and advice given to the president. there is no evidence that johnson never started in the purpose to prevent disclosures from presidential conversations to the committee or fail to comply with any of the committee's requests. those in the first 80 years of their public presidents washington polk and johnson along with members of the committees of the house and the supreme court justice all recognized congress is authorized by the cut situation to investigate for impeachment and presidents are obligated to give all information requests. president trump's attempt to stonewall congress would have shocked those presidents.
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with only a few exceptions the vocation of the impeachment powers decided. from 1868 to 1972. even in that period well objecting to ordinary legislative oversight president ulysses grant grover cleveland and theodore roosevelt each noted that congress could obtain key executive branch documents in an impeachment inquiry. it's confirmed yet again that impeachment is different. under the constitution requires full compliance. then came watergate when president nixon abused the powers of his office to underline his political opponent but even nixon, even nixon understood that he must comply with subpoenas for information relating misconduct. thus he stated in march 191973 regarding this and its watergate investigation that quote all members of the white house staff will appear voluntarily when requested by the committee.
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will testify under oath and they will answer properly all questions we as a result many senior white house officials testified including white house counsel john dean, white house chief of staff h.r. haldeman executive assistant to the president alexander butterfield. edition nixon produced many documents in response to congressional subpoenas including notes from the president. as the house judiciary committee explained at the time 69 officials had been subjected to impeachment investigations the route american history yet in that quote with the possible exception of one minor official who invoked the privilege against self-incrimination not one of them challenge the power of the committee conducting an investigation to compel the production of evidence if deemed necessary. president nixon's production of records was incomplete however with the very important respect. it not produced tape recordings of key oval office conversations
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in response the house judiciary committee approved an article of impeachment against the president for obstruction of congress. 24 years later the house undertook impeachment proceedings against president clinton. consistent with precedent and unlike president trump he pledged to cooperate fully with impeachment investigation. ultimately he provided written responses to 81 interrogatories from the judiciary committee. three witnesses provided testimony during his senate trial. as this review of the historical record proves presence of long recognized the constitution compels us to honor subpoenas served by the house and impeachment inquiry. stated simply president trump's categorical blockade of the house his refusal to honor any subpoenas his order that all subpoenas not even knowing what they were, all subpoenas be
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defied there's no analog in the history of their public. nothing even comes close 30s engaged in obstruction that several predecessors have set as expressive of ben and led an article of impeachment. president trump is an outlier. he's the first and only president ever to declare himself unaccountable and to ignore subpoenas backed by the constitution's impeachment power if he is not removed from office, if he is permitted to defy the congress entirely categorically, to say the subpoenas from congress in the impeachment inquiry are nonsense then we will have lost, the house were lost in the senate certainly will have lost all power to hold any president accountable produces a determination by president trump that he wants to be all-powerful. he does not have to respect the
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congress. he does not have to respect the representatives of the people. only his will goes. he is a dictator. this must not stand and that is why another reason him he must be removed for office. >> i mr. chief justice senators, we have now shown how the extreme measures president trump took to conceal evidence and block witnesses defies the constitution and centuries of historical practices. but there is more to the story and it only further undermines president trump's case. the position he has taken is not only baseless as a historical matter, it's also inconsistent with the justice department stated reason for refusing to indict or prosecute the
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president. now the department of justice's unwillingness to indict a sitting president creates the danger that the president can't be held accountable by anyone even for grave misconduct. to its credit the department of justice recognized that risk. in its view quote constitutionally specifies the impeachment process ensures that the immunity would not place the president above the law. this argument by the justice department is really important. in justifying its view that a president can't be held criminally liable while in office doj relies on congress's ability to impeach and remove a president but the justice department's rationale falls apart if the constitutionally specified impeachment process
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can't function because the president himself has obstructed it. the supreme court correctly noted in nixon versus fitzgerald and that's not richard nixon, its judge nixon, that vigilant oversight by congress is necessary to quote make credible the threat of impeachment that the president should not the treated as immune from criminal liability because he is subject to impeachment but then be allowed to sabotage the impeachment process itself. that is what this president did. that places him dangerously above the law and beyond the separation of powers. presidents can't be above the law. presidents like everyone else must open a subpoenas served in an impeachment inquiry. in 1880 the supreme court explained quote for the question of such impeachment is before
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either house of congress acting in its appropriate sphere on that subject we see no reason to doubt their right to compel the attendance of witnesses and their answer to proper questions in the same manner and by the use of the same means that courts of justice can in like cases per at almost a century later judge opinion on the watergate roadmap in 1974 emphasized the special weight assigned to congress in an impeachment. wrote it should not be forgotten that we deal in a matter of the most critical moment in the nation, and impeachment investigation involving the president of the united states. it would be difficult to conceive of a more compelling need than that of his country
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for an unswervingly fair inquiry-based on all the pertinent information. that same year the supreme court decided the famous case of nixon versus the united states. that's president nixon. i was standing just across the street from the court when the case was handed down. i remember seeing their reporters running down those marble steps clutching the court's unanimous decision. the decision forced the release of key oval office tapes that president nixon had tried to cover up by invoking executive privilege. in short order it led to the resignation of president nixon. the plaintiff in that case was actually the special prosecutor leon jaworski who was appointed to investigate the watergate are great and to issue subpoenas for the nixon tapes.
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the supreme court upheld the subpoenas against president nixon's claim of executive privilege. it reasoned that is asserted interest in confidentiality could not overcome the constitutionally grounded interest in the fair administration of criminal justice justice in reaching that conclusion the court said this. quote the end to criminal justice would be seeded if judgments were to be found on a partial or speculative presentation of the facts. the very integrity of the judicial system and public confidence in the system depend on full disclosure of all facts within the framework of the rules of evidence. that reason which was a unanimous decision by the supreme court and the nixon case applied with full force and indeed greater force to impeachment. the house judiciary committee to recognize that when it approved an article of impeachment
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against president nixon for obstruction of congress. it reasoned as follows. quote if a generalized presidential interest in confidentiality cannot prevail over quote the fundamental demand of due process of law in a fair administration of justice then neither can it be permitted to prevail over the fundamental need to obtain all the relevant facts and the impeachment process. whatever the limits of legislative power in other contexts and whatever needs may otherwise exist for preserving the confidentiality of residential conversation, in the context of an impeachment proceeding the balance struck in favor of the power of the power think report accordingly president trump's conduct is unprecedented and offensive to the presidency and it is
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inconsistent with his duty, his oath to faithfully execute the law. that obligation to see that the laws are faithfully executed is not just about enforcing statutes. it's a duty to be faithful to the constitution. every part of it as stated in the text and understood across history and it is a duty he has violated by obstructing congress here. i want to make one additional point regarding the judiciary. presidents have an obligation to comply with the congress is impeachment inquiry regardless of whether the court has reviewed the request. we make this point even though i think president trump's lawyers with a making a mistake to raise it great after all the president's lawyers can't have it both ways. they can't argue here that we must go to court and then argue
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in court that our case can't be heard. anyway the house's sole power of impeachment wouldn't be sold for much of the power of the house did not investigate the president at all without spending years litigating before the third branch of government. it would frustrate the constitution for the house to depend entirely on the judiciary to advance its impeachment related investigatory powers. consistent with its understanding before president trump the house had never before filed a lawsuit to require testimony or documents in a presidential impeachment. we didn't have to. no president ever issued a blanket am on compliance with how subpoenas or challenge the house to find a way around his unlawful order.
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in this strange and unprecedented situation it's appropriate for congress to reach its own judgment that the president is obstructing the exercise of its constitutional power. as then representative lindsey graham explained in 1998 during the clinton proceedings where we served together on the judiciary committee quote the day richard nixon failed to answer that subpoena is that they he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from congress over the impeachment process away from congress and he became the judge and jury. they are still another reason why it would be wrong and dangerous to insist that the house cannot take action without involving the courts in that reason is delay. consider just three lawsuits filed by house committees over the past two decades to enforce
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subpoenas against senior executive ranch officials. i've served on the judiciary committee when we decided we need to hear from former white house counsel harriet miers. and committee on the judiciary versus meyers judiciary committee tried to enforce a subpoena that required her to give testimony about the contentious firing of nine u.s. attorneys. the committee served a subpoena in 2007. we negotiated escorts indicate you should with the white house and we finally filed a suit in march of 2008. we won a favorable district court order in july of 2008 but we did receive testimony from meyers until june of 2009. that was two years. in committee on oversight and reform versus holder the committee on oversight and reform tried to force attorney
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general eric holder to produce additional documents relating to the so-called "operation fast and furious". the committee served the subpoena on october of 2011. they filed suit august 2012. they have won a series of orders requiring productions of documents but the first such order did not issue until august of 2014, nearly three years. the committee on the judiciary versus mcgahn the house judiciary committee sought to enforce a subpoena to inquire white house counsel don mcgahn to give testimony regarding matters relating to the special counsel's investigation. now we served that subpoena in april of last year. the filed suit in august of last year. we won a favorable district court order in november of last
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year. the court of appeals stated that ruling and didn't hear arguments until early this month with an opinion and an unlikely sip per import application likely to follow. we will not have an answer likely this year. sometimes courts move quickly but here they haven't, not at all. even when the house urges expedited action a usually takes years, not months to get evidence through judicial proceedings. the president can't put off impeachment for years by ordering total defiance of the house and then insist the court go to court even as he argues that they can't go to court. that's especially true where the president doesn't just raise one or two objections with specific subpoenas but order of blanket governmentwide cover-up of all evidence. that kind of order.
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the president sees himself completely immune from any accountability above the law. it reveals his pretentious to absolute power. it confirms he must be removed from office. here's the key point. president trump's obstruction of congress is not nearly unprecedented and wrong is also a high crime and misdemeanor as the framers used and understood that phrase thwarting his immediate removal from office. you see why this return to first principles as the framers to liberated in philadelphia, george mission posed a profound question. shall any man be above justice quest that question wasn't a hypothetical hypothetical. the framers had just rebuilt against england where one man
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the king, was in fact above justice. by authorizing congress to remove presidents from egregiousness misconduct the framers rejected that model. unlike britain's king the president would answer to congress and thus to the nation if he engaged in serious wrongdoing. because the impeachment power exists not to punish the president but to check presidents. they can't function if presidents are free to ignore all congressional investigations and oversight. ..
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>> they weaken our shield against a dangerous or corrupt president. know of course presidents are still free to raise national security or other concerns in the course of the impeachment inquiry. there was room for good faith negotiations. although there is a strong presumption in favor of four compliance with congressional subpoenas. but if the president abuses his office to completely defy house investigators in the impeachment inquiry, if he does that without lawful cause or excuse that attacks the
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constitution itself. when he does that he confirms that he sees himself as above the law. president nixon's case is informative as noted president nixon led his officials testify and produce documents and did not have an indiscriminate block of the house impeachment inquiry. he still did defy subpoena seeking records with the oval office. president nixon claimed the doctrine of executive - - executive privilege but the judiciary committee rejected that excuse the committee emphasize that the doctrine the separation of powers cannot justify the withholding of information from the impeachment inquiry. after all, the very purpose of such an inquiry is to permit the house acting on behalf of
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the people to curb the excess of another branch and this is the executive. "whatever the limits of legislative power and other context what other needs that may exist to preserve the confidentiality of presidential conversations in the context of an impeachment proceeding the balance was struck in favor of the power of inquiry with the impeachment provision written into the constitution. ultimately the committee approved an article against nixon because he sought to prevent the house from exercising his constitutional duty. article three charge nixon of abusing his power by interfering with the responsibility to investigate
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fully and completely brother he had committed high crimes and misdemeanors the third article of impeachment explains it this way. in refusing to produce these papers richard m nixon substituting his judgment as to what material was necessary for the inquiry interpose the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoena of the house of representatives thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to be exercise of the sole power of impeachment invested by the constitution and house of representatives. with all of this richard m nixon acted in a manner contrary to president and constitutional government with great prejudice.
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with the cause of law and justice and injury to the people of the united states. president nixon's case helped support the conclusion that presidential defiance the house impeachment inquiry constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors. along with the founders rereading the constitution and the notes from the constitutional convention. 230 years ago. they met in philadelphia not far from here. and they didn't know the constitution they were trying to write would say freedom but they were trying to create a completely different type of government. this -- governor morris said on
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july 20th the magistrate is not the king. the people are the king. george mason of virginia on that same day said shall any man be above justice, that man may be above it who can commit the most extensive injustice. eldridge jerry argued help the maximum that the chief magistrate could do no wrong would never be adopted here. finally on september 8th they adopted the impeachment clause in the u.s. constitution but i hope that we will remember the admonition that we should never accept the fact that the magistrate, the president, can do no wrong. they crafted a constitution to protect our liberty and the liberty of those who would follow. professor noah feldman talked about the constitution in his
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testimony before the house. >> the president who says as this president did say, i will not cooperate in any way, shape or form with your process, robs a branch of government, rob the house of representatives of its basic constitutional power of impeachment. >> a president who does that also endangers the american people by stripping away the constitution's final safeguard against a president who abuses power and harms the nation. such a president acts like a king which the founders were fighting against. that is what they wrote out of the constitution. the president cannot be immune from oversight, accountability and civil justice in the exercise of the powers entrusted to him. we can't let that stand in this case.
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the president must forfeit the power that he has abused and be removed from office. >> mister chief justice, the established members of the senate, counsel for the president, my colleagues of the american people who are assembled here today. i think we have our next break scheduled within the hour so i find myself in the unenviable position of being the only thing standing between you and our dinner, but be not discouraged because i'm going to try to follow the advice of
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a former sunday school teacher of mine who grew up in the cornerstone baptist church in brooklyn who said jeffries, on the question of public presentation, the brief, be bright and be gone. and so i'm going to try to do my best. presidents are required to comply with impeachment subpoenas. this president has completely defied them. that conduct alone is a high crime and misdemeanor. the facts here are not really in dispute. donald trump's defense appears to be i can do whatever i want to do. only i can fix it. i am the chosen one.
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>> i have article to where i have the right to do whatever i want as president. >> nobody knows the system better than me. which is why i alone can fix it. somebody had to do it. i am the chosen one. somebody had to do it. >> is that who we are? as a democracy? donald trump can't address the substance of our case. he therefore complains about process but these procedural
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complaints are baseless excuses and they do not justify his attempts to hide the truth from congress and from the american people. the president's arguments fail for four simple reasons, first, the house, not the president, has the sole power of impeachment and the sole power to determine the rules of its proceedings. that is article 1 section 2 of the constitution. second donald trump's due process argument has no basis in law, no basis in fact, no basis in the constitution. donald trump may not preemptively deny any and all cooperation to the house and then assert the house's procedures are illegitimate because they lack his cooperation. third, donald trump's claim that he is being treated differently, completely lacks merit. despite what he contends the house provided donald trump
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with greater protection than was given to both president nixon and president clinton. the fact that he failed to take advantage of these procedural protections does not mean they did not exist. donald trump is not the first president to complain about house procedures and won't be the last. is not the first one to challenge the motives of any investigation, certainly and impeachment inquiry. such complaints are standard operating procedure from the article to executive branch. president johnson, president nixon, president clinton had plenty of complaints. but now president, no president, no president has treated such objections as a basis for withholding evidence,
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let alone categorically deifying every single subpoena. none. except donald john trump. finally the obligation to comply with and impeachment subpoena is unyielding. it's not dissipate because the president believes house committees should invite different witnesses, did his defenders unfettered subpoena power or involve his personal lawyers at the deposition stage of the process when that has never been done. if a president can defied congress on such fragile grounds then it is difficult to imagine why any future president would ever comply with and impeachment or investigative subpoena again. throughout our history impeachment have been rare and
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the supreme court has made clear it is wary of intruding on matters of impeachment. this of course leaves room for interbranch negotiation but it does not allow the president to engage in blanket defiance. donald trump's objections are not rooted in the law, they are not good-faith legal arguments. we know that because donald trump said early on he would fight all subpoenas. we know that because he declared the impeachment inquiry illegitimate before it even adopted any procedures. we know that because he has denounced every single effort to investigate him as a witch hunt and we know that because he never even claimed executive
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privilege during the entire impeachment proceeding. donald trump's first excuse for obstructing congress is his belief that he did nothing wrong, that his july 20 fifth call with president zelinsky was perfect. the october 8th letter sent by his counsel donald trump asserted the prerogative to define all house subpoenas because he declared his own innocence. as mister cipollone put it at donald trump's behest, the president did nothing wrong and there is no basis for an impeachment inquiry. the white house counsel include this in a formal letter to the house deifying every single subpoena. as we have shown in our discussion of the first articles of impeachment these claims of innocence are
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baseless, they lack merit. we have provided overwhelming evidence of donald trump's guilt. the president cannot lawfully obstruct the house impeachment inquiry because he sees no need to be investigated. one of the most sacred principles of justice is no man should be the judge in his own case and yet that is exactly what donald trump has been determined to do. but this is america. he cannot be judge, jury and executioner. moreover the president cannot simply claim innocence and then walk away from a constitutionally mandated process is even president nixon did not do that as we have previously established. congress has a constitutional responsibility to serve as a
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check and balance on an out-of-control executive branch. our responsibility is not to this president. it is to the american people. blanket presidential defiance would bring a halt to all congressional oversight of the executive. that principle would have authorized categorical obstruction in the impeachment of president johnson, president nixon, each of those cases the house was controlled by a different party than the presidency and the president attacked those inquiries as partisan and yet those presidents did not view those concerns as a basis for
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defining every single subpoena. the purpose of an impeachment inquiry is for the house to collect evidence, to determine on behalf of the american people whether the president may have committed and impeachable offense. the constitution and invests the house with the sole power of impeachment. the president who serves as the judge of his own innocence is not acting as a president. that is a dictator. that is a desperate. that is not democracy. the president also believes, it appears, but his blanket obstruction was justified because the house to not adopt the resolution authorizing an impeachment inquiry or properly delegate such investigative powers to its committee. the full house voted in january
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in advance of the inquiry to adopt rules authorizing committees to conduct investigations, issue subpoenas, gather documents and hear testimony. beginning in the spring of summer of 2019 evidence came to light that donald trump and his associates might have been seeking the assistance of another foreign government, ukraine to influence the upcoming 2020 election. on september 9th the house investigative committee announced they were launching a joint investigation, they requested records from the white house and the parts of state. this investigation was consistent with all rules approved by the pool house was at the same time evidence emerged that the president may have attempted to cover up his actions and prevent the transition of a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence committee of the senate and the house. given the gravity of these allegations and immediacy of
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the threat to the next presidential election, the speaker of the house, a constitutional officer, explicitly named in article 1, announced on september 20 fourth that the house would begin a formal impeachment inquiry. there is nothing in the constitution nothing federal law, nothing in supreme court jurisprudence that required a formal vote at the time. the president has put forth big arguments about process because he cannot defend the substance of these allegations. following the announcement of the impeachment inquiry the house investigative committee issued additional requests and subpoenas for documents and testimony. the committees made clear this information would be collected
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as part of the house impeachment inquiry and shared among committees as well as with the committee on the judiciary is appropriate. then on october 30 first the full house voted to approve house resolution 660 which directed the house committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the house of representatives to exercise the constitutional power to impeach donald john trump. in addition to affirming the ongoing house impeachment inquiry, it set forth procedures for open hearings in the intelligence committee and for additional proceedings in the judiciary committee. every step in this process was fully consistent with the constitution, the rules of the house and house precedent. the house's autonomy to
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structure its own proceedings on impeachment inquiry is grounded in the constitution. the president's printable argument to the contrary is now committee of the house was permitted to investigate any presidential misconduct until the full house acted. as federal district court recently confirmed the notion that a full house vote is required to authorize an impeachment inquiry has no textual support in the u.s. constitution or the governing rules of the house. the investigations into misconduct by president andrew johnson, nixon and clinton all began prior to the house's consideration and approval of a resolution authorizing the investigation. recently, under republican
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control the judiciary committee considered the impeachment of the commission of the internal revenue service following a referral from another committee and absent a full vote of the house for an impeachment inquiry. there is no merit to donald trump's argument that the fool house had to vote. the sequence of events in this particular case detracted those in the nixon proceedings. the house judiciary proceeding began in october of 1973 when resolutions calling for president nixon's impeachment were introduced in the house and referred to the judiciary committee over the next several is the committee investigated the watergate break-in and cover-up among other matters using its existing
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investigatory authority. the committee also hired special counsel and other attorneys to assist in these efforts. most importantly all of this occurred before the house approved a resolution directing the judiciary committee to investigate whether the ground to impeach richard nixon existed. in this instance the committees began with their existing power is authorized by the fool council. that is entirely consistent with the richard nixon precedent. it is also common sense. after all, the house must ascertain the nature and seriousness of the allegations and the scope of the inquiries that may follow their efforts. donald trump's second excuse also failed.
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let's adjust the president's so-called due process and fairness argument. the president has raised his complaints in the language of due process. he has complained the procedures were not fair even though they reflect prior practice and strike a reasonable balance between presidential involvement on the one hand and the house's obligation to find the truth on the other. presidents come and presidents go, they all sharply criticized house procedures but no president has ever treated those objections as a basis for complete defiance, no president has ever done that. in the context of house impeachment inquiry, fair to
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say that a president is a suspect, a suspect who may have committed a high crime or misdemeanor. he cannot tell the detectives investigating the possible constitutional crime what they should do in the context of their investigation. in the president's october 8th letter mister cipollone claimed he was denied the most basic protection demanded by due process under the constitution and by fundamental fairness including the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive and transmit testimony, have access to evidence and have counsel present. it sounds terrible but it is not accurate. the president appears to have mistaken the initial phases of
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the impeachment inquiry for a full-blown trial. the trial phase of the impeachment inquiry is taking place right now. chairman peter routine oh once observed as it relates to the impeachment proceedings against president nixon, it is not a right but a privilege or a courtesy for the president to participate. and impeachment inquiry is not a trial. rather it entails the collection and evaluation of facts before the trial occurs. in that respect the house acts like a grand jury or prosecutor investigating the evidence to determine whether charges are warranted or not.
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federal grand juries and prosecutors do not allow targets of their investigation to coordinate witness testimony. the protections that the president labels as to process, label is due process do not apply here because those entitlements that he sought many of which were actually afforded to him, those entitlements that he sought would not necessarily be available to any american in a grand jury investigation. moreover, it should be clear that the house, notwithstanding this framework has typically provided a level of transparency in impeachment inquiries particularly as it
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relates to presidents. in past impeachment inquiries this is typically meant the principle evidence relied upon by the house judiciary committee is available to the president of the public. though some evidence in past proceedings has remained confidential. the president has been given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings at a stage when evidence has been fully gathered and presented to the judiciary committee. donald trump was given the chance to do that in this case but he declined. presidents of been entitled to present evidence that is relevant to the inquiry and to request that relevant witnesses be called.
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donald trump was given the chance to do that in the house impeachment inquiry before the judiciary committee but he declined. under house resolution 660 donald trump received procedural protection not just equal to but in some instances greater than that afforded to president next in and clinton. let's be clear, the privileges described in the october 8th letter were in fact offered to donald trump as they had been in prior impeachment inquiries. the president was able to review all evidence relied on by the house investigative
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committee including evidence the minority's public report identified as favorable to donald trump. during the judiciary committee proceedings the president had opportunities to present evidence, call witnesses, have counsel present to raise objection, cross-examine witnesses and respond to the evidence raised against him. as the rules committee report accompanying house 660 noted these privileges are can measure it with the inquiry process followed in the case of nixon and clinton. donald trump simply chose not to avail himself of what had been offered. the fact that he declined to take advantage of these protections does not excuse is unconstitutional obstruction. unlike the nixon and clinton impeachment, in this particular instance the argument the president has made as relates to the investigative process is
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not analogous. in this case the house conducted a significant portion of the factual investigation itself because no independent prosecutor was appointed to investigate the allegations of wrongdoing against donald trump. attorney general william barr refused to authorize a criminal investigation into the serious allegations of misconduct against the president. they tried to whitewash the whole sordid affair. left to their own devices the house investigative committees followed standard best practices for investigation. consistent with the law enforcement investigation into presidents nixon and clinton in advance of their impeachments. the committees release transcripts of all interviews and depositions conducted
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during the investigation. during the investigation more than 100 members of the house participated in the so-called closed-door proceedings. more than 100 members of the house, 47 of whom were republicans. they all had the opportunity to ask questions. they all had the opportunity to ask questions with equal time. the intelligence committee held public hearings, where 12 of the key witnesses testified including several requested by the house republicans. it is important to note the very same procedures and house resolution 660 were supported by acting white house chief of
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staff mick mulvaney when he served as a member of the oversight committee. and by the secretary of state, mike pompeo, when he served as a member of the select committee on benghazi. >> in private interviews there is never any of what you saw thursday. it is one hour on the republican side, one hour on the democrat side which is why you will see the next 2 dozen interviews done privately because look at the other investigations being done right now, the lowest learner investigation it was just announced, was that public or private? >> if this process was good enough for other presidents why isn't it good enough for donald trump? trey gowdy finished that statement by saying the private ones have always produced the best results.
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the private ones, according to trey gowdy, have always produced the best results. donald trump complained his counsel was not afforded opportunities to participate during the intel committee's proceedings but neither president nixon nor president clinton were permitted to have counsel participate in the initial fact gathering stage is when they were investigated by independent counsel. president nixon certainly had no attorney present when the prosecutors and grand juries began collecting evidence about watergate and related matters. president nixon did not have an attorney present in this distinguished body when the
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senate select committee on watergate began interviews and holding public hearings, nor did president clinton have an attorney present when the independent counsel kenneth starr proposed witnesses and elicited their testimony before the grand jury. donald trump's attorney could have cross-examined the intel committee's counsel during his presentation of evidence before the house judiciary committee. that would have functioned as the equivalent opportunity afforded to president clinton to have his counsel cross-examine kenneth starr which he did at length. donald trump was provided a
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level transparency and opportunity to participate consistent with the highest standards of due process given to other presidents who found themselves in the midst of an impeachment inquiry. the president -- i'm winding down, the president's next procedural complaint is that it was unconstitutional to exclude agency counsel from participating in congressional depositions. the basis for the rule excluding agency counsel is straightforward. it prevents agency officials who are directly implicated in the abuses congress is investigating from trying to prevent their own employees from coming forward to tell congress and the american people the truth. it is common sense. vote will protect the rights of witnesses by allowing them to
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be accompanied in depositions by personal counsel. a right that was afforded to all of the witnesses who appeared in this matter. agency attorneys have been excluded from congressional depositions of executive branch officials for decades under both republican and democrat including republican chairman dan burton. republican chairman darrell isa, republican chairman jason chaffetz, republican chairman trey gowdy, republican chairman kevin brady and republican chairman jeb hunter ling just to name a few. again, the constitution provides the house with the sole power of impeachment and the sole authority to determine the rules of its proceedings
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which were fair to all involved. given the constitution priority on this point the president's argument that he can engage in blanket obstruction is just dead wrong. donald trump also objects the house minority lacks sufficient subpoena rights but the subpoena rules applied in the trump impeachment inquiry were put into place by my good friends and colleagues on the other side of the aisle, house republicans, when they were in the majority. we are playing by the same rules devised by our republican colleagues. president nixon did not engage
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in blanket obstruction. president clinton did not engage in blanket obstruction. now president of the united states has ever acted this way. lastly, we should reject donald trump's suggestion that he can conceal all evidence of misconduct based on unspecified confidentiality interests. those are his exact words, confidentiality interests. but not once in the entire impeachment inquiry did he ever actually invoke executive privilege. perhaps that is because executive privilege cannot be invoked to conceal evidence of wrongdoing. perhaps that is because executive privilege does not permit blanket obstruction that includes blocking documents and witnesses from the entire executive branch.
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perhaps donald trump didn't invoke executive privilege because it has never been accepted as a sufficient basis for completely and totally deifying all impeachment inquiries and subpoenas. or perhaps donald trump didn't invoke executive privilege because when president nixon did so he lost decisively, unanimously, clearly for the supreme court. whatever the explanation, donald trump never invoked executive privilege, so it is not a credible defense for his obstruction of congress. donald trump has lastly suggested that his obstruction is justified because top aides are absolutely immune from being compelled to testify
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before congress. every federal court must consider the doctrine of absolute immunity has rejected it. 2008 a federal court rejected an assertion by the 40 third president of the united states but white house counsel harriet miers was immune from being compelled to testify noting that the president had failed to point to a single judicial opinion to justify that claim. and on november 20 fifth of last year another federal judge rejected donald trump's claim of absolute immunity for former white house counsel don mcgann. the court concluded executive branch officials are not
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absolutely immune from compulsory congressional process. no matter how many times the executive branch has asserted as much over the years, even if the president expressly directs such officials not to comply. the court added, simply stated the primary takeaway from the past 250 some odd years of recorded american history is presidents are not kings. the president is not a king. donald trump tried to cheat. he got caught. and then he worked hard to cover it up. he must be held accountable for abusing his power. he must be held accountable for obstructing congress.
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he must be held accountable for breaking his promise to the american people. >> my foreign-policy will always put the interests of the american people and american security above all else, has to be first, has to be. that will be the foundation of every single decision that i will make. >> west does it mean to put america first? america is a great country but above all else i think america is an idea. a precious idea, an idea that has withstood the test of time.
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and enduring idea. year after year, decade after decade, century after century, we continue along, necessary, majestic march toward a more perfect union, america is an idea. one person, one vote. liberty and justice for all, equal protection under the law, government of the people, by the people and for the people, the preeminent of the rule of law, america is an idea. we can either defend that idea or we can abandon it. god help us all if we choose to abandon it.
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>> the senate took a break lasting half an hour. during that time several people weighed in on how they thought the trial was going so far. we begin with lindsey graham followed by donald trump's personal attorney j sekulow and mark warner. >> okay. what do i do, just talk? >> first on obstruction of congress. what is your reaction to the obstruction of congress charge? >> i think it is a dangerous charge against the presidency as an institution. the reason i came is i want to

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