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Charles Schumer
  Senator Schumer News Conference  CSPAN  December 17, 2019 9:44am-10:01am EST

9:44 am or listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> yesterday senator minority leader charles schumer held a news conference to layout his proposal for how a potential impeachment trial should be conducted in the senate. from capitol hill, this is 15 minut minutes. >> and you also had martha mcsally in-- >> hello, glad to be part of your live performance. [laughter] >> okay. good afternoon, everyone. now the main purpose today to to follow up on the letter i've sent to leader mcconnell about the potential senate impeachment trial and rules for them. but let's not forget that there are many other things the senate should be working on right now this month, to
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recognize the seventh anniversary of the sandy hook massacre, in the seven years since that unthinkable tragedy, america has experienced countless incidents of gun violence ranging from horrific mass shootings to the thousands of shootings that devastate communities every day. the senate has not even debated background check legislation. the senate hasn't debated legislation to reduce the cost of health care, college education, or prescription drugs. republican leadership has even refused to work with democrats on bipartisan solutions to secure our elections and to deter foreign adversaries from interfering in our elections. all the productive activity in the congress is coming out of the house. the senate remains a legislative graveyard for so many issues and now on
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impeachment. as you know, the house is expected to vote on the articles of impeachment this week. assuming the articles are adopted by the house, the senate will serve as a court of impeachment. conducting an impeachment trial in the senate is enormously weighty and solemn responsibility. it's one of the most important things that the founding fathers allocated to the senate. senate democrats believe strongly that the trial must be fair and it's very important that the american people judge it to be fair. a fair trial is one where senators get all the facts and one that allows them to adjudicate the case impartially. two weeks ago now i told leader mcconnell i was ready to discuss trial rules. instead of talking to me, he spoke publicly about what a
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trial may look like, instead he was taking cues from the white house, it was very partisan, very slanted, very unfair. so to get things back on track, i sent a letter to leader mcconnell last night outlining a very reasonable structure that would result in a fair trial. this morning, i sent the letter to every united states senator, democrat and republican, i hope that all of my colleagues will look at this proposed structure and make up their own minds. the four witnesses we propose have direct knowledge of why the aid to ukraine was delayed. we don't know what kind of evidence they will present. they might present exculpatory evidence that helps president trump. it may be incriminating against the president, but they should be heard.
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but by virtue of the senior administration positions they occupy, each of them will have information to share about the charges made by the house, information that no one has heard at this point. in fact, in the case of mr. bolten, his attorneys stated publicly that he has additional relevant information to share, information that has not yet become public. how on such a weighty matter could we avoid hearing this, could we go forward without hearing it? and that is why i sent the letter, in part, to leader mcconnell. we also propose that subpoenas for documents that are directly related to the charges brought by the house come forward. there's always a lot of attention on the question of
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witnesses, but these documents are also of great importance when it comes to making sure senators have what they need to make a fully informed decision. right now i think the house has amassed a great deal of evidence, much of it in the form of testimony from the president's own appointees, that the president committed impeachable offenses. but a good number of my republican colleagues have said they believe the charges are serious, but there isn't enough evident yet for them to make a decision. we believe these witnesses and documents would provide the evidence they're looking for without being dilatory or letting the trial drag on for too long. i haven't seen a single good argument about why these witnesses shouldn't testify or these documents be produced unless the president has
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something to hide and his supporters want that information hidden. the trial structure i outlined in my letter to leader mcconnell will ep sure -- ensure all the relevant facts come out with deletory action. you know there's a grand american tradition of a speedy and fair trial, that's just what we've proposed here. and i suspect that republicans would be sympathetic to our proposal for that reason. the president and house republicans have resisted letting all the evidence and facts come out. the president hasn't offered a single exculpatory bit of evidence that refutes what's in the house impeachment charges. they have not refuted them. our documents could be summed up by joe friday on dragnet,
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just the facts, ma'am, that's what we're interested in. not diversions, not conspiracy theories that are irrelevant to the case, just the facts, ma'am. as i said, the president has offered nothing exculpatory to disprove the evident that has been put forward, instead he's orchestrated a coverup. it's left many in the senate and millions across the country asking, what is the president hiding. why doesn't he want the facts to come out. in their investigation, the house compiled and presented enormous amount of evidence in support of the articles of impeachment. impeachment. but as i said, some of my republican colleagues are saying there isn't enough evidence. the trial structure i outlined in my letter to leader
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mcconnell will ensure all the facts come out. so in the coming weeks, senators, particularly republican senators will have a choice, do they want a fair, honest trial that examines all the facts? or do they want a trial that doesn't let the facts come out? trials have witnesses. that's what trials are all about. and documents. it's not just prosecutors in this case, the house attorneys make their side, the president's lawyers make their side. we know that already. we've heard that. we need to know the facts from those who are in a position to know and from documents that accurately reflect them. so to engage a trial without the facts coming out is to engage in a coverup.
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to conduct a trial without the facts is saying we're afraid. we have something to hide. to conduct a trial without relevant witnesses who haven't been heard from, to just rehash the evidence presented in the house just doesn't make any sense. if leader mcconnell doesn't hold a full and fair trial, the american people will rightly ask, what are you, leader mcconnell, and what is president trump hiding? ready for questions. one at a time. >> back in 1999, you did not support hearings from new witnesses in the senate trial. why do you feel differently this time. >> okay, here is what i said at the time. these are exactly my words. my view is we've heard from most of these witnesses over and over again, we've heard the same story. the witnesses in '99 had already given grand jury testimony, we knew what they
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were to say. the four witnesses we've called have not been heard from, that is the difference and it's a difference that is totally overwhelming. >> senator of those four witnesses that you've called some of the republicans suggested it's not the senate's job to get these witnesses. that was supposed to be done by the house democrats and the house democrats decided know the to go to court to get these witnesses. shouldn't the democrats in the house have pursued these witnesses? >> look, i'm not going to s second guess the house, there's no good argument in you're interested in the facts not having these witnesses come forward now. remember, the standard at a trial is different than a standard when a prosecutor in this case, the house impeachment authority, puts together a case. a trial is a place for witnesses. >> do you have now or are you confident that you will have the support from 51 senators-- >> i expect to have the support
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from democrats and republicans because the argument is so strong and many republicans have voiced to me and many of my colleagues privately that they think what the president did is wrong, but they're just not sure enough facts have been presented to make an impeachable case, high crimes and misdemeanors. this is the way to do it, the way we outlined. >> senator schumer, with this witness list of four witnesses, just four, you didn't call for pompeo or giuliani. wondering why you settled on this four and why not pompeo or giuliani? >> these are the four who have the most direct contact of the facts that are in dispute. most particularly, why was the aid to ukraine delayed. these are the best four witnesses for that case and by the way, we don't want to be dilatory.
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we don't want to stretch this out any longer than they have to, but these people are crucial ap haven't been heard from and again, that's the difference with 1999. and it's a total difference. >> yes. >> on these witnesses-- >> i'm not going to get into it, i'll negotiate with mcconnell, but live testimony is the best way to go. >> in 1999 the linchpin of the deal between senator lott and daschle was the fact that they did not want live testimony. they had a little bit of videotape testimony, they thought it would bring discredit on the senate. i spoke with senator lott a few days ago and he said he thought the integrity of the senate is at risk here, if you have live witnesses on the floor. and why is that not the case, despite what you said about-- >> you didn't take, we've heard from them. >> despite-- >> 1999. >> an agreement like 1999--
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>> 1999 was a different case, there were all the obvious reasons why they did not want a witness like monica lewinsky testifying in public. i was there and it related to what the questions might be about, that the whole nation, including children would be watching. totally different situation. there's no analogy. >> if house democrats feel they have enough evidence to impeach without hearing from these four witnesses, why isn't that enough here in the senate? >> the bottom line some who say, some who may think it it's enough. we have to wait and in the pre-judge the case, but there are many who have said these are serious charges, but i'm not sure there's enough factual evidence at that merit impeachment. these people know better than anybody else the facts, there's no reason on god's green earth why they shouldn't be called and testify unless you're afraid of what they might say. >> if you can't reach an agreement with mcconnell on witnesses, would democrats put
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motions on the floor when the trial-- >> we'll cross that -- i'm hopeful. leader mcconnell finally said he wants to sit down and talk and i am very eager and willing to do that, as i said, we want to come up with a fair trial, where the facts come out without dilatory action and without making this into a circus of unrelated conspiracy theories of either the right or the left. last question. back there with the beard. >> senator, on that last point, there are republicans, including perhaps even the president of the united states who have some ideas for witnesses they might want to call. are you willing if senator mcconnell, you and mcconnell would say we'll do some of your witnesses, but you have to do some of ours, will you willing to-- >> again, i think the trial should be focused on the facts that the house presented not on conspiracy theories that some established liar put forward and then someone says, let's hear if the conspiracy theory is correct which has no
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relevance to the facts here. we ought to stick to the facts. if there are other witnesses who might have witnessed what happened, who might have strong evidence on the facts that the house presented i want to hear what they are. >> thank you, everybody. >> on the ig report-- >> follow the house impeachment process and the administration's response on c-span. watch live unfiltered coverage and prime time reairs, stream anytime on demand at and listen from where you are with the free c-span radio app. >> and live this morning here on c-span2, we'll take you to the floor of the u.s. united states about to gavel in. working on the house past 2020 policy and programs bill. later this week senators will pick up executive nominations and 2020 spending legislation.
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current government funding expires friday at midnight. you're watching live coverage of the senate on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, help us to remember your mighty acts. you are kind and merciful, better to us than we deserve. you feed the sparrows