BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I rise today to speak during a sad and perilous moment in our Nation's history.
Our Nation was founded on important, basic principles that ``all men'' and women ``are created equal'' and ``that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.''
With rights, of course, always come responsibilities. America is a nation of laws, and no person, not even the President of the United States, is above these laws. No person, not even the President of the United States, is above these laws. That has been true since our Nation was founded, and it is still true today.
Unfortunately, President Donald Trump has abused his power and acted as if he is above the law. He did this by holding up critical military aid to pressure a new foreign leader to investigate a political rival for his own political benefit. Then he did everything he could to try and cover it up after he got caught.
As U.S. Senators, it is our constitutional duty to fairly and thoughtfully consider Articles of Impeachment, listen to the evidence, and make a decision that honors our Nation's values and our fundamental belief that no one is above the law.
That is exactly what I did, and it is why I will vote to convict President Trump and remove him from office.
The facts show the President did everything he could to cover up the truth, put our elections under even greater risk of foreign interference, and damaged the constitutional checks and balances essential to our democracy.
Let's be clear. We are here because of one person. We are here because of one person--President Donald J. Trump. The President was provided multiple opportunities to prove his innocence, as he should be. The House made countless requests for documents during the impeachment inquiry. The White House ignored them.
The House issued 42 subpoenas. The White House refused to comply and even went so far as to threaten and intimidate those people who chose to appear.
Yet, even with this unprecedented level of obstruction, the House made a strong case for impeachment.
Once impeachment moved to the Senate, the President again had numerous opportunities to defend himself. The American people and the people of Michigan strongly supported having additional documents and relevant witnesses--firsthand witnesses who could speak to the Articles of Impeachment. That is what a trial is supposed to be about.
Yet the Senate did not hear from people who clearly have key, relevant information, including the former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, who is willing to testify, and, in fact, it is just a matter of time when we will hear publicly, all of us, what he would have said to the Senate; Acting White House Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney; OMB Associate Director of National Security Programs Michael Duffy; and White House National Security Aid Robert Blair.
Common sense--common sense--says that if President Trump's top staff have evidence of his innocence, he would have insisted that we hear from them, as we should. They would have rushed into this Chamber.
Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened, lending strong support for the evidence presented by the House of Representatives.
Instead, the President's defense team argued that abuse of power is not a crime and, therefore, not an impeachable offense, and it became clear that they believe, as the President himself has said on many occasions, that he has power to do anything he wants under article II of the Constitution.
They also argued that if the President thinks his reelection is in the public interest, and if he does anything to benefit his reelection, including getting help from a foreign country, then that too is in the public interest and not an abuse of power.
Common sense would tell us otherwise.
Keep in mind that these are far from mainstream legal arguments, even in conservative legal circles.
These arguments have been made up to protect President Trump and cover up his wrongdoing. These arguments are nothing short of appalling, and I am alarmed at what they suggest President Trump could do next week, next month, in November, or what any President in the future could do.
Is it now OK for the President of the United States to ask a foreign leader to investigate a Member of Congress or any citizen if it helps him get reelected and, thus, in his mind, benefits the country? Is it now OK for the President of the United States to tell a Governor that they are not getting any critical disaster relief until they endorse him in the next election? Is it now OK for the President of the United States to ask foreign leaders to give campaign contributions or other political help in exchange for official visits?
I don't think any of this is OK. The people of Michigan don't think any of this is OK, and I intend to do everything I can to ensure that it doesn't become our new normal.
The Founders were smart. They had lived under a King, and they had no intention of doing so ever again. I have to wonder why so many of my Republican colleagues seem so, so eager to give it a try. This is the United States of America. In our country, no President is above the law, and it is illegal for a candidate or any elected official to receive political help from a foreign government. Americans must decide American elections. This is fundamental to our democracy and worth continuing to fight for, which I intend to do.
Having said that, I am also deeply concerned about the divisions in our country, in our families, in our communities. It is critical that we find ways to listen to each other, respect differences, and find common ground so that we can address the important issues affecting our families and our country. These are indeed serious and perilous times. It is up to all of us to stand up for what we believe is right and to work to strengthen our democracy by coming together as Americans, by finding ways to work together to solve problems. Our children and our grandchildren are counting on us.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT