Fighting Back: “Senate Republicans should serve the American people, not their party’s political leader.”

 
 

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland urging his Republican colleagues to serve the American people not their party’s political leader.

(Senator Van Hollen delivers the Weekly Democratic Address on the importance of holding a fair and honest bipartisan impeachment trial in the Senate while also getting work done for the American people.)

“In both previous impeachment trials, the Senate had witnesses testify. In the upcoming trial of President Trump, Democrats have proposed that the Senate hear from four witnesses with knowledge of President Trump’s actions. We are also asking the Senate to request key documents that the President has refused to provide. So far, Senator McConnell has rejected these reasonable requests for witnesses and documents, despite the fact that just this week new information has come to light showing that these witnesses and documents are directly relevant to the impeachment trial.

“Senator McConnell has not only blocked consideration of [the 300 bills sent from the House of Representatives, including critical bipartisan legislation], he has bragged about his obstruction, nicknaming himself the “Grim Reaper.” So let’s not fall for his claim that he suddenly wants to get to work on these initiatives that are important to the American people. To date, he has made no commitment to take up any of these bills whether or not there is an impeachment trial.

“As the Senate discharges its Constitutional duties – whether by conducting an impeachment trial or passing legislation – it should never be an instrument of a president, regardless of party. We should never outsource our judgement and our votes to any White House. We serve the American people, and must render justice fairly and honorably at this critical time in our history.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Transcript: title

“Happy new year to all.

“We start this new year at an important moment for our nation. For only the third time in our history, the Senate is preparing to consider the impeachment of a President. The Constitution gives us this solemn duty – to assess the evidence as presented by the House of Representatives and by the President and render a fair judgment. The Constitution and the procedures of the Senate require each Senator to take an oath to do ‘impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.’

“Senators have a very special role as both judge and jury in an impeachment trial. We can vote by a simple majority — 51 senators — to call witnesses and request documents. In both previous impeachment trials, the Senate had witnesses testify. In the upcoming trial of President Trump, Democrats have proposed that the Senate hear from four witnesses with knowledge of President Trump’s actions. We are also asking the Senate to request key documents that the President has refused to provide.

“So far, Senator McConnell has rejected these reasonable requests for witnesses and documents, despite the fact that just this week new information has come to light showing that these witnesses and documents are directly relevant to the impeachment trial. Newly-revealed emails, which the Trump Administration tried to keep secret, shed light on the key roles played by White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, and top Administration officials Michael Duffey and Robert Blair. These emails reveal that just 91 minutes after President Trump had his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, Mr. Duffey emailed Department of Defense officials to inform them that the Administration would be formally withholding military assistance for Ukraine – taxpayer dollars that were allocated on a bipartisan basis by Congress to assist Ukraine’s efforts to fight Russia.

“Yesterday we learned about emails sent by Michael Duffy — emails that the Trump Administration tried to hide —that provided additional evidence that the order to hold up assistance to Ukraine came directly from the President. Defense Department officials repeatedly raised concern about the legality of the hold. Why is the President so desperate to prevent these individuals from testifying under penalty of perjury?

“Make no mistake: If Republican senators vote to block the Senate from considering additional evidence from these witness and documents, they will be complicit in rigging the trial and in the cover-up. New facts will certainly come to light — it is only a matter of when. Do they want to be remembered as senators who violated their duty under the Constitution to conduct a fair and impartial trial?

“The House has presented overwhelming evidence to support its two articles of impeachment – Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. But the Senate trial is about hearing the cases on both sides – including hearing from those who were directly involved – before rendering a final verdict. President Trump has said he’d like to have witnesses – and if he has evidence to rebut the facts established by the House, the Senate should hear it and render a final verdict after all the evidence is in.

“You may also hear Republicans argue that we need to rush a trial to get back to legislative business. First, let’s remember that impeachment is our Constitutional responsibility — and we can have a trial that is both speedy and fair. Second, as we have seen in the House of Representatives, it is possible to conduct robust oversight and legislate at the same time. In fact, the week before the House voted on impeachment, they passed a very important bill to reduce the costs of prescription drugs.

“The House has actually passed over 300 bills that Senator McConnell has refused to bring up for a vote in the Senate — including hundreds with bipartisan support. The House has acted to expand background checks for gun purchases, get big money out of politics, strengthen voting rights, raise the minimum wage for the first time in more than a decade, protect employee pensions, and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

“Senator McConnell has not only blocked consideration of these critical measures, he has bragged about his obstruction, nicknaming himself the “Grim Reaper.” So let’s not fall for his claim that he suddenly wants to get to work on these initiatives that are important to the American people. To date, he has made no commitment to take up any of these bills whether or not there is an impeachment trial.

“As the Senate discharges its Constitutional duties – whether by conducting an impeachment trial or passing legislation – it should never be an instrument of a president, regardless of party. We should never outsource our judgement and our votes to any White House. We serve the American people, and must render justice fairly and honorably at this critical time in our history.”

Any bolding has been added.

~

Congress is in recess so there was no weekly news conference from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

From the Speaker’s website:

Pelosi Statement on Urgency for Fair Senate Trial

January 3, 2020

“In December, the House upheld its Constitutional duty to defend democracy For The People, honoring the vision of our Founders for a Republic. In an impeachment trial, every U.S. Senator is required to take an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.’

“For several months, the House has subpoenaed documents and witnesses which the President stonewalled. These cases are now in the courts. While the House nevertheless was able to obtain compelling evidence of impeachable conduct, Leader McConnell knows full well that the President’s obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry is unprecedented and in defiance of our system of checks and balances.

“Today, Leader McConnell made clear that he will feebly comply with President Trump’s cover-up of his abuses of power and be an accomplice to that cover-up.

“Leader McConnell is doubling down on his violation of his oath, even after the exposure of new, deeply incriminating documents this week which provide further evidence of what we know: President Trump abused the power of his office for personal, political gain.

“The American people deserve the truth. Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or the Constitution. The GOP Senate must immediately proceed in a manner worthy of the Constitution and in light of the gravity of the President’s unprecedented abuses. No one is above the law, not even the President.”

~

Other news from the Speaker’s website.

Pelosi Statement on House Seeking Expedited Supreme Court Ruling on GOP’s ACA Lawsuit

January 3, 2020

San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement as the House of Representatives filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in Republicans’ Texas v. U.S. lawsuit, asking the Supreme Court to act swiftly to uphold the Affordable Care Act in the face of the GOP’s effort to strike down the whole law. Last month, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had sided with Republicans and given instructions to the District Court to redetermine how much of the law to strike down, almost certainly delaying a final ruling into 2021 or later.

“Every day that Republicans’ anti-health care lawsuit is allowed to endure is a day that American families will be forced to live in uncertainty and fear. Unless the Supreme Court acts, families will continue to face needless disruption in their coverage and premiums, states will be unable to plan for the future and protections for people with pre-existing conditions will remain in peril.

“The Trump Administration and its GOP allies want to delay judgment on the disaster they have sought to unleash on the health care of the American people, but there is no legal or practical justification for doing so.

“The Supreme Court should hear this case now and recognize Congress’s clear intent to preserve protections for people with pre-existing conditions and all the other benefits and protections of the Affordable Care Act.”

~

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1 Comment

  1. From Speaker Pelosi on Trump’s New War.

    Pelosi Statement on Airstrike in Iraq Against High-Level Iranian Military Officials

    January 2, 2020

    Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the Trump Administration conducted a deadly airstrike targeting Iranians and Iraqis at the Baghdad International Airport:

    “American leaders’ highest priority is to protect American lives and interests. But we cannot put the lives of American servicemembers, diplomats and others further at risk by engaging in provocative and disproportionate actions. Tonight’s airstrike risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence. America – and the world – cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return.

    “The Administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran. Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress.

    “The full Congress must be immediately briefed on this serious situation and on the next steps under consideration by the Administration, including the significant escalation of the deployment of additional troops to the region.”

    Another attack on the Constitution by the Republican Party and their president.

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