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As Trump Continues to Seek Foreign Interference in 2020 Election, Udall Asks House Managers to Respond to White House Argument that Removal ‘Should be Left to Voters’

January 29, 2020

House Manager Rep. Schiff Responds: ‘It is not voiding the last election, it is protecting the next election.’

QUESTION FOOTAGE LINK HERE

WASHINGTON – Today, during the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) asked the House impeachment managers to address the argument of the president’s defense team that the decision to remove the president should be a matter decided in the 2020 presidential election. Udall’s question comes as President Trump and his associates have continued to actively seek foreign interference in the 2020 elections even following the Ukraine revelations, and as foreign adversaries like Russia are reportedly continuing their campaign to corrupt our electoral process. 

“Please address the President’s counsel’s argument that House Managers seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and that the decision to remove the President should be left to the voters in November,” Udall asked.  

House Manager Schiff replied, “Now, the argument  –‘well, if you impeach a president you are overturning the results of the last election, and you’re tearing up the ballots of the next election.’ If that were the case, there would be no impeachment clause in the Constitution. Because by definition, if you’re impeaching a president, that president has won an election. Clearly that’s not what the founders had in mind. What the founders had in mind is that if the president commits high crimes and misdemeanors, you must remove him from office. It is not voiding the last election, it is protecting the next election. Indeed, the impeachment power was put in the constitution not as a punishment—that’s what the criminal laws are for—but to protect the country.” 

Schiff added, “The founders were concerned that in fact the object of a president’s corrupt scheme might be to cheat in the very form of accountability that they had prescribed, the election. So [the President’s] counsel has continued to mischaracterize what the managers have said. We’re not saying that we had to hurry to impeach the president before the election. We had to hurry because the president was trying to cheat in that election. And the position of the president’s counsel is well, yes, it’s true that if a president is going to try to cheat in an election, by definition, that’s part of their reelection. By definition that’s going to be approximate to an election but, you know, let the voters decide even though the object is to corrupt that vote of the people. That cannot be what the founders had in mind.”

Even as an impeachment process has moved forward centered on the president’s attempts to seek foreign interference in the 2020 election, President Trump and his associates have continued their efforts to encourage foreign parties to meddle in the U.S. electoral process. In June, President Trump told reporters “I think I’d take it” if foreign actors offered him dirt on his political opponents. In October, after the House impeachment inquiry began as a result of the president’s alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations of his political opponent, President Trump stood on the south lawn of the White House and openly called on China to investigate the Bidens. Additionally, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney and shadow diplomat whose actions are at the center of the impeachment allegations, hascontinued to travel to Ukraine on the president’s behalf in the middle of the impeachment process in the House, despite Mr. Giuliani’s central involvement in the abuses of power alleged in the House’s first article of impeachment and credible reports stating he is under federal investigation for violating laws governing lobbying for foreign interests.  

Meanwhile, Russia is reportedly moving forward with similar efforts as those it carried out in the 2016 elections to interfere in our electoral process to benefit President Trump politically. The New York Times reported that Russians hacked Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company at the center of President Trump’s alleged attempts to seek investigations into his political rivals. The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee has warned that Russia is actively seeking to meddle in the 2020 elections, and has urged Congress to act.



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