February 05, 2020
Udall: President Trump abused his office to corrupt our elections, and attempted to cover it up
Udall denounces Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold a fair and full impeachment trial
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) voted to convict President Donald J. Trump and remove him from office on two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
In a speech on the Senate floor on Monday, Udall said: “The evidence gathered by the House – that the president abused his office and taxpayer funds for personal gain — is staggering. He got caught red-handed, and immediately commenced a scorched earth blockade in Congress and the courts to cover up his grave misdeeds.”
“Knowing that these are some of the most serious and solemn words I will ever utter on this floor: I will vote to convict the president on both articles of impeachment. He is guilty by any standard,” Udall said in his floor speech. “If he is allowed to act with impunity – he will be a continuing threat to the sanctity of our democracy. He is patently unfit to hold the highest office in our land. While the Senate may vote to acquit him, he will not be exonerated – not by this sham trial. While the Senate may vote to acquit the president, history will not.”
“To those across the country who feel profoundly angry and saddened by this miscarriage of justice, my message is this: do not give up. Do not stop fighting to save our democracy,” Udall said. “Because America is worth the fight.”
As one of six former Democratic Attorneys General currently serving in the U.S. Senate, Udall advocated for the chamber to hold a full and fair impeachment trial with relevant witnesses and documents throughout trial arguments. Udall has spoken out against the decision by Senate Republicans to block witnesses and documents from being included in the trial, despite the Senate’s constitutional duty to hold a fair and honest trial and the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans support the Senate calling for witness testimony and documents.
Last year, President Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, after he withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded military aid to the Ukraine, in an attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce investigations of President Trump’s political rivals, and issued orders barring witnesses from testifying and blocked the disclosure of documents about his actions.
The full text of Udall’s floor speech ahead of the vote is below:
Mr. President. Today I come before this body with a deep sadness that this institution has failed the Constitution and the American people.
We have reached a low point in our history: we failed to hold a fair and honest impeachment trial.
And we are nearing a vote where we will fail to hold the president accountable for his abuse of power and cover up.
Thanks to the Senate Republican majority, this body is complicit in that cover up, refusing to call witnesses and obtain documents to get the full truth.
How can we turn a blind eye to the truth, as we cast one of the most important votes we will ever take?
Yes, Mr. President, we are approaching a sad day for this body, and for this country.
But to those across the country who feel profoundly angry and saddened by this miscarriage of justice, my message is this: do not give up. Do not stop fighting to save our democracy.
Because America is worth the fight.
Make no mistake: try as they might to cover it up – the full truth will come out. And the facts that have already been revealed are damning.
The president’s hand-picked ambassador, Gordon Sondland, testified that, “Everyone was in the loop.”
The more we find out – the more revealing his testimony becomes.
Not only is the President implicated. So is the Vice-President. And the Secretary of State and Attorney General. And the President’s acting Chief of Staff. And his former Energy Secretary. And even the White House Counsel — the lead lawyer in this very proceeding.
This is a Pandora’s Box the Republican Party is fighting to keep shut.
But it will not stay shut. The president’s misdeeds and his wide circle of accomplices will go down as one of the ugliest episodes in our history.
Even now, the evidence gathered by the House – that the President abused his office and taxpayer funds for personal gain — is staggering.
Ambassador Sondland didn’t sugarcoat the truth: “Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes.”
Using official power for personal gain — that is the very essence of abuse of power.
And that’s precisely what this president did. That’s hardly even in dispute.
The president first withheld a coveted meeting – until the Ukrainian president would announce investigations into the Bidens, and the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine – not Russia – interfered in our 2016 election.
The President next withheld Congressionally-appropriated military aid – illegally – to try and force the Ukrainian president into making the announcement.
The independent Government Accountability Office confirmed that the president acted illegally.
The president threatened our national security, the security of an ally, and the integrity of our next presidential election. How much more could be at stake?
Ukrainian officials began asking about the aid only hours after the president’s now infamous July 25th call with President Zelensky. That’s according to Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. A former deputy foreign minister in Ukraine reports Ukraine knew of the freeze in July.
And the whole world knew once the story broke in the news on August 28th.
Fortunately, the president got caught. And was forced to release the aid.
He got caught red-handed. And immediately commenced a scorched earth blockade in Congress and the courts to cover up his grave misdeeds.
Again, the facts are not in dispute.
So – Mr. President. Knowing that these are some of the most serious and solemn words I will ever utter on this floor:
I will vote to convict the president on both articles of impeachment. He is guilty by any standard.
If he is allowed to act with impunity – he will be a continuing threat to the sanctity of our democracy.
He is patently unfit to hold the highest office in our land.
While the Senate may vote to acquit him, he will not be exonerated – not by this sham trial.
While the Senate may vote to acquit the president, history will not.
Now, Senators on the other side of the aisle are publicly — and not so publicly — admitting that they believe the president is guilty. That the House managers proved their case.
But these same Senators did not vote to hear witnesses and get documents. They will fail to hold the president accountable for the wrongdoing they now say he’s guilty of.
This is one of the worst abuse of presidential power in our nation’s history.
As bad as—or worse–than Nixon’s.
Nixon tried to corrupt the 1972 election and cover it up. But he didn’t try to extort an ally or invite foreign interference into our election.
At that time — members of his party with courage refused to turn a blind eye.
The Republican Party of today bears no resemblance to the party of Howard Baker — who insisted on getting to the truth: “What did the president know, and when did he know it?”, he asked.
It bears no resemblance to the party of Barry Goldwater, John Rhodes, and Hugh Scott — who went to Nixon to tell him the Republican Party could no longer protect him from impeachment and removal.
I am grateful to the honorable officials who had the courage to act this time around, who defied the President’s order not to come forward: Ambassador Yovanovitch, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, Ambassador Taylor, Mr. Kent, and the others. They risked their careers and even their personal safety.
We should show at least –at least–the same courage — because the consequences of failing to hold this president to account could not be graver.
The guardrails have been taken off.
The president invited Russian interference in the 2016 election and Chinese interference in the 2020 election.
He said on national television he would probably take foreign interference again.
He is unapologetic and unrepentant.
What is he going to do next – once Senate Republicans let him get away with this abuse? Once we show that we are no longer a co-equal branch?
We have never ceded so much power to the executive.
You can rest assured this president, of all presidents, will use that power – and abuse it.
Take his word for it. He said, “Article II allows me to do whatever I want.”
Pulitzer Prize winning presidential historian Jon Meacham said that the president is now “functionally a monarch.” That is stunning.
Again, Mr. President, these are sad days for our nation.
But, as I said out the outset: we cannot – and will not – concede our democracy. We cannot – and will not – concede the values and the principles that make this nation strong.
We must restore the balance of power in our government. We must restore accountability.
Most importantly: we must start doing the work the American people sent us here to do.
Our institutions are not representing what the American people want. Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold a fair impeachment trial – which is what 75 percent of the American people wanted – is just the latest example.
So – while the Senate and Constitution took a terrible battering the last two weeks – I’m even more committed to breathing life into our shared principles of representative democracy. I’m going continue the fight to take obscene amounts of secret money out of elections, to make it easier to vote. And to bring power back to the American people, and not hand it over to an imperial presidency.
The Senate will have future opportunities to restore our constitutional system. The only question is whether senators will rise to the occasion.
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