Castor delivers opening statement at impeachment hearing

Republican Counsel Steve Castor argued that Democrats haven't proven Trump acted with malicious intent in his dealings with Ukraine.
25:13 | 12/09/19

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Transcript for Castor delivers opening statement at impeachment hearing
My name's Steve cast her prom congressional staff member ties there with the oversight committee on that Republican staff with mr. Jordan. Also for purposes of this investigation I'm a shared staffer with the Judiciary Committee mr. Collins. And the house permanent select committee on intelligence in eastern and as. The series atypical for a Stafford be presenting but again thanks for having me. The purpose of this hearing is we understand it it is to discuss whether president Donald. It's the definition of a high crime and misdemeanor. It does not. Such that the committee should consider articles of impeachment to remove the president from office and it should not. This case in many respects comes down to eight lines in a call transcripts. Let me say clearly and unequivocally. That the answer. To that question is no. The record in the democrats' impeachment inquiry does not show that president Charles abused the power of his office or obstructed congress. To impeach a president who 63 million people voted for. Over eight lines in a call transcript is Bo Lowney. Democrats seek to impeach president tried not because they have evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors but because they disagree with is policies. This impeachment agrees not to eat organic outgrowth a serious misconduct. Democrats have been searching for a set of facts on which to impeach president Trout since his inauguration. When January 20 2017. Just 27 minutes after the president's inauguration that day the Washington Post ran a story that the campaign to impeach the president has already begun. The article reported Democrats. And liberal activists amounting broad opposition. This timing. Trump's agenda. And noted that impeachment strategists. Believe the constitution's Amal humans clause would be the vehicle. In the first two years the administration Democrats in the house introduced articles of impeachment to remove president trump from office on several very different factual bases. When January 3 the very first day of the new congress. Congressman Sherman introduced articles of impeachment against the president and the same day represented to lead said we're gonna go in there. We're gonna impeach that. President. Inmates Kwame nineteen representative green. Said on MSNBC. If we don't impeach this president. He will be reelected. Even speaker Pelosi who has said that impeachment is a somber and prayerful exercise. Has called president trump. An impostor. And said it is dangerous. To allow voters to judge his performance. In torn each morning. The obsession with impeaching the president is reflected in house Democrats. Have used the power of their majority in the past eleven months. Any oversight committee to democrats' first announced witnesses Michael Collins. A disgraced Alan. Who is who pleaded guilty to lying to congress. When he came before us the oversight committee heat and lied again as many as eight times. Oversight committee Democrats demanded information about the president's personal finances. And even subpoenaed the president's accounting firm as ours were large swaths. Of sensitive and personal financial information. About the entire. Trump battling. The subpoena was issued over the objection of committee Republicans and without a vote. In the Ways and Means Committee. Democrats demanded the president's personal tax return information. The reason they cited for running the president's tax returns they said was does. Oversee the IRS's audit process for presidential tax returns. You can judge that for yourself. In a financial services committee Democrats demanded and subpoenaed the president's bank records going back ten years. The financial services committee staff the Republicans tell me the information demanded would cover every withdraw. Credit card swipe we're debit card purchase of every member of the trump family including his minor child. The reason that the Democrats gave for why they need it's it's the luminous and intrusive personal information about the trump family. Was get this financial industry compliance with banking statutes and regulations. Here in the Judiciary Committee Democrats San out. Letters demanding information from over eighty recipients. Food in the president's children. Business partners. Employees. His campaign. Businesses. And foundations. Of course the main event for the Judiciary Committee was to report a special counsel Mahler which Democrats would believe. Which serve as the evidentiary basis for impeaching the president. Spite interviewing 500 witnesses. Issuing 2800. Subpoenas. Executing almost 500 search warrants. And spending 25. Million dollars the special counsel's nineteen attorneys. And forty FBI agents analysts and staff found no conspiracy. Or coordination. Between a truck campaign. And the Russian government. After the trump Russia collusion allegations did not pan out Democrats focus their efforts on obstruction of justice. They criticized attorney general Barr for concluding that no crime of obstruction had occurred in a special counsel investigation. But in fact. Was entirely appropriate for the attorney general make that call because the special counsel's declined to do so. Not surprisingly. The Democrats smaller hearing was underwhelming to say the least and the sequel was Couri Lou and ASCII. Definitely did not move the impeachment needle either. Intelligence Committees he was heavily invested in the Russia collusion investigation. Committee Democrats hired former federal prosecutors. To prepare for their anticipated efforts to impeach the president. Now that the Russian collusion allegations did not work out Democrats have settle on the Ukraine phone call eight lines the president honored. On July 20 says. With Ukrainian president so Lansky. But the foreign affairs committee a committee of jurisdiction it wasn't the committee leaving the impeachment inquiry or holding hearings. Here is the oversight committee. The house's chief investigative editing the Judiciary Committee was only recently brought back into the mix after fact finding concluded. Instead the impeachment inquiry was run by the House Intelligence Committee and he's former federal prosecutors. Democrats on the intelligence committee Randy impeach an inquiry in a manifestly. Unfair way. All the fact finding was unclassified. And that was made clear at the top of every single deposition but the Democrats took advantage of the closed door process in the capital. Basement bunker this gift to control access to information. The secrecy of effectively weaponized. The investigation allowing misleading public narratives to forming catch hold. With careful leaks of witness testimony. Democrats refused and by Republican witnesses and directed witnesses called by the Democrats not to answer our questions. In a public hearings many of these unfair process he's continued. Democrats refused to invite numerous witnesses requested by Republicans. Interrupted Republican questioning and prevented witnesses from answering Republican questions. Democrats voted down by virtue of a motion to table. With no notice. Subpoenas for documents and testimony requested by Republicans. Among the Democrats never wants brought any of their subpoenas to a vote before the intelligence committee. This unfair process reflects the degree to which Democrats are obsessed. With impeaching the president. The Democrats went searching for a set of facts on which to impeach the president. He monuments clause the patted the president's business and financial records' there Mueller report. Allegations of obstruction before landing are on the Ukraine phone call. The impeachment inquiry is clearly an orchestrated effort to upend our political system. According to Politico the speaker has tightly scripted every step of the impeachment inquiry Democrats have reportedly convened focus groups. To test which allegations. Whether B quid pro quo or bribery or extortion. Were most compelling to the American public. Speaker Pelosi said Democrats must strike while the iron is hot. On impeaching a president. The entire duration of the impeachment inquiry from a dime speaker Pelosi announced it. And September 24. Until today has banned 76. Days. As professor turley testified last Wednesday. This impeachment would stand out among modern impeachment says the shortest proceeding. With the thinnest. Evidentiary record and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president. The artificial and arbitrary political deadline by which Democrats are determined to finish impeach him by Christmas. Leads to a rush process. And missed opportunities to obtain relevant information. Democrats avoided. The accommodations process required by federal courts in disputes between congress and the executive. Democrats declined to attempt to negotiate with the administration for the production of documents and witnesses. Democrats did not exhaust all their options to entice witnesses or agencies to cooperate. Such as allowing witnesses to appear at the agency lawyers. Or initiating contempt proceedings. Sometimes the threat of a contempt proceeding. Gets you a different result sometimes the witnesses choose to appear when contempt is on the table. Democrats even withdrew a subpoena to one witness who asked a federal court to resolve conflicting orders. From congress and the executive either because the Democrats did not want to wait for the court to rule. Where they did like the presiding judge. Judge Leon. Instead Democrats made their demands and refuse to budge. Democrats told witnesses at the outset that their refusal to cooperate. In full would be used against them and the president. Democrats threatened federal employees that their salaries could be withheld for not meeting committee demands. These tactics are fundamentally unfair. And counterproductive for gathering information in any serious inquiry. This rushed and take it or leave it approach to investigating is contrary to how successful. Congressional investigations. Typically work. Congressional investigations take time there is no easy but. In this job you must take the information that's offered even if you don't like the terms. He should not say noted taking a witness's testimony. Because you would prefer the agency councils not present but that's the only means of obtaining a testimony you should take it. Your priority must not be on blocking information out it must be on seeking information. In all recent major congressional investigations. For example chairman good light and daddy's investigation into the Justice Department's decision during 2016. The IRS targeting investigation. The Ben Ghazi investigation and fast imperious there have been given take between congress and the executive. In a good like daddy investigation for example it's up to months. Two months of negotiations before the committee is conducted the first witness interview with deputy director McCabe. The Justice Department only began producing documents to the committee after many more months of discussions. In none of these investigations did congress get everything it wanted right at the beginning. Certainly not within sixty sit 76. Days but with persistence. And patients we eventually did receive enough information to do our war. And contrary to talking points the trump administration has in fact cooperated with. And facilitated. Congressional oversight and investigations. For example earlier this year the oversight committee conducted an investigation into security clearances. At the White House. The central allegation put forward was at the White House deviated from establish procedures. To grant clearances to certain White House staff. The Democrats sought to interview career staff who perform these are security clearance reviews but declined to witness initially to appear. With the agency council. How soon the White House were at an impasse. However after after a little bit of time. We either Republican staffer with the help of mr. Jordan convinced the witness to appear. Are with agency council for our own transcribed interview and the Democrats came along. The subsequent. Interviews in his security clearance investigations were conducted with agency council. The testimony allowed it to me or to any evidence. To get to the bottom of what was going on and it wasn't what was alleged. Nobody outside the security clearance office was handed now clearances. Certainly not senior White House staffers. In his impeachment inquiry however Democrats have turned away information that could be valuable to the inquiry by disallowing agency council to company witnesses. Democrats have turned away information by declined in negotiating good faith with the administration. About the scope of document requests. As a result of these failures the evidentiary record in the impeachment inquiry is incomplete. And in many places in Tel here. The failure to exhaust all avenues to obtain information severely risks undermining the legitimacy. Of any articles of impeachment. As professor turley said to the committee last week I'm concerned about lowering impeaches standards to fit a paucity of evidence. And an abundance of anger. I believe this impeachment not only fails the standard of past engagements. But would create a dangerous precedent for future engagements. Professor turley elaborated that the current lack of proof is another reason why the abbreviated investigation into this matter is so damaging. But a case of impeachment. The substantive case for impeaching president trump as a result of an artificial arbitrary and political scheduled. Relies heavily. On ambiguous facts. Resumptions. The speculation. President's early warned here too that impeachment have been based on. Proof not resumptions. The Democrats do not have the proof. Now my Democrat counterparts on the intelligence committee are talented attorneys. I'm sure they were tell you a riveting story about a shadow. Or irregular foreign policy apparatus. And a smear campaign designed to extort Ukraine for the president's political benefit. They'll tell you about president trump. How he put his own political interest at a national security. By mentioning former president former vice president Joseph Biden. By name and raising allegations of Ukrainian influence. In a 2060 election on the July 25 call. They'll try to convince you that the trump administration. The same administration Democrats regularly accuse of being incompetent. Orchestrated an international conspiracy at the highest levels. None of this adds out. It may be a great screenplay but it's not what the evidence shows. The democrats' impeachment increase ignores all of the evidence that does not advance their story. The democrats' impeachment narrative resolves all ambiguous facts and conflicting evidence. In a way that is most unflattering to the president. The democrats' impeachment narrative ignores public statements from senior Ukrainian officials that contradict the narrative. As you listen to the Democrat presentation later today I hired you keep these points in mind. What evidence that has been gathered in the impeachment inquiry paints a different picture. I won't provide a detailed presentation now but allow me to highlight a few points. First the summary of the July 25 phone call reflects no conditionality. Or pressure. Presidential Lansky never vocalize to any discomfort or pressure on the call. Contrary to Democrat allegations president trump was not asking for a favor that would help his re election. He was asking for assistance in helping our country move forward from the divisive mess of the Russia collusion investigation. Second. Since president trump is declassified and publicly release the costs armory 75 days ago. President Delaski has said publicly and repeatedly. That he felt no pressure. He said it on September 25 at the United Nations General Assembly. He said he did an interview published on October 6. He said it again October 10. And most recently he said it's just last week in time magazine and other senior Ukrainian officials have also said there is no linkage between a meeting. Security assistance and an investigation. The president trump was truly orchestrating a pressure campaign to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. One would sank that Ukraine would have felt some pressure. Third at the time of the July 25 cost senior officials and she did not know that the security assistance was paused. They did not learn it was paused until the pause was reported publicly in the US media on August 28. As ambassador Volcker testified because the highest levels of the Ukrainian government did not know about the pause. There is no leverage imply. Finally presidential Lansky met with president trump in New York on September 25 at the the United Nations. Shortly thereafter. Are shortly before that they DG do security assistance flowed to Ukraine. Both happened without Ukraine ever taking actions or investigations. Impeachment record also has substantial evidence going to the president's state of mind. Undercutting the Democrats assertion of some malicious intent. Witnesses testified that president trump has a deeply rooted genuine and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine stemming from its history of corruption. President trump is skeptical. Of US taxpayer funded foreign assistance and believes that our allies should share more. Of the burden of Ukraine's defense. Ukrainian politicians. Openly spoke out against president trump during the 2016 election. These events bear directly on the president's state of mind. President's Lansky had run on and I corruption platform. But he was an untried politician with a relationship to a controversial Ukrainian out work. When vice when former vice president pants men with presents a Lansky in Warsaw. I'm sorry when vice president pants met with president slides in Warsaw September 1. He stressed to him the need for reform and reiterated the president's concern about burden sharing. Especially among European allies. In late August and early September after his party took control of the Ukrainian parliament. Ukraine pass historic reforms to fight corruption. These reforms including removing parliamentary immunity. Which witnesses said had been an historic source of corruption. As in if members of our congress had immunity. President trump later lifted the paws on security assistance and met with president's allies. The aid was pause for 55 days. Very simply the evidence in the democrats' impeachment inquiry does not support the conclusion the president tramp abused his power. For his own personal political benefit. There is simply no clear evidence that president trump acted with malicious intent. In with holding a meeting or security assistance. Indeed there are in the Republican report articulates them. Legitimate explanations. For these actions that are not. Mysterious. As the Democrats allege. The evidence shows the president Trout faithfully executed the duties of his office by delivering on what he promised the American voters he would do. Democrats may disagree with the president's policy decisions where they're matter in which he governs. But those disagreements are not enough to justify the irrevocable action of removing him from office. The Democrats hyperbole and histrionics are no good reason eleven months out criminal action to prevent the American people. From decided on their. Who is going to be. The next president. This record also does not support a conclusion the president trump obstructed congress during impeachment inquiry from any other procedural defects I touched on earlier. Additionally as a factual matter the only direct testimony investigation has obtained about the president's reaction to the inquiry. Is from ambassador someone. He testified president Chun told him to cooperate and tell the truth. President trump has also declassified and released the summaries of his two phone calls with the president. President's Lansky. President trump has said that you'd like witnesses to testify but he's been forced to resist. The unfair and abusive process. I believe strongly in the prerogatives of the congress. It's awful to hear president turley is testimony. From last week when he Conchita house for proceeding on impeachment so rapidly. And on such a thin record. Professor turley said this said this abbreviated schedule. Demand documents and then impeach because they haven't been turned over when they go to court. I think is an abuse of power. The impeachment of a duly elected president as chairman Nadler said in 1998 is the undoing of a national election. Now I understand Democrats issued a report over the weekend arguing that contrary. To the chairman Stephen in 1998 impeachment is not so on doing it an election. I would just respond by saying that I don't think many of the 63 million Americans. From all around the country. Who voted for president trump in 2016 would agree. I impeaching president trump the house would essentially be nullifying the decision of those Americans. And house would be doing it and less than less and less than eleven months. Before the next election. They're still is no compelling argument for why Democrats in the house must take this decision out of the hands of the voters. And do it and before Christmas. During the Clinton impeachment 1998. The chairman said that a bare minimum the president's accusers must go beyond hearsay and innuendo. And beyond the demands that the president through prove his innocence. A vague and changing charges. I would Smith that those words ring as true today. As the chairman believe them to be in 1998. The impeachment record is heavily reliant on hearsay and innuendo. And resumptions. Democrats have lobbed vague and ever changing charges for impeachment going as far back as the president's. Inauguration. For all these reasons the extraordinary exercise of the house's impeachment authority is not warranted on the evidentiary record presented. I thank you for allowing me how to present this information this morning to hand. Yup back.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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