Nadler delivers opening statement at impeachment hearing

Rep. Jerry Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said “President Trump put himself before country.”
8:45 | 12/09/19

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Transcript for Nadler delivers opening statement at impeachment hearing
No matter his party or is politics. If the president places his own interests above those of the country. He betrays his oath of office. The president of the United States. The speaker of the house. Majority leader this and it the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. And the chairman and ranking members. Of the house committee on the judiciary. All have one important thing in common we have each taken an oath. To preserve protect and defend the constitution. Of the United States. If the president puts himself before the country. He violates a president's most basic responsibility. He breaks his oath to the American people. If he puts himself before the country in a manner that threatens our democracy. And our wrote our privacy the American people. Requires us to come to the defense of the nation. That O stands even when it is politically inconvenient. Either way that might bring us under criticism. Even when it might cause is our jobs. As members of congress. And even if the president is unwilling to either his out. I am compelled to undermine. As we heard an LS hearing. The framers of the constitution were careful students of history. And clear in their vision for the new nation. They knew that threats from two democracy can take many forms. That we must protect against them they were just against the dangers it would be monarchists fake populist and charismatic demagogue us. They know that the most dangerous threat to our country might come from within. In the form of a corrupt executive who put his private interest above the interest of the nation. The also do. They could not anticipate every threat a president might someday pose. So they adopted the phrase treason bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Good to capture the full spectrum a possible presidential misconduct. George Mason who proposed the stand it said that it was bid to capture all manner of great and dangerous offenses against the constitution. The debates around the framing make clear that the most serious such offenses include. Abuse of power. Betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements. And corruption of public office. Any what of these violations of the public trust would compel the members of this committee to take action. We combined. The single course of action they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office. President trump put himself before. Country. Despite the political partisanship that seems to punctuated our hearings these days. I believe that there is common ground rent some of these ideas. Common ground in this hearing room and common ground across the country at large. We agree for example that impeachment is a solemn serious undertaking. We agree that it is meant to address serious threats to democratic institutions. Like are free and fair elections. We agree there when the elections themselves that threatened by enemies foreign or domestic. We cannot wait until the next election to address the threat. We surely agree that no public official. Including and especially the president of the United States. Should use his public office for private gain. And we agree that no president may put himself before the country. The constitution. And his oath of office. His promise to America's citizens require the current president to put the country first. If we could drop our blinders for just one Bogut. I think we would agree and a common set of facts as well. A July 25. President trump quote president so let's give you great and asked him for a favor. That quote was part of a concerted effort by president trump. To compel the government of Ukraine to announce an investigation. That investigation of corruption really large but an investigation of president Trump's political rivals. And only his political rivals. President trump put himself before. Country. The record shows that president trump withheld military aid allocated by the United States congress from Ukraine. It also shows that he withheld a well a White House meeting from president is alleged scheme. Multiple witnesses including respected diplomats. National security professionals. And decorated war veterans. All testified to the same basic fact. President trump withheld the eight at the meeting in order to pressure a foreign government to do we have that favor. President trump put himself before. Country. And where the president got quite. With congress discovered that created did withheld from Ukraine. The president took extraordinary and unprecedented steps to conceal evidence from congress and from the American people. These facts are not in dispute. In fact most of the arguments about these facts appear to be beside the point. As you review the evidence today expect who hear much about the whistle blower greatest concerns about the. Like 25 call to the expected general of the intelligence community. Let me be clear. Every fact alleged by the whistle blower has been substantiated by multiple witnesses. Again and again. Each of whom has been questioned extensively by Democrats and Republicans alike. The allegations also match up with the president's own words as released by the White House where is said he still says we're prepping. I also expect to hear complaints about the term quid pro quo. As if a person needs to verbally acknowledged today with a crime while he's committee. Where it to be a private all. The record at this point is also clear. Multiple officials testified. That the presence to bid for an investigation into his rivals. Was a part of his personal political agenda and not related to the foreign policy objectives of the United States. Multiple officials testified. That the president intended to withhold the aid until it intended to withhold the aid until you created announced investigations. And yes multiple officials testified. That they understood this arrangement to be a quid pro quo for the president's personal. The political benefit. President trump put himself before. Country. The president's supporters are going to argue that this whole process is unfair the record before us is clear at this point is well. We invited the president to participate in this hearing. To question witnesses. And to present evidence that might explain the charges against him. President trump chose not to show. He may not have much to save his own defense but he cannot claim that he did not have an opportunity to be hurt. Finally. As we proceed today we will hear a great deal about the speed. With which the house is addressing the president's actions. To the members of the committee. To the members of the house. And to my fellow citizens I want to be absolutely clear. The integrity of our next election is at stake. Nothing could be more urgent. The president welcomed into foreign interference in our elections in 2016. He demanded hit but 2020. That he got what. If you do not believe that he will do it again. Let me remind you that the president's personal lawyers spent last week back in Ukraine. Beatty with government officials. In an apparent attempt to gin up the same so quote favors. That brought us here today and force congress to consider the impeachment of a sitting president. This pattern of conduct represents a continuing risk to the country. The evidence shows that Donald. The president of the United States. Has put himself up before his country. He has violated his most basic responsibilities to the people. He has broken his out. I will undermine. If you add onto yours that I would urge you to do your duty. They distribute medicine reviewed the record here in full view of the American people that and then it let us move swiftly to defend our country. We promised that we would.

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

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