Transcript for Schumer delivers opening impeachment statement
Now before I begin. There has been well founded concern that the additional security measures required for access to the gallery sloshing middle during the trial for the cause reporters to miss some of the events on the senate floor. I want to assure everyone in the press that I will vociferously oppose any attempt. To begin the trial unless the reporters trying to end to the gallery are seated. The press is here to inform the American public about these pivotal events in our nation's history. We must make sure they are able to. Some may not want what happens here to be public. We do. Now Mr. President after the conclusion of my remarks. To senate will proceed to the impeachment trial of president Donald John trump. For committing high crimes and misdemeanors. President trump is accused of coercing a foreign leader and to interfering in our elections to benefit himself. And then doing everything in his power to cover it up. If approved the president's actions are crimes against democracy itself. It's hard to imagine a greater subversion of our democracy. Then for powers outside our borders. To determine the elections from within. For a foreign country to attempt such a thing on its own as bad enough. For an American president. To deliberately solicit such a thing. To blackmail a foreign country with military assistance to help him win election is unimaginably worse. I can't imagine any other president doing this. Beyond that. Four then the president to deny the right of congress. Could conduct oversight. Deny the right to investigate any of his activities. To say article two of the constitution gives him the right to quote. Do what ever he wants. We are staring down an erosion. Of the sacred democratic principles. For which our founders Porter bloody war. Of independence. Such is the gravity. Of this historic moment. Now one senator in office sworn in at 1 PM the ceremonial functions at the beginning of a presidential trial will be complete. The senate then. Must determine the rules of the trial. The Republican leader will offer an organizing resolution that outlines his plan. His plan. For the rules of the trial. It is completely partisan. It was kept secret. Until the very eve of the trial. And now that it's public. It's very easy to see why. The McConnell rules seem to be designed by president trump for president trump. It asks the senate. To rush through his fastest possible. And makes getting evidence as hard as possible. He could force presentations to take place at two or 3 in the morning. So the American people won't see them. In short. The report them McConnell resolution. Will result in a rush trial. With little evidence. In the dark of night. Literally the dark of night. If the president is so confident in his case. If leader McConnell is so confident the president did nothing wrong. Why don't they want the case to be presented in broad daylight. On something as important as impeachment. The McConnell resolution is nothing short of a national disgrace. This will go down this resolution. As one of the darker moments in the senate history. Perhaps one of even the darkest. Now leader McConnell is just said he wants to go by the Clinton rules. Then why did he change them in for important ways that minimum. To all make the trial less trans parent. Less clear and with less evidence. He said he wanted to get started in exactly the same way. It turns out. Contrary to what the leaders said. I'm amazed he could say it with a straight face. That the rules are the same as the Clinton rules the rules are not even close to the Clinton rules. Unlike the Clinton rules the McConnell resolution does not admit the record of the house impeachment proceedings into evidence. So leader McConnell wants a trial with no existing evidence and no new evidence. A trial without evidence is not a trial. It's a cover up. Second. Unlike the Clinton rules. The McConnell resolution limits presentation by the parties to 24 hours preside over only two days. We started wanted. Twelve hours a day where a 1 AM and that's without breaks. It'll be later. Leader McConnell. Wants to force the managers. To make important parts of their case in the dark of night. Number three. Unlike the Clinton rules the McConnell resolution place is an additional hurdle to get witnesses and documents by requiring a vote. On whether such motions are even in order. If that vote fails then no motions to subpoena witnesses and documents will be in order. I don't want anyone on the other side to say I'm going to vote no first on witnesses. But then later I'll determine it if they vote for McConnell resolution they're making it far more difficult to vote in the future. Later on in the trial. And finally. Unlike the Clinton rules the McConnell resolution allows a motion to dismiss. At any time any time. In the trial. So in short. Contrary to what the leaders said. The McConnell rules are not at all like the Clinton rules the Republican leaders resolution is based neither in precedent. Nor in principle. It is driven by Pollack partisanship. And the politics of the moment. Today. I'll be offering amendments to fix the many flaws and leader McConnell is deeply unfair resolution. And seek the witnesses and documents we requested. Beginning with an amendment to have the senate subpoena White House documents. Let me be clear these amendments are not dilatory. They only seek one thing. The truth. That means relevant documents that means relevant witnesses that's the only way to get a fair trial and everyone in this body knows it. Each senate impeachment trial in our history all fifteen that were brought to completion feature witnesses. Every single one. The witnesses we request or not to have Democrats they're the president's own men. The documents are not democratic documents. Their documents period. We don't know if the evidence. Of the witnesses or the documents will be exculpatory to the president or incriminating. But we have an obligation as solemn obligation particularly now during this most deep in solemn. Part of our constitution to seek the truth. And then let the chips. Fall where they me. My Republican colleagues. Have offered several explanations for opposing witnesses and documents at the start of a trial. None of them has much merit. Republicans have said we should deal with the question of witnesses later in the trial. Of course it makes no sense to hear both sides present their case first. And then NAFTA would decided to sentence should hear evidence the evidence is supposed to inform arguments. Not come after they're completed. Some Republicans in said the senate should not go beyond the house record by calling any witnesses. But the constitution gives the senate the sole power to try impeachment it's. Not the sole power to review not the sole power to raise cash but to try. Republicans have called our requests for witnesses and documents political. If seeking the truth is political. In the Republican Party. Is in serious trouble. The White House is said that the articles of impeachment are brazen. And wrong. Well. If the president believes his impeachment is selling brazen is so brazen and wrong. Why when he show a swap. Why is the president so insistent that no one come forward that no documents be released. If the president's case is so weak that none of the president's men can defend Tim under oath. Shame on him. And those who allow it to happen. What is the president high. What are our Republican colleagues hiding because if they weren't afraid of the truth. Dates that we go right ahead get it the truth get witnesses get documents. In fact. Over that no point over the last few months have I heard a single solitary argument on the merits of why witnesses and documents should not be part of the trial. No Republicans explained why less evidence is better than more evidence. Nevertheless it. Leader McConnell is poised to ask the senate to begin the first impeachment trial of a president in history without witnesses. That rushes through the arguments as quickly as possible. That in ways both shameless and saw go. Will conceal the truth the truth. From the American people. Leader McConnell claimed that the house has run have ran the most rushed police thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history. The truth is leader McConnell. Is plotting the most rushed least RO and most unfair impeachment trial. In modern history. And it begins today. The senate has before. Very straightforward question. The president is accused of coercing a foreign power to interfere. In our elections. To help himself. It's the job of the senate. To determine if of these very serious charges are true the very least we can do. Is examine the facts review the documents here the witnesses. Try the case. Not run from it not hide it try. Because if the president commits high crimes and misdemeanors. And congress refuses to act. Refuses even to couldn't ducked a fair trial of his conduct. And president's this president and future presidents. Can commit impeachable crimes with impunity. And the order and rigor of our democracy. Will dramatically declined. To fail safe the final fail safe of our democracy. Will be rendered moot. The most powerful check on the executive. The one designed to protect the people from tyranny. We'll be erased. In short time my colleagues. Each of us will face a choice. About whether to begin this trial in search of the truth. Or in service of the president's desire. To cover it up. Whether the senate. Will conduct a fair trial in a fully airing of the facts. Or rush. To a predetermined. Political outcome. My colleagues. The eyes of the nation. The eyes of history. The eyes of the founding fathers are upon us. History will be our final judge. Will senator's. Rise to the occasion. I yield the floor.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.