WATCH: Rep. Adam Schiff’s full closing statement in Hill and Holmes hearing


I thank the gentleman first of all I
want to thank you both for your testimony I want to thank you for your
long years of service to the country you’re not Democratic witnesses or
Republican witnesses you’re nonpartisan witnesses and you have stuck to the
facts and that is as it should be first I want to make a couple observations
about the hearing today and dr. Hill you were criticized several times by my
colleagues for your opening statement I’m glad you didn’t back down from it
you’re much more diplomatic than I am I have to say anyone watching these
proceedings anyone reading the deposition transcripts would have the
same impression that you evidently had from hearing my colleagues talk about
the Russia hoax that the whole idea that Russia had gotten involved in the 2016
election was a hoax put out by the Democrats and of course they’re not
alone in pushing out this idea it is trumpeted by no one other than the
President of the United States who almost on a daily basis at times would
comment and tweet and propagate the idea that Russia’s interference in our
election was a hoax and of course we all remember that debacle in Helsinki when
the president stood next to Vladimir Putin and questioned his own
intelligence agencies I wish I had heard just some of the righteous indignation
we heard in the committee today when the president questioned that fundamental
conclusion of our intelligence agencies but of course they were silent when the
president said that they’ll show indignation today but they will cower
when they hear the president questioning the very conclusions that our
intelligence community has reached but we saw something interesting also today
my colleagues sought to use you dr. hill to besmirched the character of colonel
vin Minh and I thought this was very interesting
it certainly wasn’t unexpected it was very interesting for this reason they
didn’t really question anything colonel vid Minh said after all what Colonel
vehement said is what what you said he was in that July 10
meeting he heard the same quid pro quo the same comments by Sunland if you want
this meeting Ukrainians and we have an agreement about this
you gotta announce you’re gonna do these investigations I heard the same quid pro
quo that you did so why are they smearing him mr. Holmes you testified
just as ven minh said Colonel Veneman said that he warned szalinski about
getting involved in US politics they don’t question that they didn’t take
issue with that so why smear this Purple Heart recipient
just like the smear of Ambassador Jovanovic
it’s just gratuitous they don’t question the facts it’s just gratuitous the
attack on you mr. Holmes that you were indiscreet in mentioning this
conversation to others well I think you’re quite right the indiscretion is
when an ambassador you you calls the President on an insecure line in a
country known for Russian telecommunications and eavesdropping
that’s more than indiscretion that’s a security risk but but why attack you mr.
Holmes they didn’t question anything you said in question what conversation you
overheard ambassador Sandlin indeed didn’t question what you said he
acknowledged that the one thing the president wanted to know the day after
that conversation was szalinski was is he going to do the investigations and
sunland said yes he’ll do anything you ask they don’t question that so why
attack you they didn’t question your testimony when you said and I think you
you asked ambassador Soglin does Donald Trump give up blank and I would like to
use the word here about Ukraine and he said he doesn’t give a blank about
Ukraine he only cares about the big stuff and you said well there’s some big
stuff here Ukraine’s at war with Russia that’s kind of big stuff and his answer
was no no no no no he cares about the big stuff that matters to him his
personal interests like the bite an investigation that Julie want
Giuliani wants I mean one question posed by your testimony mr. Holmes is what do
we care about do we care about the big stuff like the Constitution like an oath
of office or do we only care now about party what do we care about but let’s
let’s go beyond your testimony today let’s look at the bigger picture what do
we know now after these depositions these secret depositions now people
watching at home might not know that in these secret depositions which
apparently no one else is allowed to hear no members are allowed to
participate it’s just secret apparently sounds like it’s just me and the witness
only over a hundred members of Congress are able to participate in those secret
depositions and minority was just so unable to participate they got the same
time they got in these open hearings it was the same format that was the secret
Star Chamber that you were hearing so much about so what what do we learn
through these depositions and through the testimony because so much of this is
really undisputed we learned that a dedicated public servant named Murray
Ivanovitch known for fighting corruption widely respected throughout the
diplomatic corps was ruthlessly smeared by Rudy Giuliani by the president’s own
son by their friends on Fox primetime and a whole host of other characters her
reputation was sullied so they could get her out of the way which they did and
you’re right it was gratuitous the president could have gotten rid of her
anytime he wanted but that’s not enough for this president
no he has to smear and destroy those that get in his way and someone fighting
corruption in Ukraine was getting in his way so she’s gone she’s gone
and this makes way almost immediately thereafter
she leaves the three amigos come in the three amigos two of whom never made the
connection that bur yzma means Biden it took Tim Morrison all of 30 seconds on
Google to figure that out but but we’re to believe I guess that in all the
companies in all the world Rudy Guiliani just happens to be interested in this
one that’s that’s absurd the interest of course was in an investigation of Donald
Trump’s rival the one that he apparently feared the most and they were willing to
do whatever was necessary to get Ukraine to do that dirty work to do that
political investigation and so it began we’re not going to set up a phone call
until you’d make certain commitments that was ambassador somnolence testimony
the first quid pro quo is actually just getting on the phone with President
Trump and then there was the quid pro quo involving the White House meeting
and witness after witness and none of my colleagues contested this talked about
just how important that meeting was to the president of Ukraine and why they’re
at war with Russia and their most important ally is the United States and
the most important person in the United States for that relationship is the
President of the United States and if President Solinsky can show that he has
a good relationship with the president United States it means to his people
that this new president has the support of their most important patron and it
means to the Russians that we have their back this president this new president
who is negotiating with a far superior power that has invaded his country is
going into negotiation with Putin over how to resolve this conflict whether he
has good leverage or lousy leverage depends depends on whether the Russians
think he has a relationship with the president and the president wouldn’t
give him that not without getting something in return
wouldn’t give him that official act that White House meeting without getting
something in return and that return was investigations of his rival that would
help his re-election an official act for something of clear value in something
very important the big stuff as sunland explained to you mr. Holmes to help his
campaign now we also heard abundant testimony about the other quid pro quo
the withholding of security assistance which no one can explain there’s no
debate among my colleagues everyone in the NSC in the State Department the
Defense Department everyone support us everyone all the reviews that needed to
be done to make sure that Ukraine was meeting its anti-corruption standards
had been done and they had found to meet the criteria the age should have been
released but it was withheld and no one could understand or get a clear
explanation for why until it became clear to everyone it’s all about the
investigations it’s all about the leverage and if there was any doubt
about it the man closest to the president who meets with him every day
Mick Mulvaney erased all doubt you’re darn right yes we talked about the 2016
election investigation and yes this was in the context of holding up the
military aid and you know just get used to it or just get over it or whatever it
was he said because that’s how we roll those are my words not his but that’s
the import yeah there’s gonna be politics and just get over it well if we
care about the big stuff we can’t just get over it now my colleagues have had a
lot of defenses to all of this evidence which has piled up day after day after
day and it’s amazing they hear you testified mr. Holmes it was clear that
the security systems was being withheld was clear to all of the Americans it was
clear to the Ukrainians you testified the craniums felt pressure they still
feel pressured this day and what a my colleagues saying the same hearing I
mean I guess they’re not listening the Ukrainians felt no pressure there’s
no evidence they felt pressure which gets into their next defense which is
it’s all hearsay it’s all hearsay now most of my
colleagues I guess are not lawyers lawyers out there understand just how
wrong they are about what hearsay is but let’s just discuss this in terms that
that all people can understand the impression they would have you take from
it’s all hearsay is because we in this committee were not in that Ward room
with you dr. hill we were not in that meeting
earlier with dr. Bolton that because we’re not in the room it’s all hearsay
after all you’re relating what you heard and you are saying it so it must be
hearsay and therefore we don’t really have to think about it do we we don’t
have to consider that you have direct evidence that this meeting in the White
House was being withheld because the president wanted these meetings these
investigations we can’t accept that well if that were true you could never
present any evidence in court unless the jury was also in the ward
room that’s absurd they don’t accept the documentary
evidence all the text messages about quid pro quos and are we really saying
and that’s crazy and if the my worst nightmare is the Russians will get it
now quit they don’t accept the documents the few documents that we have from the
State Department that weren’t produced by the way by the State Department where
Sandlin communicates directly with the Secretary of State about this
investigative interest of the President and they don’t accept the documents
either I guess the documents are also hearsay now might be a little more
convincing if they were joining us in demanding that the documents would be
produced but of course they’re not and we know why not because the documents
are like that one we saw on the screen they implicate others including
secretary Pompeo so of course Donald Trump and secretary Pompeo don’t want us
to see those documents but apparently it’s all here saying even when you
actually hear the president mr. Holmes that’s hearsay we can’t rely on people
saying what the president said apparently we can only rely on what the
president says and they we shouldn’t even rely on that either
we shouldn’t really rely on what the president said in the call record we
should imagine he said something else we should imagine he said something about
actually fighting corruption instead of what he actually said which was I want
you to do us a favor though I want you to look into this 2016 crown strike
conspiracy theory and I want you to look into the Biden’s I guess we’re not even
supposed to rely on that because that’s hearsay well that’s absurd that would be
like saying you can’t rely on the testimony of the burglars during
Watergate because it’s only hearsay or you can’t consider the fact that they
tried to break in because they got caught they actually didn’t get what
they came for so you know kind of no harm no foul
that’s absurd that’s absurd but the other the other defense besides
it failed the scheme failed they got caught the other defense is the
president denies it well I guess that’s case closed right
the president says really quite spontaneously it’s not as if he was
asked in this way no quid pro quo what do you want from Crate no quid pro quo
this is the I’m not a crook defense you say it and I guess that’s the end of it
well the only thing we can say is that it’s not so much that this situation is
different in turn of terms of Nixon’s conduct and Trump’s conduct what we’ve
seen here is far more serious than a third-rate burglary of the Democratic
headquarters what we’re talking about here is the withholding of recognition
in that White House meeting the withholding of military aid to an ally
at war that is beyond anything Nixon did the difference between then and now is
not the difference between Nixon and Trump it’s the difference between that
Congress and this one and so we we are asking where is Howard Baker where is
Howard Baker where are the people who are willing to go beyond their party to
look to their duty I was struck by Colonel Vincent’s testimony because he
said that he acted out of duty what is our duty here that’s what we need to be
asking not using metaphors about balls and strikes or our team and your team
I’ve heard my colleagues use those metaphors this should be about duty what
is our duty we are and this gets to mr. hex point we we are the indispensable
nation we still are people look to us from all over the world journalists from
their jail cells in Turkey the victims of mass extradition killing in the
Philippines people who gathered in Tahrir Square wanting a representative
government people in China who are we people in Ukraine who want a better
future they look to us they’re not gonna look to the Russians they’re not gonna
look to the Chinese they can’t look to Europe with all its problems they still
look to us and increasingly they don’t recognize what they see because what
they see is Americans saying don’t engage in political prosecutions and
what they say back is oh you mean like the Biden’s and the Clintons that you
want us to investigate what they see they don’t recognize and that is a
terrible tragedy for us but it’s a greater tragedy for the rest of the
world now I I happen to think that when the founders provided a mechanism in the
Constitution for impeachment they were worried about what might happen if
someone unethical took the highest office in the land and used it for their
personal gain and not because of deep care about the big things that should
matter like our national security and our defense and our allies and what the
country stands for I happen to think that’s why they put
that remedy in the Constitution and I think we need to consult our conscience
and our constituents and decide whether that remedy is appropriate here whether
that remedy is necessary here and as you know notwithstanding what my colleagues
said I resisted going down this path for a long time but I will tell you why I
could resist no more and it came down to this it came down to actually it came
down to timing it came down to the fact that the day after bob muller testified
the day after bob mother testified that donald trump
invited Russian interference hey Russia if you’re listening
come get Hillary’s emails and later that day they tried to hack her server the
day after he testified that not only did Trump invite that interference but that
he welcomed the help in the campaign they made full use of it they lied about
it they obstructed the investigation into
it and all this is in his testimony and his report that day after that Donald
Trump is back on the phone asking another nation to involve itself in
another US election that says to me this president believes he is above the law
beyond accountability and in my view there is nothing more dangerous than an
unethical president who believes there are above the law and I would just say
to people watching here at home and around the world in the words of my
great colleague we are better than that adjourned

Maurice Vega

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