November 22, 2019

Adam Schiff delivered the best summation of the reasons why this impeachment inquiry was launched, the reasons why Republican arguments don't fly, and the moral reasons for why Donald Trump must be impeached.

Remarkably, he did all of this without prepared notes, choosing instead to speak extemporaneously about how corrupt Trump and his party are, and ultimately invoking the memory of Rep. Elijah Cummings at the end.

Honestly, every day I think I'm not going to clip these because they are repeats of the last great summation, but honestly, they're not. There is more ahead of where I started, but for me the last six minutes built into a crescendo that left the closure of today's hearing resonating long after the last camera was turned off.

Transcript follows:

I guess we are 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, no harm, no foul. That's absurd.

But 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 -- 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 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 are 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 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 Vindman'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. Heck's point. 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 extra judicial killing in the Philippines, people who gathered in Tahrir Square wanting a representative government, people in China who are Uighurs, people in Ukraine who want a better future. They look to us. They are not going to look to the Russians. They are not going to 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 Bidens 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 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 Mueller testified, the day after Bob Mueller 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.

The day after that Donald Trump is back on the phone asking another nation to involve itself in another U.S. 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 they 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. [ applause ]

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