November 20, 2019

Once again, observers in Wednesday's impeachment hearing with Ambassador Gordon Sondland were moved to spontaneous applause after Chairman Adam Schiff's impassioned closing statement summarizing Sondland's testimony and again making the case for why they are doing this at all.

Here is the last 7 minutes or so, with the transcript below, but really, you should watch it because it just drives home how incredibly lame and immoral Republicans are with their idiotic defenses of the ONE PERSON who could stop and start the flow of foreign aid -- Donald Trump.

And as Schiff says at the end, "getting caught is no defense." And with Sondland's testimony, he has definitely been caught.

Transcript below. (Note: I didn't get the first couple of sentences in the video, but they're relevant to the overall argument so I included them here)

Now, I've said a lot of things about President Trump over the years. I have very strong feelings about President Trump which are neither here nor there. But I will say this on the President's behalf. I do not believe that the President would allow himself to be led by the nose, by Rudy Giuliani or Ambassador Sondland or anybody else. I think the President was the one who decided whether a meeting would happen, whether aid would be lifted. Not anyone who worked for him.

And so the answer to the question, who was refusing the meeting with Zelensky? That you believe should take place and Ambassador Volker believes should take place and everybody believes should take place. The only question was when? Who was the one standing in the way of that meeting? Who was the one refusing to take that meeting?

There's only one answer to that question and it's Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States.

So who was holding up the military assistance? Was it you, Ambassador Sondland? No, it wasn't.

Was it Ambassador Volker? No. Was it Ambassador Taylor? No. Was it Deputy Secretary Kent? No. Was it Secretary of State Pompeo? No. Who had the decision to release the aid?

It was one person, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States.

Now, my colleagues seem to think unless the president says the magic words 'I hereby bribed the Ukrainians,' that there's no evidence of bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanors.

But let's look to the best evidence of what's in the President's head. What's his intent? What's the reason behind the hold on the meeting and on the aid? Let's look at what the President has to say. Let's look at what's undisputed about what the President has to say. And you know how we know what the President has to say? Not because what you have represented or others have represented but because we have a record of his conversation and with who? The one who really matters. With the other President, Zelensky.

And this is what he says. He says, Rudy very much knows what's happening. And he is a very capable guy. This is after he says he wants a favor. And he goes into Crowdstrike in 2016. He says Rudy Giuliani very much knows what's happening and is a very capable guy. "If you could speak to him, that would be great."

"The former ambassador from the United States, the woman was bad news and the people she was dealing with in Ukraine were bad news. So I just want to let you know that. The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son. That Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the attorney general, that would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you could look into it, it sounds horrible to me."

So what's in the President's mind when he has placed this otherwise inexplicable hold on the aid when he refuses to take the meeting? What's on his mind? Biden. He makes that abundantly clear.

I understand, Ambassador, you said you didn't make the connection between Burisma and Biden. I will let the American people judge the credibility of that answer. But there's no mistaking what Donald Trump's interest was. There's no mistaking about what Donald Trump meant when he had that call with you on an unsecure phone as you're sitting there outdoor terrace in Ukraine when the President said investigation, he meant Biden. He made that abundantly clear to the president of Ukraine the day before.

The question is not what the President meant. The question is not whether he was responsible for holding up the aid. He was. The question is not whether everybody knew it. Apparently, they did. The question is, what are we prepared to do about it? Is there any accountability? Or are we forced to conclude that this is just now the world that we live in? When a President of the United States can withhold vital military aid from an ally at war with the Russians, an ally fighting our fight too, to defend our country against Russian aggression. Are we prepared to say, in the words of Mick Mulvaney, get over it? Or get used to it?

We are not prepared to say that. We're not prepared to say that and I appreciate Ambassador Volker -- Ambassador Sondland -- I appreciate the fact that you have not opined whether the president should be impeached or not be impeached or the impeachable offense of bribery or other crimes have been committed. That is for us to decide. In consultation with our constituents and our conscience, that is for us to decide.

And much as my colleagues have said otherwise, this is not an easy decision for any of us. And much as my colleagues may say otherwise, this is not something we relish.

For over a year, I resisted this whole idea of going down the road to impeachment. But it was made necessary and not by the whistle-blower but by the actions of the President.

I'm continually struck how my colleagues would suggest that because the President got caught, we should ignore the fact that he was conditioning official acts in order to get political favors. In order to get an investigation against his rival.

Getting caught is no defense. Not to a violation of the constitution or to a violation of his oath of office. And it certainly doesn't give us a reason to ignore our own oath of office. We are adjourned.

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