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Chairman Nadler Closing Statement at First Impeachment Hearing

Washington, December 4, 2019

Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following closing remarks for the hearing on "The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment":

"George Washington’s farewell address warns of a moment when 'cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government.'

"President Trump placed his own personal and political interests above our national interest, above the security of our country, and most importantly above our most precious right: the ability of each and every one of us to participate in fair elections, free of corruption.

"The Constitution has a solution for a president who places his personal or political interests above those of the nation—the power of impeachment.

"As one of my colleagues pointed out, I have articulated a three-part test for impeachment.

"Let me be clear: all three parts of that test have been met.

"First: Yes, the President has committed an impeachable offense.

"The President asked a foreign government to intervene in our elections, then got caught, then obstructed the investigators. Twice.

"Our witnesses told us in no uncertain terms that this conduct constitute high crimes and misdemeanors, including abuse of power.

"Second: Yes, the President’s alleged offenses represent a direct threat to the constitutional order.

"Professor Karlan warned: 'Drawing a foreign government into our election process is an especially serious abuse of power because it undermines democracy itself.'

"Professor Feldman echoed: 'if we cannot impeach a president who abuses his office for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy, we live in a monarchy or we live under a dictatorship.'

"And Professor Gerhardt reminded us: 'If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable.'

"President Trump’s actions represent a threat to our national security and an urgent threat to integrity of the next election.

"Third: Yes, we should not proceed unless at least some of the citizens who supported the President in the last election are willing to come with us. A majority of this country is clearly prepared to impeach and remove President Trump.

"Rather than respond to the unsettling and dangerous evidence, my Republican colleagues have called this process 'unfair.'

"It is not.

"Nor is this argument new. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle – unable to defend the behavior of the President – have used this argument before.

"First, they said that these proceedings were not constitutional because we did not have a floor vote. We had a floor vote.

"Then, they said that our proceedings were not constitutional because they could not call witnesses.

"Republicans called three of the witnesses in the live hearings and will have an opportunity to request witnesses in this Committee, as well.

"Next, they said that our proceedings were not constitutional because the President could not participate.

"But when the Committee invited the President to participate in this hearing, he declined.

"The simple fact is that these proceedings have all the protections afforded prior presidents.

"This process follows the constitutional and legal precedents.

"So, I am left to conclude that the only reason my colleagues rush from one process complaint to the next is because there is no factual defense for President Trump.

"Unlike any other President before him, President Trump has openly rejected Congress’s right as a co-equal branch of government.

"He has defied our subpoenas. He has refused to produce any documents. And he directed his aides not to testify.

"President Trump has also asked a foreign government to intervene in our elections.

"And he has made clear that if left unchecked, he will do it again.

"Why? Because he believes that, in his own words: 'I can do whatever I want.'

"That is why we must act now.

"In this country, the President cannot do whatever he wants.

"In this country, no one – not even the President – is above the law.

"Today, we began our conversation where we should, with the text of the Constitution.

"We have heard clearly from our witnesses that the Constitution compels action.

"Indeed, every witness, including the witness selected by the Republican side, agreed that if President Trump did what the Intelligence Committee found him to have done after extensive and compelling witness from Trump Administration officials, he committed impeachable offenses.

"While the Republican witness may not be convinced that there is sufficient evidence that the President engaged in these acts, the American people and the majority of this Committee disagree.

"I also think the Republican witness, Mr. Turley issued, a sage warning in 1998, when he was a leading advocate for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. He said:

"'If you decide that certain acts do not rise to impeachable offenses, you will expand the space for executive conduct.'

"That was the caution of Professor Turley in 1998.

"That caution should guide all of us today. And by any account, that warning is infinitely more applicable to the abuses of power we are contemplating today.

"Because as we all know, if these abuses go unchecked, they will only continue, and only grow worse.

"Each of us took an oath to defend the Constitution. The President is a continuing threat to that Constitution, and to our democracy. I will honor my oath.

"And as I sit here today – having heard consistent, clear, and compelling evidence that the President has abused his power, attempted to undermine the constitutional role of Congress, and corrupted our elections – I urge my colleagues: Stand behind the oath you have taken.

"Our democracy depends on it."

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