“If truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost” – transcript and video of Adam Schiff’s closing arguments in Trump Impeachment Trial Days 4 and 5

A transcript and video of the closing arguments both Thursday and Friday by Representative Adam Schiff, the House impeachment manager for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the United States Senate.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

When we’re done, we believe that we will have made the case overwhelmingly of the President’s guilt. That is, he’s done what he’s charged with. He withheld the money. He withheld the meeting. He used it to coerce Ukraine to do these political investigations. He covered it up. He obstructed us. He’s trying to obstruct you and he’s violated the Constitution. But I want to address one other thing tonight. Okay. He’s guilty. Okay. He’s guilty. Does he really need to be removed? Does he really need to be removed? We have an election coming up. Does he really need to be removed? He’s guilty. Is there really any doubt about this?

Do we really have any doubt about the facts here? Does anybody really question whether the President is capable of what he’s charged with? No one is really making the argument, Donald Trump would never do such a thing, because of course we know that he would, and of course we know that he did. It’s a somewhat different question though to ask, okay, it’s pretty obvious whether we can say it publicly or we can’t say it publicly. We all know what we’re dealing here with this President, but does he really need to be removed? And this is why he needs to be removed. Donald Trump chose Rudy Giuliani over his own intelligence agencies. He chose Rudy Giuliani over his own FBI Director. He chose Rudy Giuliani over his own National Security Advisors. When all of them were telling him this Ukraine 2016 stuff is kooky, crazy Russian propaganda. He chose not to believe them. He chose to believe Rudy Giuliani. That makes him dangerous to us, to our country. That was Donald Trump’s choice. Now, why would Donald Trump believe a man like Rudy Giuliani over a man like Christopher Wray? Okay. Why would anyone in their right mind believe Rudy Giuliani over Christopher Wray?

Because he wanted to and because what Rudy was offering him was something that would help him personally. And what Christopher Wray was offering him was merely the truth. What Christopher Wray was offering him was merely the information he needed to protect his country and its elections, but that’s not good enough. What’s in it for him? What’s in it for Donald Trump? This is why he needs to be removed. Now, you may be asking how much damage can he really do in the next several months until the election? A lot. A lot of damage. Now, we just saw last week, report that Russia tried to hack or maybe did hack Burisma. Okay. I don’t know if they got in. I’m trying to find out. My colleagues on the Intel committee, House and Senate, we’re trying to find out, did the Russians get in? What are the Russian plans and intentions? Well, let’s say they got in and let’s say they start dumping documents to interfere at the next election.

Let’s say they start dumping some real things they hack from Burisma. Let’s say they start dumping some fake things they didn’t hack from Burisma, but they want you to believe they did. Let’s say they start blatantly interfering in our election again to help Donald Trump. Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will stand up to them and protect our national interest over his own personal interest? You know you can’t, which makes him dangerous to this country. You know you can’t. You know you can’t count on him. None of us can. None of us can. What happens if China got the message? Now you can say, he’s just joking of course. He didn’t really mean China should investigate the Bidens. You know that’s no joke.

Now maybe you could have argued three years ago when he said, “Hey Russia, if you’re listening, hack Hillary’s emails.” Maybe you could give him a freebie and say he was joking, but now we know better. Hours after he did that Russia did, in fact, try to hack Hillary’s emails. There’s no Mulligan here when it comes to our national security. So what if China does overtly or covertly start to help the Trump campaign? You think he’s going to call them out on it or you think he’s going to give them a better trade deal on it? Can any of us really have the confidence that Donald Trump will put his personal interests ahead of the national interests? Is there really any evidence in this presidency that should give us the ironclad confidence that he would do so?

You know you can’t count on him to do that. That’s the sad truth. You know you can’t count on him to do that. The American people deserve a President they can count on to put their interests first, to put their interests first. Colonel Vindman said, “Here, right matters. Here, right matters.” Well, let me tell you something, if right doesn’t matter, if right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the framers were. Doesn’t matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is. Doesn’t matter how well written the Oath of Impartiality is. If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost.

If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost. The framers couldn’t protect us from ourselves, if right and truth don’t matter. And you know that what he did was not right. That’s what they do in the old country, that Colonel Vindman’s father came from. Or the old country that my great grandfather came from, or the old countries that your ancestors came from, or maybe you came from. But here, right is supposed to matter. It’s what’s made us the greatest nation on earth. No constitution can protect us, right doesn’t matter any more. And you know you can’t trust this President to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to. This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Because right matters and the truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost.

Friday, January 24, 2020


Now, soon members of the body will face the most momentous of decisions. Not, as I said at the outset, between guilt or innocence, but a far more foundational issue: Should there be a fair trial?

Shall the House be able to present its case with witnesses and documents, through the use of subpoenas, as has been the case in every impeachment trial in history?

Now, the president’s lawyers have been making their case outside of this chamber, threatening to stall these proceedings with the assertion of false claims of privilege. Having persuaded this body to postpone consideration of the witnesses and documents, they now appear to be preparing the ground to say it would be too late to consider them next week.

But consider this: Of the hundreds of documents that we have subpoenaed, there is no colorable claim, and none has been asserted. To the degree that you could even make a claim, that claim has been waived. To the degree that even superficially a claim would attach, it does not conceal misconduct.

And what’s more, to the degree there is a dispute over whether a privilege applied, we have a perfectly good judge sitting behind me, empowered by the rules of this body to resolve those disputes. And when the Chief Justice decides where a narrow application of privilege ought to apply, you will still have the power to overrule him. How often do you have the chance to overrule a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? [Laughter] You have to admit it’s every legislators dream.

So let us not be fooled by the argument it will take too long, or persuaded that the trial must be over before the State of the Union. This is no parking ticket we are contesting, no shoplifting case we are prosecuting; it is a matter of high crimes and misdemeanors. How long is too long to have a fair trial? Fair to the President, and fair to the American people.

The American people do not agree on much,but they will not forgive being deprived of the truth — and certainly not because it took a backseat to expediency.

In his pamphlet of 1777, The American Crisis, Thomas Paine wrote:“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”

Is it too much fatigue to call witnesses and have a fair trial? Are the blessings of freedom so meager that we will not endure the fatigue of a real trial, with witnesses and documents?

President Lincoln, in his closing message to Congress in December 1862, said this: “Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.”

I think he was the most interesting president in history. He may be the most interesting person in our history. This man, who started out dirt poor. Dirt poor. Like hundreds of thousands of other people at the time, he had nothing. No money. No education — he educated himself. Educated himself. But he had a brain in that head, a brilliance in that mind, that made him one of the most incredible, not just presidents, but people in history. I think he’s the most interesting character in our history. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of other Americans at the time, why him? Why him?

I think a lot about history, as I know you do. Sometimes I think about how unforgiving history can be of our conduct. We can do a lifetime’s work, draft the most wonderful legislation, help our constituents, and yet we may be remembered for none of that. But for a single decision, we may be remembered, affecting the course of our country. I believe this may be one of those moments. A moment we never thought we would see. A moment when our democracy was gravely threatened, and not from without but from within.

Russia, too, has a constitution. It’s not a bad constitution. It’s just a meaningless one. In Russia, they have trial by telephone. They have the same ostensible rights we do to a trial. They hear evidence and witnesses. But before the verdict is rendered, the judge picks up the telephone and calls the right person to find out how it’s supposed to turn out. Trial by telephone.

Is that what we have here, trial by telephone? Someone on the other end of the phone, dictating what this trial should look like?

The founders gave us more than words. They gave us inspiration. They may have receded into mythology, but they inspire us still. And more than us, they inspire the rest of the world. They inspire the rest of the world: From their prison cells in Turkey, journalists look to us. From their internment camps in China, they look to us. From their cells in Egypt,those who gathered in Tahrir Square for a better life look to us. From the Philippines,those that were the victims, and their families, of mass extrajudicial killing,they look to us. From Evin prison, they look to us. From all over the world,they look to us.

And increasingly they don’t recognize what they see.

It’s a terrible tragedy for them; it is a worst tragedy for us.

Because there’s nowhere else for them to turn. They’re not going to turn to Russia. They’re not going to turn to China. They’re not going to turn to Europe, with all of its problems.

They look to us, because we are still the indispensable nation.

They look to us, because we have a rule of law.

They look to us, because no one is above that law.

And one of the things that separates us from those people in Evin prison, is the right to a trial. It’s the right to a trial. Americans get a fair trial.

And so I ask you, I implore you, give America a fair trial.

Give America a fair trial.

She is worth it.

Thank you.


The entire eight hours of day 5 (Friday) impeachment trial. Rep. Schiff’s entire closing argument begins at 6:44

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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