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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

Speeches in the House of Representatives on Impeachment of the President

December 18, 2019
Speeches
Congressman Tom McClintock
Speeches in the House of Representatives on Impeachment of the President
December 9 – December 18, 2019
 
 
Reception of the Intelligence Committee Report 
House Judiciary Committee
December 9, 2019
 
Mr. Chairman:
 
In every election, somebody wins and somebody loses.  Democracy only works because the losing side always respects the will of the voters.  The moment that social compact breaks down, democracy collapses into chaos.
 
That has only happened twice in our nation’s history.  It happened in 1860, when the Democrats refused to accept the legitimate election of Abraham Lincoln.  And it happened again in 2016 when the Democrats refused to accept the legitimate election of Donald Trump.
 
The issues before us today do indeed strike at the heart of our democracy.
 
The first calls for impeachment began just days after the 2016 election, and ever since the Democrats have been searching for a pretext.  
 
When the Mueller investigation found no evidence to support the monstrous lie that the President acted in collusion with Russia, the Democrats realized they were running out of time – and suddenly the Ukrainian phone call replaced collusion, Stormy Daniels, tax returns, emoluments, and even tweets, as the reason to nullify the election – just a year before the next one is to be held.
 
Impeachment is one of the most serious powers of Congress.  It requires an overwhelming case of high crime supported by clear evidence that a vast majority of the nation deems compelling.  
 
Our Constitution vests the executive authority – including the enforcement of our laws – with the President and it gives him sole authority to conduct our foreign affairs.  Cleary this includes requesting a foreign government to cooperate in resolving potentially corrupt and illegal interactions between that government’s officials and ours.
 
The sum total of the Democrats’ case comes down to this:  not one of their hand-picked witnesses provided any first-hand knowledge of the President ordering a quid-pro-quo – and two witnesses (Sonderland by testimony and Senator Johnson by letter) provided first-hand knowledge that the President specifically ordered NO quid-pro-quo.  No testimony was provided that the Ukrainian government believed there was any quid-pro-quo, but there are ample public statements that its officials did not believe there was such linkage.
 
In fact, the testimony of their witnesses crumbled under questioning – and we were left with career bureaucrats who admitted the only evidence they offered was presumption, speculation, resentments and what they read in the New York Times.  
 
It is upon this flimsy evidence the Democrats justify overturning the 2016 Presidential election.  
 
The case is so flimsy that the Democrats have had to turn our Bill of Rights on its head to make it.  
 
They have argued that hearsay evidence – better known as gossip – is better than direct testimony.  
They have argued that the burden of proof rests with the accused to prove his innocence, while denying him the right to call witnesses in his defense.  
They have argued that the right to confront your accuser is an invasion of the accuser’s privacy.  
They have argued that appealing to the courts to defend your constitutional rights is ipso facto obstruction of justice and evidence of guilt.  
They have asserted the power to determine what witnesses the defense is allowed to call.  
They have argued that a crime is not necessary to impeach – but only impure motives in performing lawful acts – motives to be divined solely by the accusers.  
 
These are the legal doctrines of despots but are the only ones that can accommodate the case before us today.
 
This is a stunning abuse of power and a shameless travesty of justice that will stain the reputations of those responsible for generations to come.  And God help our country if they should ever be given the power and replace our Bill of Rights with the doctrines they have imposed in this process.  The Democrats are fond of saying, “No one is above the law.”  But they have one unspoken caveat: “EXECPT FOR THEMSELVES.”
 
The Speaker has already short-circuited what should be a solemn, painstaking, thorough and above all, fair process by ordering her foot soldiers on this committee to draw up articles of impeachment, without this committee hearing from a single fact witness.  Even though Mr. Schiff doesn’t dare to appear before this committee to defend his work, we are supposed to accept his report at face value and obediently follow the Speaker’s orders.  As the Red Queen decreed, SENTENCE FIRST, verdict afterwards.  
 
We can only pray the Senate still adheres to the judicial principles of our founders and if they do, we can then begin repairing the damage this travesty has done to our democracy, our institutions, our principles of justice, our Constitution, and our country.
 
 
Opening Statement at Mark-up
House Judiciary Committee
December 11, 2019
 
Mr. Chairman:

Nearly two years ago, the House Intelligence Committee’s minority under Adam Schiff issued its report on FISA abuse.  It stated categorically that “FBI officials did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process, omit material information or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.” 
 
On Monday, Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued his detailed report that categorically contradicts every contention in Mr. Schiff’s FISA report.  There wasn’t a shred of truth in it.  Yet also on Monday, Chairman Nadler announced the Judiciary Committee would blindly accept Mr. Schiff’s latest report on impeachment without a single fact hearing of our own.
 
No one disputes that Joe Biden’s son was paid millions of dollars to sit on the board of a corrupt Ukrainian oil and gas company, Burisma, despite having no experience in oil or gas or Ukraine; and that Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees to the Ukrainian government unless it fired Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin.  
 
Biden says he was merely carrying out administration policy and knew nothing of his son’s affairs.  But Shokin has testified in sworn affidavits that he was fired specifically because he was about to question Hunter Biden about his relationship with Burisma.  His successor soon shut down that investigation, giving credence to Shokin’s sworn testimony.
 
The President’s July 25th phone conversation with President Zelensky is the centerpiece of the Democrats’ case.  In it, he asked for help in getting to the bottom of scandals that involved potentially corrupt interactions between officials in Ukraine and the United States. There is no direct evidence that the President ever linked aid to an investigation.  
 
The Constitution vests ALL executive authority in the President, gives him plenary responsibility to conduct our foreign relations, and commands him “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
 
Among these laws is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that makes it a crime to secure business in a foreign country by offering something of value to a foreign official.  And being a candidate doesn’t shield a person from scrutiny – just ask candidate Trump.
 
Also, the National Defense Authorization Act requires the administration to determine that Ukraine is taking steps to combat corruption.  Just because the Secretary of Defense certified this in May, doesn’t relieve the President of his executive authority to review and maintain his administration’s findings.  
 
Within days of the Zelensky conversation, a handful of dissidents within our government hatched a plan to portray it as a solicitation to intervene in the election in exchange for foreign aid. 
 
This false narrative was laid out in a “whistleblower complaint.”  So far, we have learned that the whistleblower coordinated it with Adam Schiff’s office while concealing that relationship; that he is said to be a protégé of Joe Biden and is represented by an attorney who ten days after the inauguration tweeted, “#coup has started.  First of many steps.  #rebellion.  #impeachment will follow ultimately….”  
 
The first article charges the President with the made-up crime of abuse of office.  He violated no law.  He exercised authority clearly granted him by the Constitution.  Instead, the Democrats would nullify the election because they impute to him impure motives.  This is precisely the abuse of impeachment the American founders feared – that the power to overrule a national election would devolve into a weapon of partisan warfare, reducing the President to serving at the pleasure of Congress and destroying the separation of powers at the heart of our Constitution.
 
The second article charges the President with Obstruction of Congress – another made-up crime – because he sought to defend in court his constitutional right to maintain the confidentiality of policy discussions – the same confidentiality that Congress enjoys.  They say this has prevented them from securing proof for their charges. 
 
Yet the Democrats have suppressed nearly every witness Republicans have tried to call in the President’s defense.  In free societies, the defendant IS allowed to assert his constitutional rights, and prosecutors are NOT allowed to decide what witnesses the defense may call.  The second article turns these principles upside down.  
 
I have every confidence that the President will be acquitted and will be re-elected.  It is not damage to the President that I fear.  It is damage to the Presidency, the Congress, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that the Democrats do today by establishing dangerous precedents and principles that are antithetical to the rule of law and the fundamental architecture of our Constitution.  
 
 
Speech in Opposition to Article I of Impeachment
House Judiciary Committee
December 12, 2019
 
Mr. Chairman:
 
The Constitution introduces the Presidency with 15 words: “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” It does not vest any authority in Lieutenant Colonels at the NSC, ambassadors, state department officials, or cabinet secretaries. The only authority that these officials exercise is delegated to them by the President.  Thus, all the criticisms and resentments and personal and political disagreements that we have heard from those officials are completely irrelevant to this discussion.
 
Frankly, I find it dangerous that so many officials in the executive branch apparently believe that they have independent authority to override presidential policy, leak classified documents, and actively work to undermine the lawful discharge of the President's duties under Article II of the Constitution.
 
If their judgment can replace that of the President, it means that the people of the United States have simply been removed from the equation. 
 
Someone said during the discussion today that, “The President has committed real crimes.” Yet the article does not charge such crimes. Why not? Because there's no evidence to support them. If there were evidence, you know that they would have included any such charges in a heartbeat.  So, it's obvious they don't even believe their own rhetoric. 
 
One member said, “We are not restricted as the Department of Justice is.” Think about what that statement means. The Department of Justice is restricted by the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights sets forth basic principles of due process: the right to confront your accuser and the right to call witnesses in your defense.  Charges must be supported by evidence, not gossip.  And you have the right to appeal to the courts to protect these rights. 
 
Yes, the Department of Justice is restricted by the Bill of Rights, but our Bill of Rights with its due process protections, restricts ALL of us who take the oath of office, and that includes Congress. We are commanded to respect these rights just as much as the Department of Justice.  Only the majority is now placing themselves above the supreme law of the land.
 
The lawful exercise of executive power is simply not an impeachable offense. The President is responsible for faithfully executing the laws. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime to offer something of value to secure business in a foreign country.  The facts of Mr. Biden's actions in Ukraine certainly look like they crossed that line. 
 
Does the President have the authority to request cooperation of a foreign government to investigate potentially corrupt interactions between U.S. officials and their own officials? Of course he does. 
 
The Democrats impute the most sinister motives to this request when nothing in the conversation suggests that. “Do us a favor because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” That's the exact quote around which this entire impeachment is constructed. 
 
The National Defense Authorization Act specifically requires the administration to determine that Ukraine is taking steps to combat corruption before aid can be released.  The Democrats have made much of the fact that the Secretary of Defense certified this in May. But they ignore two facts. Number one, the Secretary of Defense exercises no authority independent of the President.  The buck still stops at the President's desk. And two, the President retains responsibility to determine that the findings of his administration remain valid – particularly as he assesses the intention of a newly elected Ukrainian President and Parliament. 
 
And lest we forget, last year three Democratic Senators wrote to the Ukrainian government demanding that it cooperate in investigating President Trump. The Democrats found absolutely nothing objectionable about this. The only difference is that the President actually has the authority and the responsibility to make such a request. 
 
So, what's at stake here? The worst possible interpretations of the President's motives in discharging his constitutional powers are being imputed to him by his most vitriolic opponents. There’s nothing extraordinary about that, it’s called politics. 
 
But if this can become the new standard of impeachment --that Congress can impeach any President for any action whose motives his opponents question -- if this is allowed to replace “treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors” as the standard for nullifying a national election and substituting the judgment of Congress for the judgment of the American people – then no President can make any decision without subjecting the nation to the travesty going on today. 
 
The executive branch will be subordinated to the legislative, serving at the pleasure of Congress and the separation of powers at the heart of our Constitution will have been severely damaged if not utterly destroyed. 
 
 
Speech in Opposition to Article II of the Impeachment
House Judiciary Committee
December 12, 2019
 
Mr. Chairman, 
 
The doctrine of executive privilege began with a subpoena that the House issued to President George Washington in 1796 demanding all the papers relating to the Jay Treaty. President Washington refused that subpoena because he said the powers of the House did not extend to treaties. He ultimately provided that information only to the Senate as a function of its treaty approval process. This ancient doctrine is derived from the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. 
 
Congress can no more intrude into the policy discussions of the President than the President can intrude into our own policy discussions. That is essential to the separation of powers.  The natural tension between the branches of government is a by-product of that separation of powers.  When tensions between the executive and the legislative branches cannot be resolved by themselves, then we turn to the judiciary. That's the appropriate way to resolve this dispute. When there are different interpretations of the boundaries between the Congress and the President, the appropriate response is judicial review, not impeachment. 
 
The President has every right to assert his constitutional privileges and he has every responsibility to defend the prerogatives of his office. His very oath of office compels him to do so. In matters like this, the courts have acted quickly to resolve such disputes, but the Democrats aren't willing to go to the courts. 
 
The second article of impeachment says, “We're not willing to go to court. We'll take the law into our own hands.” These are the same people who tell us that no one is above the law, except, of course, for themselves. 
 
What they're saying is Congress alone will decide the limits of our own power. 
 
This is the essence of despotism. The reason why we separate the powers of government is so that one branch alone cannot unilaterally define its own power. And yet this is the power the Democrats are now arrogating to themselves. 
 
It's true we have the sole power of impeachment under the Constitution, but that power does not exceed the bounds that are established by that same Constitution. 
 
Those bounds include adhering to the constitutional grounds for impeachment, which this committee has ignored, honoring the due process provisions of the Bill of Rights, which this committee has also ignored, and respecting the constitutional separation of powers that protect one branch from intrusions of the others. 
 
I want you to think about the essence of the Democrats' claim and what it means to American jurisprudence. Suppose you someday face an abusive prosecutor who is making false accusations.  Our Constitution provides you with certain rights to protect yourself.  You have the right to confront your accuser, you have the right to call witnesses in your defense, you have the right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. If these rights are abused, you can seek redress and protection from an independent judiciary.
 
But this second impeachment article says, “If you go to court to defend your rights, that's automatically an obstruction of justice (or in this case, an obstruction of Congress) -- and the very fact that you tried to defend your constitutional rights is evidence of your guilt.” 
 
These are the tools of tyrants.  We have already seen these tools used against college students in Title IX prosecutions and they’ve produced a frightening litany of injustices. Now they are being used here today in a brazen attempt to nullify the 2016 national election that the left has refused to accept.  
 
And that should scare the hell out of every person in this country. 
 
 
Closing Statement of Impeachment Mark-up
House Judiciary Committee
December 12, 2019
 
Mr. Chairman,
 
I’ve lost track of the number of newspaper articles that have been entered into the record in these proceedings, but I think it is a telling commentary on the quality of the case that this Committee is relying on to support the exercise of one of the most profound actions we can take. It underscores the dereliction of duty of a Judiciary Committee drafting Articles of Impeachment without a single fact hearing. Virtually the entire record is made up of the Schiff report and newspaper clippings. 
 
As I reminded the Committee yesterday, this week, Mr. Schiff's report on FISA abuse was categorically and completely contradicted by the Inspector General's report. Mr. Schiff's work is not exactly what you can call the gold standard of accuracy or reliability.  And newspaper clippings, with all due respect, are not exactly the solid foundation that can support our wielding such power. 
 
Impeachment should be made of sterner stuff. A matter so momentous as this should be considered thoroughly and dispassionately and fairly. 
 
Mr. Chairman, to substitute our judgment for that of the American people by nullifying a national election is a very weighty matter. If you’re going to do that you should have a record of fact that no reasonable person can deny.  A one-sided report from Adam Schiff and a newspaper scrapbook is a faulty foundation for impeachment that I predict will crumble and disintegrate before the Senate finishes its consideration. 
 
Abuse of power is exactly the vague and expansive ground that the Founders considered as “maladministration” and rejected in favor of the narrow ground of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
 
The lawful exercise of the President's constitutional authority is not impeachable, and the moment that we make it so, the President becomes a servant of Congress, and the separation of powers which has protected our freedom for nearly two and a half centuries will be dangerously eroded.    
 
Similarly, the President's assertion of long-established boundaries that maintain the separation of powers is also not impeachable. Once we make it so, we also clearly diminish the separation of powers. The overwrought political hyperbole that we have heard over and over through these hearings ought to warn us that we are straying into partisan motivations which must never animate the impeachment power of Congress. 
 
Public opinion has not coalesced around this act, which should also alert us to the danger that by proceeding we would further divide and alienate the American people and roil and agitate the political waters of this nation. 
 
You failed to define any law that the President has violated. If you could, you should clearly articulate that, should support it with legally admissible evidence and put it in the articles. Otherwise, your case is simply a disagreement with decisions the President is authorized to make and that is a matter which our Constitution reserves to the voters and not to the Congress. 
 
And by denying the witnesses requested by the minority, you have blinded the Committee to getting the whole story. If you are truly confident of your case, you should have nothing to fear from what a full airing of testimony would offer. 
 
The most chilling observation I’ve heard is that, “We can do this because we are not restricted like the Department of Justice is.” Well, the same rights of due process and the same fidelities to the Constitution are required of us. In the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, Congress made many of the same mistakes that we are making tonight. I would urge my colleagues to carefully consider how harshly history has judged those who perpetrated that abuse, and how it will judge us. 
 
Speech in Opposition to the Impeachment of the President
House Chamber
December 18, 2019
 
Mr. Speaker:

Nullifying a national election requires an overwhelming case of high crimes, supported by indisputable evidence that the vast majority of the nation finds compelling.
 
Article I is a made-up crime called “abuse of office.”  It does not charge the President broke any law, but rather that Congress doesn’t like the way he lawfully discharged his constitutional duties.  This would reduce the Presidency to that of a minister serving at the pleasure of Congress, destroying the separation of powers at the heart of our Constitution.
 
Article II is another made-up crime called “obstruction of Congress.”  It means the President sought to defend his constitutional rights and those of his office.  This removes the Judiciary from our Constitution and places Congress alone in the position of defining the limits of its own powers relative to the President.
 
Our Bill of Rights guarantees every American the right to confront their accuser, to call witnesses in their defense, to be protected from hearsay and to defend these rights in court.  The Democrats have trampled them all in their stampede to impeach.
 
Yet even in this kangaroo-court, the Democrat’s hand-picked witnesses provided no first-hand knowledge that the President linked aid to action – in fact, two witnesses provided first-hand knowledge that he specifically ordered NO quid-pro-quo.
 
Any case that charged no actual crime and offered no legally admissible evidence would be laughed out of court in a heartbeat.  That is the case before us today.  It would redefine the grounds for impeachment in such a way that assures it will become a constant presence in our national life.  
 
Now we know just how reckless is the Democrats’ chant of “Resist by ANY means necessary.”  This is a stunning abuse of power and a shameless travesty of justice that will stain the reputations of those responsible for generations to come.