Adam Schiff’s Impeachment Opening Statement
The matter is as simple, and as terrible, as that. Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency, but the future of the presidency itself, and what kind of conduct or misconduct the American people may come to expect from their commander in chief.
There are few actions as consequential as the impeachment of a president. While the Founders did not intend that impeachment be employed for mere differences over policy, they also made impeachment a constitutional process that the Congress must utilize when necessary.
The facts in the present inquiry are not seriously contested. Beginning in January of this year, the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pressed Ukrainian authorities to investigate Burisma, the country’s largest natural-gas producer, and the Bidens, since Vice President Joe Biden was seen as a strong potential challenger to Trump.
Giuliani also promoted a debunked conspiracy that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked the 2016 election. The nation’s intelligence agencies have stated unequivocally that it was Russia, not Ukraine, that interfered in our election. But Giuliani believed this conspiracy theory, referred to as “Crowdstrike,” shorthand for the company that discovered the Russian hack, would aid his client’s reelection.
Giuliani also conducted a smear campaign against the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. On April 29, a senior State Department official told her that although she had “done nothing wrong,” President Trump had “lost confidence in her.” With the sidelining of Yovanovitch, the stage was set for the establishment of an irregular channel in which Giuliani and later others, including Gordon Sondland—an influential donor to the president’s inauguration now serving as ambassador to the European Union—could advance the president’s personal and political interests.
Yovanovitch’s replacement in Kiev, Ambassador Bill Taylor, is a West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran. As he began to better understand the scheme through the summer of 2019, he pushed back, informing Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent and others about a plan to condition U.S. government actions and funding on the performance of political favors by the Ukrainian government, favors intended for President Trump that would undermine our security and our elections.
Several key events in this scheme took place in the month of July. On July 10, Ambassador Sondland informed a group of U.S. and Ukrainian officials meeting at the White House that, according to Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, a White House meeting desperately sought by the Ukrainian president with Trump would happen only if Ukraine undertook an investigation into “the energy sector,” which was understood to mean Burisma and, specifically, the Bidens. National Security Adviser [John] Bolton abruptly ended the meeting and said afterwards that he would not be “part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this.”