WASHINGTON – In a speech on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced she would vote to convict and remove President Donald Trump on both Articles of Impeachment. Following are her remarks.
When the Framers debated whether to include the power of impeachment in the Constitution, they envisioned a moment very much like the one we face now.
They were fearful of a corrupt president who would abuse the presidency for his or her personal gain – particularly one who would allow any foreign country to interfere in the affairs of our United States. With this fear in mind, the Framers directed the Senate to determine whether to ultimately remove that president from office.
In normal times, the Senate – conscious of its awesome responsibility – would meet this moment with the appropriate sobriety and responsibility to conduct a full and fair trial.
That includes calling appropriate witnesses and subpoenaing relevant documents – none of which happened here.
In normal times, the Senate would have weighed the evidence presented by both sides and rendered impartial justice.
And in normal times, having been presented with overwhelming evidence of impeachable acts, the Senate would have embraced its constitutional responsibility to convict the president and remove him or her from office.
But as we’ve learned too often over the past three years, these are not normal times.
Instead of fulfilling its duty later today, the United States Senate will fail its test at a crucial moment for our country by voting to acquit Donald J. Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The Senate cannot blame its constitutional failure on the House managers. They proved their case with overwhelming and compelling evidence.
Manager Jerry Nadler laid out a meticulous case, demonstrating how and why the President’s actions rose to the constitutional standard for impeachment and removal.
Manager Hakeem Jeffries explained how Donald Trump “directly pressured the Ukrainian leader to commence phony political investigations as part of his effort to cheat and solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election.”
Manager Val Demings walked us through the evidence of how Donald Trump used $391 million of taxpayer money to pressure Ukraine to announce politically-motivated investigations. She concluded “[t]his is enough to prove extortion in court.”
Manager Sylvia Garcia showed us how Donald Trump’s demand for investigations was purely for his personal, political benefit. She debunked the conspiracy theories the President’s counsel raised against former Vice President Joe Biden – Donald Trump’s political rival and the true target of his corrupt scheme.
Manager Jason Crow described vividly the human costs of withholding aid from Ukrainian troops fighting a hot war against Russia.
Manager Adam Schiff tied together the evidence of Donald Trump’s abuse of power – the most serious of impeachable offenses and one that includes extortion and bribery.
And manager Zoe Lofgren used her extensive experience to provide perspective on Donald Trump’s unprecedented, unilateral, and complete obstruction of Congress to cover up his corrupt scheme. She is the only member of Congress to be involved in three presidential impeachments.
The president’s lawyers could not refute the House’s case. Instead, they ultimately resorted to the argument that even accepting the facts as presented by the House managers, Donald Trump’s conduct is not impeachable. It’s what I’ve called the “he did it; so what?” argument.
Many of my Republican colleagues are using the “so what?” argument to justify their votes to let the president off the hook.
And yet, the senior senator from Tennessee said, “I think he shouldn’t have done it – I think it was wrong.” He said it was “inappropriate” and “improper, crossing a line.”
But he refused to hold the president accountable, arguing that the voters should decide.
The junior senator from Iowa said “the president has a lot of latitude to do what he wants to do” but he “did it maybe in the wrong manner.”
She also said that “whether you like what the president did or not,” the charges didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
The junior senator from Ohio called the president’s actions “wrong and inappropriate” but said they did not “rise to the level of removing a duly elected president from office and taking him off the ballot in the middle of an election.”
And the senior senator from Florida went so far as to say “just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office.”
By refusing to hold this president accountable, my Republican colleagues are reinforcing the president’s misguided belief that he can do whatever he wants under Article II of the United States Constitution.
Donald Trump was already a danger to this country. We’ve seen it in his policy decisions – from taking away health care from millions of Americans – to threatening painful cuts to Social Security and Medicare – to engaging in an all-out assault on immigrants in this country.
But today, we’re called to confront a completely different type of danger – one that goes well beyond the significant policy differences I have with this president.
If we let Donald Trump get away with extorting the president of another country for his own personal, political benefit, the Senate will be complicit in his next corrupt scheme.
Which country will he bully or invite to interfere in our elections next?
Which pot of taxpayer money will he use as a bribe to further his political schemes?
Later today, I will vote to convict and remove President Donald Trump for abusing his power and obstructing Congress.
I’m under no illusion that my Republican colleagues will do the same.
They’ve argued it’s up to the American people to decide, as though impeachment were not a totally separate, constitutional remedy for a lawless president.
As I considered my vote, I listened closely to manager Schiff’s closing statement about why the Senate needs to convict this president. He said:
“I do not ask you to convict him because truth or right or decency matters nothing to him [the President], but because we have proven our case, and it matters to you. Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.”
It’s time for the Senate to uphold its constitutional responsibility by convicting this president and holding him accountable.