If you needed a reminder of what’s at stake in President Trump’s impeachment trial currently underway in the Senate, the danger Trump’s pattern of behavior poses for all of us for as long as he is president, Rep. Adam Schiff cut through the moral clutter Thursday during his closing statement. It’s been a long three years, and even if you know Trump committed a crime or simply violated the oath of his office, it’s easy to be lulled into the GOP-induced nihilism that maybe this isn’t such a big deal, maybe it’s normal, and finally maybe it’s too much, too far to remove a president, even Donald Trump, from office for it.
To this ethical fog, created by Republican relativism, Schiff provides a succinct and often stirring rebuttal, reminding reasonable, likeminded Americans, first, to trust themselves. Schiff then makes the case for why Trump is dangerous to America’s national interest and thereby dangerous to Americans themselves.
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 advisers.
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. 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, if right doesn’t matter anymore.
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.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus