House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) closed his impeachment argument on Monday by pleading with GOP senators to vote to convict President Trump, arguing that they are better than the president and that history will judge them poorly if they vote to acquit.
“Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are,” Schiff, facing the seated Republican senators, said from the well of the Senate.
“History will not be kind to Donald Trump. I think we all know that. Not because it will be written by ‘never Trumpers,’ but because whenever we have departed from the values of our nation, we have come to regret it, and regret is written all over the pages of our history,” argued Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager.
“If you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of iron and for all of history,” he said. “But if you find the courage to stand up to him, to speak the awful truth to his rank falsehood, your place will be among the Davids who took on Goliath.”
The outcome of the Senate trial is not in doubt: Trump will be acquitted on Wednesday, as Democrats do not have the 67 votes needed under the Constitution to convict him.
And while most of the statements made by both fellow House impeachment managers and the president’s defense team on the final day of arguments repeated points made earlier in the trial, Schiff’s remarks were notable in their personal appeal to the GOP senators.
Acknowledging that the odds of conviction were “prohibitively high,” Schiff tailored his remarks to senators who have concluded that Trump was wrong to pressure the Ukrainian government for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. He said they would be wrong to think they could stop him if he sought to do it again, pointing to Trump’s prior conduct with Russia during the 2016 election.
“When the president tries to coerce an ally to help him cheat in our elections and then covers it up, we must say ‘enough.’ Enough,” Schiff said. “He has betrayed our national security and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him.”
“He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What is right matters even less, and decency matters not at all,” he said.
The White House team wrapped up its defense by hammering home its argument that Trump did not commit an impeachable offense and that his impeachment in the House was a partisan pursuit.
“The House managers’ case is not overwhelming and it is not undisputed. The House managers bear the very heavy burden of proof. They did not meet it,” said White House defense lawyer Michael Purpura.
“It is not because they didn’t get the additional witnesses or documents that they failed to pursue, it is because their own witnesses have already offered substantial evidence undermining their case,” he added, arguing that the decision should be left up to voters in 2020.
The Senate on Friday voted against inviting new witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, to testify at the trial. The debate over witnesses dominated the trial, but only two Republicans sided with Democrats in voting to hear from witnesses. The impeachment managers needed to win four votes.
One of the GOP senators who voted “no,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), said in a statement that while he thought the impeachment managers had proven their case on Trump, the president’s actions did not amount to an impeachable offense.
It was the same argument Trump’s team made on the Senate floor in its closing remarks.
Alexander also argued it would be improper to impeach Trump just 10 months before the presidential election, arguing doing so would do more harm.
Schiff’s remarks appeared to be tailored to senators like Alexander — willing to admit wrongdoing, but still leaning toward not convicting.
The lead impeachment manager acknowledged the difficult situation the GOP senators found themselves in and said he hoped that if a Democratic majority in the Senate were confronted with a Democratic president accused of Trump’s offenses, they would vote to convict.
“I hope and pray that we never have a president like Donald Trump in the Democratic Party — one that would betray the national interests and the country’s security to help with his reelection,” Schiff said, looking toward the Democratic side of the Senate.
“And I would hope to God that if we did, we would impeach him and Democrats would lead the way,” he said.