Miss. Senator to Cast Vote Against Removal of President

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today shared his thoughts on the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump from the floor of the Senate.

You can read the full speech below: 

Thank you, Madam President.

Tomorrow, I will cast my vote against the removal of our duly elected President. I will do so based upon my understanding of the duty conferred upon me by the Constitution of the United States. 

I do not believe the House Managers have proved the allegations contained in the Articles of Impeachment, nor do I believe the Articles allege conduct that may be used for grounds of removal.  

I find the President’s counsel to be persuasive in this regard. Significantly, much of the American public, without the benefit of learned Constitutional instruction, have come to the same conclusion.

During the two and one-half weeks of this trial, we have received more than 28 thousand pages of documents. We have seen 192 video clips of 13 different witnesses. We had the opportunity to question each side for a total of 16 hours. 

And we have listened to literally hours and hours of argument. Clearly, I am unable to discuss every aspect of the trial in the time allotted me.  

Some facts in this case are in dispute, but many are not. Here is what we all know beyond a doubt:

First, we know that voices on the left have been calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump since “day one”. Literally, “day one.”  

The Washington Post on January 20, 2017, published an article titled, “The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun,” – on Inauguration Day. 

Secondly, we know that the years-long, $32 million Mueller investigation failed to reveal sufficient ammunition for those who desired impeachment.

Third, the impeachment of this President in the House was the result of a narrowly partisan vote, with no Republican Representatives – zero – voting in favor of the articles.

And, fourth, a guilty verdict this week would not only immediately remove the President from office, but it would also remove his name from the ballot in an election which is already going on, the first caucuses of which were conducted only yesterday. The words are right there in Articles I and II on pages 3 and 4 of the Resolution: “disqualification to hold…any office.”

The founders of this country entrusted Congress with the power of impeachment as a check and balance on the executive branch.

This power was never intended to settle policy differences or political disagreements, even intense disagreements.

It was not designed so that Congress could get rid of a President they found odious, or obnoxious, or with whom they vehemently disagreed.

The Constitution gives Congress this extraordinary authority as a remedy only for what it calls ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ And, making it clear what an extreme action impeachment is, the framers required the support of two-thirds in this chamber in order to convict.

These standards intentionally set a very high bar to prevent abuse of the impeachment process.

Meeting these standards requires this process be used to try only the most serious allegations, and requires broad consensus in the Senate.

Members of both parties have in the past warned about the dangers of a narrowly partisan impeachment.

As late as last year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cautioned, “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”

Congressman Nadler, one of the impeachment managers, said in 1998, “There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other. Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come.”

This wise approach has been supported in the past by House Manager Zoe Lofgren, by Senator and future Vice President Joe Biden, by our own colleagues Senators Menendez and Schumer, who feared that impeachment would become a routine tool.  

These leaders had good company in taking this position. In Federalist No. 65, Alexander Hamilton warned of the danger that the decision to impeach “will be regulated more by the comparative strength of the parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

Many of our Democratic friends who once sided with Hamilton have apparently changed their minds.

 They have also reversed themselves on the urgency of doing so. A rather sudden and abrupt change of heart on that question. 

House advocates of impeachment have argued that President Trump is willing to cheat in the ongoing election, amounting to such an imminent threat to our democracy that he must be removed at once. Unless he is out of office and out quickly, they assert, we cannot have any confidence that the 2020 election results will be trustworthy.

I ask, Madam President, does any Senator really believe that? That America cannot have a fair election if Donald Trump is in the White House?

But that alleged danger was the reason for the abbreviated House procedure.

The lead House manager, Congressman Schiff, said in an interview last year that the timing of impeachment was driven by the “urgency” of removing the President.

Congressman Nadler agreed, saying that “nothing could be more urgent.”

Speaker Pelosi repeated this same argument many times to explain the rushed process in the House and why there was not time to give the President a fair hearing. Senators heard the words repeated and repeated on video clips shown during this trial: “urgent,” “urgency.”

But what happened to that urgency once the House voted? Did the Speaker then rush the papers to the Senate so that we could address this imminent threat? Hardly. 

Speaker Pelosi held the articles for more than a month. If this trial was so urgent, why not send the articles without delay?

 Some might conclude that by withholding the articles, the Speaker exposed that she did not in fact believe that this case was so urgent. Perhaps it was an effort to influence our procedural decisions. 

Madam President, I do not impugn motives here. Our rules prohibit me from doing so. I merely note an obvious change for whatever reason.

 As I consider the high bar of impeachment, tomorrow, I will vote not to convict. 

I will do so because, there is not overwhelming evidence, because no high crimes are shown, because there is not a broad consensus among my countrymen, only articles passed on a narrowly partisan basis.

 And because removing President Trump on these charges, at this time, would set a dangerous precedent.

I conclude by reminding my colleagues: we are the trustees of the Constitution of 1787. We have the privilege and responsibility of standing on the shoulders of our remarkably perceptive founders. But we also act as trustees for our republic on behalf of future generations. 

With that in mind, we have an enhanced obligation to be careful, to resist the passions of the moment, to remember that what we do today establishes precedents for decades and centuries to come. 

Manager Schiff closed his remarks yesterday with an ominous reference to nefarious midnight decisions, somehow threatening the freedom or welfare of Americans. 

 His hopeful conclusion was that it is midnight in America, but the sun will rise tomorrow, a sentiment I happen to share — though my concept of what amounts to a beautiful sunrise may differ from his. 

Over a century ago, during the depths of World War I, Vachel Lindsay composed “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight,” imagining an agonized, sleepless Lincoln walking the streets of Springfield, dismayed over the carnage in Europe.  

Let us ask ourselves today, do Hamilton and Madison and Franklin walk these venerable halls at midnight?  

Do these founding fathers traverse the stone corridors of this great building, this symbol of stability and rule of law? 

If they do, they caution us, as they always have, to be careful. To avoid rash decisions, to resist the urges of partisanship, to let the Constitution work.

I hope my colleagues will heed their counsel.

Senator Roger Wicker Press Release

2/4/2020