WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Wednesday delivered remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate outlining why he will vote today to convict President Donald Trump on both articles of impeachment—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Murphy released a statement at the beginning of the trial when Senate Republicans blocked additional witnesses and documents before arguments were heard, and another statement when Senate Republicans again voted to block additional witnesses. Murphy has held multiple Facebook Lives throughout the trial to increase transparency and answer questions from constituents.
“The founders wanted Congress to save the country from bad men who would try to use the awesome power of the executive branch to enrich themselves, or win office illicitly. And I grew up under the belief that when those bad men presented themselves, this place had the ability to put aside party and work to protect our fragile democracy from attack,” said Murphy.
“Congressman Schiff rightly challenged Democrats, in his closing argument, to think about what we would do, if a president of our party ever committed the same kind of offense that Donald Trump has. I think it was a very wise query—and one that we, as Democrats, should not be so quick on the trigger to answer self-righteously,” Murphy added. “And so I’ve thought a lot over this question over these past two days, and I’ve come to the conclusion that at least for me, I would hold a Democrat to the same standard. I would vote to remove. But I admit to some level of doubt, and I think I need to be honest about that. Because the pressures today to put party first are real, on both sides of the aisle, and they are so much more acute than they were during Watergate.”
Murphy continued: “It’s with that reality as context that I prepare to vote today…If we are to survive as a democracy—a fragile, delicate, constantly-in-need-of-tending democracy—then this Senate needs to figure out a way to reorder our incentive systems and recalibrate our faiths, so that the health of one party never ever again comes before the health of our nation.”
Full transcript of Murphy’s remarks is below:
“It’s important to remind ourselves, at moments like this, how unnatural, and uncommon democracy really is. Just think of all the important forums in your life—think about your workplace, your family, your favorite sports team. None of them makes decisions by democratic vote. The CEO decides how much money you’re going to make, not a vote of your fellow employees. You love your kids, but they don’t get an equal say in household matters as mom and dad do. The plays the Chiefs called on their game-winning drive, they weren’t decided by a team vote.
“No, most everything in our life that matters, other than the government under which we live, is not run by democratic vote. And, of course, a tiny percentage of humans, probably well under .1 percent, have lived in a democratic society over the last thousand years of human history.
“Democracy is unnatural. It is rare. It is delicate. It is fragile. And untended to, neglected, or taken for granted, it will disappear, like ashes scattering into the cold night. This body, the United States Senate, was conceived by our founders to be the ultimate guardians of this brittle experiment in governance. We—the 100 of us—were given the responsibility to keep it safe from those who might deign to harm it.
“And when the Senate lives up to this charge, it is an awesome, inspirational sight to behold.
“I was born three weeks after Alexander Butterfield revealed the existence of a taping system in the White House that likely held evidence of President Nixon’s crimes, and I was born one week after the Senate Watergate Committee, in a bipartisan vote, ordered Nixon to turn over several key tapes.
“My parents were Republicans. My mother still is a Republican. Over the years, they’ve voted for lots of Democrats and Republicans. They raised me in the shadow of Watergate to understand that what mattered in politics wasn’t really someone’s party, it was whether you were honest, and decent, if you were pursuing office for the right reasons.
“In the year I was born, this Senate watched a president betray the nation, and this Senate—both Democrats and Republicans—stood together to protect the country from this betrayal. This is exactly what our founders envisioned, when they gave the Congress the massive responsibility of the impeachment power. They said use it sparingly. Use it not to settle political scores. But use it—when a president has strayed from the bonds of decency and propriety.
“The founders wanted Congress to save the country from bad men who would try to use the awesome power of the executive branch to enrich themselves, or win to office illicitly. And I grew up under the belief that when those bad men presented themselves, this place had the ability to put aside party and work to protect our fragile democracy from attack.
“And this attack on our republic, that we are debating today, left unchecked, is potentially lethal. The one sacred covenant that an American president makes with the governed is to use the massive power of the executive branch for the good of the country, not for personal financial or political benefit. The difference between a democracy and a tin pot dictatorship is that here we don’t allow presidents to use the official levers of power to destroy political opponents. But that’s exactly what President Trump did. And we all know it—even Republicans who are voting to acquit him today admit that. And if you think that our endorsement through acquittal won’t have an impact, then just look at Rudy Giuliani’s trip to Ukraine in December, in the middle of the impeachment process. He went back, to look for more dirt, and the president was ringing him up to get the details before Giuliani’s plane even reached the gate. The corruption hasn’t stopped. It’s ongoing. And if this is the new normal—the new means by which a president can consolidate power and destroy political opponents—then we are no longer America.
“What happened here, over the last two weeks, is as much a corruption as Trump’s scheme was. This trial was simply an extension of Trump’s crimes. No documents. No witnesses. The first-ever impeachment trial in the Senate without either. John Bolton, practically begging to come here and tell his first-hand account of the President’s corruption, denied. Just to make sure the voters can’t hear his story in time to pressure their Senators prior to an impeachment vote.
“This was a show trial—a gift wrapped for a grateful party leader. We became complicit in the very attacks on democracy that this body is supposed to guard against.
“We have failed to protect the republic. And what’s so interesting to me, is that it’s not like Republicans didn’t see this moment coming. In fact, many of my colleagues across the aisle literally predicted it.
“Prior to the President’s election, here’s what Republican Senators said of Donald Trump.
“One said, ‘He is shallow, he is ill-prepared to be Commander in Chief. I think he is crazy. I think he is unfit for office.’
“Another said, ‘The man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies.’
“Yet another Republican Senator said, ‘What we are dealing with is a con artist. He is a con artist.’
“Now you can shrug this off as election year rhetoric, but no Democrat has ever said these kind of things about a candidate from our party, and prior to Trump, no Republican had said such things about candidates from their party either. The truth is, Republicans, before Trump became the head of their party, knew exactly how dangerous he was, and how dangerous he would be if he won. They knew he was the archetype of that bad man that the founders intended the Senate to protect democracy from.
“But today, that responsibility seems to no longer retain a position of primacy in this body. Today, the rule of law doesn’t seem to come first. Today, our commitment to upholding decency, and truth, and honor is not the priority. Today, in the modern Senate, all that seems to matters is party.
“What is different about this impeachment is not that Democrats have chosen to make it partisan. It is that Republicans have chosen to excuse their party’s president’s conduct, in a way that they would not have done and did not 45 years ago. That is what makes this moment exceptional.
“Congressman Schiff rightly challenged Democrats, in his closing argument, to think about what we would do, if a president of our party ever committed the same kind of offense that Donald Trump has. I think it was a very wise query—and one that we, as Democrats, should not be so quick on the trigger to answer self-righteously. Would we have the courage to stand up to our base, to our political supporters, to vote to remove a Democratic president who had chosen to trade away the safety of the nation for political help? It would not be easy. No, the easy thing to do would be to just do what’s happening doing today—to box our ears, close our eyes, and just hope the corruption just goes away.
“And so I’ve thought a lot over this question over these past two days, and I’ve come to the conclusion that at least for me, I would hold a Democrat to the same standard. I would vote to remove. But I admit to some level of doubt, and I think I need to be honest about that. Because the pressures today to put party first are real, on both sides of the aisle, and they are so much more acute than they were during Watergate.
“It’s with that reality as context that I prepare to vote today. I believe that the president’s crimes are worthy of removal. I will vote to convict on both articles of impeachment.
“But I know that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Ours is an institution built to put country above party. And today, we are doing often the opposite. I believe, within the cult of personality that has become the Trump presidency, the disease is more acute, and more perilous to the nation’s health, on the Republican side of the ledger. But I admit that this affliction has spread to all corners of this chamber.
“If we are to survive as a democracy—a fragile, delicate, constantly-in-need-of-tending democracy—then this Senate needs to figure out a way after today to reorder our incentive systems and recalibrate our faiths, so that the health of one party never ever again comes before the health of our nation.
“I yield back.”