U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday delivered a speech on the floor of the United States Senate announcing that she will vote to convict President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Highlights from Harris’ remarks:
Full transcript of Harris’ remarks below:
Mr. President, when the framers wrote the Constitution they didn’t think someone like me would serve as a United States Senator.
But they did envision someone like Donald Trump being president of the United States. Someone who thinks that he is above the law and that the rules don’t apply to him.
So, they made sure our democracy had the tool of impeachment to stop that kind of abuse of power.
The House managers have clearly laid out a compelling case and evidence of Donald Trump’s misconduct. They have shown that the president of the United States of America withheld military aid and a coveted White House meeting for his political gain. He wanted a foreign country to announce – not actually conduct – announce an investigation into his political rivals. And then he refused to comply with congressional investigations into his misconduct.
And, unfortunately, a majority of United States Senators – even those who concede that what Donald Trump did was wrong – are nonetheless going to refuse to hold him accountable.
The Senate trial of Donald Trump has been a miscarriage of justice.
Donald Trump is going to get away with abusing his position of power for personal gain, abusing his position of power to stop Congress from looking into his misconduct, and falsely claiming he’s been exonerated.
He’s going to escape accountability because a majority of senators have decided to let him. They voted repeatedly to block key evidence like witnesses and documents that could have shed light on the full truth.
And we must recognize that still in America, there are two systems of justice – one for the powerful and another for everyone else.
So let’s speak the truth about what our two systems of justice actually mean in the real world.
It means that in our country too many people walk into courthouses and face systemic bias. Too often they lack adequate legal representation – whether they are overworked, underpaid or both
It means that a young man named Emmett Till was falsely accused and then murdered, but his murderer didn’t have to spend a day in jail.
It means that four young Black men had their lives taken or turned upside down after being falsely accused of a crime in Groveland, Florida.
It means that right now, too many people in America, are sitting in jail without having yet been convicted of a crime but simply because they cannot afford bail.
And it means that future presidents of the United States will remember that the United States Senate failed to hold Donald Trump accountable, and they will be emboldened to abuse their power knowing there will be no consequence.
Donald Trump knows all this better than anybody. He may not acknowledge that we have two systems of justice, but he knows the institutions in this country – be it the courts or the Senate – are set up to protect powerful people like him.
He told us as much, when regarding the sexual assault of women, he said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
He said that Article II of the United States Constitution gives him as president the right to do whatever he wants.
Trump has shown us through his words and actions that he thinks he is above the law. And when the American people see the president acting as though he is above the law, it understandably leaves them feeling un-trustful of our system of justice, distrustful of our democracy. When the United States Senate refuses to hold him accountable, it reinforces that loss of trust in our system.
Now, I’m under no illusion that this body is poised to hold this president accountable. But despite the conduct of the United States Senate in this impeachment trial, the American people must continue to strive toward the more perfect union that our Constitution promises.
And it’s going to take all of us, in every state, every town, everywhere to continue fighting for the best of who we are as a country.
We each have an important role to play in fighting for those words inscribed on that United States Supreme Court: “Equal Justice Under Law.”
Frederick Douglass, who like many, I consider to be one of the founders of our nation, wrote that, “the whole history of the progress of human liberty that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle.”
The impeachment of Donald Trump has been one of those earnest struggles for liberty. In this fight, like so many before, it has been a fight against tyranny.
This struggle has not been an easy one and it has left too many people across our nation feeling cynical. For too many people, this trial confirms something they’ve always known: that the real power in this country lies not with them, but with just a few people who advance their own interests at the expense of others’ needs.
For many, the injustice in this trial is yet another example of the way that our system of justice has worked—or, more accurately, failed to work.
But here’s the thing. Frederick Douglass also told us that, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
He went on to say, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”
And he said, “It never did and it never will.”
In order to wrestle power away from the few people at the very top who abuse their power, the American people are going to have to fight for the voice of the people and the power of the people. We must go into the darkness to shine a light, and we cannot be deterred, and we cannot be overwhelmed, and we cannot ever give up on our country.
We cannot ever give up on the ideals that are the foundation for our system of democracy. We can never give up on the meaning of true justice, and it is part of our history, our past, clearly our present, and our future that in order to make these values real—in order to make the promise of our country real—we can never take it for granted.
There will be moments in time and history where we experience incredible disappointment, but the greatest disappointment of all will be if we give up.
We cannot ever give up fighting for who we know we are, and we must always see who we can be unburdened by who we have been. That is the strength of our nation.
So, after the Senate votes today, Donald Trump will want the American people to feel cynical. He will want us not to care. He will want us to think that he is all powerful, and we have no power.
But we’re not going to let him get away with that. We’re not going to give him what he wants. Because the true power and potential of the United States of America resides not with the president, but with the people. All the people.
So in our long struggle for justice, I will do my part by voting to convict this lawless president and remove him from office. And I urge my colleagues to join me on the right side of history.