November 06, 2019


NEW YORK - In case you missed it, the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) joined CNN’s The Situation Room, where he outlined President Trump’s abuse of power and what to expect next as part of the impeachment inquiry.

WOLF BLITZER: As you know, the House has released the transcripts now from the deposition of the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor. Lawmakers will have the chance to question Bill Taylor once again next week during the first round of public televised impeachment hearings. How valuable do you believe Ambassador Taylor is as a witness?

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: Ambassador Taylor is an important witness, one because of his inherent credibility. This is somebody who served the country incredibly well, who's a Vietnam War veteran, decorated hero, a West Point graduate, a diplomat of impeccable credentials. And his testimony will confirm the underlying narrative, which is that the president betrayed his oath of office, that he abused his power by pressuring a foreign government to target an American citizen for political and personal gain by soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election, betrayed the integrity of our elections in that process and violated the Constitution.

BLITZER: What would you like to hear from some of the lawmakers when these televised hearings begin next Wednesday? Millions of people across the country will be watching. 

JEFFRIES: The focus, I think, is going to be on the witnesses and communicating to the American people why Trump's wrongdoing implicated and undermined our national security interests. $391 million in military and economic aid was withheld from Ukraine that had been allocated in a bipartisan way. Ukraine is a friend. Russia is a foe. Ukraine is a democracy. Russia is a dictatorship. And the United States right now may be the only thing standing between Vladimir Putin and Ukraine being completely overrun by Russia as part of Putin's fantasy of recreating what he views as the glory days of the Soviet Union. Right now, you have Russian backed separatists at war in Ukraine. That is why Congress allocated this money on a bipartisan basis. Yet it was withheld as part of a pressure campaign to target an American citizen and try to compel this phony investigation into Joe Biden.

BLITZER: Once the hearings go public next week, Republicans at those hearings, they'll be able to cross-examine some of these witnesses who even used staff attorneys to ask questions as well. As you know, the president and his allies have tried to paint witnesses like Bill Taylor as "Never Trumpers." They've gone after them personally. Do public hearings carry some level of risk potentially for Democrats? 

JEFFRIES: Not at all. I believe it was Justice Brandeis who once said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. And what you have right now is evidence of wrongdoing by Donald Trump that's hiding in plain sight. That evidence needs to be presented to the American people in a clear, comprehensive and compelling fashion. And that is exactly what is going to happen. We're going to continue to follow the facts, apply the law, be guided by the constitution and make sure that the truth is presented to the American people.

BLITZER: What's the timeline? As I understand, it's not specific, but give me a sense, the timeline for holding a vote on articles of impeachment. 

JEFFRIES: Speaker Pelosi, who continues to do a fantastic job in leading us forward in a real serious, solemn and sober fashion, has made clear that we won't put a specific timeline on our proceedings, but that we will proceed in a fashion that is expeditious, that's comprehensive and that is fair. We are going to be guided by the facts as they exist and as they unfold and are presented to the American people sooner rather than later. I think it's fair to say in terms of moving forward and ultimately coming to a decision that the Intel Committee will have to make as to whether they're going to recommend articles of impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee. But the Intel Committee has been proceeding in a way that is consistent with simply trying to uncover the entirety of the story, present that wrongdoing engaged in by Donald Trump to the American people and then see where it leads.