Chuck Schumer

Schumer: I’m The Juror, Pelosi’s The Prosecutor

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is making a courtroom analogy for impeachment: He’s just a juror, trying to keep his head down.

Schumer in central New York on Monday declined to take a specific stance on whether President Donald Trump should be impeached, insisting the Senate’s literal role in the process is to act as a jury.

Schumer has said he wants the members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate to do the same.

“Don’t take a position now,” he told reporters. “A good conscientious juror doesn’t take a stand, they wait until all the facts are presented. That’s what I am doing and I believe every senator, Democratic and Republican, should do the same.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Schumer said is “a prosecutor. I’m a juror. I’m not saying anything. I’m not commenting on the specifics.”

This is stretched analogy only partially true: The House of Representatives is similar to a grand jury in impeachment proceedings, voting to forward articles of impeachment in a similar way that a grand jury approves an indictment.

An impeachment trial is held in the Senate, where senators vote on whether to remove the president from office. Senators and House members can also act as lawyers to defend or prosecute the president.

Either way, Schumer said he approved of Pelosi’s handling of the events as they unfold, with Trump accused of seeking to pressure foreign governments to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

“I think Nancy Pelosi is pursuing it in the right way,” Schumer said. “She’s trying to be fact-driven.”

And either way, Schumer is treading very cautiously on the impeachment question. In a way, he can afford to: It’s not up to minority Senate Democrats to impeach. Should it reach that point, focus will turn to the Senate and whether there are the votes to remove the president from office.

U.S. Marshal Nominee Withdraws Name From Consideration

From the Morning Memo:

The Trump administration’s nomination for the next U.S Marshal for the Western District of New York has withdrawn his name from consideration.

The president nominated Peter Vito, the former commissioner of Erie County Central Police Services, in May. However, politicians from the Rochester-area, including Congressman Joe Morelle and Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, immediately opposed the choice.

The marshal traditionally comes from Rochester while the U.S. Attorney has been from Buffalo. Taking that into consideration, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued what is known as a “blue slip” – the tradition by which a home state Senator can block a nomination regardless of whether their party is in control.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been an honoring the “blue slip” prior to Vito withdrawing his name.

“We look forward to vetting the next nominee from the White House and urge them to respect the precedent of professionalism and geographic balance for this important law enforcement position,” said Schumer spokeswoman Allison Biasotti.

It’s unclear at this point who the next nominee will be. The administration has generally taken the recommendation of Congressman Chris Collins regarding appointments in the region.

Collins recommended Vito and expressed disappoint earlier this summer that the Senate was not going through the confirmation process.

Schumer Reluctant To Weigh In On Buffalo Diocese Scandal

From the Morning Memo:

Some state and federal leaders in Western New York are calling for the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo to resign amid controversy over how the church has handled accusations of sexual abuse by its clergy.

Bishop Richard Malone, during a press conference earlier this week said he has no intention of stepping down. Reporters asked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer during a Thursday event, what he believes should happen.

Schumer, who doesn’t live in the region, admitted to not knowing all the details of the situation.

“What I’ve read about this is just terrible,” he said. “It’s awful, very disturbing. You know we always have to be mindful to do everything we can to be responsive to and protective of survivors of any form of harassment or abuse.”

Schumer himself is Jewish, not Catholic. He said his religious affiliation also makes it difficult for him to weigh in.

“I am not a member of this faith community and I’m very respectful of its separation of church and state so I’m reluctant to specifically say what this faith community should do,” he said.

However, the Democratic Leader urged the church, its lay community and its leadership to handle the issue quickly, effectively and decisively.

Schumer Says He’s Hopeful FBI Will Get To Bottom Of Epstein Case

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer on Monday said he has “a lot of faith” in the leadership of the FBI to investigate the death of Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier accused of running a child sex trafficking ring who is alleged to have died by suicide in a federal jail over the weekend.

“I have a lot of faith in Christopher Wray, who is the director of the FBI,” Schumer said during an unrelated press conference in the Albany suburb of East Greenbush. “They are doing a thorough investigation. All I would say is they should turn over every stone and get to the bottom of everything without any interference. Wray assures us that will happen.”

Epstein died while in the custody of the Manhattan Correctional Center, a federal facility, just days after he was found unconscious in his cell. He had been placed on suicide watch, but was reportedly taken off it days before he died.

Epstein was connected to a variety of wealthy and powerful people, including former President Bill Clinton, President Donald Trump and Prince Andrew. His death has sparked conspiracy theories, but Schumer would not speculate on the questions raised by Epstein’s death.

“You do have questions, but I think there are all kinds of conspiracy theories floating around, I’d prefer to wait for Director Wray to come out with his report,” he said.

Schumer Demands Northern Border Report

From the Morning Memo:

A report from U.S. Department of Homeland Security about Customs and Border Protection staffing at the northern ports of entry is past due and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is demanding DHS deliver its findings to Congress immediately.

In April, CBP announced it planned to temporarily move 300 northern border officers to the southern border. That prompted Schumer to lead a push for new legislation requiring a report by August 1.

So far those details about the number of officers who have been reassigned and what resources and conditions would allow for a return to the previous staffing levels have not been delivered.

“This report is of great interest to many border communities in New York and across the nation which do not wish to see commerce interrupted by increased wait times, or their security threatened by the lack of adequate staffing,” Schumer wrote in a letter to the Homeland Security Secretary. “In particular, Western and Northern New York rely heavily on cross-border tourism during the summer months.”

He noted nearly 5 million vehicles cross the border at Buffalo’s Peace Bridge annually and the summer months are particularly busy. He said the potential staffing shortage could be a disincentive to tourism which is vital to the region.

Schumer has noted there have been noticeable backups and slower traffic at the bridge since CBP announced it was reassigning staff.

Schumer Calls Approval Of 9/11 VCF ‘Long Overdue’

The bill that extends the health care fund for first responders sickened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Monday — a move Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said was “long overdue.”

“Like we help our veterans, we had an obligation to help these people,” Schumer said during a stop on Monday morning in central New York. “At least they have some peace of mind.”

The measure extends the Victims Compensation Fund for first responders by 10 years for a $1 billion a year. Two-hundred emergency workers, police and fire personnel have died in the nearly 18 years after the attack in New York City.

“They didn’t ask questions,” Schumer said. “They’re like our soldiers. They risked their lives and rushed to danger, not away from danger.”

The bill had initially stalled amid concerns raised by Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee over the cost of the legislation. They eventually dropped the challenge, but were the only votes against the extension measure.

Trump in the Rose Garden on Monday also praised emergency workers who responded on the day of the attacks.

“You searched for survivors, you went back day after day and night after night to save lives and return the fallen to their families to rebuild and recover and to show the entire world that nothing will ever break America’s spirit,” he said.

Schumer Says He Hopes Russian Interference Gains Notice In Mueller Testimony

Russia’s attempts to influence and sway the 2016 presidential election should be a focus of Robert Mueller’s testimony to a congressional panel on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer on Monday said.

Evidence from U.S. intelligence agencies, and information outlined in Mueller’s report, have shown an effort by Russia to inject false reporting and seed discord on social media during the election, with the apparent goal of aiding President Donald Trump.

“Mr. Mueller said he will go just by his report,” Schumer said during a stop in central New York.

“The thing that troubles me the most in that report is that it makes clear the Russians are interfering in our elections. If they do it again in 2020 and people lose faith that our elections are legit, that’s really troubling for a democratic state.”

Mueller’s report could not conclude the president’s campaign worked with Russian agents as part of the interference effort. But at the same time, the report could not exonerate Trump from efforts to obstruct the investigation from proceeding.

U.S. officials, including those in the intelligence community, have raised concerns Russia will again attempt to interfere with the election.

Schumer Backs NY Democrats Effort To Get Trump Tax Returns

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he is not opposed to proposed New York state legislation which would allow the state tax commissioner to release NY tax returns to congressional investigators.

The bill, though broadly applicable to anybody who files taxes in New York, is seen as an attempt to allow Congress to see President Donald Trump’s financials. Schumer said Trump should have released his tax returns on his own.

“I think every major figure should make their tax returns public,” he said. “I’ve made mine public for years and that makes sense. So I would hope that the president would give those taxes. I would hope the courts would say he’d have to but New York’s pursuing another route and that’s fine with me.”

Trump has refused to release his tax information dating back to his 2016 candidacy. He has pointed to a federal audit, as the reason for his unwillingness to make the returns public, but also tweeted Saturday he won the 2016 election “partially based on no Tax Returns.”

“When you’re a public official, you’re not just a private citizen and you want to see what the taxes are to see if there are conflicts of interests or anything else for everybody, not just one person,” Schumer said.

Last week, the New York Times reported it had obtained tax forms from 1985 to 1994 showing Trump lost more than $1 billion over the decade and was able to avoid paying income tax for eight of ten years as a result.

Schumer Again Calls For Few Redactions In Mueller Report

From the Morning Memo:

With the Justice Department planning to release the Mueller Report to Congress on Thursday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is once again urging the attorney general to make sure as much of its contents public as possible.

Schumer has made similar public statements numerous times over the last three weeks since AG William Barr released his own summary of the report, including leading a non-binding resolution that was blocked by Senate Republicans. Yesterday in Niagara Falls and Rochester, he repeated the call a few more times.

“When Russia interferes in an election in America, that’s a big deal,” Schumer said. “And to find out everything that happened and make it clear to the public what happened so we can take action so it never happens again is imperative.”

Although the senator sometimes seemed to slip in urging the release of the “full report,” he also said he recognizes that’s nearly impossible.

“You can’t have no redactions because there are a few that are in danger, national security,” Schumer acknowledged. “In other words, if they had a source who’s undercover, you don’t want to reveal that. But the benefit of the doubt should be given to making it public in every instance.”

It’s not clear, at this point, how much of the report the attorney general plans on redacting. However, he has vowed to be as transparent as possible and let lawmakers see some of the information he’s not revealing publicly.

Schumer Addresses Mueller, McCain, Gillibrand 2020 While In Buffalo

From the Morning Memo:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took questions on a number of national issues during a Thursday trip to Buffalo.

At the top of the list was President Donald Trump’s veto after Congress rejected his national emergency declaration to build a wall along the U.S. Mexico border. If funding, is taken from the part of the budget that deals with building new military facilities, it could affect the Niagara Falls Airforce Base.

A project to build a new workout and recreational center for soldiers could be threatened. However, even though the two-thirds majority vote required for a veto override seems unlikely in the Senate, Schumer doesn’t seem worried at this point.

“I am quite confident that that will not happen because it won’t stand up in court,” he said. “The president doesn’t really have the power to do this. He’s attempting to. It will be challenged in court and unlikely to prevail.”

At the same time, Schumer criticized the president last week for posthumously attacking former GOP Senator John McCain. He said he thought the comments were awful.

The Minority Leader is planning to introduce legislation to re-name the Richard Russell Federal Building after McCain.

“He was one of my dearest friends. He was a great American. He was a hero who devoted himself to public life and there could be nothing more fitting than naming one of the three Senate office buildings after him, so I will be introducing legislation to rename the building and I hope it gets broad bipartisan support,” he said.

As for the special investigation into Russia’s interference and possible collusion during the 2016 election, which is expected to be submitted very soon, Schumer, like the president is calling for it to be made public. He said a small bit could be redacted if it reveals intelligence sources, but that’s it.

“I think there’s an imperative to make it public and I hope that the Attorney General will make it public,” Schumer said, “I was gratified to see that President Trump said he wanted it made public yesterday and so I hope the Attorney General will listen to both the Congress and what the president said. The public has the right to see this. When you’re talking about the interference in an election by a foreign power, whatever Mueller says about it, we should know about it.”

Finally the Democrat was asked if he plans to endorse his fellow New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as the nominee to challenge Trump in 2020. He was not ready to wade into those waters yet.

Instead, he said she’s a “very good senator” and they work well together buthe’s watching to see how things unfold right now.