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Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan was off base to make a joke about President Trump’s youngest son, Barron, during yesterday’s House impeachment hearings, but she was the most persuasive and passionate of the three Democratic witnesses who said the evidence and testimony presented to the House Intelligence Committee warranted impeachment.

Here is the transcript of Karlan’s opening statement, with a couple of deletions for space…

**

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:

Today, you are being asked to consider whether protecting…elections requires impeaching a President. That is an awesome responsibility. But everything I know about our Constitution and its values, and my review of the evidentiary record, tells me that when President Trump invited — indeed, demanded — foreign involvement in our upcoming election, he struck at the very heart of what makes this country the “republic” to which we pledge allegiance.

That demand constituted an abuse of power. Indeed, as I want to explain in my testimony, drawing a foreign government into our elections is an especially serious abuse of power because it undermines democracy itself.

Pamela Karlan

Our Constitution begins with the words “We the People” for a reason. Our government, in James Madison’s words, “derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people.” And the way it derives these powers is through elections. Elections matter — both to the legitimacy of our government and to all our individual freedoms — because, as the Supreme Court explained more than a century ago, voting is “preservative of all rights.”

So it is hardly surprising that the Constitution is marbled with provisions governing elections and guaranteeing governmental accountability. Indeed, a majority of our amendments to the Constitution since the Civil War deal with voting and terms for elective office.

…But the Framers of our Constitution realized that elections alone could not guarantee that the United States would remain a republic. One of the key reasons for including the impeachment power was the risk that unscrupulous officials might try to rig the election process. At the Constitutional Convention, William Davie warned that unless the Constitution contained an impeachment provision, a president might “spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected.”

And George Mason insisted that a president who “procured his appointment in the first instance” through improper and corrupt acts should not “escape punishment, by repeating his guilt.” Mason was responsible for adding “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” to the list of impeachable offenses. So we know that that list was designed to reach a president who acts to subvert an election — whether it is the election that brought him into office or an upcoming election where he seeks a second term. Moreover, the Founding Generation, like every generation of Americans since, was especially concerned to protect our government and our democratic process from outside interference.

For example, John Adams expressed concern with the very idea of having an elected President, writing to Thomas Jefferson that “You are apprehensive of foreign Interference, Intrigue, Influence. So am I. But, as often as elections happen, the danger of foreign Influence recurs.”  And in his Farewell Address, President Washington warned that “history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

The very idea that a President might seek the aid of a foreign government in his re-election campaign would have horrified them. But based on the evidentiary record, that is what President Trump has done. The list of impeachable offenses the Framers included in the Constitution shows that the essence of an impeachable offense is a president’s decision to sacrifice the national interest for his own private ends. “Treason” lay in an individual’s giving aid to a foreign enemy — that is, putting a foreign adversary’s interests above the United States’.  “Bribery” occurred when an official solicited, received, or offered a personal favor or benefit to influence official action — that is, putting his private welfare above the national interest. And “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” captured the other ways in which a high official might, as Justice Joseph Story explained, “disregard…public interests, in the discharge of the duties of political office.”

Based on the evidentiary record before you, what has happened in the case is something that I do not think we have ever seen before: a president who has doubled down on violating his oath to “faithfully execute” the laws and to “protect and defend the Constitution.” The evidence reveals a President who used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency. As President Kennedy declared, “[t]he right to vote in a free American election is the most powerful and precious right in the world.” But our elections become less free when they are distorted by foreign interference.

What happened in 2016 was bad enough: there is widespread agreement that Russian operatives intervened to manipulate our political process. But that distortion is magnified if a sitting president abuses the powers of his office actually to invite foreign intervention. To see why, imagine living in a part of Louisiana or Texas that’s prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding. What would you think if, when your governor asked the federal government for the disaster assistance that Congress had provided, the President responded, “I would like you to do us a favor. I’ll meet with you and send the disaster relief once you brand my opponent a criminal.”?

Wouldn’t you know in your gut that such a president had abused his office, betrayed the national interest, and tried to corrupt the electoral process? I believe the evidentiary record shows wrongful acts on that scale here. It shows a president who delayed meeting a foreign leader and providing assistance that Congress and his own advisors agreed serve our national interest in promoting democracy and limiting Russian aggression.

Saying, “Russia, if you’re listening…?” You know, a president who cared about the Constitution would say, “Russia, if you’re listening, butt out of our elections!”

It shows a president who did this to strong arm a foreign leader into smearing one of the president’s opponents in our ongoing election season. That is not politics as usual — at least not in the United States or any other mature democracy. It is, instead, a cardinal reason why the Constitution contains an impeachment power. Put simply, a candidate for president should resist foreign interference in our elections, not demand it and not welcome it.

If we are to keep faith with the Constitution and with our Republic, President Trump must be held to account.

Has anyone noticed that The Star has had some really outstanding stories lately?

Among others…

:: The five-part series on Missouri’s underfunded and beaten-down public defender system.

:: The co-opting of Independence Mayor Eileen Ware and other Independence City Council members by companies that sought, and got, multi-million-dollar contracts for projects either dubious or overpriced.

:: Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway’s decision not to look into Sunshine Law transgressions during a more than year-long audit of former Gov. Eric Greitens.

:: Eric Adler’s Sunday story on wacko, rat-breeding Carol Dille, who has been making life miserable for her Westwood Road neighbors for almost 20 years.

I sure hope readers have been taking notice, but I wonder…I wonder because, unlike the years I was at the paper (the glory years, fortuitously, for me and my former colleagues), I no longer hear people talking about the stories that should jump out, should generate a buzz and should spark demands for change.

The business is now being assaulted from two sides. On one is the fake-news river, with its headwaters at the White House. On the other are the hedge funds and private equity firms that are hollowing out some of the biggest publicly owned newspaper chains.

At the center of that unholy sandwich are the reporters, feature writers, photographers, graphic artists, editors and, in some cases, publishers who are trying to continue delivering good and important news coverage to a dwindling and less interested public.

It is beyond frustrating for two groups — the dwindling audience and the reporters and others who are still trying to practice responsible journalism.

Although there’s been a wave of bad news lately, including strong indications that The Star’s owner, the McClatchy Co., is headed for takeover or bankruptcy, it took a long time for journalism to get where it is today.

Let’s take a ride back to the roots of corporate journalism.

When I arrived at The Star — actually the morning paper, The Kansas City Times — in 1969, The Star was owned by the employees. Every employee could buy stock and had the option of having money taken out of his or her paycheck to go toward purchasing shares of the company. I got on board right away, even though I didn’t jump in in a big way, mostly because I’d never purchased stock and didn’t know what it was all about.

In 1977, a publicly owned company called Capital Cities Inc., which owned newspapers, TV and radio stations, came knocking at the door, wanting to buy.

The question for the employees was whether to sell. I didn’t have much say in it because I had not accumulated much stock between ’69 and ’77. But there was a lot of money to be made by those who had been accumulating stock a long time, and they jumped at the opportunity.

CapCities, as it was called, was offering $2 for every $1 worth of outstanding stock, so many people became overnight millionaires. (CapCities paid about $100 million for The Star.)

Even I, with my meager number of shares, made a nice gain: I had $10,000 worth of stock, which turned into $20,000. I used the windfall to buy my first house, on Grand, just off 51st Street. I was happy about that, of course, but deep down I knew, like all my fellow employees, that the paper would never be the same. It would no longer be a family-type operation, with excellent job security and the “partnership” the paper enjoyed with its readers and subscribers. And the profits, which had been staying in Kansas City, would be going to CapCities’ headquarters in New York.

At first, things went well. CapCities brought in good managers and maintained a strong workforce. But, over time, the corporate roller coaster took its toll. In a stunning move, CapCities bought the ABC network (and its ESPN subsidiary) in 1985 for $3.5 billion. Then, in 1995, the Walt Disney Co. bought CapCities/ABC for $19 billion.

After the sale, Disney C.E.O. Michael Eisner came to The Star’s newsroom and told employees Disney would not be selling The Star, despite Disney’s previous lack of newspaper ownership…A year later, in 1996, The Star was on the block.

In 1997, Knight Ridder Inc., then the nation’s second-largest newspaper company, bought The Star, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Belleville (IL) News-Democrat and The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, PA, for $1.65 billion.

In a New York Times story about the sale, reporter Joseph B. Treaster wrote…

The deal solidifies Knight Ridder’s commitment to the newspaper business at a time when many rival publishing companies have been diversifying into broadcasting and other forms of communication. It also comes amid a continuing debate over how vulnerable newspapers may be to the Internet and other electronic media.

In June 2006, the month I retired, Knight Ridder, under pressure from a large, disgruntled stockholder, decided to sell all of its 32 daily papers and go out of business. Along came McClatchy, a company half the size of Knight Ridder. It paid an outrageous $4.5 billion for the Knight Ridder papers.

A New York Times story about that sale quoted Chuck Richard, an information industry analyst as saying, “McClatchy is a dolphin swallowing a small whale.”

The dolphin was never able to digest that whale, and now, to quote impeachment witness Fiona Hill, “Here we are.”

When I was young and single and starting my career at The Star, I used to give thanks at this time of year for totally different types of things than I do now.

I used to give thanks for things like…

:: New girlfriends…when I was lucky enough to get them

:: Front-page or Metro-front by-lines, especially in the big Thanksgiving Day paper. I remember one in particular about the late Jim Spainhower, who came to town the day before Thanksgiving in 1971, and I wrote that he was going to run for state treasuer. He ran in 1972 and won, and he served from 1973 to 1980. (Before he died last December, he was living at the Foxwood Springs retirement center in Belton.)

:: Pay raises

:: Some place to go on Thanksgiving Day, if I didn’t have to work. (Almost all of us reporters were on a holiday-work rotation. I remember either a Thanksgiving or Christmas when a photographer and I ate at a restaurant called the Snooty Fox, which was on the corner of Linwood and Gillham and later replaced by a 7-Eleven that has been at the site for decades.)

But, like I say, it’s different now.

I’m thankful, first of all, that I stuck it out in Kansas City the first couple of years, when I didn’t know many people and was having trouble adapting. I’m thankful every day, too, for Patty, whom I met in 1983 and married in 1985, and our children, Brooks and Charlie, and my other relatives and our many friends.

But, as I as thinking about it today — on the broader front — instead of being thankful for pay raises and by-lines, I’m now thankful for more mundane things — things that just make life a bit easier.

Let me give you three examples…

:: QuikTrip. I trust you, like me, have considered, periodically, how lucky we are to have such an efficient convenience-store chain. Many non-QT convenience stores are dumps, and the clerks are unfriendly and obviously unhappy to be doing what they’re doing. Not at QT. The stores are always clean and bright, and the clerks are almost always polite and efficient. And, they can count money as fast as bank clerks. Even though the Tulsa-based company operates primarily in only the Midwest and Southeast, it was ranked No. 33 on Forbes magazine’s list of largest private companies in 2016. The first QuikTrip was opened in 1958 in Tulsa by Burt Holmes and Chester Cadieux. Chester’s son, Chet Jr., is the current CEO.

:: Costco. Thank you, Jim Glover, for convincing Costco to open its Midtown store at Linwood and Gillham. I went there today, along with half of Kansas City, and, judging from how full the parking lot was, I thought I’d be there 45 minutes to an hour, even though I only needed three items. I was in and out in about 20 minutes. Every checkout line was going, and they had two people marking receipts at the exit…It’s hard to fathom now, but back in the 1990s some people were bitching about the composition of and lack of progress on “The Glover Plan.” In 1999, The Pitch had a story about an architect named Kevin Klinkenberg complaining about the area being “a parking lot with a lot of trees.” Klinkenberg went on to say: “At the beginning, back in the early and mid-1990s, they were going to have a Price Chopper and a Payless Cashways. Now they have a Costco and a Home Depot. The designs may be different, but they are just big-box stores that have no place in an urban environment.”

I can only imagine the mess we would have had if a Payless Cashways had gone in there, instead of Home Depot.

:: St. Luke’s Health System. I used to do most of my medical business in North Kansas City, with the Meritas network and North Kansas City Hospital. That changed this year after I had complications after a February knee replacement and had a couple of hospitalizations at St. Luke’s South. Along the way, I got a cardiologist and pulmonologist, who got me back on track. Then, after my primary care doctor at Meritas retired, I found I couldn’t get an appointment with the new Meritas doctor for several months. Now I’ve got an appointment with a new primary care doctor in the St. Luke’s system.

This Thanksgiving, then, as the year draws to a close, I’m counting blessings more pragmatic than years and decades past.

Being young and an asshole was a lot of fun — very exciting and invigorating — but this stage of life also has its rewards.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

There’ve been incremental developments in two big murder cases in our area.

In the Jackson County case of David Jungerman, charged with murder in the killing of lawyer Thomas Pickert, the prosecutor’s office has filed a motion opposing Jungerman’s attempt to either move the trial outside of the county or bring in a jury from another county. (I don’t think either scenario is likely.)

In the Cass County case of Kylr Yust, charged in the slayings of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions, Yust’s attorneys have redoubled their efforts to keep Yust out of court, saying he suffers from “anxiety and depression” and “extreme anxiety about appearing in court.” (I don’t blame him.)

Let’s take a closer look at these two cases, which are moving ever closer to trial.

**

Jungerman

Attorneys for the state and Jungerman met in Judge John M. Torrence’s chambers Friday to talk about the case. Since it was not held in open court, the conference was not open to the public, and I could not attend. I understand, however, the meeting had to do with jury selection.

Judge Torrence has yet to rule on Jungerman’s motion for a “change of venue.” Jungerman’s attorneys contend he can’t get a fair trial in Jackson County — or at least with a Jackson County jury — because of extensive publicity about the case.

In a Nov. 1 motion objecting to a change of venue, the prosecution said the murder — and Jungerman’s presumed involvement — got a lot of publicity at first but that “the publicity has subsided.”

The motion cited a Missouri Supreme Court decision that said the law does not require that jurors be ignorant of the facts and issues reported by the media.

“In these days of swift widespread and diverse methods of communication,” the court said, “an important case can be expected to arouse the interest of the public in the vicinity, and scarcely any of those best qualified to serve as jurors will not have formed some impression or opinion as to the merits of the case.”

The question, then, the high court said, “is not whether the community remembers the case but whether the actual jurors of the case have fixed opinions such that they could not judge impartially whether the defendant was guilty…There must be a pattern of deep and bitter prejudice or a wave of public passion such that the seating of an impartial jury is impossible.”

Partly because of that and partly because jury selection was the subject of Friday’s conference, I doubt that Torrence is going to grant the change of venue. Look for him to rule soon that the case will be tried at the downtown courthouse, with Jackson County residents comprising the jury.

Torrence has scheduled evidentiary motions to be heard Dec. 13 and non-evidentiary motions Dec. 20.

Jury selection is scheduled to start Jan. 21.

The two main lawyers representing Jungerman are David S. Bell and Dan Ross.

Yust

A medical doctor hired by the defense diagnosed Yust with anxiety and depression and said he was not receiving appropriate treatment while being held in the Cass County Jail. Twice in recent months, his public-defender attorneys have filed objections to Yust being forced to appear in court for hearings. Judge William B. Collins has overruled the objections, and both times — the second time being last Monday — Yust has appeared as required in Harrisonville.

I wasn’t at either appearance, so I don’t know how he looked or acted.

In October, the Missouri Department of Mental Health filed a report saying psychologists with the state had determined Yust was competent to assist in his defense. However, the psychologists also recommended that Yust be seen by a mental health professional and get appropriate treatment.

Subsequently, Judge Collins ordered that another evaluation take place by mid-December.

Meanwhile, two hearings are scheduled next month — one on Dec. 2, the other on Dec. 19.

A trial date has not been set.

Representing Yust are two public defenders out of St. Louis — Sharon Turlington and Matt Vigil.

The last scheduled day of impeachment hearings featured the testimony of Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, and David Holmes, a top staff member at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

As he has all week, Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, got the last word. His closing statements on Tuesday and Wednesday were stirring and unsettling, and Thursday’s was the same. A former assistant U.S. Attorney, he speaks without notes and weaves what comes off as a well-organized essay.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I ran his closing statements in their entirety. Thursday’s, however, lasted 20 minutes, and I’m limiting my transcription to the last seven minutes.

We pick up with Schiff after he finishes talking about the Republican complaint that most of the incriminating witnesses’ testimony has been “hearsay.”

He goes on to say…

The other defense…The other defense is, “The President denies it.”

Well, I guess that’s case closed, right? The President says, really quite spontaneously, not as if he was asked in this way: “No quid pro quo!” What do you want from Ukraine?  “No quid pro quo!”

This is the “I’m not a crook” defense. You say it, and, I guess, that’s the end of it.”

Well, the only thing we can say is not so much that the situation is different in terms of Nixon’s conduct and Trump’s conduct. What we see here is far more serious than a third-rate burglary of the Democratic headquarters. What we’re talking about here is the withholding of recognition — in that White House meeting — the withholding of military aid to an ally at war. That is beyond anything that Nixon did.

The difference between then and now is not the difference between Nixon and Trump. It’s the difference between that Congress and this one. And so we are asking where is Howard Baker (the ranking minority member of the Senate Watergate Committee)? Where is Howard Baker? Where are the people who are willing to go beyond their party to look to their duty?

I was struck by Col. (Alexander) Vindman’s testimony because he said he acted out of duty. What is our duty here? That’s what we need to be asking. Not using metaphors about balls and strikes or our team and your team. I’ve heard my colleagues use those metaphors. It should be about duty. What is our duty?

We are the indispensable nation; we still are. People look to us from all over the world — journalists from their jail cells in Turkey; victims of mass ex-judicial killings in the Phillipines; people gathered in Tahrir Square (in Cairo) wanting a representative government; people in China who are Uighers; people in Ukraine who want a better future, who look to us. They’re not going to look to the Russians, they’re not going to look to the Chinese; they can’t look to Europe with all its problems. They still look to us and, increasingly, they don’t recognize what they see. Because what they see is Americans saying, “Don’t engage in political prosecutions.” And what they say back, is, “Oh, you mean like the Bidens and the Clintons that you want us to investigate?” What they see they don’t recognize. And that is a terrible tragedy for us, but it’s a greater tragedy for the rest of the world.

Now, I happen to think that when the founders provided the mechanism for impeachment in the Constitution, they were worried about what might happen if someone unethical took the highest office in the land and used it for their personal gain and not because of deep care about the big things that should matter, like our national security and our defense and our allies and what the country stands for. I happen to think that’s why they put that remedy in the Constitution. And I think we need to consult our conscience and our constituents and decide whether that remedy is appropriate here, whether that remedy is necessary here.

And as you know, notwithstanding what my colleagues said, I resisted going down this path for a long time, but I’ll tell you why I could resist no more. And it came down to this; it came down to…actually, it came down to timing. It came down to the fact that the day after Bob Mueller testified…the day after Bob Mueller testified…Donald Trump invited Russian interference in the election: “If you’re listening, come get Hillary’s emails.” And later that day they tried to hack her server. The day after he testified that not only did Trump invite that interference but that he welcomed the help in the campaign; they made full use of it; they lied about it; they obstructed the investigation into it. And all this is in his (Mueller’s) testimony and his report…The day after that, Donald Trump is back on the phone asking another nation to involve itself in another U.S. election!

That says to me this President believes he is above the law, beyond accountability. And in my view there is nothing more dangerous than an unethical President who believes they are above the law. And I would just say to people watching here at home and around the world, in the words of my great colleague (the late Rep. Elijah Cummings), we are better than that. (Gavel slams down.)

We are adjourned.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff of California closed Day 4 of the impeachment hearings with another gut punch to President Donald Trump. His seven-minute closing statement followed the day’s second session, which featured testimony from Defense Department official Laura Cooper and State Department official David Hale.

Here’s Schiff’s closing statement, which I recorded and then transcribed.

**

Democrat Adam Schiff and Republican Devin Nunes on at Wednesday’s impeachment hearing (NYT photo by Doug Mills)

I’ll be brief this evening. It’s been a long day, and I said most of what I wanted to say earlier in the day. But I did want to end this evening. And first of all thank you both for your testimony and your long service to the country. We are grateful that you answered the lawful process of a congressional supboena.

I wanted to share a few reflections on two words that have come up a lot in the course of these hearings. Those words are corruption and anti-corruption. We are supposed to believe, I imagine, listening to my colleagues, that Donald Trump is a great anti-corruption fighter; that his only concern about Ukraine was that it would fight corruption. But let’s look at that argument. Let’s look at the President’s words, and let’s look at his deeds.

Ambassador (Marie) Yovanovitch was an anti-corruption champion. No one has contradicted that that has come forward to testify here. She was a champion. And on the day she is at a meeting acknowledging in Ukraine another anti-corruption champion — a woman who had acid thrown in her face and died a painful death after months — she is called back to Washington because of a vicious smear campaign by the President’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, among others. She is recalled.

That is not anti-corruption; that is corruption. And one of the people responsible for this smear campaign, in addition to Mr. Giuliani — and it is a long and sordid list of those who were involved — is a man named Lutsenko (Yuriy Lutsenko, a former prosecutor general of Ukriane), someone who the minority’s own witness acknowledges has a poor reputation as self-serving and corrupt.

And what do we see about Mr. Lutsenko and his predecessor, Mr. (Viktor) Shokin? What does the President have to say about these corrupt former prosecutors? He praises them! He says they were treated very unfairly. That’s not anti-corruption; that’s corruption!

And when Ambassador Sondland testified today there was unquestionably a quid pro quo and everybody knew it, conditioning a White House meeting that Ukraine desperately wanted to show its friend and foe alike it had the support of the President of the United States, when that was conditioned — an official act was conditioned on the receipt of things of value to the President’s political investigations — that was not anti-corruption, that was corruption!

And when Ambassador Sondland testified today that he could put two and two together and so can we, that there was also a quid pro quo on the military aid — that aid was not going to be released unless he did a public statement of these political investigations the President wanted — that’s not anti-corruption; that is corruption!

And let’s look at the President’s words on that phone call — that infamous phone call on July 25. Does he ask President Zelensky, “How’s that reform coming in the Rada (the Ukrainian parliament)? What are you doing to root out corruption? What about that new anti-corruption court?” Of course not! Of course not! Are we really to believe   that was his priority. No! What does he ask? “I want you to do us a favor: Investigate this crazy 2016 server conspiracy, that the server is somewhere in Ukraine.” And, more ominously, “Investigate the Bidens.” That’s not anti-corruption; that is corruption.

And the next day, when he’s on the phone to Ambassador Sondland in that outdoor restaurant in Kiev, what does he want to know about? Does he want to know about how Zelensky is going to fight corruption? Of course not! The only thing he brings up in that call is the investigation he wants into the Bidens. That’s not anti-corruption; that is corruption.

Every now and then there’s a conversation that really says all you need to know. And sometimes it doesn’t seem all that significant, but I’ll tell you, this one really struck me. It was a conversation Ambassador Volker related in his testimony. It was a conversation just this past September, when he’s talking to Andriy Yermak (top adviser to President Zelensky). And he’s advising him, as indeed he should, “You know, you may not want to go through with an investigation or prosecution of former President (Petro) Poroshenko. Engaging in political investigations is really not a good idea.” And you know what Yermak says? “Oh, you mean like you want us to do of the Bidens and the Clintons?”

Well, there’s a word for that, too. And it’s not corruption or anti-corruption; it’s called hypocrisy. And this is the problem here: We do have an anti-corruption policy around the world. And the great men and women in your department, Undersecretary Hale, and in your department, Ms. Cooper, they carry that message around the world: that the United States is devoted to the rule of law. But when they see a President of the United States who is not devoted to the rule of law, who is not devoted to anti-corruption, but instead demonstrates in word and deed corruption, they are forced to ask themselves, “What does America stand for any more?”

That concludes this evening’s hearing.

If you didn’t hear U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff’s closing statement Tuesday evening, at the conclusion of Day 3 of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings, you missed a great speech. Schiff spoke passionately, eloquently and without notes for nearly eight minutes.

The statement came after several hours of testimony by Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, who was a National Security Council official until he resigned on the eve of his private testimony last month.

Here is the transcript of Schiff’s statement…

I thank you both for your testimony today. I would highlight a couple of things about what we have heard this afternoon. First, Ambassador Volker, your written testimony, in which you say, in hindsight, “I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving the Ukrainian company Burisma as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden. I saw them as very different, the former being appropriate and unremarkable, the latter being unacceptable.” And, in retrospect, you said, “I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections.”

That’s where we are today. Ambassador, we appreciate your willingness to amend your earlier testimony in light of what you now know. I think you made it very clear that knowing what you know today that, in fact, the president sought an investigation of his political rival, Vice President Biden, and you would not have countenanced any effort by the Ukrainians to engage in such conduct.

I appreciate also that you are able to debunk, I hope for the last time, the idea that Joe Biden did something wrong and that he, in accordance with U.S. policy, sought to replace a corrupt prosecutor, something that not only the U.S. State Department wanted, and not only the European Union wanted, and not only the IMF (International Monetary Fund) wanted but was the consensus position of the United State national security infrastructure. You did not get a lot of questions about that because, I think, you effectively said that was all nonsense. We appreciate your candor about that.

Mr. Morrison, I think what’s most remarkable about your testimony is the acknowledgment that, immediately after the vice president met with President Zelensky in Warsaw, you witnessed Gordon Sondland meeting with Andrey Yermak, a top adviser to President Zelensky, and then immediately thereafter Sondland told you that he had informed the Ukrainians that if they wanted that $400 million in aid, they were going to have to do those investigations that the President wanted.

You were later informed — this is also significant as you testified here today — that Ambassador Sondland, in his subsequent conversations with President Trump, had informed you that it wasn’t going to be enough for the Ukrainian prosecutor general to announce the investigations the president wanted. President Zelensky had to do it himself if he wanted to get that aid, let alone the meeting with the White House.

You’ve been asked to opine on the meaning of the term bribery, although you weren’t asked to opine on the terms high crimes and misdemeanors. But bribery, for those watching at home, is the conditioning of official acts in exchange for something of personal value. The official acts we’re talking about here are a White House meeting President Zelensky desperately sought and was deeply important to his country at war with Russia, to show the United States had this new president’s back.

That meeting was important. That meeting is an official act. The military assistance is even more significant because Ukrainians are dying every day in their war with Russia. And so, the withholding of military assistance to get these investigations, which you now have acknowledged, Ambassador Volker, was wrong for the President to request. The idea of withholding that military aid to get these political investigations should be anathema, repugnant to every American because it means the sacrifice, not just of the Ukrainian national security, but American national security for the interests of the president personally and politically.

Now my Republican colleagues, all they seem to be upset about with this is not that the President sought an investigation of his political rival — not that he withheld a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine. Their objection is that he got caught! Their objection is that someone blew the whistle, and they would like this whistle blower identified. The President wants the whistle blower punished.

That’s their objection — not that the President engaged in this conduct — that he got caught! Their defense is, well, he ended up releasing the aid. Yes, after he got caught! It doesn’t make this any less odious. Americans may be watching this and asking, “Why should we care about Ukraine?” And this was the import, I think, of the conversation in that Kiev restaurant, with Gordon Sondland holding that phone away from his head because the President was talking so loud.

What does the President ask in that call the day after that call he had with Zelensky? What did he ask on that cellphone call? Not whether the Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) had passed anti-corruption. No…Are the Ukrainians going to do the investigation. And Sondland’s answer is…they’re going to do it; they’ll do anything, essentially, the President wants.

What’s more telling is the conversation, I think, the foreign service officer (David) Holmes has afterwards with Sondland in which the President says basically that President Trump doesn’t give an expletive about Ukraine. He cares about the big things. Mr. Holmes says, “Well, Ukraine’s at war with the Russians; that’s a big thing.” And Sondland’s answer is, no, he cares about big things that affect his personal interests.

That’s why Americans should care about this. Americans should care about what happens to our allies, who are dying. Americans should care about their own national security and their own President and their own Constitution. And they will need to ask themselves — as we will have to ask ourselves in Congress — “Are we prepared to accept that the President of the United States can leverage official acts — military assistance, White House meetings — to get an investigation of a political rival?” Are we prepared to say, “Well, I guess that’s what we should expect of a President”?

I don’t think we want to go there. I don’t think our founding fathers would have wanted us to go there. Indeed, when the founding fathers provided a remedy, that remedy being impeachment, they had the very concern that a President of the United States may betray the national security interests of the country for personal interests. They put that remedy in the Constitution not because they wanted to willy-nilly overturn elections. No, because they wanted a powerful anti-corruption mechanism when that corruption came from the highest office in the land.

We are adjourned.