Alabama U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby discusses his vote to acquit President Donald Trump on impeachment

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama

Alabama Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby delivered remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday regarding the recent impeachment proceedings, prior to the votes to acquit President Donald Trump.

Posted: Feb 5, 2020 3:14 PM

Alabama Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby delivered remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday regarding the recent impeachment proceedings, prior to the votes to acquit President Donald Trump.

Here are Shelby's full remarks, provided by his office: 

“As a Senator, I believe that the first and perhaps most important consideration is whether ‘abuse of power’ and ‘obstruction of Congress’ are impeachable offenses, as asserted by the House Managers. … If the Senate endorses this approach, we will dramatically transform the impeachment power. We will forever turn this grave constitutional power into a tool for adjudicating policy disputes and political disagreements. The Framers cautioned us against this dangerous path, and I believe the Senate will heed their warning.

“What we really have here is nothing more than the abuse of the power of impeachment itself by the Democratic House. Doesn’t our country deserve better? This President certainly deserves better.

“Today I am proud to stand and repudiate these very weak impeachment efforts, and I will accordingly vote to acquit the President on both articles. My hope is that, in the future, Congress will reject this episode and instead choose to be guided by the Constitution and the words of our Framers.”

Senator Shelby’s full remarks, as prepared, are as follows:

“Mr. President. Over the past two weeks, my colleagues and I have patiently listened to arguments from both the House Managers and the President’s counsel regarding a grave allegation from the House – that the President has committed an act worthy of impeachment.

“As a Senator, I believe that the first and perhaps most important consideration is whether ‘abuse of power’ and ‘obstruction of Congress’ are impeachable offenses, as asserted by the House Managers.

“Impeachment is a necessary and essential component of our Constitution. It serves as an important check on civil officers who commit crimes against the United States.

“However, our Founding Fathers were wise to ensure that the impeachment and conviction of a sitting President would not be of partisan intent.

“Since President Trump took office, many have sought to delegitimize his presidency with partisan attacks.

“This extreme effort to unseat the President is unjustified and intolerable.

“Now that the Senate has heard and studied the arguments from both sides, the lack of merit in the House Managers’ case is evident.

“The outcome of this impeachment trial is a foregone conclusion. Acquittal is the judgment the Senate should, and I believe will render.

“For my part, I have weighed the House Managers’ case and found it wanting in fundamental aspects. Their case does not allege an impeachable offense.

“Even if the facts are as they have stated, the Managers have failed as a matter of constitutional law to meet the exceedingly high bar for removal of the President as established by the Framers.

“In their wisdom, the Framers rejected vague grounds for impeachment – offenses like ‘maladministration’ – for fear it would, in the words of Madison, result in Presidential ‘tenure during [the] pleasure of the Senate.’

“‘Abuse of power’ – one of the charges put forward by the House Managers – is a concept as vague and susceptible to abuse as ‘maladministration.’

“If you look at the definitions of ‘abuse’ and ‘mal,’ they draw distinct similarities. Mal – a prefix of latin origin – means bad, evil, wrong. Abuse – also of latin origin – means to wrongly use or to use for a bad effect.

“As the Framers rejected ‘maladministration,’ I believe they too would reject the noncriminal ‘abuse of power.’

“Instead, the Framers provided for impeachment only in limited cases: Treason. Bribery. And high crimes and misdemeanors.

“Only those offenses justify taking the dire step of removing a duly elected President from office and permanently taking his name off the ballot.

“This institution should not lower the constitutional bar and authorize their theory of impeachment for ‘abuse of power.’ It is simply not an impeachable offense.

“Their criteria for removal centers not on the President’s actions, but on their loose perception of his motivations.

“If the Senate endorses this approach, we will dramatically transform the impeachment power.

“We will forever turn this grave constitutional power into a tool for adjudicating policy disputes and political disagreements.

“The Framers cautioned us against this dangerous path, and I believe the Senate will heed their warning.

“The House Managers’ ‘obstruction of Congress’ claim is similarly flawed.

“Congress’s investigative and oversight powers are critical tools in ensuring our system of checks and balances.

“But they are not absolute.

“The President too, as head of a co-equal branch of government, enjoys certain privileges and immunities from Congressional fact-finding.

“That is his constitutional right, and has been the right of former presidents from both parties.

“The President’s mere assertion of privileges and immunities is not an impeachable offense.

“Endorsing otherwise would be unprecedented and would ignore the past practices of Administrations of both parties.

“Adopting otherwise would drastically undermine the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution.

“This was not what our Framers intended.

“Nowhere in the Constitution or in federal statute is ‘abuse of power’ or ‘obstruction of Congress’ listed as a crime.

“What constitutes an impeachable offense is not left to the discretion of the Congress.

“We cannot expand on the scope of actions that could be deemed impeachable beyond that which the Framers intended.

“What we really have here is nothing more than the abuse of the power of impeachment itself by the Democratic House.

“Doesn’t our country deserve better? This President certainly deserves better.

“Today I am proud to stand and repudiate these very weak impeachment efforts, and I will accordingly vote to acquit the President on both articles.

“My hope is that, in the future, Congress will reject this episode and instead choose to be guided by the Constitution and the words of our Framers.

“Mr. President, it is time to move on. The American economy is booming. The United States is projecting strength and promoting peace abroad. And the President is unbowed.

“I believe the American people see this. At the end of the day, the ultimate judgment rests in their hands.

“In my judgment, that is just as it should be.

“With that, I yield the floor.”

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