Click here to watch Thune’s speech.
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the rushed impeachment process House Democrats conducted and Speaker Pelosi’s refusal to send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate in a timely manner. The Democrats’ partisan efforts to rush the process in the House shows this is all just a political game for them.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, this week we expect to vote on a war powers resolution related to operations in Iran.
“I’m pleased that the president’s demonstration of strength restored our position of credible deterrence.
“Some have challenged that the president’s action was escalatory, but the reality is that Iran had become increasingly bold.
“The U.S. responded in self-defense, and as the president has said, it appears that Iran is standing down.
“Hopefully Iran’s tragic error in shooting down a civilian passenger plane has served as a sobering check on the regime’s activities.
“We’ve seen thousands of Iranians rallying in the streets in recent days protesting the bringing down of the passenger plane and calling for change.
“I hope that the people of Iran are able to organize and demonstrate in safety and that their hopes and prayers for change are answered.
“Soleimani’s death provides an opportunity for Iran to rethink its direction – to move away from brutally oppressing its citizens and fomenting violence throughout the Middle East.
“We should encourage such rethinking by continuing to make it clear – through the sanctions the president has imposed and other measures – that we will not accept Iranian aggression against Americans or our allies.
“Mr. President, on an issue closer to home, at the end of last week, Speaker Pelosi announced that she was finally ready to send over the articles of impeachment – the next step in a saga that began three years ago.
“That’s right, Mr. President, on January 20, 2017 – Inauguration Day – the Washington Post ran an article entitled ‘The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.’
“It’s important that we not forget this, Mr. President.
“We need to remember how we got here.
“Democrats would like us to think that this impeachment was the result of a high-minded, impartial, thoughtful process.
“It was the result of a three-year-long partisan crusade to damage or remove this president.
“And it’s fair to say that the actual impeachment process was the most rushed, most biased, and least impartial impeachment process in history.
“For evidence, look no further than Democrats’ behavior in the wake of the impeachment vote.
“Democrats rushed the articles of impeachment through the House because, we were told, it was urgent that the president be removed from office.
“One Democrat even said that the House was acting hastily because there was, quote, “a crime spree in progress.”
“And then what did Democrats do?
“Instead of sending the impeachment articles over to the Senate so the Senate could conduct a trial, Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrat caucus sat on the articles.
“For close to a month.
“The delay was so flagrantly unjustified that even Senate Democrats started to express their impatience with the House.
“‘If it’s serious and urgent, send them over,’ the highest-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee said. ‘If it isn’t, don’t send it over.’
“A fair point.
“But House Democrats never really believed in the seriousness and urgency of the articles.
“If they had, they would have sent them over to the Senate immediately.
“Of course, while Senate Democrats may have gotten impatient with the House, Senate Democrats have also demonstrated a healthy dose of partisanship around the impeachment.
“Senate Republicans have proposed modeling the rules for the first phase of this impeachment trial on the rules that governed the Clinton impeachment trial – rules that were agreed to unanimously by Democrats and Republicans at the time.
“But Senate Democrats are having none of it.
“Mr. President, these rules were eminently fair – and, as I said, were supported by every single Democrat before President Clinton’s impeachment trial.
“These rules gave both sides – the House impeachment managers and the president and his team – an opportunity to make their case.
“And they gave senators an opportunity to question both sides and only then make a determination as to whether or not additional information or witnesses were needed.
“These rules were good enough for Democrats and Republicans back then.
“And they ought to be good enough for Democrats and Republicans today.
“Mr. President, I’m glad Speaker Pelosi is finally sending over the articles so we can move forward with this process and then get back to doing the work the American people sent us here to do.
“But I am saddened by the damage Democrats have done to this institution and the processes of government.
“The overturning of an election – the overturning of the American people’s choice – is a very serious thing.
“It is a remedy to be wielded only with careful deliberation, in the most serious circumstances.
“But Democrats have spent the past three years treating impeachment not as a remedy of last resort, but as a way of overturning an election where they didn’t like the outcome.
“That’s not what impeachment was intended to be.
“By hijacking the impeachment process for political purposes, Democrats have made it clear that they believe election outcomes don’t matter – that they believe that it should be the Democratic Party, not the democratic process, that decides elections.
“And that is profoundly disturbing.
“This fall, the American people will have a chance to render their verdict on the Trump presidency.
“In fact, presidential primary voting begins in just a few short weeks.
“It’s a great pity that Democrats have sought to preempt the next presidential election with a partisan impeachment process in Washington.
“I hope that we can move beyond this impeachment and the hyper-partisanship Democrats have engaged in over the past three years.
“This institution should be in the business of governing – not endlessly trying to overturn an election.
“I hope in the future we can keep impeachment as a serious remedy for the most serious of crimes – not as a political weapon to be used whenever a partisan majority in Congress despises the occupant of the White House.
“We will do our constitutional duty here in the Senate over the next few weeks.
“And after that, I look forward to getting back to the business of the American people.”