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Trump impeachment trial

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries explains Trump's impeachment to Trump's lawyers, drops in Biggie Smalls reference

January 22, 2020

Senate Republicans rejected a series of amendments proposed on behalf of House impeachment managers Tuesday, killing motions to subpoena Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, and other potential witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial plus Ukraine-related records from the White House, State Department, Office of Management and Budget, and Pentagon.

The Democratic House impeachment managers took turns explaining why senators should want to see the new evidence, and it fell to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to argue in favor of subpoenaing Mulvaney, Trump's acting chief of staff. "Even President Nixon, whose articles of impeachment included obstruction of Congress, did not block key White House aides from testifying in front of Congress," he said. "President Trump's complete and total obstruction makes Richard Nixon look like a choir boy."

But Jeffries also responded to a more fundamental challenged from Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow. "We don't hate this president, but we love the Constitution, we love America, we love our democracy," Jeffries said. "That's why we're here today. The question was asked by Mr. Sekulow as he opened before this distinguished body: 'Why are we here?'"

"We are here, sir, because President Trump pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political and personal gain. We are here, sir, because President Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election and corrupted our democracy," putting his personal interests over national security, then tried to cover it up, he added. "That is why we are here, Mr. Sekulow. If you don't know, now you know."

That last line was borrowed from rapper Biggie Smalls, the Notorious B.I.G. Not everyone in the room got the reference. "Apparently not a lot of Biggie fans in the U.S. Senate," TalkingPointsMemo reporter Tierney Sneed tweeted. "I saw only Sens. [Brian] Schatz [D-Hawaii] and [Kirsten] Gillibrand [D-N.Y.] laugh at the line." But outside the chamber, there were a lot of nods.

This wasn't the first time Jeffries referenced Biggie in Congress, either. Back in 2017, for example:

If you didn't know, now you know. Peter Weber