Democrats play video clip of McCain at Senate trial to show US support for Ukraine
Posted January 24, 2020 6:02 p.m. EST
CNN — It was 2:30 p.m. ET in the Senate chamber Friday when lawmakers turned to look at a screen and listen to a familiar voice no one had heard in quite a while: the voice of the late Sen. John McCain.
The moment came as House Democrats presenting the case against President Donald Trump in the impeachment trial invoked the Arizona Republican to highlight the importance of preserving the strategic alliance between the US and Ukraine and played a video of the 2008 Republican presidential nominee discussing the geopolitical relationship between Russia and Ukraine.
In the clip, McCain says of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "I think it makes him very nervous, if there were a success in Ukraine in bringing about a free and open society and economic success, which is not the case in Russia."
Senators looked genuinely surprised -- and some appeared comforted -- by McCain's momentary presence in the chamber.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain's best friend and now a close ally of President Trump, looked up toward the ceiling for a moment as the clip came to an end.
When it was over, Graham folded his hands together and returned his gaze to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, one of the House managers presenting the case for Democrats, who had been speaking before the clip played.
Graham told CNN that as he looked up to the ceiling, he was overcome with "nostalgia" for his friend.
"John, the man who said we should do a no-fly zone in Syria, the man who said we should not get out of Iraq. The lone voice at times for doing things that people are tired of," Graham said.
In remarks on the Senate floor, Schiff described McCain as an "American war hero and statesman who is no stranger to this body," and reminded senators that the late senator had once said in an interview, "we are all Ukrainians" in a show of US-Ukraine solidarity.
Schiff went on to say, "Sen. McCain advised that this is a chess match reminiscent of the Cold War and we need to realize that and act accordingly," and added that "strong bipartisan support for Ukraine reflected what Sen. McCain said was an opportunity for the United States to undermine Russian leverage in eastern Europe by building, quote, a success in Ukraine."
House Democrats have argued during the impeachment trial that the President's actions with respect to Ukraine -- and in particular, his push for an investigation into the family of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden in a July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian President -- have jeopardized the vital relationship between the US and the Ukraine. Democrats are now in their third and final day of presenting arguments in favor of impeachment and conviction in the Senate trial.
McCain died in 2018 at the age of 81 after a battle with brain cancer. He left a powerful legacy in the Senate and his death met with an outpouring of grief and praise for his life on both sides of the aisle.