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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  January 10, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PST

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case. that's a problematic thing. you shouldn't charge i think it's problematic and difficult to justify a prosecutor charging five kilos of heroin when the actual amount was ten to get a lower sentence. there may be circumstances somehow proof and other issues could justify that but i would just say as a principal you have to be careful about it. finally, colleagues, sentencing guidelines are within the breast of the congress. their mandated by law. i was concerned about what we're seeing as beginning to see a rise in crime and at the same time a decline in sentences, they're down 19% based on senator durbin, and other
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interests and i felt we should slow down before we go further and make sure we are not making a mistake. >> it is my hope if you are confirmed and do make progress on criminal justice reform that you will carry out what ever decisions that might be made by this body. in my last six years, in addition to not working on a number of bipartisan proposals on criminal justice reform, you have repeatedly vote against to prohibit torture in the military context or interrogation context and are you clear now that our statutes prohibit torture and if the president were to attempt to override that clearly legal authority, what actions would you take? >> on your previous question, i
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would note federal prison population has dropped 10% and will drop another 10,000 this year, so what's hang now is reducing the federal population, this law only dealt with the federal prison population and that represents the most serious offenders, our deas. i have been concerned about what we should do about it. this bill that passed last time was a major step. i thought it was really not the right step. senator graham has been an opponent of torture and steadfastly of things, it basically took what i was teaching the young soldiers at the army reserve unit as a lecturer as a teacher, the army
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field manual and it made that the law for the entire government including the intelligence agencies and other departments. i thought that was an unwise step to direct even the lowest private to do to make that the rule for the higher-ups, and it is a law and it needs to be enforced. absolutely. >> as we both know there was a bipartisan effort to include -- >> there was. >> -- but it was not effective. >> senator jack graham and i was. >> thank you. >> thank you. you are a friend, a man of integrity and you and i have worked closely on this armed services committee and i have every confidence you are going to make a superb attorney general.
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you know, this has been an interesting day listening to democratic senator after democratic senator giving speeches of praise and rule of law and i am encouraged by that because for eight years it's been absent. for eight years we've been a department of justice consistently disregarding the rule of law, when eric holder's department of justice allowed illegal gun tractions illegally sold guns to gun traffickers as part of fast and furious, used to murder agent brian terpsry, t -- terry the leaders were silent. they were found refusing to cooperate with fast and furious, once again the democratic members of this committee were silent. when the irs illegally targeted
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the citizens for exercising their roles in the political process, democratic members of this committee were silent. when the department of justice refused to fairly investigate the irs targeting citizens and indeed assign the investigation to a liberal partisan democratic that had given thousands of dollars, members were silent. numerous committee members called that justice was done on the irs case, members on this committee were silent. using the choke point to target that they were -- [audience disturbance]
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[audience disturbance] you know, free speech is a wonderful thing. when the department of justice used operation choke point to target legal businesses because they disagreed with those businesses the democrats on this committee were silent. and spent millions of dollars defying immigration law, the
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democrats on this committee were silent silent. when they unilaterally rewrote the laws the democrats on this committee were silent. when the obama administration released tens of thousands of criminal illegal aliens including rapeestst and murderers into the population democrats on this committee were silent. when the department of justice signed off on the obama administration paying a nearly $2 billion ransom to iran contrary to federal law, the democrats on this committee were silent. when the obama administration ignored and rewrote provision after provision of obamacare contrary to the text of the law the democrats on this committee were silent. when the brobama administration- the democrats on this commit were silent and when they
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released five guantánamo terrorists the democrats on this committee were silent. that pattern has been dismaying for the last eight years, but i take today a day of celebration, if this has a bipartisan way to follow the rule of law that's the tradition of this committee going back centuries, now if we were to play a game for tit for tat if what was good for the goose is good for the gander, should advance political favors advanced by the political party, senator sessions do you believe that would be appropriate for an attorney general to do? >> no, i do not. and i think we do have to be aware that when something like this is done and some of the things i'm familiar with enough to agree with you that i thought were improper, i do believe it
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has a corrosive affect on the confidence and of the republic which we are sworn to uphold. >> i think you are exactly right. you and i are both alumni of the department of justice and it has a long tradition of staying outside of partisan politics. sa simply and fairly enforcing the law. if i would say you were i thought you were going contrary to law i would vote against you. -- the first and most important obligation of the attorney is to follow the law faithly and honestly. >> senator fran kken engaged yo in a discussion that i believe
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it was intended to under mine your integrity and somehow -- with whom we have served for years. it is particularly unfortunate when that attack is not backed up by the facts. senator fran kken based his attk on an off-bed written attorney mr. hebert. he testified then and attacked you then making false charge against you and indeed i would note in the 1986 hearing two days later mr. hebert was forced to recant his testimony so say he had given false testimony and say "i apologize for any
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inconvenience i had caused this." so now mit is now the basis of mr. fran kken attack and he clas you were involved in several civil rights cases. in 1986 mr. hebert testified "i have needed mr. sessions help in those cases an he has provided that help every step of the way" is that correct what mr. hebert testified? >> yes, that's correct! in the four cases senator fran k franken right? >> that is correct. >> here is how you describe your involvement to this committee." for the cases described in two, four, eight and nine like my
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role and with noncriminal civil rights cases was to private support for the department of justice, attorneys, i reviewed complaints, motions pleadings and other briefs filed during any tenure as u.s. attorney. i provided assistance and had an open door policy for the cases described in six, i signed the appliedings, th -- pleadings, ts consistent that you provided every step to have way. >> that is correct. >> i would note that members of this committee don't need to search far and wide to know who jeff sessions is. we have known every day sitting right along side you. i want to switch to the topic the politicalsation of the
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department of justice. it priechd -- provides at vice to the president and in the last few years we have seen a rise on the olc, early on perhaps it was started by 2009 attorney general holder, trying to represent the district of columbia and congress and that may have sent a message to olc that it was supposed to be opinion. what will you do to resto restore fidelityism of the law? >> i think the law making processes and requirements of the department of justice just
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don't make sense. it will always in the long run be more damaging in the short term gain that one might have, the office of legal counsel all of us who have served in the department know is a big time position. you need a mature, smart experienced person who understands this government, who understands the laws, and is principaled and consistent in their application of the laws that will help the president. the congress and the american people. i do believe we need to work hard to have that and i will do my best to ensure we do have it. >> one final question. in the last eight years the department of justice solicitors generals office i believe has been unfortunately political sized and zsustained a number o unanimous losses by the supreme court. indeed president obama's department won half of its cases
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which is the lowest presidential win since harry truetrueman. numerous of those cases were unanimous with indeed obama supreme court appoint tetees vog against the lawlessness of this department, including the assertion the government has the authority to supervise and the appointment and the hiring and firing of clergy in the church, what will you go as office of solicitor general that it is fa fate -- faithful to the law? >> i think the problem there is a desire to achieve and result sometimes that overrides the commitment to the law. in the long run this country will be stronger if we adhere to the law even though somebody might be frustrated in the short term of not achieving an agenda.
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the solicitor general should not advocate to alter the meaning of words to advance an agenda, that is an abuse of office. i will be faithful to find somebody who does not under mine the constitution and to make it what it wants to say. >> thank you, senator session. >> i think we have votes still scheduled for 2:45 it's my idea that we would continue this going like i'll go at the end of the first vote. and then vote and come back. and i hope other people will preside and keep asking questions while the two votes are going on so we can finish at a reasonable time today. >> did he get a decision? you can stay here during that
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voting. >> i will. >> senator bloomenbloomenthal. >> thank you for conducting this session in a fair minded way and i want to thank you and senator sessions for his public service for so many years and his family who have shared in the sacrifices you have made, so i am sure that my colleagues and i appreciate your service and your friendship. this experience for us is a difficult one, not only because you're a colleague, but i consider you to be a friend and someone who is well-liked and respected in this body understandably. and i know if you were sitting here you would be pretty tough on me maybe tougher than i'm going to be with you but it's not personal as you understand because we have an obligation to advice and consent and ask those
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kinds of tough questions and you and i have shared some experiences, both of us have been united states attorneys and attorneys general of our state and i want to thank you as well for thanking our law enforcement community, which is so important to this nation. and it makes sacrifices and those sacrifices often are not only in time and foregone income but also in lives and i join you in respecting the law enforcement officers who were most recently affected by gun violence. i want to begin by asking you a question which i asked in a letter. will you recuse yourself on voting on your nomination and the nomination of other cabinet secretary sns. >> i do not plans to vote on my nomination. i have not thoroughly examined all the issues but i think there
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could be a conflict of interest or a violation of the ethics rules and i would comply with the rules. >> i believe it would be a conflict of interest to vote on other cabinet members who they are no, ma'minated by the presi who is your boss and i hope you will consider recusing yourself from those votes as well because i think it will set a tone for what you will do in cases of conflicts of interest. and i want to talk a little bit about conflicts of interest because i think that the attorney general of the united states has a unique and special role especially at this point in our history. he should be a champion, a zealous advocate of rights and liberties that are increasingly under threat in this country.
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and, he's not just another government lawyer or another cabinet secretary, he is the nation's lawyer. and so, any appearance of conflict of interest or compromising positions because of political involvement, i think is a real danger to the rule of law and respect and credibility of the rule of law, so i would hope that you would consider appointing special counsel in cases where there may be a conflict of interest involving the president. and, one of those cases involves deutsche bank. the president of the united states owes deutsche bank several millions of dollars and it's currently an on goigoingon investigation. will you appoint independent
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counsel to investigate deutsche bank? >> senator, i'm not aware of that case, have not in any way researched it or even read some of the public's articles about it. so im uninformed from it. i don't know -- senator lee i think raised in his questioning, you don't want to be in a position every time an issue comes up the attorney recuses himself, but at the same time, serious questions when they arise, the attorney general should recuse himself under the appropriate circumstances and i guess that goes with the -- or the appointment of a special counsel which is a somewhat different issue there are a lot of criticisms of that. >> would you agree that the
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monument clause applies? >> well, the monument clause applies, but the discussion is to what extent does it apply and in a concrete situation? >> in the case that the president of the united states violated or may be violated the monuments clause will you appoint a special counsel? >> we would have to examine that. i would not commit to this day at this time of appointing special counsel when i'm not aware above precise factual situation in play. >> if there is a violation by the president's family of the stock act which prohibits the use of private or insider information for personal gain, will you apply special counsel? >> well, we'll have to evaluate that if such circumstance occurs and i would do my duty as i believe i should do it at the
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time. >> i would suggest that in those cases an independent counsel is not only adviceable but required, and i would hope that you would be sensitive to those concerns. >> i suggested that attorney general lynch should appoint a special counsel in the clinton matter. i don't know whether you supported that or not. >> one reason i'm asking the question is that you have advocated a special counsel in other instances where in fact the argument for it was weaker than it would be in these cases, and i think it would be appropriate -- >> well i will suggest during the campaign sometimes we get excited but as attorney general you have to follow the law, consistent and be honorable in your decision making and i
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respect the question you're raising. >> let me ask you about another group. i welcome your condemnmation of the ku klux klan and operation rescue endorsed you, and said "we could not be happier about the selection of senator sessions as the next attorney general" operation rescue has in fact advocated "execution" of abortion of providers, and as an example of this, this poster was circulated widely in the 1990s and early 2000s about a dr. george tiller who was
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subsequently murdered. after his murder, operation rescue said that his alleged murderer should be treated as a political prisoner. dr. tiller was murdered in 2009 and i'm sure you're familiar with this case, will you disavow they're endorsement of you? >> i disavow any activity like that and a group that would even suggest that is unacceptable and i will enforce the laws that make clear that a person who wants to receive a lawful abortion cannot be blocked by protesters and disruption of a doctor's practice. i'm not in favor of that, i am pro-life as you know, but we have settled on some laws that are clearly effective and as at
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general i would follow them. >> you would use the freedom of clinic entrances act to empower and mobilize the fbi the federal marshall's service or department of fire and tobacco for the appropriate -- >> i do believe it is to improperly hinder the access to an abortion clinic. >> will you rigorously enforce statutes that prohibit purchase of guns by felons or domestic abusers or drug addicts and use the statutes that exist right now on the books to ban those individuals from purchasing guns? >> well, congress has passed those laws, they remain the bread and butter enforcement mechanisms throughout our
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country today to enforce gun laws, the first and foremost would be to identify persons who are dangerous, who have proven to be law breakers and convicted and those caught carrying guns during the commission of a crime. both of those require mandatory sentences as united states attorney in alabama it was a priority of mine even though a small office, we were won wone e top of those. my experience tells me it can help create a more peaceful community. >> will you support as necessary to effectively apply those laws including you knuniversal backg checks to know whether the person is a felon or drug addict
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or domestic abuser. >> many of the background laws are appropriate but in every instance, there's some instances when it's not practical for example somebody inherited a gun from their grandfather, those tractions i'm not sure should require that kind of universal background check. >> senator, welcome to committee and you may proceed. >> thank you. and i do want to thank you too for the way you are handling this hearing and appreciate your service in the committee and senator sessions i want to join those of congratulating you appointing you for the attorney general. i have known you for years and
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consider you well qualified to be the attorney general. i know you're a man of your word and committed the constitution of the united states and committed to enforcing the law of this country, as you have said multiple times to this committee so i thank you for that. beyond just the motion of the enforcement of the law, but the manner in which the department of justice enforces the law, three basic areas one the abuse of the power or discriminatory enforcement of the law to regulatory overreach that we are seeing across this country and what role the department of justice plays in trying to deal with that and then finally cooperation with the states. we live in a union of 50 states. and under our constitution there are appropriate rules for the federal government and the
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states and the department of justice has a very powerful influence on that, so if i could get into those three areas, the first is just an example of the kind of abusive use of power that i hope you will help stop and prevent from continuing to happen. this example is one that was already referenced by senator cruz, operation choke point. for those that aren't familiar with it the only thing appropriate about it is its name it was a program designed by the department of justice to help choke financing away from businesses and industries that were politically unacceptable or whatever reason unacceptable to the administration. the justice department working with and i think perhaps even pressuring some of our financial regulatory agencies to give
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scrutiny that it pressured them out of their access to financing to certain industries. i don't know how these industries got on the list, but i'll read you several on the list. ammunition sales, coin dealers, firearms sales, installment loans, tobacco sales, this list is a list of 30 that was put out by the fdc when they actually realized they shouldn't have put the list out they quickly took it back and the fdic says they're not pursuing this program anymore but when we tried to defund it earlier the administration fought aggressively to make sure we didn't get the votes to defund it. this program is one where the justification is well, the businesses who operate in these industries haven't done anything wrong. but these are industries that might do things wrong more than other industries. and therefore, we're going to pressure people out of these
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industries. it reminds me of a 2002 movie called "minority report" a tom cruise movie, about advanced police force that had developed the ability to know you committed a crime before you committed it and it was really good at stopping crime because they stopped you before you even committed it and one came up on the list and that's the story of that movimovie. my point is we can't really tell for sure whether or not operation choke point is still operating although we still have people in these industries who can't get financing, if that kind of thing is going on, in the department of justice will you you change in issue? >> fundamentally a lawful business should not be attacked by having other lawful
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businesses pressured not to do business. that to me would be hard to justify. maybe they have got some arguments that would be worth listening to, but fundamentally, to me, senator, you're a great lawyer, but seems to me that goes beyond what would be legitimate in a great economy like ours. >> well i would hope the department of justice would not be a partner with any of our federal agencies in this kind of conduct. another is the national instant background checklist, which is now being utilized by the veterans administration and by the social security administration to put people's names on the list so that they can be denied access to owning or purchasing a firearm and the way they put their name on the list is to say they are mentally deficient. if they need a little help on their social security benefits
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if they're a veteran who put their life on the line for us and goes war and if they have a head injury and need assistance they often get their name put on the list. i know these are not the agencies that you supervise, but i know the department of justice supervises the nicks list and i was curious as we see agencies using their pow ever to achieve political purposes i would hope you would stand solidly against it. >> thank you, i know you have worked on that issue around i would be sympathetic and willing to receive any information i know you have gathered to form your views about it. >> i appreciate that. let me move on to the question of regulatory overreach. i'll just use one example there. i'm one who believes that today we have -- we talked a lot in
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this hearing today about the rule of law. in america statutes are passed by congress and signed into law by a willing president, but now we have multiple agencies that are doing rule makes that in my opinion are going far beyond the legal authority of the laws under which they operate. i'll use one example the waters of the united states rule. that has been implemented or seeking to be implemented by the epa and army corps of engineers. in my opinion that is totally unfounded in law, it has partnered up with these agencies that is they try to defenn thd court. does the department of justice simply have to -- or do they advice these agents they are are operating beyond the bound os-tos of
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the law? >> as to whether their interpretation is sound or not, that opinion until reversed some point stands for the entire government but basically these agencies often time set about their own agendas without asking for a opinion, and often they are narrow minded or focused on what they feel are the goals of their agency and don't give sufficient respect to the lawful and the propriety of what they are doing. is this something you just want to accomplish and you're twisting the law to justify your action? those are the kind of things we do need the guard against. >> and i appreciate that and hope that under your leadership we will have a justice department that will give strong advice where it can and have
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strong influence where it can across the united states, across our agencies in this country to help encourage and advice that they stay within the bounds of the law. the last thing i'll finish with this, that is cooperation with the states. as i said earlier, our system of government is comprised of 50 states in a union under a constitution that establishes a federal government and you and i both know well the tenth amendment is not specifically to the government are reserved to the states and the people respectively. many of our states feel that that proper respect for their sovereignty is being abused again by federal agencies not just the department of justice, but the justice department often gets involved in this through
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providing the legal services that it does to our agencies. and you know, i could go through a ton of more examples and lists of litigation that is ongoing right now with my state and other states around the country where if we simply had a better respect for role of states in this union and under our constitution we could work out a lot more of the issues rather than having the heavy hand of the federal litigation system into enforcing compliance by states, but i would ask you about the importance of respecting the role of states in this country? >> there's no general federal criminal crimes, things like larceny, even murder connected to some civil rights connection, these things have traditionally been totally the responsibility of the states as a young
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prosecutor in the 1970s, i remember almost all the cases had an interstate commerce nexus, it wasn't the theft of an automobile that you prosecuted. it was interstate -- so a lot of that is now that we have forgotten that distinction, limitation on federal power. >> we have. and a lot of what i'm talking about happens in the environment an natural resource division. there's a lot of litigation out there. i see i am out of time. >> let me make a suggestion before i introduce senator ronal. she's been off two years, to make efficient use of our time, when she's done, it would be senator kennedy's turn but you probably have to go vote so if there's somebody back here that can start the second round do it. and then we'll call on senator kennedy to finish the first
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round. senator. >> thank you mr. chairman, it's good to be back on this committee and aloha to you senator sessions. >> hello. >> i'll try my best to be nice to you. >> that won't be hard. >> you noted in some of your responses to questions from senator durbin around the issue of what would happen to the 800,000 daca people under that program and you indicated i think at this point that the agency's office only has so many resources and that may not be a high prior to fity for you but s why we needed immigration reform so my series of questions will
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center around how you will use your prosecutorial discretion which i think you would acknowledge is wide, wouldn't you? >> in many cases the federal prosecutors set discretionary limits but you have to be careful that it does not exceed a reasonable judgment about what a discretion should be. >> i agree. it's not totally unfetered. so my questions center around how you would exercise prosecutorial discretion with regard to some specific issues. you probably know senator sessions that i am an immigrant. and you indicated in one response that you would want immigration reform skills based. in that case my mother who brought me to escape an abusive marriage would not have been able to come to this country and she acquired her skills later but want to let you know that
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one of the reasons that issues relating to immigration are very important not just to me but to millions of people in this country. and i have heard from them. i've heard fl immigrarom immigr lgbt, women, and religious minority that fear they will have no place on president elect trump vision of america. i am deeply concerned that their fears are well-founded. i'm hoping that you can address some these concerns today. so i mentioned the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. when you came to see me we did talk about whether or not you would support a ban of muslims coming to this country based on the fact that they are muslims an you said you would not support that but also indicated you would support what would be considered enhanced vetting of people with extreme views.
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what would characterize an extreme view to you? and how would you go about filtering out people with extreme views and there are millions of people legally coming into our country? and also related question, the fact that you would consider vetting of people with extreme views to be of proper use of your governmental authority there must be a connection in your mind that people with extreme views which i hope you will describe what you mean by, would do something that would compromise the safety of americans. could you respond to my series of questions relating to extreme views? >> well, first of all, the vetting process is in the hands of the state department. the counselor officers meeting people abroad in evaluating them
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for admission to the united states so the department of justice doesn't really dictate that as long as it's in congressional order. i think the approach preferable is the approach based on areas where we have an area of unusually high risk of terrorists coming in, people who could be clearly violent criminals and those certainly justify higher intensity of vetting. i think that's maybe response to your question, but again, the ultimate decision about that would be done through the state department. and by the president. >> i'm sure they would ask for the attorney general's opinion as to the limits of the constitution and requiring these kinds of questions to be asked of people who come to our country and you did indicate that one's religious views would be a factor in determining
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whether somebody has extreme views. >> if their religious views in -- >> not in and of itself. >> right. >> if they -- their interpretation of their religious views encompasses dangerous doctrines and terrorist i cic attacks they sh deserve more careful scrutiny than someone's views who are less problematic. >> you did say that one's religious views would be a factor of one that has extreme views that would not enable them to come to our country. let me turn to the question of abortion. on roe v. wade you said "i firmly believe that roe v. wade and its desen dedants -- represe
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most erroneous -- of our time" you believe that roe v. wade was a bad decision and still believe that. >> well, i guess i've said that before. i'm a pro-life advocate. >> thank you. >> but fundamentally the problem as i see it with row versus wade is that it denies the people the right to make laws that they might feel appropriate. did the supreme court have that power? i concluded they didn't because the constitution didn't answer that question. >> well, senator sessions -- i hate to interrupt you but i have less than two minutes, so i don't want to get into the substance of roe v. wade that you believe it was a bad decision based on constitution privacy decisions. we can very well end up with a supreme court that will be very
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open to overturning roe v. wade and should you be the attorney general would you direct or advice your solicitor general to weigh in before that supreme court which has a opportunity to overturn roe v. wade would your solicitor general go in to appeal or overturn i should say roe v. wade? >> roe v. wade is firmly asconced as the law of the land. you're asking a hypothetical question, they come up on such a clear issue, come up on the margins, i would just not be able to predict what well-researched a thoughtful response would be to matters that could happen in the future. >> i think most of us know that the next opportunity for the supreme court to weigh in on whether or not to change roe v.
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wade would be a very close decision and likely possibly a 5-4 decision and not just a hypothetical but it is a real concern to a lot of people. >> let me turn to the voting rights act. while the supreme court did eliminate parts of the voting rights act it still retains section 2 which prohibits states from enacting laws that would have a discriminatory impact and the attorney general's office was a party to challenging two state laws i believe it was texas and there was another state that the supreme court ultimately agreed with the attorney general's position that these laws violated the voting rights act section 2, would you should you become the attorney general just as vigorously prosecute those kinds of state laws that have a discriminatory voting impact? >> well, this administrations
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attorney general has intervened when it felt it was appropriate an did not intervene when it felt it was not appropriate so i think my responsibility would be to ensure there's no discriminatory problems with a voting rights act of a state. if there is, if it violates the voting rights act or the constitution i think the united states -- the attorney general may well have a responsibility and a duty to intervene. you cannot allow improper erosion of the right of americans to vote. >> well, we know that since the supreme court's decision that did away with major parts of the voting rights act that numerous states perhaps 13 states have already enacted laws that could be deemed contrary to the voting rights act so i would hope that as attorney general you would vigorously review those kinds of laws and to prosecute and seek
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to overturn those state laws just as your predecessors have done. i want to turn to vowa. i know you voted against the most recent -- >> welcome back, we are live right outside the capitol. >> we've been watching the senate judiciary hold these hearings for senator sessions to become the next attorney general. we'll get back to that in a few moments but the intelligence committee also has been hearing very important testimony from the leaders of the u.s. intelligence community of russia's attempted influence of the 2016 presidential election. moments ago we heard from the head of the national intelligence community retired general james clapper. he spoke about russia's governmental motivation and strategy. listen to this. >> putin and the russian
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government also developed a clear preference for president elect trump. russia aspired to help president elect trump possible by discrediting secretary clinton and contrasting her unfavorably to him. >> we also heard directly from the fbi director james comey who testified before committee members that russian hackers penetrated state voter level administrations. >> there were successful penetrations of some groups and campaigns particularly the state level on the republican side of the aisle and in some limited penetration of old republican committee domain. >> but director comey said there's no information that it was used on elections or were hacked. he was pushed of what evidence there might be of any collusions
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there might be. >> my question for you director comey is have the fbi investigated these reported relationships? and if so, what are the agencies findings? >> thank you senator. i would never comment on investigations whether we have one or not in an open forum like this. >> can you provide an unclassified response to these questions and release it to the american people prior to january 20th? >> i'm sorry you said will i? >> yes, will you provide an unclassified response to the question i've asked, and as i've said it's been reported widely, it's on the routers news service provide a response to question i asked and release it to the american people prior to january 20. >> the answer will likely be the
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same as i just gave you. i can't talk about it. >> i will tell you, i think the american people have a right to know this. and if there is delay in declassifying this information and relating it to the american people releasing it to the american people, and it doesn't happen before january 20th i'm not sure it's going to happen and that's why i'm troubled and i hope that you will make a declassified statement with respect to the questions i've asked. >> fbi director comey told the intelligence committee he preferred they be the ones who examined the computers after they had been hacked. let's bring in our panel. kim dozer, amy stoter, jeff z
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zelze zelly nny and pamela brown. one exchange is that senator widen knows something and is trying to get the fbi director to say. let me play a little sound between angus king, an independent senator from maine and also talking to director comey about any investigation between the russians and any specific campaign. let's roll that sound. >> mr. comey, did you answer senator widen's question that there is an investigation underway to connections between either of the political campaigns and the russians? >> didn't say one way or the other. that was my intention least. we never publicly confirm nor
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deny it. >> the irony of making that statement here i cannot avoid but i'll move on from that. >> we sometimes think differently about closed investigations. >> a little note there from angus king about comey's questions about hillary clinton's questions, but beyond that it does seem that they know something and trying to get the fbi director to admit what it is. >> right. may have access to classified information, of course no one ex-pleae ex-pleae explicitly not wanting to speak in an open forum. >> all of these senators have had access of the classified version of the investigation into russian hacking since friday, so they have information they can't talk about it in open forum and trying to draw it out. what you saw the republicans
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were doing was get director clapper on record saying but this didn't affect the results of the elections. clappers response was that wasn't our job here, we weren't looking into the minds of the american people assess whether this changed minds, opinions and therefore changed votes we were just looking into the goal s of the russian government. >> this is going remain an issue on capitol hill, so many people don't think he has taken this seriously enough and leads to sanctions so this is going to remain after january 20th. >> let's take a quick break and come right back and have much more on the hearings. stay with us.
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welcome back, to our viewers in the united states and around the world, i'm wolf blitzer, we have been watching much of the senate hearings, the republican from alabama pick for the attorney general, most of whom praised him, some of whom, talking about the democrats confronted him on issues ranging from civil rights, sentencing, to chain gangs, about 3:30 another confirmation hearing is set to begin, taking up the retired u.s. general john kelly to back the next secretary of homeland security. we'll have coverage of that as well. right now i want to get back to the sessions hearing. earlier he spoke about loretta
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lynches decision not to appoint a special prosecutor in the hillary clinton case. listen to this. >> i don't think it's appropriate for the attorney general just to willy-nilly create special prosecutors. history has not shown that has always been a smart thing to do, but there are times when objectivity is required and the absolute appearance of objectively is required and perhaps a special prosecutor is appropriate. the attorney general lynch for example did not appoint a special prosecutor on the clinton matter. and, i did criticize that. i was a politician we had a campaign on, i didn't research the law in depth, just the reaction as a senator of a concern. >> let's get back to the live coverage senator sessions answering questions i think from senator mike lee