tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN January 10, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
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 of utah.
>> policy agendas getting em bral embrald in it. >> thank you. just a moment. >> senator leahy. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> i listened to senator lee asking these questions and it occurred to me that you are one of a very, very small minority of members who oppose the usa freedom act that i drafted with senator lee. it passed with a super majority in both the house and the senate. even though you voted against it and topped the bulk collection by nsa, that senator lee and i
both oppose. do you believe the that executive branch has the follow the law that they cannot reinstate the bulk of phone records without statutes? >> senator leahy that appears to be so and i can't swear that is absolutely always true, but appears -- >> whoa whoa whoa, we either passed the law or didn't. the senate majority vote was for it, you opposed it. will you follow the law? >> i will follow the law, yes, sir. >> and will you -- american records based on the freedom of information act based on whoever is president has the power to disregard the statute?
>> i do not believe that the statute can be disregarded and it should be followed. >> thank you. i appreciate that. >> we had a dust-up in the press. as you recall when mr. trump bragged about how he had grabbed women and so on, you shortly after the tape came out, and realize there's an explanation here, you said i don't characterize it as sexual assault. but then you said later the weekly standards characterization of comments involving sunday's presidential debate is completely inaccurate. my hesitation is based solely on
confusion of the contents of the 2005 tape the hypothetical posed by the reporter which was asked in a chaotic post environment. it was crystal clear the assault is unacceptable. never intentionally suggest otherwise. that's basically what you said after the confusion on your first comment. is that correct? >> i believe that is correct. >> thank you. is grabbing a woman by her gentiles without consent, is that sexual assault? >> clearly, it would be. >> thank you. if a sitting president or any other high federal official is accused of committing what the president-elect described a context in which it would be federally prosecuted, would you be able to prosecute and investigate? >> the president is subject to
certain lawful restrictions and they would be required to be applied by the appropriate law enforcement official if appropriate, yes. >> and the conduct described based on the description would be sexual assault? >> well, the confusion about the question was a hypothetical question. and it related to what was said on the tape. i did not remember at the time whether this was suggested to be an unexcepted, unwa -- unaccept unwanted, that meet the definition. if that's what the tape said -- >> my question is very simple is grabbing a woman by her gentiles without her consent, is that sexual assault? >> yes. >> thank you.
now, you were asked earlier about the naacp and ucla on america you said that was before you were senator, but you have continued to be hostile to them, you criticize nominees which you call aclu dna. now i remember when republicans led the justice department, the inspector general found the bush administration engaged in unlawful politicalized hiring practices. the spectinspect oor general, a whether african-americans would be sufficient and conservative
in the aclu couldn't have a job. you said in a radio interview justice has to be saved from secular progressive liberals. okay. let me ask you a couple simple questions. are an individual's religious beliefs relevant to the employment at the justice department? >> not unless it's such that they can't perform their duties in an honorable way consistent with the law. >> what would be an example of that. >> well if a individual so strongly believed that abortion should be lawful, that it would block it i think that would be subject to them being employed at the department of justice. >> are you going to have a litmus test for people who work at the department of justice organizations? >> no.
>> senator graham mentioned states rights and certainly you and i have had discussions on that and realize they are deeply helded beliefs but states also voted on an issue of marijuana and regulation, i believe your own state of alabama permits a derivative of marijuana, illegal under federal law. if you were confirmed as the nation's chief law enforcement official and you know that we had very, very limited federal resources in fact spending about a third of our budget now to keep the prisons open because of mandatory minimums and whatnot, would you use our federal resources to investigate an prosecute sick people who are
using marijuana in accordance with their state laws even though it might violate federal law? >> i won't commit to never enforcing federal law, senator leahy, but absolutely it's a problem of resources for the federal government. the department of justice under lunch and holder set forth some policies that they thought were appropriate to define what cases should be prosecuted in states that have legalized at least in some fashion, some parts of marijuana. >> do you agree with those guidelines? >> i think some of them are truly valuable in a varying array of cases but fundamentally the criticism that i think is legitimate is that they may not have been followed, using good judgment about how to handle
these case will be a responsibility of mine. i know it would be an easy decision but i will try to do my job in fair and efficient way. >> you mandated the death penalty for anyone convicted of a second drug trafficking offense including marijuana even though mandatory death penalties are of course unconstitutional. >> i'm not sure under what circumstances i said that, but that doesn't look like something i would normally say i would be glad to look at it. >> is it not your view today? >> it is not my view today. >> okay. >> i perked up when he started talking about federalism. everything was interesting, but federali federalism. >> i'm raising your legislation? >> thank you. that was great. federalism is an issue that is near and dear to many of us and i know it's important to you.
the notion that our federal government possesses powers are few and our government was always intended as a limited purpose national government not a general purpose, one possessing complete police powers. we have seen a slow but steady drift over the last 80 years away from this principal of federalism such that powers exercised at the federal level today could not be described as few and defined but numerous an indefinite. in light of the supremacy clause any powers we do exercise through the federal government are by definition replaced from the states in other words when our action conflicts with state action it's our action that prevails in light of the supremacy laws. and why it needs to be looked out so carefully and one view
that you and i both share is that u.s. government officials in all three branches of government whether they wear a black robe or not swear an oath to uphold the constitution, like federalism, so that we don't have an excessive accumulation of power in the hands of the few, so the founding fathers set up this system, we have the vertical protection which just described and the horizontal. and withen -- a branch that makes this laws, branch that enforces the laws and another branch th
bran branch that determines the laws, but we have seen a deterioration of separation of powers. you have an interesting set of circumstances with our controlled substances laws concerning marijuana in that for the first time in a very long time you have seen some attention paid to federalism but in the limited area associated with marijuana. in other words, there are federal laws prohibiting the use of marijuana the sale of marijuana, the production of marijuana that apply regardless of whether a state has independently criminalized that drug until every state recently had, then some states coming along and decriminalizing it sometimes in the medical context, sometimes in a
broader context. the response during the obama administration has been interesting an different than in other areas, slow to identify federalism and chose to recognize it, my question to you is the way they respond to that federalism concern run afoul of separation of powers? did what they -- did the department's approach to this issue that they identified as a federalism issue contravene the understanding that we are the body the executive branch as the law-enforcing body? >> i'm not sure i fully understand the point of your question, but you're talking about separation of powers within the federal government. >> yes. >> the three branches of federal government. >> yes. >> and how does that implicate the marijuana laws? >> are there concerns arising out of the department of
justice's current approach to state marijuana laws? >> i think one obvious concern is that the united states congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state and distribution of it an illegal act, so we need -- if that's something is not desired any longer congress should pass a law to change the rule. it's not so much the attorney general's job to decide what laws to enforce. we should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able. >> thank you. i would like to get back to antitrust issues for a moment. in 2010 you co-sponsored some legislation that expanded the antitrust leniency program and to 2020, the legislation provided that members of a cartel could receive reduced
penalties if they reported cartel activity to the department and cooperated with any investigation the department had in connection with that antitrust cartel. within the department of justice it considers this tool "it's most important investigative tool for detecting cartel activity." because it creates an incentive for cartel members to self-report to come forward and to identify things that the antitrust division needs to be aware of. so i applaud your leadership in this area because it's been very helpful to the enforcement of our antitrust laws of our department so i have two questions looking forward first given it's importance do you think the program should be made permanent? and second are you open tony other ideas that might strengthen the program? >> senator lee, i would not
commit toot you that i have an opinion on that. these are very complex areas of law, i'm not on the subcommittee as many members of our committee are and level of expertise like you and others so i would commit to you that i'm open to hearing on the views of this congress and that subcommittee and would try to work with you, but i do understand that antitrust policy is an important issue for america and we need to get it right and that will be my goal. >> thank you. one important question sometimes arises in the antitrust context relates to what role the department of justice should play in communicating with
foreign authorities, authorities in other countries that deal with competition laws. deal with things analogous to our antitrust laws in this country. the department of justice has typically played a leading role but in recent years it has also allowed the federal trade commission to become heavily involved. to my mind, this raises some potential concerns, because the ftc is an independent agency. as compared to the department of justice of course, which is headed by a presidential appo t appointee who serves to the president. do you have an opinion more accountable to the president and more connection to the people and connected with foreign
antitrusts or competition authorities? >> i really wouldn't attempt to comment today on that. i would be glad to hear your thoughts on it. i think it can be problematic if u.s. officials encourage foreign officials to join with them to against an action of a private company that could put so much excessive pressure on them that they're not able to resist and when they may have a lawful basis to resist, so these are big issues and you have to be sensitive to the power that the department of justice has that the antitrust division has and make sure there's a principal policy and lawful basis for what is done. >> thank you senator sessions. i see our chairman is back -- oh, he's not back. senator feinstein?
>> it's my understanding that senator durbin has not yet had his second round and so i would like to defer the him. i'm going defer the durbin because he somehow got missed. >> thank you very much. i want to thank the chairman and my friend senator feinstein. this morning before the intersection committee direct comey was can he hatestifying a about any contact between moscow and russians and the presidential campaigns and he said he wasn't going to answer to any publicly and i would like to ask about recusal.
but you have mentioned you would recuse yourself involving hillary clinton or the clinton campaign and e-mails and then i understand i wasn't present but senator bloomen ththal asked yo whether or not you would recuse yourself on other cases and you said on a case by case basis, same thing if we are dealing with the trump campaign or anyone in the trump campaign, would you recuse yourself as attorney general from that prosecution? >> my response to my recusal issue was because i made public comments about it that could be construed as having an opinion on the final judgment that would have to be rendered. i don't think i made any comments on this issue that go to that, but i would review it and try to do the right thing as to whether or not it should stay within the jurisdiction of the
attorney general or not. >> it would strike me that this is an obvious case for a special prosecutor if it involves a campaign lead to go a candidate who selected you as the attorney general. wouldn't an abundance of caution suggest that you wouldn't want any questions raised about your integrity in that type of prosecution? >> senator durbin, i think it would be incumbent on anybody who is holding office of attorney general at the time to caref carefully follow through with that and follow through on the appropriate prosecutor standards so i would intend to do that but i have not expressed an opinion on the merits of those issues to my knowledge. >> senator sessions, there's been a lot of controversy about refugees. the united states had a dubious record on refugees during worl
war ii refusing to accept jewish refugees in some cases returned to europe and the holocaust and perished. a bipartisan policy came and in some cases the united states became more generous to accepting refugees, 650,000 refugees who came during the sentencing of the castro regime, 125 soviet jews, spares from persecution in the soviet union, 400,000 from eastern europe, 400,000 from vietnam, 150,000 from yugoslavia.
we have somebody in the audience, rearrested seven time in prison, and when he refused to stop writing the guards broke his hands and when he was again pursued by the regime he fled to turkey and saved by catholic charities by receiving refugee status. there have been some strong words spoken about syrian refugees, in fact there were some during the campaign who said we should accept none and others who said we shouldn't accept any from anywhere. some have said we're finished with that business. one of your responsibilities as attorney general will be the
involvement of prosecutorial discretion, decisions that have to be made about the fate of men like alton mills who served 22 years of a life sentence for the possession of crack cocaine in the case of oscar vasquez who wanted to serve. -- not merely to convict. it is an important function to have prosecutor to seek to reform an improve the criminal justice. when it comes to cases like these in your role as the leading prosecutor in the united states of america, what is your feeling about your discretion to make the decision as to whether or not to spare individuals like those i've described? >> i've been made aware in the last several years how this process works.
it's really the secretary of state usually through consultation with the president that decides how many refugees should be admitted to the country and there's little congress can do other than getting into a funding argument with the president about that. so, secretary kerry met with members of the judiciary committee to announce what he planned to do on refugees. that will be how it would be decided and legally, the president appears to have that power, but it would be my responsibility i think to make sure that it was exercised within the bounds of law. >> but you have a responsibility too. you oversee the office of the pardon attorney which recommends that sentences like those of alton mills be commuted. you oversee the immigration courts interpreted our nation's
laws apply to dreamers and refugees like mr. mukdad, so this isn't another agency, it is the department of justice, and you will be the leader of that department and you will have the authority and prosecutorial discretion. you can't point to the state department you have a discretion within your own department. >> well a refugee is admitted to the united states by the approval or non-approval of -- it's not a trial or litigation. so that's how it's determined. the gentleman from syria that you mentioned should be able to make a strong case for his acceptance as a refugee because he's been damaged and injured and attacked and at risk for his writings, so that would give him
proving that should put him at a higher level of potential acceptance. >> you and i can disagree on this one point in your authority over the courts as attorney general but i hope we both agree there are compelling cases of victims around the world of terrorism, war, diskrimmation and maltreatment, men and women, an many of them look to the united states as the last possible place for them to find safety and security. i hope after the heated language of this last election campaign that we can come back to some of the standards that have guided this nation since worl war ii. >> we need to make sure those who have been admitted have been properly vetted and are not a danger. >> thank you. >> this is what i would like to do. the votes kind of made this a
convoluted round. we have one person with a round and one person not without his first round and then senator sessions would like to take a break. here is what i would like to do senator sessions if it's okay with you, i want to go with senator hatch. senator feinstein for their second rounds and senator kennedy for his first round and give you a short break at that point. is that okay? >> that would be good. thank you. >> okay. for the benefit of the rest of you, i kind of got lost out of this but i've got to be here for the rest of the meeting where maybe some of you don't have to be so i'll do any second, third an fourth round after everybody else is gone. >> is that nice? >> okay. [ laughter ] >> senator -- >> i think it's hatch. >> senator hatch. yes. >> senator sessions, i think you
have done a terrific job. i've known you all your 20 years, i've watched you work diligently on the judiciary committee and on your other committees as well. you're an honest, decent man and you have tremendous abilities in law enforcement and you are proving it here today and showing it here today. it's hard for me to understand why anybody would be against you. i want to emphasize that you have wide support for your appointment among law enforcement including the national sheriff's association, national district attorneys association, the national association of police organization, national organization of assistant o attorneys, the international union police associations and major city chiefs of police. i'm not sure i've seen anybody
that had all that kind of massive support for this position. now i draw attention to this for an important reason. this agreement about political or policy positions are one thing. but, accusations about your commitment to fairness or suggestions that you're not sensitive to race is another. with these law enforcement organizations enthusasticly support someone who is biased? of course not. >> especially without any evidence to support them whatsoever are not simply attacks on senator sessions they are also smears against organizations like these which have similar needs, the record
and found senator sessions worthy of support so i'm grateful to you and for your willingness to take this on. knowing that you might be smeared by certain organizations. it takes some guts to do this, but we all know you have guts. we all know that you believe in what you are doing. we all know that you have a tremendous integrity. we all know that you have tremendous intellectual ability as well. and even though you and i have disagreed on issues that are important to both of us, you have always acted with distinction and fairness and decency and i would expect you to do the same thing as attorney general of the united states. one thing i know, you would be giving it's everything you have and that's a lot. you have a lot to give. let me just say this morning one of my democratic colleagues said that the standard for evaluating your nomination is whether you
will "enforce the law fairly, evenly, without personal bias" do you agree that the attorney general has a duty to do that? >> as a core responsibility of attorney general absolutely. >> i have no doubt you will live up to that. no doubt whatsoever. i think everybody should have to agree with that. the real question is how we can be confident that you will fulfill that responsibility an most of the comments this morning were about comments you made, positions you took or cast as senator on legislative issues and some of these questions suggested that you could not enforce a law that you had not voted for or you would not enforce a law or policy that you might have questioned or personally disagreed with. i personally categorically reject that and you have too, is that correct?
>> that is correct. >> you're darn right it is. some of my friends would also reject the suggestion that a liberal could not be impartial. i think liberals can be impartial. >> i do too, senator hatch. and some people -- i don't think it would be hard for me to be impartial and to enforce laws that i didn't vote for. i just don't think that's going to be -- i think i can separate my personal votes of maybe years ago from what my responsibility is today and i hope that my colleagues can believe that. >> well the answer to the question whether you can as attorney general enforce the laws fairly, evenly and without personal bias it's a resounding yes, you can and anybody who disagrees with that hasn't been listening, observed you over the last twenty years or any time over the last 20 years, there's
not a shred of evidence of your entire record to under mimine t conclusion. the fact that you have already served in both the executive and legislative branches strengthen even further your commitment to the duty of fairness and imparti impartiality. seems to me it does. am i right? >> well, thank you, yes. i do believe i've conducted myself according to principals that i think are valid and try to be consistent and honest in my evaluation of the many complex issues that we have here. sometimes good people can certainly disagree on them. >> anybody should know that's true. now the justice department has a duty to defend in court the laws enacted by congress. as a member of this committee for 20 years you had heard attorney general nominees pro fess their commitment to fulfill that duty regardless of
politics, in my opinion the justice department under the outgoing administration renigged and made decisions rather than legal grounds. how important is it to commit to legal statutes even as a legislature you would oppose those? >> senator hatch, you have been through many of these issues and i certainly do respect your judgment but i do believe that the lawyer for the congress, the lawyer for the united states that represents the united states government in court should be the lawyer that defends an act lawfully passed in congress wherever it's reasonable argument can be made and i commit to you i will do that. >> i believe you and i know that's true. and i have a rough time seeing
why anybody would find any real flaws or fault with your nomination. i just want to personally thank you for being willing to go through this, were your willingness to be able to do this and for your integrity that you have shown and exhibited and demonstrated over the last 20 years. i can personally testify about you and about what a fine really good person you are. and we've differed on some pretty important issues from time to time. i have respect for you because you stand up for what you believe however wrong you may have been. [ laughter ] >> i heard my wife laugh. >> well, i have a lot of respect for you and i hope that the rest of this proceeding goes really well and that we can get you confirmed as soon as possible because i know you will do a terrific job and i'm very proud of you for being willing to do this. >> i'm honored to have your
support. >> you have it. >> senator feinstein. >> thank you mr. chairman. to begin i would like to ask unanimous consent that all statements sent to the committee concerning senator sessions be made part of the record and i have testimony and letters. >> without objection, so ordered. >> thank you very much. senator sessions, when i was a small child it was during world war two and my father took me to a racetrack south of san francisco called tan ferferan a had become a detention camp for japanese citizens. thousands of families were held in this compound. and we checked with crs who says no japanese american was ever convicted of any sabotage in the united states during that time.
senator lee, cruz and i have tried together to enact a bill together to ensure that no american citizen or lawful permanent residence debit det n detien -- detained in the united states could be held without charge or trial. do you believe that the government can pursuant to a general authorization to use military force indefinitely detain americans in the united states without charge or trial? >> senator feinstein, that's an important question, classically, the answer is yes, classically if you captured a german soldier they could be held until the war ended. >> i'm talking about an american. >> i hear you, so then the question is we're in a war like we have now that's gone on multiple years and i would think
the principal of law certainly would appear to be valid but as reality dawns on us and wars might be even longer, you know, it's honest to discuss those issues, so i respect your willingness to think about that and what we should do, but in general i do believe as senator graham as argued forcefully for many years that we are in a war and when members who unlike the japanese who were never proven to be associated with a military regime like the japanese government, these individuals would have to be proven to be connected to a enemy on a designated enemy of the united states, so i am probably explained more than i should, but that's basically the arguments and the issues we're
facing. i respect your concerns and i'm sure they will continue to be debated the future. >> well, let me just say a few things about that. i've served on the intelligence committee for 15 years. i read all of it. i think i know as much as anybody about what's happening in the united states and this is not -- these are americans that we're talking about that can be picked up and detained and held without -- >> you're talking about america citizens -- >> -- and that should not be the case. i understand your point and citizens of the united states have certain important rights they cannot be aggregated. they cannot be detained without undergoing a habeas review and the government surely has to
prove that they are indeed connected sufficiently with an enemy action against the united states or they couldn't be detained. >> well, i appreciate that. let me go into another subject. you were one of nine senators to vote against the detainee treatment act of 2005. it prohibited the imposition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of any person in the custody or control of u.s. personnel. you also voted against an amendment sponsored by senator mccain in the 2016 defense authorization bill to limit interrogations to the techniques provided by the army field manual which does not include waterboarding. do you agree that the cia's former enhanced interrogation techniques including waterboarding are prohibited by
this provision of law as now ctd fied? >> it does appear to be clear that the last act mccain amendment would prohibit waterboarding. >> and you would enforce that? >> i would enforce the law, yes. >> thank you. and my third question is -- and this was in the "washington post," a report last night that you failed to disclose to this committee and to the office of government ethics subsurface rights to oil or other minerals on more than 600 acres in your home state some of which i gather are adjacent to a federal wildlife preserve. apparently alabama records -- and this is a quote, show that the senator leased undivided mineral interests to chief
capital, a texas firm, in 2015, do you in fact own these interests? >> senator feinstein i believe that so, and the way it happened was that many years ago at least 50 or more years ago, my family, ancestors sold some land and reserved mineral rights. later there was a dam built on the river and desire to take land that was going to be flooded and add additional land for duck preserve and they negotiated and the family sold land to the government and retained the mineral rights per the agreement. at least that's my understanding, so by nonserioes of events, it fell to me. i never reviewed the deeds, i don't know how much land is out there that i own mineral rights
on although oil companies are pretty good about contacting owners before they drill a well, so you are correct that we reported the income on my return -- >> i saw that. >> -- as coming from the property that i own and the property where the oil well is. i did not note in that report specifically that it was oil income because the blank said royalties, but maybe -- so i would just say to you this, we absolutely -- this is something i've taken no affirmative action in, it's something i'm going to take affirmative action in. i have one of the simplest, clearest financial reports you can see. my assets and my wife's assets are most entirely vanguard funds and municipal bonds, i don't own
any individual stocks, we're going to find out what we did or didn't do and correct it. >> good. thank you. >> i welcome brandon senator kennedy not only to this committee but to the senate as well. senator kennedy, you're allowed ten minutes now. good afternoon, senator. >> good afternoon. >> my name is john kennedy. and that's really my name. just so you know i used to have a law partner named jose canseco. caused a lot of confusion when we would go to meetings together. >> i guess. >> i have been impressed in preparing for the hearings with the deep support you enjoy from law enforcement. in fact one of my sheriff's from
louisiana, i don't know if greg is still here, sheriff greg shampomp came up with other sheriff's on your behalf. and i have noticed other organizations that have not always agreed on the issues. and that impressed me. i wanted to read an excerpt from the sergeants benevolent soeg association from the nypd, about as far as away from mobile you can get" as a union representing law enforcement officers over the years the sba, the sergeants benevolent association, as worked as both an ally and respectful opponent of senator
sessions. this experience has shown us that senator sessions is a man of unquestionable integrity and devoted to the rule of law. it is for this reason and many others that we believe senator session s is the absolute right choice to serve as america's chief law enforcement officer" and that impressed me. i would like to know what you as attorney general intend to do to partner with state and local law enforcement? >> that is so important and the united states attorneys throughout the country as in louisiana and alabama are key players in this. all united states attorneys, colleagues are funded to have law enforcement coordinating officers. i had two in my small office. we had regular meetings. in the early 80s this is when it started. the first time. so instead of having a law
enforcement plan, produced in washington d.c., the u.s. attorneys were directed to get all the federal agencies and all the state and local agencies to sit down and identify what the re -- their main threats are and direct their resources to deal with the real threats and they would be different in different districts around the country. i sense that's been eroded somewhat so we need to get back to that. the department of justice has great resources for identifying tactics and strategies that work on crime. we ought to be able to always help the state and local police officers have the best data on what works and how to create safer and better communities, the federal government cannot dictate to these agencies. it would be a disaster. they wouldn't accept it number one in any influence you might
have would be eliminated. we need to be partners of federal government through its power nationally and internationally, can help local investigative agencies solve a complex criminal case that they don't have the subpoena power or louisiana u.s. attorney or sheriff doesn't have power to have investigations conducted in texas or denver, so these are the things that are all important. and i truly believe that from a matter of public police we need to see the big picture. and we're all in it together. we're all in it together. and 90% of the law officers in america are state and local. and they're the ones that are the eyes and ears of law enforcement so i really think senator kennedy, you are correct that we need to do this. i think there's a feeling among law enforcement that that's not been happening sufficiently.
and i sense that that's one of the -- and the fact that i think i understand that that i've had as much strong and >> you know, when a radical islamic terrorist drives a truck into a group of people and kills them, we're told that we should not judge all muslims by the act of a few, and i agree with that. don't you think the same rule ought to apply when one or two law enforcement officers make the mistake -- don't you think that same rule ought to apply to all the other 99.9% law enforcement officials out there who just get up every day and go to work and try to protect us? >> i really do. and i think those of us in high public office do need to be
cautious about demeaning whole departments and whole groups of people because within those, most any department you can find in america, surely most of the people are just wonderful servants, public servants trying to do the right thing. so, when we say these thing, we can increase risk for them. we can make it harder for them to have relationships with the constituents where they are serving and actually result in an increase in crime in effect i haveness in law enforcement. these issues, we cannot miss these issues. we cannot make a big mistake like we may be making now. so, i commit to doing my best as a law officer to engender the kind of unity and comprehensive effort, state, local, federal, that would be the most effective engine to fight crime and make our communities safer.
>> in louisiana, senator, we believe that love is the answer, but we also believe that we have the right under the constitution to own a gun just in case. could you share with me your thoughts on the second amendment? >> well, i do believe the second amendment is a personal right. it's a historic right of the american people and the constitution protects it. and explicitly states it. it's just as much a part of the constitution as any of the other great rights and liberties that we value. so, my record is pretty clear on that. however, if a person -- people can forfeit their right to have a gun and it can be a factor in receiving sentences and being prosecuted if you carry a gun,
for example, during a commission of a crime. that can add penalty and convictions to you. i think that's a legitimate and responsible restraint on the second amendment right to keep and bear arms. >> i think they believe this in alabama, too, but louisiana, we also believe that nothing makes it easier to resist temptation than a good upbringing, a strong set of values, and witnesses. i'd like to know your thoughts on the freedom of information act. >> well, the freedom of information act is law and i would see it's carried out and the policies of the country need to be followed. >> i've got one final question. i read the inspector general's report about the department of
justice. i think it came out in about the middle of 2016, last year. they talked about -- the inspector general talked about problems with the department's massive grant programs. and the inspector general said approximately $100 million over the last five years went for, quote, questionable expenditures or funds that, quote, could have been put to better use. now, this is taxpayer money. it didn't just fall from heaven. we thank heaven for it, but it came out of people's pockets. what do you plan to do once you're confirmed -- and i believe you will be confirmed -- to help our friends at justice department prioritize their spending a little bit? >> thank you, senator kennedy. that report is -- raises real concerns.
i believe that any responsible public official should recognize that when they obtain an ig, their own inspector general, and saying their department is not performing to high standards should listen to that report and take action and review what's happening and make sure it does not continue. the american people have no desire, and they absolutely should not have their money sent to washington and then be wasted. we can do a lot more with the money that we have, having been ranking member of the budget committee, and i know that -- how difficult it is. but one way to get extra money, free money is to use the money you've got wisely for things that are valuable. >> senator, i don't know you well, but i've followed your career with respect and admiration for a lot of years and i just wanted to tell you that. you would be a great attorney general. >> thank you. thank you very much.
>> senator sessions, you asked for a short break, so, i hope maybe 15 minutes would be adequate. >> that would be adequate, absolutely. >> senator, white house is going to be next. so, when he comes back, yes, go ahead. senator, take your time. we stand in recess. >> welcome to the lead. i'm jake tapper. the senate judiciary committee taking a little break there and we're going to begin with the politics lead. you've been listening to the first day of confirmation hearings for president-elect donald trump's nominees on capitol hill in the hot seat today trump's pick for attorney general. republican senator jeff sessions of alabama. he's been defending his resume as he tries to become the nation's next chief law enforcement officer. also taking questions this afternoon, trump's pick to be secretary of the department of home land security. that's retired general john kelly. in the sessions hearing, the
senator seemed to remain composed as protester after protester interrupted today's questioning. each time the judiciary committee paused as police escorted demonstrators, some dressed up as members of the que cluks clan before he asked about it. senator sessions addressed accusations of racial insensitive that have haunted his career. in questioning he said he opposed the proposed muslim ban, insisted he is ready to take on immigration as an issue and he even responded to a conversation about that now infamous access hollywood tape. cnn justice correspondent pamela brown joins me now live here. pamela, there have been some really contentious moments just in the last few minutes. >> right. as particularly with the democratic senator leahy that access hollywood tape came up as you recall that came out during the campaign. at the time senator sessions says that calling that sexual assault was a stretch. here's what he had to say today during the hearing about that. >> is grabbing a woman by her
genitals without consent, is that sexual assault? >> clearly it would be. >> if he's sitting as president or any other high federal official is accused of committing what the president-elect described in a context in which it could be federally prosecuted, would you be able to prosecute and investigate? >> the president is subject to certain lawful restrictions and they would be required to be applied by the appropriate law enforcement official. >> and he sought to confront head on allegations of racism in his opening statement. he talked about how he would be as attorney general, what he would prosecute and what he wouldn't prosecute. >> do you swear that the testimony you are about to give -- >> attorney general nominee jeff sessions testifying before the senate judiciary committee,
vowing to recuse himself from any further investigations related to hillary clinton. >> some have expressed concern about whether you can approach the clinton matter impartially in both fact and appearance. how do you plan to address those concerns? >> i believe the proper thing for me to do would be to recuse myself from any questions involving those kind of investigations that involve secretary clinton that were raised during the campaign. or it could be otherwise connected to it. >> sessions also confronted accusations he's a racist, something that derailed his confirmation hearings for a judgeship before the same committee in 1986. >> it was very painful. i didn't know how to respond and didn't respond very well. i hope my tenure in this body has shown you that the caricature that was created of me was not accurate -- >> the hearing periodically interrupted by protesters who