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tv   Senator Chuck Schumer Calls for Special Prosecutor to Lead Russia Probe  CSPAN  March 7, 2017 5:03am-5:18am EST

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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: well, mr. president, i rise this afternoon on a few matters. first, russia. on the continuing investigation into russian interference in our election and the ties between
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the trump campaign, transition team and russia. the events of this weekend, which included another troubling, baseless tweet from the president, highlight and in fact strengthen the argument for a special prosecutor to conduct the investigation. and the american people agree. a cnn/orc poll this morning showed that about two-thirds of americans think a special prosecutor should conduct the investigation. 67% of the independents and even 43% of the republicans. the trend line suggests these numbers will continue to grow. so my republican colleagues should understand that what they know in their hearts is the right thing to do. do a strong, impartial investigation and get to the bottom of this is where the american people want them to go. the american people disagree with president trump and want a
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thorough and impartial investigation, even 43% of republicans. they're right. a special prosecutor is the best way to ensure that an investigation proceeds impartially for several reasons first, by the department of justice guidelines, that are set up for this purpose. the special counsel is not subject to day-to-day supervision by the attorney general, now recused, or anyone else at the justice department. that means the special prosecutor would have much greater latitude in whom he can subpoena, which questions he can ask and how to conduct the investigation. second, the prosecutor can only be removed for good cause, such as misconduct, not to quash the investigation. so there's a insulator there.
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he or she is protected as they're moving forward on the investigation. third, there's built-in oversight. congress is notified whenever a special counsel is appointed, removed or finished with the investigation. and last, the special counsel has the independence to prosecute not only the subject of an investigation but anyone who tempts to interfere. so this is the right way to go. and let me quote attorney general jeff sessions on this issue. here's what he once said. the appropriate response when the subject matter is public and it arises in a highly charged political atmosphere is for the attorney general to appoint a special counsel of great public stature and indisputable independence to assure the public the manner will be handled without partisanship. if there were ever a case that fit exactly what then senator
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now tern general sessions -- attorney general sessions called for, this is it. now, mr. president, this week the senate judiciary committee is going to have a hearing on the nomination of mr. rosenstein to serve as the deputy attorney general. during that hearing mr. rosenstein should commit to naming a special prosecutor to look into the trump campaign's ties to russia. mr. rosenstein by reputation is a fair man. he's a career prosecutor. now that the attorney general has recused himself, mr. rosenstein's pending confirmation will have the duty to appoint a special prosecutor. if he won't appoint a special prosecutor, he'd need a darn good reason and it's hard for me to see one right now. whether or not mr. rosenstein will appoint a special prosecutor will be front and center tomorrow at the judiciary
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committee's hearing. and far away the most important question he needs to answer. as i mentioned last week, if pending confirmation mr. rosenstein delays or refuses to appoint a special prosecutor, congress should consider reviving a narrower version of the independent counsel law. also, mr. president, we should make sure, certain that the investigation hasn't been interfered with thus far. i've sent a letter today to the inspector general of the department of justice michael horowitz. it was made public today. urging him to open an immediate investigation to determine if anyone has interfered with this investigation up to now, either attempting to influence the direction of the investigation or those conducting it. the attorney general should have recused himself on day one.
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i asked him to do it almost three weeks ago on february 14. and we need to know if he or anyone else has meddled in this investigation in any way. his misleading statements to the judiciary committee about his meetings with the russian ambassador only adds suspicion. attorney general sessions has been in charge of this investigation for three weeks. we need to know if he or anyone else did anything in that time to hinder the investigation because it's absolutely critical that we protect the integrity of this investigation. that means ensuring that it's completely independent going forward and that nothing has already occurred that could compromise it. the good news is, the inspector general can take this investigation on his own, can go forward with what we asked in the letter on his own, and i would urge him to do so. second issue i'd like to discuss
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is the travel ban, the recently issued executive order on immigrants and refugees. now that we have the details, it's clear that while the administration has made some very minor changes, it's done nothing to alter the core thrust of the order which i believe is terribly misguided and nothing to address the core concerns of the ninth circuit court of appeals which ruled the original order was potentially unconstitutional. moreover, we know that the administration delayed its announcement and implementation so that president trump could bask in the aftermath of his joint address. that should be all the proof americans need to know that this executive order has everything to do with optics and nothing to do with national security. if national security was at stake, it shouldn't have been delayed a single day. the truth is there is very
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little new or improved about this executive order. it's barely a fresh coat of paint on the same car that doesn't drive. it's still a travel ban. it's still a refugee ban. it still makes us less safe, not safer according to not just to me but to republicans like senator mccain. it still attempts to turn innocent immigrants and refugees into scapegoats and still doesn't do the things that would actually make us safer, like going after lone wolves and closing the loopholes in the visa waiver program. the new executive order is still mean spirited, misguided, and in my judgment goes against what america is all about in being a country that accepts and chearishes immigrant -- cherishes immigrant, not disdains them. i fully expect that the president's new executive order will have the same uphill climb
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in the courts that the previous version had. finally, mr. president, on the affordable care act, my republican friends have repeated the mantra for seven years, repeal and replace. repeal and replace. turns out during those seven years they never came up with a coherent plan to replace the affordable care act. it was all slogans, no policy. and now they're scrambling to come up with something. the problem is every draft, every leaked detail or outline or list of principles we've seen is tied together by one common thread. it will raise costs on average americans and cut back on their benefits. average americans under the republican plan will pay more and get less. no wonder they're hiding the plan somewhere in a basement
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room, even as they're scheduling markups on the bill for a week from now. they don't want folks to see it until the very last minute. just rush it through. i don't blame them. it's going to be very hard for republicans to be proud of this plan which hurts average americans raising their costs and taking away benefits. mr. president, it is the absolute height of hypocrisy to be hiding this plan. my republican colleagues complained bitterly day after day, week after week, month after month about not having enough time to read the affordable care act when it was being debated. at the time, my friend, the distinguished majority leader said, quote, americans want us to slow down and congress is putting its foot on the accelerator. americans want to know what this bill would mean for them and congress won't let them read it before a vote on a piece of
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legislation that will affect one of the most significant aspects of our lives. americans, he continued, americans have concerns about what they're hearing and they're being told to shut up, sit down, and take the health care we give you. by keeping the replace -- end of quote. by keeping their replacement bill under lock and key, only a week before potentially voting on it, the republicans are engaging in enormous hypocrisy, exactly what the majority leader complained about only a few years ago. their mantra in past years was always read the bill. now they won't even let us glance at it. why are they hiding it? i think i know why. they're not very proud of it. and they know it's not going to work. they're being pushed blindly forward by their ideologues and their incessant campaign promises. mr. president, the american
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people ought to know how republicans plan to drastically reshape this nation's health care policy. i suspect they -- americans won't like it much. i suspect it will raise costs and cut benefits. i suspect far fewer americans will get coverage. and i suspect their plan will put the insurance companies back in charge. whatever it does or doesn't do, the american people and their representatives in congress after seven long years of slogan ought to know the true face of replace. thank you, mr. president. i yield the
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