tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN July 12, 2018 5:12pm-5:44pm EDT
oversight committee, a joint hearing with fbi official peter strzok testifying on his texts and the fbi investigation into the 2016 elections and the hilary clinton e-mail investigation. that hearing will resume once house votes are done. and we will have live coverage of that here on c-span 2 when the committees gavel back in. until then, we're going to show you some senate floor debate from earlier today on the nomination of president -- the nomination of brett kavanaugh to be the next supreme court justice. >> madame president, as we all know the federal bureau of investigation is a component of the department of justice. it is frequently described as the premier law enforcement agency in the country. the fbi's investigative authority has only grown and grown tremendously since its
creation almost 100 years ago. the bureau now covers everything from kidnapping to counterintelligence, public corruption to bank robbery and maybe a lot of things in between. its power is very substantial. and its jurisdiction is far-reaching. very important agency. because of that, the fbi is subject to a lot of scrutiny. lately, we've had a lot of folks around here seem to be mistaken,
mistaking the word scrutiny of the bureau with the words attacks on the bureau. but oversight of the fbi is not new, and it's a constitutional responsibility of the congress at least to do oversight of every agency, and the fbi can't be excepted. so far from being out of bounds, it's then essential under oversight for the peoples elected representatives here in the congress to put the fbi under a microscope. that is doubly true when the fbi gets involved in election controversies. the more power and the more secrecy the fbi claims in order
to carry out its responsibilities, the more closely it ought to be watched. under our government, where the public's business ought to be public, that statement i made -- just made ought to make -- be common sense to everybody. in its criminal work, the fbi is held accountable primarily by the court system. but when the fbi secretly gathers information for intelligence purposes, the risk of impropriety skyrockets. if the information is never going to be presented in the courts, like in a criminal matter, then who is going to be watching to make sure that the power to gath and use it is not -- that the power to gather
and use it is not being abused. that's why we need vigorous congressional oversight and strong inspector general scrutiny. lots of people say that the fbi should be independent. i disagree. the fbi needs to be objective and nonpartisan. it should be insulated from undue political pressure, if you want to call that independence, then i will use that word. but it cannot be independent of accountability to the people's elected leaders. civilian control of the military has always been a key safeguard to liberty for the same reasons. freedom is at risk if the fbi can become a domestic intelligence service with free
reign to weaponize information in secret. we've seen the risk of that in the text messages of peter strzok and lisa page. their contempt for both the people of this country and particularly their elected leaders should disturb everyone. abuses of power at the fbi are why we have a term limit for the directors of the fbi. it is that term limit is not there to protect the fbi's independence. it is there to protect the people from the abuses that j. edgar hoover committed because he became too independent. he was accountable to no one. j. edgar hoover feared -- was
feared by presidents, senators, and congressmen. while the director originally was selected by the attorney general, in 1968, congress made the position subject to presidential appointment and senate confirmation. in 1976, the congress established a nonrenewable ten-year term for the director. the senate judiciary committee published a committee report on that bill limiting the ten-year term in 1974. it took a couple of years for the bill to pass the house. i want to quote from that report. the purposes of the bill is to achieve two complementary objectives, the first is to insulate the director of the fbi
from unique pressure being exerted upon him from superiors in the executive branch. the second is to protect against an fbi director becoming too independent and unresponsive, end of quote. at the time congress was grappling with the fallout of watergate and the decades of corruption and civil liberties abuses by that first director of the fbi, j. edgar hoover, so hence the legislation. congress knew the fbi had to be able to operate free of partisan interference, but still be accountable to the duly elected
leadership of the country including every member of congress in their constitutional role of oversight. certainly the fbi director can't be politician stooge but history tells us that the bigger risk is in the other direction. hoover abused his powers to intimidate politicians and other political leaders. in a democracy, all of our leaders are ultimately accountable to the people. access to information about what agencies, like the fbi are doing, is essential to holding them accountable. transparency brings accountability. abuses multiply in secret. that's why congressional
oversight, a responsibility of congress under the constitution is key. the recent report of the department of justice's inspector general is a very good example. it describes behavior done in secret at the fbi that simply cannot be defended when brought to light. first, the inspector general's report identified unacceptable messages sent on fbi mobile devices and computer systems by five of the 15 fbi employees on the clinton e-mail investigation. those messages reek with political bias. the report found that through such messages, these employees, and i quote, brought discredit
to themselves, sowed doubt about the fbi's handling of the mid year investigation, and impacted the reputation of the fbi, end of quote. one message explicitly suggested a willingness to take official investigative steps for partisan reasons, where there should be no partisanship. that message vowed to stop the election of donald trump. can you imagine an fbi employee in official capacity, on official devices, taking that approach? and then claiming to be -- not to be biassed? because of that message, the ig was unable to conclude that the fbi's inaction on the clinton
e-mail matter for nearly a month prior to the election, was free from partisan bias. the ig referred all five employees who expressed partisan bias to the bureau for the fbi to consider potential disciplinary action. those messages show a bureau plagued by arrogance, disrespect for policy and norms, and disgust of democratic accountability. the report found director comey's actions usurped the department's authority. it called his decisions to publicly announce secretary clinton would not be prosecuted as extraordinary and insubordinate. and those two words are quotes
from the inspector general. director comey acted as if he was accountable to no one except himself. his subordinates also appeared contempt to ignore bureau and departmental policy and guidance. some apparently for their own personal interests. the inspector general also recently concluded that the fbi's former deputy andrew mccabe authorized the disclosure of information to a reporter. that information confirmed the existence of an ongoing investigation. the ig report faulted mccabe for violating long-standing department and bureau policy. there is a public interest
exception to that policy, but the inspector general found mccabe authorized disclosure of the information to make himself, mccabe, look good. now, mccabe claims comey knew about it. but the fbi will not release information that supposedly supports that claim. the fbi did little to nothing to address what now appears to be a culture of unauthorized contact with the media. yet somehow every day you read in the newspapers the fbi stiff arming congressional oversight at every turn. go to the newspapers, okay. congress wants the same information, no, as an example. on the one hand, the fbi stone
walls legitimate requests from the people's elected representatives whom they hate in the words of agent strzok, on the other hand, fbi employees are accepting meals, sports tickets, and golf outings from reporters. now, the department and the fbi are refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas, while lecturing congress about the need to control access to sensitive information. and while the fbi agents are breaking the rules by talking to reporters, left and right, the bureau goes after legitimate whistle-blowers who disclose waste, fraud, and abuse, according to law. the level of hypocrisy is staggering. the bureau was investigating
secretary clinton for her use of private communications to transact public business, but the employees in the bureau, who were handling that very investigation, including the director, did exactly the same thing. of course these employees were not exclusively using a private server that was highly vulnerable to outside attacks, there truly is a difference in the order of magnitude. but the fbi's employees' behavior could help explain their apparent lack of enthusiasm for investigating clinton's clear alienation of the federal records. after all, how could they accuse her of violating the federal act when it appears they may also
have been violating the very same law? these are on some of the examples in the inspector general's latest report, that we had a hearing on before my judiciary committee a couple weeks ago. former director comey said his people didn't give a rip about politics, give a rip about politics is words from his mouth. we can see clearly now that that is just not true. at least not for five top individuals involved in this very high-profile, very important investigation. now they need to be held accountable for their actions. there is no place in the fbi for the kind of arrogance displayed in those text messages. there is no place in the fbi for the kind of political timing and
calculations made by the former director. his subordinates openly discussed the enormous pressure they were under to close the clinton e-mail investigation before the political conventions. that was completely improper. decisions at the fbi need to be made on merits, not on a political calendar. the fbi needs to stay out of politics. they need to submit to oversight. and they need to focus on doing its job to regain its reputation for objectivity. no one in this country is above the law. no one should be independent of accountability. especially not the fbi. ::
already our entire system of government was on flat legs. give me a break. and this senator, by the way, serves on the judiciary committee. one left-wing group had an angry press release all ready to go for whomever the nominee would be. but after judge kavanaugh's nomination was announced, they forgot to fill in his name. [laughter] they had the press release ready with a big blank there, and they forgot to fill in the name. so they wound up decrying all
the terrible things that would happen if we confirmed the president's nomination of blank to the supreme court. they sent it out. so, madam president, that kind of says it all. fill in the blank opposition. well, our democratic friends have learned judge kavanaugh's name by now, but the hysterical attacks haven't gotten any less desperate or any more sensible. no sooner are these silly attacks launched, than they're beaten back by the facts. one of the flavors of the week was this outlandish claim that, in a law review article he wrote 10 or 20 years ago, judge kavanaugh supposedly said sitting presidents cannot be held accountable under the law. some far-left special interest claimed he said that. so did some congressional
democrats. it was the perfect conspiracy theory. catnip for their far-left base. the only problem was it wasn't true. people who actually looked at these articles note that judge kavanaugh, quote, does not reach legal conclusion on issues of presidential accountability. if anything, he seems to arrive at the opposite conclusion of what's been alleged. professor noah feldman of harvard law school observed that from a legal and constitutionallal perspective judge kavanaugh wasn't saying that the court should find that the president shouldn't be investigated or held accountable, quote, to the contrary. to the contrary, madam president. professor feldman observes that judge kavanaugh's logic would seem to imply that any president is open to being investigated and held accountable under the
law. here's how professor feldman finished up his debunking of this unfair attack. this is what he said. trying to oppose him on logically-backward grounds doesn't serve anyone's interests. "the washington post" fact checker jumped on the democrats' mischaracterization. it explained that judge kavanaugh's scholarly are articles actually contained, quote, a mainstream view on this constitutional question. the democratic rhetoric, quote, an a extreming distortion of what he has written. so let me sum that up. according to "the washington post," it is judge kavanaugh's analysis that is mainstream. it's the distortions of his record by congressional democrats and special interest groups that are extreme. you know, madam president, we have a word for blatantly
misrepresenting the record and character of a judicial nominee in order to achieve a political objective. we call it an attempt to bork the nominee. it refers to how judge robert bork was sland arerred back in the 1980s when people both inside and outside the congress blatantly and shamelessly distorted his record to claim he'd do terrible things if confirmed to the supreme court. it's actually in the dictionary now literally. judge bork's last name is in the merriam-webster dictionary as a verb. it means -- this is what "bork" means -- to attack or defeat a nominee or candidate for public office unfairly through an organized campaign of harsh public criticism or vilification. to be borked.
it's now in the dictionary. completely unfair vilification. looking back, most people agree now that this episode was grossly, grossly unfair, insulted the intelligence of the american people and stained the history of the united states senate. jeffrey rosen was a democrat who worked in senator biden's office on the democrat side during that episode. here's what he wrote a few years ago. he said, i remember feeling that the nominee was being treated unfairly. senator kennedy set the tone with a demagoguing attack. bork's record was distorted beyond recognition. it was bad for the country. this was a man named jeffrey rosen, a democrat who worked in senator biden's office during this episode.
and here's what a lawyer who helped lead the anti-bork effort wrote just last year. i regret, he said, i regret my part in what i now regard as a terrible political mistake. seized with guilt after all these years of having participated in this borking. because of that episode he goes on, quote, we have undermined public confidence in the judiciary. so there's widespread and bipartisan treatment that trying to -- agreement that trying to bork judicial nominees is harmful to our democratic process and to our judiciary.
judge kavanaugh's impressive record, impeccable credentials and his enormous bipartisan fan club of judicial peers and legal scholars all attest to the outstanding service he would render on the supreme court. i'm glad outside fact checkers are already swatting down democrats' desperate attacks on his nomination. in a breaking news bombshell report just last night, we learned that judge kavanaugh enjoys america's pastime. investigative reporters scoured his financial disclosures and learned that he and his friends buy tickets to baseball games and that he pays his bills. so as you can see, there's still
plenty of silliness to go around. i urge every one of my colleagues to treat judge kavanaugh's record truthfully, treat the confirmation process with the respect that it and this institution in which we serve deserves. we need to act like a responsible united states senate going through a confirmation process for the united states supreme court. >> mr. president, yesterday i had the chance to meet with the president's nominee to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of justice anthony kennedy on the supreme court. and i'm pleased with the nominee that the president has chosen, and after talking to him yesterday morning, i look forward to supporting his nomination and doing whatever i can to insure his bipartisan confirmation.
my conversation with judge kavanaugh refreshed my memory that we actually had met back in 2000 when i was attorney general of texas, and i was preparing to -- preparing to deliver an oral argument before the united states supreme court, something i'd never done before. but thanks to judge kavanaugh -- he wasn't a judge at the time -- paul clement and ted olson, both of whom have been solicitor general of the united states, they helped me get prepared and do the best job i could do, was capable of doing before the court, providing me a moot court opportunity. so it was good to catch up with judge kavanaugh. i've followed his career closely in the interim, obviously, he served as a circuit court judge in the d.c. circuit court. some might call it the second most important court in the nation. and that's primarily because it's located here in the district of columbia, and most of the major cases involving
administrative authority, federal power end up finding their way one way or the other through the d.c. circuit court of appeals. so he's had a a great judicial career over the last 12 years written on a variety of topics. i would say that he's a pretty well known quantity. while you're going to hear a lot of demands for additional disinformation i'm all for as much transparency as can be provided and senators certainly have a right to get their hands on as much information about the nominee and his qualifications, his background, how he might perform as a supreme court justice, i hope this doesn't turn into a delay of game tactic. he's had a long career in the government, worked at the white house as staff secretary -- which, for those who aren't familiar with that, means he's the last person that sees a
piece of paper before it's presented to the president for signature. that doesn't mean he's the publisher or the author of that paper. and many times it's really to make sure that the, that it's correct, that it's accurate, that it's been verified and authenticated. but then he's the one who decides to turn it over to the president for the president to sign. and it could be major matters or minor matters. but i hope we don't get to a point where people say every document or e-mail that he happens to have been copied on or have seen somehow becomes essential for a senator before they can decide whether or not to support his confirmation. and i'm, i want to also add that we've also had some senators come out and announce their opposition to the nominee before he was even announced. i think our friend from pennsylvania did that. in other words, announced his opposition to anybody that this
president might nominate to fill the vacancy of anthony kennedy. so i hope we don't hear from people like that, that now they need more information so they can make a decision. they've already made their decision. and it really is just a waste of everybody's time and really an insult to the rest of the senators who are doing their due diligence and trying to perform their constitutional responsibilities when it comes to providing advice and consent on a nominee to the highest court in the country. many people are familiar with the arc of judge kavanaugh's career, but let me just mention a few thingsless areth it not be -- things, lest it not be lost in all of the noise here in washington. of course, he graduated with honors from yale college and attended yale law school, one of the elite universities and law schools in the country. and clerked for two federal appellate judges before justice anthony kennedy on the supreme court. those are the types of jobs as a
presiding officer knows that are highly competitive, and only the best of the best get asked to serve as law clerks to federal appellate judges and, certainly, to the supreme court. and then he went in private practice and worked in the white house counsel's office thereafter. and final as staff secretary, as i mentioned a few moments ago, before being confirmed -- >> this speech and all of our senate coverage available, of course, at c-span.org. we'll leave here, break away here as we've been telling you on the screen, we're going to take you back live shortly, take you live now, and the hearing should resume shortly with fbi official peter strock testifying on his texts in relation to the 2016 election investigation and the clinton e-mail investigation. he's coming back into the room, they should start up shortly. live coverage now here on c-span2.