Attorney General Confirmation Hearing Day 1 Part 4 CSPAN January 10, 2017 6:26pm-8:13pm EST
rhetorical question, would they support a question who was biased. he argued that no, they would not as proof of jeff sessions' trustworthiness. i personally disagree. i would say that yes, many police organizations which have an implicit bias would support a nominee who was likewise biased. i think this is something very important to consider. someone earlier mentioned that questions should be tied directly to what the attorney general will be doing and i find, i mean, criminal justice reform is going to be one of the eminent concerns of our time and this is -- >> thanks, jennifer. we will let you go. there's senator sessions back in the hearing room. >> thank you. senator, last friday, the director of national intelligence, we covered this a little, representing 16 agencies, released a declassified intelligence report
stating quote, we assess russian president vladimir putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the u.s. presidential election, unquote. yet despite the consensus among our intelligence agencies, president-elect trump has remained persistently skeptical. during the first presidential debate he wondered aloud whether the responsible party could be china or quote, somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds. last month, he called reports of russian hacking quote, ridiculous, and quote, another excuse for the democratic loss. he said quote, it could be somebody sitting in a bed some place again. i mean, they have no idea. and even after the release of the declassified report, the president has really yet to
acknowledge russia's role in the hacking. you said earlier that you accept the fbi's conclusion. to my mind, it's absolutely extraordinary to see a president-elect so publicly refuting and without evidence as far as i can tell, the assessment of our intelligence agencies. why do you think president-elect trump has been so unwilling to acknowledge russian involvement in the hacking? >> i did mean to indicate i respect the fbi and i respect the fact that if they give a conclusion, they believe it's accurate, but i'm not able to comment on the president-elect's comments about it. >> okay. cnn has just published a story
and i'm telling you this about a news story that's just been published, i'm not expecting you to know whether or not it's true or not, but cnn just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week, that included information that quote, russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about mr. trump. these documents also allegedly say quote, there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government. again, i'm telling you this as it's coming out,
so you know. but if it's true, it's obviously extremely serious and if there
is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and i
did not have communications with the russians, and i'm unable to comment on it. >> very well. without divulging sensitive information, do you know about this or know what compromising personal and financial information the russians claim to have? >> senator franken, allegations get made about candidates all the time and they have been made about president-elect trump, a lot sometimes. most of them, virtually all of them have been proven to be exaggerated and untrue. i would just say to you that i
have no information about this matter. i have not been in on the classified briefings and i'm not a member of the intelligence committee, and i'm just not able to give you any comment on it at this time. >> totally fair. last week, julian assange, the founder of wikileaks, claimed the russian government was not the source of the hacked e-mails wikileaks published during the campaign. now assange did not identify his source, nor did he say whether his source worked with or received information from the russians but again, american intelligence agencies concluded the russian government directed the hacking operation. nonetheless, immediately following that interview, president-elect tweeted quote, julian assange said a 14-year-old could have hacked podesta, why was dnc so careless. also said russians did not give
him the info exclamation point. senator sessions, does it concern you that our future commander in chief is so much more willing to accept what julian assange says instead of the conclusions of our intelligence agencies and why do you think' president trump finds assange trustworthy? >> senator franken, i'm not able to answer that. i have not talked to the president-elect about any of these issues and it is often inaccurate what gets printed in the papers. >> back in 2010, back when wikileaks was publishing stolen american diplomatic cables and military secrets, you voiced concern about the obama administration's response. you said that wikileaks publishing sensitive documents should be quote, pursued with the greatest intensity, you said quote, the president from on down should be crystal clear on this, and i haven't seen that, i
mean, comes out of the left, the anti-war left. they have always glorified people who leak sensitive documents. now he's the commander in chief so he's got a challenge. president-elect trump by contrast said quote, wikileaks, i love wikileaks. do you believe that by holding up julian assange, who traffics in leaked and stolen documents, often classified documents as a legitimate source of information that president-elect trump is glorifying people who leak sensitive documents? >> well, i would say this. that if assange participated in violating the american law, then he is a person subject to prosecution and condemnation. >> well, we know that in regard to what he did in 2010 and yet
the president-elect said wikileaks, i love wikileaks. doesn't it seem like perhaps if you weren't sitting before us today as an attorney general nominee and if president obama was publicly embracing julian assange that perhaps you might take a more critical view? >> as a member of the senate, as you and i remain for hopefully not too much longer, depends on you and your colleagues, but i feel it's a lot easier to be vigorous and outspoken. if you begin to think about the awesome responsibility of serving as an attorney general with the possibility of having to handle certain cases, you need to be more cautious about what you say. so i think it's just not appropriate for me to be the person for you to seek political
responses from. >> senator -- >> i'm out of time. i will try to stick around for one more quick round. >> senator cruz. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. sessions, thank you for your endurance today. let's turn to a different topic, one that's been addressed some in this hearing but one that i know is a particular passion of yours and one on which you built a remarkable record. that's immigration. i want to focus in particular on the problem of criminal aliens in the united states and this administration's nonenforcement of the laws. take a moment just to review some of the numbers which you know very well but i think it's helpful to review for those watching this hearing. we have had an administration that consistently refuses to enforce our immigration laws so in october 2015, i.c.e. admitted there were 929,684 aliens
present in the united states who had been ordered to leave the country but who hadn't done so. and of those over 929,000 aliens with removal orders, 179,027 had criminal convictions. in addition to the 179,027 criminal aliens with final orders of removal, there were at least 194,791 known criminal aliens who were at the time in removal proceedings. we also know that 121 criminal aliens released by i.c.e. between fiscal year 2010 and 2014 went on to commit homicides. and between fiscal year 2009 and fiscal year 2015, i.c.e. released 6,151 aliens with sexual offense convictions from its custody. my question for you, senator
would be set by homeland security. i just believe that as we go forward and we reduce the flow of illegal immigrants into america, then there are few people illegally per investigative officer and you get a better handle, you are in a virtual cycle instead of this dangerous cycle we are in today where things tend to get worse. i believe we can turn that around. this is one of the policies that has to be given priority. donald trump has also said he believes criminal aliens obviously should be the top priority and all of us i believe this government will work effectively to deal with it. i will do my part. >> there are few issues that frustrate americans more than the refusal to enforce our immigration laws and not too long ago i was down on the border in texas visiting with
border patrol officials, visiting with law enforcement, local sheriffs, and i will tell you, it was after the election and there was a palpable sense of relief that finally, we would have an administration that didn't view the laws as obstacles to be circumvented but rather, an administration that would be willing to enforce the laws on the books and stop releasing criminal aliens in communities where the citizens are at risk. one of the most tragic instances that we are all familiar with is kate steinle. beautiful young woman in california who lost her life who was murdered by a criminal illegal alien who had seven prior felonies. and yet over and over and over again, the system failed. she lost her life in her father's arms saying daddy, please save me.
you and i are both the fathers of daughters and i cannot think of a more horrific experience than having to hold your daughter at this moment of agony. can you share, this has been an issue you have been leading for so long, can you share your perspective as to the responsibility of the federal government to keep the american people safe and not to subject the american people to murderers and other repeat felons who are here illegally not to release them to the public? >> senator cruz, you are touching on the right issue here. first and foremost, the immigration policy of the united states should serve the national interest, the peoples' interest. that's what an immigration system should do. number two, under the laws of world agreements that if a citizen from a foreign country is admitted by visa to the
united states and they commit a deportable act or otherwise need to be removed, that country has to take them back. when they cease to do that, you have a serious breach of collegial relations between the two countries. no country, particularly the united states, should ever allow so many individuals who committed crimes here often when they entered illegally, not even coming on a lawful visa and they need to be deported promptly. the reluctance of that to happen is baffling to me. it should have total bipartisan support. it's said that it does but for somehow it's never accomplished. so it's very very frustrating. the basic summary of that is it's perfectly proper, decent and correct for this nation not to allow people who come here on a visa or illegally to remain here after they have committed crimes. >> well, thank you, senator sessions. as you know, i have introduced
together from the public record that at least 40 people who were initially admitted to the united states as refugees were subsequently convicted or implicated in terrorism and more broadly, of a list of 580 individuals who were convicted of terrorism or terrorism related offenses between 2001 and 2014, at least 380 were born in foreign countries, many from terror spots in the middle east and africa, central asia and of the 198 u.s. citizens you and i were able to find on that list, at least 100 were born abroad and subsequently naturalized. as i mentioned, the administration has stonewalled us. will you commit to work with this committee to provide the data that we have been seeking that i think the american people are entitled to know of those who are committing terror plots against us, how many are coming in through a broken immigration system, through a broken refugee system and to working with this
committee to prevent that from happening in the future to keep the people safe? >> i will do that. i do believe that's the homeland security primary responsibility but it was a bit frustrating because what those numbers tend to indicate, it indicates that it's not true that refugees don't commit terrorist acts. there is a danger even in the refugee population and good vetting is critical in that process. >> thank you, senator. >> senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. senator sessions, if i might, i would like to take us to an area i don't think has been explored much today but of grave concern to me which is disability rights. another area where if confirmed as attorney general, you would be charged with protecting among the most vulnerable americans and those whose rights have only recently been fully recognized and enforced. you have previously said that the idea which provides for
access to education for those with intellectual disabilities creates and i think i quote here, lawsuit after lawsuit, special treatment for certain children and is a big factor in accelerating the decline in civility in classrooms all over america. and in a different setting, you were critical of the supreme court's decision in atkins versus virginia in 2002 which held that executing individuals with intellectual disabilities violates the eighth amendment. in a floor speech six days later after that ruling, you said that you were quote, very troubled by the court telling states quote, they could not execute people who were retarded. if a state was scheduled to execute someone with intellectual disabilities, would you insist on the justice department now taking vigorous action to stop it and given your previous comments about the idea, do you still believe it unfairly benefits some children and hurts others? >> we made real reform in idea.
i led that effort. we ended up having the vote of hillary clinton and dick durbin, senator durbin. we worked on it very hard and i was very pleased with the way it worked out. it was true that the idea community pushed back against the reforms i was proposing, but in the end, i think it worked out fine and the reason was that the burden was on the school systems. i was in a blue ribbon great little school in alabama, first day of school, and the principal told me it's now 3:00. at 5:00, i will go to a meeting with lawyers and parents about a child on whether or not they will be in the classroom all day or half a day and the child had serious disabilities. so he said i'm trying to get this school up and running and i'm having to spend this extraordinary amount of time on
this. so we created a legalystem that made it better. and the schools got a little more deference in being able to monitor. it was a big issue. it was a disruptive force in big city schools in new york and chicago and other places like that. so on the question of intellectual disabilities, i suppose we can disagree as a matter of policy. perhaps i was questioning the legal mandate but a person with intellectual disabilities that should be considered as a factor in the sentencing jury or judge's opinion before they go forward. but obviously, if a person knows the difference in right and wrong, historically they would be held to the same standard even though their intellectual ability would be less. >> let me revisit a question about consent decrees that you
explicitly today, but i would note on the consent decrees or the language the senator quoted i believe was in a booklet of which i simply wrote the foreword on. i don't believe that was my language. consent decrees have been criticized in a number of areas but with regard to the disabilities community and the police departments, i guess you are asking about, i'm not familiar with how they have worked out in the disabilities arena but with regard to police departments, i think it's a good thing that a police department might call on federal investigators and a team and to work with their police department to identify any problems and to help select remedies that the community might feel were more valid because the department of justice validated them and agreed to them.
so i think you and i talked, it really is important that the people trust the department, police departments and the police departments have respect from the communities. when you don't well, i hope we can find ways to work together to combat violent crime and the improve police community relations. let me ask you about trade -- property, something we've talked about. this is a significant problem for american inventions xaens, entrepreneurs, having their innovations stolen, sometimes by cyber hack. administration's made real progress if increasing enforcement and in going after those who would steal america's inventions. is that something you would intend to continue vigorous enforcement to protect american invention? >> i do. i think a lot of that may be
through the u.s. trade representative. it could be done through commerce department and other departments and the department of justice may have a role. >> it does. >> in criminal activities or civil enforcement. not going say for certain what that would be, but my view is that you're correct b about that. when we enter into a trade agreement with a foreign nation, what we have to understand is that's just a simple contract and we'll comply, we'll deal with you on this basis and if you're partner to that contract, is not acting honor bly, you have every right to push back and if it ultimately means you have to pull out of the agreement, then you pull out of the agreement. if it's serious enough. i don't think we've been as aggressive as we should have been. in those agreements. >> one last question if i may. i just wanted to reflect on something you said in your opening and something we have talked about. you were born in selma, roughly
70 years ago. i've been there selma several times with congressman lewis and a number of others and last year, many of us joined congressman lewis for the 50th anniversary of the famous march across the edmond pettis bridge when he faced violence and the response, the conscious of the nation was stir red by this horrible event. and it spurred congress to pass the bipartisan voting rights agent. there's been a lot of questioning back and forth about your comments about whether the voting rights act was intrusive in the shelby county decision. i wanted to come pack to an important point, senator leahy and i and a number of others tried hard to find republican partners to advance the voting rights advancement act which would have replaced the now 50 years old roughly pre clearance formula with a new one u that would be national in scope. would not disadvantage any region and would be simply based
on enforcement actions. previous questioning i think smart franken and others. focused on cent enforcement actions, the fourth circuit finding north carolina's post shelby id law violated the law because it targeted rican-americans. you said in your opens statement you witnessed the civil rights movement as it happened near you, that you witnessed the depredations of segregation and in a ceremony last year during the presentation of the congressional gold medal, you said, i feel i should have stepped forward many. what more do you think you should have done as a senator to take more active action, so that folks from around the country could have u confidence in your commitment to continuing the journey of civil rights in the country. >> well, i don't think we have to agree on everything. just because you think this is a necessary thing, you may be
right and i don't think so, i don't know that i'm wrong not necessarily wrong. i would say that i did sponsor the congressional gold medal act that gave the gold medal to the selma and montgomery marches with senator coreyy book y book. i was at that ooempbt and have a wonderful picture i cherish with john lewis and other people on the bridge celebrating that event. it changed the whole south. voting rights were discriminating, were being, african-americans were being discriminated against systemically. there were being flat denied through all kinds of mechanisms. in a whole, only a very few and many instances were allowed to vote, if any. so, this was an unacceptable thing. as i said in 1986, i was asked
about it being intrusive. please, senator coons did not suggest in any way that that word means that i was hostile to the act and i said then and i say now. it was necessary that the act be intrusive because it had the force change and it wouldn't have happened without the power of the federal government. that is a plain -- >> senator, what i'm suggesting is an alternative path forward for the voting rights act that would not have been singling out one region or one state or one history, but that would have allowed the right to be effective in the face of the recent record showing ongoing discrimination in different states across the country, now no longer isolated to the south, when presented with an opportunity to continue and strengthen the act post shelby, you didn't take that step. >> senator session, if you need to answer that, go ahead and answer it. want to go to senator
blumenthal. >> i supported the authorization with in it. when the sport said it was no longer necessary that section 5 be in it, i did not support the language that you offered that would basically put it back in. you and senator leahy, so i don't apologize for that. i think that was a legitimate decision and with regard to the question of voter id, i'm not sure it's inconclusively settled one way or the other whether a properly conducted voter id system is improper and discriminatory. indeed, the supreme court has held that voter id is legitimate. at least on certain circumstances. >> before senator blumenthal, i have another that has come to our attention. a letter that we received from some lawyers about the idea issues. these lawyers litigate cases on
this issue. they say certain stories about the issue took senator session's comments out of context b and then they go on to note that is that right kennedy and others later reached an agreement with senator sessions on the issue. >> senator blumenthal. >> senator session, i want to per sue this conversation about voting rights in october of 2015, there was a report widely reported that the state of alabama intended to close a number of dmv offices. congressman, congresswoman terry sewell, wrote to the attorney general, urging an investigation stating i'm quoting this decision will leave eight out of ten counties with the highest percentage of nonwhite registered voters without a department of motor vehicles,
dmv, to issue an alabama driver's license. she noted that quote, an estimated 250,000 alabamaians who do not have, do not have an acceptable form of photo identification to cast a ballot, end quote. as you know, skentl subsequentl, the department of transportation issued an investigation under title 6 of the civil rights act and that year long investigation found that alabama's conduct caused quote a disparate and adverse impact on the basis of race end quote. did you believe or or do you believe now that it was a problem that 250,000 estimated citizens of your state did not have the requisite id to vote? >> there is a system i understand that makes those ids available. the driver's licenses offices
250,000 people the right to vote. that would be utterly wrong and should be stopped immediately. it just simply maybe the closest driver's license office would be the next county and closer for you to go to that one than the one that was closed, but it was in general perceived as debt wre mental to african-americans and included in that, was a possibility of an id for voting. so, you are correct, it was controversial and fixed. >> did you agree with the department of investigation finding that it had an adverse and disparate impact on people on the basis of race? >> i never expressed an opinion on it or studied that in depth
but somebody must have agree d because it was changed. >> did you awe gree with that conclusion? >> yes. i was happy that solution was reached, yes, very much. no need to have, you know, we should remember those things as we move forward setting policy what kind of ramifications could it have. i don't think they had voting in their mind at all, but it did impact voting to some degree for sure. >> but you took no action at the time. you expressed no conclusion at the time despite what was found to be b a disparate and adverse impact on voting rights of 250,000 members of the citizens of your state. >> well, they didn't ask my opinion before they did it and it was purely a state matter and i did not actively intervene, you're correct. >> i want to ask you about the
>> those officials should not be targeted and xwifen a priority. anything like the priorities should be giffin to criminals and people who have had other difficulties in the united states. those who have been deported and had final orders of deportation. so, understand what you're saying there. i would not opine on it myself. number two, importantly, this is a policy of homeland security. they've got the wrestle with priorities of their agents, what they should spend their time with and try to do that in the most effective way. so general kelly will have to think that through. i'm simply would be some matter were litigated, we would try to
to give them the benefit them the benefit by the president of the united states. you may have disagree wd that policy. >> the submission of that information in good faith on the basis of representations by the united states of america. on your part in represent iing e united states of america. >> that's a valid concern. i know of no policy that would suggest that something like that would be done and i would not push for it. they decide their priorities for enforcement and then a question of whether or not i would, i just wouldn't want b to be in a position to say they would never be used. and i can't make that commitment today.
instincts are fundamentally humane and just. without objection, enter that in the record. senator from hawaii. >> thank you, mr. chairman. our muslim american community is gravely concerned about what a trump presidency would mean for them. so, can the muslim americans count on you as attorney general to protect their constitutional and civil right sns. >> yes. >> thank you. i had ask you earl lehr about con decrees that relate to police departments. it involves another part of in 2015, a federal district court in alabama, your state approved an order filed by the department
services to women. since the november election, the number of threats online against providers have more than tripled. given the increasing numbers of violence targeting abortion vid proo viders, how high of a priority will it be to you to prosecute under the freedom of access to clinic entrances act. >> they deserve the same protection that any entity, business or otherwise or health care entity is entitled to. when people violate the law and carry out improper threat tlets and blockades of the business. >> yes, so there's a specific law that was passed that protects access to these clinics
citizenship. do you believe there should be more required to become u.s. citizens? >> well, under the current state of the law, it's accepted they do obtain their citizenship, so i suppose that would not be two obstacles to changing that. one, you would have to have a congressal enactment to change it and even that action could be construed as voltive of the constitution and not be a constitutional act, so those, i have not reviewed. the details o f f that. i do know there are some d diswhether or not the congress could change that status. >> but it's certainly not anything in the order of priorities that you would pursue as attorney general to ask congress to change the law to require mrp being born in the
country to confer u.s. citizenship. sfl i would be focusing my attention on enforcing the laws that exist and i guess it would be congress' duty to wrestle with whether to change it or not. >> turning to a change in the law that came about after the lilly ledbetter case, the act, i know you're familiar with the factual circumstance in which lilly ledbetter did not know she had been given disparate pay, it was illegal and she didn't find out and the supreme court said you have u only 180 days to find this out u in order to have your day in court. so, congress had a bill, which you voted against and i'm wondering why you voted against that bail bill because in making that decision, the court basically -- years and years of
years and years and it was a surprise to a lot of us that suddenly, they were imposing 180 day you must know kind of a requirement, but you voted against that bill. can you tell us briefly why? >> we had a hearing on it in a judiciary committee. a number of u witnesses testified and the testimony as i understood it was that she did in fact have noticed and the court found that she had notice and that's why they had that statute of limitations was enforced. you need a statute of limitations of some kind. if they don't know, then you can allow it to continue indefinitely, but that was the ruling, so it was less problematic for future cases than it was discussed, but my recollection is not perfectly clear on that issue.
>> i was very corned about that case and i would say that recollection is better than -- being yours. let me turn to corporate wrong doing. when i just met you, you indicated that nobody is above the law and there is an on going vest fact on the part of the department of justice what wells fargo did and defrauding millions of their customers. so, would you continue to pursue and hold accountable individual and corporate office holders to be found to have a violation of law. >> to fines an punishment for violating the law and so are the corporate officers and
sometimes, it seems to me senator ron that the corporate officers who caused the problem should be subjected to more severe punishment than the stockholders of the company who didn't know anything b about it. >> i couldn't agri more. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator franken, you said you had one more question you wanted to ask. >> should i ask, too? >> go ahead. >> by the way, the chairman, i must compliment you. you have deferred your time to us all and i thank you. zpl i haven't given it up. . >> no, you deferred it. >> please proceed, you're taking time. >> okay. >> i'd like to briefly return to something you said earlier about your opposite and our courtesy visit. the second item of substance that we discussed with violence
against native women. i told you how important the issue is to me and to tribes all over the country. and they've highlighted it for me, time and time again, when i provide d you with a statistic demonstrating just how prevalent violence against native women is and at the hands of non, now expresed shock. and said you didn't realize the extent of the problem. over 84% experience domestic or sexual violence. over 97% of them are victimized by nonindians. in 20 12, all you had to do was
talk to one tribe and you've learned that women in an indian country are regularly abused by nonindians who go unprosecute ued and unpunished. if you take the issue of domestic and sexual violence seriously, i think it's incumbent on you to visit. i think alabama has nine tribes that are recognize nd the state. is that correct? >> well, only one tribal group that i believe only one tribal group that has porch. i've had good relations with them. been on tribal lands a number of times and visit their clinics. >> fooechb you're not, but certainly if you are attorney general, when you're back home,
you might take some time to talk to them about this issue. you told senator that you cannot commit to challenging on these grounds. you've also admitted that you didn't understand the gravity of the problem against native women when you u voted on it in 2013 or the extent of nonindian violen violence, would you just commit to me to spending a little bit of time with the porch tribe? that would be good. >> they've been supportive of me. >> thank you. >> i want to talk one last thing. trz. >> one more question. >> the day before the election, canada trump came to my state before his only rally and he was standing before a large crowd and he accused democrats of
planning to quote, import generations of terrorism extremism and radicalism into your schools and communities. here in minnesota, he said. you've seen firsthand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting and large numbers of smally refugees coming into your sfat without your knowledge, support of approval and with some joining isis and spread iing their extremist views all over our country and all over the world. i can't begin to tell you how angry those comments made me. to see canada trump hold his only rally in minnesota at an airport where about a thousand sm
somali immigrants work and to stoke that kind of fear and hatred was an insult i believe to every minnesotan. it was offensive, irresponsible, but wasn't really surprising. candidate trump made scapegoating immigrants and refugees and banning muslims from entering our country a center piece of his campaign. now, some of his advisers tryie to spin or walk back his comments on the so-called muslim ban, but you said that the idea was appropriate to discuss. and june, you said quote, we must face the up comfort bable reality that not only are immigrants coming to the united states, radicalizing and attempting to engage in an act of terrorism, but also, their first generation american children are suspectable to the toxic radicalization of terrorists organization. you said that our nation was quote, has quote a unprecedented assimilation problem.
you know, senator, part of what makes that a simulation challenging is when people seeking to leave this country exploit fear -- right after the election, my office got a call from a middle schoolteacher. in st. paul, her school has a sizable population of somalian kids. they're smart kids, so they've been paying attention to the election and they were terrified. the teacher called my office and said plaez have senator franken come to the school and give them some asnurns. these kids did not know what the make of a coup tri electioning a
leader who describes them and your families as worthy of suspension. i did my best to alleviate their fears that day. i told them you're americans. you kid, you're americans. don't be afraid. and a couple of weeks later, i talked to the french ambassador to the united states. i said to him, tell, what, who's defined as a frenchman in france? and he said somebody who is, who can trace back a couple of centuries to their family in a french village. well, these kids are americans. and we consider them american. and what we saw in paris and
people. here in the united states, we vote them homecoming queen. thank you. >> senator -- >> senator session, if you want to respond, just go ahead. >> i think senator franken makes him important points. i appreciate his comments. >> thank you. >> i believe my comment was unrelated to the event in your state. >> you're entitled since you don't have to use it all. i want to do my second and third round. >> mr. chair, you know and senator sessions you know that i was in tennessee today with a proud moment of see iing my fatr
to, which i'm sure is a lot longer than you wanted to, and i really appreciate your leadership. that's what's often missed here in the senate and i'm going to michigan you. and i'm going to look forward to vote i voting for your u and your confirmation. i asked the same question of the attorney general that was before this committee. last year. i want to ask you, because it's very important to me. i think the report is a good example in 2014 when i said in a report that says they need to increase accountability and the department of justice. i'll get to a specific question in a minute. that we should act on it. i got a nonanswer to that question. in fact, i got a better answer to deputy who came back in. can you take a look at those recommendations and to what extent those would be instructed
to you when you become the executive of that agency? >> i'm glad you raised it. i hope you'll stay on the department of justice to respond to it. i have not studies it. about the good management of the people's money. effectively. i'll be glad to hear any suggestion you've had and it will be a priority of min. and so, i think what we need to do and what i will do is to if i'm so fortunate as to be confirmed. >> thank you because we'll be following up on it.
really a specific argument. i hope you look at it when you get confirmed. make it a priority to look into. i believe it was said that some employees and per gjered themselves in court. if you find that to be sub u assistantuated, what would you do o with the people in the doj who were guilty of such actions? >> the department of justice is a great institution. most of the people are a people of the highest character. >> without a doubt. >> however, we've had a series of problems over time. that seem to me to be worthy of concern broadly. and i think it would be important for the next attorney general to revitalize and
reemphasize the absolute commitment that a prosecutor must have to do justice and not just win a case. also, it has hard for lawyers in washington who get sent out to the field to try a big high profile case. they don't know the community well. maybe they haven't tried as many cases as united states attorney in the field that's doing every day and sometimes, they, their skills don't meet their academic levels. that you might think they would have. things kind of go wrong. we need to do better. . >> well, i thank you for that. just by way of comment, the chair looked at a stack of letters that remained unanswered by the current attorney general and the doj, he did cite -- but i hope you'll respond to all of them and to the chair's credit,
not only from the chair but from the ranking member. also to members of this body. finally, i'll just yield back the rest of my time after saying the, i watched, probably watched a good three hours of the proceedings today. i was struck u at one point when some were casting doubt about you. in terms of your view of ethnicity and a number of other backgrounds. what struck me the most at that picture on tv was your wife's eyes welling up. because she and her son know you well. many of us know you well. and i think all of us know that you're going to make a great attorney general. you're a fair minded man and you're going to obey the law. you will no longer be a lawmaker. which i know from time to time, is probably going to frustrate you. but i have no doubt in my mind you will be one of the best attorney general, you will
faithfully execute the law, you will enforce the law and in a fair an unparable manner and i can't wait to see you in action. thank you, senator sessions, thank you mr. chairman. >> before we start the forth round, i don't think you've had your third round, senator. so proceed. >> thank you. >> you've got eight minutes. you don't have to use it all. >> thank you for the counsel for a rookie. >> i also didn't think we could talk about college b football. senator, nebraska, 1995, remains the best team in the history of college toobl. i think we could agree after last night. try to change federal policy through lawsuits and settlements and making the law in the congress. federal agencies and activists groups are often assumed to be colluded to do this.
i'm curious as to what plaintiffs enter into a settlement to change poll issy. what's the appropriate role to make sure the agreement does not circumvent the law in the congress and the administrative procedure act? zpl the department of justice has final settlement authority in any case against the united states. although they tend to listen to and see their role as being supportive of the agency. so, if homeland security or the department of education or ep ara is being sued, they have the power to make the final judgment. and their responsibility is to protect the public interest. the national interest and to make sure the law is followed. there has been in state court and sometimes in federal court,
this suit and settlement mentality, that consent decree that we've been talking about. i've pointed out at times, it's at times controversial, so if the agents or the officials that the environmental protection agency believe that a law should be expanded and they're sued by a group that wants to expand the law u in the same way, it may be unacceptable to expand it that far, but if the department of justice goes along with the agency and agree to a settlement and get a court to order occur, then the government is bound by their settlement agreement and the people's interest do the democratic process is eroded because a decision is being made by unelected people and not the
legislature. i think that was a fundamental part of the question. needs to be alert to that and should not be obligated to settle a case on the terms that any agency might think, but make sure the settlement is in a legal and justified and in the national interest. >> so make certain payments to approved third parties. there have been discussions about the bank is might see its penalties reduced. when if ever is it appropriate for the department of justice to require payments to any third party as part of a settlement. >> i think that's a very dub rouse practice.
normally, that's not the best way to settle a case in my opinion. >> finely, the judgment fund is a general fund available to compensate those who sue the government and win. unfortunately, how this money gets used is not fully known by the congress. will you commit to making public the use of these funds? the funds paid out as part of the litigation. to determine how to settle these cases and what papts to make. but the congress and public often don't know where this money goes. would you commit to being transparent with where the funds go out of the judgment fund? >> i would be surprised, they should know how a lawsuit is settled and where the money
went. >> thank you, senator. >> before center blumenthal follows up on some things helped to, we received a letter in support of senator session's nomination. from 108 former u.s. attorneys who served under every president since president nixon. they say quote, we have no doubt that senator session can do the b job well, bringing to this critically important office his strengths of courage, humility, experience and infileable promise to treat all people equally under the law. without objection, i'll insert that in the record. senator blumenthal. >> thanks. >> in response to senator till is', one of senator till is' questions. you said that the job of the attorney general is to do justice.
not necessarily to win a case. i think that's an exact quote from justice jackson when he was united states attorney general. it's one of my favorite quotes. i think he said the role of the united states attorney or government lawyer is to do justice, not necessarily win a conviction. that's why i feel that the role of attorney general ought to be the legal conscious. for the nation as i was iraqing earl wrer. you've said about the daca policies, and insert independent -- is happened to those young people. like wooids, deutsche bank or you and i have discussed.
there ought to be investigation focusing on individually kulpaablety and similarly, your response on recusal from votes on prospective colleagues by the collect where you have not yet responded to the letter i wrote. i'm not going to have time this afternoon or tonight, but i think that i remain unsatisfied on those questions and in general, i think that the role you would have as united states attorney general ought to be not just another government lawyer, but as a champion. of civil rights and liberties and the nation's legal conscious and thaun, mr. chairman, for
giving me this opportunity. zpl thank you and i respect history as a prosecutor from the united states attorney and time in the department of justice. >> thank you. >> senator sessions. >> you've been a vocal champion for american workers, especially as we have heard so much about how we've heard how american workers are being laid off and being replaced by cheaper foreign imported through some of our visa programs. you've been a cosponsor of a bill by me and senator durbin that would reform hib visa programs for high skilled job opportunities before those jobs can be offered to foreign nationals. it would also prohibit employees if they employ more than 50 people and more than 50% of their employees are visa
holders. this provision would crack down on outsourcing companies that import large number of hib and li workers for short training periods and then send these workers back to their home countries to do the work of u.s. workers. in 2013, you and i seem to be the lone senators on this committee who fought for u.s. workers. and actually hurt americans who were qualified, willing to do those jobs, we said that the bill failed to adequately protect u.s. workers and neglected to hold employers accountable for misusing the programs. we tried to provide more protection for u.s. workers and ensure that no business imported foreign workers before making a
good faith effort to hire people at home. we tried to ensure, expand the able thety for government to audit employer, we offered amendments supported fwi fficio. in april 2015, you helped lead eight other senators, secretary johnson and perez on this issue. some of those who sat on this panel today, for instance, senator durbin and blumenthal. that letter requested that the obama administration investigate abuse of visa programs by companies include ning southern california edison disney and ibm laying off american workers and replacing them with hib workers in some cases, reportedly, making the american workers
train their own replaces. the office of official counsel for immigration related unfair employment practices is an office within your department that you will head. provision for nationality act. while the office is is designed to protect foreign nationals with employment visas from discrimination, it is also charged with ensuring that american workers are not discriminated ghens the workplace. many u.s. workers advocates believe for example that the layoff of american workers and replacement by cheaper, foreign, hib workers constituted de facto nationality based discrimination against american workers. the obama administration has failed to protect american workers here. will you, this is my question.
will you be more aggressive in investigating the abuses of these visa programs? >> mr. chairman, you know i believe this has been an abuse. and i have been been pleased to support this legislation. some others, too, that others have produced that i believe could be helpful. it's to think we're in a totally open world and that any american with a job can be replaced if somebody in the world is willing to take a job for less pay. we have borders. we have a commitment to our sennes and you have been a champion of that. i've been honored to work with you on it and thank you for your leadership. i would use such abilities that i have to help address that. i think it also does require
on this point. we obviously need the figure out a way to fix these relationships and restore mutual trust and respect for law enforcement, what role can you play as attorney general in this and what role can the department play more broadly? >> it's essential this nation affirm those that we send out to provide public safety. and affirm their good deeds and if they make mistakes and commit crime, then they have to be prosecuted like anyone else would who commits a crime and violates the law, but fundamentally, the yoef wheming majority of our officers serving their country and community with discipline and integrity and courage. so, i think this is an important matter and so, we need a guard
against the kind of public statemented that have troubled me in recent months and years in which beseem to dismiss and take sides against the entire law enforcement community. where we suggest that the law enforcement community is not a positive factor. and that all officers have are not perform ng a high level, so, i believe that i will do my duty to correctly distinguish between wrong doing by individuals and the entire law enforcement community. murders of deaths of law enforcement officers are up 10% over the last year. the number of policemen and law officers who have been killed with a firearm is up i think 58%. some stunning numbers in and part of this is a corrosion of respect between the communities
and law officers and i think a dangerous trend we must reverse and reverse soon. our question deals with anthem trust and i don't believe that there should be political decisions involved and in antitrust decisions in the department. there are several high level mergers going on now, one before boj, one before the ftc, and then there's another one i don't think's been assigned yet. and my, i come from the standpoint of being an agriculture. with a general just a very i guess idea logical belief that when you have less companies, you have less competition, higher prices for imports.
issues will be a priority for the justice department if you're confirmed as u.s. attorney general. >> there's been controversy on a number of those issues over the years that i'm generally of. without committing and commenting on any particular case, i will, senator grassley, be pleased to honor your request. >> in 1986, 10 years before you came to the united states senate, got it the false claims act passed. it has brought 53 billion dollars back into the federal treasury since then. if you're confirmed, will you pledge to vigorously enforce that act and devote adequate resources to investigating and prosecuting false claims act cases? >> in the key tem provisions part of that, i'm aware of those. i think they are valid and an effective method of rooting out fraud and abuse. i even filed one myself one time
as a private lawyer. so these are important issues that you have been a leader on. it has saved this country lots of money and probably has caused companies to be more cautious because they can have a whistle-blower that would blow the whistle on them if they try to do something that's improper. i think it's been a very healthy thing. you're to be congratulated for that and i do support that act. >> you took care of my second question i was going to ask you on key tem, and you said that whistle-blowers are very important. i'm glad to hear you say that. i don't know whether they get enough support. i hope you will give priority to that because a great number of the key cam places come from the outside not from the inside. will you provide congress with regular -- this is the last
point on this one, will you provide congress with regular timely updates on the status of fct false claim act cases including statistics as to how many are under seal and the average length of seal time? >> i would do that. my experience is sometimes they're an awfully long time. >> that's exactly why i'm asking the question and updates from time-to-time i think will keep people within your department more responsive and responsible. >> i understand that. i don't know if a report is required now but i don't see why it would be particularly difficult to provide that to you. >> okay. i have a long lead in to another question, i'm just going to ask you if you would tell us, for the record, your reasons for opposing the 2013 immigration
bill. >> mr. chairman, fundamentally, i believe that it would not end the lawlessness and it would grand the amnesty. that's the position that fundamentally caused you concern because in 1986, there was an amnesty given and a promise of enforcement in the future. and it didn't happen. so we ended up, instead of 3 million people, i guess it was in 1986, now, the estimates are we have 11 million people here unlawfully. this is not the kind of policy a great nation must have. we need to have a lawful system that we can be proud of, that the world knows works, that people stop coming illegally because they don't think they will be successful in the attempt and we could see a dramatic reduction in illegality and we could all be pleased to
see the result occur. we'll have to call on congress to help some. you understand the issue and you've been supportive. we may have to pass some legislation. n a lot can be done with current law. i would love to be a part with this committee of restoring the immigration system onto the high level it ought to be. >> i want to return to the issue of violence against women act. i know that for me that bill didn't do enough to fight fraud and abuse. that's why i introduced a substitute amendment that would have given more money to victims by fighting fraud and abuse that was discovered in the program. it would have insured no money under the program was used to lobby congress. it also would have had limited the amount of funding in the program that could be used for administrative fees and sala
salaries, in addition, my substitute amendment developed harsher penalties for federal conviction of forcible rape, which the bill that passed weak weakened. it also addressed child pornography, and aggravated sexual assault, neither of which were addressed in the bill that is now law. finally, my substitute amendment combat fraud in the award of u visas to insure true victims were protected. my question, as you mentioned, you voted for my substitute amendment that was stronger in many respects than the bill that was passed. will you enforce the law that was passed. yes, i will, mr. grassley. >> that's probably the 10th time you answered that today but thank you for being with me. i want to speak about the board of immigration appeals. it's the highest administrative body for interpreting
immigration laws, hearings appeals rendered by immigration judges. this board, which is under the attorney general's per viurview published some very problematic precedent decisions the past several years. the board of immigration appeals decisions are binding on all immigration officers, including homeland security officers and immigration judges unless overturned by the position you're seeking or a federal court. will you, or someone on your team, commit to taking a hard look at all precedent decisions made by this board? >> mr. chairman, that does appear to be a power or an ability of the attorney general, which i have not thoroughly
stu studied. any changes would need to be carefully done and thought out in a principled and honorable way. i would do that. if changes need to occur, and i have the ability to do it, i will try to conduct myself properly in making those changes. >> two more points. oversight by congress is important. you've already said that. i'm glad you know the necessity of that. but congress cannot do all the oversight needed on its own. we need to rely on strong inspectors general to provide another independent assessment on the operations within the executive branch. that's why that position was set up in 1979, i believe. do you agree that independence is the hallmark of an inspector general's integrity and effectiveness and if you do, please elaborate.
the reason i ask the question is probably it happens in more departments but i pay a lot of attention to doj, andthick -- i think there's been some problems with doj recognizing and cooperating with the independence of the inspector general. >> yes. the independence should be respected and should be had. i'm familiar with some cases in which the independence of the inspector general is less than that in general throughout the congress, and i've tried to streng strengthen -- been willing and interest strengthening their independence. it's a challenge. the inspector general is appointed by the agencies for the most part, i believe. but if they're not seen as independent, then they can't be the effective body we'd like them to be. they have staffs. they have ability to contribute,
to saving money. i believe in the inspector general's process. >> before i ask the last question, whatever reputation i have for investigation and oversight probably maybe even 90% of the leads we get come from whistle-blowers, and whistle-blowers within an agency are generally treated like sk k skunks at a picnic. i hope that i don't know how many thousands or tens of thousands of employees you're going to be administering over, you can't possibly know what goes on with all those employees, i hope you will give encouragement to whistle-blowing and that you will listen to them. once in a while you have a crank, but for the most part,
against a whistle-blower. some have been known to be crank, as you indicated, but you cannot effectively manage this government without good citizens and good employees speaking up when they see wrongdoing. you've established a reputation as someone willing to receive that information and act on it and then defend the individual who had the courage to come forward. we need more of that in this government. >> i thank you very much. i would like to have you and other people listen to a couple points i want to make at the tail end. i want people to know that we'll keep the record open until monday for questions, and you know what to do with those when you get them. i want to thank everybody who participated, including those in the audience, most importantly, thank you for your testimony today, and for answering our
questions, and doing it very thoug thoughtfully and very thoroughly. you performed, i think, admirably, and showed this entire country what we all know from serving with you. you're imminently qualified to serve as attorney general, and i have every confidence that you're going to do a superb job. senator session, you're excused. we will reconvene tomorrow morning at 9:30 for panel two.
>> i can't tell you now but i can tell you this. we can't move on this even putting it on the agenda until inaugural day, when we -- or afterwards, when we get it up here. it's only at that point we can put it on the agenda. then under our rules, any one member can hold it over. so whatever agenda it's on, it won't come up that day, it won't come up until one week later. >> this is unlikely to come up on january 20th or that week even? >> no. >> senator, one of the issues that came up in the hearing today was about russia, russia's role in the elections, for you personally, how concerned are you about what russia has done and what recourse should the united states take in order to retaliate against russia? >> okay. well, of course, who wouldn't be concerned about any nation trying to effect policy in another country? the united states has done that
in the past, even going back to beating the communist party of italy in the early 1950s, as an example, when it looked like the communists were going to take over italy. we've been involved in those things. that doesn't make it right but every country probably does it. i would say this. we have to beef up our obstacles so that can't happen again. that falls in the area of cybersecurity. i think that's the best way to do it. even without cybersecurity, as i indicated to you 50 or more years ago, the united states has been involved in that and other countries have tried to influence us one way or another even before the social netwo networking. >> there's also reports out tonight that russians may have actually gotten some personal or financial information about the president-elect that actually may compromise the
candidate, of the nominee. i didn't see anything in his demeanor that signaled anything was inappropriate. >> mr. chairman, the reports that are out tonight are talking about potentially compromising financial and personal information on president-elect trump that could lead to him being -- >> i think you better ask me about this nomination. i'm not prepared to answer questions -- >> the concern is it could lead to him being blackmailed. do you think congress has a responsibility to look into whether or not president-elect trump has personal financial information -- or compromise? >> i don't understand your question, but if your question is, has the russians done something that might hurt trump? >> the concerns that the russ n russians have personally compromising information on trump where he could be blackmailed, do you think congress has a responsibility to look into whether or not the president-elect can be blackmailed. >> since i don't know anything about that issue, i better not answer it.
>> should there be -- >> should there be select committee established to investigate russia? >> there's plenty of committees. whether there should be a select committee, that's something very unique, but there's plenty of committees that can look into it. you've already got committees that can look into it. who has some questions on the hearing today? i'm not in residence or anything else. >> how difficult is it, sir, given the culture of the senate to have senator on senator crime, especially in anticipation of senator booker testifying tomorrow? >> i can only answer that same way i've indicated before. any senator's got to make those decisions for himself. >> do you think senator sessi sessions -- >> additional witnesses tomorrow testify. you expanded the number of witnesses from like nine to 17 or something. >> at the request of the minority. >> senator grassley -- >> is it about the hearing? >> yes. it's about the hearing tomorrow.
democrats had wanted senators booker and congressman lewis and congressman richmond to go before the outside and senator feinstein said she's disappointed they have to wait such as mr. mccasey and other officials are done with their testimony. is there a reason why? >> the request came in after we had the agenda already set. the place to put them is where they are now. >> what do you think of the presidential nature of senator booker testifying against a sitting senator? >> i've already answered that. that's an individual decision by a senator. i'm not going to question that individual decision. thank you all very much. >> i get up at 4:00 in the morning. >> i know. you run at 4:00 in the morning. is that your bag of snacks,
his questioning now finished, the judiciary committee will turn tomorrow to hear from character witness, among those testifying a colleague of senator session, new jersey democrat, senator cory booker. taking a look at tomorrow's hearings, day two of senator sessions confirmation will get under way at 9:30 a.m. eastern. we'll have that live for you on c-span2. on c-span3, it's the confirmation hearing for the man who would be the next secretary of state, rex tillerson, live at 9:15 on c-span3. also tomorrow, elaine chao and her confirmation to be transportation secretary. you can watch it live on c-span.org. tonight, on c-span3, the senate armed services committee considers waiving the 7 year waiting period for transitioning from military service to leading the defense department. th