tv House Oversight Hearing on Document Production by the Trump Administration... CSPAN July 1, 2019 6:22pm-7:32pm EDT
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>> subcommittee will come to order. without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess for the committee at any time, this subcommittee is convening a hearing on the document production efforts on the office of personnel management, the federal bureau of investigation, and the general services administration in response to those committees and subcommittee document requests. i now recognize myself, for an opening statement. i want to thank the witnesses for being here, although i know there could be more comfortable
hearings to attend. i regret we need to have this hearing. we are here because opm, the fbi, and gsa have not complied with the committee's request for documents from several months ago. we witnessed a stunning lack of cooperation across the administration, in response to multiple congressional investigations. for this committee to performance important constitutional oversight mission, we must have documents and information requested from agencies. that, in turn, requires cooperation. when the committee or subcommittee sends a request of documents or written response for answers, we expect meaningful and timely compliance, and not stall tactics and obfuscation. it is because of a breakdown in that process you three are here today. today we will be asking each of you to justify your respective agencies troublesome production track record, and to identify those hurdles preventing full compliance, and offer tangible
solutions so that committee can fulfill its oversight duty. this morning we will examine the status of responses, to three committee and subcommittee investigations. 1st, the committee is investigating the administration's plan to abolish the office of personnel management. we believe it is a reckless proposal that lacks justification or a coherent rationale. frankly, doubts have been raised about it on a bipartisan basis. the subcommittee has replaced the requested basic documents from opm, an agency that runs programs that serve 2.7 million active employees, more than 2.5 million retirees and more than 8 million family members who receive healthcare benefits. we requested documents that any project manager would have required, for even a simple restructuring of the organization. we asked for a legal analysis of the administration's authority to eliminate opm, a
cost-benefit analysis, and a timeline. these are intrusive requests. we wanted to know whether this would work, and whether the administration had done its homework, so they could persuade us as to the merits. we have concluded it won't, and they haven't. we have received next to nothing in response to this straightforward document request. no information provided adequately demonstrates how this plan would improve services to current federal or former federal employees and their families. if we have been unclear thus far, let me take the opportunity, to clarify that from our point of view, this half-baked proposal is going to be dead on arrival. on capitol hill. the administration's intention to dismantle opm, is reckless. opm's acting director has reportedly boasted about planning to play chicken with congress.
by furloughing, or taking hostage 150 employees of opm. if congress did not provide the administration with authority to eliminate the agency october 1. this is not a game. these are real lives at stake. opm's blanket refusal to provide the information the committee has requested is unacceptable. opm offered additional records just this week, it's ironic that the new records make reference to the documents we have been asking for without providing them. the latest documents convince us even more that the administration is attempting in order to eliminate more than 1:30 years of merit-based nonpartisan civil service. 2nd, the committee is investigating the abrupt decision to abandon the long- term plan to move the fbi headquarters to a suburban location and replace it with a more pennsylvania avenue
location, demolish the existing building and contract the facility at the same site. in order to make that pivot, the administration had to abandon some of the compelling criteria that had dominated for well over eight years. that includes a consolidation of the workforce, that included modernization taking cognizance of 21st century forensics, and dna research, and getting safe setbacks, which cannot be achieved at the current location, which has inherently urban setbacks that are inherently insecure. in february 2018, i wrote to gsa inspector general and requested that she investigate the gsa's decision-making role in the role of the white house, if any, in influencing this decision. in august 2018, the inspector general issued a report that noted inaccuracies in the cost estimates presented to congress
to the tune of more than a half billion dollars. and revealed that the president was personally participating in discussions regarding this revised plan. and there are pictures to prove it. despite all parties within the administration claiming the fbi alone made the decision, the fbi has turned over just 1300 pages in the last 3 1/2 months, and that includes a last-minute production last night. i might add, in talking to the fbi, i was assured that they have gone through and filtered 1.5 million documents, and when we had that conversation, we are in possession of 490 of them. some of them redacted, some of them redundant. while we can admire the production going on at the fbi, we are not sure we admire the responsiveness to this committee's request. to say that congress continues to have questions about the abrupt and rust reversal in the fbi's years long plan, and that the change of heart involved
direct communications with the chief executive of the country, is an understatement. 3rd, the committee is actively investigating the federal lease of the old post office building between gsa and the turn point organization because president trump refused to completely divest himself of global business interests, he is currently both the landlord and the tenant, technically, of what is now called the trump international hotel. to date, gsa has refused to turn over financial documents relevant to the committee's investigation that would shed light on any potential conflicts of interest, or constitutional concerns with respect to that clause. finally, i want to address a troubling development across several committee and subcommittee investigations. all three agencies represented here today, opn, gsa, fbi, have suggested that they are withholding documents because they are draft documents, regarding decision-making. there's a problem.
that decision-making is exactly the focus of the committee and subcommittee investigations. whether it is the decision to abolish a federal agency, reverse the federal workforce, a multibillion-dollar construction decision affecting thousands of staff and the security, and safety of the country, or the decision to allow a president to serve as both landlord and tenant of his own hotel, which is on government owned property, such decision-making documents are critical to our examination and investigation. lastly, as i said, the fbi deputy director, called me, personally to discuss the agency's compliance or lack thereof, and as i said, well i thank him for the outreach and the 1.5 million documents he said that have been examined, i did give him specific directions in terms of what
would satisfy the committees inquiry. and unfortunately, those conditions have not been met. it is my hope that today's hearing will provide some answers, and pride are federal fellow federal employees to cooperate with the committee of jurisdiction so that we don't have to resort to methods of compulsion. with that, i turned to my distinguished ranking member. >> thank you, mister chairman. thank you for your leadership, thank all of you for being here this morning, candidly, document production is something that i know a little bit about, and i have expressed more than a little frustration with some document production. so let me, instead of doing prepared remarks, let me perhaps get into where the chairman and i agree.
if any of you are here today to say that it's part of a deliberative process that somehow congress cannot see the documents, i would urge you strongly not to go there. you will find the full force of both republicans and democrats coming together, to acknowledge that that is not a legitimate reason for you to withhold documents. secondly, if you think that somehow the lack of giving documents to this committee is serving a greater purpose, i would assure you that it is not. miss tyson, you have been very helpful, and i want to say thank you for your help, and trying to get through some of the documents to address some of the concerns, and certainly, with regards to the fbi building, and working with mister borden and gsa, let me tell you, i don't agree that we should be building the fbi building and tearing it down and doing it there. i can tell you that, i have
been vocal about that, i think it's the wrong decision from a real estate perspective, is the wrong decision in terms of efficiency, that being said, it is not my call. what is my call is understanding the parameters that went into that decision. i can tell you in talking to the administration at the highest levels, they are agnostic on whether it gets built, in dc, or virginia, or maryland, or wherever it needs to go. i think most of this, from what i understand, was more of an fbi decision than it was an executive branch decision at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. so, keeping documents, would allude to nefarious purposes that don't exist. so the more that you can be transparent in that, i think, on the democrat side, they will
have a divided concern on whether the fbi goes in dc, or somewhere else, in maryland or virginia, i'm not divided, on our side, i think what you do is keep a small footprint for the fbi headquarters to allow them to work with doj and move the majority of the fbi folks to a more efficient location. that is my take. again, we have to have the documents to do that. as it relates to the trump hotel and some of those documents, that are in the custody of gsa, or others, let me just tell you, everybody would have had to believed that this president was going to get elected when he started those negotiations, and nobody believed it. so holding back documents on potentially nefarious purposes for the trump hotel, we were all celebrating the fact that the old post office was going
to be renovated and used for something other than a food court and a museum. everybody was applauding that, including the mayor of dc, until the president became the president. so giving us documents that allow us to get to the bottom of this, and that they are not fully redacted, is key. from an opm standpoint, here's one of the areas that i am very troubled. i don't agree with the decision to take the security clearances and move them to dod. i think i have been very open about that. here's the problem. congress voted for that, and now what we've got is a situation where over the objection of mister connolly and i, they voted to move the security clearances to dod, now, we are implementing that and we are coming up with all kinds of problems. i was very troubled, at the i.t. capacity of opm.
we have got to do something, whether that is consolidation, whether that is moving to gsa, but let me tell you, we have a 3rd world computing system for opm, no wonder we got hacked, maybe we are not as vulnerable to hacks because we have a 3rd world computing system, because all the hackers are on a much more complicated system. so in going there, i want to say, thank you to the opm folks for allowing me to really see firsthand what is there. we have to find a solution. this is not about downsizing jobs or getting rid of jobs, i want the opm folks to know that that is very, very clear from my standpoint, we want to make sure that their jobs are protected. at the same time, we cannot continue to do business the way we are doing business, from a computing standpoint, at opm.
so, i'm using that to say, the more documents that you give us, in a transparent fashion, even if you think that it gives the wrong impression, it is better than the impression of us not getting the documents believing that there are bad things that you are keeping from us. does that make sense? so, as you have your testimony today, if you do not go to the deliberative process, that we don't have a right to it, because you will find a very unified pushback, and with that, i will yield back. >> i think my distinguished ranking member, and also thank him, he is consistent and i want to thank him, and expressed my admiration. whether it's the democratic administration or republican, all of us have a stake in the integrity of document request. and all of us need to be consistent in insisting on compliance with those requests. what we end up doing with it,
that is a different matter. we may part ways on some decisions, but, >> you don't say. >> but although i would agree with almost everything you said, both about the fbi and opm, no one is denying this is a problem, but, how we get to the solution, it has to be examined. that's what we are trying to do. i see the distinguished chairman of the full committee is here and i want to give mister cummings an opportunity to make whatever statement he wishes to make with respect to the subject. welcome. >> tank you mister chairman, i want you to commend you, german connolly for holding this hearing, and i want to commend mister meadows, r ranking member, not only for his statement that he just made, for his spirit of cooperation. under this administration, we are witnessing simply a stunning lack of cooperation
that is hampering multiple congressional investigations, and appears to be part of a large-scale coordinated pattern of obstruction. i do not say that lightly. it is frustrating when you cannot get documents. it hampers us in doing our job. and it literally takes away hours from the congress of the united states of america. it takes away our power. clear and simple. the documents that we see investigations we will discuss today, our documents that we received in previous administrations. many of them without any redaction's and without a fight. some of them are even the types of documents that we did receive in the beginning of the trump administration. before the president declared that he and his administration
were, and i quote, fighting all subpoenas. come on, now. this is the united states of america. fighting all subpoenas? congress has a constitutional duty. we have a duty to conduct oversight over decisions that have been made in the executive branch, especially regarding leases or contracts that impact taxpayers. it is our job to ensure that these decisions are being made in the most cost effective and efficient fashions. without favoritism, or abuse. the committee is conducting two separate investigations involving gsa. what is the role in the decision of the plan to move the fbi headquarters to a new site. suburban campus.
and the other of gsa's management, of the lease for the trump hotel in the district of columbia. my interest in these topics is not new, and should not be a surprise to gsa. i wrote my 1st letter on the trump hotel, and questions about a possible breach of lease shortly after the president was elected in the fall of 2016. along with several members of congress i 1st wrote to administrator emily murphy. raising questions about headquarters eight months ago. eight months ago. after becoming the committee chairman, chairman connolly in his great wisdom, and i, sent new request letters on these topics. one category of documents we have stored our monthly reports that the trump organization has
required to file the gsa about the trump hotel in the district of columbia. in the beginning of the administration we received those reports, but then something worrisome happened. without explanation, gsa reversed course, and stopped producing them. it is now two years later, after democrats were voted into the majority, we again requested that these monthly financial reports be done. but now, instead of producing these documents, gsa questioned the committee, and i quote, legitimate legislative purpose, and of quote. i've got to tell you, at some point, these are the kinds of language, the becomes very frustrating, but the courts have ruled on this very issue.
if that language sounds familiar, it's because it's the same language, and the same basic line of instruction that the presidents personal attorneys have been using to challenge congress's authority to conduct oversight in other areas. a federal district court has already rejected this argument decisively. it was an ace. slamdunk. an airtight case. i told my staff, i've been practicing law for 40 years, and i've never seen a case this tight. and he wrote this, he said, this is a quote. as long as congress investigates on the subject matter on which legislation could be had, congress act as contemplated by article 1 of the constitution, and of quote.
to our witnesses today, as i close, and the other executive branch agency that may be watching, we want the message to be abundantly clear. and have no doubt about it. congress must obtain the documents necessary to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities. stop obstructing us. stop locking us. from doing the job that the voters sent us here to do, and to do the job that we swore we would do. if you will not provide those documents willfully, willingly, we will use subpoenas to compel them. today's hearing is not the end of the story. i appreciate that the agencies have made some movement, toward compliance in anticipation of today's hearing, but what you have offered is simply not enough. you have not committed to provide us with the unredacted
documents that actually explain your decisions. and to mister chairman and mister meadows, again, i thank you for the cooperative spirit that we have on this subcommittee. i've got to tell you, when i listen to meadows, and to connolly, they are doing they are bending over backwards, to work with you all, but at some point, you feel like you are getting slapped in the face. i don't know how they feel, but that's how i feel. we got to do better than that. last point. a lot of times, people do things, and they assume, they will say, congress, i did this, i sent you 1 million pages, you're supposed to do that. that's what you're paid to do. you don't get any brownie points. for doing what you are supposed
to do. if any member of congress did that, if our employees are not doing the things they're supposed to do, they get fired. period. and we have got to get back to what is normal. i know there are going to be debates. but as mister meadows said, don't throw stuff out there, that just goes against court decisions, things that you know is rope a dope. with that, mister chairman, i yield back. >> i think the distinguished chairman, thank you very much for his guidance on this subject. i think it's a widely shared view on this subcommittee. as expressed by my distinguished ranking member and myself. i want to now turn to the testimony of our witnesses. we have three witnesses, mister steven bailey, the deputy chief
of staff of the opposite personal management, jill tyson, to the federal bureau of investigation, robert borden, the chief of staff of the general services administration, if the three of you would rise and raise your right hand as is the tradition of our committee to swearing witnesses. do you swear or affirm that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? let the record show that all three answered in the affirmative. and i thank you, and if you would be seated. without objection, your written statements will be entered into the record in full, and we now are going to give you five minutes to summarize that testimony. we will begin with you, mister billy. >> thank you, mister chairman. chairman connolly, ranking member meadows, members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss with you
today the administration's plan to modify the infra structure that supports our merit-based civil service system and the entire federal work source. i appear before you today just weeks after acting director margaret lightner testified before this subcommittee. at that hearing, the committee expressed the need for additional information to help provide clarity behind the proposed reform. in our effort to further accommodate the committee, and be as transparent as possible, opm has redoubled our efforts and is in the process of continuing to gather and provide additional responsive documents to this committee. the discussion during the recent hearing clarified that broad and bipartisan agreement exists and fundamental changes are needed to ensure we are capable of meeting the responsibility entrusted to us under the civil service reform act of 1978 to promote an efficient civil service. there is reason for optimism, that now, for the 1st time in decades, congress will acknowledge root causes in a way that will further the ability of the executive branch to manage the federal personnel system and advance merits principles during hiring,
performance management, and the processing of retirement and healthcare benefits. opm is committed to working with the subcommittee and providing information. as the leader fully respects the function of congress. chairman connolly's denier desire for a reset on the reorganization discussing, rpm is continuing to engage with members of the committee and committee staff. in fact, we have been invited to multiple offices to provide a briefing on the chief information officer and retirement operation. and look forward to having the chairman and any other interested members of the subcommittee but dissipate in that briefing. acting director weichert was please to host ranking member meadows just last week for this briefing, and his staff conveyed to us that the visit really highlighted the operational challenges facing rpm and they were highly impressed by the commitment of service of employees. lpm also holds this in high
regard for our employees. opm leadership understands there is no way to substitute our hard-working federal employees overcoming barriers to serve the american people. we see this as a critical way to continue the dialogue between congress and opm. thousands of pages of information are being compiled to share with the committee. while we strive to respect executive branch interest we are also continuing to engage with committee members and staff to provide information and constructive feedback on the reorganization proposal. as you are aware, the transfer of opm staff and resources to the department of defense derives from a congressional mandate. this transfer will create a funding gap that compounds existing structural challenges that the agency faces. on june 13, a meeting was held for the buyback of general services. opm would continue to provide
to support background operations during fiscal year 2020, after the transfer of those functions. not the same year,staff briefed the committee and send it on those deliberations. this is an example of our commitment to transparency and engagement with congress, in which we will continue to display moving forward. thank you for having me here today, leadership is heartened that congress has acknowledged the fundamental issues facing our agency and we are optimistic that together, we can look for solutions. i look forward to answering your questions and continue to engage with the committee as we work together toward reforms that best serve the american people. >> thank you. >> thank you. i had the opportunity to go to a demonstration earlier this week, and i'm sure it comes as a reassuring message to know how committed leadership is to its workforce because morale was pretty low.
>> chairman connolly, chairman cummings, members of the subcommittee. good morning and thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions about gsa's ongoing efforts to assist the committee. i joined gsa as chief of staff in june of last year, before joining the agency, i spent 23 years working in the house of representatives, including eight at this committee. mister borden, excuse me but i think you also worked for mike predecessor, did you not? but yeah. >> much of my career in the house was dedicated -- to the portrait dictated back there. >> you can think mister cummings for putting the republicans pictures back on the wall. despite in the house much of my career was dedicated to oversight and investigations in addition to ischemia work on significant investigations in the educational labor committee, i have had the honor of serving to georgia leaders and also first-hand experience conducting oversight over four different administration's.
i believe no one has a greater respect for the value of congressional oversight or this committee's role in staff as driven principal and to get a point commissioner murphy, herself a former congressional staffer shares my respect. in the last seven months, tsa has provided more than 34,000 pages of documents to congress. we have created working groups to coordinate efforts to respond to each of your request and committed considerable resources to those efforts. we have provided more than 17,000 pages of documents to this committee regarding the revised fbi headquarters plan, and nearly 16,000 pages of documents regarding the old post office. finally our staff have stated estate in regular medication with the committee offering to focus production efforts on your priorities, sharing our search terms, and at your request broadening the scope of document searches. while i understand i am not here today because you are satisfied with our efforts, i do hope my testimony will convey the sincerity of our interest in complying with your request. we do want to work with you to
accommodate the branches oversight interest while safeguarding executive branch for confidentiality interest. i thank you for your time and look forward to your question. >> thank you mister borden. ms. tyson? >> good morning chairman connolly, chairman cummings, ranking member meadows and other members of the committee. my name is joe tyson assistant director at the fbi. i oversee the office of congressional affairs and i manage an outstanding team of special agents, professional staff and attorneys. i am honored to be here today representing the fbi's 30,000 dedicated men and women. as a current doj employee i have worked with many members of this committee and also with your staff. however, this is a new vantage point for me, as it is my first time testifying. my comfort zone is definitely sitting behind the witness. i am here today to discuss the fbi's significant ongoing efforts to provide information to this committee, regarding the fbi headquarters project.
we have taken a number of steps to respond to the committee, including producing documents on a rolling basis, providing a beat briefing by a subject matter expert and offering a second subject matter expert for the committee. before i get into the specifics of those efforts, i would like to briefly discuss the fbi's need for a new headquarters facility. the fbi appreciates interest in headquarters because the building has been deteriorating for some time. the fbi headquarters project really began to shake take shape in 2017. the procurement was canceled in july 2017, however, due to a lack of dedicated appropriate funding. this gave the newly confirmed director christopher ray an opportunity to take a fresh look at the project. as director ray has said repeatedly, it is the fbi's strong preference to remain at our current location, at 9:35 answering avenue. this is in order to balance overall mission requirements, including improved security, optimal transportation options for fbi employees, close
proximity to our partners at public visitors, and the consolidation of the fbi's national capital region footprint. now turning to oversight, the fbi values the important role of congressional oversight. as director ray and attorney general bharat stated, the fbi and department of justice are committed to accommodating the committee's informational needs. in every instance, we strive to provide congress as much information as possible. we must do so because it lets us without comprising our law- enforcement security efforts as well as our investigative and prosecutorial response abilities. we are committed to working in good faith to accommodate the committee's legitimate oversight interests. we hope the committee will in turn continue to engage in good faith with the fbi and recognize the importance of our law enforcement and confidentiality interests. the fbi has found the committee's march 6 letter to
present unique challenges given its threat and the multi agency complicity of the headquarters project itself. due to the nature of the search for fbi headquarters and renovation and similar terms, our initial collection re- yielded a exceptionally broad return. we are actively working through it and taking a surgical approach based on what we believe the committee has articulated it is seeking. consistent with long-standing and well accepted accommodations process, the fbi has already taken significant steps to respond to the the committee's request for information including the fbi has searched resources. we have assigned additional agents, attorneys, and professional staff to work on the committee's staff and support the document review. second, the fbi has provided a briefing by subject matter, third, the fbi has offered the committee senior official who oversaw the fbi headquarters project. fourth, the fbi has produced
1400 pages of relevant documents. these documents include substantive agency communications, information about relevant meetings, and documents pertaining to the decision to demolish and rebuild the fbi headquarters. efforts in the last week to focus efforts of the request. in fact, because of your input, fbi and tsa were able to make a large production of dozens of reports yesterday, totaling approximately 800 pages. we believe these are directly responsive to committee's interests, such input from the committee will help us be more efficient in our processing of documents, and more targeted in the information we produce of interest to the committee. this is the type of collaboration that the fbi welcomes and hopes the committee will continue. in conclusion, the fbi and department of justice recognize the congressional oversight as an important part of our system of government.
we remain optimistic that by working together cooperatively, we will be able to satisfy the committee's oversight interests. we can do this while safeguarding the independence, integrity, and effectiveness of the fbi's vital law enforcement and national security responsibilities. i would be happy to answer the committee's questions, thank you. >> thank you. i would just say, before i call on the sting was chairman for his questioning, two points, one is, use of the word legitimate inquiry, one needs to be very careful, the legislative branch will not be lectured by the executive branch as to what constitutes a legitimate inquiry. that is our business. we decide what is legitimate, not you. we will not be limited by the executive branch in our inquiries and i will point out the court rulings uphold this. i will turn to professional -- professional friend mister raskin a little bit later to confirm this but every court that has ruled on this, as an
inherent function of the legislative branch, and it is up to them to decide the nature of an inquiry, not you. i don't know if that is what you meant, miss tyson in the use of the word legitimate, we will get into that. but i just wanted to assert that. in fact, while i appreciate your version of history, in terms of the rp for the fbi headquarters, unfortunately for you, there is an eight year history that goes before mister ray's decision or somebody's decision, to abruptly change the terms of reference. and actually pull the plug on what was about to be an award. and, that has more than our curiosity. so, we have different versions of history. and, we will certainly explore that. the chair now calls upon the distinguished chairman of the full committee, my friend mister cummings from maryland. >> thank you very much mister chairman, let me go back, mister chairman, what to what you just said. i agree with you 1 million
percent. with regards to the legitimate interest in what we investigate. we are blessed on this committee to have broad jurisdiction, and as was stated in masers, they reiterated what you just said. so, i want to thank you for saying that. now, miss tyson, this committee has asked the fbi to produce documents, which will moralize the menstruation's decision to reverse the long-standing plans to move fbi headquarters to a suburban location. we have been told that no final documents exist. miss tyson, is that correct? i can't hear you. spies congressman, as you are aware the fbi is in the process
of reviewing of processing and producing documents. i can only speak to the 1300 pages or so that we have produced thus far. >> so, are there really no formal decision documents related to this project? >> i believe in the course of our production, sir, you will find a number of documents, that do in fact indicate the direction and decisions of the fbi headquarters project. >> so, if true, i find it highly troubling that it decision, relocating thousands of fbi staff at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars would be made without significant paperwork explaining that decision. we have also requested documents related to these discussions, and this decision. miss tyson, will you commit to provide that to the committee? >> sir, again, we are absolutely committed to
pulling, reviewing, processing, producing documents to the committee point >> how many people are working on that particularly? production? >> sir, we have multiple divisions working on it, i believe there are at least three or four at this point, we also search resources in recent weeks in terms of taking agents to other projects in order to expedite the production. >> yesterday you provided joint presentations made to the senate, this was a welcome first step, but you did not produce communications around the presentation, as we have requested. now, miss tyson, you commit to providing the communications related to the development of this presentation, soon? >> chairman cummings, we have had discussions on your staff regarding communications with draft reports put together.
looking for a date range of these emails and haven't received that yet. >> i promise you, we will get them immediately to you. so, we get you the date range, you will work within that date range to get what you want. >> we haven't put eyeballs on those emails yet, so i don't see any reason why we wouldn't be able to to turn them over but we need to look at them first. >> we will give you the date range. miss tyson and mister borden, the committee is specifically requesting your decision making materials draft and final, we have worked with staff to prioritize the interest and we will continue to do so. these documents look at the investigation as we are trying to understand how decisions were made, what factors were considered, and who influenced the decision. have your agencies decided not to provide the committee with documents? certain documents?
>> no sir, i have not received such instructions. >> can you come in today to provide the committee with these documents? >> as my colleague mister borden said, we are in the process of pulling and reviewing documents could. i can't make a blanket commitment but we are certainly committed to working with the committee in providing such information as we can. but i understand many documents of gotten stuck in an interagency group that has not decided to reduce the documents yet. how long has that been going on and why has the decision not been made? first of all, >> mister borden, i am not aware of any, it does drown at the time it takes to be responsive. to coordinate with. this agreement there, yes sir. >> miss -- continue.
>> like the chairman, i'm not aware of any disagreements, i think your agencies both search resources and have great lines of communication that are open as a part of this production. >> the fbi has agreed to provide written richard telling with the interview in response to our request. we accept your offer and thank you for agreeing to make them available. however, i want to make one additional comment. you mentioned committing today to producing mister haley's documents before the interview, it really works against us, it works against us, to get documents after the interview. >> yes sir, i understand. i believe that we are trying to process mister taylor's documents as quickly as possible. we have been waiting for several weeks to get a date for
his interview and i certainly appreciate that the committee will be willing to do that with us. >> very well, mister chairman, thank you so much for your courtesy. >> absolutely, thank you mister chairman. the gentleman from georgia, mister tyson. >> thank you very much mister chairman. mister billy, how many documents, i don't believe in your opening statement that you gave a figure of how many documents have been produced to the committee. >> to date, i believe we have produced around 400. have a few more finalizing the production of to turn over this committee. >> what is taking so long? >> sir, a lot of the documents as the acting director testified to a few weeks ago our data and public documents that stretch back decades that we use in our -- you know, to analyze the proposal, we are putting this together, working together your garage them, that would be most helpful, the way gao is looking for them and this committee from the chairman's request, and so, another piece of this is that we are in an ongoing process right now so we don't have a defined set of documents that
we are working through. >> how many people are working to get the job done? >> we have multiple people from our general counsel's office. >> it doesn't take multiple people to get 400 pages does not a whole lot of pages. it sounds like there is a stall taking place. >> absolutely not, sir, we are committed to providing information compiling it and getting it into -- >> any idea of the 400 that have been cemented, how much percentagewise have been redacted? >> not off the top of my head, sir. >> would my friends yield, you're making such a good point. we have a total of 524 pages almost, none of them responsive to the direct request which was made, 461 from opm, 63 to the point you just made, so, just tell us, cited the legal authority that you say you have to go forward. >> redacted, the reference to
legal authority makes to the meeting they had on the rationale, also redacted. now, how's the committee can do an inquiry as dispassionately as possible for people to make up their own mind, that is called responsive, that is part of that voluminous 400 pages that they sweated over to give us. i think any reasonable congressman can look at that and realize that we have a problem. a spider think the gentleman -- >> thank you mister chairman, your point is right in line with what the concern is, mister billy, you're not doing your job. there is a stall. it does not take multiple people to get 400 pages, particularly -- or 500, whatever it is, particularly when those pages are filled with reductions, to questions that have no reasons to be redacted. what is the legal basis for redacting, basic answers to questions? >> i am not an attorney, i am
not able to speak to the specifics about that. another three -- our attorneys are working, to provide as much information as we can. there are some things where the legal analysis has not been completed, we don't have a legal analysis to provide at this time. >> mister billy, that is totally acceptable. your answer, and we expect to get the information that we request. is that understood. >> astonishment. >> a couple weeks ago acting director reichert was here, there was a bipartisan call for documents related to the opn bipartisan merger, specifically the legal merger, do you have any idea when that legal analysis will be provided to this committee? >> attorneys are working across the agencies involved in this, to finalize the legal authorities that currently exist.
and, as soon as that is done we will provide that. >> do you have any idea when that will be done? >> don't have an exact timeline no. >> an estimate? >> we are hoping to have it as soon as they are completed. the attorneys are working daily on this. >> mister billy, frankly you seem quite ill-prepared for answers to questions that you should anticipate would come from this committee. what about the $70 million funding gap, would you discuss a bit about where that money will come from? >> $70 million from the mandate to congress to translate operations to dod, we have been able to mitigate that number, with the department of defense, we were finalizing where the funding would be next year, we left with those numbers and came straight to the hills to
greet the committee staff from this committee, appropriations and senate committee, so that everybody knew as soon as we had the information, what that final funding gap would be, i know the information this committee has asked for with other committees, and as soon as we have rebutted to this committee, to be as transparent as possible. >> mister borden, you mentioned 34,000 documents that have been submitted. do you have any idea what has been redacted in what you have submitted? >> i should know better. to be clear, i could probably get a document counted for you as well. i'm happy to do that if that is helpful. i don't believe we have made significant reductions in what we have produced to this committee. i'm happy to get you an account on what the reductions are present to have been very minimal if at all. >> my time is almost gone. i just want clarification, it
was a decision for the fbi location 100 percent made within the fbi. >> sir, although the decision- making predates my tenure in the fbi, my decision was in fact made by director ray. come in close consultation with the director of gsa. >> no outside opinions or thoughts or discussions were taken into consideration? >> sir, i believe is the director has said repeatedly, the decision was his. >> thank you mister chairman. i yield 30 >> thank you mister hazen, thank you for your commitment on a bipartisan basis to the presentation of documents, and the need for unredacted documents. chernow calls upon the gentleman from maryland. my friend. >> mister chair, thank you for calling this urgently important meeting, i also want to salute mister meadows and mister haas for their thoughtful comments,
and a broad and robust congressional authority investigatory power and essential importance of document production in the exercise of that power. mister borden a distinct former student of mine, a prized pupil from the late 20th century, and, i can't tell you his grades because of the privacy law but maybe another member will ask for more documents. >> if i can interrupt the distinguished gentleman on appraising the system, the one thing mister borden did not fess up to was that he was a former student of yours. >> i noted he gave a detailed autobiography but he excluded that point. compromising his objectivity. we never agreed >> mister chairman, you and the
committee have made central points about these hearings, which is that congress is a broad robust and comprehensive power that has been recognized by the supreme court, and investigate. that is essential to representative democracy i believe it was james madison those must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives, and a power which belongs to the american people has been invested in the congress of the united states through the constitution, we exercise the power of the people to obtain knowledge about whatever it is we want to legislate about, so it is indeed up to to determine what we will legislate about and so it is up to us to determine what information we are going to get, and that demonstrates the absolute importance of complete compliance with the document request of congress. i want to tell you a story
about our constitution. i could proceed socratic leave mister borden if you want to answer the questions, or we could do it as a lecturer. but, there are two provisions in the constitution that i want to focus on, one is the foreign emoluments clause which is in article 1 section 9 clause 8 which says that everybody in his room and everybody on the floor of congress and the president of the united states, may not collect a present, and emoluments, which means a payment, office or title from a king, prince, or foreign official of any kind whatever without the consent of congress. we met for more than sue -- two centuries without anybody coming close to creating a problem under the foreign emoluments clause. there were presidents who got saddles for horses, there were presidents who were given a persian rug, all of them came directly to congress said can i keep this or not and congress either said yeah you can or no
it's too valuable turn it over to the state department, or make a deposit with the u.s. treasury. there is another clause called the domestic emoluments clause which is article 2 section 1, clause 17, which says, the president may not receive any emoluments from the united dates, or any of the states, beyond his salary compensation. and we can increase the president salary and we can't decrease the president salary, and he can't get a dollar more from the federal government or agency. now, the story all changes with the presidential election of 2016. and the inauguration of president trump, who made a decision not to divest himself of any of his businesses, and not to put anything into a blind trust. since then, there have been reports that 24 different foreign governments have spent money at different trump enterprises, hotels, office tower golf courses are so on, in 2019 alone, 17 officials of foreign governments stated the trump hotel in washington dc,
from 13 different nations including eduardo paulson rr, a brazilian congressman and the son of the president, also the chair of which is engineer of brexit and the leader of the british independence party nigel for us, and filipino president duterte. the kuwaiti embassy spent between 60 or $50,000 there on a national day celebration and so on, so, the money is flowing in from foreign governments to the trump hotel, and president trump continues to collect money from the trump hotel as well as the office tower and other hotels. now, that hotel has a deal with the government through the federal services administration for the old post office building, which is federal property, and they have a lease, and the lease is a provision inside which i hope is boilerplate which i assume
it is, that all government official the matter how high government are local to the dc, can provide any value or benefit to the lease which is an echo of the constitutional prohibition on foreign and domestic emoluments. and yet, we know all this money has been flowing into the administration, mister borden, is it gsa's position that any of the committees requests about the lease with the trump organization, do not serve a legitimate legislative purpose? >> no sir. >> why is the gsa making arguments, but are also being advanced by the presidents personal attorneys, that we can't obtain information about a government lease, a very valuable property which is controlled, owned by the u.s. taxpayer, the old post office building. >> yes sir. i believe we are talking about the financial summaries, and
documents that are produced to gsa under the lease, the top line message i want to be with you that is that there are no documents, that they're not willing to talk about produced for the committee and working in the accommodation process, with regards to the financial documents, and many of the confidentiality provisions, saying the documents are to be produced outside of gsa. this budgets as they may not be turned over to the united states congress. >> i will have to interrupt the gentleman. >> it doesn't reference the congress at all? it does reference foia probably a weakness in the provision that is not in their. what it does say is that with the consent of the tenant, we can do it, under terms we can
provide those to the committee. >> in reference to the legitimate purpose, and chairman consent, that is the question posed to us and we were bringing it back to the committee, this committee i know very well rule 10 clause 4c, i believe is fraud, should be an easy question to answer. >> knowing your history with this committee we would assume that you have the default of giving us more, not less. >> yes sir. >> that's what i thought. votes have been called, that is to say, one that has been called with respect to the rule, there are 10 minutes left, we have time mister meadows, >> let me go ahead and go and may be -- >> then we will reassess and return. >> all right. ms. tyson, let me come to you. i think it would be prudent, for the fbi and may be director ray
to come in and meet with the chairman and a few others that are very interested, i think would be the best word, and where we go with this. it is very clear to me, having talked with the president directly, it is very clear to me in talking with a number of people at the white house, that the fbi's location, whether it be in dc or anywhere else, they are agnostic. all they want to make sure is director ray and some of the fbi agents can work very closely with doj working in proximity, if you would take the message back if they are not tuning in, really revisiting the situation with mister borden's team and your team, i know that everybody
feels like the decision has been made, it is going to get more complicated than that, i am afraid. but, i want to take one thing off the table. if you can get us as many documents as you can to be as transparent as possible, with my democratic colleagues, to assure them that the president could care less, whether the location is there, or anywhere else, if you would personally go back and look for those documents, and then if you get pushback, from the director, or from the attorney general on giving those documents, will you let this committee know if you are getting pushback on delivering those types of documents. >> yes sir, let me try to answer your questions, number one i will be happy to take the message back. number two, yes, we are absolutely committed to getting the committee has many documents as possible as quickly as possible. i will reiterate a request to the chairman that we have made it several times to your staff
which is the more we can narrow and focus a committees request of the more expeditiously we can provide those documents. >> what they are looking for, i will cut to the chase. what they are looking for is anything that has -- they will keep their request abroad, ms. tyson, what they are really looking for is where there was undue influence on the decision to move to headquarters, so i'm not going to speak for the chairman but i'm going to tell you, i bet that's what he's looking for so if you will focus that request on that, i think the more you do that, the less pressure you will get from the chairman, okay, sure. >> i think he makes a really good point. two things. one is, aside from even suspicious thinking, and i freely confess we have some of that, it is a complete puzzlement, that the fbi could with a straight face walk away from a rationale, it has been confounding for eight years i have been to many meetings and briefings and i am particularly
struck by both the consolidation abandonment argument, and the urban set problem, which remains a problem in the current site, the second point, i think implicitly what my friend is saying is assumed there is nothing there. assume this is as innocent as a newborn thing. the more fbi holds back on documents, the more it does a disservice to the president. given the suspicious nature of this town. so, maybe it is protecting fbi but our prerogatives but it is not helping the president on the restore my friends time, and thank him for allowing my intervention. >> ms. tyson, without forcing you to answer, let me just say the reason why they are broad is not just because of you, because you have been very honest and direct and you have great credentials from someone i respect very highly at doj.
and so in saying that, time and time again, we have witnesses that came in here and said you don't ask for that. when they knew full well that that is really what we were asking for, so that is why you get these broad requests, and so, in some ways it is a function of the games that get played between the executive branch and legislative branch, so i don't see you getting that there. that being said, i don't tell the fbi how to do law enforcement. and, i think it would serve director ray well, to not tell this member of congress how to do real estate well. he is not a real estate guy, and i am telling you, i so fundamentally disagree with the decision made, that -- i'm trying to be neutral but it is
wrong, there is no way it is an efficient use of taxpayers dollars, not to say that you shouldn't have a presence, i believe you have to have a presence there. but, the majority of the campus being outside the city will be cheaper. there's just no way -- i know gsa has all these different studies, was when you compare apples to apples, there is no way that it could be -- it just would not be cheaper. that being said, balance of function with mister borden, documents i just want to say gsa has been pretty good, on some of the document request. i will also say that you have staffers that work with you, and that i trust. and they worked with me they didn't work with the chairman.
in doing that, we have really got to get to the bottom of some of these documents, as it relates specifically to the trump hotel. it is a big deal for him, less so for me, i know there's nothing to hide. so i guess what i'm saying is help us get the documents so we can take the political side of this out and start to make legislative questions. mister billing, let me come to you at the end. miss weichert, i have high respect for her and i believe she is trying to do the very best for our federal government, and reorganization, we may disagree on that, we do agree that no federal employees should be, it should be a slippery slope what a federal employees have to worry about on their job, they have that commitment from the chairman, they have that commitment from me. even in the reorg we have, made
the headline, saying that we are furloughing people, and it caught me by surprise, i am having a great visit at opm, you were there, some of the colleagues were there and i come back to have to answer a reporter's questions about furloughing employees, it embarrassed me because i felt like some of those employees may have thought that i knew about that and i didn't. yet it is inconsistent with where i am philosophically, so the more information mister billy you can get as as it relates to what you need, the better off we will be. >> absolutely, we will redouble our efforts to get information for the chairman and you on this. >> we may end up prioritizing some stuff, so as a chairman prioritizes it, just assume that we are speaking from, this same voice, okay? >> absolutely.
>> and thank you all for your testimony. >> i think the gentleman. we are going to have to go into recess, we have one vote, procedural vote and then we will come back as soon as possible. if mister raskin comes back before us, i would encourage him to take the chair and come back into session. >> we stand in recess.