tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN July 17, 2014 5:00pm-7:01pm EDT
would you agree that it would be wrong to continue an investigation for any length of time if there is not a smidgen of evidence of wrongdoing? >> if you have completed the investigation and you have satisfied yourself that there is no wrongdoing in the investigation then the investigation is done. >> that was not my question, mr. cole. if you begin an investigation and you go through weeks, months, basically now one year, and you do not have a smidgen of evidence of a crime, is it appropriate to continue spending taxpayer dollars? yout depends whether or not think there is a chance you will find additional evidence of crime. >> you have an ongoing investigation that has been going on now for one year. you have confirmed an ongoing investigation. it is appropriate to say that your answer is that there are
either has to be evidence of crime or a belief by your investigators that there is, in fact, a crime that has been committed that you're investigating. isn't that correct? >> there has to believe that there is still evidence necessary to be looked at to determine whether or not a criminal statute has been violated. >> mr. cole, i really appreciate the dodging on behalf of koran, but my question needs to be answered. behalfnot -- dodging on of the crime. that would be a frivolous investigation at some point, wouldn't it? you continue looking into crimes for years of innocent people when there is not a smidgen of evidence. you continue a criminal investigation with months or years without any evidence just because in the long run you think it might happen?
that is a yes or no. do you do that? . i outlined a rather repugnant comment that has been made about this chair and this committee that we are continuing to investigate wrongdoing in in washington led by lois lerner. we continue to investigate because we believe and we have referred to you criminal allegations. we are not talking about whether or not you will get a successful prosecution or conviction. we understand that all of that, sometimes you go for years and you never get -- like organized crime, you do not necessarily get a conviction, but would you continue investigating as you have if you did not have, if your investigators did not have a belief that a wrong doing had occurred for which you were trying to build a case. please, that is yes or no.
chairman, unfortunately it is not quite yes or no. >> oh, yes it is. we will continue to have this conversation. would you continue to take people's time and money, force them to get attorneys, investigate, subpoena, interview ? would you do that if you did not have a belief that there was a possibility of a crime and one you thought worth investigating? >> can i give you my answer? no andcan give a yes or then further explain. your boss, the attorney general, is a bad witness. please do not be a bad witness. would you continue to investigate people without a smidgen of evidence? would you continue to spend taxpayer dollars when in fact there was no reason to believe that a crime had been committed? you investigate to
ensure you have evidence that one was not committed. that means you could be spending the time and money to prove that lois lerner is innocent and this committee was wrong and accusing her. you could be doing that. >> we are not trying to prove anything. >> i'm trying to find out what the facts are and determine whether or not -- you a lawful, constitutionally mandated subpoena. i issued a subpoena to the attorney general. we asked for all documents and communication between lois lerner and apartments of the-- employees of department of justice. you say we also have not included documents including internal liberations about law enforcement matters -- fine -- in which we have substantial confidential interest as we believe that this closers would chill exchange of interviews
that are important to sound decision-making. you recognize those words? the man behind you shaking his head yes signed the letter. >> that is standard procedure. >> the standard policy in the department of justice is you don't give us the queue and day of your interviews because it could have a chilling effect -- of yourthe a&a's interviews because it could have a chilling effect. >> that is correct. however, when we subpoena the documents between the department of justice and lois lerner we got one tranche. that tranche shows that, in fact, just this one to the goods on lots of people including information that was not publicly available, taxpayer information, or lois lerner sent that information in the department of justice did not want it. when we subpoenaed all the
information was there any reason why you would not and have not delivered to us all of those documents? that is our investigation of you , you being the department of justice in addition to lois lerner since there obviously was a relationship there in which documents inappropriate to be sent were sent? and would have to go back look. there's a difference between documents created at the time and documents that have been created in determining how to respond, as is described in the letter. i don't know which documents are being withheld, so we would have to look to see what they are. >> would you commit today and the case of documents that would have been exchanges between lois lerner or documents that lois lerner may have asked to be sent back-and-forth, communications timeg those periods of before you were debating to give us information or not, but the
documents related to or activities and the irs activities, will you agree either to give us all the documents related to correspondence back and forth between the irs and anyone at the department of justice in this time that may have been related to the ongoing investigation, 501(c)(3), 501(c) four's and so one or give us a understanding as an attorney that one or the other is due to us? >> we will commit to give you the documents are an indication of what types of documents we are not providing you as we have done in the past so you that you will understand. >> will you do it in the form of a privileged log so it has enough specificity to make the claim of why there is a specific privilege not a blanket? >> my understanding is we have not given privilege logs in the past and we have seen a reason to start that now that we will give you information to allow you a to understand the nation
of the -- the nature of the documents not being provided. boss understanding is her has been held in contempt because he refused to give us documents related to laws being broken by lying to congress and the people who knew about it for 10 months and those internal documents have yet to be produced despite the fact that it is before the court two years later. i don't care about your history. i don't care about anything except the constitution. when the discussion was going on about citizens united, i almost interrupted for one reason. it's not about the law. united is a constitutional decision. it is not a law that can be fixed. you cannot fix a constitutional decision. the constitution was a decision that the president objected to. it was the one he truly failed as the the koran as well
u.s. house of representatives when he reprimanded the supreme decision ineir citizens united and lois lerner thought and said publicly that they want us to fix it. lois lerner went about trying to fix it by going after conservative groups for what they believed. working with the department of justice to try to get audits and further prosecutions of people who essentially were conservatives asserting their constitutional free-speech. that you woulde never investigate lois lerner or the crimes related to this if there was not a smidgen of evidence. i would hope that you were doing it because, in fact, as we know wereis committee crimes committed, regulations violated, rules broken, and america can's constitutional rights were violated by lois lerner and perhaps those around her. i would hope that's the reason your investigation is ongoing and i look forward to this privilege logs. from nevada isn
recognized -- we're going to come back. we have three minutes and 40 seconds left. >> i ask unanimous consent under rule nine that the minority be given equal time based on the fact that the chairman went over an additional five minutes. >> i have been very lenient with the time and i would happy to let you go over if you want. go right ahead. >> thank you. thank you, mr. general, for being here today. i want to start by, again, just reiterating the fact that the chairman asked at the beginning of this hearing for you to swear under oath that you were telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth before this committee. questioning, you have indicated that this investigation is ongoing by the department of justice. is that correct? >> correct. >> is there any reason for this
committee or millions of americans to believe that is not the case or to believe otherwise? >> there is no reason. >> after the press report was released in january 2014, has attorney general holder explicitly stated to the public that the investigation is ongoing? >> i believe he has. >> thank you. i want to bring to the fact,tee's attention the again, that many of us agree that there was absolutely wrong doing donna by the irs in the handling of the tax exempt status and the process was unacceptable and that people do need to be held accountable. the president famously referred to the irs mishandling of these applications on super bowl sunday as consisting of "bonehead decisions." andpresident went further said there was "not even a
smidgen of corruption." much has been made of the presidents statements. duringn goodlatte asked june 11, 2014, judiciary hearing, "how can we trust that this investigation is being carried out when the president claimed no corruption occurred?" during the same hearing, chairman goodlatte asked fbi , "can you explain why there is an investigation given that the president said there was not even a smidgen of corruption?" "ictor connie responds, mean no disrespect, but i don't care about anyone's characterization of it. i care and my troops care only about the facts. there's an investigation because there was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes may have been committed and so we are
conducting that investigation." cole, dotorney general you agree with the assessment that outside characterizations, even by the president, have no bearing on a particular investigation? >> that's correct. people don't know what it is that we know. we do our job to try to lock out whatever people say on the outside. >> is it accurate to say that the department does not take direction from the president on how to conduct ongoing investigation? >> we do not. that is a very specific line that is drawn. >> i understand we have less than one minute. i don't know whether you're coming back -- are you coming back? can we resume this questioning? if you don't mind? we would like to be able to vote. >> does that make sense? i just want to make sure we get answers. >> 300 people have not voted.
>> i'm not going to be one of them. >> i'm going to let him finish. >> i will ask one more question. one quick question before i go so i reserve my time until we return. >> you will be given your full whatever you had left. we will recess but before we do, and the department of justice, are they investigating why they waited two months to disclose the loss of lois lerner's e-mails? >> i don't know if men specifically what we are investigating. >> i'm asking you specifically that if you will look at the fact that the head of targeting of conservative groups did not tell us and did not tell you for two months? will you look at that fact? >> i think that is whether the inspector general refers that to us or not. this is a scenario that we will probably want to satisfy. >> what does the inspector
general have to do with it? it's certainly a problem. the american people think it's a problem. i would hope the justice department would think it's a problem. why would you not look into the two month lag? >> we would have the potential if there is a potential criminal violation. we do not just investigate for no reason. there has to be some sort of basis or thought that it might a federal criminal statute. we would have to look at that first. >> all right. we will resume. we will take a recess. we will be back in probably 30 minutes. thank you. we stand in recess. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> in just a few moments, we bring you the second half of this hearing about allegations
that the irs targeted conservative groups. first an update on the u.s. response to the malaysian airlines plane that went down today over ukraine. a speaker john boehner releasing a statement saying, -- " the new york times" reporting saying the ukrainian government saying that this was "an act of terrorism." they have called for an immediate investigation of the crash. meanwhile, "the washington post" reporting u.s. intelligence agencies have confirmed that the aane was shot down by surface-to-air missile. the senate intelligence committee had a briefing this afternoon. after the meeting, intelligence committee chair dianne feinstein spoke briefly with reporters.
i'm just going to read a brief statement. we have received a very good briefing from the intelligence community on the situation in the ukraine. even before today's events, it was clear that russia was escalating its support for the separatists emma which is obviously very concerning. russian-based separatist have shut down more than one dozen planes and helicopters in ukraine over the past few months. it is too soon to make any conclusion about the malaysian airline crash right now. we hope to have more information within the next day or so. if evidence emerges that russia was involved, that would obviously be extremely concerning. >> are their preliminary ideas that it was in fact a surface-to-air missile? are thered
preliminary ideas? >> preliminary findings were evidence? >> not at this time. if this is just beginning. >> are you confident that the u.s. will be able to figure out exactly what happened? >> i hope international regimes can get in there to get the black box and really be able to look at what might have happened. it appears just to someone who looks at this that it was an in air explosion because the debris field is so widely spread. >> do you believe there were 23 americans on board? you have heard what heard. it is my understanding the manifest is not yet available. >> there were some americans on board? >> do i believe everyone -- everything i hear from the press?
>> what do you believe the cause of the explosion is? >> i do not believe at this stage. i'm a wait to find out. >> what would be the appropriate u.s. response? >> let's not speculate on hypothetical. let's wait until we have the actual information. >> you expressed concern that u.s. did not have the proper intelligence assets in that region. do you think the u.s. does now? >> we had a much better briefing today than we did a couple of months ago. positive indication of progress. denis mcdonough stepped by recently. >> he was here to talk to the vice chair about something else. ok? thank you. senator john mccain also
spoke with reporters about the malaysian airline plane crash in ukraine today. here's a look at that. >> the debris is spread over such a long distance that it indicates to me, from my aircrafte, that the came apart before it hit the ground which means that it was , a missile,plosion or some object that struck the aircraft. .one of that was i briefed on >> senator, would you think the implications and ramifications would be if in fact it was shut down by russian separatists as it relates to the ukraine-russian conflict? >> and they could have only gotten the capability from russia and therefore, the culpable party here is vladimir putin. what gives credence to that theory is in the last couple of weeks the "separatists" have
shut down -- shot down aircraft including a transport aircraft. they have a record in recent days of shooting down ukrainian aircraft. will you put pressure on putin to end the war, and the conflict? >> i don't know, but for us not to act, we must react in a stringent fashion because has been working on the situation even recently sending in additional troops and equipment. for the "separatists." that theesident said u.s. will provide assistance in determining the cause of the incident. capabilitiese have that can track the aircraft and give a better
understanding. for example, i think we have the capability to know whether another aircraft was close by, i.e. fighter aircraft, those types of capabilities. >> were you briefed on that? >> was it in fact shot down from 3500 feet? >> i don't know. as i say, the photographs, the footage of the wreckage, not in this briefing, the footage of the wreckage shows, to me, that apartircraft came across -- before it hit the ground which leads one to speculation that it was either hit or excluded at 33,000 feet. again, i am not and we should not jump to any conclusions before we have more hard information. >> there are no conclusions regardless?
>> you will have to ask them. the information i am given is the information i've gotten from other sources. donna -- nis smith >> i don't know if he was scheduled or not. there?dennis >> i did have a conversation with him about this. >> we need to know. >> does he? any moret think he has or less information than what we are seeing in the media. specifically.him >> when you say stringent action, what do you mean? >> we need to arm the ukrainian military which shamefully we have not done. and russia should be named as a pariah nation.
if they are responsible for this, they deserve. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you. [laughter] take you back now to today's house hearing on the justice department investigation into allegations that the irs targeted conservative groups. we pick up with questions from nevada congressman steven horsford. >> committee will be in order. the gentleman from nevada is recognized for the remainder of his time. was approximately three minutes or so. i will give you a few extra. how about that? the gentleman is recognized. general -- attorney mr. attorney general, thank you for continuing to be with us.
as i was concluding my questions before we recessed, i was asking about the fact that regardless of statements made by outside groups or characterizations that the department of justice approaches its investigations in fair, impartial, uninfluenced ways. if you could just answer for the record whether it is the case to say that the department does not take direction from the president on how to conduct ongoing investigations. >> we do not take any direction from the president. is a time-honored restriction and a barrier put them between the department of justice and the white house. it is independent in its investigation and that is honored very scrupulously. i think director komi put it very well.
we investigate to find out what the true facts are. that is what we do. no more, no less. >> as the president's statements in any way, the statement that there was "not a smidgen of corruption or influence" influenced the department in any way? >> it has not. >> i wish this committee would approach our oversight function in the way that the department of justice is approaching its investigation which is to do so fairly, impartially, without prejudging the facts. the attorney general here today has indicated that is definitely the approach that they take. we want the facts as well. there are those of us who
believe that there was wrongdoing and that there should be a count ability -- there should be accountability. we just do not believe that we should prejudge the circumstances before all of the facts get out. despite the approach by others. i would like to ask unanimous consent to enter into the record opening statements from two department of justice employees who were interviewed in the course of the irs investigation. >> wait, wait. opening statements, you said? >> the chief of public integrity section in the director of the private branch. >> what are you asking? -- o enter their statements >> is it the full transcript? would object. >> it is not. i want to say for the record the republican armed services chairman just released 100% of
the transcripts from benghazi. i'm not clear from the standard being used by this chair -- >> we're going to try to move. i think i'm going to object. i will take a look at it afterwards. >> can i ask a point of order as to the reason? >> you need unanimous consent. >> what rule? >> i want to try to move to get to as many of our colleagues as we can. >> i have not finished my time that was allotted to me. >> i think your time is over. >> the chair was over five minutes. i had additional time. we agreed to that. >> i gave you more than the time you had left. i think you can talk to anyone and i have been pretty generous with the time and i will continue to be generous with the time. i want to get to everyone who is here. >> under rule 9 --
>> the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. >> so the gentleman is not recognizing my parliamentary -- >> i give you two and a half minutes. >> you will not recognize my point of order. >> i objected. you don't have a valid point of order. you asked for unanimous consent. >> you have not given the majority equal time. >> you do not have as many members on the committee. you will get equal time for the members you have. >> the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. he has already been recognized. if you yield, you can be recognized, but for right now -- >> will the gentleman yield for 30 seconds? >> yes, i will be glad deal for 30 seconds. >> chairman issa was given a
full 10 minutes prior to representative horssford. >> it was not represented i would give him an extra five minutes. i gave him extra time. i am reclaiming my time. i think the chair. let me ask mr. cole a few questions. one, in your verbal testimony today, you said the you have the utmost confidence in their investigation. do you stand by that? that is a direct quote. >> yes, i do. the team that is investigating. normalme ask you, is it procedure to have a member of management in on a personal interrogatory discussion with their employees?
that inu normally do your investigative mode? have managers in the majority of those interviews? >> a lot of those take place before -- >> would you? >> i just want to put it in context, congressman. were when the interviews happy ending in 2011, how would you put it in context? >> if you would let me explain, i think you would understand. inspectors general have different investigations other than just criminal investigations. >> right. >> they are working on a criminal investigation. >> i understand that. >> prior to this, they were investigating on their own, without us -- >> so your utmost confidence is about the investigation before? >> sometimes different agencies have union rules that apply. i'm not sure what the rules are here at the irs on this particular procedure. >> all right, since you were not
there, we will go on. may of 2013, you started an investigation, that correct? >> the justice department. >> and that continues today? >> yes. >> missing e-mails that we have now discovered, does it not concern you that your exhaustive investigation did not uncover the fact there were missing e-mails, that you had to read about it in the press? should we be concerned that your investigation is not exhaustive if it took you more than 13 months and you had to read about it in the press about the e-mails? does that concern you? a concerns. may >> i understand concerns you. >> does it concern you? >> as we looked at the records in this case, there was not a gaping hole because these e-mail come from a lot of different sources. >> ok, that's reasonable.
but the individual who knew about the fact there were missing e-mails in october of 2012, the junot talk to him? because he apparently didn't tell you and he do about it. not have told you if you have this ongoing, exhaustive investigation with somebody you have the utmost confidence, and a would not tell you there were missing e-mails? >> if i understand your question, the person i believe who do about it early on was in a much different context. i don't know how much they knew about how it related to our investigation at the time. listen, you are insulting the american people -- >> i don't believe that. indicatingou are that somebody involved in the tigue the investigation did not know there was all this going on
and the merrick and people were concerned, is that we are saying? >> i don't know if that person was involved in this us investigation. >> et al. we found out about it in october 2012 -- actually, how we found out about it is you give us the e-mail and we said why didn't the irs give us the shazam,and then it was, here are the missing e-mails, when somebody actually arty knew about it. >> i would have preferred the dots get connected earlier, but i think the agent in october was investigating something quite different, and not this matter that tidga was in. >> oh, really? because reportedly he went back and found notes there may have been a problem. so let's go further. the irs commissioner new in february there was a problem. he said he did not tell you. are you concerned about that. >> i would have liked to have known. >> i would have, too.
you found out about it in the newspaper? >> that's correct. >> ok, so how exhaustive is your investigation, then, mr. cole, if you would have liked to have known about it? how can the american people have confidence in your investigation if the things that you would like to know about are not getting answered? are you not having interviews back and forth? has anybody interview dirs commissioner? >> as i said, we have not talked about who we have interviewed -- >> but you think he was being truthful with congress? >> it is certainly part of looking into the e-mails. we look into all of that as well. when, 13, 14 months, if that's not enough, when is enough? this just found out about last month, congressman, and we are looking into it. >> i yield back. >> are you saying that you will interview the commissioner? >> we don't talk about the steps
we take in the investigation, but we will look into it is part of the e-mails all the issues surrounding it. >> the gentleman from south carolina. >> thank you, mr. chairman. deputy attorney general cole, you have been done a tremendous disservice when the president pre-judge this. it is not fair to the department of justice or the people this, theing witnesses, the potential victims. it is really unheard of for somebody to reports to be an expert and congressional law to prejudge an investigation. i will start with that. i know you cannot provide names or details, but you have on a number of different occasions this morning sought to reaffirm there is an ongoing investigation. so i'm going to ask you about some of the traditional i will start with that. investigatory tools and make sure those are in play.
names i'm not asking for or specifics, but when you say matter is being investigated, i think that -- and by the way, back in the old days you cannot even confirm there was an ongoing investigation. that was the policy back in the old days. i don't know if the policy has been waived for this particular fact of the matter that is such that you are willing to confirm the ongoing investigation, but that is policy. that is not law. there is no law that prevents you from answering these questions. have would this is been brought before a grand jury? >> as you well know, representative gallery, we cannot talk about anything that takes place before a grand jury. that is not permitted under rule six-e. >> have subpoenas been issued? >> that is also grand jury -- >> have administrative subpoenas been issued? >> with all due respect, congressman, we don't talk about the steps we take in our investigation. mr. deputy attorney general,
i understand that, but when the chief law enforcement officer for this country, the chief executive prejudge is an investigation that you are seeking to assure us that investigation is ongoing and vibrant and being professionally done, i think it is ok in this instance for you to reaffirm to the traditional tools available to prosecutors are being used. administrative subpoenas are not covered by rule 6-e, so you can answer that question. >> we are using every tool that is appropriate to be used. we are using every facility we can to find out the facts in this matter as the really and as completely as we can. -- howny many witnesses have you interviewed? >> i cannot answer that question. >> more than 20? >> i will not go into a guessing
game with you, congressman. i will not go into the details of the investigation, i'm sorry. i know that's frustrating. when this is over, we will be providing you with -- >> how will we know when it's over? obviously if there is an indictment, it's over for that person until prosecution, but you have a constitutional responsibility to do your job. with all due respect, so do we. it's different. our job is not to prosecute criminal code violations, but we set policy and determine whether an agency is worthy of the appropriation it received the year before. we cannot do our jobs if we are constantly told not because of the law but because of policy we will not answer any questions related to the investigation. so how will we know when the investigation is over? >> we will let you know. either through an indictment that comes out, and you will see that, or through us telling you it's over and providing the information.
you don't know how many witnesses have been interviewed? >> i don't know the exact number, no, but i wouldn't tell you if i did, with all due respect. >> do you know the full percentage of witnesses that have been interviewed, at of those you have identified? >> i will not go down that road, corpsman, sorry. >> have any plea agreements been signed? >> i'm not going to go down that road. general,puty attorney i asked you the last time before you were before the committee if you would please in the quietness of your own conscious considerate this fact pattern is appropriate for a social prosecutor, and i'm sure you did, but you said you reach the conclusion it would not be appropriate. can you give me the fact pattern where it would be appropriate? if prejudging an investigation that has political overtones and undertones and the selection of -- and i am not prejudging this.
i'm sure she is capable of doing a very fine job. i just find it stunning, at of the full universe of federal a maxedors, to pick out out donor i think was shortsighted. if it was not this fact pattern, what fact pattern would be appropriate to ever use a special prosecutor, given the fact at your boss drafted the regulation --that your boss drafted the regulation? >> it is very rare in the justice department to use special prosecution. >> give me a fact pattern that would trigger to you in your mind the appropriateness of a special prosecutor. >> i cannot go down and dream up butct pattern, mr. gowdy, one time was in the waco investigation. >> well, the regulation is in place. it is pretty plainly you written -- plainly written.
you have politics infecting this investigation. you have a prejudgment by the commander-in-chief that there is not a smidgen -- and i will substitute the word scintilla -- smidgen is not a legal term, there is no evidence of wrongdoing. you talk about compromising the jury pool, again, out of fairness to you, i will not ask you to comment because he's the boss. but really, that was a tremendous disservice to be done to people who dedicate their lives to law enforcement, to prejudge an investigation and to do it for a cheap political score during the super bowl. when? not here, if not this fact pattern, when? >> each individual matter will have to be judged on its own individual and unique fax. i cannot set out a prescription for when one would be appropriate. all i can tell use we have analyzed this, we have looked at the applicable regulation, and
this does not warrant a special counsel. when you say it has been analyzed, this is a determination that is ultimately made by the attorney general himself? >> along with myself. >> did you seek outside opinions? has been analyzed, this is a determination that isdid you coe who's legal opinion you value when asked, hey, this is an interesting fact pattern, maybe this is appropriate? to find a career prosecutor who has not maxed out to the rnc or dnc? did you seek other peoples opinions? >> the internal deliberations, as you know representative gwody , are not things we talk about, but it did not see of a special standard to ward a special counsel. >> my time is up. i will and the way i and it last time, this is the grid than politics, this is bigger than election cycles. the one entity in our culture
that is universally respected ed by a woman wearing a blindfold is the department of justice. and when we start playing games with that, we are in trouble. >> i think the gentleman. esther cole, when ape criminal investigation -- when a criminal investigation is started, isn't usually one of the first thing that happens is you gather and protect come and get ahold of the evidence? >> that usually happens fairly early on, guess. >> ok, when this investigation was started -- let's back up. may 22 last year, lois lerner came in front of the committee and would not answer our questions. she has been a central figure in this whole thing. may 23, the day after, did the fbi and department of justice look into going into lois lerner's office and seizing all
of the documents are going and getting her computer or files. did you attempt to do that in may of last year? >> i may sound like a broken record, but we are not at liberty to talk about what we did in this investigation. well, it would seem to me if hadhad done that, if you done that, maybe we would have learned about the loss of e-mails a lot sooner. so how are you getting the evidence? are you had done just waiting for the iris to give it to you, like we have to wait for requested documents and e-mails? >> we are doing what we need to do to get the evidence, mr. chairman, and we are getting the evidence we need in this matter. >> so you cannot say if you got a search warrant or court order to go and get those documents from ms. lerner's office of the irs? >> as i've told you before, and i know it's frustrating to you, but we cannot talk about the nonpublic aspects of the investigation. >> ok, i'm going back to this
point that several members have talked about. if there is a private citizen who was under investigation i by thetice department -- justice department and a withheld information, willfully withheld information about the loss of evidence and documents, for two months, with that be a crime? >> depends on if they had a legal duty to disclose that. when you are dealing with somebody withholding something as opposed to affirmatively making a false statement, you need to find a legal duty for them to have the disclosure. >> ok, but that would be something you would look into. you would investigate whether they had a duty to disclose to you in an appropriate time fashion they had lost a document? >> we would, yes. thatu said earlier
, ittive to mr. cotman depends on whether there is a problem with the facts that the commissioner at the irs knew in april and waited two months to talk to the merrick and people and, more importantly, you. to the american people and view. >> all the issues related to those e-mails will be wrapped up in the investigation. >> including the delay? >> including the delay. >> so the fact the commissioner at the higher rest delayed -- the commissioner at the irs allayed this will be talked about? >> we would, yes. >> that's important. i recognize the ranking member for his question. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i will go with whoever wants to go. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and chairmanan
jordan have alleged that prominent democrats, mr. cole, pressured the department of justice and the higher rest to single out potential prosecution -- and the irs singled out potential prosecution to the attorney general and the hearing that was held in april of last "ar i a democratic senator, led to the justice department onengaging with the irs possible criminal enforcement related to political speech by john robertson." the letter alleged the department officials and lois lerner, "discussed singling out and prosecuting tax exempt applicants at the urging of a democratic senator." i would like to give you an opportunity to address this allegation.
did the department the sky singling out and prosecuting tax exempt applicants at the urging of a democratic senator? >> no, what happened in that regard was trying to answer a question of whether we had a mechanism for whether applicants for tax exempt status, if they had lied on their application for that status, if there was a mechanism for the irs to refer those types of false statements to the prosecutor, to the justice department for consideration of prosecution. that's all that was. >> in other words, we're been sitting here talking about crimes here quite a bit. if someone allegedly committed a alleged,ain, i said would there be a mechanism by which to get that information to the justice department? >> that is correct. there was no targeting or anything like that. it was whether we had the proper key medications and mechanisms that if it was discovered by the
irs, full statement were made, were those going to the justice department for consideration. >> does the department take the direction of prosecution decisions from members of congress? >> no, we do not. >> your testimony today is consistent with testimony in front of the committee. on may 29, the section chief was ever receivedu any instruction from any member of congress to target tea party or conservative groups for prosecution?" he responded, "no." on may 6, the committee asked the director of the crimes branch, a letter from a democratic senator, and heed them," responded, no, it did not.
are you aware of the department receiving direction from democratic members of congress to target or prosecute a conservative organization, or any member of congress trying to get you to target any organization? i'm curious. >> i'm not aware of it, but to the extent any such request is made, we would ignore it. >> so when you say you would ignore it, certainly a lot of investigations are started by newspaper articles. i guess you see something in the article, the fbi may see it, and certain allegations are made like that, but isn't it a fact that maytimes things appear in the newspaper may start the ball rolling with regards to an investigation? i'm wondering taking a natural extension of that, if someone were to say something, that
seems to indicate that perhaps some criminal activity had taken place, alleged, would you not pursue that? >> if somebody brought to our attention evidence of a crime, we would of course look into it. but if somebody wanted us to target somebody because of their political beliefs, we would not go down that road. >> so i'm hoping those accusations we can put to rest. going back to some questions, mr. chairman asked you, a moment to theth regard ,nvestigation of ms. lerner when you look at the facts, and i'm not asking you to get into that, but just talking generally, it and you pursue those facts, whatever they may be, what happens? does a group of attorneys get together and say, you know what, move forward with the case? just talking in general.
what usually happens, at what point to you determine -- do you determine your going to proceed and how does that come about? >> generally the way it works is the line attorney involved in, learning the facts of the investigation, the investigation is conducted largely by law enforcement agents, many times the fbi. they may be working with the line attorney is working to figure out what the information is that is needed. when they have gathered the facts, they look at the facts in light of the applicable law. then recommendations are made to their supervisor as to what the resolution should be of the case. there could be any number of resolutions. the supervisors then review those recommendations. they may ask for more information to be gathered because certain facts may not have been developed sufficiently, they may decide they disagree with the recommendation or gray with a recommendation, any number of
things can happen in that process. but these are all done by the career people. usually with input from the investigators. andthrough the line division and section chiefs in the divisions we have within the department, by career people. >> so the record is clear, so all of this relating to ms. lerner, there is no decision that has been made -- i assume you can answer this question -- no decision has been made, everything is wide open? >> that's correct. >> have nothing further. a recognize the chairman of the full committee. >> thank you. i recognize no decision has been made, but i think it's important. aways and means committee did criminal referral. you are in receipt of that? >> that's correct. >> and that gives you a basis of a number of allegations to
investigate, correct? >> that's correct. >> you took those allegation seriously, is that correct? >> we do. >> you have serious accusations from the ways and means committee, voted on by that committee referred to you in which you were continuing to consider lois lerner and have not made a final decision? >> yes. >> additionally, this committee and the u.s. house of representatives on a bipartisan basis referred to contempt of the u.s. attorney. >> that's correct. >> the statute says the u.s. attorney shall prosecute that time is that correct? >> that is the wording of the statute. >> and at the current time the u.s. attorney has not prosecuted that? >> at the time, no charges have been brought. >> and that referral for contempt is a separate event from any other allegations and is not subject to double
jeopardy, is that true? >> i'm not sure which you mean by subject to double jeopardy. >> that all charges need to be brought in a related matter at one time, otherwise there is a question of piling on sequentially. contempt was in fact and is in fact a separate charge that can be go forward with separate from the ongoing criminal investigation of lois lerner, is that true? >> i'm not sure if i agree with the first part, but they can be separate. >> so it does not have to wait for the other charges in the investigation. so today can you explain to was why the u.s. attorney would not go forward with a contempt? it has all ready been evaluated, voted on by the u.s. house on a bipartisan basis, and bring it? she came, she talked, then she decided to lawyer up, if you will, taking the fifth. then turn around and talk some more and asserted the fifth amendment. the contempt information is
available to you one video one line. why did the u.s. attorney not bring it? what lawful right does he have not to obey "shall bring the case"? >> i don't think it says "shall bring the case." >> shall prosecute. >> i don't think it's shall prosecute. "shall.not "may," it's ok, "shall have a matter to bring it before us." i'm not a lawyer. i don't try to play one. it's very clear this is not a statute where he gets to think about deciding he's going to do it. this should be brought forward for consideration. the only question would be, what is a reasonable timeline? do you believe there is a reasonable timeline, and if so, would you name that for us? >> every case has its own time
and needs its own review. >> this does not say he could review it and look at it and think about it. it says we have arty made the decision. she has been held in contempt. it is a question when "show" applies to bringing the case. does not sayll" that he shall bring case. the prosecutor retains discretion about whether or not a case should be -- ,> let me read verbatim not because apparently only verbatim long tearful stop "to the appropriate u.s. attorney of the shall be whose duty it to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action, shall bring it before the grand jury." there is no discretion there, is there? >> i believe the office of legal counsel, when ted olson was in position, rendered there is discretion. >> would you grant us a yes or no?
an absence of justice, because you may think you may not have to enforce the constitution, you may not have to deliver information pursuant to crimes committed by the justice department in bringing fraudulent statements before the congress and covering it up for 10 months, the only thing we ask for, and mr. cummings i'm sure would join me, if you don't "shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its actions," if you don't think that is in a reasonable time to ifit that he shall do it, you think it's discretionary, would you please give this back to us in a legal opinion so we can change the law to make it clear you're wrong? >> we can provide you with that. >> please do. i would appreciate having a legal opinion. i have one last question. do you know a person named ites?nia s
>> yes, i do. >> did she work for the department of commerce 90 days? >> she work longer. >> was she working on criminal areas including wire fraud? >> virginia sites i believe was the assistant attorney general in charge of the office of legal counsel. >> ok, so is there any chance during her tenure policy changed as to the enforcement of internet online gaming kun-hee lee collectivities activities, any chance any policy changed under her? >> i would have to go back and look. i don't know offhand. >> this committee is interested in knowing during her relatively short tenure, apparently, what role she played in evaluating any policy change related to going after one line gaming. follow-up with appropriate demands if that's
necessary, but we would hope that you would inform us as to any policy change, as to going after internet and essentially online gaming, and any role she may have played in it. >> if you communicate your request to us -- >> we will do so. >> if the gentleman would yield? >> of course i would yield. gentleman,o join the i, too, and you mentioned my name, i am interesting in seeing the opinion. there are something else i want you to do, too. i want you to provide us with the history of how contempt has been dealt with through republican and democratic prosecutors's, u.s. attorneys. and any information you may have with regard to this. i understand the gentleman's concern. but ive the word "shall," just want to know the history. the history.
the olson opinion is just one part of that history. the question of whether the statute usurps prosecution over discretion. i hope that people can get something back to us so we would have that in our body of law. so whatever you have been doing, the tradition, so we will know what republicans and democrats have been doing. would only admit that ever so slightly to say please leave out of this or put separately questions in which executive irv which has been in which executive privilege has been claimed. in the case of lois lerner, we are talking about what we believe to be a criminal based on referrals from the ways and means committee who made statements before this committee under oath, asserted her fifth amendment rights, then made more statements under oath, then reasserted and was held in contempt by the u.s. house of representatives. you're talking narrowly about somebody who came, quite
frankly, not in any particular role to that she is a former employee of the government. she came and was held in contempt. >> i understand. chairman, thank you for your indulgence. this has been very informative, and will follow up with a letter. >> we know that e-mails are missing. we know that she had communication with the justice department on several occasions in e-mails, and we know you are withholding certain documents from the committee. is it fair to assume some of those documents you are withholding actually our e-mails and ms. lerner -- e-mails from ms. lerner two people in the justice department? >> i don't know it's fair to assume it. i don't know which documents are being withheld, but i don't know if it's fair to assume. those are tell me if
documents the justice department are withholding from congress or lois lerner e-mails? >> i can't guarantee. i have not seen all the documents that have been withheld. >> we will like to see the documents is what we would like to see. >> we will give you the ones that we can give you. >> you very well could have. you can have all sorts of e-mail from lois lerner, "lois, can you send it?" correspondenceve back and forth, the only documents that are missing are the nights that you would have went in -- maybe you have and didn't tell us -- got a search warrant or got a court order and seized her files at the get go, maybe we would have known all these e-mails were missing a year ago. but the fact that e-mails she has sent outside of the irs are missing, she had direct correspondence with people within the justice department, and you are now withholding information from the committee and congress and the american people, it seems to me they are
the documents you are withholding. >> i'm not sure it is a valid assumption they are lois lerner e-mails we are withholding. i don't think that is a fair resumption. >> but what is fair to say is you cannot guarantee they are not. >> i have not looked at all the documents. i cannot answer the questions. >> we would like you to look at a see you can give us more information. it would be nice to get them. i will recognize the gentleman from pennsylvania. >> first off, general coal, would you like to respond to that last statement? >> i'm not sure i heard completely the last statement. >> fair enough. a couple issues i want to touch on, the prejudging and the screening issues. first of all, i share something with mr. gowdy of south carolina. i prefer technical, legal terms. smidgen, ak about a scintilla may be better. when we talk about prejudging,
prejudicing may be better. i want to talk about if anything has been done to prejudice the investigation of the justice department. my colleague touched on this earlier. month, the judiciary committee held a hearing and they brought in the fbi director and went over this. german good lot asked him, can you explain -- chairman good luck asked, can you explain, given the president said there was not a smidgen or scintilla of corruption. "i director of the fbi said, mean no disrespect to the president or anybody else who has expressed a view about the matter, but i don't care about anyone's characterization of it." onlyare and my troops care about the facts. there was an investigation because there is a reasonable basis to believe crimes were
committed, so we are conducting that investigation." now, deputy attorney general do you agree with the fbi director's assessment that outside characterization even by the president of the united states has no bearing on a particular investigation? >> that's correct, outside characterizations by anybody have no bearing on our investigation. you talk about career prosecutors, line prosecutors, career investigators, does that apply to these people? >> it does. these are all career justice department investigators, attorneys. none of them are political appointees. >> is it accurate to say the department of justice does not take direction from the president on how to conduct ongoing investigations? >> we do not and we would not. >> there was also an allegation of screaming going on by the doj, screaming at the irs.
i will invite your attention to the testimony of jack smith, who as you know is the chief of the doj public integrity section. this was testimony taken on may 20 9, 2014. representative jordan was present. i will read a brief quote from that. a question to mr. smith. "if you direct your attention to the second sentence of the second paragraph load the block, by encouraging the irs to be vigilant and possible campaign-finance crimes by 501c-4 groups, they were among one of the entity screaming at the iris to do something in the wake of citizens united before the 2010 election." was, "are youon aware of the department screaming at the irs to do something in the wake of citizens united before the 2010 election?" chief of the doj public
integrity section said, "no." will, "at theion october 8, 2010 meeting, did anybody at the department raise their voice at the iris, speak and strident tones, make demands of the irs?" "no," by jack smith. and then, "are you aware of anyone at the department of justice placing pressure on the irs to influence the 2010 elections?" "no."e answer was, i will put that question in front of you, mr. cole. are you aware of anybody at the department of justice screaming at anybody at the irs to fix citizens united or put any kind of pressure on the irs? >> no, mr. cartwright, not at all. this is not something we would be doing. we are looking if there are criminal cases to be made or not, that's it. >> not aware of any screaming?
>> no screaming. >> and you didn't do any screaming yourself? >> i did not. >> when the president of the united states makes a speech, does that have bearing or influence? >> on a criminal investigation by the department? >> the president gives speeches all the time. he will sometimes talk in a way even with foreign heads of state. when the president talks, does that have meeting or influence? >> as a basic matter, it it certainly can. a president gives an interview in his not telling a joke, he is commenting on a serious matter, that has influence, that has impact, that has significance, correct? >> not on a criminal investigation. >> i'm just asking in general. you are a smart guy, you are at the justice department full stop on the president talks, it has impact. >> it can. is thehould, he
president of the united states, the greatest country in the world. they should have impact. >> he has asked congress to do a lot of things. it seems to not have much had it impact. >> it has impact. we just think he's wrong. i respect, i am like everyone else on this panel, i respect the good professionals that work in the department of justice, but don't you think it's possible, even likely that in the back of even the best professional, in the back of their mind, they know the president has said in a public way, in a very public way, nationally televised interview, that there is nothing there, there is nothing there? don't you think somewhere deep back in there, it may have -- just to use the term of my collie, a scintilla of impact, a smidgen of impact on the great professionals at work in your agencies? >> i will echo the director statement in that regard, no, it does not. these people put out.
when people say they put it out of their mind and they go after the facts, that is what they care about. particularly in high-profile cases like this, that happens quite a bit. they are very expert of putting out of their mind anything but the facts that are in the case. barbara boxer men does not take into account that the guy she gave a maxed out campaign,on to to his goes on national television and says there is nothing there? it is not anywhere in the back of her mind that this has our to been prejudiced? >> her job is not to do that, and she does a good job. >> she gave 750 dollars to the president's campaign and the dnc. here is the president, who could be a potential target of the investigation. that does not impact her at all? >> it does not. she does her job professionally. >> you can say that for sure, you can speak for barbara boxer rman? >> i have confidence in the
judgment of the career people and -- >> that is amazing. >> deputy attorney general cole, if the department is investigating an individual or entity, when is it ever acceptable, if it is at all, that evidence sought i law-enforcement has been destroyed? civil case where you are asking for specific things, criminal case where a search warrant has been issued. is it acceptable to not disclose that to law enforcement? withain, as i said chairman jordan, it depends on the circumstances. they should not conceal it. they should not lie about it. be,e may or may not depending on the circumstances, duty to tell about it, but it depends on the circumstances. >> so doj is prosecuting a civil matter against a company can't issue subpoenas asking for e-mails over a specific time, then that company responded
saying, yep, we will comply with it. if they have reason to believe they would not be able to fulfill that, that would be a problem if they had represented back to you, correct? >> yes, if at the time they were representing that to us they knew they were not complying with us, that would be a problem. >> if they did not know at the time but after sending you the response they figured out they were wrong, they have a duty to come back and amend the response, correct? >> yes, they should come back and tell us. >> ok, here is an issue i was confused about. the doj was not informed e-mails had been lost or destroyed. congress obviously was not until june. but according to the irs commissioner, the treasury department and the white house were informed in april. so what would be the reason to the treasury to and white house, but not disclose it to either doj or congress who are conducting investigations in the matter? know, that is
probably a question you should give to the irs. >> does it bother you they would have told the treasury department about telling the justice department? >> they are part of the treasury department comes he would have asked their reasons. >> what about the white house, telling the white house but not the doj? >> i would want to know the circumstances and who at the white house and what was told. i don't know enough information to answer. >> is that something that you think is appropriate to investigate? >> this will all be part of our looking into the e-mails, yes. >> recently, two federal judges have granted the irs claim of lost e-mails with suspicion, forcing the irs to come in and substantiate their claim these things are somehow lost and not recoverable. we have people who have advised us to say, yeah, we have data from the challenger explosion, nine/11, all these things, and a lot of people in i.t. say, well, you will be able to get these e-mails.
how would you characterize the department of justice, do you agree the irs' claim these e-mails are lost because of the hard drive has crashed, do you agree that with skepticism? >> we're trying to recover them and do what we can to do that. >> is it safe to say if you weren't investigating a private entity and you want it specific documents come if they said sorry, the hard drive crashed, that probably would not be something that you would accept at face value? >> generally we would ask the circumstances and the facts behind the statement if they cannot be recovered. >> let me follow up about this u.s. attorney, what they shall. i think people are using different terms. bringing something before a grand jury is not the same as prosecuting it at trial, correct? >> that is correct. >> the statute does not impose a duty on the u.s. attorney to bring the case to trial. >> that's correct. >> it imposes a duty on the u.s. attorney to bring it to a grand jury, is that accurate? >> the language of the statute,
and i don't mean to be a fine point lawyer, but there is this ted olson opinion from -- >> i think what it olson is saying, the statue to me is crystal clear, an obligation to bring it before a grand jury. i think olson is saying, look, article two, the executive branch, you cannot force someone necessarily to prosecute a case. i think generally that is true. if we told you to prosecute every money laundering case come eu may get a lot of cases that are not meritorious, so it would impact you. we in congress have found reason for contempt, voted on behalf of the merrick and people, but also posing a duty. i think it's a little different. let me ask this -- the fact we impose the duty to bring it to a grand jury, let's say that you accept that. does that impose a duty on the prosecutor to ask that it be returned, or would you as a prosecutor consistent with the
statute going to a grand jury proceeding? would you actually go win come in your judgment, if you don't think contempt was meritorious and asked the jury not to return that? >> obviously there is an assumption in your question that has to be brought before a grand jury. i would say that's not necessarily the case. bringing a matter before the grand jury for action, which i believe is the wording of the statute, leaves open any number of different resolutions the grand jury could be asked to bring. >> thank you. i yield back. thank you, mr. speaker, mr. chair for the republicans allege that efforts to target conservative groups in the screening of applicants's taxes sent status is an overarching government takes it -- is an overarching government conspiracy involving the federal election committee and other agencies. republicans,the
that conspiracy originated at the supreme court in the citizens united decision. in my opinion, issued a partisan staff report including the justice department and the irs had, "and analyze the president's political lambasting of citizens united." deputy attorney general cole, to the best of your knowledge, and did the rhetoric of the department to conspire against nonprofit political speech? >> it did not. >> the gentlelady, are you asking about the irs or the justice department? >> i have not yielded. >> about the question was had the irs conspire. of course they did. >> i have not yielded. do you have any reason to believe that citizens united has prompted the unwarranted
investigation of political commissions? >> no, they have not. >> despite 10 hearings and hundreds of thousands of documents and conducting over 40 transcribed interviews, the committee has been unable to gather any actual evidence of this vast conspiracy my republican colleagues claims exist. in fact, the evidence gathered by the committee and the i.g. show that the inappropriate search terms that were first used by an employee in the cincinnati determinations unit and the inspector general and the 2013 report concluded the inappropriate criteria, "were not influenced by any individual or organization outside of the irs." deputy attorney general cole, in your wrist intent -- and your written testimony you said, "i have the utmost confidence in the career departments in the department and i know they will follow the facts wherever they
lead and apply the law to those facts." is that guiding principle at the department, is that the guiding principle the department uses in conducting all of its investigations? >> yes, it is. >> i think this committee should follow the same principles into the investigation of the irs. it is quite clear that facts do not lead to the conclusion that citizens united prompted a government wide conspiracy. and thank you for your testimony. >> does the gentlelady yield? >> yes. >> i want to go to what mr. desantis was just asking you. you referred to the olson case. i had the olson case in front of me. the olson opinion, rather. is, "we believe congress may not direct the executive to prosecute a particular individual without theing any discretion to executive to determine whether a
violation of the law has occurred." that's what the opinion says. a 1984 opinion, dated may 30. and this was a contempt citation coming from congress that he was talking about. so i guess this is consistent with what you were saying. , in the u.s. case attorney's office, and it's this olson-- i mean, opinion, is this something that is well-known, something that you all -- >> it's known. i don't know if it's well-known, but it's known. >> will the gentleman yield? >> of course. >> i'm confused. is mr. olson, is he a judge? what opinion are we talking about? i yelled back.
i think the gentleman from maryland for yelling. >> he was not a political appointee. the office of legal counsel has asked many time and has authorized for the executive branch of government to provide legal opinions which are binding upon the executive branch of government to interpret various aspects of law the government has to abide by. >> thank you very much. so you are saying a reagan appointee? >> yes. >> very well. since we have talked about this opinion, mr. chairman, i would like to enter into the record. >> without objection. >> very well. it's all i have. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. cole, let me come back to
really what -- i guess i'm a little concerned, in the public integrity section you say reached out to the irs, is that correct? in 2010? >> in 2010, yes, my am standing is they made contact with the irs. >> ok, what was the nexus of why they reached out? >> just looking at the accounts i have heard from jack smith and richard pilger, who have testified, given transcribed interviews to the committee about what they were doing at the time. >> all right. >> i take their purpose as what it was. i think mr. smith had seen an article in the newspaper about what appeared to be perhaps a misuse of the tax exempt organization laws and wanted to find out -- >> at your opinion? >> no, just my understanding of the facts. investigation,he
wouldn't it be important to understand the nexus of them reaching up to the irs, e-mail, motivation, wouldn't that be important to understand? >> i think we are in the process of providing that to you, and you talk to both of them about what their motivations were. >> isn't it important for the doj to look at that as part of the investigation? >> that's not necessarily part of the irs investigation. >> why wouldn't it be? >> nothing happened. there was a brief meeting, there was a discussion about how would be very difficult if not impossible to bring cases. there were no investigation started. there were no referrals made. nothing happened after that. >> so you say nothing happened, how can you give me that kind of specificity with regards to what happened and did not happen if you are really not familiar with what went on? how can you be so precise in nothing happening? peopleuse we have had look at whether or not the public integrity section. any
referrals from the irs as a result. >> support of the investigation looked into that? >> we asked if that happened. you have an open investigation on april sanz, who to be with the ftc? ori'm not aware one way o another. april sanz? >> she was the one who actually violated the hatch act, used to work with lois lerner. you are not aware of that? >> out offhand. >> i would encourage you to be aware of that because she admitted that she violated the hatch act. frankly, some of the asking for donations while at work have been alleged. wouldn't that be important as you look at that from the department of justice? >> she worked at the ftc? >> yeah. >> i'm not sure that's part of
the irs investigation. you, ms. just tell lois lerner, it was reported that lois lerner and april sanz actually work together. what part of your investigation -- >> i'm not going into all the details as i said before in our investigation, but -- >> i find it interesting you've never heard of april sanz. >> not sitting here today. i don't know about every single case the justice department has investigated. we have 112,000 employees. >> i have been led to believe you guys are not going to look at it, and it's startling because this gets to the very part of what we have been talking about. would you commit here today to whatat april sanz and violations of the hatch act may or may not have occurred? >> i will find out what the story is and see if it's a matter worthy of looking into. >> all right. so let me close with this.
, i have done an exhaustive think according to your words, and exhaustive research into the missing e-mails, is that correct? >> i don't know if i use the word exhaustive. we have been very thorough trying to find documents. >> ok, so if you have been that thorough, does it not trouble slow in it's very forthcoming and you have to read "the washington post" to figure out what's going on in terms of the iris employees telling you what may or may not have happened over the last 4, 5 months? >> i would have preferred to have learned earlier. >> ok, so with that be subject to investigation by the doj? >> as i said, that will be part of looking at the e-mails, all the things that surround it. >> so the fact the commissioner of the irs did not tell you until months later, that troubles you? >> we will be finding out what
happened. >> does that trouble you? >> not until i find out all the facts, congressman. >> if that's true, it troubles you? >> i'm not afraid to say it, just don't deal with hypotheticals. >> thank you, i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me say from the outset, i still find it astonishing the lack of courtesy the chairman continues to show to members of this committee. the fact that members continue to not receive equal time, that the chair interrupts members during our time, the fact that you badger witnesses and make judgments upon employees and their motivations without any evidence. i think all of this does a disservice to the role of the oversight function, which is very serious and has a very clear responsibility to the american people for providing an
oversight to federal agencies. and in this particular case, because there is so much concern about the wrongdoing that occurred at the iris. i'm also concerned by the ongoing efforts by some on the committee to treat this process like a courtroom. we have three branches of government for a reason. i know while some members may be versed in the law and may have previous careers in that arena, this is not a courtroom. and yet, there are those who continue to try to treat it as such. i want to speak to the issue of the special prosecutor and to sk you, mr. cole, for your response. the attorney general, in a
letter 8, 2014, claimed that a career attorney in the civil rights division at the department of stice is leading the d.o.j./f.b.i. veafplgts however, this allegation was directly refuted by the attorney general in his testimony before the senate jewishy committee on january 29, 2014. i won't read his full testimony . but so that there's no stone left unturned, deputy attorney cole, i would like to ask you the same question that was asked of mr. holder. is barbara bosserman the lead attorney in the department of justice's investigation or a member of the larger team? >> she's a member of a larger team. she's not the leader of the
investigation. >> despite assurances from the department that ms. bosserman is not the lead investigator, the chairmen continue to assert that her political donations have created "a startling conflict of interest." this supposed conflict of interest is a key justification for some republican members' request that a special prosecutor p appointed to conduct the criminal investigation. on may 2, 2014, days before introducing a resolution requesting a special council, chairman jordan said we need a special council to help us get to the truth because the so-called investigation by the justice department has been a joke. the current investigation has no credibility because it is being headed by a max donor who is financially invested in the president's success. mr. cole, is there any merit to allegations that ms. bosserman's involvement destroys the credibility of the
department of justice's investigation? >> no, i don't believe there's any merit at all. >> on june 26 the department of justice sent a letter concluding that the appointment of a special council is not warranted. can you explain the determination as to why the special council is not needed? >> we look at the regulations. we go by law in these matters, and we look at what the regulation is that's applicable here. we've talked about it already in this hearing. regulation 44.2. and miss bosserman's activities don't come anywhere near the ambit of that regulation for her disqualification. there's no reason to take it away from the normal regular order of career prosecutors doing their job with lots of other people involved. f.b.i., tigda, other people in otherdy visions and sections in the department. she is part of a much larger team and there's no reason to take anything out of the normal course and the normal order. that's usually the best way to
do an investigation. >> thank you. well, then i would assert, rather than wasting more taxpayer money on a special prosecutor, congress should be focused on addressing some other pressing issues facing our constituents. d again, mr. chairman, i implore you to please provide a level of decorum and stability so that those of us on this committee who do want to get to the truth and have a fair and impartial process can do so without having an abusive setting in which to operate. >> i thank the gentleman. mr. cole, does barbara bossman have a financial interest in the president's success? >> i don't believe she does, no. >> so when you give a financial contribution you're not invested in hoping good things happen to the person you made that investment in? >> you do not have a financial interest. i know several leading ethics attorneys in the united states have been asked to opine on that and they've said it's not even close that there's a conflict of interests. >> of the 112,000 employees of
the justice departments you couldn't find someone who didn't have this perceived financial interest, you couldn't find someone else to be a part of this team? >> there is no perceived financial interest, mr. chairman. >> there is by the american people, maybe not by you, but by the american people. >> i'm not sure i agree with that, but -- >> you're welcome to come to my district any time you want and talk to all sorts of folks because they sure think there is. >> gentleman from arizona is recognized. >> thank you, deputy general cole. once again i'm a dentist, so these minutia things, i can go smaller, micromilimeters, you get my point. can you tell me more about the statute, 61.03? can you tell me who gets the privileged information? >> i'm not an expert in 61.03. it's part of the tax code and it deals with protecting taxpayer information from disclosure, except in certain circumstances. >> ok. so i'm going to make a comparison, i guess. being a dentist, i have to know hipaa regulations and osha. i'm not excused from that,
right? >> that's correct. >> so when we're talking about 6103 within the i.r.s. or d.j. or executive branch or anybody working within the federal government, they're pretty astute to who gets 6103, right? >> they should be. >> does it give them an excuse if they violate that? i mean, when i'm in under a malpractice case, i don't get an excuse from hipaa or osha, do i? >> not that i know of, depending on the circumstances. >> that's where i want to go here, because i'm talking from america. america wants to make sense of this jargon, this legal jargon. does anybody get away with 6103? >> if you violate 6103, if you violate the provisions, you should not get away with it. but it depends on the facts and circumstances, as with any case. >> wait a minute. i mean you just told me as a regular citizen i can't get away with hipaa and osha violations, but i can get away with a 6103?
>> that's not what i'm saying. i'm sure not every single hipaa violation or osha violation is prosecuted. >> yes, i understand that. when we share 6103 there has to be an implicit ask from d.o.j., right? >> there has to be an approval from the i.r.s. >> approval from the d.o.j.. > no, from the i.r.s. to share 6103 information. >> do you have that in your possession from lois learner? she sent you a disc with 1.1 million application os there with some 30 individuals that have privileged information to 6103. the reason i bring that up is i'm hampered as a member of congress with pertnernt information on 6103 and this is a willy-nilly flippant aspect of sharing a disc. she knew what was on there. >> i don't know that she chew there was 6103 information on
there. it was represented to us at the time it came that there was not. and i don't know if she's the one who sent it or if someone else sent it. >> whoa, whoa. she's the one that has the correspondence with the f.b.i. in regards to the format of the disc. >> that doesn't necessarily mean she prepared the disc or sent it. >> she's the -- and she has oversight of that, right? >> i don't know if that's within her control or not, i just don't know. but the question is whether or not, whoever sent it, knew there was 6103 information on it. >> well, she's been involved in this regards of the leak of this formatted aspect because she's the one talking to the f.b.i. where i'm going with this is it gives me lenient -- more pertinent information that there was a violation of 6103. wouldn't that -- if i'm a learned person? >> generally there has to be an intentional violation. the question was, the information that was included, whether it was inadvertent or intentional.
at the time it was provided we were told that there was no non-public information. >> then once again, you were told that there was no non-pertinent information -- >> non-public. >> non-public information. so once again to me this brings this issue up of this being pertinent information and that when congress says that we're doing contempt charges, when we're looking at the criminal or civil violation of an oath of office, doesn't that give us some aspect of hedging our bet? >> i'm not sure what you mean. >> wouldn't this kind of go in the mindset of a u.s. attorney that they would actually bring fort the contempt charges issued by congress? >> i believe the u.s. attorney for the district of columbia has the contempt citation and is reviewing it and has assigned it to somebody and the matter is being reviewed. >> let me ask you a question the you keep bringing up this ol' u.s. open ruling. isn't that subjective and interpretative? the statute is very specific. >> the opinions by the office
of legal counsel, when they issue formal opinions, are binding on the executive branch. >> but isn't there also, when there's a conflict between the legislative intent of the language and the executive branch, that we have to have a better review, to just one interive aspect would not be good enough? >> i'm sure somebody could probably challenge that in the right forum in court, if they don't agree with the opinion. generally the way the structure is set up for o.l.c. is they are the source of legal advice for the executive branch. >> well, thank you. the chairman is recognized. >> thank you, mr. cole. >> are you interrupting me? isn't there decorum? >> i was asking the chairman -- >> i guess i'll yield. >> please, mr. chairman. nevada is recognized. >> i was asking whether the chairman had made a determination on my request for unanimous consent to enter the document. >> i apologize. i forgot to look at that. if we can take a look and staff look at the document, then we'll look at it.
>> general cole, would you put up on the board the chart, please? i'm glad you brought up this whole question. this is a little small, a little complex, but that chart up on the board shows the attorney general followed by you, followed by a whole group of associates, followed by all the division chiefs. virtually all of those people are political appointees, aren't they? >> many of them are. >> virtually all. you and the attorney general and your direct reports are political appointees. >> by and large, most of them are. some are career but the vast majority are political appointees. >> even if they're career, they're career people who serve at the pleasure. i mean, you can move them around. >> some. they're in the s.c.s. service. but the vast majority are political appointees. >> and the head of the civil rights division? >> right now that person is an
acting person and is a career employee. >> but they serve at the pleasure of you. >> that's correct. although there's certain civil servants. >> but you can move them right to some other position. >> that would possibly be correct. >> they keep their pay, but they lose their job. and the criminal division? >> same thing. >> that person is a political appointee approved by the senate. so when we talk about ms. bosserman and the team she's on, everybody practically from her team all the way up to your boss, you're all political appointees who control their lives and so on. so when the question was asked and the gentleman from nevada's left, but i think fairly, he was saying, well -- he was asking you, and you answered, oh, of course, we don't need a special prosecutor. don't you understand, the american people see you as a political appointee. they see your boss, who's been held in contempt by the house for failure to comply, they
see them get 9-0 against you. now, i'm going to go to one quick one. your legal opinions included your brief in fast and furious, didn't they? >> your legal opinions led to those briefs in the fast and furious case that's currently in the district court in washington. >> we have our lawyers in the civil division who draft those. >> so your legal opinions were that you didn't have to provide them, and that you were immune them, ing to provide and that -- and specifically, your opinion was that she didn't have the right to adjudicate that, wasn't that so? >> i believe that was the position we took. >> and didn't judge jackson say just the opposite, that she did have the authority and that she found the same as judge bates did in an earlier case that
your premise was wrong, an aren't you relitigating the exact same thing that president bush lost? >> we are relitigating positions constantly. >> so you're part of an administration that can relitigate that which has been decided. just yesterday you decided that there was an inherent -- your administration decided there was an inherent right not to deliver a federal employee, even though in the harriet myers bolton case it was made clear that depositions and witness subpoenas were in fact binding. so the strange thing is, when you talk about legal opinions and i appreciate the former solicitor and how well he's held in regard. but what you're saying is you pick an opinion, and the opinion can be wrong, but your opinion is that you don't fall under us, that in fact our oversight is irrelevant, that
you don't have to answer our questions, you don't have to produce documents, and you can withhold. that's been a consistent pattern of this administration. and just yesterday the president of the united states asserted a brand-new right, an inherent right not to deliver a political appointee who serves and interfaces with the d.n.c. and the dccc -- that's the democratic national committee and the democratic national congressional committee -- works directly with those heads to plan the president's targeting of races to support democrats for their re-election on a partisan basis, and we're not even allowed to hear from that person because there's an inherent right not to produce that. so when you ask -- when you say here that you stand and the attorney general's letter is well thought out that you don't need a special prosecutor, do you know how absurd it sounds to the american people? absurd it sounds to the american people that you don't need a special prosecutor because all you political
appointees overseeing a team of people who may, at the lowest level, actually be career people hoaching to move up, that -- hoping to move up, that you political people aren't influencing it, that there's no influence? i just find it amazing. i know he left, and i'm sorry he left because he would get an opportunity once again to take the party line. you're not prosecuting a contempt of congress because you've got this new opinion that "shall" doesn't mean shall presented to the court or, in this case, to the grand jury. but you haven't given it to us and today is the first time we hear about it. so i join with the chairman in reiterating that we need a special prosecutor because you're a political appointee, your boss is a political appointee held in contempt by congress, the people who work for you work at your pleasure and you're controlling an investigation that is slowly
reaching no decision, when in fact lois learner has been found by a committee of this congress to have violated laws as she targeted conservatives for their views. this committee has produced a massive document showing that lois lerner targeted them and not liberal groups and yet, you sit here today i am applying that you're relying -- implying that you're relying on well known more conservatives' decisions as though we're supposed to believe that. i've got to tell you, when the gentleman from nevada talks about contempt, yes. we have contempt for the man you work for because in fact congress has, as a matter of record, held him in contempt for failure to deliver documents. your office has implied that a federal judge had no right to even consider a case that was directly on point a nixon-era point of lying to congress and then refusing to deliver documents related to those
false statements. i am ashamed that you sit here day after day implying that there's no reason for a special prosecutor. the whole reason you want an independent prosecutor is not to be innocent of somebody down low, but to be independent of you. so, chairman, i thank you for your indulgence and i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. i would just -- well, let me do this. one of their line of questioning here, mr. cole. i know you've been here a while and we're almost done. gust 27, 2010, then chairman of the white house council revealed private taxpayer information about coke industries in order to imply they somehow didn't pay their full amount of taxes. goolsbee knew this information and whether he inappropriately protected tax information remains unknown. my question to you is this -- if a white house employee without 6103 authority viewed
6103 protected information and made that public, would he or she wash what he or she learned from that information, would that be a crime? >> you know, i'd have to have all the facts and circumstances. what generally happens when there's disclosure of 6103 information is tigda for the i.r.s. investigates the matter, determines whether or not there's been a criminal violation of 6103 and if they do believe there has been one, they present it to the justice department. >> have you guys investigated this matter? have you or are you going to investigate this matter? >> this is it. da depends on whether tig determines whether or not there is evidence of criminal activity. so that's up to tigda to decide. >> finally, and then i'll let the ranking member have some time, too, before we conclude. i just want to go back to the chairman, to reiterate this.
this is so frustrating to me and so frustrating to so many of the good folks i get the chance of representing in the fourth district of ohio. when in fact you have the fact pattern we do, the f.b.i. leaking to the "wall street journal" no one is going to be prosecuted. the president prejudicing the case with his comments about no corruption. the fact that barbara bosserman is the lead investigator part of the team and a maximum contributor to the president's campaign. the fact that two had interaction with lois lerner, that you had a database of 1.1 million pages of taxpayer information, donor c-4 information. you had it for four years and some of that information was confidential. cries t fact, all that out for a special prosecutor. i would think you would want it just so you can say, look, we're going to be as unbiased -- that would be a welcome thing to do, to find something
that everyone can agree on. fine. let them do the investigation. that would be something it seems that you would want. as others have pointed out, if that doesn't warrant a special prosecutor, i don't know what does. i do not know what does. when i look at the elements contained in the statute -- if that doesn't meet it, i don't know if you ever could meet it. with that, i do thank you for being here today, mr. cole and i will yield to the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and just a few points i want to cover at the end of this hearing. number one, i want to note that the chairman of the full committee was highly critical of our fellow member, mr. horseford, noting that he left the room. the fact of the matter is that we have been called to vote and we have less than seven minutes
to vote. that's why mr. horseford was not here and was not here to defend himself against the charges made by the chairman of the committee. secondly, before we let you go, i want to -- i think i speak on behalf of the full committee that we all really want to know what happened to those missing emails, all of us. and we are all somewhat skeptical that they can't be recovered in some fashion. and we urge you to do your utmost and urge your colleagues . find those missing emails because when there are emails missing, it makes people suspicious and it leads to nfounded charges, reckless allegations. this is an arena where reckless allegations find a home. and so i think it would make a lot of sense to redouble your efforts to find those emails.
i also want to mention, a lot has been made in this hearing today about improper influence on the i.r.s. having to do with citizens united and the way that the i.r.s. folks were targeting certain 501 c-4 groups. i want to mention here that the inspector general's report, mr. george, found that lois lerner, the former director of exempt organizations at the i.r.s., did not discover the use of these inappropriate criteria that we are all talking about until a year later, in june 2011, after which she immediately ordered the practice to stop. this is something found by -- >> will the gentleman yield for just one point of clarification? >> certainly. >> we have been going back to this tgda report that says that she didn't know until june of 2011 when the majority of the
tgda were based on emails. now that we know that emails are missing to make that conclusion is hard and i wanted to point that out. yield back. > that's a fair point. i want to go on. i also want to point on it that the inspector general's report found that employees subsequently began using different inappropriate criteria without management knowledge. the inspector general's report, mr. george, stated, and i quote, "the criteria were not influenced by any individual or organization outside the i.r.s." in other words, russell george, the inspector general, whose report brought here before this committee started the firestorm that has been raging for more than a year and a half, his report said flat out that these
i.r.s. people were not influenced by any organization or individual outside the i.r.s.. i yield. >> one every the reasons is we didn't have the report from lois lerner. but for that we never would have had mr. pill ger or mr. smith from the justice department for a deposition. mr. george didn't have that information in his hand. >> let's let the witness answer a question here. mr. cole, are you aware of any information to the effect that inspector general's statement there is incorrect? >> no. the understanding i have of the interactions between the justice department and the i.r.s. on those two meetings was that the i.r.s. in the first one said there's really nothing we can do here, and nothing came of it. and in the second meeting there was never any substance discussed.
it never was followed up on. >> i thank you for that, ann and i yield back, mr. chairman. >> the point i'm making is that's the time frame -- if that's the time frame where the emails are lost -- i'm not even sure the i.r.s. was going to tell us they lost the emails but for the requests which uncovered the richard pilger-lois lerner correspondence. once they knew we got something from justice, then the i.r.s. says wait a minute, we better let them know we lost all the emails during that time period and mr. cole has told us today that maybe some of the documents they're withholding from the committee are more of that correspondence. >> i didn't say that. >> you said you can't guarantee it's not. >> that's correct. >> that's correct. so -- >> because i haven't seen them. i just can't answer your question. >> well, it would have been nice if you had looked at them before you came here to testify today and you could have answered that question, right? i wish you had done your home work there and know what documents -- you would think you would know what documents you're withholding from the committee. >> i know we're in the process
of gathering and collecting them, and that that process is not done yet. >> we've been trying to get you here for a couple of weeks. we come dated your schedule. you knew we were going to be asking about the stuff you withheld from us and you didn't even review it? >> i knew what the status was of the review. >> so you cannot guarantee that some of the documents you're withholding are loiserner documents. >> i can't tell you either way. >> because you didn't look at them. >> we've been investigating this thing for 14 months. you would think you would have reviewed the documents you're not going to let us see. you'd think. i think my ranking member -- the ranking member would agree with that. you should have reviewed this stuff, and you didn't do it. and that's the whole point. we would have not known loiserner emails were lot and getting that one email which showed, wait a minute, richard pilger was talking with loislerner in 2010 and we never
would have known that. we've got to vote. we're out of time. thank the deputy attorney general for being here and the committee is adjourned. >> "the washington post" is reporting that u.s. intelligence has confirmed the malaysia airlines plane that crashed in ukraine today was shot down by a surface-to-air missile and the "post" reports the ukrainian government and pro-russian separatist rebels
in east ukraine are blaming each other for the crash. meanwhile in washington the obama administration says it's working to determine whether any u.s. citizens were aboard that plane. and some reaction on twitter from members of congress today, from california democrat adam shive -- "if it turns out that mh-17 was shot down by pro-russian separatists, it represents tragic and dramatic escalation of this conflict. >> this afternoon on capitol hill members of the senate intelligence committee got a classified briefing from the obama administration on the
plane crash. fter the 90-minute closed-door meeting, two senators spoke with reporters. we'll hear from dianne feinstein first, then john mccain. >> well, i'm just going it was clear russia was escalating support for the separatists that was very concerning. russian-based separatists have shot down more than one dozen planes, have yours in ukraine over the past few months. too soon to make any conclusion about the malaysian airlines crash right now. we hope to have more information within the next day or so