tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 19, 2015 5:30pm-7:01pm EDT
9.3% reduction in recidivism. i think, rather than take this as a matter of faith, perhaps expressing our hopes and best wishes, we have some real results we can pitch to that demonstrate the workability of some of these programs. i don't think there is as much does agreement as it may look at first. obviously, for the people who will refuse to avail themselves of the opportunity to get an , incarceration works. for those people who will come out, it strikes me as common sose to try to help them they can cope with a productive life as opposed to being in the turnstile and going back and forth. i appreciate the important contribution that your
organization's efforts have contributed. i think that helps contribute tremendously to these results that i mentioned earlier. thank you for your contributions to our efforts. i want to use the remaining time to say, as i travel from houston --ustin to senator leo to san antonio to dallas most recently. whether they are experts in this area or not, they tell me that formerroblems that many inmates have -- they have problems getting jobs because they have a criminal record. even if you eliminate the box, employersve proposed, will still get a criminal background check.
whether they put it on their application or not, that will still follow them. if you can't get a job, even if you are trained in the reentry youram, that will limit opportunity and increase the likelihood you will repeat and end up back in prison. waslast thing that mentioned to me, i hope you can address it, is the difficulty is simply finding a place to live. many apartments will not rent the premises to someone who has been convicted of a felony. frankly, i think they are entitled to be skeptical, but i think we ought to recognize there are some obstacles to people simply getting a job and finding a place to live. that has to be one of the elements we need to find some way to encourage so people can be successful in turning their
lives around. a lot of challenges, mr. chairman, but i appreciate the good work senator whitehouse has made in this bill. combinedthey have been with his editing provision, we have our work cut out for us. e: thanks for being here today and giving us greater insight. i used to be a federal prosecutor, you were later a u.s. attorney. peoplee you prosecuted under these tough sentencing laws. , and light ofieve all your experience, that the mandatory minimums should be adjusted in the fashion proposed? ichae
there is a need for the adjustment does not affect the tools that a prosecutor has, the need is because the department of justice and the prosecutor you cared about disparity. you cared about over punishment, and under punishment. this bill is the result of years of thoughtful analysis, it is modest, it addresses those areas oft have susceptibility either abuse, or over punishment. it is in no way a reduction of thepools or -- the tools or ability to punish. with title ii, it increases the ability to rehabilitate. we have advanced in all the areas. of those oppose this bill, many insist that they
oppose it because the over that those ofcern us have gotten involved in this effort is somehow imagined. we somehow imagined or seriously exaggerated the risk. i been i do ask you some questions about that. do you think of was over punishment, when marijuana was sold on three occasions, relatively modest quantities, had a gun on his person, did not brandish it, have you met anyone who thinks that is a just sentence? >> that is the follow-up question. no one agrees that punishment fit the crime. prosecutoren the initially offered a 15 year sentence. that is ironic, since under this bill that is roughly about the
sentence that would have occurred. judge was in the some ways, i know, so affected and felt that he wasn't sure he could continue being a judge if he had to face these kinds of sentencing. .hat is a real example it is not just an outlier. , it can many examples be common depending on the aggression of the office or the aggression of the investigator. nottor early: he was guy whoily known as a was opposed to the law and order movement. a case thatabout circuit of the eighth man renting an
apartment in a home in exchange for rent he agreed to lay carpet in the home. wase doing that, he required to remove the carped that was there previously and discovered a single round of ammunition. or put it inke it a gun, but put it in a box. he just set it aside. somehow, it was later discovered he was possession. and was notcted, allowed to possess a minister because he had been a convicted felon. he was given a mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison for possessing one round. do you think that is a just punishment? sure that would be a
prosecutor that could justify that outside the existence of a homicide that resulted in the use of that ammunition which is not the case. it is a disparate sentence. if this congress is concerned -- the department of justice issued a mandate to his prosecutors to ignore certain laws, it should be equally concerned that it could issue a request that they be overaggressive in this same manner. that is why congress taking these issues and addressing them in a thoughtful way can prevent those highs and lows of absurd extremes that should concern everyone. lee: there are those that have attacked this legislation by suggesting that those of us behind this bill are a desire the part of to dismantle the overhaul of the
criminal justice system that occurred 30 years ago and reverts to a bygone era. prosecutor,federal do you think that is a fair characterization? >> i think it is entirely unfair. someone be akin to accusing me that i did not care about my service. we are talking about a bill that is being supported by the likes , andairman grassley senator hatch, and individuals i have watched and senator whitehouse, that were hard on crime. tough law and order minded government officials. this should say something and be a wake-up call to people at both sides of the aisle care about
this issue and wants to make it right. is it any other area than when liberty is at stake that we should care about making it right? senator lee: well said thank you. >> we're glad to have you back. you used to serve in this committee. i'm both puzzled and disappointed that the bill we are discussing today does not criminal intent requirements. inadequacy of such protection is part of our criminal code has been a central part of the over criminalization discussion from the beginning. in the house, members on both sides said the lack of meaningful criminal intent requirement in federal law is a major problem that congress must
and should address. embassy groups across the spectrum have agreed. the heritage foundation published a study finding that over half of all nonviolent 109th occurs during the congress contained inadequate requirements. on similar lines, left-leaning groups including the association of criminal defense lawyers theored a chapter decrying absence of meaningful intent and calling on congress to pass a eighte to direct directive requirement. from where i sit, i do not see how we can address the problem
of over criminalization without getting at the root causes of the problem. one of those is that we have let wither the fundamental principle that for an action to be criminal, a person must have acted with a criminal intent. when they lack those requirements, hard-working americans can face criminal activities for accidental conduct that a reasonable person would not know was wrong. for this reason, i believe any package of justice reform must include provisions to strengthen that protection. in particular, i believe such a package should include language setting a default mens rea requirement. idea that many others have strongly endorse. there are three points to emphasize about default mens rea.
such a provision would not override existing standards. it would set a default for when congress has failed to specify the criminal intent required for conviction. second, a default mens rea provision would in no way limit the authority of congress to create new criminal offenses. all the would do is require them to be more thoughtful about selecting criminal standards. third, a default provision would have no impact on statutes or regulations that prescribe civil penalties. it would only apply to criminal prosecution. the question is whether the ability to take away some of freedom or impose criminal penalties. we have to find a way to make this part of that passage -- package. i don't think it will surprise anyone to hear me say that i believe default mens rea is at
least as important as many of the provisions included in this bill. with those comments, i would like to ask question or two. about the need for robust criminal intent requirements. you called on congress to pass a statute requiring proof of knowledge in any criminal prosecution. could you please explain the need for that statute? what would it do, and what would it not to? mukasey: it becomes pressing when you think of the number of statutes that exist. people are not aware of how many criminal laws we have. , withou combine those regulations, it is my
understanding that the library of congress was unable to come up with an accurate statement of how many criminal laws we actually have. you add to that the fact that many do not have mens rea requirements. out there toield people trying to obey the law. the would not prevent enactment of statutes in the public safety area, where standards have to be very high. you are talking about the possibility of mass the fact -- effect. it would not prevent laws that deal with food and drugs. it could lower tehe intent requirement. you have spoken on this. a fellow out here was working at veteran's facility and hosed
down some waste and wage rain then found out he was polluting a river because it went into the potomac. he had to plead guilty to a felony, that is ridiculous. you have to have some sensible standard. an across-the-board mens rea requirement, other than cases where there was a public safety where congressd, is already legislated that is lower, it would be valuable. some of expressed concern that default mens rea is a we do unwind the regulatory state or to make enforcement more difficult. and you please respond to those concerns? can you also explain the difference between default mens rea and other proposals that are targeted at cutting back regulations like the safe
justice act? mukasey: default mens rea is exactly what it is. in the absence of a standard, the standard is mens rea. it would not prevent congress from setting a different standard in those areas of activity when it was necessary. but there was a considered judgment made that it was necessary. nor would it set aside regulations that impose civil penalties and other sanctions. the only thing that we are dealing with are situations where people are potentially being deprived of their freedom, plus whether they are deprived or not, are being charged as criminals. in those areas, a default requirement is absolutely necessary. let me just add,
i don't see how you can have this bill and reduce the injustices that seem to exist without a mens rea provision. i don't see how you can. >> this is all important. i think all of you excellent witnesses. you have added something to this discussion. that criminal that releasing just 1% of the current population in prison will result in approximately 32,000 additional murderers, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, auto thefts. i don't know if that is accurate or not. that is what he testified to. if you have 11% reduction in the population, that could be 361,000.
when you have your car burglarized, you have to call the insurance and police and all these things are ramifications of crime. -- we have been on the right track to reduce the surgeon crime we saw in the late 80's. was one of the architects of legislation that paid off, i believe a. i do believe that we have exaggerated the number of people who are serving long sentences for minor offenses. in my experience, it is contrary to that. not that it does not happen, and a lot of things have happened since, ms. campbell, you were incarcerated. according to the bureau of
believe 50%cook, i of the federal prisons -- from 1-s serve less or 10 years. true that thet tellney general yates can prosecutors not to prosecute small cases if that is the policy is and focus on larger cases? we have people being convicted today for cases and appropriate for federal court because they are too small, that can be handled by a policy of the attorney general, can it not? >> it can, sir. senator sessions: it is already
being directed to some degree. >> of course, the statistics reflected that. i think all of the statistics reflect a steep decline in the prosecution of drug offenses in the federal system. session: the five year mandatory minimum for carrying a , and theg a crime possession of a firearm after undertion, have a fallen the obama administration steadily. that is one reason i'm not too impressed of the idea of more people whoing lawful want to maintain a firearm. we've seen a decline in existing gun law prosecution rather significantly. you,ll of you, thank
thator cornyn, i do think in prison begin to work before they are released has real potential. i do think that can work. my observation, over the years of attempt to have education and other kinds of character building programs in prison, that does not seem to have much benefit. you agree with that? find -- very hard to excuse me, it is hard to find a current or released prisoner that is not been offered programs galore. they do exist in prisons, but gives the sense of self-esteem and is the best training for reentry that we have. the risk assessment, the cognitive therapy, that is
already being done. i'm afraid the judgment reached in the 1970's which is that it is very hard to find a therapeutic program that reduces recidivism remains the case. that is why the department's own evaluations -- cornyn session: mentioned a 9%, or a 19% improvement. that is enough. is ahow me a program that 19% improvement and i am interested. the problem is, i've never seen a new program that the first few years the data always looks great. by, they have proved to be able to maintain that success. that is worth considering. thank you all for your work. ornyn: for people who don't want to change, they never
will change. but there are people in prison, ms. campbell may be an example, with given an opportunity to reduce the level of confinement by dealing with their underlying -- drugs, alcohol, mental issues, work skills, general lowerion -- can earn a level of confinement. perhaps a halfway house, perhaps in-house confinement. that is the goal of the corrections act to provide those incentives for people that do have a desire to turn their lives around. for those that don't, i agree -- we can't design enough programs if someone has not made the decision that they want to turn the life around and take it vantage.
what is your experience been with the prison fellowship? >> for all the senators in the testimony that i submitted, there are citations of some of these results. one of them is a study that was done by a texas policy council of the interchange freedom program. that started in 1998, and texas, it shows significant numbers. we have seen that through the iowa department of corrections. these things are available. i do think they should be expanded. i think they should be available to people. my mention i make in testimony was that i had a drinking problem, i had to enter recovery for alcoholism because out the hall solution. too often we think the person that the crime they're doing is the problem -- it is not, it is their solution.
we have to go in the people have the willingness and -- even if they will never leave prison, they could still want to live their life differently. we can make that transformation worth something. it has been demonstrated time thatgain that this country people can, when they have the willingness, change their behavior. demonstrated in facilities in texas. -- senator cornyn: we have been talking a mandatory minimums, can you just comments. is it the certainty of punishment, or the length of the sentence that provides the currents? >> they both do, obviously. it is certainty that it is far more of a determined. what you get beyond five years,
a lot of people involved in the federal criminal justice system are involved because they don't they can segments longer than five years. the certainty of punishment is a major determinant. that is one reason why i think that the government system before booker was more effective. think mandatory minimums ought to be retained. i want to make one last point, it seems like we have been through a swing of a pendulum from time back when the last time we took a systemic view of our criminal justice system. we realized that crime was rampant. the incarceration rate went up, mandatory minimums and stacking.
the reason why that was done was at least in part the sense that people who commit the same offense could end up with vastly different sentences. that is not what i would call equal justice. theave seen the swinging of pendulum. maybe it is time to look -- i believe this legislation does -- look at the mandatory minimums in regard to nonviolent offenders. we do need to do both. we need to have the certainty and make sure people who commmit the same acts are treated similarly. i don't know how we aspire to a system of equal justice under the law where people receive such wildly disparate punishments for the same crime. it has been the goal of some of the mandatory minimum policies.
we do need to be careful. i appreciate this great panel. you made us all think, and questioned some of our assumptions. i hope you'll hang in there with us. thank you very much. you are absolutely right, i was here when we did the mandatory minimums. some of the court did not force the law. that is what happened. i think most of us feel it has gone way too far. we have to find some way to resolve this. maybe this will be the last witness. withwant to echo and agree what senator cornyn said just a minute ago. i don't think we should see this bill is on the double reversed the pendulum. the american people feel good
about the direction of our criminal justice system. nonor would it be fair to say ts will search to push the pendulum back so that it swings in only one direction. that is not true either. we are making adjustments to the existing framework and in some result inmight similar sentences or in larger sentences. penalties andome extend the statutory maximum. this is not a reversal. this is made necessary by what we have seen in recent years and it has occurred to us in some instances, we over punish crime
and that's not a good thing. this results not only in a waste of money but of human lives and we want to avoid that where we can. i was wondering if i can ask -- you have spoken about the important role congress plays on the top and in the bottom and, setting the top range and the bottom range. can get tocongress the point where most of the senators and members of the penaltiese, certain are greater than necessary and thosedecide to build penalties, wouldn't it be those in theo do future but those who have already been sentenced? or may not depending on the case. predictably those that end in please rather than trials are the results of essentially a
negotiation involving most charges and length of -- both charges and length of sentence in that you do not want to come in after the fact and decide that margin doesn't make sense anymore for -- anymore. >> it would not occur automatically, but it would have to occur in a subsequent proceeding in -- with an article one sentencing judge. >> article three. >> that would be a big problem if we were talking about putting this authority with article one judges. that lodging the responsibility in the individual districts is important because they have the people who are familiar with the case and who have to put up with the consequences. part of it is very important and i spoke to the attorney general about this on
friday and the deputy testifying here today that that is going to possibility. >> you were asked some questions about the men's component and this has been a concern of mine. i've been very concerned about the over criminalization trend weerally in the sense that have so many federal crimes on the books that when we ask groups like the congressional research service who pays people to research things like this, when we ask how many crimes are on the book's, they cannot tell us. one of the things this does is identify the number of crimes that are out there. as we do that, i think we will find ourselves in a better problem.to address the
not every crime on the book has been absence or inadequate provision. based on your understanding of it is not the crimes they are talking about. >> no. and it is ans rea worthwhile endeavor. i would love to work with senator hatch going forward. as though it is an appropriate vehicle to follow and identify with those crimes are. some estimate over 30,000 essentially. as careful andbe analysis as possible of those crimes and the appropriate mens
rea to apply that may not be there in applying the current legislation to this legislation. it is, however, something that should be in the near future of this congress to address. i would be happy to work with the congress in doing that. having worked here, this hearing is evidence of the fact that members of congress can get along on both sides of the aisle and propose a bill together still. it's evident members of congress work past 5:00. bills that areg very well supported to an adding thatkage, element at this point may disrupt the ability to pass this legislation, which is likely
hangs on a very thin precipice. >> it may pass without my support if we don't do something about mens rea because it is .ssential it could come into play in these matters as well. to never learned underestimate you, senator hatch, and your ability in the senate. it's a significant issue the senators have highlighted and you are absolutely right to highlight that and i look forward to working with this congress on that issue. we appreciate everyone of you for being here. we're sorry it is so late and had to be at this particular time. i had to make it back from utah so i could be here. we want to thank each and everyone of you for your testimony.
>> the house is back in session tomorrow at new eastern time, taking up legislation to allow the government to pay some of its bills of the debt ceiling is not increase. also a bill to extend a federal school voucher program in washington, d c. strip bill that would planned parenthood of funding. in session,se there's live coverage on c-span. .he senate is live on c-span2 they are considering a bill on so-called sanctuary cities. on thursday, heller a testifies before the house select committee on benghazi. investigatingis
the attack on the u.s. consulate and benghazi, libya, but ms. clinton says it's just to damage her politically. full coverage on c-span radio and c-span.org. tonight on c-span's new series "landmark cases" -- the mississippi river had become a reading ground for cholera and yellow fever partly due to slaughterhouses in the area. to address this problem, louisiana allowed only one government run slaughterhouse, crescent city, to operate in the district. the other houses took them to court. follow the slaughterhouse cases of 1873. we are joined by paul clement, constitutional law attorney, and michael ross, author of "justice of shattered dreams" to tell the history of this time in the south, the time of the butchers and state of things in new
orleans, as well as the supreme court justices involved in this decision. takethe conversation as we your calls, tweets, and facebook comments. life tonight on c-span, c-span3 and c-span radio. you can also order your companion book, "landmark cases." housetoday's white briefing, josh earnest answered questions about the upcoming climate change negotiations in paris, the possibility of joe biden running for president, and the u.s. combating isis. this is one hour. mr. ernest: happy monday and
happy fall. the seasons are changing. i do not have anything, so i will start with questions. the president is having a lot of events on the climate, having a lot of events leading up to it. ernest: i do not have an update on the president's travel schedule. i know many are considering traveling to paris to participate in the discussions, but i do not have enough they on the president's travel. [inaudible] mr. ernest. you can count on him being among the leaders. >> has there been a change to the decision on this? does plan toent
veto the bill that was passed primarily with republican support in both houses. is concern we have expressed that it advocates the use of essentially a slash fund for funding critically important national security priorities. we believe that is utterly irresponsible and the president has indicated he would veto it. i do not believe it has been transmitted to the white house, however, but every one knows how this will play out. president running for president? [laughter] mr. earnest: many people seem to be asking that question with particular urgency today. i do not have any additional insight about the vice president 's thinking about this. he has been considering this for sometime and i am confident once , he willde a decision announce it. but he will do so on his time. this swirl of speculation and
timelines and anonymous versus, what does it look like inside the west wing? i have been in two or three meetings this morning prior to the briefing and it has not come up. this isy because something we are used to. it's something that has been going on for a while and everyone understands exactly what the stakes are. understandpeople this is an intensely personal andsion for anyone to make i think all of my colleagues at the white house have afforded the vice president all the time and space he needs and he will make that in the timeframe of his choosing. there's many of speculation at the urgency of the political counter, as the weather outside can attest, that we are now into the fall.
as more of the debate focuses on might be,xt president i'm confident as someone who participated in this process firsthand that he understands the time and pressure he is under but he will make a decision when he's prepared to make it. >> [inaudible] mr. earnest: i don't know the answer to that. >> there are reports that hackers associated with the chinese government have tried to hack into several u.s. companies in the past three weeks. i'm wondering what the awareness is at the white house about this issue and whether this breaks the agreement that president obama and the chinese president made? mr. earnest: i have seen those reports that appeared in a number of publications overnight. commenthave a specific
on the conclusions reached by this private sector organization but i would reiterate a couple whenings -- the first is president obama was standing beside president xi in the rose garden just a few weeks ago, president obama made clear that the united states would judge ,hina not taste on its words not based on any verbal commitment, but taste on exactions. assured that the relevant agencies in the united states government are closely initoring china's actions this regard. this is obviously a priority and it is something the united states government follows closely. i can tell you the national security officials at the white house and across the federal government are regularly in touch with the kind of private
sector entities like the kind of put out this report. there have been national security professionals that have been in touch with this particular private actor company. i anticipate we will soon receive a briefing on the details as well. there's a priority this administration places on information sharing and is a critically important part of our cyber security strategy. this is one of the reasons we continually try to impress upon congress the importance of passing cyber security legislation that would enhance this kind of information sharing. down inw, it is bogged the senate and we hope the senate will take action soon to pass this legislation that would enhance our ability to better share information between private sector and public sector partners. presidentxi is visiting with
prime minister david cameron and i wonder if the white house has worked with him to decree a common message as pursuant to china and whether you have any comments on this visit? recall one: you will premise or cameron visited the white house earlier this year, issues of cyber security were on the agenda. i believe prime minister cameron may have been asked about cyber security when he was here. i only say that to remind you that this is an issue the united states and united kingdom were carefully on. to tellhave anything you about our consultation in advance of the prime minister's , other with president xi than to remind you that china activity is not just a source of
concern on the part of the united eights but countries around the world, including our close allies on the other side -- other side of the atlantic. >> the secret service is investigating hacks of the cia though it's not the government account, this seems to be happening every couple of weeks at this point. is this something that really needs to be tackled more quickly? i don't know what you plan on doing. mr. earnest: i just mentioned one idea, that there is bipartisan cyber security installation on capitol hill that has gotten bogged down in the legislative process. like to seeiously
the republican leadership in the senate allow a vote on that legislation so it can be passed and the president can sign it into law. this particular piece of legislation on the senate floor is one that would enhance information sharing between the public and private sector and would and hands the ability of cyber security experts in the government, including national security experts, to respond more quickly when breaches are detected. there are other proposals this administration has put forward for the kind of legislative response we believe would enhance the nation's cyber security. the president has taken a number of steps this year to enhance our cyber security, everything putting in place the architectures of the secretary of the treasury has the authority to impose sanctions against individuals and entities that carry out or benefit from cyber attacks. there is also a range of steps
we have implemented in the federal government to better organize our efforts to confront cyber threats. this is a national security question that would make sure that all the agencies that would come together quickly to respond and share information and make sure we are using all the necessary resources to protect our infrastructure in this country, and that includes not just a tax sustained by government systems privatecks sustained by entities, including news organizations, that have also dealt with this significant challenge. >> that is kind of my point. there have an all of these steps taken and plans made by the hacks keep happening. is there a frustration there and ofyou think the accessing
some of these personal accounts could be dangerous or could lead to something else? do you feel like they are inevitable in a sense? if so much has been done, and i don't know if you feel like the administration has done all it could do but what is the solution or how do you find a solution? all of the things you listed don't necessarily work in all cases and the cases that do have been large scale and high profile. mr. earnest: this suggestion there is a silver bullet. what we believe is important is to respond quickly to make sure we are sharing information with detected, and to make sure there is more information to make sure they
-- and we've not seen action merely to get that done. the other thing that is significant for the administration's view is that "frustration" is not a word i would use. what i would try to describe for you is the fact that we see these kinds of incidents, like the one that was reported over the weekend was not particularly worsen, but it illustrates there are vulnerability's in the system. in some cases vulnerabilities are significant. even in those places where we feel confident about that kind of make we had taken, the stakes are high. ,n an interconnected world trying to safeguard all of these different elements of whether entities, we need
to be mindful of the fact that bad actors in cyberspace are nimble, innovative, and we need to make sure we have defensive that are flexible and adaptive to confront them. also, it is not possible that iraq has some 2000 forces outside of aleppo. what do you say about that, and how does that change things -- mr. earnest: i do not have an update on what you are seeing inside the ground in syria, at least in the detail you have described. similarsay is what was to what the president said on friday, is we have seen the iranians last four or five years step up the amount of assistance they provide to the assad wishing to keep him in power, thereat is an indication
earlier strategies to minimize their investment in that endeavor did not succeed, and the fact that iran keeps having to escalate its investment in protecting the acai regime is -- regime is an indication of the position of weakness in which they are operating. also illustrates the sectarian nature of the conflict, which poses a significant risk for it is like russia who are seeking to impose a military solution on a situation that cannot be solved militarily. in fact, it harvard significant risk countries like russia that that it harbors significant -- it harvard significant risk for ussia.ies like re reporter: the boy who was
--what isn texas tryingnal the president wh to send them and their people like senator cruz who say the president is getting more police?to ahmen than mr. earnest: the president will not have an opportunity to meet with mr. mohammed. there several hundred people who are planning to participate in tonight's festivities, which will include educators, scientists, parents, and some astronauts, and others. it is an event we're looking forward to and i know ahmed is looking forward to it, and we are pleased he will be able to come to the white house to participate in that event. in ank the president variety of settings has made
clear the respect he has for our men and women in uniform who every day walk outside the door of their home and put their lives on the line to protect and serve the communities in which they work. profession,onorable and the president has articulated the high degree of respect he has for the men and women who choose that profession. ahmed asked not to bring the clock? mr. earnest: i'm not aware. reporter: when the president tweeted, he said, i hope you will bring the clear clock. mr. earnest: i am not aware of any information. reporter: you are not aware of any security issue mr. earnest: i'm sure he will go through the screening measures necessary to safety of
the white house and everyone participating in storm -- in astronomy tonight. so we expect a decision on the people who are -- mr. earnest: i have no information about the timeline for the vice presidential decision about a presidential race. reporter: if you did, would you tell us? stop youst: that would from asking questions, i might, but i do not have that information. reporter: countries for secret -- there has been , andoversy in alabama there is concern about the infringement of voting rights as well as this upsurge with greater i.d. what does the administration feel about that them and what particularly is the white house looking at in reaction to this
if there would be a reaction? hadearnest: i saw clinton the opportunity to this issue and she expressed concerns about measures that we are seeing being put in place to try to make it harder for people to vote. the amount of time and energy that republicans have spent trying to make it more difficult for people to test for eligible isers to cast a ballot mind-boggling. i am not sure what they are scared. but the fact is the president on a number of occasions has made principle ofe allowing eligible voters to cast a vote is central to our democracy, and i think the president said that much more eloquently than i just did. he traveled to alabama earlier this your to mark the ch inersary of the mark in
selma. i am not steeped in the details of this matter, but we would certainly urge -- let me say this, when the president spoke, he talked about how we should be able to build bipartisan support for those kinds of policies that protect the right of eligible citizens to vote, and the president delivered a call to action to encourage democrats and republicans to do more to ensure that that sacred light in our democracy is protected. i continues to be our principl and we hope both democrats and republicanse, in alabama and every other state can live up to that principle. reporter: so the governor in alabama saying that it is not ratio, two issues are, voter suppression and possibly discrimination. do you see both clearly?
mr. earnest: i will not comment on specific matters, because i have not looked carefully at it. the reason we are having this conversation is because there are legitimate concerns that have been raised about voter i.d. laws in the first reportsnd we have seen that some republicans, many across the country, acknowledge that this has a political impact that benefits republicans. has an some cases disproportionate impact on children populations. reporter: from what you just said, that is right. am i correct mr. earnest: that is what some people have observed, but i'm not talking about -- when it comes to voter the way that
republicans have time and again taken steps and implement policy makers more difficult for eligible voters to cast a ballot, yes, in some cases there is documented evidence that those were strategies that were predicated on a political benefit for republicans. that certainly runs counter to some of the basic and most important principles of our democracy. should expecte justice to chime in on this? mr. earnest: they can update you on their efforts. john? reporter: [indiscernible] theinfrastructure -- administration expressed concern. are they concerned about the extent to which china seems to be investing in british critical infrastructure like on nuclear plants and the like? mr. earnest: i am not aware of those specific investments. obviously, the united has
ironically enough some investment in nuclear facilities in china, and that something president obama and president xi had the opportunity to discuss when the president was in china but a year ago. it'd think president obama made clear in the news conference he did with president pak on friday is the united states works strong relations between our allies and china. united states welcomes a rising china and a china that is ready to assume the obligations and responsibilities that go along significant economic, political, and military strength. whether it isly working with china to limit iran's nuclear program, or enlisting china's influence to try to get north korea to live up to their international obligations, there are a variety
er china has used their influence to advance international prioritiese, welcomed the continuation of that trend. to allow that sort of investment into china, it requires such critical infrastructure to be built by the chinese. mr. earnest: there is a process for the united states government, where appropriate to weigh in on those decisions. i do not know the process in the where nationalis security officials in the united kingdom would have to determine. reporter: [indiscernible] so you have been part of a
presidential campaign, you know what is like to launch a presidential campaign. here the vice president, and work in the same building as him , you see him on those days. does he look like a guy that is about to -- is a creativehat way to ask that question. i will not assess the vice president's body language, but -- reporter: you see him every day. what is your sense mr. earnest: that's no denying the vice president brings a law of energy to his job. the fact that he has run for president before brings something to that debate and operative the country. i think his strong performance d a lot president has le of people to think that he would
candidate, anyal effective candidates, but ultimately this is not decision that can be made for the vice president. personalintentionally -- intensely personal one, one that he is been thinking about longer, and when he is arriving at position -- do you share some frustration with her from democrats, including people like david axelrod, that this decision has gone on for so long? mr. earnest: i do not share that frustration. anybody who has served this country as long as the vice president has is entitled for as long a time to make this decision. i am confident once he has made this decision one way or the other that he will be prepared to announce that. reporter: you expect that to be
soon? laws of physics expect this will be an decision that will be announced relatively soon, as the date of these contests is coming up. i will stay on -- this is a probing question, but on two issues, direct and any potential but conversations that might go on -- a vital role for this president. that is true. i wonder that he has considered what he may not do, if he discussed what it might me to this administration if joe biden goes from being the vice president who routinely is on the phone with all the principal players in iraq on a regular basis and a previous time when the country was facing a fiscal cliff he was the primary
behind-the-scenes negotiator with senator mcconnell to work something out. can this administration deal with those two issues if the vice president is not presidential candidate and unavailable? even the vice president, if he were to make a decision to throw his hat in, recognize he has critically important responsibility is the and these are, responsibilities he carried out in the midst of a highly contact the reelection campaign in 2011, 2012. and why would be adding a lot of things is great if he were to decide to and mount a presidential campaign, i am confident would make time for the responsibilities that he currently has. reporter: can you tell us the basis of that confidence? i do not know any details of the president and vice president have discussed for the basis of this opposition this is something that the vice
d.esident did and con reporter: he would concede it is quite a different thing, to run for president as opposed as a running mate for a president for thosetion mr. earnest: are two different things, but both are endeavors that require significant commitment of time when it comes to politics. but also an acknowledgment that governing responsibilities come first. i would have no doubt that the vice president's ability to make those decisions. reporter: governing vice president first and candidate second? mr. earnest: i am confident he ardless ofhat reg whether or not he were pursuing presidential aspirations. reporter: republicans are trying to decide who the next speaker is, and i would wonder if you opinion, if you
could describe the president's working relationship has been with paul ryan. the famous episode where president gave a speech on the budget -- [indiscernible] a general give description. mr. earnest: i thought you were going to refer to an earlier exchange that president obama and congressman ryan had in the administration over budget issues. this is when the president travel to baltimore to meet with the house republican conference, and they invited the present, they had the opportunity to exchange. at that point, the president was clear that he respects paul ryan, that he is somebody who obviously has spent a lot of time seriously thinking about some of the challenges facing the country. at the same time, the president has profound and occasionally
figures disagreements with him -- occasionally vigorous disagreements with him. both of those incidents illustrate the kind of relationship -- reporter: [indiscernible] mr. earnest: i'm sorry. evolved?: has anything involved mr. earnest: that is the example of where the administration has worked with a range of leading republicans to pursue a partisan goal. ryan'sly, chairman support for that effort was welcomed by the white house. he also got support from people like leader mcconnell and speaker boehner and a variety of other republicans responsible helping the administration built a bipartisan coalition necessary to see that legislation pass.
reporter: [indiscernible] mr. earnest: the president is an interested observer. does this president have to narrow its focus on what can be done legislatively as of the chaos that house republicans are going through? mr. earnest: it has been an acknowledgment, whether explicit or implicit, that the chaos lease all in the republican party in congress prior to speaker boehner expected retirement was limiting the amount that congress was able to get done. and this is an observation we have seen a lot of republicans make. you saw senator cruz yesterday observing republicans congress, despite the fact that they have strong majorities, do not much to show.ho
there are some things including the trade promotion authority , but that is the exception. reporter: you are approaching significant deadlines were a lot of are going to have to be decided in short order. to the degree you can check with us, do you still know who to call? you have a relationship with the speaker that you believe is still carrying out the ability, a chief of staff that this is business as usual or not so much? if not, do you have to narrow your focus and try to prevent a couple of bad things from happening instead of a matching accomplishing anything beyond that? mr. earnest: we are in a place now, unfortunately the ambitions for congressional action are limited to just the essentials.
case, there's not a lot of discussion in the republican party, even in the context of a contested speaker's election, about the kind of ambitious agenda robins are hoping to advance with their majorities. there's no discussion of that. we're discussing how to prevent another government shutdown, how to ensure we are not risking the full faith and credit of the united states, how do we make sure our basic national security priorities are funded. these are not ambitious proposals. these are the basic essentials american people expect of their congress. reporter: [indiscernible] mr. earnest: there might be a couple of things on there, reauthorizing the x.m. bank, a couple of other essentials in e, these are not the kinds of things that are the visions of a transformational leader.
these are the responsibilities that every single congress since the very first one has had to confront. when it comes to that debt limit, with seen previous congresses have not been willing to risk the credit of the united states and we are hopeful this congress will policy. reporter: the pentagon says the memorandum of understanding will be released tomorrow. they do not want to call it an agreement. it is just a legal document that we guess we will stay out of each other's way. how you characterized what it is and what it represents and how it fits in with anything that approximates a strategy between the two countries? i do have something for you on the timing. the department can give you a better assessments, it is the
result of three different conversations that occurred between military officials and the russian counterparts. we have described these kinds of consultations as practical operational level discussions deconflict their activities from our spirit this would ensure that russian pilots are operating consistent with international safety regulations . this is ensuring that when pilots are operating they are using internationally recognized communication channels that they are speaking english so we can avoid mishaps. this does not rise to the level of any sort of strategic cooperation at all. wouldher data point i bring to your attention is over ae weekend defense announced
military operation had succeeded in northwestern syria that resulted in the death of a leader of an extremist organization with designed to carry me out attacks on the west. i will note this was an conducted in northwest syria, and indications united states will do what is necessary to ensure that our interests are protected and our safety and security are protected. the reason northwest syria location is notable is because the russians where are spending time and carrying a long their military operation in this instance, the united states was able to carry out this operation without any undue interference from russians. [indiscernible]
the president is looking forward to welcoming the pakistani prime minister to the white house later this week. there are a range of issues important for us to discuss, including the announcement that the president made last week about our strategy in afghanistan moving forward. certainly have an important security relationship, and the security cooperation between our two countries is beneficial to the surgery of citizens in both our countries. be thefident that will focal point of discussions. but you will have a more that we can share as the media gets closer. reporter: [indiscernible] last week i got asked about reports that the united states and pakistan were
-- reports indicated that there may be a breakthrough in this regard, and i would reduce your expectations about that occurring on thursday. reporter: in afghanistan, the taliban -- [indiscernible] aboutrnest: for questions this, i would refer to the department of defense. sh, it is important oil you pulled the plug on and gas to rights in the arctic, and i am curious, i just ready , the senator from alaska, who said that the decision is .tunningly shortsighted
what is the mindset, especially given the need for energy security? mr. earnest: this is a decision that was largely made and announced by the department of interior. they are responsible for conducting those least sales. the conclusion that department reach was given market given the proper state of the industry, that moving forward those least sales at this point was not a right decision. andpresident has indicated facts will bear this out a genuine commitment to energy independence, that the amount of oil and gas production in the united states under the leadership of obama is higher than it has ever been, but so is the amount of energy we generate from renewable energy, like wind and solar.
as consistent with a strategy the present has pursued, and is one that has served our economy quite well. reporter: i also spoke with another congressional member from that state who mentioned icebreakers, and the curiosity about whether or not more has been done or could be done to purchase more icebreakers for that part of the country, which has national security implications? what has the president planned to do to improve that, as it was me a woefully insecure circumstance,? mr. earnest: when the president went to alaska six weeks or so ago announced that there were some additional icebreaking -- that would be deployed to alaska. these have important national security consequences, but economic consequences as well. time the in at that and thety is important,
president has indicated a willingness as recently as six weeks ago to make that kind of investment. test onr: what is the laces that? mr. earnest: we will get you an update on that. stroker: lastly, a broad having been through this process, what are a couple things that someone might look at before making a determination in the caseresident of a vice president who has run before. , if are the things that say this happens, you go for it, if that happens, you probably go for it. what are the things you think he might consider? mr. earnest: i'm confident that the vice president has asked that kind of question to lots of people.