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tv   Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein Testifies Before House Judiciary...  CSPAN  December 17, 2017 10:34am-1:56pm EST

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foron to do you give him being able to help reach his goals? >> huh, you want me to be on his door hopeful? think there is a decent chance, because i think bannon believes the electorate has already changed. even in the general election, trump was victorious, despite obvious flaws in trump. runa perfect person p rich would admit that himself. and despite a lot of controversy, they elected him. believes that,n already, the longing for nationalism is there. he believes it is already victorious among the base. where it has not changed is in washington, in the leadership in the republican party, particularly the senate, which he is going after now.
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>> tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern t. c-span2's book booktv. >> this past week, rod rosenstein was questioned about alleged political bias by agents involved in the rush investigation. this house judiciary committee hearing is about four hours.
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>> good morning. the judiciary committee will come to order. the chair is authorized to declare recess at any time. this morning'sto oversight hearing with deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. i will recognize myself for an opening statement. general,, deputy attorney general rosenstein, for appearing for the first time in front of this committee. there is much to discuss today, and we look forward to your testimony and answers to questions. committeen of the with primary oversight over the department of justice and the fbi, i have always supported the department and fbi in performing their valuable mission to keep our nation safe and to hold individuals accountable for criminal conduct. yet, i and me on this committee
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now find ourselves in the very difficult position of questioning the actions of both prior and current department and fbi leadership. you have in you -- you have a unique role in that you appointed special counsel mueller and have a supervisory role over his investigation. it is very appropriate for you to appear before this committee to answer questions related to the scope of the special counsel 's investigation, as well as its current efficacy in light of various events calling into .uestion its impartiality reports on the political predisposition and potential bias of certain career agents and department lawyers on special counsel mueller's team are deeply troubling to all citizens who expect the system of blind and equal justice. the department of justice investigations must not be tainted by individuals imposing their own political prejudices. we are now beginning to better understand the magnitude of this --ider bias on mr. miller
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mr. mueller's team. we have fbi agent peter struck and lawyer lisa paige exchanging communications, showing extreme bias against president trump, affect that would be bad enough if it were not for the fact that these two individuals were part of the mueller dream team, investigating the very person for whom they were showing disdain and calling it mere disdain is generous. according to the documents produced last night, mr. struck and ms. page rep. hurd: -- ms. paige referred to the president as an utter idiot, while praising hillary clinton and the obamas. expected,udes that we high ranking fbi officials involved in the clinton investigation were personally invested in the outcome of the election and clearly let their strong political opinions cloud their professional judgment. this was only an initial
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disclosure containing heavy reductions. second, former embattled fbi general counsel and current mueller prosecutors andrew of aman expressed his awe former doj official for shunning the president and failing to faithfully execute the law. however, we are the ones now in awe that someone like mr. wiseman remains on an investigative team that looks more and more partisan. third, we have learned that a in mueller prosecutor, addition to the other actions that would normally justify a recusal, served as an attorney for the clinton foundation. aren't department of justice attorneys advised to avoid even the appearance of impropriety? a former clinton employee is now investigating president trump. this seems to be the very definition of appearing as impropriety. we have learned that another top
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department of justice official, bruce orr, has been reassigned because of his wife and his connections with the infamous the company with which the research document originated. we hope to hear your assessment of the conflicts, whether individuals are being held accountable, and whether you still have confidence in the judgment of the special counsel you named in. regarding the clinton email scandal, you along with attorney general sessions have declined to appoint a second special counsel to investigate the improprieties that continue to surface related to the handling of the clinton email investigation and other events surrounding the 2016 elections. these are some of the important issues on which we will focus our energy and questions today. to understand your participation and the departments involvement in addressing both investigations. mr. deputy attorney general, the department of justice's
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reputation as an impartial arbiter of justice has been called into question. should concern all americans who have cried in the fairness of our nation's justice system. while we continue to calling you to appoint a second special counsel, as you are aware, we have opened our own joint investigation with the house oversight and government reform committee to review fbi and the department of justice's handling of the clinton email investigation. i want to thank you and attorney general sessions for recently committed to provide relevant enable robust congressional oversight of this matter. i implore you to continue to work with us on these and other important matters facing our nation. one of these matters involves a critical program for our national security, fisa 702. on anommittee passed overwhelming bipartisan basis the usa liberty act, which
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maintains the integrity of the program while protecting cherished civil liberties. this overwhelming vote occurred despite the department's lobbying efforts against our bill. the usa liberty act was characterized as bad for the program, highly problematic, unworkable, and a proposal that would effectively dismantle section 702. however, the reality is that this committee's legislation strike a balance that promotes civil liberties. we hope to hear from you why the department of justice felt it necessary to oppose a bill to reauthorize 702 and instill confidence in the american people that their privacy and civil liberties are respected by a government whose duty it is to protect them. the department of justice must reacquire the trust of the american people. i know there are thousands of department of justice employees and line agents in the department, in the bureau of investigations, that are
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dedicated individuals, that are dedicated to upholding the rule of law and protecting the american people. and i hope we can come to a conclusion about those people who have not met that standard in this hearing today. thank you, mr. deputy attorney general for appearing today. i now yield to the gentleman from new york, the ranking member of the committee, for his comments. collects thank you, mr. chairman. first, let me wholly endorse the comments of the chairman with section 702 and the legislation that we reported out of this committee. i want to acknowledge a letter second, the chairman and i received last night from the democratic women of this committee. our colleagues have written to ask we convene a hearing regarding the serious and credible allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct leveled against president trump by at least 19 women. without objection, i ask that this letter be made part of the record. >> without objection. it will be made part of the record. >> let me be clear that i unequivocally endorse this
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letter. we should convene this hearing as soon as possible. this is an opportunity for us to lead and show the country this kind of behavior is unacceptable at any level of government. mr. chairman, let me start by saying welcome to the house judiciary committee, mr. rosenstein. for the better part of a year, my colleagues have implored this committee to conduct real oversight of the department of justice. on january 20 4, 2017, we wrote the chairman insisting that the , committee hold hearings that president trump pose a of interest that home and abroad. citing to experts across the spectrum, the administration's attempts to address this ongoing conflicts of interest are so far wholly inadequate. six weeks later, the attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the russian investigation, but we have not held a single hearing on the question of conflicts of interest. on we wrote again to the march 8, chairman encouraging , him to call hearings on " russia's interference in the
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u.s. election." again no such hearings were ever , held. this committee, which held the obama committee held dozens of hearings, you see testimony from comey three times in 13 months, and resources to a benghazi investigation that cost the public almost $8 million, this committee, from inauguration day to four weeks ago, was largely silent in terms of oversight. we haven't lifted a finger on election security. attorney general sessions told us on november 14 that he has done nothing to secure the next election from threats from at home and abroad. we have not once discussed the president's abuse of the pardon power or the hurricane in houston. president trump sidelined the office of the pardon attorney to pardon a human rights abuser who bragged about running a concentration camp in arizona. we have not held a single hearing on allegations on obstruction of justice at the
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white house. not for lack of evidence, but because there's a special council in place examining the issue and several other congressional committees are looking into the matter, and the committee "does not have the time to conduct this critical oversight." i ask to keep those excuses in mind. now with the year coming to a close, with the leadership of the department of justice finally before us, what do my republican colleagues want to discuss? clinton's emails. let me repeat that. with all of these unresolved issues left on our docket, a week before we adjourn for the calendar year, the highest oversight priority is hillary clinton's emails and a few related text messages. as we saw in our recent hearings, my republican colleagues seem focused on their call for a second special counsel, and failing that the , need to investigate the investigators themselves. -- ourselves. the white house has joined the call by house republicans for a
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new special counsel to investigate the fbi. the president's private lawyers have done the same. i understand the instinct to want to change the subject after the flynn and manafort indictments, but this request is grossly misguided for a number of reasons. first, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the special counsel regulations work. some criminal investigations pose a conflict of interest for the department of justice. the russia investigation is such a case. because of the attorney general's ongoing recusal and because department leadership assisted in the removal of director comey, among other reasons. in cases like these, the attorney general use a special may counsel to manage the investigation outside of the ordinary chain of command. the key is the criminal investigation. that's what special counsel does. the department cannot simply assign a special counsel to look at things that bother the white house. there has to be enough evidence to predicate a criminal investigation in the first place. then and only then if the facts
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an an't can -- warrant c special counsel be assigned to the case. so far, there's been no credible factual legal claim that anybody at the department of justice violated any law by deciding not to bring charges against hillary clinton or by attempting to meet . in other words, there's no investigation to which the department can assign a new special counsel. second, a list of grievances raised by the majority of review by special counsel seems widely off the mark. for example, there's nothing unlawful about director comey's sitting down to draft a n early statement about the clinton investigation. nor would it have been unethical to outline conclusions before it was over if the clear weight of the evidence pointed in one direction. nor is there anything wrong with fbi agents expressing political views via private text message. as peter struck and lisa page appeared to have done in the 375 text messages we received last night. in fact, the department of regulations expressed the permit that sort of private
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communication. i reviewed those text messages and i left with two thoughts. ,first, peter struck did not say anything about donald trump that the majority of americans weren't also thinking at the same time. second, in a testament to his integrity and situational awareness, the office of the inspector general made mueller aware of the exchanges and immediately removed mr. struck from his team. to the extent that we are engaged in oversight of bias at the fbi, this committee should examine evidence of a coordinated effort by some agents involved in the clinton investigation to change the course of the campaign in favor of president trump by leaking sensitive information to the public and by threatening to leak additional information about new emails after the investigation was closed. on ranking member cummings and i monday, sent a let tore the department asking for additional , materials related to these leaks as well as to the claims , that these efforts may have been coordinated with former giuliani, michael flynn,
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and other senior figures in the trunk campaign. third, the president's call for an investigation of the investigation is, at best, widely dangerous to our democratic institutions. on the one hand, the president's old "lock her up" cheer seems quaint after a couple guilty pleas by trump associates. as former attorney general no fan of hillary clinton has said, the president's continued threats to prosecute his political opponents is something we don't do here. if the president were to carry out his threat, " it would be like a banana republic." finally and most important, this investigation into the investigation cannot credibly be a priority for this committee at this time. i understand the instinct to want to give cover to the president. i'm fearful that the majority's effort to turn the tables on the special counsel will get louder and more frantic as the walls continue to close in around the president. but this committee has a job to do.
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president trump has engaged in a persistent and dangerous effort to discredit both the free press and the department of justice. these are the agencies and institutions under our jurisdiction. every minute that our majority wastes on covering for president trump is a minute lost on finding a solution for the dreamers or curving a vicious spike in hate crimes or preventing dangerous individuals from purchasing firearms or stopping the president from further damaging the constitutional order. i hope my colleagues will use today's hearing as an opportunity to find their way back to the true work of the house judiciary committee. i think the chairman, and i yield back the balance of my time. >> we welcome our distinguished witness. if you'd please rise, we'll begin by swearing you in. do use only -- do you solemnly swear that the testimony you're about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and , nothing but the truth so help you god? thank you.
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let the record show the witness answered in the affirmative. mr. rod rosenstein was sworn in as the attorney general in 2017 -- april 26, 2017 by jeff sessions. he has had a distinguished career in public service. he began his legal career in the public integrity section of the criminal division and was later counsel to the deputy attorney general and deputy assistant attorney general for the tax division. until his appointment by president trump, mr. rosenstein served for 12 years as the u.s. attorney for the district of maryland. he holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the wharton school, and a jd from harvard law school. general rosenstein, your written statement will be entered into the testimony in its entirety, and we ask that you summarize her testimony in five minutes. welcome. we're pleased to have you here. chairman,tein:
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ranking member, members of the committee, i want to thank you for this opportunity to testify as part of your oversight of the department of justice. i appreciate your support and concern of the department of justice. i know several of you are alumni of the department. two, in fact, served alongside me as united states attorneys and i'm very grateful for the , opportunity to be with you today. as deputy attorney general, my job is to help the attorney general to manage our department's components, including seven main justice 90 fourng divisions, u.s. attorney's offices, the federal bureau of investigation, drug enforcement administration, the euro of alcohol, tobacco, and explosives, the united states marshals service, office of justice programs, federal bureau of prisons, office of inspector general, and many others. our department includes over 115,000 employees and tens of thousands of contractors
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stationed in every state and territory and in many foreign nations. we prevent terrorism and violent crime, illegal drug distribution, fraud, corruption, child abuse, civil rights violations, and countless other threats to the american people. we enforce tax law, anti-trust laws and environmental laws. , we represent the united states in the supreme court, courts of appeal, and the district courts and in state and territorial courts. we protect federal judges, manage federal prisons, review parole applications, oversee the bankruptcy systems, assist travel governments, and we adjudicate immigration cases. we provide legal advice to the president and to every federal agency. we implement grant programs and support state and local law enforcement. we combat waste, fraud, and other misconduct involving employees and contractors. we resolve foreign claims and
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represent our government in international law enforcement forums. we collect, analyze, and disseminate law enforcement data and we perform countless other , important functions for the american people. department of justice employees are united by a shared understanding that our mission is to pursue justice, protect public safety, preserve government property, defend civil rights, and promote the rule of law. the mission attracted me to law enforcement, but the people who carry out that mission are what i treasure most about my job. there's very few exceptions. they are honorable, principled, and trustworthy. america's federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are more professional today than ever. rigorous scrutiny by internal affairs offices and external oversight agencies has resulted in increased accountability and higher standards.
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wrongdoing occurs, and we are more likely to discover it, and we remedy it. that's critical to building and maintaining public confidence. over the past eight months, i have spoken with thousands of department employees around the country. i remind them that justice is not only our name, justice is our mission. justice requires a fair and impartial process. that's why we have a special responsibility to follow ethical and professional standards. in 1941, attorney general robert jackson said that the citizens' safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, seeks truth and not victims, serves the law, not factional purposes, and approaches the task with humility. under the leadership of attorney general jeff sessions and an experienced team appointed by
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president trump, the department of justice is working tirelessly to protect american citizens and to uphold the rule of law. today i look forward to discussing some of our department's important work. following the u.s. attorney's manual and the example set by past department of justice officials, we always seek to accommodate congressional oversight requests while protecting the integrity of our investigations, preserving the department's independence, and safeguarding sensitive information. thank you, mr. chairman. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, mr. rosenstein. i'll start by recognizing myself for questions. indicatedrector wray that the normal procedures were not followed in the
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investigation of hillary clinton's email server. you said it was not normal protocol to have witnesses sit in the room during an interview of the target of an investigation. if the inspector general determines that normal protocol was not followed or that the investigation was closed or otherwise tainted for political purposes, would that be a justification in your mind to reopen the investigation? mr. rosenstein: mr. chairman, we are certainly anticipating the outcome of that inspector general investigation. as you know, that has been ongoing for some time. i am hopeful it will be concluded and the next couple of months. when we get the results, we will take appropriate action. i do not know what the findings will be, but it is always anyopriate for us to review findings of misconduct and take appropriate action. >> when you announced your decision to terminate the employment of fbi director comey, in that decision, you announced some practices that i took it to mean you thought were inappropriate actions on the part of the former fbi director.
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do you think those actions on his part would merit further investigation into how that whole matter was conducted? as rosenstein: mr. chairman, you are aware, the inspector general is conducting an investigation into the handling of that, the email investigation, and i believe that the matters you have referred to are part of his investigation. the memo that you're familiar with that i provided reflects my personal opinion. it's not an official finding of misconduct. that's the inspector general's job. he will reach his own independent determination. but as you pointed out, my views about it are already known. >> are you aware of any prior efforts by the judiciary committee, this committee, to unduly restrict the ability to do its job of protecting our national security? mr. rosenstein: i am not personally aware of any, no,
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sir. >> are you aware this committee as oversight of the surveillance act due in part to the significant institutional -- constitutional and legal questions that government surveillance raises? mr. rosenstein: mr. chair, i respect the congress's decision about which committee has oversight. this committee and the intelligence committee have an interesting view. given that you understand the committee's jurisdiction and its history, why would we, in the words of the department "attempt to 702" of ourtion nation's most important surveillance program? ag rosenstein: i don't know who made the statement you are referring to. the department has addressed the reauthorization. i respect there are differences of opinion, but i think the department is very clear we essential to national security section seven at ub reauthorized. rep. goodlatte: we agree with
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you it is essential. also we think it is essential that we have the examination of information about u.s. citizens incidentally gathered as part of the section 70 program -- section 702 program, but incidentally being looked into the investigation without a warrant -- i am not aware of that being appropriate with any other type of investigation. we're not talking about terrorist attacks. crimes thatng about have already occurred, that are being investigated, as they should be investigated, but under procedures the american people would expect they would have followed under other
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circumstances. ag rosenstein: mr. chairman, i have had a role in overseeing the national security operations. i discussed this with director wray yesterday. if you like, i could give a detailed explanation. it might take a couple minutes. it really is critical to national security. our legislation allows them to do that, but if the query allows them to read in gmail, see other documentation, see in its full form, they are wired to get a warrant under those circumstances? ag rosenstein: i discussed this with director wray, and what typicallyr. chairman, there are leads that are not based on probable cause, but based on suspicion, and the ability to clear that data and follow-up on it gives the fbi an opportunity to put two and two together that connect the dots. rep. goodlatte: so leads that
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every law enforcement person would like to pursue, but we have protections to prevent them from pursuing it without an appropriate standard and a whole host of other ways to protect people from unreasonable searches, and this is a search of information. ag rosenstein: it is a query. as a constitutional matter, what allows the initial query -- rep. goodlatte: what is that? something the agent wants to look at? i do not see how you distinguish these further email reading as from a search -- ag rosenstein: if i could speak about this for a few minutes, i did talk with director wray about the appropriate way to discuss is probably. take for example a local police department receives a call. someone has purchased a large quantity of hydrogen peroxide. something makes the clerk at the
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store suspicious. there's nothing illegal about what the person did, but something that caused concern rep. goodlatte:. let me interrupt you because the very specific incidents you are -- incident your sighting was cited to us in our discussion with the fbi and that very specific protection for the fbi was added to our legislation. ag rosenstein: the example i am providing is a situation where there would not be probable cause, but we have to figure out appropriate measure. this might allow them to come connect to lead to information that might protect information for national security. you.goodlatte: thank i yield my time. the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. on monday, ranking member cummings and i wrote you a
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letter about the investigation into former secretary clinton. without objection i would ask that be added to the record? rep. goodlatte: without objection, that will be added to the record. ensuringou commit to the minority we received equal access that you may provide to this committee in the future? ag rosenstein: yes, and my understanding is that information may have been provided -- thank you. i have a lot of questions. the majority and president trump's private attorneys have called for a new special counsel to investigate a number of hillary clinton-related matters. i think we could benefit from .our experience regulation say the attorney general, in your case the acting attorney general, will appoint a special counsel when you determine that, one, criminal investigation of a person or
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matter is warranted, and two, the investigation either presents a conflict of interest or other information requires the appointment of a council. is that part of the regulations optional? ag rosenstein: no. that is part of the regulations. >> so the criminal investigation has to be warranted before you can assign a special counsel to the matter? ag rosenstein: yes. >> at the department of justice, it requires an initial assessment and preliminary review of the evidence? ag rosenstein: correct. has that been made with respect to former director comey's investigation into hillary clinton? ag rosenstein: i will not make a comment on any investigations. >> ice in your answer would be the same if i also about the fbi's -- i assume your answer would be the same if i asked about the fbi's interaction with
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jps? ag rosenstein: yes. there is nothat predicate for a criminal investigation -- so there was no ongoing criminal investigation -- under this presumption, could you and attorney general sessions simply appoint a special counsel to look into these matters? ag rosenstein: no. anyhere is no claim that person of the department violated the law. if there is no underlying criminal investigation because there is insufficient evidence for a crime, do the regulations permit you to appoint a special counsel? ag rosenstein: no. >> thank you. according to the department, the office of the special counsel mueller of the text messages and he immediately
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concluded he could no longer -- the agent could no longer participate and was removed from the team. did he take appropriate action in this case? ag rosenstein: yes, he did. >> you said you would only fire goodal counsel mueller for cause and you had not seen any yet. have you seen good cause to fire special counsel mueller? ag rosenstein: no. >> if you were ordered today to fire mr. mueller, what would you do? ag rosenstein: i have explained previously i would all of the regulation. i would act if there were good cause. if there were not, i would not. >> and you have not seen good cause? ag rosenstein: yes. memberranking minority do not have the authority to conduct oversight. the white house counsel instructed federal agencies not to cooperate with oversight requests from democrats. since then democrats on this committee have written more than 40 letters to the administration
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without any meaningful response thus far. can you clarify your position on responding to the minority? ag rosenstein: my position, congressman, is we make every effort to respond to any legitimate inquiry from congress. an effort to respond to any inquiry. our goal is to respond to all of those in a reasonable manner. there's quite a backlog. encourage the office of legal counsel -- i will take a look at it, congressman, but our policy is to --
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>> i understand it. but could you look at whether you encourage the office of the legal counsel to withdraw -- ag rosenstein: i will look at it. >> thank you. finally, i want to follow up with what the chairman was saying about seven or two. the bill this committee reported specifically said -- basically said were you doing counterintelligence or foreign intelligence investigation, you do need a warrant. if you are conducting an investigation of domestic crimes, then like any other investigation of domestic crimes, you would need a warrant. should take a look at that. i urge you to take a look at that. the goodlatte: recognize tillman from texas, mr. smith. >> thank you.
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i'm concerned the special counsel may be casting too wide he is trying to catch all of the fish in the ocean and not just the soviet sharks. if the special counsel were to and wanted totion further, would he need to obtain your authority to expand the investigation? ag rosenstein: yes, he would. >> has he ever asked to expand the scope of the investigation? ag rosenstein: i appreciate that question. there are a lot of media stories speculating. i know what he is doing. i am appropriately exercising my oversight responsibilities. i can assure you the special counsel is conducting himself consistently with our understanding of the scope of his investigation. >> that really wasn't my
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question. has he consulted with you about the desire to expand the investigation beyond the original scope? ag rosenstein: the consultation is actually much more detailed about that. he consults with me about their investigation and the scope. so, i know what they are authorized to do. >> i know you know what he is doing, but has he requested to expand the scope of the original jurisdiction? theosenstein: the scope of original jurisdiction is publicly set forth in that order, but the specific matters are not identified, so i discuss that with director -- i discussed that with director mueller when he started and we had an ongoing discussion and to the extent there is ambiguity about it, he has received my permission to include those matters. >> so he has asked to expand the scope? ag rosenstein: you are characterizing an expansion.
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most a clarification in cases. he understands this is a special counsel. it's not an independent counsel. i need to know what they are doing. clarification or expansion. i think the american people have the right to know whether the jurisdiction has been expanded. ag rosenstein: i have a responsibility not to talk about what is about being investigated. to gom not asking you into specifics or name names or go to the subject, just whether it has been expanded. you said that you clarified his jurisdiction. i expect that would have an expansion. ag rosenstein: i want to make sure i'm 100% accurate. i would have to check and get back to you whether the issues
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are a clarification or in expansion. , i amer they may be responsible for and i know what he is investigating. please do get back to me on the difference between this two. is the special counsel authorized to investigate the special finances of the term family members? ag rosenstein: that would indicate the concern i have expressed. we just do not comment on the investigation. i hope you do not draw inference. do think personal finances come under the jurisdiction of russian interferes with the election? ag rosenstein: if i start answering what is and isn't, i have gone down the road i just down. want to go until people are charged, those ae -- we charge someone with crime, we publicize it. if we do not, we don't talk about it. >> some have been charged with
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crimes not directly connected with russian interference. so, you do feel the special counsel can go into the personal finances if it is not related directly to rush and her parents? ag rosenstein: i hope i have made it clear on not commenting on that scope of the investigation. >> what about the personal actions of staff on connected to russian interference with the election? only if iein: determine it is appropriate for them to do so? >> ok, that is your determination, not special counsel? ag rosenstein: if i felt he was doing something inappropriate, i would take action. i thinke summarize that the american people deserve to know who is being investigated and why. i have one last question.
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as many of us know, the lawyers are of ethics, attorneys supposed to avoid not just the actual impropriety, but the appearance of impropriety. special counsel has hired attorneys that have connections to either the obama or clinton campaigns. don't you think that creates an appearance of impropriety? don't you think it creates an appearance of impropriety? rep. goodlatte: the time of the gentleman has expired. the witness is permitted to answer the question. ag rosenstein: i don't think -- i am not aware of any propriety. we do have regulations subject to oversight by the department. i'm not aware of any violations by the special counsel employees. >> you don't think it has the appearance of impropriety? have ethicsn: we do advisers who provide us counsel.
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>> thank you, mr. rosenstein. thank you, mr. chairman. rep. goodlatte: the chair recognizes the taliban from california for five minutes. --rep.k you, mr. chair chair recognizes the gentlewoman from california for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. you have spent your entire career working for the people of the united states. ag rosenstein: i was a u.s. attorney. i was a political appointee. 15 years prior to that, a career attorney. >> let me ask you, in taking a look at the individuals who are working on the matters we are , are they career attorneys in the department who are working on this? some are.ein:
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they are requested to provide details, and they have the --hority to hire authority attorneys from outside the department. be subject to the merit sensible -- merit system principles in the reform act? ag rosenstein: yes, they would. >> we have been on the committee for a long time. i remember in 2008, there were allegations the department of as ace had used politics basis for hiring and firing. and they issued a report .utlining the impropriety one of the things they said was the departmental policy on nondiscrimination includes the department of justice need to
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eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, color, sexual orientation, age, and the like. that policy be governing the individuals? ag rosenstein: i have been around in the department of justice and i have seen mistakes. that is precisely what i have discussed with our political appointees. we will not do that. we will not consider political affiliation with career employees at the department. >> thank you very much. you may or may not have responsibility for this. if not, let me know. i am concerned the department
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has had a change in position on certain voting rights issues. one has to do with the purging of roles in ohio. the department had previously argued against purging those roles because the national voter againsttion act was purging voters simply because they had not voted in time. the department had argued that the state of texas id law had againstnated individuals and the department had changed its position on that , and the law, as currently
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keeps 600,000ntly americans from being able to vote because of the jerk on any and id laws. can you give us any insight into why the department changed his position on these key voting rights issues? ag rosenstein: congresswoman, in generally familiar with the details, but as a general matter, it is important that the ion of whatterminat a lot means is by a judge. it may be that new leadership of the department takes a different position. i assure you that is based on a good-faith analysis. there may be legitimate ambiguity in some of these provisions. we are responsible for making our determination, just like the prior administration made theirs, but ultimately it will be up to a judge. that is my understanding
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under his appointing, mr. mueller has the authority to investigate matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation, which would include crimes uncovered while he is investigating the main mission. so, for example, if he is looking at the russian investigation and he finds out that the person he is looking at ismitted a bank robbery, he not required to ignore a bank robbery. would that be a fair assessment of his responsibilities? ag rosenstein: it is a fair assessment. rep. goodlatte: the gentlewoman's time has expired. in the event he came across evidence that was not appropriate for him to prosecute, he could refer to other components in the department. we would route it to the
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appropriate prosecutor. >> thank you, mr. chairman. have -- mr., you alreadyin, you have mentioned that mr. strupp was removed for impropriety. i do not understand why the others were not removed as well. together you felt would be fair and unbiased?. >> so let me read you some facts of the that nine out of 16 have made political contributions so to be fair alphabetical order. $1,000 democrats to hold the 7c previously held by barack obama.
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twenty-six dollars democratic senator jim iran who led the charge of the credit senators demanding president trump resign and also giving the zero campaign donating to the clinton campaign last year but o to the trump campaign. third a contributor to both obama and clinton campaigns but zero to the trump campaign. now 333 -- $3,300.0 to the trump campaign by both the others. then clerking for a liberal supreme court justice but to contributcontribut e to the democratic presidential campaign since the caucus and hillary and obama and al gore also to senator alan
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but also $20,000 to the democratic house and senate candidates but o touche trump. actually representing the clinton foundation with several lawsuits donating $16,000 to democrats including 5400 to the hillary plan pain busy road to the trump campaign also fund-raising of its organized and then of course, they have and then with the dnc 2300 to the obama campaign 2300 to the clinton campaign bin '02 donald trump also who praised gates were defying
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trump on the campaign trail so how with a straight face can you say this group of democrats are partisan and unbiased to get president trump a fair shake?. >> i think it is important to recognize when we talk about political affiliation the issue of bias is something different and we have a lot of experience the we have employees with that they influence our actions for gore believe special counsel mueller understand the running that but to insure that it is not in any way how they conduct themselves. >> when is a running appropriate type thing putting the committee were
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investigators to gather to begin this investigation in the first place is part of the investigation and how toadies people i don't know how anybody can reach that conclusion so when this all surfaced and you pick to the leader of the investigation it seemed like a serious matter and serious investigation but to think that special counsel mueller would put together the unbiased team that as the stripes that umpires would redware but overwhelmingly ought to have democratic donkeys on their jerseys are i love hillary t-shirts certainly not let's make
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america a great again and that is a shame because they think the american people deserve a lot better than the biased team that they are getting under special counsel mueller and that is sad. i yield back. >> then a gentlelady from texas. >> the key for your service to the nation allow me a moment as but some of the friends of the evidence side with so much skepticism and mistrust but the me reviewed the fbi in doj put together timothy mcveigh killing 16 americans and those with civil rights workers the
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unabomber, and organized crime families pan am one '03 bombing yet diplomats during world war ii and those for its bid nightstand world trade center. lindberg kid having. and also in birmingham and on the other hand, among other russians are known as the shooting down so to kill a journalist and prop up a side to build a berlin wall and then imposing the iron curtain to conspire among the presidential election in 2016. so perhaps our friends on
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either side of the aisle can show respect as we do including myself so let me ask questions are you in the business to help secure the election to make sure there is that in restructure at doj but the day before director comey was fired what did you discuss?. >> previously i said i would not discuss anything related to that until after the investigation. >> thank you deputy attorney general rosenstein so i will go forward with the question of the protection of the special prosecutor. do have in place a
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protection and schemers system to have a saturday night massacre to be thwarted? kidneys and evidence of president who is putting all the right wing media to taint the investigation we protect special counsel mueller if he deserves protectionist and nothing to violate his duties and responsibilities?. >>. >> yes or no. >> i will not take action unless he has violated his duties. >> let me show you these individuals the trump accusers one day in court or want to be heard as the chief executive of the united states as an officer of the united states. what intentions do you have to allow of these women to have sexual misconduct to
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have never been heard and a in terms of a public setting as the women have vast what is the department of justice depend on doing? in the united states of america?. >> if they follow a loss of -- a lawsuit their free to do so. >> you now believe it is important to be heard?. >> the fbi investigates i just gave a litany of the great successes. >> can i refer these women to the department of justice is there the intake officer or fbi officer?. >> if somebody wants to file a complaint, yes they can report that to the fbi anybody can do that anytime.
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>> of the publicly say you have one option at this time to go to the department of justice as the deputy attorney general rosenstein to file a complaint and i encourage them to do that. and with the whole program of president obama with day sentencing policy that was by eric holder. and as it relates to the issues dealing with over prosecution that was considered fair and just that do not allow the request to go forward. >>.
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>> so to raise the number of issues i don't know if i can respond to all but anybody is free to report is sent to a complaint the way police departments can report allegations and the department will conduct a in an -- an appropriate review only as of proper provocation. >>. >> recognizing the gentleman from california. >> is somebody comes in to make that complaint or file that information to have identification check for who they are?.
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>> most fbi officers. >> but you don't consider that draconian that the driver's license was looked at? garett if we conduct the investigation we need to know who the witnesses are. >> so in the case the appearance of impropriety that people all are observing but you said there may not be the reason but based on the numerous text commenting adversely on the president? . . . .
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>> we could not make a determination. >> michael horvitz has repeatedly complained he cannot in fact -- he does not have the authority to look for from lawyers as to their conduct as lawyers because the opr has that authority -- and it is still true, isn't it? ag rosenstein: it is true, but he does have authority for certain types of misconduct by lawyers? a: so he can look at some parts of misconduct and not others. misconductparts of they can look at is bias in investigations and how they are conducting decisions.
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directly indicated for your cabinet position as opposed to other cabinet positions -- ag rosenstein: i am not certain of that. be excluded? would ag rosenstein: i would have to look back at that. sa: these political views mentioned, it's pretty clear that these are people with strong preference. but nobody up or is going to claim to be without their political bias. one of the reasons that when there is a conflict of interest, people recuse themselves and when there is an appearance of impropriety, they are excused, and one of the reasons we look to a special prosecutor and you appointed a special prosecutor was not only to get past the
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politics on this dais, but to appearance of any conflict by the department of justice. is that correct? ag rosenstein: to minimize the appearance on either side of bias, correct. sa: they are still a group looking for wrongdoing. that is their charge. they are not looking for right doing. they are looking for wrongdoing. you're not looking for innocence? ag rosenstein: i would characterize it they are looking for truth and they will make the determination about whether or not it is appropriate to prosecute. rep. issa: if that is the case, that he is looking to hang the president or people around him, it really isn't a that these people are dead set on finding anything
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anyone inincriminate this investigation which is their charge. so i would posture to you maybe it's not that bad to have people who dislike the president or would like to hang them. that being said, where there is impropriety, when there is a history of the fbi of withholding information from is thes, when there appearance of impropriety by the department of justice and the inspector general is limited under the statute because he does not have full access, wouldn't you say that this is a classic example where the special prosecutor is equally looking for the truth, if it and it isnversely within your charge and responsibility to see if that happens?
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ag rosenstein: my simple answer would be if we believe there was a basis for an investigation or special counsel, i assure you we would act. issa: the elements necessary to ask for a special prosecutor already exist. the gentleman's time has expired. thank you for accepting this position under difficult circumstances that you have. have. as president trump ever communicated with you about removing robert mueller and the role a of the special counsel? i can tell you nobody has communicated the desire to
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remove robert mueller. >> it's appropriate for me to talk with the president on law enforcement issues and i don't believe it is an appropriate issue for discussion. >> over his characteristics, his history into the reasons for you to have chosen him for this important position? >> it would be difficult for anybody to find anybody better qualified for the job. throughout his lifetime he's been a dedicated introspective and heroic public servant after college he volunteered to serve as a marine in vietnam.
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as the head of the criminal division when president clinton was elected in 92 they briefly went into the private practice and then went back and had an entry-level position as a prosecutor to help the violent crime problem in the district of columbia in area 1990 and was confirmed unanimously and then his term was extended for another two years, so i believe based upon his reputation and service and patriotism and a department of fbi he was in charge of the task. >> i agree with you he was a
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smart lawyer dedicated public servant and the fbi i think everybody on the other side of the aisle agreed agreed with the department of the fbi director which was unanimous and the reimplanted which was unanimous by the republican and democrat obama. everybody respects batman in the country. obviously we knew that would be an exception, but the fact is they didn't start to dislike him until he started to get issues that affected the president is currently serves the country and because of that, they said the fbi was in tatters. they questioned you and the justice department and some as
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loyal, dedicated, fearless people in the country who serve the role of small. when you think about the fbi that works under review being suggested it is in tatters and that there is something wrong with the fbi and it's somehow like the kgb. >> in general through my experience working with agents over the decades i found them to be an exceptional group of public servants, faithful, loyal, dedicated into some of the finest people i know are agents of the federal bureau investigation. >> i thought about them when i watched the army navy game and i had the honor as it reveals up here has been recommending some folks to be at west point. those were the cream of the crop and the people at the fbi are law enforcement, they are the
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cream of the crop in the justice department attorneys or commit too no matter where you went to law school and what you did. i complement you on that and know that he will continue to hold department of justice up as a pantheon of outstanding lawyers and seek justice where it should go as the truth demands and justice dictates. >> first of all come in the interview with hillary clinton that took place july 22016, how many people were in the room and how many people had the opportunity to question her?
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>> i recall the testimony yesterday by the attorney general that testified in one of the two of them that there were three or 4% in that room would that be consistent with practice that you would anticipate? would there be records kept of that interview? >> yes if there are fbi agents present they will take note and produce summarizing the interview.
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>> it's just not in the practice to do it. >> it needs to become the practice. so many of the local law enforcement if you are the county deputy. now you are sitting here with a mystery i don't know what on in that interview you did as many questions asked about that before and after and they will trickle through history until we get to the bottom. you can't tell me who was in the room, do you have any knowledge that peter would have been one of those people? >> it's been reported in the news that he was one of those people. >> i may have seen that in the news but i personally don't know.
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there was a draft statement a couple months before. they swapped out the reference to the gross negligent to extremely carelessness. i don't know if that is true, do you have any knowledge about that? there are reports in the news however. >> correct. >> and then we get the news leader on that sometime mid-summer they had been removed
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from the investigative team that we find out that took place publicly. i kind of understand that if that had ejected into the jet stream perhaps we wouldn't be in the middle of this controversy. i haven't touched these all by any means but if he has his hands on this money what about the poisonous tree is this the reverse and i'm looking at what was reported this morning i just took a picture of the televisi television" from august 6, 2016 they are talking about president trump and maybe she's speaking to peter and maybe you are meant to say where you are to protect the country from the menace and his response is it's absolutely true that we are fortunate and of course i will try to approach it that way i just don't know i
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can protect the country at many levels but not sure that helps does that sound like a declaration he would use his job to leverage his work against the president of the united states. it includes interviews with numerous witnesses that i anticipate in the near future we'll have a report of the inspector general's conclusions. any opinion that might have been erased by peter struck? >> as a legal matter i can tell you that if the evidence is tainted that would raise a concern based upon the witnesses and documents. that would concern us if there were any evidence in the case. the gentleman from georgia mr. johnson for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman for
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your service to the country based on the language and the special counsel order appointing a special counsel, does the special counsel have the authority to investigate any individual who may have obstructed the investigation that it be confirmed march 20 of this year which was the russian interference in the 2016 elections? >> they do have the authority related to his jurisdiction. doeit does this authority to investigate possible obstruction include investigating president trump? >> i hope you won't take inference one way or another. that's something we do not do.
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>> i'm not asking whether or not the president is under investigation i'm just asking whether the order appointing the special council authorize counse special counsel to investigate the president. >> it is to investigate anybody and that includes the president. it would include anybody suspected of obstruction of justice. do you think it is appropriate for the president to comment publicly on any pending investigations? >> the decision about whether people in political decisions comment on the investigation isn't mine my responsibility is to ensure they are not impacted improperly by any opinion whether it be a member of congress or anybody else.
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i believe over the years there have been presidents have made comments about investigations and it's not my responsibility to make that decision. to call for the investigation calling for the specific individuals. i'm not going to comment on that. it's my responsibility to make sure those decisions are made based upon the facts and the law. has the president contacted you to urge action and any pending investigation? >> i haven't received any improper orders and i'm not going to be talking about particular communications with
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the white house. what would be your legal basis for refusing to answer the question on whether or not the president has contacted you to urge any action in any pending investigation what would be the basis for refusing to answer that question? >> this is not a partisan issue. they encouraged the park department to do an investigation and so the question for me is are we or are we not making an investigation. >> i respect your question but my question is has the president ever contacted you to urge action on ending the investigation? >> i have nothing further to say. >> say you are going to refuse to answer a question from a
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member of congress seeking to do oversight. >> i told you i haven't received any improper orders and i'm not going to talk about them and after the administration senior law enforcement have to be able to communicate with the president and his officials about appropriate matters and responsibilities so you shouldn't draw any inference. it's simply not appropriate for me to talk about communications i may have with the administration. i would tell you if something happened that was wrong if somebody did something that was improper but that doesn't happen. it would be improper for the president to ever contact you about initiating an investigation of somewhat would it not? >> we discussed this presidents have commented publicly. it would be improper for the president to contact you about initiating an investigation of
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someone. to order me to conduct an investigation it would be improper for a president to ask you to initiate an investigation would it not? is it your testimony today that the president has not asked you to investigate someone specifically? >> i understand what you're getting asked if i wa at but i t administration and -- >> you are being very artful in jumping around and avoiding answering my question. are you afraid of president trump firing you? >> no i'm not. with that i will yield back the gentleman from texas for five minutes. thank you mr. chairman. did you ever tell the special
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counsel that everything you do must appear beyond reproach anything on that? since the attorney general recused himself, you are effectively the boss of the special counsel. i am effectively the boss. we all know director james comey was fired and we know the public statements. here's the question to your knowledge who first proposed the idea of firing him as the fbi director backs >> i'm not going to comment on that. the president explained he made the decision and i'm not going to comment on that. at the time he wrote the letter suggested do you believe what you put in that letter? if an fbi employee goes into a meeting as part of his job in
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furtherance of his drop, someone in the government comes out and makes a memo memorializing the meeting perhaps in the future past memory refreshed, is that memo doj property? >> i would think it would be. it would depend on what the subject matter is that the answer would be yes. if the employment agreement statement says, and this is a person agreeing all information required by antheinformation reh my official duties in the fbi and have access to the property of the united states of america will not reveal any material from or related to the fbi files or any other information by virtue of my official employment if you make a man out of things
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that were discussed as part of your job then it would be a violation of that agreement to send that to someone isn't that right? the question i'm about to ask what you may have told attorney general jeff sessions i don't want to know any words or sources referenced in fact i'm asking a question that couldn't possibly have any other answer other than one of two words that would be yes or no you are completely free to hold the answer to the question with one of those two words. as the attorney general did you get jeff sessions angive jeff se regarding whether or not he should recuse himself in the matter of the russian investigation? yes or no? can i get a little bit more of
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an explanation? i was confirmed on april 25 and took office i wasn't there at the time of the refusal. wasn't booz bruce four days dowm yours? he's been demoted over the relationship with gps and then of course we found out that his wife was a russian expert and paid in the fall and summer of 2016 helping the clinton campaign. how well do you know the people that work in your hall? >> it varies, congressman. some of them i know well and some i don't know as well but everybody has some opinions. the key is not having those that
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isu in the department of justice. here is mr. scott some of his text. he is an idiot like trump and martin o'malley said i'm not watching i can't tell you how little i care right now talking about so much more than the representative debates. he goes on at some point the republican party needs to pull their head out of their blank and shows no sign of occurring anytime soon. they were tol told a stance for fidelity but it may be made in the course of infidelity and then he takes a slur against i hate these people talking abouabout republicans, no suppot for the women that actually has to spend the rest of her life rearing this child but we care about life.
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how can he be a republican and on and on it goes. america will give up the voting public deserves and that's what i'm afraid of. 100 million to zero. did you make him do nee you to r him make a comment it's not just political opinions, this is disgusting unaccountable bias and there's no way that couldn't affect the person's work. were you aware of how biased he was? i'm asking a question but the answer isn't classified the privilege based on information to the best of your knowledge has the fbi ever used this for
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any part of which was paid for by the political campaign were prepared on the candidate's behalf? >> the witness may answer the question. question. >> we are working with at least one with access to that. >> i don't know everything about the fbi. >> a point of personal privilege since my character was slandered by mr. cohen who said he never challenged him until he came after the administration where he knows how tough i went after the fbi director he's been here went on a whim after while bush
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was president he knows i've been after him and the damage he did and what he stated about me is a lie and i don't need to record s to properly reflect that. >> the comment is duly noted in to the chair recognizes the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> according to an august 17 fbi intelligence assessment entitled like identity extremists motivated to target wall and prison officers, quote, it is very likely that the black identity extremists perceptions of police brutality against african-americans spurred an increase in the regulatory violence. i tried to get to the bottom of where the report came from, what the status is and i asked the attorney general sessions and
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director ray and not u. di now u order the fbi to conduct this assessment on august, 2017? it is the evidence of propensity of violence with regards to any ideology, domestically the fbi would only be investigating if there were some indication. >> do you believe there's a political movement in the country called black identity extremism? >> i don't believe that they intend that as a political movement. they try to categorize.
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>> so used to investigate before you did an investigation there is surveillance, correct? >> generally, no. there may need to be a determination, first before any surveillance. >> how does that determination take place and where has it taken place? >> if you want details i have to get back to cuba there are strict guidelines as you know several decades ago there was quite a bit of controversy about this issue and the fbi has very detailed guidelines from when the initiate investigations and we are unaware. >> i am aware of the fbi's history for many years ago and many people are looking at this document. one of the concerns that has been raised and i raised with the attorney general sessions and the director is that this document for whatever he is and was mass distributed to the law-enforcement officers of the
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country are you aware of that? >> no i'm not. >> so, when we talked to the director it was not clear how the term would even develop and what evidence was it based on two even come up with a term like that and then to write a document about it and distribute around the country. if it i is of any initiatives ti have not seen any indication that they are approaching this in a biased way. they are conducting investigations where they believe a person who is the subject represents a potential threat is because they believe in ideology or associates but because they represent a particular threat and they are designed to ensure the cases. what i'm hearing from around the country in particular are those who are protesting law enforcement and police brutality or deaths at the hand of the
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law-enforcement is th that theye being visited by the fbi the fbi is leaving business cards and defend the concern about that is if they do engage in a conversation with an fbi agent and make a mistake or say something that isn't true then they are vulnerable so than the activists that have received business by the fbi but have never been involved in violence i'll are you aware of that happening in your offices around the country? let me express another concern about this. anytime there's an officer involved shooting and then a protest they might be black identity extremists.
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if there is no basis that the fbi would take the step to retract the document and send a message to law enforcement around the country that no such category exists a. was aa. was it the basis for securing. when you sum it up it boils down to a. of thia.
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this is what it comes down to the answer to the questions was probably at it today i'm even more convinced the answer is based on the text messages we got to read earlier this morning. are you familiar with that name? the former deputy head of intelligence at the fbi? >> i don't know the precise title. change the letter from negligence to extreme, selected by mr. mueller to be on his team. we learned he had all these messages we got earlier this morning. as my colleagues pointed out this morning showed he didn't like trump and they are exchanging text messages back and forth but that is nothing
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new. we already knew that's what i tt to focus on one in particular this is a text message recalling the conversation that took place at the office of the fbi recalling a meeting earlier i want to believe that consideration in the office and there is a break that says there's no way he gets elected, i want to believe that. you said that in the meeting and i want to believe that. but then i'm afraid we cannot take that risk. this goes to intent. we can't take the risk to people in this great country might elect donald trump, we can't take this risk. this is the head of counterintelligence to the fbi, this is who i think had a hand that was all taken up to the
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court. we can't take the risk. we have to do something about it. she changes the letter from gross negligence to extreme carelessness and has put clinton interview. then august 2016 when it's opened at the fbi august 2016 and my guess is that it's the same month the application was taken to the court to get the warrant to spy on america. the democrats paid for it, fake news all dressed up taking to the court.
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so i had a couple of basic questions. it seems to me the answer if the answer is yes if you paid christopher steele at the same time or if you took the dossier and used it as a basis for the warrant and now we have intended this message saying there is another one might call he represented earlier where he says i can protect the country at many levels with all of the humility could muster i can protect as many levels he thought he was the super agent james bond at the fbi. i am afraid we can't take that risk. i've got to protect our country. this is unbelievable and i'm going to tell you i think the public trusthatpublic trust in g is gone so it seems to me there
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are two things you can do. the special counsel can look into this and everything else we've burne learned in the last several weeks. it's important to make sure a thorough review is done. think about what we've learned in the last several weeks. weeks. we first went to pay for the dossier then we learned that peter struck and bruce.
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this is unbelievable. what's it going to take to get a special counsel to answer these questions and find out was he really up to what i think he was? 20 members of the judiciary committee with primary jurisdiction over the justice department thinks we need a special counsel. all kinds of senators think we need a special counsel.
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there are approximately 14,000 special agents within the fbi is that correct? they have left-leaning political views like much of the law-enforcement community throughout the entire nation. they include private text messages that were sent in the election by peter and lisa page.
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in advance of a congressional hearing to invite reporters and communications between two department of justice and quickies who are the subject of the pending investigation. >> there is an importantthere'sn you asked, congressman. it was important to release them and the determination was made and it is so we give notice to their attorneys to notify the committee. in our congress goal is to make sure we do not conceal anything that is embarrassing to the fbi. fbi. is it extraordinary that you want to invite reporters or a private viewing i viewing in adf the congress shall hearing?
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>> only if the information is appropriate for the public release it if it is not it is never appropriate to disclose to the reporters. >> a fox news porter said last night they have approximately 10,000 text messages between peter struck and lisa page. it is my understanding that only about 350 or so were released to the committee is that correct? >> there are others that are being reviewed and we will produce them as soon as we have them available. how is it possible fox news has text messages. this is a fox news reporter indicating that and i'm sure we are going to get to the bottom of it hopefully the chairman and a bipartisan way will be interested with what be a violation of the law and the department of justice
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proceedings? >> we disclosed information that wasn't appropriate for the public release of congress i would agree. the department of justice investigation should be free of political interference is that true? >> it said everybody -- >> unanimous consent. what was the gentle man's request? the committee has been given notice of a tweet and i'm asking for that to be put up and there is a technical difficulty. we will suspend.
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>> in the interest of time i will just read what was written by the president. everybody is asking why the justice department and the fbi isn't looking into all of the dishonesty going on with crooked hillary. is it ever appropriate for any president to encourage the department of justice to launch
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criminal investigations against his or her perceived enemies? we are not going to be influenced by anything other than the fact of law. >> is that appropriate for the president of the united states to send? the president's repeated attempts on the criminal prosecution against perceived political enemies come from you? we understand that the responsibility and we are going to continue to conduct in accordance with the facts of law and i'm grateful the president put an experienced team in charge of the department who understands what to do. >> they published an interview with donald trump and the president criticized you for being from baltimore saying there are very few in baltimore if any. are you unable because you are
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from baltimore? >> i didn't work in baltimore for 12 years. donald trump's statement has no basis in reality, correct? >> that part of it was true. >> for the southern district of new york? he was fired by trump. the new york city attorney's office has jurisdiction over the trump tower in manhattan, correct? the presidential interviews of the candidates that have been reported with being a departure for the protocol, correct? i'm not aware of all of the prior practices i don't think it was done in the last two administrations. you were appointed by president
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bush and then continued in a position athatposition as the uy from maryland by barack obama. >> that is correct. were you ever asked for a loyalty pledge or by president barack obama to take a loyalty pledge? is it appropriate to demand the department of justice official or fbi director to take a loyalty pledge? >> i don't have an opinion about that. other than the oath of office. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas for five minutes. >> thank you for being here and i am one of the numerous members of the committee asked based on what was said earlier the justice department is responsible for investigating
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criminal conduct. would that include criminal conduct by the fsi? >> yes. >> we all learned under what was happening years ago that in my opinion they are giving unconstitutional surveillance in their e-mails by tracking it and hacking into those e-mails what i mean by this is classified information is seized on
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somebody if they're nam their nd up into communication and someone weeks and that was on that individual my understanding is that it is classified information and who does that in asking as committing a felony is that correct? >> the unmasking is something typically done in the course of the intelligence analysis. >> as of today has anybody been indicted under week in the information on the masking up until today? path they indicted anybody under those scenarios.
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so no one has been indicted to your knowledge. >> i want to bring up now the intelligence surveillance act that has been discussed by the committee numerous times. it allows them to issue secret warrants to get tickets operating overseas and get their information. does the justice department present those warrants to the judge? >> in situations where a warrant is required just. >> but the justice department is responsible for that is that correct? >> yes. >> also under fisa once again, americans are brought into the scenario because you target the
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terrorist and go after the e-mails and find the e-mails and they are inadvertently caught into the surveillance of the target. 90% of those e-mails my question to you is why hasn't the justice department, the fbi, the intelligence community presented to congress a request that took place years ago how many of those inadvertent e-mails and communications and text messages conversations have been we've been asked for the number. do you know why that hasn't been brought to our attention? we need to reauthorize 702 which
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i had a lot of questions about. here we are at the deadline getting ready to reauthorize it and still they refuse to tell us how many have been seized. he has access to the data but i would simply point out this is the term that is incidental to communicating in the investigation. >> that isn't my question. i don't think we ought to reauthorize it until we find out from the intelligence community any indictments have been issued
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by the state and you have made to see whether or not they are violating the law and if they refuse to give the committee the investigation about how many people have been caught up in that and a stone wall in the same way we just can't do it. why can't intelligence community have them answer that question with a few little taps into the system. thank you mr. chairman and. i would like to ask about sexual assaults by the president of the united states of america.
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the. they felt from them without their permission, groped them t, touched her genitalia, walked into dressing rooms unannounced to see them naked and many other unwanted sexual advances that every one are clear violations of the law. i believe the women and gave the women in other words a lot of weight. when the question is there really should be no further discussion because regardless of their political affiliations, the partisanship we see we have abandoned the presidency that has a very difficult relationship with the truth. in this case we have women that were made to feel powerless and
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insect thickened with costs and risks that have come forward and i believe them. it goes no further than this committee where the senior members resigned because they came forward and made credible claims. they are accused of misconduct. right now with the number two person in the justice department before the committee and sworn to tell the truth, i think it's important to get your opinion on whether there are grounds for criminal investigation. kiss me directly on the mouth,
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so inappropriate he thought that he was so significant he could do that. another one of the 16 women said he groped me and absolutely groped me and slipped his hand touching my private parts, "-end-double-quote. i think on the subway or in a restaurant was not either or both of these incidents enough to get him arrested in your experience as the number one most important office of the ofe behest of these cases, in an interview said the person on my righright who unbeknownst to met the time was donald trump put their hand up my skirt, he touched me through my underwear, "-end-double-quote. and he continually groped me and invite me to his hotel room. these are very serious
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allegations of crimes committed by the president, are they not? but i think it is important to point out that these stories are corroborated by one of the most important witnesses of all, the president himself corroborates this. he told the tv host billy bush when he was with the show i kiss then i don't even wait and wait and you are famous they let you do it, you can continue to grab them and you know what he said. you can do anything. this was said on national television that when she was a contestant in a beauty pageant he would come back to the dressing room and she tells her story, and once again we have audiotape of the president for not rating this account when he told howard stern well, i will tell you before a show i will go backstage and everyone is getting dressed and everything else and, you know, no men are
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anywhere but i'm allowed to go in because i am the owner. he went on to say they are almost naked. i can see you as a law enforcement officer and i value your opinion on the matters. would it be appropriate to copious unwanted sexual advances by the president of the united states? >> i'm happy to take any questions to the apartment of justice without in any other obligation that you think warrants investigation, i will invite you to sub at the evidence into that apartment or review if you think it is a federal crime, and that applies to any violation by any person and that is all i have to say about that. >> but you are the number two top law enforcement officer in the nation. let me ask you if a person on a train went and kissed a woman is the crime?
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if it is a federal train it might be a federal crime. as a number to law enforcement officer you don't think it is a crime for a woman to be on a train or restaurant sitting in the stranger unwanted could come up to her and groped her and kiss her? >> i would have to know the facts and evaluate the law.
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>> >> and see that everything is above board for preventive and% of the people that i work with our good and honest with the old man respect. but i was like to ask you to clarify a procedure for go special kelso pointed by the attorney general or you n that special counsel reports
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to you. >> correct. >> so the independent counsel is appointed by the attorney general or you but it is independent but can i do a b or c?. >> that is actually made by a federal judge. >> you're not involved in all?. >> correct. >> talk a moment as i have been in many interviews concerning potential cases. and what i have seen handled is above board but did you explain three '02?. >> a reform number as the
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fbi agent right day summary as the form 302. >> whether done by attorneys for investigators that the department of justice or in pennsylvania at some point is there u.s. attorney present in those interviews?. >> p.s. bette typically not i would say the majority are conducted by two agents without a prosecutor. >> who makes the final determination if immunity is granted? or what is handling the case. >> depending on what type of immunity.
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>> before any immunity is given to anyone or not we in law enforcement so what will you tell us why should we give you immunity?. >> we have a strong preference. we don't always do which. >> i have never been in a situation, perhaps it is not unique where immunity has been given where there has not been a proper. is that extreme and unusual situation where somebody says will give immunity but we have no idea what they will say. >> to qualify the u.s. attorney has proffer of unity and the majority of cases there have been a proper but if not we would ask why.
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i cannot characterize what percentage of cases. >> laptops or computers pursuant to the investigation before immunity is given to someone?. >> we have to make a determination if we believe the data is relevant in the decision. >> we just don't give blanket immunity because they ask for it. >> correct. >> and though he will keep your eyes on things. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the man from florida. >> there has been nevada of talk of tight lines but to
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walk through the benefit of my colleagues a short time line in january there was concluded of the following reassess vladimir putin of the campaign of 2016 russia's goals were to undermine faith in the democratic process. to harm electability of clinton and for the recess to to the russian government has a clear preference for president-elect trump. do you have any reason to dispute that?. >> no. >> also were -- also a january 24 michael flynn denied sanctions with russia but on january 26 with the kills all that he lied and is vulnerable to blackmail the end of february 13 flynn resigned over his conversations with the vice
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president. then the telephone records that show of those associates that have intelligence officials and documents released show $33,750 for a speech in moscow on march 20th. in the nearest possible collusion between the trump campaign and russia. and then on may 10th meeting with diplomats in the white house and told them he fired the head of the fbi tuesday face great pressure because of russia that is taken off. so others think that it is a made a story then we learned that he was urged to drop the investigation then we learned of the undisclosed trump tower meeting july 8 between donald trump, jr.
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then the next day five sources stated that, jr. agreed to the of meeting with the damaging information and clinton provided in five days after that we also have that trump tower meeting rand october october 5th george propolis one of the five people present identified as a policy advisers pleaded guilty to one count to make a false statement about the timing and extent and nature and interactions and in the statement we learn that he said he could arrange a meeting between trump and putin and campaign advisor on multiple accounts with conspiracy against united states and in november the president of united states met with vladimir putin he
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said he did not mentally i ask again every time he sees me he says i didn't do that and i believe that. the president went on to say and then to put together the report. and then say they are political hacks then michael flynn pleads guilty to one count of making a false statement to the fbi about conversations he had with the russian ambassador regarding sanctions purposes of walker. and then to interfere in the election do you believe that deputy attorney general rosenstein?. >> no. that we are at risk of day today talk are they
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unaccountable? methanol oversight at all. >> and then to undermine the duly elected president of the united states to pursue the rule of law?. >> so one of my other colleagues on this committee accused of having a vendetta do you believe there is a vendetta?. >> know i do not. i would just conclude that this little walk through this one year in american history makes it impossible to understand how watches attacks and to do so to make
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it tried to go away. to bury their heads in the sand but i want to make clear the yield back. >> chairman recognizes the gentleman from south carolina. >> there are a lot of issues ever like to ask you about we had ted terrorist incident and section 702 that is bending and gun violence and the opium trade epidemic in criminal-justice reform but the focus is no one will tell me about those issues. what in the hell is going on with the department of justice and the fbi? the reason we have special counsel is because of a conflict of interest. specifically to make
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reference to a conflict of interest. and it undercuts people's confidence. to have a real or perceived conflict of interest to either impact of the results with the process that is why we have special counsel but lo and behold and those that have a few of their own there is a senior prosecutor that she can be described nothing other than a fact witness if you pursue the of line of inquiry now they are
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on obstruction of justice may be in fact, the most important witness and obstruction of justice and the senior prosecutor for the conflict of interest has e-mail to a fact witness then prosecutors to conduct this investigation that donated almost exclusively the one candidate over another what it was supposed to be a victory party for secretary clinton and. a senior department of justice official with an office that used to be too dull -- two doors down from yours with fuchsia in gps want to give your of the very person they are supposed to be objectively investigating.
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so that seems senior doj official the one that met with fusion gps is on the payroll? then we have a senior agent designed to investigate secretary clinton's e-mail? with the exoneration letter changing the of zero language extremely negligent to careless? and to interview michael flynn actively involved in investigation into the trump campaign before the inspector general found the attacks? so this agent in the middle of almost everything related to secretary clinton and president trump sent text to go his paramour and in response he is where he is to protect the country from the minister of trump he
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said i can protect our country at many levels that he said hillary clinton should win 100 million / nothing. think of that mr. deputy attorney general rosenstein that is pretty overwhelming victory. o? when i read that i thought this conflict of interest free a senior agent cannot think of a single solitary american who would vote for donald trump? that is where the zero comes in. you can imagine so this is a conflict of interest so that wasn't enough to say he could smell them. at a wal-mart in virginia. just the person we needed to avoid a conflict of interest
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but it's not content just to disparage donald trump he had to disparage his family. to say those douche bag or about to come now talking about the first lady and children this conflict of interest free special agent of the fbi this is who we were told we needed to have the objective and impartial conflict of interest investigation and openly investigating a candidate he has a bias against then to say he is the effing it be it what the f just happen to our country the same man who said he would save our country. what happens when people who are supposed to take care of the conflict of interest as greater than those that they replace? that is not a rhetorical question.
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no one was ever set on a jury would not have them investigate anything knowing what we know now. and though last and final question, how to help me answer that question?. >> first of all, with regard to the special counsel already working on a special counsel so i recommend you tell your constituents that special counsel mueller and chris ray are accountable we will at insure that no bias is reflected for any matter on the department of justice
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that is the best assurance that i can give you but we expose to this issue because we are insuring they conduct a thorough investigation and will surface in report publicly. >> i'll try. >> end february the department of justice changed its litigation with the texas lotto id case as in any province with a
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longstanding position as the of florida vacation on?. >> know i did not. in august changing the position is now defending the law really involved in that decision outside with the voter purging lot?. >> i was but i didn't. >> we part to file the a week is brief with the colorado silver rights commission? that tonight is a wedding cakes for same-sex couples? very that was made by the solicitor general. >> as a royal figure who served his country and confirmed unanimously so that i take it your judgment has not changed?. >> correct.
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>> you would not have appointed deaf in a witch hunt?. >> correct so then new agreed with a witch hunt?. >> data know what the president met mung negative meant by that is not a witch hunt. >> but you disagree? so the president is wrong. >> i can only answer for myself. >> so with that credibility to threaten undermanned and -- to undermine that inability of the investigation?. >> that will not be affected by anything anybody says you deliver remarks before the chamber of commerce if we permit the rule of law when it does not directly have a
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conflict of interest it is not self executing if it collapses then everyone will suffer. with the president's attacks to witness a unprecedented attack on our institutions by this president. that seriousness is under way attacks on the judiciary and on the free press says day federal bureau of investigation and department of justice. and then to reaffirm the commitment to the rule of law. if you don't have the opinion from the loyalty oath that members take an
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oath to the constitution so that it's inappropriate. do you agree?. >> every has asked me. >> that is not my question. you are here to demonstrate the independence of your office did you are unwilling to say no to the president is not inappropriate?. >> enough to the president with the constitution would be inappropriate. >>. >> you are talking about a hypothetical. >> as long to follow the oath of office you can also be faithful to the administration. >> also you said you would not respond to the question whether not the president of the united states negative you to look at political adversaries.
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>> i said i would disclose the buyer was told to do something improper. >> what if he were is encouraged that is not appropriate. >> those that have encouraged me and i'm not based on those decisions. >> that the action of day president that very action is not appropriate. >> you are free to make that judgment. >> i am asking you. >> it is inappropriate for somebody to order me to do something. >> that the person that you serve to tell you or suggest to you? against a political adversary?. >> we have been very clear about this.
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>> we have director ray say the same thing. these two agencies are in the midst of the unprecedented attack by individuals to undermine the of credibility with the same group of individuals was praised uniformly bad now to indictments to plea deals part of the inner circle now the only thing that has changed we need to hear your voice rule of law the independence of this investigation because of the future of our democracy so i urge you to do so. i yield back. >> mr. labrador is
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recognized for five minutes. i shudder as of of the questions from the other side. have you ever said to the president's wing man?. >> no sir. >> has the attorney general of the united states ever said he is the president's wing man?. >> not to my knowledge. >> yet he said he was the of we me and yet i never heard us single democrat object to that suit is ridiculous that tried to question in your integrity to be loyal or not as clearly indicated you could be loyal to the constitution and to the president of the united states as long as there isn't a conflict of interest if you are not doing anything inappropriate is okay to be the wing man and also to say you'll be loyal to the president has long as they're not asking you to do anything illegal. >> yes.
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so what is the of goal of the russians?. >> as reflected in the report was the goal to undermine american n confidence and democracy. >>. >> i n paraphrasing. >> to undermine the u.s. democratic process. >> correct. >> nobody in the united states has done more to undermine the democratic process and a the press with a false allegation after allegation after allegation so if they move from one allegation in the they moved to the neck stand to the next because they are unhappy with the results can you tell me why the
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independent counsel was appointed?. >> i have explained publicly based upon the cheek circumstances i have nothing to add to that. >> so to be charged with investigating any links or coordination between the russian government and individuals with a campaign of donald trump's. >> any of those that would arise directly from the investigation?. >> that charge is overly broad but with those two new charges brought by the independent counsel?. >> those four individuals charged pled guilty to will stand trial. >> have they been charged between the russian government and individuals associated?. >> the charges speak for
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themselves i will not comment beyond. >> is there anything of a coordination between the trump administration and russians?. >> i will not comment beyond of the charging documents i thank you can draw your own conclusions. >> so i do agree on riverside we should get to the bottom and know the truth whether collusion in the region also know any departmendepartmen t who tries to interfere with our elections. can you tell me was their collusion between the doj and fusion gps to use a democratic funded government for political and legal purposes?. >> i don't know the answer to that. the language used was coordination and i believe that was the language used by a director comey to
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publicly testified with the ongoing investigation. was there any coordination between the 0j and fusion gps?. >> if there were i would be concerned with the ongoing reviews. >> so there could be an investigation where members of the doj colluded with an enemy about political party and candidate to undermine the election to the united states?. >> so if you want to restore the trust of the american people i think the department of justice has a duty to find out who started this investigation and a the
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purpose those that have an outcome and a political race using the department of justice that is one of the worst crimes that has occurred when it comes to politics do you agree?. >> that certainly would be of great concern. >> hope you are truly investigating this and we get to the bottom of this. i yield back. >>. >> thanks to your employees whose serve every day to do very important work have you spoken with the president since appointed?. >> of course, spec i haven't spoken with the president one on one. >> as he called you since you were appointed?.
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>> by telephone yes. as i said i told you there is anything inappropriate would talk about it but consulting me that is the way you run a the government >> i will not comment with mike litigation's with the president. >> comedy times?. >> will not comment there is nothing wrong with a president consulting with the deputy attorney general as long as it is not inappropriate. >> to demonstrate that testimony from director comey that has not been contradicted that the department about the ongoing investigations. with respect to attorney-general sessions
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refusal to allow the reporters to discuss the text messages?. >> not to my knowledge. >> would you tell us if there was?. >> there is no impropriety to make these available. attorney general sessions is recused from the investigation asperities relate to that investigation?. >> i am not aware. >> deputy attorney general rosenstein if you are overseeing an investigation and you learn that one of the investigators is part of the investigation should keep them on the team or
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remove them?. >> lb. >> so what did special counsel mueller do?. >> he chose day option. >> day president has said the number of things about you and the fbi is in tatters with that inter intelligence community so considering that continue disparagement are your employees proud to work for a person who highs at - - has integrity and such high regard?. >> to work for the department of justice as long as they do their job appropriately. >> i hope that is the case by your testimony is you believe special counsel mueller has high integrity?. >> yes. >> this is a fair investigation? also you believe that and you
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understand he is publicly indicted two individuals with respect to the investigation?. >> rex. >> also to guilty pleas?. >> correct is there a good cause to fire him?. >> not to my knowledge. >> but i am concerned that my house judiciary committee colleagues have signaled in discreetly that they would probably give up president a pass if he were to fire or order you to fire special counsel mueller. their statements that undermine the character of special counsel mueller because that flies in the face of the rule of law that would not be okay with the american people are with the spirit of our country was founded upon. mr. deputy attorney general your investigation the
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important part is not to be afraid we need you to be fearless we have a president was demonstrated a willingness to involve himself with the ongoing investigations and for the sake of our country and rule of law i hope you continue to demonstrate the character that got you into this position that gives us faith in your ability to carry out that mission. i yield back. >> i know we have talked a lot about this but on account of the folks to stay there is a concern out there that we have a special counsel working 24/7 the
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trump administration the department of justice and various have not been able to confirm or deny what is going on to the potential misdeeds of the of clinton campaign with those various speaking engagements for former president clinton i'm not asking you to break that confidentiality but those that led me sadly disappointed hoodoo think there should be a special counsel appointed to the other side so instead of beating that dead horse that i have been talking a lot
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about with the doj opposition with of liberty -- "usa liberty act" so why is it so hard why is it so difficult? we understand the need to have those circumstances so to see things for foreign intelligence purposes to be rolled into more mainstream criminal investigations why is this so difficult to get a warrant? to create the necessary probable cause in a matter of hours with the judges on called to say why is it such a problem?.
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>> i want to duplicate but i wish you could join us to enhance public confidence you don't see them 99.9% of the time and it would be burdensome but like understand the concerns those are serious concerns we will do everything that we can to reassure people that is longer than the time that you have a for the of full process and with the national security community many that were involved how important it is to have this tool to not be in this position again if they say why did they put these facts together? that is the basis
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and i can assure you i would be in favor of that but to have those safeguards in place we have people who are responsible who will love for way infringing to make sure no violations of americans' rights. >> we may respectfully disagree i agree we have to fight terrorism but finally i want to touch on cybersecurity used to run bin cybersecurity company you would hear breeches on the private sector quickly
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about what you are doing with respect to that and what they need to do to help you. >> there is a lot of resources but protecting against the cyberthreat that is significant with the intelligence threat and also a criminal threats for people who try to break into our system to commit crime and defraud american. it is very challenging an issue know the we need to stay one step ahead of those capabilities so the fbi does have resources devoted to that. and that is an area. >> mr. chairman thank you
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special counsel mueller for being here today that only reappointed by donald trump also a george bush to serve as his attorney for maryland. in a profile view that the u.s. attorney a former prosecutor says a poster child for the fair minded prosecutor thank you for your service and exemplary service. >> thank you. >> last week recalled -- and we were told nobody has gone below the law?. >> so now of foreign to our democracy is that people have to have trust and there are some colleagues that have suggested if you make
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political contributions you cannot be fair and impartial so these are a matter of public record so when it comes to the special counsel investigation you in the fbi director are held accountable.
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and don't want to comment beyond the charging document. >> thank you. you must tablet that those
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the you have agreed there is that basis? to correct. >> and with the russian ambassador?. >> correct the documents speak for themselves. >> you agree there is a solid basis of indictments?. >> we are careful to said they are presumed innocent. >> so you could agree there is a factual basis?. >> i am not aware of any impropriety. >> solitude talk about that exemplary record you did mention a vietnam veteran solo receiving a bronze
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star?. >> correct. >> also a purple heart. >> yes. >> what do we have here? to make a special counsel investigation supervised by mr. deputy attorney general rosenstein described as a fair minded prosecutor appointed twice being run by 89 as the vietnam veteran and the making over $39,000 in contributions that is the leadership of the special counsel investigation and i am okay with that. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from california.
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>> so have that travel restriction order was that appropriate?. >> i disagreed with her decision. >> if you were in a position to get an order then if you think that is unconstitutional manures ponces to resign your office?. >> but ultimately if i concluded it was unconstitutional. >> obviously you cannot have a department operating a law unto themselves if they think something is said they don't follow the orders?. >> it bothered me why the recent revelations i agree it doesn't is calling it disqualify you but when she took as action to say standing up to trump does of
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very direct rebuke to the president. so with the political opinion how they conduct themselves in office so given bad example of the strongly held anti-trump opinion how he conducts himself as day e mail. >> to understand the importance that there is no bias reflected. >> so is there an actual bias? is there the appearance of that because clearly it wasn't something with the russia investigation who started that? did trump start that?. >> it is under review by the intelligence community and
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nothing i can talk about with the initiation of the investigation but we will provide access to the committee. >> the fbi paid for the dossier?. >> day know the answer to the question?. >> i believe but the intelligence committee. >> that is not true we have oversight if that was spent on the of the dossier we have every right to that information was that information and used to get surveillance?. >> i appreciate that question and know there is some concern about one half-hour every day is set aside is on the goal for me to talk about those i cannot answer one way or another.
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>>. >> this is used then do you agree? christopher steel was met before the election was unauthorized?. >> i do not know the details it is still developing but we do agree to make it available for congressional interviews you can ask him those questions. >> you need to pursue that it is your department working with christopher steel n his wife works for fusion gps. >> i get it. so how much of this russian investigation was duke to him? there is nothing he could do but how much of this is infected with his
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bias?. >> we're not talking specifically about this investigation but to have procedures that they are properly vented. >> but if you look at that damning taxed this is bad. with the path for consideration that there is no way that we cannot take that risk is like the insurance policy if you die before you are 40. if you have a wal-mart shopping trump voters how do they react to that? today
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have confidence the you cannot see the american people will vote to somebody and?. >> that you can provide reassurance to have risen for free it internal affairs officers to get to the bottom of that. we will deliver a report. >> you are out of time. >> but to be consistent with his responsibilities to get it right. >> i yield back. >> the chair recognizes for five minutes. >> it is good to see you again over a decade of your service but the emoluments clause which you know by the
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president of the united states and other public officials with 180 members brought a lawsuit against the president's continuing zero collection for the trump hotel or the golf course the department of justice took n position we have a standing to raise that if members of congress is required to raise the president's violation how we deal with the problem?. >> that is pending litigation that is the judge's determination of that prevails i don't have anything to say beyond that. >> you say special counsel mueller is dedicated and respected and heroic with a distinguished military
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career and is qualified. and also a registered republican by president bush. and as a registered republican. >> to criminal prosecutors and investigators have a right to those of public office? those engaged thousands of dollars of contributions from they were prosecutors to candidates for office. do you think that is the grounds for overturning verdicts?. >> so on the eve of this
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hearing we got hundreds of text messages and no doubt makes for fascinating reading. and of course they are equal opportunity critics with bernie sanders, trashing senator o'connell and o'malley and of course, donald trump who was called then it is to say that i hardly qualifies him for any awards for originality or insight for the public could have found that in millions of tweeds across the country but i was amazed to learn to love this select group of reporters to choose the doj to screen the see males for al -- the
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emails. to look at the ongoing investigation outside of the up prez conference. i was amazed. i with don know the of president but generally speaking to be forthcoming as i can. in that ongoing investigation into a day press office or reporter. >> i don't know the details. >> are you aware of the rule that says. >> i appreciate that if the increase came in we did consult with the inspector general to determine he had
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no objection and if he had a can assure you i would not have authorized seven there has spent talk of the fruit of the poisonous tree with a wild goose chase for a villain who was promptly removed from the investigation but to say there could be freed from the poisonous tree but the fourth amendment doctrine that relates to evidence deriving from the illegal search for seizure had heard any allegation having conducted that illegal search or seizure?. >> no. i yield back. >>. >>.
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>> the with those on the committee i had as a chance to see a number of these text messages you have then asked about those. >> how many have you read?. >> the few dozen i believe. >> i cannot read some of these publicly because there that obscene or offensive. so with the department of justice i will tell you that i change my questioning because as i read them i found them so sickening and heartbreaking and felt compelled to do so. in addition there also evidence. not of the appearance of
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impropriety but in actual vitriolic a bias of actual hatred for the subject of the special counsel investigation by folks serving as the independent instigator and a lawyer on the special counsel itself. mr. deputy attorney general, please tell me when you read these text. >> negative special counsel investigation does and how those identified subjects but i can tell you with regard to those text messages we conclude that it was appropriate to complete the investigation and if they reach the conclusion it
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is important for me to wait the formal conclusion of the recommendation before reaching the official decision. >> with all the other conflicts of interest but i will tell you first of all, human sinn the assistant deputy attorney general and employees sometimes have spouses that are involved we're not talking about wal-mart's store microsoft someone who had 10 employees. his wife was one and engaged with meetings. and with the russian investigations.
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>> with that conflict of interest with impropriety the talk about judgment. . . . . and there were a number of folks already working on the investigation so i don't know what extent my goal was to get him working as quickly as possible so i don't know the screening he did.
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>> with respect to that being the team if you set out to complete bias or prejudice or conflict of interest the only way you could do a better job is to pick this team and have the ion with her t-shirts every day. >> as i said i talked with the director and he understands the importance of avoiding any bias in the investigation. >> deputy attorney general, i've talked often about the fact i think people can lose faith and trust in elected officials but if they investigate and extricate violations of the walw but we may lose the republic. i know you take that seriously in the role where you are, but as it has been said, events like
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this and the daily transgressions that become public one after another are not serving the department of justice with the fbi well. i encourage you to do everything you can to restore integrity to those organizations we have both revered. >> i agree with you and dearly and want to assure you that when the attorney general talked with me about taking the job, he conveyed his desire to make certainty. we do everything to enhance public confidence in the rule of law and ensure that it runs appropriately serving for 12 years he was so proud to return because of the deep respect the attorney general sessions as for the department and i think that is reflected in the appointments that have been made to the department and setting myself aside we have a team of experienced professors running
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the department so i cannot assure you there will be no wrongdoing. the chair recognizes the gentle lady from washington for five minutes. >> attorney deputy, thank you for your service to the country at this consequent time. we have spent three hours and many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have parked on the theme of expressing concern and got text messagethe textmessages that wed yesterday but i would like to remind everyone of where we were just over a year ago. the fbi was conducting investigations in the e-mails and the leaks occurred routinely into the reports cited by us within the fbi as a cause surrounding the investigation. one agent described the fbi as
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trump land and another said it was the antichrist and said the reason is because they are pro- trump. they have severe consequences and swung the results in trump's favor and i didn't hear any of my colleagues is expressing concern when this was happening despite the very real problems we were seeing. the political affiliation is different from bias and i want to remind my colleagues that we are allowed these are instances of special counsel and fbi director james comey and you are lifelong republicans.
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it is clear to me after listening for three hours of questioning. it was an attempt on the other side to attack and undermine the investigation and the credibility to lay the groundwork for the desire to fire and validate the response of the investigation act that i believe would cripple the democracy. history will not judge those acts kindly and being dragged into the president's personal vendettas are attempts to undermine the very fundamentals of our democracy as something that we must resist and so
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deputy attorney general, let me ask you again in the role overseeing the fbi come is it your sense that the fbi's impartiality is at any risk of? >> it's important to distincti distinction. it is damaged by every incident that comes to public attention but the character is a function of approximately 37,000 employees and as i said earlier, i would be very impressed with the character of the agents and employees that i know personally. do you believe that the fbi is politically motivated i don't know if you can counter any agency. there are individuals who do things they shouldn't do it.
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let me move to the elections committee on november 15 when the attorney general appeared before the committee. to ensure the security of the elections and at the time the attorney general said thaattorne had not yet ordered a review of what they need to be updated to protect from foreign influence. as such reviewed yet been ordered? >> we have a lot of ongoing work relating to the protections and not enough time to go through them but it is a high priority and as we've met with the
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director and some of his experts we are going to continue to do everything we can -- >> we would love to have an update on that. let me use my last few seconds to ask about civil rights. i have been very concerned that the doj is not actively defending civil rights and is instead dismantling structures and for decades they've been used by the department of justice to protect people from police brutality and discrimination. what's the statuwhat is the stam agreement in the open investigations and one case an act of litigation brought under this section but is managed by the department of civil rights division? >> i don't have personal knowledge of all of those but if i may, yesterday i attended the annual award ceremony in the civil rights division and the civil rights division has a lot of very talented and proud attorneys. the attorney general spoke about his deep respect for the work of the civil rights position and so incompetent that work will go
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on. i would appreciate a response to that later when you have a chance, thank you. i was back. the chair recognizes mr. colli mr. collins. >> a few things, something that was interesting and two things on the question i want to have a think you in good conscience shows as many of us did a respect many of us could trust in our nursery to find out it wasn't put together with interest. one of the questions did you know of the bias and you
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responded no. so you would agree it looks to be presented in this what you agree with that? >> i agree they raise concern but i'm going to withhold my judgment until the investigation is completed. >> i spent time last week with the end tv to fbi director and it was interesting some of the comments he felt like he didn't have to provide to the committee i hope after that he realized we do have jurisdiction that he brought up this issue so i want to focus these last few minutes on this issue at the time you gave direct accountability to the director and when you discuss moving him off the committee come off the investigation i believe we were together when we learned from the inspector general what he had.
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it was just coming out that he was removed. >> i think the fact that he was no longer in the case reasons were not known. >> and again it does present in the realitinto reality whether s true or false that perception is we found a problem this investigation can maintain it and now it is starting to come out but i do have a question and a process because mr. ray last week said he wasn't demoted and i made the comment at that point it's funny the second in command of the investigation being put on high profile one o high-profe highest in this town for a long time simply being moved over to hr was not a demotion. why would you put somebody with challenges that you now have ha, why would you put him in hr if there seems to be a problem so i have a question when he was removed a ke that he possessed e
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security clearance? >> i believe he did, but i'm fairly confident he did. >> i'm certain he would have had a security clearance. >> wasn't revoked or suspended at this point? >> not to my knowledge. >> why would it not be. i think what we are having here is a double standard. with a new agent coming in and having what is now perceived on the bias that would be perceived as most average individuals having an influence on the outcome of the investigator especially became involved in all of the other parts of this changing letters i think the interesting thing is is he being treated differently than a younger age and in another field office. >> i appreciate that question.
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if i may explain come to the average american it might seem unusual, that within the department of justice we are subject to the employment regulations and there are strict rules about what we may and may not do. when we have in obligatio allegf misconduct unless and until the conclusion is made that is warranted, said the decision to transfer agent was made and that is not a punishment if there is an adverse finding and again i'm supervising the inspector general and need to withhold my judgment that if there is an adverse finding and the employees have to process rights to provide an explanation on defense i don't know what it is going to be but at the conclusion -- >> let me just jump in and i understand that this is a gentleman through that takes i understand you want to protect america that he is still at this
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point still has a security clearance. does it not strike you that at least this person that had access to high risk security issues why would they not have been separated out under all those rules and regulations at least has he been polygraph with respect to this? >> there will be a public record and i should clarify it would have been completed in november but it's not completed yet i anticipate that it will be ready soon. >> the inspector general made a determination that it wasn't finished. >> the impression here is someone has been treated special
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and it is on you at this point to make sure thank you. deputy attorney general i believe we touched earlier on this but i want to convert your answer do you agree with the unanimous finding in the 17 agencies of the community that russia on orders of vladimir putin actively worked on the 2016 presidential election? >> i agree with the assistance of a guess. >> in an october interview with the target usa podcast, you stated the following, quote, "if the interview i think we need to take appropriate actions in response." "-end-double-quote. before this very committee the attorney general stated that we are not where we need to be on this issue and there is no review underway by the department unless the steps should be taken.
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you've set protecting the integrity is a high priority. you seem to indicate earlier you had conversations with the attorney general and fbi director. a simple yes or no question. has there been a formal review of the attacks made on the 2006 -- 2016 election and what the doj must do to protect the integrity? >> that is the second time this issue has been raised. i didn't watch all the testimony and i have to check that i believe he may have been returning to the reviereferringe legislation as opposed to the review of the issue. >> i asked very specifically what steps have been taken following the appearance on the senate side and if any steps had been taken to review and to protect the future elections i'm asking the same question a few. has there been a review of what russia tried to do or any other agents tried to do to interfere last year and what must we do to protect the next year?
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>> i believe the answer is yes but i can get further information for you if you like. >> if the answer is yes, it hasn't been shared with us as of today. we have no information shared and that is an important issue. the elections are a short time away and we need to make sure that they are secure. have there been any specific actions taken by an attorney general following his appearance before this committee backs you talked about meetings. is there anything specifically you can share with us? >> yes. the fbi, the attorney general i met with discussed a variety of things they are doing, some of which are classified and in addition to the homeland security has a role to play in coordination with state and local election officials, so there's a lot going on in that area. >> i appreciate that, but i think that we have to expect 2016 wasn't the first time they tried to interfere and they've
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been interfering around the world they will try to interfere in the future in elections. the attacks will become more aggressive, more intense and more completed. we need to stay a step ahead of them. twice now the attorney general sessions first and in front of the senate and in front of this committee said not enough has been done. the meeting you were talking about, did that happen before november or is that subsequent to the appearance year? >> i would be happy to review it but i don't think that there is any inconsistency in my answer. >> he committed t to be the department would brief the committee on any actions taken. last month after his appearance i sent a follow-up letter asking the briefing before the end of the year before this weekend of the intended adjournment in congress but i haven't even received a response let alone a scheduling of the briefing.
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are you willing to come if we can have a briefing that you will update the committee on the actions that are being taken to ensure that they are secure? >> i will make sure it happens and make short response to the letter. we make every effort and i'm sure tha that's in the queue. >> thank you. i would hope this move to the top of the queue. it's not a priority i and a long list of items that may get to it eventually the confidence of the american people in our electoral process. if the confidence of the american people in our democracy is damaged as the russians have clearly tried to do, then the future of the republic is challenged. this is not a partisan issue, republican or democrat. we need to make sure people respect the elections and know that their votes will be counted and their voices will be heard. i am imploring the department of justice to work with this committee, to work with congress to make sure the american people
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can be confident in the future and i hope you will work with us. >> i want to be clear that is the top of the list for us and the attorney general's as well. >> the committee is advised mr. snyder and i are advised we have votes on the floor. general, we will be back in about 35, 40 minutes if you want to get a bite to eat. the committee will reconvene immediately after the vote. >> i think we have four to six more members to ask questions.


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