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tv   Acting AG Whitaker Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee - Opening...  CSPAN  February 10, 2019 10:34am-2:55pm EST

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server at mcdonald's for giving him the wrong order, and she turned out to be pregnant and this story made the newspapers. it was at the top of his google search for the rest of his life from then on after it happened in 2013. he couldn't get a job because any time anyone googled his name and perspective employers said they don't want to hire this guy and it ruined his life. >> helen anders on online shaming, tonight on 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. friday, matthew whitaker testified before the house judiciary committee for more than four hours, with most of lawmakers questions dealing with the robert mueller investigation and his role in overseeing the special counsel. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the judiciary committee will come to order. without objection the chair is authorize today declare recesses of the committee at anytime. we welcome everyone to this morning's hearing on oversight
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of the department of justice and we welcome our witness, the acting attorney general of the united states, matthew whitaker. before we turn to the business at hand, i want to take a moment to comment on the passing of our friend and former colleague chairman john dingell of michigan. representative dingell was elected to congress in 1955 and went on to become the longest serving member of congress in the history of the united states and by virtue of enduring accomplishment, one of the greatest. he was a presence in the hearing room, a determined investigator and a true believer in congressman oversight. he loved the house of representatives. we remember him for his humor, his charm, his unshakeable integrity, and of course, his fantastic twitter account. our thoughts are with our colleagues debbie dingell and the entire dingell family. chairman dingell will be missed. >> mr. chairman could i say as well in for the, you know,
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mr. dingell's service and our colleague debbie and the service he rendered, i'll agree with you on that. >> thank you. >> and recognize myself for an opening statement. mr. whitaker, i want to begin my remarks by commending the tradition of independent law enforcement at the department of justice. as you and i both know it's the career officials at the department, the fbi and the u.s. attorney's offices whose commitment to the rule of law protect our democracy. given the focus of this hearing, i therefore feel compelled to single out the career ethics officials who help you transition into your role of acting attorney general. on december 20th in a letter from the department meant to justify some of the decisions we will examine here today, congress learned the following, quote, in the meeting with the acting attorney general senior staff, ethics officials concluded that if the recommendation were sought, they would advise that the
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acting attorney general should recuse himself from supervision of the special counsel investigation because it was their view that a reasonable person with knowledge of relevant fact would likely question the impartiality of the acting tonk closed quote. even though you apparently did not ask for their advice on this topic these career officials went out of their way to tell you that your many public past criticisms of the special counsel's investigation were grounds for you to step aside. they insisted that your recusal would have been right for the department and good for the country. they gave you this advice with no guarantee that their jobs would be protected. two years into an administration distinguished for firing officials of the department and the fbi who are friends of the president. did so knowing that attorney general sessions had just been removed for no reason other than following their guidance two years earlier. their advice to you was an act of bravery.
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it is worthy of the best tradition of independence and integrity at the department of justice. in my view your conduct including your decision to ignore important ethics advice when you became acting attorney general no matter the consequences falls well short of the mark. before you joined the department of justice as chief of staff to former attorney general sessions you were the sole full-time employee for the foundation of accountability and civic trust. the organization has been described by republicans as, quote, a chop shop of fake ethics complaints, unquote, against democratic politicians. fact as it is called also funded your appearances on print and cable television in the years leading up to your tenure at doj. these media appearances and this is why it's become relevant is the cause of much concern. one month before you joined the investigation, titled mueller investigation of trump is going
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too far. and to a lynch mob. and you suggested that the special counsel's budget should be squeezed until this investigation, quote, grinds to almost a halt, unquote. like everyone else at the department of justice, you're entitled to your own political opinions. this committee should not be in the business of vilifying government personnel for their private-- particularly when the department takes steps to mitigate even the appearance of conflict of interest in an ongoing investigation. but when career officials said to take steps for your conflict of interest and that it was bad for the department and administration of justice you ignored them. you decided that your private interest in overseeing this particular investigation and perhaps others from which you should have been recused is more important than the integrity of the department. the question that this committee must now ask is why. why did president trump choose to replace attorney general sessions with an outspoken
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critic of the special counsel instead of with any number of qualified individuals who already received senate confirmations. why did you ignore the career officials who went to extraordinary lengths to tell you that your work in the special counsel's work would undermine the credibility of the department of justice and why did you land on the special counsel's investigation at a february press conference. is it true that you've been fully briefed on the investigation and that the special counsel's work is quote, close to being completed unquote and why did president trump leave you running the department in acting capacity as long as he did? what did he hope to get out testify? what did you provide? the committee is determined to find the answers to these questions today, to that end we have taken certain steps to ensure your cooperation with members on both sides of the aisle. first, although i am pleased you eventually agreed to appear here voluntarily, the committee
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has authorized me a subpoena to compel your testimony if necessary, the ranking member will note that argument subpoena threat was a mistake, but as you know, i gave you no assurances until after you agreed to appear today. given our concerns about your attendance until late last night, taking steps to assure your appearance seems perfectly appropriate. now that you're here and prepared to testify i agree there's no need for us to resort to that measure for now. i nonetheless am concerned by some of the arguments the department raised in a lengthy letter we received late yesterday. i very much doubt, for example, that any privilege attached to communications about criminal investigations where the president his campaign, his business and his close associates are subject, and in some cases targets of the investigation. i also take issue with your written testimony which we did not receive until almost midnight last night. when you suggested that you quote, will continue the longstanding executive branch policy and practice of not
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disclosing information that may be subject to executive privilege, closed quote. in other words, you reserve the right to refuse to answer the question forever. that's not how it works. nearly three weeks ago i provided you with a list of questions related to communications you may have had with the white house about the circumstances of your hiring, the termination of mr. sessions and any insight you may have into the special counsel's investigation among other topics. i gave you those questions in advance so that you would have time to consult with the white house on any possible question of executive privilege. i understand that you may disagree with the committee about your responsibility to undertake that review and as a consequence you may not fully respond to every question that we ask today. as we discussed i'm willing to work with the department on those disagreements on a case by case basis, but i take your reluctance to answer questions about these investigations as a deeply troubling sign. when members asked if you conveyed sensitive information to the president or ignored
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ethics advice at the direction of president or worked with the white house to orchestrate the firing of your predecessor, the answer should be no. your failure to respond fully to our questions here today in no way limits the ability of this committee to get the answers in the longer run, even if you're a private citizen when we finally learn the truth. and though i'm willing to work with the department to obtain this information i will not allow that process to drag out for weeks and months. the time for this administration to postpone accountability is over. it is my intent that there be no surprises today. we have laid all the groundwork for that hearing out in the open. we have given you months to prepare. we have publicly documented every request we have made. we have provided our republican colleagues with a meaningful opportunity to weigh in on the process we have nothing to hide from you or anyone else, we hope you have nothing to hide from us. despite the ethics advice you were given, mr. whitaker, you
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insist on remaining, and the job to protect the special counsel until his work is complete. your testimony today is vital that that responsibility and to find the truth. to protect the department and to follow the facts and law to their conclusion. thank you. it is now my pleasure to recognize the ranking member of the judiciary committee, the gentleman from georgia, mr. collins, for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, acting attorney general for being here. but i would like to-- i'll start off this way and thank the chairman for a show of honesty. we now have the reason for this hearing. it has nothing to do with the oversight of the doj. it has everything to do as we found out this morning in a document dump from the democratic side of this committee and also another committee, that this is nothing more than a character assassination and we're going to also decide to see if we can just do something and get at the president while we have the chance.
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yesterday i want to tell you a story, my kids are now grown. they're 26 and down to 20 and i always use today love the easter season and time of especially hide and seek and going to find you know, eggs and that look on their face when they found that last egg they were looking for and just that look of surprise and yesterday was that for me again. i was back being a father again because yesterday was nothing, but pure political theater. it was wonderful! was a time for hide and seek. the chairman had a hearing, let's do a subpoena. we're going to stand tough! and let's do the timeline real quick. we get through with it, and as i had warned this committee, a preemptive subpoena was not a good idea. it shields all of the witnesses coming before this committee and probably have a detrimental effect to the attorney general. hey, i'm the minority, who cares? so we do it. and the acting attorney general's office responded. and about 5:00 the chairman
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sent a letter saying we will example on acting case by case bases, know we need assurances you're not going to order subpoenas yesterday and today. okay, back and forth, doj as i understand, no, that's not enough assurance and we were informed around a certain time last night about 7:00 last night that an agreement had been made and it was a full cave by the committee chairman. no subpoenas today. so everything that we did early in the day was a complete waste of time. now, what was even more about this, let's talk about twitter account. last night around 8:00 the chairman's twitter account said acting attorney general is going to show up today at 9:30. the interesting thing about that is they link to the 5:00 letter not this letter which ask now to be admitted to the record which by the way i was cc'd on and i guess this is it, but we're going to put this into the record now, the letter
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to the attorney general in which the chairman of this committee says there will be no subpoena tomorrow and any differences we have we've work on later and i ask you now to be entered into the record. >> without objection. >> at 8:00 we decide to send out to a tweet, many in the media picked up on and run stories today saying the reason the judiciary chairman wins, the attorney general's coming he doesn't have assurances, no, he does right here. there's going to be no subpoena today. so when we talk about transparency which was so evident yesterday now we get to the real meat of the issue. it's amazing to me as i've said yesterday when you come here and you put an issue of this hearing yet on thursday, bill barr was approved out of the senate judiciary committee. by next thursday, he will be the attorney general. this gentleman right here is finishing up the last term of acting attorney general he was willing to come, but yesterday
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yet, we had the charade yesterday. and more by the chairman's opening statement. it's not about what the good men and women in the department of justice are doing or fbi agents doing their job and fbi agents we'll probably hear that. this could be doj oversight. but i'm not sure your financial situation from 2014 to 2016 has anything to do with this hearing. it's beyond the scope of this hearing. so if this is what we're going to do, if this is where we're going, then i want to remind everyone that this is not the senate. if my friend on the other side of this aisle wanted to do a confirmation hearing, they ought to do it upfront. and if they want to do a confirmation hearing on senators, run for senate.
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this is an oversight hearing, supposedly, oops, i'm sorry, back to theaterics, again the curtain opened up and found out what's going on. no, we want to damage the president. we want to talk about your private conversations, what you did and why the president a most amazing quote i heard a moment ago. why the president may have put you there for-- that's offensive. when we look at this and we go through this, mr. whitaker, there are a lot of issues that we've discussed personally and as far as knowing this and discussing things that we could do oversight-- frankly on our side we're frustrated with and that's going to come out today, but for the chairman to do what we did yesterday, to have this hide and seek game to play it along and willingly mislead the press and everybody else to think you're coming here today because of a partial assurance, not a full-blown cave, which is exactly what happened in his letter, is a travesty, not only to this committee, but to the people watching and reporter who thought it was real.
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when we look forward into this hearing today, it's time on this one, if this is the way we're going to go, then we'll have plenty of sun. we're going to have plenty of theaterics, bring your popcorn, maybe set up a popcorn machine in the back because that's what this is becoming, it becoming a show. when your presence here, you're coming voluntarily. you all the said you're coming voluntarily. so we have the show yesterday. we now have the curtain drop down and mr. whitaker, i guess your confirmation hearing is here. you've got five days left on the job or six days left on the job. we could join together with the chairman and say, mr. barr come in here and you've been the attorney general, mr. barr has been the attorney general, and been here before. we're going to have a show, dog and pony show, let' get it out. this is the most amazing thing when-- you know, but i go back to something, sometimes as a father i started this as a father and end it as a father.
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i give my kid advice and they look at me like, dad, i love you, but then they give me that sort of dog look, i don't believe you. you know the sad part this is? we predicted it all yesterday. we knew what was coming. the sad part about it is, the chairman chose to play hide and seek. he chose to cave at the end and by the way, still not have open and transparency. i'm glad we did. glad we got it now, but this is no way to run the railroad and it's no way to run one of the most prestigious committees in this house and this is something that everyone should be concerned about. there's enough at doj for us to do oversight on, but mr. whitaker, this is your life like the old tv show, they just want a piece of you and with that, mr. chairman, purse to 4 rule 16 i do now move to adjourn. adjourn. >> mr. chairman.
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>> motion an adjourn made and motions to adjourn are not debatable. all for say aye. >> all nor no. >> roll call. >> if the clerk is here, she'll call the roll. we'll wait a moment for the clerk. >> no, the-- >> where is the clerk? they're coming. >> mr. chair. >> the roll call is in progress.
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[inaudible conversations] >> the clerk is prepared and the clerk will call the roll. mr. chairman. >> no. >> mr. chairman votes no. [roll call] [roll call] . [roll call] >> so we may continue to pursue the truth, i vote no. [roll call]
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[roll call] [roll call] [roll call] [roll call] [roll call] [roll call]
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[roll call] [roll call] [roll call] [roll call] >> are there any other members wishing to vote? >> i didn't vote. >> gentleman from texas. any other members who wish to voted that haven't voted. >> mr. radcliff votes aye.
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>> clerk will report. >> mr. chairman there are 24 no's and 10 ayes. >> the motion to adjourn is not approved. i will now introduce today's witness. matthew g whit ter is the acting attorney general of the united states. previously served as staff to attorney general jeff sessions. he was appointed as the u.s. attorney for the southern district of iowa on june 15th, 2004 by president george w. bush. before that he was a managing partner of the des moines based law firm whitaker, haguenow and gustof llp and director for fact, foundation for
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accountability and civil trust. 2014-2017. graduated with master of business administration, jurist doctor and he we welcome mr. whitaker to this hearing. if you'll please rise, i'll begin by swearing you in. raise your right arm. do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury the testimony you're about to give is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, information and belief, so help you god? thank you. let the record show that the witness answered in the affirmative. thank you and please be seated. please note that your written testimony will be entered into the record in its entirety. accordingly i ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes. to help you stay within that time there's a timing light on your table. when the light switches from green to yellow you'll have one minute to conclude your
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testimony. when the light turns red it signals the time is expired. mr. whitaker. >> thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member collins for the opportunity to testify before the committee today. i am looking forward to discussing with you some of the accomplishments and priorities of the department of justice. before i start i would also like to acknowledge the passing of former chairman dingell. he was a statesman and a leader, and it's a sad day in this committee, i'm sure. first of all, let me say that it's an honor to represent the 115,000 men and women of the department of justice. the department is blessed with extremely talented, highly principled public servant dedicated to upholding our great constitution and the laws of the united states. i saw that up close during nigh five and a half years as united states attorney for the southern district of iowa. our office put criminals behind bars and kept the people of
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iowa staff i personally prosecuted several important criminal cases and worked with men and women of the a.t.f., dea, fbi, and state and local and federal partners. it was a privilege. in 2017 i returned to the department and served for 13 months as chief of staff to former attorney general jeff sessions, a man for whom i have great respect. he led the department with integrity, with dedication to the rule of law, and with the commitment to carrying out the policies of the president of the united states. i am deeply honored that the president selected me to continue this work at the department. the senate will soon consider president's nomination for our next attorney general and let me just say this, no one is more qualified than bill barr. i am working to ensure that he will inherit a strong, confident and effective department of justice and i believe that he will. for the last three months i have had the privilege of serving as acting attorney general and i am impressed
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every single day by the dedication and hard work of our agents, our attorneys, and our support staff. over this time i have visited a number of our offices and met with federal prosecutors from across the country. for example, in december, we held our project safe neighborhoods conference where employees from nearly every u.s. attorney's office and hundreds of our state and local partners celebrated our successes and reductions in violent crime. our hard work is paying off. i firmly believe that your constituents are safer because of the work that we have done over the past two years. under this administration crime is down, and police morale is up. in fiscal year 2017, the justice department charged the largest number of violent crime defendants since we started to track this category back when bill barr was attorney general the last time. and then in fiscal year in 2018, we broke that record again by a margin of nearly 15%.
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we also charged more defendants with gun crimes than ever before. in fact, we broke that record by a margin of 17%. the department has banned bump stocks and improved the background check system and prosecuted those who lied to get a gun. our work is having an impact. in 2017, after two years of increases under the previous administration, violent crime and homicide rates went down nationwide. we do not have official numbers yet for 2018, but one estimate projected that the murder rate in our 29 biggest cities would drop by 7.6%, those are real lives being saved. much of the crime in this country is related to drug abuse and drug trafficking, but under this administration, prescriptions for the seven most abused preparation drugs are down 21% to the lowest level at least a decade. at the same time the dea lowered the legal limits of
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active ingredients in prescription opioids. there's no doubt that the vast majority are coming through the southern border that criminals and cartels exploit the weakness of our southern border, subjecting women and children to dangerous and unspeakable conditions in an attempt to smuggle them into the united states and of course, the dangers of our porous southern border become all more apparent every time an illegal aliens causes harm or death to an innocent american across this country. such as what happened to an outstamping young-- outstanding young woman from my home state, sara root. and for that we strengthen the border and our immigration system. in fiscal year 2018 we charged more with illegal entry than any other year in american history. in fact, we charged 85% more defendants with illegally
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entering america than we did the previous year. at the same time, we increased the number of felony illegal reentry prosecutions by more than 38%. whatever our views on immigration policy, we should all be opposed to illegal immigration and we should support these efforts. the department is also taking decisive action against human trafficking, both domestically and internationally. human traffickers, like other criminal enterprises, take advantage of our southern porous border to smuggle women and children into the united states to exploit them. we are bringing prosecutionings to dismantle transnational trafficking networks that lure victims across our border and traffic them for profit. last year the department of justice secured a record of 526 human trafficking convictions, a 5% increase from the previous year. the department is also doing its part to aggressively prosecute hate crimes.
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under this administration, we indicted 50 hate crime defendants and obtained 30 hate crime convictions in fiscal year 2018. ...
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independent of any outside interference. at no time has the white house asked for nor have i i provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel investigation or any other investigation. since becoming acting attorney general i've run the department of justice with the deadly to the law and to the constitution. during my time as leader of the department of justice, the department has complied with special counsel regulations and there's been no change in how the department has worked with the special counsel's office. over the present day the department and the committee have exchanged letters concerning the respective prerogatives of the legislative and executive branches. i am pleased we are able to reach an agreement that allows me to appear here voluntarily. i am pleased also that we agreed each branch which seek to accommodate each other and that if we have differences we will try to work them out in good faith for resorting to subpoenas are other formal legal
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processes. i will answer the committee's questions as best i can but i will continue the long-standing executive branch practice of not disclosing information that may be subject to executive privilege such as the contents of conversations with the president. as the supreme court has recognized this executive privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the separation of powers under the constitution. i have spent nearly 1/3 of my professional career at the department of justice and i personally committed to its success and integrity. i hope today's hearing will be constructive and help us partner together to address the priorities of the american people. the men and women of this department are proud of our accomplishments but we know that congress can help us to achieve even more. and as her agents at a prosecutors have shown you again and again, they deserve your
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support. thank you once again for the opportunity to testify today, and for your attention to the matters facing the department of justice. >> thank you for your testament to we will now proceed under the five-minute rule with questions. i will begin recognizing myself for five minutes. we fully intend to examine substantive questions of department policy, but part of our job is to make sure that core investigation at the department have not been compromised. so at a press conference last week you said you have been fully briefed on the special counsel's investigation. i would like to better understand that comment. yes or no, since her appointment as acting attorney general have you been briefed on criminal or counterintelligence matters within the special counsels purview? >> chairman, thank you for that question. as you know i cannot talk about
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ongoing investigations. >> utility been briefed or not. >> and as you comment about my recent press conference as it relates to the special conference, special counsels investigation, i have been briefed on it. >> so the answer is yes, thank you. were you briefed on those matters at any point what are serving as chief of staff to attorney general sessions? >> chairman, i know your interest in special counsel's investigation so want to be very clear about this. because general sessions was recused from the special counsel's investigation i have no involvement in special -- >> so the answer is no. thank you very kindly briefed about the special counsels work and went to the briefing take place? >> mr. chairman, i've said all that i'm planning on saying about the number of times or the briefings i received on the special counsel's investigation and the subject matter of an ongoing investigation. i think would be improper for me as a fitter today --
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>> whether you were great is a subject of an ongoing investigation? i don't follow that. >> the number of times i've been briefed, sir. >> it's our understanding that at least one briefing occurred in december before the decision not to accuse yourself in december 19. christmas day, is that correct? >> what's the basis for that question, sir? >> yes or no? >> i mean, -- >> it is our understanding at least one briefing occurred between your decision not to recuse yourself on december 19 and 6 days later christmas day, is that correct? simple simply enough, yes or no? >> mr. chairman, again what is the basis for your question. you are saying -- >> i'm asking the questions. i'll have five minutes so please answer yes or no. >> no, try to ongoing to, you asking the question. editor at a steady. can you tell me where you'd -- >> know. i don't have time to get into that. i'm asking you if that's correct or not.
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is it correct? what you briefed in that timeframe between december 19 and christmas day come simple question, yes or no? >> congressman, if every member here today asked questions based on their mere speculation -- >> nevermind. any point -- yes or no, yes or no, at any point since that briefing have you communicated any information you learned and everything to president trump? >> mr. chairman, i know that there is a unique -- >> that's a yes or no question. >> i'm sorry? >> have you communicated anything you learned in the breaking about the investigation to president trump, yes or no? >> mr. chairman, as i said earlier today in my opening remarks i do not intend today to talk about my private conversations with the president
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of united states but to answer your question i've not talked to the present a united states about about the special counsel's investigation. >> to any of the white house official? >> again, mr. chairman, as i mentioned in my opening statement i do not intend today to talk about my private conversations with the president nor white house officials but i will tell you consistent with what if all they said i have not talked about the special counsel's investigation with senior white house officials. >> okay. to any third party not already briefed about the special counsel's investigation, white have convey that information to the president or his legal team? >> who do you consider third-party individuals? >> it's really for your consideration. so any third party not already briefed about that investigation might have conveyed to you might think have conveyed that information to president trump or his legal team? >> who i -- third person so i think may have conveyed that
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information? >> yes. >> as i sit here in this chair right now, mr. chairman, you know, i don't, it's impossible question to ask. i do not believe that i have briefed third-party individuals outside of the department of justice. i've received the briefings myself and i'm usually the endpoint at that information. >> but you won't answer the question? >> i just did answer your question. >> i don't think you did, but let me just say this. your iteration of the departments long-standing policy appears designed to delight answering his questions as long as possible. i find that unacceptable. i understand the role of executive privilege and respect its value in our system of governance. however, congress is a coequal branch of government. we have the responsibility to conduct oversight. this is a responsibility we take very seriously. i've repeatedly tried to work with your office first in delaying the hearing until february, and then a provided you are questions in advance.
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i did this because executive branch own rules governing assertion of privilege which were issued by president reagan and heaven followed ever since say that ultimately it is up to the president did as to whether or not he wants to assert executive privilege. you cannot repeat forever the president might want to assert privilege. i've given you a fair to prepare for the hearing and to speak with the white house in advance so that we could avoid this fight in the first place. you don't appear to have done any of that. the department failed to do it due diligence here to meet is deeply troubling. i dutifully issuing a subpoena here would correct the problem and i'm going to give you the opportunity to rectify the situation. after today's hearing we will attempt to reach an accommodation with the department to obtain answers to these questions. as part of the process i ask for your commitment to return for a deposition before this committee in the coming weeks, under oath and understanding the transcript will be released to the public as soon as practicable
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thereafter. any questions about an answer today require consultation with the white house will be asked again at the proceeding and i expect either a clean answer or a proper assertion of privilege claimed by the president. i would ask members on both sides is i'll to make those questions clear for the record so we know what must be addressed at this future proceeding. now, in your capacity as acting attorney general have you ever been asked to approve any request for action to be taken by the special counsel? >> mr. chairman, i see that your five minutes is up and so -- [shouting] we -- either voluntarily. with agreed to five-minute rounds and -- >> the committee -- >> i think that's a violation of the end of the five-minute rule. >> the committee will come to order, point out we didn't enforce the five-minute rule on attorney, acting attorney general whitaker. we will -- i understand.
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you think might be a good breaking point. >> the attorney general was in the middle of saying something. answer the question, please. >> regular order. >> should answer the question? okay come in your speedy please ask the question. >> let me repeat the questions of people remember what we are talking about. in your capacity as acting attorney general have you ever been asked to approve any request for action to be taken by the special counsel? >> mr. chairman, i as the acting attorney general, i am a new special counsels rules. i am the person that is ultimate in charge of the investigation. and i exercise that authority under the special counsels regulations of the department of justice. >> i assume the answer is yes -- >> regular order. >> i assume the answer is yes, you have been asked and you suggest or no.
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>> mr. chairman, i want to be very clear about what you're asking me. are you asking if i asked the special counsel did something? >> regular order, mr. chairman. >> well, i'm asking if i think my words were clear enough. have you ever been asked to approve any request actions to be taken by the special counsel? last week you commented on the status of the investigation stating it was close to being completed. this was that despite the fact you recognize this mostly for his ongoing stated quote i really am not going to talk about an open and ongoing investigation otherwise, close coca-cola masking you is have you been asked to approve or disapprove a request or action to be taken by the special counsel? >> point of order, mr. chairman. >> of asked a question. >> point of order. >> not point of order speedy we're not operating under the five-minute rule anymore? >> the witness will answer the
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question. >> i want to be very specific about this, mr. chairman, because i think it will rely -- i like a lot of fears that have existed among this committee, among the legislative branch largely and maybe amongst some american people. where follow the special counsel's regulations to a tee. there's been no event, no decision that has required me to take any action and i've not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation. >> very good. thank you. my time has expired at a recognize the ranking member, the gentleman from georgia, mr. colin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. again it is laying at exactly -- this is my colleagues across the aisle when with questions about the fbi's operation and investigations, it was state what, we don't want to get close to mueller. the chairman even said it still longer -- they are fun of you
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right now so get ready. this is all that's going to become doj oversight. i want to save a second there are some things interesting here that you did throughout in your opening statement that you need addressing. there's a lot of things wethers voting rights issues, civil-rights issues and other things and to get that. but i'm also going to deal with something that is record under your oversight provision, mr. acting attorney general and we will talk about with something written a letter about and i believe lying before this body or anybody is wrong special and alphabets of the issue of the issue is tactics. i question -- my question is where you are aware of roger stones indictment before it became public? >> congressman, that's an issue, as you know, and a port in question is also mr. stone is part of an ongoing investigation but i have again been briefed on the special counsel's investigation. that would've been considered a development that would've been briefed on and it was briefed on that. >> are you familiar from public reports or otherwise, cnn
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reported that was camped outside of stones house when the fbi arrested him? >> this would be part of the investigation. i'm aware of that and it was deeply concerning to me and how cnn found out about that. >> i'm glad we're going down the road, because this is, to some at the department justice share a cup and i do with decedent prior to stone's arrest? >> or prior to a grand jury true bill? >> ranking member collins the court have sealed indictment that after mr. stone's arrest was unsealed, consistent with all its prior indictments, doj's basic policy for transparency, criminal cases is that the indictment is posted on the doj webpage probably after it was unsealed and a media outlets were notified.
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we do not know of any other do not know any other special counsel office knows or doj notice media outlets regarding mr. stone's indictment for his arrest. otherwise, really as a city today don't have any other information that i could talk about regarding mr. stumpf. >> given your answer just then it does seem concerning given the timing of this report is knowledge and other things that the seems to have been a gap in that discovery. just another question is, if anybody was outside this would you view this as a problem? this looks like this is something, as in your final days with this, would this be a problem with doj looking at the timing doesn't match up, it seems to appear this was given free or prior knowledge, not going through the normal channels. it over given through normal channels every media outlet would've been there but only one was. >> i share your concern with the possibility that a media outlet
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was tipped off to mr. stone's either indictments or arrest before it was made, that information was available to the public. >> one of the other issues and since were going to go down this, the chairman one to have this, this is a question unfamiliar and it should be. is bruce still employed with the department of justice? >> to answer your question directly, mr. collins, bruce or in-store employed with the department of justice. >> okay. is there any process at this point that you could, on, personal issues but are you aware of the discussions and also the implication investigations from congress and from others surrounding his involvement in investigation problems we've seen over the past few years at doj? >> i am generally aware of mr. ohe questions being raised. >> levitated away. knowing what you know and seeing
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what you've seen and using your past expense of prior knowledge do you believe mr. ohr is operating outside normal channels and appropriate channels in which is operating under which is been publicly reported? >> mr. collins, this is a very important question for many people both in this body and in the general public. the office of inspector general is currently looking at the carter page size application and it is also being reviewed at the same time simultaneously by the u.s. attorney from utah was asked by attorney general sessions to conduct a review of certain matters at the department of justice. and so together with the fact that any situation regarding mr. ohr's upon would be part of a confidential human resources process, i i just am unable to talk anymore about mr. ohr come his involvement in any matters that could be subject to either
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inspector general investigation human resource matter. >> as we had another part to our place morning and i find out that you may be subpoenaed to come back to do deposition which again continue down this line is in a way around this to congested tackett is investigation of the president, this is again just , to say one in your last few days, you know, do your best, do your job and continue to do the part but also there's many on this committee, that a been very concerned with what we've seen at the department of justice special in the fbi and the special over the few just. it should concern every citizen whether republican, democrat, independent, could care less about politics. when there's a perception and i've shared this, whenever there is a perception that there is not an equal treatment on either side, that is a problem. it needs to be addressed on helping when bill barr comes of
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this will be one of his first steps so we can canoeist. you attempted to debt but this'll be a long day we chase a lot of rabbits. unfortunately when we get to the end of the day the good many women in the department of justice which is what you were pitched with becky for the chairman was the chairman, this attack on to be an oversight hearing. it's going to be more of a a rabbit chase down and a lot of holes. without i yield back. >> mr. collins, if you don't, turkey may answer? >> you may. >> i i think it's important to t here today that we understand that this is not a confirmation hearing, that i'm probably going to replace by bill barr in the next week. this is an oversight hearing for the department of justice and i am surprised that we both had the chairman and the ranking member talk about what they want to talk about, that we have talked anything about the work regarding violent crime. we have talked about the opioid crisis. we have talked about religious liberty get we haven't talked about free speech on the college campuses, and whole host of issues that i know are very
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important to you. i look forward to talking about the substance of the work of the department of justice. if this, i mean, it is your five minutes and you can ask questions that are of most interest to you, but i come as i stated today i would like to talk about the incredible work that we been doing at the department of justice since i was chief of staff and acting attorney general. >> i appreciate that but if you have been glued to a tv yesterday morning you would find that this was what this is going to be about. thank you mr. attorney. >> ladies and gentlemen, that are votes on the floor. there are 11 minutes left. there are strict enforcement the 15 minute rule. we'll see if that is too but we will not risk it. so the committee will stand in recess until after, immediately after the last of the series of votes. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> committee will come to order and resume questioning under the 5-minute rule. >> thank you, mister whitaker for being here today. on january 28th, you made a statement and i'm trying to understand more about that. you mentioned, this is a direct
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quote, right now, referring to the mueller investigation, right now the investigation is close to being completed. what was the basis of that statement that you made? >> thank you for that question, congresswoman. i had a press conference announcing an important indictment related to wahwei and their alleged stealing from an american company. i was asked questions about the special counsel's investigation and i prefaced the answer by saying i can't talk about an ongoing investigation like the special counsel investigation. as i sit here today i don't have anything to add to what i said. >> it seems to be you did talk about an ongoing investigation and therefore you can understand we would like to
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know what you meant by what you said. in that same statement you said, quote, you were, quote, comfortable that the directions that were made will be reviewed. what does that mean? >> thank you for that question. i would refer you to the special counsel regulations but again, the answer i gave to the inquiry was regarding the timing of the special counsel investigation. i have nothing as i sit here to add to that but i want to mention that the special counsel's regulations by their very nature say the attorney general will report that that is a confidential report and that report will cover the decisions.
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i was talking as acting attorney general, if and when i receive that report. i have less then a week and then will review those conditions pursuant to that report. >> is it fair to say that what you are saying is the special counsel investigation is proceeding in the scope of the authority set forth in rod rosenstein's may 2017 order? >> thank you for the opportunity to clarify that. what i just explained is the special counsel investigation is proceeding consistent with the regulations that outline why the appointment happened consistent with mister rosenstein's appointment. >> thank you for that clarification. i would just like to note that to some extent it is hard to ignore the willingness to
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discuss ongoing investigations has not been applied evenly. you just mentioned today the roger stone indictment and that is an ongoing matter but let me get back to an opportunity you have to clear the air. many have speculated that your appointment was based on your public appearances that harshly criticized the special counsel investigation. prior to your hearing as chief of staff, then attorney general jeff sessions, did you discuss or share your private opinions of the special counsel investigation with donald trump or other white house officials like mister kelly or trump family members or public surrogates like rudy giuliani and this is not covered by executive privilege. at that time you were a private citizen.
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>> thank you for the question. i came to washington dc in october 2017 to be attorney general sessions's chief of staff which i have the greatest respect for general sessions and i am really honored to carry out the role of acting attorney general. >> that's very nice but that wasn't the question i asked. >> as you know i am honored to serve as acting attorney general and honored that the president selected me to be acting attorney general. before pointing me to this position donald trump did not ask for and i did not provide any commitments concerning the special counsel investigation or any other investigation. >> that's not the question i asked. i see my time is about to expire so i would like to add, i know we will have a follow-up deposition.
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>> i allow you to ask the question and ask for a witness to answer the question specifically and not to continue filibustering. >> the question is whether you shared your private opinions of the special counsel investigation with donald trump, other white house officials such as john kelly, from family members, public surrogates such as rudy giuliani at the time i am referencing you were a private citizen, before you were hired so is not covered by executive privilege. >> you are asking me whether i talked with anybody in the president's circle or the white house about my views of the special counsel investigation when i was a prison -- private citizen and not the department of justice, i did not. >> thank you. >> mister acting attorney general, as you mentioned earlier, there are other
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important matters in the purview of the justice department and within the oversight responsibilities of this committee besides fishing expeditions trying to get the goods on this president in an apparent effort to impeach him. for example, 70,000 americans died from drug overdoses in 2017. i'm old enough to remember in the mid-80s when president ronald reagan and his wife felt compelled to do something about the scourge of drugs in this country, the effort to just say no began and other efforts following that and that is because we had 10,000 deaths a year due to drug overdose and now we have 70,000 deaths. over time it has gotten worse, not better. most of the increase in deaths
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in 2017 were due to synthetic drugs, synthetic opioids like fentanyl. which accounted for a significant number of those deaths. this is clearly an epidemic which has been declared, a state of emergency nationwide by the president and has deeply affected families in my home state of ohio as well as families all across this nation. what efforts and resources does the justice department intend to use to combat this growing up adamic and what help can congress provide to assist you in your efforts? >> i appreciate that question and i know how ohio has been dramatically affected by the opioid crisis. we've done -- the department of justice, i would like to partner with this committee and
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i'm sure general bar would as well to have additional tools to combat this opioid crisis but some of the things we have done is we set up in 2017 the opioid fraud detection unit which was a way that the justice department utilized data to help combat the devastating opioid crisis. we did the largest healthcare fraud takedown in june 2018, we set up the pill task force, prescription interdiction and litigation task force in february 2018, we set up an innovative way, operation sos which was synthetic opioid surge. general sessions and i went to tampa, florida where we saw manatee county embedded them once a week into the sheriff's office to take every fentanyl overdose case.
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and we took that model and applied it to the most effective states and districts that could really make a dramatic difference in saving lives. >> let me stop you there with a follow-up question on the same topic. when the president addressed this in the state of the union the other night do you have an opinion, is there a relationship between enhancing border security particularly at the southern border, making at least some progress in reducing the scourge of drug addiction in this country? >> absolutely there is a connection between drugs that are being imported through the southern border which is a large majority of those drugs in the opioid crisis we now face was i went to china in august this chief of staff or jeff sessions, he asked me to go to talk to the chinese about
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what more they could do to reduce the amount of fentanyl being produced in china and we had a nice dialogue with high-level government officials, and the president agreed with general she to reduce fentanyl and eliminate fentanyl production in china and one way china agreed to do that was by scheduling the analogs of fentanyl. it is a serious problem and ohio is dramatically affected by it. >> i only have 30 seconds. i know you only have a week left. >> less then a week. >> yesterday this committee in a bipartisan manner past the no oil producing and exporting cartel act of 2019, something i introduced almost 20 years ago with my democratic colleague john conyers, would basically give the attorney general the authorization to bring suit against oil cartels when they manipulate the prices we all
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pay at the gas pump so i know we've been in contact with the justice department and we look forward to working with your successor in that effort. i don't know if you have any comments about that. >> i'm fully aware of that bill and i look forward to the department of justice working with you to successfully not only pass it but implement it. >> i would like to give some of our democratic colleagues as was mister collins a lot of credit for that as well so thank you very much. yield back. >> i think the chairman very much. this is an extra ordinary time, mister attorney general. we know that the former director of the fbi testified to the house intelligence committee and open hearing, there was an active investigation into the associates of the trump
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campaign and he was fired subsequent, mister mueller was hired, the investigation secured numerous convictions, indictments and guilty pleas and they deal with perjury charges like obstruction of justice, perjury, false statements. of the current rate we are seeing so many trump organizations being indicted and with a short time i have i want to be sure your questions are answered in a yes or no manner. this is the first oversight hearing we have had in the justice department almost 15 months. you did not have a confirmation hearing at have not yet appeared for an oversight hearing, yes or no? yes or no? >> i am the acting -- >> have you appeared before an oversight hearing in congress? >> i have not -- >> it has been 10 years. >> witness will answer the question is asked please.
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>> mister chairman -- >> if he has yes or no is appropriate he will answer yes or no, if he does not feel it is appropriate he should be able to answer appropriate as many democrat administration officials have done before this committee before. >> the member has only 5 minutes. i will not allow the witness to stall and waste members time. >> where were you when mister holder was here? >> me i have my time restored? i think it was four minutes. mister attorney general the question is did you have a confirmation hearing and has been 10 years since you testified before congress? >> congresswoman. >> was my time restored? >> it was. >> i don't know if your time has been restored or not. >> mister attorney general, we are not joking here and your humor is not acceptable. you are here because we have a constitutional duty to ask
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questions and the congress has the right to establish rules. the rules is you are here. i need to ask the question and have my time restored so that you can behave appropriately. i will behave appropriately as a member of the judiciary committee. i asked the question. did you have a confirmation hearing and have you not yet appeared for an oversight hearing? >> congresswoman, i am and acting attorney general. i have been appointed according to vacancies and i have never appeared in front of congress for any hearing even when i was united states attorney. >> i asked for a yes or no answer. let me -- you have never appeared. let me ask a question. prior to the firing of jeff sessions did you discuss or share your private opinions of the special counsel investigation, the chief of staff, trump family members and
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others, yes or no? >> as i previously answered, congressman. >> yes or no? >> as i previously answered, congresswoman -- >> yes or no? >> i previously answered, congresswoman, i have not discussed -- >> since you were appointed acting attorney general did you share your private opinions with a special counsel? >> the special counsel's investigation is an ongoing investigation and i have nothing more to say. >> your the 9 reports that you shared many one on one calls to donald trump and his been chief of staff john kelly when he was still attorney general. >> is there someone to provide you the basis for the question? >> i'm asking the question, sir. answer the question yes or no. >> people question please. >> you deny the report that you shared many one on one calls to donald trump and john kelly? are denying that?
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>> as i mentioned several times today in my opening salmon and otherwise, not talking about the conversation i had with president of the united states or senior staff. >> since the investigation secured numerous indictments, i would like to pursue the line of questioning with respect to your understanding of the mueller investigation. .. the false representation of voter fraud in election. you believe a foreign interference with elections is
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more severe? >> congresswoman, i think foreign interference in our election system in the united states is a very serious and ongoing concern. i also believe voter fraud is a serious concern. >> after you left office in pursuit series of other political offices, the united states today, if during the pursuit of that office a hostile foreign power contacted you to offer dirt on your opponent which at the same time included other candidates such as steve king and her senator joni ernst woody's contacted the fbi? >> congresswoman, i'm not here to -- >> yes or no. >> on her for an oversight hearing it i don't believe, i was very -- >> the responsibility of answering the question what you're contacted the fbi if you were asked to take dirt on your opponent? >> congresswoman, if i was contacted by a foreign national or a foreign country when i was
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a candidate for the united states senate, i would have most likely reached out to the fbi but it didn't happen so it's hard for me to answer a hypothetical. >> with respect to civil rights you have not under your jurisdiction prosecuted one voting rights case, is that correct? >> time of the gentlelady has expired. you may answer the question. >> congresswoman, just buy the complete answer on this we will follow-up in writing as to the voting rights cases that we have done. >> thank you. mr. gohmert. mr. jordan. >> why did rod rosenstein's a memo august 2, 2017 concerning the scope of special counsel investigation? >> thank you for the question. i know this is of great interest to you and i hope we can have a discussion about this today. the special counsel regulations
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require a scoping of the special counsel's investigation that identifies the subjects and the targets of the investigation. i am certain it would have identified the scope of the investigation pursuant to the special counsel. >> my question is not what, i get to that. my question is why. it was to have pointed out to the special counsel was formed so let's go back to the beginning document which you told the chairman you were completely briefed on the special counsel investigation. this is a one-page document. it's as of this, mr. whitaker. the special counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation including any matters that arose our from thy arise directly from the investigation. that's pretty broad. would you agree? >> in my experience it's consistent with other appointments a special counsel's. >> that's fine. i think it may be too broad but it is as broad as you can get one-page order, go do your investigation and giving that
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arises out of it you can investigate it as well. to have months later we get this, this three-page memo from rod rosenstein acting attorney general to robert mueller special counsel titled says scope investigation definition of authority. this is what confuses me because in this memo that only mr. mueller and my guess is you and mr. rosenstein's and few people at the justice departments dep, most of it is blackout, it says the following allegations were within the scope what investigation at the time of your appointment, and are within the scope of the order. if that's true why do you have to say at? if you can do it all along why do you have to put in a memo? >> congressman jordan, first of all i was come because of general sessions recusal from the special counsel's investigation i i was also rece from that investigation and so i was not speeded i'm not asking that. you said or fully briefed. the chairman asked -- >> you're asking me what at the
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time rod rosenstein speedy i'm asking you want to have months after the broadest order you could have come whited rod rosenstein say hey come you can do this all along and outputting it in a memo. i'll tell you what was causing mr. whitaker is by doctor that statement the following allegations within the scope investigation at the time of your appointment and hopes in the scope of the order but after that, you know what happened? everything is redacted per click at this. the whole darn thing. if you do it all along and get to send a memo to them, to announcements later, then you recheck everything after it. do you know what is under the redactions, mr. whitaker? >> i do, sir. >> you do. are their names under the redactions, mr. whitaker? >> in my experience with investigations, generally, you would not have a public document identified targets for subject matter of investigation, specialism is not all to a
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charge with -- >> let me frame is like a dead rod rosenstein give a special counsel the authority to investigate specific americans. congressman, mr. rosenstein's acting as the attorney general because of mr. sessions recusal dave authorization and jurisdiction to the special counsel, as a yes under the special counsel regulations that's the whole purpose of the -- >> you said yes. there are specific names, to have months into investigation that rod rosenstein did the special counsel specific american names to go investigate. >> congressman, as you know -- >> if that's the case, i hope i want to know yes -- >> the subject of an ongoing investigation, and i spoke to you generally about investigation -- >> me ask it this way. can you give us assurances that there are no specific names under the 70% redacted memo that rod rosenstein sent to the special counsel?
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>> congressman jordan, i know this -- >> you know what i'm asking this, acting attorney general because in this country we don't investigate people. we investigate crimes. if there are specific american names in this redacted -- i asked mr. rosen sent any kind on that and healthy with me and wouldn't show it to me. but i think the record people, if this alters changes and names specific americans, the scope investigation of the special counsel, don't you think it's appropriate for the american citizens to know the full parameters of an investigation into the guy that made president of the united states? >> congressman, let me be very specific about this because you are right. we investigate crimes, not individuals. >> that's why i'm asking. i would like a yes or no. other names mentioned under this redacted portion of this memo? >> as i mentioned before, that memo props up a confidential investigation as does every speedy simple question.
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are their names? specific american names mentioned in this redacted 70% redacted memo that happens to a half months after the special counsel gets his order to sort his investigation where he was given the broadest latitude you can possibly have? >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the witness may answer the question. >> i would just refer the congressman to the general practice of the department of justice. we investigate crimes, not individuals. >> mr. cohen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. attorney general, the inspector general, gsa, has a rather scathing report on the g assays decision not to address significant issues concerning the governments post office and its lease to the trump family concerning the emoluments clause. it was said that gsa attorneys said they did not refer the matter to olc but a senior at until the igs the office of legal counsel knew about the post office lease ends up to them to do something. i do with anything the department did to look into
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violations of emoluments clause at the trump hotel? >> congressman, the emoluments clause as it relates to the trump hotel is the subject of several ongoing litigation matters. >> right. >> and so while i i can acknowledge that i am aware of not on the situation you described but generally the litigation surrounding the emoluments clause, as the acting attorney general sitting here today i'm unable to talk specifically about those cases. >> you can say is there any memos from office of legal counsel regarding emoluments clause violations and limitations? >> congressman, as i stated today, the emoluments clause as a relates to the trump organization especially the hotel in washington, d.c. is a subject of ongoing litigation. >> the justice department still be to represent the president in the suits? is that appropriate when it's a violation of him making personal money out of the trump hotel and been charged with violations of emoluments clause by not reporting to the congress as he
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spoke to by the constitution? should he have his personal lawyers and not justice department lawyers representing for this nefarious conduct? >> congressman, i can understand that this is an important issue to you, but as a to the emoluments clause and the department of justice defense of the president of the united states it is well within our purpose to be involved in that case. >> you said if the special counsel's investigation looked into president trump's finances to would be crossing and redline. he said i think on a television interview. the attorney general has made clear mr. rosenstein's told special come counsel you go iny matters that arose or arise director comey investigation. if matters arose from the investigation directly or indirectly at the trump family owed lots of money to russian oligarchs and people real close to putin and that effective actions that they took as a present of the united states on behalf of the united states of america, would you agree that was not crossing a red line but,
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in fact, was a red line from moscow that we need to look into? >> congressman, when i made that statement i was a private citizen and had no publicly available information. i only had publicly available information, so i made that as a commentator and not as the acting attorney general of the united states. i am the recently with the responsibilities of my office as acting attorney general and we make our decisions based on the law and the faqs on a case-by-case basis. >> so that is no longer your opinion? it's not crossing a redline for him to look into the finances if they might have interfered with his objective judgment of the president concerning his trust to the united states of america not to his personal financial interest or is sam's? >> as i mentioned earlier, at that department of justice, the longtime acting attorney general we will follow the law and the facts wherever they may lead, and we're going to do our jobs
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with the duly. >> let me ask you this. there's been conviction in the special counsel investigation of mr. manafort, jury trial conviction. they're been guilty pleas from flint, manafort, dates, topless and dozens of indictments including 13 russian nationals, three russian companies and roger stone. would you say special counsel's investigations is a witch hunt? are overseeing a witch hunt? >> trek it as an agent present the special counsel's investigation is an ongoing investigation so i think it would be inappropriate for me to speedy at you would oversee a witch hunt, would you? you would stop a witch hunt? >> congressman, it would be inappropriate for me to talk but ongoing investigation. >> usage of not interfering. have you denied him any funds is requested at all? >> i can tell this is important issue for you but speedy it's an important issue for the american public and the whole world.
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>> congressman, to answer questioned her club did not deny to any funds to the special counsel's investigation. >> have denied him the opportunity to go in any entry water to investigate any matters of investigation? >> as i previously testified, i have not interfered with the special counsel's investigation. >> i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank the gentleman. mr. gohmert. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and acting attorney general, thank you for being here today. >> it's is good to see you agai, congressman. >> i'm amazed you would be coming since your successor is going apparently be confirmed next week and you will no longer be acting director, so i don't know what kind of suicide wish you had or whatever, but it's good to see you. one thing i wanted to hit first
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was a statement that you would made, and want to confirm that these are your words, and i quote, there is no doubt in the law enforcement community that the vast majority of the illegal drugs in this country is coming over our southern border, a a pattern that is true for all crimes generally, and there is no doubt that criminals and cartels seek to exploit weaknesses in our southern border. are those your words? >> well, i don't know which speech or statement you're quoting. sounds like something i would have said, yes. >> and you would not have said that if you didn't believe that? >> i believe what you are saying. the drugs and the general illegality that is born in our southern border is having a negative effect on our country. >> now, i want to get to this issue of career officials since colleagues on the other side of the aisle have made such a big deal about it, that you have
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not, they accuse you of not following the advice of career officials. do you know the backgrounds of the people that are working directly under you and directly under rod rosenstein? >> congressman, i sit on top of an organization that has 115 -- >> i talking about the people directly to you and directly to deputy rosenstein. >> i am familiar with the people that report to both of us, yes. >> okay. >> i will tell you i think rod rosenstein handled handle over0 direct reports as deputy attorney general. >> that was something i recommended to attorney general sessions, that he needed to reorganize and have some of those people reporting directly to him. but one of the mistakes i think my dear friend jeff sessions, for whom i have immense respect. one of the mistakes i saw him making, he was listening to
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people who love sally yates, loved her efforts to disrupt anything that president trump tried to do. they loved what president obama did to the justice department, and, in fact, i had informed jeff that his contact at, with the nsc was sitting on his notices so would develop complex or was improperly prepared. she reported directly to rosenstein. the ag should have somebody the liaison with the nsc should report directly to the ag and not go through rod rosenstein, especially when they were setting the attorney general of to be harmed. but, and then anthony, i know
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currently, pat leahy's senior managing director of fti consulting. he was another one that some considered a career position at the doj. let's see, he had jordan kelly there. she's currently director of cybersecurity policy. there were reports that she met routinely with the moment investigators. -- mueller investigators. between these people who just thought yates was wonderful. i would hope that wisdom and you as acting director, wisdom in the incoming attorney general will be to look at the backgrounds, look at the people who are political hacks, and
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figure out they are giving me advice on this? this is not for my well-being. this is to hurt the president of the united states. i do know you may just have another week, but i would encourage you that as people make a big deal about career, look beyond his career. look where their loyalties are. because even though they may be in a career position, if their loyalties are not to the attorney general and and not te president of the united states and are more political than they are constitutional, disregard what they say. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. mr. johnson. >> thank you, general whitaker. do you agree with the president's statement that the russian investigation is a witch hunt? >> as i mentioned previously, congressman, i think would be inappropriate for me to comment about an ongoing investigation. >> you commented about the roger stone investigation, which is ongoing, did you not?
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>> congressman, just to be clear about this -- >> comment, we heard you, on the roger stone investigation. why would you comment on the roger stone investigation but you are reluctant to answer our questions about the mueller investigation? >> that's a good question, congressman, and my comments about the roger stone investigation were merely to announce acknowledge that i was aware that cnn had appeared to receive or was at speedy you don't know whether or not the cnn reporter was camped out with no advanced knowledge or whether or not he was tiptop or not, is that correct? >> that is true but i am very speedy let me move on. hold on. i am controlling the time. let me move on. i'd like to take a moment to better understand your decision not to recuse yourself from the supervision of the special counsel's investigation. isn't it a fact that you received your final ethics guidance on this matter on
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december 19, 2018? >> i i appreciate this question and i'm glad speeders is a pretty direct question. did you receive your final guidance on the question? >> as you know we've communicate with congress the entire process that i went to, went through come to address any recusal questions that i might have and i had no conflict of interest that i had. [speaking in native tongue] let me just ask you. i understand you take that position, but my simple question is, isn't it a fact that you received your final ethics guidance on that question on december 19, 2018? >> congressman, we laid out very explicitly the process that we went through and ultimately the decision whether or not to recuse was my decision. >> mr. whitaker, you asked a direct question, and is getting a little tiresome hearing you stall and waste the members tied to the member only us five minutes. he asked a specific question. did you last receive advice on december 18? the at out to be or some other
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date, or i don't remember but we don't need a speech. the gentleman may repeat -- the gentleman may repeat speedy know, mr. chairman, if are going to the witness and act as his attorney, are you answering the question or as a witness answer the question? >> on asking the witness not to stall. >> we have endured that many times are when is trying to ask -- >> point of order. >> the the gentleman said order. mr. johnson has the floor. >> at it like -- >> time will be restored. >> thank you, sir. isn't it a fact that career officials at doj recommended to you that you recuse yourself to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest on bias? that was the guidance that you got from doj officials about your participation for oversight of the mueller investigation, isn't that correct? >> congressman, i made my recusal decision by myself
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speedy but there were career doj officials who advised you that you should not touch that investigation, isn't that correct? >> congressman, -- >> yes or no? >> i consulted with career ethic officials. i consulted with by senior staff that i consulted with the office of legal counsel. it was my decision to make. i decided not to recuse. i'm happy to walk through the step-by-step advice that i received. >> that were four individuals who you consulted who advised you that you had the ability to not recuse yourself from this investigation, isn't that correct? >> congressman, the regulations actually say -- >> four individuals advised you that you did not have to recuse yourself, is that correct? >> congressman, let me be clear. it was speedy you are not being clear, other than your obstruction and refusal to answer. >> unobstructed anything.
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i'm answering your questions. i consulted with a lot of people regarding my recusal but it was speedy you are not telling you it was. who did you consult with? >> as an agent i consulted with -- >> name me some names. >> i consulted with my senior staff at the consulted with the office of legal counsel. >> may be some names. >> one person would be the assistant attorney general or speedy what is is our name. >> with steep angle. the senate confirmed speedy who else did you consult with? >> i also consult with his principal deputy. >> and that persons name is? >> curtis. >> who else did you consult with? >> congressman, i'm asking speakers and ask you pretty clear question. who else did you consult with about whether or not you should recuse yourself from the mueller investigation? >> generally food i consult with? >> i want to know specifically you talk to. >> i talked to brad wind chime or who is the senior career official at the department of justice. >> and he advised you that your recusal was unnecessary or did
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he advise you to recuse? >> he actually could not identify any precedent for me to recuse. he said it was a close call. he said that i'm sorry, did you have a question? >> go ahead. >> he said that my of the public statements did recognize the professionalism and confidence of the special counsel. he said that out of an abundance of caution that he would come if asked he would recommend a certain course but again he speedy did he recognize speedy he also said -- >> the time of the gentleman has expired. >> can i finish? >> the witness may finish his answer. >> okay. he also said, congressman, that the decision was my to make based on the relation of the department of justice and the make that decision and i stand by that decision. >> mr. radcliffe. >> mr. attorney general, i spent a number of years as a federal prosecutor and because of that service i have literally hundreds of friends at the
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department of justice right now and its component agencies like the fbi, folks that i have tremendous respect for. so i appreciate your stated desire earlier today to want to highlight their good work. and for the new members of the judiciary committee, and oversight hearing is typically where that would take place, where an attorney general would give an accounting of the work of 115,000 115,000 men and wome justice department and provide some idea of the vision with respect to the departments priorities, priorities like drug and human trafficking, preventing terrorism, reducing gun and gang violence, now earlier this week my colleagues on the other side of the aisle indicated that they had a great desire to reduce gun violence in this country. in fact, we had an eight hour hearing witnesses that talk about the need to reduce gun violence in this country.
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we started this hearing at 9:30 a.m. it it is now 12:30 p.m. and i have seen you field a single question from the other side of the aisle about any of the enforcement priorities of the department of justice. despite the fact that you're the head of an organization that has a greater ability to impact the reduce gun violence than anyone or anything in the country. so i may be the only person today that wants to ask you a question about that but i'm going to use the remainder of my time for that purpose. when i was at the department of justice we had a very successful initiative called project safe neighborhood. it was a program that took guns out of the hands of criminal offenders. it was a successful program that was killed by the obama administration. the obama justice department ended it. i understand that it has been reinstated during the trump administration.
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i'd like you to inform us about its progress as well as any other measures or programs or enforcement priorities of the department of justice with respect reducing gun violence in this country. >> thank you, congressman. as you know we served as united states attorney together until you went into politics, and i went into private practice. i want to talk specifically and it's a good question about project safe neighborhoods. in 2017 the attorney general sessions announced the expansion of project safe neighborhoods which encourages u.s. attorneys offices to work specifically with the unique communities they serve to develop a customized crime reduction strategy. one study showed when you and i were doing it, it reduce crime overall by 4.1% and with case study showing reductions up to 42% of violent crime. we had the project safe neighborhoods national conference as a mention in my opening statement and i can tell
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you that especially in our largest cities, 29 major cities, we are seeing a reduction of violent crime because of u.s. attorneys specifically working with their sheriffs and police chiefs and the federal and state and local partners in reducing gun violence. some of the things we've done is the attorney general is one of the four cabinet positions that were part of the school safety commission they came up with the report in the last several months that gave a practical outline as to how states especially could work to reduce gun violence including the idea of the darpo and there is, congressman, i appreciate your tone that this oversight hearing is not a hearing about the types of things were talking about but the chairman sent me a letter specific company things he wanted to talk about at a don't feel like we talked about many of those things. i'm glad you offer the opportunity to talk about the department of justice efforts, reducing gun violence.
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>> thank you, attorney general. i'd like to yield the remainder of my time to congressman jordan. >> i appreciate the gentleman yielding. mr. whitaker, are there any other memos, any other memos that mr. rosenstein's has set to mr. mueller that we don't know about? and if we did, would be redacted like the one that happened on august 2, 2017? >> congressman, ashen of the special counsel investigation is ongoing and will be inappropriate for me to talk about any other memos related to that. >> well, we already know that there's been some modification of the broadest order i think you could have with this august august 2, 2017 memo. all i'm asking is, other any other modifications can any of the changes to the parameters of an investigation into the president of united states? the time of the gentleman has expired the witness may answer the question.
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>> congressman, just to be clear. the special counsel understands the scope of its investigation and is complying of all regulations and orders related to that. >> thank you, mr. chairman. general whitaker, you and i both lawyers. my first day of criminal law my professor said, it's about as yes or no question, doing your crew people think you're not a good lawyer. we know you're a good lawyer. let's keep advice going forward. in speedy we did not go to the same law school. >> in november 2018 -- we didn't. in november 2018 chris wallace asked the president a question that he said before you appointed him that he common menu come as a record of so critical of robert mueller of the present i could know that there added notes he took use on the mueller investigation. deeply president trump was on the truth that he just didn't know you were critical of mueller before your appointment?
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>> congressman, -- >> i understand how it all works on asking you if you believe present was telling the truth when he did not know you didn't know is critical for make your appointment. >> i've no reason to believe what i say today the president wasn't saying what he believed -- >> who did you interview with four chief of staff job, but for the stock and four chief of staff job? >> it was general sessions decision maker i needed with him and he offered me the job. >> before you got the job, did you ever come before you took this job, did you ever speak with the president about the mueller probe for may 17, 2017, until september 2017? >> are you saying about before i was actually the chief of staff? >> i am saying between may 17 speedy i'd ever met the president until after joining the department of justice. >> let me just ask you another question.
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you didn't communicate with him. did you can make it with anyone at the white house about the special counsel investigation before september 22, 2018? >> i assume you're excluding my appearances on cnn. >> no. if you talk to anybody at the white house, you told me the president wasn't watching otherwise he would have been aware of your position. i assume the president wasn't watching the you did talk about his appearances with anyone at the widest? >> i did not talk about my appearances on cnn. >> you did not talk about your views on the mueller investigation with anyone at the white house? >> i did not talk about my views of the more investigation with anyone at the white house and this time. may of 2017 a tell a joint the department of justice and october of 2017. >> throughout the process did you, did you ever communicate with -- here's a question. i'm i cannot you make six comments and operates come talk reader on cable is critical of
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the special counsel between the time interviewed in june 2017 at the time you were hired as chief of staff to the attorney general. did you ever use any intermediaries, to just anyone since the president didn't know, to just anyone communicate with the white house or anyone at the white house either staff numbers, friends or others to let them know exactly where you stood as expressed and at least those six public statements? >> congressman, i had at the time you describe make a 17 attila joined the department on october 4 of 2017 i didn't have a relationship with the white house. >> did you talk to any white house personnel before you were hired, anyone at the white house? >> congressman, i -- >> that's an easy one. did you talk to anyone at the white house, yes or no? >> i had prettily been at the white house when i was a private citizen to talk about a different position. >> i understand what did you talk to anyone at the white house about your views on mueller, any personal at the white house before you assumed
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the position? >> in may of -- >> let me go forward because here's the issue. when you became the attorney general, since they come the attorney general you said that you have had come you've been briefed on the special counsel. did you use anyone else to have communications -- did you do anything to make sure that the white house might it learn some of what you learn in those briefings? could it be that someone else on your staff when you spoke to some of the white house since you told us you did? >> i'm not aware of that happening. >> who else come how many people were in those briefings with you when you were briefed about the mueller investigation? >> congressman, i'm not going to go into specifics of the breaking but it was a very limited group. there was only one member of my staff who was present with me. >> and have you ever attempted to use any intermediaries to get information to the president or others on his staff?
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>> no, i have not attempted to use any intermediaries to get information to the president or his staff. >> i will close just by saying this is going to be along here. we will go on for a while. the concern that we have, mr. whitaker, is that the was no senate confirmation. we are not the senate, but the administration justified their decision in picking you under the vacancies reform act. there was a law on the books for the attorney general succession, at the authority to oversee the special counsel's work. it goes from one senate confirmed official to another, from ag, deputy -- assistant attorney general, attorney general in charge of office of legal counsel, assistant ag for national security, sisson ag in charge of criminal division and on and on and on. none of them, none of them are the chief of staff to the attorney general. i think what we're trying to figure out is why is it exactly that -- chose to go beyond the statute and choose you i hope of
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the bounds of this or that will become clear. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you, congressman. i believe the president chose me to be be acting attorney general for a couple of reasons. first, i had served previously in the department as a united states attorney, which is a a y important position as mr. ratcliffe previous a stated period and in the administration of justice, and for 13 months i was the chief of staff for attorney general sessions and i had done the full year with him side-by-side. obviously he made the decisions but i gave him advice and counsel and i was aware of everything is going on at the department of justice that i obviously, general sessions was a recused from pics i think the president was comfortable that to continue the momentum at the department of justice we had established in addressing these important priority issues like reducing violent crimes in combating the opioid crisis and others that the present felt i was best positioned to do the duties of attorney general.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. i'll just say to mr. whitaker, my questions normally come in a normal oversight committee would be vastly different than the direction i'm going to go because we've kind of wandered into this other stream over here. i'm going to ask you some questions. the long-standing constitutionally based department of justice policy holds that a sitting president cannot be indicted. is that, at the space on the last review which have been under the clinton administration. is that still in effect or has it changed? >> that is still a policy of the department of justice. >> have you spoken to deputy attorney general rosenstein about a statement on evoking the 25th amendment, wiretapping president trump? >> i have seen the statements by deputy rosenstein that he made o the press regarding the statements, and i have no reason to believe that he did not, that the statements were consistent
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with what he believed at the time. >> on a sure i understood. you said believe that they were not consistent -- a couple of negatives. he believed there were consistent with what he believed? >> i do. i believe what deputy attorney general rosenstein's to the press when it was first reported about his speed your talk about his comments, not -- his comments to the press, not the ones about him wearing a wire? >> on talk about rosen stines comments to the press after it was reported that he speed is his response. do you think -- did you talk to him about this issue at all? >> again, i'm not here to talk about the internal discussions have had with speed this is really critical. with all due respect, this is not an ongoing, , nothing to do with an ongoing investigation. what it has got to do with is mr. rosenstein and, in his role as an unbiased overseer of the
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mueller investigation. so it's not directly deal with investigation. it deals with his capacity to be unbiased. i'm not asking whether, i'm not trying to get to the substance or even the periphery. i want to know those did you have conversation with mr. rosenstein about his comments as reported? >> congressman, this is an important question to you but i'm not going to answer my conversation with deputy attorney general rosenstein. i believe their deliberative. i am exercising the full responsibility of the acting attorney general position. >> i appreciate it. i know the answer is important to you. i know it's important to you, but answering in a way that we as american people can understand, that's important to us. so let's get to june 21, 2017 where he said the truth there was no collusion with the russians and the trump campaign. there was interference by the russian into the election but not collusion with the campaign. that's where the left seems to be combining these two issues. the last thing they want is the
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truth to come out and the fact there's not a single piece of evidence that demonstrates the trump campaign had any illegal or even an proper relationship with the russians. it's that simple. do you still adhere to that statement? is that still true in your mind today? >> congressman, as i've mentioned before in previous question about my statements as a private citizen before i join the department of justice, those were made based on publicly available information, and i have no inside information. i did not know the details of the investigation. i obviously know the traditions of the department of justice rules and regulations and i followed those as exercise the duty -- >> i member the anti-gay december question but not this question here. and so that's not what i'm asking. one of asking is, as we sit here today a year and a half later, as -- has your opinion changed
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from what you stand g20 for scum 2017 come as a change? that's a simple question or it's not hard. >> the special counsel vestige is ongoing investigation and i'm not going to characterize that investigation or did you my opinion of that investigation as i sit here today. >> so the scope memo indicates that the scope of the more investigation any coronation between the russian government and it was associate with the campaign of president trump and any matters arose directly from that investigation. has that scope been expanded in any way? >> congressman, as i was discussing with representative jordan, i'm not going to talk about the scope of the special counsel's speeds i will go forward and to say indictments and relationship to scope one, papadopoulos first false statements occurring after multiple of one of your gates, unrelated to the campaign. lead come false statement about
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postelection conversations. richard panetta, cumberland to campaign for election. cohen, preferred by motors of the district of new york because it was out of his skull. stone, false statements occurring after moment was appointed or not one indictment alleged illegal relationship between a member of the trump campaign and russia. that's consistent with what we've seen so far and with that, thank you, mr. chairman. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. acting attorney general, i actually wanted to ask you some questions regarding what you did prior to being acting ag. it's my understanding that before you moved to the department of justice that you were the executive director of the foundation for -- >> mr. chairman, mr. chairman, i have a point of order. mr. chairman lex.
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>> the fact of conservative ethics watchdog that he made full use of the opportunity to call -- >> the gentlelady will suspend. . abortive. >> the statement is outside the scope of an oversight investigative hearing on the department of justice. >> it is not. you need to let me finish my question. >> the gentlelady will suspend. that is not about a point of order. the gentlelady will continue. >> thank you. >> i like a point of order, the question is outside the scope of -- >> the gentle it has the floor. >> argues going to override a point of order. >> was yeah, because you -- >> the gentlelady will suspend. i ruled that he it was not a vd point of order and the gentlelady has the floor. the gentlelady will continue. >> thank you. >> i was not through with my point of order. >> the gentlelady will continue. >> still the ruling of the chair. >> moved to table.
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>> moved to table. >> motion to table the appeal of the ruling of the chair is before the committee. motion to table is not debatable. the clerk will call the role. one moment why we set up the clerk. >> treachery may i make a unanimous consent request while we're waiting for this vote? [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [roll call] [roll call] [roll call] [roll call]
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[roll call] [roll call] [roll call]
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[roll call] [roll call] [roll call] >> the clerk will report.
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>> mr. chairman, the icons are 21, the nose are eight. >> in that case the motion to table is adopted. we returned to ms. bass. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. whitaker, during the time that you were the executive director of the foundation for accountability and civic trust, you recommended that fax calls for ethics investigations into or filed complaints about the following democratic politicians come officials and organizations, the democratic national committee, hillary clinton, john kerry, speaker pelosi, representative barry,, hoffman, lewis. in fact, the organization actually called for an investigation into a member of this committee, representative hank johnson. so that's a total of about 46 46 individuals or organizations that over the time when you executor director of fact, that you call for either ethics
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investigations or filed complaints. so since you have joined the ag's office i want to know whether or not in the investigations have been initiated into those people? just answer that, yes or no,, have there been investigations initiated into the people that you suggested be investigated during the time you were the ev effects? >> i was executive director of the foundation for accountability of the trust. we were independent nonpartisan ethics watchdog group. we did felt ethics complaints against members of both parties. >> you've filed ethics complaint against republicans? can you determine which republs you felt ethics complaints against? >> all of, again, i'm here for an oversight hearing. >> yes, you are and so my questions are leading to that so can you answer that? which republicans did you file investigations ask for ethics investigations of? >> the nice thing about being an
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ethics watchdog group is the fact while all of its complaints on its website and i would refer you to speed i don't have time to look at the website. i'm asking you a question of the you with executive director. which republicans did you file? >> congresswoman, again as a theater did allah can do is refer you to the website. >> let me just ask you this. the issue, since you have been in the doj, have any complaints been initiated against 46 democrats either individuals or organizations in the time that you bending acting ag? >> congresswoman, at eye center today i am not aware of any but obviously if i had recommended as the executive director of fact that someone be investigated, i would, and it was in my recommendation was adopted by the department of justice i'm certain i could not be involved in that investigation. >> you are certain but you don't know whether you -- did you recuse yourself of any? >> i think this this is a morer
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anyone to understand. this recusal decisions are made based on a matter -- >> let me move on. i wanted to ask questions about ethics guidance that you received in december. did they recommend that you recuse yourself from any involvement in the criminal investigation into the world paton marketing, the fraudulent patent scam and which is still almost $10,000 to the court? if they provide an ethics opinion or did you not seek one related to the paton marketing matter. >> was just to be clear, congresswoman, what you mean by they? demeaned the ethics officials? >> i'm asking you what guidance did they recommend that you recuse yourself that's a question to you. did they recommend that you recuse yourself from in any involvement in the criminal investigation into the world patent marketing? >> i am recuse from investigation into that company. >> what about any matter involving hillary clinton? it's been well document of your
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public calls for renewed investigations into matters related to mrs. clinton. >> again, any investigations into former secretary clinton, if there open, confirmation or denial of recusal would suggest that there is or is not an investigation regarding -- >> i actually i have more time on the clock since i was interrupted. >> i have been informed we paused the time. >> okay. continue? >> what i'm saying is, your inquiry about whether or not i am recuse from any matter concerning former secretary clinton would by its very nature suggests that there is an open letter regarding secretary clinton. any recusal decision that i would make would be based on what the matter was, and we would go through the exact analysis that it went through in the case of the special
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counsel's investigation. >> thank you. >> at the request of a number of people the committee will step in recess for five minutes. -- stand in recess. >> five minutes for lunch? [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]team? >> the committee will come to order, we will resume questioning under the 5-minute rule. >> mr. whitaker, i'm sure you'd
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agree that appearance of favoritism or partisanship by law enforcement agencies is absolutely deadly to a nation that's founded upon the principle of equal justice under law. if law enforcement agencies are perceived to be bias, can quickly collapse and i'm concerned about many alarming developments in the conduct of the fbi and the department of justice that call its impartiality into question. i've been reading jared's book in clinton emails and uranium deal and the mueller investigation into the trump campaign and in it mr. jared documents case after case of political bias of fbi, illegal conduct at the highest levels of the department of justice, destruction of evidence, possible obstruction of justice by mr. comey himself, perjury by
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top doj officials, prosecution misconduct and if the rest of the investigation was initiated because of false dossier, why aren't we seeing aggressive investigations into the documented charges? >> congressman, as you mentioned at the beginning, we do conduct our investigation independent of political interference at the department of justice. >> that's not what -- >> let me finish. >> the evidence is telling me from sources such as this one. >> well, and specifically related to the document you just described. that's subject of inspector general's review, investigation, together with the u.s. attorney from the district of utah that was appointed by general sessions to look into and review certain matters that this
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committee had asked to be reviewed. >> can we expect a full, complete and aggressive investigation of charges, wrongdoing by officials in the fbi in the department of justice on these matters? >> congressman, i can assure you that any allegation of misconduct by employees of the department of justice will be looked into for -- thoroughly. >> i looked back to the scandal and that never was addressed, why should i be more confident in your assurances now? >> congressman, i was a private citizen when the lerner situation occurred. it occurred mostly in previous administration. i know that general sessions did review that matter before i was chief of staff so i really don't have any visibility as i sit here as acting attorney general as to what happened in that situation. >> let me talk about the
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apparent double standard and disproportionate and show of force in arrest of roger stone, i understand roger stone's attorney was in contact, 66 years old and doesn't own firearms and was raid of combat officers. as mr. jordan pointed off, cnn was obviously tipped off and had cameras there and arrived and set up before the raid began. they were allow to stay to film the entire spectacle despite the public was kept out because the fbi was so concerned of violence by the 66-year-old unarmed man in the predawn raid. you compare that to cases like bob menendez who was allowed to quietly turn himself in. the obvious explanation is that this was a political act, purpose was to terrify anyone thinking of working in the trump campaign in the future and back to the conduct of the irs
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terrifying ranking file tea party members because of political views, how do you explain this and what are you doing about it? >> congressman, this is a very serious situation that you raise but just know that the fbi makes arrests in a manner mostly to ensure safety of agents. >> how do you explain discrepancies the way roger stone was treated and the way bob menendez was treated? >> the arrest team considers numerous factors. >> undermines the faith that the american people have in their justice system and attachments to politics. >> congressman, i cannot provide details in open hearing without revealing what factors the fbi considers in those information and obviously that information to be used to put other fbi agents conducting other agents
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in harm's way. what i can assure you that the fbi is prepare today brief this matter on the decisions that were made in that particular arrest in close session of this committee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. whitaker, doj was created in 1957 under the civil rights act, correct? >> congressman, i believe -- >> no, no, it was. we will not do delay stuff, it was. it was created to protect against discrimination based on race, color, sex, disability, religion, familiar status and national origin, wouldn't you agree? >> are you talking about the civil rights specifically? >> doj. >> department of justice was set up to -- >> you know what, never mind, let's keep going, you were chief of staff when jeff sessions testified in this committee in
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2017, correct, november? >> i was, i sat right behind him. >> that's exactly where i'm going. do you remember asking question about diversity and leadership at the doj and the fact that they had no african americans in doj at leadership, do you have any african americans at top leadership at the department of justice? >> if the senate confirms my friend don washington to be head of u.s. marshall which i believe he's pending on the floor of the senate currently, then the answer to that question is yes, but as we sit here -- would you clear the leadership of the department of justice? >> hierarchy with people responding to them, head of division, deputy attorney generals. think about the image to me, doj created to protect civil rights and advocate for all, we've had last two attorney generals come
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here and not one of them thought they could findover did find an african american at doj to bring with them and you're charged with enforcing civil rights and making people feel that you're righting for equality. you mentioned charlottesville and charging the person with 30 counts and i applaud you for that. do you believe that in charlottesville there were both people on both sides? >> congressman, i think the act while -- you know, part of ongoing prosecution. >> let me just say this -- >> the act was charged as hate crime. >> i agree with you and i applaud you for that. but that's one individual, i'm asking you in general, do you believe that there were good people that were protesting and there were good people that were antiprotestors? so i'm talking about the people,
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tiki torches and the chants, do you think some of them were good people is the short question? >> congressman, there's no place in a civil society for hate, white supremacy or for white nationalism. >> thank you. also, out of the 115,000 employees that you have at doj, are any of them transgender? >> congressman, as i sit here today i don't know the answer to that question. i could imagine that generally based on the way the population is distributed that we would. i would also be happy to get back to you if those people identify that way. >> would you have a problem with a transgender person being from a clerk to an agent in the field for any of your law enforcement agencies? >> no. >> thank you. you mentioned that voter fraud is a serious concern.
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how many voter fraud cases have you all initiated? >> congressman, as i mentioned in the previous questioning, i'm happy to get those specific details back to you. as i sit here today, i don't know off of the top of my head. >> is it a lot, is it a few, i mean, we are talking about a serious concern of the united states of america, i would think we are talking over 100, less than 25, but if you don't know a ballpark, i'm fine with that. what about north carolina because that's the only congressional seat that has not been determined because of widespread voter suppression in that race. is the doj -- have they opened an investigation in that and if they have, i guess you can't talk about it, are you looking at that? >> well, congressman, while i can't talk about open investigations and i appreciate your acknowledgment that there might be open investigations, i'm very aware of what is happening in north carolina, we have previously done voting rights cases in north carolina
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and we are watching the situation very carefully. >> well, i don't wanting to over my time and i guess in the last 12 seconds i would just implore you to implore which will now be the third attorney general during this term that after two years, we should be doing better with diversity in the department of justice and i'm talking more specifically black and brown people and women, i applaud you for having one woman with you, but the doj should look like the country and you all have been here twice and it is not a fair representation of what makes this country great. with that i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank the gentleman, mr. klein. i'm sorry. i'm sorry. ms. gladstone. >> thank you. i have to say that i'm
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disappointed in the hearing, you know, i ran for congress to get things done and at the beginning of this, you know, we were told that this is about asking -- asking about doj oversight and some legitimate questions and here we are, it's nothing but character assassination, harassment of our witness and it's really disappointing. at first i was mad, i have to tell you, when this thing started hours ago, i went outside and the reporter asked me what do you think of the hearing and i said it's a joke but now i'm just sad and sad because we were on the floor just a little while ago talking about how we are honoring our late representative and talking about bipartisanship and how we need to get things done and yet here we are with the blatant political show that doesn't help
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anything. i imagine if american people are watching this right now they would be shaking their heads like what are you doing there, we need to work together to get things done and so that's my statement but i do have a question for -- for mr. whitaker about doj oversight. following the new york governor cuomo's support of abortion up to the moment of birth and governor northam, in my opinion relates, are you concerned about some of these actions that implicate the federal abortion act that criminalizes gruesome procedures, i mean, i'm getting really concerned that this is violating the law and has doj looked into that?
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>> yes, as an american citizen i'm very concerned. >> and can you also tell me -- i read recently a wall street journal opinion piece, it was from 2018 and in that it said new york city, in new york city thousands of more black babies are aborted than born alive each year and my grandkids are african american and so, you know, if there was a crime occurring in this country that exceeded the number of deaths from cancer, heart disease, aids, accidents combined which abortions do, is that something that the doj would get involved and be concerned about and try to stop? >> congresswoman, every life is valuable and while i can't way in the political issue that you raise, the members of this committee have a lot of power as to how we value life and how we
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enforce the laws at the department of justice and this is an issue that i know there are -- there's a lot of passion about and i appreciate your passion and it's something that we actually share together and if you look at my statements previous to join the department of justice, especially during the 2014 campaign for the united states senate, i was very outspoken in this regard but as i sit here as acting attorney general i think it would be inappropriate for me to comment more fulsomely on the issue, but we will enforce the laws that congress passes and we will hold those accountable that violate the law. >> thank you, i yield back my time. >> thank you, mr. jeffress. >> thank you for your presence here today, this hearing is important because there are many americans throughout the country who are confused. i'm confused.
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i really am. we are all trying to figure out who are you, where did you come from and how the heck did you become the head of the department of justice. so hopefully you can help me work through this confusion. >> all right, well, i mean, congressman -- >> mr. whitaker that was a statement, not a question. i assume you know the difference. the investigation in the possible trump-russia collusion in the 2016 election has resulted in 37 indictments; is that correct? >> i believe that number is correct, but most of those folks were russian citizens. >> 34 individuals have been indicted, true? >> while i haven't counted those as i prepared for my hearing preparation i believe those are consistent with the numbers as i know. >> 3 corporate entities have been indicted, correct? >> i believe so, correct. >> investigation has identified 199 different criminal acts, true?
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>> i haven't counted every indictment but that sounds consistent with what i understand. >> there have been 7 guilty pleas, correct? >> yes, there have been 7 guilty pleas. >> four people have been sentenced to prison, true? >> i believe so, but, again, i do not have this information in front of me, so to the extent that, you know, i disagree with you it's because these are facts -- >> understand, thank you. trump's best friend roger stone was recently indicted for lying to congress in connection with his possible involvement with wikileaks and russian interference with the 2016 election, correct? >> yes, and i mentioned mr. stone's indictment and arrest. >> trump's campaign chairman paul manafort plead guilty for conspiracy to defraud the united states, true? >> mr. manafort did plea guilty, yes. >> trump's deputy campaign manager rick gates has pled guilty for lying to the fbi, correct? >> i have no reason to disagree.
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>> trump's former national security has pled guilty for lying to the fbi. >> that is true, yes. >> trump's long-time attorney michael cohen pled guilty for lying to congress about moscow project, is that true? >> i believe that was one of the bases for his plea guilty, there were several other reasons ha he pled guilty. >> trump's campaign foreign policy adviser george papadopoulos has pled guilty to lying to federal investigators about his contact with russian agents during the 2016 campaign, true? >> while i'm sure that many disagree with the title that you put on mr. papadopoulos, it's true that he has pled guilty. >> despite all of the evidence of criminal wrongdoing that's been uncovered, do you still believe that the mueller
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investigation is a lynch mob? >> congressman, can you tell me specifically where i said that? >> i would be happy to. so in a tweet that you issued on august 6th of 2017 you made reference to a note to trump's lawyer, do not cooperate with mueller's lynch mob, do you recall that? >> i recall that i said -- that i retweeted an article that was titled that. i did not necessarily agree with that position, but my point was that it was an interesting read for those that want to understand the situation. >> okay, manafort, gates, flynn, cohen, papadopoulos and stone all in deep trouble, one by one all of the president's men are going down in flames, it's often said where there's smoke, there's fire. there's a lot of smoke from 1600 pennsylvania avenue right now.
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yes, you decided not to recuse yourself, is that right? >> i listed all of the information. i consulted with many people that i've discussed today and i determined that it was not necessary for me to recuse. >> and donald trump considered the sessions recusal to be betrayal; is that right? >> congressman, i have no idea sitting here today what the president believed about general session' recusal. >> let's be clear, the investigation into russia's attack on our democracy is not a wish hunt, not a fishing expedition, it's not a hoax, not a lynch pob, -- mob, it's a national security imperative. the fact that people suggest otherwise comes dangerously close to provide comfort to enemy, hands off the mueller
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investigation, i yield back. >> thank you, gentleman. i now recognize the gentleman of virginia, mr. klein. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. acting attorney general. i was hopeful that we would get into some oversight over these array of areas of the department of justice that are so critical and so important to addressing the problems that are facing my community, drugs, crime, all of these issues are of top concern to my constituents and one of the most important things that i care about when i get back to my district is are you going to keep the government operating, can you reach an agreement on immigration issues? so when we talk about immigration, i can ask you a
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couple of questions that would probably help get to an immigration agreement, the backlog of pending cases in immigration courts nationwide have been growing since 2008 to 200,000 cases to 800,000. and in the face of this backlog, what steps has doj taken to make sure that immigration judges can efficiently and effectively adjudicate cases and reduce mass backlog pending cases in a efficient manner? >> thank you, congressman, it's important issue and immigration judges work hard to adjudicate the cases but quite frankly the number of immigration judges we have have been overwhelmed by the number of asylum seekers. over 80% and really over 90%
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those are encountered at the border and detained and arrested claim some fort of asylum. that causes those folks to be put in immigration court system and then requires that a hearing be held by an immigration judge and meanwhile most of these folks, those 800,000 that are pending are not part of the detained docket, they are part of release docket and those cases take longer, the ones that are not detained and not detained docket and they have caused since 2008 that number to go dramatically up. what we have done about that situation is general sessions and i have issued attorney general orders changing some of the specifics as how those cases are adjudicated and in addition we have together with the help of congress which you've authorized and funded more
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immigration judges, we have put dramatic number of more judges, especially to the areas where it's needed which is often times at the border. >> so you've also put in place an additional performance metrics to gauge the performance of judges work to go complete cases an reduce the backlog, are those working and you've gotten pushback from groups that are concerned that they amount to case quotas and if they are working are you aware of any organization in which productivity of workers isn't assessed of review? >> yes, in fact, administrative law judges similar to immigration judges there's typically performance metrics that are in place that not only evaluate productivity but also budget and manage the workforce. >> and what are you doing to ensure that continues in
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immigration cases are not abused and are granted solely for good cause? >> we issued an attorney general order which set the standard which has been different based on what the immigration appeals court which is an internal board of immigration appeals, internal view that the attorney general sits over, we passed rules and regulations and a new standard for issuing continues. >> i yield back. >> i now yield to the gentleman of rhode island. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i would ask unanimous consent that the following article ls be -- be put in the record, whitaker was counseling white house on investigating clinton, second article, sessions replacement whitaker called mueller's appointment ridiculous and
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fishy, third article, rails against russia probe. trump's pick replacement, risks becoming a witch hunt and article, trump's new acting attorney general once used about defending robert mueller. >> without objection, the documents will be placed in the record. i now recognize the gentleman for 5 minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. whitaker,i will be straight, i will cut you if you make long speeches, you do not need to thank me for asking me, or complementing, i assume that they're all great questions and you're grateful. one, you were briefed by special counsel, did you share that information with members of staff, the information you learned in the briefing from the special counsel or his team? >> congressman, as i previously testified, there was one other individual in that briefing -- >> who was that individual? >> it is the u.s. attorney from the eastern district of california who i brought on --
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>> what is the name of the individual, mr. whitaker? >> his name is greg scott. >> did you communicate any information you learned in those briefings to other members of your staff? >> i don't believe so, no. >> do you know whether any information that you learned in those briefings were communicated to anyone at the white house? >> as i mentioned previously, congressman, we have kept a very -- >> mr. whitaker, yes or no. do you know whether it was communicated to anybody at the white house? >> as i sit here today, i don't -- i don't know whether it was communicated. >> you put into place any restrictions or limitations or instructions to your staff not to share this information with anyone at the white house or the president's legal team? >> yes, together with the general standard that investigative information and materials need to know law enforcement -- >> thank you, mr. whitaker. did the department lash out at you after cohen's guilty plea about lying over trump
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organization to build tower in moscow? >> the president specifically tweeted that he did not lash out. >> i'm asking you, did the president lash out at you, i'm not asking you what he tweeted, i don't have a lot of confidence, i'm asking you under oath. >> congressman, that's based on unu.s. stock market-- >> did the president lash out to you over guilty plea? >> no, he he did not. >> did anyone or anyone on behalf of the president lash out at you? >> no. >> mr. whitaker, did the president lash out to you on or december 8th, to discuss the case before the southern district where he was identified as individual one. >> no, congressman. >> did anyone on the president's behalf either inside the white house or outside the white house contact you to lash out or
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express dissatisfaction? >> did they contact me to lash out? >> no, did they reach out to you in some way to say dissatisfaction? >> no. >> did you forward -- >> congressman, i did not. >> when you claimed you were going invoke privilege, you are talking about questions that the president has not seen? >> president, i'm not invoking any privilege. >> you would not answer questions about conversations with the president, did you not? >> yes, i did. >> so you are not sitting here today saying the president has instructed you to answer questions, correct? >> i'm not sitting here -- >> you're prepared to answer all of the questions? >> congressman, i was pretty -- >> have you spoken to the president, mr. whitaker about the mueller investigation? >> congressman, as i have
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previously testified, i did not talk to the president about the mueller investigation. >> have you ever spoken to the president or member -- or parts of his legal team about information that you've learned in your capacity as acting attorney general related to the mueller investigation or any other criminal investigation involving the president? >> congressman, while i have specifically been saying that i'm not going to comment about my conversations with the president or his senior staff, i have also been very clear that the president has not instructed me to do anything -- >> that wasn't my question. my question is have you had conversations about what you learned? that's a yes or a no. >> congressman, i have -- i spend all day -- >> mr. whitaker, my question is specific, have you spoken to the president or legal team about what you've learned in mueller investigation or related criminal investigations that may involve the president, yes or no? >> congressman, as i specifically answered earlier to -- >> mr. whitaker, you're clearly not going to answer the question
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so i will move on. you know professor john barrett, correct? anyway, law school professor that you tweeted that you told him in 2017 that you were flying from iowa to new york city to be on cnn regularly because you were hoping he notices trump defendant and judicial appointment in iowa, you went onto discuss mueller appointment ridiculous and fishy, mueller investigating finances were going too far, that there's no collusion with the russians and the trump campaign, that any candidate would have taken the same meeting like donald trump, jr. and lawyer, you said all of those things and they're all in print and answers mr. deutshe's question, just how is it that mr. whitaker becomes the acting attorney general in violation of
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existing statutes, was he put there for a particular purpose, that wasn't a question, it's a question. >> i reserve that. the time of the gentleman has expired. who is next? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. whitaker for being here today. i just want to quickly reference a letter that was sent to you from the chair on january 9th, in this letter in the chairman's own words that the committee was here to conduct oversight of the department. and in this letter other topics like immigration, gun violence, the violence against women's act, obamacare, national security and that's not the complete list. i know you read the letter. i was excited to be here. i thought those were critically important issues, in fact, the constituents of my district and issues are life and death. i'm confused as i sit here today
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in hearing with democrat colleagues focus solely on one top and that's the mueller investigation. i hope that my friends across the aisle would use opportunity for more bipartisanship and less showmanship but clearly i was wrong. with that said, i want to get to important topics that we were supposed to focus on today. one of those is sanctuary cities, in my own state of philadelphia, everyone knows the tragic storied of kate steinle who was murdered of immigrant who was convicted of 7 felonies and deported and child molesters in philadelphia, all released to some city wanting to score cheap political points and that's why i'm focused on ending sanctuary cities, what steps are taking to end sanctuary cities?
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>> first of all, we are ending taxpayer funds to sanctuary jurisdictions. the attorney general sessions announced new conditions for grants that will increase information sharing between federal, state and local law enforcement to ensure public safety. i don't know if congressman knows this, but one to have challenges we have in sanctuary jurisdiction the jail will release convicted criminals back into the community that the person is available to be picked audiotape at the jail. it's incredibly dangerous situation to make an ice officer go into a community to try to arrest somebody who is here illegally and convicted of a crime, often times crimes like you mention and i cannot imagine a situation where a mayor or city council or county executive or otherwise would put law enforcement officers in harm's way. it is quite frankly bad policy and we are going to work very
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hard to end it and one of the ways we are ending it by take get away the resources to those jurisdictions that have that policy. >> thank you, mr. whitaker. mr. whitaker, i have one more question regarding the opioid crisis. this crisis is striking our country hard specifically south western pennsylvania. data from 2017 shows it's more likely now that someone will die of drug overdoes than car crash. my district has been hit really hard, saw 88% increase in overdoes deaths from 2015 to 2017. what steps has doj taken to address and do you think a lot of the problems that we are seeing in the stats comes from porous southern border? >> to address your second question first, i do believe that most illegal opioids like fentanyl, nonprescription like fentanyl, heroin are important
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-- imported to southern border, not a majority, but some imported direct mail, for example, ordered off the dark net. i went through a list of things that the department of justice is doing to combat this opioid epidemic. i hope that this committee while, you know, something i've prepared and wanted to talk about and i appreciate the question will look at other ways that we can put resources into the opioid crisis. 70,000 people as you mentioned have died of drug overdoses, the majority of those are from some form of opioids and we also quite frankly and i mentioned my trip to china last august, we have to work together with the chinese government to reduce the inflow of fentanyl and we also have to -- we have emergency schedule right now, the fentanyl analogues but we need active congress and i hope that we can get that to make that permanent
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that the fentanyl derivatives and creative chemist that change the chemical make-up of fentanyl do not continue to try to evolve drugs to avoid regulation. >> thank you, mr. whitaker. i combreeld back my -- yield back my time. >> thank you, mr. whitaker, does your watchdog organization ever receive contributions from foreign donors? >> mr. chairman, call of order. >> the gentleman will state point of order. >> i will go back to this. the majority does not care but this is outside the scope of this hearing, that was not while he was employed here and whether he outside had donors or not during the time he was not employed making no connection either way is not inside the scope of the hearing, it's not the call of the committee.
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this is not part to have call to hearing. plenty of things to do. [inaudible conversations] >> you can go sit down there. >> and neither are you. >> we could get this done. [inaudible conversations] >> both gentlemen -- >> chair will rule the point of order is not well taken, the scope of people's questioning, latitude and we don't need to know where it's going at this point. the gentleman's point of order is not well taken. the gentleman will -- will resume. the gentleman appeal ruling of chair, the general lady move to table, move to table is not debatable. the clerk will call the roll. >> mr. chairman -- >> call the roll.
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all in favor of tabling the resolution, all in favor of appealing ruling of the chair will say aye, aye. nay. the aye's have it. appealed the motion is tabled. gentleman, will continue. >> mr. whitaker, did your organization have foreign contributions? >> just to be clear, are you -- >> yes or no? >> what do you mean by my organization? >> i don't know the answer to that, i do not believe it did, but our main donor was a group that was a u.s. entity. >> when you -- did you interview with don mcgann to have the job that he would ultimately get? >> i did not meet with mr. mcgann. >> did you talk on the phone? >> we never talked on the phone either.
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>> who did you meet on the staff? >> andy donaldson, chief of staff at the time. >> when you talked to chief of staff, did you express in that conversation your prior views about the mueller investigation? >> , no i did not. >> was it brought up by chief of staff? >> in fact, at the time congressman everyone in the white house did not want to talk about the special counsel's investigation. >> you were interviewing for a job that would respond to special counsel's investigation, is that right? >> at the time i was interviewing for the position that was ultimately occupied by ty cobbs. >> you were not to talk at all about the special counsel investigation, how would they know -- >> they did not want to talk about the investigation because the folks were dealing with that investigation and that's why they wanted to bring in someone that had been unrelated to the investigation. >> did they talk to you about your prior -- >> no, we did not discuss it.
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>> and my legal practice. >> has there been discussion at the department about keeping the mueller report from going to congress? >> no, we, in fact, continuing to follow the special counsel regulations as it relates to the report and we haven't received the report. >> a draft opinion about keeping it from going to congress? >> congressman, i'm not going to talk about ongoing investigation that's special counsel, i will share with you -- >> mr. whitaker, did donald trump ask you if you would recuse before you became acting attorney general, did that question come up, did he ask you what you would do? >> congressman, i've already answered that question in my opening statement. >> do you believe attorney general sessions should have rescued? >> as i mentioned in my answers previously, the recusal decision -- >> do you believe yes or no that he should have recused? >> i do not have an opinion. he determined it was the right decision for him to make and so i agreed that he made the right
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decision for him. >> has there been any discussions at the department about pardons for paul manafort, roger stone, michael flynn or michael cohen? >> congressman, we have a very-warn system -- >> that the president doesn't follow. have there been discussions of pardon of individuals yes or no? >> congressman, i have not been involved in any discussions of any pardons even and including the one you're discussing. >> you made public statement last week that the investigation was nearly complete, is that your characterization or bob mueller's characterization? >> congressman u that position that i mentioned last week in press conference was my position as acting attorney general. >> would bob mueller if sitting before us right now agree with you? >> congressman, bob mueller will finish his investigation when he wants to finish his investigation. >> is mr. mueller honest? >> congressman, i have been on the record about my respect for
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bob mueller and his ability to conduct this investigation. >> do you believe he's honest, yes or no? >> i have no reason to believe he's not honest, so, yes, i do believe he's honest. >> do you believe he's -- >> congressman, as i mentioned regarding recusal, sort of the conflict analysis for the individual lawyer to make once a matter is before them and i'm sure that whether it's bob mueller, whether it's rod rosenstein. >> the president -- [inaudible] >> the president has called him conflicted and you oversee the investigation, do you believe that he's conflicted? >> i follow regular order at the department of justice and i have expected that the lawyers and agents that work for me follow regular order and as i sit here today, i don't have any reason to believe that. >> so you don't -- you believe he's honest, you don't believe he's conflicted. can you say right now, mr. president, bob mueller is honest and not conflicted? >> congressman, i'm not a puppet to repeat what you're saying.
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>> are you able to say it or do you not believe it? >> i have answered your question as to what i believe about the special counsel, i standby my prior statement. >> can you say it to the president, though? >> congressman, i am not here to be puppet and repeat words. >> can you say that to the president? >> regular order. >> mr. chair, he hasn't answered the question. >> sorry? >> he has not answered the question. if he would say mr. mueller is -- >> the witness may answer the question. >> i don't have anything further to add, i think i've answered the congressman's question. >> the gentleman from north dakota. >> mr. whitaker, you have obviously been acting attorney general during fairly interesting times and we've heard a lot about that today but i also want to commend the department of justice, fbi, the white house and all other law enforcement who is involved in the first step act, this is a tremendous shift not just the
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department of justice, not just republicans, not just for democrats and it's the way government is supposed to work, it's supposed to show redemption, organized crime and work for a smarter way to deliver criminal justice particularly with addiction-related crimes. so my only hope is because it is called the first step act there will be a second step and if you ever -- unfortunately i have some other questions for you so any time on your way out if you have any advice on something congress can do to continue the momentum i would be very appreciative. >> well, you know, congressman, i was involved on behalf of the department of justice in the first setback and i just want to commend everyone on this committee that worked on this first step act, to successfully get that passed and both the house and the senate, i know how difficult that is. i think one of the things that we could use your help on is to make sure you fund the first step act and -- and what you ask
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of the department of justice to do. you know, we continue to implement the first step act, the law that you passed and, in fact, just last night we sent out guidance to our u.s. attorney's offices on how to implement the first step act and i know the federal bureau prisons as well is implementing the act. >> and i would hope to work towards having a federal level pretrial release program to be available to every state and county courthouse across the country. one of the greatest ironies it's incredibly affected and you get a 10-year minimum mandatory. so the pretrial release program at the department of justice and u.s. attorney's office across the country is fe -- phenomenal and you deserve credit for that. >> i understand uniquely how pretrial release works, and so i -- we would be interested in your proposal and we would look
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at that and work with you to try to implement something like that. >> now in our role as oversight, i do actually have a question about something that has come up in the past in that given the nature of the testimony today very possibly could come up in the future and often when we have names like clinton and comey and rosenstein and trump and mueller and russia, we forget that the law is the law. you testified earlier to representative jordan that we prosecute crimes not people. and i think often often across the country laws apply differently to people depending on status. one to have areas where this came up and it was something that concerned me before i was involved in this is when we started talking about the difference between gross negligence and intent and it was in a particular statute and we are dealing with it and there were members of the fbi and the doj that were concerned. but as far as i understand in
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the federal code particularly in the criminal code gross negligence has the same definition approximately everywhere in the criminal code, right? >> in my experience, your statement is generally correct, yes. >> so if gross negligence would be vague under one particular statute of the criminal code, then we should be concerned it's vague under every other section of the criminal code? >> that is correct. for example, jury instruction, inform jury as to how evaluate standard to convict someone of a crime. >> assuming that it wasn't political in nature as to why gross negligence wasn't looked forward in any particular case, has -- under your leadership, under the doj has anybody reviewed this, looked at it and made any proposals to congress particularly regarding whether or not we need to tighten up gross negligence language not just let's say in espionage act but in any section of the
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federal criminal code? >> as i sit here right now, i don't know the answer to your question but i'm happy to get back to you on that. >> i'd appreciate that. and just again under normal course of order, i'm assuming it works the same as everywhere, law enforcement agents and i know a lot of fbi agents do have law degrees but fbi agents investigate crimes and then goes up the food chain to u.s. attorney's office usually -- >> remember, you need a predication to even open investigation and that's the step that i think a lot of people forget. there's many steps along the way. first you have to predicate the investigation and then investigated by the special agents that investigate the crimes, typically ausa works with them to get search warrants and the like and ultimately if cases develop and present today grand jury and then charge. that's -- then, again, there's discovery process, a trial
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process, it's a very well warned and all of that is done at the department of justice without interference and proper interference and interference based on political nature. >> i'm concerned moving forward, everybody -- and obviously this is hypertension and hyperpolitical but i'm very concerned moving forward that everybody knows what the rules of the game are as far as statutes are and that the laws apply the way the laws should be and i believe in the past they have not been and obviously this is continuing to go on, this hearing today is noticeful of that. on the way out, best way to deal, that's when we have the courage to do it but this could very much come up in the future. >> time of the gentleman has expired. the committee will stand in recess for two minutes. i ask that the members remain here if they can.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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i'm asking you about the constitution.
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investigations in my opening statement. i don't have anything further to add to that answer. you communicated with the president? >> i will correct to my opening statement. advisors inpeak to new york about that? >> i was very explicit as to not only about my communications regarding the special counsel's office and i said other investigations in the southern district of new york would be included and other investigations. >> ok, thank you. the president has talked about a national emergency. under the latest data it is correct that violence -- violent
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crime across the country has going down. >> we celebrate that. sit here right now, generally all crime is down. you would agree with donald trump when last year he tweeted out that border crossings are at a 45 year low? >> without a precipitous to client in order crossings when he was in office they will not been able to retain those gains and we've seen a dramatic surge in a family units.
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you have challenge my
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character. >> i am asking you a question. i control this time. you don't run this committee. you don't run the congress of the united states. the gentleman will suspend. the witness will answer the questions and is up to the german to decide which questions. the german will continue. we will resume. >> what was the title of the not-for-profit u.n.? >> what time period? >> when i was employed as the executive director it was all the foundation for accountability. >> did you name it? >> i did. >> let's talk about accountability. >> u.s. make a question and i
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answered. >> i control the time. correct.dgment is if he wishes, many have made a statement in the ask a question. if he wishes to proceed to another question it is his time. >> romance to be complete on the record to what he asked. -- i want this to be complete on the record what he asked. the gentleman will suspend and the general state his point. wanted to do a confirmation hearing, this is not in the scope of this hearing. this is not a confirmation hearing. the gentleman's point of order is not well taken.
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the gentleman for maryland has the discretion to ask the questions. the gentleman will proceed. all in favor of the motion to table the appeal of the ruling aye.he chair will vote the aye's have it. the table is motioned -- the motion is table. >> is the ranking member just going to continue to interrupt when he doesn't like the flow of the questions? >> everyone will please suspend.
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who paid your salary? >> the donors trust is much bigger than the foundation for accountability to the trust and raises millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars every year. as i sit here today i have no idea the donor to donor trust.
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>> i have a theory. it goes to something very strange happening in the department of justice recently. a casino billionaire and magnet dates online gambling for obvious reasons. it is competition for him. he wants able in the casinos and not online. he spent over a million dollars actying single wire prohibits only sports gambling online not gambling in the states which is why it florida, pennsylvania, new jersey and lots of states have built important businesses for themselves online. congress would not change the law, so rather than change the law decided to try to get the department of justice to change the interpretation of the law. if you millions into the campaign and get the legal counsel to perform a complete reversal and say it bans the kind of lotteries that states run online even though its
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language is clear that it is only sports betting. when donald trump one and you became steep of staff, leadership ordered a reevaluation and what do you know question mark the office of several counsel found subtle and invisible light of lot that escape the department of justice reversed theand it reading of interpretation which talks specifically about sports betting. were you involved in that? >> general sessions was recused at the time the decision came out. before i was recused. i was not involved in that decision. did you ever talk to sheldon adelson about it? >> no i did not. >> did you talk to charles cooper about it? >> no i didn't but i know him.
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the first oh well see opinion that preceded the one we just anded in november was done the state of illinois provided that an eight provided a white paper regarding the position
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you're in front that somehow the process was corrupted or corrupt is absolutely wrong and the premise of your question i reject. >> the gentlelady from washington. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. whitaker, thank you for being with us. our country is wheeling from the horrors of family separation that occur at the border. i was first member of congress to talk to hundreds of women and men who have been ripped apart from their children. prison toa federal talk to those women, many of them have not even been able to say goodbye to their children. they sat in the room next door as they heard their children yelling for them and they were not able to go and speak to their children. for weeks they did not know whether children were. of the women and men were seeking asylum and your department, instead of allowing them their legal right to seek
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asylum, your department instead imposed a zero humanity policy in masscute them proceedings, resulting in the u.s. government tearing thousands of children from their months and this is still happening very we may not know how many children were separated from their parents. general, former attorney general jeff sessions chief of staff at the time? >> at what point in time? >> in the family separation policy. >> there was no family separation policy. it was a zero-tolerance policy. draft memos a leaked by senior officials at the department of justice and homeland security outlining
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policies to separate children from their families. were you aware of this memo at the time. >> no. >> as the chief of staff you are not aware of what your boss was doing? -- you are talking about the leaked memo or the one that general sessions release. documentwas a leaked and you were the senior chief of staff. it stated that a policy of criminally prosecuting parents require close coordination between dhs and health and human services that will be tasked with housing children separated from moms and dads. a report released by the government accountability says dhs and hhs were quote unaware that your former bosses zero-tolerance policy memo was coming." is it correct that the
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department of justice provided no advanced notice to those departments? congresswoman, the policy -- > >> it is a yes or no. >> we headed up housley with the enforcement when we announced the zero-tolerance policy. all it says is that we will take all referrals from dhhs. >> i will stop you right there because it is my time. according to the gao office report on family is separation, and hhs officials told us the agencies did not take specific planning steps because they did not have advance notice of the attorney general's memo. ice andon to say that or are official stated that they became aware of the april 2018 memo when it was announced publicly. zero -- letter the
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me go back. ai scented to pb the gao and there were some hot and given advanced notice? there were not given advanced notice? >> no i am not. it was at a public event. >> prior to the public event, these ice cbp and or are officials told the gao they had not gotten any notice. i'm not talking once it was public the weather there was advanced notice.
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>> i don't believe they were prosecuting that. >> the custody is transferred to the u.s. marshals. >> they were in your custody and your attorneys are prosecuting them and your department was not tracking parents who were separated from their children. kind of damaget has been done to children and families across this country am a children who will never get to see their parents again? do you understand the magnitude of that? understand that the policy of zero tolerance -- started tracking parents and legal guardians separated from their children at the border? >> the time of the gentlelady has expired.
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the gentleman may answer. >> i appreciate your passion for this issue and i know you have been involved in the front lines. >> this is about more than my passion it is about children's futures. please answer. >> the witness may answer. >> congresswoman, the responsibility for the arrest and detention and together with the custody of the children was dhs and hhs before they were transferred to doj custody through the marshals. >> the time of the gentlelady has expired. , mr. chairman. mr. whitaker, i spent 27 years and law enforcement and served as the chief of police and took an oath just like you did. i took that oath very seriously to uphold the constitution and to protect this country from all
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enemies foreign and mistake. i hope you took the oath that you took very seriously. sit through this and my colleague is right because it has been painful because i believe that you have worked to make our criminal justice system , to make a mockery out of it. it is painful for me for you to do that and anybody up to and including the president of the , but let me ask you this. it has been painful for someone who has been given so much responsibility representing the men and women dedicated -- who have dedicated their lives to public service. that means a lot to me. i hope it means a lot to you. it was ask if you were ever communicated with president trump about investigations in the southern district of new
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york. instead of answering, he referred him back to your statement. all you said is that you did make in your statement that you didn't make any promise or commitments to president trump. i want to know whether you talk these at all about southern district of new york case involving michael cohen. as i've mentioned several times i'm not going to discuss my private conversations with the president of the united states. >> yes or no, did you discuss with president trump anything about michael cohen? >> congresswoman, as i have expressed several times today i am not -- >> did you have a conversations with the president of firing any personnel who worked with the southern district of new york? did the president or anybody at all. did you ever have any conversations with anybody about reassigning or firing any person
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now, including u.s. attorneys for the southern district of new york. >> congresswoman, i sit on the top of the department of justice. >> did you ever have any conversations with anyone who works in the district of virginia about firing? anybody at all? >> congresswoman, i'm not going to talk -- >> talk about all of the public servants who are dedicated to upholding our great constitution and the laws of the united states. i am sure you are familiar with this because you kept a rally last fall and the president said look at what is being exposed at the department of justice and fbi. you see what has happened at the fbi. they are all gone that there is a lingering stench and we are going to get rid of that too. do you agree with the president's characterization of
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the department of justice and fbi. as the attorney general, please tell me why you would agree and not agree with that statement. >> since i have become the acting attorney general, i've reestablished a positive relationship between the torment of justice and the white house. >> before you establish that positive relationship, what was your opinion of the men and women who dedicate their life to public service, before you had your current position? what is your opinion of them? theave a high estimation of men and women who are hard-working. so you disagree with the president's characterize asian, because they don't deserve it. characterization because they don't deserve it. then you don't agree with the president's characterization? >> congressmen come in all due respect, i feel very strongly
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that as the acting attorney general of the united states that i have to set the tone for the entire department of justice and what is so important -- >> if i worked for you and thought i was highly principled and talented and that is your answer when i was asked or you were asked about how do you view the people who work for you, that is your answer, that is pitiful. you have only mentioned drugs coming to the southern border. southernroblem at the border as characterized by you and the president. could you please make a picture of drugs flowing to the ports of entry because i am told the overwhelming number of drugs that flowing the country come to the ports of entry. do you agree or disagree with that statement? if so yes or no and why not? >> the time has expired. the gentleman may answer. >> we both agree the ports of
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entry at southern border are the most trafficked with drugs and illegality. it comes in between. i believe that a tremendous amount of drugs come through our ports of entry on the southern border, yes. thank you, mr. chairman. ask you about your enforcement priorities. one of my jobs in congress is to serve on the department of homeland security and within that job, one of my most important critical jobs is to make sure our citizens are safe, to protect our nation against terrorist threats. in may 2017, a joint fbi bulletin warned of a threat of violence by white supremacist, right-wing extremist this in other white nationalist groups. an extensive study of terrorist
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-- 2008tween 220,000 and 2016 found plots and attacks whites outnumbered those by extremist two to one. --y have been increasingly they have more than >> i have no reason to disagree with it. >> do you believe the administration is placing enough of an emphasis, an of resources allocated to stopping these
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kinds of homegrown terrorist attacks? >> i believe that we are dedicating resources to appropriate threats. at the line and the management level at the fbi, including our partners at dhs, as you mention, and as i sit here today, i believe we are adequately addressing the threats we face, but we are always reallocating -- >> "adequately addressing the threat." you mentioned earlier, 30 hate crime convictions. in 2017, an increase of 17% hate crimes reported, which they are usually under reported in this country. more than 7000 hate crimes in 2017 and you have 30 convictions . do you think you are allocating resources toe
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addressing and hate crime's? >> i do. if you look at high profile cases we have done like the synagogue shooting in pittsburgh or the charlottesville situation we previously discussed, or even the case where we sent a prosecutor to my home state of iowa -- at the number, 7000 reported, almost to 20% increase since 2017, 30 convictions. adequate? >> congressman, we work with our state partners and local police to determine the most effective place to prosecute a crime. to suggest they do not receive the proper justice is -- are looking at foreign terrorism, and yet are we ignoring domestic terrorism? >> no, we're not ignoring that. equal or allocating
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more resources to domestic versus foreign? yes or no. allocatequately -- we resources and it's a dynamic, daily evaluation and i believe we are adequately resourcing all of the threats, including the ones you described. >> do you think domestic terrorism from white extremist groups is on the rise, and do you think we should allocate additional resources to combating these kinds of terrorist attacks in this country? >> congressman, i just want to be clear. i agree with the fbi -- >> i didn't hear your answer. i agree with the fbi statement those crimes are on the rise. i also believe we have adequately deployed our resources on a daily basis, formically, as required those threats. i have seen it with the intelligence briefings i participate on, on almost a daily basis and i know the fbi another federal law enforcement
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agencies are adequately resourcing for these threats. it's a target-rich environment when it comes to law enforcement -- to continuere going to look at this and homeland security, because i believe we are missing the ball here in 2017. funding toted grant look as some of these issues. we have to keep addressing this issue. lives, the safety of our citizens is at stake. chairman, i yield. scanlan. whitaker.ternoon, mr. >> good afternoon. >> you mentioned the department of justice has been attempting to with all federal dollars from so-called sanctuary cities. is that right? >> yes, i talked about -- >> thank you. one of the cities is philadelphia, right? >> i believe so, yes.
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>> i happen to represent philadelphia. isn't it true judge mike belson will be department of justice attempt to withhold this money was illegal and unconstitutional? >> congresswoman -- >> is in it correct that was the ruling of the federal court? isn't it correct to the federal that the department of justice's actions were illegal and unconstitutional? that's a matter of public record, sir. >> congresswoman, i don't disagree -- >> you may be confused here. this may appear to be a contest, but this is not a gridiron and i am not letting your run up a time. isn't it true the federal court world that was an constitution. >> congresswoman -- >> i will take that as a yes. ongoing litigation -- >> mr. whitaker, isn't it true
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the department of justice has not produced any credible evidence that undocumented immigrants commit crime at a rate higher than any other group? >> this is the subject of ongoing litigation -- true the federal court found that in a public opinion? >> congresswoman, i'm not going to comment -- >> i will take that as a yes as well p just to be clear, i am asking oversight questions about enforcement priorities during your tenure at the department of justice. i want to make sure we are clear on when that tenure began. i have a date of september 22, 2017 that you became chief of staff. is that correct? >> that is incorrect. >> what was your first to date as chief of staff? >> october 4, 2017. actingnd the new became attorney general as of november 2017? >> the president tweeted i would be the next acting attorney general in november 2017.
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the order i received has the date november 8, 2018. a copy of that order? says but i do have a copy of the order. -- would youive provide it to the committee please? >> i would. i don't have it with me though. >> ok. the department of justice sent a formal request to the census for the addition of a question asking about status.hip did attorney general sessions directly department of justice lawyers to add that request? >> the department is currently defending -- >> do you refuse to answer the question? >> i think it's inappropriate for me to comment about the subject of ongoing litigation. >> mr. chairman, i would like to reflect of that mr. whitaker has not answer the question and i will this matter to be addressed in the upcoming deposition. let's see.
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do you know if the president directed department of justice lawyers to make that request? >> congresswoman, this is the subject of ongoing litigation -- >> thank you. was acting assistant attorney general john gore involved in the drafting of that census question? >> this is the subject of ongoing litigation -- >> let the record reflect again you are refusing to answer the question. we can agree that one of the functions of the department of justice is to enforce the voting rights act, correct? >> correct. >> and isn't it true the most recent voting rights act enforcement action was filed on january 20, 2017? is it correct that the most recent voting rights enforcement
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action felt that your department was in 2017, january 10? >> congresswoman -- no question.es or >> the first term of the obama administration -- >> ok, reclaiming my time. no running out the clock. , can we enter into the record the department of justice website, which reflects when the last voting rights act case was filed, january 10, 2017. >> without objection. the fact that that is noted on the website will be entered into the record. >> thank you. it true the department of justice has reversed his position on at least three important voting rights act cases? answer the question? >> the gentlelady's time has expired. the witness me answer. >> the department has changed positions in only one voting
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case, and that is the houston case. the supreme work agreed with our new reading of the statute. >> thank you, mr. chairman. documents. i ask for unanimous consent to be entered into the record. the first is entitled "crime and murder in 2018, a preliminary analysis." "border communities have lower crime rates." the riverreport from and valley in texas. -- crime stopped 10% last year. >> without objection, these documents will be entered into the record. the gentlelady is recognized for five minutes. >> mr. attorney general, what is it that leads you to conclude
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that the border region is when thesen documents i just entered into the record clearly show that del all brownsville, el paso, the areas in the border region -- in fact even a paso is listed in the top 29 cities where crime has gone down. beasts status show differently. why are you insistent this is a crime-ridden area? i only have five minutes. >> i do not recall saying today that they border region was crime-ridden. illegal immigration, through our southern border, is dramatically and negatively impacting the crime rate in our cities. it would be lower if we did not have illegal immigration. i pointed example of mollie tibbetts -- >> you're talking of other then cities in border
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areas? >> i think you would agree with immigrants dol not reside at the border region, they transit through there and make their way to other parts of our country. >> in houston, we have good jobs and we are an open city. but i heard you say earlier, and maybe the word crime-ridden was not the exact word you used, but it was alluding to the fact that the border areas have a lot of crime, and i simply do not agree with you. but let me move on to another topic, following up with some questions about the family separation policy or the zero tolerance policy. you said earlier in answer to a question about some of your are byund that you side site byons' site for four years and were aware of everything in the department of justice separation
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policy. is that true questioner >> i served as chief of staff for 14 months. >> you said that you were with him side-by-side. were you in the room when the actual zero-tolerance policy was hatched? >> i put is abated in discussions about the zero-tolerance policy internally, but -- i participated in his gushes about the zero-tolerance policy internally, but i will not talk about the deliberations. >> who is the brainchild of the policy? where did it come from? we never had it before at the level it is being executed now. >> it was general sessions' this vision to implement and he wrote the memo and distributed to our border district u.s. attorneys. mehow many question -- let ask this question. how many children are still separate from their families as we sit here today questioner >> that is a number only dhs and hhs would know.
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the department of justice is not involved in handling children at the border, whether encountered in a family unit or unaccompanied minors. >> so you have no idea? dhs or or are, or anybody else? >> again, those are different departments within the -- >> i know that, sir, but i know you are the acting attorney get a lot ofou reports, a lot of documents, a lot of data review have not seen anything to give you any idea of just how many children have been to the way from the arms of their mothers? >> i would have to refer you to hhs and dhs. >> how many have been reunited with their families? statistics i am involved in because those cases -- i do not want the finger sticks counting the children. i just want to know that these
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americans who find this policy to be abhorrent and a new main have an idea as to when the children will ever be reunited with their families. you cannot tell us that today? >> no, i would have to refer you to hhs and dhs, which would be responsible for the parts of the process, because once we receive individuals from prosecution under the zero-tolerance policy, we only deal with the adults. >> one last question. the president said he was going to make a priority to make sure that people with previous conditions -- does that mean you you'reop the litigation involved in questioner >> the affordable care litigation is ongoing -- >> are you going to be able to settle it or drop some of that since the president is changing
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priorities and direction for his department of justice? >> the time for the gentlelady has expired. the witness me answer the question. >> we have a presently accepted policy end of the president issues a policy directive we will follow the policy. >> thank you. >> mr. attorney general, thank you for being here. i would like to thank my colleague from south dakota for his support of criminal justice -- >> north dakota. >> north dakota. my apologies. [laughter] i want to talk about another policy, with respect to cannabis. i live in the state of all or -- a colorado. researchers at the university of colorado, which i'm proud represent, are working hard to understand the health effects. they are studying promising
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do you know if the department and -- the department of justice and the da will support -- dea research question marsh us but i've been trying to get the expansion of applications out. we have run into a very complicated matter regarding a treaty we are trying to work around. international treaty obligations that may not allow the way marijuana has been handled from the research facility, the grove facility to the researchers. it's something i am very aware of. unfortunately i have six days left in this chair at the most. i understand the concern.
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we are trained to make it work. >> if you could follow up with the department staff, it would be incredibly helpful. >> to my recollection, the place i last found it -- >> thank you, misty are attorney general. you mentioned -- mr. attorney general. you mentioned earlier, you were informed by tweet and you were appointed via the same tweets, when did you first learn that mr. sessions would be fired? >> i learned on november 7, if that is your question. ok. >> you learned by virtue of the same tweets? >> i would to just, the only point i would put on that, congressman, i'm sorry to interrupt -- mr. sessions resigned, sent in his resignation letter. >> i understand. did you have conversations with folks at the white house prior
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to november 7, 2018 about attorney general sessions resigning or being fired, however you would characterize that customer >> as his longtime practice of the department of justice and the executive branch generally, the president is entitled to confidential can medications and while i'm not confirming or denying the existence of a conversation, i'm not quite to talk about my conversations with the president of the united states. >> we will follow up on that have a deposition to the extent that one is noticed. that oneoned earlier of the reasons, and your view, you were appointed was your experience as a former u.s. attorney, correct? and half i spent five years as a united states attorney. >> and you mentioned one of the reasons you believe you were acting attorney general was you had been at the department of justice for the last year or so ?orking as the chief of staff
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>> i knew all of the active matters. i knew all of the policies that were implemented. >> i understand. i understand. reclaiming my time here. i appreciate that. question is, i am sure you attorney that deputy general rod rosenstein is a former u.s. attorney, that he departmenten at the of justice and of the vacancy act, he was next in succession to be appointed attorney general , indication the office was vacant, occasioned by mr. sessions' termination. so i am trying to understand -- were you surprised you were appointed rather than deputy attorney general rosenstein? that the ordinary rules of succession were not followed
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question marks as but it has been the owner of a lifetime and i have six days left. i will take full advantage of that, including enjoying this hearing. there are two different statues that apply to the vacancy created by general sessions. lettergeneral sessions' of resignation. one was the succession statute, and as you know, the vacancy act, which has been passed by congress. so, my appointment as is outlined in the 20-page o llc opinion is legitimate -- the attorneyct to general i am not referencing the legitimacy. my point is, under the vacancy act, the deputy attorney general is the first assistant to the attorney general and therefore would be the appropriate designee. with that, i yield back. >> the gentleman yielded back to reach us that mr. chairman, i'm sorry. i just wanted to address the issue really quickly so we are on the same page. as the first assistant, together
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with any other senate-confirmed individual, together with anyone who has served 90 days or less is eligible -- there's no thoseg or hierarchy for three positions. obviously i am in the third bucket as chief of staff. i want to make sure we were clear on that. >> thank you. ms. mcmahon. >> mr. whitaker, i'm completely where the north carolina and georgia were dealing with similar problems with voter suppression and i can tell you i witnessed voter suppression firsthand in georgia, even as i was running in my own election. toit fair for us a -- fair say the department was not remotely interested in securing the elections in north carolina? rather that its intent was abusing it subpoena powers and wielding its mandate to attack our elections in a thinly-veiled effort to suppress minority populations?
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>> the department of justice is committed to upholding the voting rights of all americans. >> i understand that. clarify i need you to for me is what actions were taken for all of the voting rights to be upheld? because you stated earlier, your includes alllier -- you of the department do not suspect there is any voter suppression? so what i'm asking is, do you not know with any voter suppression or do you not know whether those laws are being enforced? >> i don't believe that i said i am not aware there would be voter suppression. to be theking you, my
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case that you are not aware of voter suppression? >> the department of justice is organization and cases involving voter suppression, is done by u.s. attorneys and fbi agents in the district doing those cases. it would be unusual that i would have specific knowledge about any of the evidence in those obviously, we do our cases be of political interference and if there is evidence of, as you suggest, voter suppression, it's something we will seriously look at. elect toe department need for election monitors and the 2018 election? rightsent out 35 civil division's teams to i believe 19
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states, if i remember right. i might be wrong. we did send out election monitors from these civil rights division. >> i was in georgia. i did not see the election monitors. >> i do not know if georgia received what i'm describing. these civil rights division would have determined where they could be deployed. i know in the 2004 election, the civil rights division sent, i think, three or four lawyers to my office to monitor the elections in des moines. i would not be surprised if they did send election monitors to georgia. i really thinkou that we needed them and i'm very .isappointed in the numbers we needed more help than we got. also the committee sent you a letter, asking again for information on the department of
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voting rights enforcement. these questions were asked by the 115th congress. will you commit to providing this information for this committee? thee try to respond to all letters we receive from congress. lost track of what day it is, but we will be able to look at that letter. these are important issues and i share your concern about some of these places where there is alleged voter suppression and i know we are going to enforce the voting rights act robustly. >> thank you for that. if we do not get answers, i promise you, we will keep asking. --ther question i have is
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what step did the department take to support election the 2018 election? talking about voting devices? that responsibility is the department of the homeland security. can you tell the committee what those responsibilities were? were actually taken? i can tell you there were many, many instances in georgia where people were not allowed to vote. >> the time of the gentlelady has expired. the witness may answer the question. evidencere is specific that the crimes of been committed, we would be very interested in that at the department of justice.
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you, mr. chair. thank you for appearing before us. your time as attorney general is near an end. there are several congressional investigations that involve yourself, and i want you today to pledge to answer any inspector general questions and cooperate with the investigation even after you depart from your current position. >> re: talking about the doj office of inspector general -- generalthe inspector considering requests for investigations that involve you. since you are leaving the positions in, i want you to commit that you answer the ig's questions and cooperate fully with the investigation. >> i am happy to commit with that. michael horowitz is a fine doj career employee. i think he has done exceptional
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work. the governmentf shutdown on the functioning of the department of justice, is it fair to say the shutdown was devastating for the ability of the department to do their work? the shutdown was a difficult time because most of our employees are law enforcement and are accepted in the performance of their duties. did their job knowing that you hear and congress would ultimately pay them and come to some resolution of the shutdown. >> i appreciate your recognition of that. i think everyone here would agree that the department of outstanding. during the time of the shutdown
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ancillary functions of the department that involve travel would be not allowed. is that accurate? >> i don't have that memo in front of me, but that's consistent with my understanding of our guidance in that regard. >> in the middle of the department shutdown did you travel to give a speech to the heritage foundation? >> congressman, this is an important question, but i want to be very clear. i have a 24/7 security detail that drives me everywhere. travel -- i'm not sure what you mean. i went to capitol hill to give a speech to the heritage foundation, yes. that to beu consider an ancillary function of the department? no otherssman, i had way to get to a speech i committed to give before the shutdown. speechk you, the involved -- in october 2017
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there was a time when you were chief of staff. the attorney general staff did issue guidance on the federal religious liberty. guidance for the expansion of liberty is and a religious liberties summit. it's fair to say there's been limited information on the task force and its work. are you aware of any additional documents or guidance that further explains the task force mandates? >> no, i'm not aware of any additional -- >> do you know the budget of the task force?
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internal task an force that would have a separate budget. can you provide to the committee any additional details regarding that task force, which has been in place now seven months on more? yes, i would be happy to. -- hhsand interpreted interpreted it to allow an adoption agency to discriminate against a potential foster parent because they happen to be jewish. do you know if it to justin's behind this? >> i am certain the department of justice will defend that
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position of a sister agency. >> thank you very much. secretary clinton: the time of the timeeman has -- >> of the german has expired. >> i am delighted to hear about your focus all of the scourge of gun violence and i look for to your support of the universal background check bill, hr-8. you said a couple things that really touched me. you said that you have to set the tone of the department and the job you are doing now is the honor of a lifetime. i believe that you actually do, as the acting ag, set the tone for the department. tell me -- and this is not a negative question them a just a actual question -- how many positions did you interview for with the administration prior to going to the department of justice? explored, iviously
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had interviewed for the position that ultimately take of occupied b occupied and i interviewed with cheap sessions and his staff. after the election of 2016, i never intended to come into the administration, but i was happy to be asked, and i explored opportunities and those were the two that i interviewed for. >> in your private life you became a commentator on cnn and other places and you disparage the mueller investigation. is that true? >> i used my experience -- >> is it true, yes or no? >> i would not characterize it as disparagement. i tried to explain to the market people how the process worked -- >> i'm asking about the investigation and the validity of the investigation. public, the record is
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that you said very negative things in your private life and you have said today you're not willing to take this back, so they stand. your thoughts on the mueller investigation are fully public and they stand because you did not take them back today. how did you learn of the extraordinary honor the stowed upon you? how did you learn you got the job? rememberow, i can't which preceded which, but i believe i received a phone call from the president of the united states asking me to be the acting attorney general. you said yougo learned by tweet. did i misunderstand you? >> yeah, i think you did. >> you learned first from a phone call from the present? very close in time. i can't remember which was before which. was it about your role?
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>> i will not discuss the discussions with the present. i think he is entitled to confidentiality. it was not a substantive phone call. >> it was an honorary phone call. when did you next meet with the president about your job? , in that monthe or more, you have to decide whether to recuse,, right? so how many times did you meet with the president prior to your decision not to recuse? >> congresswoman, while i am not going to discuss any meetings or conversations with the president , i will tell you i interact with the president on a regular basis, including as acting attorney general. the tone forou set the departments of you had to carefully consider whether to recuse yourself -- >> i spent five weeks considering it.
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you the information from two sources that we know of, career officials who recommended that you recuse yourself to avoid the appearance of a conflict or biased -- is that correct? that was on december 19. the appearance of a conflict or bias based on your previous statements. is that the advice you got? yes or no. yes or no. is not a yes or no question because you have to understand how it was my decision to make -- >> i'm not talking about your decision. i'm talking about the guidance you received. >> it was not your decision to make -- you factually about the guidance you received. career officials told you you should recuse to avoid even the appearance of bias and you set the tone for your department. am i correct? >> they told me it was a close
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call. they said it could go either way. , you go set the tone the other way? >> yes, it was my decision to make. -- is that my had time, mr. chairman. >> get this question out. let him answer it. that will be that. would you be able to provide as the written guidance you got from the career professionals in terms of recusal? would you please provide the committee that written document? >> congresswoman, that would internalou to provide deliberations that are not typically provided in this relationship, but i can tell you i did not receive any written advice from career ethics officials. >> the time of the gentlelady has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> you're welcome.
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you, mr. chairman. mr. whitaker, i want to go back when you worked for the organization for accountability and civil trust. i worked for many, many years for various 501(c)(3)'s, so it's interesting to me when i look at the board. is this a private or a public foundation? -- is it private or? there are two separate types. >> i don't have the 990 filings. you don't know if it is private or public? >> i have not worked for them for 16 months -- >> thank you. thank you, mr. whitaker, thank you. whether only three board members in this 501(c)(3)? >> i believe there were three
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board members. names]ding correct? >> yes. >> is my understanding you filed numerous sec complaints. is that correct? >> all were posted online -- >> were they sec complaints? >> we filed many complaints -- the executive director of this 501(c)(3) -- very easy. and who made the decision to file these complaints? the executive director. i believe i signed all, if not all -- >> did you make the sole decision to file these complaints or were you directed? >> i was not directed. >> you did that on your own? >> yes.
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we were in ethics watchdog -- any briefsfile it against republicans? >> as i sit here today, i do not recall. >> i would like to ask for to submit --sent under the internal revenue code all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly for dissipating or intervening in any political campaign of or in opposition to any candidate or elective public office. >> without objection. >> thank you. i have some other questions here if you will excuse me. all this time i am waiting and i can't find the questions.
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no, no. thank you. pertains to also an issue dear to myse and heart, lgbtq issues. the department of justice withdrew through a 2014 memo, ,hich stated title vii prohibiting discrimination in encompassese anti-trans gender discrimination. the new memo argues that federal law does not protect transgender workers from discrimination. are you familiar with both memos? i am familiar with those memos that do not extend title vii to lgbt. were you serving as chief of staff for attorney general sessions, correct?> i served as chief of staff
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until i was appointed acting attorney general. i am certain it was attorney general sessions who sets the policy. >> who drafted the new memo? >> i'm not sure. that would be delivered of work. >> any outside individuals involved with the process? >> not that i'm aware of. >> do you stand by the department's decision -- >> congresswoman -- >> please answer the question. do you stand by the department's decision to reverse its position that title vii protects transgender people from discrimination? viif congress wants title to extend to transgender people, you can change the law. >> i take that as yes, ok. do you agree that members of the --a bt q -- lgbtq committee
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community should not be protected by federal antidiscrimination laws? yes or no. do you believe that members of the lgbtq community should not be protected under federal laws? yes or no. totitle vii would not extend time -- to transgender. you uniquely control what is the law. we enforce the law. >> do i still have time, mr. chairman? >> the gentlelady's time has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. whitaker, this hearing began this morning at 9:30 a.m. i have been waiting six hours. i have been waiting nearly six hours to ask my question. i'm going to ask you for a favor. out of respect for this committee, and out of respect for me as a member of congress, i'm going to ask that you not
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try to run up the clock and please answer my questions with a yes or no and if i have a follow-up that you please answer the follow-up as the singly as possible. >> congresswoman -- >> i'm sorry. i have watched you do that to every member on this committee. i'm asking that you please -- >> i don't have time to answer. >> thank you. el paso, texas. i live on the safe, secure, u.s.-mexico border. unfortunately, my community, one of tremendous goodwill and generosity has been ground zero for many of this administration's cool anti-immigrant, & american policies, including family separation, child attention in tents, the ongoing prevention of asylum-seekers from stepping foot on american soil at our ports of entry, and in december,
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the deaths of two immigrant children in u.s. custody. believed every life is valuable and i would hope and assume that includes the lives of the most vulnerable among us. there's a new policy that is about to be rolled out in my community called the migrant protection protocol, which i believe is a misnomer for a dangerous, and in some cases believe also in legal, policy that allows our government to return migrants and asylum-seekers back to their while they await asylum hearing. here's my question. because the department of justice oversees the executive office for immigration review, will the department of justice ensure that asylum-seekers have access to counsel in mexico to prepare for their hearings? yes or no? >> we will continue to follow
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the policies currently in place. >> will you facilitate, assist, help, ensure that asylum-seekers have access to legal counsel in mexico? yes or no? there's aswoman well-defined process for asylum-seekers to obtain counsel , and we will continue to follow that. >> even while they are in mexico? assurance, make an especially regarding what happens in a foreign country. i know you understand that. this is part of the reason why this is such a terrible policy. another question. about a week after the policy was announced, reports surfaced human rights activists and entry intoad denied mexico. reports indicated this was not an issue on the mexico side, but on the u.s. side.
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did the department of justice have anything to do with lacking these passports? i'm notesswoman, familiar with the situation you're describing. i am happy to get back to you. >> thank you. does the department of justice have an immigrant advocate watchlist? >> congresswoman, i am not aware of the question you're asking me, the answer to it. i'm happy to look into it. it does not sound familiar. answers toor to the those questions. switching gears a little bit. at the president's state of the union, he claims that my community "used to have extremely high rates of violent crime, one of the highest in the entire country" and he claims we became one of the safest communities in america because of a wall.
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data from the fbi uniform crime reporting program shows that el paso has historically been one of the safest communities and the nation and we were such long before a wall was constructed. do you have any reason to disagree with the fbi reporting data? ucrongresswoman, we use the on an ongoing basis to know where our crime hotspots are and utilize our resources at the department of justice. >> that's not my question. do you have any reason to disagree with the fbi uniformed crime reporting data? >> i think the ucr -- todo you have any reason disagree with the fbi's data? do not have any reason to disagree with the fbi's data. >> thank you very much. did you ever create -- the gentlelady's time has
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expired. i will let her finish this one question. theid you ever direct creation of any documents related to the pardon of any individual? i am aware of documents related to the pardons of individuals, yes? gentlelady's time is expired. i will ask one question to follow up. well, blackt is, theer law that someone in united states may apply for asylum, anyone who applies for asylum is entitled to have that claim adjudicated, that person is entitled to legal assistance as that claim is adjudicated. doesn't it strike you that the policy that says that people who
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step foot on american soil and claim asylum will be sent to a foreign country where they may not have access to legal help which they are constitutionally guaranteed for their asylum adjudication may have a constitutional problem? i am sure that you are aware that federal law allows asylum seekers be returned to a safe, third country. >> i'm not aware though that it allows people not to -- that allows the government to do effectivelyat eliminates their right to .ounsel for their asylum claim this concludes today's hearing. i want to thank all of the members who are still here for their patience. i want to thank attorney general whitaker for appearing your today -- >> chairman? >> ms. jackson lee?
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>> thank you. the record.em for without objection, the questions are admitted. >> and three articles for the gq, washington post, new york times. >> without objection, the articles are admitted. before we adjourn, i want to note for the record, mr. whitaker, you are was responses raisedmber of issues today, responses we intend to secure, including, but not limited to do the times and were briefed on the special counsel, your communication with the president , and whether you told the special counsel not to take any spec civic -- specific investigative or prosecutorial steps. i would also note that your
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testimony is at best ofonsistent on the terms your committee cases would be president. it is not credible that you never convened your opinions to the white house. we require answers to these questions. we asked the department to work with the committee to provide it. we intend to call you back, andr subpoena if necessary, i expect more. answers at that time. all members of five additional days to submit additional written questions for the witness or materials for the record. i think the german. the hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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>> and we are live just north of downtown minneapolis. blue islanding at park along the mississippi river where minnesota senator amy klobuchar is holding a rally to announce that she is going to run for president in 2020. we have live coverage for you as part of the road to the white house 2020 coverage from snowy minnesota here on c-span. that is what we do in minneapolis, the biggest city in the state, known for voter turnout, number one in the entire country. best part system in the entire country. -- best pa

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