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tv   House Judiciary Committee Calls on Don Mc Gahn to Testify  CSPAN  May 21, 2019 1:36pm-2:05pm EDT

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mr. nadler: this committee will be in order. without objection, the chair is authorized to decarer recesses of the committee at anaheim. we welcome everyone to today's hearing and oversight of the report by special counsel robert mueller the third. former white house counsel donald mcgahn ii. i will now recognize myself for an opening statement. more than a year ago white house counsel don mcgahn sat through the first of several interviews of special counsel robert mueller. over the course of those interviews, he described how the president directed him to have the special counsel fired.
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he described how the president ordered him to lie about it. he described several other obstructive incidents outlined in the special counsel's report. the president in contrast refused to be interviewed by the special counsel or even to answer written questions about his attempts to obstruct the investigation. instead, to address the allegations spelled out by mr. mcgahn and outlined in the report, president trump relied on his preferred mode of communication, he took to twitter. to call mr. mcgahn a liar. his lawyers went on cable television to do the same. to call mr. mcgahn a liar. there are reports of the president and his lieutenants exerting other kinds of pressure on mr. mcgahn. in short, the president took it upon himself to intimidate a witness who has a legal
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obligation to be here today. this conduct is not remotely acceptable. the white house asserts that mr. mcgahn does not have to appear today because he is entitled to, quote, absolute immunity, unquote from our subpoenas. we know this argument is wrong, of course, because the executive branch has tried this approach before. in 2007, president george bush attempted to invoke a similarly broad and unjustified assertion of executive privilege and asked his former counsel, harriet myers, to ignore a subpoena issued by this committee. miss myers, also did not appear at her scheduled hearing. judge john baits, who was appointed by president bush, slapped down that argument fairly quickly, quote, the executive cannot identify a single judicial opinion that recognizes absolute immunity for senior presidential advisors in
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this or any other context. that simple yet critical fact bears repeating. the asserted absolute immunity claim here is entirely unsupported by the case law. close quote, from the judicial decision. in other words, when this committee issues a a a subpoena, -- issues a a subpoena, even to a senior presidential advisor, the witness must show up. our subpoenas are not optional. mr. mcgahn has a legal obligation to be here for this scheduled appearance. if he does not immediately correct his mistake, this committee will have no choice but to enforce the subpoena against him. mr. mcgahn did not aa pier today because the president prevented it. just as the president has said that he would quote, fight all subpoenas, close quote, issued by congress as part of his
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broader efforts to cover up his misconduct. this stonewalling makes it all the more important to highlight some of the incidents that mr. mcgahn is said to have witnessed. let me recount some of them. we know that the president directed mr. mcgahn to prevent then attorney general sessions from accusing -- recusing himself from overseeing the investigation into russian election interference. n march 3, 2017, shortly after attorney general jeff sessions did recuse himself from the russia investigation, the president summoned mr. mcgahn to the oval office. according to the mueller report, quote, the president opened the conversation by saying, i don't have a lawyer, unquote. the president told mr. mcgahn he wished cohen was his attorney instead. mr. cohen is known principally as the chief architect of the army-mccarthy hearings that
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destroyed lives in 1954. an actual political witch-hunt not the imaginary one the president implies. defending the president against federal discrimination suits before he, that is mr. mckowen, was ultimately disbarred forer unethical practices in 1986. mr. mcgahn refused to follow blindly into unethical behavior. mr. mcgahn told the president that the department of justice ethics officials had weighed in and that mr. sessions would not unrecuse himself and he advised the president not to have any contact with mr. sessions on the matter. days later, the president did exactly the opposite. he summoned mr. mcgahn and mr. sessions to mar-a-lago where the president, again, quote, expressed his anger, unquote. he said he wanted mr. sessions to act as his fixer. he said he wanted mr. sessions to undo his recusal and limit
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the scope of the investigation. but mr. sessions, too, refused the president's orders. on june 17, 2017, the president took his displeasure a step further. he called mr. mcgahn at home and directed him to order rod rosenstein, to fire robert mueller. mueller has to go, the president barked. call me back when you do it. once again mr. mcgahn refused. this time mr. mcgahn felt the president's behavior was so inappropriate that he said he would rather resign than trigger a constitutional crisis. in early 2018, after press reports described the president's attempt to force mr. mcgahn to remove his special counsel on his behalf, the president repeated his pattern. he summoned mr. mcgahn to his office and he got angry. quote, this story doesn't look good. you need to correct this. you are the white house counsel,
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close quote. president trump told mr. mcgahn. what about these notes? why do you take notes, the president said to mr. mcgahn. infiring why mr. mcgahn had documented their conversation. -- inquiring why mr. mcgahn had documented their conversation. he asked him to he deny the reports publicly. mr. mcgahn again refused to the president's order. he refused the president's order to lie to the american people on the president's behalf. six months later the president announced that mr. mcgahn would be leaving the white house. the special counsel found mr. mcgahn to be, quote, a credible witness with no mowive to lie or exaggerate given the position he he held in the white house. close quote. from the mueller report. the special counsel also found the following, quote, substantial evidence indicates that by june 17, 2017, the president knew his conduct was
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under investigation by a federal prosecutor who could present any evidence of federal crimes to a grand jury. substantial evidence indicates that the president's attempts to remove the special counsel were linked to the special counsel's oversight of investigations that involved the president's conduct. and most immediately, to report that the president was being investigated for both potential obstruction of justice. substantial evidence indicates, these are all quotes from the report, substantial evidence indicates repeatedly urging mcgahn to dispute he was ordered to have the special counsel terminated, the president acted for the purpose of influencing mcgahn's account in order to deflect or prevent further scrutiny of the president's conduct towardser the investigation. -- towards the investigation. substantial evidence indicates that the president's efforts to have sessions limit the scope of the special counsel's investigation to future election
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interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the president and his campaign's conduct. close quote. those are all quotes from the special counsel's report. i believe that each of these incidents documented in detail in the muellerer report constitutes a crime. but for the department of justice's policy of refusing to indict any sitting president, i believe the president would have been indicted and charged with these crimes. i am not alone in this belief. over 900 former federal prosecutors from across the political spectrum whose job was to determine when the elements of a crime had been satisfied have stated, have aa greed that the president committed crimes that would have been charged if he were not the sitting president. i believe that the president's conduct since the report was released with respect to mr. mcgahn's testimony and other information we have sought has
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carried this pattern of obstruction and cover-up well beyond the four corners of the mueller report. the president has declared out loud his intention to cover up this misconduct. he told mr. mcgahn to commit crimes in his behalf. he told mr. mcgahn to lie about it. after the report came out, the president claimed that mr. mcgahn lied to the special counsel about what happened. then he directed mr. mcgahn not to come here today so that the public would not hear his testimony and so that we could not question him. president trump may think he can can can can hide behind his lawyers as he launches a series of basis legal arguments designed to construct our work. he can cannot think these legal arguments will prevail in court, but exthink he can can -- but he can can think he can can slow us down. let me be clear, this committee
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will hear mr. mcgahn's testimony even if we have to go to court to secure it. we will not allow the president to prevent the american people from hearing from this witness. we will not allow the president to block congress at subpoenas putting himself and his allies above the law. we will not allow the president to stop this investigation and nothing in these unjustified and unjustifyable legal attacks will stop us from pressing forward with our work on behalf of the american people. we will hold this president accountable. one way or the other. it is now my pleasure to recognize the ranking member of the judiciary committee, the gentleman from georgia, mr. collins, for his opening statement. mr. collins: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for all that have gathered. here again, here we go again. -- heater is open and the
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right now we're getting run over the new orleansle of congressional oversight. dabbing at the edges of the constitution asking for things that we don't -- i'm glad that the chairman read into the record the muellererer report. i'm glad that he quoted as he said this is a quote directly from the mueller report. i wish my chairman would read the rest of it that he has been offered to read which he has chose not to read. but he did leave out one thing. he left out something in the mueller report from just now. he read mcgahn's testimony beautifully. he left out what he doesn't want to have to come back to and the frustrating thing that's brought us here again and again and that is the conclusions. there was no collusion. there was no obstruction charges. there is nothing here. after two years of doing this, we can read it in. you can talk about how you don't like it. talk about what you would like. at the end of the day it's interesting while reading the quotes that make the headlines, we're also not going to read in the bottom line of what was concluded. so the democrats are here trying again. the mueller report conlewded
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there was no collusion, no obstruction because the report failed to provide damning information against the president. the majority claims we need to dig deeper. deeper than the two years of investigation conconducted by what is considered a prosecutorial dream time-e team because it ended without charges against the president or his family. the special counsel closed up shop without giving the democrats anything to deliver to their base. now the democrats are trying desperately to make something out of nothing which is why the chairman has, again, happen has aardly -- haphazardly subpoenaed the witnesses. this is becoming a pattern. the chairman knew this, i believe, when he sent the subpoena last month. instead of inviting the witness to testify voluntarily and working with mcgahn's counsel to find mutual agreeable time and scope for the testimony, the chair rushed to maximum headlines by issuing a subpoena. that subpoena was the third in just four months. more subpoenas than the prior chairman issued in six years. the chairman had several ways
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out here. took none of them. the chairman could have invited the witness to testify voluntarily. that was the practice in the 1990's when the white house counsel testified before congress. but the chairman did not do that. he launched a seena without consultation or follow-up with the witness' lawyer. the chairman could have invited the witness to testify behind closed doors, but that would have been politically expedient and you wouldn't have been here and the show would not have been exciting. a closed door conversation would not have generated those headlines, and everything we're looking at today, even gaveling in today's hearing without a witness is theatrical. the majority loves a chance to rant against the administration. i just am glad to see we don't have chicken on the dais. the chairman orchestrated today's confrontation when he could could have avoided it because he's more interested in the fight than fact-finding. take the mueller report which we heard quoted from. more than 99% of the justice department has offered to the chairman for an entire month, the chairman has refused to take
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a look at it. the attorney general who volunteered to testify before the committee, the chairman changed the rules for the first time in the committee's 00-year history, blocking general barr from testifying. i can cannot emphasize this enough. the track record demonstrated he did not actually want information. he wants to fight but not the truth. the closer he actually comes to obtaining information, the further we run from t the democrats claim the need the witness to investigate the obstruction of justice that. investigation was already done. robert mueller spent two years running and closed it. we're not a prosecutorial body will you lg body. let's talk about the mueller report. it's interesting to me the report was actually within 24 hours of coming out the chairman and the majority subpoenaed for all the documents. we have an illegal subpoena that the attorney general to provide documents he can cannot legally provide. that's been covered in this committee for the last two weeks. even the panel with us last week agreed that the subpoena asked the attorney general to do something illegal.
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by exposing sensitive information. that was his own witnesses said that last week. you know what's interesting to me is we subpoenaed the documents, we subpoenaed that we want underline documents, stuff we can't get. the one thing we seem to avoid is mr. mueller himself. the one who wrote it. we have asked since april about mr. mueller coming. but every time we seem to get close, mueller gets pushed on a little bit. hadn't seen a subpoena here. this is what's amazing. we'll get back to subpoenas. think about that. you wanted the work of the author but you don't want to talk to the author. keep that pinned for just a moment. when we look at this, 99% of the information is at the democrats' fingertips. it's the muellerer report the attorney general offered to speak to pelosi and others. don't be fooled. the majority wants to fight. they want the drama. he does not want the information claims to be seeking, the chairman issued subpoenas and
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now harangues the administration for not complying. the democrats are not engaging in the accommodation process bankruptly cutting them over and rejecting olive branches. this is where i want to come back to something. his quote was in the opening statement that our subpoenas are not optional a. we found out a lot about subpoenas over the last month or so in this committee. foid $found out that maybe subpoenas aren't optional. add to the list. subpoenas are also a discussion starter a subpoena is to give us better standing in court. not my quotes, the chairman's quotes. what is it? is a subpoena the legal document we have talked about all along and forceful document that all attorneys in this country use? or is it a discussion starter? to help our standing in court? or is it we don't want it ignored? at this time it amazing to me that the accommodation process, we talk about the committee and chairman, forcefully talk about oversight. i agree with the chairman on this point. this committee and all
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committees in congress have oversight responsibility, but it is also the sacred responsibility of the chairman and the majority to use it properly. and to not headlong rush into subpoenas when you don't get what you want. that's always seen in five months here. when we don't get what we want, subpoena. first one was the acting attorney general. we subpoenaed and backed off. we caved. everything else has become a race to get a headline. the accommodation pros serks not happening. the accommodation process never here. don't be fooled. you may have come -- you may have an opinion that says everything is wrong today with the mueller report and the president is guilty. don't undercut congressional oversight because you can't wait. that's the problem we have right now. he so the question is, are we tearing at the fabric of congressional a jofrlinger oversight? it was really -- congressional oversight? it was really interesting when you have subpoenas, when no accommodation process has been put in place, contempt issues that have been part with no
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process and no time going through, i just submit to you this, whatever your opinion on the mueller report, great. glad you had it. you didn't get it here today and are you not getting it from this committee because this committee undoubtedly doesn't like the author. i want to talk to the author of the report, they just want to talk about the report and make innuendo. it's the middle of the day when this committee who has charge of immigration, who has charge of intellectual property. who we touch none of with a crisis at the border, we have an admission that the economy is good. jobs are happening. unemployment is the lowest rate. i guess at the end of the day we can't find something that the mueller report let them hang their i word, impeachment on, which they can't agree on, because the president is continuing to do his job. we're here again with the circus in full force. ith that i yield back. mr. nadler: who seeks recognition?
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>> move to strike the last word. mr. nadler: the gentleman from tennessee. >> move to adjourn. mr. nadler: motion is made to adjourn. >> mr. chairman. mr. nadler: motion to adjourn is not debatable. all in favor. aye. opposed. >> recorded vote. mr. nadler: do i hearer request for recorded vote. >> request for recorded vote. mr. nadler: the clerk will call the roll on the motion to adjourn. the clerk lon mr. nadler. mr. nadler votes aye. ms. lofgren. ms. lofgren votes aye. ms. jackson lee. ms. jackson lee votes aye. mr. cohen. mr. cohen votes aye.
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mr. johnson of georgia. mr. johnson of georgia votes aye. mr. deutch. ms. bass. ms. bass votes aye. mr. richmond. mr. richmond votes aye. mr. jeffries. mr. cicilline. mr. cicilline votes aye. mr. swalwell. mr. lieu. mr. lieu votes aye. mr. raskin. mr. raskin votes aye. ms. jayapal. ms. jayapal votes aye. mrs. demings. mrs. demings votes aye. mr. corer raya. mr. corer raya votes aye. ms. scanlon. ms. scanlon votes aye. miss car see ya. ms. garcia votes aye. mr. into guse, mr. into -- mr. into news -- nguse votes aye.
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mr. stanton votes aye. ms. dean. ms. dean votes aye. miss powell votes aye. ms. escobar. ms. escobar votes aye. mr. collins, mr. collins votes no. mr. sensenbrenner. mr. chabot. mr. chabot votes no. mr. gohmert. mr. gohmert votes no. mr. jordan. mr. jordan votes no. mr. buck. mr. buck votes no. mr. rad-r ratcliffe. mr. ratcliffe votes no. mrs. roby. mr. gaetz. mr. gaetz votes no. mr. johnson of louisiana. mr. johnson of louisiana votes no. mr. biggs. mr. mcclintock. mr. mcclintock votes no. mrs. lesko.
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mr. rosenthaler votes no. mr. kline, mr. kline votes no. mr. armstrong, mr. armstrong votes no. r. steubey votes no. mr. nadler: is there anyone who wishes to vote who hasn't voted? the clerk will report. the clerk: mr. narme, there are 21 ayes and 13 noes. mr. nadler: the motion to adjourn is adopted and 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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>> members of the u.s. house are in a closed classified briefing on iran. when they return about 2:30, debate for two bills, reversing trump administration changes to the customs and border protection. also, retirement savings flexibility. after those votes, members will debate nine bills dealing with veterans' issues. and we'll have live coverage of the house when they return here on c-span. >> sunday night on "q&a," watch
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our october, 2018 interview with yale university historian jo ann on "the field of blood: violence in congress and the road to civil war." >> and you end up with scores of congressmen just in a mass brawl. so in and of itself it's dramatic. guys throwing punches. it's a massive encounter. what was really interesting to me was people at the time looked at it and what they saw was a group of northerners and a group of southerners, lots of them armed, running at each other in the house of representatives and several of them said, this doesn't look like a normal congressional fight. this looks like north against south. this looks like a battle. and that's really striking. and indeed, it certainly did look like a battle and it's not that long before the civil war is. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's "q&a." want to welck
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stephen moore. he is with the heritage foundation, serving as a fitting fellow. he is the co-author of trumponomics. good sunday morning. guest: thank you for having me. it is a pleasure to be here. host: we are glad to have you back. let's begin with the news for you personally. you were nominated to serve on the federal reserve board. in the wall the -- street journal, what did me in was gutter campaign tactics and personal assault. what happened? guest: this was five or six weeks ago when i got the call from the president. i worked as a senior advisor to his campaign on the economy. he asked me to serve on the federal reserve board. there are seven members of the board of governors on the federal reserve. when thete honored president asked me to do this.

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