tv House Judiciary Hearing on Justice Department Oversight CSPAN June 24, 2020 2:03pm-4:38pm EDT
in clause 2-h of rules 2 of the u.s. house of representatives, the clerk received the following message from the secretary of he senate on june 24, 2020, at 1:09 p.m., that the senate 327, appointments, united states commission on re-lynningous -- religious freedom. with best wishes, i am, signed sincerely, cheryl l. johnson. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to clause 12-a of rule 1, the chair declares the house in recess
>> at the time in the office, there was a first assistant, there was a criminal chief, they were all involved in these discussions, to my knowledge. mr. jordan: did any of them talk to the attorney general, the deputy attorney general or r. shea? mr. zelinsky: yes. my understand something they did. mr. jordan: it sounds like you don't know much. it sounds like you heard stuff that you're now bringing to this committee as fact. so and so says to someone what they told someone else. and you bring that here as fact. yet you didn't talk to the deputy attorney general and didn't talk to the u.s. attorney who made the decision and oh, by the way, the judge sided with their supplemental memo, not the memo you signed.
mr. zelinsky: congressman, as i said, i don't agree with the premise of your question and i'm happy to explain further involving sentencing. my understanding is that all of the people i mentioned, the supervisors, were all in meetings with acting urs attorney shea. -- acting u.s. attorney shea. mr. jordan: this is as bad as the whole impeachment, the unanimous whistleblower who had no firsthand knowledge, was biased against the president, and who worked for joe biden. now we have a so-called whistleblower with no firsthand knowledge, who didn't talk to any of the people who make the decision and who is obviously biased against the attorney general. it seems just as bad, just as lame as what we went through just a few months back. it seems to me, as others have pointed out, i know my time is winding down, that the real politics here was in some of the investigations that took place prior, when we have some time i'd look to get into that as well. with that, i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. mr. deutch.
mr. deutch: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. did he listenky, i'd like to follow up on mr. jordan's questions and ask about the severity of roger stone's crime. he was convicted of one count of witness tampering and a count of tampering with an investigation by making false statements. mr. zelinsky: he was convicted on one obstruction, five counts to congress and one count of tampering with a witness. mr. deutch: what did he lie about? mr. zelinsky: he lied, as i go over my written remarks, about a number of things. that he was doing in 2016 regarded to wikileaks and what he was telling the trump campaign about it. mr. deutch: he lied about providing information stolen by our government to trump's campaign, isn't that right? mr. zelinsky: he lied about providing information to trump's campaign regarding the wikileaks, that's correct. mr. deutch: right. and were these minor misstatements or did they impact the congressional
investigation? mr. zelinsky: both the judge found at sentencing -- [indiscernible] -- mr. deutch: the judge found that too. that's helpful. roger stone communicated with wikileaks and then lied when he said he didn't tell the trump campaign staff, even donald trump himself, isn't that right? mr. zelinsky: mr. stone lied about what he told the trump campaign regarding wikileaks. that's correct. mr. deutch: right. what did roger stone do that threatened a witness? mr. zelinsky: he did a number of things. he told the witness to prepare to die. he had threatened the witness' dog. he had threatened to harm the career of one of the witness' friends. he had written a slough of nasty messages to the witness. mr. deutch: i know that we've been talking about these issues for a while. it's worth pointing out, he told the witness to prepare to die. did it appear the threats
worked? did they impact the witness' testimony? mr. zelinsky: they did. mr. deutch: would you say these are serious offenses? mr. zelinsky: yes. mr. deutch: and help us understand, how did you come up with the seven to nine-year recommendation? did you follow the guidelines? was it at the top or bottom of the range? and what were the enhancements that increased the sentencing range? mr. zelinsky: so, in coming to the recommendation we did, and we do what we do in every case. we consult a report that's prepared by the court. we consult the relevant department of justice policies and then we look at the guidelines. it's important to understand that the guidelines in this case were clear and the application was readily apparent. it was not a calculation. after looking at that, -- [indiscernible] -- we determined what a reasonable sentence would be in this case. mr. deutch: normally the department defends recommendations within the guidelines range, don't they?
mr. zelinsky: it is the policy of the department and reiterated in 2017. mr. deutch: in your written testimony, you stated the team was pressured to submit inaccurate guidelines, inaccurate guidelines calculation that would result in a lower sentencing range. what was the nature of that? mr. zelinsky: there were meetings the member of my team had with the acting u.s. attorney where he sought to get us not to ask for the guidelines that applied. mr. deutch: after the pressure you submitted your sentencing memo, then the department leadership submitted a new sentencing memo for a lighter sentence, that's very much outside the normal practice in your experience, isn't it? mr. zelinsky: i think it's not an accurate discrimination. unprecedented and virtually unheard of is what i would call it. deutch defensive after your sentencing -- mr. deutch: after your sentencing recommendation was
overruled, you withdrew from the entire case. why? mr. zelinsky: because we took an oath to prosecute without fear of favor and we were going to violate our oath. mr. deutch: it was political pressure that got roger stone a lighter sentence than he deserved. mr. stone got special treatment because of his connections to the president. that's not justice. the rule of law is supposed to mean equality under the law. now, this case is a glaring example of barr corrupting d.o.j., undermining equality in our legal system, and it's one of the reasons we're here today. on monday you did your job and filed your recommendations to hold roger stone accountable. in the middle of that very night, the president tweeted and bill barr's d.o.j. snapped into action the next day to take pressure off. that is not justice. yield back.
mr. nadler: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. mr. johnson. mr. mcclintock. mr. biggs. mr. biggs: am i recognized, mr. chairman? mr. chairman, am i recognized? mr. nadler: yes. mr. biggs: thank you, mr. chairman. so, i do find it -- the setting for this to be deliciously ironic. on the day that the circuit court dismissed the flynn prosecution. because, you see, the flynn case typifies the previous administration's abuse of the process for political reasons. you have a political appointee who is attacked, leveraged. they went after him for political purposes. used and abused the power of
the authority they have. in fact, they knew it was bogus all along. stroke's en peter notes indicate pretty clearly that director comey acknowledged that general flynn's phone calls appear legit. and those were the basis for trying to invoke even the logan act. i mean, that's really kind of the way it is. but i think judge -- i thank judge mckasey for being here today. chairman sey, the indicated in his opening that he views attorney general barr as a fixer for president trump. d yet what we have here is attorney general barr saying that president trump has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case. and wishes that he would stop tweeting because it makes it impossible for me to do my job. does that sound like a guy who ho is a fixer?
how about this. , you heard somebody say this that i'm still the president's wing man so, i'm there with my boy, does that sound maybe like -- if that's coming from an attorney general, does that sound like somebody who may be more of a fixer? mr. zelinsky: i don't know about fixer. if i ever said anything like that and i was attorney general, i would have expected to return to the department and find the building empty with a pile of resignations on my desk. mr. biggs: that statement was made by former attorney general holder. my question is, we know that under attorney general holder, d.o.j. went after multitudes of investigative journalists. judge mckasey, you have heard or do you have any information whether -- under william bar, for whatever reason, that he's
gone after investigative journalists? >> i do not. mr. biggs: then we know that under that department, that justice department, they prosecuted whistleblowers. i know president trump has expressed exasperation and disapprobation of certain whistleblowers and wished they were prosecuted. do you know of any prosecutions administered by this administration under william barr of whistleblowers? >> i don't. mr. biggs: we could go over a whole plethora of these types of things. civil rights division. u.s. commission on civil rights. they dismissed voter intimidation lawsuits. i guess my question for you is, do you know of any dismissal of voter intimidation lawsuits on the part of william barr? >> no. although i have to say, i've not made a particular study of that area. mr. biggs: fair enough.
i don't know of any. the fast and furious issue. in that particular situation, attorney general holder would not come in for over a year to testify. attorney general barr has been in to testify, he's indicated a willingness to come back in and testify. the whole plethora of abuses by the previous administration's politicized attorney general's office leads me to ask this question. of my colleagues. and i think it's been typified of what we've seen here today. we've gone through here, there's been -- running over of the minority by the rules. it's really problematic. it really is problematic. if you want to know why this body, this group, this committee gets out of hand from time to time, people talking across each other, i'm going to
tell you what it is. it's when you don't invoke and follow the rules, you become a little bit chippie and that's what we have in this committee. and it's because we don't have the rules fairly and evenly followed. and that's the crying shame of this, mr. chairman. with that, i yield back. mr. nadler: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. mr. richmond. mr. richmond: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, let me start by saying that part of our colleagues said that the whole hearing is here so we can embarrass the president. let's just be clear. if we wanted to embarrass the president, we would sit back and do nothing and just let him continue to embarrass himself and say that you should drink bleach or disinfectant to cure covid-19, that he slowed down testing, that it will magically go away. or the statement that he's done more for black people than
abraham lincoln. law we just say the thing speakses for itself. so instead of trying to embarrass the president, we would just let him continue to do it himself. what we're here today to talk about is the abuse of power, the miscarriage of justice. let me just go to you, mr. zelinsky. i want to follow up on what mr. deutch was talking about and that is to really understand why roger stone got such special treatment, but make sure we focus on the context of his crime. so what his crime was, was lying to congress about his dealings with the trump campaign. one of the convictions, right? mr. zelinsky: that was one of his crimes, yes. mr. richmond: and the summer before the elections, stone told the trump campaign that he had, quote, a plan to save trump's butt and he knew how, but -- to win, but it wouldn't
be pretty. do you recall that? mr. zelinsky: yes, congressman. i think you've replaced the pro fanity with another one. but that is correct. mr. richmond: then also, mr. zelensky, what was mr. stone's plan? mr. zelinsky: testimony at trial indicated that this was elated -- [indiscernible] -- -- rich did he mr. richmond: did you find evidence that stone was talking to trump directly? >> yes. mr. richmond: in fact, witnesses also testified that
they were present when stone spoke to then-candidate trump, right? did you find any records of these calls? mr. zelensky: as i discussed earlier, it's difficult to know because we can't get content. we can only see -- recall detail records, when calls happened. there certainly are calls within that time period. but it's impossible to know the content, only the people on the calls or anyone that overheard them would know the answer to hat. mr. richmond: he denied being ware that stone was having
information. you found evidence from multiple sources that roger stone regularly communicated with the trump campaign about stolen information. you also found evidence from multiple sources that roger stone talked to president trump, his friend of 30 years, directly during this time? and you have phone records corroborating all of this but yet the president doesn't remember speaking to roger stone. then when you recommend seven to nine years for stone's crimes, all of a sudden your department gets pressure from the top to give stone an unprecedented favorable treatment. is that a correct characterization? mr. zelinsky: congressman, i want to be very careful on how you describe the phone records that would give corroboration.
we have call detail records, they don't give the full universe of possible calls because we only have them for the number that we have. so if, for example, a conversation took place on a line that we had not subpoenaed, or someone else's phone, we wouldn't have them. as i said before, we do not know the content of the calls we know only what people testified. so i want to be very careful as to what we say about call detail records. mr. richmond: that's fair. but let me tell you, as a former defense attorney and lawyer, it's clear to me what happened here. roger stone got special treatment because he was covering up the president's misconduct. and the attorney general made it possible. the double standard here is absolutely sinful. the president's long-time pals, if you're conferring -- covering up his wrongdoing, you're getting special favors. but if you're peacefully protesting brutality, you get tear gassed. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back.
mr. nadler: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the committee will stand in recess for five minutes. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020]
mr. nadler: the committee will come back to order. mr. mcclintock. mr. mcclintock: thank you, mr. chairman. first, i want to protest the chair's continued practice of denying seats on the dias to members of the committee who cared enough to be personally present out of respect both to the committee process and to the magnitude of the issues before us. this impedes and diminishes our work as members of the committee and it's an abrogation of the chairman's responsibility to maintain fair and equal access to the committee's proceedings to all members of the committee. now the business at hand. this morning an appeals court issued a highly unusual writ, ardording the trial court to dismiss the flynn case. this came about because of overwhelming evidence illegally
with held by d.o.j. prosecutors for years, that the prosecution was contrived, politically motivated and directed not by career prosecutors, but by political operatives at the very highest levels of our government. mr. flynn's attorney, sydney powell, told us she believes mr. flynn was targeted because he knew exactly the extent of corruption in our intelligence agencies and that his appointment as national security advisor was a direct threat to these forces within those agencies. now, we give to our intelligence and justice agencies the most terrifying powers our government possesses. the power to spy on american citizens, the power to strip people of their privacy, of their livelihoods, of their liberty, and to destroy their lives and even their families' lives. when these powers can be turned against our democratic
principles and our republican institutions, we forfeit our constitution and all of the blessings of liberty that it protects. we now know that political activists did that. they took a document that they knew was false and they used it as a pretext to initiate investigation, accusing a presidential candidate of colluding with a foreign power, leaked the existence of that investigation in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election, and having failed to do that, then to use it to undermine and obstruct the duly elected president of the united states. as the truth comes out, and we just saw a bombshell today in the comey notes in the flynn case, the other shoe is about to drop. as tennyson said, the wheels of the gods grind slow but they grind compete exeed little fine -- exceedingly fine. so now we have a concerted effort to undermine these investigations by travesties
like the proceedings today. attorney general barr has a responsibility to uphold the rule of law, the equal protection of our laws, and the impartial administration of these laws. that is exactly what he is doing. and that's exactly what makes him such a threat to those who abuse their powers and undermine the rule of law. judge, what happens if our justice and intelligence agencies can target rival candidates, if the incoming n.s.a. director can be targeted at the highest levels of our government and set up to be maliciously prosecuted, if excessive sentences can be sought against politically disfavored defendants in direct contravention to sentencing guidelines, judge, you devoted your life to the equal protection of the law. what's your assessment of the events that i've referenced and where are we going if these bad actors can go unchallenged and
unpunished? >> i think the matters you reference are a serious threat to the faith that people have to have in the functioning of their government in order for this country to continue to function. i was a great supporter and still am of the intelligence community. when people in that community abuse their power, that really shakes people's faith in the work product of that group and in their government generally. mr. mcclintock: what would you tell the american people they need to know? mr. mukasey: how long do you have? i think the people are going to find out what they need to know in due course when investigations now under way run their course and we'll find out what happened. mr. mcclintock: are you concerned that there is a converted effort to derail
those investigations before they're completed and the truth is out? mr. mukasey: i don't know about derail -- derail. mr. mcclintock: these proceedings, for example? mr. mukasey: these could have the effect of tainting the attorney general and through him john durham. but john durham has been at this for a long time. he had the faith of three ttorneys general at least. he's had four. mr. mcclintock: hopefully the truth will out and justice will be served. thank you. mr. nadler: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. jeffries. mukasey, i mr. represent you but these proceedings are a part of the co-equal branch of government. we don't work for donald trump or any other president. we work for the american people.
we have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control executive branch, the attorney general and the department of justice under his leadership is out of control. works for general the people. he's not the white house counsel. he's the attorney general and the department of justice should be an agent of liberty and justice for all americans regardless of political affiliation. now, mr. zelinsy, you testified that -- zelinsky, you testified that the in the many cases you've been privileged to work in your career, you've never seen political influence play any role in presidential decision making, with one exception. united states vs. roger stone. is that correct? mr. zelinsky: that's correct.
mr. jeffries: and you were the lead prosecutor on the roger stone case, which included a variety of different criminal charges such as lying to congress and witness tampering, is that that right? mr. zelinsky: i was a lead prosecutor on the roger stone case. mr. jeffries: and these were serious offenses, is that correct? mr. zelinsky: yes. mr. jeffries: they undermined the rule of law, true? mr. zelinsky: true. mr. jeffries: now your prosecution team was pressured by the highest levels of the department of justice to cut roger stone a break. is that correct? mr. zelinsky: that is correct. mr. jeffries: and specifically, you were pressured to ask for a substantially lower sentence for roger stone than what you believed the facts justified, is that true? mr. zelinsky: in addition to mitt -- sured to [indiscernible] -- yes. mr. jeffries: you were also pressured to distort the events that transpired during the
course of the trial, is that right? mr. zelinsky: both during the course -- the events leading up to the trial, mr. stone's criminal conduct, and some events in the trial itself. yes. mr. jeffries: can you give us one example of the type of distortion that you were asked to engage in? mr. zelinsky: so, for example, involving mr. -- the witness that was intimidated by mr. stone, he both testified at trial and submitted a letter after the fact. the letter seemed to indicate that he wasn't as worried about the witness intimidation, but he had previously testified before the grand jury and he also said at trial that he was concerned about what others might do as a result of mr. stone's actions. we were pressured to say that the witness had no concerns and express nod worries as a result of mr. stone's obstructive conduct. mr. jeffries: the reason you were pressured to modify your overall sentencing
recommendation was because of roger stone's close relationship with president donald trump, is it that correct? mr. zelinsky: that is what i was told. mr. jeffries: you were even warned that if you did not toe the line and give roger stone special and preferential treatment, you could, quote, lose your job, closed quote, is that correct? mr. zelinsky: that is correct. mr. jeffries: are you also told that the acting u.s. attorney was giving roger stone favorable treatment because he was afraid of president trump, is that right? mr. zelinsky: yes. mr. jeffries: notwithstanding this pressure, you refused to cut roger stone a break and you filed your sentencing recommendation, which included seven to 10 years in a proposed prison sentence, that right? mr. zelinsky: i believe the upper end of the range guidelines as we filed was nine. mr. jeffries: seven to nine years. just a few hours after your
filing, the president tweeted that it was, quote, horrible and very unfair situation, cannot allow this miscarriage of justice, closed quote. is that true? mr. zelinsky: yes. mr. jeffries: and the department of justice thereafter quickly filed a new sentencing recommendation for roger stone that reduced the number of years proposed that he would serve in prison for his crimes, is that true? mr. zelinsky: yes. actually reduced the number of potential years to zero because it said that he should have a sentence of incarceration, but it provided no information as to what that sentence should be. mr. jeffries: finally the department of justice gave roger stone special treatment because of his close relationship with president trump, is that fair to say? mr. zelinsky: that is what i was told. mr. jeffries: thank you. i yield back. mr. nadler: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. mr. gaetz. mr. gaetz: thank you, mr.
chairman. roger stone should be pardoned, i believe roger stone will be pardoned. and then this proceeding will look even more ridiculous than it does today. i fear that my democrat colleagues tend to behave the worst when they are caught, undoubtedly the obama administration and their allies in the deep state were caught entirely offguard by the election of president trump. they believed that their smears and coup attempts against him would be like an insurance policy in the event that you die before you're 40. they believed he should lose 100 million to zero. then of course he won. and democrats were caught yet again. this time the d.n.c. and the hillary clinton campaign, colluding with russia, utilizing a dossier that we now know had its subsources targeted by russian intelligence. it's not a debate point. that is a finding by the inspector general. and now we see house democrats caught yet again with a failed impeachment, with the lack of an agenda. and as we sit here today,
america's cities are burning. our monuments are being desecrated. our history is being presumably erased by people who are ashamed of the united states of america. and we have the audacity to have a meeting about the rule of law on a case that's already over, on an impeachment that is already failed when there is real work for this committee to do. it's a joke. i yield to mr. jordan. mr. jordan: i thank the gentleman for yielding. i thank him for his well-stated comments. you took issue a few minutes ago when i said there was just one problem, the judge disagreed with you. i want to read for the committee and for those viewing what judge jackson said. she said, i agree with the defense and with the government's second memo. so she didn't agree with your memo, she agreed with the second supplemental memo and
the defense team for mr. flynn. you also mentioned a few minutes ago that the supervisors, in your testimony you said that you were told at the time by my supervisors in the u.s. attorney's office, and i didn't get those names. so if you could give me nimes i would appreciate it -- names, i would appreciate it. mr. zelinsky: so, congsman, i had earlier indicated that my supervisor, my immediate supervisor in the office, was the head of the fraud and public corruption section. i told you his name was j.p. kuehne. mr. jordan: your testimony says my supervisors. it's plure -- plural. who else? mr. zelinsky: the first assistant in the u.s. attorney's office. mr. jordan: that is who? mr. zelinsky: alesio -- i will have to get back to you. off the top of my head, i confess, he's no longer the first assistant. his last name escapes me at this moment. but i will tell you immediately
when it comes to my mind. mr. jordan: something this important, you can't remember the person's last name who told you. you're here as a so called whistleblower. where the the chairman of this committee indicated he wants to impeach bill barr. this is amazing. how about on page 10 where you said, i was explicitly told that the motivation for changing the sentencing memo was political and because the u.s. attorney was, quote, a afraid of the president, who told you that? mr. zelinsky: that was the supervisor of the fraud and public corruption section that i referenced earlier. mr. jordan: mr. kuehne? or the name you can't remember? mr. zelinsky: mr. kuehne. mr. jordan: ok. tell me about joseph -- mr. zelinsky: congressman, i apologize that it took me a moment to come up with the name. aless yo, the first assistant's name is evangelista. mr. jordan: tell me why the special counsel didn't charge joseph with lying to the f.b.i. he lied three times. you charge everybody else, you charged flynn and stone and 13
russians, no one had ever seen. we know that the flynn charge was wrong. as evidenced by what happened today. but why didn't you charge joseph who lied to you guys back in february of 2017? mr. zelinsky: i have been told by the department of justice that my testimony today should adhere to the four corners of the special counsel's office report. the privilege issues going outside of that, i would be happy to consult with them, see if they will -- mr. jordan: you were awful quick just a few minutes ago, here's the sentence. manafort told the special counsel. sourp fine talking to democrats about what manafort told the special counsel. i'm asking you a simpler question. joseph, the guy who first tells papadopoulos that they have dirt on the clintons, papadopoulos then tells the foreign diplomat who tells the f.b.i. and then we get this investigation takes there's years. when you interview him, he lies three times. i'm just asking why you didn't charge him?
mr. zelinsky: i want to address your issue as to why -- mr. nadler: the time of the gentleman has expired. mr. cicilline. mr. cicilline: thank you, mr. chairman. you are courageous american heroes. because of you and others like you, our justice department has been the envy of the world. equal justice is a founding rinciple of our great country. justice without fear or favor, without party or politics. we say in our pledge of allegiance, liberty and justice for all. those words mean something. and in the face of staggering evidence of corruption, of misconduct, of lawlessness, we hear the same refrain from our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. you just don't like the president. but of course the answers is we love our country. we love the rule of law. we love our system of justice
and we love the integrity of the department of justice. and we're deeply troubled by the testimony that's being presented today and what it says about this attorney general and this president. so, as the chairman of the anti-trust subcommittee, i'm extremely troubled by the testimony that you have provided that confirms that the trump administration has weaponized the department's anti-trust division to reward friends and punish enemies. for years public reporting has suggested that the trump administration has been wielding anti-trust in this abusive way. from the at&t-time warner merger, which was blocked at the president's direction, to the sprint-t-mobile merger and disney-fox transactions, both of which the d.o.j. approved despite serious anti-competitive concerns, allegedly due to personal ties to president trump. i'm coming back to the fact on why the investigation into four mainly automakers was ever opened. because there seems to be no evidence to support it. in fact, at a senate hearing last year, the chief of the
anti-trust division told senators, and i quote, i have nothing. when he was asked if he had any information of misconduct, to justify this investigation of automakers. your testimony today seems to confirm without question that there was in fact simply no basis to support the investigation. but i want to be clear. do you have any evidence that these automakers did anything wrong when they agreed to adhere to california's strict admissions standards? >> i would say they had clear legal defenses for what they were doing under well-established anti-trust procedures. mr. cicilline: was there any evidence that this investigation would in any way help the american people? >> i'm not aware of any, no. mr. cicilline: but there is evidence in your mind that this investigation was opened in bad faith to cater to the president's political whims, isn't that correct? >> i think the coincidence in time between the president's tweets and the instruction the next day to open the investigation could lead to the infor instance that you're describing. mr. cicilline: i'm correct in
saying that the investigation was closed without any evidence of wrongdoing found, correct? >> correct. mr. cicilline: your testimony makes clear to me that this investigation was meritless, had nothing to do with protecting the american people or consume, and everything to do with helping the president retaliate against automakers and support the president's feud against a specific state. and what's worse, the attorney general used taxpayer money to do this. you've described an entire division, writing a memo and all staff meeting, weeks and weeks of work. given this investigation was clearly not about protecting the interests of the american people, and my -- am i correct that it still required the expenditure of significant resources? mr. elias: it did require some staff and attorney time and use of funds that did not ultimately yield a real violation. mr. cicilline: so rather than pursuing meritless investigations in support of the president's personal vendetta, the resources could have been used and better spent elsewhere, do you agree?
mr. elias: yes. mr. cicilline: finally, what has been the effect on morale in your division, given that the attorney general is pursuing investigations based on the president's tweets and not on what is best for the american people. mr. elias: i do know that in the survey, the anti-trust division is now ranked 404 out of 420. mr. cicilline: thank you. the president is of course free to pursue an anti-environment agenda within the confines of the law but there's a line of the department prioritizing executive policies and prosecuting companies and individuals solely to retaliate against the president's perceived political answermy -- enemies. can you describe the difference between the department prioritizing an administration's policies and what happened here? and what effect does it have on our justice system and democratic institutions if the president uses the department to attack those he disagrees ith without legal cause?
>> [indiscernible] -- the whole premise of a system of justice is that it will be brought to bear on the facts as they are and proceed pursuant to the best assessment that hard-thinking and hard work can bring to it in terms of what action is appropriate. and the citizens of the country need to have trust that things are being done in an evenhanded way for good reasons. the problem comes when there starts to be a widespread sense of concern or doubt that the government is actually taking an often harsh action, sometimes punitive and criminal actions, other times civil enforcement actions, and -- or otherwise in civil cases acting in a way to help special for someone reasons that are totally unrelated to the public
or any evenhanded considerations. then trust breaks down as it did after watergate. that's not a place we want to be as a country. because order starts to deteriorate. mr. nadler: the time of the gentleman has expired. mr. cicilline: i have unanimous consent request. mr. nadler: the gentleman will state his request. mr. cicilline: i ask unanimous consent that this letter signed by over 1100 former u.s. attorneys and justice department officials, both republicans and democrats, would strongly condemns president trump and attorney general barr's interference in the administration of justice and calls on the attorney general of the united states to resign be made part of the record. mr. nadler: without objection. mr. cline. mr. cline: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank our witnesses for being here. mr. zelinsky, i wish you were here in person. i want to ask you in particular, you've already been asked about the 13 of the 17 attorneys in the special counsel team registered democrats. what was andrew weissmann's role in the special counsel investigation?
mr. zelinsky: he was a senior assistant special counsel, i believe, was his title. mr. cline: were you aware that he sent an email to then-deputy attorney general sally yates saying he was, quote so, proud and in awe, end quote, of her, after she disobeyed president trump? were you mr. ayotte: wear of that? mr. zelinsky: i'm familiar with that press report, yes. mr. cline: do you in this compromised the appearance of an independent investigation? mr. zelinsky: i think that the office did our job and we did our job fairly and truthfully. mr. cline: so you don't think that that email compromised the appearance of an independent investigation? mr. zelinsky: i think the investigation was independent and i am not able to comment beyond the confines of the report. but i can tell you that -- [indiscernible] -- we follow the law. mr. cline: what did special counsel mueller do after he found out about the email?
he didn't remove him, correct? mr. cline: -- mr. zelinsky: -- i'm sorry, remove her. no, remove weissmann. mr. zelinsky: i want to be very careful, congressman, for the same reason that the congressman referenced earlier. i have to go to the department to be able to talk about matters that are outside the scope of the special counsel office's report and receive their permission to do. so the government has -- the department of justice has given me permission today to discuss matters related to the stone sentencing. they have not given me permission to discuss internal matters in a special counsel's office that are outside the scope of the four corners of the special counsel office's report. if you would like, i can go to the department and i will ask them for permission to answer your questions. mr. cline: you've spoken to things you have read in the press or seen in the public sphere, correct? [talking simultaneously] are you aware that weissmann agreed to host a fundraiser for candidate joe biden's victory fund? mr. zelinsky: i read press
reports to that effect. mr. cline: ok. are you aware of unauthorized press leaks coming out of the special counsel's office? mr. zelinsky: no. mr. cline: ok. has the justice department office of inspector general ever contacted you about unaltogether rides -- unauthorized leaks to the media? mr. zelinsky: they have not. mr. cline: are you aware of justice department of inspector general has contacted anyone else at special counsel's office about unauthorized leaks to the media? mr. zelinsky: i am not. mr. cline: all right. with that, i'm going to yield to the gentleman from ohio. mr. jordan: i thank the gentleman for yielding. mr. mukasey. i want to you look at this chart up here. this is in my mind, what politics at a justice department looks like. hillary should win 100 million to zero. trump's not ever going to become president, right? that's from lisa page to peter strzok. peter strzok answered no, no, he's not. we'll stop it. this is not just any old person saying we'll stop it.
this is peter strzok, deputy head of counterintelligence at the f.b.i. and the guy who ran, ran the investigation into hillary clinton, code name midyear exam, and ran the investigation, crossfire hurricane, into the trump-russia, so call trump-russia collusion. that's what politics at the justice department looks like. not what the democrats are serving up today. your response, mr. mukasey? mr. mukasey: that's not the only exchange, i think, that suggests politics. in fact, there's one that hasn't gotten very much attention that occurred on the night that ted cruz withdrew and donald trump became the only candidate for the republican nomination. and there was an exchange where one said to the other, i can't believe this guy is going to be the nominee. and the response was, this raises the pressure to terminate m.y.e.
m.y.e. was midyear exam. how the candidacy of donald trump could raise the pressure to terminate n.y.e. has been something that's mystified me ever since i saw that. mr. jordan: no kidding. it shouldn't matter who the candidate is for the other party, determining how and when and why you close an investigation or what you do in an investigation. mr. mukasey: right. mr. jordan: thank you very much. yield back. mr. nadler: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. mr. swalwell. mr. swalwell: mr. zelinsky, on july 24 of last year, special counsel mueller described in his testimony to this committee that there were identified gaps in his investigation that he could not account for. do you recall that testimony? mr. zelinsky: i do. al swal -- mr. swalwell: and that includes lies, deletion of text meanings and obstruction of justice. is that right? mr. zelinsky: it is what the
advisor. lied to vice president pence. lied to the f.b.i. and twice admitted that he had guilty. pleaded then comes trump. he tweets repeatedly this never have happened, and mr. flynn -- the zelinsky, this has been dropped. is that correct? zelinsky: that's what i heard. mr. swalwell: michael cohen, former lawyer to president trump, charged with counts of statements.d false pleads guilty early in the proceedings. president trump said he wants prison.s in michael cohen was sentenced try
years, is that correct? i have no reason to doubt what you're saying. zelinsky, l: so mr. you're a career prosecutor. you just want to follow the evidence. how does that make you feel as a how does it make your colleagues feel when you see your hard work and evidence being sidelined for political preferences? zelinsky: congressman, in the wake of the stone motion, i heard from many united states attorneys country.t the many of whom i did not know about how disappointed they were with what happened. were you ll: why disappointed? mr. zelinsky: i was disappointed took an oath to do our job, to follow the law, to department's policy and to do what's right and what happened here was wrong. attorney ll: has general barr ever publicly mischaracterized findings from report?ler mr. zelinsky: i can speak to the
counsel's office's report. i have not been authorized by the department to characterize attorney general's comments on it. of n ask the department justice whether or not i will be given authority to answer that will come itted i back and answer it. mr. swalwell: mr. zelinsky, you give us hope. forward.come you're currently working in the administration and you're doing it in the spirit of people like holmes who testified during the impeachment inquiry, working as a political officer, people like bill people like fiona hill and marieio voinovich. your courage today to talk about political preferences in this prosecution inspires and begets future forward. to come you did withdraw from the case and left the d.c. office. why you did us that? mr. zelinsky: i did that because
what had happened was wrong and did not want to be a part of what had happened. and so i withdrew. you.walwell: thank mr. chair, i'd ask unanimous consent to enter into the record bipartisan letter from 159 new r southern district of york prosecutors expressing heir extreme concern about the resignation/firing of mr. berman district.thern i yield back. mr. nadler: without objection, the gentleman yields back. mr. rushen that aller. chairman.ou, mr. i want to thank you the witnesses who had the decency to thank you.rson so now, once again, just aptly disappointed but not surprised across the eagues aisle are continuing to waste our time chasing ghosts rather working for the american people. certain, a.g. barr, who is
a serious law enforcement fficer, he has a sterling reputation, to runaround and say e's interfering, he's running political interference for the president, it's absolutely laughable. cleaning up what are the ruins of the obama-biden d.o.j. particular, he's cleaning up rom jim comey who weaponized and politicized the f.b.i. look at ubt me, just the treatment of former national flynn.y advisor michael those were political abuses. gamesmanship ical that was orchestrated by f.b.i. director comey and what i call married band of never trumpers. omey's f.b.i. used the logan act. for those of you that don't highly e logan act is problematic and frankly highly unconstitutional. it makes it illegal for u.s. in zens to engage
unauthorized foreign diplomacy. despite this, the f.b.i. act general flynn even though they knew he would never obscure d with the offense. in fact, since its enactment, usedogan act has only been twice to prosecute individuals. 1802 and one in 1852. and both were acquitted. go afterhy use this to flynn? well, according to the handwritten notes, the f.b.i.'s was, quote, truth/admission so we can im to lie prosecute him or get him fired, end quote. time the the same t.b.i. was dooeding -- the doodling these notes, former secretary of state john meetings with ng the palestinian authority. senator feinstein had dinner yienian foreign
minister. yet, neither of those individuals were questioned logan act violations. so clearly the charges against lynn were politically motivated. i should note this morning an ppeals court noted that -- the appeals court ruled in flynn's favor, ordering dismissal of the case. if the d.o.j. recognized the logan act's futility, f.b.i. was not supported of using the law -- still use the law to entrap flynn. an f.b.i. lawyer, in county if a, testified before congress and viewed the logan act as, quote, untested. would lead an act the d.o.j. to vulnerable risk, unquote. but that didn't stop director comey from using it to attempt sabotage the trump transition team. if my democrat colleagues want to accuse someone of d.o.j., they he should start with director comey. mr. zelinsky, what's your view counsel -- the special counsel's office toward
the logan act? zelinsky: congressman, i'm broken sound like a record, but i have been told by the department of justice that deliberative process concerns that the discussion of the special counsel's office and there outside the confines of the report, i'm happy to discuss the special office's report as i am happy to go to the -- mr. reschenthaler: how do you explain the discrepancy the of general flynn and secretary kerry and senator feinste feinstein? mr. zelinsky: congressman, i'd need to consult with the department of justice before i question.t mr. reschenthaler: reclaiming my time. let's switch gears and talk probe.he mueller's i was following the news and it seemed like there were a lot of leaks during that time. did you talk to the press during mueller investigation? mr. zelinsky: never. know schenthaler: do you
of anybody that talked to the press? sorry.insky: i'm i'm not quite sure i heard your question. know schenthaler: do you of anyone that talked to the press? that was working on the investigation, did you know on that team that was talking to the press? mr. zelinsky: aside from our relations professional, no. mr. reschenthaler: judge, in d.o.j., did youe ever use the logan act? >> sorry? mr. reschenthaler: did you ever use the logan act? >> no. not?eschenthaler: why >> i was never -- i was never aware of any situation that conceivably been covered by it. mr. mukasey: had i been, i think i would be have been hesitant to use it. umber one, i believe it's unconstitutional. mr. reschenthaler: thank you. mr. chairman, i yield my time. my time has expired. mr. nadler: the time of the
gentleman has expired. mr. lieu. thank you, chairman nadler. contact why we are even here today. we're here because the russians and systematically 2016. our elections in roger stone also coordinated with members of the trump campaign and spoke to donald himself. the trump campaign embraced the stone emails, planned their messaging based on the russian hack. was hen after roger stone convicted multiple times, bill justice hadtment of the recommendation. that's a per version of justice. i'm a former prosecutor. and it's clear to me that the only reason we're able to take of extraordinary step mocking people up -- locking people up in prison because the believe that the processes are fair and based on
the facts. one of the greatest dangers to is when people start elieving that prosecutors are tainted based on who the defendant happens to know. unfortunately, under bill barr's epartment of justice, friends of donald trump get grace and special favors from the epartment of justice that no ordinary american could ever get. y questions are for mr. zelinsky. mr. zelinsky, before you worked at the department of justice, clerked for judge thomas griffith of the d.c. circuit. a republicanted by president, correct? mr. zelinsky: that's correct. by president ed george w. bush. then you clerked reagan.president mr. zelinsky: that's correct. before you became a judge you had to take an oath before the united states correct?ion, mr. zelinsky: before i became an
assistant united states attorney on d to take a similar oath a number of occasions, including clerkships you just said, congressman. mr. lieu: so your client is not barr. trump or bill it's the constitution of the united states and the american people, isn't that right? correct.sky: that is mr. lieu: on behalf of the american people you and career submitted a sentencing memo of seven to nine roger stone, is that right? mr. zelinsky: that aptly describes the sentencing yes.andum, you ieu: when judge asked to support that recommendation, she said -- zelinsky: the sentencing memo complied with all law and practice and was supported by record. mr. lieu: after you submitted that sentencing recommendation, president of the united states went nuts and said it was unfair.le, another memo was submitted by
the people above you. were you told why they submitted memo of a lower sentencing recommendation? that linsky: i was told the u.s. attorney taking action he was afraid by the president. earlier.d that i was told there was heavy political pressure from the highest levels of the department a justice to cut roger stone break. r. lieu: did any career assistant attorney signed that lower sentencing recommendation? none.linsky: mr. lieu: in the memo you submitted initially, were you portions of ve roger stone's misconduct? zelinsky: we were. unusual? is that mr. zelinsky: i never had that before. lieu: to be clear, that is not your problem what happened. not that something was
asked you about the sentencing guideline. was the process. the reason it was done is because roger stone was a friend president trump and the acting u.s. attorney was scared of the u.s. president, is that right? r. zelinsky: that's one of the problems. there were flaws in the sentencing -- second sentencing shoulddum that i believe not have been submitted as well esides the recommendation itself. mr. lieu: and you believe those flaws were done because roger friend of donald trump? mr. zelinsky: i was told that acting united states attorney was taking the actions because he was afraid of donald trump. i was not told why the second memorandum was done the way it was because by the i had was filed withdrawn from the office and i was not given the ability to review the materials, nor was i who was writing it. mr. lieu: thank you. my last question. do not prosecute people
because of politics. you wrote, we don't cut them a of their politics either. was roger stone cut a break to use of his connection donald trump? mr. zelinsky: that is what i was told. and that is what appears to have happened to me. mr. lieu: thank you and i yield back. nadler: the gentleman's time has expired jabs # -- the gentleman yields back. mr. raskin. mr. raskin. unmute your mic rone phone. -- microphone.
ok. ms. jayapal. ms. jayapal: thank you. mr. zelinsky, let's make this simple for the american people. you testified today that you were told the motivation for rogering the sentence for stone, the president's long time riend, was because the u.s. attorney was afraid of president trump, is that correct? zelinsky: correct, among other things. ms. jayapal: and in other justice r, the department leadership based a sentencing recommendation not on law, not based on whether roger stone deserved the sentence, but simply to appease the president, is that right? waszelinsky: that is what i told. ms. jayapal: thank you, mr. zelinsky. u.s. attorney the was afraid to go against the u.s. president. jeffrey berman said his the tigations, including president's close inner circle,
ould continue without fear or favor. and now he's gone. clear -- the rules of this president and attorney general barr are clear, that is, give the president's friends treatment, keep your job. but dare to pursue justice, dare to hold the , dare president's friends accountable, and you will be removed. but mr. zelinsky, you went ahead your sentencing recommendations in spite of these pressures and threats. can you tell us why? zelinsky: because it was the right thing to do. ms. jayapal: and you're there to do the right thingnd a i appreciate that and your coming this.d to discuss mr. elias, i'd like to switch opics and go back to the department's investigation about 10 can bass companies -- cannabis companies to make sure consider those to be sham investigations, investigations predicated on the interests of the attorney general and the president rather than the facts or the desire to consumers.rican approximately how many d.o.j.
staff were pulled to work on investigations? mr. elias: congresswoman, there staff, ens of paralegals, economists and worked on these various cases. ms. jayapal: and they produced documents from the files of 40 employees at the d.o.j.'s risk, is that correct? the first ofat was 10, yes. ms. jayapal: so potentially 10 the numbers were applied. and when the d.o.j. received these documents, is there any that the entirety of these documents were even reviewed? think a small number of the documents were reviewed. ms. jayapal: in one of the some documents were not even uploaded, is that correct? r. elias: they were uploaded after the closing process had been initiated as if they were ir-re to the investigation and the process. ms. jayapal: so they were equested, enormous resources, taxpayer dollars were used,
these documents were not really relevant to the investigations and so to be clear, at attorney general departmentction, the expendz countless taxpayer esources to force companies to ultimately produce millions of pages of evidence and doesn't some of at or upload that evidence before admitting there's a violation. given your as, experience in public service, have you ever seen anything this taxpayer dollars to conduct an investigation over he course of months on an entire industry and not even uploading evidence before there's no violation? mr. elias: in my experience, which includes 14 years at the department, at many different levels in the antitrust division, no, i have seen anything like that. ms. jayapal: can you explain to the american people, why is it concerning? mr. elias: it's concerning the investigations and the work of the antitrust division need to be done in good faith. done eed to be
evenhandedly. both for the sake of everybody involved and for the sake of the public's perception of the rule of law. nd the justice department is being -- calling balls and strikes as they truly are. disregard the usual what rds and the law on counts for an antitrust investigation is improper and an abuse. ms. jayapal: you're just saying the justice department should be pursuing justice. yes.lias: ms. jayapal: i want to thank you for your bravery in coming here today. think we all have to ask ourselves what this means for know.e do not even this is a pattern that has been consistent. bill barr lied to the american mueller report. he ordered the military to tear gas peaceful protesters just so could have a photo power ofw is using the the justice department for corrupt purposes in these instances that we are today.gating he's doing all of these things,
what else is happening that we even know about? bill barr appears to be a hench president's likes and dislikes, not the attorney general of the united states justice under the law. he's abandoned his responsibility to uphold the constitution. longer working for the american people, and we must stop that. you, mr. chairman, and i yield back. mr. nadler: mr. nadler: the gentlelady yields back. mr. raskin. ok. mrs. demings. mrs. demings: thank you so much, mr. chairman. chairman, i care about the rule of law. office bout the oath of that i've taken and that we've all taken and what it means to that oath of office to heart. r. zelinsky, first of all, congratulations on the birth of
your child. want to thank you for career nonpartisan prosecutor who treats people equally and fairly. i believe that those would be welcome words, especially time in our nation when we're seeing civil unrest 50 states. a justice department that treats people equally and fairly. we know that most people in a fixer ry don't have title attorney general. your linsky, in testimony -- i think it's so important we keep our eye on the ball. heard so many distractions here today, but i'm to keep ing my eye on
the ball, to work hard to make we do create a more perfect justice. mr. zelinsky, in your testimony, you stated that political ressure resulted in the virtually unprecedented decision o override the original sentencing recommendation and he filling of a new sentencing memorandum that includes the tatements and assertions that are contrary to the department of justice policy. in the on to say that fraud and public corruption of the united states attorney's office for the columbia, you could never recall -- you couldn't even recall a case where the did not seek a guideline sentence after trial. that correct?is mr. zelinsky: that's correct. else in the one u.s. attorney's office recall
such a situation. to be clear, you could not recall and nor could else in that office recall it either, is that what you just said? zelinsky: yes. mrs. demings: thank you, mr. zelinsky. mukasey, during your onfirmation hearing, you said, i appreciate these words, i served in the department and the attorney's office, sdny, 35 ago. i was never asked what my politics were. know the politics of women there. and still do not. not matter, it had nothing to do with our job, othing to do with the way we did it and could not have anything to do with the job -- cannot have anything to do ith the jobs of the people in
the justice department today. as we find ourselves in this moment, mr. mukasey, do you stand by your statement? mr. mukasey: i do. and could you please explain to me why you do stone l that the roger case has anything -- the ecisions that had been made in this case has nothing to do with politics and do not compromise here today and statement you head during your confirmation? the initial sentencing recommendation was wildly inappropriate. resultedanding that it from a mechanical application of the guidelines. only person who determined the sentence in that case was the judge. he could have sentenced the defendant to any term of imprisonment or no term of imprisonment. sentence him to a term of 40 months which was ithin the second recommendation.
that sentence second changed nothing so far as the bottom line result the se the jung judge is only -- because the judge is the only person that determines the sentence. the demings: do you believe president nor the attorney attorney who has been acting like the president's personal fixer have not engaged in politics as it ertains to the president's friends? mr. mukasey: i can't speak for the president. the president is by definition a political -- mrs. demings: based on your professional decision, olitical -- professional experience, do you believe the president has engaged in a as it pertains to sentences or what happens to his friends? attorney y: the general himself criticized the president for tweets that he -- mrs. demings: so that's a yes? it's a -- mr. mukasey: it's a maybe. but -- the demings: do you believe attorney general has engaged in politics in carrying out the wishes?t's
mr. mukasey: short answer is no. mrs. demings: mr. chairman, i yield back. thank you very much. mr. nadler: the gentlelady yields back. mr. raskin. mr. raskin: thank you, mr. chairman. his is the most devastating testimony i have ever seen, an attorney general of the united of es corrupting the rule law in pursuit of a political genda for the president of the united states. all of america can see right now on.tly what's going the attorney general acting not of lawampion of the rule r the constitution but as a sycophant of the president and to kill cases that trump's chosen ones. despite overwhelming evidence against them and despite guilty them.by some of now, it's going to take us a the full to sort out
litany of unregistered foreign liars and felons and rauds who have gotten a get-out-of-jail-free card by attorney general william barr at donald trump. and we should track all of that down. america immediately, faces two problems where attorney general barr is, again, threatening the rule of law and justice. is the response to the andemic which cost more than 120,000 americans their lives. and the other is the fall people's hich is the opportunity to speak, if allowed so, without election interference by foreign powers or by the government of the itself in an effort to intimidate and repress the vote. to mr. ayer.come testifiedstimony, you that attorney general barr has
orked to, quote, create an authoritarian president, and i wrote down some of your basic points here. e obviously don't have time to get into all of them but you ay, undermine the work of fact finders, such as the f.b.i. he ignored and trampled congress powerses under the appropriations cause. walled orically stone state criminal subpoenas. he attacked and undermined the inspectors' general. used political cronies to review and decide issues in interests to the president. he reversed government provisions in the stone and flynn prosecutions. used the d.o.j. as a tool of the president's re-election campaign. directed law enforcement forces to violate the first amendment rights of peaceful in lafayette square. and on and on and on. to sacking jeffrey berman just a day or two ago. these things you
mentioned almost in passing that he attorney general had tried to provide an echo to the likening presideublic health orders by elected authorities in america, mayors, to house arrest. and he said he would work to the governors into rolling back public health onlys, put in place as the mechanism we have to try to lower the death count and this out-of-control pandemic, which is now ravaging texas, south carolina, louisiana, arkansas. large areas of the south and the west right now. what is the problem with the ttorney general deciding he wants to jaw-bone the governors and likening their policies to arrest, which we all know phony?letely microphone, our
sir. >> the whole issue, how do you public health problems, obviously there are -- there is a role for the federal government and one that's not performed terribly well in terms of coordinating overall supplies. decision-making with regard to how you're going to make the particular decisions of what people need to do, and re very vocal -- local very unique to local areas. mr. ayer: the judgments are to at the state and local level in terms of when to open, etc.uch and what ways, and what appears to have it didn't re -- and happen once. it appears to have happened several times, is that mr. he really does appear to be echoing statements hat the president has periodically tweeted and made about opening up. obviously, the president's been intense about wanting to get everything opened up. that and, youhoed know, essentially threatened --
jaw-bone but d to also in connection with the question about churches and whether churches are going to be treated in a certain way and are they somehow being treated less they've than others, actually gone to court in some of those instances. court rejected a challenge a couple of weeks to one regard restriction on a church in california. about not heard anything the justice department actually filing anything in connection opening up issues concerning churches. ut he continues to talk about the need to open up. and fundamentally, it's ironic republican administration intruding so far core local sensitive government, state government as local public health the ations, dealing with particularities of the case.
mr. raskin: i want to ask one question, if i might. provided an echo for the president who has voted himself y mail in new york and florida nd whose party encourages its members to go vote by mail. mail makes oting by us vulnerable to foreign influence by counterfeit ballot. s that an appropriate role for the attorney general of the united states? mr. ayar: i -- ayer: it's not. there appears to be no truth in it. here are five states that do nothing but vote by mail. every other state i think virtually every other state uses mail.y somewhat substapgsly. -- substantially. idea we'll throw a cold water on the notion we should it's te by mail, disreputable. and it's entirely inappropriate. anyway.y isn't his job if there were some law enforcement function there, it might be. echoing ally he's just the president, which is
something he does more and more. frankly, my worry is that he's more in do it more and the weeks and months ahead as we election. to the mr. raskin: do you think he's acting more like a campaign operative than like the attorney united states? mr. ayer: as i said in my opening statement, i think he fact, acting as an advocate for whatever fantasies the president wants to advance. is this obamagate nonsense that members of this out as well.w and he's now doing this. but the worst thing about it is, doing it with the backdrop of an investigation which he has his pocket. nobody knows what that investigation is supposedly with.to come up but he's hinting that he has and incriminating things he's found. and no one's in position to say wrong.rong but he's mr. nadler: the gentleman's time has expired. mrs. lesko. thank you, mr. chair.
i apologize. i was in the rules committee hearing. physically. so unlike members that are on oth committees that are virtual, i have to actually physically come down here. just from the short time i've been here, boy, it sounds like this is political here. going on just -- but i yield my time to of my dan, the balance time. thank you. mr. jordan: i thank the gentlelady for yielding. mukasey. i want to read a statement from january, 2017, and get your response to it. says -- i am going to ask you a couple questions about it. goal? our truth, mission, or to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or him fired. first of all, mr. mukasey, do ou happen to know who wrote that? mr. mukasey: the name escapes me at the moment but it was a senior f.b.i. official. mr. jordan: right. director of f.b.i. counterintelligence division that. wrote this just prior to the
flynn.ew of general and what i want to know is -- is motivation that kipcally exists within is it their goal to get someone fire, to prosecute them? i thought the goal was to get to the truth. is supposed toat be the goal. mr. jordan: do you have concerns about that? ayer said it was nonsense to be concerned about things like this. term he - i think the said, we were spewing out things that were nonsense. his doesn't seem to me to be nonsense to be concerned about a senior official at the justice departme epartment, an important player in the investigation that was going on at the time, that peter seemk was leading, doesn't to be nonsense. r. mukasey: you're asking me whether -- mr. jordan: i'm asking you to comment. go right ahead. the point was it wasn't an isolated example. example among many.
nd that phenomenon of that being one among many. the many part is a concern. mr. jordan: the many part. statements we e talked about a few minutes ago i talked about. he two people in the f.b.i. working under mr. prestep, one from mr. mccabe. relative ent they had to the investigation, two important investigations. so it's the combination of all that. how about this fact? how about the fact that 38 people unmasked michael flynn's 49 times? just a volume. and the number of different people. oes that concern you, mr. mukasey? mr. mukasey: well, people who supposed to state the reasons. don't know what reasons they stated. but the sheer number is -- would be of some interest. r. jordan: in your time in working in government, have you ever seen anything like that in your experience? mr. mukasey: i did not. was actually truthfully not involved in unmasking decisions can't say ons so i
whether -- whether and to what extent it happened. supposed to happen clearly when it's necessary. mr. jordan: your first former attorney of the united states, you see 49 different times 38 people in a you get six an, people at treasury, for goodness flynn's king michael name, not just clapper, comey, brennen, biden. want to know the nature of that interest is and why disclose the identity of a citizen. mr. jordan: i do too. i do too. mr. elias, have you ever internal department of justice documents including documents that might be privileged or confidential to nyone outside of the department? mr. elias: i don't believe i done that. i did produce my inspector this l complaint to committee in response to its subpoena to appear here today. a document that was my own words and not -- hesitation? why the
complaint to so-called there otherr but is documents whether other you disclosed? to be sure i ant am truthful. mr. jordan: documents to united states senators, democrat senators? mr. elias: i am fairly confident that i have not done that other whistleblower complaint. given believe that i've other -- i don't believe i have documents.nal mr. jordan: have you ever worked at the white house? as elias: i was on detail career justice department to the white house. mr. jordan: what years? 2015.ias: mr. jordan: ok. thank you, mr. chairman. back.d i have unanimous consent, i apologize. unanimous consent? mr. nadler: the gentleman will state his unanimous consent request. mr. jordan: i have a letter from assistant attorney general 19, 2020. june objection. without
mr. -- ms. scanlon. scanlon: mr. elias, we talked about the politicization of the d.o.j. to serve the president's interest -- your microphone. ms. scanlon: i may not be close enough. the estified you believe d.o.j. initiated certain investigations of the california industries because those industries were unpopular with ttorney general barr and the president. and that you believe this improper targeting undermines of president's perception he d.o.j. as a fair administer -- administrator of justice. this is an allegation, instead using the department of justice to protect the american people, it and the is to pursue the political whims of the president and expending to retaliate es against the president's enemies.
did you try to report those concerns to anyone? so, what happened? mr. elias: so i reported those office of the special counsel, the office of he inspector general, and to congress. and there was a referral by the counsel to theal department. review of the initial the facts to be concerning enough they thought the agency should investigate. clarify.uld there is a second whistleblower here and it was her complaint that came in just before mine referred. and the department sent it to he office of professional responsibility, which conducted a review and it came back with a my rt that -- to knowledge -- was first circulated last night. i have read. number of issues hat i was questioned about by mr. collins, representative collins earlier. what's curious about that report s it says even if the allegations are true, even if
hese investigations were motivated by animus and not by bona fide law enforcement reasons, then there's still no problem, that's not a violation of rules or regulations. that's very concerning to me because it seems self-evidence sole motivation is animosity, that's impermissible. rule or is no regulation, then there is one missing because that's obviously wrong. ms. scanlon: so initially the investigation that occurred didn't address your underlying which was these investigations were politically motivated. it just found that no other laws were violated. mr. elias: i think that's more or less correct. it did say even assuming they were politically motivated, that which is a problem, perplexing to me coming from the office of professional responsibility. ms. scanlon: so it's kind of argument if a president has the power to pardon someone, it doesn't matter why he's if it's someone even
an improper use of that power? think that's a great analogy. ms. scanlon: thank you. zelinsky, you testified another way president trump weaponized the department of justice at the expense of the attorney sing general to help save his friends from punishment. you referred specifically to the of roger stone who was convicted on seven counts of bstructing justice, making false statements to investigators, and tampering with witnesses. you reported your concerns that the department was letting the president's political in the ations interfere stone sentencing, what were you told? zelinsky: as i said in my statement, we reported our occasions, multiple ut we were told we could be fired if we didn't along with it. not we were told this was the hill to die on. ms. scanlon: are u.s. attorneys
take an oath to protect and defend the constitution and to without fear or favor. but we're hearing attorneys like mr. zelinsky and others violate rather than those principles. i think it's important that the notican public know this is normal. mr. ayer, you served in emocratic and republican administrations. have you ever seen this many officials express alarm about the politicization of the department with no actions taken? such a problem? mr. ayer: i have not ever seen -- the number of letters filed by -- i think we're up certainly in the thousands now of people protesting. never seen anything remo remotely like it in my entire life. hat's one of the reasons -- that's one measure -- it's only one -- it's one of the reasons i ay i think i've never in my lifetime been in as great of rule or the future of our of law as i am now because it's happening across the board in a areas. and people who know that system
and are part of it realize how this problem is. ms. scanlon: i mean, i think it's worth noting where discussion of the department of justice is coming from the top, from the president and the attorney general, that is the only way that career attorneys can ring the alarm bells and we have to them. to i yield back. mr. nadler: the gentlelady yields back. correa. garcia.ia -- ms. ms. garcia: thank you, mr. chairman. case both nd stone seem to follow a pattern. attorney general barr gives special treatment to the who break friends the law. colleague, , your jonathan, who was assigned to resigned stone case, fter 10 years because he said, quote, he believed the department abandoned its responsibility to do justice in the roger stone case. zelinsky, do you agree with
that assessment? zelinsky: i do. mr. garcia: he wrote after the did case, the department the same thing with michael flynn. politicalting, quote, patronage ahead of the department's commitment to the law.of mr. cravis went on to say that not trained to comment on the sentencing and it as, quote, not easy for him to do so. you also said it pains you to this event.ribe s a former judge, i can sympathize. public servants are trained not o speak out, to let investigations and facts speak for themselves. but the department's actions are shocking, such an affront to impartial justice that all of have been brave enough to come forward and we thank you. why.ravis explained because if barr is able to get
way with all of this, it will, quote, have lasting damage to institutions. i'd like to read a copy of this chairman, i'd . like unanimous consent to enter into the record. op-ed that he found it so compelling that it the testimony today, mr. zelinsky. he said, and i quote, in the the and flynn cases, department undercut the work of career employees to protect an of the president, an to cation of the commitment equal justice under the law. rosecutors must make decisions based on facts and law, not on the defendant's political connections. when the justice department makes decisions based but a facts and law defendant's political betrays our it
system of justice. mr. zelinsky, do you agree with assessment? mr. zelinsky: i agree with the the sment about what government needs to do, what it the impacts. i just want to be very clear, congresswoman. do i ot authorized, nor seek to comment on the developments in the flynn case. you.arcia: thank mr. elias, do you agree with the assessment? r. elias: would you repeat the question? ms. garcia: the question is, in op-ed, mr. cravis said in the tone and flynn cases, department undercut the work of protect an yees to ally of the president, an abdication of the commitment to law. justice under the prosecutors must make decisions law, not on s and the defendant's political connections. o do you agree with that assessment? mr. elias: i think with the
general proposition that to make their e cases based on the assessments of the law and not personal i agree with es, that. ms. garcia: mr. ayer, do you assessment?hat mr. ayer: i do. i do as well. what attorney general barr did to prosecutors who were brave publicly speak out he condemned them despite knowing they could not defend himself. cravis said, this sends an unmistakable message to if the ors and agents, president demands we will throw bus.nder the hat has been the effect of morale to think the attorney general will, at the president's under the employees bus? you look -- mr. elias: well, when you look around the antitrust division we 404 out of 420.
out of 420.404 mr. elias: yes, for agencies of components. ms. garcia: so you are down at bottom? mr. elias: yes. zelinsky, mr. special treatment to a favored friend and ally of the president recommendations of career attorneys? mr. zelinsky: it's in my of.rience unheard ms. garcia: it is unheard of. well, it is unheard of and we've he's done recently to berman. the president and this attorney general has tried to send a anyone who wants to speak out against the president to anyone who is willing to we will throw m, you under the bus. well, thanks to the brave estimony of some of our witnesses today, the president's tactics didn't work. exposed. was the truth still matters. thank you, mr. chairman. back.yield >> thank you. now mr. neguse is now recognized for five minutes.
mr. neguse: thank you, madam chair. thank you to each of the their testimony today. i want to clear something for the record. this ey general mukasey, is not your first time testifying before the house judiciary committee, is that correct? believe that's correct, yes. mr. neguse: when you were under george w. bush, you testified before the is that your e, recollection? mr. mukasey: yes, at least two oversight hearings. mr. me guse: -- neguse: your predecessor, lberto gonzales, he testified before the judiciary committee for an -- no basis to i have challenge that. i remember my own appearances. his.'t know about mr. neguse: i can tell you, ttorney general mukasey, attorney general ashcroft testified before the house judiciary committee four times for oversight hearings. holder -- ral
attorney general holder, janet testified before the committee. the only attorney general who times in modern testified before this committee is william barr. are you aware of that? mr. mukasey: yes. i am also aware of the reason. he was supposed to testify and that appearance was canceled by believe, because of the onset of the covid virus. neguse: that's not entirely accurate because there are prior requests for the attorney general to appear before our he declined.t nonetheless, i will ask you attorney general mukasey, can you name the last attorney general who declined to appear before the house judiciary before bill barr? i don't.ey: no, i believe -- combus: was -- use: it mr. neguse: it was bill barr bush.george w. while i appreciate our friends
on the other side of the aisle o call you here to defend the attorney general is within their purview. i think it's important for the attorney general of the united before this e in committee and testify. while i am appreciative of the based on it appears the news today that the attorney general will appear before the committee, i think this ommittee needs to be prepared o use compulsary process to ensure the attorney general appears before this committee. now, i want to talk a little bit nott something that we have yet discussed today, which is the actions of the attorney peaceful garding a protest -- protests in lafayette square. you are aware at the direction of the attorney general peaceful forcefully ere emoved from laufayette square after they fired pepper spray barr -- not only the president wanting the picture on steps but account of many officials contradict that,
including the d.c. police chief ho, you know, stated, and i'll quote, we heard there was going to be an unscheduled potential movement. a few minutes later, we learned that chemical munitions used, it was deployed minutes later. he timing itself makes it clear -- the clearing of the incident began after 6:30 p.m. the resident trump left white house for the church around 7:02 p.m. r. ayer, would you agree -- would you agree based on the fact that the attorney general's the to forcefully remove protest was so the president photo op on the steps of the church on lafayette square? mr. ayer: i did watch it on tv. go quite as far but i can go to the point of mr. barr's several follow-up discussions have not him in glory. he's changed his story.
he last thing i think i understand is that he admits he ordered the troop movement but it -- this is what i remember -- he said he did it at 2:00 in the afternoon the photo op wasn't until, like you said, early in the evening. nd so he couldn't possibly, therefore, have ordered it in order for the photo opportunity it use he didn't know about at the time. however, he was there at the time. could have unordered it if he wanted to. rather strange comments related to what sort of used. were he tried to make some meaningful ballsction between pepper or pepper spray or whatever it is and tear gas on the ground hat one wasn't a chemical irritant. to whole discussion of him me -- what exactly he ordered when i am not sure. absolutely sure of is, a, he was the one that
ordered it and, b, his handling was such as to give us all enormous basis to distrust says.hing he mr. neguse: let me ask the question this way. all your years ever public the ce, have you ever seen attorney general order the park police to violently clear with protests?eaceful mr. ayer: i have never seen it. i can't tell you if it has never happened. i am not aware of it. nor am i aware instances where attorney general himself has ssumed a role of sort of field martial and ordering troops around. someone tells me. mr. neguse: i yield back. you.ank before i introduce representative buck, let me remind every member of this that are and people walking into this room that the guidelines have been set forth of the attending
physician and the house speaker that members need to be wearing and the chairman stated earlier very clearly that members will not be recognized not wearing masks. now, mr. buck, i will recognize find it mr. jordan, i incredibly disrespectful that you have been sitting here next without wearing a mask. you're putting other people's life and their family -- time i put a very mask on. mucarsel-powell ms. mucarsel-powell: you are recognized. r. jordan: the unmasking that took place at the end of the that administration obviously -- ms. mucarsel-powell: mr. buck, you are recognized for five minutes. buck: i thank the gentleman for yielding. unmasking. be the 38 people, 49 different times. treasury. at six people at treasury unmasking
ichael flynn doesn't make sense. it is important to get back on the record, the attorney general mukasey uled, as mr. said, the attorney general was scheduled to be here -- attorney was scheduled to be here in march and i believe he's coming next month. be here to answer all our questions. i wish -- i wish the committee getting as focused on inspector general horowitz here. let me go back to where i was, mukasey. i want to view it in the context of that statement from mr. reaccept where he said, what's our goal, to get him fired, get him prosecuted or get him to lie, i want to view it in light today we have learned that took place just a few weeks prior to that. 2017, we learned today that former president obama, james comey, sally yates, joe biden, susan rice discussed the transcripts of michael to proceedls and how further against him. r. obama himself directed, quote, the right person to
would gate flynn -- this help make the court's decision. this caused former director obvious, ecognize the general flynn's phone calls legitimate. according to peter strzok's notes, the president raised the logan act. we already discussed the logan act and the vice president did.ng it at the time he what i want to look at is this idea comey says there's nothing phone calls e between mr. flynn and apple bass kizliack and yet 20 days later -- also, at that time, the any . was ready to drop proceedings, any case against general flynn but they decide not to do. to what were mr. step said, try to get him to ie, try to set him up and 20 days later, jim comey, his words, sneaks two guys into the white house. think you referenced this in statement.g doesn't follow protocol, doesn't
notify the white house counsel. and any ld alarm you citizen. your thoughts on that. i'm not -- i've seen notes mary of the strzok that you mentioned. that just came out today, i believe. yep.ordan: mr. mukasey: and the timing, as you say, is disturbing. mr. jordan: mr. jordan: you mentioned the names, give me the other name one more time? >> i believe the name you're looking for is the former assistant for the u.s. attorney's office, as i dicated earlier, his name is alessio eadvantage lissta. mr. jordan: how many conversations did you have with these two individuals about the stone case? >> i just want to be clear these are not all the supervisors i spoke with. but about the stone case, i
would say i spoke to them dozens , maybe 50 times. mr. jordan: about the sentencing recommendation in the stone case. >> at least a dozen times. mr. jordan: after february 10, after you filed it, or before? >> prior to february 10 -- i'm sorry you're asking -- mr. jordan: you filed on the 10th. there's a supplement the next day. the justice department says the supplement is the way to go, not your approach. after february 10 you spoke to mr. cooney and mr. eadvantage ssta and they -- and mr. evangelista and they indicated -- >> i want to be careful and i want to truthfully answer your question to the best of my abilities. i did not have conversations with mr. evangelista following
the filing of the memo. the conversation in my statement is the fraud and political corruption section. mr. jordan: that's when they told you it was politics driving the decision to change the sentencing decision. >> that was one of the times. mr. jordan: who did they get the information from that they passed on to you? who told them it was politics driving it? >> when you say them, it was the head of the -- mr. jordan: who told him or her in who told mr. cooney, whoever that person is? >> i know he was in meetings with senior leadership. mr. jordan: you don't know where he got it, he told you and therefore it has to be true. mr. nadler: the time of the entleman is expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have to say i've been extremely troubled by the events
in our country and more so by what we've been hearing today. i'm heartened that our nation has decided that they want to come together. but to come together we need trust and we need trust in our jissties system. some of my colleagues have suggested that you, our witnesses today, have come forward to testify for political reasons. and i do not believe that to be the truth. , elieve that you are paid independent public servants who have stepped forward to tell the truth. i would live to -- like to give each of you an opportunity briefly to tell us why you're testifying today. mr. elias, how long have you been a public servant and what other roles have you held? >> thank you, congresswoman. i have been a public servant since 2006 and i've held a variety of roles at the d.o.j. including two stints as trial attorney, a special assistant in the office of operations, i have in the associate's office with a
few different role there is as well. >> thank you. so why did you feel after all your years public service that it was so important to come and testify before us today? >> i looked at what was happening, which was unlike anything i had ever seen before an didn't feel like a good faith calling of balls and strikes that i had been used to seeing. i care very much about the antitrust laws, their evenhanded enforcement and the institution of the antitrust division where i have spent my entire legal career. when i saw these abuses i thought the public should get to know about them. that's why i stepped forward. >> thank you so much. i'd like to ask the same question to you you spent most of your career in the department of justice. why did you feel so strongly about complying with our subpoena an coming before us today as well? >> because i took an oath to do so.
>> thank you. mr. aer, most of us are familiar with your extensive career in public service and we're grate to feel you for your service. can you briefly explain why you felt the need to come forward today. >> so yeah, in the 10 or 11 years i was in the department in four different positions, i was really inspired by the experience i had in a place where people really went to work to do the right thing. and processes had been put in place, a system was working, people had great deal of respect for each other and for the process. it worked very well. i ended as deputy attorney general. and it became clear really quickly why it worked so well. it was because of everybody being dedicated and these procedures being in place. i have known bill barr for about
four year, never known him well but i've known he was a person who had this idea that he really thought the president ought to be virtually an autocrat. i don't know where he got it but that's his view. i was fearful when he got nominated this time given that president trump would like to be an autocrat too. and when he began doing the things he started doing, i became extremely concerned. so i have -- i've done what i could in terms of writing articles and will continue to. >> thank you so much for that what concerns me about the testimony that we have heard today is that career public servants are telling us -- what they're telling us, there's supporting facts and evidence and corroborating testimony that the attorney general is pursuing cases based on political vendettas and not to protect americans. you know, i hope that the attorney general would be here today. you know.
i hoped to be able to ask the attorney general about his actions, attempting to reverse the a.c.a. i hoped to ask him about what he plans to do to prevent gun violence from increasing during this crisis. i hoped to ask him about the plans to ensure that all americans have access to affordable health care. but he did not show up. so we need now more than ever, we need to come together but we also need answers. d it's in times like these that we, when we're in crisis like this, this is -- these are the kinds of times that define us. these are moments that define us. so mr. chairman, i ask unanimous consent to submit a letter for the record from 33, 33 former antitrust employees who write that mr. elias is, and i quote, a person of integrity and a person who speaks the truth, and fights to to do what is right.
they also say mr. elias is and i quote again respected through the the department of justice for his candor and his commitment to justice. mr. nadler: without objection, the gentlelady yields back. mr. stanton. mr. stanton: thank you very much, mr. chairman. there is deep concern that the attorney general is using the epartment of justice to punish the president's personal and political adversaries. actions are a blatant abuse of our constitutional system. perhaps even more troubling that in doing so the department of justice's resources are not being used to protect the american people. our witnesses have provided evidence here today that the attorney general is pursuing meritless investigations simply o appease the president.
you mention the investigation into automakers in california trying to implement stricter air quality standards that the the environmental protection agency was going to adopt. in other words they wanted to help clean our air. is it correct to state that the department of justice used immense resources including dozens of attorneys an staff to pursue these investigations even when career staff told leadership that there was no need to further pursue these investigations? > d.o.j. did use dozens of attorneyers in cannabis investigation also featured in my complaint. the emissions investigation was a smaller staff. but yes, public resources were used in pursuit of that investigation. mr. stanton: does that seem like an appropriate allocation of resources to you, to commandeer immense department resources for investigation that career officials said were no longer
necessary? >> that appeared to me to be a gross misuse of resources between these various investigations and that's why i made that allegation to the inspector general and asked him to investigate gross misuse of resources. >> would it be fair to say they detracted from legitimate work the attorneys could and should have been doing? >> if attorneys are working on that it does take them away from anything else they could be doing that would potentially further the mission of the anti-truss division. mr. tanton: using department resources for other activities fails to protect american consumers and in fact harm americans by weakening the department's ability to prosecute legitimate claims. the american people would much rather see the department of justice investigation --
investigate issues of grave concern to us all. for example, companies seeking to price gouge americans by making thepping pay more for essential health prubblingts in the middle of a pandemic. back in apriling, my colleague, congressman gallego, and i brought to light a price gouging chain taking place in arizona. the city of phoenix fire and police departments were being charged nearly 600% more than the usual prices for n95 masks during a pandemic. such egregious and completely unacceptable behavior requires the department of justice to use all of its resources to enforce our laws. what i find so troubling is that while the department of justice is spending time on illegitimate investigations, it could be working to fight real injustices in our system. americans deserve a department of justice that serves the people and treats all defendants equally under the law regardless of who they know or their political affiliation and above all they deserve a department of
justice that follows the law. the testimony today continues to reiterate the urgent need for the attorneys general to appear before this committee. i look forward to having attorney general barr here in july because congress and the american people have serious questions that need immediate answers. i yield back. mr. nadler: the gentleman yields back. ms. dean. ms. dean: thank you, mr. chairman. i thank all the testifiers, all four of our testifiers for coming before us. i admire your sense of duty. i admire your giving of your time and your public service. america is counting on you. they're counting on congress. they're counting on you. and i thank you for coming before us. mr. ayers, i'd like to go into a little bit
more something that jamie raskin, representative raskin, brought up. the testimony today that most of you have delivered has confirmed
what we have feared. that the department of justice is being used by the president and the attorney general as a partisan political tool. it appears that attorney barr's actions toward states amidst the coronavirus pandemic is part of the diverse of justice. we're in a pandemic, we're in a political year, an election year. on april 17 of this year, the president tweeted, and i quote, liberate minnesota, exclamation point, quote, liberate michigan, exclamation point, and in all caps, liberate virginia and save your second amendment. it's under siege. end quote. shortly thereafter, attorney general barr publishing a memo appointing the assistant attorney general for civil rights in the united states -- and the united states attorney for the eastern district of michigan to
investigate states' stay at home. needless to say the broad order included minnesota, michigan, and virginia. the states the president
politically targeted. mr. aer, professor aer, is it standard -- professor ayer, is it standard practice to bring on n against states based the president's proclamation. >> it is not. especially when it's a local problem that varies from place to place but the pattern of mr. barr acting sometimes right after but in any event totally in a consummate matter with somewhat intemperate political expressions usually tweets by the president, doesn't just happen in this area. it's happening in a lot of different areas. the one i'm most concerned about is the one that relates to this obamagate nonsense that is being spewed by the president and bill barr is echoing it in tv appearances running about every 10 days. he goes on fox news and talks about his investigation and how
people are going to get charged and i don't know what's next. ms. dean: i've seen that i fear what's next. even more concerning is a.g. barr has made clear he'll use his powers to strong arm states into doing what he wants regardless of the law. white house health experts publicly emphasized that removing stay at home orders prematurely, these are health experts, prematurely could lead to avoidable deaths and suffering. barr has, as my colleague said, threatened to jawbone governors, his words, who follow public health recommendations. mr. ayer, in your written testimony you explain that, quote, limitations to protect public safety in a health crisis are uniquely in the province of a state government are highly local and tragically difficult. do you believe the department of justice review of states' challenges, attorney general
barr's challenges to stay at home orders is mote vailted by legitimate concern or constitutional overreach? >> i think it was constitutional overreach. i think it was a solution to a problem that didn't exist. because the president wants that interference to occur. that's what i think. >> it's certainly not my grandfather's republican party who believed states' rights were very important to protect. particularly in the area of public health. you even said that chief justice roberts wrote that our constitution principally entrusts the safety and health of the people to the politically accountable officials to the states to guard and protect. is that correct? >> that is right. ms. dean: as the height of the global pandemic that shuttered 50 states, the president and attorney general conspired to use the might of the department of justice to punish states who took necessary actions. with my remaining time, just very briefly, do you believe, mr. -- do you believe mr. barr
is fit to continue serving as attorney general, yes or no? >> no. i don't. i wrote an article about six or eight months ago saying that an it's gotten nothing but worse. mr. dean: finally, mr. zelensky, thank you for being with us. it is not lost on me that in this committee we have hit a new low when members on the other side of the aisle mostly members who will refuse to wear a mask, atempt to paint you, they fail, but attempt to paint you in some negative light for saying -- staying at a remote location to protect a newborn child. i wail say to you what we believe on this side of the aisle is thank you. for your duty, for your service, for protecting your family, and you newborn baby. i think the only thing we should have said in regards to your reason for not being here is congratulations on the birth of your baby. with that, i yield back. mr. nadler: the gentlelady yields back. ms. mucarsel-powell. mr. mue --
ms. mucarsel-powell: i want to focus on mr. barr's handling of election interference. in florida we have serious concerns about the security of our elections. the russian government hacked florida's election system in 2016. and it is crucial that we ensure the integrity of the election process in november. but attorney general barr is not doing anything to make this happen. he calls the special counsel's investigation into russia's interference, quote, one of the greatest travesties in american history. and said that investigators were trying to, quote, sabotage the presidency, end quote. let's be clear. the special counsel's investigation confirms that russia attacks our elections. several people were indicted, including members of the trump campaign for lying about their involvement into russia. the intelligence community and the senate intelligence committee also confirmed the russian hacking. even attorney general barr said that, quote, i am confident that russians attempted to interfere
in the election, end quote. mr. chairman, i'd like to enter into the record this op-ed published in "usa today" by attorney general barr on february 19, 2020. in the statement with f.b.i. director wray, barr lists russia as a current threat. it says an informed and discerning public is a resilient public, meaning we need to tell the public about russia's threats. but a.g. barr's words mean nothing because he's not here to tell the public anything. he and the president would rather attack the investigation into interference and protect elections and prevent russian interference. in march, a.g. barr dropped the two-year-long prosecution of a russian company charged with conspiring to defraud the u.s. government, the company was organizing a social media campaign to interfere in the presidential election and is run by a man referred to as putin's chef because of his proximity to
vladimir putin. does it concern you that the attorney general is dropping investigations of russian companies who have harmed us? >> i don't know the facts of the cases you're talking about so i can't comment specifically. it does bother me a lot that -- i'm not aware that there's very much being done to deal with the problem of russian interference in our election. it seem there is taught on an enormous priority on that just as there should be an enormous priority on figuring out how people will be able to vote with coronavirus. i'd like to see the priorities somewhere other than the wrong direction which is some of the areas he's talking about. >> thank you. the attorney general knows that russia is a threat but he is dropping prosecutions against russians who attacked us. what message does it send to other foreign threats like china or iran if our attorney general won't hold russia accountable? mr. ayer you wrote in your
testimony that a.g. barr was actively undermining and sub verting the role of independent fact finders put in plates precisely so the public can have trust in the justice system. can you briefly explain this to us? >> it's a couple of different levels of activity. one is the statements he made with regard to the mueller investigation whitewashing the find wgs regard to oob instruction. that was the biggest single part. he just misled us about it in. december, when the i.g. investigation by horowitz of the russian interference investigation came out and they fund it was properly predicated and there was no bias in the oversight of it, barr immediately went public and i think went on the media and announce head disagreed with that, so he actively intervenes and undermines conclusions but he also acts to replace, to override, to, you know, he has processes he's put many place including his own investigation,
duplicative investigation of the russian interference and then these little things that come along like doing intake of information from rudy giuliani. we'll just handle that in-house, we won't let the career people deal with that there's a bunch of those. ms. mucarsel-powell: i share your concern. this should not be about party politics. the stakes are way too high and we all should be focused on protecting the integrity of our elections, mr. ayer. but when the integ i have to law enforcement is corrupted. when men place themselves above the rule of law, nations fail. i can tell you that because i have witnessed it firsthand in latin america. governments filled with corruption, devolve into chaos when politics are ingested into the justice system. people lose their faith in their leaders and i don't want that to happen in the united states of america. william barr's actions is taking the department of justice down that path. his conduct is corrupt,
dangerous and it must be stopped. i yield back. mr. nadler: the gentlelady yields back. ms. escobar. ms. escobar: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to close today by going back to what happened in lafayette square. on june 1, americans were shocked as they watched an incredible scene unfold. here in washington, d.c., peaceful protesters in lafayette square came together in protest, demanding change after watching graphic video of george floyd's murder. they came together in protest demanding change because of our country's horrific history of police brutality linked to racism. and on june 1, while they peacefully stood in lafayette square, these peaceful protesters were overcome by mounted law enforcement and tear gas. protesters, members of the media, americans watching this at home were all stunned. and wondered why. moments later, the president
sauntered over to st. john's episcopal church, the story became more clear. we now know that in lafayette scare, attorney general barr's department engaged in these tactics, forcibly removing protesters with tear gas and pepper spray, using stinger ball grenades, not to uphold the rule of law, not to protect americans, but because the president wanted to pose for a picture. in other words, attorney general barr used the powers of the justice department to help the president's campaign film an ad. the president, rather than understand why he should feel shame for this, praised the horrific treatment of these protesters, tweeting, quote, the protesters, agitator, anarchists antifa and others were handled very easily by the guard, d.c. police and s.s. great job, end quote.
there was immediate, nationwide outrage including condemnation of the grieges abuse of power by archbishop wilton gregory, general jim mattis, former joint chiefs of staff chairman martin dempsey, chairman colin powell and a number of others. couldn't be more clear that attorney general barr as the president's chief enabler is willing to lie and corrupt the department so he can protect and promote the president's personal and political interests at all costs. we have heard today how barr weaponized the department of justice to retaliate against states the president doesn't like. we have also heard today how the department is granting special favors to defendants who break the law, all because the u.s. attorney was afraid of president trump. and he has reason to believe afraid. we heard today what happened to prosecutors who stand up, like mr. zelensky, and say this is wrong. they are told to get in line or
you will lose your job. and we've seen how true that actually is. u.s. attorney jeffrey berman said his office would conduct its investigations without fear or favor. investigations that we know go to the heart of the president's inner circle. and what happened to him? he was fired. we have confirmed today what we have known all along thch eattorney general is willing to corrupt our government, ignore our rule of law, and do whatever it takes to keep trump in power including subverting the upcoming election. and barr will lie to the american people if it helps the president achieve his goals. he cannot and should not get away with this. mr. ayer, i would like to end by asking you, with your decades in office as a public servant, what happens to our depock -- to our democracy if we do not hold barr account snble can you describe what the effect is on the american people's perception of
the justice department if our attorney general is allowed to place the president's wishes above our rule of law? >> i don't want to get too apocalyptic but if you want to just -- if you want just a real life microcosm of it, i think you go back and look at what happened in watergate in watergate we had a real failure. we had -- i won't go through all the facts, some of you remember it, some of you don't, but the justice department failed. and the government, justice system failed and we were very, very lucky to have president ford nominate edward levy as the attorney general. he saw the problem. the problem is one of trust. not surprisingly when the justice department and the justice system becomes untrustworthy and that's the problem we're talking about here today, when it becomes untrustworthy, guess what, people don't trust it.
and when people lose trust in the government and they lose trust in the law, then you don't have law. then you have lawlessness. and you go from there. and you know what ends up happening. so it's very important that we recognize what's happening now. what's happening now is much worse than what happened in watergate. much worse. it's across the board, it's a systematic effort. to undo the checks that were put in place in watergate and others that existed in the constitution. and we need to do something about it. people need to stand up now and demand that something be done about it. this guy has got to go. and we need to get back on the track of having a system of justice where we care about doing it right and being fair and even handed. >> thank you, mr. ayer. sadly this hearing demonstrates mr. barr is not the only enabler of president trump he unfortunately has way too many.
thank you, mr. chairman, i yield back. mr. nadler: the gentlelady yields back. this concludes today's hearing. we thank all our witnesses for participating. without objection, all members will have five legislative days to submit additional written questions if for witnesses or additional materials for the record. without objection, the hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> attorney general william barr has agreed to testify before the house judiciary committee next month, according to a department spokesman that hearing is scheduled for july 28. chairman jerry nadler threatened to subpoena the attorney general. it will be william barr's first time before the judiciary committee since he was confirmed early last year. as for today's hearing if you missed any portion of it, it reairs tonight at 9:00 eastern, where we'll show you the entire earing here on c-span.
during the summer months, reach out to your elected officials with c-span's congressional directory. it contains all the contact information you need to stay in touch with members of congress, federal agencies and state governors. order your copy online today at c-spanstore.org. >> this week, watch house votes on policing reform and d.c. statehood legislation. today, at 10:00 a.m. eastern, live at c-span, the house will debate and vote on the democrats' policing reform bill, the george floyd justice in policing act and on friday at 9:00 a.m. eastern live on c-span, the house will vote on legislation to designate the district of columbia as a state. watch this week live today and friday on c-span, online at c-span.org, or listen live on the free c-span radio app.
>> sunday night on q&a, university of california at berkley historian of medicine, elena konis, author of "vaccine nation," on the lessons the polio vaccine in the 1950's can teach us about a covid-19 vaccine. >> we will face distribution problems. we will face problems of equity. even if we have enough vaccine for everybody, there will be those who have the privilege to say, i'm not comfortable getting it until you know, five million people have been ax nate -- vaccinated and there'll be those who will say i have to get vaccine because i have to go to work and i have to make sure that i am safe and i can provide for my family. so i guarantee that we will see problems with equity. we can't guarantee anything about the future but this is one thing i feel concerned about. >> watch sunday night at p