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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  November 14, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PST

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have happened. okay, folks. go rest. >> do you expect stephens is coming home soon? >> yes, i do. i think we'll be going into some more details as to what we're doing and what we accomplished, but specifically deals, concepts, we'll be pinpointing things. it's minimum $300 billion, and that's going to be very quickly over a trillion dollars, that in itself. i would say that's the least significant thing we accomplished. i think one of the things we really accomplished was gaining relationships and letting people know from now on, things will be reciprocal. we can't have trade deficits of 30, 40, 50 billion, we can't do that. we have to have reciprocal trade. what's good for them is good for us. >> relationships are always
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important. it's a relationship based on respect. to me a relationship based on respect is much more important than anything else, including friendship, because this is really something -- they have to respect our country and they have not respected our country for a long period of time. thank you all very much. have a good time. and good day, everyone. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. during a break in the hearing, we've been playing president trump's comments to the press en route from manila to honolulu. they've just landed there, feeding that for us. as you heard, he had a word with president xi and the basketball players, the ucla players who were arrested for shoplifting, on shoplifting charges, are apparently en route back. then, of course, questions about jeff sessions today in washington. press by dem krakts on tocratic
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committee. jeff sessions is denying that he ever set it up. security analyst matt miller. the former chief spokesman for general eric holder. pete williams, what was your big takeaway of the hearing so far of jeff sessions? >> if i had to pick up one thing, andrea, it would simply be this. all these calls for another special counsel to look at how hillary clinton's e-mail issue was handled, how loretta lynch conducted herself, how there was completion of ea uranium deal. what he basically said to them today is, i have your letter. we'll look at it seriously. we've asked the career people here to look at it but there's a
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very high bar before we can open another special counsel investigation. i thought he was really trying to tamp down expectations that there was going to be another special counsel open on this any time soon or even at all. >> and matt miller, from your perspective having been at the justice department, pretty extraordinary that the president of the united states and others in the republican party would be pressing the attorney general to investigate the defeated opposition candidate on charges, frankly, that we have fact checked and that don't add up. >> yeah. it is a completely appropriate thing for the president to have been doing. it would be a lawless action for the administration to take. the letter that jeff sessions sent last night was a really unusual letter. i should say the department of justice sent to congress. usually you would get a letter they send to special counsel and say, we'll look at the issues you've raised and take whatever appropriate action we feel is warranted by the circumstances. they went a bit further by raising the possibility that he might appoint a special counsel. that's an unusual thing for the
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attorney general to do. i think the letter was sent to congress but there was one audience jeff sessions really had in mind, and that's his boss, the president, donald trump. >> and congressman eric swallow from the committee. you've come out during this break. thank you for joining us. what struck you during this hearing? i know there were a lot of questions about prior statements that he had never met with anyone who had met with russians, and that was contradicted by the supplement deal about papadopoulos having met with russia. >> good morning, andrea. he started his stotestimony by saying, my story has never changed. then he went on to say he does recall the meeting in 2012 with george papadopoulos. at least the second time having to tell congress of what happened with russian contacts occurred. i think we need to get, finally, him to be fully forthcoming to tell us what contacts have the
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campaign had with russia? what was he aware of? what was discussed with candidate trump and what did he do, you know, to try and stop these contacts? it sounds like he may have actually told papadopoulos that this wasn't a good idea. he recalled that today. but did he tell carter page, who also testified that he told jeff sessions he was on his way to russia, not to do that, or did he tell anybody else on the campaign? >> one other point we should just make is that he also said under questioning that he has no reason not to believe the women who have made accusations against roy moore in his home state of alabama. i know you have to go back in. we'll talk to you a little later. thank you very much, congressman, and back to the hearing. >> thanks, andrea. >> this thing with trump and russia, closed quote. general sessions, do you think it would be reasonable for the members of this committee to conclude that the president, by first interfering in one investigation and then
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interfering in an investigation into himself committed obstruction of justice? >> i don't believe that's a fair conclusion, and i would -- but it's a matter that i guess would be -- would rest with the special counsel. >> and the obstruction of justice being any, among other definitions, the most popular one. in statute any communication that endeavors to impede the dew administration of justice, that's exactly what the president did in both of those cases. and in spite of moving on to the special counsel, you brought up in spite of efforts, bipartisan efforts, to protect the special counsel, mr. mueller, republican leadership and this committee have refused to take action to ensure he's protected. do you believe the president has authority to fire special counsel mueller? >> i'm not able to express an opinion on that at this point.
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>> can he fire members of the special counsel's team? >> i'm not able to answer that. >> general sessions, do you believe that the president should have the authority to be able to block investigations into his own campaign? >> investigations have to be conducted by the appropriate law enforcement offices without fear and favor, without politics or bias. >> right. and without fear of being dismissed by the president in order to block that investigation, because again, that would certainly appear to represent obstruction of justice. and when you fail to acknowledge that, it is essentially on the president to go ahead and do that. there are some dimtindictments, there is a guilty plea. can you tell me, does the president have the power to pardon george papadopoulos? >> that would be premature for me to comment on that, i believe. >> because --
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>> the president has power to pardon, there's no doubt about that. >> right. does he have the power to pardon paul manafort and rick gates ahead of a trial and a conviction? >> i'm not able to comment on that. i haven't researched that question. i think there's maybe a set of laws. >> what do you think the set of laws is? >> i don't know. >> does he have a power to pardon michael cain? could the president today pardon donald trump jr., among other things, for being in contact with wikileaks regarding these e-mails? can he make those pardons today before there is anything further that comes from the special counsel investigation? >> i would not be able to answer that at this moment with any authority. >> general sessions, you started by telling us that you're the american people's lawyer. now, you're not recused from giving us answers on these,
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you're not comfortable giving us answers on these, but here's the problem that we have. you said when you started your testimony today that there is nothing more important than advancing the rule of law. and when you answer the way you have, it suggests that the rule of law is crumbling at our feet. you took an oath to uphold the constitution. we took an oath to uphold the constitution. and while members of this committee and the majority may choose to ab diddicate this responsibility with regard to very important matters, you cannot -- with interference -- with just you told us today in this exchange, what we should all be concerned about is another saturday night massacre if you can't tell us the president shouldn't fire or can fire the special counsel and everyone who works for him. we should be worried. if you're telling us the president may be able to pardon in advance all of those who are being investigated, we should be worried about the pursuit of the
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rule of law. general sessions, again, we may in this committee -- >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the attorney general can respond if he chooses to. >> just briefly, one of the things, if you respect the rule of law, is the attorney general should not be giving legal opinions from the seat of his britches. you need to be careful about that and that's what i'm saying to you today. >> i do appreciate that, general sessions. >> we recognize the general from texas, mr. bowe. >> if there is a wire tap and information is seized under the surveillance act, and one person is a foreign agent, the other person is an american citizen, is the release of the information regarding who the american citizen is and/or the conversation of the american
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citizen a violation of federal law? >> i believe it is. >> and if somebody releases that information -- >> maybe factual distinctions, but i think -- >> it's hypothetical. if someone releases the information of the name of that person or the information contained by that person, that is a federal offense. >> unacceptable and could be a federal offense. >> so has anybody been prosecuted under your regime for doing that, whether it's been in the white house or some other government agency where we hear about leaks of classified information? are you prosecuting anybody for that? >> for release of fisa-obtained information? >> release of the information of who the american is and/or the conversation by the american that's classified information, is your department investigating anybody for that? >> i cannot confirm or deny an existence of an investigation. >> are you prosecuting anybody for that? >> nobody is under indictment,
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although we've got at least four indictments this year of leaks of classified information and we will continue to press those cases. >> all right. good. we'll talk about the foreign intelligence surveillance act. secret courts issuing secret warrants to get information on terrorists overseas. that's generally the purpose of the fisa law and fisa courts. do you agree with that? >> well, it's not a perfect summary, but there's substance to it. >> it's too short. we know we can't trust the nsa. james clapper testified in front of this committee in 2013 that the nsa was not spying on americans. then all of a sudden, this guy snow snowden showed up -- he ought to be prosecuted, in my opinion --
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but we learned americans were being spied upon by the nsa. part of the foreign surveillance act gives them the authority to seize information like e-mails, texts, conversations between these terrorists overseas to collect information to make sure america is safe. during that process, as you know, incidentally -- call it incidental information -- information on americans, who they are and what those conversations may be is also seized. the nsa says that is incidental information. now, it's my understanding the justice department is opposed to the usa liberty act which would require that before government goes into that information on americans, whether or not the target, the target is these terrorists. goes into that information on americans that there has to be a warrant signed by a real judge
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that states probable cause before that information can be seized. now, my understanding is the justice department under your leadership is opposed to that warrant requirement. is that correct? >> that is absolutely correct. >> so you're a former judge. >> a would-be judge. >> a wannabe judge, yeah. and a former judge, too. you don't think probable cause and a warrant requirement is required to go into that information that is -- first of all, the seizure is done by government without a warrant, so it's seized already. before it can be searched, you also don't require or believe that a warrant should be required by any court to go into that information. >> well -- >> i'm just asking the same question. >> the courts have so held. >> i'm not asking that question. >> i agree with the courts. not you, congressman, on that.
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you get lawfully records, documents dai-- >> i'm reclaim, my time. you glee wiagree with the court that, not me. let me tell you something. it is the responsibility of congress to set the privacy standard for americans. before the government can go in and see something and then search it on an american citizen that's incidental to the search on the target, governments should get a warrant for that conduct. that's spying on americans. we know we can't trust the nsa to keep from doing that. is that data ever, ever destroyed on americans? or is it kept forever? >> i believe it has -- definitely has a limited time span. i think it's five years. >> so americans shouldn't be concerned that information is being collected on them and searched and don't have any say-so about a warrant? >> your time is expired.
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the chair recognizes mr. gutierrez for five minutes. >> before i begin, i think i have a solution that could allow the committee to move on to other important national matters like gun control and immigration. your side clearly wants an investigation of hillary clinton and our side has been begging to hold hearings and start an investigation of campaigns and improper ties to president putin and the russian government. i would say they eliminated the need for the investigations. i propose we simply go to the president and the former secretary of state and ask them both to resign. i'll go to hillary clinton, you can go to donald trump and we'll tell them both to resign. then we can move on as a nation from an election that just never seems to end. i did google organizations that hillary clinton leads and it came out zero. so i'm not quite sure what you're going to get her to resign from because she doesn't appear to be in charge of anything. last time i checked, she got 3 million more votes than donald trump but she lost the election.
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so why don't we move on and really look at the nation. so, attorney general, i would like to ask you, you said earlier today it was a brilliant campaign, referring to the donald trump campaign. is that true? >> it was a remarkable thing that overcame a lot of obstacles -- >> a remarkable campaign. now, candidates make promises during campaigns. you think candidates should fulfill the promises they make during campaigns? >> people make a lot of promises and you subscribe to honor your promises. >> it was a brilliant campaign. as a member of the cabinet of president trump, do you feel an obligation to fulfill those campaign promises? when he asked you to come on, did you think you should fulfill the campaign promises? >> i believe the attorney general should enforce the law first and foremost. >> i understand enforce the law, but he said you're helping him on the muslim plan, the immigration issue --
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>> if it's lawful, we defend it. >> if it's lawful. but you said it was a remarkable and brilliant campaign. he said, quote, during the second debate, if i win, i'm going to instruct my attorney general -- that would be you because he chose you -- to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, referring to hillary clinton, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception, end quote. and when hillary clinton responded, she said, because you would be in jail. are you going to fulfill that campaign promise you mahe made the second debate? he did say he would put her in jail. he said he would have the attorney general set it up. are you going to keep the campaign promise? >> i will follow the law. >> are you going to keep that campaign promise?
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he's your boss. he hired you. >> we comply with the law with regard to special prosecutor appointments. >> are you going to appoint one as he promised during the campaign? he's reminded you a couple of times in a few of his tweets that that's what he wants you to do. >> i will fulfill my duty as attorney general. >> so the brilliant and remarkable campaign, you love the campaign but you're not going to fulfill his campaign promises? i hope you don't in this particular case. i'm kind of happy with your answer up to now. so mr. attorney general, i'm going to ask you another series of questions, and i'd like to go back to the beginning of the hearing and get you to answer the following question. are you aware that you are under oath and that your answers must be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, mr. attorney general? >> i'm aware of that. >> i brought this little salt shaker here, and you'll forgive me if i put just a little bit of doubt into that answer. and just to remind myself that i
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might need this. i ask unanimous consent that this article from jones magazine be entered into the record with the headline "three times jeff sessions made false statements under oath to congress." i ask this because i don't want to hear in a few days or a few weeks that your answers, mr. attorney general, have changed based on newly uncovered evidence that what you told us before was, in fact, false, misleading or something other than the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. i ask you now to consent. >> that objection will be made part of the record. >> thank you. under oath you said as a surrogate, quote, a time or two for the trump campaign, you did not have communication with russians, but in march it was revealed you did. did you have campaign communications with the russians? because it appears you have had campaign communications with the russians, mr. attorney general.
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>> that is -- i'd like to respond to that. i thought i had the paper right here. here it is. mr. chairman, if i could take a couple minutes, i'd like to respond to that. colleagues -- i guess former colleagues. senator franken asked me this question. okay. cnn has just published a story, and i'm telling you about a new story that's just been published. i'm not expecting you to know whether or not it's true, but cnn just published a story alleging that the intelligence community of the united states of america, the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that,
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quote, russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about mr. trump, closed quote. these documents also allegedly say, quote, there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump's surrogates and int intermediaries for the russian government, closed quote. i'm telling you this is all coming out so you know, but if it's true it's obviously extremely serious, and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? i was taken aback by this. i had never heard -- this happened while i was testifying, i suppose. and i said, senator franken, i am not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate a time or two in the campaign and i did not have communications
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with the russians and i'm unable to comment on it. >> and you're not going to correct that today. >> my answer was responsive to his charge about a continuing -- >> do you want to clear it or correct it today for us? >> the time has expired. the attorney general can answer the question, but we're moving on. >> i appreciate my opportunity to share it. my focus was on responding to the concern that i as a surrogate was participating in a continuing series of meetings with intermediaries for the russian government. and i certainly didn't mean i had never met a russian in the history of my life. so i didn't think it was responsive, and my response was was, according to the way i heard the question, honestly i could give it at the time.
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i hope you evaluate me fairly about that. >> the chair recognizes the senator from maryland for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. i'm going to ask you some questions because i am the chairman of the regulatory foreign anti-trust judiciary. the anti-trust is an issue now surfacing more so than it ever has in the past. the justice department's role is very critical in anti-trust issues to determine whether there is an anti-trust violation. i understand that the justice department's position on the at&t merger will require divestment of some assets. behavioral conditions have been used in vertical mergers since they pose a lesser danger to competition than horizontal
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mergers. is the structural condition in vertical mergers a policy for d.o.j at this point? >> anti-trust policy is important. i've never been an expert at it. it was one subcommittee of the judiciary i never chose to be a part of. but we have an experienced team in the department of justice. we do try to handle each case professionally. we have a good chief now of the anti-trust division, and i'm not able to announce any new policies at this time, congressman. >> will there be a discussion concerning vertical and horizontal mergers when it comes to the so-called term behavior conditions where two companies that merge in may have to
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divest? could there be future discussion about when this behavioral condition could be implemented? >> well, the vertical/horizontal issue is something that has always been part of the discussion. i don't think it's dispositive of any final decision, but i'm really not able at this time to comment on anything that would be part of an ongoing matter. >> i understand. >> i appreciate you giving me an opportunity to not attempt to answer that. >> i'm going to switch to human trafficking. when i was a u.s. attorney, we handled some very heartbreaking and very severe situations concerning human trafficking. i know that you understand, like i understand, the challenges involved there.
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what -- can you tell me what the d.o.j. has done in upping the prosecutions and the investigations for anti-trafficking? >> we believe strongly that we can do even more. it's been a priority for a number of years. i was recently in the minnesota united states attorneys office. they had a major international case and i was surprised how much money was involved. almost as much as drug dealers may make. we have a recent report of our people meeting with the child exploitation group. my associate attorney general, number 3, rachel brand, is very interested in this. i've empowered her to be engaged in our efforts in this regard, and she's enthusiastically responding to that. >> if i may make a suggestion as well, several years ago we in the middle district of
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pennsylvania prosecuted one of the biggest sex trafficking cases on the east coast. obviously and for the most part involving women and very young girls. we had a good conviction. these people went away for 30 or 40 years. but one of the areas that we have to help more with the victims is the protection side of things. of course, during the investigation and during the trial, but subsequent to the convictions that these people -- these women and children aren't forgotten, and there are protections there to keep them from anybody else attempting to do what's been done in the past, and i thank you so very much for your service to us, and i yield back. >> thank you. thank you for your service. >> the chair recognizes the
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gentlem gentlewoman from california, ms. bass. >> thank you, mr. chair. the fbi ran a counterintelligence program called quantel pro run by president edgar hoover. it recognized this was an abuse of its surveillance power in a manner to suppress improvement. i would like to ask mr. chair unanimous consent to enter this report into the record, which is "black identity extremists likely motivated to target law enforcement officers." i believe earlier you said you were not familiar with the report, is that correct? >> well, i haven't read it. i know some of the alleged targeting of officers by certain groups. >> i'll ask you about that in a minute. so you are somewhat familiar with it. who had the power in your department to order a report like this? >> i'm not sure how that report
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got ordered. i don't believe i explicit many approved or directed it. >> you haven't necessarily read the report, but you are familiar with the term "black identity extremist extremists"? >> i think so, yes. >> can you tell me what that term means to you? do you believe there is a movement of african-americans that identify themselves as black identity extremists, and what does that movement do? >> i would be anxious to see the conclusions of that report, but i am aware that there are groups that do have an extraordinary commitment to their racial identity and some have transformed themselves even into violent activists. >> are you aware of white organizations that do this as well? given the white supremacy as well, documented research movement like the neo-nazi,
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ku klux klan, et cetera? >> yes. but it's not coming to me at this moment. >> not coming to you? certainly a group such as the u ku klux klan -- >> yes, and there are white identities as well. >> are you aware of a group called the sovereign citizens? >> i've heard of that group, yes. >> i believe the sovereign citizens is primarily a white organization that has absolutely targeted police officers and killed police officers. you're not aware of that? >> i'm not aware of all their crimes, but i know they are a group that's known to have violent tendencies. >> could you name an african-american organization that have committed violent acts
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against police officers? could you name one today? in this report they name organizations from 30, 40 years ago, but can you name one from today that has targeted police officers in a violent manner? >> i believe i could, but i would want to confirm that and submit it to you in writing, but i believe we had, within the last year or so, four police officers killed by a group that some have described as extremists. >> so what has happened is there have been a couple instances in which african-americans did kill police officers who were not associated with a black organization. and so one, for example, in b baton rouge, was associated with citizens that were part of the group. by the way, would you consider black lives matter a black identity extremist group? >> i'm not able to comment on
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that. i have not so declared it. >> so you should know that a lot of activists around the country are very concerned that we're getting ready to repeat a very sad chapter of our history where people who are rightfully protesting what they consider to be an injustice in their community, which is their relationship with police officers, are now being targeted and labeled as extremists and see are going through periods of surveillance and harassment. i would like to know what is your department going to do to protect the rights of average citizens to protest if they have a concern about police officers? >> this department will not unlawfully target people. >> so if that's the case, then, i would ask that you review this report, "black indemnity extremists likely to target police officers" because i personally don't believe the organization exists.
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the organizations in this report are organizations from decades ago. so i would like to know what will you do to essentially roll back what is listed in this report? because it's not accurate. sir? >> we will look at the report. i actually would be interested in reading it. but they usually do an excellent job, objective and fair, on those kinds of reports. >> time of the gentlewoman has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from south carolina, mr. gowdy, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you, mr. attorney general. i want to cover a couple areas, but i want to start with something that's very important to me. i think it's important to all people in this country of good conscience, irrespective of their political ideation, and that is the department of justice. for myself, december 2015 and 2016 have been challenging for
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the department of justice. there is a grand jury, there is a petit jury, there is a trial judge, there are post-trial motions, there are appellate courts, there are courts of habeas corpus. the decision not to fire someone does not carry with it labors of review. in some instances it's important to understand why law enforcement did something and why prosecute ors did not do something. i'm not part of the decision not to litigate hillary clinton. i'm not interested in litigating it. i am, however, interested in listing 2016 and 2017 to the department of justice. there was a time when my colleagues on the other side of the aisle remember interested and want questions of her as
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well. it was absurd then and it's aub su -- absurd now, but what isn't absurd is when my colleagues ask why did you decide to press one appropriation and not another? why did you decide to look at one side of the department, which is hard for the fbi to have a decision maker. just like they wanted to know, mr. comey, did you reach decisions before the end of the investigation? did you make decisions before you decided to question the witnesses? these questions to me go to the core of whether or not the government can be respected aside from politics. i guess certain departments are inherently political, but the
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department of justice should not be. i tell you that up front, that chairman good -- are going to be telling the stories. there is a love for the department and a love for the concept of blind justice who doesn't care if it's an even-numbered year or an odd-numbered year. to the extent there were decisions made. they need to follow it up with another but also with respect to documents so congress can better understand the decisions that were made and not made and restore some modicum of trust that all people, whether they agreed with the decisions or
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not, at least understand why they were made. mr. conyers asked you whether or not it was appropriate for the president to -- >> could i respond briefly to that? >> yes, sir. >> you're familiar with the inspector general. >> i'm meeting with him shortly. >> they make public their investigations. several matters of the fbi are by the full, intensive view of the fbi, and maybe under more disclosure, you can inquire as to how that's ongoing. but i'm not able to give you the details at this time. that's a serious matter. it's in my response to the chairman of yesterday. >> i didn't intend to ask you to respond to it because you're right, mr. horowitz needs to answer it, in fact, i meet with
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him later this afternoon. but you're right, he will ask whether mr. yerz conyers is appropriate in asking that. it wasn't appropriate in the ongoing investigation of hillary clinton's server. it is never appropriate for a president to tell the department of justice for the outcome it has reached. i just wish my friends on the other side had the same outrage when president obama did it as they do now. this will be my last question to you. you're nominated by a president. you're approved by a senate, but yet you reached for a virtue. you worked for a blind if.
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how did people restore confidence in the department of justice when it seems like different rules apply depending on who is in power? >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the attorney general is permitted to answer. >> it's a good question and an important question. we intend to do our work according to the established principles of the department of justice. we will not be infected by politics or bias. we will make only decisions we believe are right and just. and we're not going to use the department to unlawfully advance a political agenda. we're going to enforce the laws of this country effectively as congress has passed them, and i am determined that when the years go by that people will say this department of justice did not crumble. it stayed firm and true to the great principles that i was taught in the 15 years i served
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in the department of justice, two and a half as an assistant, 12 as united states attorney and looking up to the attorney general is somehow so far removed for me that it was beyond recognition. but now i'm in that position. i think i understand the gravity of it. i think i understand the importance of responding to your question and we'll do our best. >> thank you. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from louisiana, mr. richmond, for five minutes. >> mr. general, i have the honor of serving as chair of the congressional black caucus. you were not there, but i'm sure you are aware, and if you're not aware i'm telling on myself, that i testified against your nomination. and i did so because i was afraid that we would go back to a time where discrimination was rampant and that diversity was not appreciated and that the right to vote for minorities and african-americans would be
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further -- more obstacles would be set up. and i listened to your opening statement and i listened to your remarks since then, and you talked about voter i.d. the vicci case, which in texas ruled that a texas voter identification law had discriminatory portions against african-americans. the district court ruled that way, the appellate court affirmed that ruling, and then you withdrew from the case after two courts ruled that it was discriminatory. how does that mesh -- and then argued on the side of texas, how does that mesh to make sure that african-americans had unfettered access to the voting polls? >> congressman, the way that happened was that texas had passed a voter i.d. law that the courts did not approve but struck down. election was coming up, i
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believe, and the court approved a voter i.d. procedure that they approved for that election, and the texas legislature then repealed its previous law that had been found to be unconstitutional or improper and had been approved. we felt a proper voter i.d. law is constitutional and we believe that one is constitutional. >> and referring to the department of justice, in terms of placing judges for the bench, out of all the judges that have been nominated, i think 91% have been white males. does that foster diversity?
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>> i'm not aware of the numbers, but we should look for quality candidates and i think diversity is a matter that has significance. >> well, the national bar association could recommend and has recommended a number of african-american and other minority attorneys who are qualified, so let me just ask you, and if you don't know the answer to these, let me know you'll get me the information. how many african-americans do you have on your senior staff? >> i do not have a senior staff member at this time that's an african-american. in alabama, i participated in recommending an african-american judge and i've had african-american judges before -- >> we're talking about this administration, though. of all of the u.s. attorneys that have been nominated or confirmed, how many have been african-american?
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>> one in alabama that i knew and i believe he's been confirmed. >> of all the fbi agents nominated around the country, how many are african-american? >> i do not know. >> would you get that for me. here's the gist whof what i'm saying. for a lot of people who objectively look from the back, like i do and many people where i live, the question is whether we're going towards inclusion and diversity or whether we're going back. so i applaud the president for his approach to the opioid epidemic which everyone in this room is concerned about. we're losing over 100 people a day. but your decision to reverse the crime division goes back to the cuff crack on crime, and i believe you said you want our attorneys to approve the big
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sentences, but in the opioid crisis, we're treating it as a mental crisis. is it as opposed to who the opioid epidemic is affecting? the question is how does an outside observer reconcile how we treated crack which led to mass incarceration which now as an epidemic we're losing thousands and thousands of people a year, and we're treating it with hugs and kisses and treatment as opposed to tough on crime, lock 'em up. how do i reconcile that and not conclude that the only difference is race and income? >> well, i would say that the federal court focuses on serious offenders, not users. we talk about international drug cartels, we talk about distribution networks, serious gangs, ms-13. we focus aggressively on that,
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but the ps nrn reinvigorated th crime problem focuses more -- and i've been convinced of this -- on the leading criminals in a neighborhood. and the federal government will not seek mass incarceration so much as we will be focusing on identifying the people who really are the driving force. maybe sucking other young people into crime that would never have been brought in there if they hadn't had this leadership drive. it's worked in new york, it's worked in other agencies, and i think it will work here, and congressman, i would note that the average federal senates in the last three or four years has dropped 19%, and the federal prison population is down 14%. while we are beginning to see a spike in homicides, the likes of
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which we haven't seen since the 1960s. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the chairman recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. tharenfold, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. before i got to congress, i sometimes would dive into the ne nerdy end of things. the question of servers is back in the news recently. my question is can you tell us if anybody at the federal law enforcement agencies have been able to take a look and examine that server to determine if someone hacked it, if it was the russians or anybody else? >> you said it was the dnc? >> the dnc. >> i'm not able to comment on that. it's an ongoing investigation. >> i appreciate that. we also talked a little today about the fisa court and 702 and
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surveillance. one of the things i don't think has been completely answered is why does the d.o.j. think it's so problematic to require a warrant from the fisa court or any court before accessing or disseminating the contents of communications that aren't related to foreign intelligence that deal with american citizens? >> well, the way -- maybe i should explain this. when you have a warrant or you have a surveillance on a foreign individual that may be connected to terrorism or any foreign individual, you listen to who they talk to. if they call an american and you have a terrorist on the phone in syria, you want to know who that american is, right? >> but the usa liberty act includes exceptions for emergencies and individuals who are recently believed to be engaged in international terrorism or furthering their goals. >> well, i'm not sure --
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>> there is an exception for dealing with emergencies and people believed to be terrorists. >> all right. let me just say this. so if we get a lawful intercept from a federal judge of mafia p new york, he is not likely to be talking to many people not in the united states and we're listening to the conversations, the people he talks to and the american citizens. and if they talk about a crime, you can use that evidence against them. you don't have to have a separate warrant to access it. we're talking about in the 702 con -- i hope you'll think through me, with me now. so you lawfully obtain this information. you could do it by hand in the old days. now the computers do much of the work for us. so you know the names of the people that may be involved in this activity. and you can access those records
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just like you can access bank reports that you've got. >> but if you come up in any other way, you'd have to get a warrant to get that wiretap? >> well, the problem with the warrant is -- let's say this. let's say you have information from an airport that somebody wants to learn to fly a plane but does not want to learn how to land the plane. as we saw one time. >> and you go to the court in a matter of hours. >> that does not give probable cause to search -- tap that person's phone. >> i've got a couple other questions. i appreciate -- >> okay, i'm sorry. >> -- your answer on it. i do want to talk -- in the last congress we passed and enacted into law the stop advertising victims of exploitation act of the save act. this legislation makes a criminal offense to advertise for commercial sex acts. has the doj used this provision to prosecute online sex traffickers or websites they use and if not why not.
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>> i'm not sure about that, congressman. i'll have to -- maybe can get back to you on that. >> i would appreciate that. >> thank you. >> all right, i've got a couple more here. i want to hit. but i'm going to take a step back and look at the big picture. i'm a lawyer. i went to law school. i've always considered the attorney general to be the people's attorney. and i feel like over the past few years under previous attorney generals, the attorney general's been more the president's attorney rather than the people's attorney. can you tell me what you are doing in office to restore the confidence in the american people, both in the office of the attorney general and agencies like the fbi which most people used to have a very high respect for but i believe that level of respect and trust has dropped dramatically in recent times. >> these are serious questions. i believe as you get to know the
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fbi director chris ray, the new director, you're going to -- you will find him to be a man of high intelligence, great integrity, great character and great capability. clearly one of the nation's great lawyers on private practice but many years in the department of justice as a prosecutor working with the fbi agents. that's one thing we've got, i can tell you, i have great confidence in him. my deputy 27 years a professional that i chose to be my primary deputy, my associate attorney general likewise is a woman of the highest character and academic excellent and experience in the department. and we are setting a tone of professionalism every day in what we do. so i think that's something we need to do. there's some matters that do need to be completed. inspector general is doing investigations of some significance as in my letter.
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i believe you received a copy involving the fbi and the allegations that are there. we intend to make sure that no agency of the government, not just the fbi, is not following the kind of disciplines and practices they should follow. so i guess i would say to you watch what we do. we're not going to be driven by politics. we're going to try to do the right thing. and i believe that time will show that to be true. >> i see my time has expired. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york mr. jeffries for five minutes. >> mr. sessions, i have a copy of your testimony in october. you stated under oath i don't recall in some form or fashion 29 times, is that correct? >> i have no idea. >> i have a copy of the transcript of your testimony before the senate intelligence committee in june. you stated under oath i don't
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recall in some form or fashion approximately 36 times. is that correct? >> i don't know. >> in your testimony today, you have stated i don't recall at least 20 times, is that fair to say? >> i have no idea. >> now, on october 4th, 2016, during a tv interview with lou dobbs, you criticized hillary clinton for telling fbi investigators i can't remember approximately 35 times. you also stated during that lou dobbs interview that the intentional failure to remember can constitute perjury. mr. attorney general, do you still believe that the intentional failure to remember can constitute a criminal act? >> if it's an act to deceive, yes. >> okay. now, you testified in january that you had no contact with russian operatives during the trump campaign.
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earlier today, you testified that your story has, quote, never changed. is that correct? >> that was your testimony earlier today, that your story has never changed, correct? >> i believe that's fair to say. >> okay, we -- >> we might -- we've added things that i did not recall at the time -- >> right -- >> -- my statement at the time was my best recollection of the circumstances and i -- as things are brought up -- >> -- my time, i understand, sir. >> all right. >> you now acknowledge meeting with ambassador kislyak during the republican national convention, correct? >> i remember i made a speech. he came up to me afterwards. i was standing in front of a speaker program and did chat with him -- >> okay, thank you -- >> -- a meeting, it was just an encounter at that time. >> okay, and you also met with the ambassador in september of
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2016 in your office as you've acknowledged, correct? >> yes, for an appointment. i had two senior staffers, both full colonels in the united states army, retired, in the meeting with me -- >> now, you testified -- i'm sorry. you testified in june before the senate intelligence committee that you had not heard even a whisper about possible russian involvement in the trump campaign. yet we understand that you attended this march 31st meeting with george papadopoulos, talked about potential communications with russian operatives. but also according to your third quarter 2016 fcc filing, you hosted a trump campaign dinner meeting on june 30th 2016 at the capitol hill, is that right? >> that's correct, i believe. >> and your senate re-election campaign paid for that meeting, is that right? >> i think ma mthat may be so. >> carter page and papadopoulos both attended that june 30th meeting, correct? >> that has been reported. >> at that meeting, carter page told you that he was going to moscow in a few days, is that
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right? >> yes. >> okay. >> and he -- >> thank you, thank you -- >> -- he said it was a brief meeting as he was walking out the door. i don't recall that conversation, but i'm not able to dispute it -- >> understood. reclaiming my time, i've got limited time available -- >> that is not -- does that establish a -- some sort of improper contact -- >> i think you understand -- >> -- russians -- >> i think you understand -- >> he's not russian either -- >> you understand, sir, i get to ask the questions, you provide the answers, in this capacity, you're no longer in the united states senate. you voted in 1999 to remove bill clinton from office on charges of perjury, correct? >> that is correct. >> and in connection -- >> -- other charges, i've already -- >> simple question -- >> -- impeachment, yes. >> i understand. remove him, actually, impeachment, the house. in connection to that vote, you gave this speech on the senate floor on february 29th, 1999,
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and in it you acknowledged that while serving as u.s. attorney, you once prosecuted a young police officer who lied in a deposition. and in that speech, you decided to prosecute that young police officer even though he corrected his testimony. you testified under oath before the senate judiciary committee in january. you subsequently corrected that testimony in a march 6th written submission and have been forced repeatedly to come back to the senate and now the house to clarify. when explaining your vote on the senate floor to remove bill clinton from office, you stated that you refused to hold a president accountable to a different standard than the young police officer who you prosecuted. let me be clear. the attorney general of the united states of america should not be held to a different
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standard than the young police officer whose life you ruined by prosecuting him for perjury. i yield back. >> the gentleman may respond if he chooses to. >> mr. jeffries, nobody, nobody, not you or anyone else, should be prosecuted, not me or -- accused of perjury for answering the question the way i did in this hearing. i've always tried to answer the questions fairly and accurately. but to ask, did you ever do something, you ever meet with russians and deal with the campaign. you're saying mr. carter page, who left that meeting, according to the press reports and all -- and i guess his deposition or interview has been reported as saying i'm going to russia. i made no response to him. didn't acknowledge it. and you're accusing me of lying ab


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