tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and John Berman CNN March 7, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PST
i'm john berman. >> i'm poppy harlow. take a look at this room because this is where we could see the biggest battle yet over the trump campaign's alleged ties to russia. democrats threatening to plock the confirmation of deputy attorney general nominee unless he is willing to guarantee a special prosecutor to investigate russia's election hack. >> this comes as president trump has endorsed his party's replacement to obamacare. this is what he wrote this
morning. "our wonderful new health care bill is now out for review and negotiation. note the words our and wonderful. he is owning this completely for the first time. he is also saying he's willing to negotiate, at least a little. that may be essential here because he needs to win over members of his own party. skeptical republicans. we've already heard from a number of them this morning. how much will the plan cost? one question democrats are asking, how many people might lose coverage. we're covering both of these really big stories as they unfold before our eyes. we want to begin with what promise to be contentious hearings on capitol hill. manu raju is there for us. manu? >> hey, john and poppy. i'm right outside the rosenstein hearing. he's nominated by donald trump, the president, to be the number two at the justice department under jeff sessions. now normally this would be a type of hearing that does not get a lot of attention but the reason why today it is is because sessions last week, of course, recused himself from
overseeing any campaign related investigations about any ties between the trump campaign into russia. and he's recused himself, the number two in the department will oversee that investigation. if rosenstein gets this position and if he's confirmed, he will be in charge of that investigation. will he agree to a special prosecutor. that is what democrats plan to push him on. dick blumenthal said yesterday that he would do everything in his power to try to delay, stall and frustrate this nomination unless he makes that commitment to back a special prosecutor. but republicans so far are resisting the idea of a special prosecutor, including senator orrin hatch who i just talked to on the way into the hearing saying it's a little overboard for democrats to be pushing this idea right now. other republicans aligning themselves with him on that key issue. democrats do not get the support to stall this nomination over the issue of a special prosecutor. dan rosenstein is likely to get his job.
he served in both administrations. he's confirmed for a u.s. attorney job in 2005 by the senate unanimously. typically a lot of support but because of the issue of russia, that affecting this confirmation hearing. a lot of contentious, potentially contentious back and forth between rosenstein and the senators at this hearing just moments from now. >> and sessions' recusal changed the entire game for this guy. >> this was supposed to be a bland, boring confirmation hearing. >> manu on the hill, keep watching it for us. another question of the hour this morning -- does the president have confidence in his own fbi drctor? anyone? anyone know? we can't seem to get a straight answer on that despite asking three times. in just hours they'll face that question again from the press because press secretary sean spicer will face reporters for his first on-camera briefing in more than a week. >> this comes after the revelation that fbi director james comey was incredulous as
he read the wiretapping accusations against president obama. sara murray joins us from washington now. what are you hearing? >> good morning. the president may be completely convinced that former president obama wiretapped his phone when he was a presidential candidate. but the fbi director doesn't really sound like he's buying it and that is setting the white house and the fbi up potentially for a clash. now i asked sean spicer yesterday whether the president still has confidence in his fbi director. listen to what he said, or didn't say. what's the president's view of james comey right now? does he have the president's full faith and confidence to stay on as the fbi director? >> i don't think -- we've only heard unsubstantiated anonymous sources make those claims. comey has not commentod anything he's allegedly said. i'm not going to comment on what people say he might have said. the director is more than capable speaking for himself.
>> he wouldn't say whether the president does have full confidence, and it will be interesting to see today whether the president and the fbi director did speak, whether sean spicer is willing to go a little bit further on this. and it's also worth noting that we haven't exactly seen republicans coming out of the woodwork to defend the president on this wiretapping claim. one person who did spring to his defense was his homeland security secretary yesterday. listen to what he said about the president's wiretapping allegations. >> if the president of the united states said that, he's got his reasons to say it. he's got some convincing evidence that took place. >> so you see he says the president must have convincing evidence and it's worth noting we pressed administration officials on that. what was the evidence for president trump saying his phone had been tapped? they were not able to supply anything. back to you guys. >> sara murray in washington. this is exactly why this hearing we're going to get on capitol hill any second now is so crucial because democrats are going to press for answers about russia, about the wiretaps from the man that donald trump wants
to be the deputy attorney general, the very man who will oversee these investigations. let's talk about this with our panel. david gergen, former adviser to four u.s. presidents. alice stewart, cnn political commentator, republican strategist. also former communications director for senator ted cruz. maria car doana, democratic strategist. also cnn legal analyst laura coates, a former federal prosecutor. david gergen, democrats are going to fight today on capitol hill. they're going to fight for this hearing of the deputy attorney general nominee, a guy who actually by all accounts they like and was supposed to get in with smooth sailing but now senators say they're not going to let him in unless he agrees to appoint a special prosecutor. what are democrats after here? >> this case right now is being tried in a court of public opinion. democrats want to be on top. this is really all about gaining public support, putting pressure on the republicans. there is no -- i think it's
inconceivable that the nominee for deputy attorney general will give a guarantee today that he'll appoint a special prosecutor. it's inappropriate. he doesn't have all the evidence yet. the justice department is supposed to make an independent decision about whether to get a special prosecutor or not. they can get requests in from congress, but it is up to the justice department to make that independent decision. he may well be the person who has to make that decision. and to give an answer today when he hasn't seen the evidence would just be inappropriate. he has to wait until he gets there. >> here's why senator bloomenthal believes that's not the case. listen to him this morning. >> when elliott richardson was designated as attorney general during the watergate era, he was required as a condition of his nomination as attorney general to say he would appoint a special prosecutor, and he did. >> so, laura, parse through that for us. >> well, the reason they're talking about the watergate
scandal and watergate era is a whole different world. the main thing now is, a special prosecutor essentially says, we have no faith in the justice department to be able to objectively oversee an investigation which sounds very odd. the whole basis for a confirmation hearing is to say that we give you an unfettered trust right now in your ability to do just that. he's in a very unique position. remember, this isn't a deputy attorney general nominee who was the person that eric holder called to investigate iran cyberattacks. he worked with kenneth starr. he handled the whitewater issues. this is somebody who across party lines has been known to be objective. so to now require of him to admit that he will no longer be able to be that, once he takes office, puts him in a very, very precarious position. >> speaking of precarious positions, let's talk about james comey, the fbi director who i suppose was a former deputy attorney general himself.
alice stewart, kellyanne conway said something interesting. this idea there's a feud between the fbi director and the white house. the fbi director incredulous that president trump accused president obama of wiretapping. if director comey has something to say, perhaps he can issue a statement or be more explicit. we know he's not shy. alice, those seem like loaded words from kellyanne conway. do you think it's toime for jams comey to speak up? >> there were a lot of people concerned when they saw the tweets come out about accusing president obama of wiretaps. and i think comey was right to be concerned about that. but whether or not he should be the one to come forward remains to be seen. look, if i were him, i wouldn't want to know unequivocally that i have the full faith and confidence of the president because general flynn had that and was gone a few days later. it's right to sit back and let the information present itself, but i do think it's important that if the president is going to make such a claim, i think it's important to put some more
information out there because i think a baseless claim like this without the information to back it up just puts this -- the center of attention when there are some good news they could be talking about which is repealing and replacing obamacare. this is taking center stage. >> on the same week they're going to try to get these mark-ups done and get something even all the republicans can -- at least most themp get on board with. maria cardona, i can't wait to gettior reaction to alice's assertion that comey should sit back versus maybe hold a press conference, send some letters. what do you think? >> a couple of things. first, i agree with alice that more information needs to be put out there about these allegations. but guess who needs to put that more information out? president trump who is the first one who made these allegations based on what we know so far absolutely nothing. so if, according to secretary mattis, if he really believes that trump has some sort of basis to have made these
allegations, then trump is under the obligation to be the one to share what basis that is with the american people because barring that, you know, everybody is turning to him and saying, what is wrong with you? you know, you are lying yet again, and you are putting sort of the full faith of the american government on trial here. and so i actually do also agree with others, frankly kellyanne conway. that's going to be very rare. that this is -- comey, it's rare that he is shy because we saw during the hillary clinton investigation, he wasn't shy there. so what's keeping him from making what he said apparently to those in private to say it publicly. if he is really concerned. if he is incredulous about the allegations that the president made as he should be, then he should come out publicly and say so. >> david gergen, we've got something between a chuckle and a gafaw from you during that.
i'm curious why. it can't be easy these days to be james comey. >> oh, no. and i am not sure whether president trump has confidence in jaums comey, but it's very clear james comey does not have confidence in president trump. and their relationship has deteriorated badly. it's hard to see how he stays on indefinitely, but i think one thing donald trump cannot afford to do now is to fire james comey. no matter what he feels about him, it would be extremely controversial to knock the guy out because in effect it looks like you're trying to muscle the investigation and putting one of your own people in there and so on. that is not a good idea. >> so the big fight right now outside of this trying to get their deputy ag confirmed for republicans is within their own party on obamacare. jason chaffetz comes out. he was on cnn this morning talking about trying to push the plan in the house. let's listen to what he said, the sacrifices that americans need to make on this.
let's listen. >> we're getting rid of the individual mandate. we're getting rid of those things that people said that they don't want. and americans have choices. and they've got to make a choice. so maybe rather than getting that new iphone they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars, maybe they should invest it in their own health care. they have to make those decisions themselves. >> this gets the classic republican argument between access and coverage. they may have access, but it is sort of on them. was that the right analogy to make? those are the headlines. you can have your iphone or health care. >> i don't think it's to that extreme. the plan that we've seen, i think having it more of a marketplace where there's more individual choices i think is important, as well as the pre-existing conditions. look, we knew this was going to be a difficult fight. we knew that there were going to be some tough conversations made, but i think the good thing here is that now we do have some -- a plan on the table. we can have conversations and people can see it. they can read it and reach out to their congressmen and let
their feelings be known and work on this out in the open as opposed to what we saw with obamacare that was shoved down our throats in the darkness at the last minute. i think it's important to get it out there and have conversation amongst everyone and get input from people across the country. >> maria cardona, you are nodding your head. >> first of all, to be clear, when the affordable care act passed, it passed very transparently. there were tons and tons of hearings on this, including republican input. 200 -- more than 200 amendments were accepted to the affordable care act that came from republicans. so let's just put that to rest because it was transparent. and speaking of transparency, we don't even know how much this new bill is going to cost. they are going to go into the mark-up process without understanding what is this going to cost the american people? cbo has not scored it. they're not going to wait for that. i think the american people at least should understand what is this going to cost them because
right now what we know is, according to jason chaffetz, this is going to be an issue where americans are going to have to choose. and, frankly, i'm sorry congressman it is not between buying an iphone and getting health care. it's going to be between paying your mortgage and getting health care. those are the differences between what republicans are saying and what democrats understand are what needs to be the priorities. republicans don't seem to understand what americans are going through when they actually have to make real choices in terms of paying their bills. >> to be fair, a lot of people face huge premium hikes because of the existing plan as well. so that's a challenge on the democrat side still -- >> a small percentage of the 20 million people who have current health care coverage. >> some of those were very big hikes. we'll have you all back. coming up for us -- take a look. you're looking at live pictures of the hearing where lawmakers are grilling the man who just got a whole lot more important. the man who would lead the
investigation into russia's hacking of the election and any potential ties between the trump campaign and russia. lawmakers can drill him at any moment. we'll bruing you that live. >> unless he appoints a special prosecutor. plus, the house republican plan to repeal and replace obamacare. but some republicans are calling it obamacare light. is there a battle brewing within the gop? then -- what a difference five weeks makes. the new travel ban from the white house suggesting now that more countries could be added to the list. nobody does unlimited like t-mobile. while the other guys gouge for unlimited data...
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we're getting brand-new reaction to new house republicans' plans to repeal and replace obamacare. >> that's right. they are facing some resistance from even within their own party. senator rand paul weighed in this morning. >> the house bill has been put forward as obamacare light. it won't work. >> senator rand paul calling it obamacare light saying it won't work and he's not the only republican speaking out about it. want to bring in sunlen serfaty on capitol hill. good morning. >> john and poppy, this is certainly a major milestone for house republicans finally unveiling this repeal and replace bill for obamacare. but within the hours, there's some major fault lines weapon t -- within the party that emerged. some dubbing this obamacare 2.0 or obamacare lite. let's break down the differences between what obamacare did and what this new proposal does. this bill repeals the individual and employer mandate.
out-of-pocket subsidies and changes the medicaid expansion. but here's what would stay the same. this plan still allows children to stay on their parents' plan until the age of 26. it largely would keep obamacare's protections of those with pre-existing conditions. it keeps the no annual lifetime limits and it keeps maternity and preventative care in place. now the mechanics and the math of all of this very important up here on capitol hill. house republican leaders have essentially mapped out how they want to get this through. this bill proposed importantly is done through the budget reconciliation bill. that's important because that means this bill would only need a simple majority in the house. 218 votes. and a simple majority in the senate of 51 votes. that's important because they think they can potentially get this through but certainly every single vote being counted and going forward. then they'd institute a piecemeal approach to the
replacement parts. certainly a lot of battle lines ahead. fierce battle up here on capitol hill. john and poppy? >> no questions, sunlen serfaty, thank you. joining sus is larry boucho. let me get your reaction to some of your own republican colleagues in the house freedom caucus and senators like rand paul who just this morning, sir, called this obamacare-lite. some angry republicans who say those tax credits just add to entitlement spending. what say you? >> well, over the last year, prior to the election, we worked together in the house, house republicans with everyone's input, including people from the freedom caucus to craft the better way plan and we had a positive election result. there's nothing in here that is surprising and also, dr. price, now the head of hhs, his legislation that he has had for
literally years that all of us co-sponsored is very similar with tax credits as one of its main components. i don't generally comment on what other senators and house members have to say. all i would say is this has been an open process amongst republicans and so i'm confident that we'll have the votes to pass this in the house and senate. >> let me ask you about what congressman chaffetz said. americans, rather than getting the new iphone they love, they should go spend a hundred dollars maybe in their own health care. do you think it's a choice between iphones and coverage? >> absolutely not. i was a doctor before, and those type of comments, i think, are unwarranted at this time. and so you know, we want to make sure everyone has access to quality, affordable health care. we don't want people to make choices in their life. having to choose health care and leaving out other parts of their life that everyone else enjoys. so i don't think that's true. i think this is not going to do
that. i think we'll get costs down. and the other thing we're going to do here is, we're not pulling the rug out from anyone. people covered under the affordable care act are not going to lose coverage. we're hoping to add more to the rolls. many still don't have health coverage. i don't think that's right. we'll be pushing ahead with this reform bill. it's a rescue bill. the affordable care bill is going under. the exchanges are failing and it's just not working for the american people. >> so congressman, you say something important. you say there are all these folks without coverage. we want to make sure they get coverage which echoes what the president said on the campaign trail, but it doesn't echo what some of your republican colleagues are saying. jason chaffetz, again this morning, essentially saying they guarantee guarantee if everyone covered under obamacare will be covered with this new plan, and then listen to what the director of the office of management and budget mick mulvaney just said this morning on nbc.
>> how many fewer or more people will be covered under this new health care plan you've unveiled? >> you know, we are starting to get that question a lot. and the real answer is compared to what? >> compared to the 20 million that are covered of under obamacare. you just wrote an op-ed on this and you say we're determined to provide relief to the millions of families facing tough choices here as a result of obamacare. can you guarantee that all of those millions of people will get coverage under this plan? >> well, i think we're taking away the mandates. a lot of people who don't have coverage now, that's by choice. what we want to make sure is that americans that want health coverage have access to health coverage. and i don't want to continue mandates on the american people, both employers and individuals. so, you know, it will be up to the people to make that decision. >> do you think -- >> the thing we're supposed to -- >> do you think that by the time -- if this passes, do you think that fewer people will be
covered in this country? >> i don't know. it would be by the choice of the american people. they'll have low-cost coverage options. 20 million people covered under the current law. about half those are medicaid. we're not taking that away. people are going to continue to be covered. >> but you are changing how the medicaid money is given to the states and there are senators that have taken that medicaid funding that are very concerned about how it's done. >> i'd encourage you to look at what president clinton and congressman waxman said back in the '90s about these per capita caps. they are the ones that came up with the idea and it's a conservative approach. so this is nothing new. this has been around washington, d.c., for a long time. states are clamoring for choice. they are clamoring for opportunity to do things like healthy indiana plan which we did in our state which gives the state the flexibility to cover its citizens. we covered about 300,000 people. so i would argue this is not a plan that has come out, you
know, of the blue. this has been around washington for a long time, including from what former congressman waxman said and president clinton in the '90ss. states are clamoring for choice, clamoring for flexibility, and we intend to provide that for them. and i think that states are likely to cover probably more people if they choose to do so. and i would encourage everyone to look at healthy indiana plan and what we've done there. >> you keep using the words choice and people will -- more people or as many will be covered if they choose to buy. do you think any american would actually choose not to buy health care for their family if the -- if they truly could afford it and no problem at all, that they are just going to make that choice? a lot of american families, isn't that an impossible choice to make? >> remember, 26 to 28 million people are currently not covered under the affordable care act and last year, about 19 million people either paid the penalty or got an exemption from
obamacare. so they made that choice. >> because that's the argument that chaffetz is making. >> so it's not for me to say, you know, what the american people will do. i'm for more individual liberty and freedom and choice in america and what our opportunity is here to offer people low-cost choices that they can afford, options for their families and i think that most people will make -- will choose a low-cost option for their families. >> we have to let you go. we don't know how much -- we don't know how much this plan will cost yet. that's something we're waiting to see from the cbo. larry bucshon, thankss for comig up. >> appreciate you having me. this is the senate judiciary committee right now. chris van holland from maryland. democrats are promising to block the nominee for deputy attorney general unless he promises to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged ties between the trump campaign and russia.
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all right. live pictures from capitol hill. you are looking at the chairman of the senate judiciary committee chuck grassley right now. a really important hearing going on right now. this for the deputy attorney general nominee, ron rosenstein. this was supposed to be, you know, a run-of-the-mill hearing. but now not at all. democrats promising to hold it up, trying to block this nomination. unless the nominee promises to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged ties between the trump campaign and russia. this could get heated. we are going to keep our eye on this all morning. >> his opening remarks any moment. we'll bring you those live when they begin. a new travel ban from the administration prompting a lot of new questions. later today the state department is going to hold their
briefings. what do we know about this revised order? six countries that are muslim majority countries are included instead of seven. iraq has now been taken out of this, something a lot of insiders inside of the trump campaign advocated for. this also states current visa and green card holders no longer included in this travel ban. also worth noting the language that appeared that gave preferential treatment to christians, has also been removed. >> last night in an exclusive interview with anderson cooper, bob ferguson who challenged the first ban said this about the new restrictions. >> these are major, major concessions by president trump and despite his tweet a few weeks ago saying, see you in court, his attorneys have done everything they can before the ninth circuit and the trial court to avoid seeing us in court. they filed motion after motion seeking delays in proceedings. no question in my mind that the president realized that the
original executive order was indefensible and four federal judges agreed with that. >> want to bring in ambassador james jeffreys. former ambassador to iraq and turkey and also workod the george j. bu george w. bush administration and other posts. one of the big changes is iraq has been removed. now six countries instead of seven. you were ambassador to that nation. a great deal of lobbying from iraqis, not to mention americans who had ties in iraq who said it's just unfair given the wars fought there and the iraqis that fought alongside the americans. do you welcome this change? >> i certainly do. the entire limited ban doesn't make a whole lot of sense, frankly. but the thing that made the least sense was iraq. we need iraq not only in the struggle against isis but in the larger trump administration correct priority of balancing iran and the region. it's really good that it's off. >> dhs secretary general kelly
went on television and said they might add more countries. maybe 13 or 14 different countries they are looking at. he didn't say which ones. this eliminates iraq, but it does not add any other countries. not included are saudi arabia, lebanon, the uae and egypt. does that make sense to you, or is that a miss by the administration? if they were going to have another ban to not include any of those countries where the ja? >> this whole thing doesn't make a lot of sense because the purpose of the ban, it's temporary is to look at our procedures to see if we need to do even more extreme vetting. i don't think that's necessary but i wasn't elected to protect the american people. if they come up with more detailed vetting and want to apply that to other countries, they can do so but that doesn't necessarily apply a ban. this basically represents a huge retreat of this administration from an unconstitutional no-man's-land that they brought us into and then now back into
the realm of almost normal government regulations. >> we want to go to capitol hill because u.s. attorney ron rosenstein is giving his opening testimony. >> every american deserves equal protection under the rule of law. i want to thank the attorney general and the president for placing their trust in me to help manage the department and to enforce that principle. the justice department has been my professional home for almost three decades. i've served under five presidents. and under nine attorneys general. and i want to assure you, based on my personal experience, that our department is filled with exemplary professionals, devoted public servants who conduct independent investigations 365 days a year. i was fortunate to join them in 1990 and during the clinton administration, i had the privilege of working directly for the deputy attorney general
at that time. i served in several other positions around the justice department, and in 2005, when i became u.s. attorney, i expected to serve for four years under president bush. i am so grateful to president obama for demonstrating his confidence in me and allowing me to serve for eight years in his administration with the support of our home state senior senators carden, mccullsky and sarbanes. our goals of preventing crime and preventing national security is to work with all partners to be vigilant and proactive. we also need to be role models because contacts with the police create indelible memories for citizens. as deputy attorney general, i will draw on my personal experience with thousands of honorable law enforcement officers all around this country as i seek to implement change and to build public trust. justice is our name, and justice
is our mission. attorney general robert jackson famously said the citizen safety lies in a prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness. seeks the truth, serves the law and approaches the task with humility. for me, the grand hallways of main justice echo with the voices of mentors and friends. they taught me to ask the right questions. first, what can we do? second, what should we do? and third, how will we explain it. senators, before taking on a position of this solemn responsibility, it's important to know who you are and what you stand for. my oath is an obligation that requires me to support and defend the constitution of the united states. to bear full faith and all allegiance to the constitution and to discharge the duties of my office. i've taken an oath a few times.
i've administered that oath many times. i know it by heart. i understand what it means. and i intend to honor it. if you confirm my nomination, i'll work to defend the integrity and independence of our justice department to protect public safety, to preserve civil rights, to pursue justice, to advance the rule of law and to promote public confidence. the members of this committee are indispensable partners in achieving those goals, and i know ms. brand shares those views as i am so proud to be here with one of the finest lawyers of my generation who would become the first female associate attorney general in the 40-year history of that office. i want to thank you for allowing me to speak and thank you for considering my nomination. >> thank you, mr. rosenstein. now ms. brand and you can give your statement as well as introduce anybody that's here to support you and urge you on. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> all right. there you have it.
the opening statement from rod rosenstein who is the nominee for deputy attorney general. very important guy because if confirmed, he will be overseeing and running the entire investigation into the russian hacking of the election and any alleged connection between russia and those close to the president. >> he had some interesting comments. he promised without making any specific reference to defend the integrity and independence of the justice department. >> of course, including senator blumenthal and others who said they would not vote to confirm him unless he'll guarantee a special prosecutor. not talking about those words in these opening remarks. we'll keep monitoring it. quick break. we're back on the other side. with the help of the lowest taxes in decades, a talented workforce, and world-class innovations. like in plattsburgh, where the most advanced transportation is already en route. and in corning, where the future is materializing.
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consequences. this is after this missile defense system was unloaded at an american air base on the korean peninsula. >> the system is designed to shoot down incoming missiles from north korea. china has long opposed it. seeing it as a threat to its own security. the first pieces of this system have arrived in south korea and the timing interesting. just a day after north korea test fired a ballistic missile into the sea of japan. and kim jong-un personally supervised that. he claims the missiles were aimed at hitting american military bases. barbara starr has all the details. barbara? >> lots of claims from lots of folks out there this morning. now the north koreans first up. they are saying and have distributed some images -- >> where senator grassley is questioning ron rosenstein. the candidate, the nominee for deputy attorney general. barbara, told heigtight. let's listen in. >> but i don't recall any such
meetings, no. >> when were you first in contact with the attorney general about your nomination? have you ever spoken to the attorney general about the question of russian contacts with presidential campaigns? >> my first contact with attorney general sessions, i believe, was approximately november 28th when i received a phone call from him. i don't believe i ever had any direct contact with senator sessions prior to that date. and, no, i've had no conversations with attorney general sessions about that matter. >> about the russian contact? >> correct. >> okay. >> is there any basis on what you would not be able to handle such -- these investigations given that the attorney general sessions has announced his intention to recuse? >> senator, i'm not aware of any. i should tell you, of course, since i am not involved in the
matter, i don't know what, if any investigation is currently ongoing within the department. so if i were confirmed, i would need to familiarize myself with the facts. i would need to consult with experts in the department. we have complex set of rules and statutes that govern recusals and so i'm not aware of any requirement for me to recuse at this time, but as a lawyer, i would have to know what it is i'm recusing from and as a department of justice official i'd have to rely on the advice i got from career staff. we have folks who are trained to do just that. >> i hope this next question is not an impossible one. how would you handle such an investigation? have you ever discussed with the attorney general the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle such an investigation? >> well, how i would handle an investigation is the way i'd handle any investigation. as far as i'm concerned, every investigation conducted by the department of justice is an independent investigation. we prosecute tens of thousands of people every year, and every
one of those defendants serves an independent prosecutor. and so i would be certain that we had independent investigators to conduct those investigations along with law enforcement agents who are trained to conduct their investigations in an appropriate way and comply with the statutes, the regulations, the constitution, the policies of our law enforcement agencies. and so that's the way i would do that, senator. with regard to the special counsel in this or other cases, this is the issue dujour on capitol hill. i an tus pate if i were the deputy attorney general we'd have a lot of matters coming before the department over time. i'd approach them all the same way. i would evaluate the facts and the law, consider the applicable regulations, consult with career professionals in the department and then exercise my best judgment. if i were acting attorney general or provide my best advice to the attorney general if he were not recused about what i believe is the right course of action. >> i'd like to go to ms. brand now and ask you about your work
at the chamber of commerce. when you worked there, your client was at chamber. in that capacity you signed a number of briefs opposing the positions of government agencies. of course, at the department of justice, your job will be to defend these agencies and their missions. can you discuss how you will approach that from a different angle? >> sure, senator grassley, i would be happy to. as you say, as a lawyer, i have spent some of my career in private practice representing clients. i've spent more of my career in public service of one type or another. but just assen when-- as when i law firm. as a litigator, my job was to make briefs on behalf of a client. i'll have a different role, a different client. my client will be the united states and my role will be to deserve the public interest in the interest of justice.
representing that client as best i can. that's a role i'm very comfortable with. as i said, i've spent more of my career in public service than private practice. i'd be honored to take that role back on if i'm confirmed. >> back to mr. rosenstein. you served as an associate independent counsel and, of course, you have already referred to the decades of experience you've had in the department, so you're familiar with the role of independent counsels or special prosecutors in federal investigations. appointment of a special counsel requires both that there's evidence of a crime or wrongdoing and that the department is unable to handle the matter fairly. is that right as you see it? >> i believe you are referring to the department's regulation on special counsel as opposed to the special statute which would require under the current regulation a determination by the attorney general or the acting attorney general. that a criminal investigation is warranted. number two, that there is a
conflict of interest for the department to conduct that investigation. and number three, that the public interest justifies the appointment of a special counsel. >> okay. you -- let me ask the question, but i think you just answered it, but if you want to say more, how would you decide whether a special prosecutor would be appropriate in a particular department investigation? >> whatever it is, senator, and there are various formulations of this as was mentioned in the introduction. i was specially designated by attorney general holder to conduct a sensitive investigation. i wasn't technically a special counsel under that regulation but the bottom line is that it's my job to make sure all investigations are conducted independently and whether it's a law or statute or some other mechanism, i'd ensure that every investigation is conducted independently. >> my time is up. i have two more points on that question, but i'll do that in the second round. senator feinstein? >> thanks very much, mr. chairman. mr. rosenstein, earlier this year, the entire united states
intelligence community made public its assessment that vladimir putin ordered a russian influence campaign disciped to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. the goal was to undermine public faith in the united states democratic process and to harm the campaign of secretary clinton in favor of president trump. i am very concerned. i've been six years the chairman of the intelligence committee and on it for 16 years so i follow this closely, have had the gang of eight briefings and feel very certain the reports of the intelligence community are, in fact, correct. have you read either the final classified or unclassified versions of the intelligence community's assessment regarding the russian government's interference with the 2016 presidential campaign? >> senator, certainly familiar with the issue from media
accounts. i, obviously, have not read any classified report concerning it because it's not within my official responsibility as u.s. attorney for maryland. i don't believe i've read the unclassified report. i've read summaries in the media. >> well, i'm going to ask that you do that before your nomination comes up if it does on the floor, if you will. will you read those reports? >> i think, senator, if i were to become deputy attorney general it would be essential for me to read those reports. probably the classified as well, if there is such a report. i don't think i'm authorized to do that prior -- >> you're number two now. or will be number two. >> i think it's very important, senator. that's a really valuable point and i appreciate your raising it. the media reports have created some confusion about that. i am the u.s. attorney for the district of maryland. i have no role in managing the department. so -- >> well, i understand that. it is my fault. i misspoke. so thank you.
let me go on to the question of special counsel. i mentioned in my opening remarks that when valerie plame's identity was revealed, attorney general ashcroft recused himself and then deputy attorney general comey promptly assigned patrick fitzgerald to be a special prosecutor with plenary authority to investigate and prosecute that case. now given the recusal by the attorney general and the intense political interest in this matter and the strong potential that the investigation will, in fact, involve individuals associated with the white house, it would seem that this situation also rises to the level of extraordinary circumstances that warrant a special counsel under the regulations. given all of this and the heightened level of distrust on all sides, do you support the appointment of an independent
special counsel to look into these matters? >> senator, my understanding of this, and it's based solely on media accounts at this point. at least wop of your colleagues called for a special counsel for something related to this matter while attorney general lynch was in office in early january and she rejected the request. baseod the media requests she said exactly what i said. she had confidence in the career professionals at the department. she had an additional piece of evidence. she knew the facts and i don't and she rejected that. dana buente was appointed by president obama. if there were a need for a special counsel, he has full authority to appoint one. i don't know at this point if attorney general lynch or acting deputy attorney general boente are right or wrong but i wouldn't be in a position to overrule them without having access to the facts that are the basis for their decisions. >> so i'm trying to figure out what your bottom line is.
i interpret that as a no. is that fair? >> the answer is, i'm simply not in position to answer the question because i don't know the information that they know. the folks who are in the position to make that decision and what i am in that position, i don't presume that the attorney general lynch and acting deputy attorney general boente are correct. i have a lot of respect for them. if i determine they're mistaken, then i would overrule them. >> thank you. i understand. ms. brand, if i may, while at the national chamber litigation center, you led regulatory litigation directed toward regulations to cover workers rights and the environment. the president has now issued two executive orders aimed squarely at eliminating regulations. the first requires that two -- regulations be identified for elimination for every new regulation. the second requires regulatory
task forces in each agency to make recommendations on repealing, replacing and modifying existing regulations. as you may know, not all of the rules required by dodd/frank have been finalized or fully implemented, despite the fact that it's been nearly seven years since it became law. by one measurement, over 100 rules still remain to be finalized. nearly one-third of all the rules required by dodd/frank. it is concerning to me that these rules may not be proposed or finalized at all under the regulatory position of this administration. simply because there aren't hundreds of others found to offset. what is the legal justification for arbitrarily failing to issue a regulation called for under law simply because there aren't two regulations on the books to
eliminate? >> thank you, senator feinstein. i am aware of those executive orders generally. i haven't studied them as i'm not yet in the department. with respect to the executive order, ordering a review of regulations on the books, my recollection is that president obama issued something quite similar during his term in office. and i haven't studied what the results of that study were. in terms of the other executive order, i haven't studied it, but i think that any regulatory action taken by any agency of the government has to comply with the requirements of the administrative procedure act which require reason decision making. that statute remains in place. as to the interplay between the apa and the executive order, those decisions would fall in the first instance to the regulatory agencies themselves, but i would have to study it further. >> thank you very