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tv   CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto  CNN  April 9, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PDT

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one of our colleagues, representative nunes, has referred eight persons to the fbi for investigation concerning alleged misconduct during the russia investigation, including the leak of highly classified material and alleged conspiracies to lie to congress and the fisa court in order to spy on then-candidate trump and other persons. i would hope the department of justice will be giving these referrals appropriate and prompt consideration. my question is, now that president trump has been exonerated of russia collusion, is the justice department investigating how it came to be that your agency used a salacious and unverified dossier as a predicate for a fisa order on a u.s. citizen? >> the office of the inspector general has a pending investigation of the fisa
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process in the russian investigation. and i expect that that will be complete in probably may or june, i am told. so hopefully we'll have some answers from inspector general horowits on the issue of the fisa warrants. >> go ahead. >> more generally, i am reviewing the conduct of the investigation. and trying to get my arms around all of the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016. >> are you investigating who leaked the existence of the fisa order against carter page? >> who what? >> are you investigating who leaked the existence of a fisa order against carter page? >> i haven't seen the referrals yet from congressman nunes, but obviously, if there's a predicate for an investigation, it will be conducted. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman.
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>> attorney general barr, reports suggest that special counsel mueller's report is anywhere between 300 and 400 pages long. i would be interested in knowing how many discussions did you have with the deputy attorney general and other staff between receiving the report and releasing the memo. was there discussion or debate about the evidence and conclusions? how many staffers assisted you in digesting so many pages of complex information in such a short period of time? let me tell you what i'm getting at that i find quite extraordinary. you received a very serious detailed report, hundreds of pages of high-level information, weighed the factors and conclusions at length.
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outlined, prepared, edited, and released your memo in less than 48 hours. to me, to do this it seems your mind must have been already made up. how did you do it? >> the thinking of the special counsel was not a mystery to the people at the department of justice prior to his submission of the report. he had been interacting, he and his people, had been interacting with the deputy attorney general and lawyers supporting the deputy attorney general in his supervision of the special counsel. and in that context, there had been discussions. so there were some inkling as to some of the thinking of the special counsel. furthermore, on march 5th, i believe, the deputy and i met with special counsel mueller and his team and had a preliminary
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discussion about the report. so we had an inkling as to what was coming our direction. and so even more thinking within the department was done about that over that time. that was a matter of weeks. and then when the report came, and it came approximately midday on friday, the deputy attorney general and i and our staffs worked closely for the balance of that day, saturday, and sunday. >> i didn't want to interrupt you. did the white house see the report before you released your summarizing letter? has the white house seen it since then? have they been briefed on the contents beyond what was in your summarizing letter to the
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judiciary committee? >> i have said what i'm going to say about the report today. i have issued three letters about it. and i was willing to discuss the historic information of how the report came to me and my decision on sunday. but i have already laid out the process that is going forward to release these reports hopefully within a week. and i'm not going to say anything more about it until the report is out and everyone has a chance to look at it. >> i think there is some relevant questions that i do hope you could answer today, sir. on the question of obstruction of justice, your memo stated, quote, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. yet president trump has publicly stated that this report is a
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complete and total exoneration. can you tell us who is factually accurate and will the released report include details on the obstruction issue and why as you noted the president is not exonerated or will that information be redacted? >> i have already explained the information that's going to be redacted from the report. the four categories. that is what's going to govern the redactions. and in fact, the special counsel and his staff are helping us select the information in the report that falls into those four categories. but again, the report, i'll be in a position as i said within a week to release the report. people can then read the report. i have already promised the judiciary committees that i would appear as soon as they're
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able to schedule a hearing after the report is released. so i'm not going to discuss it any further until after the report is out. >> could you just explain for us, i understand that you were going to appear before the judiciary committee. but in that short period of time, it is very puzzling to me that the 400 pages could have been reviewed and the president states that this report is a complete and total exoneration. who's factually accurate? >> as i say, it's hard to have that discussion without the contents of the report, isn't it? that's why i'm suggesting that we wait until the report is out, and i'm glad to talk to people about it after then, and i'm already scheduled to testify about that. >> i appreciate that. in closing, i just hope that we as members of congress are going to have the complete report and have discussions with you as to the accuracy of some of the
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statements. thank you for appearing before us today. and will we, in closing, will we have the complete report or are you going to be selective as to what you give members of congress? >> you mean the unredacted report? >> mm-hmm. >> no, the first pass at this is going to produce a report that makes these redactions based on these four categories. that's something that i am hoping will be available to the public, as i said, i'm glad to talk to chairman nadler and chairman graham as to whether they feel they need more information and see if there's a way we can accommodate that. >> well, i do hope you can accommodate members of congress who feel it's our responsibility to see the complete report, and i look forward to continuing this discussion. thank you again for appearing. >> thank you. >> thank you. mrs. robey.
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>> attorney general barr and assistant attorney general, thank you for appearing before this committee today to discuss the president's fy '20 budget request. i would like to focus on the department's efforts as it relates to sex and human trafficking. in the fiscal year 2018, the justice department initiated a total of 230 -- >> chris, what do you want to do? >> all right, so the attorney general bill barr just made a lot of news there in the past ten minutes or so, saying that the redacted mueller report will be released to the public, so you would assume congress and the public, within a week's time. also a really critical question that he did not answer that was asked by the democratic chairwoman of the appropriations committee when she asked did the white house see the report before you released your summarizing letter, has the white house seen it since then? he said i have said what i'm going to say on the report. >> i imagine he'll be pressed on
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that. other headlines from this. he was asked if the special counsel robert mueller played a part in the summary, that four-page summary that attorney general barr put out. he said not only did mueller not play a role in the report, but they asked him to review it and he declined. which is interesting. his fingerprints not on that interpretation of it. but he also said, because he was pressed on how quickly he came up with that summary. he said in his words the thinking of the special counsel was not a mystery to the department of justice prior to the summary. in other words, they had been in touch about mueller's findings. he was communicating them back and forth, so they kind of knew the direction he was going in. >> all really interesting as well as color coding of redactions and reasons why. >> like a high school book report. >> maybe a little more complex than that. our experts are back with us. elie honig, with your attorney lens on, what struck you the most? >> two things jumped out at me, two dodges. any time you see a dodge, we recognize it. the first question, did you run this letter by the white house before you sent it out?
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he said i said what i'm going to say. that's not an answer. then he tap danced for 30 seconds. i would like to see the members of congress go back to that and drill down it, ask specific questions. yes or no, attorney general barr, did you send this to the white house first? make it harder for him to tap dance. similarly, representative lowey was getting at this, but essentially, there's a good question of the president has claimed he was completely and totally exonerated by the mueller report. you have seen the mueller report. is that true? one question at a time. make it harder to tap dance. >> you need that answer. jennifer rodgers, the other thing, and again, there's politics involved here. different questions from republicans and democrats. you heard from the republican lawmaker, the ranking republican repeat this claim from trump world, hey, when are you going to investigate the investigators, in effect. what about the spying on candidate donald trump? what about the fisa warrant on carter page? that's clearly going to be part of the republican pushback, not only today, but i imagine when the full redacted report is out. i yeah, this is a classic
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diversion tactic. the report is coming out. no question the report is going to contain information damaging to the president, so what are they going to do? one thing is to try to push, everyone's attention in the different direction, investigate the investigators. we saw that as soon as barr issue his summary. that's going to continue, but hopefully if these redactions are not too extensive, and it was interesting he won't separate out what's going to the public versus what's going to congress. those really should be separate and congress should get a lot more. >> that made me think a lot of members of congress in both parties might be mad that they're going to face, john avlon, many more redactions. clearly, nadler, the democrats don't think they should have any redactions. i assume many republicans as well, they would like to see it at least internally. >> what barr basically indicated is congress is going to get what the public gets. it's going to be a redacted document. he makes a good case about the things that should be redacted
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to not compromise sources and ongoing investigations. but that's going to really frustrate folks who hope that in privileged positions that they would be able to see a less redacted report. that does not seem to be his intention at all. >> right. evan perez, you have been covering this just for a little bit. a report out within a week. i have been hearing in washington that bill barr is feeling some pressure following the summary to be more forthcoming. to minimize redactions so that he doesn't come under further criticism that again he's running defense for the president there. do you have a sense, again, we don't know, but do you have a sense of how far those black lines are going to go when we do see the redacted report? >> well, you know, jim, i think that's one of the big mysteries going on behind the scenes at the justice department. i can tell you one thing. bill barr felt that pressure even before he came back to the justice department to take the reins as attorney general. we know that rod rosenstein from his own public comments had been
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suggesting that there should be less information in this whatever is released. he believes there's a lot of this information should never be let out. and so there's a lot of back and forth inside the department. one of the most interesting things at the beginning there, the way you guys highlighted the fact that he said that mueller was offered the chance to review the two letters. it appears he did not. why i find it interesting is bill barr so far politically has been trying to play a game of wrapping his hands around robert mueller, around rod rosenstein, sort of locking arms, saying they have a unified front. and there, we're beginning to see perhaps there might be a little daylight. and we know, obviously, from our own reporting and from reporting from "the new york times," that there is some dissatisfaction among members of the mueller team about how this report so far has been characterized. it will be interesting to see
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whether members of congress can shine a little more daylight into that aspect of what's going on behind the scenes. >> that's an interesting point. mueller offered the chance, basically said i don't want my fingerprints on this. >> you wonder whoever the members of mueller's team were who spoke to "the new york times" and "the washington post," to say that we don't agree with what's in this summary, how do they feel now knowing that mueller didn't look at it. evan, did it strike you the way that the attorney general explained how quickly he could write that summary in 48 hours, because it was not news to them, the thinking of mueller? meaning inside the department of justice with rosenstein, et cetera, they had been discussing this for a matter of weeks. surprising? >> yeah, that's the reporting we also had from talking to folks behind the scenes. i think it's exactly -- >> i'm so sorry. hold that thought. let's get back to the question
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and answer session of bill barr. >> senator collins put it best when she wrote to you last week, her letter was dated april 1st. did you get her letter? >> yes. >> okay. then you saw that she wrote, your decision to pursue this course of action in the federal courts puts at risk not only critical consumer protections such as those protecting individuals suffering from pre-existing conditions but also other important provisions of that law such as the medicaid expansion. independent coverage for young adults to age 26, coverage for preventative services and the regulatory pathway for fda approval of biosimilar drugs. unquote. the department of justice's refusal to defend our law, the patient protection and affordable care act, is distressing because of the harm that it poses to the physical
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and financial wellbeing of millions of americans and also because doj's refusal appears to be driven by political considerations rather than health care policy discussions or sound legal arguments. attorney general barr, you're not a health care policy expert, but your department is taking the lead on attempting a massive overhaul of our american health care system, so i want to make sure we agree on a few of the top line facts. let's go through a couple quick yes or no questions at the outset. number one, have you conducted or viewed an analysis to evaluate the effects of doj's litigation position to overturn the aca? the effects on consumer costs and coverage? have you done that analysis or reviewed one? >> well, when we're faced with a legal question, we try to base our answer on the law. >> on the law. so the answer is no.
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and here's the thing. i can't imagine that you would take that kind of a dramatic, drastic action without even trying to evaluate the consequences for the american consumers, the people using the health care, the people for whom these premiums are paid. let's start the process -- >> you mean in the event that -- >> if you're successful in this lawsuit that you're supporting and the entire patient protection and affordable care act is struck down, millions of americans who currently receive health insurance coverage under the law are at risk of losing that coverage. am i correct in that? >> i think the president has made clear that he favors not only pre-existing conditions but would like action on a broad health plan. so he is proposing a substitute for obamacare. >> the one that's going to come after the next election, you mean? >> the one that will come down if and when -- >> let me be the one to inform you, should the law be struck
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down, millions of people who get their coverage through the aca marketplace, would lose their coverage, and tens of millions more would see their premiums skyrocket. in addition, if you're successful, 12 million people nationally and 750,000 people in my home state of pennsylvania who have coverage under the medicaid expansion would also likely lose their coverage. am i correct in that, sir? >> do you think it's likely we're going to prevail? >> if you prevail -- well, you're devoting scarce resources of your department toward that effort, are you not, attorney general? >> we're in litigation. we have to take a position. >> the answer is yes. >> we take position in litigation. >> if you succeed, that many people will lose their coverage nationally from medicaid and 750,000 from pennsylvania alone. right? >> if you're saying it, if you think it's such an outrageous
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position, you have nothing to worry about. let the courts do their job. >> well, my time is out. we'll come back to this. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and mr. attorney general, thank you for being here today. for a couple years at the end of the obama administration, violent crime in america started to tick up. that means more robberies, more murders, and more assault. i'm encouraged to see that the fbi -- >> with who? >> there was just a really key moment there that really stopped all of us here on set. that was when the democratic congressman matt cartwright was questioning bill barr about the administration's case, siding with that texas judge to overturn the entire affordable care act. >> the administration's efforts to block aca, obamacare, in court. and attorney general, who is basically america's top lawyer, said they're going to lose. john avlon.
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>> he seems to insiniate thought. they asked did you look at the impact on americans and health care if the case is won. he's been pushing barr. barr, we'll play the clip in a second. you're reading a little into his body language, but he seemed to say do you think it's likely we'll prevail? our reading, watching it closely in real time was, is he insinuating this was a political decision he was pushed into by the president and doesn't think it's a case that's likely to win. >> important background. reporting from politico just a few weeks ago, he and secretary azar were the two in the cabinet who were pushing back internally saying to the team, don't do this, don't do this. >> yes, because the doj's reversing its policy to date on this by backing this case, which is a play to the base case. but contradicts the positions they have taken, let alone the implications for the people. >> and timing is key here because that decision was made after the mueller summary came out when the president was feeling empowered. he was on top of his game. i'm going to take another crack
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at obamacare. the lawyers present, i think we have a couple. you guys have degreed on this. is he right that this case doesn't -- has a low shot of succeeding? >> yeah, that was my assessment before. i thought that the department of justice position before was the right position. they supported it well in the briefs they filed which is one of the reasons it's hard to turn around and argue contrary to the citations you made before. i think it was a political position. bill barr tried to spin it as i'm new, i looked at some things, but it may be the president changing his mind. >> guys in the control room, let us know when we have it so the american people can watch and judge for themselves. >> i agree with jennifer, that's how it should come out on the law, but let's play devil's advocate. the district court, the trial level court and the federal courts has said obamacare should be struck down entirely. that's on hold. they're now in the circuit court of appeals in the fifth circuit which is one of the most conservative districts.
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they may well take the same position. the entire aca needs to fall. if that happens, it goes to the supreme court. we now have justice gorsuch, justice kavanaugh. last time in 2012, justice roberts voted to uphold the aca, but the basis he did that, the individual mandate, is now gone. there's a realistic chance that the aca gets struck down. >> because we don't know, we're watching the hearing. news is coming across the transom every few minutes, there was another moment that goes to a question that attracted your attention earlier, john. i believe we have the tape for this, if not, tell me in the control room. but the question about did the white house see the report before the summary came out. do we have that sound? if not, i'll read it. have a listen. >> did the white house see the report before you released your summarizing letter? has the white house seen it since then? have they been briefed on the contents beyond what was in your summarizing letter to the
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judiciary committee? >> i have said what i'm going to say about the report today. i have issued three letters about it. and i'm -- >> there was an easy answer to the question, yes or no. he didn't answer the question. >> so it's notable he decided to punt and not answer it. previously, before the summary was released from barr, people had said pretty categorically that the white house had not seen the full report. so the open question revealed by his nonanswer to that is whether the white house has seen the report since. i think that's significant. >> evan perez is also with us. i would love for you to weigh in on both of these things. let's start with the nonanswer on whether the white house saw the report, the mueller report, before the summary was finished and distributed by bill barr. >> well, we have heard from white house officials that they did not see it. the president's lawyers have also said the same thing. it may well be that bill barr is trying to keep within the lines.
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he's trying to make sure he doesn't go too far in answering questions that he says. he's trying not to answer today because he wants people to read the report. but on the health care, on the obamacare decision, i can tell you a little bit of what's been going on behind the scenes at the justice department. for instance, the decision to no longer, to essentially side with the lower court and ruling that obamacare is unconstitutional has caused a huge ripple effect inside the justice department, guys. i can tell you there was a trial going on in miami where someone is accused of a massive, one of the biggest health care frauds in the country, and in the middle of that, the justice department decides to change its view of obamacare and they essentially had to stop that and deal with the ripple effects of that in that trial. i think you're going to see that around the country. there are going to be trials and cases that are based on parts of the obamacare law that has to do with health care fraud, and the justice department is going to have to issue new decisions on
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how to defend those cases. so i think that -- i think one of the questions is whether bill barr did any analysis before they changed their position. and i can tell you behind the scenes that that scramble happened after the white house essentially ordered the justice department to change its position. >> it's interesting. there's a lot going on in this hearing as we go through, and also on issues. listen, the issue of the day is his handling of the mueller report. also, he's now been charged with a new administration effort to strike down what is probably going to be the key voting issue in the te2020 cycle, health car. >> the president says he wants to make it that. let's move back to the mueller report just for a moment here, and i'm interested, elie, on what you thought about the way bill barr laid out how they will handle the redactions. color coded. we kind of joke about it, but in all seriousness, he's going to tell us why things were redacted. >> it's a good thing he's going
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to specify the four areas of redaction. what i want to see somebody ask him is about the grand jury topic, because we know mueller served 2,800 subpoenas. i want someone to ask him, will you be redacted grand jury material and will you even try, will you even go to the courts and ask for permission to disclose grand jury material? >> grace ming from new york asking questions of the attorney general now. >> i'll be testifying and i'll be glad to discuss all aspects of the process and also explain the decisions i have made. >> did you or anyone on your team consult with anyone in the white house in the crafting of that letter? >> are you talking about the march 24th letter? >> yes. >> the answer to that is no, but as i say, i'm not going to discuss this further until after the report is out. >> okay, so they did not have to approve for you to release the letter, the white house? >> no.
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>> thank you. i do want to ask my second question, and if you could answer yes or no in the interest of time, running out of time. does the doj under the trump administration consider enforcement of the voting rights act a priority? chief roberts himself has stated that voting discrimination still exists. no one doubts that. >> yes, we do. we consider voting rights a priority. >> has the doj, the civil rights division, brought any cases under the trump administration to enforce section 2 of the vra? >> no. but i would point out that during the first four years of the obama administration, one case was brought. >> well, according to your website, the department of justice under obama, both president bushes and president
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clinton, had brought at least over 30 cases and enforcement of section 2 of the voting rights act. secretary ross credits the department of justice's need to enforce section 2 of the voting rights act for the reason why a citizenship question is needed on the census. the doj has been enforcing the voting rights act for over 50 years without the need for a citizenship question. is there -- what are your thoughts on that? >> my thoughts are that it's being litigated right now and i think oral arguments on april 23rd so i'm not going to discuss it. >> okay. i wanted to also ask about zero tolerance policy. do you agree with your predecessor's zero tolerance policy memorandum issued last year, april 2018? >> well, there's a lot of misunderstanding about the zero tolerance policy.
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the zero tolerance policy is that the department would prosecute cases that are referred to the department. and the thing that caused family separation was the referral of cases to the department that involved families with children. the administration, the president has put out an executive order, i believe, saying that we're not -- that dhs is not going to follow that policy. and as far as i know, we're not getting referrals of that type. but the general proposition that the department will prosecute cases that are referred to it stands. >> according to an article in "the new york times" yesterday, president trump has been pushing to restart this practice of separating parents from their children. the term binary choice policy has certainly been getting traction. is that something that you
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support some. >> i haven't heard that. >> you haven't heard that? >> no. >> we can submit articles to your office. are you aware of research showing that separation from initial stages to ongoing and longterm is devastating and detrimental to children's health and development? >> i'm sorry, can you repeat that? >> do -- are you aware of any research that shows separation of families and children are detrimental to their health? >> i haven't reviewed that research, but as i said, the president has already put out an order stopping the separation of families. >> so would you enforce and put forth policies of new discussions that have been happening about president trump wanting to restart this separation practice? >> all i can say, i personally sitting here am not familiar with those discussions. >> would you support continuation of separation of
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families? >> i support the president's policy, which is we're not going to separate families. >> so you support that we will not separate families anymore. thank you. i yield back. >> mr. graves. >> thank you, mr. chairman. attorney general, thanks for being with us. i'll just remind the committee. we heard a lot about the mueller report today. 22 months of investigation, 2800 subpoenas, $25 million from taxpayers. 500 witness interviews, 19 lawyers, 40 fbi agents, and who bows how many warrants. and the conclusions were simple. no collusion, no obstruction. i remember when the first letter was released and there were a lot of complaints then, attorney general, that you weren't releasing the summary soon enough. here today, i hear it was too hasty, too quick. so now you've had time to review, your team had time to review. you indicated maybe in the next week we'll get the report released.
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so for the committee, is there anything new you have seen since the review of the entirety of the report that would change your conclusions? >> no, congressman. as i have explained my march 24th letter was meant to state the bottom line conclusions of the report. not summarize the report. and i tried to use as much of the special counsel's own language as i could, but they were just stating the bottom line conclusions and there's nothing to suggest to me that those weren't -- >> no collusion, no obstruction. it's over, it's done. it's over. >> the letter speaks for itself. >> i thought it did, too. i'll shift in a second because members of congress have said they intend to ignore the public redactions. and leak the full report. would that give you pause if that were to occur? >> someone is going to leak the full report?
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>> that's what we -- that's what some members of congress have been saying. >> that would be unfortunate because there's grand jury information in there that under the law has to be redacted. >> we have heard members of this committee today say the american people deserve to see the full report. and so even members of this committee have indicated that. the chairman of the judiciary committee, chairman nadler, certainly some of it would not leak publicly, that he has discretion. and the committee has a very good record of protecting information which it decides to protect. so general barr, under federal law, does a member of congress have the power to arbitrarily decide what portions of the special counsel's report they might release, redacted or not? >> not if it violates the law, and we believe 6-e does apply to members of congress. you know, it's interesting
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because this whole mechanism for the special counsel, as i said, was established during the clinton administration, in the wake of ken starr's report. and that's why the current rule says that the report should be kept confidential. because there was a lot of reaction against the publication of ken starr's report. and many of the people who are right now calling for the release of this report were basically castigating ken starr and others for releasing the starr report. i have already said that i think the situation here requires me to exercise my discretion to get as much information out as i can, and i think these categories, i think most fair-minded people would agree are things that have to be redacted. >> right. and i guess just thinking about the chairman of the judiciary. if he were to release or any
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member of congress were to release the full report or redacted portions of the report, are they in compliance with the law or violation of the law? >> i don't want to speculate about all the circumstances that would be involved. i don't intend at this stage to send the full unredacted report to the committee. so i'm not sure where he would get it. >> then just -- >> if he got it directly from the counsel, that would be unfortunate. i doubt that would happen. >> quick question about subpoena. i'm not on the judiciary committee. my understanding is they issued a subpoena to you to release the full report. would that put you in violation of federal law? if you were to comply. >> in the current situation, i don't think i have the latitude to release 6-e material. as to the other categories, as i said, i'm willing to discuss those with the judiciary committees. i want to try to accommodate and satisfy their interests. but at the same time, uphold the
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law, and there's been a recent case decided in the district of columbia in the last week on this. the 6-e material is not releasable. >> thank you for your fashion in which you have handled this. i think you have been upright. you have been an example of integrity. and i know that you are going to abide by the law, and my hope is all members of congress would follow like kind. thank you, attorney general, for your good work. >> mr. crist. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, attorney general barr, for being with us today. on the question of obstruction of justice, you stated in your march 24th letter that the mueller report does not exonerate the president. can you elaborate on what is meant by does not exonerate the president? >> i think that's the language from the report. >> right. i understand that. >> that's a statement made by the special counsel.
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>> right. >> i reported as one of his bottom line conclusions. i'm not in a position to discuss that further until the report is all out. and then what is meant by exonerate is really a question i can't answer. what he meant by that. >> as you sit here today, you can't opine after having read the report yourself, why it reaches that conclusion that it does not exonerate the president? >> that's right. >> reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your march 24th letter that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report's findings. do you know what they're referencing with that? >> no, i don't.
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i think -- i suspect they probably wanted more put out. but in my view, i was not interested in putting out summaries or trying to summarize because i think any summary, regardless of who prepares it, not only runs the risk of, you know, being underinclusive or overinclusive, but also would trigger a lot of discussion and analysis that really should await everything coming out at once. i was not interested in a summary of the report, and in fact, at the time i put out my march 24th letter, there was nothing from the special counsel that wasn't marked as potentially containing 6-e material, and i had no material that had been sanitized of 6-e material. so i felt that i should state
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the bottom line conclusions, and i tried to use special counsel mueller's own language in doing that. >> i'm curious. did you feel that there was an obligation upon you and your office to prepare this four-letter overview, if you will, rather than summary, rather than having the special counsel's team do it themselves? why did that happen, i guess is what i'm trying to find out? >> it happened because the special counsel was providing the report to the attorney general. and i was making the decision as to whether to make it public or any part of it public. and in my judgment, it was important for people to know the bottom line conclusions of the report while we worked on necessary redactions to make the
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whole thing available. unfortunately, you know, that's a matter of weeks. i don't think that the public would have tolerated and congress would not have tolerated not knowing the bottom line. as you know from your own experience, from a prosecutor's standpoint, the bottom line is binary, which is charges or no charges. >> indeed. did you contemplate having the special counsel's office help you with the preparation of your march 24th letter? or did you? >> we offered to have bob review it before putting it out, and he declined. >> i didn't ask you about reviewing. i asked if you thought about having them help prepare the march 24th letter? i mean, they did the report, after all. >> no, i didn't think about it. >> why not? >> because it was my letter.
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>> you said that the special counsel and his team were not shown or did not review the march 24th letter, right? you offered to let him review it. >> yes. >> did you offer to anyone else to let other people review it, besides the special counsel? >> not that i recall. i mean, outside the department? >> anywhere. yes, outside the department. let's start there. >> well, the answer i'm pretty sure is no, but -- >> you're not sure? >> i am sure. >> okay. i think i'll yield. i only have 15 seconds. thank you, general.
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>> thank you, mr. attorney general. i would love to talk to you about your 2020 budget, but what is far more critical at present and has far more reaching consequences to the credibility of our government and the prompt and full disclosure of the mueller report. the current nondisclosure of the report is only worsened a pervasive mistrust of government generally and of mr. mueller's investigation and your department's response to it specifically. this really started very early on in the investigation with excessive secrecy about exactly what we were taking a look at here is the supplemental memo from the deputy acting attorney general and this is what drives the public crazy, when they see smg like this. this is what we have to try to avoid when we get into this. in your march 24th 3 1/2-page summary of the report, you stated you are mindful of the public interest in this matter and you intend to release,
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quote, as much of the report as you can consistent with applicable law, regulations and department policies. you know, of course, on march 14th, the house resolved unanimo unanimously, 420-0, that the full report be released publicly except where prohibited by law and be released to congress unconditionally. do you appreciate the importance of a full disclosure of this report, both personally and on behalf of your department? >> i appreciate the importance of releasing as much of the information in the report as i can consistent with the law. >> okay. let's get into that then. what specific laws, regulations, and department policies, as you cited in your letter, do you claim require or justify you to withhold portions of the report. you talked about 6-e. what else? >> there are four categories of information that are being redacted. >> i understand that, sir. one of those -- >> you asked what else.
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the other, we have asked the intelligence community to identify any information that could reveal intelligence sources and methods. >> what authority do you have to state that you have discretion to withhold -- i get the grand jury side. that's 6-e, and you know as well as i do that 6-e also encompasses an intelligence committee exception. so i assume you're going to say that falls under that category. that there can be some release or withholding of intelligence specific information under the 6-e category. what about the other two categories? what justifies you in claiming the discorrectikrekdisgression t information? >> are you talking about the intelligence? >> i'm talking about the other two categories. i'm talking about ongoing prosecutions, but i'm particularly focused on privacy and reputational interest. because it seems to me that an exception that you can just drive a truck through.
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so i mean, you're the one that says you have the discretion to do that, and i'm asking you, where does your discretion lie? >> regulation. because the regulation that sets up the special counsel and also provides for his report to the attorney general and also what the attorney general can release specifies that it has to be consistent with the department's long-standing policies. and the department's long-standing policy and practice is that if we're not going to charge someone, we don't go out and discuss the bad or derogatory information about them. that's what got everyone outraged at what fbi director comey did in the case of hillary clinton. >> okay, so the regulation back to long standing policy is what justifies that exception, right, in your view? >> the regulation that says any release has to be consistent with that. >> okay.
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good. let's go to 6-e here for a second. before i get to 6-e, are you maintaining or will you maintain any right to withhold any of the information in that report based on a so-called claim of executive privilege? >> am i what? >> are you going to claim that you have a right to withhold any of that report based on a so-called claim of executive privilege? >> any claim of executive privilege would have to be asserted by the president. >> and -- >> as i said in my letter, which sort of speaks for itself, he has said that he's leaving the decisions up to me. >> okay. are you going to claim executive privilege to keep any of that report back? >> as i said, there's no plan. i have no plan to do that. >> okay. do you believe that executive privilege applies to any broader range of communications and specific direct communications from the president? >> you know, i would have to
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review the latest opinions from olc about the precise scope of it, but it's not relevant to me right now. >> as far as you know, does it apply to any communications by the president before he was president? >> as i say, i'm not sure what learning is in the department of justice on that. >> you're aware that some of -- there are exceptions under 6-e under which you can in fact disclose grand jury material. some of those are in your d discretion but some are subject to a ruling of the court, right? >> what are they? >> 6-e, there's five exceptions in 6-e that allow you to go to court to ask the court for permission to release those. it's up to the court todecide whether to release. are you intending to go to court to ask for guidance and or direction and or an order where
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you are uncertain whether you can in fact release or should in fact release materials? >> the chairman of the judiciary committee is free to go to court if he feels one of the exceptions is applicable. >> the right is yours to ask. >> why do you say the right is mine? >> because you're the exercising authority under 6-e. >> i think if the chairman believes he's entitled to receive it, he can move the court forward. >> well, i'll come back to this. it's your right to ask, so i'm asking what is your intention? >> my intention is not to ask for it. at this stage. i mean, if the chairman has a good explanation of why 6-e does not apply and his need for the information, i'm willing to listen to that. as i say, my first agenda item here is to get the public report out, what can be gotten out publicly. that's going to be within a week.
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>> my time is up. i'll come back. >> i'll discuss these issues in greater detail after that occurs. >> ms. lawrence. >> thank you, mr. chair. attorney general, according to recent reporting, the trump administration is pursuing far fewer civil rights cases, including hate crimes, police bias, and disability right cases than the obama or bush administrations. the doj civil rights department has started 60% fewer cases against potential violations during the first two years of the trump administration. then during the president obama administration, and 50% fewer than under the george bush administration. can you please provide me why
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that is happening and what are you planning to do to address that? >> i would have to see those figures and how they're broking down. i haven't seen those figures before. the areas that i'm familiar with such as hate crimes, it's simply not true. we have an enviable record of prosecuting hate crimes, at the same or higher rate than previous administrations, as far as i'm aware. i would have to see what else you're talking about. >> are you familiar with the data of what the percentage, have they increased under the trump administration? there are indications they have. >> they have increased? >> yes. >> whether hate crimes versus the prosecution of hate crimes. >> hate crimes. have they increased under this administration? >> i haven't seen any data going from 2017 -- >> is it a priority? you haven't looked at the data, you're not aware of it. >> as i said in my confirmation
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hearings, i'm very concerned about hate crimes and intend to vigorously pursue them. the data i have seen have shown an increase going back to 2013. so i do agree with you that they have been increasing. but i have seen no data to say that it's different under the trump administration. >> attorney general, i want you to, we use the word stay woke sometimes in community activism where you are in tune with what's happening on the ground. i appreciate your tenure or your length of time you have been attorney general, but i can tell you that this is something that's very important, and i expect for you to be informed and aware of what's happening in this area. i wanted to follow up on a question that my colleague cartwright asked. i really need to ask this question. i watched with deliberate intent of your answers when who do you report to? the president of the united
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states or to the people of america. you during your confirmation without duress said you report to the people, but you just said when it came to the aca ruling that you gave, that the president was very clear that he opposed it, and so let it work out in legislation. i want you to -- i want -- let me finish my question because that's what i heard. maybe you need to clarify it. i want you to explain to me, do you understand your role, when you issue a statement abolishing affordable care act, that you as the attorney general of the people of the united states have a responsibility to understand and support that decision, not based on the policy of a president of the united states? it was clearly laid out, the
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impact it will have. and i want you to respond to that, because that's what i heard, sir. >> well, if you did listen to my confirmation. >> i did, sir. >> i distinguished between three different roles the attorney general plays. one is in enforcement. another is in policy role. and the third is in providing legal advice. what i said then is that the attorney general has the responsibility to provide straight from the shoulder legal advice as to what the attorney general thinks is the right view of the law. >> so in this case of aca, you felt it was the right decision under the law to issue that you support abolishing the affordable care act? that's your legal opinion? >> you didn't let me finish, which is that the first obligation is to provide your best view of the law. if the president or your
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executive branch agencies that you're representing and are stakeholders in the issue disagree with that advice, and want to pursue a different position, then the attorney general litigating on behalf of the united states should take that position if it's reasonable and a defensive legal position, even if it's not the position that the attorney general would take, if the attorney general was a judge. that's the position i stated at my confirmation hearing. also, i did not -- >> so we can be clear. what you're saying is if you disagree with the president, if your legal experience and your expertise doesn't agree, and your president says something different, you're obligated to agree and enforce what the president says. is that what you're telling me as the attorney general of the united states of america? is that your statement? >> it's the same as when we
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represent and are defending the law of congress. sometimes we don't think the law is an original matter actually -- >> sir, we pass laws. the president of the united states do not pass laws. >> right, but i'm saying i feel that if there's a reasonable and defensible argument that could be made to defend a statute, we frequently do that. >> sir, i'm very concerned at this point. i'm over my time and i'll come back at my second one, but i'm very concerned with your statement. thank you. >> attorney general, in your testimony, you said violent crime has declined since 2016. but as we learned from the fbi, home-grown violent extremism has grown over the same time. what priority and resources have you included in the 2020 budget to counter such violent extremism? >> i don't think we break out,
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maybe you can help me, lee. i don't think we break out the budget targeting that particular category of offense. >> we do not have a separate category for violent extremism, but we do pursue all matters of violent crime together. and we have the $138 million and 135 new positions for our violent crime efforts. and the fbi, we're adding 47 new fbi agents to the fbi for a variety of new initiatives. and among them is the fbi's work on violent extremism. >> okay. it's important for this committee to know at a certain point how many folks will be assigned to this or how many dollars will be assigned to it because it is an issue that concerns all americans, i believe. and we need to deal with it in a
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proper way. >> yes, mr. chairman, but the people who are on the watch for this kind of thing, whether they be fbi agents or u.s. attorneys pursuing potential cases or the very same people that would also be looking at other forms of terrorism potentially, so it's hard to allocate exactly the dollars by that category. but obviously, it is a serious issue, and it's one that the fbi devotes a lot of effort to. >> as long as we know that the department, the agency is looking at it, is dealing with it, is taking it seriously, we can then work together on it. that's the easier part. >> mr. chairman, if i can add a bit more. we do have in the fbi's budget this year, the $16 million for the fbi's participation in the national vetting center with other federal entities, and that
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helps the fbi look closely at individuals who may be coming to the united states, so we have that money in the fbi. we also have $4 million in the office of justice programs on grants that go towards looking at extremism and domestic terrorism. >> a few weeks ago, the atf director told us that the department's fiscal year 2020 budget request would result in atf being forced to let go more than 300 staff due to increasing investigatory costs. as we seek to address rising gun violence in this nation, how can the department justify a proposal that would result in fewer resources dedicated to that goal? >> let me just say first that i'm a huge fan of atf. i think they're an outstanding age aents, and any money spent on the atf is well worth it.
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one of the common themes i hear from u.s. attorneys is how valuable the atf agents are and their technology is just outstanding in helping to deal with gun violence and violent crime. >> hello, every. i'm kate bolduan. thanks for joining me. as we have been watching, breaking news from capitol hill. attorney general bill barr has been facing lawmakers this morning, and also this is for the first time since robert mueller delivered his report to the attorney general and the first time since barr himself released the bottom-line conclusions of the special counsel's russia investigation. barr is revealing this morning some new details on what the public will and will not see and when they will see it, but he also very pointedly is side stepping some key questions, like has the white house seen the report, is president trump correct when he says it was complete exoneration? barr did not answer. a lot to get to. let's get to manu raju on l


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