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tv   U.S. Senate Debates Associate Attorney General Nomination  CSPAN  May 17, 2017 5:29pm-5:58pm EDT

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buying a car, money they could put toward building a solid future. by refusing to act and ignoring this debt crisis, republicans threaten to bury the hopes of an entire generation. it is time for congress to step up and fix this problem, and it is also time for the president to step up as well. president trump, you campaigned on the idea that the federal government should not be making a profit off the backs of hardworking students. so support this legislation. put your annual budget in this proposal. call on members of your own party to get on board, demand action to refinance student loan debt. and keep the promises you made to america's young people. thank you, mr. president. i yield.
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mr. rubio: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, i come to the floor today to speak about an emerging crisis in our hemisphere in the nation of venezuela. it has been covered extensively in the press. i wanted to come today with an update and a suggestion -- a request of the administration about a step we can take. i am very pleased that today our ambassador to the united nations, nikki hailey, scheduled a discussion at the u.n. security council with regards to venezuela. it was not an open press discussion, but again it showed extraordinary leadership. i want to thank her for the leadership and for doing so. this deserves attention. venezuela is a country that's blessed with natural resources. it was once latin america's richest country, but today the people of venezuela are literally starving. its financial system has collapsed. as s.u.v. seen from the -- you've seen from the press reports, massive protests in the street. once proud democracy is now in the hands of a dictator nicolas
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maduro that has plunged that nation into a crisis. they are using violence and bloodshed against citizens speaking out against the regime. what the people of venezuela are calling for is free and fair elections is called for under the constitution of that country. a return to representative democracy, the democracy they once had. and they're paying for it with these requests with their blood and even their lives. according to the most recent reports, dozens of people have been killed. that includes teenagers. "the washington post" reported yesterday the recent death of 18-year-old lewis alvarez killed by a bullet to the chest and a 17-year-old who died from a bullet to the head. i want to say that there were two reports today in the press of great interest, one from "the new york times"; one is from "the washington post." both documented the plight of members of the national guard who have been tasked with this
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job of suppressing the protests in the street, and the gist of the articles were this: that these people that are putting on these uniforms, they didn't sign up for this. they signed up for security. they signed up to protect the people of venezuela, not to oppress them. they too are suffering from poor food. there was one article that breakfast consists of a boiled carrot or potato and then they are sent to the streets for hours and then come back and maybe have a corn cake and if they're lucky, some butter. they too are suffering through this. here is the most enlightening part of it. a lot of their family members -- their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and boyfriends are on the other side of the protest line and they're being tasked to do this. i say to them remember what your oath was. to the members of the national guard in venezuela, remember that your job is to protect the people of venezuela, not to oppress them. beyond what we see there, the
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innocent people dying because of this dictatorship trampling the will of the people and destroying the democratic institutions, one of the preserving things maduro has done to become a dictator is he has undercut and tried to wipe out the authority of their national assembly which is their unicameral legislative body. the way he's done that is by hijacking the supreme court of the country. they call it the supreme tribunal of justice and it's packed, literally packed with puppets who do his bidding. as an example, these puppets recently ruled that they would rescind the democratic powers vested to the elected members of the national assembly by the constitution of that country. in essence, they ruled that the national assembly no longer had legislative authority. the protests were so massive, even within the government that they had to backtrack from that ruling. but here's what's interesting. this is a recent opinion piece written by francisco toroo in "the washington post." it said it best. here's the headline. beware of mikhail marino.
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the hatchet man. he is a former intelligence agent, was tried and convicted of murder in 1987, though the corroborating documents from the court system are no longer available. he spent just two years in jail before being released. he was then immediately complicated in a second -- implicated in a second killing in 1989. he was a loyalist of hugo chavez and became a judge in the early 2000's. his career hit a snag. when he was removed from the bench for a grave error after removing two murder suspects against orders. the government handed him a new job as a diplomat. after a few years out of sight he was appointed supreme court justice in 2014 and in 2017 moreno not once but twice a killer was appointed the chief justice of the venezuelan supreme court. the venezuelan supreme court is
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run by a murderer. think about that. a convicted criminal is presiding over venezuela's supreme court. so it's no wonder that the court's members have acted as a rubber stamp for maduro's illegitimate power grabs and created a political and humanitarian crisis. venezualans as i said are struggling to get basic goods like food and medicine, access to basic services. "the wall street journal" reported venezualans lost on average 19 pounds in the last year not due to some incredible new diet but due to the country's food crisis. this is staggering, it's appalling, it's unconscionable. it cannot be tolerated. the venezuelan people deserves a return to democracy, a government that respects the rule of law, the constitution. it's the responsibility, i believe, and the duty of the nations of the western hemisphere including our nation, to help the venezuelan people. article 20 of the inter-american democratic charter states in the event of an unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional
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regime that impairs the democratic order and a member state any member state or the secretary general may request the immediate convocation of the permanent council to undertake a collective assessment of the situation and to take such decisions as it deems appropriate. this is what must be done because if we fail to help the venezuelan people in their time of need and the worst comes to pass what will follow will not be confined to the venezuelan borders. the united states, as a result, i hope should impose sanctions against corrupt individuals, not the government, not the people. individuals responsible for human rights violations, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, undermining the country's democratic process. president obama began that process. president trump actually sanctioned additional people earlier this year, including the kingpin drug dealer who now is the vice president of venezuela, tarik el asimi. here are more people he should
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sanction: chavista officials, all these magistrates that have enabled maduro's takeover. that includes mack hail jose perez and others who are part of that so-called constitutional group within the supreme court of venezuela, many of whom have assets and money and use visas to travel freely within the united states. among these names, people like artega and del gado luis anderson, juan jose mendoza. these are the people that helped in the queue -- in the coup d'etat. i would close by pointing to two things that are of deep concern. the first is this report today in the herald in miami which cites that maduro ordered the militarization of a border agent with colonial -- colombia.
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we've always feared he would create a military pretext to distract people from the crisis in the country. then he's got unusual behavior on the part of maduro. yesterday he said the followers of hugo chavez are the new jews of the 21st century, comparing them with the jews exterminated during the holocaust in world war ii. these comments were broadcast on state television last night. this is incredible. by the way, this is the same man who about a week ago was caught on camera with a straight face asking a cow to vote for a constitutional referendum that he is seeking to pass. i don't even think the cow would support him at this point in venezuela. mr. president, i hope president trump in the next few days or weeks will act against these individuals who have carried out this coup d'etat against democracy in venezuela and what plunged this proud nation and
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proud people into a constitutional, humanitarian and economic crisis. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. peters: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise to speak in opposition to the nomination of rachel brand to be the associate attorney general. the associate attorney general is the third most senior position at the department of justice. and during these troubling times, i cannot in good conscience support ms. brand's nomination. the american public must have faith in its institutions, and unfortunately that trust is eroding more and more each and every day. for the first time in recent history we are facing questions about a significant interference from a foreign government in an american presidential election. even more troubling, there have
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been serious questions about a presidential campaign's potential collusion with russia, a foreign adversary. mr. president, we have an idea of the potential problem here, and the justice department is supposed to be part of the solution. unfortunately, the recent conduct of the president's appointees to the department of justice have only added fuel to the fire. first, attorney general jeff sessions failed to reveal his communication with the russians during his confirmation hearing. this omission led him to publicly pledge to recuse himself from russian-related investigations. then in an inexplicable turn of events, the deputy attorney general and the attorney general advised the president to fire former f.b.i. director jim comey, who we know was in the midst of investigating the trump campaign's relationship with russia.
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now let me be clear, that was a firing that the president himself admitted was related to, and i quote, the russia thing. then the day after firing director comey, the president reportedly revealed highly classified information to russian officials during a meeting in the oval office, a meeting that i may add, that was closed to the american press but oddly included only the russian press. you know, you simply can't make this stuff up. the level of turmoil and the questionable behavior on the part of this administration is deeply disturbing not just for americans, but for our allies all across the globe. we are currently lurching from crisis to crisis, and we must pause for a moment and consider what is at stake. namely, the security and the future of our democracy.
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my democratic colleagues and i have repeatedly called for a special prosecutor to take over all of the russia-related investigations. recent events show the need for a special prosecutor is greater now more than ever. it is time to put country over politics, and it is time for a transparent and thorough investigation into these concerns. if there is any -- if there is no wrongdoing, then the president should not be concerned about getting the american people the truth that they deserve. our constituents need to have their faith restored in our institutions, and that will require transparency, integrity, and professionalism from officials at the department of justice. i join the vast majority of my colleagues in supporting the confirmation of rod rosenstein to serve as deputy attorney general with the belief that he would bring a voice of reason to
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the department of justice. the results have been, needless to say, disappointing. with the current state of this justice department, i have no reason to believe that ms. brand will fare much better. i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to consider the very real challenges that we face. this is not an issue of partisan politics or the outcome of a past election. this is about protecting the sanctity of our democracy from outside threats. and we must, and i believe we absolutely must work together to restore the credibility and the independence of the justice department. until we have an independent special prosecutor and until we are confident that the attorney general is truly honoring his recusal on the russian investigation, i cannot support another senior political nomination to this justice department.
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i urge my colleagues to vote no. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: mr. president, in light of national police week, i rise today in support of our men and women serving in law enforcement. police week is a good time for reflection and remembrance. it's a time to honor those who serve and protect us. while we honor our dedicated law enforcement officers this week, i want to specifically recognize those fallen officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice. their own lives for our safety. in arizona, we lost three officers this year: officer leeander frank of the navajo station police department.
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officer van glacier of the phoenix police department and officer darrin read of the sholow police department. today we honor those fallen heroes and pledge to never forget their sacrifice. while the work we do in congress fails in comparison to the service of these brave men and women, it's my privilege to sponsor several pieces of legislation to support our law enforcement officers. i've joined senator hatch to introduce the rapid d.n.a. bill, a bill to give state and local law enforcement agencies a way to upload a suspect's d.n.a. analysis for immediate identification. this immediate cross hit within the federal system will help officer at the local level process criminals faster and more accurately. i've also teamed up with senator feinstein to introduce the bipartisan protecting young victims from sexual abuse act. that legislation criminalizes the failure to report to law
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enforcement indenses of suspected child abuse in amateur athletics. in addition to preventing this abuse, it would aid those investigating child sexual abuse by providing them with information feasor. i've also supported senator cornyn's american law enforcement hero's act. that bill affirms a well-established practice of hiring veterans at the local level to serve as new law enforcement officers. together these bills will enhance law enforcement investigations and encourage better hiring practice for new law enforcement jobs. i also want to recognize these local police officers and sheriffs in arizona, along with those on the border who are serving in the frontlines of immigration enforcement. they put their lives on the line every time they go out on
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patrol. for them immigration policy is not a hypothetical exercise. but despite the critical role these entities play in assisting their local partners with immigration enforcement, current federal policy leaves them exposed to the threat of costly litigation. third-party groups that oppose detention threatened local agencies that refuse to comply with valid retainer requests with lawsuits, using punitive legal actions to keep people safe is wrong. that's why a group of arizona sheriffs came to me for help and with their guidance we drafted a bill requiring the department of homeland security to protect state and local law enforcement entities are from lawsuits that uphold valid detainer requests from i.c.e. this solution will enable officers to fulfill their law enforcement responsibilities without second guessing to keep
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potential dangerous criminal aliens in custody. it is a recognition that local law enforcement shouldn't be left to shoulder the burden of washington's failure to secure our borders and to implement a workable enforcement policy. it's been my privilege to work on this effort with the arizona sheriff's association, the western state sheriff's association, the southwest border sheriff coalition and the texas border sheriff coalition. i want to especially thank sheriff masher, sheriff wilmont and sheriff clark for their work on this bill. to many, police week is an opportunity to recognize the service of the many selfless men and women in local law enforcement. it should also show as the many
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sacrifices they make day in and day out. it is for this reason they have my respect, my support, and my thanks and they have it year round. i yield back the balance of my time. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: mr. president, i'd like to address the senate. i don't know what business we're in. the presiding officer: we're not in a quorum call. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you for the opportunity to visit
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this evening with my house colleagues. this is a special week in washington, d.c. and a number of my colleagues have paid tribute by attending memorials or speaking to those who died in the service as fallen police officers and this is our fallen officers national police week. mr. president, in 1962 congress and the president, then president john f. kennedy designated may 15 of each year to police officer memorial day and the week of may 15 to be national police week. we take the time to call the men and women in law enforcement who were lost in the previous year. unfortunately this list has become far too long. since our nation's founding more than 20,000 american law enforcement officers have sacrificed their lives in service to others. while i have paid many solemn visits to the national law
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enforcement officerser memorial -- officers memorial in washington, d.c. to respect fallen officers, my visit this year was especially somber. in 2016 kansas lost three law enforcement officials. on the senate floor today i wish to recognize and honor our fallen heroes. detective brad lancaster of the kansas city, kansas police department. captain robert dave melton, and master deputy sheriff collins of the johnson county sheriff's office. their untimely deaths shook their families, the agencies they served, the communities they protected. they were not only law enforcement officers, but were also sons and brothers, fathers, neighbors, mentors and friends. robert milton, brad land caster,
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and brandon collins and the 140 other officers killed in the line of duty in 2016 are being honored at our nation's capitol. their names will be inscribed in the national law enforcement memorial and will be a reminder to the nation of the service of these men and the debt we owe to them. we can never repay it, but we should try. as americans honor these men during national police week, we should remember their families, friends, fellow officers and loved ones they left behind. may god comfort them in their time of grief and be a source of strength of them, may he protect those who continue to serve and who stand in harm's way to protect our communities. an inscription at the memorial reads, in valor there is hope.
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the losses of brad lancaster, walter milton and brad collins, their act of valor offer americans hope and inspiration to carry on their mission to better our communities, to protect the vulnerable and to stand for what is it right. as we remember, let us tirelessly pursue those ends and do all we can to honor the fallen. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. moran: i also ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 170 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: which the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 170, expressing the sense of the senate that defense laboratories are on the edge of technology cal advancement and so forth. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. moran: mr. president, i know of no further debate on the measure. the presiding officer: is there further debate? if not, all in favor say aye. all in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it, the ayes do have it. the resolution is agreed to. mr. moran: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the preamble be agreed to and that the motion to reconsider be
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considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. res. 171 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: which the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 171, supporting the goals and ideals of national travel and tourism week and honoring the valuable contributions of travel and tour imto the united states. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection the senate will proceed. mr. moran: mr. president, i further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m., thursday, may 18. further, following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be
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deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, and the time for the two leaders be reserved until later in the day, and morning business be closed. further, that following leaders' remarks the senate proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the brand nomination with the time until 12 noon equally divided in the usual form. further, notwithstanding the -- rule 22, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: if in is no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order are. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until
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tomorrow deputy attorney general rod rosenstein will give a closed all senators briefing on the firing of fbi director james call me. that is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. eastern. senator of connecticut will oppose all judicial nominations until there is a special prosecutor to investigate senato >> mr. president. senator from connecticut. >> thank you, mr. president. und the senate has under consideration rachel brandt for associate attorney general of the united states. one of the very top positions ie the department of justice and in law enforcement.

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