Skip to main content

tv   Deputy AG Knows of No Reason to Fire Special Prosecutor Mueller  CSPAN  June 13, 2017 12:02pm-2:18pm EDT

12:02 pm
learn about federalism. made its way first into the articles of confederation and in a more perfect way into the constitution. >> watch afterwards, sunday night at 9:00 p.m. on cspan's 2 book tv. >> announcer: cspan where history unfolds daily. in 1979, cspan was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. earlier this morning deputy attorney general rod rosenstein testified on the propose budget for the justice department. here's part of his testimony.
12:03 pm
12:04 pm
12:05 pm
. committee will come to order. mr. debty attorney general, welcome to the commerce justice and science appropriations subcommittee which we will be hearing in department of justice fiscal year 2018 budget request. i'm pleased to welcome you here to your first hearing before this subcommittee and i'm grateful that you and attorney general sessions have brought new desperately needed leadership to the doj. you're input is helpful and necessary as we review the present spending priorities in order to ensure the country's national security and law
12:06 pm
enforcement needs are funded appropriately and sufficiently. this is a challenge in budget climates as you know. as violent crime has risen, the president proposes to decrease funding to the department of justice by $637 million in '18 for a new total of $28.3 billion. since the start of the new administration and during the early days of your tenure as the deputy attorney general i'm pleased that the department is refocusing on these core mission of enforcing our nation's constitution and dually enacted laws. i believe it's creditscal that we target our finite law enforcement resources toward the worst criminals in our society and i agree with the attorney general's directive to federal prosecutors to go after the most violent offenders that we have in our country. additionally, the importance of prosecuting violent crime is reflected in the president's
12:07 pm
budget request for 230 new assistant u.s. attorneys to help address this growing problem. this reordering of priorities was further underscored by the attorney general's reversal of the obama administration's lenient charging and sentencing policies regarding federal prosecutors now to pursue the most serious charges and sentences possible. the stronger federal law enforcement approach towards drug crimes i believe's critical and this is a key area where we hope and i hope you will see results for more stringent prosecution and sentencing. the herring and other drug crisis that we have is fueled by drug traffickers who must be brought to justice i believe under the law. the department's also refocused on the critical problem illegal immigration making it a priority for prosecutors and empowering them to bring felony charges whenever possible under the law.
12:08 pm
illegal mags is become one of the most critical problems facing our nation so it's encouraging to learn that president trump's tough approach is already resulting in reduced illegal border crossings. to back up the new found emphasizes on tackling little legal immigration the budget requests 40 deputy u.s. marshals to address the criminal alien problem, 70 additional border enforcement border 20 attorney and support staff to handle civil condemnation work for the southwest border wall and 20 attorneys in and support staff for immigration litigation assistance. i also appreciate the department's related efforts to place immigration judges in jurisdiction where they are most needed and to quickly hire the immigration judges which this subcommittee has previously funded. over the last eight years, dozens of these benches have gone unfulfilled due to the former failure to act.
12:09 pm
in the meantime the backlog of immigration cases has grown to a staggering number of 600,000. the proposed budget seeks to increase 65 million for the executive office for immigration review to hire another 65 immigration judges teams on top of the ten that were just provided in the '17 omnibus. we will closely review the details of this request to balance the tremendous need with a restrictive budget environment that we're facing. i trust that the recent establishment of the department's task force on crime reduction and public safety will continue to provide new ideas and recommendations on how our nation can best combat violent crime, illegal immigration and other law enforcement challenges. cybersecurity and counterterrorism remain two of my top national security concerns and we would want to know more about how this budget supports the department's efforts to these critical
12:10 pm
fields. i thank you for your testimony today and we look forward to hearing you and the question period. you may -- your entire written statement, mr. deputy will be made part of the hearing record in its entirety. you proceed. wait a minute. i'm moving too fast. senator shaheen. >> thru, mr. chairman. i appreciate having the opportunity to make a statement this morning and appreciate your being here deputy attorney general rosenstein. the appropriations committee not only holds the purse strings for the federal government as you're aware but it also has a key role in performing oversites under its jurisdictions. in this case for the department of justice. i am troubled i have to say because for this subcommittee it's incredibly unusual to hold the meeting with a deputy attorney general when there's a sitting attorney general.
12:11 pm
this is the second time attorney general sessions has declined to appear before this subcommittee, cancelling just days before he is scheduled to appear in an open public setting. as the nation's chief law enforcement officer, the attorney general is the most appropriate person to come before this subcommittee and testify as to the important work of the department of justice. doj is on the front lines fighting the deadly uncontrol pd opioid epidemic and still gaining strength. the doj hiring freeze risks the safety of correctional officers in our federal prisons and curiously the request for the fbi is less than congress provided for fiscal year 2017 even while the bureau conducts the crucial counterintelligence investigation into russian influence in our 2016 election process. while providing testimony before a newly selected senate intelligence committee hearing is important and i understand that, the attorney general is still responsible for answering
12:12 pm
critical questions from this committee. he needs to provide his explanation of doj's budget as well as a defense of his policies in an open public hearing for not only us but for the american public. mr. rosenstein i applaud your appointment of robert mueller as the special counsel to oversee the on going investigation into russian interference during the 2016 election and believe this will help to depoliticize that investigation. however, many questions remain about both your and attorney general sessions' role in this matter. your knowledge of resource request made by former director comey, your involvement in comey's firing and your prior meetings with russian officials among many concerns. i will return to these subjects during my question period later and know that many of my colleagues will express their concern and questions as well. so deputy attorney swrn, i look
12:13 pm
forward to your testimony to our discussion today and to at some future date having the attorney general appear before us in open session. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator leahy, you have opening statement. >> i do. thank you. the deputy attorney general rosenstein, i won't mince words. you're not the witness we were supposed to hear from today. you're not the witness who should be behind that table. that responsibility lies with the attorney general of the united states. attorneys general of the past have not shied away from this committee's questions regardless of the topic, regardless of the party. attorneys general of the past did not cower at the request of congress to fulfill its constitutional oversight responsibility and they didn't agree to come and cancel at the last minute and send their
12:14 pm
second in command there stead because of members of this committee may have questioned they may not want to answer. until so with respect to mr. rosenstein and i voted for you as you know, you're not who i'm interested in speaking with or hearing from today. i do have questions for the attorney general. i want to know why he is provided false testimony to me and to senator franken. i want to know why if he's recused in the russia investigation he played any role in the dismissal of fbi director comey. i want to know how he believes he can credibly lead the justice department for which he is requested 28.3 billion amid such a stressing questions about his actions and his integrity. i believe the attorney general of the united states the
12:15 pm
nation's chief law enforcement officer owes it to the more than 116,000 justice department agents, intelligence analysts, attorneys and support personnel. the roughly 1 million state local and tribal police officers and staff supporting more than 4,500 local victim assistance programs in every state to justify the budget request the department of justice. he owes them that courtesy because the president's budget requests for the justice department is abysmal. it cuts the department's budget by 643 million from the fy 2017 enacted level. the department's request is unrealistically assumptions but worse than that it's also building the backs of crime victims. the permanent rekrigs of $1.3 billion from the crime victim's fund. let me repeat that.
12:16 pm
president and the administration have talked about how they support the victims of crime but they're asking for 1.3 billion recision from the crime victims fund. i don't know how you try to combine the rhetoric with the reality, how you can say your for the victims of crime but owe, by the way, we're going to close the door on you. ironically in a budget touted that's tough on crime, the president cuts funding for fbi operations and investigations by 44 million. we know we have to move ahead with the new fbi headquarters, there's no funds for that. i have my own suspicions about why the president may seek fbi operations and personnel but i wanted the attorney general to come here and talk about it. just this week the attorney general quote about how he has law enforcement's backs but the
12:17 pm
justice department's budget slashes $326 million in instant to state and local law enforcement assistance grants, states every one of which is represented on both sides of this dais. the budget slashes funding for antiopioid and heroin initiatives by more than $27 million and includes eliminating 10 million from the cops antiheroin task for which state and local law enforcement teams in areas worse hit by the opioid epidemic used for investigation going after street traffickers. everybody calls the opioid situation a public health crisis. i don't know how the justice department justifies cutting resources that would help our communities with prevention, education and treatment. i'm not surprised that while
12:18 pm
they cut out the money for opioids, they proposed millions of dollars to hire lawyers to focus on seizing private land from hard working americans along the southwest border so the president can build his misguided wall. it won't protect our people, but by golly we'll seize their land. the balanced and misplaced priorities makes one thing clear, rather than foundation for american greatness, president trump and jeff sessions on intent on making our communities less safe and victimizing immigrants who contribute to our communities. finally, mr. rosenstein, regardless of the circumstances of your appearance today, i'll raise this one point with you, on plai 1 the office of legal counsel issued an opinion, are
12:19 pm
you executive branch is not obligated to meet the legitimate oversight requests of individual members of congress, the [ indiscernible ] chair's committee must be met. this is an affront to the congress. i've been here with the republican and democratic administration. i've been here a number of times when republicans controlled the senate a number of times when democrats did. i have never, ever heard anybody, republican or democrat, make this claim, we've wrongly reject it on both sides of the aisle. judiciary committee chairman grassley, with whom i've worked with when i was chair and ranking member called your opinion nonsense. now the attorney general has the authority. i actually believe he has an obligation to withdraw that opinion. the administration may seek to hide many things from the american people, but they should
12:20 pm
know this, today's committee chairs are tomorrow's ranking members. obstructing congressional oversight will do nothing to advance the interest of the american people. this should be withdrawed. chairman i'll put my whole statement in the record. >> thank you. mr. rosenstein, you may proceed. >> thank you. good morning, chairman shelby, ranking member shaheen, members of the committee. i am honored to have present the president's fiscal year 2018 budget for the department of justice. our proposed budget advanced the interest of the american people by allowing the dedicated men and women of the department of justice to continue their outstanding work. we're grateful for your strong support and we look forward to building on our successes as we work to protect the nation, to promote the rule of law and to ensure equal justice for all. our 2018 budget requests shows a strong commitment to the justice department's top priorities. it provides more funding to fight terrorism and cyber crime,
12:21 pm
to reduce violent crime, to tackle the opioid epidemic and to combat illegal immigration. it also gives us the resources we need to support our state, local and tribal partners and their essential law enforcement work. this budget reflects three important themes, number one, truth in budgeting. number two, increases in efficiency and number three, focusing on priorities. these changes are critical and they support the executive order of the president to reorganize government agencies for the goal of increasing efficiency and effectiveness. a first the budget is an honest one, eliminating from the books thousands of previously unfunded and vacant positions that give a misleading impression of the personnel we have on duty in the department. those ghost positions in most cases have been vacant for years or have never been filled at all. secondly, this budget seeks to identify areas where we can afford to cut back without harming our mission.
12:22 pm
and finally, the budget improves the allocation of our pressure resources so we can do the most effective work with every taxpayer dollar that we spend. national security remains our highest priority. we face a wide array of evolving threats from terrorism to espionage and cyber crime. we also need to come to terms, senators, with the growing dark challenge which i know you're all familiar with. going dark refers to law enforcement's increasing inability to lawfully access, collect and intercept realtime communications and stored data. even with a warrant as a result of changes in technology, this phenomena severely impairs our ability to conduct investigations and bring criminals to justice. our law enforcement officers operate within the constitution and they respect legitimate privacy interests but when there is a legitimate law enforcement need to access electronic
12:23 pm
information and when we have a court order or other legal authority, public safety is jeopardized when we're unable to obtain that relevant information. our department must keep adapting to evolving challenges, to that end the budget provides an extra $98.5 million to come bat terrorism, espionage and cybersecurity threats. the skrufs department also is committed to protecting the american people from violent crime and from the adverse effects of illegal drug distribution both of which are spiking at alarming rates. violent crime is rising in many areas of our nation and drug related injuries and deaths are increasing across the country. senators, the evidence of this is indisputable, rising violent crime and increasing drug abuse are devastating many american families and the justice department is confronting these crisis head on and we need your help. the proposed budget provides the department's law enforcement agencies with extra support so
12:24 pm
they can target the worst violent criminals, transnational crimes organization and gangs and drug trafficking rings. 230 additional u.s. attorneys to focus specifically on our effort to fight violent crime. those additional resources will enhance the ability of law enforcement office to fight crime and to keep our communities safe. we are focusing also on getting elitity drugs off the streets through strong enforcement efforts and through our drug takeback programs. in addition to that, we call on doctors, pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies to take a hard look at their practices and help us develop ways that we can reduce the harmful overprescription of pharmaceutical drugs. the american people also expect our government to secure our borders and to restore a laugh system of immigration the department of justice will do
12:25 pm
our part in conjunction with the department of homeland security. our proposed budget provides much needed funding to hire 75 additional immigration judges and support personnel to reduce the unacceptable backlog in our immigration courts. it will also allow us to hire more deputy u.s. marshals and 30 more border enforcements prosecutors so we can effectively apprehend and prosecutor criminal alien and maintain public safety alone, 85% of the law enforcement officers in our country are not federal. they work for a state, local and tribal partners and we rely on them heavily. the men and women serving on the front lines are our first line of defense and they help to keep our community safe. they deserve our support. our budget maintains our commitments to these value partners and prioritizeds grant funding to have proven to be effective. this budget funds important
12:26 pm
priorities while helping us to chaefl a more efficient and cost effective department. we will do all we can to be good stewards of the department's resources. we have a duty to avoid waste and safeguard taxpayer money so it will be available to fight crime and protect people. the department of justice's home to 115,000 honestly men and women who work everyday to serve, protect and defend the american people and respect the constitution of the united states. this budget makes it possible for us to do our jobs with the investment set forth in the budget and with your support, we will continue to fairly enforce our nation's laws and ensure safety and equal justice for all americans. i look forward to working with this subkbhee and with the congress in the months and years ahead and if i may, senators, my few remaining moments. i learned this morning about an incident in georgia in which we understand that two correctional officers were murdered in the course of transporting prisoners
12:27 pm
in georgia. i talked with the marshal service director this morning and we have committed all federal resources to help catch those fugitives and hold the perpetrators accountable. our thoughts are with the victims and their families and in support of law enforcement personnel who are working on that case as we sit here today an attack on any law enforcement officers is an attack on every american law enforcement officer and on the principals that we all believe in. senators, i will be happy to take any questions about our proposed budget and i look forward to that. thank you. >> thank you for your testimony. i'm sure you're going to have a lot of questions. i'll try to stay within the budget area that i've interested in this morning. what specifically is the department of justice doing to accelerate the hiring of new immigration judges? >> thank you, senator. this is been one of my top priorities. i've been in the job for six weeks and i learned when i --
12:28 pm
>> take the mike up to you a little bit. >> i learned very early in my tenure about this extraordinary backlog in immigration cases and that has been one of my top priorities to address that. our fiscal year 2018 budget includes $145 million to enhance border security and immigration enforcement and that includes as i mentioned in my opening statement 75 new immigration judge teams. i believe it's approximately 450 people, the judges and their support staff and $75 million to address that backlog which exceeds 500,000 and is approaching as the chairman mentions 600,000. it also includes additional assistant u.s. attorneys and $7 million to prosecute violation of immigration laws, additional deputy u.s. marshals and additional attorneys in the civil division but with regards specifically to your question about the backlog, senator, we are very focused on that. one of the challenges that we had was some bureaucratic delays
12:29 pm
in hiring and filling vacancies so in addition to creating 75 new judges and filling those positions and their support personnel, we're also expediting the hiring of immigration judges to feel the existing vacancies. it's a big challenge. i've talked with the leadership of that office and we're going to make it a top priority to first put an end to the increase in the backlog and work on ways that we can more efficiently and more quickly reduce that backlog because my view, is everybody who has a case pending in our immigration courts deserves an skpee delicious resolution to that case. >> around to where they're most in need can you move them around to where they're most in need. there's got to be a surge some where. >> we have moved some immigration judges to the border districts i believe and we'll continue to looking at that. we have the 75 who are proposed in this budget.
12:30 pm
we have approximately 56 vacancies that already exist and we're certainly going to put those judges where we think they are most needed and where we think they can do the most good. >> getting into counterterrorism, that's a top priority for this subcommittee and i believe it is with the justice department too because the fbi's terrorist explosive device we call t dak is very critical given that ieds are still present used by terrorists at home and abroad and could and probably will visit us in a big way in this country. the forensics investigations conducted by t dak personnel led to the convictions of the shoe bomber, the boston marathon bomber and other terrorists. so, you probably can understand some of office's disappointment with the budget request that includes a $76 million reduction proposal for the fbi's
12:31 pm
construction account, which includes facilities for t dak. it's hard for us to swallow. >> as you mentioned the t dak was formally dedicated to serve as a strategic to investigate ieds, explosive devices. in january of 2015, i think it has been extraordinary valuable. as you mentioned in investigations and in training for the government. my understanding, senator, is that with regard to that $76 million and this is based upon our career experts some of whom are sitting behind this, this is a one time nonrecurring request and we didn't have the need for the funds this year. we believe it's a very efficient and effective operation and we intend to continue supporting it. we simply don't need that additional construction funding this year. >> we'll have to work on that. we'll try to work with you. >> sanctuary cities. this is ongoing problem in our
12:32 pm
country and you know this very well. my question, grants awards to state and local jurisdictions are tied to compliance with federal laws as i understand and the bureau of prisons must give immigrations and custom officials priority regarding federal detainers is that correct? >> you want me to state that again. >> i'm sorry the priority? >> i understand that grant awards to state and local jurisdictions are tied to compliance with all federal laws. >> yes, that is correct. >> and the bureau of prisons must give or should give immigration and customs enforcement officials priority regarding federal detainers? >> i don't believe we have any issue with cooperation from the federal bureau of prisons, that's correct, senator. >> this is a problem, though in the country, is it not? >> it's a challenge with some state and local facilities that do not honor our immigration
12:33 pm
detaine detainers. >> i've got a few other wez for the record but there are a lot of people wanting to question you. senator sheehan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. rosenstein, many news outlets last night and this morning reporting that president trump is considering firing special counsel robert mueller. under the regulations governing the appointment of a special counsel, 28 cfr 600 and i quote, the special counsel may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the attorney general. the attorney general may remove a special counsel from misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest or other good cause including violation of departmental policies. the attorney general shall inform the special counsel in writing of the specific reason for his or her removal. as i understand, mr. rosenstein, in this matter you are actually the one exercising hiring and
12:34 pm
firing authority because attorney general sessions is recused is that correct? >> yes, that's correct. >> and at this point have you seen any evidence of good cause for firing of special counsel mueller? >> no i have not. >> and have you given the special counsel full independence from this department to conduct his investigation. >> yes, senator. i appreciate that question. at the last hearing i attended i explained it exactly why i'm confident that he -- the short answer is, though that that regulation as you may know was written and implemented during the clinton administration under the authority of attorney general reno. i know the folks who wrote that. they wrote it to deal with these sort of situations and i am confident that he will have sufficient independence and it's certainly theoretically possible that the attorney general could fire him but that's the only person who has the authority to fire him. in fact, the chain of command for the special counsel is only directly to the attorney general or in this case the acting
12:35 pm
attorney general so nobody else in the department would have authority to do that and you have my assurance -- all that regulation and director mueller's going to have the full gee of independence he needs to conduct that investigation appropriately. >> is there a record that gives him that full independence? is that done in a letter or an order from you as the deputy attorney general? >> yes, senator. it's done in the order which i believe was issued on may 17th and the order references the regulation from which you've read and so that is the source of his authority. >> thank you. you mentioned in your opening comments about the importance of the budget request for 230 assistant u.s. attorneys. i certainly agree that that's important. i am concerned however that we still -- we had an unmask firing of u.s. attorneys in the country
12:36 pm
and as far as i know at least in new hampshire we haven't made any nominations to replace the person who was fired. can you tell me how many u.s. attorneys have been nominated throughout the country? >> i believe senator, that the president announced his first set of nominations yesterday and i believe there were seven or eight in that first round. what i can assure you is that we are moving very exdeliciously, some press were misleading about that. i believe we'll be ahead of most recent administrations in the speed we're appointing u.s. attorneys. it's important for me i spent 12 years serving as a u.s. attorney and i know how important they are to the operation of the department of justice. the last two saturdays i've spent in the department interviewing candidates for weekend and so we anticipate that by the end of the summer we'll see a large number of u.s. attorneys nominated throughout the country. >> i certainly am glad to hear that. it's my understanding at least
12:37 pm
in new hampshire we haven't seen wholesale firing of u.s. attorneys in the way that we did in this administration. was there a reason why every u.s. attorney in the country was fired on the same day? >> so, senator, i'm pleased to tell you not everyone was fired because i was one of the u.s. attorneys that day. >> good. >> there were four, there were four who were not fired but i was not in the department at that time. i learned about the firings after the decision had been made so i have no insight into whatty that decision was made. >> you mentioned in your opening statement the tragedy in georgia and the officers who were killed, murdered. it's a reminder that those who work in our prisons do have a very difficult job that is very dangerous and i'm troubled by the fact that administration's hiring freeze was lifted in april that the department of justice has been under a
12:38 pm
self-imposed hiring freeze since mid-february. while there was a blanket exemption for positions relating to public safety and national the bureau of prisons which is still under a freeze and, in fact, in new hampshire fci berlin had extended conditional offers to seventh additional employees five of whom were correctional officers -- in position of the hiring freeze, those positions were cancelled by doj so they were not able to go forward with that hiring. as you point out, this is a difficult job, can you explain why we continue to have a hiring freeze on correctional officers within the bureau of prisons? >> senator, i appreciate that question. i think there may be some misunderstanding about this. we -- the department froze at the headquarters in washington and at the regional offices.
12:39 pm
my understanding is the department allowed bop institutions to continue hiring up to their staffing levels as of january 22nd. if people left they would be able to feel those vacancies so within that overall level of staffing, i believe we've left the discretion with bop to hire for whichever positions it believes are most critical to its operations. obviously there has been a continuing decline in the number of federal prisoners and probably less of a need for personnel but i'm going to go back and talk with director cain about that and make sure we do have proper staffing for that prison. as far as i know, he does have discretion to fill those positions if he thinks it's appropriate. >> i appreciate your willingness to do that. i would urge you to follow through because it's my understanding that because the positions not officially filled by the time of the february guidance that they were cancelled by doj? >> i will look into that. >> thank you. >> senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. deputy attorney general, mr.
12:40 pm
rosenstein, i just want to follow-up quickly on the two questions that senator shaheen asked you about the special counsel. has the president ever -- or discussed the special counsel in any way? >> no, he has not. >> and second, if president trump ordered you to fire the special counsel what would you do? >> senator, i'm not going to follow any orders unless i believe those are lawful and appropriate orders under the regulation, special counsel mueller may be fired only for good cause and i am required to put that cause in writing and so that's what i would do. if there were good cause, i would consider it. if there were no knot good cause it wouldn't matter to me what anybody says. >> thank you. i want to turn to the opioid crisis which plagues my state and so many others. drug overdoses were responsible
12:41 pm
for more than 59,000 deaths in this country including a record -- that is 104 more overdose deaths than the year before in my state. the situation is actually getting worse despite considerable efforts on the part of so many. last year i was briefed in maine by federal law enforcement officers who told me that they had seen a major influx of drug dealers coming from out of state with direct ties to gangs in major cities as well as the mexican drug cartels. for example, in one case, gang members trafficked heroin between new haven, connecticut and bang gor, maine where i live. they traded drugs for firearms
12:42 pm
and then distributed those firearms to other gang members upon their return to connecticut. we obviously need a multi-pronged approach to the heroin and opioid crisis that includes treatment, education and prevention and law enforcement and key to that law enforcement leg of the stool is cooperation among federal, state and local officials. the department's budget requests $3 million less than -- the comprehensive addiction and recovery act programs for the current fiscal year, and even more troubling to me there is no funding proposed for the cops antiheroin task force. in my state, this program is helped law enforcement officers -- opioids and arrest
12:43 pm
drug dealers. why is the administration -- funding and eliminating the funding for the cops antiheroin task force? >> senator, i appreciate that question. i think there are a lot of important issues. for me this is actually one of the most important issues that i hope to talk about today. i don't know if i can give a complete answer in a 1:35. i brought with me a chart that i think would be of interest to you. this is a chart of those deaths in the united states of america. this is first came to my attention as u.s. attorney in maryland about three or four years ago when it was brought to my attention that there had been a significant spike in deaths attributable to opioid drugs in our state and it has only accelerated since then. these are frightening. the final statistics from 2015 reflect about 52,000 americans lost their lives to drug
12:44 pm
overdoses. and we believe that 2016 projections may be over 60,000. it will be sometime before we have final numbers. more than half a substantial proportion of those are attributable to opioid drugs. when i first learned about this we were talking about the heroin crisis and people thought about heroin and oxy codone which is a lawful prescription drug that can be abused. the challenge we face is about fentanyl which is an even more hazardous drug that poses a danger into to our first responders, our police, firefighters and paramedics who are responding to the scenes of overdoses because of how deadly and dangerous that drug can be. so this is a very significant challenge to us. there are a lot of issues, a lot of ways we can go ba addressing it. one of which you talked about the gangs that bring drugs into your home state, i know from my experiences u.s. attorney that's an area where our federal prosecutors and our dea acts can do a lot of good. law enforcement isn't the only solution to the heroin and
12:45 pm
opioid crisis. from our perspective it's one of the key tools the department of justice has to target to try to identify the sources of supply and put those drug dealers out of business. one of the most important things i think we're going to do this year under this budget is that we are going to be able to fund about 900 additional employees for dea. these are not new positions. my understanding from our bud yet experts is these are positions that are existing but for the most part were not filled because of budgetary constraints. we'll anticipate we'll have up to 900 more personnel on the front lines. additional federal prosecutors and that from the department's perspective will help us to combat that. but if i may continue, it's not just about law enforcement. there are many other areas in which we -- many other ways we can combat drug abuse. the justice department obviously focuses primarily on law enforcement but we do have these grant programs that allow us to do other things.
12:46 pm
the cops program as you mentioned is proposed to be eliminated in this budget, but we request $7 million funding that i think is not in this year's budget but we do request 40.4 million in additional federal funding for dea prescription enforcement programs. this is not a matter of reducing our emphasizing but of reprioritizing the money to be more effective. this will allow dea to spread funding which is intended to illustrate that it's not just about law enforcement, it's a 360-degree program to try to reduce drug abuse. allow us to enhance operations against mexican cartels and to enhance -- in the diversion -- prescribed and not used then may be diverted to illegal uses. so through all of those ways, senator, i can commit to you that we are very much attuned.
12:47 pm
i watching those. i'll be watching those overdose numbers and i will not be sfooied until i see that trend turn around and start going the other direction. >> thank you. thank you for being here. could you describe in as clear and quick of a fashion as possible the scope of attorney general sessions' recusal. >> his recusal is in the public record and i understand i've been asked this question several times. from my perspective, as you know i've been matters in which he's recused i'm the acting attorney general i know what we're investigating. he does not. he actually does not know what we're investigating. i'm not going to be talking about it publicly. >> i guess the question is how -- so in the attorney general's what appears to be the only statement that jeff sessions made on this, i may be incorrect, but the main
12:48 pm
statement was march 2nd, 2017, i've decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigation of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the united states. so are we to understand that to the extent that there may be a counterintelligence investigation not related to campaigns for the president of the united states or even a criminal investigation there could be obstruction of justice or violation of another statute, so who decides where the line is because that seems to be about a particular thing and now we have a special counsel and we have multiple investigatory processes going on. we also have public policy questions related to how we interact with the country that was engaged in active measures against us. so the question again is, who decides what he's recused from? and why is there no clarity on what he's recused from? >> senator, i think within the
12:49 pm
department we do have clarity and the reason for that is there's a career ethics official who made that determination in conjunction with the attorney general around april 27th or 28th and that career official works in the deputy's office and so i am able to consult with him, if any, questions arise about what matters the attorney general is recused from and that's why -- >> can you tell the public what matters the attorney general is recused from? >> what i'm trying to explain it would be inappropriate for me to do that because he's recused from department of justice investigations and we don't talk about the subject matter of investigations while they're ongoing. that would interfere with what our investigators and prosecutors are doing. >> so normally i think in a law firm or even in a public agency where there's a recusal there's a memorialization of that recusal, there's a delineation of what is in and out and there's also a process -- whether or not there's compliance with that recusal.
12:50 pm
is there such a document? >> the way the department operates is very different from a law firm. >> i know that. >> it's not necessary. the department is is hierarchy and so -- matters he res' to used from unless they come through my office. >> what about through the oval office? >> through the oval office? we are not briefing the oval office about our investigations either. >> could be my lack of a law degree but can help me to understand the most basic question here which is that the attorney general had a press conference and said given all of these challenges, given this controversy, i'm out. i'm recused from the matters and no the question becomes what matters? which matters? i'm going to ask one final time if you can just try to describe for the public, for the
12:51 pm
layperson, in the person following this and may not possess a law degree, and who makes that determination and how do we know whether he's complying or not? >> i appreciate that sincere question, senator. i want to try to explain. differently than people not in the department and not lawyers. it is important for me to explain, in this matter i'm acting as attorney general of the united states. a lot to me and one of the things it means is that i have a responsibility not to talk publicly -- who we're investigating because that could adversely affect the investigation and because it would be unfair to people who may be under investigation. >> is it possible that the
12:52 pm
attorney general is a witness in this investigation? >> if he were, senator, i wouldn't talk about it. >> what about you? >> senator, i'm not going to be talking about the investigation. you know, the purpose of my appointment of special counsel mueller was to ensure that there's public confidence in the outcome of that investigation and he now has responsibility for that and i think that if there are any questions they should be directed to him and i know he will do the right thing as i would and defend the sbr integrity of that -- >> one final question because i'm over time. if you're a witness do you think there's a conflict of interest? >> the reason i won't answer is because i'm working with career professionals who know the rules and responsible for enforcing the rules and i can assure you we'll do the right thing and defend the integrity of the investigation. >> if you could please put in black and white for the committee the scope of the
12:53 pm
recusal and all how this all works and be careful. i understand you have to be careful not referring an investigatory process. i get that. but still, i think the public deserves to know exactly how this all plays out and i can't imagine that you can't describe it even in the abstract so that we're assured that there is a fair and thorough investigatory process. thank you. >> i appreciate the question and we will make an effort to do that in a writing that maybe, hopefully, better than my efforts but as i said, i just want to assure you and everybody, you know, that's what i'm about here is making sure that the rule of law is followed and then reach a fair result in which people can have confidence and i'm working with career professionals in the department who will help me to do that. >> senator langford. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. you have testified in front of every senator in closing sessions. you testified in front of the intelligence committee in open sessions. you have had lots of conversations on this. so i appreciate you being here
12:54 pm
again today and going through budget areas. i want to help clarify one thing. i read with some interest in the paper that there was some secret plan to be able to privately remove the special counsel who you just put in place to be able to see that. all i could think is about jim comey's statements publicly saying how many he read newspaper stories with unnamed source that is as he read these and thought they were completely false. is there anything to some secret plan that's out there from you or anyone in the administration to try to go and remove the special counsel? >> there is no secret plan that involves me, no, senator. >> i would just say, no one in america is above the law and no one in america is not faced with accountability and checks and balances. every one of us has checks and balances. the president. every member of the cabinet. the vice president. every judge has checks and balances in the system. i can't seem to understand the fascination to say we need to
12:55 pm
create a special counsel and only person in america that had no accountability structure for anything. i would assume everyone has a check and balance somewhere and so i appreciate you trying to clari clarify that for us. senator warren and i do not agree on everything but last year we started working on a process for the department of justice to stop these slush funds in the background where the department of justice was forcing businesses to be able to spend money in third party groups or not revealing the nature of those settlements. the department of justice just last week announced that you are stopping that process and i just want to say thank you. we have worked on that for a couple of years, try to get it legislatively. the previous administration would not work with us on. i appreciate that. let me also say that i have a question about the crime victims fund and the rescission. help me understand the rescission back to the treasury of a part of the crime victims
12:56 pm
fund. >> yes, senator. thank you. the department's budget requests $3 billion from the crime victims fund for fiscal year 2018. this will build on almost $8 billion provided for crime victims over 3 years. includes 2.2 billion in formula grants. 25 million to improve the treatment of crime victims. and 5% or 150 million set aside for tribal governments. the $1.3 billion rescission is a cut from excess balances because of record high collections in the past and i have to tell you, senator, i'm a business school graduate. this is government budgeting. i know it can be complex and talked with career professionals in the department and explained to me that's what that number represents, represents a cut of excess balances because of record high collections in the past. but we are recommending the spending of $3 billion in the next fiscal year. >> let me tell you why this is so important and this committee
12:57 pm
will know this well. for two years in the subcommittee and the full committee i have raised the issue of the crime victims fund. the crime victims fund set aside as dollars come into it for use to be able to by definition crime victims. it's been used that and multiple areas and multiple places. completely appropriately. what has happened, though, because it has an excess balance, this year around $9 billion, congress says we are planning to spend that and then doesn't spend that and takes that $9 billion and actually spends it somewhere else on paper. and then the next year, spends the same $9 billion again on paper. it's a $9 billion of excess spending above our budget caps that are done. you may know it as the changes in mandatory programs, called chimps. i have raised for last two years in this committee and the full committee the possibility the dollars spent one time and then couldn't be spent again the same dollars the next year, year after year and been unsuccessful
12:58 pm
to be able to da that. you're bringing in another element of a rescission to be able to move it. how do we get transparency in budget that the crime victims fund is used for victims of crime, not an offset for the budget here and it's not used as a rescission somewhere else back to treasury. it's actually used for victims of crime. and any way that we can get transparency and to be able to use that fund, what it was originally intended for, a budget gimmick here and a rescission there. i'm in favor of. how can we work together? >> i appreciate that question. and i have reviewed this issue of the changes in mandatory program or chimps. as i know you recognize, this is a technical issue. >> it is not technical we overspend additional $9 billion on paper. >> that's a broader omb issue. >> that's us. >> yes. i don't think it's a question that i'm best positioned to answer. i think omb would be the right agency to answer that question.
12:59 pm
>> well, i hope to be able to work on that, not only to solve the rescission issue and how to figure out how to use the dollars for victims of crime than treasury and as we solve that issue long-term for us, that goes away. i'll try to follow up with a question for the record of private prisons to reengage with on that and follow up. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator koont. >> thank you. thank you for being here today. obviously you're here because attorney general sessions abruptly canceled his commitment to appear before this committee. it is attorney general sessions' job to be here today and the fact that he is again choosing to skip the hearing is unacceptable and the attorney general i believe chosen to skip this hearing today to avoid difficult questions about the scope of his recusal. questions which have already been asked of you by several senators but i'll attempt to explore it further and i think it's important to have a full and engaged conversation with
1:00 pm
the attorney general about the department of justice in front of both the judiciary committee and appropriations subcommittee responsible for the entity he still leads. but let me start briefly with good news if i might. mr. rosenstein, you are here in part to talk about the budget of the department of justice in 2014 congress demonstrates commitment to the victims of child abuse act reauthorizing that in both chambers on the child advocacy centers by law of interviews, that help serve law enforcement needs and meet the needs of child victims and pleased the president's fy '18 budget request fully funds these programs. so i thought we'd start with at least one positive thing we could talk about. >> thank you. >> as has been discussed by several others, it is the scope of recusal that is utterly unclear, both to lawyers and nonlawyers on this committee. you're here instead of the attorney general and you're here as acting attorney general with regard to the special counsel and exercised the hire and would
1:01 pm
exercise the fire of bob mueller and that's because attorney general sessions is recused from that matter. on may 9th, you delivered a memo to attorney general sessions entitled restoring public confidence in the fbi. and your memo exclusively focused on director comey's conduct during the clinton e-mail investigation and concluded, quote, the way the director handled the conclusion of that investigation was wrong and you ultimately stated having refused to admit the errors, the director cannot be expected to institute the corrective measures. >> yes. >> on that same day, attorney general sessions then sent a memo to president trump exclusively relying our memo recommending to be removed. is that correct? >> i believe that's correct. >> and during his january 10 confirmation hearing, ag sessions stated he would recuse himself from any mat earls involving campaigns for president of the united states
1:02 pm
and specifically investigations into secretary clinton's e-mail server. is that correct? >> that's my understanding, senator. >> so, why did you write a memo to attorney general sessions exclusively discussing a matter that as i understand it attorney general sessions explicitly told us in congress he was recused from and why was that an appropriate basis for him to make a hire/fire recommendation of the president? >> i don't think that's a question for me to answer. i have said in my previous briefings of the senate and the house that my memo truthfully reflects my views. i'm not in position to comment on anybody else. so from my perspective, senator, that's what it was about. i don't know what's in anybody else's mind. i understand there's serious allegations raised and i think it's up to director mueller to determine whether any of the issues within the scope of his
1:03 pm
investigation. that's why i haven't commented on it. i haven't talked to him about substance of the investigation since then. but i recognize the importance of the questions and i think that director mueller ought to review that and make a determination of whether or not he believes it's within the scope of his investigation. >> i appreciate that answer. it is distinct from an answer i got from you previously in another setting so i want to make sure i understand you. well, i'll proceed carefully and see if we can get to an answer that's appropriate in a public setting. is it not your argument that the attorney general made a recommendation to hire or fire the fbi director because that's outside his recusal, the scope of his recusal doesn't affect his ability to manage the department? >> i do have a personal opinion about that, senator. i just don't think it's appropriate for me to be expressing my personal opinion about that. i hope i haven't said anything inconsistent with what i've said elsewhere. please let me know if i have but i do not want to comment on the
1:04 pm
recusal. i think the attorney general made the decision recuse. i wasn't there at the time, as you know and there were process -- the decision made before i arrived about what matters would be appropriate for the attorney general to handle. when i stepped in, i continued consistent with what had been done by these career professionals in the department and i believe that i have faithfully within the department honored that recusal. with regard to matters pending the department of justice but i don't want to comment on what may have been in anybody else's mind or offer any opinion about that because it's not for me to make those decisions. >> well, it is exactly i think why senator schatz asked a series of questions about the scope of recusal because i am a lawyer. senator schatz may not be. he asked better questions than i did but i also am having difficulty understanding the scope of the recusal, its contours and definition and i have an unresolved question about whether or not that's why the attorney general failed to
1:05 pm
appear before us today is to avoid having to answer direct questions about the scope of his recusal. i do appreciate and respect your appointment of a highly talented special counsel and there have been questions from both sides that imply strong support for his independence and his conduct. and i appreciate the care with which you are answering my questions. but i'm simply going to conclude by saying i have unanswered question that is perhaps can only be answered by the attorney general himself. and it is my hope that we will have him appear before both the judiciary committee and the appropriations committee charged with overseeing the funding for the department he's currently directing. thank you. >> senator graham? >> thank you, mr. rosenstein. why isn't jeff sessions here today? >> senator, my understanding is consistent with what was in the attorney general's letter. i don't know of any other reasons beyond what he set forth publicly. >> okay. 13 june. do you know of any reason for a
1:06 pm
cause to fire mr. mueller as of this date? >> no, i do not, senator. >> and that would be your decision if that ever happened. right? >> that's correct. >> and you're going to make it, nobody else? >> as long as i'm in this position, senator, it would be my responsibility to make that decision. >> i'm glad you're in this position. is giving political donations a reason to disqualify someone from serving in the special counsel's office? >> no, senator, it is not a disqualification. it is not. >> as a matter of fact, many states the judges and prosecutors are actually elected, donations are part of that system. is that correct? >> yes, that's true. >> would it be a disqualification for somebody in the special counsel's office who had represented ms. clinton in the past to serve? >> you know, senator, it would depend on the facts and circumstances. as a general matter, i think the answer is no. >> and that much closer to a conflict of interest? >> i don't want to answer a
1:07 pm
hypothetical, senator. everybody needs to make a determination based upon the -- >> how would you get it before this special counsel? what process could a member of the senate use to inform the special counsel that you'd have a concern about hiring somebody that represented clinton? >> we have process within the department of justice, senator. so i would encourage you if you have those questions to raise them with director mueller or me. >> to you or him? >> well, you could do it to both. >> okay. that's fair enough. >> we have career -- >> i don't know if i'll do that but i've read some things -- i don't think donations are disqualifying at all but if you represented the clinton foundation or clinton herself, that would be a bit disturbing to me. i'll take care of that. as to russia, do you have any doubt that the '17 intelligence report gave is accurate? >> senator, this is an issue
1:08 pm
discussed at the confirmation hearing and several of you attended that. i had access to the public -- >> right. >> -- information. from which classified information -- >> what can you tell us now? >> i now have access to classified information and i think that assessment made by the intelligence committee is justified based upon the investigation and the evidence they had. >> thank you very much. what role did you play in crafting this budget? where did this budget come from for the department of justice? >> i appreciate that question, senator. the budget is a product primarily of career professionals. $27.7 billion. very complicated. some of them are seated behind but they have a team behind them and i suspect dozens of folks -- >> was it their desire to cut the budget by 2% or come from omb? >> you know, senator, i do not know the answer to that but let me make clear -- >> could you find that issue? >> we're accountable for that. i'm not in any way suggesting their decisions.
1:09 pm
they faithfully implement the priorities given to them and i don't mean to shed responsibility for the bottom line but the assistance in preparing the budget -- >> were you directed to cut the budget by 2% or agree to cut the budget -- did that come within the department of justice or mandate outside the department of justice? >> i honestly do not know the answer to that. >> that's all right. try to find out. you can get back to me. in terms of threats to the country, are they going up or down? >> i would want to -- >> terrorism. >> i think everybody recognizes the terrorism threat is extremely serious. >> more fbi agents under this budget or less than last year? >> i believe we will have -- i apologize, senator. >> i'm asking you a budget question. i don't want to throw you off here. >> i appreciate the budget
1:10 pm
questions. according to the numbers that i have, the fbi will have increase of 150 for a total of 12,484. >> more agents by 150? is that correct? >> that is my understanding, senator. let me check that. >> thank you. do you agree that the fbi, department of justice is national security and other form in many ways? >> i'm sorry? >> national security in any form. that the role of the department of justice is national security role as well as a domestic role? >> well, actually, my answer, senator, it is national security in reality and in another form. we tweel -- >> here's my final question. increasing the defense department because it's suffered mightily over sequestration. can you make an argument if you are a national security component of the overall defense strategy, why we would cut you now given the threats we face? >> senator, i believe if you look at the budget, we are not cutting the critical areas.
1:11 pm
violent crime, terrorism, the areas that you have raised. areas where there will be no cuts. cyber crime, all of those areas and so the effort in this budget as i understand it is to reduce only areas not critical to those operations. never to be more efficient for the goals of the american people and assure you that our goal is to use the resources more effectively to reduce crime, to reduce drug abuse and fight terrorism and not relent in the commitment to those goals. >> senator van hollen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. deputy attorney general, good to see you. i will say as many of my colleagues have that it's the height of arrogance for the attorney general not to come before the committee that oversees the justice department budget. that being said, i'm glad to have you here. as you know, during the confirmation process, you and i had a conversation about the
1:12 pm
consent decree between the justice department and the baltimore city police department and baltimore city. since our conversation, the courts have approved that consent decree and i just want your continued assurance that you will work in your capacity as deputy attorney general to make sure that we further that agreement and make sure that we can get the parties together and move it along. >> senator, our goal is to reduce violent crime, prosect constitutional rights. in baltimore that consent decree as you know is in effect and i know you're aware and it's very painful to me, we have a crisis in violent crime in baltimore. and the murder rate this year is on track at the moment, actually to reach a record high. in 2017, we may have a record high murder rate in baltimore city. so we need to do everything we can to support our local partners and we are working in many ways to support that local police department. last year, we had about 318
1:13 pm
murders. the year before, 342. and we're on track now potentially to have more in baltimore this year so that's a very high priority for me. although i'm no longer there physically every day, i'm engaged with that and continue to work with our authorities, with federal agencies and with our u.s. attorney's office to do anything we can to help support our partners in baltimore and turn around that trend in violence in that city. >> i appreciate that. no, thank you. i look forward to continuing to work with you on what's an unacceptable increase in the murders. any crime increase or any crime is unacceptable but seeing the spike is something to tackle with urgency. i want to follow up on the colleagues' questions regarding the special counsel and it's especially pressing in light of the report that is did come out yesterday that folks at white house, maybe the president, were looking at ways to fire the special counsel mueller.
1:14 pm
and as you already testified today, given the current situation, you are the only person today in a position to actually do that firing. isn't that correct? >> that's correct. >> okay. and as i understand your testimony, you said that this is a matter that's within your jurisdiction. so, based on that, i would assume it would be a violation of the attorney general's recusal if he were to try to fire the special counsel. isn't that right? >> i do not expect that to happen, senator. >> okay. but it would be a violation -- this is a matter under your jurisdiction and a violation of his recusal were he to attempt to do so? >> i think that's a -- probably fair but that is not going to happen. >> okay. well, i'm glad to hear that. and i'm not -- i'm actually more worried about the scenario at this point where if you were to receive an order, from the white
1:15 pm
house, to fire the special counsel, i'm less worried about you doing it because you've just testified today that you would only do it based on good cause. i am worried about in those circumstances the president trying to keep going until he found someone willing to take that action. so my question relates to the definition of good cause because you are very clear in your testimony that the authority to remove the special counsel is based on a finding of good cause. is that correct? >> yes, that's right. >> okay. and is an order from the president to fire the special counsel good cause? >> doesn't matter who the order comes from. good cause is based on the reasons for the proposed removal. >> right. and removing the special counsel in order to prevent the special counsel from pursuing the investigation, that would not constitute good cause. correct? >> correct. >> okay. so, if somebody else were to
1:16 pm
fire the special counsel, in other words, if the president were to find somebody to do it, my question is, what -- what is the protection in that good cause definition? in your view, could the special counsel contest his firing if the special counsel did not believe it was good cause? >> senator, i hope i won't have to answer that hypothetical. you know, the purpose of that regulation, folk who is wrote it put a lot of thought into it, and they anticipated that people would follow the rules. your question's what if somebody doesn't follow the rules in what happens next? we have a lot of very well informed folks and great lawyers in the department who would deal with that if it would arise and i don't anticipate it will arise. >> i'm wondering, in your opinion, i'm hoping it doesn't arise either, but we all know there's scenarios, even that have some historical precedent where this kind of question
1:17 pm
could arise, so my question is, would the department or in this case would the special counsel have recourse in the courts arguing that there was not good cause for the firing? >> yeah. i just don't know the answer to that, senator. i hope we'll never reach that point. i tell you as long as i'm in this position, he is not fired without good cause and if he were it wouldn't be my responsibility. but that's like a law school hypothetical. i'm reluctant to answer without research first. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator murkowski. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, deputy attorney general. i had a conversation in my office with the attorney general prior to his confirmation, and we spoke about the department of justice's government to government work with the tribes. he admitted to me at that time that his familiarity with the some 229 tribes in alaska was
1:18 pm
limited, it was important for him to hear just the depth of some of the issues that we are facing as we deal with any level of law enforcement. so many of our communities have none whatsoever. and as a consequence, we are dealing with some very troubling statistics within our state. so, i was pleased to know that the department is making grants for implementation of the special domestic violent criminal jurisdiction in the fy '17 and then requesting funds to continue that work in fy '18 so that's good. i think that we have some things that we would like to discuss with you and your folks with regards to fy '17 funding levels that are perhaps a bit problematic, tribal court funding is, again, one that i
1:19 pm
have a great deal of interest with. but i do -- i do want to find a path forward with doj as it relates to some of the more immediate and very unique issues that we have as we deal with our tribal villages and the issues that they face. you would think that we are far enough away and remote enough that the opioid epidemic would not be hitting us in the state but it is. the level of domestic violence and sexual assault that we face in terms of the statistics, the uptick of violent crime that we are seeing in urban alaska. these are areas that we believe deserve a more specific approach and we would like to work with you. we have invited and welcomed the
1:20 pm
attorney general as well as you, as others, within the department of justice to come up to the state to sit down with some of our native leadership to discuss these issues. i again would reiterate that again and essentially ask for your willingness to work with us in perhaps some innovative ways to address the issue of justice and law enforcement in rural alaska. >> yes, senator. thank you. i welcome that opportunity. you know, we didn't have this issue in my home state of maryland but many colleagues in the past two administrations, u.s. attorneys have talked with me about the challenges that we have on those native american issues and i have met early in my tenure with the director of tribal justice office and talked about the issues and i would welcome the opportunity to work with you on that. >> good. we need to do that. let me switch gears. we have been talking about ownership oids and addiction but let's talk about another issue,
1:21 pm
alaska is one of those states that has not only enacted medical marijuana statutes, but we through ballot initiative have allowed for broader sale and use of marijuana that is regulated as we would regulate alcohol. in the state, we think that the regulatory regime is a fairly strong one and consistent with the kohl memorandum. that memorandum suggests that the federal government will not get in the way of states which maintains strong regulatory regimes. i had some correspondence with the prior attorney general, attorney general lynch, relating to this. but the fact is the banking sector is still closed to those in the marijuana business making it difficult for states to access paper trail to ensure that those in the business are compliant. we recently heard that postal inspectors believe that they can seize state tax payments sent by
1:22 pm
mail from people in the marijuana business. now i understand that doj wants to eliminate the appropriations rider prohibiting federal interference with state medical marijuana laws. so, i'm concerned and i'm speaking for a lot of people in my state who are worried about the inconsistency between the state marijuana laws as well as the federal policy. the department of justice has not taken the position thus far that the federal laws are preempted. i don't know if you're headed in that direction. the memorandum suggests deference but we are not seeing to ensure that the strong state laws are enforceable. so the bigger question is, where are we headed with marijuana? >> yeah. appreciate your concern about that, senator. it is a difficult issue. situation we have a conflict between federal law and the law in some states. it's a difficult issue for parents of teenagers like me who
1:23 pm
have to provide guidance to our kids about how they should treat -- >> believe me, i agree with that, yeah. >> i can tell you i talked to chuck rosenberg, the administer of dea and we follow the law and the science and, you know, from a legal and scientific perspective, marijuana is an unlawful drug, properly scheduled under schedule 1. and therefore, we have this conflict. jim cole tried to deal with it in that memorandum and at the moment that memorandum is still in effect. i can't -- maybe there will be changes to it in the future but we are operating under that policy, an effort to balance the conflicting interests with regard to marijuana and so i can assure you that's a high priority to talk with the attorney generals to deal with that, whether it's recreational or medical use. but we are still in the department of justice as
1:24 pm
attorney general lynch mentioned this at her hearing, confirmation hearing in january 2015 and explained that, you know, we are responsible for enforcing the law. it is illegal and that's the federal policy with regard to marijuana. >> confusing. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator feinstein. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i would just like to say that i associate myself with the remarks of senators shaheen and senator collins. yesterday, mr. rosenstein, i was in new york and a distinguished lawyer came up to me after i finished speaking and said, beware. this president is going to act to terminate the special counsel. and i said, he couldn't possibly do that. it would be catastrophic. and he said, just wait. i came home and turned on the television and this morning and that's what i heard. so, it's very hard to know what
1:25 pm
to believe. i do believe it would be catastrophic and i do believe it would destroy any shred of trust in the president's judgment that remains over here. i do not know with specifics what the procedure is if that were to happen. but as i understand what you said, that could not be done without your assent. is that correct? >> yes. that's correct, senator. >> and what you have said you would not assent under the present situation? >> correct. >> because there's no cause. >> yes. that's correct. >> so, is it fair to put that to rest? >> as far as i'm searched, yes, senator. i appointed him. i stand by that decision. i think it was the right thing to do under those circumstances. and i am going to defend the integrity of that investigation.
1:26 pm
>> thank you. let me go on to the cops anti-methamphetamine grants. that's a program i helped establish in 2014. if i understand what you said very quickly, the cut is $7 million in methane $10 million in heroin but the addition is $40.4 million for dea. is that correct? >> that is my understanding, senator. and i've been briefed by our career officials, actually whispering in my ear that is correct. >> good. >> we are going to commit more resources to combatting heroin and opioid drugs over the next year. >> good. so the cops anti-methamphetamine program will remain intact? >> i think, senator, the answer to that is that what we intend to do is to fund task forces in a different way. i think that funding went directly to state and local law
1:27 pm
enforcement. >> that's correct. >> our proposal is to fund it through dea so there will be task forces but there will be dea task forces opposed to state and local. >> you're canceling the funding that goes to local police organizations? >> the direct funding to establish those -- the grants to establish those local task forces are proposed to be eliminated but there's additional funding to dea which will be used to fund state and local officers who work with dea -- >> so the answer is, yes. you are defunding community police departments that participate. >> i believe the answer is that we are proposing to defund that $7 million that went directly to local task forces. >> okay. i just want you to know that in california alone, in the past few months there have been 61 arrests, 428 kilograms of meth seized, 242 kilograms of heroin,
1:28 pm
1,728 kilograms of marijuana and 11 firearms. so, it is a very busy task force and it no doubt if the money is not there could likely be eliminated. secondly, there is a growing concern that the russia investigation is taking too long. i heard a congressman this morning expressing that point of view. mr. comey briefed senator grassley and myself as the chairman and ranking three months ago. it was a full and good brief. do you have any estimate as to the time this investigation will take or when we might be expected to have some conclusion? >> senator, i regret that i do not. the way our investigations are conducted, it depends upon a lot of factors. and so, it's generally very
1:29 pm
difficult for us to predict in advance how long the investigation is going to take. i can assure you it's important to me that it be done expeditiously and i communicated that to director mueller and how do we move it expeditiously? requires appropriate resources which i believe we do have and always have had to conduct the investigations and making good in addition zigss how to conduct the investigation and i believe we can rely on director mule tore do that. >> so, there is no estimate as to when we might expect some resolution? >> correct. >> okay. let's go to the wall. it's my understanding that for the 600 miles of wall there are 400 lawsuits pending. is that correct? >> senator, i don't believe that i have a number for you. regret -- i can try to get back to you on that. we don't have a number. >> i understand you've put
1:30 pm
additional attorneys in the budget to handle these. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> how many are there? >> senator, we have proposed total of 27 additional attorneys in the civil and environmental divisions. and $4 million available to defend the government and meet litigation agreements of enforcement. not just about the wall but immigration enforcement and include any litigation that arose. >> that's the 400 cases now pending. what is your estimate of lawsuits on the remainder of the wall? >> senator, i'm not familiar with that. i can look into it and try to get back to you. >> well, i really would like you to because i think it's going to be extraordinary. i think as you get into the rio grande valley you are going to find the property owners as i hear are not very pleased and i think we ought to know about it. >> right. >> as we budget. so, could i ask that you get back to me prior to the time we
1:31 pm
mark this bill up? >> i can try to give you an information we have. pardon me, senator. i can give you whatever information we have. it's important to keep in mind, though, we are the lawyers on these issues but it's homeland security that would have the primary responsibility for operational decisions so i'll give you whatever we can but i think homeland security might be in better position to comment on that. >> we will approach that. thank you very much. thanks, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you mr. boseman for his courtesy. welcome. >> just like feinstein. >> easy to remember. we work together all the time. i'm going to ask you about something different maybe refreshing for you. probably not the top of your agenda but i hope it will be on your agenda as time goes on. outdated federal consent decrees. and specifically, how such things affect songwriters in nashville.
1:32 pm
outdated federal consent decrees, in 2006 i introduced legislation based upon a book called "democracy by decree: wh when courts run government." it was about the growing number of federal consent decrees that seemed to manage everything, a lot of it had to do with education, some with the environment, some -- clean air litigation, variety of other things and it took these issues out of the hands of legislators and courts were running the government. so, in general, those -- the legislation would have allowed newly elected mayors and governors to put those issues back out in the democratic process. let me talk about one example of that. has to do with songwriters. might not seem very important in washington, d.c. but we have
1:33 pm
thousands of them in nashville, the center of songwriting. most of them are waiters and bus drivers and teachers in the meantime hoping to make a big hit. 75 years ago the department of justice noticed anti-trust implication on the two organizations that regulate how songwriters are paid for their work. let me give you an example. a few years ago i was with some songwriters and i had gone outside of a pharmacy and i'd saw an old couple there. i said how you all doing? the lady said we're falling apart together. i mentioned that to the songwriters, lee bryce and billy montana and another songwriter, they said, i think we can do something with that and wrote a song called "falling apart together." lee bryce put it on an album and i get a fourth of the royalties for that because that's the way nashville works. the four of us write a song, we each split it up. last year i got $110 for my royalty. even though it's on lee bryce's album and he is a pretty
1:34 pm
well-known singer. that's the first problem. under the decree, you have a rate court that sets what the songwriters get paid and doesn't reflect the market value. the second is more immediate. your department issues regulations and interpretations of regulations based upon the consent decrees. one recent regulation said that if lee bryce and i and billy montana and another writer are sitting around writing, that we have to check and see who represents us and that any one of us can find that person and make a deal with the bar or a restaurant that affects all the others of us and it would turn the common, ordinary, every day practice of songwriting in nashville upside down and i'm not surprised that someone in the department of justice wouldn't know you co-write songs. sit down informally.
1:35 pm
maybe a weekend, write six, seven songs and what this would do is tear that apart because the songwriters, not well think people, to consult lawyers, make this kind of thing. the songwriters have appealed the department justice interpretation. the court, federal district court, agreed with that and now appealing it further to a higher court. so, my request of you is not for you to answer me today on how to solve that problem but, one, would you put on your agenda somewhere the general issue of democracy by decree outdated federal consent decrees and consider whether it's not time to give governors and mayors and legislators an opportunity to file motions to void the consent decrees? and second, will you consider the department of justice interpretation that's now appeal to a federal diskikt court that if you're successful, if you're
1:36 pm
successful, will turn the every day business of songwriting in nashville upside down, i'm sure it's not what's intended by the department of justice but that would be the practical effect. >> senator, i happen to be a country music fan. it's something i passed on to my daughter and tempted to comment. >> it's okay if you do. >> there's pending litigation an i'm not at liberty to comment on the pending litd gags but i do want to comment on the general issue with regard to consent decrees. i think there are questions to ask with regard to proposed consent decrees. will it help solve a problem? how do we evaluate success? how do we know if it's working? how much is it going to cost and when will it end? i think those are appropriate questions to the extent that we are considering imposing consent decrees and as i recognize a consent decree is consent of the parties and always opportunities to revisit if there's agreement among the parties f. there's not, maybe litigation as you
1:37 pm
mentioned. but i regret i don't have any opinion to offer on the proposed legislation. but i can assure you that we will when there are consent decrees issues in the department to think seriously about those and other issues. >> i thank you for your answer and the consent decree under which the lawsuit and the rate court are established was put in place in 1941. that seems to me to be too long to keep something out of the hands of the democracy. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator manchin. >> good to have you here and a pressing question i have right now is the couple falling apart together get anything? >> there wasn't anything left after each of the four songwriters got $110 for the year. >> i understand. first of all, it is reassuring, sir, to hear that the system that you have put in place as far as the special prosecutor and mr. mueller, the confidence you have in him, to do his job is quite assuring. and comforting to all of us.
1:38 pm
did you talk with robert mueller about his investigation and the resources that he might need to do his job the proper way and do you feel he's sufficiently been supported in that effort? >> i have not. you should t under the regulation it tasks the assistant attorney general to consult about resources and management. that gentleman is behind me and he has talked with mr. mueller about it. i have not. but i assure you he get it is resources he needs to conduct that investigation. >> there's not a concern there whether he can do the job the way it's intended to be done. >> yes, he will. >> okay. mr. rosenstein, could you be terminated without cause? >> yes. >> and who would appoint your replacement as your position now deputy attorney general? >> the president. >> so that's a possibility? >> anything's possible, senator. >> i understand. that's what we know.
1:39 pm
there's great concern in all of this, as you can tell. i'm -- i'm going to get another opportunity to talk to attorney general sessions in intel meeting so i know a lot of my colleagues here don't have the same opportunities so they're a little bit concerned about him not being here but i want to thank you for being here. in west virginia we have a devastating epidemic. we are a state hit harder than any other state. we've lost more people per capita than any other state. we are doing everything humanly possible and can't do it without the help of attorney general's office, department of justice, everyone else that's involved. i guess i would ask, what is your main approach to fighting the war on opioid addiction? >> yes. well, thank you, senator. this is an extremely high priority for me. i'm very familiar with the opioid challenges in west virginia.
1:40 pm
in fact, u.s. attorneys in the obama administration worked with me on these issues and participated with us in meetings that we held in baltimore and in the capital region about the opioid challenge because some of the drugs that are in west virginia are sourced to baltimore and so we had cases in common. and i'm aware of how serious a problem this is in west virginia. i have talked with the potential candidates for u.s. attorney in your state and in others. and this is one of the issues that i talk about. this is going to be one of the high priorities of this administration. i know you're aware that attorney general sessions traveled to charleston. >> right. >> in may. he gave opening remarks at the dea 360. and as i mentioned earlier, this 360 degree strategy recognizes the need to work in coordination of state and local officials and recognizes not just about law enforcement but the community resources that we need to deter people from becoming drug addicts. and so we won't -- >> sir, if i could just -- i
1:41 pm
know our time -- i want you to comment on this. in west virginia, a little town, population of 392 people, out of state drug companies basically was a supply house, legitimate businesses. sent 9 million highly addictive, 9 million highly addictive hydrocodone over two years to a town of 392 people. that's where we need -- i mean, it's just unbelievable. what's being sent and we have an awful lot of suits on going going on right now against the drug suppliers. are you all involved in those? >> i'm not certain, sir, but dea does have a diversion strategy. a group that focuses on drug diversion and we are certainly aware that a significant proportion is a prescription drug problem, that is drugs that are diverted from legitimate
1:42 pm
uses or overprescribed to addicts an ena significant portion of the problem and i believe we need to work with the pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, pharmacists and doctors and identify folks overprescribing and hold them accountable. >> drug courts have had a tremendous impact on us and we think it's very positive. we're concerned about drug courts, the funding for drug courts in our state and all over this country. if you could tell me what your administration is supporting on drug courts or expansion of drug courts, continuing support for drug courts. >> yes, senator. we are proposing funding for state, local and tribal drug courts. $40 million proposing in the 2018 budget. that funding will enable them to develop and implement drug courts of substance abuse treatment with mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives. the goal to transition people off of drugs and part of a
1:43 pm
larger $100 million request for funding programs that support the addiction an recovery act and some people refer to cara or cara. >> thank you. >> i think senator bozeman is in front of me. he is just yielding right and left. okay. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, deputy attorney general, for being here. mr. rosenstein, i want to follow up on something my cloeg of west virginia began, which are the resources for the special counsel. you said and you've said more than once that you anticipate and that you know that the resources that will be needed to do a full investigation will be there and full measure for the special counsel. correct? >> yes. >> what kind of oversight do you, because we know as appropriators and as folk who is are looking over budget that is one way to squeeze or change the direction is to have tighter oversight or to squeeze down on
1:44 pm
the resources available. do you have the ability to do that? or do you tell director mueller that he can basically have whatever resources he needs to have? who has the oversight over his budget or is there such a thing? >> senator, i think, you know, within limits he has oversight of his budget. our administrative officers, justice management division, i'm sure if they felt there was something inappropriate would bring it to me attention. i don't expect that to happen. i think the resources will be reasonable and no dispute as to what he needs. >> i would aptd that, as well. but thank you for that answer. i was going to go to drugs because that's a big issue so i'm going to go -- we just had attorney general sessions in the state of west virginia to talk about dea 360. seems to be a good program that's gotten off to a great start in our state which we have, as you're well aware of, much needed assistance. after the addiction unfortunately to painkillers, many people are moving to
1:45 pm
heroin. much of the heroin laced with fentanyl. it's coming in and believed to be coming in also through the u.s. mail from china. what is your department doing on that particular aspect? >> you're correct, senator. there are really two challenges with regard to fentanyl, many people are not aware of it. many will become aware of it. it is a e moerching threat. it can be small quantities of fentanyl dangerous and sent in the mail and aware it's coming in the united states, primarily two ways. it is coming in through the mexican border and it's coming in by mail from china. >> right. >> and so, you know, we are going to need to work with dea and postal inspection service trying to find a way to cut down on that and i think also with florida authorities. we need help from authorities in china and mexico to deal with that challenge, as well. that is at the top of my agenda. as you know, i've been in the job only six weeks and already talked with a number of folks
1:46 pm
including chuck rosenberg and we are going to find a way to combat that threat. >> well, as you know, it's a killer but it also affects our first responders. i read a story of a first responder i believe they were in ohio who had been at the cleanup scene, thought everything was sterilized and clean and then something off of the glove and he had to be revived from an overdose of a mine skull exposure to something extremely dangerous. you also i'm sure are aware that the background fbi facility proudly located in west virginia and it is processing millions of background checks. i am searched that in this year's budget a rescission was implemented from the fees collected by cjis that they have prooef absolute used to update their i.t. we know how important i.t. infrastructure is to get it right in the very important issue. what can you say about that in terms of the support from your
1:47 pm
department for cjis and does this rescissions that are occurring this year, do you feel that -- what kind of impact that has? i have some concerns over that. >> senator, i'm not sure i know about the rescission. i'm happy to look into that. the request is $17 million increase. i think there's an overall increase. i don't have any information about the rescission. >> let me ask you another question on the over years hearing about a backlog in sexual assault backlog. and the department of justice -- will the department of justice reverse this trend and mirror the sentiment expressed by this committee report affirming a stronger commitment to increasing the necessary resources for this particular purpose under your direction? >> you know, senator, i know that's an important challenge nationwide. i recall the district attorney i believe in manhattan made a priority of that last year. and we are committed to working with our state, local and tribal
1:48 pm
partners to improve dna and other forensic testing. this budget aluos for forensic programs and specifically with regard to your question, $45 million for national sexual assault, for a national sexual assault kit initiative and address your concerns. >> well, i would encourage you to move in that direction and glad to see the department is doing that. thank you so much. >> senator kennedy. >> mr. rosenstein, welcome. >> thank you. >> the justice department sent letters to nine jurisdictions alleged to be so-called sanctuary cities under 18-u.s.-c section 1373. we are on that? >> senator, i believe we sent letters to ten jurisdictions and these were jurisdictions identified by the inspector
1:49 pm
general last year as jurisdictions that the inspector general believed may have been in violation of section 1373 and thereby potentially in violation of grants to comply with federal law and so we notified all ten localities that they needed to certify to us they were in fact complying with section 1373. i believe we gave them until june 30th. and as of yesterday, we'd heard back from three that certify that they were in compliance. and so, there's seven that have not yet responded. i anticipate, i hope we will have the responses by the end of the month. >> which three -- which three have you heard back from? >> i do not know that personally, senator. i can check into it and get back to you. >> okay. >> i don't know which three responded. >> have you heard from new orleans? >> i do not know the answer to that. >> okay. what if a jurisdiction -- what if -- >> dealing with governments, our
1:50 pm
primary check is the certification, the self certification they provide, they're in compliance with all the grant requirements but there is -- there is a aud itting capacity within the department and granting authority, or as happened last year, by our inspector general, and if they found violations, we would have to deal with the implications as we do in ordinary grants. as u.s. attorney, i dealt with matters in which grant recipients violated provisions of the grants and the question arises of the appropriate remedy. so there is the potential for auditing, and oversight of those certifications, but primarily we expect people to be truthful about it. i want to let you know i do have -- i just received from my staff, a report that new orleans is one of the three that has responded and has certified that it is complying. the other two are clarke county,
1:51 pm
nevada, and another one in connecticut. >> may i call you general? i don't want to call you assistant general. general, i want to be sure i understand. the department sent letters to ten jurisdictions. that have alleged to be sanctuary cities and said are you a sanctuary city? and you really expect them to write you back and say, yep? >> no. let me clarify for you. the request is are you complying with section 1373. the sanctuary, whether it's defined as a sajt ware city is a different issue. our requirement as identified by the inspector general, our question is are you complying with 1373. it's not whether or not you're a sanctuary city. >> to me this issue is, of course, about immigration, legal immigration versus illegal
1:52 pm
immigration, but it's also about respecting the law. and our mayor in new orleans who is a friend of mine on the one hand says i'm in complete compliance with section 1373. i'm not a sanctuary city, but on the other hand, says publicly to the people of louisiana, quote, i refuse to be a part of trump's deportation force. closed quote. now, and that's his -- this is america. you can believe what you want to believe. but we are a nation of laws. and we have laws that have to be followed. and if the -- if new orleans disagrees with the law, it should petition congress to change it, but it can't just unilaterally say i don't like that. i'm the mayor, i don't like the president. i don't agree with his policies so i'm not going to follow it. and make his comments personal in the process of doing that.
1:53 pm
that bothered me. so what's going to be done to followup? i mean, let me make a prediction. all ten cities are going to say they're in compliance. >> yes. thank you, sir. i want to make sure i clarify this. if somebody certified to the department of justice they're in compliance, we expect them to be in compliance. and so it would be a very serious matter if someone sends us a certification. it has to be signed by a person, and the person has to be confident they're right. if someone signs it, we're going to review those, particularly those ten, because they've already been identified for us as jurisdictions where there was some concern. we're going to review the submissions and if they're not in compliance and they're in violation of the grand contract, we will pursue remedies. that could include suspending or terminating grant contract and include repayment of grant funds. it's a serious matter.
1:54 pm
if somebody sends a certification, we expect it to be accurate. >> well, i've gone over, but over what period of time are you going to check their compliance? >> well, there is within the ordinary grant-making process, obviously there are a lot of conditions on federal grants. there is a review process within the department of the justice programs and other grant making components of the department. there's a potential for investigations by the inspector general. we review them in the ordinary course, and on a prospective basis, we're going to require the certifications that jurisdictions are in compliance with 1373. if they weren't following in the law in the first place, they'll make sure they change their practices so they are following the law in the future. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for your indulgence in allowing me to go over. thank you mr. general. >> senator boseman. >> you lost a little time. >> no, it's fine.
1:55 pm
he had a good excuse. he was going to visit with the president. thank you so much for being here. i just want to echo first the -- what my colleagues have said about drug courts on both sides of the aisle, and that's something that really does reduce recidivism. they're doing a great job in arkansas both the regular drug court and then also the veteran drug courts working with the v.a., using the resources they have. that's just a great partnership that really is making a big difference. i'm pleased that the doj is reinvesting in the tragedy that targets violent crime. i understand you created a violent crime task force. what agencies are playing what roles and do you have the necessary resources that you need to carry out the mission which is so very important. >> yes. with regard to violent crime, in 2015 violent crime increased by
1:56 pm
more than 3%. to put that in context, that's the largest one year increase since 1991 nationwide. number of murders in 2015 increased by 11% which was the largest one year increase since 1971. we consider this to be an urgent problem. there was a task force in violent crime reduction in safety. that's drawing on expertise throughout the department to come up with strategies. we have a number of proposals. some are in the budget. it will help us to reinvigorate our fight against violent crime. i'm hopeful we will be able to resubstitute project safe neighborhoods. it was a program that i was involved in back in when i first became u.s. attorney. we hope to reinvigorate that program where we work together with the state and local partners to identify what are the violent crime problems and how can federal resources best be used to solve them. the issue you opened with is
1:57 pm
particularly important to me. the drug courts are an issue for our state and local partners. they deal with on a daily basis, a large volume of offenders who are drug addicts. in the federal system, typically when we're prosecuting drug cases, they're distributors. we deal with a different type of defendant. for state and local partners, if they help overcome the addiction, they reduce crime. so it's important to support those efforts. >> very good. i'm on a committee where one of the concerns is the number of immigration judges. we have, i believe, about a 500,000 backlog. i think there's $75 million to put more resources in there, more judges. can you talk a little bit about that? the efforts that you're making in that regard, and kind of what the plan is to eliminate the
1:58 pm
backlog, how you're going to resource those judges? >> there are two ways that we are acting immediately to try to deal with that backlog. the first is by filling existing vacancy. because there was a delay in filling immigration judge vacancies as they arose. so we had a lot of judicial slots that were funded but vacant. we're moving quickly to fill those. in addition we requested $500 million for the office in the department called the executive office of immigration review. that's the office that handles those cases. and that will include $75 million for new judges. 75 new judges, and a total of 450 staff which includes the folks to support the judges, and so once we get all those folks into the field, we anticipate we're going to be able to make a big impact on the backlog. it will be a 21% increase in the staff. we'll be able to adjudicate the immigration cases much more
1:59 pm
fairly and expeditiously, and we're looking to fill the 36 vacancies that already exist. we already hired 38 immigration judges this year, and we hope to have all 345 slots filled by the end of the year. >> are you going to realign or are you in the process of realigning where they're at? >> we're looking -- >> teleconferencing, things like that? do we use those kinds of technologys? >> we're looking at alignment as in where we need the judges. we're going to put them in places we think they're most valuable. i hope to look at ways we can operate more efficiently. you mentioned teleconferencing, using technology to move the cases quicker. it's not good for anybody to have these cases pending for so long. the director of our executive office of immigration review recently left the department. we now have an acting director, and i plan to work closely with him and with his successor when we appoint a permanent director
2:00 pm
and the challenge i have given to him is lets fill the vacancies and figure out if there are ways to move the cases through the system more quickly because i think that's in everybody's interest. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> i have several questions, and then i'll go on. the justice department, it's my understanding, currently holds over 4 billion dollars in seized assets in a funds to compensate the victims of the bernie madoff fraud. the department is in year six of the fund, and to date no assets have been disbursed to victims. in addition, news reports indicate that the special master of this fund has collected over $40 million in fees. questions have been raised about the methodology of making distributions in determining the
2:01 pm
val validity of claims, like everything, that these methodologies are unorthodox and unworkable. obviously they're not working if there's been no distribution. would the department be inclined to review this matter? in other words, look at this as something wrong here, and see if there is a manner in which these distributions can be made more quickly and efficiently because the fund was set up to compensate the victims? you got a comment on that? >> yes, sir, i agree with you. i think from the perspective of our prosecutors and agents, one of the most important things we can do is to reimburse victims. i think we ought -- >> that was the purpose of the fund, wasn't it? >> yes, that's correct. and we should do it as quickly as possible. as i understand it, i just learned about this issue this week. i need to look into it a bit more. my understanding is the problem here was the volume of claims. we received, i understand, 65,000 claims. so it's a process of making sure each one of those is dealt with
2:02 pm
individually and then we don't distribute the money until we're confident about the pool of people who ought to receive it. so i do appreciate your concern, and i can commit to you i'm going to look into that and figure out why it's taking so long. >> will you get back to the committee on this? >> yes, sir. >> it's been raised by a number of people with us. >> yes. my understanding is we have recently begun to notify people about decisions. there's some people getting answers from us, but i will report back to you on that. >> thank you. >> counterterrorism. how does the department's budget 2018 budget particularly funding for the fbi improve the partnership with the united kingdom and other five i partners in the global war on terror, and what benefits do you feel will come from a new bilateral agreement between the u.s. and the uk to expand data sharing in this area? >> thank you, senator. national security is our highest priority. and the key to effectively
2:03 pm
combatting terrorism is to work with our partners in foreign countries. that's critically important to us. with regard to the bilateral agreement between the u.s. and the uk, i think it's critical to allow us to lawfully and efficiently access electronic data. data sharing is critical and one of the challenges is we share data. we also need to maintain the confidentiality of data. what we introduced last month was a legislative proposal to enable bilateral agreements. the key benefits include helping our allies investigate and fight serious crime. reducing and eliminating conflicts of law that put our technology companies in a difficult position. this is for companies that have information that's lawful in one country but not another to share it. it will bring us to bring our laws into harmony and accomplish reducing incentive to localize data by companies. we look forward to working with the congress and we look forward to addressing any of the
2:04 pm
concerns you may have about it. >> thank you. in the area of cyber security, over the past couple of years we've all witnessed serious data breaches occurring in the u.s. government and also the private sector. including some of the nation's largest companies and financial institutions. the department is requesting additional funding in the year 2018 budget to combat cyber crime across several agencies including the fbi, the national security division, the criminal division, and many u.s. attorney's offices. the question here is what is the department proposing to do differently or additionally in the 2018 to combat cyber crime that is currently unable to accomplish with existing funds. >> well, as i mentioned in the opening statement, senator, cyber crime is an area of emerging challenges, changes in technology, constantly creating
2:05 pm
new challenges for us. some changes in technology actually are developed in an effort to defeat enforcement efforts. so our enhancements include $41.5 million for the cyber efforts. that's improving technological tools and expanding high-speed networks. it's $20 million to address threats posed by foreign intelligence and insiders and 22 million to address the going dark problem. i think that's the most significant law enforcement challenge. >> you have a heck of a challenge? >> yes. we have extraordinarily talented agents and support personnel. but this technology is a tremendous challenge for us. they're always trying to stay a step ahead of us. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. rosenstein, i very much appreciated the -- appreciate the statements that you've made here this morning about your commitment to addressing the ha
2:06 pm
heroin and opioid epidemic. in new hampshire, we're second to west virginia in the percentage of overdose deaths. and this year we've seen another drug arrive in new hampshire and have had six people die in the state from it. and i understand that the department is looking at reprioritizing efforts to address drug enforcement. but i guess i just disagree with you in a couple of the areas. one is on eliminating the cops anti-heroin task force grant program. senator feinstein talked about the -- her efforts to start a focus on meth which has been successful. it was looking at that successful model that senator leahy and i did in trying to support local law enforcement. while i think a lot of our dea agents and our federal law
2:07 pm
enforcement officials do a great job, we just don't have as many of them in new hampshire as we do local law enforcement, and we need to provide some resources for local law enforcement, pause they're the people who day in and day out are on the front lines. so i would urge you to go back and rethink whether eliminating that task force, the antiheroin task force program is what we're trying to accomplish. i would ask what you're doing to address the -- you talked about meeting with china to look at what we're seeing in mail order drugs coming into the united states. there is a story this weekend by "the new york times" reporting on the dark web that is being used to sell synthetic drugs and
2:08 pm
open yoi opioids. can you tell me what you're doing? >> yes. i'd like to make the point on the task force, we have different ways of addressing the same issue. we are committed to spending more resources -- >> can i interrupt you? the other issue that has been brought unby several of my colleagues has been the drug cords. we have found it to be effective in new hampshire, and yet, you've reduced funding for drug courts in the 2018 budget. >> i had the number. i'm not certain about the reduction in -- >> from $43 million to 40 million. >> all right. >> and while it's not -- may not seem like a lot of money, in new hampshire, that's a lot of money. >> it's a lot of money to me, senator. i think it does reflect the commitment that 40 million was reflect our confidence that that program can be effective and i'm sure if that program is funded, i'll work with the office of justice programs i know to make sure it's spent effectively.
2:09 pm
to address your question about china. i've been in this job for six weeks. i have not met with china, but i do hope to talk with dea and the special service and any other federal agencies that have a stake in this to figure out what we can do. the problem with the dark web, and i'm familiar with the story you're referring to, is it's an effective tool for criminals to commit crime with limited ability to be detected. but we do have ways to catch those criminals. we had a case a couple years ago involving a dark website in which the defendant was caught, and successfully prosecuted in new york. and will no longer be in a position to use the internet as a tool to distribute drugs and to facility other crimes. we do have the ability to catch these offenders. but it is challenging, because the technological burdens. i will work with fbi, dea, secret service, and other agencies to do everything that we can to get ahead of that
2:10 pm
problem. >> thank you, and if there are legal changes in policy that need to be made, i hope you will share that with us so we can try and support your efforts. let me go to another topic very quickly. because in april the marshal service publicly released they estimate the ram clock protective detail for education secretary devosz to be $1 million a month. by the end of september this is going to total $8 million. i wonder if you can tell me why the marshal service is playing the role in her protective detail. i understand four to eight deputy marshals at the same time on the detail. can you tell me who made this determination about why this was necessary and my understanding is the only time that this has ever been done before was for the onddp drug czar in the 90s
2:11 pm
in. >> i don't know, but i'd like to look into it and get back to you. >> i appreciate that. i have had credible threats against me. i was a governor. i have never had four to eight people on my detail 24 hours a day. >> senator kuntz. >> thank you. thank you, general rosenstein, i appreciate the opportunity to talk to you. first, just a followup on a number of senators who are talked with you about fentinal. we try to deal with some of the issues around the shipment of feintal into the united states. on appropriation, i intend to push back on the elimination of funding.
2:12 pm
i think the program has been helpful. the bullet proof vest is one i've supported. it's given roughly 13,000 jurisdictions bullet proof bests that are anatomically appropriate, current vest technologies where the federal role is making sure they're high performing bullet proof vests and they have saved the lives of law enforcement officials, some of whom i know personally from my home state. the request makes it a carve out rather than being funded separately. similarly the body worn partner partnership is a carve out. effect live, these two programs would cut justice assistant grants by 45 million by carving them out. on top of the $71 million cut in the request. in supporting law enforcement, why did the administration slash resources for state and local
2:13 pm
law enforcement by making the bullet proof vest and other a carveout? >> my understanding is we have recommended 22.5 million for that bullet proof vest program which i agree is important. actually, it's consistent with the amount that was allocated over the last two fiscal years. my understanding is it's set aside within the jag program so i don't know the technical reasons for that, but i can tell you i think it's an important program, and the budget does propose to spend $22.5 million on the vests. if approved, i'm sure we will. >> i look forward to working with you to make sure the resources are available in a long term way. i was just pointing out the reduction in burn jag which i think 50 senators drew a letter proposing a reduction. these are programs previously separately funded. in my hometown, it's one of a
2:14 pm
number of cities where we've seen a spike in violent crime. and the violence reduction network was an effective high impact partnership between federal law enforcement and local law enforcement just to give one example, we saw homicide clearance rates jump from lowe 20% to about 50%. i want to thank, again, ojp bureau of justice assistant for their efforts. it made possible john skinner, a baltimore pd leader coming to wilmington and coordinating different federal law enforcement interventions that were very powerful. in your response to my questioning for the record in your confirmation e hearing you said reducing vienltd crime was a top priority and you'd review processes. will you commit to assisting cities like wilmington and have shown themselves to be good partners with federal law enforcement through programs like veer in in the past?
2:15 pm
>> yes, senator. in fact, i knew john skinner from baltimore, and i worked with the department in the vrn rollout. i'm very pleased the program was effective in wilmington. we are funding, or requesting funding of $5 million for the national crime reduction assistance network. that's an important opportunity for cities to consultant with the department and researchers. people who have proven track records and can bring best practices to local jurisdiction. we have a lot of extraordinarily committed law enforcement officers out there, police chiefs and sheriffs who welcome the assistance. the insights that can be provided by somebody who takes a fresh look and brings ideas that may be working other places. i strongly support that program. we have a symposium maybe even next week, that is part of our violent crime initiative. and i do intend to make that a priority. >> thank you. and anything we can do to
2:16 pm
appropriately partner between federal law enforcement and some of the municipalities that see sustained elevated stubbornly difficult levels of crime, if anything they've gotten worse in the last year. we've dedicated law enforcement officers, and our previous chief was also quite responsive as the vrn's success shows, but we need to continue to engage on this, and i appreciate the investment in learning from and carrying forward what vrn was able to do. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, sir, for appearing here today. if there are no further questions this morning, senators will have the ability to submit additional questions for the record. which will be part of the hearing record, and we'd request the department of justice answer the questions. because some of the senators were in other committees today. this sub committee stands in
2:17 pm
recess until thursday, june 29th at 10 a.m. when we will take the testimony of acting nasa administrative robert lightfoot. the committee is adjourned. this is a very familiar setting. it's room 216. this time it is the attorney general's turn. jeff sessions will testify in front of the intelligence committee for up to what we expect will be about three hours this afternoon. principally about russia's interference in the 2016 elections, but certainly will be asked about his responses to last week's testimony of the former fbi director. and possibly his role in the firing of director comey back in

34 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on