Skip to main content

tv   Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein Testifies Before House Judiciary...  CSPAN  December 15, 2017 1:51pm-5:13pm EST

1:51 pm
a lot of what he says. i think there is -- i think there is a decent chance, because i think bannon believes that the elector at has already changed. even in the general election, trump was victorious. despite flaws and despite a lot of controversy, they elected him. i think what bannon believes is that already the longing for populism and nationalism is there. he believes it's already victorious among the base. where it hasn't changed is in washington. where it hasn't changed is in the leadership and some parts of the republican party. and that's what's driving him. >> watch after words sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on cspan2's book tv. >> deputy attorney general rod
1:52 pm
rosenstein testified on capitol hill wednesday about special counsel robert mueller's investigation of russia's influence in the 2016 u.s. elections. during the hearing, several members of the committee asked questions about alleged bias on the part of agents involved in this and a previous fbi investigation into hillary clinton's handling of a private e-mail server. from the house judicial committee, this is about four
1:53 pm
hours. good morning. the judicial committee will come to order. without objection the chairs authorized to declare recesses of the committee at any time. we welcome everyone to this morning's hearing on oversight hearing with deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. i'll begin by risiecognizing myf for an opening statement. thank you, deputy general -- attorney general rosenstein for appearing for the first time. there is much to discuss today and we look forward to your testimony and answers to your questions. as chairman of the committee with primary oversight of the department ofhe justice and the fbi, i have always supported the department and the fbi in performing their valuable missions to keep our nation safe and to hold individuals accountable for criminal conduct. yet i and many on this committee now find ourselves in the very difficult position of questioning the actions of both prior and current department and fbi leadership. you have a unique role at the department of justice in that
1:54 pm
you appointed special counsel mueller and have a supervisory role over his investigation. it is therefore very appropriate for you to appear before this committee tope answer questions related to the scope of the special counsel's investigation as well as its current efficacy in light of various events calling into question its impartiality. reports on the political predisposition and potential bias of certain career agents and department lawyers on special counsel mueller's team are deeply troubling to all citizense who expect a system o blind and equal justice. the department of justice investigationsca must not be individuals imposing their own political prejudices. we are now beginning to better understand the magnitude of this insider bias on mr. mueller's team. first we have fbi agent peter strzok and fbi lawyer lisa page exchanging communications, showing extreme bias against
1:55 pm
presidente trump. a fact that would be bad enough ifng they weren't employed as pi of the mueller dream team investigating the very person for whom they were showing disdain and calling it mere disdain is generous. according to the documents produced last night to this committee, mr. strzok and ms. page refer to the president as an utter idiot and awful while continuing praising hillary clinton and the obamas. these text messages prove what we all suspected. high ranking fbi officials involved in the clinton investigation were personally invested in the outcome of the election and clearly let their strong political opinions cloud their professional judgment. and this was only an initial disclosure containing heavy redar
1:56 pm
redactions. andrew wiseman expressed his awe of a doj official for shunning the president and failing to execute the law. however, we are the ones now in awe that someone like mr. weissman remains on an investigative team that looks more and more part son. third, we have learned that a top t mueller prosecutor, jeann, in addition to the other actions that would normally justify recusal served as an attorney for the clinton foundation. aren't department of justice attorneyss advised to avoid eve the appearance of impropriety? a former clinton employee is now investigating president trump. thison seems to be the very definition of appearance of impropriety. fourth, we have just recently learned that another top department of justice official, bruce orr, has been reassigned because of his wife and his connections with the infamous dossier and the company from whom the opposition research
1:57 pm
documentnt originated. we hopef to hear your assessmen of the foregoing conflicts, whether individuals are being held accountable and whether you still have confidence in the judgment of the special counsel you named and supervise. . regarding the clinton e-mail scandal, you along with attorney general sessions have to date declined to appoint a second special counsel to investigate the improprieties that continue to surface related to the handling of theha clinton e-mai investigation and other events surrounding the 2016 election. these are some of the important issues on which we will focus our energy and questions today. we want toip understand your participation and the department's involvement in addressing both investigations. deputy attorney general, the department of justice's reputation as an impartial arbitor of justice has been called into question. this taint of plitization, while
1:58 pm
we h continue to call on you to appoint a second special counsel, as you are aware we have opened our own joint investigation to review fbi and the department of justice's handlingat of the clinton e-mai investigation. i want to thank you and attorney general sessions for recently committing to provide us relevant documents to enable robust congressional oversight of this matter. ii implore you to continue to work with usg on these and othe important matters facing our nation. one of these matters involves a critical program for our national security. fisa section 702. this committee passed on an overwhelming bipartisan basis the usa liberty act which maintains them integrity of the protecting e cherished civil liberties. this overwhelming vote occurred despite the department's lobbying efforts against our bill. the usa liberty act was
1:59 pm
characterized as bad for the program, highly problematic, unworkable and a proposal that would effectively dismantle section 702. however, the reality is that thisvi committee's legislation struck a balance that promotes national security and civil liberties. i hope to hear from you why the department of justice felt it necessary to oppose a bill that would reauthorize 702 and instill confidence in the american people that their privacy and civil liberties are respected by a government whose duty it is to protect them. the department of justice must reacqui reacquire the trust of the american people. i know there are thousands of departments of justice employees and line agents in the department -- in the bureau of -- federal bureau of investigation that are dedicated individuals, that are dedicated to upholding the rule of law and protecting the american people and i hope that we can come to a conclusion about those people who have not met that standard
2:00 pm
in this hearing today. thank you, mr. deputy attorney general for appearing today. i now yield to the gentleman from new york, the rafrpginking member of the committee, mr. d nadler. >> beforeeof i begin let me ende the comments of the chairman with respect to 702 and the legislation we reported out of this committee. second, i want tohe acknowledge letter the chairman and i received last night from the of this c women committee. our colleagues have written to ask that bwe convene a hearing regarding thein allegations of and misconductnt leveled against president trumpn i ask that letter be made a part of the record. >> it will be a made a part of the record. >> i endorse this letter. we should convene this hearing as soon as possible. this is an opportunity for us to lead and to show the country thatny this kind of behavior an unacceptable at any level of government. mr. chairman, let me start by saying welcome to the house
2:01 pm
judicial committee, mr. rosenstein. for the better part of a year my colleagues and i have employed this committee conduct real oversight of the department of justice. on january 24t4th, 2017, we wro to chairman goodlatte insisting that the committee hold hearinge on president trump's conflicts of interest. we showed adthat, quote the ul administration's attempts to address its ongoing conflicts of interests are so far wholly inadequate. six weeks later attorney general sessions recused himself from the russia investigation but o have not held a single hearing on the conflicts of interest. on march 8th we wrote again encouraging him to call hearings quote, russia's alleged interference in the u.s. election. again no such hearings were ever held. in fact, this committee which during the obama administration held half a dozen hearings around operation fast and furious, received testimony from
2:02 pm
fbi director comey three times in 13 months, and detailed staff and resources to a ben gbenghaz investigation that cost the public. we haven't lifted a finger on election security. attorney general sessions told us on november 14th he has done nothing to secureho the next election from threats from at home and abroad. we have not once discussed the president's abusehe of the pard power. president trump sidelined the office of the pardon attorney to pardon a serial human rights abuser who bragged about running a concentration camp in arizona. and we have not held a single hearing onn allegations of obstruction of justice at the white house. not for lack of evidence but because in theng chairman's wor there ais special counsel in ple examining the issue, end quote, and quote, several other congressionall committees are looking into the matter and the committee, quote, does not have
2:03 pm
the time to conduct this critical oversight. i ask my colleagues to keep those excuses in now with the year coming to a close with the leadership of the department of justice finally before us, what do my republican colleagues want to discuss? hillary clinton's e-mails. let me repeat that. with all of these unresolved issues left on our docket a week before we adjourn for the calendar year the majority's highest oversight priority is hillary clinton's e-mails and the few related text messages. as we saw in our recent hearings with the department of justice and the fbi my republican colleagues seem focussed on their call for a second special counsel. in failing that on the need to investigate the investigators themselves. -- ourselves. the white house has now joined the call foror a new special counsel to investigate the fbi. the president's private lawyers have done the same. i understand the instinct to want to change the subject after the flynn and manafort
2:04 pm
indictments but this is grossly misguided. first it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the special counsel regulations work. some criminal investigations pose a conflict of interest to the department of justice. the russia investigation is such a case because of the attorney general's ongoing recusal and because the department leadership assisted in the removal of director comey among other reasons. in cases like these, the attorney general may use a special counsel to manage the investigation outside of the ordinary chain of command. but the key here is the criminal investigation. that's what special counsel does. the department cannot simply assign a special t counsel to lk at things that bother the white house. there has to be enough evidence to have predicated a criminal investigation in the first place. then and only then if the facts warrant can a special counsel be assigned to the case. so far there's been no credible factual legal claim that anybody in the department of justice violated any law by deciding not to bring charges against hillary clinton or by attempting to meet
2:05 pm
with fusion gps. in other words, there is no investigation to whichne the department could even assign a new special counsel. second, the list of grievances raised byo the majority for review by a new special counsel also seems wildly off the mark. for example,ft there's nothing unlawful about director comey's sitting down to draft an early statement about the clinton investigation nor would it have been unethical to outline its conclusions before the investigation was over if the evidence pointed in one direction. nor is there anything wrong with fbi agents saying their political views in private text messages. in fact, department regulations expressly permit that sort of private communication. i've reviewed those text messages and i'm left with two thoughts. first being instructed to not say anything about donald trump that the majority of americans weren't also thinking at the sameti time.
2:06 pm
second, in a testament to his integrity andnd situational awareness when the office of the inspector general made mr. muellerr aware of these exchanges, he immediately removed mr. strzok from his team.e to the extent we are involved in political bias at the fbi, this committee should examine evidence of a coordinatored effort by some investigators involved in the clinton investigation by leaking sensitive information to the public and by threatening to leak additional information after the investigation was closed. ranking member cummings and t i sent a letter the department asking for additional materials related to these leaks as well as to the claims that these efforts may have been coordinated with former mayor rudy giuliani, michael flynnof and other senio figures in the trump campaign. third, the president's call for anld investigation of the investigation is at best wildly dangerous to your democratic
2:07 pm
institutions. the one hand, the president's old locker up cheer seems quaint after a couple guilty plea by trump societies. as former attorney general, the president's continued threats to prosecute his political opponents is something we don't do. if the president were to carry out his threat, again from attorney general mu casey, it would be a banana republic. this investigation into the investigation cannot be a priority for this committee at this time. i understand the instinct to want to give cover to the president. i am fearful that the majority's efforte to turn the tables on te special counsel will get louder and more frantic as the walls continue to close in around the president. but this committee has a job to do. president trump has engaged in a persistent and dangerous effort to discredit both the free press and the department of justice. these are the agencies and institutions under our
2:08 pm
jurisdiction. every minute that our majority wastes on covering for president trump is a minute lost on finding a solution for the dreamers or curving a vicious spike in hate crimes or preventing dangerous individuals from purchasing firearms or stopping the president from further damaging the constitutional order.ei i hope my colleagues would use today's hearing as an opportunity to find their way back to the true work of the house judicial committee. i thank the chairman and i yield back the balance of my time. >> we welcome our distinguished witness. if you would please rise i'll begin by swearing you in. do you solemnly swear that the testimony that you are about to give shall behe the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? thank you. let the record show the witness answered in the affirmative. mr. rod rosenstein was sworn in as the 37th deputy attorney general of the united states on april 26th, 2017, by attorney general jeff sessions. mr. rosenstein has had a
2:09 pm
distinguished career in public service. he began hise legal career in e public integrity section of the department of justice's criminal division and later served as counsel to the deputy attorney general and principle deputy assistant attorney general for the tax division. until his appointment by president trump, mr. rosenstein served for 12 years as the united states attorney for the district of maryland. he holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the wharton school and a j.d. from harvard law school. general rosenstein, your written statement will be entered into the record in its entirety. we ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes. welcome. we are pleased to have you here. >> chairman goodlatte, ranking number nadler, members of the committee, i want to thank you for this opportunity to testify of your oversight of the united states department of justice. i appreciate your support and concern for the department of justice. i know several of you are alumne
2:10 pm
of the department. two, in fact, served alongside me as united states attorneys and i'm veryne grateful for the opportunity to be with you today. as deputy attorney general, my job is to help the attorney general to managenc our department's components, including seven main justice litigating divisions, 94 u.s. attorney's offices, the federal bureau of investigation, the drug enforcement administration, the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms andic explosives, the united states marshall service, the office ofau justice program the federal bureau of prisons, the office of the inspector general, and many others. our department includes over 115,000 employees and tens of thousands of contractors stationed in every state and territory and in many foreign nations. we prevent violent crime, illegal drug distribution, child
2:11 pm
abuse, civil rights violations and countless other threats to the american people. we enforce tax laws, anti-trust laws and environmental laws. we represent the united states and the supreme court, the courts of appeal and the district courts and in state and territorial a courts. we protect federal judges, manage federal prisons, review parole applications, oversee the bankruptcy t system. we manage -- we assist travel governments and we adjudicate immigration cases. we provide legal advice to the president and to every federal agency. programs and rant support state and local law enforcement. we combat waste fraud and other misconduct involving employees and contractors. we resolve foreign claims and represent our government in international law enforcement forums. we collect, analyze and disseminate law enforcement data. we perform countless other
2:12 pm
important functions for the american people. the department of justice employees are united byt a shard understanding that our mission is to pursue justice, protect public safety, preserve government property, defend civil rights , and promote the rule of law. the mission attracted me to law enforcement but the people who carry out that mission are what i treasure most about my job. with very few exceptions, they are horrorabl -- honorable, trustworthy. scrutiny by internal affairs offices andco external oversigh agencies has resulted in increas increased accountability at higher standards. when wrongdoing occurs, we are more likely to discovery it and we remedyy it.
2:13 pm
that is critical to maintaining and building public confidence. over the past eight months i've spoken with thousands of department employees around the country. i remind them that justice is not only our name. justice is our mission. justice requires a fair and impartial process.ol that's why we have a special responsibility to follow ethical and professional standards. in 1941 attorney general robert jackson said that the citizens seeks truth and not victims, serves the law and not factional purposes and approaches the task with humility. under theal leadership of attory general jeff sessions and an experienced team appointed by president trump, the department of justice is working tirelessly to protect american citizens and to uphold the rule of law.
2:14 pm
and today i look forward to discussing some of our department's important work. following the u.s. attorney's manual and the examples set by past department ofls justice officials, we always seek to accommodate congressional oversight requests while protecting thega integrity of o investigations, preserving the department's independence and safeguarding g sensitive information. thank you, mr. chairman. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, mr. rosenstein. i'll start by recognizing myself for questions. last week director wray indicated that the f normal procedures were not followed in the investigation of former secretary clinton'sot e-mail server. he said it was not normal protocol to have witnesses sit in the room during an interview of the target of an investigation. if the inspector general determines that normal protocol was not followed or that the investigation was closed or otherwise tainted for political
2:15 pm
purposes, would that be a justification in your mind to reopen the investigation? >> mr. chairman, we are certainly anticipating the outcome of that inspector general investigation. as youe know, that's been ongoig for some time. i'm hopeful it will be concluded within the next couple of month. when we get those results, we'll take appropriate action. i don't know exactly what the to be, but going it's always appropriate for us to review any findings of impropriety or misconduct and take appropriate action. >> when you announced your decision to terminate the employment of fbi director comey in that decision, you announced someme practices that i took ito mean you thought were inappropriate actions on the part of the former fbi director. do you m think that those actio on his part would merit further investigation into how that whole matter was conducted?
2:16 pm
>> mr. chairman, as you're aware, the inspector general is conducting an investigation into the handling of that hillary clinton e-mail investigation. i believe that the matters that you've referred to are part of his investigation. the memo that you're familiar with that i provided reflects my personal opinion. it's not an official finding of misconduct. that's the inspector general's job. he'll reach his own independent determination. but as you pointsed out, my vies about it are already known. >> are you aware of any prior efforts by the judicial ig committee, this committee, to unduly restrict the ability of the intelligence community of doing its job? >> i'm not aware of any. >> are you aware we have primarl oversight of the intelligence surveillance due in part to the legal question that government surveillance raises? >> mr. chairman, i respect the
2:17 pm
congress's decision about which committee has oversight. i know both this committee and the intelligence committee have an interest in that issue. >> given that you understand this committee's jurisdiction and its history of i providing e intelligence community with the tools it needs, why would we in the words of the department attempt to, quote, dismantle section 702 of our nation's surveillance program? >> i certainly would hope that wouldn't be the case. i don't know who made the statement you're referringop to. i know the department obviously has expressed its opinion about the reauthorization which we think is critically important to section 702. i respect there are differences of opinion. i think the department has been clear that we believe it's essential to national security that sectione 702 be reauthorized. >> we agree with you. we also believe that it's essential that the civil liberties of american citizens bed protected and that a standd be imposed on the examination of
2:18 pm
information about u.s. citizens incidentally gathered as a part of the section 702 program which the surveillance of nonu.s. citizens outside the united states, but incidentally gathering information about u.s. citizens and then being looked into by agents of the federal bureau of investigation without a warrant. i'm not aware of that being appropriate in any other type of investigation that they might conduct. and we're rcnot talking about terrorist attacks. we're not talking about national security. we have distinguished that. we're simply talking about crimes that have already occurred that are having investigated as they should be investigated by the department but under the procedures thatt american people would expecter that they would follow to protect their civil liberties in other circumstances. >> mr. chairman, as you know, i've had the advantage over the last eight months of having a overseeing our national security operations. ii discussed this with director wray yesterday. if you'd like i can give you a
2:19 pm
detail detailed explanation t. might take a couple minutes but i'd be happy to give you some details. the bottom line is it really is critical that we have the ability to query the data. >> our legislation allows them to do that. but if it provides a hit that they want to see in it full form, they're required to get a warrant. >> i discuss ted this with director wray. what happens when the fbi condu conducts these is typically they're leads that are not necessarily based on probable cause but based on a lead, a suspicion and the ability to query that date ta and then follow-upp gives the fbi an opportunity to put c two and tw together. >> there are lots of leads that any lawaw enforcement person wod like to pursue but we have protections against them pursuing it without appropriate standard for doing it in a whole
2:20 pm
host of other ways to protect people from unreasonable searches and this is a search of information about a united states citizen. >> cowell, it's a query as a matter. tional >> once that results in something y the agent wants to look at, i don't see how you distinguish further reading from a search. >> if i could explain to you i talked with director wray and an appropriate way to explain this publicly, hypothetically, let's say for example that local police departmentt receives a call that somebody has purchased a large quantity of hydrogen peroxide and something made the clerk at the store suspicious about that so he contacts the local police. there's no probable cause. there's nothing illegal about what the person did but something that caused concern. the local police may -- >> general rosenstein, let me interrupt you.s the very specific instance you
2:21 pm
are citing was cited to us in our discussions with the fbi and that very specific protection for the fbi was added to our legislation. >> the example i'm providing is a situation where there would not be probable cause but we think it would be appropriate for the fbi to follow-up. what we're trying to avoid is a situation where we erect a wall that would prevent the fbi from gaining t access to information that might allow them to connect a lead to information that implicates national security. >> thank you. my time is expired. cho chair recognizes the gentleman from new york mr. nadler on five minutes. >> on monday ranking member cummings and i wrote you a letter about the majority's ongoing investigation into the investigation ofn former secretary clinton.. without objection i ask unanimous consentor our letter placed into the record. >> it will be made a part of the record. >> the first part discusses the provide t's failure to
2:22 pm
the minority with access to the documents you've already provided the majority. will you commit to ensuring that we receive equal access to any materials you provide to this committee in the future? >> yes. and i believe my understanding is that information may have been provided -- >> i'm not interested in the past at this point.aj thank you.u. i have a lot of questions. the majority of this committee, the white house and president trump's private attorneys have all called for the department of justice to appoint the new special counsel to investigate a number of hillary clinton related matters. i think we could benefit from your experience and how the special counsel regulations work. the regulationsge say the attory general or in your case the acting attorney general will appoint the special counsel when you determine that, one, criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted, and two, the investigation either presents a conflict of interest to the department or some other strong public interest requires you to appoint the special counsel. that first part, when he or she determines that. the criminal
2:23 pm
investigation of a person or matter is warranted s that part of the regulations optional? >> no,ig that is not part of th regulations. >> so a criminal investigation must first be determined to be warranted before you canan assi a special counsel to the matter? >> yes. >> thank you. and at the department of justice a criminal investigation requires an initial assessment and a preliminary view of the evidence? >> correct. >> has that assessment been made with respect to former drirecto comey's handling of the hillary clinton investigation? >> i'm not goingit to comment o interest investigations in the normal course. before we made a determination, we would conductct an appropria review. >> and i assume your answer would be the same if i asked you about the fbi's interaction with fusion gps? >> it would be the same for anything, yes. >> presuming fort a moment, presuming for a moment that the department has conducted an initial assessment and found no predicate for a criminal investigation, so in plain english there's no ongoing criminal investigation. under this presumption could yon or the attorney general sessions
2:24 pm
simply a poppoint the special counsel tor look into these matters? >> no. as i said earlier to my knowledge there's been no credible factual or legal claim that anybody at the department violated any law by deciding not to bring charges or by attempting to meet with fusion gps. if that is true, if there is no underlying criminal investigation because there is insufficient evidence of a crime in this or any other case, do the regulations permit you to appoint the special counsel? >> no. >> thank you. according to the department, the office of the inspector general informed special counsel t muelr of the existence of these text messages between peter strzok and lisa page on july 27, 2017. the facts you sent us last night. mueller immediately concluded that mr. strzok could no longerr participate in the investigation and he was removed from the team the same day. did mr. mueller take appropriate action in this case? >> yes, hell did. >> in testimony before the senate judicial committee you said that you would only fire
2:25 pm
special counsel mueller for good cause. and that you had not seen any yet. several months have passed sinci then. have you seen good cause to fire special counsel mueller? >> no. >> thank you. if you were ordered today to fire mr. mueller, what would you do? >> i've explained previously i would follow the regulation. if there were good cause, i would act. if there were no good cause, i would >> you've seen no good cause so far? >> correct. >> thank you o. m. on may 1st an opinionep was issued. shortly after it was reported that the white house counsel instructed federal agencies not to comply with oversights by democrats.s. since then democrats have written more than 40 letters to thee administration without any response thus far. can youit clarify your current position on responding to letters from the minority? and are you concerned that the department's may 1st opinion serves to justify a policy of
2:26 pm
sko stone walling by the administration? >> my position, b congressman, that we make every effort to respond to any legitimate inquiry. a memberre of congress obviousl we prioritize inquiries propounded byny the chair on behalf of the committee but we'll make an effort to respond to any inquiry. we get a lot of letters and so i apologize if there -- >> i'm sure. would you prioritize after letters from the chair, letters from the minority? >> our goal is to respond to all the letters. when our new assistant attorney general took office there was quite a backlog. >> would you encourage the office of legal counsel to withdraw its may 1st opinion? >> i'll take a look at it. it, congressman, but as i said, without regard to what the law may require but -- >> i understand that. you would take a look at whether you would encourage the office of legal counsel withdraw the may 1st opinion?
2:27 pm
>> i'll look at it. >> i want to s follow-up with wt the chairman was saying about section of 702. the bill that this committee reported specifically said -- basically said where you're doing a counter intelligence or foreign or terrorism investigation you don't need a warrant to query section 702 t data. so that the danger that i think you were referring to is taken care of by the bill and i endorse the comment of the chairman too that effect. i think you should take a look at. that i urge you to take a look at thank you. i yield back. >> recognize the gentleman from texas mr. smith for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. rosenstein, i am concerned that the special counsel may be casting too wide of a net. that he is trying to catch all the fish in the ocean, not just the soviet sharks.
2:28 pm
andre if the special counsel we to obtain information not directly related to russian interference with the election and he wanted to investigate that further, would he need to obtain your authority to expand the investigation? >> yes, he would. >> okay. has he ever asked to expand the scope of the investigation? >> i appreciate that question, congressman. if ia could explain, briefly, there are a lot of media stories speculates about what the special counsel may or may not be doing. i know what he's doing. a.m. appropriate i'm appropriately exercising my oversight responsibilities so i can assure you that spt counsel is conducting himself consistently. >> that really wasn't my question. a my question was has he asked you or consulted with you about a desire to expand the investigation beyond the original scope? >> the consultation actually is much more detailed than this.
2:29 pm
he consults with me. his office consults with me about their investigation, both within and without the scope. so i know what they're authorized to do. >> i know you know what they're doing, but has he requested to exp expand the scope of the original jurisdiction? >> the scope of the original jurisdiction as you know is publicly set forth in that order. but the specific matters are not identified in the order. so i discussed that with director mueller when he startee and we've had ongoing discussion about exactly what is within the scope of his investigation. to the extent there was any ambiguity about it, he has my permission to -- >> so he asked to expand the scope and you've given him permission. >> it's a clarification in most cases, but he understands that this is a special counsel. it's not an independent counsel. i'm accountable for what they're doing and i need to know what they're doing. >> clarification may be an
2:30 pm
expansion. we may h be caught up on those words. regardless i think theor americ people have a right to know if the original jurisdiction has been expanded. do you agree with that? >> theit difficulty, congressma is that i have a responsibility not to talk about what's being investigated and that's why the originalw order doesn't identif any persons or charges. but we know what's under investigation. >> i'm not asking you to go into anyy specifics or to name names even talk about the subject. just whether or not theld reque had been made to expand it. you said you clarified his jurisdiction. i assume that that wouldthhe ine an expansion as you suggested. >> i want to make sure i'm 100% accurate and i'll need to check and get back to you as whether or not we considered particular issues to be a clarification or an expansion. but whatever it may be, i'm responsible for and i know what he's investigating. >> please do get back to me on the difference between those two. do you feel that the special
2:31 pm
counsel is authorized to investigatee the personal finances of the trump family members? >> congressman, that would implicate the concern that i've expressed that we just don't talk about what's under investigation. i hopey you don't draw any inference pro or con. we're simply not going to discuss it. >> do you think the personal finances come under the original jurisdiction of direct involvement of russian interference with the election? >> i certainly appreciate your concern,on congressman, but i he you appreciate my position that if i start answering what is and isn't, i've gone down that road that i just don't want to go down of discussing. what's under epinvestigation, fr persons have been charged. those are known. ordinarily the department of justice, that's what we publicize f. we char publicize. if we charge somebody with a crime we publicize it. >> some of the people that have been charged have been charged not directly tied to russian interference with t the election. >> the crimes with which they're charged are publicly known. >> okay. so in other words, you do feel
2:32 pm
that the special counsel can go into the personal finances not connected to russian interference? >> i hope i've been clear, congressman. i am not commenting on the scope of the investigation. >> what about can the special counsel investigate the personal actions of staff unconnected to the russianel interference of the -- with the election? >> only if i determine that it's appropriate for thempe to do so. ?>> >> so that's your determination, know the special counsel's? >> as i said, congressman, i know what he's doing.on if i felt he was doing something inappropriate, i would take action. >> let me just maybe summarize it by saying that i think the americaned people deserve to kn who is being investigated and why. i have one final question in my last couple of seconds here. as you know and as many of us know, in the lawyer's code of ethics, attorneys are supposed to avoid not just the actual impropriety itself but the appearance e of impropriety. the special counsel has hired at
2:33 pm
least eight attorneys who had direct connections to both the -- to either the obama or clintonap campaigns. don't you think that creates an appearancem of impropriety? and i'm not saying whether you think they can do their jobs. don't you think it creates an appearance of impropriety? >> the time with the gentleman has expired the the witness is permitted to answer the question. >> i'm not aware of any impropriety. we do have regulations of special counsel subject to all the department's rules and subject to oversight by the department including the inspector general. i'm not aware kbf violation of thoseoy rules by the special counsel employee?op you don't think it creates appearance of impropriety. >> appearance is to some extent in the eye of the be holder. we apply the rules and regulations and we doou have ethics advise ares who provide counsel about that. >> thank you, mr. rosenstein. thank you, mr. chairman. recognizes the gentle
2:34 pm
woman from california. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being with us today. you are a career attorney in the department. isn't that right? >> i would say i wase a career attorney. >> you've spent your whole life working for the people of the united states as a career attorney until you were asked to fulfill the current function that you're performing. >> as a u.s. attorney, i was political appointee. in the past 12 years. 15 years prior to that as a career attorney. >> let me ask you, in taking a look at the individuals who are working on the matters that we are discussing, are they career attorneys in the department who are working on this? >> somee of them are. under the regulations, the special counselel is permitted request the detail of attorneys in the department who he believes will be he also has authority to hire attorneys from outside the department and he'sy used both approaches. >> so wouldn't they be subject
2:35 pm
to the principles, the merit system principles in the civil service reform act? >> yes, i believe they are. >> so i was -- we've been on the committee here for a long time. i remember back in 2008 there were allegations that the department of justice had used politics as a basis for hiring and firing in the department.of and the office of inspector general and the office of professional responsibility issued a report outlining the impropriety of using politics in personnel decisions. one of the things they said was that the department's policy on nondiscrimination includes the department of justice needs to seek to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, political
2:36 pm
affiliation, age, and the like. so wouldn't that policy be governing the actions of the individuals working on this? you couldn't discriminate based on this whole list including their political affiliation? congresswoman, one of the advantages that i bring to the job is having been in and arount the department for a while, i've seen mistakes that have been made in the past. that is precisely one of the issues i've discussed with our political appointees that we're not going to do that. we're not going to improper consider political afill yafili with regard to employees in the department. >> thank you very much. i wanted to ask about a couple of concerns. you may or may not have responsibility for this f. so, ju if so, just let me know. i am concerned the department has had a change in position on certain important voting rights issues. one has to do with the purging of roles in ohio.
2:37 pm
the department had previously purging those roles because thehi national vor registration actct prohibits th purging of voters simply because they haven't voted in a given period of time. it's my understanding that the department is now arguing that ohio can purge individuals from roles even without evidence that they have moved. additionally, the department had argued that the state of texas i.d. law had discriminated against individuals and that the department has changed its position on that. the law as crepturrently drafte probably excludes up to 600,000 americans from being able to vote because of the i.d. laws. can you give us any insight into
2:38 pm
why the department changed its position on these key voting rights issues? >> congresswoman, i'm generally familiar. i don't know all the details of both of those matters, but as a generall matter, it's important to understand that the determination about -- ultimate determination about what the law means is made by a judge. the department officials obviously need to make a decision basedit upon a good fah analysis of the facts and the law. what position they take, it may be that new leadership of the department takes a different position. but i can assure you that's based on a good faith analysis and there may be legitimate ambiguity and we're responsible for making our determination just like the prior administration made theirs. but ultimately it will be up to a judge to decide what that law means. >> let me just ask a final question. it's my understanding that under the order appointing him, mr. has the authority to investigate matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation which would
2:39 pm
include crimes uncovered while he is investigating the main mission. for example, if he is looking at the russia investigation and he finds out that the person he's looking at committed a bank robbery, he isn't required to ignore a bank robbery. would that be a fair assessment of his responsibility? >> it's a fair assessment. >> the time has expired. you may answer the question. >> it's aha special counsel, no an independent counsel, those issues are worked out with the department so in the event that he came across evidence that was not appropriate for him to prosecute, he could refer it to other components in the department. we wouldn't allow something like that to slip through the cracks but we would make sure to route it to the appropriate prosecutor. >> thank you, mr. chairman
2:40 pm
plch.ed mr. rose i mr., you already indicated mr. strzok was removed. it's beyond me how mr. smith was not removed for impropriety as well. i assume the team you put together you felt was going to be -- mueller put together was going to be fair and unbiased, correct? >> correct. i selected mr. mueller -- >> and he selected the team. >> right. >> let me just review a few facts about the supposedly unbiased group of people mr. mueller put together. nine of 16 have made political contributions. let's go through through them in alphabetical order. george gave $1,000 to the democrat to hold the seat previously held by barack obama. he gave $2,600 to senator gillibrand who just this week led the charge of democratic senators demanding that mr.
2:41 pm
trump resign plch. next russ atkinson. he c donated to the clinton campaign last year. again, zero to the trump campaign. third, kelly freeney contributed obama campaigns and hillary clinton's campaign, zero to trump. andrew goldstein, he donated $3,300 to obama, again zero to the trumper campaign. elizabeth who clerked for liberal supreme court justices ginsbe ginsberg, contributed to bothbu obama and clinton campaigns. zero to trump. quarrels has contributed to the democratic campaigns of obama and hillary clinton and gore as well. he did contribute to former congressman chafis but contradicted over $20,000 to democratic house andtu senate candidates and gave zero to
2:42 pm
trump. seventh jeannie, she represented hillary clinton and the clinton foundation in several lawsuits. she's donated $16,000 to democrats, contributed 5,400 to democrats and zero to trump. the w contributed to fundraising outfit organized to elect democratic candidates, contributed to the obama presidential campaign and gave nothing to trump. finally andrew weissman, he contributed $2,000 to the democratic national committee, 2,300 to obama, and zero to donald trump. he also praised susan yates. >> how can you say this group is
2:43 pm
unbiassed and will give president trump a fair shake? >> well, congressman, i think it's important to recognize that when we talk about political affiliation, that all demonstrates political affiliation. the issue of bias is something different. i've discussed this with investigator mueller. we have a lot of experience managing the department of justice. we have employees with political opinions. it's our responsibility to make sure thoseey opinions do not influence their actions. and so i believe that director mueller understands that and that he is running that office appropriately. recognizing that people have political views but ensuring that those views are not in any way a factor in how they conduct themselves in office. >> when you say he's running it appropriately, i think putting the committee, the people, his investigators together to begin this investigation in the first place is part of the investigation and how these people, the group he put
2:44 pm
together, is considered unbiased, i don't know how anyone can possibly reach that w conclusion. when this whole russia was involved in our elections flap surfaced andto you picked rober mueller to lead the investigation, i was at first encouraged. it seemed like a serious matter and it deserved a serious investigation. and i assumed as many of us did that mr. mueller would pull together an unbiased team. rather than wearing stripes as umpires and referees might wear, i would submit that the mueller team overwhelmingly ought to be attired with democratic donkeys or i'mnd with hillary t-shirts, notin with let's make america great again. i think that's a shame because i think the american people deserveha a lot better than the very biased team that they're getting under a robert mueller. and i think it's really sad.
2:45 pm
i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentle woman from texas, ms. jackson lee. >> deputy all attorney general, thank you. welcome and thank you fur your service to the nation. allow me for a moment as i move in my questions to indicate that i am shocked and baffled the way some in the right wing media and some of our friends on the other side show such contempt for the department ofke justice and the fbimi and so much skepticism or mistrust of the russian government. let me review for the record.og the fbi and doj brought to justice and put away timothy mcvey, clathe una bomber, organd crime family kingpins, the murder assassinated medgar evanss, pan am 103 bombing, soviet diplomat that had
2:46 pm
aspiring during world war ii. world trade center bombingr. in 1993. twa 847 hijacking. snipers, klans men who killed four little girls. the russians are known for shooting down a civilian airline killing 269 passengers and crew and invading ukraine, killing journalists, propping up assad andsp committing cyber theft an conspiring and doing a sabotage of the american presidential election in 2016. perhaps our friends on the other side of the aisle can show more respect for the fbi and the doj as so many of us so including myself. let me ask these questions with my limited time. just a yes or no.
2:47 pm
are you in the business of helping to secure the elections in 2018 and making sure that theree is an infrastructure in the doj to help states have secure elections? yes or no? >> yes. >> special counsel mueller i'm reminded, some of us would say we read it in the history books of the saturday night massacre. i know you must be aware of it. during the meeting of may 8, 2017 with you, sessions and the president the day before comey was fired, what did you discuss regarding the fbi investigation? >> congresswoman as i've explained previously i'm not going to be discussing anything related to that until after the investigation. >> thank you very much. let me go forward with the question of the protection of the special prosecutor. do you have in place a protection scheme or system thas would void a potential saturday night massacre? do you, in fact, have the authority to stand up against the president who is putting out
2:48 pm
the right wing media to taint the mueller investigation? will you protect mr. mueller if he deserves protection and has done nothing to violate his duties and responsibilities? >> as i've explained, if he hasn'tct violated -- >> that yes or no? >> i won't take any action unless he'ss violated his dutie. >> let me show you these individuals here. it says that the trump accusers want a day in court or at least want to be heard. the president isf the chief executive and law enforcement office of the united states. therefore, he is an officer of the united states. what does the department of justice, what intentions do you have to allow these women who aree accusing the president of sexual misconduct and have never been heard in terms of a public setting as many of us on this committee, women on this committee, democrat women on this committee have asked for this committee tond hold a hearg
2:49 pm
with these women? what does the department of justice intend to do in light of the fact that the president is the chief law enforcement officer of the united states of america? >> i don't think i have any position on that, congresswoman. if they file a lawsuit, they're free to do so. it will be a department matter. >> would you not believe it's important to give these women a forum to be heard? the department of justice, the fbi investigates. i just gave a litany of the successes. >> if there's anything that warrants federal investigation, we'd certainly look at it. >> can we refer these women to the department of justice f thec walked up to the department of justice, would there be an fbi officer that would take their kpa complaints? >> if somebody wants to file a complaint of a potential federal crime, ayes, they can report tt to the fib or write. anybody can do that at any time. >> let me say to these women. you have one option to go too te department f of justice as the deputy attorney general just
2:50 pm
said. i would encourage them to do that. i will encourage this committee to have hearings. let me ask this last question regarding president obama and the memo by attorney general sessions sessions that rescinds memos regarding the charging and sentencing policy and also the use of private prisons. that was by eric holder. what is the position of the u.s. department of justice as it relates to a fair and just commutation program, and also the issues dealing with overprosecution and the sentencing policy that was offered by eric holder, which was considered fair and just and the use of private prisons have been known to be abusive to prisoners and do not allow requests to go forward. what is your position on that? >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the deputy attorney general may answer the question. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you've raised a number of issues, congresswoman. i don't know that i have time to respond to them all. but i do just want to clarify, anybody is free to report to the department of justice when they believe a crime is committed. it's not a complaint in the way
2:51 pm
you mights file a complaint in some local police departments. you're free to report any allegations, and the department will conduct appropriate review, as we do with any allegations of alleged criminal conduct. we initiate investigations, though, only if we determine there's proper predication under our policies. >> well, i'm yielding back, mr. chairman. but he did not answer my question. >> the time of the gentleman has already expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> thank you. mr. deputy attorney general, if someone comes in to make that complaint, or to file that th information, they're going to have their identification checked for who they are, right? to get into the building? i'm not certain -- if they were admitted to the building, you actually can walk into most fbi boffices, i think, without having to go through security. >> but you wouldn't consider it draconian if while they're filing thiske complaint or allegation their driver's
2:52 pm
license was looked at, would you? >> well, if we're going to conduct an investigation, we need to know who the witnesses are. >> thank you. i just wanted to know that wasn't draconian. in the case of mr. struck, there was an appearance of impropriety that people are observing. but you had said, well, there may not have been the reason. but if it wasn't the appearance of impropriety based on his numerous rather strident tweets -- or not tweets, but texts, commenting adversely on the president, what was it? >> if i said that, congressman, it was inadvertent. the decision to remove mr. struck off that case was made by director mueller, based upon the circumstances known to him. it's important to understand, though, that -- those text messages were uncovered in the course of an inspector general investigation that is not complete. so we won't be able to make any determination about what if any discipline is required.
2:53 pm
>> let me go to the inspector general now. this is michael horowitz, right? >> correct. >> michael horowitz has repeatedly complained that he cannot, in fact -- he does not have the authority to look for impropriety by lawyers as to their conduct as lawyers, because the office of -- the opr has that authority. that's still true, isn't it? >> it's true, but he does have authority for certain types of misconduct by lawyers. >> okay. situation in which he can look at some of the e misconduct, not others. so one of the pieces of misconduct he cannot look at would be the question of bias or the appearance of bias in their investigations in how they're conducting it, and/or decisions. that is uniquely excluded to the inspector general in your cabinet position, versus all other cabinet positions. >> i'm not certain about that. and if i may, i'll check and get back to you on that. but it --
2:54 pm
>> butpe he is excluded. >> it wouldd either be opr or te inspector general.. and with regard to conflicts ofr interest, i believe certain of those are within the jurisdiction of the inspector general. but i would have to verify. >> okay. you can get back to me on that. you know, these political views that mr. shabbot mentioned, they're clear these are people who had a strong preference. but notwithstanding that, let's be very candid. nobody up here is going to claim to be without their political bias. so one of the reasons that when there is a conflict of interesta people recuse themselves, and when there is an appearance of impropriety, they're excused. and one of the reasons that we look to a special prosecutor, and that you appointed a special prosecutor was to not only get past the politics on this dais, but to get pastme the appearanc of any conflict by department of justice. is that fair to say? >> to minimize any appearance on
2:55 pm
either side of bias, correct. >> okay. but the -- a special prosecutor, under the remaining statute, how it's done, is still a group looking for wrongdoing. that is their charge. they're not looking for right-doing. they're looking for wrongdoing. that's fair to say? like any prosecutor, you're not looking for innocence? >> the way i would characterize it, congressman, they're lookinp for the truth. and then they'll make a determination about whether or not it's appropriate to prosecute. >> okay. so my question to you is, if that's the case, if we accept that my assumption that they're looking to -- if they can, to hang the president ornd people around him -- hear me out for a moment -- then there really isn't a problem with having people that are dead set on tryingth to find anything that will incriminate the administration in a russian connection, which is somewhat their charge. posture to you that maybe it's not that bad to have people who really dislike the president and would like to hang
2:56 pm
him. having said that, when there's impropriety, such as mr. struck, when there is, in fact, a history at the fbi of withholding information from congress, when there is the appearance of impropriety by department of justice, and when the inspector general is limited under theul statute, both becau he doesn't have full access, and because certain portions are out, wouldn't you say that this is a classic example where in order toe investigate the fbi ad department of justice, a special prosecutor who is equally looking for the truth, if it exists adversely to the conduct of the fbi and department of justice, is within your charge and responsibility to see it happens. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. >> you've had a number of assumptions in your question, congressman. my simple answer to it would be, if we believe there was a basis for an investigation or special counsel, i can assure you we
2:57 pm
would act. >> mr. chairman, i i wouldy sa that since we have already had dismissals for wrongdoing, since there is ongoing internal investigations, the elements necessary to ask for a special prosecutor to, in fact, see what was done wrong already exists. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from tennessee, mr. cohen, for five minutes. you, mr. chairman. first i want to thank you for your service to the country and for accepting the difficult position under the difficult circumstances that you have. has president trump ever communicated with you about removing robert mueller from his role as special counsel? >> congressman, i am not going discussing my communications with the president. but i can tell you that nobody has communicated to me a desire to remove robert mueller. >> you said you're not going to relate your conversations with president trump. how many conversations have you had since your appointment with president trump? >> i'm the deputy attorney
2:58 pm
general, congressman, and it's appropriate for me to talk with the president about law enforcement issues. and i don't believe that's an appropriate issue for discussion. >> when you chose robert mueller to be the special counsel, what were his characteristics, his history and the reasons for you to have chosen him for this important position? >> i thinkie it would be very difficult, congressman, for anybody to find somebody better qualified for this job. director mueller has throughout his lifetime been a dedicated and respected and heroic public servant. he -- after college volunteered to serve as a marine in vietnam, where he was wounded in combat. he attended law school and then devoted most of his career to serving as a federal prosecutor. with the exception of brief stints in private practice, he served as united states attorney in two districts, in massachusetts and northern california. he served in many other positions in the department after he lostna his position as the head of the criminal
2:59 pm
division when p president clint was elected in 1992. mr. mueller briefly went into private practice, and thenos he went back at an entry-level position as a homicide prosecutor, trying to help with the violent crime problem in the district of columbia in the early 1990s. he rose once again through the ranks and ultimately was confirmed, i believe, unanimously, as fbi director, protected this nation after 9/11. and then when his ten-year term expired, he was so t well-respected that his term was extended. i believe also unanimously for another two years. so i believe based upon his reputation, his service, his patriotism, and his experience with the department andwa with e fbi, i believe he was an ideal choice for this task. >> thank you, sir. i agree with you. fbi director wray agrees with he said similar thoughts. he said he was a smart lawyer, a dedicated publiche servant and well-respected within the fbi. i think everybody on the other side of the aisle agreed with you. when you appointed him, and
3:00 pm
everybody in this judiciary committee and probably everybody in this congress agreed with his appointment as fbi director, which was unanimous. his reappointment, which was unanimous by a republican and democrat, obama. everybody respects that man in this country. >> i didn't. i don't. >> obviously, we knew that would be an exception. but the fact is, they didn't start too dislike him until he started to get -- issues that affected the president that currently serves this country. and because of that, they said the fbi was in tatters, that the fbi -- the chief law enforcement, top law enforcement folks in this country, are questionable. some of their allies on television said they're like the kgb. they have questioned you, they have questioned the justice f department, they have questioned some of the most loyal, dedicated, fearless people in our country who serve the rule of law. and i find it repugnant and awful. and i wonder what you think about it, when you hear about fbi, which works under you,
3:01 pm
being suggested it's in i tatte and that there is something wrong with the fbi and that they're somehow like the kgb. >> congressman, as i know you're aware, i've expressed concern with certain aspects of certain things done by thehe fbi. but in general, throughout my experience working with fbi agents over a the decades, i fod them to be an exceptional group of publicc servants. . very loyal, faithful and dedicated. and i believe some of the finesl people that i know are agents of the federal bureau of investigation. >> i thought about them, sir, when i watched the army/navy game. and i thought about them,re because i have the honor as everybody up here has, of recommending some folks to be at west point and annapolis. those are the cream of the crope and the people at the fbi are in law enforcement, they're thep cream of theco crop. andd justice department attornes are, too.en it's not easy getting a job in justice, no matter where you went to law school and what you did. you hired the best. you t always have.
3:02 pm
and i t compliment you on that. i hope and know you will continue to hold department of justice up as a pantheon of outstanding lawyers andnd juris and take justice where it should go, as truth demands, and justice dictates. i yield back the balance of my time. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from iowa, mr. king, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you mr. rosenstein, for your testimony here and your service. a number of things i'm'm curiou about here. first of all, in the interview of hillary clinton that took place reportedly july 2nd of 2016, how many people were in then room for that? how many people had the opportunity to question her? >> congressman, i do not know the answer to that. i believe when the inspector general completes his review, we may have additional information. but i personally do not know. >> and would you know who selected that team? >> no, i do not.da >> really? okay. i recall the testimony here by james comey and also by then
3:03 pm
attorney general loretta lynch that testified -- one of the two of them -- that there were three representatives of the fbi and three representatives of doj in that roomat doing that intervie. would that be consistent with practice you that would anticipate? am i going to hear ig again? >> typically, we would have at least two agents conduct an interview. and there may be any number of attorneys based upon who is on the case. i just don't know the details of that particular decision. >> okay.wo and the practice in an interview like that? would there be records kept of that interview? >> yes, if there are fbi agents present, typically they would take notes and produce a report, summarizing the interview. >> would there be a videotape, audiotape or a transcript? >> generally no. >> uh-huh. and why not? >> well, it's just not -- it's not the practice to do it. >> it needs to become the practice. the practice out across the countryside, many of our local law enforcement, is that if you're a county deputy and
3:04 pm
you're interviewing somebody for drunk driving, we tape that interview. and we have a sheriff's deputy that says if sit they don't do , that's cause for discipline. now we're sitting here with a mystery of what wentt on in thay interview of july 2, and there are many questions asked about that before and after, and they will trickle through history until we get to the bottom of it. we don't know yet who was in the room. at least you can't tell me who was in the room. do you have any knowledge that peter struck might have been one of those people? >> i dows not know. >> it's been reported in the news he was one of those people. are you aware of that?ow >> i've read a lot of news reports. i may have seen that in the news, but i personally do not know. >> i see. and when i look through just a time line here, just quickly to drop this into the record, may -- april/may of 2016, peter struck interviews huma abedin and mills and her chief of staff and is subject of the investigation. s and may 2nd, comey e-mails fbi officials a draft statement, a couple of months before his
3:05 pm
recommendation not to prosecute hillary clinton. and peter struck's name shows up. it's been reported he's the one that swapped out the references from gross negligence to extremely carelessness. that's true.if do you have any knowledge about that? >> no, but i would point out, congressman, it's the inspector general review that turned up. >> i thought that was going to be the answer. and also, skipping forward to july 24th, fbi interviews michael flynn on russia. it's reported in the news. that peter struck is in that interview. no knowledge to disagree with the reports that are in the news, however? >> correct. >> and then we get the news later on at some time in midsummer, peterha struck had bn removed from mueller's investigative team we find out december 4th that took place publicly. i kind of understand that. if that had drifted into the jet stream, perhaps we wouldn't be
3:06 pm
in the middle of this controversy. but what about if his hands are in so many things, and i've not touched them all by any means. what about the fruit of the poisonous tree? this is the reverse of this. this is the voids of the fruit of the poisonous tree. and i'm looking at what was reported this morning. i just took a picture of the television set on my iphone, just so that we all know what i'm talking about here. a quote from august 6, 2016, text. lisa page to peter struck. and they were talking about president trump.ou and maybe -- she's speaking to peter struck, her lover, i hear. and maybe you're meant to stay where you are because you are meant to protect the country from that menace. and peter struck's response is, thanks. it's absolutely true that we're both very fortunate, and, of course, i will try and approach it that way. i just don't know. it will be toughe at times. i can protect our country at many levels. not sure if that helps. does that sound like a declaration that he would use
3:07 pm
his job to leverage his work against the president of the united states? >> congressman, the inspector general's investigation includes interviews of numerous witnesses, and i anticipate hopefully in the near future we'll have a report with the inspector general's conclusions. >> would you have any opinion on the lack of the fruit from the poisonous tree that might have beenat erased by peter struck? >> well, as a legal matter, congressman, i can tell you that if evidence is tainted, that would raise a concern for me. typically, our cases would be prosecuted based upon witnesses and documents, and not upon the agent, unless the agent personally were a witness in the case. but that would certainly concern us if there were any tainted evidence in the case. >> thank you, mr. rosenstein. i appreciate it. i yield >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from georgia, mr. johnson, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for your service to the country, mr. rosenstein. based c on the language in your special counsel order, or the --
3:08 pm
your order appointing special counsel, does the special counsel have the authority to investigate any individual who may have obstructed the investigation that fbi director comey confirmed on march 20th of this year? which was the russian interference with the 2016 elections?d >> special counsel does have authority to investigate any obstruction related to his jurisdiction. >> does this authority to possible obstruction include investigating president trump? >> i hope you won't take an inference one way or the other, congressman. that is something we do not do. we do not discuss anyone who may or may not be under investigation. >> i'm not asking whether or not the president is undersk investigation. i'm juster simply asking whethe or not your order appointing the special counsel authorizes the special counsel to investigate the
3:09 pm
>> it authorizes him to who there's nybody predication to believe obstructed justice. >>de and that includes the president. correct? >> it will include anybody who is suspected of obstructing justice. >> all right. does -- do you think that it's appropriate for the president to comment publicly on any pending investigation? >> congressman, thepeop decisio about whether people in politicalmy positions comment o investigations is not e mine. my responsibility is to ensure that our investigations are not impactedco improperly by any opinion, whether it be a member of congress or anybody else. >> well, it would not be appropriate for you to comment about any pending investigation, isn't that correct? >> correct. >> and the president is the chief law enforcement officer. he considers himself.
3:10 pm
in the country. it would be inappropriate for him, then, to comment on a pending investigation, would it not? >> congressman, i believets ove the years there have been presidents i who have made comments about investigations, and it's simply not my responsibility to make that decision. >> well, do you think it's appropriate for the president to publicly call for the investigation of specific individuals? >> i'm simply not going to comment on that, being congressman. i'm going tell you, it's my responsibility, along with the attorney general, to make sure that those decisions are made independently by the department, based upon the facts and the law.w. >> has the president ever contacted you to urge action in any pending investigation? >> congressman, i have not received any improper orders. and i'm not going to be talking about particular communications i may have, which are appropriate communications, with the white house. >> well, what would be your legal basis for refusing to answer the question, whether or not the president has contacted
3:11 pm
you to urge any action in any pending investigation? what would be your legal basis for refusing to answer that question? >> congressman, this is not a partisan issue. i worked on an investigation where thehe previous president encouraged the department to do an expeditious investigation. and so, you know, the question for me is, are we or are we not appropriately making an independent determination, regardless of who comments on it? >> well, my question -- i respect your question. but my question is, has the president ever contacted you to urge action in any pending investigation? yes or no? >> i have nothing further to say about it, congressman. >> so you're going togr refuse answer a question from a member of congress seeking to do oversight. >> i've told you,an congressman that i have not received any improper orders, and i'm simply not going to talk about communications.en i think in any every
3:12 pm
administration, senior law enforcement officers have to be able to communicate with theri president and his officials about appropriate matters within their responsibility. and not comment onny it. shouldn't draw any inference. it's simply -- it's simply not appropriate for me to talk about communications i may have with the administration. >> so it would be -- >> i would tell you if something happened that was wrong, if somebody ordered me to do something that was improper. but that has not happened. >> well, it would be improper for the president to ever contact you about initiating an investigation of someone, would itdi not? >> we've discussed this previously, congressman. presidents have commented publicly -- >> no, no, no. my question is, it would be improper for a president to contact you about initiating an investigation of someone. it would be improper, wouldn't it? >> it would be improperer for t president to order me to conduct an investigation that wasn't justified. the would be improper foror president to ask you to initiate
3:13 pm
an investigation. would it not? >> if it were for improper reasons, yes. >> and so is it your testimony today that the president has not asked you to investigate someone specifically? >> gcongressman, i understand what you're getting at. but as i said, i was in the last administration, and the president in the last administration commented on matters. >> you're being very artful in -- >> no, i'm not. >> jumping around and evading answering my question. and so you're not going to answer it then. >> i'm not evading. >> that's unfortunate. are you afraid of president trump firing you? >> no, i'm not, congressman. >> with that, i will yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. gohmert, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here, mr. rosenstein. >> thank you. >> did you ever tell special counsel robert mueller that in essence everything you do a mus not only be just and fair, but must also appear beyond reproach? anything like that? >> in essence, yes. >> yes.
3:14 pm
well, since attorney general sessionsre recused himself, you are effectively the boss of the special counsel and staff, correct? >> that is correct that i am effectively the boss. >> well, we all know that fbi director james comey was fired. we know of your letter. we know of your public statements. but here's the question. to your knowledge, who first proposed the idea of firing james comey as fbi director? >> congressman, i'm not going to comment on that. the president has explained that he madee the decision. and i'm not going to comment beyond that. >> at the time you wrote the letter suggesting the firing, did you believe what you put in letter? >> yes, i did. >> all right. if an fbi employee goes into a meeting and as part of his job, and in furtherance of his job someone in the government -- and he comes out and he makes a memo
3:15 pm
memorializing the meeting -- perhaps in the future/past memory refreshed, is that memo t doj property? >> generally, congressman, i would think it would be. it might depend on what's in the memo, what the subject matter is. but generally the answer would be yes. >> well, an fbi employment agreement -- yeah, employment agreement or statement says that -- and this is a person agreeingny to work for the fbi. all information acquired by me in connection with my official dutieses with the fbi and all official material of which i have access will remain the property of the united states of america. i will not reveal by any means any information, material, from or related to the fbi files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment. if you make a memo of things that were discussed in -- as part of your job, then it would be a violation of that agreement to send that to someone to leak
3:16 pm
to the press, isn't that right? >> it well may be. >> all right. and the question i'm about toou ask --- i'm not asking what you may have told attorney general jeff sessions. i don't want to know any words used or ideas conveyed, nor sources referenced. in fact, h i'm asking a questio thatd could not possibly have y other answer other than one of twoe that would be yes or no. you are completely free to wholly answer this question with one of those two words. and neither word is privileged, confidential or classified. here's the question. the as attorney j general, jeff sessions icdeputy, did you give jeff sessions any advicee regarding whether or not he shouldn recuse himself in the matter of the russian investigation? yes or no? >> no. can i give a little bit of an explanation, congressman? i appreciate your asking that question. i wasn't there. i was confirmed, i believe, on april 25th and took office on april 26th. i was not there at the time of the recusal.
3:17 pm
>> you ever talk to bruce orr? >> yes. >> four doors down from yours? >> i haven't counted, but he war down the hall. >> all right. and of course, he's been demoted over the relationship with fusion gps and, then, of course, we found out that his wife, nellie, was a russian expert and was a paid by fusion gps in the summer and fall of 2016. helping the clinton campaign get a dossier from the russians. how well do you know the people that work on your hall? >> well, it varies, congressman. i think that's precise -- w it varies. some i know well, some i don't know as well. >> of course, everybody has some opinions, political opinions or otherwise. the key is not having those affect or bias you in the department of justice. >> correct. >> well, hereehe is -- mr. stru some of his texts talking about trump. he's an idiot, like trump. and martin o'malley's a -- well,
3:18 pm
a "d" word. i'm not watching, i can't tell you how little a care right now. talking about the republican convention. so much more substantive than the representative debates. heul goes at some point, the republican party needs o to pull their hea out of their blank. shows no sign of occurring any time soon. of course, he's -- you know, the f we were told by christopher wray stands for fidelity. but these were all made in the course of infidelity. and then he makes slurs against kasich. it's just unbelievable. i truly hate these people. talking about the republicans. no support s for the women who actually has to spend the rest of her life rearing this child, but we careab about, quote, lif. and then how can -- how the f can he be a republican and on and on it goes. america will get what the voting public deserves.
3:19 pm
and that's what i'm afraid of. he'll wi 100 million to 0. did you hear him make a this is not yway, just politicalpi opinions. this is disgusting, unaccountablen' bias. and there's no way that could not affect a person's work. were you aware of just how biased mr. struckwa was? >> no, i was not. >> thank you. one final thing. you't -- i'm asking a question.r the answer is not classified or privileged. based on information to the best of your knowledge, has the fbi ever used work product or report any part of which was paid for by a political campaign, political party, political candidate, or prepared on a candidate's behalf? >> congressman, the issue that
3:20 pm
you're -- >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the witness may answer the question. >> i know that we're working with at least one committee, house intelligence, that has access to that information. i believe they'll get whatever information -- >> sir, i'm asking a general question. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. in the form it was already presented. >> i don't know everything abou> the fbi. >> and mr. chairman, point of personal privilege. since my character was slandered by mr. cohen, who said that i never -- we never challenged mueller until he came after the administration, when he knows how toughy went after fbi director -- he's been here when i went after director mueller while bush was president. he knows i have been after him and the damage he did and what he stated about me is a lie. and i need the record to properly reflect that. >> the gentleman's -- comment it
3:21 pm
duly noted. the chair recognizes the gentle woman from california, miss bass, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. according to an august 17th fbi intelligence assessmentd titled black identity extremist likely motivated to target law enforcement officers, enquote, isio very likely that black identity extremists' perceptions of police brutality against african-americans spurred an increase intr retaliatory violence. so i tried to get to the bottom of wheret this report came from who did it, what its status is. i've asked attorney general sessions. i've asked director wray, and o now i want to ask you. did you order the fbi to conduct this assessment? t >> sorry, what was the date? >> august 2017. august of this year. >> no, i did not. >> do you know who authored the
3:22 pm
report? are you familiar with the report? >> i'm not familiar with the report. i'm familiar with the general issue. >> and so maybe you could talk a little bit about the general issue in particular, when the fbi began tracking black identity extremism? >> i think it's important for me to explain, congresswoman, that the fbi does not make a determination with regard to domestic groups to investigate them based upon their first amendment views. or their affiliation. it bases its decisions on evidence of a propensity to violence. so with regard to members of any ideology, domestically, the fbi would only be investigating if there were some indication. >> do you believe there is a political movement in the country called black identity extremism? > i don't believe the fbi intends that to encompass a particular political movement. what they do is try to categorize different threats theyes identify. >> so you said investigate. but before you do an investigation, there is surveillance, m correct? >> generally, no. there might need to be a dernl nation first that there was a
3:23 pm
basis for an investigation, typically before any surveillance. >> so how does that determination take place, and where has it taken place? >> i -- if you want details, i need to get back to you. but the fbi does have very strict guidelines, as you know. several decades ago, there was quite a bit of controversy about this issue. and the fbi has very detailed guidelines for when they initiate investigations. and i'm not aware of any departure from those guidelines. >> so one thing that -- and i am awaree of the fbi's history fro many years ago. many people are looking at this document, black identity extremism as co and tell pro two. one of the concerns raised and i raised with attorney general sessionsic and director wray, i this document for whatever reason was mass distributed to law enforcement offices around the country. are you aware of that? >> no, i'm not. >> so when we talk to director wray, it wasn't clear how this term was even developed.
3:24 pm
in other words, what evidence was it based on to even come up with the term like that. and then to write a document about it. and then to distribute it to law enforcement around the country. >> i don't know the answer to that, congresswoman. but if it's of any reassurance, i've been in this job for eight months. i haven't seen any indication that the fbi is approaching this in a biased way. they're conducting investigations where they believe the person who is the subject represents a potential threat, not simply because they believe in an ideology or associate with an ideology, but because they represent a particular threat. and i believe the fbi guidelines are designed specifically to ensure that there are no abuses. >> so what i am hearing from activists around the country, in particular activists who were protesting law enforcement, you know,en police brutality or deas at the hands of law enforcement, is that they're being visited by the fbi. that the fbi is leaving, you know, business cards. and then what the concern about that is, is that if they do engage in a conversation with an
3:25 pm
fbi agent, and perhaps make a mistake or maybe say something that isn't true, then they're vulnerable to be prosecuted for lyingti to a law enforcement av officer. so thee activists that have received visitse by the fbi hav never been involved in violence at all. are you aware of that happening in any of your offices around the country? > no. >> let me just express another concern about this. when a document that doesn't seem to have any scientific basis, that develops a category called black identity extremism that nobody can say whether or not it really exists, when you send a document like that to law enforcement around the country, you know, in some places, i will worry that they will take that toto say that any time there is officer-involved shooting, and then there is a protest that ths people that protest might be black identity extremists. >> congresswoman, to the best of my knowledge, the fbi is not investigating people who are peacefully protesting. and so having read that document, i'll review it, and
3:26 pm
i'll see what it stays. >> i would appreciate it if you would. and if there is no basis for this term, that then the fbi take thehe step to retract the document and send a message to law enforcement around the country that no such category exists. i yield back my time. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from ohio, mr. jordan, for a five minutes. > did the fbi pay christopher steele, and was the dossier the basis for securing warrants at the fisa court to spy on americans associated with the trump campaign. really, it boils down to those fundamental questions. did you pay the guy who wrote it, and did you use what he wrote, disproven, discredited, dossier paid foror by the clintw campaign. did you use it to get warrants to spy on americans. that's what it comes down to. and you're the guy who can answer those questions. and i was -- yesterday i was convinced that the answer to those questions was probably yes. but today i'm even more convinced the answer is yes,
3:27 pm
based on the text messages we got to read early this morning.n mr. rosenstein, you know peter struck? are you familiar with that name? >> llyes, i'm familiar with the name. >> former deputy head of counter intelligence at the fbi? peter struck? that one? >> i don't know his precise title. but, yes, he had a significant role. >> he interviewed abedin and clinton, and changed the letter to extreme carelessness. interviewed mike flynn. peter struck, selected by -- mr. mueller to be on his team. that peter struck. we learn had all these text messages. we got to read some of them early this morning.rny now, as my colleagues have pointed out, some of them are -- you know, they're -- so he didn't like trump. heor and his page are exchangin text messages back and forth that show they don't like the president. but that's nothing new. no one on trump's team likes trump. we already knew that. but i want to focus on one in particular. one in particular.
3:28 pm
this is a text message from mr. struck to miss page, recalling a conversation and a meeting that took place in andrew mccabe's office, deputy director of the fbi. recalling aer meeting earlier. and mr. struck says this. i want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in andy's office. and thenn there is a break. dash. it says there is no way he gets elected. no way trump getsd t elected. he says, i want to believe that. you said that in the meeting in andrew m ccabe's office. i want to believe that. but then he goes, but i'm afraid we can't take that risk.eo this goes to intent. he says, we can't take the risk. you know, the people of this great country might elect donald trump president. we can't take this risk. this is peter struck, head of counter intelligence in the fbi. this is peter struck, who i think had a hand in that dossiet that was all dressed up and taken to the fisa court. he's saying, we can't take the risk. we have to do something about it. don't forget the time line here, either, mr. rosenstein.
3:29 pm
peter struck, january 10th. he's the t guy who changes the exoneration letter from gross negligence, criminal standard, to extreme carelessness. july 2nd, he's the guy who sets in on the clinton interview. july 5th, 2016, when comey has the press conference and says we're not going tos we prosecut. and august 2016, we have this text message. the same montht' that the russi investigation is opened at the fbi. august 2016. and my questioguess is, that's e month that the application was taken to the fisa court to get the warrants to spy on americans. using this p dossier that the clinton campaign paid for, democratss paid for, fake news, all dressed up, taken to the court. so i've got really just a couple basic questions. because it seems to me, if the answer to any of those two questions -- if the answer is yes, if you guys paid
3:30 pm
christopher steele at the same time that democrats in the clinton campaign were paying. or if you took the dossier, dressed it up, took it to the fisa court and usedd that as th basis to get warrants, and now we have intent in this text message saying -- there's another text message. my colleague referenced it earlier. where mr. struck says, i can protect our country at many levels. says it with allan the humilitye could muster. i can protect our country at many levels. this guy thought he was super agent james bond at the fbi. this is obvious. i'm afraid we can't take that risk. we can't -- there's no way we can let the american people make donald trump the next president. i've got to protect our country. this is unbelievable. and i'm here to tell you, mr. rosenstein, i think the public trust in this whole thing is gone. so it seems to me you've got two things you can do. you're the guy in charge. you're the guy who picked mueller. you're the guy who wrote the memo saying why you needed to fire comey. you're the guy in charge.
3:31 pm
you can disband the mueller prosecutor and doth what we all called for. appoint a second special counsel to look into this. to look into peter struck and everything else we have learned in the last couple weeks. >> yes,, congressman. and i can assure you that i consider it r very important to make sure a thorough review is done, and our inspector general is doing a thorough review. that's how we found those text messages. >> i have given that answer 15 times. let me ask this. are you concerned -- this is what a lot of americans are believing right now. and i certainly do. that the comey fbi and the obama justice department worked with one campaign to go after the otherin campaign. that's what everything points to. think about what we have learned in the last several weeks. we have first learned they paid for the dossier. then we learn about pete struck. and last we learned about bruce orr and nice wife nellie. this is unbelievable. so what's it going to take to get a second special counsel to answer these questionsha and fi out was peter struck really up
3:32 pm
to what i think he was? >> i'm -- i think it's important to understand, congressman, we have an inspector general who has 500 employees and $100 million budget. and this is what he does. he investigates allegations of misconduct involving department employees. that review that he is conducting is what turned up those text messages. it will also involve interviews of those persons, and of other witnesses. >> we're looking forward to his report. and we have met with mr. horowitz. and we are anxiously awaiting that report. but that doesn't dismiss the fact that the country thinks we need a second special 20 members of this committee, the judiciary committee, with primary jurisdiction over the justice department thinks we need a second special counsel. all kinds of senators think we need a special counsel. what fact pattern do you have to have? what kind of text messages do you have to see before you say, it's time for a second special counsel? >> i want to assure you, congressman, i think the attorney general explained, we take very seriously the concerns of 20 members of this committee or one member of this committee. but we have a responsibility to make an independent determination, and we will. >> i thank the chair.
3:33 pm
>> the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york, mr. jeffries, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. rosenstein, there are approximately 14,000 special agents within the fbi. is that correct? >> 37,000 total employees. >> and is it fair to say a majority of those fbi special agents are registered republicans? >> i haven't asked them. and i wouldn't want to speculate. >> fair to say that the majority of the 14,000 fbi special agenth have conservative-leaning political views, like much of the law enforcement community throughout the entire nation? >> i'm certain that many of them do. i haven't counted. >> now, the departmedepartment apparently last evening invited a group of reporters to its offices to view the private text messages that were sent during the election by peter struck and lisa page. is that correct? >> i believe that's correct. >> now, who exactly authorized department of justice in advance
3:34 pm
of a congressional hearing to invite reporters to come view private text message communications between two department of justice employees who were the subject of a pending investigation?rt did you give that order, sir? >> this is a very important question you asked, congressman. because that was one of my concerns about this issue, is what is the status of these messages. and is it appropriate to release them. and the determination was made that it is. soso we gave notice to their attorneys. we notified the committee. and our goal, congressman, is to make sure that it's clear to you and the american people, we are not concealing anything that's embarrassing to the fbi.i. >> so is it extraordinary that you would v invite reporters foa private viewing in advance of a congressional hearing? >> only if the information is appropriate for public release. if it's not appropriate for public release, it is never appropriate to disclose it to reporters. >> okay. now, shannon bream, a fox news supreme court reporter tweeted
3:35 pm
last evening at 9:29 that fox news producer jake gibson has approximately l10,000 text messages between peter struck and lisa page. now, it's my understanding that only about 350 or so were released to this committee. is that correct? >> there are others that are being reviewed, and we've assured the committee chairs that we're going to produce them as soon as we have them available. there are some redactions that need to be made. >> so how is it possible that fox news apparently has 10,000 textxt messages? >> i wouldn't assume that's true, just because it was in the news, congressman. i'm not'm aware of that. >> okay. but this is a fox news reporter who is indicating that. i'm sure we're going too get to the bottom of it. hopefully thehe chairman in a bipartisan way would be interested. >> veryy concerned. >> it would be a violation of law and department of justice proceedings. >> if there were any evidence that we disclosed information to a reporter that wasn't appropriate for public release or wasn't disclosed to congress, i would agree with you.ce i'm not aware of that. >> okay. now, department of justice investigation should be free of
3:36 pm
political interinterferenferenc? >> absolutely. >> let me put up a tweet from donald trump on november 3rd at 3:57 a.m. in the morning. god knows what he was doing at that time. other than tweeting. it says, everybody -- let me put that tweet up. >> mr. chairman, may i ask anonymous consent the clock stop while we're trying to -- >> what was the gentleman's request?eas >> yeah, the committee had been given notice of a tweet that i wanted displayed on the screen last evening. and i've been asked -- asking for that to be put up. >> and there's some technical difficulty in doing that? >> yes. >> yeah, we will suspend.
3:37 pm
>> mr. chairman? i believe the gentleman had a minute and 45 seconds. >> we'll make sure he gets plenty of time. >> thank you, mr. gates. >> in the interest of time i will just read what was writt in the interest of time, mr. chairman, i'll just read what was written by the president. he said, everybody is asking why the justice department and fbi isn't looking into all of the dishonesty going on with crooked hillary and the dems. let me ask you a question. is it ever appropriate for a president, any president, of the united states to encourage department of justice to launch criminal investigations against his or her perceived political enemies? >> i'm not going to comment on that, congressman. as i've explained previously, the president has put a team of
3:38 pm
experienced folks in charge of the department of justice and we're not going to be influenced by anything other than the facts of law. >> is that an appropriate tweet for the president of the united states to send? >> it's not my role to opine on that. >> the president's repeated attempts to encourage criminal prosecutions against perceived political enemies concern you, sir? >> congressman, as i said, we understand our responsibility. and we're going to continue to conduct our responsibility in accordance with the facts of the law. and i am grateful that the president has put an experienced team in charge of the justice department who understand what to do. >> okay. thanks. on june 20th, the "new york times" published a wide-ranging interview with president trump. in it, the president criticized you from being from baltimore. so he's from baltimore. >> it's true. >> mr. rosenstein, are you unable to be fair and impartial because you're from baltimore? >> i'm actually not from baltimore. i did work in baltimore for 12 years. it's true there are not a lot of republicans in baltimore. >> okay. donald trump's statement had no basis in reality, correct? >> well, as i said, that part of
3:39 pm
it was true. >> okay. a former u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york, true? >> yes. >> and he was fired by donald trump in march, is that correct? >> along with almost all sitting u.s. attorneys. >> the u.s. attorneys office for the southern district of new york has prrl jurisdiction over trump tower in manhattan, correct? >> has jurisdiction over everything in its jurisdiction. >> okay. and presidential interviews of u.s. attorney candidates has been reported to be the case for preet bharara's replacement. that would be a departure from traditional presidential protocol, correct? >> for the president personally to conduct the interview? >> that's correct. >> i'm not aware of all of the prior practices. i don't think it was done in the last two administrations that i'm familiar with. >> okay. and you were appointed by president bush and then continued in that position as u.s. attorney for maryland by barack obama. that's correct. >> that's correct. as a matter of law, i was appoi appointed and never removed.
3:40 pm
>> were you asked by president bush for a loyalty pledge? >> no. >> were you ever asked by president barack obama to take a loyalty prejudice? >> no. >> is it appropriate for the president of the united states to demand an official or director take a loyalty pledge? >> i don't have any opinion about that, congressman. nobody has asked me to take a loyalty pledge, other than the oath of office. >> thanks. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. poe, for five minutes. >> i thank the chairman. thank you for being here. just so it's clear, i'm one of the numerous members of the judiciary committee that have asked for a second special prosecutor, based on what mr. jordan earlier said. the justice department is responsible for investigating criminal conduct. would that include criminal conduct by the nsa? >> yes. >> okay. we all learned under the prism
3:41 pm
that was happening years ago by the nsa that the nsa was doing, in my opinion, unconstitutional surveillance on americans in their e-mails by tracking it and hacking into see those e-mails. came to light under snowden, after snowden -- who i care nothing for -- brought that to america's attention. nsa said we're not going to do that any more. the -- which i think is appropriate, because i thought it was unconstitutional. and we've heard reports through the media that there has been unmasking of information. what i mean by that is, classified information is seized on somebody. and someone else, an american, that their name is caught up in the communication, and if someone leaks who that was,
3:42 pm
unmask that individual, my understanding is if it's classified information, whoever does that unmasking has committed a felony. is that correct? >> the only distinction i would make, congressman, is the unmasking typically is something done in the course of the intelligence analysis. the leaking would be a violation. >> that's what i'm talking about. the leaking of that information. and as of today, has anybody been indicted under prism? has anybody been indicted under leaking information on unmasking up until today? has the justice department indicted anybody under those two scenarios and events? >> we have indicted, prosecutor, people for leaking. i don't believe any of them related to unmasking. >> so no one has been indicted, to your knowledge. which i want to bring up now the
3:43 pm
foreign intelligence surveillance act that has been discussed by this committee numerous times. it's the law that allows secret courts to issue secret warrants to try to go get tariffs operating overseas and get their information. does the justice department present those fisa warrants to a fisa judge? >> in situations where a warrant is required, yes, it needs to be obtained from a federal judge. >> that's right. but the justice department is responsible for that, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> also, under fisa, once again, americans are brought into the scenario, because you target a foreign terrorist, and then you go after their e-mails and then you find e-mails of americans and those are inadvertently caught in the -- the
3:44 pm
surveillance of the target. according to the "washington post" recently, 90% of those inadvertent e-mails are on americans. and my question to you is, has -- why hasn't the justice department, the fbi, the intelligence community, presented to congress, and our request that took place years ago, how many of those inadvertent e-mails, communications, text messages, conversations, have been on americans? where you've been asked for the number? do you know why that has not been brought to our attention? and here's the reason we need it. we're getting ready to maybe reauthorize 7 oh02, which i hav lot of problems with. i think it's unconstitutional in many other ways. but beside the point. here we are at a deadline, getting ready to reauthorize it, and still the intelligence community refuses to tell us how
3:45 pm
many americans' information has been seized. can you tell us why we haven't gotten that information? that we've asked for for years? >> no. i testified at a hearing with director coates, who i think would be more appropriate person to answer that, because he has access to the data. and he's -- he has explained it. but i would simply point out that you use the term inadvertent. it's a term that we use -- incidental. >> incidental. i don't mind -- >> if you're investigating a foreign terrorist, knowing with whom that person is communicating. >> that's not my question. my question was, we're getting ready to maybe reauthorize 702. i don't think we ought to reauthorize it until we find out from the intelligence community where there are no indictments that have been issued against the intelligence community based upon the statements that you have made to see whether or not they're violating the law and they refuse to give this committee the information about how many people have been caught up in that.
3:46 pm
and we've been -- it's been stone walled by the intelligence community saying we just can't do it. why can't the intelligence community get some geek over at best buy and have them come in and answer that question with a few little taps into the big computer system? we just want the number! >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the witness may answer the question. >> as i explained, congressman, i've heard director coates explain this, and he's in a better position than i. >> so we don't know. still don't know. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. the gentleman from illinois, mr. gutierrez, is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to ask you about sexual assault by the president of the united states of america. over the past few days, echoing previous allegations made against the president in the past several years, at least 16 women have come forward to say that the president of the united states felt them up, kissed them
3:47 pm
without permission, put his hands under their clothing without permission, groped them, touched their genitalia, walked into dressing rooms unannounced to see them naked and made other unwanted sexual advances that to everyone are clear violations of the law. now, i believe the women. and i generally give the women and their word a lot of weight. and when the him in question is donald trump, there really should be no further discussion, because as everybody, regardless of their political affiliations or partisanship can clearly see, we have a man in the presidency who has a very difficult relationship with the truth. in this case, we have women who were made to feel powerless and insignificant, who at great personal cost and risk have come forward. and i believe them. i do. al franken is resigning from the senate. and it goes no further than this
3:48 pm
committee where two senior members resigned because women came forward and made credible claims. that just happened last week. and others on this dais right now are among the additional members of the body who are accused, credibly accused, of misconduct. right now, with the number two person in the justice department before a committee, and sworn to tell the truth, i think it's important to get your opinion on whether there are grounds for a criminal investigation or an ethics investigation against the president of the united states of america. for example, rachel crooks is one of the 16 women that we know of who have come forward. she said that president trump, before he was president, quote, kissed me directly on the mouth. it was so inappropriate, he thought i was so insignificant, that he could do that, end quote. jill hart, another one of the 16 women, said, quote, he groped me, he absolutely groped me. and he just slipped his hand there, touching my private
3:49 pm
parts. end quote. now, these are just two examples of unwelcome sexual advances. i think were he on the subway or in a restaurant, would not either or both of these incidents be enough to get him arrested? in your experience as the number two most important law enforcement officer in the united states? but before you answer that, how about these cases? kristen anderson in an interview said, quote, the person on my right, who unbeknownst to me at the time was donald trump, put their hand up my skirt. he did touch my vagina through my underwear, unquote. and another said, he continually groped my ass and invited me to his hotel room. end quote. these are very serious allegations of crimes committed by the president. are they not? but before you answer the question, i think it's important to point out that these stories are corroborated by one of the most important witnesses of all. the president himself.
3:50 pm
core r corroborates this. he told tv host, billy bush, when he was mic'ed up for an interview with "entertainment tonight," quote, i just start kissing them. it's like a magnet. just kiss.kiss. i don't even wait and when you're a star they let you do it. you can do anything. he continued, grab them by and you know what he said. you can do anything, end quote. samantha holvy said on national television that when she was a contestant in a beauty concert, trump would come back unannounced in the dressing room. we have audiotape corroborating this account when he told howard stern, i'll tell you the funniest is before a show i'll go backstage and everyone's getting dressed and everything else, no men are anywhere but i'm allowed to go in because i'm the owner. and he went on to say the chicks
3:51 pm
would be almost naked. i see you as a law enforcement officer and i value your opinion on these members. would it be appropriate for you to investigate these and other allegations of assault and unwanted sexual advances by the president of the united states? >> congressman, i am happy to take any questions regarding oversight of the department of justice with regard to that matter or any other allegation that you think warrants investigation, i would invite you to submit the evidence and the department will review it. if you believe there's a federal crime, that applies to any alleged violation by any person and that's all i have to say about that. >> but, you're the number two top law enforcement officer in the nation. let me ask you, if a person on a train went and kissed a woman, is that a crime? >> if it's a federal crime -- a federal train it might be a federal crime. >> amtrak. >> i'm just not going to answer that. >> it wouldn't be appropriate
3:52 pm
for me to answer. >> as the number two law enforcement officer you don't think it's a crime for a woman to be on a train, be in a restaurant, sitting and a stranger, unwanted, stranger would come up to her and grope her and kiss her that that's not a crime. >> the time has expired. >> i would have no know the facts and evaluate the law. i've never prosecuted a case like that in federal court, congressman, but if you have an allegationpy any person at any time you should feel free to submit it. >> the women have made the allegations. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from pennsylvania mr. marino for five minutes. >> it's good to see you again. >> thank you. >> we do a lot of good work together over the years and i'm proud of it and i'm still proud to tell people that i was part of the justice department. actually i have a strong bias for the justice department. i know your character. i know what kind of man you are
3:53 pm
and i have the most confidence in you that you will direct that agency to the rule of law and to see that everything is aboveboard. 99.99% of the people that i worked with there are good honest law enforcement. i have ultimately respect for them. i do -- would like to ask you to clarify a procedure and first of all, would you tell me if i'm right here, special counsel is appointed by the attorney general or under the circumstances by you and that special counsel reports to you. >> correct. >> am i correct in saying that an independent counsel is again appointed by the attorney general or you but that counsel is independent and not report to
3:54 pm
any one in the essence of can i do a, b, or c? >> the appointment would actually be made by a federal judge so there would be no role for the department in the selection or oversight. >> doj wouldn't be involved at all? >> correct. >> let's talk a moment about i've been in many interviews with fbi agents, dea agents concerning potential cases. and what i've seen handled was aboveboard but would you explain to the community what a 302 is. >> it's simply the form number so after conducting a witness interview, fbi agent would write a summary of the interview and we refer to that as a form 302. >> and during that -- during an interview, whether it's done by
3:55 pm
attorneys or investigators at the department of justice or it's done back in my district in the middle of pennsylvania, at some point is there usually an assistant u.s. attorney present in those interviews? >> there's no rule against it, congressman, but typically not, i would say the majority of interviews would be conducted by two agents without a prosecutor. >> who makes the final determination on whether immunity is granted? is that by the u.s. attorney or the attorney at justice department who could perhaps be handling that case? >> that's correct. it would be a prosecutor that would need to make that determination and depending upon what type of immunity it might require a higher level of review. >> and before any criminimmunit giving to anyone whether it's absolute or not, we in law enforcement look for a proffer,
3:56 pm
is that correct, from that individual or their attorney? what are you going to tell us that why should we give you immunity? >> we have a strong preference for obtaining the proffer prior to any grant of immunity. we don't always do it but he have a strong preference for it. >> i have never been in a situation and perhaps it's not unique where immunity has been given where there has not been a proffer, is that -- would that be an extreme or unusual situation where someone would say, get their immunity but we have no idea what they're going to say. >> i wouldn't want to characterize it. i had to perform a majority of immunity. if there wasn't a proffer i would ask why. i can't characterize what percentage of cases might fall under that category. >> and also any evidence that collected such as laptops, computers things of that nature
3:57 pm
pursuant to the investigation, again there would be a thorough investigation of that equipment where immunity would be given to someone? >> it would depend upon the circumstances, congressman. we'd have to make a determination of whether we believed what was the data might be relevant to the decision. >> but there is -- we just don't give blanket immunity because someone asked for it or just to get them in to talk? >> we should not give immunity just because someone asks for it, correct. >> that's all i have. thank you very much for being here and i know you'll keep an eye on things and keep everything aboveboard. pleasure to see you again. i yield back. >> like-wise, thank you. >> i thank the gentleman. the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida, mr. deutsch. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. there's been a lot of talk about dates and timelines. i'd like to walk through for the benefit of my colleagues just a sort timeline from this year in january the fbi, cia nsa concluded the following. we assess russian president
3:58 pm
vladimir putin ordered an influence campaign aimed at the u.s. presidential election. russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the u.s. democratic process and harm hillary clinton's electability. they developed a clear preference for president trump, close quote. do you have any reason to dispute that? >> no. >> in january, also in january, january 24th, michael flynn denied to the fbi agents that he discussed u.s. sanctions with russia before he took office. on january 26th, acting attorney general sally yates told the white house counsel that flynn lied about the nature of his calls with kislyak and is vulnerable to blackmail. on february 13th of this year, flynn resigned over his conversations with the vice president. on february 5/15th public reports of telephone records that show that members of the trump campaign and other trump associates had repeated contacts with senior russian officials in the year before the election.
3:59 pm
on march 16th, documents released showed that flynn received $33,750 from russia state owned tv for a speech he made in moscow. on march 20th, the fbi director acknowledged an investigation into possible collusion between the trump campaign and russia. on may 9th the president fired the fbi director. on may 10th, russia met with the russians in the white house and revealed classify. i face great pressure because of russia. that's taken off, close quote. on may 15 11th the president told nbc news the thing with russia say madeup story. on june 7th we learned president trump urged james comey to drop the investigation. the next day five sources stated that donald trump jr. agreed to the meeting on the premises that damaging information on hillary clinton would be provided and five days after that, a veteran
4:00 pm
of the russia military we learned also attempted that trump tower meeting with donald trump jr., paul manafort and jared kushner. on october the 5th, george papadopoulos one of five people the president identified as a policy adviser pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the fbi on january 27th about the timing, extent and nature and interactions with certain foreign nationals in the statement of offense we learned that he reached out regarding his connections that he could help arrange a meeting between trump and putin. on october 27th, former trump campaign manager paul manafort and rick gates were indicted on multiple counts. in november, the president of the united states met with vladimir putin and said and i quote, he said he didn't meddle. he said he didn't meddle. i asked him again. you can only can ask so many times. every time he sees me he says i didn't do that and i really believe that. when he tells me that he means
4:01 pm
it. the president went on to say, give me a break talking about the national security folks who put together that report that i quoted earlier, give me a break, they are political hacks. on december 1st, michael flynn pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the fbi about conversations he had with the russian ambassador regarding sanctions. this is a little walk through what happened over the past year. i would like to ask you mr. rosenstein, i'd like to quote some of my colleagues from this committee. one of them said the special council's investigation into whether the trump campaign assisted in its effort to interfere in the election is actually -- do you believe that mr. rosenstein? >> no. >> he said we're at risk of a coup day ta in this country? >> no he's not unaccountable. >> with no oversight, there stl no oversight. >> there is oversight. >> if we allow an unaccountable
4:02 pm
person to undermine the duly elected president of the united states, is pursuing the rule of law undermining the duly elected president of the united states, mr. rosenstein. >> no it is not. >> one of my other colleagues said we've got to clean this town up. he talked about firing mueller. one of our former colleagues accused mueller of having a vendetta against mr. trump because he fired james comey. do you believe he has a vendetta. >> no do i not. >> i would just conclude that this little walk through, this one year in american history makes it impossible to understand how it is that my colleagues on the other side continue to launch attacks not only against reporters against the fbi, against the special counsel but they do so to throw dirt on the story to make it try to go away. they may want to bury their heads in the sand but mr. chairman, i want to make clear that they will not bury the rule of law in the united states of america and i yield back.
4:03 pm
>> the gentleman's time is expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from south carolina mr. gadi for five minutes. >> there are a lot of issues that i would like to ask you about. we had a terrorist incident in new york this week. we have 072 reauthorization that is pending in congress. gun violence. the opioid epidemic. when i go home to south carolina this weekend, trust me when i tell you, no one is going to ask me about any of those issues. they're going to ask me what in the hell is going on with the department of justice and the fbi? the reason we have special counsel, this is a very important point -- and you know he it -- the reason we have special counsel is because of a conflict of interest. the regulation itself specifically makes reference to a conflict of interest and we don't like conflicts of interest because it undercuts peoples' confidence in both the process and the result. so let's be really clear why we
4:04 pm
have special counsel. it was either a real or perceived conflict of interest that we were fearful would either impact the result or peoples' confidence in the process. that's why we have something called special counsel and that's why we have special counsel in this fact pattern and lo and behold, those who are supposed to make sure that there are no conflicts of interests, seem to have a few of their own. there's a senior prosecutor who said e-mails to a fact witness. she could be described as nothing other than a fact witness. she's a really important fact witness if you pursue the line of inquiry that my democrat friends want to pursue. they got off of collusion and now they're on obstruction of justice. she may be the most important fact witness in an obstruction of justice case and the senior prosecutor for this conflict of
4:05 pm
interest-free special counsel sent a fawning of e-mail to a fact witness and then we have prosecutors assigned to conduct this investigation who donated almost exclusively to one candidate over another and then we have a prosecutor assigned to this conflict of interest-free team that attended what was supposed to be what he hoped to be a victory party for secretary clinton and we have a senior doj official, mr. deputy attorney general, with an office that used to be two doors down from you meeting with fusion gps and they were paying for russian dirt on the very person that they're supposed to be objectively investigating. and that same senior doj officials' wife, the one that met with fusion gps, his wife was on the payroll of fusion gps. and then we have a senior agent
4:06 pm
assigned to investigate secretary clinton's e-mail, help draft the exoneration letter that would change the language from grossly negligent to extremely careful. interviewed secretary clinton in an interview i have never seen and i doubt you have either. interviewed michael flynn was actively involved in the investigation into the trump campaign before the inspector general found his text. so this agent in the middle of almost everything related to secretary clinton and president trump sent pro-clinton text, anti-trump text to his paramour in response to being told maybe he is where he is to protect the country from that menace, donald trump, he said i can protect our country at many levels and then he said, hillary clinton should win 100 million to nothing. think about that, mr. deputy
4:07 pm
attorney general. that's a pretty overwhelming victory, 100 million to zero. and when i read that last night what i thought was this conflict of interest-free senior agent of the fbi can't think of a single solitary american that would vote for donald trump. not a single solitary american he can imagine with would vote for donald trump. this is the conflict of interest-free special interest. he belittled trump's supporter by saying he could smell them at a walmart in virginia. this is the person we needed to void avoid a conflict of interest. they full go and bigoted of be nonsense of trump but he wasn't just content to disparage donald trump, he had to disparage donald trump's family. this is what he said, mr. deputy attorney general.
4:08 pm
the deutschs are about to come out, he's talking about our first lady and children, this conflict of interest-free special agent of the fbi. this is who we were told we needed to have an objective impartial, fair, conflict of interest-free investigation so he's openly pulling for the candidate he voted for and if that's not enough, he says trump is an fin yid i don't think, what the f just happened toll our country. this is the same man that said he would save our country. what happens when people who are supposed to cure the conflict of interest have even greater conflicts of interest than those they replace? that's not a rhetorical question. you nor i nor anyone else would ever sit peter strzok on a jury, we wouldn't have him objectively
4:09 pm
investigate anything knowing what we know now, why be didn't we know it ahead of time and my last question, my final question to you and i appreciate the chairman's patience, how would you help me answer that question when i go back to south carolina this weekend? >> congressman, first of all, with regard to the special counsel, mr. strzok was already working on the investigation when the special counsel was appointed. i recommend you tell your constituents is that robert mueller and rod rosenstein and chris wray are accountable and we will ensure that no bias is reflected in any of the actions taken by the special counsel or in any matter within the jurisdiction the department of justice. when we have evidence of any inappropriate conduct we're going to take action on it and that's what mr. mueller did here as soon as he learned about this issue. he took action and that's what i anticipate the rest of our prosecutors, our new group of
4:10 pm
u.s. attorneys are justice department pointes. they understand the rules and responsibility to defend the integrity of the department and if they find evidence of improper conduct they're going to take action. that's the best assurance i can give you, but actually there's one other point which is you should tell your constituents that we exposed this issue because we're insuring that the inspector general conducts a thorough and effective investigation and if there is any evidence of impropriety it's going to surface it and report about it properly. >> i'll try. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in february the department of justice changed its litigation position in advisy versus abbott the texas photo i.d. case. did you have any involvement in this decision to reverse the justice's department long-standing position in this case that it was discriminatory. >> no, i didn't.
4:11 pm
the justice department is now defending ohio's vote a purging law. were you involved in the decision to change this plit gas station? >> i was at the department at that time but i don't believe i had any involvement. were you involved in the justice department's decision to file an amicus brief on pe half of the baker who seeks to not baking wedding cakes to same sex couples. >> that decision was made by our solicitor general. >> you described the special counsel as a hee otheric figure who served his country, someone who is confirmed unanimously as the fbi director, someone of extraordinary reputation, service and patronism. i take it your judgment on mr. mueller has not changed today? >> correct. >> you would not have appointed mr. mueller if you thought he was going to engage in a witch hunt? >> correct. >> you then would disagree with the president's labelling of the
4:12 pm
special counsel's investigation as a witch hunt i assume? >> i don't know exactly what the president meant by that. the special counsel's investigation is not a witch hunt. >> it's not a witch hunt. the president said it is. you're supposed to be independent. you disagree it's a witch hunt? the president's wrong, correct. >>? >> i do not know what the president meant. i can only answer for myself. >> do you agree that the repeated attacks whether by conservative pundits or by my colleagues here in congress threatens to undermine the veblt of the investigation. >> the independence is not going to be effected by anything that anybody says. >> you delivered remarks on october 25th before the u.s. chamber of commerce, you said if we permit the rule of law to erode when it does not directly harm our interest, it may consume us as well. if it collapses, if the people lose faith in the rule of law, then everyone will suffer, end quote. in the context of the
4:13 pm
president's attacks, this is the american people are really witting an unprecedented attack on our democratic institutions by this president. first diminishing the seriousness of the investigation which is under way about vladimir putin interference in our election, attacks on the judiciary, attacks on the free press, the one institution which continues to enjoy broad public support and remains key to protecting the ruling of law is the federal bureau of investigation and the department of justice. america is counting on your integrity and your commitment to protecting the independence of the special counsel to reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law. so when you said just a moment ago that you don't have an opinion about a loyalty oath from the president being asked of people, it might be useful to remind you, sir, that members of the department of justice take an oath to the constitution and so a loyalty oath to the president of the united states is inappropriate for any president to ask for it and for anyone to swear it. do you agree? >> congressman, nobody has asked me for a loyalty oath.
4:14 pm
>> that's not my question. you are here to demonstrate the independence of your office and you are unwillingly to say that an oath to the president of the united states rather to the -- >> i didn't say that. an oath to the president of the united states rather than the constitution would be inappropriate. >> the president of the united states period is not appropriate. >> congressman you're talking about a hypothetical. it's not clear what was asked or what was said. >> you also -- >> as long as you're following your oath of office you can be faithful to the administration. >> i'll move to a new question. you also said you would not respond to the question to say whether or not the president of the united states had asked you to initiate criminal prosecutions against political adversaries. you would not disclose whether those conversations took place? >> i said i would disclose if i was told to do something improper -- >> what if you were encouraged to do something improper? what if you were encouraged to initiate a criminal
4:15 pm
investigation, that's not appropriate to do? >> several of your colleagues on both sides have encouraged me today. i'm going to base my decisions on the facts and the law. >> i understand that. but the action of a president to encourage you to initiate a criminal prosecution, separate and apart what you will do that, that very action is not appropriate? >> you're free to make that judgment. >> i'm asking you in your judgment, is that inappropriate. >> my judgment is it would be inappropriate for somebody to order me to do something. >> but it wouldn't be inappropriate for your supervisor, the person you serve, the president of the united states to tell you or suggest to you or encourage you to initiate a criminal prosecution against a political adversary? >> congressman i think i've been very clear about this. >> i'll just end with this. we've heard you very proudly here talk about the integrity of the department of justice and the work of the fbi. we heard dr. wray say the same thing. these two agencies, the fbi and the department of justice, are
4:16 pm
in the midst of an unprecedented attack by individuals who are trying to undermine the credibility of this independent counsel's investigation. the same group of individuals who praised robert mueller when he was appointed, spectacular, was praised uniformly and now the own thing that's changed is two indictments, two pleas, michael flynn part of the president's inner circle now cooperating with the government. that's the only thing that's changed. we need to hear your voice defending the integrity of this department rule of law, the independence of this investigation because the very future of our democracy is at stake if you fail to do that so i urge you to do so and with that i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from idaho mr. labrador for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you mr. rosenstein for being here today. i shutter at some of the questions from the other side and i just want to ask you a quick question.
4:17 pm
have you ever said that you are the president's wingman? >> no, sir. >> has the current attorney general of the united states ever said that he is the president's wingman? >> not to my knowledge. >> but yet the attorney general under president obama said that he was the president's wingman and i never heard a single democrat object to that, so it's kind of ridiculous to sit here and try to question your integrity or try to question whether somebody's going to be loyal to their president or not as you clearly indicated you can be both loyal to the constitution and to the president of the united states as long as there's not a conflict of interest, as long as you're not doing anything that is inappropriate, it's okay to be the president's wingman, it's also okay to say that you're going to be loyal to the president, as long as they're not asking you to do anything that is illegal, isn't that correct? >> yes. >> so what was the goal of the russians when they tried to interfere with the electionings in the united states? >> the assessment of the intelligence community as reflected in their public report is that the goal of the russians
4:18 pm
was to undermine american confidence and democracy. >> so to undermine the american's -- >> i'm paraphrasing. i don't have it in front of me. >> they tried to undermine the public's faith in the democratic process. >> that's correct. >> i believe that no one in the united states has done more to undermine the belief in the united states democratic process than the democrats and the press in some cases when they continue to report on false allegation after allegation after allegation. in fact, what you see from the democrats is that they move from one allegation, that allegation's proven to be false, and they move to the next one and they move to the next one and they move to the next one because they're unhappy with the results of the election. can you tell me why the independent counsel was actually appointed? >> special counsel, i've explained publicly, that i appointed the special counsel based upon the unique circumstances in order to promote public confidence and i have nothing to add to that.
4:19 pm
>> so why when mr. mueller was charged with investigating, he was charged with investigating, quote, any links and or coordination between the russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of donald trump. and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation, end quote. that charge is overly broad but there's been two prosecutions or at least two charges so far brought by the independent counsel is that correct? >> four individuals charged, two pleaded guilty and two will stand trial. >> have any of them been charged with any links and or coordinate nation between the russian government and the individuals associated with the campaign for president? >> the charges speak for themselves. i'm not going to comment beyond what's in the charging documents. >> is there anything in those charging documents that there was a coordination between the trump administration and the
4:20 pm
russians? >> congressman, i'm not going to comment beyond what's in the charging documents. i think you can draw your own conclusion. >> something i do agree with my friends on the other side is that we should get to the bottom -- we should know the truth. we should know whether there was collusion between russia and the president of the united states. we should also know whether there was collusion between any department who tried to interfere with our elections. so can you tell me was there collusion between the doj and fusion gps to use a democratic funded document for political and legal purposes? >> i don't know the answer to that, congressman. the language i actually used in the appointing order was coordination and i believe that was language used by director comey when he testified about an ongoing investigation. i did not use the word collusion. >> was there any coordination between the doj and fusion gps
4:21 pm
to try to undermine an election of the united states? >> if there were, congressman, i'd be very concerned about it. as you know there are ongoing reviews and i'm not in a position to comment about it. >> there are ongoing reviews so there could potentially be an investigation whether the doj and members of the doj actually colluded with an enemy of a political party in a political candidate to undermine the elections of the united states? >> if there's any evidence that warrants it congressman, we'll can do what's appropriate. >> all right. so i think if you want to restore the trust of the american people, i think the department of justice has a duty to give us all the information that we've been asking for. we will needed to find out who started this regulation, we need to find out what the purpose was. if you have an individual who actually had a desire to have an outcome in a political race and they decided to use the department of justice to investigate their political
4:22 pm
opponents, i think that is one of the worst crimes that has occurred in the history of the united states when it comes to politics, do you agree with that? >> it would, if that were what happened, congressman, it would be of great concern. >> all right. i hope that you are truly investigating this and that we get to the bottom of this. thank you very much. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from california, mr. swalwell for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. rosenstein. please express my thanks to your employees who serve at our national interest every day and do very important work at the department. mr. rosenstein, have you spoken with the president since you were appointed? >> of course. >> okay. and is that in a one-on-one setting? >> i've never spoken with the president in a one-on-one setting. >> has he called you by telephone? >> yes. >> what was discussed? >> as i said, congressman, i've told you that if i were told to do anything appropriate but if the president's consultationing
4:23 pm
me about matters within my official responsibility that's part of the way you run the government. >> did he discuss at all mr. mueller's investigation? >> i'm not going to comment, congressman about my communicationings with the president. >> how many times has he called you? >> congressman, i do not -- i'm not going to comment about my communications with the president. there is nothing wrong with the president consulting with his deputy attorney general about matters within the jurisdiction of the justice department as long as it's not inappropriate he. >> mr. rosenstein, i agree except that this president has demonstrated and that's been expressed through testimony from james comey that has not been contradicted that is willing to talk to individuals at the department about ongoing investigations, that's where the concern arises. with respect to attorney general session's recusal was he involved to allow reporters to review the text messages that you discussed earlier? >> not to my knowledge. >> will you tell us if he was?
4:24 pm
>> if i learn about it, if it matters, congressman, not aware of any impropriety in what the department has done in making these text messages available. >> but jeff sessions is recused from bob mueller's investigation. >> he's recused from general mueller's investigation, corr t correct. i'm not aware of any evidence that the attorney general's violated his recusal. >> mr. rosenstein, if you are overseeing an investigation and lead a team of investigators and you learn that one of the investigators has demonstrated a perceived bias against an individual in the investigation, should you a, keep the person on the team, or b, remove the person from the investigation? >> b. >> and knowing, in fact, pattern what did bobber do with the similar fact apparent. >> he chose the correct option. >> the president has said a
4:25 pm
number of things about you, the attorney general, the fbi being in tatters, he even compared our intelligence community which your employees are a part of to nazi germany and i want to ask considering his continued disparagement of the department and your employees, are your employees proud to work for a person who holds their high integrity in such low regard? >> my employees are i believe proud to work for the department of justice. some of them support a particular president some of them don't but as long as they do their job appropriately that's my concern. >> i agree and i hope so and i hope that's the case. mr. rosenstein, your testimony today is that you believe bob mueller is the person of high integit, is that correct? >> yes. >> you believe his investigation is being conducted fairly. >> yes. >> you also believe and you also that he's publicly indicted two individuals with respect to his investigation? >> correct. >> he's also obtained two guilty pleas with respect to his investigation? >> correct.
4:26 pm
>> is there good cause to fire bob mueller as we sit here today? >> not to my knowledge. >> i am concerned that my house judiciary committee colleagues particularly in the majority have signaled quite indiscreetly today that they would probably give the president a pass if he were to fire or order you to fire bob mueller? there have been a number of statements attempting to undermine the good character of bob mueller. that concerns me because that would certainly fly in the face of the rule of law and this country and it would not be okay i believe with the american people or the spirit that our country was founded upon. mr. deputy attorney general, your investigation is a very narrow bridge. the important part, i believe for our country is for you to not be afraid. during these trying times we need you to be fearless. we have a president who is demonstrated a willingness to
4:27 pm
involve himself in ongoing investigations that involve of he and his family and for the sake of our country and for the sake of rule of law, i hope that you can continue to drem straight the character that got you into this position and that has given us as a committee i think faith in your ability to carry out that mission. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. far ren hold for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i know we've talked a lot about this today but i feel obliged on the town of the folks that i represent are always asking me about this to say there is a real concern out there in texas certainly and i think around the nation that we've got a special counsel who's working 24/7 investigating the trump administration, yet the department of justice who various witnesses we've had up here is basically not been able to confirm or deny what
4:28 pm
investigations, if any, are going on with respect to the potential misdeeds of the clinton campaign and their dealings with russia be it through uranium one, various speaking engagements for former president clinton and the like. i'm not asking you to break that confidentiality, but i am suggesting that there are a lot of people out there who would be sadly disappointed if there isn't an investigation and who may actually or who do actually think there might ought to be a special prosecutor or special counsel appointed to look at the other side. so instead of beating that dead horse i'm going to beat another one that i've been talking a lot about and that's specifically the doj's opposition to the usa liberty act. why is it so hard, why is it a
4:29 pm
warrant requirement so difficult to deal with on your part? we understand the need to have circumstances where things get looked at quickly. it's like .whole process of obtaining things for foreign intelligent purposes to stop terrorists are being rolled into more normal mainstream criminal investigations where traditionally there's been a need for a warrant. why is it so difficult to get a warrant? in many cases you can create the necessary probable cause and paper work in a matter of hours, if not minutes, there are judges on call 24/7 to look at these things. why is it such a problem and why are you all opposed to it? >> i believe -- i don't want to dupe little kate director ray's comments about this. i wish that you could join us in the department and see about how we could go about our work. the public sees when things go
4:30 pm
wrong. they don't see the 99.9% of the time paz congressman marino pointed out when things go right and it would be burdensome. i certainly respect and i understand the concerns, congressman. i think those are serious concerns and we're going to do everything we can to try to reassure people about it but i can simply tell you, it would take me a lot longer than the time you have to explain the full process. i believe dr. wray is correct about this and the national security community, i know many folks who were involved pre-9/11 and post-911 have spoken up about how important it is to have this tool because we don't want to be in this position again when people said why didn't the fbi put all these facts together and figure out the threat before the terrorist attacks. that's the basis congressman and i can assure you that if it were easy to do with a warrant i'd be in favor of it but it's not. i believe we have appropriate safeguards in place and that we
4:31 pm
have people who are responsible who are conducting these investigations and are going to avoid infringing americans righ rights. that's our primary concern. to make sure there are no violations of americans' rights and i do not believe the program as it exists represents a violation of any one's rights. >> you and i may respectfully disagree on whether it violates folks rights or not. i agree we got to fight terrorism, but there's a reason the fourth amendment was included in the constitution. finally, i just want to touch for a second on cybersecurity. i used to run a computer consulting company and you've heard about breaches all throughout the public and private sector. can you just give me an overview quickly about what you y'all are doing with respect to that and what, if anything, congress needs to do to help you? >> it would be hard for me to do it quickly because we have a lot of resources both the fbi and
4:32 pm
other agencies that are protecting against the cyber threat. it's a significant threat. we fashion both intelligence threat from hostile foreign governments and also a criminal threat from people who try to break into our systems to commit crimes and defraud americans. it's a very challenging issue as you know from your experience. technology continues to evolve and we need to stay a step ahead of the capabilities of our adversary and criminals so the fbi does have a lot of resources devoted to that. i testified about our budget a couple of months ago and i think that's an area where we will need increasing support from the congress to make sure that we keep up with our adversaries. >> i see my time is expired. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. chair grants the congressman for five minutes. >> thank you. thank you for being here today, deputy attorney general. i note for the american people that not only were you appointed by a republican president donald
4:33 pm
trump, you were also previously appointed george bush to serve as u.s. attorney maryland. in a profile view, a former prosecutor says rod rosenstein is the poster child for the professional, comprehend, ethical and fair minded prosecutor. thank you for your service to the american people and for your exemplary service. >> thank you. >> last week christopher wray told us no one is above the law. you would agree with that snamt. >> absolutely. yes i would. >> now, important to our democracy is not only that concept but also that people have to have trust in our law enforcement investigations. there are some of my colleagues and some of the media who have suggested that if you make political contributions somehow you cannot be fair and impartial. so as you know these political contributions are matter of public record. you previously said that when it comes to special counsel
4:34 pm
investigation, you, special counsel mueller and fbi director wray will be the ones held accountable. so we looked up the political contributions of fbi director wray. he has made over $39,000 in contributions exclusively to republicans including $2,500 twice through romney for president, $26,800 twice to purdue for president. thousands of dollars in national republican senatorial committee and on and on. do you believe fbi director christopher wray can remain fair and impartial? >> yes, i do. >> your colleague, rachel brand has made over $37,000 of political contributions exclusively to republicans. do you believe she can remain fair and impartial despite her political contributions? >> yes. >> i think it's important to shut down the silly argument from my colleagues across the aisle that somehow the department of justice employee exercises their first amendment
4:35 pm
right to make political contributions that somehow they cannot do their job and it shows a desperation that some people have about the mueller investigation which i now want to turn to. you supervised the investigation so you're aware, of course, of their guilty pleas and indictments and in reviewing the guilty plea of george papadopoulos, you would agree that there is a solid legal and factual basis for that guilty plea, correct? >> i believe. he was represented by competent defense counsel who assisted him in making his decision. >> and he pled guilty to lying to fbi agents about interactions with russia, russian officials, correct? >> i believe that's correct. i don't want to comment, congressman beyond what's in the charging documents. they speak for themselves. >> thank you. the guilty plea of michael flynn you must have looked at those. you would agree there is a legal and factual basis for that guilty plea as well? >> yes. >> and he lied to fbi agents about his interactions with
4:36 pm
kislyak? >> the documents speak for themselves. >> you read the indictments against paul manafort and mr. gates. you would agree there's a solid legal and factual basis against those indictments? >> when we return an indictment we're always careful to say they're presumed innocent. >> you would agree that there was a factual and legal basis to interview those witnesses, correct? >> i'm not aware of any impropriety. >> you previously had testified about robert mueller's record and dedication to service. you did mention he was a vietnam veteran. i just want to know for the record and i'm sure you know alzheimer's well, he did receive a bronze star for his service in vietnam, correct? >> i believe two. >> he also received a purple heart? >> correct. >> so what do we have here? we have a special counsel
4:37 pm
investigation that is being supervised by mr. rosenstein who's been described as a fair minded prosecutor appointed twice by republican presidents, being run by special counsel mueller a man that a vietnam veteran bronze star purple heart and in coordination with christopher wray who's been appointed by republican president who is made over $39,000 of contributions exclusively to republicans. that is the leadership of this special counsel investigation and i am okay with that. i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back and the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida. >> when sally yates depresidents trump travel restriction order, was that appropriate what she did? >> i disagreed well her decision. >> so if you're in a position where you get an order your job
4:38 pm
is to follow the order if you think it's unconstitutional, then you're response would be to resign your office, correct? >> my response would be, i think, first to talk with the person who gave the order but ultimately if i concluded it were unconstitutional i would not implement it. >> and obviously you can't have a department operating where each one's a law unto themselves where they think something's bad they just don't follow the orders, correct? >> right. >> it bothered me then, you have andrew weissman, yeah he's a big democratic donor, he went to hillary's supposed victory party. doesn't mean that necessarily disqualified you but when she took that action he sends her an e-mail with this doj e-mail account saying how he's in awe and so proud of her basically standing up to trump. it was seen as a very direct rebuke to the president. so your test was are the political opinions effecting how one conducts himself in office. i think that's a fair test but isn't that example of that
4:39 pm
e-mail an example of his strongly held anti-trump opinions effecting how he's conducting himself on his official e-mail? >> as i mentioned, i've discussed this general issue with director mueller on several occasions. he understands the importance of insuring that there's no bias reflected in the conduct and the investigation. >> it looks bad to the public. part perform it is there an actual bias, is there an appearance of that and this appears to be that because clearly what she did was not something that experienced prosecutors would think was good and the supreme court has slapped it down. the russia investigation, who started it? was it strzok who started it? >> that matters is under review by the intelligence committee and there's nothing that i can talk about publicly regarding the initiation but i can assure you we're going to provide appropriate actions to the intelligence community to what they need to answer. >> did the fbi pay for the
4:40 pm
dossier? >> i'm not in position to answer that question. >> do you know the answer to the question? >> i believe i know the answer but the intelligence committee is the appropriate committee to make -- >> that is not true. we have oversight over your department and the fbi and whether public funds were spent on the dossier that is not something that's classified. you should provide it. was that info used to get surveillance over anybody associated with trump? >> i appreciate that question, congressman and i will know there's been a concern for several members of the committee. i have set aside a half hour every day to review applications and it is not legal for me to talk about those applications so i'm not able to answer one way or the other. >> i'd like that authority. i think that you can say -- you may not be able to talk about the sources and methods of the substance but if this was used we need to know that. so what was the role of bruce orr?
4:41 pm
he met with christopher steele before the election? >> i do not know all the details. this information is still developing. we've agreed to make mr. orr available for congressional interviews and they'll be free to ask him those questions. >> you need to pursue it? it's your department. you demoted him? he's working with christopher steel. we need answers to those questions. >> i'm not suggesting i'm disinterested. >> i get it. let me ask you this the role of mr. strzok, how much of this russia investigation was due to him, because, yes, mueller saw the text, obviously i think there was nothing he could do. how much of this whole investigation has been infected with his bias? have you made a determination on that? >> i have not. i do want you to know that the fbi does have procedures for all investigations to ensure that
4:42 pm
they're appropriately vetted so there's no case for one individual would be able to make decisions. >> i hope not. if you look at the damning text on 15, august 2016, this is pads. he says i want to believe the path you threw out in consideration. i'm going to go out on a limb and say there's andrew mccabe's office, there's no way he gets elected but i'm afraid we can't take that risk. we in the fbi can't take that risk. it's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before your 40. so let me ask you this, if you have those walmart shopping trump voters that peter strzok so derided in his text messages, how do they react to that? do they have competence in their fbi and department of justice when you see that, that you can't let the american people vote somebody in who they want to? >> congressman, i think what i
4:43 pm
hope you can tell your constituents and to provide reassurance to the american people is that we have appropriate internal affairs' officers who will get to the bottom of that. our inspector general is the one who exposed that and he's going to deliver that report -- >> when is that report due? >> the gentleman's out of time. >> i believe he's testifying next door. he knows i want it completed as quickly as possible. but i want to make sure he gets it right. >> the chair recognizes mr. r rascom for five minutes. >> good to see you again. and thank you for your service to your country now. my first question's about the clause which you know forbids the collection of foreign government payments bill the president of the united states and other public officials. more than 180 members of the u.s. congress brought a lawsuit in the district of columbia
4:44 pm
against the president's continuing collection of foreign government money for the trump hotel, the trump tower, trump golf courses and so on. the department of justice took the position that we don't have standing to raise that. if members of congress who's permission is required under the emol umeant's clause, do not have standard to raise the violation of the clause, how do we deal with the problem? >> congressman, that as you mentioned it's pending litigation. the department has taken its position in court. it'll be the judge's determination whether or not that position prevails and i don't have anything to say beyond that. the court will make that decision. >> you said that robert mueller is a dedicated respected and heroic public servant who's distinguished military career and career as a prosecutor make him qualified, perhaps singularly qualified to be running the special counsel investigation right now. he's also a registered republican nominated as fbi
4:45 pm
director by res bush and confirmed by every republicans in congress. is he judgment impaired or are his decisions suspect because he's a registered republican? >> no. >> do criminal prosecutors and investigators have a right to contribute money to candidates for public office? >> yes. >> and there are members of this committee who as prosecutors at the federal or state level gave thousands of dollars to contributions while they were prosecutors to candidates for office. do you think that that would be the grounds for overturning verdicts that they received against criminal defendants? >> no. >> so i want to ask you this, on the eve of this hearing, we got a dump of hundreds of text messages that we've been spending most of the day talking about between mr. strzok and ms. paige. they no doubt make for fascinating reading.
4:46 pm
and they are of course equal opportunity critics of public officials. they trash bernie sanders, they trash senator o'connell, martin o'malley and of course they trash donald trump who's repeatedly called an idiot and at one point i think mr. strzok says watching the republican deal bates omg, he's an idiot which hardly qualifies him for any awards for original nalt or exceptional insight. you probably could have found that in millions of tweets across the country. i was amazed to learn from business insider that the department of justice had invited a select group of reporters yesterday to doj to screen these e-mails, to look at these private e-mails and i'm wondering if you know of any precedent calling reporters asking them to come in to look at part of an ongoing investigation outside of a press conference or even if that's taking place during a press conference? i was amazed. can you just explain that?
4:47 pm
>> i am -- i'm accountable. i'm not the public affairs office. generally speaking our goal is to be as forthcoming with the media as we can when it's lawful and appropriate to do so. i would not appropriate of anyone disclosing things not appropriate to disclose. >> do you know where materials were released by the press officer to reporters? >> i don't know the details, congressman, but -- >> are you aware of the ig rule which says that material in an ongoing investigation -- >> thank you. when this came in from the congress we did consult with the inspector general and he determined that he had no objection to the release of the material. if he had, i can assure you i would not have authorized the release. >> there's been much talked to about fruit of the poise nus
4:48 pm
tree. they're in a mad wild goose chase for a villain and they found their villain in mr. strzok who's promptly removed. there might be fruit from the poisenous tree here and fruit is a fourth amendment doctrine that relates to evidence that derives from an illegal search or seizure. have you ever heard any allegatio allegation of mr. strzok having conducted an illegal search or seizure. >> no. >> thank you very much for your testimony. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes mr. radcliffe for five minutes. >> thank you. mr. deputy attorney general, good to see you. >> likewise. >> ai had a line of questions, but i will got take chance to see a number of these text messages between agent peter strzok and ms. paige.
4:49 pm
you've been asked about those. have you had a chance to read them? >> not all of them, congressman. >> how many have you read? >> a few dozen i believe. >> i will tell you, i can't read some of these publicly. they're that obscene, they're that offensively and as someone who served with you at the department of justice and reveers the independence of the department of justice, i will tell you that i changed my questioning to ask you about them because as i read them i found them so sickening and heartbreaking that i felt compelled to do so. in addition to be sickening and heartbreaking these texts are also evidence. they're not evidence of an appearance of impropriety, they're evidence of an actual vitriolic bias of prejudice of actual hatred for the subject of the special counsel's investigation by folks serving
4:50 pm
as the independent investigators and lawyers on the special counsel itself. mr. deputy attorney general, i guess please tell and that you were appalled by what you read there. >> i dent mean to kwifl with you, congressman. the special counsel investigation does not have any identified subjects as individuals other than the persons who have been charged. but i can tell you with regard to those text messages, we concluded when we learned about them that it was appropriate to complete the inspector general's investigation and if the inspector general reaches a conclusion it's misconduct, i have an opinion as anybody may about what it looks like, but it's important for me since i supervise that investigation so to await a formal conclusion. then any recommendation before i
4:51 pm
reach a official decision and take any action. >> when you line up about struck and ms. page along with bruce orr and all the other conflicts of interest, i would tell you that, first of all, these aren't run of the mill conflicts of interest. employees of the department sometimes have spouses that are involved with corporations, but we're not talking about companies like walmart or microsoft. we're talking about fusion gps that had ten employees and his wife was one of them. >> i want to clarify. mr. orr was part of my office when i arrived, i never involved mr. orr in the russia investigation, so he had no role assigned by me. >> i understand that, but i guess i'm getting at the conflict of interest here and the appearance of impropriety
4:52 pm
are colossally bad. let's talk about judgment. you said in response to the e questioning we should have great confidence in mueller and director ray and in yourself. and you pointed out that is as soon as director mueller found out about mr. struck that he took action. isn't he the one that chose them in the first place? >> i don't know to what extent mr. mueller. my goal was to get him in and working as quickly as possible. i don't know any screening he did. >> do you know what anyone did with respect to vetting this team? if you set out to create an appearance of bias or prejudice or impropriety or conflict of
4:53 pm
interest, the only way you could do a better job of doing it would be to pick this team and have them wear their i'm with her t-shirts to work every day. >> i've talked to director mueller and he understands any bias in that investigation. >> deputy attorney general, i have talked often about the fact that i think people can lose faith and trust in elected officials, but if they lose faith in investigations like the fbi and department of justice to fairly investigate violations of the law, we may lose the republic. the daily transgressions that become public one after another are not serving either the department of justice or the fbi
4:54 pm
well. and i just encourage you to do everything you can to restore integrity to those organizations that i know we have both revered. >> i agree with you entirely, congressman. i want to assure you that when attorney general sessions talked with me about taking on this job, he conveyed to me that his desire to make certain we do everything we can to enhance public confidence in the rule of law and ensure the department of justice runs appropriately. he, like you and me, served as a u.s. attorney for 12 years and he was so proud to return because of the deep respect he has for the department. i think that's reflected in the appointments that have been made to the department, setting myself aside. we have a superb team of experienced official who is are in position to run it. we have 115,000 employees. things go wrong.
4:55 pm
but i can assure you we will respond appropriately when they do. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. the chair recognizes the gentle lady from washington for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. deputy attorney general, thank you for your service to the country at this consequential time. we have spent three hours and many of my colleagues have continued to harp on the theme of expressing concern with fbi agent peter strong and the text messages released yesterday. i'd like to remind everyone of where we were just a little over a year ago. the fbi was conducting investigations of hillary clinton's e-mails and leaks occurred routinely -- viewed clinton as the anti-christ. and said, quote, the reason why agents are leaking is they are pro trump. these leaks had serious consequences and arguably swung the election results. i didn't hear any of my cleegs on the other side expressing concern about the fbi's bias last year when this was happening despite the very real
4:56 pm
problems we were seeing. i agree with you in your earlier statement that political affiliation is different from bias. i believe i'm quoting you correctly when you say that. i want to remind my colleagues that people are allowed to have their personal opinions and their political affiliations. special counsel mueller and director james comey and you are lifelong republicans. but that is not what is at issue. as much as my colleagues on the other side would like to deflect
4:57 pm
attention away from the urgency of the special counsel's investigation into obstruction of justice and collusion at the highest levels of our government, it is clear to me after listening to three hours of questioning that none of this is about text messages. it is rather a full-fledged irresponsible and very dangerous attempt on the other side to attack and undermine robert mueller's investigation and the credibility, his credibility and to lay the groundwork for a desire to fire robert mueller or invalidate the results of his investigation. acts that would cripple our democracy and acts the likes of which we have not seen since watergate. let me warn my colleagues that history will not judge those acts kindly. and being dragged into a president's personal vendettas or apparent attempts to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy is something we must resist. and so, deputy attorney general rosenstein, let many ask you again. is it your sense that the fbi's
4:58 pm
impartiality is at any risk? >> it's important to distinguish the reputation of the fbi from the character of the fbi. reputation is damaged by every incident that comes to public attention. but the character of the fbi is a function of the approximately 37,000 employees. as i said earlier, i have been very impressed with the character of the agents and employees who i know personally. >> do you believe that the fbi as an agency is politically motivated? >> i don't believe you can characterize any agency. we all recognize there can be individuals who do things they shouldn't do. but that's something we address when it comes to our attention. >> deputy attorney general, what can you do to protect the integrity of special counsel mueller's investigation and the
4:59 pm
results that it comes out with? >> i don't think there's anything special we need to do. director mueller has a mandate and is conducting an investigation and will continue to conduct it until it's concluded. >> you have said this a couple times. do you have full faith and confidence in director mueller's ability to conduct this investigation? >> yes, i do. >> thank you. let me move to election security. on november 15th when the attorney general appeared before the committee i asked requests about the justice department's actions to ensure the security of our elections. at the time, the attorney general said he had not yet ordered a review of what laws might need to be updated to protect our elections from foreign influence. has such a review since been ordered? >> we have a lot of ongoing work relating to protection of elections. that's high priority for us. we have met with director ray and some of his experts. we're going to continue to do everything we can to ensure our elections. >> thank you. let me use my last few seconds
5:00 pm
to ask you about civil rights. i have been very concerned that the doj is not actively defending civil rights and is is dismantling structures that for decades have been used to protect people from police brutality and discrimination. what's the status of the 18 open reform agreements, 5 open investigations and 1 case in active litigation brought under section 14141 that is managed by the civil rights division? >> i don't have personal knowledge of all of those, but if i may, yesterday i attended the annual awards ceremony of the civil rights division. the civil rights division has a lot of very talented and proud attorneys. the attorney general spoke about his deep respect for the work of the civil rights division so i'm confident that work will go on. >> i would appreciate just a response to that later when you have a chance. thank you. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the e gentleman from georgia. mr. collins, for five minutes. >> thank you.
5:01 pm
a few things i'm -- there's been a lot of questions and understanding of bias and a lot of things. i think something that was interesting. two things i want to base on the questions i have. someone asked is a special counsel not accountable. you said, no, they are accountable to you. >> right. >> i think which presents my line of questioning. i think there has to be a little bit of embarrassment of what's going on right now. i think you in good conscious chose director mueller believing, as many of us did, a very respectable record. now we're starting to find out this team has been put together. one of the questions asked was did you know of his bias? you responded no. given the indication, the flip side you would agree there's a
5:02 pm
bias at least to be presented in the text messages. >> i agree that the text messages raise concern. i'm going to withhold my judgment until the investigation is completed. >> that brings up an interesting question. i spent time with the fbi director ray and it was really interesting that e he felt like he didn't have to provide to this committee after that he realized we do have direct jurisdiction. e he brought up this issue of where he is now. i want to focus the last few minutes on where this issue is. at the time, you give direct accountability. was there a discussion about moving him off the committee off the investigation? >> i believe we were together when e we learned from the inspector general about what he had found. >> by the way, when did you have that discussion ask he was removed? >> approximately july 27th. >> it is just coming out that he was removed, correct? >> i think the fact that he was no longer on the case was known.
5:03 pm
the reasons were not known. >> and i think that's the interesting thing. perception is reality in most parts. whether that's true or false, perception is reality. we found a problem. this investigation could be tainted. now it's starting to come out. i do have a question in a process. because mr. ray last week said he was not demoted. he was just moved to hr. i made then comment at that point that said it's funny that the second in command of the investigation division being put on a high profile investigation, one of the highest in this town and being moved over to hr was not a demotion. why would you put somebody with challenges that you have now seen in texts, which we didn't have last week. why would you put him in hr? there seems to be a problem there. when he was removed from the investigation, did he possess a security clearance? >> i believe he did. i don't have personal knowledge. i'm fairly confident he did. >> you don't know if he has security clearance? >> i'm certain he would have had a security clearance. >> is it revoked or suspended at this point? >> not to my knowledge.
5:04 pm
>> why would it not be? >> not revoked? >> because i think what we're having here is there's a double standard. the new agent coming in having what is now perceived as bias, working on a case where that bias would at least be perceived by average individuals as having ab influence on the outcome of the investigation. especially him being involved in these other parts of this, changing letters, changing this. i think the interesting issue here is is he being treated differently than a younger agent or a line agent in another field office? >> i appreciate that question. if i may explain, i can understand why to the average american it might seem unusual. but within the department of justice, we're subject to the government employment regulations. and there are very strict rules
5:05 pm
about what we may or may not do. when we have an allegation of misconduct, it's investigated. we don't take any disciplinary action unless and until a conclusion is made that it's warranted. so the decision to transfer the agent was made based on what was known at the time. it's not a punishment. if there's an adverse finding, and again i'm supervising, i need to withhold my judgment. if there's adverse finding, our employees have due process rights. they have a right to provide explanation or defense. >> i appreciate where you're headed there. this is a gentleman who through these texts that we have seen is is an understanding to protect america, he didn't like the new president. he's still involved in the fbi. he still has a security clearance. does it not strike you that at least this person who had access
5:06 pm
to very high risk, sensitive security issues dealing in the russia investigation, why would they have not been separated out, has he been polygraphed in regards to this? >> the inspector general is responsible for handling that review. when he concludes it, as i said, it will be a public report. with regard to the timing, i should clarify. i hoped the report would have been done in november. but it's not completed yet. i anticipate it will be ready soon. >> is there a reason why? >> the inspector general made a determination that he wasn't finished. >> i think the impression here is somebody has been treated special and you're looking at it and from your having the accountability for the special counsel, it's on you at this point to make sure that is corrected. right now there's a lot of mistrust out there. >> the gentleman from illinois is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. do you agree with the finding of
5:07 pm
the agencies of the intelligence committee that russia on orders of vladimir putin actively worked to interfere in the 2016 presidential election? >> i agree with the assessment of the intelligence committee, yes. >> in an october interview with the usa podcast, you stated, quote, if we have foreign countries seeking to interfere in our elections, i think e we need to take appropriate actions in response, end quote. i wholeheartedly agree with you. unfortunately, attorney general sessions stated that we're not where we need to be on this issue. there's no review underway by the department on what steps should be taking. you said protecting the elections is is a high priority. you had conversations with the attorney general and fbi director.
5:08 pm
a simple yes or no. has there been a review on the attacks of the 2016 election and what doj must do to protect the integrity out of our 2018 elections. >> that's the second time this issue has been raised. i'll have to check. i believe he may have been referring o to a review of legislation as opposed to review of issue. >> i asked specifically what steps had been taken following the appearance on the senate side in a question asked. if any steps had been take on to review the elections and take steps to protect future elections. i'm asking the same question of you. yes or no. has there been a review of what russia tried to do to interfere in our elections last year and what must we do to protect elections next year? >> i believe the answer is yes. i can get further information for you if you'd like.
5:09 pm
>> if that answer is yes, it has not been shared with us. i think this is an important issue. the elections are a short time away. we need to make sure they are secure. have there been any specific actions taken by the attorney general following his appearance before this committee? you talked about meetings. anything specifically you can share with us as actions to protect our elections. >> yes, the fbi has -- the attorney general i met with a team of fbi experts and discussed a variety of things they are doing. some of which are classified. in addition to that, homeland security has a role to play in this in coordination with state and local election officials. there's a lot going on in that area. >> i appreciate that. i think we have to expect that 2016 wasn't the first time the
5:10 pm
russians have tried to interfere with our elections. they are going to try to interfere in future elections. their attacks are going o to become more aggressive, more intensive, more complicated. we need to be staying a step ahead of them. twice now the attorney general sessions, first in front of the is senate and then recently in front of this committee, said not enough has been done. the meeting you are talking about, did that it happen before november or is that subsequent to mr. sessions appearance here? >> i don't recall the date. i'd be happy to review it. i don't think there's any inconsistency in my answer. >> mr. sessions committed to me that the department would brief this committee on any actions taken. last month after his appearance, i sent the follow up letter asking for that briefing before the end of the year and before this week and the adjournment of congress. i have not received a response let alone a scheduling of a briefing. are you willing to commit we can have a briefing that you'll
5:11 pm
update on actions being taken to make sure our elections are secure next year? >> i'll make sure it happens. i will make sure we respond to your letter. we make every effort to. i'm sure it's in the cue. >> i would hope that this moves to the top of the queue. i think if the confidence of the american people in our electoral process, if the confidence of the american people in our democracy is damaged as the russians clearly have tried to do, then the future of the republic is challenged. this is not a partisan issue. we need to make sure that people respect our elections, know their votes will be counted, know their voices will be heard. i'm imploring the department of justice to work with this committee, to work with congress, to make sure if the american people can be confident in the future of our elections. i hope i can count on you to work with us. >> absolutely. that is near the top of the list for us.
5:12 pm
i know it is for the attorney general as well. >> we are advised that we have votes on the floor. we will be back in about 35 to 40 minutes. if you want to get a bite to eat or whatever. we'll have time. the committee will reconvene immediately after this vote series. i think we have four to six more members to ask questions. >> [inaudible conversations]


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on