tv AG Sessions Testifies on Agencys Budget CSPAN April 26, 2018 8:00pm-10:16pm EDT
the region and fronts will continue to bring about international credibility and work and continue to negotiate relentlessly, thank you very much for your attention and the warm welcome, thank you. snekt attorney general jeff sessions on the budget request. a conversation with presidential economic adviser and a house hearing on how to prevent circulating opioid through mail and later, macron talking to students at george washington you aren't. testifying before a house appropriations subcommittee on the justice's department 2019
the commerce of oi appropriation subcommittee coming to order. attorney general session it is is my pleasure to work with you on the budget request. this committee has always made it a priority to support the work of the justice department. we honor our federal and state and local law enforcement officers. and we will continue to work together on this committee to do everything we can to ensure our law enforcement officers across
the country and the department have the money and resources they need to protect this great nation. in the final fiscal year, 2018 appropriations bill the sub chit tee provided the department's significant increases above your request to be sure you have the resources necessary to conduct the investigations and prosecutions of terrorism, human trafficking, gun crimes and integration crimes and opioid i abuse. and submitted prior to the budget agreement and therefore, as a result, office management and budget submitted a request for 19 that would result in significant cuts for all of these critical law enforcement agencies and the committee will not support to cut the resources available to our law enforcement officers that is important to protect the country and our
communities. we have discussed the treatment of sanctuary cities and i have worked with the previous administration to ensure that doj policy was changed in the summer of 2016 so that the state and local law enforcement agencies understood clearly, if they expect to receive federal dollars, they must follow federal law and cooperate in identifying and deporting individuals in the country illegally convict in a crime and housed in a state prison or county jail. so that they could be deported upon their reess lolease. that is common sense. they should not ask for federal dollars unless they comply with federal law. the fundamental tenant of -- working together as a team is the only way to fight crime and
protect this great nation m i look forward to working with you to implement the policy that i succeeded in persuading your predecessor in -- and i want to be sure it is done as promptly as possible so that the state and local agencies receive the federal grant money and those who refuse to cooperate understand that you cannot ask for federal money unless you comply with federal law. as of fiscal year 2019 moves forward the committee will work together to ensure that federal law enforcement agencies have the support, resources they need above what the administration proposes so they can sustain the activities funded in the fiscal year 2018 bill and build on them. particular mr. attorney general, i want to direct and encourage
the department to do all that you can to fight human trafficking and drug trafficking and very grateful to see your initiative to implement a zero tall t tolerance policy on the border so it is secure. the zealous supporters are those who live right there because they suffer the most. interfering with the peace and safety of their communities. we also have to do it on a humanitarian level. it is a catastrophe to so, the dangers people face coming to the united states. if we enforce the law, the problem will resolve itself. i'm grateful for the work you are doing and we look forward to provide you the resources you and your officers need to
protect the great nation. i'm glad to recognize from new york. >> although you have been in office for 15 months this is the your first testifying. you broke tradition by refusing to appear before us, the first time in decades that the attorney general declined to appear before this committee and you managed to testify before the authorizing committees and the senate intelligence committee. so to say, you are operating with a deficit of goodwill on this side as a result. unfortunately, this treatment has been par for the courts in this committees dealing with the administration. just recently, the department ignored clear direction from congress by bringing to an end a legal orientation program and the immigration helped test program as announced yesterday,
it appears that your views on this subject have changed and i remain concerned that such an action was contemplated despite clear instructions from the committee. that announcement was a line of one line of troubling actions taken by the department and administration to undermine fairness, due process and civil rights in this nation. the announcements are almost too many to comprehend. efforts to undermine public safety by reducing law enforcement funding. attempts to impose case quotas on immigration judges and eliminate the service in this year's budget. collaborative reform efforts. the list goes on and on. a clear theme emerges from this. intentional effort to minimize and ignore the concerns of large
segments of the american population. minorities, immigrants, lgbt q communities and for generations, the department of justice has been at the forefront to fight discrimination and uphold constitutional values of all americans. the proud legacy is on the threat and choices you make in your budge. overall of these issues are the on going investigation by the special council and the attorney's office for the southern district of new york. into russia's interference into the 2016 election and possible collusion by the trump campaign. our country needs a full accounting of russia's action so we can prevent interference in the 2018 election and on. you and a small group of
officials stand at ensuring the white house does not interfere further in these investigations. i'm worried that the president's on going attacks on the department in tandem with the retreat from some of the core missions of the agency are doing a terrible disservice to the tens and thousands of doj employees and fbi and dea and elsewhere. they are committed to the heart and selfless work of serving and improving our nation. there's a real fear and throughout this nation, that many of the norms of democracy. >> reporter: -- falling by the waist side. i look forward to discussing these issues with you today and i thank you mr. chairman and attorney general. >> it is my pleasure to present
mr. frelinghuysen. >> it working closely with your ranking member, serrano of new york and i want to welcome the attorney general to the appropriation committee. we look forward to your testimony and hearing your frank and candid views of a wide range of issues. the power of the purse lies in this building to make spending decisions on behalf of many people we represent at home. certainly, i would urge your continued active engagement with the bill payers which this committee represents. i work closely with mr. lowey from new york who i assume will join us shortly. and look forward to getting the appropriations through. we did your bill july of last year and packaged up in
september and then a huge hiatus we like to blame it on the other body. we have come together and hopefully we gave you the resources you need. mr. attorney general, i'm pleased sitting here this morning as the 84th attorney general representing the people of the united states. it's your responsibility as our nation's chief law enforcement officer to enforce the laws and defend the united states against all threats foreign and domestic ensuring a fair and impartial administration of justice for all americans. i'm proud of the work of your department's law enforcement agencies. the chairman has invoked including the fbi, the god work of the dea, the u.s. marshall service and others. i've gotten to know and respect those in the new york and new jersey region and they do remarkable things sometimes under the radar screen and they
do it well. spm we are usually proud of their professionalism. it is clear our nation need you and the men and women of your department to protect our nation as we face mounting and complex challenges some of which the chairman mentioned. the the opioid epidemic, cyber-related attacks on private and public infrastructure. human trafficking which the chairman mentioned and heightened threats from 9/11 where new jersey lost 700 citizens on september 11. we are aware of the vulnerabilities that we have. i would like to focus on and applaud your dedication to attacking the opioid epidemic in the fiscal year of 2018. spending bill this committee made a substantial investment. the largest to date. this is not only in your committee, but across avariety
of different committees. providing your department and other agencies with increased funding to respond. further as fighting the deadliest drug epidemic in our recent memory, i share your concerns with the growing availability of marijuana. as we march down that road of appearing of greater legalization without controversy and direct contra diction of current law. i fear and i speak for myself, ween don't fully understand the consequences and impacts of actions we take on our children and potentially our grandchildren. i'm concerned about that. very much, sir, as you are. saying that mr. attorney general, mr. chairman, thank you
for having this hearing and i want to thank you and your staff for the remarkable work you have been doing to pull this bill together. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. attorney general, we are pleased to have you here today and your statement will be entered into the record in its entirety if there is no objection and welcome your summary of your testimony. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and i appreciate very much the opportunity to be with you and chairman frelinghuysen i thank you for your support and the support of the committee in the 2018 budget. you are correct, it was a strong affirmation. it is an honor of a lifetime to serve as the attorney general of the united states. to sit here representing the men and women of the department of justice, you can be sure i i
understand the importance of the office i hold and the responsibilities i face and that i strive everyday to be worthy on that challenge. every single day, 115 men and thousands of men and women work to protect national security, defend civil rights, reduce violent crime, stop deadly drug deal spe dealers and organizations. and i'd like to lay out priorities reflected in the budget request m f the department moved to improve partnership with our state and local officers. if you want to reduce crime in america and the president and his first executive order said to reduce crime, you have to work with the 85% of the law enforcement who are state and local. the people in your community.
that's where the action is and we can help them in many ways. and just recently, we were reminded of their sacrifice and all of the sacrifices we ask of our men and women in blue. offic officer crystal alabameada and they did not return home. we mourn with the family and the men and women of law enforcement who suffer with them. they deserve our support and they are out there everyday and they are the key to reducing crime in america. their morale and affirmation is critical to the success of their work. after two decades of declining crime in our country, we have done good things and it takes
time. the crime rate went up by nearly 7% in 2015 and 2016. the violent crime rate and assaults went up 10% and rape went up 11% and murder increased in this country in '16 and '15 by 20%. the highest increase since 1968. so president trump, our federal officers is local law enforcement officers are determined this increase will not continue. our prosecutions have elicit gun, gun violators, violent crimes and opioids are going up. in 2017 we brought cases against more violent criminals than in decades. we charged the most federal firearm prosecutions in a decade. we convicted nearly 500 human traffickers.
1,200 gang members, your strong support for our work is appreciated and it means that we can sustain our project safe neighborhoods program where united states attorneys out in america where crime is occurring everyday will meet with local police, law enforcement and community leaders this is a program proven scientifically in the past to work and we believe it will be successful again. indeed, there are good signs we are seeing already and the preliminary data for our 2017. the increases in murderer and violent crime slowed and violent crime went down in 2017. we embrace the goal of reducing prescription drugs. too many are out there. he proposes that we reduce the
amount of prescription drugs being moved into our country by one-third. i believe that is a reasonable amount and we are determined to do our part to achieve it. it will reduce. it will reduce overdose deaths. this department is going after drug companies, doctors, pharmacists and others who violate the law using civil, criminal and sound regulatory powers. a i directed that had every attorney -- and we already charged hundreds of people suspected of contributing to the on going opioid crisis including over 50 doctors or opioid-related crimes. 16 of these doctors prescribe more than 20 million pills illegally. our organized crime and drug enforcement task forces indicted more than 6,500 defendants in
opioid-related investigations and more than $150 million. and let me just note, i think you probably all know, that the leading cause of death in america for people 50 and below is drug overdoses. this is a stunning statistic. the leading cause of death for people 50 and below. so i think you're correct. the president is correct to declare this a national health emergency and say we've got to do something different and we're not waiting three or four or 5 years down the road. we need to get moving now to change these trends. amazingly in the last month alone, the dea seized more than 90 kilograms of suspected fentanyl seized from detroit, new york and boston.
it is 50-times more powerful than heroin. an amount to equivalent of a pinch of salt can be deadly. meth, heroin and cocaine coming across the southern border. that's where it is coming from. now almost all is coming across the border. were working with the department of homeland security partners to reduce and ultimately end illegal immigration which will help us take on trans national criminal organizations and across the border. streamlining and reducing constitution and targeting criminal aliens. in the recent omnibus, helping us to reduce the back-log case load out there. we needed that. thank you for that.
mr. chairman, i'd like to address another matter i know is important to the committee, the legal orientation program. i've expressed concerns about the program and the executive office for immigration review expressed its intent to pause two parts of the programming. resulting in a formal review of the program. i recognize, however, that this committee has spoken on the matter. i've reviewed your report language and i have ordered there be no pause until that review is conducted and completed and i look forward to evaluating the findings with you and communicating with you about that. our explicit goal at the department of justice, let me be clear is to reduce violent crime. tot to preside over increases to reduce the surging increase in homicide, reduce drug overdose
death and opioid prescriptions among other things. i believe these priorities are your priorities and the american people's priorities. so finally, let me say with all of the strength i can muster. that no nation has a finer group of law officers than those comprised the fbi, the dea and atf and united states marshall service. they are right now, 24-hours aday in every corner of america working faithfully to protect the nation and our people. when we face criticism and it's a free country, we will not be defensive. when questions arise, even if mi misplaced we will take necessary actions to establish that it is not true or take action against wrong doing.
this department above all others, can never get too big or think above the law as we must apply the law to others. we know the government always win when justice is done. mr. chairman, i look forward to discussing the matters with you today that are on your mind. >> mr. attorney general, thank you very future for appearing today and for your work to enforce laws on behalf of the american people. i'm interested in supportive of your work to expand operations streamline across the southern border. i visited with you before about this but i want to bring to your attention, judge moses in the dell rio sector had great success enforcing the law and trusting the instinct of the law enforcement officers on the boarder and this is a law
enforcement issue by enforcing the law that we have and can make a dramatic difference in stopping the flow of drugs and gangs. and judge moses implemented existing law, called in officers in the sector and as a result, the border crossings at the lowest level they have seen since they started keeping statistics and innovative in creating a system with loading the docket those picked up by the border control. the great thing about this is that we have wonderful young men and women defending this country and by trusting them and enforcing law, we restore respect for the rule of law, the border becomes secure, you protect communities and it is the humanitarian thing to do. she is able to fight discouraging human trafficking and keeping the poisonous drugs out of the country. almost all of the fentanyl are
and hero inare coming from the border. -- that you had began to implement what are your pans to enforce the zero-tolerance policy? and to further deploy law enforcement and ramp up prosecutions? >> thank you, chairman culberson and thank you for introducing me and urging me to meet judge moses. she is a remarkable person and provided me outstanding information and how they were successful in the number of techniques that you have championed and she is executing, really. i felt that to be helpful. we are determined to make a difference. we believe that we have the capacity on existing law to do better than we are doing. i was recently in albuquerque
and in new mexico and they are achieving a zero-tolerance policy there. every case prosecuted. no longer do people enter the country illegally give an pat on the back and a bus ticket and lunch ticket and sent back home. they are prosecuted. the first defense is a misdemen nor and required to plea guilty. and if they renter, they are facing a felony charge. and if they are an enabler or transporter, they will be charged with that and we are going to continue to send the message. the most important thing is that we send a message to south and central america and the whole world because others are coming across the mexican border. you will not be successful, don't come illegally.
apply lawfully to enter america. wait your turn. that's the -- that's what america is all about. we admit 1.1 million every year to permanent legal residence. with a fast few year pathway to citizenship. no country is close to that. we want to achieve a zero-tolerance across the boarder and we are redistricting resources. i personally talked to the united states and the attorneys, the president made it clear to me that is his agenda which i knew from the beginning which i share and we are going to make it happen. >> one of the most important things that our president and you have initiate sd to restore respect for the rule of law. it is fundamental to our prosperity and freedom. it is essential that the rule of law is respected on the southern border. so we appreciate that. i in fact, to learn more about what is going on with the border
i volunteered as a law clerk under the judge moses courtroom so they didn't know what i was. they had no idea i was coming. i found out that human traffickers the judge cannot seize their assets if you are smuggling humans. like with drugs the assets can be seized. we need to change that law so we can hit them in the pocketbook. we appreciate the work you are doing. it is essential for the safety and prosperity for the country to restore rule of law. and i'm pleased to recognize mr. serrano from new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you know you and i have a good relationship but i can't help myself in your comment that we want to restore the rule of law. i just need to remind ourselves that the rule of law has to be in every state and territory and
every agency and inside the white house and not just at the border. if we do it just at the border, we do a great disservice to the rule of law. mr. attorney general, the department notified the judges that the job performance evaluated on how quickly they close cases. i'm not aware of any court in the nation that instituted this model of evaluation and this decision raises due process concerns. can you name any other court or judges subjected to quarters of the basis -- of the evaluation. >> mr. serrano, we had conferences with the judges. they agreed that metrics were appropriate for the department of justice to establish. the metrics we established was
700 cases per year. it does not mean if you don't achieve that you are fired. there may be good reasons why the case loads are down. we've gotten people doing over 1,000 a year and we have people doing less than 700 a year. which i think is around the average. so wed like to see a certain degree of productivety. the taxpayers are not paying for people who don't perform everyday. we need high-performing judges. i don't apologize for it. i think this is a reasonable standard or request or metric for them to achieve. but certainly, if they -- when they are evaluated in their performance if they have good reasons for not meeting that goal, we would consider it. >> well, i'm not going to change your mind i just want you to remember what you already know that on a daily basis, not a
daily basis, but ever so often a person spends 20 or 30 years in prison for something they didn't do. when you begin to pressure people, not you, but the department to come up with results to leave the word judge, it has the same meaning, it is a word that you will judge what the outcome shall be and if the judgment takes a while so it be in a democracy. i get worried about the fact that the department is saying you must complete it by a certain time. i'm not running away from the fact that you need productivity and of course, maybe it is more judges in certain cases to handle the case load, but the idea to do it by a certain time, it's also touching on another subject but it is -- i may be
the only person who thinks gridlock is not a bad thing. somebody says a budget will be on time. when you have two parties and philosophies and a democracy, gridlock means people are trying to figure out what to do. it is the same thing here, judges are trying to figure out what to do and it is a big case load. keep that in mind that people are worried that we may not do what we are supposed to do. in the issue with the legal orientation program, i'm glad that we seem to have made a change which will be good for everybody. has the contractor providing the l.o.p. service provided doj with data or other information on the course effectiveness of the program? can you please submit that information for the record? how will your planned course
benefit analysis differ from what has already been done? >> what i understand about that, we have asked them for various bits of information which has not been provided. they may well have provided the data you mentioned if we have it we'll provide it to you. the program should help make the system work better. it costs 11 million or so a year and we would like to make sure it produces a result that the taxpayers are paying for. >> thank you. on a local level if i may, mr. chairman? i'm over time? okay. >> we'll come back to you. >> chairman, rogers is chairing a committee hearing next door. >> you should have told me chairman rogers was here, i
would have stopped ten minutes ago. >> pleased to recognize the gentleman from kentucky. >> i wanted to come here briefly at least and salute the attorney general on his position on the drug problem. mr. attorney general, you could not do a better job in my opinion than elevate this issue in the minds of the public and law enforcement especially. because the opioid epidemic as cdc calls it is t is a calamity. we are losing more people to opioid deaths than car wrecks and gun violence combined. and yet, it seems the country just doesn't grasp this or want to admit to it. that's part of the problem. it is in the past there's been a stigma attached to addiction.
we now know it is a disease. and it has to be treated thus so. but the law enforcement end of the problem is a huge piece of the puzzle. my district, east kentucky ground zero for the oxycontin explosion six years ago. i found myself going to emergency rooms and seeing kids die on overdoses and it blossomed there. i started a group called unite, three-pong attack on the problem and it works. drug courts and law enforcement officials and treatment centers, addiction control centers and so on. that holistic approach is what you are doing here on a major scale and it is the exact right way to go.
it's been proven and the congress as you know passed, the c.a.r.a. act and the c.u.r.e.s. act which provide grant opportunities for local communities to do things like u.n.i.t.e. and people seek an answer. the essential part is law enforcement. it is not the only piece but it is important. we are making progress on prescription pills. the u.n.i.t.e. organization puts on an annual/national summit in atlanta. we had 3,300 people there a month ago. cdc, fda, dea, treatment people and all aspects of people in one
big four-day meeting. the seventh in a row annual summit. what you are doing on the job problem is palpable from all aspects of the problem whether it be treatment, prosecution or research and whatever, the three-pronged effort that you are -- that the government is spear heading is the right way to go. cutting off the supply of elicit drugs, reducing demand here at home and treatment for those who are addicted. that's the proven way and you are onto it and elevating the issue publicly and that is important. there is still a stigma people attach to addiction even though science says it is a disease.
the head of the nih, that deals with drugs, tells us that there are physical changes in the brain with addiction. making it a disease and which we have to treat it that way. but we made some progress on reducing the prescription pill abuse, some, not much. in my state and district quite a bit. but it is being replaced by heroin which is cheaper. the real problem, mr. attorney general as you know, with heroin and fentanyl an elephant sedative from china by way of mexico as you say one speck of salt-sized piece of fentanyl is fatal. and the heroin users are
realizing that the heroin they are using is laced with fentanyl so the user doesn't know the dosage and die. and the fentanyl problem with heroin is the new fatal tryst. what can you tell us about trying to stop the throw of fentanyl from china through mexico through drug cartels in mexico and the distribution system in the u.s., what can you tell us about that? and are we making progress on fentanyl prevention? >> i think you sum that up very well. that is the situation we are facing today in america and around the world. china is the main source of fentanyl, raising it the leaders
personally. rod rosenstein has been to china and talked with them. and i have raised it with two deferent chinese delegations to the united states and they have made promises. and they've taken some steps and i don't think it impacted successfully but we are urging them to be cooperative in a matter of this importance to the people of the united states. it does come through mexico and we can have a situation in which labs can be built in mexico. no harder than building a meth lab which is all over mexico. so we can have fentanyl there. in boston, i understand that you have substances and basically pure fentanyl and now being mixed with heroin.
it does remain a deadly disease. the fbi doubled their team and figure out a way to hammer the dark websites where people order through mail. i'm confident we can make progress in that area than i was a few months ago. we have had success but it's a continuing problem. i believe you are correct, that three-prongs of this effort. you've got to prevent. people need not to start. this is a powerful addiction. any thought that you can get addicted and walk away from it easily is just totally false. we need people to not start the drugs. good prevention can help. our role is primarily enforcement and congress under your leadership and mr. chairman and on the president's leadership, this is the most -- the biggest expenditure we probably ever had to deal with
treatment and prevention. in the $6 billion that congress set aside for the project. so i think our goal should be clear. i think our goal is reduce this problem. not just preside over a continuing problem. but to go at it hard and based on my experience as a prosecutor on the judiciary committee, i think we can do it. >> thank you very much for being so nice to me and allow me to do this. i think when the history books are written, this fight you are leading will be the most important part of your career. i thank you for what you're doing. >> thank you, sir. >> i'm pleased to recognize ranking member general lady from new york, ms. lowey. >> thank you for holding this
hearing. attorney general sessions, thank you for joining us. there are multiple hearings this morning as you probably know so i'm really sorry that i missed your testimony. but thank you for being here today. attorney general sessions you recused yourself from the russian investigation lead by special counsel mueller, but it is my understanding that you decided in the to recuse yourself from the investigation and to president trump personal lawyer michael cohen, it was opened in part on a referral from mueller team and rose ensteen approved a raid in the office and hotel room. president trump had a strong reaction to the raids and denouncing them on an attack for what we stand for and took the opportunity to reiterate what a terrible mistake it was to
recuse yourself from the russian investigation. i'm puzzled, when it appears to be so closely linked if not rooted in the russian investigation? >> presumably you read that in the media somewhere. >> not fox five. >> it is often inaccurate and much of what i see in the print is inaccurate. let me say this quite clearly to you. i will honor the commitment i made to recuse myself from manners that i should recuse myself from. i have done that faithfully and i made the commitment and i have done so. i have not violated any commitment so i'm not able to comment on investigations that are within the special council. >> i appreciate your response
and i will assume that the news reports are not true and you have not recused yourself from this investigation and you have not decided that you will not recuse yourself from the investigation into president trump's person lawyer. >> i'm just not able to discuss the details because the policy of the department is correct when you start talking about matters detailed and you are talking investigations and our policy is not to discuss investigation allegations until it si appropriate. >> i will read the paper carefully and i hope i can get additional information. i think this is important for our democracy and important for you and the agency. and if i am mistake and the news reports were mistaken, i will accept that response. >> can i say one thing to the
whole committee. one thing i felt we should do is to reestablish discipline in the department. i feel like the attorney general has to set the example. when i was prosecuting cases, corruption cases a number of them in alabama, i was attacked everyday or somebody on my staff was and we just adhered to the view. you don't respond everyday even if they are false. the more you get into this the deeper you get and harder it is to conduct an objective and fair investigation. if charges are brout, you take the case to the jury. we're not going to be in the business to respond to every allegation in the media that is not accurate. >> i think for your response and i will check the media and in fact, i'm assuming that the
information is wrong concerning your recusing yourself from one part but not recusing yourself from the investigation into president trump's personal lawyer. i'll go on. >> you have to -- decide and believe what you decide. i'm just telling you that i know what the recusal means and i'm complying with it as i promised to do. >> i'm not sure what that means but does that mean you have not recused yourself from the investigation to president trump's personal lawyer michael cohen? >> it means that i have -- i will not be able to describe any matters or the parameters it might be under investigation, the subjects of any investigation because it is on going investigation and i'm not at liberty to discuss it and it is the policy of the department
that delineating or talking about recusals does reveal that and you should not talk about it publicly. that's all i'm saying. >> i will move on and hope we get whether it's private or publicly. i think the public is entitled to understand how this very important investigation is proceeding and your involvement in the investigation so i'll move on to another question. thank you, sir. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> if i may ask one other question, mr. chairman, since we had such a busy day. the house passed hr-38 known as the concealed carry reciprocity issued under state law. now, while all states allow some form of concealed carry legal standards vary. if this misguided in my opinion and dangerous provision were to
become law a state's ability to consider important factors like age or criminal history would be compromised by other states weaker requirements and as i understand it 11 states ran permits to people who have not undergone safety training. 20 states grant permits for people convicted of violent crimes and a dozen states do not require any kind of permit or license to carry a concealed firearm. these weak laws would particularly harm new york state. if you can discuss that with me i'd be most appreciative. you are the top law enforcement officer in the country. do you agree with the chiefs, international association of policy chiefs and 17 state attorney generals that concealed carry reciprocity would be a dangerous threat to safety for the public and law enforcement alike? >> look.
congress has opined and written, passed statutes in that regard. so in substance it's in your hands. i would say in the past i have been sympathetic to these rules but i have not -- am i not prepared to express any new view today. >> well, mr. chairman, i just want to conclude and i thank you for your time because we simply in my judgment cannot have a system wherein concealed guns from kansas to arizona can be freely carried in times square and any other densely populated destination. in part why the law enforcement partnership to prevent gun violence opposes this measure and i don't know if you've been in times square lateliment it's people to people. it's beautiful. all over the world, all over the country. but i wouldn't want to see concealed carried weapons. thank you very much for your generosity. >> thank you.
>> thank you. >> pleased to recognize the gentleman from texas, judge carter. >> i thank you, mr. chairman. general sessions, welcome. we're really glad to have you here. i want to talk about the justice served act, something i introduced in congress. we've spent $1.5 billion working on did backlog of the rape kits and dnas. it's a national tragedy. your office has addressed it and gone aggressively into getting those things processed. but what we have discovered is it is overloading our prosecutors with additional cases some of those are old cold case files going back a long time and they need more resources. so i'm basically raising the issue that we need to raise -- get more resources for the local prosecutors once these rape kits are processed and in our hands. i want to ask if you're
satisfied that they're getting enough resources and do you think these debbie smith grants and the sexual assault kit initiatives of doj are doing enough to reduce the dna evidence backlog across the country and are prosecutors going to have the resources they need to add that to their currently overwhelmed docket? >> it is a challenge. when crime rises then everything is stressed. it is much better to be on the virtuous cycle of a declining crime rate. i think it is really understand for us to understand that. so when crime rate rises, homicides rise 20% and you have the same number of prosecutors, same number of forensic scientists then you have a problem. judge carter, thank you. you and i have talked about this and some other matters that i believe are notable. i have been one that favors assistance to forensic sciences.
from the federal government. often in our entire state criminal justice system the bottleneck is waiting on scientific reports for the prosecutor. the case can't go forward until you get the report. and for a smaller amount of money you may get bigger bang for your buck by fixing the bottleneck. i appreciate your leadership on it and look forward to working with you. we saw an arrest of the california 40-year-old case solved by dna. >> great example. >> yeah. >> another question, we have discovered at ft. hood there's a loophole in our law, juvenile sexual assault claims coming up on ft. hood and yet the federal government does not have juvenile law. does sflot a juvenile law section in their code. because the code -- the military code of justice does not address
civilians on post. so -- and we have done some research and discovered this is a clear issue all over at every base and post, military post. therefore, the consequences are something as serious as aggravated sexual assault there are no consequences. i'm one who believes that there's a real deterrent factor in having consequences for bad behavior and illegal behavior. this is a loophole. we came up with a solution back in '15 when i found out about it. i made a deal with the local prosecutors. we made -- we worked with your department. transferred justice over to the jurisdiction over to local prosecutors at the state level and therefore they're going forward. although they're now saying we are overloading their caseload and they're worried about funds on that issue. but the real issue is we need to figure out who fix this. i have a bill to suggest everybody looking at making a
contract of local prosecutors to cover these uncovered criminal activity. i'd like your opinion on that. >> that may be the best solution. some sort of contract, even some sort of compensation to them for picking up what would normally be a federal crime, prosecuted in federal court. most of you may know but it is a long established and understandably practical solution that federal prosecutors seldom prosecute juvenile cases. they always defer to locals because we don't have local -- we don't enough juvenile criminals to justify having a juvenile prison in montgomery, alabama. and so, that's the big problem. and it creates a real problem. years ago dealt with it in foreign countries where the prosecution had to go to the german government and -- because
we didn't have the military jurisdiction over non military people. so my people have worked on it. have heard your proposal. we think we've got that cleared. with support of the department of justice. maybe we can get something done, congressman. >> let me know. because i'm real serious about this. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, judge. recognize the gentleman of washington state, mr. kilmer. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thanks, mr. attorney general, for being with us. it was a pleasure to get to meet your family out in washington state. they were residents of my district for a spell. >> they did love it. i got the say. >> it is a great place. i want to ask you follow up on something that was touched on in the opening comments and referenced marijuana policy and the complexity where you have states, including washington state, where in our state voters passed an initiative to legalize adult use. i know there are other states
that are in a similar circumstance. the last administration issued what was known as the cole memo to try to set some rules of the road for certainty, not just to states but to small business owners in a state like mine, to tribal enterprises that have now started businesses. the decision to rescind that memo has created tremendous uncertainty. i read in a press release from senator gardner from colorado that the department's rescission of the cole memo that he was assured that from the president that colorado's legalized industry would not be targeted. i'm hoping you can help us understand what accommodations are going to be made for states like colorado and washington. i'm not clear on what the commitment from the president was to the senator but my constituents sure would like to know.
>> my view is that marijuana is not a healthy substance. whenever we talk about legalization and other such issues, we need to make clear that we're not in any way suggesting that the consumption of marijuana is not harmful. american medical association is crystal clear on it. the american pediatric association and the connection is clear. and we got to determine some other matters. so first i think we want to say that. secondly, the state of washington and other states have either eliminated or virtually eliminated marijuana restriction. some for medicine only and some for recreational, so-called recreational use. it remains a violation of federal law. that's not off the books. federal law is still enforceable throughout the country.
and i have felt it not appropriate for me to somehow give a safe harbor or protection to areas around the country where it still remains a violation of federal law. now, you know, we know that the threats to -- that we're focused on in the department of justice are fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, prescription abuses in large amounts leading to addiction and death. those are clearly where we're moving. i think i saw like 1% of federal prisoners might have a marijuana being in custody for marijuana. probably a plea bargain on that. so but the united states attorneys in your home state and every state have been instructed to use their financial resources and capabilities and their judgment after meeting with local law enforcement and local
leaders to pursue the cases they think are important and worthy and i can't exclude marijuana from that. i don't think it's appropriate for me to do so. >> based on the president's commitment to the senator, is there any further guidance to states like me just looking for clearer parameters? >> i know -- look. let's be frank. what they like is a statement that they've been provided safety. a safe harbor. i don't believe i can give that. they'll just have to look and make their own decision about how they conduct a marijuana enterprise. >> let me shift gears because you talked about where the department's energy ought to be focused and that is battling the opioid epidemic. it's costing tremendous amount of human suffering, human life. tremendous amount of money. i'd love to just get in the time i have left your sense of where the department's resources are best focused.
do you see it a public health issue, criminal justice issue, both? as someone that represents some areas often left behind in securing federal resources, tribal communities, some rural areas where this is an enormous problem and they struggle to apply for grant funds and things like that, can you talk about what steps you will take to ensure that some of the these at-risk communities getting the resources they need to effectively fight this? >> i was appointed united states attorney by ronald reagan in 1981 and drug use had been increasing steadily. it took more than a decade but the university of michigan study showed that over half of high school seniors in 1981 acknowledged using an illegal drug. that dropped by 50% in 10, 12, 13 years later. that was huge. i mean, we need to get the message out. don't start. this is dangerous business. you get addicted it grabs you
with a power that so many people are never able to break free. their lives are lost. it's a death sentence. one expert told me. so, we start with that. this funding that you have passed will help us have a much more robust pr, prevention campaign. and then you have the treatment that many people can be saved. and treatment can be helpful. there's a lot of money in the -- that you have passed to do that and then we're going to do our part. to focus on it. what are the key things we believe? the prescription drugs, the overuse of prescription drugs are addicting people and when they can't get enough prescription drugs they go to heroin and fen fentanyl and other drugs and cocaine, too. we'll succeed in that, tighten up dramatically the amount of prescription opioids out there
that often create the addiction. and then, we're going to focus heavily on fentanyl because it's such a killer. it is a killer. one little mistake in how much you take an you're lost. our deputy attorney general's staff was in another city in the country last week and they found a lady on the floor. they gave her -- her face and lips were blue. not breathing. they were able to save her and narcan injection came and saved her. i would -- that's part of what we're doing. we've got to tighten up at the border. we've got to continue to press the chinese. and focus on precursor chemicals and the chinese production system. they need to do more. we have every right to ask them to tighten up on what they're
doing so a lot of things we can do on the opioid front but the biggest and best thing if we can convince more people to not start. that would be the winner. >> thank you. >> thank you. gentleman from alabama. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, attorney general, for being here. welcome to the subcommittee. >> thank you. >> we're happy to have a fellowfellow alabaman before us today. let me focus on ms-13. you have taken a strong and decisive action against ms-13 and certainly that has been a right decision to do but your designation last fall as a target for the doj's organized drug and crime enforcement task force is a component of the criminal elements of ms-13 can be prosecuted and dismantled.
what are your thoughts on deportation versus long-term prison sentences in the united states for these and other criminals who are not u.s. citizens? are we to deport them and unsecured borders as you know, we have a revolving door of the criminals coming in and out of our country and so just like to hear your thoughts on that. >> thank you, congressman aderholt. i appreciate the opportunity to work with you so many years in congress and you know my admiration for you is so high. we have added about $147 million to the ms-13 and violent gang initiative. we believe that this gang is a finite number. that it can can b attacked and reduced. in fact, it was reduced a number of years ago and somehow we took the pressure off and they've come back. president trump cares about it
deeply. there was this brutal murder of two 16-year-old girls in new york and so we all probably know about that incident. and so, it's a priority of ours. it is a top priority. we intend to dismantle this gang. we've got prosecutions all over the country. they're not in every district but many. so we believe that focusing on ms-13, dismantling and prosecuting them vigorously, many of them have been involved in murders, multiple murders, murders are approved by the highest officials in the group. they're the most violent gang in america. i think by far. and it's incompatible with peace and safety and justice. their philosophy involves murder and rape as an open statement of
what they believe they're entitled to do and this is an affront and direct challenge to the rule of law and we intend to meet the responsibility to defeat that challenge. >> so you feel like probably long-term prison sentences probably -- >> yes. on the specific question, it's a good question. what we found is that people can reenter the country and if someone murders an american, it's not sufficient just to deport them. and hope they don't come back. they've got to serve substantial prison sentences. we'd like to think maybe we wouldn't have to do that but we do. so it's a combination. then when they serve their sentence they'd be deported. >> can you expand on your testimony with the establishment of the co-located strike force in drug enforcement task force? >> we are having tremendous
success forming task forces around the country to focus on these gangs, on drug distribution networks, cartels and major distribution networks within cities, then areas like kentucky or west virginia or dallas. and so, we're focusing on that and it -- new york has proven in my opinion that if you smartly target the main criminals, the alpha criminals, they explained to me, and you do that over a period of years and you take out these gang leaders and promoters and the people who seduce others to join the gangs and join these illegal enterprises, you can make your city safer and they have a remarkably low compared to other major cities murder rate, for example. these are proven policies and our project safe neighborhoods and task forces will be
executing throughout the country similar principles. >> quickly, let me just -- you mentioned in your written testimony about the -- there were six enforcement teams created in 2017 and the administration requests funding for 8 more and this fiscal year. offhand, where would the six existing teams be located or where are they located and where do you anticipate the eight new teams being located? >> we are working hard to be rigorous about applying our resources to the most serious spots. for example, there's spots in the northeast, ohio, kentucky, west virginia, even alabama has a high prescription abuse rate. and so, we're trying to do that based on facts, not politics but
where the crisis is greatest. i could get you the information on -- >> okay. >> and what our plans are for the future. >> that will be perfect. thank you. >> thank you. pleased to recommengnize the gentleman from pennsylvania. >> general sessions, i come from scranton, pennsylvania. birthplace of vice president joe biden and one thing vice president biden loves to repeat is the line people talk about values but don't talk to me about your values. show me your budget and i'll tell you what your values are. we're here to talk about your budget request. and the first part i want to talk about is there is a growing salience and bipartisan support, general sessions, for a wide array of civil rights issues but you have steered the doj away
from prioritizing civil rights issues and this is led a number of states including my own home state, the commonwealth of pennsylvania, to sue the department of justice. the most recent suit against you and your department came after you revoked legal guidance designed to protect the disabled, minorities, and the poor. at the time, reuters quoted you as saying that this guidance was, quote, unnecessary, inconsistent with existing law or otherwise improper, unquote. but part of this guidance was intended to ensure state and local governments accommodate disabled employees and integrate them into the workplace. in fact, i note your budget proposal makes no mention whatever of fighting discrimination against people with disabilities. as a matter of fact, your proposed budget request would
eliminate 27 positions including 11 attorneys from the civil rights division and by incorporating the community relations service into the civil rights division with no additional funding. you are exacerbating the burden of the civil rights division. you are doing this when the fbi has reported a rise in hate crime in this country, incidents in the past three annual reports. so i didn't want to let this day go by without commenting that i'm troubled by that but i want to move quickly to the bureau of prisons. mr. sessions, it is about augmentation. as you know augmentation is bureau of prisons practice of administrative staff like nurses, plumbers, teachers, accountants, social workers koorkss as correctional officers when understaffed. in fact, senator manchin asked you about bop augmentation in
the senate hearing you attended yesterday. and you said you think everybody who participates in augmentation is also trained in incarceration management and eliminating augmentation completely would be highly expensive. well, this is why it's important to me, general sessions. i'm from northeastern pennsylvania. a few years ago we had a fellow named eric williams and he was a correctional officer in the u.s.p. in wayne county, pennsylvania. he was stabbed over 200 times by a violent inmate in an attack that took over ten minutes. a friend of mine was the coroner's medical examiner and he talked to me about it on the phone. and he said as part of his investigation into the cause of death he had to watch the video from that and it turned his stomach, not just the attack, general sessions, but watching
the other inmates stand around as this happened, as eric williams was brutally murdered. we have to talk about keeping our federal prisons safe. there are other stories. officer alberati shot 20 times while traveling home to his children from the prison. officer rivera, iraq war veteran, murdered while doing his job trying to keep inmates safe. as the head of doj it is your duty to keep our officers and employees safe and we've seen far too many officers lose their lives in the line of duty. the question is, why have you decided to ignore explicit congressional direction to end augmentation before eliminating more corrections officers from our already overworked and understaffed facilities? your budget proposes eliminating
nearly 1,200 correctional officer positions. how does this make sense at all, general sessions? >> well, first, let me assure you we have no intention to cease to protect the civil rights of the american people. the budget for the civil rights division is the same as it has been for the last three years. in our request. congress has given additional fun funds, also. we are prepared to use whatever funds given and protect the civil rights of all americans. on the augmentation situation, non-correctional officer staff are all federal law enforcement officers who have received law enforcement training. and so they can be utilized at times where you need extra staff like at a meal or some other event. and they augment the people who
do it full-time. that's been done for many, many years. it would be exceedingly costly if you had to have full-time people just for maybe certain events that require extra staffing. we are going to protect our law officers. those in prisons, our i.c.e. officers who have to deal with the violent illegal immigrants and our police officers on the street will be protected by this department of justice. and with -- one thing i would like to call everyone's attention to, you may not know that the bop inmate population has decreased since 2013 by 35,000. the federal prison dropped from 220,000 to 183,000 or so.
and this is a dramatic change. and it coincides, of course, with some increase in crime rate in america but regardless bop staffing level is the same today as it was in 2009 and there were 20,000 fewer prisoners then. so the bureau of prisons answer to the taxpayers, too. and when the prison population drops substantially they need to figure out how to use the resources they have effectively and we've got a lot of other money that needs to be spent. so i'm prepared to review any situation that's dangerous. and may need more than normal staffing. but we're talking about a 3% reduction in staff. when the population of the prison dropped 16%. >> mr. chairman, i would note that when you focus on high security prisons over 50% of them are still dangerously
overpopulated. and i yield back. >> thank you. pleased to recognize the gentleman from la l. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. attorney general, thank you for being here today. i had the pleasure of meeting with you to discuss important topics affecting the nation and i thank you for that. of those many issues you mentioned how the department of justice is working to reduce gun and gang crime within america with project safe neighborhoods. after seeing how weak the previous administration was on crime, i'm happy to see this administration make steps to tuchb up on criminal and gang activity. when i speak with local chiefs and sheriffs in south mississippi they all agree. we need to organize and deploy programs that fund street level outreach, education and employment opportunities to combat gun and gang violence. to that point, could you please tell me what is your request for the project safe neighborhoods program and how will it help to address the ongoing violence in
neighborhoods throughout our country when. >> thank you. it's $140 million. it will be money not going to the federal government but be going to your local law officers in the form of a grant and did goal to help our local grant recipients create task forces and partnerships to be more effective in the neighborhood. we have got professors who have reviewed the program in its previous existence of an established to my clear conviction that it worked and we are going to make it even better now. and the key to success in making our communities safer is this seamless partnership between the federal resources. not bound by county and city jurisdictions or state lines. even sometimes we can go internationally. which local police aren't able to do. we have an opportunity to have partnerships in a good way.
dea after -- you've given us 2018 additional money. we met with rob patterson, the acting director, and he's already added 400 task force positions where we subsidize local law officers to participate in a task force to deal with that local community's problem. so we want to help out mississippi deal with its problem and might be quite different than a problem somewhere else in america an we'll help them deal with their problem. >> well, thank you for that. i think the project safe neighborhoods is a great program. and real quickly, i know you mentioned that the majority of the drugs entering our country is coming through our southern border. and -- but it's the drugs aren't just being manufactured in mexico. but it's coming from south and central america.
and we have national security cutters out there every day i think at last coaunt the coast guard is responsible for more than half of the cocaine seizures and throughout our u.s. government. do you have any thoughts or ideas? i know we need to surge to the border using every resource we have, national guard, cbp, other agencies, federal agencies, collaborating. but how do we stop those drugs from making their way in to mexico? perhaps from a naval perspective. >> thank you. i know you've raised that with us before and you're aware of some of the situations that are important. we believe the coast guard and perhaps the navy, too, can -- not perhaps, the navy also can play big role in this. we know that a large amount of drugs is leaving from colombia and south of colombia and it's
brought by boat often mostly some comes directly to the united states but mostly it's unloaded in mexico. and taken across our border unlawfully. and so, we have an opportunity to really make a breakthrough in my opinion in focusing on that opportunity. and the main limitation of our ability to be successful in making even more big seizures is simply the number of boats and helicopters in the region. so they're coming up through the caribbean, some from colombia, venezuela and some is probably more coming up the pacific side. so it's very much an opportunity as you and i discussed to make a breakthrough. >> well, thank you for that, as well. and sadly, we know -- we have visibility on a lot of the smuggling of drugs but we don't have the resources to capture and take all of it off the water
and with more resources we could do that and once again making our neighborhood safer here in america. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. we'll recognize the gentle lady of new york, ms. bing. >> thank you. mr. attorney general, i wanted to ask about the office of access to justice. it's played a vital role in proactively addressing barriers to justice and improving the criminal justice system. particularly for vulnerable communities. as a u.s. senator, you supported resources for public defense. do you still plan to close down this office? and if so, what's your plan to continue proactively addressing barriers to counsel for vulnerable populations such as veterans and low-income individuals? >> thank you. it -- we are doing everything we can to make the department more productive an effective.
that was a fairly new office, small office, that we believed is better -- better operates under the office for legal policy. that's basically what it focused on. and we think it would be better operated out of there. so we'll -- we're committed to being creative and helping us deal with legal challenges and -- that the nation faces but traditionally it's -- that's been the center of it in the department of justice. and this was small standalone office i think is better in the office of legal policy. >> and that new office will continue to try to bridge the relationship between many of the organizations and the communities that we serve with the doj? >> well, we certainly -- one of the goals of that office as i
understand it was to strengthen access to legal services and that will certainly be one of the olp's goals. >> thank you. my other question, you mentioned briefly was the community relations service or crs was created by the civil rights act of 1964. and over the past 50-plus years it's been instrumental in addressing tensions associated with allegations of discrimination and communities across the country. crs also helps communities develop the capacity to more effectively prevent and respond to violent hate crimes. i have had the privilege of having representatives from the northeast regional office come to our district to talk to various communities who have been common targets of hate crimes. and thach provided a government resources, to victims and to even students who were dealing with discrimination and bullying
at school. in your budget proposal and in your testimony, you call for eliminating crs and moving it to the doj civil rights division. but have provided no specifics as to how this will be accomplished. how will you reconcile combining the functions of crs with the civil rights division when statute prohibits the crs from participating in investigative or prosecutorial functions? >> we believe that moving that responsibility to the civil rights division is the right step. we now have some eight i believe offices around the country. ten. with two to three or maybe even one crs employee. there are only 39 crs employees in the program. so we think that's rent and so forth, it's probably not the
best way to organize the resources. i think it will be better -- so we didn't ask for funding to continue it. it's been a -- discussed for years. it is sometimes helpful that representatives from the department of justice can enter into a community where there's some real tension and problems. i remember one time many years ago that it was helpful to have a crs employee on the scene. but i think we have within each of our 90 u.s. -- 94 u.s. attorneys offices civil rights trained attorneys now that work with the civil rights division out of main justice and we think this activity can be better supported in that way. >> okay. just concerned because the precise function of the civil rights division is investigative and prosecutorial functions,
statute prohibits crs from participatesing in those functions and want to make sure that the needs are still being met, including the community work that had been done in the past. >> thank you. i think that's good advice. we need to make sure that we do have people that can help calm waters in certain communities around the country. >> thank you, ms. meng. >> i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. attorney general, welcome. it's an honor to have you here and thank you for the good work you do. >> thank you. >> one of the things i've learned in my short time here in washington is a ltd. of people say one thing and do another or they don't follow up on what they promise. and if there's one thing i have seen from you and from president trump is you do what you say. and you've referenced several times recent raids and one of those raids was in my hometown. a town i grew up in.
a town that because of mike stewart and michael bayless and great folks, u.s. attorneys or marshals office and others working in a coordinated function just as you suggested we rounded up over 40 drug dealers, drug kingpins. the amount of heroin and fentanyl that was taken in that raid was enough to kill every man, woman and child five times over in my hometown of 50,000 people. thank you. what i want to make sure of, because this is about resources and giving you and your team the resources you need, i want to make sure we keep this up. i went to make sure not only do we round them up but we also lock them up. and there is a real concern and i know it's in the hands of the courts but i want to make sure that your prosecutors, your law
enforcement officials have the resources to make sure that we put these people behind bars. because i will tell you there's a real concern from the public that the criminals get out faster than the reports are filed. we want them rounded up. we want them locked up. >> thank you. revolving doors are not acceptable. i'm hearing too much of that. where people are being relowe'sed too quickly. you catch a major criminal, major drug gang member, that's for years done nothing but move illegal drugs, maybe using intimidation and violence to carry out their schemes, these are not, you know, addicts and users and losers that we try to help in many ways. they need a certain amount of time in prison or you don't have respect and you don't break the
trends that are out there. so i was so proud of mike stewart and his work. he sent me a letter the other day and it just made my day. i mean, he is determined. his people are determined. the local law enforcement are great partners an they're going after these gangs. some say law enforcement doesn't make a difference. i disagree. you continue like you said sustain this effort. and people who have committed very serious crimes get serious punishment. you can reverse these trends and make your hometown a safer and better place to live in. >> the president also made a bold statement when he was up i think in new hampshire. he talked about the death penalty. and you have made comments in support of his reference to particularly heinous crimes, using the laws we already have
on the books. and i want to join you and the president in saying let's prosecute to the fullest extent possible and, yes, the law already allows it. that could include the death penalty. >> it can include the death penalty and many of these gangs also responsible for just murder. murder people who haven't paid them money. murder of people who try to come into their territory. murder of innocent people in shoot-outs. i'm amazed how many innocent people have been killed in shoot-outs among some of these violent gangs. so you're correct. the president is right. we need to be tough. he said that several times in new hampshire. he can be pretty clear in what he wants to say. and i think he's correct about it. we're going to -- we are sending a new message throughout the department that these violent
gangs, these serious organized crime groups have to be taken down. they are a direct challenge to law, order, peace, security and prosperity for america. >> one final comment. the dea and so many people in entities under your orb of influence, i have one community in the district i represent, a population of 392 people. not thousand. not 3,900. 392 people in a period of time we had 9 million highly addictive opioid painkillers pumped into that community. that is wrong. and i appreciate your work and i challenge you to do exactly what you're saying. and we must go after not only the drug thugs, we must go after the pushers of the pills in the community and eradicate and free up the opportunity that we can
have a healthy environment in our community. get our lives back in order. >> congressman, thank you for saying that. that can never happen again. that should never have happened. and we have the capability to do something about it. before it gets so bad. we are now -- have discovered or undertaken and developed a new method to identify overprescribing, over distributing opioids in america. and we've got a computer analytics program that pops out the numbers directly. and it showed the outliers. we are seeing outlier physicians all over america. with incredibly high numbers wrchlt the normal physician is a fraction of that. and that's -- we're prosecuting more. we can identify that better. using existing technology that our department of justice has figured out how to use.
last year. and we're going to keep using it and we can never let that happen again. what happened in southern west virginia is just -- cannot happen again. >> it is criminal. >> it is. >> thank you, mr. attorney general. >> thank you. mr. attorney general, i want to direct your attention to human trafficking, such a terrible problem in the country and unfortunately my hometown houston, texas, is worse in the country in terms of the number of people that have been sold into slavery. the scale of the catastrophe is just -- is really heartbreaking. it is a problem in public events, at any large urban event, along major travel routes and the internet compounds the problem here and abroad and the take down of organizations through fbi operation cross country and prosecution of the back page.com website an we deeply appreciate. the traffickers are just seem to
be proliferating. i note that bureau of justice to funded agencies to bring the locals, mr. attorney general, including victim service providers to identify the perpetrators of these crimes to assist victims and prosecute offenders. 2018 appropriations bill increased human trafficking grant funding to $75 million. if you could talk to us about how many task forces is the department supporting and what success you are having and how do you measure and what can the committee do to help you fight human trafficking? >> mr. chairman, as you know, we submitted, the president did, a frugal budget and i supported it and it did request $45 million for this project.
i believe you're at 70 now in 2018. we are going to use that money as wisely and aggressively as we can to achieve the goals this committee wants us to achieve. the human trafficking problem is too severe. it's happened too much. american people are sick of it. they want it stopped and we're going to do so. thank you for mentioning the back page thing. this was really an open, visible, illegal enterprise in many ways. it just laid out what they were doing and involving underage children and criminal activities. so we've returned on indictment on that, i believe, it's some 94 counts. a number of seven individuals. so we've hammered that group. so we have some 290 positions
working on this effort. and i'd be glad to answer anymore questions on the details on it either in writing but we take it very seriously. the department made it a priority early on. and in my tenure and we are going to keep at it. >> i'd encourage you to expand the use of these task forces. and that encourage cooperation between federal, state and local authorities, very effective in combatting human trafficking. and it illustrates also the value of good communication between local, state and federal law enforcement officers. let me also ask you, mr. attorney general, something that was mentioned and that is the terrible backlog of cases in the immigration courts. we note that you had hired 64 new immigration judges in fiscal year '17 but that was offset by
retirements and separations. so your net increase just 43 and the case backlog continued to grow. in particular we are concerned about the delay in hiring new immigration judges and the committee's funded a significant increase in the number of judges to help reduce the backlog of immigration court cases. what do r you doing to speed up the hiring of immigration judges and when will we begin to see meaningful results from your efforts to speed up the processing of immigration cases? >> thank you. it was taking way too long. as much as two years to get a judge brought on board. we've completely reordered that without cutting the training period that they go -- undergo. they get the same amount of training but the process of starting and announcing and having this go on is way too long. we still are not as strong as i'd like us to be but, mr.
chairman, i know it's a matter of you've been concerned about it and we made tremendous progress and we'll keep making more. so that's -- >> what specific steps are you able to take to help produce speed up the process and the cases and making sure as was said to protect due process rights? they've brought in large number of defendants at a time and reading everybody the rights at the same time and processed them as a grouping. what can be done to speed up the processing and protecting rights? >> all kinds of policies and lack of intensity of interest in my view. even under the existing policies it wasn't -- shouldn't have taken as long as it was taking. eliminating procedures that do not aid in the selection process. do not help us quickly find qualified judge and be able to evaluate their capabilities and leadership and productivity.
so we've made tremendous progress there. and now we know the number. we can -- we have got to meet. that you have told us to meet. we will continue to work to be even more expeditious. >> thank you, mr. attorney general. mr. serrano? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. attorney general, for years many have looked to the department as a resource of last resort in addressing serious civil rights challenges involving law enforcement. this includes many of my hometown of new york. where we're still seeking justice in the death of eric gardner. just last week articles emerged that civil rights investigators of the department are recognizing charges against the officer involved in mr. gardner's death but the top department officials were not sure about whether to proceed. will the department move forward on charges against the officer at fault for mr. gardner's death
as recommended by investigators? and have you been briefed on this case and what are your thoughts? >> thank you. we take these matters very seriously. and have wrestled with quite a number of them and i would just say that we intend to do the right thing as we're given the ability to decide on this matter. as an ongoing -- i'm not able to comment on ongoing invests. >> i understand. let me just ask you a question because i'm not a lawyer and i don't understand some of these things. so the investigators are members of the department who recommend to the higher ups if you will that there should be a proceeding. is that what's going on now? without getting into it. >> in general, investigators investigate cases. they consult with the local prosecutors. state and federal. and decisions are made.
sometimes it can reach the level of main justice in washington. and then whatever division, the criminal division, civil rights division, evaluates the evidence and can make a recommendation, also. >> thank you. well, there are a lot of folks in new york and in other place that would like to see some conclusion that speaks about justice and the -- you are the justice department and i can tell you that at local -- this is interesting. i don't know if you know this. and if you probably do. whenever there's a rally somewhere about justice people don't denounce the justice department. they usually say let's bring this to the justice department. because they feel they can get justice. they get fairness. so keep that in mind with this and other issues.
but you're still -- your department is still seen as the place where folks at the local level the have-notes in many cases can have justice. >> thank you for sharing that. we value that. thank you. >> thank you. let's talk about something that's not -- doesn't get much publicity these days. the border wall. the issue of eminent domain is going to come into play. people are going to be i guess forced to sell land or give it up or so on. some people like myself claim the wall may never get built because it would take a long, long time to resolve those cases. how do you see that picture? what does the department think will happen? i hear and i'm not familiar with texas but texas area alone the wall would take so much land
that it's privately owned now an we in this country try not to force people out of their places. >> well, thank you. of course, eminent domain is used by state, local governments for highways every day. this is, i believe, a critical matter of national security. we have certain properties on the border now and that we might need more but at this point i don't believe there are any imminent domain cases that have been filed. so obviously it's a possibility to protect the united states and we certainly can't be prohibited from obtaining property at our border if it's necessary to defend the border. >> okay. very briefly, i have just a few seconds left here. the big issue on the census is the citizenship question. a big question is, why are we
asking this time if a person's a citizen? and for me personally, i am a little troubled, a lot troubled, since i was born in a dormitory in puerto rico and goes on possibility exists that it will go on to say are you an american citizen? and then say, give you a choice, born in the united states, we thought it was all the united states and then born in puerto rico, guam, virgin islands, so on. why would you -- first of all, why would you ask the question? and why would you separate the territories from the united states, you will if? i've spent a whole career, 44 years, telling people, mr. chairman knows this, that the territories are part of the united states. and this question kind of allows more people to say, you see, 10 million people or whatever the number is are not part of this country. >> i'm not familiar with that
territory part of it. i'll look at that. >> it's a possible question. it's been -- >> possible. okay. >> put in it box and so on. i don't know how far they have come with it but please keep in mind they don't ask you in texas were in california or new york, florida? why in the territory? >> i will look at that. fundamentally, we believe that it it's helpful for the government to know the number of citizens in the country. i'm a bit baffled by the pushback that that's received. it's one of a number of questions. it was on the census for many years. then it's now on the survey census that's done periodically now. and not the ten-year census. so it will go back on that. department of commerce has put
it on there. we're now -- it's by the way, it's a last question on the list i understand. but we're in litigation now. i'm not prepared to really discuss the details of it. we'll be going to court and defending the department of commerce. >> mr. chairman, was it you or someone else in the department who said if you don't fill that question out, you'll still be counted? >> well, i think that's what the policy is on other questions that are not filled out. i believe that would be so. and of course, you know that an answer on that question can't be used to prosecute you or anybody who's here unlawfully. it's a statistical form of question. i suggested because as i
understand it you'll fill out a lot of questions before you get to this one. if it scares somebody, they've always filled it out. rankfully, i think it's a normal thing to ask. >> a lot of people in this climate we're living today, it's a lot of years with the immigration issue and the daca children and everything else happening around immigration. the question of are you a citizen spares a lot of people. and we spent too many years convincing certain communities -- i have, and many others to fill out the census form. we're still seeing that. they don't know the motive behind it. and the other one scares me. >> we need to convince more people to apply to enter the country lawfully and not come in unlawfully.
>> as we restore respect for the rule of law, i'm confident that's going to happen. >> but there's rule of law in the territories, too. >> the gentlelady from alabama. >> thank you, mr. chairman. attorney general sessions, thank you for being here this morning. and thank you and your family for your service to this country and all you do for our great country. i'm proud to see under your direction, the department of justice has taken a strong stance to uphold and protect the laws of this nation. specifically the department of justice has been active in defending against sanctuary city policies around our country for localities that fail to impose and enforce our nation's immigration laws. and i think you would agree that coming and only congress has the power to change or alter our immigration laws and not various local and state governments acting on their own believes.
as i said, i want to discuss another issue regarding the action of states and local governments, interfering with private governments who are only following federal contracts. specifically state and local government discrimination against federal contractors undermining the constitutional supremacy clause of the federal government. has has been widely reported, city and state governments are passing laws and ordinances to blacklist federal contractors from doing their jobs. it is these companies from the state of alabama and all across the company who have the opportunities to work on federal contracts, whether it's bolstering infrastructure, for our southern border, maintenance on an army corps of engineer project, or new construction on a military base. and i know you agree with me that it's vital that we secure
our southern border and put an end to individuals crossing into our country illegal. we must also have a work force that aren't retaliated against for building a secure system, including a wall along our southern border. discriminatory measures could easily multiply as state and local officials seek to deter the construction of anything they consider offensive to their own believes. so threatened by discrimination with these various types of
legislation, private companies would understandably hesitate to play the many roles that the federal government asks them to play on delivering on the goods and services necessary to protect the national security interests, specifically securing our southern border. my question to you this morning, attorney general sessions is when and how does the department of justice plan to respond to state and local governments on this issue of discriminatory behavior? >> we made clear that is not acceptable. we will not accept it. your letter, i appreciate it very much and other members that signed it with you is valuable to us. we will get a response to you shortly. i guess we've had it within a week maybe. but no, this is a -- it's an unbelievable assertion of power that a government of the united
states, city county or state, can refuse or blacklist a contractor because they performed a lawful contract for the united states of america to make the country safer. how can this possibly be? we don't believe it's sustainable legally and we'll challenge it wherever there's a case to be proven. a lot of talk about passing these laws. but some have passed. we're looking at what the legal remedies would be. >> we appreciate your work on that. and the last thing i want to say to you in that short time left, i just want to thank you for your openness and willingness and desire to want to focus on sex and human trafficking in our country. as we know, this is not a third world country problem, although it is happening globally. it's also happening in our own backyards. so i just want to thank you here
today at this hearing for the work that you continue to do with the congress to do everything we can to eradicate this modern day slavery. so thank you again for your service here to our country. it's great to have you here today. >> i didn't get a chance to follow up, for communities as they grapple with the opioid crisis, with eeve got some communities that are, as mr. jenkins said, real small towns who don't have a lot of capacity to navigate the federal grant system, to try to figure out how they get these resources to combat this problem. communities, small towns, tribal communities that are really
suffering from this opioid epidemic. and need those resources but might not have a -- you know, a tremendous capacity to navigate the grant making and what not. >> it is a very important issue. of course, fundamentally, the department of justice and our dea and if ib fib and atf investigators and marshall officers, they do focus on where the problem is biggest and where the dangs are the biggest. so if the network is in seattle, goes out to a smaller town. they can be devastated by this. like the little town in west virginia. often the evidence discovered in a small town can help take down
a gang in a big city or even a cartel. so the project safe neighborh d neighborhoods and our grant program creates task forces does help meet that need. a small town could dedicate one of his officers to the task force, de a's task force which would deal with the whole region. we need to understand where the drugs are coming from that impact their community and maybe even work out arrangements so that the whole team could focus on that group. it does work. it's part of the essential improvement in law enforcement we've seen over the last two or three decades. >> i'm hoping that maybe the committee can put our heads
together as you acknowledge. there's small towns that really need the attention. let me ask you about passing bipartisan leading the spending bill. i met with a lot of school kids. what role do you see yourself and the doj planning to make sure schools and communities safer. we encourage the use of cop grant money for the school resource officers. we're taking a number of states.
we take a number of systems to check the computer system. but some cities aren't putting in information. military was not doing so. the shooting in texas, now they are. putting in the arrest but not the find conviction, you can't deny a gun. so a lot of things we've done there. but i would say to you, the most difficult thing -- and when you talk to a law enforcement officer about it, and i have, it comes back to this situation. some people are mentally ill and dangerous. if they're taken to the mental health hospital, the regulations keep the doctors from telling anybody. if they're found even adjudicated, mentally defective
or needing some short-term incarceration or detention, i guess, is the better word. they can't talk about their students to the police even if they have concerns. and the school resource officers also feel some constrictions on it. there are silos out there. we could say this young person is really troubled. they are really dangerous. we they make a mistake. if they make policies that don't share information. if we could make a break through
there, it might be really important. >> there's been a considerable amount of attention paid to the question of second special counsel relating to everything from the hillary clinton e-mail scandal to fisa abuse and so many issues. >> i could not agree with you more on the first page that reads it is important that congress and the american people have confidence in the department of justice. my question is, do they have the same path to get to that goal? as a representative of the people of west virginia, to be able to be here 20 feet from
you, i feel like i'm compelled to just raise -- and i know you can't talk much about it because of the ongoing investigation. but west virginians are frustrated. they see what is happened in the evidence about uranium one. they see the evidence and are concerned about fisa warrant abuses. they see what's happening and frustrated about raids on lawyers' offices. they are frustrated and see the evidence of top fbi officials involved with the clinton e-mail scandal. they're concerned and frustrated about officials, fbi, have been communication with foreign agents, former foreign agents. the special counsel, mueller
investigating supposed solution for over a year with not a scintilla of evidence of collusion between the trump campaign and russia. you set forth here when a special counsel should be establish established. extraordinary circumstances. i know you relay much, but i want to share with you the deep seeded concerns of what the people in my district and my state see, that occurred, that happened. and while i understand this is referred to the inspector general, yes, i understand we have a prosecutor from utah looking into it, but at the very
root of this, i think my constituents are frustrated, are angry. they see a double standard historically. they want justice. i just hope you will reassure us that the path you have decided to take that a special counsel is not warranted at this point, that maybe in the future as the inspector general and others find more information, that if we feel it's necessary, that yes, we can cross that bridge, that a special counsel can be appointed. while i think it's needed now, can we get to that point if you through your process and your investigators and your inspector deem it necessary?
>> i think the american people are concerned. and the president is concerned. he's dealing with france and north korea and syria and taxes and regulations. and border and crime every day. this thing needs to include. so i understand his frustrations and i understand the american people's frustrations. i say to you, we've been very open in the department, more open than we've ever been. we're allowing some 12 members of congress staff to look through records. i don't know if we've ever done anything like that before. i'll sure if there's wrongdoing, we're going to take action about it. i've already taken action. i would say to you that the
american people know we have entirely new top leadership at the fbi. we have a highly capable man of integrity chris wray in the director, a new deputy director, a new legal counsel, a new press person. new chief of staff. so if there's wrongdoing uncovered, we'll act on that. we've got to be careful we don't smear everybody if somebody made some errors. and some of the errors can be disciplinary matters rather than prosecutorial matters. but i just want to say to you we're determined to be displained. stay within our classical procedures and rules.
i do not think we need to willy nilly appoint special counsels. as we can see, it can really take on a life of its own. they go forward, the inspector general will have a report before long, a few weeks maybe. we'll do our duty at the department of justice to ensure that dus justice is done as the lord gives me ability to do so. >> our good name is our most valuable possession.
the doj is ichb dependent and trustworthy and the respect for the rule of law is to ensure itits fair and impartial administration. i think mr. jenkins raises an important hope. i do hope that -- i know that my comments are concerned about the open-ended nature. absolutely seemed wide open and unending open nature of the special counsel's work. it's important that if you discover anyone in the department of justice or fbi that would use the legal process of the united states for political purposes has to be prosecuted and brought to justice. i hope you'll do all that you can to reassure the american people that these investigations are not open ended and they're not searching for anything under the sun they can find. we're going to narrow this down and be sure we're looking for actual evidence of any collusion.
anyone using the legal processes of this country for political purposes will be prosecuted to preserve and protect the rule of law. it is very, very important. we deeply appreciate your service to the country, deeply appreciate the men and women of law enforcement who work every dave to protect us. every day that goes by and ends quietly and safely, we're grateful to you and the department of justice and the fbi, the atf and the dea, the marshall service and the bureau of prisons. we're grateful to you for your work to ensure the impartial and fair administration of justice, to keep us safe. you've got the support of this committee in helping you do your job.
and protecting the most precious possession you have, the department has, and that's the good name that all the men and women in law enforcement have worked. so hard and so long to preserve. i hope you'll continue to do so. do you have any closing remarks? >> i want to thank the attorney general for coming before us today. as we wrap up i can't help but maybe sound a negative. it's something i enjoy doing, but it has to be done. i'm amazed at how many members of congo to the house floor and single out some newspaper article that may indicate that some lady or seome fella somewhere misused, improperly on purpose or not on purpose, by mistake, $50 in food stamps. that becomes a big, big, big issue. yet what i keep hearing
is that an investigation may talk about collusion, an investigation that may talk about people in this government and in this country helping the russians hack us and interfere with our lekss and everything else that has come from that, that should be shut down. that should be put away, that should not grow anymore. and it just troubles me. but it shouldn't amaze me by now with the years i spent in congress. some people go crazy over something that we should pay attention to. but certainly want to make sure that person who took $50 somewhere and misused it in government funds gets the full extent of the law on their shoulders, but whatever happened over here with a foreign government interfering in our elections, that we should shut down as soon as possible. thank you.
>> we pray for the safety and security of the men and women in law enforcement and how much we appreciate the great work you do. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i would just note, i think when i said that the bop has the same staff today as in 2009 when they had 20,000 more inmates than today, i inadvertently said fewer inmates. we actual have 20,000 more inmates in 2009 than we have today. >> thank you 5-5 for your support. i really do feel it. i think our men and women in law enforcement know that congress has been support i ever. and we will do our best to use the resources you give us wisely. and we recognize that we have to account to you for the wise utilization of those resources.
>> thank you for your service to the country. and the hearing is adjourned. thank you. >> friday morning, we're in salt lake city, utah, for the next stop on the c-span bus 50 capitals tour. gary herbert will be our guest on the bus during "washington journal" starting at 9:49 a.m. eastern. >> president trump's top economic adviser spoke about the impact ofax