Skip to main content

Charles Schumer
  Sen. Schumer Press Conference on Attorney General Nominee  CSPAN  January 16, 2019 4:50pm-5:01pm EST

4:50 pm
did spectacularly. even to use the old olympic jokes, even the russian judges thought he did okay. when dianne feinstein and cory booker and sheldon whitehouse are saying good things about your performance, they're notpe not saying, well, i'll vote for him, but to get anything that positive out of the other side is impressive. he was an impressive choice to begin with. it's hard to argue with someone who has already been attorney general. nobody is saying he's not qualified. it comes down to politics for these votes, but yesterday was a lot of substance. and he did really very well. very impressive. >> in matters of substance, how do you think he handled questions about mueller. >> from the perspective of getting through the senate, i'll be tactical for a moment. he hit them out of the park. i do think he may have been overreassuring. >> okay, so i met a few minutes ago with the nominee for the
4:51 pm
attorney general, william barr. i have known him for a long time. when he was attorney general and then when he was counsel to verizon, which was a new york company. i have always respected his public service. and i have always gotten along with him. i was, when he initially issued his memo, i came out against him. i thought given how president trump has treated the justice department, that memo was disqualifying. but i wanted to give him a chance, maybe he could undo my opposition. and our conversation focused on three issues. one that was brought up in the hearing, but two that were sort of not clear from the hearing. first that was brought up in the hearing i asked him would he recuse himself if the ethics office of the justice said he should, and he said he would make his own decision. that was clear at the hearing. the other two i thought were much less clear. the first involves the issuance of the report.
4:52 pm
he said he's for transparency. that's not good enough, especially with someone like donald trump who has been -- has treated the justice department almost as if it's it's his own personal fiefdom. he seems to believe the justice department should protect him and pursue his enemies. i asked would he unequivocally state that he would not interfere in the mueller investigation in any way. sorry. i'm getting the transparency. okay, let me go back. first is on transparency. and i asked him would he issue the full mueller report with only redactions if intelligence agencies said it would compromise sources? to simply say he's for transparency doesn't say much. you have to make, in my judgment, to merit the vote, a vote of nomination, you would have to make unequivocal and public you would not interfere
4:53 pm
with the issuance of -- you would issue the full report except if intelligence sources said that certain portions should be redacted. he would not give that assurance. very disappointing. the second i asked him, he said he wanted to see mueller finish his investigation through completion. indicating that he respected the mueller and he talked about his friendship with mueller, but that's not good enough with this president in particular. so i asked him, would he interfere with the investigation in any way. would he make a commitment that he would not? he would not limit who mueller would subpoena, he would not limit what witnesses were called, he would not limit what questions were asked or what areas were looked into. he would not commit to that either. so despite the fact that there were some nice words at the hearing, we do not have the kind
4:54 pm
of strong and clear commitments to the report being issued and there being no interference in the investigation that are needed, particularly now, with president trump treating the justice department as he has. i'll take questions on this subject first. this subject. >> yesterday, he also mentioned that he would not change justice department guidelines by indicting a sitting president. one, do you think he should change the guidelines? two, do you think a sitting president can be indicted? >> that's a very difficult question that there are many answers to. that was not dispositive in my continued opposition to him. >> do you think the sitting president can be indicted? >> did he talk about the difference between derogatory information with the case and information that might be of use
4:55 pm
to congress? >> he did not. he did not. he seemed to want to feel -- he believes in transparency. you should accept his judgment and let him make decisions. he believes the mueller investigation should be continued through the end. you should accept his judgment and not get the kind of commitment that he wouldn't interfere with specific parts of the investigation. that's not good enough when donald trump is president and has treated the justice department sort of as his sort of personal toy almost. >> on another topic. >> finished with this subject? >> was he more clear with you than he was in the hearing yesterday about what it was he would support -- >> no. >> mueller -- the documents produced by mueller or documents he produces after he reads the mueller report. >> he was not clear on what he would actually release. to just say you're for transparency is not good enough. this subject.
4:56 pm
>> do you believe that -- >> i think that when we have a president like trump, who has treated the justice department as poorly as he has, who has tried to browbeat it into doing what he wants despite rule of law, that you need somebody who reaches a really high standard. and while mueller has had a very fine career when he refuses to commit those things to those things that i mentioned, he does not meet that standard. >> did you get a chance to discuss the memo, why he decided to draft that memo and send it unsolicited, to -- >> we touched on it, but there was nothing new from what he said in the hearing. but i told him that i thought the memo alone, which might not disqualify him if there was a president who had shown real integrity and respect of the justice department, with president trump was disqualifying. why i brought him in was to see
4:57 pm
if he could reassure me on key questions which he was unable to do. [ inaudible question ] >> well, you know, with the republican controlled senate that won't even go after putin, i don't have much falth that the senate would change any rules. >> do you see any chance of this nomination getting blocked? >> look, i am letting all of my democratic colleagues know my viewpoints based on my discussions with him. and i think the overwhelming majority of democrats will in all likelihood oppose him, but i haven't done a count or anything like that. republicans, we'll see what they do. okay. we'll take two on other subjects. you ask first. >> the secretary of homeland security says that her agency and specifically the secret service is prepared to handle
4:58 pm
the state of the union. you think it should go forward as planned? >> well, what is the state of the union? the government is closed because of president trump. if it continues to be closed on the 29th, i think it's a good idea to delay it untile the government is open. >> why? >> what happened there -- >> well, you know, president trump's precipitous removal of our troops from syria and his claim that isis is already beaten, we knew would not hold up. today's tragedy shows that's just the case. thank you, everybody. >> the confirmation hearing for william barr continued today with the senate judiciary committee hearing from several outside witnesses about their views on the nomination. you can watch day two of the
4:59 pm
hearing tonight at 9:00 eastern on c-span. on c-span2, another confirmation hearing from today for andrew wheeler, who has been picked to head the environmental protection agency. mr. wheeler has been the epa's acting administrator since july. again, that's c-span2 at 9:00 p.m. eastern. >> watch c-span for live coverage of two marches in the nation's capital. friday, the march for life starts at noon eastern. and on saturday, the women's march beginning at 1:30 p.m. eastern. this friday and saturday. live on c-span. >> the c-span cities tour exploring the american story. this weekend, we take you to independence, missouri, home to harry and bess truman. saturday at noon eastern on book tv, we'll explore the roots of independence and why it served as the starting point of america's great westward trail.
5:00 pm
>> downtown was the place to be if you were outfitting for the trails. we had several blacksmith shops there, several places you could get horses. really just outfitting general stores. you needed flour, anything to get you out west, you were going to get it here. so you can imagine a big buzzing community downtown. >> and on sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv, a tour of president truman's historic sites, including a visit to his home and his library. watch the c-span cities tour of independence, missouri, saturday at noon eastern on c-span2's book tv and sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv. on c-span3. working with our cable affiliates as we explore the american story. >> the senate special agent committee held a hearing on combatting scams that target the elderly. over the next two hours. members hear from the daughter of fraud victims, state and