tv Congressional Oversight of FBI Justice Dept. CSPAN April 20, 2018 1:09am-2:40am EDT
announcer: live friday on the c-span networks. 10:00 a.m. on c-span, the cannabis policy summit. of1 p.m., our coverage barbara bush lying in repose in houston, texas. on c-span2, the atlantic posts a forum on u.s. housing policy. at noon, former rhode island congressman patrick kennedy taking part on an event on marijuana policy. oversight of the justice department and the fbi was the focus of a panel discussion at yorktown university law center -- georgetown university law center. speakers included house judiciary committee ranking
member mather. -- aavis and former as former fbi special agent who served as special assistant to james comey. this event is 90 minutes. it's great to be back. i had an institute on congressional studies at georgetown law. i do that for a reason. law professors idealize the constitution. typically they identify with the supreme court. two more powerful
institutions created by that document. the presidency and the congress. i had the privilege to work as a lawyer for both. it is my mission at georgetown to remind students, faculty, and visitors about the importance of these institutions. the president has the duty under article two to execute the law. today will hear from members of the congress and experts on the role of congress in and sharing its faithfuling execution of the law. i am delighted we have a distinguished panel of members here today, as well as experts. our leadoff speaker is representative jerrold nadler, the ranking member of the house judiciary committee. he represents much of manhattan -- the 10th district of new york , which includes much of manhattan and brooklyn. he is the ranking member of the judiciary committee, and in the past has been on the
subcommittee of constitution and civil justice. he is a graduate of columbia university. we also have with us congressman tom davis who represented the 11th congressional district of genia, which includes fairfax, until 2008. he was the chair and writing committee of reform in the house of representatives and the director of federal government affairs for deloitte. he is also director of the board of visitors at george mason university and a professor. and he is a graduate of amherst college and the university of virginia school of law. -- was able to join us at the last minute. he represents the third district of maryland, much of baltimore, and montgomery. he is a graduate of princeton university and harvard law school. i am delighted to have them here along with a panel of distinguished experts, some of them who delightfully teach at georgetown high school. -- georgetown law school.
we have professor mary mccord, acting assistant attorney general and principal assistant attorney general for national security in the department of justice from 2014 to 2017. and houseuce fine minority whip of the council in the iran contra investigation. vladeck,rofessor david an expert on litigation involving minority party rights. finally we have josh campbell, who is now working for cnn as their law enforcement analyst. formerly he was a special assistant to the fbi director, james comey, and supervisory special agent. thank you for coming. let's leadoff with mr. nadler. we are all going to sit at the table and hopefully i will let it out for anyone who wants to
ask questions. mr. nadler: i would like to make a few points at the outset. first, oversight is incredibly important, especially under president trump. there are few tests more important than ensuring the fair , impartial oversight of the department of justice. we live in a time where the doj and fbi are under attack by the president and congressional majority. it is impossible to recount all of mr. trump's assaults on the, department but in the last week, the president asked why former fbi director comey has not gone to jail and tweeted that former be was fbi director mcca totally controlled by comey. no collusion, all made by thieves and lowlifes, and i quote. the russian investigation had up -- headed up by all democrat loyalists or people who are
pro-obama. this assault, the house intelligence committee released classified information over the strenuous objection of the department of justice and fbi, which had great concern and described the memos released as extraordinarily reckless. the memo's release, and we are talking about the famous nunes memo was blessed by the speaker , of the house, who subsequently called for a kinds of the fbi. of the fbi. third, the administration made it impossible for the minority to engage in meaningful congressional oversight. last summer politico reported that top meetings with various government departments, -- the white house lawyer told agencies not to cooperate with oversight requests and democrats. it is no wonder we received no substantive response to the 60 oversight letters we sent to the administration.
instead of a real oversight, we live in a time where the in -- administration appears to be actively coordinating with members of the majority to stymie congressional and doj investigations. it is by now well-known that the phony tip to intelligence that received toes suspension trump's claims that he was wiretapped by president obama came from the trump white house. president trump make numerous courts to members of congress, including senate chairman burr, to end the russia investigation. the judiciary committee, and oversight and intelligence committees are now principally focused on investigating dubious and unsubstantiated charges involving the department of justice and fbi, usually dealing with the hillary clinton campaign initiated by mr. trump and fox news, or both.
they are now threatening to impeach deputy attorney general rosenstein. last night, judiciary chairman goodlatte informed that he intends to issue a unilateral subpoena to mr. rosenstein, which could be used to hold him in contempt for justify his firing. i said that because they want information in an active criminal investigation, and just -- justice department guidelines say you cannot surrender that to while it isrmation involved in an active investigation. 15 months into the trump administration, we stand on the verge of a constitutional crisis. the doj and fbi have become political punching bags. corruption and conflicts are rampant, including at the epa, hhs, and white house itself. depending on the day of the
week, the president is threatening to fire the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, or the special counsel. the president will also pardon -- may be signaling pardons are up for anyone who testifies against him. he criticizes judgment and refers to the press as the enemy of the people, and he calls for political opponents to be prosecuted and jailed. although democrats don't control the gavel, we have done everything in our power to create accountability. today, the democrats in the june -- the judiciary committee are issuing a report titled, abuse action,on and in efforts to document the failures of the trump administration, which details the myriad actions we have taken this far. among other things, we have sent oversight letters to the majority of the committee, nearly all without response. we introduced 35 bills, also without response.
requestingtters inspector general reports and initiated seven gao investigations, and got our own lawsuit with 200 members of -- and senators to have the presidents comply with the emoluments clause. 11 minority reports for section -- censure resolutions. introduced five resolutions of inquiries to attempt to bring relevant investigations into legislation to the house pursuant to a discharge position. to bring the committee into executive sessions our efforts focused on election security, enforcement of ethics interest rules, allegations of obstruction of justice and preserving independence of the department of justice among other matters. committee democrats initiate action by writing letters to the administration and house
leadership, holding and participating and forcing votes of inquiry. recent reports and legislation. unfortunately, nearly all letter sent by our members have received no response, and all of our letters of inquiry have been rejected by the majority. the silence speaks to an administration run amok and turning a blind eye to gross misconduct. significantly, these oversight efforts helped lay the predicate for action, if democrats are to retake the house majority in the fall. notwithstanding the best efforts of the majority, it needs to begin immediately. congress needs to take several commonsense actions right now to protect the integrity of the department and help restore accountability to our government. one, pass the special counsel integrity act, which is now bipartisan in sponsorship. this legislation will be marked up next week in the senate judiciary committee, and today there is over 100 sponsors in the house. it is not a cure all come about
-- it is not a cure all, but it will provide a safeguard to make sure the special counsel is not subject to unjustified firing. two, return to regular order and oversight. we have gotten away from the practice of oversight. with only two months left in the session, our committee has held no oversight hearings on the criminal division. let the antitrust division. none for the the civil rights division, and none with homeland security. whether they are in the majority or not, they have to respond. when i came to congress, it was unheard of for a chairman to issue unilateral subpoenas personally. lately, it has become the rule, not the exception, preventing members on both sides of the aisle from participating in this critical oversight function. four, limit hypothetical exertions of privilege.
witnesses have been permitted to avoid answering questions by claiming the president might someday want to exert executive privilege. there is no effort to reach an accommodation with special interests, and no effort to assert the privilege. in essence, accepting an executive privilege provides current administration officials a get out of jail free card, and renders the administration impervious to congressional oversight. five, enforce rules to make -- between the white house and department of justice. current white house policy limits communications involving doj to issues of national security or those depending on position policies. there are numerous documented instances where the policy has not been followed including with the white house chief of staff that the to convince the department not to challenge the
nunues memo. i would suggest they learn to the laws are finding of work. not even the president is above the law. we rely on an independent law enforcement department. that risk is that grave -- principle is that grave risk today. not only because of the misguided actions of the president, but because we in congress have not acted to protect it. for the good of our democracy, we need to do everything in our power to protect the integrity of the department of justice and fbi. we need to do so as soon as possible if we're going to hold the president accountable. if we are going to show the president is not above the law. that is essential if we are going to maintain democratic governance and constitutional norms. thank you. mr. davis: it is a pleasure to be here with jerry now there -- sarbanes. john
in the house we were created back in the 1950's from a series of committees to investigate independent expenditures that went awry and consolidated into one committee. they did it because the feeling was the arms services committee got too close to the pentagon the agate committee got too close to agriculture. they needed an independent group to oversee things where you might have had a close tie between committee members and the department they were supposed to regulate. as houserved republican campaign chairman. i will tell you what i have seen is we have devolved from a balance of power system, which our founders envisioned, into parliamentary behavior. on the part of voters in the part of members.
today legislative elections are generally about party and not person. they are about who you send to leadership. all politics is local does not apply. it means when members come to congress they behave the same way. they behave like it's a parliamentary system even though the house should be an independent branch. the minority party no longer act like the minority party. they act like the opposition. instead of being an independent branch overseeing the executive ranch where their leader is in power, their elective fortunes are tied to the success of that particular president. when you have the opposite party controlling congress they tend to over investigate. when you have a unitary government they tend to under investigate. it is not what the constitution envisioned. my experience going back to the 1990's when we investigated some of the clinton campaign finance at that point, people had abused.
a witnesses either took the fifth or flood the country. republicans overdid it. the democrats take control, they tend to over investigate bush. when you have unitary underment, you tend to investigate because you want to protect your administration. when the democrats controlled the congress, they issued contempt citations for the president's chief of staff. republicans retaliate and go after eric holder. these have become routine ping-pong battles. they don't serve anybody well. what you need is something we try to set up. we try to do things together. we did a lot of investigations of the bush administration. on a number of issues, particularly contracting in iraq. things that my administration was on -- uncomfortable with that needed oversight. we also did the steroids in baseball, which got a lot of
publicity and change the game in terms of performance-enhancing drugs in majorly exports. -- major league sports. this all too charged partisan atmosphere is a failure. we have had discussions. you can't let them boss you around, but you want to make congress an independent branch, not just an appendage of the executive branch for one party. >> thank you very much, mr. david. i just want to warn you, he has another engagement, we are lucky to have the amount of time we have him. if he runs off, don't blame him. >> thank you very much. you have a very distinguished panel here today. i'm going to be brief. nadler to salute jarry
for the perspective he just brought to you. to tom davis i will say, we miss you. measured oversight that people like tom davis brought when they were in office is something that is in desperate need right now. i want to speak to a couple of things. i come with a couple perspectives. i am serving now on the oversight and government reform committee. i had the opportunity to be on that committee in 2007, when it was very active under the leadership of henry waxman. that was the last years of the bush administration. i got a sense of the full toolkit that can be used -- exercised. i believe in an responsible way at that time, by the committee. as chair ofrving
the democracy reform task force in the house caucus, which is looking at all the ways we can try to strengthen the democracy , a set of robust reforms that will make government more accountable to the people. i think there is the frustration on the part of the average citizen about whether their voices heard and counted for in our politics, and in washington. on the issue of oversight, i think the current leadership in the house certainly those who hold the gavel, are suffering from a condition of oversight vertigo. what i mean by that is, when it comes to the areas where they about thecareful oversight crossing into
interference with what should be a certain amount of independence , i think they have crossed that line. i think the best example of that is being described by er, the way they approach and treated the mueller investigation, where the daily attacks on the investigation are really, i think, designed to undermine the independence with which the justice department ought to be able to carry out its responsibilities on behalf of the american people. , in somean impulse degrees i would argue a campaign , to do too much oversight /interference with respect to that area. on the other hand, as was also mentioned, there is a lack of interest in doing the kind of oversight we need with respect
to most of the other executive agencies in our government, where we have seen tremendous ethical lapses where we have seen special interests conflicts at play. and yet there has not been on dante appetite, an institutional appetite to get behind that. the argument that i make, and i think many of my democratic colleagues make for why it's important for the democrats to get the gavel back in the fall is not because we are then going aggressiven some substantive democratic policy agenda, because frankly unless we had the white house and the senate at the same time, that would not be a fruitful
exercise. to hand the gavel back is to restore the checks and balances that we need in our constitutional system. unfortunately, i think the current majority, and i will speak to it in the house, is not exercising the article one authority that congress isn't supposed to have as a check and balance on the executive branch. that's how we were set up. responsibility is abdicated, you leave exposed the public interest. thereason we are seeking gavel, and i think the reason we ought to be given the opportunity to hold it, is to try to restore those very important checks and balances and maybe get away from that vertigo that i just described to you a moment ago.
i will close with this. it's very important for people to understand that robert mueller, the special counsel, is the representative of the people to the justice system. he is your guy in the justice system. it's easy, particularly with all the rhetoric, to come away with the impression that bob mueller is some insider guide. nadler'sguy or he is guide pursuing this investigation. systemesents the justice that belongs to the american people. when they come for mueller, they are coming for you. for your justice system. for your representative, to make sure that your interests are protected. i think that's important to keep in mind. thank you for the opportunity to be here.
>> i think we should give them all around of applause. [laughter] -- [applause] >> now we are going to hear from some folks who have been on the other side of pennsylvania avenue inside the justice department, and others who are experts on the oversight process. we will start with professor mary mccord. she was principal deputy assistant attorney general for national security. professoryou that mccord has to be on the phone for a hearing. she may step out early. north.k you, professor thank you for putting this together. i want to make clear from the outset that although i served in a leadership role, i served as a career official. years at the department of justice as first
principal deputy aag and later the acting assistant attorney general, i spent 20 years at the u.s. attorneys office in d.c. eventually, the criminal division chief. i have served under administrations of both parties for 23 years and ended my career last may having stayed after the transition, because i was career and i hope to stay long enough to see someone new be nominated and confirmed for my position, in which i was acting. that did not happen for many months after i left. the perspective i bring is not from a scholarly perspective. it is from my own experience at the department of justice. us tosor north asked consider whether the president's relationship with the department and with the bureau today is consistent with established , and and practices
similarly, whether congressional oversight of the department and the fbi today are consistent with norms and standards. starting with the president, first of all, there is nothing normal about how this president considers his relationship with the department of justice and the fbi. whether it's through tweets, the public statements, or comments of his surrogates like sarah sanders or sean hannity, his own view of the authority he would like to have wishes to have over the department of -- in terms of actually playing a role in individual investigations, which investigations should be started, which investigations should be ended, etc., that's not normal.
every administration since watergate has had strict rules and policies that govern the exchange of information between the white house and the department of justice. while it is perfectly appropriate and acceptable for the president to look to his political appointees at the justice department to carry out policy changes, and we have seen that, you might agree, you might disagree, what you see it in emphasis on certain civil rights investigations, including into police departments. you see it in changes in policy toward immigration enforcement, toward criminal enforcement of drug laws and sentencing practices. those are policy decisions that are perfectly appropriate for the president to look to his politicallypoint -- appointed cabinet members and lower officials to execute those policies. what the guidelines i was
referring to that strictly constrain the communications between the white house and doj and fbi are about specific investigations. not communicating with the white house about specific investigations or specific authorities that might be utilized or steps that might be taken in any investigation or plea decisions, etc.. that's for good reason. i think it is obvious to people. part, to lookge at this question of our standards, off the table right now, -- again, i don't think the president is doing anything that is normal for a president to do when it comes to the relationship. largely because of career officials within doj and the fbi, some of whom are now lyrical appointees, but had been career officials, rosenstein had been a career official for many
years, then a u.s. attorney, now the deputy attorney general. those folks are very familiar with these concepts and i think have tried hard to hold the line. seeink that while we may intent to involve himself in investigations, for the most part, we have seen because the result of career officials, that intent has been thwarted. that does not mean i don't think tweets, harm from the the suggestions that the president does have authority over individual investigations, or worse, the suggestion that doj and fbi are corrupt and should not be trusted. the attacks on the institutions. these have long-term consequences, short-term for sure, and i think long-term consequences even if there are people holding the line on
actually preventing involvements in individual investigations. we have seen this. even well-founded decisions are going to be looked on suspiciously. if the doj comes out with a decision in a certain investigation the president has tweeted about, let assume it is consistent, they're going to get an -- attacked for doing it because the president said, even if there were good reasons to do it. it denigrates the accountability of legitimate law enforcement decisions. officials,by career maybe from the bottom up. is going to be hard to explain because the appearance may look very different. this erodes confidence in these institutions. there are things i might have been involved in, but one of the
things i'm willing to speak about is the importance of not denigrating these institutions that have been devoted -- they have their flaws and their failures historically, the bureau and the department of justice. they don't do everything right. there are many reasons why we need congressional oversight and why they should be looking at their and practices and doing better. but they are institutions that have fought for justice for decades. an erosion in confidence is significant. turning briefly to the congressional oversight, because our friends here already have spoken to this really well, when i think about the norm question, i think, at what point does something good being a norm? that might have happened some time ago when it comes to congressional oversight. i think the purposes of oversight of doj and the fbi are well accepted and not controversial.
there is good reason for congress to ensure that these departments and the bureau have the legislative authority they need in order to accomplish the goals of particular legislation. and good reason to engage in oversight to ensure those tools are adequate, they are not being abused, check for waste and fraud, those things. that is uncontroversial. only become pushed effectively if it is done in a bipartisan way. what i think has happened, and it's not new to this administration, it has happened over the last decade or more, there has been a development in use of oversight process for partisan means. certainly tom spoke to this a moment ago as well as others. memo,ample is the nunez toch representative referred . this was a memo that was derived attorneys who had
listened to a lot of testimony in compartmentalized information facilities. these are where classified information can be discussed, and wrote a memo discussing abuse of the use of certain investigation -- information collected by christopher steele and how that may have either started the investigation, impacted that investigation, or been used to further any other law enforcement tools. sorry, i'm being told i have one minute. [laughter] as release of that memo representative nadler said, was highly objected to by the department because of the sources and methods and things that could be revealed. what happened is chairman nunez department, went
to the white house, was able to get a review class, and that was released in redacted form. it was released without any promise for the minority memo to also be released. over the course of the next several weeks, a minority memo was reviewed, parts of it were declassified, and it was put out. what we then had is a really inferior product that i'm not sure has done any good in advancing any legitimate purposes. we have two partisan memos, heavily redacted. this up to get into more about the russia investigation. i think it's an example of the devolf true bipartisan -- vement of true bipartisan oversight into something that does not further objectives and leads to appearances up attempting to interfere with the workings of doj and the bureau.
>> thank you. now mr. fein. >> thank you for attending. i will be guided by sam johnson's quip about paradise lost. none ever wished it were longer. [laughter] perhaps the most important thing i want to say is that the writing about the roman republic , he said the worst crimes were there to buy few, will buy more, tolerated by all. if things are tolerated by all, the system will collapse. i want to address the problems of congressional oversight that are more institutional than mr. trump. it has been deteriorating for many decades. it is not novel. number one, i think it was wrong when the congress led the
independent counsel statute lapse. the independent counsel statute was born out of watergate where the executive branch always has a conflict of interest in investigating itself, especially those higher. when it is said, independent counsel can get out of control, they will investigate too much, my ad is there can never be too much sunshine on government. to be above want suspicion, don't be in government. the independent counsel statute needs to be restored. the independent counsel, they are approved -- appointed by a three-judge court. we don't end up with the issues of robert mueller. in some sense, it's a substitute for congressional oversight has turned in vertebrate because song -- congress is so partisan. you can give sermons on the mount, and calm davis is
brilliant at giving sermons. but it's not going to make any difference. you're trying to change the dna of the institution, and good luck with that. independentto the counsel, which should be given exclusive authority to pursue contempt citations of congress, and how foolish it is if you vote a contempt citation against an executive branch official for failing to respond to a action, -- question, do you expect the justice department prosecute the executive branch? does not happen. maybe you get a civil action, like was done with regard to josh bolten. it takes two or three years to litigate. by that time the issue has gone away. in the wayge defect that contempt power is now employed. it's simply a scarecrow. another method that can actually be utilized to force the executive branch to respond to
requests for information, which is the essence of oversight, is instead of even criminally prosecuting, you fine. congress finds the recalcitrant witness. you owe us $50,000. it's not coming out of your personal account, the executive branch can't reimburse you. you have some real teeth in the plenary legislative power to extract information from the executive branch. woodrow wilson wrote the informing power of congress is more critical even then its legislative function. sunshine is the best of disinfectants. crippling i think the , if you will, the dysfunctional nature of oversight, is so harmful to our dispensation. it has led to almost limitless
power in the executive branch. it does whatever it wants to do, hides what it wants to hide, tell the american people, if you knew what we knew, we would not have any problems. the president decides on his own, what are the characteristics that enable him to send a predator drone, vaporize anybody on the world as an imminent danger. do we get to know the standards? no. they just disappear from the face of the year. --s is a democracy yet that democracy? without any accountability. that is another rule change. i also think there should be a joint congressional committee on separation of powers. there ought to be the strongest committee, the one devoted 100% of the time to trying to recapture legislative power from the executive branch and to review all the statutes proposed by the executive branch or members.
how do they encroach on congressional authority? how can we strengthen congressional legislative power, which is supposed to be article one, rather than half the executive branch usurp it or the legislative delegations that are open-ended, we think about congress being the legislative branch. the executive branch issues 75,000 rules every year. congress has a handful at most. who does the legislating? the executive branch. congress has to take these measures that restore the legislative power. unfortunately, the members don't want to vote on this. they develop procedural rules so that the votes are on tabling a piece of legislation. the executive branch needs to do it because we don't want to vote on it. that's something that can be remedied only by the voters. i'm not voting for you unless you except her possibility. -- accept
responsibility. the craziest thing is the war power. the war power was understood more clearly than any other part of the constitution. everybody said, except alexander hamilton, the only institution that can take us from a state of peace to war is congress. we don't trust the president. he's got a conflict of interest. you bring war, you get monuments , footprints in the sands of time, the glory, and that's all history shows. the executive branch runs these things. the legislative person who's got a monument because they voted for war? and yet the whole thing is ignored. just like the first amendment, i suppose. i want to underscore, although there has been a lion's share of focus on what happens with the current occupant of the white house, the dysfunction is far more profound.
it needs a more sustained repair drop. thank you. >> now onto professor david vladeck, who will talk about what to do. colleagues in my underscoring the importance of congressional oversight. checks and balances are vital to our constitutional scheme. when there are none, mischief takes place. i served in the executive branch. i have been subject to those uncomfortable oversight hearings where i am the piñata and congress looks like 12-year-old with bats. but that's congress's job. i think we need to think hard about oversight and how it is taking place. , at times, an outside advisor to ranking members of the house oversight and reform committee. one thing i have done is to help
operationalize a 97-year-old statute called the seven-member rule that confers certain rights on minority members of the oversight committee of congress. the statute says in executive oversightrequest on and government reform of the house of representatives or any seven members thereof shall submit any information requested of it relating to any matter within the jurisdiction of the committee. this statute was enacted in 1928 to replace 128 separate reporting statutes that required agencies to submit annual reports to congress on a wide range of issues. this statute was largely unused until the early 1990's. perhaps it was the gingrich contract on america, that kind of divisiveness within congress.
until then there was relative cooperation. mr. davis was one of the keystones of that on the oversight committee. after that, members of congress, minority members of the oversight committee, start seeking information from executive agencies and almost invariably, they would get the information they requested. that broke down in the early 2000's. in 2001, i filed the case for henley wax -- henry waxman and 16 other members of the oversight committee trying to get access to the year 2000 census data. raw data must be used for redistricting purposes. adjusted data is used for all sorts of things, including federal grant money. the administration would not make it available to minority members of congress or two states. so we sued.
we want in district court. -- won in the district court. 2004.was we brought the case, waxman versus thompson. this was an effort to get access to the chief actuarial's themates as to what medicaid/medicare prescription drug act would actually cost. the chief actuary's estimates to halfut $400 billion $1 trillion more than the menstruation claimed. we lost that case in the district case, we won the election in 2006, and the documents were released to their after. currently i represent 17 members of the house oversight committee seeking to get access to the information of the trump leaks -- lease.
donald trump and entered into a lease to renovate the old post office on pennsylvania avenue into a hotel. that lease says no one who is an elected official of the government of the united states made that lease prior to taking made it clear he would divest his interests. he did not. somewhere along the way gsa has changed its interpretation of the lease to permit mr. trump to continue to benefit from it. we are seeking documents relating to the lease. the case has been briefed. we are awaiting argument and decision. the seven-member rule historically has been a powerful tool for minority members of the oversight committee to get information. we will see what the court does this time around. if i may, i will spend one minute agreeing with the structural issues of oversight.
we have not talked about this. when there are different parties and control, of the house and the senate, the senate are one party, the white house is another, congress as a whole has a terrible time getting subpoenas and forced. under the house rules, in order to get a congressional subpoena and forced, you must get the attorney for the united states district court in the district of columbia to bring an action against an executive branch official. the u.s. attorney is going to sue an official of his own party. it does not happen. when there is a difference between the house and the senate and the president, getting congressional subpoenas and ced is a terrible problem. i agree about the independent
counsel act. the difficulty mr. mueller and the deputy attorney general clear today sort of makes that we need an independent counsel who is truly insulated from arbitrary rule. people forget that after four there was a lawsuit, nader vs. bork. it abolished then existing regulations that were imposed. a violation of law. the same regulations are essentially an effect. robert mueller, if he were fired , might have a cause of action in court. but we need to fix the independent counsel. that is the last thing i would we need to have institutions that congress can draw on other than the ig or the
gao to help it with investigations. one of the things that is difficult about congress is it is so is splintered committee by committee that there really is no overarching way for congress as an entity to even understand what its sister committees are doing. there needs to be some backbone. further support for congress to engage in systematic oversight. thank you >> thank you, david. to josh campbell. >> it don't take this the wrong way, i would rather be somewhere else right now rather than sitting here talking about the incredibly negative effects the politicization of our institutions of justice have had on the fbi. let me back up and say the fbi right now as an institution feels under siege.
but yourself in the shoes of an fbi employee. imagine yourself midway between the white house and the looking to your left, seeing an intelligence committee that continues to politicize intelligence. to your right, you see a chief executive who is constantly never failing to provide his opinion on the institution. ion, the fbi. and even looking across the otreet to maine justice, -- two justice, there has been silent in defending the men and women of the fbi. someone like me who recently made the transition from the fbi to journalism, i would constantly for my colleagues about how demoralizing it is as an institution. this if you worka
for a company, and you went to work every day knowing the ceo was bashing your company, bashing your decisions. the fbi men and women can take slings and arrows of every kind but think about the practical aspects of what these attacks have done to the fbi. it comes down to this. now in journalism, my job isn't it defend the fbi. can defend itself, but my job is to explain the fbi and explain why these attacks have such a corrosive effect. it's very simple or it might fit in a tweet. an fbi agent knocks on somebody's door and needs assistance in solving a crime, the willingness of that person to assist that agent directly correlates with their view of the agency. the agent and agency is trustworthy they are more likely to assist. if see the fbi as another
corrupt institution of government, how many of those people are going to assist? when i was an agent i did a lot of work overseas and i can talk when instance in particular where we went to meet a human source who was providing information about a very sensitive and very imminent terrorism matter. trains, planes, automobiles to meet this person and we asked him, why didn't you just go to your own law enforcement here in your own country, why call the fbi? our law enforcement agencies are corrupt. you're the fbi. we trust you. and he provided critical information, and it was worth it. i wonder how many of those people are going to reach out to the bureau and ask for time to it is thisormation, corrosive effect that i think is really long-term. nothing i am saying here today is partisan, because as somebody
and who isthe bureau now in journalism, my job isn't to talk about parties or which side is right or wrong, but to talk about the practitioner emma the practical aspect -- the the practical aspect and the impact. and when you looked with that first memo did to the men and women of the fbi, i was there for 12 years and i can't remember any type of congressional action that caused as much damage and caused as much as i do. and it did so for a number of reasons. the men and women of the fbi are not political, they check politics at the door so it is not a republican or democratic thing but essentially the bureau and the intelligence community was being held to a different standard. after the iraq war there was a wmd commission that basically it was dictated that the intelligence community before issuing any type of intelligence
report, would meet a certain set of standards. and that is, any intelligence product had to be timely, a political, and it had to include timely, viewpoints -- apolitical, and it had to enclose opposing viewpoints. but when we looked down the street in congress, we had an report that upheld none of those standards. so it has a negative impact. the men and women of the fbi are whenrone to hyperbole, but i sit here today and tell you the alarm needs to be sounded, and it is for that very reason, that this institution of justice is under attack right now with no end in sight, these attacks have negative consequences and
long-lasting impact. when you tech the organization, you attack bob mueller and his team, and they give your short-term benefit. it may allow someone to discredit an investigation and those doing an investigation, so when the conclusion is reached they have artie caused doubt within their constituencies. but the long-term damage to our system of justice is so start and dyer and i invite we have panels at this that are calling it out. >> thank you, very much. give our panelists around of applause. [applause] now i would like to open it up to the students. please take a crack at it >. >> crack at i'm a first-year lat here.
[laughter] i want to commend this excellent panel, but when i look at it i can't help but thinking it looks like the problem of executive thateach is a problem affects white males, largely white women and doesn't have any effect on racial minorities whatsoever. that seems wrong to me. when you remember when has happened, we are talking about oversight at the department of justice. the department of justice that has dramatically pulled back on civil rights, civil rights enforcement and antidiscrimination. is that the attorney general is, well i will just say it, jeff sessions. [laughter] that theeason is president, the person who appointed jeff sessions, is someone who ran on a dog-whistle platform of attracting voters
who are going to respond to the message of, let's make america white again. given that racial discrimination and the sympathy for racial discrimination continuing among a significant segment of the population, seems to me at the of the executive overreaching at the department of justice. shouldn't there be congressional legislative oversight hearings on the degree to which the department of justice is engaged in the unconstitutional practice of racial discrimination? >> thanks, professor. [applause] i think it is, without question, that this administration was elected by a , nott sentiment feelings just anti-black, but anti-immigrant sentiments,
anti-muslim sentiments, anti-semitic sentiments, and that is effective life. that happened. we see it. which areir policies, not friendly policies to racial minorities, obviously. react --ress is not in is not going to react negatively to that because this congress is produced by many of the same forces. i would make a distinction between policies that are based on racial discrimination of one sort or another, which are noxious and which you see all over the place, and the corruption of our justice department and the fbi, which is a different question. i don't think the corruption or pressure on the fbi and justice department right now is racially motivated. it is politically motivated. it's politically motivated by an
administration and executive the western brook no opposition, wants to do thing its way, and never mind the constitution and never mind legislative power. that is very dangerous. we have not seen it in the same way or the same willingness to break norms. foralways have to watch out the aggrandizement of power of the executive branch. the fbi has not been guilt was over the years. it has been good in recent years but a remember, if you study your history, i don't think too many in the audience will remember him a but operations of the fbi during the vietnam war against war opponents, j edgar depredations against martin king and other civil rights activists, those are problems with the fbi.
they were expressions of the problems of larger society and we larger cleaned up the fbi from that. now, they're trying to subvert the fbi and justice department to political will to subvert justice to a political, to political goals. and that is very dangerous. >> i think there is a difference between congressional oversight and just the policies made through the electoral process. with regard to unconstitutional actions, unlike many executive actions, our courts are available to make claims of sexual discrimination or racial discrimination. so it is not dependent congress dependent on congress alone to have these norms enforced. so i just think it is the result of elections.
if you elect a racist government you are going to get racist policies. sure i buy the questioner's premise that it is a racist government. there are people that have a different worldview and perspective going into this that are not necessarily racist. i keep hearing that a republican racist is the most popular politiciandifferent worldview ad perspective in south carolina, e is an african-american senator who happens to be very conservative. and i don't buy that it is unconstitutional necessarily, because you disagree with you read right now and the court of appeals you have a majority of democratic appointees, so you are going to get a fair hearing when you walk in there, at least at some level. i am a rector of a university and i think we don't spend enough time looking at other people's perspectives and we are too quick to label them. in my neighborhood, if somebody
put up a trump sign it would have been a neighborhood. we had a neighborhood association where the board asked somebody to take down a trump sign as was offensive. but when you go up 40 miles, people were making their own trump signs and have their own worldview. one problem is single party districts but the other problem is this, we all listen to news and we get feeds that validate our worldviews on this. i would say there is a wide body of opinion that would disagree with you, people that would view the world differently, but i would not necessarily be quick to call them racists. >> how do you react to mr. trump calling mescaline -- calling mexican immigrants rapists? the president of the united states is a symbol. to defend hisng campaign rhetoric, which i think was over the top. but i think the other side has
used a lot of identity politics through time. >> the question does sort of get into the fundamental point of this panel, which is what kind of rights to minority members of congress have to engage in oversight? the toolsm is that, minority members have our meager. so when you have a congress that is the same political party is the president, oversight simply stops. intolerable and a government which depends on some degree of oversight to have the kinds of checks and balances the framers of the constitution intended. that is the problem. >> that is certainly true in the house, because under house rules it is a majority rule. democrats have two rights. you pick up your paycheck and you make up a quorum. the senate is very different.
one member can hold up a nominee. you have backed up over 200 nominees, many without any problems, no qualification issues, just because that is a tool the minority has to try to leverage it. i think you want to differentiate between that. and the senate if you notice has been a little more bipartisan because of what the minority has. tore are people crying out make the senate more like the house. i think that would be a mistake. they don't have subpoena power but they have a lot of leverage to hold up a lot of things that are important, to get the point across. >> i don't disagree. i do think the bandwidth that a member of the senate has, doesn't compare with the bandwidth of the house. so the detailed kinds of investigations you did when you were in the house, there was no real counterpart in the senate. the authority, it wasn't that they didn't have the legal authority.
it's just that they choose to do weightier issues. >> can you go to the mike, please? high, third-year law student. it is my understanding that the committee, the only committee that requires a bipartisan effort to move an investigation forward is the ethics committee in the house? >> that's correct. >> do you believe having more bipartisan requirements like that in the other committees would help the process and be more bipartisan? or would it prevent more investigations? >> it took them a year before they could even agree on a
meeting of the ethics can meeting -- the ethics committee, it's that bad. it's working better now, you have outside groups that can refer issues in. we have tried to revamp it. we might have overdone it, but you are right. the question for congress is, are they going to become what the framers wanted them to be, an independent body, check and balance, or to make this a parliamentary system that it wasn't designed to be. right now you basically have a parliamentary system. this wasn't envisioned. i don't think it is working very well. i didn't see myself in that role in congress and the leadership couldn't take me out because i chaired the campaign committee and had a lot of support within my caucus. but it is the exception to the rule and because of the pressures now, in most
congressional districts today, the only race that counts is the primary election. the general election is a constitutional formality, so what ends up happening is that members cater their time, their tension and their votes to their primary voters who are really a thin ideological slice of the electoral pie. liberals and conservatives have passions and moderates have lives. in the end, politics belongs to passion and it is polarized for any number of reasons. it would certainly be better to try to do some things together. things, the republicans are going to protect their president, that is understood, but there are things you can work together on. you just need to understand everybody's rules. henry waxman would come after us on some issues, but we didn't let that get in the way of other things that needed to be done, oversight of programs that were
going wrong, oversight of government contracting up had gone amiss, those types of things. the problem with what tom is saying is that it depends on the actions of individual members of congress. it is not institutionally-based and it is not power-based. he is right about his districts, and i don't know what to do about that. it may be inevitable at this point. certainly we can reform the gerrymandering system. get rid of that. but there is natural gerrymandering to, residential sorting, although gerrymandering makes it much worse and i hope the supreme court declares it unconstitutional. cases pending. but second of all, you have to be willing to oppose your own party, to oppose your own president on certain things and work with opposition members. the judiciary committee is probably the most contentious
ideological committee in the house, for two reasons. number one, the subject matter hot buttonbefore us, ideological issues, choice, gay rights, it was contentious for a long time, and various other things. second of all, when someone got elected to congress for the first time and met party leadership for the first time and said, what committees do you think you might want to serve on? if one of the answers was the judiciary to many, if he came from a safe party district they would say fine but if they came from a competitive district they would say, you don't want to do that, you don't want to cast all those hot-button votes. why a he goat somewhere -- don't you go somewhere safe like the transportation committee? so we tend to get the most conservative republicans on the
most liberal democrats on the judiciary committee. we can work together on some things. they don't get a lot of publicity, but we passed a bill collins, ao which very conservative republican from georgia, doug collins, a bill on trade secrets, worth billions of dollars to the economy. we just negotiated bill and not the most stimulating topic that very important to the economy, the firstnsing, and major rewrite of copyright law in 50 or 60 years. so, something you can do but on it isf the weighty issues very difficult. tendency is a natural
to support your administration and oppose the other one. i would say we have to give more rights to the minority party. and i mentioned in my opening statement, the idea that you could issue a subpoena just from the chairman. when we adopted committee rules it the beginning of the session almost two years ago, that was supposed to be a rare occurrence, when you couldn't get the committee together and you had to do a subpoena right away or something. now it iseard of, and regular. you ought to have to debate the subpoena and we ought to recapture power and enforce subpoenas and enforce testimony. that's a question of the power of congress. in terms of the power of congress, had the power of civil liberties, generally. one of the greatest threats is something no one even talks about, the state secrets doctrine, were the
thenistration -- where administrations of both parties, where you sue in court to indicate your right for something or other, whatever it is. because any right you have is ultimately only vindicated in court, and whether that right is constitutional or statutory or customary, it has to be vindicated in court. and if the administration can come into court and simply say, that case can't be heard because it would involve a state secret, case dismissed, which is basically the law now. sponsored, for years now, state-secrets legislation to change that. we passed it out of the judiciary committee, but it couldn't pass the intelligence committee, bipartisan problems. we just had a big debate over section 702 of the fisa act in
terms of surveillance, and without getting into details, we voted it out of the judiciary committee, what i thought was a very good deal. it wasn't good enough for the civil liberties union. some of the others thought it wasn't good enough and it was reported out on a bipartisan basis. the intelligence committee reported out on a bipartisan basis, a terrible belt that didn't go nearly as far as we did. the question then became, were we going to enact the judiciary committee bipartisan bill the protected civil liberties, or the intel committee bill that didn't? latter,he unfortunately. so it is not always partisan, is the view point where you are coming from, judiciary versus and tell -- versus intel in this case.
one of my biggest criticisms of the republican chairman of the judiciary committee has nothing to do with partisanship. in my opinion, he has not asserted enough effort to protect the jurisdiction of the committee against other committees. i was thesubpoenas, only member of the house that had subpoena power but i would never make a move before talking to henry waxman. he understood i had to do it. but i didn't issue that many subpoenas. predecessor issued 1000 subpoenas, dan burton. >> he was crazy. [applause] >> i subpoenaed about 12, and several -- and subpoenaed mayor parties secretary of defense, my own party's secretary of state.
is also a third factor that creates these single-party districts. it is always level of controversy when i raise it, it is the voting-rights act. when you pack minorities and districts your bleaching the districts around it. republicans from 22 seats in the south and 92 and it brought black democrats from four i think, to 22. the housep south, in today, all you have in the house are white republicans and black democrats, and no need to talk to the other side because they play no role in that play no play no role in the nomination process. we have a republican member and a democratic member and to the question of why partisan investigations, what are your
thoughts on the idea of these intelligence memos? when the newness memo came out -- when the nunes memo came out, when representative shifts who is might -- representative chiff, who is my congressman in california, we understand that you are trying to correct the record, but we are good. let's move on. we don't want to do more ofchify congressman in our -- don't want a more of our intelligence out there, especially these highly-sensitive reports. if you lookoughts back on those two memos, if we had adhered to the process where anything going out the door has to be signed by both, would we have seen that selective use of
intelligence or would we have had a fuller picture from both sides? nunes wanted to come out with talking points for the base so they could defend the president. democrats wanted to correct the record. i think that is the wrong way to do oversight. it cheapens the intelligence and the institution. house and congress should be an independent body, a third-party with a check and balance on the executive branch, not an appendage to the executive branch. when you act that way you are being an appendage to them. you are destroying what congress was intended to be. the senate has held it together a little better, i think. these are highly charged partisan times. but in the fbi, if you look at james comey and his deputy and thinkhing around it, i they put themselves in the middle of a storm they didn't need to be in.
it's too bad because it is a great organization and we rely on them but over broadly, i think the degradation in the minds of the american people about institutions in general is dropped and i think that is very dangerous. the memo about russia, looking at pfizer and when it was inappropriate elite -- it's, itiately used, >> i think it was bad policy.
>> it was done is -- designed to create the impression to been terrible had been done. schiff memom -- rebutted it. there was another memo that was more limited. i thought one of the purposes of memo was to look at the use of the fisa memo. it was terrible, which it wasn't. it was signed off, at least one of them, the third extension was signed off by rosenstein. i thought this was an attempt to undermine rosenstein.
there was some basis for eventually firing him. my memo was designed to point out he did nothing improper. >> i think you have the underlying problem, the members now feel their loyalty to the is more imperative than loyalty to the constitution. take aough they only loyalty to support the constitution. >> not if you have to go through a primary. >> you are for invocation of executive privilege or not. that has got to change. there is not a loyalty to the institution. tom davis is highly exceptional. on that.
>> there are plenty of people who can see their own institutional sense. they may agree with it. most people in the party of agreed with it. it becomes circular. not necessarily defending the administration. i would argue the current majority -- i would argue two things. the current administration has gone way off of the rails constitutionally and in the terms of president. the current majority has a duty to call it. it hasn't. have beenhat majority very silent. parts of it have been complicit in supporting whatever the administration may do against constitutional norms and so forth. the large part of the republican party is complacent in the sense
-- complicit in the second -- the sense that he has been silent. >> what about the democrats in the libya war? said it wass unconstitutional at the time. the president had no business being there. onre were though the less the democrat -- there were those of us on the democratic side, i thought the president's use of the war power in libya was unconstitutional. i thought what the president just did in syria was unconstitutional. the use -- the power of the executive has to be stopped. dorothy, thank you
for coming and speaking to us. i would like to ask a simple question. if we believe you that we need more congressional oversight over justice and in general. and we are sounding the alarm and need to defend the rule of law. what should we do? i would urge you to apply to work on the staff or committee of a member of congress. that is what they need people -- need, people who are committed and devoted. ofht now the recruitment out the law school, the executive branch, that's where you get your pedestal to go into private practice and make money. it needs all you people to go work with them. even though you are not going to get paid the same they get paid, that is what is needed. >> you don't want to just talk about problems without having a solution.
aat strikes me as curious is book recently came out called how democracy died. it talks about surveying throughout history tyrants who came to power and how they essentially assembled their government and destroyed these important norms. they referenced norms as the soft guardrails of democracy. what is interesting in our country, it has always been known that the department of justice, institutions of justice are off-limits. administrations, when they come in, the department of justice and career people will sensitize them to the fact that the initial inclination to bring the doj close to the white house is the wrong one. every administration looks and says we have to bring them close. the department of justice is
unique in that when you look at administrations and scandals going back to watergate, when the department of justice was held at arm's length and the fbi was, as well, whenever we there was found to be no where there, they could say that was an independent agency. they came up with nothing, which is more credible. if you try to bring them in and make them part of the team. >> going to work for congress is one thing. most people are not going to do that. there is no substitute for political involvement. the day after trump was elected, there were major demonstrations. major demonstrations that people of various backgrounds.
otherwise --ost other than the fact that trump had been elected, were some of the comments i had seen where people were demonstrating this terrible thing that happened and said they had and devoted. i remember thinking to myself what right do you have to protest us when you couldn't be bothered to vote? not to mention work any political campaign. ultimately, what kinds of constitutional safeguards. those safeguards are guarded ultimately by the people being alert and voting for people who will safeguard that. people ina lot of many stages telling the same antidote. -- antidote. there is a swearing-in of a locally facial -- local
official, chuck will be there. we talked about how benjamin franklin merged with the constitution and a woman looked at him and said dr. frankland, what type of eight government have you given us? -- white above a government and the given us? we have done 200 years so far. there are other republics the last 200 or 300 years. dealing the aggregate power and the abuse of constitution norms, and dealing with the overwhelming power of money and politics, which i think is cancer on the political system, the question is will historians write to the american -- about the american government as they do the romans?
a good democracy, then it involved -- it evolved into something else. let's -- >> >> c-span's washington journal. live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. mellon discusses changing views on marijuana and the national cannabis policy summit in washington. and then the book "tyranny comes home." be sure to watch washington journal, join the discussion. next, a hearing on how
medicare, medicaid, and other programs can better address the opioid epidemic. answered questions on alternative pain treatment, programs,d recovery and the role of pharmaceutical companies. this is two hours and 15 minutes. >> i would like to welcome everyone. disorders ande medicare, medicaid. i feel compelled to start with news we wish that was untrue. more than 60,000 americans died