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Rod Rosenstein
  Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein Testifies Before House Judiciary...  CSPAN  December 13, 2017 10:06am-1:30pm EST

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interactions with fda were actually quite helpful. they were leaning forward. there may be some areas that i didn't get into where there's some adjustments that need to be made but i will tell you -- they were actually quite forward thinking in their treatment about approval processes for alzheimer's disease. i think they knew quite well that it was a very bad disease and were willing to work with any sponsor that came to them with any reasonable proposal about how to develop a treatment. >> but if you want to work with willow bark you don't need to get federal government permission to get the precursor? if you want to work with quinine -- i mean, anyway. thank you for being here. again, i'm not suggesting this is a panacea, just that we should get out of our own way and thank you all for thinking outside the proverbial box. i think it's an all of the above and open mind and look at what works and what doesn't. thank you, mr. chairman.
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>> thank you. i'll just conclude. any comments or questions that went unasked, please if you could provide those answers. just to speak to it, the idea of a goal that we developed with the napa bill and also the g-7 at the w.h.o. assembly isn't that -- it's to sharpen the mind into marshal resources, as you know. that's why at asr, we're on the right path to either achieve it or come close, and even coming close will be an achievement. i do -- dr. mohs, you make the point to develop truly effective ways to treat and delay on sets will require many studies, potential medicines, patient assistant technologies and a combination of approaches. we are doing that, right, or are we lagging in any of those areas?
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>> we are doing it. i think it could be done a little faster. the scientific uncertainty is still great and so the only way to tackle that is to accumulate knowledge as fast as you can and that requires -- >> how many compounds are being tested -- >> i think the last we checked there were about 30 something in phase three and in the 60 range in phase two and usually companies don't report earlier than that because it's so iffy it's hardly worth reporting. there's a lot. and that doesn't even take into account all the little labs and so forth around the world, but on problems like this you need a lot of ideas, you need a lot of studies to help resolve the uncertainty about those ideas and the communication from different laboratories to each other so they don't repeat and follow up on unpromising areas is very important. >> i want to thank you again for your leadership, for being here today. and helping to inform this subcommittee. and i thank you again. hearing's adjourned. >> you're right.
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i didn't see that coming. we're live on capitol hill for remarks from deputy attorney general rod rosen stien. he will be testifying today before the house judiciary committee about robert mueller's investigation of russia's investigation into the elections. this is live coverage on c-span 3. we expect it to start in just a moment.
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related to the handling of the clinton e-mail investigation and other events surrounding the 2016 election. these are some of the important issues on which we will focus our energy and questions today. we want to understand your participation and the department's involvement in addressing both investigations. mr. deputy attorney general, the department of justice's reputation as an impartial arbiter of justice has been called into question. while we continue to call on you to appoint a second special counsel as you are aware, we have opened our own joint investigation with the house oversight and government reform committee to review fbi and the department of justice's handling of the clinton e-mail investigation. i want to thank you and attorney general sessions for recently committing to enable robust
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congressional oversight of this matter. i implore you to continue to work with us on these and other important matters facing our nation. the section 702 this committee passed on an overwhelming bipartisan basis the usa liberty act, which maintains the integrity of the program while protecting cherished civil liberties. this vote occurred despite the lobbying efforts against our bill. the usa liberty act was characterize d as bad for the program, highly problematic, unworkable and a proposal that would effectively dismantle section 702. however, the reality is that this committee's legislation struck a blansz that promosts civil liberties. i hope to hear from you why the department of justice felt it necessary to oppose a bill to reauthorize 702 and instill
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confidence in the american people that their privacy and civil liberties are respected by a government whose duties to protect them. the department of justice must reacquire the trust of the american people. i know there are thousands of department of justice employees and line agents in the department in the bureau. are dedicated to upholding the rule of law. and i hope we can come to a conclusion about those people who have not met that standard in this hearing today. thank you, mr. deputy attorney general for appearing today. i yield to the gentleman from new york, the ranking member for his comments. >> thank you. let me wholly endorse the comments of the chairman with section 702 and the legislation that we reported out of this committee.
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and i want to acknowledge a letter we received from the democratic women of this committee. our colleagues have written to ask we convene a hearing regarding the allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct levelled against president trump by at least 19 women. without objection, i ask that this letter be made part of the record. >> without objection. >> i unequivocally endorse this letter. we should convene this hearing as soon as possible. this is an opportunity for us to lead and show the country this kind of behavior is unaccept isable at any level of government. mr. chairman, let me start by saying welcome to the committee. for the better part of a year, my colleagues have implored this committee to conduct real oversight of the department of justice. january 24th, 2017, we wrote the chairman insisting that the committee hold hearings that president trump's con applicants of interests. citing to experts across the spectrum, the administration's attempts to address this ongoing
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conflicts of interest are so far wholly inadequate. we have not held a single hearing on the question of conflicts of interest. on march 8th, we wrote again to the chairman encouraging him to call hearings on, quote, russia's interference in the u.s. election. no such hearings were ever held. this committee, which held the obama committee held dozens of hearings, you see testimony from comey in three months and resource s s to a benghazi investigation that cost the public $8 million. this committee from inauguration day was silent in terms of oversight. we haven't lifted a finger on election security. sessions told us on november 14th that he has done nothing to secure the next election from
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threats from at home and abroad. we have not once discussed the president's abuse of the pardon power or the hurricane in houston, president trump sidelined the office of the pardon attorney to pardon a human rights abusers who bragged about running a concentration camp in arizona. we have not held a single hearing on allegations on obstruction of justice. not for lack of evidence, but for the words, there's a special council in place examining the issue and several other congressional committees are looking into the matter and does not have the time to conduct this critical oversight. i ask to keep those excuses in mind. now with the year come ing ing close, the leadership of the department of justice finally before us went to my republican colleagues want to discuss? hillary clinton's e-mails. let me repeat that. with all of these unresolved issues left on our docket, a week before we adjourn for the calendar year, the highest
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priority is hillary clinton's e-mails and a few related text messages. as we saw in our recent hearings, my republican colleagues seem focused on their call for a second special counsel on the need to investigate the investigators themselves. the white house has joined the call for a new special counsel to investigate the fbi. the president's private lawyers have done the same. i understand the instinct to want to change the subject after the flynn and manafort indictments, but this request is grossly misguided for a number of reasons. first, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the special counsel regulations work. some criminal investigations pose a conflict of interest for the department of justice. the russia investigation is such a case. because of the attorney general's ongoing recusal and because department leadership assisted in the removal of director comey among other reasons. cases like these the attorney
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general may use a special counsel to manage the investigation outside of the ordinary chain of command. the key is the criminal investigation. that's what special counsel does. the department cannot assign things that bother the white house. there has to be enough evidence in the first place. then and only then if the facts warrant and a special counsel be assigned to the case. so far, there's been no credible factual legal claim that anybody at the department of justice violated any law by deciding not to bring charges against hillary clinton or by attempting to meet with gps. in other words, there's no investigation to which the department can assign a new special counsel. second, a list of grievances raised by the majority of review by special counsel seems widely off the mark. for example, there's nothing unlawful about director comey's sitting down to draft a statement about the clinton investigation. nor would it have been unethical to outline conclusions before it
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was over if the clear weight of the evidence pointed in one direction. nor is there anything wrong with fbi agents expressing political views via private text message. as appeared to have done in the 375 text messages we received last night. in fact, the department of regulations expressed the permit that sort of private communication. i reviewed those text messages and i left with two thoughts. first, did not say anything about donald trump that the majority of americans weren't also thinking at the same time. second n a testament to his integrity and situational awareness, the office of the inspector general made mueller aware of the exchanges and removed from his team. to the extent that we are engaged in oversight of bias at the fbi, this committee should examine evidence of a coordinated effort by some agents involved in the clinton investigation to change the course of the campaign in favor of president trump by leaking
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sensitive information to the public and by threatening to leak additional information about new e-mails after the investigation was closed. on monday ranking member cummings and i sent a let tore the department asking for additional materials related to these leaks as well as to the claims that these efforts may have been coordinated with former mayor giuliani. third, the president's call for an investigation of the investigation is, at best, widely dangerous to our democratic institutions. the president's old lock her up cheer seems quaint after a couple guilty pleas by trump associates. as former attorney general no fan of hillary clinton has said, the president's continued threats to prosecute his political opponents is something we don't do here. if the president were to carry out his threat, quote, it would be like a banana republic.
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finally and most important, this investigation into the investigation can nod credibly be a priority for this committee at this time. i understand the instinct to want to give cover to the president. i'm fearful that the majority's effort to turn the tables on the special counsel will get louder and more frantic as the walls continue to close in around the president. but this committee has a job to do. president trump has engaged in a persistent and dangerous effort to discredit both the free press and the department of justice. these are the agencies and institutions under our jurisdiction. every minute that our majority wastes on covering for president trump is a minute lost on finding a solution for the dreamers or curving a vicious spike in hate crimes or preventing dangerous individuals from purchasing firearms or stopping the president from further damaging the constitutional order. i hope my colleagues will use today's hearing as an opportunity to find their way back to the true work of the house judiciary committee.
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i thank the chairman and i yield back the balance of my time. >> we welcome our distinguished witness. if you'd please rise, we'll begin by swearing you in. do you swear that the testimony you're about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? thank you, let the record show the witness answered in the affirmative. mr. rod rose b stien was sworn in as the attorney general in 2017 by jeff sessions. he has had a distinguished career in public service. he began his legal career in the public integrity section of the department of justice criminal division and served as counsel to the deputy attorney general and assistant attorney general for the tax division. until his appointment by president trump, he served for 12 years as the states attorney for the district of maryland. he holds a bachelors degree of
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economics from the war on to school and jd from harvard law school. your written statement will be entered into the record in its entirety and we ask you summarize your testimony in five minutes. welcome, we're pleased to have you here. >> chairman, ranking member, members of the committee, i want to thank you for this opportunity to testify as part of your oversight of the department of justice. i appreciate your support and concern of the department of justice. i know several of you are alumni of the department. two, in fact, served alongside me as united states attorneys and i'm very grateful for the opportunity to be with you today. as deputy attorney general, my job is to help the attorney general to manage our department's components, including seven main justice litigating division, 94 u.s. attorneys offices, federal b
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bureau of investigation, drug enforcement administration, bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives, the marshal service, office of justice programs, federal bureau of prisons, office of inspector general, and many others. our department includes over 115,000 employees and tens of thousands of contractors stationed in every state ander toir and in many foreign nations. we prevent terrorism and violent crime, illegal drug distribution, fraud, corruption, child abuse, civil rights violations, and counselless other threats to the american people. we enforce tax law, anti-trust laws and environmental laws. we represent the united states in the supreme court, courts of appeal and the district courts and in state and territorial courts. we protect federal judges, manage federal prison, review
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parole applications, assist travel governments and adjudicate immigration cases. . e we provide legal advice to the president and to every federal agency. we implement grant programs and support law enforcement. we combat waste, fraud and other misconduct involving employees and contractors. we resolve foreign claims and represent our government in international law enforcement forms. we collect and analyze law enforcement data and we perform countless other important functions for the american people. the department of justice employees are united by a shared understanding that our mission is to pursue justice, protect public safety, preserve government property, defend civil rights and promote the rule of law. the mission attracted me to law enforcement, but the people who carry out that mission are what
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i treasure most about my job. there's very few exceptions. america's federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are more professional today than ever. rigorous scrutiny by internal affairs offices and external oversight agencies has resulted in increased accountability and higher standards. wrong doing occurs, we are more likely to discover it and we remedy it. that's critical to building and maintaining public confidence. over the past eight months, i have spoken with thousands of department employees around the country. i remind them justice is not only our name. justice is our mission. justice requires a fair and impartial process. that's why we have a special responsibility to follow ethical and professional standards. in 1941, attorney general robert
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jackson said that the citizens' safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, seeks truth and not victims, serves the law, not factional purposes, and approaches the task with humility. under the leadership of attorney general jeff sessions and an experienced team appointed by president trump, the department of justice is working tirelessly to protect american citizens and to uphold the rule of law. today i look forward to discussing some of our department's important work. following the manual and the example set by past department of justice officials, we always seek to accommodate congressional oversight requests while protecting the integrity of our investigations, preserving the department's independence and safeguarding
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sensitive information. thank you, mr. foreman chairmachairma chairman. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. i'll start by recognizing myself for questions. last week director ray indicated that the normal procedures were not followed in the investigation of hillary clinton's e-mail server. you said it was not normal protocol to have witnesses sit in the room during an interview of the target of an investigation. if the inspector general determines that normal protocol was not followed or that the investigation was closed or otherwise tainted for political purposes, would that be a justification in your mind to reopen the investigation? >> mr. chairman, we are certainly anticipating the outcome of that inspector general investigation. as you know, that's been ongoing for some time. i'm hopeful it will be concluded in the next couple months. we'll take appropriate action. i don't know exactly what the findings are going to be, but it's always appropriate for us
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to review any findings of inpropriority, misconduct and take appropriate action. >> when you announced your decision to terminate the employment of fbi director comey, in that decision, you announced some practices that i took it to mean you thought were inappropriate actions on the part of the former fbi director. do you think those actions on his part would merit further investigation into how that whole matter was conducted? >> as you're aware, the inspector general is conducting an investigation into the handling of that e-mail investigation. i believe that matters you have referred to are part of his investigation. the memo that you're familiar with that i provided reflects my personal opinion. it's not an official finding of misconduct. that's the inspector general's job to reach his own
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determination. but as you pointed out, my views about it are already known. >> are you aware of any prior efforts by the judiciary committee to undually restrict the ability to do its job of protecting our national security? >> i'm not personally aware of any, no, sir. >> are you aware this committee as oversight of the surveillance act due in part to the significant institutional and legal questions that government surveillance raises? >> mr. chairman, i respect the congress's decision about which committee has oversight. this committee and the intelligence committee have an interesting view. >> given that you understand this jurisdiction and history of providing the intelligence committee with the tools it needs, why would we attempt to, quote, dismantle section 702 of our most important surveillance program? >> i hope that wouldn't be the
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case. i don't know who made the statement you're referring to. the department has expressed its opinion about the reauthorization of which we think is critically important and requespect their differencef opinion. we believe it's essential to national security that section 702 be reauthorized. >> we agree it's essential that 702 be reauthorized. we also believe it's essential that the civil liberties of american citizens be protected is and that a standard be imposed on the examination of information about u.s. citizen s incidentally gathered with the surveillance of non-u.s. citizens outside the united states. but incidentally, gathering information about u.s. citizens and then being looked into by agents of the federal bureau of investigation without a warrant. i'm not aware of that being appropriate in any other type of
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investigation that they might be conducts. we're not talking about national security. because we have clearly distinguished that. we're talking about crimes that have already occurred that are being investigated, as they should be investigated, by the department. but under the procedures they would expect to follow to protect civil liberties and other circumstances. >> i have had the advantage of having a role? overseeing our national security operations. i discussed this with director ray yesterday, and if you'd like i can give you a detailed explanation, but i'd be happy to give you details. the bottom line is that it really is critical to national security that the fbi have the ability to query thehere. >> but if it provides a hit they want to read an e-mail, see other departmentation, see it in full form, they are required to get a warrant. >> i discuss this with director
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ray and what happens when the fbi conducts these queries is typically the leads that are not necessarily based on probable caused, but based on a suspicion and the ability to query and follow up gives the opportunity to put two and two together and connect the dots. >> there are lots of leads that any law enforcement person would like to pursue, but we have protections against them purs pursuing it without appropriate standard for doing it in a whole host of other ways to protect people from unreasonable searches. this is a search of information about a united states system. >> it's a query as a constitutional matter. >> once that results in something the agent wants to look at, i don't see how you distinguish further reading of e-mails or other things from a search. >> if i could take a couple
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minutes and explain to you to director ray about an appropriate way to explain this publicly. hypothetically, let's say, for example, local police department receives a call that somebody purchased a large quantity of hydrogen peroxide. something made the clerk at the store suspicion so he contacts police. there's nothing illegal about what the person did, but something that caused concern. local police -- >> let me interrupt you. the very specific instance that you are citing was cited to us in our discussions with the fbi. that very specific protection for the fbi was added to our legislation. >> the example i'm providing is a situation where there would no be probable cause but we think would be appropriate for the fbi to follow up. what we're trying to avoid is a
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situation where we reerect a wall to prevent the fbi from gaining ak that might allow them to connect a lead to information that implicates national security. >> thank you. my time has expired. the chairman recognizes the gentleman from new york for five minutes. >> thank you. on monday ranking member cummings and i wrote you a letter about the majority's ongoing investigation into hillary clinton. without objection, i ask unanimous consent our letter be placed into the record. >> without objection. >> the first part of the letter discusses the failure to provide the minority with access to the documents you have already provided to the majority. will you commit to ensuring that we receive equal access to materials in the future? >> yes, and i believe my understanding is that information may have been provided. >> thank you. i have a lot of questions. the majority of this committee, the white house and president
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trump's private attorneys have called for the department of justice to appoint a new special counsel to investigate a number of hillary clinton-related matters. i think we can benefit from your experience in how the special counsel regulations work. regulations say the attorney general, or the acting attorney general, will appoint the special counsel when you determine that one criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted, two, the investigation either presents a c conflict of interest to the department. that first part, he determines that the criminal investigation is warranted, is that part of the regulation optional? >> no. >> thank you. to so a criminal investigation must be warranted before you can assign a special counsel to the matter? >> yes. >> thank you. and at the department of justice, a criminal investigation requires ab initial assessment and prelim marry review of the evidence? >> correct. >> has that assessment been made with respect to former director
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comey's handling of the hillary clinton investigation? >> i'm not going to comment on any investigations, in normal course. we would conduct an appropriate review. >> i assume your answer would be the same if i asked about the interaction with gbs? >> it would be the same for any. >> presuming for a moment that the department has conduct ed a nilgs assessment and found no predicate for criminal investigation, under this presumption, could you or the attorney general sessions simply appoint the special counsel to look into these matters? >> no. >> as i said earlier, there's been no credible or legal claim that anybody at the department violated any law by deciding not to bring charges or by attempt ing to meet with fusion. if that is true, if there's no underlying criminal investigation because there's insufficient evidence of a
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crime, do the regulations permit you to appoint the special counsel? >> no. >> thank you. according to the department, the office of the inspector general informed mueller of the existence of the text messages on july 2th, 2017. the texts you sent us last night. mr. mueller concluded that e he could not longer participate in the investigation and removed from the team the same day. did mr. mooueller take approprie action? >> yes, he did. >> you said you would only fire mueller for good cause. and that you had not seen any yet. several months have passed since then. have you seen good cause to fire special counsel mueller? >> no. >> if you were order ed today t fire mr. mueller, what would you do? >> i would explained previously, i would follow the regulation. if there was good cause, i would
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act. if there was not, i would not. >> on may 1st, the office of legal counsel issued an opinion arguing they do not have the authority to conduct oversight. shortly thereafter, the white house counsel instructed federal agencies not to cooperate with oversight and request from democrats. since then democrats on this committee have written 40 l letters to the administration without any response thus far. are k you clarify your spogs to responding to letters from the minority? are you concerned that it serves to justify a policy stone walling wall ing by the administration? >> we make every effort to respond to any legitimate inquiry. a member of congress, we prioritize inquiries founded by the chair on behalf of the committee. we'll make an effort to respond to any inquiry. we get a lot of letters. so i apologize. >> would you prioritize letters
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from the chair letters from the minority? >> our goal is to respond to all those letters in a reasonable matter. when our new assistant general took office, there was quite a backl backlog. >> would you encourage the office to withdraw its may 1st opinion? >> i'll take a look at it. as i said, without regard to what the law may require, our policy is to try to -- >> i understand. you would look at whether you'd encourage the office of legal counsel to withdraw the opinion? >> i'm not committing to do anything. i will agree to look at it. >> thank you. finally, i just want to follow up with what the chairman was saying about section 702. the bill that this committee reported specifically said were you doing a counterintelligence or terrorism investigation, you don't need a warrant to query section 702 data. but domestic crimes, then like
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any other investigation of domestic crimes, you would need a warrant. so that the danger that i think you were referring to is taking care of by the bill. i endorse the comment of the chairman to that effect. i urge you to take a look at that. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. mr. smith is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i am concerned that the special counsel may be casting too wide of a net. that he is trying to catch all the fish in the ocean, not just the soviet sharks. and if the special counsel were to obtain information not directly related to russian interference with the election and he wanted to investigate that further, would he need to obtain your authority to expand the investigation? >> yes, he would. >> has he ever asked to expand the scope of the investigation? >> i appreciate that question,
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congressman. if i can explain briefly. there are a lot of media stories speculating about what the special counsel may or may not be doing. i know what he's doing. i'm exercising my oversight responsibilities. so i can assure you the special counsel is conducting himself consistently with our understanding of the scope of his investigation. >> that really wasn't my question. my question was has he asked you or consulted with you about a desire to expand the investigation beyond the orig original scope? >> the consultation is much more detailed than that. he consults with me, his office cob subt consults with me. i know what they are authorized to do. >> i know you know what they are doing, but has he requested to expand the scope of the original jurisdiction? >> the scope of the original jurisdiction, as you know, is publicly set forth in that order. but the specific matters are not identified in the order.
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so i discussed that with director mueller when he started. we have had ongoing discussion about what is within the scope of his investigation. to the extent, he's received my permission to include those matters. >> so he has asked to expand the scope and you have given him permission? >> you're characterizing as an expansion whether a clarification. he understands that this is a special counsel. not an independent counsel. i'm accountable for what they are doing and i need to know what they are doing. >> clarification may be an expansion and we may be caught up on the meaning of those records. i think the american people have a right to know if the original jurisdiction has been expanded. do you agree with that? >> the difficulty, congressman, i have a responsibility not to talk about what's being investigated and that's why the original order doesn't identify any persons or charges. we know what's under investigation. >> i'm not asking you to go into specifics or name names or even
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talk about the subject. just whether or not the request had been made to expand. if you said you clarified his jurisdiction, i assume that would involve an expansion. >> i want to make sure i'm 100% accurate. i'll need to check and get back to you as to whether or not we considered particular issues to be a clarification or an expansion. whatever it may be, i'm responsible for and i know what he's investigating. >> please do get back to me on the difference between those two. do you feel the the special counsel is authorized to investigate the personal finances of the trump family members? >> congressman, that would implicate concern that i have expressed that we just don't talk about what's under investigation. so i hope you don't draw any inference pro or con. we're not going to discuss it. >> do you think the personal finances come under direct involvement of russian
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interference with the election? >> i appreciate your concern, but i hope you appreciate if i answer what is and isn't, i've gone down the road i don't want to go down. four persons have been charged. those are known. the department of justice, that's what we publicize. if we don't charge anybody with a crime, we don't talk about it. >> some of the people charged have been charged with crimes not directly connected to russian interference with the election? >> the crimes with which they are charged are publicly known. >> so in other words, you do feel the special counsel can go into the personal finances not connected to russian interference? >> i'm not commenting on the scope of the investigation. >> what about can the special counsel investigate the personal actions of staff unconnected to the russian interference with the election? >> only if i determine that it's appropriate for them to do so. >> that's your determination,
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not the special counsel's? >> as i said, congressman, i know what he's doing. if i felt he was doing something inappropriate, i would take action. >> let me just maybe summarize by saying i think the american people deserve to know who is being investigated and why. and one final question in my last couple seconds here. as you know and as many. of us know, in the lawyers code of ethics, attorneys are supposed to avoid not just the actual impropriety itself but the appearance of impro priprie. the special counsel hired eight attorneys who have direct connections to either the obama or clinton campaigns. don't you think that creates an appearance of impropriety? don't you think it creates an appearance of impropriety? >> the time has expired. the witness is permitted to
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answer the question. >> i do not believe -- i'm not aware of impropriety. we have regulations of special counsel are subject to all the department's rules. and subject to oversight include ing the inspector general. i'm not aware of any violation of those rules by employees. >> you don't think it creates the appearance of impropriety? >> we apply the department's rules and regulations and make determinations and we do have career ethics advisers who provide us counsel. >> thank you. >> the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from california for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for being here with us today. you are a career attorney in the department, isn't that right? >> i would say i was a career attorney. >> was a career attorney. you spent your whole life working for the people of the united states as a career attorney until you were asked to fulfill the current function that performing. >> i was a political appointee.
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so i have been a political appointee. 15 years prior i was a career attorney. >> let me ask you. in taking a look at the individuals who are working on the matters that we are discussing. are they career attorneys in the department who were working on this? >> some of them are. under the regulations, special counsel is permitted to ask for details that would be helpful. he's used both approaches. >> so wouldn't they be subject to the principles in the civil service reform act? >> yes, i believe they are. >> so, you know, we have been on the committee here for a long time. i remember back in 2008 there were allegations that the department of justice had used politics as a basis for hiring and firing in the department.
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and the office of inspector general and the office of professional responsibility issued a report outlining the impro of using politics in personnel decisions. one of the things they said was that the department's policy on nondiscrimination includes the department of justice needs to seek to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, age and the like. won't that policy be governing the actions of the individuals working on this? you couldn't discriminate based on this whole list, including their political affiliation. >> one of the advantages i bring to the job is i've been around the department for a while and i've seen mistakes made in the
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past. we're not going to improperly consider political affiliation. >> i want to ask about a couple of concerns and you may or may not have responsibility for this. i am concerned that the department has had a change in position on certain important voting rights issues. one has to do with the purging of roles in ohio. the department had previous lly argued against purging those roles because the national voter registration act prohibits the purging of voters simply because they haven't voted in a given period of time. it's my understanding that the department is now arguing that ohio can purge individuals from rolls even without evidence that
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they have moved. additionally, the department head argued that the state of texas id law had discriminated against individuals and that the department has changed its position on that. the law as currently drafted probably excludes up to 600,000 americans from being able to vote because of the draconian id laws. can you give us any insight into why the department changed its position on these key voting rights issues? >> i'm generally familiar -- i don't know all the details of those of those matters. as a general matter, it's important to understand that the ultimate determination about what the law means is made by a judge. it may be that new leadership in
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the department takes a different position. but i can assure you that's based on a good faith analysis. there may be legitimate ambiguity in some of these provisions. ultimately it will be up to a judge to decide what that law means. >> let me just ask a final question. it's my understanding that under the order appointing him, mr. mueller has the authority to investigate matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation, which would include crimes uncovered while he is investigating the main mission. for example, if he is looking at the russia investigation and he finds out that the person he's looking at committed a bank robbery, he isn't required to ignore a bank robbery. would that be a fair assessment of his responsibilities? >> it's affair assessment.
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>> the time of the gentlewoman has expired. you may answer the question. >> it's important to recognize because it's a special counsel, those issues are worked out so that if he came across evidence that was not appropriate for him to prosecutor, he could refer it. >> i assume that the team you put together, you felt was going to be -- that mueller put together was going to be fair and unbiassed, correct? >> correct. i selected mr. mueller. >> and he selected the team,
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right. let me just review a few facts about the supposedly unbiassed people that mr. mueller pulled together. 9 of 16 have made political contributions. first greg anders gave a thousand dollars to the democrat who held the senate seat previously held by barack obama. he gave zero to any republican. next rush atkinson, he dough na na -- donated to the clinton campaign. freiny donated to the obama campaign, the clinton campaign, zero to the trump campaign.
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elizabeth who clerked for supreme court justices ginsberg and contributed to both obama and clinton campaigns and zero to trump. she actually represented hillary clinton and the clinton foundation in several lawsuits. she's contributed 5400 to the clinton campaign and zero to the trump campaign. brandon contributed to act blue,
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krib contributed to the obama presidential campaign and of course gave nothing to trump. finally andrew wiseman contributed to the democratic national committee, obama campaign, clinton campaign and zero to donald trump. he's also the guy who praised the hold over acting attorney general susan yates for defying president trump on the travel ban. my question to you is how can a straight face can you say this group of democrat partisans are unbiassed and will give president trump a fair shake? >> i think it's important to recognize that when we talk about political affiliation, that all demonstrates political affiliation. the issue of bias is something different. i've discussed this with director mueller. we recognize we have employees with political opinions.
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it's our responsibility to make sure their opinions do not influence their actions. i believe that director mueller understands that and that he is running that office appropriately, recognizing that people have political views but ensuring those views are not in any way a factor in how they conduct themselves in office. >> when you say he's running it appropriately, i think putting the investigators together to begin this investigation in the first place is part of the investigation, and how the group he put together is considered unbiassed, i don't know how anyone can possibly reach that conclusion. you know, when this whole russia was involved in our elections flap surfaced and you picked robert mueller to lead the investigation, i was at first encouraged. it seemed like a serious matter and it deserved a serious investigation. i assumed, as many of us did,
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that mr. mueller would pull together an unbiassed team. but rather than wearing stripes as umpires and referees might wear, i would submit that the mueller team overwhelmingly ought to be attired with democratic donkeys on their jerseys or i'm with hillary t-shirts, certainly not with let's make america great again. and i think that's a shame. i think the american people deserve a lot better than the very biassed team they're getting under robert mueller. and i think it's really sad. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes ms. jackson lee for five minutes. >> thank you. welcome. and thank you for your service to the nation. allow me just for a moment as i move on my questions to indicate that i am shocked and baffled the way some in the right wing media and some of our friend on
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the other side show such contempt for the department of justice and the fbi and so much skepticism or mistrust of the russian government. the fbi and doj brought to justice and put away timothy mcvay, klansmen, the unibomber, organized crime family kingpins, pan am 103 bombing, society diplomat that had a spy ring during world war ii. alder ames. world trade center bombing in 1993, twa hijacking, lindbergh kidnapping, beltway snipers, on the other hand russians are known for shooting down a civilian airline, kal 007
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killing 269 passengers and crew, invading ukraine, killing journalists, propping up assad and committing cyber theft and conspireing and doing a sabotage of the american presidential election in 2016. perhaps our friends on the other side of the aisle can show more respect for the fbi and the doj as so many of us do, including myself. let me ask these questions and with my limited time i really need just a yes or no. are you in the business of helping to secure the elections in 2018 and making sure there is an infrastructure in the doj to help states have secure elections, yes or no? >> yes. >> special counsel mueller, i'm reminded of the saturday night massacre. i know you must be aware of it. during the meeting of may 8th,
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2017 with you, sessions and the president the day before comey was fired, what did you discuss the day before the investigation? >> i'm not going to be discussing anything related to that until after the investigation. >> thank you very much. let me then go forward with the question of the protection of the special prosecutor. do you have in place a protection scheme or system that would void a potential saturday night massacre? do you in fact have the authority to stand up against the president, who is putting out the right wing media to taint the mueller investigation will you protect mr. mueller if he has done nothing violate his responsibilities, yes or no? >> i won't take any action unless he has violated his duties. >> let me show you these individuals here. it says that the trump
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accusers want a day in court or at least want to be heard. the president is the chief executive and law enforcement officer of the united states. therefore, he is an officer of the united states. what intentions do you have to allow these women who are accusing the president of sexual misconduct and have never been heard in terms of a public setting as many of us on this committee have asked for this committee to hold a hearing with these women. what does the doj intend to do in light of the fact that the president of the united states is the chief law enforcement officer of the united states of america? >> they can file a lawsuit. they're free to do so. it wouldn't be a department matter. >> do you not believe it's important to give these women a forum to be heard? >> if there's anything that
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warrants federal investigation, we'd certainly look at it. >> can we refer these women to the department of justice? if they walked up to the department of justice, would there be an intake officer that would take their complaints. >> if somebody wants to file a complaint of a potential federal crime, yes, they can report that to the fbi. anybody can do that at any time. >> let me publicly say to these women, you have one option to go to the doj to be able to file a complaint. i would encourage them to do that. i would also encourage this committee to have hearings. let me ask this last question of the commutation program of president obama and the memo by attorney general sessions that rescinds memos regarding the charging and sentencing policy and also the use of private prisons by eric holder. what is the position of the u.s.
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department of justice as it relates to a fair and just commutation program and also the issues dealing with over prosecution and the sentencing policy offered by eric holder which is considered fair and just and the use of private prisons have been known to be abusive to prisoners -- what is your position on that? >> you've raised a number of issues. i don't know that i have time to respond to them all. but i do just want to clarify anybody is free to report to the department of justice when they believe a crime is committed. it's not a complaint in the way that you might file a complaint in some local police departments. the department will conduct appropriate review as we do with any alleged criminal conduct. >> i'm yielding back, mr. chairman. but he did not answer my
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questions. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> thank you. if someone comes in to make that complaint or to file that information, they're going to have their identification checked for who they are, right, to get into the building? >> i'm not certain. if they were admitted to the building, you actually can walk into most fbi offices without having to go through security. >> you wouldn't consider it draconian if their driver's license was looked at? >> if we're going to conduct an investigation, we need to know who the witnesses are. >> thank you. i wanted to know that wasn't draconian. in the case of mr. struck, there is an appearance of impropriety that people are observing but you said that may not have been the reason. if it wasn't the appearance of
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impropriety based on his numerous rather strident texts commenting adversely on the president, what was it? >> if i said that, congressman, it was inadvertent. the decision to remove mr. struck off that case was made by director mueller based upon the circumstances known to him. it's important to understand those text messages were uncovered in the course of an inspector general investigation that's not complete. so we won't be able to make a determination about what if any discipline is required. >> let me go to the inspector general now, michael whorowitz. he has said he cannot look their conduct as lawyers because the opr has that authority.
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that's still true, isn't it? >> he does have authority by certain types of misconduct. >> one of the pieces he cannot look at would be the question of bias or the appearance of bias in their investigations in how they're conducting it and/or decisions. that is uniquely excluded to the inspector general in your cabinet position versus all other cabinet positions. >> i'm not certain about that. if i may i'll check and get back to you on that. >> but he is excluded. >> it would either be opr or the inspector general. i believe certain of those are within the jurisdiction of the inspector general but i'd have to verify.
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>> one of the reasons we look to a special prosecutor was to not only get past the politics on this dais but to get past any conflicts by the department of justice? >> to minimize any appearance on ' either side of bias, correct. >> the special prosecutor is still a group looking for wrongdoing. that is their charge. they're not looking for right doing. they're looking for wrong doing. like any prosecutor, you're not looking for innocence? >> they're looking for the truth
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and then they'll make a determination about whether or not it's appropriate to prosecute. >> if that's the case, if we accept my assumption that they're looking to, if they can to hang the president or people around him -- hear me out for a moment -- then there really isn't a problem with having people who are dead set on trying to find anything that will incriminate the administration in a russian connection, which is somewhat their charge. i'll posture to you that maybe it's not that bad to have people who really dislike the president and would like to hang him. having said that, when there's impropriety such as mr. struck, when there is a history at the fbi of withholding information from congress, when there is the appearance of impropriety by the department of justice and when the inspector general is limited under the statute both because he doesn't have full access and because certain portions are out
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of it, wouldn't you say this is a classic example where in order to investigate the fbi and the department of justice, a special prosecutor who is equally looking for the truth if it exists adversely to the conduct of the fbi and if departmethe df justice is within your responsibility to see what happened. >> my simple answer to it would be that if we believe there was a basis for an investigation or a special counsel, i could assure you we will act. >> since we've already had dismissals for wrongdoing, since there's ongoing internal investigations, the elements necessary to ask for a special prosecutor to see what was done wrong already exists. >> time of the gentleman has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from tennessee, mr. cohen for five minutes.
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>> first i want to thank you for your service to the country and for accepting the difficult position that you have. has president trump ever communicated with you about removing robert mueller from his role as special counsel? >> congressman, i am not going to be discussing my communications with the president, but i can tell you that nobody has communicated to me a desire to remove robert mueller. >> you said you're not going to relate your conversations with president trump. how many conversations have you had since your appointment with president trump? >> i'm the deputy attorney general and it's appropriate for me to talk with the president about law enforcement issues and i don't believe that's an appropriate issue for discussion. >> when you chose robert mueller to be the special counsel, what were his characteristics, his history and the reasons for you to have chosen him for this important position? >> i think it would be very
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difficult for anybody who find somebody better qualified for this job. director mueller has throughout his lifetime been a dedicated and respected and heroic public servant. he after college volunteered to serve as marine in vietnam where he was wounded in combat. he attended law school and devoted most of his career to serving as a federal prosecutor. he served in many other positions in the department after he lost his position as the head of the criminal division when president clinton was elected in 1992, mr. mueller went into private practice and then he went back as a homicide prosecutor trying to help with the violent crime problem in the early '90s. he protected this nation after
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9/11. when when his ten-year term expired, he was was so well respected that his term was extended for another two years. i believe that based upon his reputation, his service, his patriotism, his experience with the department and the fbi, i believe he was an ideal choice for this task. >> thank you, sir. i agree with you. fbi director wray agrees with you. he said he was well respected within the fbi. i think everybody on the other side of the aisle agreed with you when you appointed him. and everybody in this judiciary committee and possibly everybody in congress agreed with his appointment as fbi director which was unanimous. his reappointment was unanimous by bush and obama. everybody respects this man in this country. >> i didn't. >> obviously we knew that would be an exception. but the fact is they didn't
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start to dislike him until he started to get to issues that affected the president that currently served this country. and because of that they've said the fbi was in tatters, that the fbi, the chief law enforcement, top law enforcement folks in this country are questionable. some of their allies on television said they're like the kgb. they've questioned you, they've questioned the justice department, they've questioned some of the most loyal, dedicated, fearless people in our country who serve the rule of law. i find it repugnant and awful. i wonder what you think about when you hear about the fbi being suggested it's in tatters and there's something wrong with the fbi and they're somehow like the kgb. >> as i know you're aware, i've expressed concern with certain aspects of certain things done by the fbi. but in general throughout my experience working with fbi agents over the decades, i've found them to be an exceptional
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group of public servants, faithful, loyal and dedicated. i believe some of the finest people i know are agents of the federal bureau of investigation. >> i thought about them, sir, when i watched the army navy game. i have the honor of recommending some folks to be at west point and annapolis. those are the cream of the crop. the people at the fbi are in law enforcement. they're the cream of the crop. justice department attorneys are too. it's not easy to get a job in justice no matter where you went to law school and what you did. you hire the best and you always have. i compliment you on that. i know you will continue to hold the department of justice up as a pantheon of outstanding lawyers and jurists and take justice where it should go as truth demands and justice dictates. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from iowa, mr. king for five minutes. >> thank you plrmr. chairman.
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number of things i'm curious about here. first of all, in the interview of hillary clinton that took place reportedly july 2nd of 2016, how many people were in the room for that? how many people had the opportunity to question her? >> congressman, i don't know the answer to that. i believe when the inspector general completes his review, we may have additional information but i personally do not know. >> dune wo you know who selectet team? >> no, i do not. >> i recall the testimony by james comey that there were three representatives of the fbi and three of doj in that room. would that be consistent with practice that you would anticipate? >> typically we would have at least two agents conduct an interview and there may be any number of attorneys based on
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who's on the case. i just don't know the details. >> and the practice in an interview like that, would there be records kept of that interview? >> yes, if there were fbi agents present, typically they would take notes and produce a report summarizing the interview. >> would there be a videotape, audiotape or a transcript? >> generally, no. >> why not? >> well, it's not the practice to do it. >> it needs to become the practice. the practice out across the countryside in many of our local law enforcement is that if you're a county deputy and you interview somebody for drunk driving, you tape that interview. we have sheriffs out there who say if they don't do that, it's cause for discipline. now we're sitting here with a mystery of what went on in that interview of july 2nd. there's been many questions asked about that and they will trickle through history until we get to the bottom of it. do you have any knowledge that
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peter struck might have been one of those people? >> i do not know. >> there's been news reported that he was one of those people. april may of 2016 peter struck interviews huma abedin and cheryl mills who happened to be in the room with hillary clinton and her general counsel. then on may 2nd, comey e-mails fbi officials a draft statement a couple of months before his recommendation not to prosecute hillary clinton. in that chain, peter struck's name shows up. it's been reported that he's the one who swapped out the references from gross negligence to extreme carelessness. do you have any knowledge about that? >> it's the inspector general review that has turned up. >> i thought that was going to be the answer. skipping forward to july 24th,
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fbi interviews michael flynn on russia. it's reported in the news that peter struck is in that interview. no knowledge to disagree with that reports in the news, however? >> correct. >> and then we get the news later on that sometime in mid summer peter struck had been removed from mueller's investigative team. we find out december 4th that took place. i kind of understand that. if that had drifted into the jet stream, perhaps we wouldn't be in the middle of this controversy. if his hands are in so many things, what about the fruit of the poisonous tree? this is the reverse of this. this is the voids of the fruit of the poisonous tree. i'm looking at what was reported this morning. i just took a picture of the televisi television set. a quote from august 6th, lisa
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page to peter struck and they're talking about president trump and she's speaking to peter struck, her lover, i hear, maybe you're meant to stay where you are because you are meant to protect the country from that menace. peter struck's response is thanks. it's absolutely true that we're both very fortunate and of course i'll try and approach it that way. i just don't know. it will be tough at times. i can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps. does that sound like a declaration that he would use his job to leverage his work against the president of the united states. >> the inspector general's investigation includes interviews of numerous witnesses. i anticipate hopefully in the near future we'll have a report with the conclusions. >> would you have any opinion on the lack of the fruit from the poisonous tree that might have been erased by peter struck? >> as a legal matter, congressman, i can tell you that
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if evidence is tainted, then that would raise a concern for me. typically our cases would be prosecuted based on witnesses and documents and not upon the agent unless the agent were a witness in the case. that would certainly concern us if there were any tainted evidence in the case. >> thank you. i appreciate it. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from georgia mr. johnson for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your service to the country, mr. rosenstein. based on the language in your special counsel order or your order appointing the special counsel, does the special counsel have the authority to investigate any individual who may have obstructed the investigation that fbi director comey confirmed on march 20th of this year, which was the russian interference with the 2016
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elections. >> the special counsel does have the authority to investigate any obstruction related to his jurisdiction. >> does this authority to investigate possible obstruction include investigating president trump? >> i hope you won't take an inference one way or the other, but we do not discuss who may or may not be under investigation. >> i'm not asking you whether or not the president is under investigation. i'm just simply asking whether or not your order appointing the special counsel authorizes the special counsel to investigate the president. >> it authorizes him to investigate anybody who there's predication to believe obstructed justice. >> and that includes the president, correct? >> it would include anybody who's suspected of obstructing justice. >> all right. do you think that it's appropriate for the president to comment publicly on any pending
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investigation? >> congressman, the decision about whether people in political positions comment on investigations is not mine. my responsibility is to ensure that our investigations are not impacted improperly by any opinion. >> it would not be appropriate for you to comment about any pending investigation, isn't that correct? >> correct. >> and the president is the chief law enforcement officer. he considers himself in the country. it would be inappropriate for him then to comment on a pending investigation, would it not? >> i believe over the years there have been presidents who have made comments about investigations. it's simply not my responsibility to make that decision. >> do you think it's appropriate for the president to call for investigation of specific individuals? >> i'm simply not going to
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comment on that congressman, other than to tell you it's my responsibility along with the attorney general to make sure those decisions are made independently by the department based upon the facts and the law. >> has the president ever contacted you to urge action in any pending investigation? >> congressman, i have not received any improper orders and i'm not going to be talking about particular communications i may have which are appropriate communications with the white house. >> what would be your legal basis for refusing to answer the question whether or not the president has contacted you to urge any action in any pending investigation? what would be your legal basis for refusing to answer that question? >> this is not a partisan issue. i worked on an investigation where the previous president encouraged the department to do an expeditious investigation. so the question for me is are we or are we not appropriately
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making an independent determination regardless of kwh comments on it. >> my question is, has the president ever contacted you to urge action in any pending investigation, yes or no? >> i have nothing further to say. >> so you're going to refuse to answer a question from a member of congress seeking to do oversight? >> i've told you i have not received any improper orders and i'm simply not going to talk about communications. i think in every administration senior law enforcement officers have to be able to communicate with the president and his officials about appropriate matters within their responsibility and not comment on it. you shouldn't draw any inference. it's simply not appropriate for me to talk about communications i may have with the administration. i would tell you if something happened that was wrong if somebody ordered me to do something that was improper but
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that has not happened. >> it would be improper for the president to ever contact you about initiating an investigation of someone, would it not? >> we've discussed this previously, congressman. presidents have commented publicly. >> no. any question is it would be improper for a president to contact you about initiating an investigation of someone. it would be improper wouldn't it? >> it would be improper for the president to order me to conduct an investigation. >> it would be improper for the president to ask you to initiate an investigation, would it not? >> if it were for improper reasons, yes. >> it's your testimony today that the president has not asked you to investigate someone specifically. >> i understand what you're getting at. but as i said, i was in the last administration and the president of the last administration commented on matters. there's nothing wrong about that. >> you're being very artful in
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jumping around and evading answering my question. so you're not going to answer it. >> i'm not evading. >> that's unfortunate. are you afraid of president trump firing you? >> no, i'm not, congressman. >> with that, i will yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks for being here. did you ever tell special counsel robert mueller that in essence everything you do must not only be just and fair but must also appear beyond reproach, anything like that? >> in essence, yes. >> since attorney general sessions recused himself, you are effectively the boss on the special counsel and staff, correct? >> that is correct that i am effectively the boss. >> well, we all know that fbi director james comey was fired. we know of your letter, we know of your public statements. but here's a question. to your knowledge, who first proposed the idea of firing
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james comey as fbi director? >> i'm not going to comment on that. the president has explained that he made the decision and i'm not going to comment beyond that. >> at the time you wrote the letter suggesting the firing, did you believe what you put in that letter? >> yes, i did. >> if an fbi employee goes into a meeting as part of his job in furtherance of his job, someone in the government, and he comes out and he makes a memo memorializing the meeting, perhaps in the future past memory refreshed. is that memo doj property? >> generally, congressman, i would think that it would be. might depend what the subject matter is, but generally the answer would be yes. >> well, an fbi employment
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agreement statement says -- and this is the person agreeing to work for the fbi -- all information acquired by me in connection with my official duties with the fbi and all official material remain the property of the united states. i will not reveal any material from or related to fbi files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment. if you make a memo of things that were discussed as part of your job, then it would be a violation of that agreement to send that to someone to leak to the press, isn't that right? >> it well may be. >> the question i'm about to ask, i'm not asking what you may have told attorney general jeff sessions. i don't want to know any words used or ideas conveyed, nor sources referenced. in fact, i'm asking a question that could not possible have any other answer other than yes or no. you are completely free to
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wholly answer this question with one of those two words and neither word is privileged, confidential or classified. as attorney general jeff sessions' deputy, did you give jeff sessions any advice regarding whether or not he should recuse himself in the matter of the russian investigation, yes or no? >> no. can i give a little bit of an explanation? i wasn't there. i was confirmed i believe on april 25th and took office on april 26th. i was not there at the time of the recusal. >> all right. did you ever talk to bruce orr? >> yes. >> wasn't he four doors down from yours? >> i haven't counted but he was down the hall. >> of course he's been demoted over the relationship with fusion gps and then of course we found out that his wife nellie was a russian expert and was made by fusion gps through summer and fall of 2016 helping
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the clinton campaign get a dossier from the russians. how well dune the people that work on your hall? >> well, it varies, congressman. i think that it varies. some of them i know well. some of them i don't know as well. >> everybody has some political opinions or otherwise. the key is not having those affect or bias you in the department of justice. >> correct. >> here is mr. struck, some of his texts talking about trump. he's an idiot talking about trump. and martin owe m'malley is a d-. he goes on. at some point the republican party needs to pull their head out of their blank. shows no sign of occurring any time soon. of course he's -- the f we were
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told by christopher wray stands for fidelity, but these were all made in the course of infidelity. then he makes slurs against kasich. it's unbelievable, i hate these people, talking about the republicans. no support for the women who has to spend the rest of her life rearing this child and then we care about life. a-holes. how the f can he be a republican? on and on it goes. america will get what the voting public deserves and that's what i'm afraid of. hillary should win 100 million to zero. did you hear him make a comment -- anyway. this is not just political opinions. this is disgusting, unaccountable bias and there's no way that could not affect a person's work. were you aware of just how biassed mr. struck was?
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>> no, i was not. >> thank you. one final thing. i'm asking a question, the answer's not classified or privileged. based on information and belief to the best of your knowledge has the fbi ever used work product or report any part of which was paid by political campaign, party, candidate or prepared on a candidate's behalf? >> congressman, the issue that you're -- >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the witness may answer the question. >> i know we're working with at least one committee, house intelligence that has access to that information. i believe they'll get whatever information -- >> i'm asking a general question. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. >> not to my personal knowledge, but i don't know everything about the fbi. >> mr. chairman, point of
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personal privilege, since my character was slandered by mr. cohen who said that i never -- we never challenged mueller until he came after the administration when he knows how tough i went after fbi director mueller. he's been here when i went after mueller while bush was president. he knows i have been after him because of the damage he did and what he stated about me is a lie. and i need the record to properly reflect that. >> the gentleman's comment is duly noted. the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from california ms. bass for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. according to an august 17th fbi intelligence assessment titled black identity extremists,
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likely motivated to target law enforcement officers, quote, it is very likely that black identity extremists perceptions of police brutality against black americans spur red an increase in retaliatory violence. i've asked attorney general sessions, i've asked director wray. you i want to ask you. did you order the fbi to conduct this assessment? >> what was the date? >> august of this year. >> no, i did not. >> are you familiar with the report? >> not with the report. i'm familiar with the general issue. >> maybe you could talk a little bit about the general issue, in particular when the fbi began tracking black identity extremism. >> it's important for me to explain that the fbi does not make a determination with regard to domestic groups to investigate them based on their first amendment views or their affiliation.
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it bases its decisions on evidence of a propensity to violence. so with regard to members of any ideology domestically, the fbi would only be investigating if -- >> do you believe there's a political movement in the country called black identity extremism. >> what they do is they try to categorize different threats that they identify. >> you said investigate. but before you do an investigation there's surveillance, correct? >> generally, no. there might need to be a determination first that there was a basis for an investigation typically before any surveillance. >> so how does that determination take place and where has it taken place? >> if you want details, i need to get back to you. but the fbi has strict guidelines. as you know, several decades ago there was quite a bit of controversy about this issue. the fbi has very detailed guidelines for when they initiate investigations.
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i'm not aware of any departure from those guidelines. >> i am aware of the fbi's history from many years ago. many people are looking at this document, black identity extremism. one of the concerns that has been raised is that this document, for whatever reason, was mass distributed to law enforcement offices around the country. are you aware of that? >> no, i'm not. >> so when we talked to director wray it wasn't clear how this term was even dropped. what evidence was it based onto even come up with a term like that and then to write a document about it and then to distribute it to law enforcement around the country? >> i don't know the answer to that. but if it's of any reassurance, i haven't seen any indication that the fbi is approaching this in a biassed way. they're conducting investigations where they
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believe the person who is the subject represents a potential threat, not because they associate with an ideology, but because they represent a particular threat. i believe the fbi guidelines are designed specifically to ensure there are no abuses. >> so what i am hearing from activists around the country, in particular activists protesting law enforcement and police brutality or deaths at the hands of law enforcement is they're being visited by the fbi, that the fbi is leaving business cards. what the concern about that is is that if they do engage in a conversation with an fbi agent and perhaps make a mistake or maybe say something that isn't true, then they're vulnerable to be prosecuted for lying to a law enforcement officer. the activists that have received visits by the fbi have never been involved in violence at all. are you aware of that happening? >> no. >> let me express another
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concern. when a document doesn't seem to have any scientific basis that develops a category called black identify extremism, when you send a document like that to law enforcement around the country, in some places i will worry they will take that to say any time there is an officer voinvolved shooting and then there is a protest, the people that protest might be black identity extremists. >> to the best of my knowledge, the fbi is not investigating people who are peacefully protesting. i haven't read that document. i'll review it and see what it says. >> i would appreciate if you would. if there is no basis for this term, that then the fbi take a step to retract the document and send a message to law enforcement around the country that no such category exists. i yield back my time. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from ohio, mr. jordan
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for five minutes. >> did the fbi pay christopher steel and was the dossier the basis for securing warrants at the fisa court to spy on americans associated with the trump campaign? it boils down to those fundamental questions. did you pay the guy who wrote it? did you use what he wrote to go get warrants to spy on americans? that's what it comes down to. and you're the guy who could answer those questions. yesterday i was convinced the answer to those questions was probably yes, but today i'm even more convinced the answer is yes based on the text messages we got to read early this morning. mr. rosenstein, you know peter struck? >> yes. i'm familiar with the name. >> former deputy head of counter intelligence at the fbi, peter struck, that one. >> i don't know his precise title. >> peter struck ran the clinton campaign, interviewed mills, abedin, clinton, changed from
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gross negligence to extreme carelessness. peter struck selected by mr. mueller to be on his team. that peter struck, we learn had all these text messages. we got to read some of them early this morning. as my colleagues have pointed out, some of them show he didn't like trump. he and ms. page show they don't like the president. but that's nothing new. everybody on mueller's team -- no one on mueller's team likes trump. we already knew that. i want to focus on one in particular, one in particular. this is a text message from mr. struck to ms. page recalling a conversation and a meeting that took place in andrew mccabe's office, deputy director of the fbi recalling a meeting earlier and mr. struck says this. i want to believe the path you threw out for conversation at andy's office, then there's a break, it says that there's no way he gets elected, no way
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trump gets elected. he says i want to believe that. but then he goes, but i'm afraid we can't take that risk. this goes to intent. he says we can't take the risk. you know, the people of this great country might elect donald trump president. we can't take this risk. this is peter struck, head of counter intelligence of the fbi. this is peter struck who i think had a hand in that dossier that was all dressed up and taken to the fisa court. he's saying we can't take the risk, we have to do something about it. don't forget the timeline here either, mr. rosenstein. peter struck, january 10th. he's the guy who changes the exoneration letter from gross negligence, criminal standard, to extreme carelessness. july 2nd, he's the guy who sits in on the clinton interview. and then august 2016 we have this text message, the same month that the russian
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investigation is opened at the fbi, august 2016. any guess is th my guess is that's the same month that the application was taken to the fisa court to get the warrants to spy on americans. using this dossier that the clinton campaign paid for, fake news all dressed up, taken to the court. so i got really just a couple basic questions. if the answer is yes, if you guys paid christopher steel statement the democrats and the clinton campaign were paying him or if you took the dossier and used that as the basis to get warrants and now we have intent in this text message saying -- there's another text message. my colleague referenced it earlier where mr. struck says ki prote
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i can protect our country at many levels. this guy thought he was super agent james bond at the fbi. this is obvious. i'm afraid we can't take that risk. there's no way we can let the american people make donald trump the next president. i've got to protect our country. this is unbelievable. i'm here to tell you mr. rosenstein, i think the public trust in this whole thing and gone. seems to me you've got two things you can do. you're the guy in charge. you're the guy who picked mueller. you're the guy who wrote the memo on why he needed to fire comey. you can appoint a second special counsel to look into this, to look into peter struck and everything else we have learned in the last several weeks. >> yes, congressman. i can assure you that i can consider it very important to make sure that a thorough review is done and our inspector general is doing a thorough review. that's how we found those text
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messages. >> you've given that answer like 15 times. let me ask you this. this is what a lot of americans are believing right now and i certainly do, that the comey fbi and the obama justice department worked with one campaign to go after the other campaign. that's what everything points to. think about what we've learned in the last several weeks. we learned they paid for the dossier. then we learn about peter struck. and then we learn about bruce orr and his wife nellie. this is unbelievable. what's it going to take to get a second special counsel to answer these questions and find out if peter struck was up to what i think he was. >> the inspector general has 500 employees and $100 million budget. this is what he does. he investigates allegations of misconduct involving department employees. that review is what turned up those text messages. it will also involve interviews of those persons and other witnesses. >> we're looking forward to his report and we've met with mr.
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ho horowitz. all kinds of senators think we need a second special counsel. what fact pattern do you have to have? what kind of text messages do you have to see before you say it's time for a second special counsel? >> i want to assure you and i think the attorney general explained we take very seriously the concerns of 20 members of this committee or one member of this committee, but we have a responsibility to make an independent determination and we will. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york for five minutes. >> there are approximately 14,000 special agents within the fbi, is that correct? >> 37,000 total employees. >> is it fair to say a majority of those fbi special agents are registered republicans? >> i haven't asked them and i
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wouldn't want to speculate. >> the majority have deserve leaning political reviews like much of the law enforcement community throughout the entire nation? >> i'm certain that many of them do. i haven't counted. >> now, the department of justice apparently last evening invited a group of reporters to its offices to review the private text messages that were sent during the election by peter struck and lisa page, is that correct? >> i believe that's correct. >> who exactly authorized the department of justice in advance of a congressional hearing to invite reporters to come view private text message communications between two department of justice employees who were the subject of a pending investigation? did you give that order, sir? >> it's a very important question you ask, because that was one of my concerns about this issue is what is the status of these messages and is it appropriate to release them and
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the determination was made that it is. so we gave notice to their attorneys, we notified the committee. our goal is to make sure that it's clear to you and the american people we are not concealing anything that's embarrassing to the fbi. >> isn't it extraordinary that you would invite reporters for a private spviewing in advance of congressional hearing? >> only if the information is appropriate for public release. if it's not, it is never appropriate to disclose it to reporters. >> shannon bream tweeted that fox news producer jake gibson has approximately 10,000 text messages between peter struck and lisa page. it's my understanding that only about 350 or so were released to this committee, is that correct? >> there are others being reviewed. we're assured the committee sha
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chairs that we're going to produce them. >> how is it that fox news has 10,000 text messages? >> i wouldn't assume that's true because it was in the news. >> this is a fox news reporter chairman in a bipartisan way would be interested in what is clearly -- would be a violation of law and department of justice proceedings. >> there there were any evidence we disclosed information to a reporter that wasn't appropriate for public release, i would agree with you. i'm not aware of that. >> the department of justice investigate should be free of political interference, true? >> absolutely. >> we put up a tweet from donald trump on november 3rd at 3:57 a.m. in the morning, god knows what he was doing at that time other than tweeting. it says everybody -- can we put that tweet up? >> we ask consent that the clock
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stop while we're trying to -- >> what was the gentleman's request? >> yeah, the committee had been given notice of a tweet that i wanted displayed on the screen last evening, and i have been asking for that to be put up. >> and there's some technical difficulty in doing that? yeah, we'll suspend. >> i believe the gentleman had 1:45. >> we'll make sure he has plenty of time. >> thank you, mr. gaetz. >> in the interest of time, mr. chairman, i'll just read what was written by the president.
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he said everybody is asking why the justice department and fbi isn't looking into all of the dishonestly going on with crooked hillary and the dems. let me ask you a question. is it ever appropriate for a president, any president, to encourage the department of justice to launch criminal investigations against his or her perceived political enemies? >> i'm not going to comment on that, congressman. as i have explained previously, the president has put a team of experienced folks in charge of the department of justice. and we're not going to be influenced by anything other than the facts of law. >> was that an appropriate tweet for the president of the united states to send? >> not my role to opine on that. >> the president's repeated attempts to encourage criminal prosecutions against perceived political enemies concern you, sir? >> congressman, as i have said, we understand our responsibility. and we're going to continue to conduct our responsibility in
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accordance with the facts and the law, and i'm grateful that the president has put an experienced team in charge of the justice department who understand what to do. >> thanks. on june 20th, "the new york times" published a wide ranging interview with president trump. in it, the president criticized you for being from baltimore. he said there are few republicans from baltimore. are you unable to be fair and impartial because you're from baltimore. >> i'm actually not from baltimore. i worked there in for twelve years. it's true, there aren't a lot of republicans in baltimore. >> his statement had no basis in reality, correct? >> that part was crew. >> preet bharara was a former district attorney for the state of new york city, true? >> he was fired by donald trump in march? >> along with almost all of the u.s. attorneys. >> they have proscuratorial jurisdiction over trump tower in manhattan, correct? >> jurisdiction over everything in its jurisdiction. >> and president interviews of u.s. attorney candidates, as has
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been reported to be the case for preet bharara's replacement, that would be a departure from protocol. >> for the president to conduct the interview? >> that's correct. >> i'm not aware of all the prior practices. i don't think it was done in the last two administrations i was familiar with. >> you were appointed by president bush and then continued in that position as u.s. attorney for maryland by barack obama. that's correct? >> that's correct. as a matter of law, i was appointed and never removed. >> were you ever asked by president bush for a loyalty pledge? >> no. >> were you ever asked by president barack obama to take a loyalty procedure. >> no. >> is it appropriate for the president to ask that a department director have a loyalty pledge? >> i don't have an opinion on that. nobody asked me to take a loyalty pledge, other than the oath of office. >> i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. poe,
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for five minutes. >> thank the chairman. thank you for being here. so it's clear, i'm one of the numerous members of the judiciary committee that have asked for a second special prosecutor based on what mr. jordan earlier said. the justice department is responsible for investigating criminal conduct. would that include criminal conduct by the nsa? >> yes. >> okay. we all learned under the prism that was happening years ago by the nsa that the nsa was doing, in my opinion, unconstitutional surveillance on americans in their e-mails by tracking it and hacking into see those e-mails came to light under snowden, after snowden, who i care nothing for, brought that to
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america's attention. nsa said we're not going to do that anymore. which i think is appropriate because i thought it was unconstitutional. and i believe we have heard reports through the media that there has been unmasking of information. what i mean by that is classified information is seized on somebody, and someone else, an american, that their name is caught up in the communication, and if someone leaks who that was, unmasked that individual, my understanding is if it's classified information, whoever does that unmasking has committed a felony. is that correct? >> the only distinction i would make is the masking is done in the course of intelligence analys analysis. leaking would be a violation. >> that what i'm talking about, leaking of that information. as of today, has anybody been
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indicted under prism, under leaking information on unmasking up until today? has the justice department indicted anybody under those two scenarios and events? >> we have indicted, prosecuted people for leaking. i'm not certain -- i don't believe any of them are related to unmasking. >> so no one has been indicted, to your knowledge. which i want to bring up now the foreign intelligence surveillance act that has been discussed by this committee numerous times. it's the law that allows secret courts to issue secret warrants to try to go get terrorists that are operating overseas and get their information. does the justice department present those fisa warrants to a fisa judge?
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>> in situations where a warrant is required, yes. it needs to be obtained by a federal jumg. >> the justice department is responsible for that, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> also under fisa, once again, americans are brought into the scenario because you target a foreign terrorist, and then you go after their e-mails, and then you find e-mails of americans. and those are inadvertently caught in the surveillance of the target. according to "the washington post" recently, 90% of those inadvertent e-mails are on americans. and my question to you is, why hasn't the justice department, the fbi, the intelligence community, presented to congress and our request that took place
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years ago, how many of those inadvertent e-mails, communications, text messages, conversations had been on americans. we have asked for the number. do you know why that has not been brought to our attention? and let me just follow up with this. here's the reason we need it. we're getting ready to maybe reauthorize 702, which i have a lot of problems with. i think it's unconstitutional in many other ways. beside the point, here we are at the deadline getting ready to reauthorize it, and still, the intelligence community refuses to tell us how many americans' information has been seized. can you tell us why we haven't gotten that information? that we have asked for for years. >> no, i testified at a hearing with director coates who i think would be a more appropriate person to answer that because he has access to the data, and he has explained it. but i would simply point out that you use the term inadvertent. it's a term we use incidental.
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>> i don't mind the name change. >> if you're investigating a foreign terrorist, knowing with whom that person is communicating is vital to your investigation. >> that's not my question. my question was, we're getting ready to maybe reauthorize 702. i don't think we ought to reauthorize it until we find out from the intelligence community where there are no indictments that have been issued against the intelligence community based upon the statements you have made to see whether or not they're violating the law, and they refuse to give this committee the information about how many people have been caught up in that. and we have been stonewalled from the intelligence community saying we can't do it. why can't the intelligence community get some geek over at best buy and have them come in and answer that question with a few little taps into the big computer system? we just want the number. >> time of the gentleman has expired. the witness may answer the question. >> as i explained, i heard director coates explain this.
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he's better positioned than i. >> so we don't know. still don't know. thank you, mr. chairman. >> chair thanks the gentleman. the gentleman from illinois, mr. gutierrez recognized five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to ask you about sexual assault by the president of the united states of america. over the past few days, echoing previous allegations made against the president in the past several years, at least 16 women have come forward to say that the president of the united states felt them up, kissed them without permission, put his hands under their clothing without permission, groped them, touched their genitalia, walked into dressing rooms unannounced to see them naked, and made other unwanted sexual advances that every one are clear violations of the law. now, i believe the women. i give the women and their word a lot of weight.
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and when the question is donald trump, there really should be no further discussion because as everybody, regardless of their political affiliations or partisanship can clearly see, we have a man in the presidency who has a very difficult relationship with the truth. in this case, we have women who were made to feel powerless and insignificant, who had grade personal cost and risk to come forward. and i believe them. i do. al franken is resigning from the senate. and it goes no further than this committee where two senior members resigned because women came forward and made credible claims. that just happened last week. and others on this dais right now are among the additional members of the body who are accused, credibly accused of misconduct. right now, with the number two person in the justice department before our committee and sworn to tell the truth, i think it's important to get your opinion on whether there are grounds for a
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criminal investigation or an ethics investigation against the president of the united states of america. for example, rachel crooks is one of the 16 women that we know of who have come forward. she said that president trump before he was president, quote, kissed me directly on the mouth. it was so inappropriate, he thought i was so insignificant that he could do that, end quote. jill hearth, another one of the 16 women said, quote, he groped me. he absolutely groped me, and he just slipped his hand there, touching my private parts, end quote. now, these are just two examples of unwelcome sexual advances. i think were he on the subway or in a restaurant, would not either or both of these incidents be enough to get him arrested? in your experience as the number two most important law enforcement officer in the united states? but before you answer that, how about these cases? kristen anderson in an interview
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said, quote, the person on my right who unbeknownst to me at the time was donald trump, put their hand up my skirt. he did touch my vagina through my underwear, end quote. and cusanda said he continually groped my ass and invited me to his hotel room, end quote. these are very serious allegations of crimes committed by the president. are they not? but before you answer the question, i think it's important to point out that these stories are corroborated by one of the most important witnesses of all, the president himself corroborates this. he told tv host billy bush when he was miked up for an interview with entertainment tonight, quote, i just start kissing them. it's like a magnet. i don't even wait. and when you're a star, they let you do it. you can do anything. he continued and said grab him by -- you know what he said. you can do anything, end quote.
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samantha holsey said on national television when she was a contestant in a beauty contest, trump came back unannounced to the dressing room. she tells her story, and once again, we have audiotape of the president corroborating this account, when he told howard stern, well, quote, i'll tell you, the funniest is before a show, i'll go backstage and everyone is getting dressed. and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, but i'm allowed to go in because i'm the owner. and he went on to say the chicks will be almost naked, end quote. mr. rosenstein, i see you as a law enforcement officer. and i value your opinion on these matters. would it be appropriate for you to investigate these and other allegations of assault and unwanted sexual advances by the president of the united states? >> congressman, i am happy to take any questions regarding oversight of the department of justice. with regard to that matter or any other allegation you think warrants investigation, i will invite you to submit the evidence and the department will
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review it. if you believe there's a federal crime. that applies to any alleged violation by any person. that's all i have to say about that. >> but mr. rosenstein, you're the number two top law enforcement officer in the nation. let me ask you, if a person on a train went and kissed a woman, is that a crime? >> if it's a federal train, it might be a federal crime, congressman. >> it's amtrak. >> just not going to answer. >> it's amtrak. >> wouldn't be appropriate for me to answer. >> wouldn't be appropriate? you think -- as the number two law enforcement officer, you don't think it's a crime for a woman to be on a train, be in a restaurant sitting and a stranger unwanted, a stranger would come up to her and grope her and kiss her, that's not a crime? >> if you ask me -- >> the time of the gentleman has expired. >> i would have to know the facts and evaluate the law. i have never prosecuted a case like that in federal court,
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congressman. if you have an allegation by any person at any time, you should feel free to submit it. >> the women have made the allegations. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. we recognize mr. marino for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman. deputy attorney general, good to see you again. >> thank you. >> we do a lot of good work together over the years. >> yes, sir. >> i'm proud of it, and i'm still proud to tell people i was part of the justice department. actually, i have a strong bias for the justice department. i know your character. i know what kind of man you are. and i have the most confidence in you that you will direct that agency to follow the rule of law and to see that everything is above board. 99.99% of the people that i worked with there are good, honest, law enforcement people. and i have ultimate respect for them. they helped me on many cases even when i was a d.a.
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i would like to ask you to clarify a procedure. and first of all, would you tell me if i'm right here? special counsel is appointed by the attorney general, or in other circumstances, by you, and that special counsel reports to you. >> correct. >> am i correct in saying that an independent counsel is again appointed by the attorney general or you, but that counsel is independent and not report to anyone in the essence of can i do a, b, oh c, is that correct? >> under the independent counsel statute that lapsed in 1999, the appointment would be made by a federal judge. no role for the department in the selection or oversight. >> doj wouldn't be involved in it at all? >> correct. >> let's talk a moment about, i have been in many interviews with fbi agents, dea agents, concerning potential cases.
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and what i have seen handled was above board, but would you explain what a 302 is. >> a 302 is simply the form number for an fbi interview report. so after conducting a witness interview, fbi agent would write a summary of the interview. we refer to that as a form 302. >> and during an interview, whether it's done by attorneys or investigators at the department of justice or it's done back in my district in the middle of pennsylvania, at some point, is there usually an assistant u.s. attorney present in those interviews? >> there's no rule against it, congressman, but typically not. i would say the majority of interviews would be conducted by two agents without a prosecutor.
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>> who makes the final determination on whether immunity is granted? by the u.s. attorney or the attorney at the justice department who could perhaps be handling that case? >> that's correct. it would be a prosecutor who would need to make that determination, and depending upon what type of immunity it might require a higher level of review. >> before any immunity is given to anyone, whether it's absolute or not, we in law enforcement look for a proffer, is that correct, from that individual or their attorney? what are you going to tell us, why should we give you immunity? >> we have a strong preference for obtaining a proffer prior to any grant of immunity. we don't always do it, but we have a strong preference for it. >> i have never been in a situation, and perhaps it's not unique, where immunity has been given where there has not been a
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proffer. is that -- would that be an extreme unusual situation where someone would say immunity, but we have no idea what they're going to say? >> i wouldn't want to characterize it as a u.s. attorney, i had to approve formal immunity, and the majority of the cases, there had been a proffer. if there wasn't a proffer, i typically would ask why. so i can't characterize what percentage of cases might fall into that category. >> and also, any evidence that would be collected such as laptops, computers, things of that nature pursuant to the investigation, there would be a thorough investigation of that equipment before immunity would be given to someone. >> it would depend upon the circumstances, congressman. we have to make a determination of whether we believe the data might be relevant to the decision. >> but there is -- we just don't give blanket immunity because someone asked for it or just to get them in to talk. >> we should not give immunity just because somebody asks for
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it, correct. >> that's all i have. thank you very much for being here, and i know you'll keep an eye on things and keep everything above board. a pleasure to see you again. i yield back. >> likewise, thank you. >> thank the gentleman. the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida, mr mr. deuch. >> i would like to walk through for the benefit of my colleagues a short timeline from this year. in january, the fbi, cia, and nsa concluded the follow. we assess russian president vladimir putin ordered influence in the campaign aimed at the u.s. presidential election. russia's goals were to undermine faith in the u.s. process, denigrate secretary clinton and harm her electability. we further assess putin and the russian government developed a clear preference for president trump. close quote. could you give any reason to dispute that? >> no. >> in january, also in january, january 24th, michael flynn
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denied to the fbi agents that he discussed u.s. sanctions with russia before he took office. on january 26th, acting attorney general sally yates told the white house counsel that flynn lied about the nature of his calls with kislyak and is vulnerable to blackmail. on february 15th of this year, flynn resigned of his conversations with the vice president. on february 15th, phone records shows members of the trump campaign had repeated contact with russian officials in the year before the election. on march 16th, documents released by representative cummings showed flynn received $300,000 for a speech he made in moscow. on march 20th, the fbi director acknowledged an investigation. on may 9th, the president fired the fbi director. on may 10th, they revealed classified information and told
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them he fired the head of the fbi, called him a nut job, and said i face great pressure because of russia. that's taken off. close quote. on may 11th, the president told nbc news the thing with trump and russia is a made up story. on june 7th, we learned president trump urged comey to drop the flynn investigation. on july 8th, we learned of an undisclosed trump tower meeting between donald trump jr., jared kushner, paul manafort, and a russian lawyer. the next day, five sources stated that donald trump jr. agreed to the meeting on the premise that damaging information on hillary clinton would be provided, and five days afterthat, a veteran of the russian military, we learned, also attended the meeting with "dancing with the star withdiwith donald trump jr., paul manafort, and jared kushner. georgepadopoulos pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the fbi on january 27th about the timing, extent, and nature of relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals.
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in the statement of offense, we learned that he reached out regarding his connections that he could reparrange a meeting between trump and putin. on october 27th, former campaign chairman paul manafort and campaign adviser rick gates were indicted on multiple counts including conspiracy against the united states. in november, the president of the united states met with vladimir putin and said, and i quote, he said he didn't meddle. he said he didn't meddle. i asked him again. you can only ask so many times. every time he sees me, he says i didn't do that. and i really believe that. when he tells me that, he means it. president went on to say, i mean, give me a break. talking about the national security folks who put together that report that i quoted earlier. give me a break. they are political hacks. on december 1st, former national security adviser michael flynn pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the fbi about conversations he had with the russian ambassador regarding sanctions. this is a little walkthrough what happened over the past year. i would like to ask you,
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mr. rosenstein, i would like to quote some of my colleagues from this committee. one said that the special counsel's investigation into whether the trump campaign interfered in the election is an attempt to overthrow the government of the united states. do you believe that, mr. rosenstein? >> no. >> he said we're at risk of a coup d'etat in this country if we allow an unaccountable person, special counsel unaccountable here? >> no, he's not unaccountable. >> he went on to say with no oversight. is there no oversight? >> there is oversight. >> he said if we allow a person with no oversight to undermine the dually elected president of the united states, is pursuing a rule of law undermining the dually elected president of the united states? >> no t is not. >> one of my other colleagues said we have to clean this town up. he talked about firing mueller. one of our former colleagues on this committee accused mueller of having a vendetta against trump because he fired comey. do you believe he has a vendetta
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against the president? >> no, i do not. >> i would just conclude that this little walkthrough, this one year in american history, makes it impossible to understand how it is that my colleagues on the other side continue to watch attacks, not only against reporters, against the fbi, against the special counsel, but they do so to throw dirt on the story, to make it try to go away. they may want to bury their heads in the sand, but mr. chairman, i want to make clear that they will not bury the rule of law in the united states of america. and i yield back. >> gentleman's time has expired. chair recognizes the gentleman from south carolina, mr. gowdy, for five minutes. >> thank you. there are a lot of issues i would like to ask you about, mr. deputy attorney general. we had a terrorist incident in new york this week. we have 702 reauthorization pending in congress, gun violence, the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform. but when i go home to south carolina this weekend, trust me when i tell you, no one is going
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to ask me about any of those issues. they're going to ask me, what in the hell is going on with the department of justice and the fbi? the reason we have special counsel, and this is a very important point, and you know it, the reason we have special counsel is because of a conflict of interest. the regulation itself specifically makes reference to a conflict of interest, and we don't like conflicts of interest because it undercuts people's confidence in both the process and the result. so let's be really clear why we have special counsel. it was either a real or perceived conflict of interest that we were fearful would either impact the result or people's confidence in the process. that's why we have something called special counsel. and that's why we have special counsel in this fact pattern. and lo and behold, those who are supposed to make sure there are no conflicts of interest seem to have a few of their own.
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there's a senior prosecutor who sent obsequious e-mails to a fact witness. she could be described as nothing other than a fact witness. she's a really important fact witness if you pursue the line of inquiry that my democrat friends want to per sue. they got off collusion and now they're on obstruction of justice. she may be the most important fact witness in an obstruction of justice case. and the senior prosecutor for this conflict of interest free special counsel sent a fawning obsequious e-mail to a fact witness. then we have prosecutors assigned to conduct this investigation who donated almost exclusively to one candidate over another. and then we have a prosecutor assigned to this conflict of interest free team that attended what was supposed to be, what he had hoped to be a victory party
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for secretary clinton. and we have a senior doj official, mr. deputy attorney general, with an office that used to be two doors down from yours. meeting with fusion gps, and fusion gps, of course, was paying for russian dirt on the very person that they're supposed to be objectively investigating. and then that same senior doj official's wife, the one that met with fusion gps, his wife was on the payroll of fusion gps. and then we have a senior agent assigned to investigate secretary clinton's e-mail, help draft the exoneration letter, what would change the language from grossly negligent to extremely careless. interviewed secretary clinton in an nainterview i have never see and i doubt you have either in your career as a prosecutor, interviewed michael flynn. was actively involved in the investigation into the trump campaign before the inspector
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general found his texts. so this agent in the middle of almost everything related to secretary clinton and president trump sent pro-clinton texts, anti-trump texts to his paramour, in response to being told maybe he is where he is to protect the country from that menace, donald trump, he said, i can protect our country at many levels. and then he said, hillary clinton should win 100 million to nothing. think about that, mr. deputy attorney general. that's a pretty overwhelming victory. 100 million to zero. and when i read that last night, what i thought was, this conflict of interest free senior agent of the fbi can't think of a senior solitary american who would vote for donald trump. that's where the zero comes in. not a single solitary american he can imagine would vote for donald trump. this is the conflict of interest
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free special agent assigned. and then he went on, if that weren't enough, to belittle trump supporters by saying he could smell them at a walmart in virginia. this is the person we needed to avoid a conflict of interest. and then he said this. they fully deserve to go and demonstrate the absolute bigoted nonsense of trump. but he wasn't content to just disparage donald trump. he had to disparage donald trump's family. this is what he said, mr. deputy attorney general. he said the douche bags are about to come out. he's talking about our first lady and children. this conflict of interest free special agent of the fbi. this is who we were told we needed to have an objective, impartial, fair, conflict of interest free investigation. so he's openly pulling for the candidate he had a role in clearing, and he's openly investigating a candidate that he has bias against, and then if
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that's not enough, he says trump is an f'ing idiot. what the f just happened to our country. this is the same man who said he would save our country. what happens when people who are supposed to cure the conflict of interest have even greater conflicts of interests than those they replace? that's not a rhetorical question. you nor i nor anyone else would ever sit peter strzok on a jury. we wouldn't have him objectively dispassionately investigate anything knowing what we know now. why didn't we know it ahead of time, and the last question, my final question to you, and i appreciate the chairman's patience, how would you help me answer that question when i go back to south carolina this weekend? >> congressman, first of all, with regard to the special counsel, mr. strzok was already working on the investigation when the special counsel was appointed. the appointment i made was of robert mueller.
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what i recommend you tell your constituents is robert mueller and rod rosenstein and chris wray are accountable and we'll make sure no bias is reflected in any of the actions taken by the special counsel or in any matter within the jurisdiction of the department of justice. when we have evidence of any inappropriate conduct, we're going to take action on it. and that's what mr. mueller did here as soon as he learned about this issue. he took action. and that's what i anticipate that the restf our prosecutors and new group of u.s. attorneys, our justice department appointees, they understand the rules, and they understand the responsibility to defend the integrity of the department. if they find evidence of improper conduct, they're going to take action. congressman, that's the best assurance i can give you. but actually, there's one other point, which is you should tell your constituents that we exposed this issue because we're insuring that the inspector general conducts a thorough and effective investigation and if there is any evidence of
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inpropriety, he's going to surface it and report about it publicly. >> i'll try. >> the gentleman's time has expired. we recognize the chairman from rhode island for five minutes. >> thank you. in february, the department of justice changed its litigation position, a texas photo i.d. case. did you have any involvement in the decision to reverse the justice department's long standing decision that the texas i.d. law was intentionally discriminatory? >> no, i did not. >> in august, they changed their litigation in a case. the justice department is now defending ohio's voter purging law. were you involved in the decision to change this litigation position, and now side with the voter purging law? >> i was at the department at the time, but i don't believe i had involvement in the decision. >> were you involved in the decision to file an amicus brooek brief on behalf of the baker who seeks to denide baking
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wed dyin ding cakes for same-se couples. >> that was made by our solicitor general. >> you describe him as a heroic individual, someone who was confirmed unanimously as fbi director, someone of extraordinary reputation, service, and patriotism. i take it your judgment on mr. mueller has not changed today. >> correct. >> you would not have appointed a special counsel or appointed mr. mueller if you thought he was going to engage in a witch hunt, correct? >> correct. >> so you then would disagree with the president's labeling of the special counsel's investigation as a witch hunt, i assume. >> i don't know exactly what the president meant by that, congressman. the special counsel's investigation is not a witch hunt. >> not a witch hunt. the president said it is. you disagree. you're supposed to be independent. you disagree it's a witch hunt. the president is wrong, correct? >> i don't know what the president meant by that. >> do you believe the repeated attacked on the credibility of special counsel mueller whether
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by conservative pundits on tv or my colleagues threatens to undermine the credibility of the investigation? >> the independence and integrity of the investigation is not going to be affected by anything anybody says. >> you delivered remarks on october 25th before the u.s. chamber of commerce, and i quote, you said if we permit the rule of law to erode when it does not directly harm our personal interest, the erosion may consume us as well. if it collapses, if people lose faith in the rule of law, then everyone will suffer, end quote. in the context of the president's attacks, the american people are really witnessing an unprecedented attack on our democratic institutions by this president. first, diminishing the seriousness of the investigation, which is under way about vladimir putin's interference in our elections. attacks on the judiciary, attacks on the free press. the one institution which continues to enjoy broad public support and remains key to protecting the rule of law is
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the federal bureau of investigations and the department of justice. america is counting on your integrity and your commitment to protecting the unless of the special counsel to reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law. so when you said just a moment ago that you don't have an opinion about a loyalty oath from the president being asked of people, it might be useful to remind you, sir, that members of the department of justice take an oath to the constitution. so a loyalty oath to the president of the united states is inappropriate for any president to ask for and anyone to swear it. do you agree? >> congressman, nobody has asked me for a loyalty oath. >> that's not my question, sir. my question is, you are here to demonstrate the independence of your office. you're unwilling to say that an oath to the president of the united states rather than to the constitution is not inappropriate? that does not inspire a lot of confidence. >> an oath to the president of the united states, rather than the constitution, would be inappropriate. >> an oath to the president of the united states, period, is not appropriate? >> you're talking about a hypothetical. it's not clear what was asked or
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what was said. >> you also -- >> as long as you are following your oath of office, you can also be faithful to the administration. >> faithful is not the question. i'll move to a new question. you also said you would not respond to the question to say whether or not the president of the united states had asked you to initiate criminal prosecutions against political adversaries. you would not disclose whether or not those conversations took place. >> i said i would disclose if i was told to do something improper. >> what if you were encouraged to do something inproper? what if you were encouraged to initiate a criminal investigation? that's not appropriate to do, is it? >> several of your colleagues on both sides have encouraged me today. as i explained, i'm going to base my decisions on the facts and the law. >> i understand that, but the action of a president to encourage you to initiate a criminal prosecution, separate of what you will do with that, that very action is not appropriate. >> you're free to make that judgment. >> i'm asking you in your judgment. isn't that inappropriate. >> my judgment is it would be
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inappropriate for somebody to order me to do something. >> it wouldn't be inappropriate for your supervisor, the person you serve, the president of the united states, to tell you or suggest to you or encourage you to initiate a criminal prosecution against a political adversary? >> congressman, i think i have been very clear about this. nobody is giving me -- >> i'll end with this, mr. deputy attorney general. we have heard you very proudly here talk about the integrity of the department of justice and the work of the fbi. we heard director wray say the same thing. these two agencies, the fbi and the department of justice, are in the midst of an unprecedented attack by individuals who are trying to undermine the credibility of this independence counsel's investigation. these are the same group of vegs who praised robert mueller when he was appointed. spectacular. was praised uniformly, and now the only thing that's changed is two indictments, two pleas. michael flynn, part of the
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president's inner circle, now cooperating with the government. that's the only thing that's changed. we need to hear your voice, defending the integrity of this department, rule of law, the independence of this investigation. because the very future of our democracy is at stake if you fail to do that. i urge you to do so. with that, i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from idaho, mr. labrador, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. rosenstein, for being here today. i shudder at some of the questions from the other side. and i just want to ask you a quick question. have you ever said that you are the president's wingman? >> no, sir. >> has the current attorney general of the united states ever said that he is the president's wingman? >> not to my knowledge. >> but yet, the attorney general under president obama said that he was the president's wingman, and i never heard a single democrat object to that. so it's kind of ridiculous to sit here and try to question your integrity or try to question whether somebody is going to be loyal to their
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president or not, as you clearly indicated, you can be both loyal to the constitution and to the president of the united states, as long as there's not a conflict of interest, as long as you're not doing anything that is inappropriate, it's okay to be the president's wingman. it's also okay to say that you're going to be loyal to the president, as long as they're not asking you to do anything that is illegal. isn't that correct? >> yes. >> so what was the goal of the russians when they tried to interfere with the elections in the united states? >> the assessment of the intelligence community as reflected in their public report is that the goal of the russians was to undermine american confidence in democracy. >> so to undermine the american -- >> paraphrasing, congressman. i don't have it in front of me. >> they tried to undermine the u.s. faith in the democratic process, is that correct? >> i believe that's correct. >> i believe no one in the united states has done more to undermine the belief in the united states democratic process than the democrats, and the
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press in some cases, when they continue to report on false allegation after allegation after allegation. in fact, what you see from the democrats is they move from one allegation, that allegation is proven to be false, and they move to the next one, and they move to the next one, and they move to the next one. because they're unhappy with the result of the election. can you tell me why the independent counsel was actually appointed? >> the special counsel, congressman, i have explained publicly, that i appointed the special counsel based upon unique circumstances in order to promote public confidence, and i have nothing to add to that. >> why, when mr. mueller was charged with investigating, he was charged with investigating, quote, any links and/or coordination between the russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of donald trump. and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation, end quote. that charge is overly broad. but there's been two
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prosecutions or at least two charges so far brought by the independent counsel, is that correct? >> four individuals charged, two pleaded guilty and two will stand trial. >> have any of them been charged with any links and or coordination between the russian government and individuals associated with the campaign for president trump? >> congressman, the charges speak for themselves. i'm not going to comment beyond what's in the charging documents. >> is there anything in the charging documents that there was a coordination between the trump administration and the russians? >> congressman, i'm not going to comment beyond what's in the charging documents. i think you can draw your own conclusion. >> something i do agree with my friends on the other side is we should get do the bottom of this. we should know the truth. we should know whether there was collusion between russia and the president of the united states. we should also know if there was collusion between any department who tried to interfere with our elections. so can you tell me, was there
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collusion between the doj and fusion gps to use a democratic funded document for political and legal purposes? >> i don't know the answer to that, congressman. i would simply point out the language used in the appointing order was coordination. and i believe that was the language used by director comey when he publicly testified about an ongoing investigation. i did not use the word collusion. >> okay. so that coordination, was there any coordination between the doj and fusion gps to try to undermine an election of the united states? >> if there were, congressman, i would be very concerned about it. as you know, there are ongoing reviews, and i'm not in a position to comment about that. >> ongoing reviews, so there could potentially be an investigation whether the doj and members of the doj actually colluded with an enemy of a political party and a political candidate to undermine the elections of the united states. >> if there's any evidence that
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warrants it, we'll do what is appropriate. >> all right, so i think if you want to restore the trust of the american people, i think the department of justice has a duty to give us all the information we have been asking for. we need to find out who started this investigation, we need to find out what the purpose was. if you have an individual who actually had a desire to have an outcome in a political race, and they decided to use the department of justice to investigate their political opponent, i think that is one of the worst crimes that has occurred in the history when it comes to politics, do you agree with that? >> if that were what happened, it would be of grave concern. >> i hope you're truly investigating this and that we get to the bottom of this. thank you very much. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from california, mr. swalwell, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, mr. rosenstein.
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please express my thanks to your employees who serve at our national interest every day and do very important work at the department. mr. rosenstein, have you spoken with the president since you were appointed? >> of course. >> and is that in a one-on-one setting? >> i have never spoken with the president in a one-on-one setting. >> has he called you since you have been appointed? by telephone. >> yes. >> and what was discussed? >> as i said, congressman, i have told you that if i were told to do anything inappropriate, i would talk about it, but if the president is consulting me about matters in my responsibility, that's part of the way you run the government. >> did he discuss at all mr. mueller's investigation. >> i'm not going to comment about my communications with the president. >> how many times has he called you? >> congressman, i do not -- i'm not going to comment about my communications with the president. there's nothing wrong with the president consulting with his deputy attorney general about matters within the jurisdiction of the justice department, as long as it's not inappropriate.
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>> i agree, except this president has demonstrated and it's been expressed through testimony through james comey that has not been contradicted under oath multiple times that he is willing to talk to individuals at the department about ongoing investigations. that's where the concern arises. with respect to attorney general sessions' recusal, was he involved at all in the decision by the department to allow reporters to review the text messages that you discussed earlier? >> not to my knowledge. >> will you tell us if he was? >> if i learn about it, if it matters, congressman, as i said, not any inpropriety in what the department has done in making this text messages available. >> but attorney general sessions is recused from bob mueller's investigation. >> right. >> and these are related to an individual on bob mueller's
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investigation? >> i don't want to argue. i'm not aware of any evidence that the attorney general has violated his recusal. >> mr. rosenstein, if you're overseeing an investigation and lead a team of investigators and you learn that one of the investigators has demonstrated a perceived bias against an individual in the investigation, should you, a, keep the person on the team, or b, remove the person from the investigation? >> b. >> and knowing that fact pattern, what did bob mueller do with a similar fact pattern? >> he chose the correct option. >> mr. rosenstein, the president has said a number of things about you, the attorney general, the fbi being in tatters. he even compared our intelligence community, which your employees are a part of, to nazi germany. and i want to ask, considering his continued disparagement of the department and your employees, are your employees proud to work for a person who holds their high integrity in such low regard? >> my employees are, i believe,
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proud to work for the department of justice. some of them support the particular president, some don't, but as long as they do their job appropriately, that's my concern. >> i agree, and i hope so, and i hope that's the case. mr. rosenstein, your testimony today is that you believe bob mueller is the person of high integrity, is that right? >> yes. >> you believe his investigation is being conducted fairly, is that correct? >> yes. >> you also believe that, and you understand that he's publ publicly indicted two individuals with respect to his investigation. >> correct. >> he's also obtained two guilty pleas with respect to his investigation. >> correct. >> is there good cause to fire bob mueller as we sit here today? >> not to my knowledge. >> i am concerned that my house judiciary committee colleagues, particularly in the majority, have signaled quite indiscreetly today, that they would probably give the president a pass if he were to fire or order you to fire bob mueller. there have been a number of statements attempting to undermine the good character of
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bob mueller. that concerns me because that would certainly fly in the face of the rule of law in this country. it would not be okay, i believe, with the american people or the spirit that our country was founded upon. mr. deputy attorney general, your investigation is a very narrow bridge. the important part, i believe, for our country is for you to not be afraid during these trying times. we need you to be fearless. we have a president who has demonstrated a willingnesss to involve himself in ongoing investigations that involve he and his family. and for the sake of our country, for the sake of rule of law, i hope that you continue to demonstrate the character that got you into this position and that has given us as a committee, i think, faith in your ability to carry out that mission. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr mr. farenthold for five minutes.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. i know we talked a lot about this today, but i feel obliged on account of the folks i represent are always asking me about this, to say there is a real concern out there in texas, certainly, and i think around the nation. we have got a special counsel who is working 24/7 investigating the trump administration. yet the department of justice and various witnesses we have had up here, has basically not been able to confirm or deny what investigations if any are going on with respect to the potential misdeeds of the clinton campaign and their dealings with russia be it through uranium one, various speaking engagements for the former president clinton, and the like. i'm not asking you to break that confidentiali confidentiality, but i am suggests that there are a lot of
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people out there who would be sadly disappointed if there isn't an investigation. and who may actually -- who do actually think that there might ought to be a special prosecutor or special counsel appointed to look at the other side. so instead of beating that dead horse, i'm going to beat another one that i have been talking a lot about. and that's specifically the doj's opposition to the usa liberty act. why is it so hard, why is the warrant requirement so difficult to deal with on your part? we understand the need to have circumstances where things get looked at quickly, but like the fisa court and this whole process of obtaining things for foreign intelligence purposes to stop terrorists are being rolled into more normal mainstream criminal investigations where traditionally there's been a
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need for a warrant. why is it so difficult to get a warrant? in many cases, you can create the necessary probable cause and paperwork in a matter of hours if not minutes. there are judges on call 24/7 to look at these things. why is it such a problem? and why are you all opposed to it? >> i believe -- i want to duplicate director wray's comments. i wish you could join us in the department and see how we go about our work, and i think that would enhance public confidence. they see when things go wrong. they don't see the 99.9% of the time, as congressman marino pointed out, when things go right. it would be burdensome. i certainly respect, and i understand the concerns, congressman. and i think those are serious concerns. and we're going to do everything we can to try to reassure people about it. but i can simply tell you, and it would take me a lot longer than the time you have to explain the full process, but i believe director wray is correct
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about this. and the national security community, i know many folks who were involved pre9/11 and post-9/11 have spoken up about how important it is for us to have this tool because we do not want to be in a position again that we were in 9/11 and people said why didn't the fbi put these facts all together and figure out about this threat before the terrorists attacked? that's the basis, congressman, and i can assure you that if it were easy to do with a warrant, i would be in favor of it. but it's not, and i believe we have appropriate safeguards in place, and that we have people who are responsible, who are conducting these investigations, and are going to avoid infringing americans' rights. that's our primary concern. attorney general sessions has made it one of his priorities to make sure there are not violations of americans' rights, and i do not believe the program as it exists represents a violation of anyone's rights. >> you and i may disagree on whether it violates folks
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rights. i agree we have to fight terrorism, but there's a reason the fourth amendment was included in the constitution. finally, i want to touch for a second on cybersecurity. i used to run a computer consulting company, and you have heard about breaches all throughout the public and private sector. can you just give me an overview quickly about what y'all are doing with respect to that? and what if anything congress needs to do to help you? >> it would be hard for me to do it quickly because we do have a lot of resources, both the fbi and other agencies, that are protecting against the cyber threat. it's a significant threat. we face an intelligence threat from hostile foreign governments, and also a criminal threat from people who try to break into our systems to commit crimes and defraud americans. so it's a very challenging issue, as you know from your experience. technology continues to evolve and we need to stay a step ahead of the capabilities of our
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adversaries and of criminals. the fbi does have a lot of resources devoted to that. i testified about our budget a couple months ago. and i think that's going to be an area where we will need increasing support from the congress to make sure that we keep up with our adversaries. >> i see my time has expired. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. chair grants the gentleman from california, mr. lieu, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, deputy attorney general mr. rosenstein for being here today. not only were you appointed by republican president donald trump. you were also previously appointed by republican president george bush. in a profile view for "the washington post" when you were a u.s. attorney, they say rob rosenstein is the poster child for the ethical and fair minded prosecut prosecutor. thank you for your service to the american people and for your
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exemplary service. last week, chris wray told us no one is above the law. you would agree with that statement, wouldn't you? >> yes, i would. >> now, important to our democracy, not only that concept but also that people have to have trust in our law enforcement investigations. there are some of my colleagues and some in the media who have suggested that if you make political contributions, somehow, you cannot be fair and impartial. as you know, these political contributions are a matter of public record. you previously said when it comes to special counsel investigations, you, special counsel mueller, and fbi director wray will be the ones held accountable. we looked up the political contributions of fbi director wray. he has made over $39,000 in contributions exclusively to republicans. including $2500 twice to romney for president. $2600 twice to perdue for president. thousands of dollars in national
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senatorial committee. $1,000 to congress, and on and on. do you believe fbi director chris wray can remain fair and impartial? >> yes, i do. >> your colleague, rachel brand, has made over $37,000 in political contributions exclusively to republicans. do you believe she can remain fair and impartial despite her political contributions? >> yes. >> i think it's important to shut down this silly argument from my colleagues across the aisle that somehow the department of justice employee exercises their first amendment right to make political contributions and somehow they cannot do their job. it shows the desperation that some people have about the mueller investigation, which i now want to turn to. you supervise that investigation, so you're aware, of course, of the guilty pleas and indictments. and in reviewing the guilty plea of george papadopoulos, you would agree there's a solid legal and factual basis for that guilty plea, correct? >> i believe he was represented
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by competent defense counsel who assisted him in making his decision. >> and he pled guilty to lying to fbi agents about interactions with russia, russian officials,? >> i believe that's correct. i don't want to comment what's on the charging documents. they speak for themselves. >> the guilty plea of michael flynn. you vus have looked at those. you would agree there's a legal and factual basis for that guilty plea as well, correct? >> yes. >> he lied to fbi agents about his interactions with russian ambassadors? >> the documents speak for themselves. >> you read the indictments against paul manafort and mr. gates. you would agree there's a solid basis for those indictments? >> congressman, when we return an indictment we're careful to say the defendants are presumed innocent. but i'm comfortable with the process that was followed with regard to that indictment. >> you're aware of the various people that have been interviewed by special counsel mueller's team. you would agree there's a
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factual and legal basis to interview those witnesses? >> i'm not aware of any impropriety. >> you previously testified about robert mueller's record and dedication service. you did mention he was a vietnam veteran pi want to know for the record, and i'm sure you do as well, he did receive a bronze star for his service in vietnam. >> i believe two, correct. >> he also received a purple heart. >> yes. >> so what do we have here? we have a special counsel investigation that is being supervised by mr. rosenstein who has been described by a fair-minded prosecutor appointed twice by republican presidents being run by special counsel mueller, a a man of vietnam veteran, purple heart. and in coordination with christopher ray who has been
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appointed by republican president who made over $39,000 of contributions exclusively to republicans. that is the leadership of this special counsel investigation and i am okay with that. i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida for five minutes. >> mr. deputy attorney general, when sally yates defied the travel restriction in 2017 was that appropriate what she did? >> i disagreed with her decision. >> so if you're in a position where you get an order, your job is to follow the order if you think it's unconstitutional your response would be to resign your office, correct? >> my response would be first to talk with the person who gave the order, but ultimately if i concluded it were unconstitutional, i would not implement it. >> obviously, you can't ebb have a department operating where each one is is alawn to themselves where they don't follow the orders? >> that's exactly right.
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>> it bothered me one of the recent revelations. a big democrat owner, which doesn't disqualify you from being fair. doesn't mean that disqualifies you. he sends her an e-mail saying how he's in awe and so proud of her basically standing up to trump. it was seen as a very direct rebuke to the president. so your test was are the political opinions affecting how one conducts himself in office. i think that's a fair test. isn't that example of that e-mail an example of his stro strongly held anti-trump opinions affecting how he's conducting himself on his official e-mail? >> as i mentioned, i've discussed this general issue with director mueller on several occasion. he understands the importance of ensuring that there's no bias reflected in the conduct of the investigation. >> it looks bad to the public. part of it is there an actual
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bias. is there an appearance to have that and clearly what she did was not something that experienced prosecutors would think is good. the supreme court has slapped it down. the russia investigation, who started it? who was it? who opened the case? >> congressman, that matter is is under review by the intelligence committee. there's nothing that i can talk about publicly regarding the initiation of the investigation. i can assure you we're going to provide appropriate access to the intelligence committee to what they need. >> did the fbi pay for the days ya? >> i'm not in position to answer that question. >> you know the answer to the question? >> i believe i know the answer, but the intelligence committee is the appropriate committee to make that. >> that's not true. we have oversight over your department and the fbi. whether public funds were spent on a dossier, that's not something that's classified. we have every right of that
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information. if you're not, they will probably be things. was that information used to get surveillance over anybody associated with trump? >> i appreciate that question. i know there's been a concern for several members of the committee. i have set aside a half hour every day to review applications. it's not legal for me to talk about those applications. so i'm not able to answer one way or the other. >> i'd like that authority. i think you can -- you may not be able to talk about the sources, but if this was used, we need to know that. do you agree that given -- who was the role of bruce other? he met with christopher steele before the election. >> i do not know all the details. this information is still developing. i don't know the full story. we have agreed to make him available for congressional intervie interviews. >> you need to pursue it. it's your department. you demoted him. he's work iing with christopher
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steele. you have an anti-trump dossier. this doesn't look good. we need answers to those questions. >> just that -- >> i get it. e let e me ask you this. the role of mr. struck. how much of this russia investigation was due to him? yes, mueller saw the texts. there was nothing he could do. how much of this whole investigation has been infected with his bias? have you made a determination on that? >> i have not, but i do want you to know, again, without talking specifically about this investigation. the fbi does have procedures for all investigations to ensure they are appropriately vetted. there's no case for one individual to make decisions. >> i hope that, but if you look at that text on august this is bad. he says, i want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in andy's office. i'm going to go out on a limb and say andrew mccabe. there's no way, meaning donald trump, gets elected. but i'm afraid we can't take
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that risk. we in the fbi can't take that risk. it's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40. let me ask you this. if you have those walmart. shopping trump voters that peter struck so derided in his text messages, how do they react to that? do they have confidence in their fbi and their department of justice when you see that that you can't let the american people vote somebody in who they want to? >> congressman, i think -- what i hope you can tell your constituents and to provide reassurance to the american people is we have appropriate internal affairs officers who will get to the bottom of that. our inspector general is the one who exposed that. he's going to deliver a report and we're going to -- >> when is that report due? >> gentleman is out of time. >> it's going to be relatively soon. he's testifying next door. he knows i want it completed as
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quickly as possible. but to make sure he gets it right. >> i thank the gentleman. i yield back. >> the chair. >> thank you very much. wm, it's good to see you again. i'm aware from having been a state senator in maryland for a decade of your excellent service there. thank you tr your service now. my first question is about the clause that forbids the collection of foreign government payments by the president of the united states and other public officials. more than 180 members of the u.s. congress brought a lawsuit in the district of columbia against the president's collection of foreign government money for golf courses and so on. the department of justice took the position we don't have standing to raise that. if members of congress, whose permission is required under the mollments clause, do not have standing to raise the violation of the clause. how do we deal with the problem? >> congressman, as you
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mentioned, that's pending litigation. the department has taken its position in court. it will be the judge's decision whether that prevails. i don't have anything to say beyond that. >> you said that robert mueller is a dedicated and heroic public servant whose distinguished military career and career as a prosecutor make him qualified to be running the special counsel investigation right now. he's also registered republican nominated as fbi director by president bush. unanimously confirmed by every republican and democrat in congress. is is his judgment impaired or are his decisions suspect because he's a registered republican? >> no. >> do criminal prosecutors and investigators have a right to contribute money to candidates for public office? >> yes. >> and there are members of this
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committee who as prosecutors at the federal or state level gave thousands of dollars of contributions while they were prosecutors to candidates for office. do you think that would be the grounds for overturning verdicts that they received against criminal defendants? >> no. >> on the eve of this hearing, we got a dump of hundreds of text messages we have been spend ing most of the day talking about between mr. truck and ms. page and they make for fascinating reading. they are equal opportunity critics of public officials. they trash bernie sanders, senator o'connell, martin o'mall lee and donald trump, who is called an idiot and at one point i think mr. truck says watch in the debates, omg. he's an idiot, which hardly
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quali qualifies him for any awards for originality or exceptional incite. but i was amazed to learn from business insider that the department of justice invited a slelkt group of reporters to doj to screen these e e-mails. to look at these private e mals. . i'm wondering if you know of precedent calls reporters asking them to come in to look at part of an ongoing investigation outside of a press conference or even if that's taken place during a press conference. i was amazed. can you explain that? >> i am accountable. i'm not the public affairs officer, so i wouldn't know what the precedent was, but generally speaking, our goal is to be as forthcoming with the media as we can when it's lawful and appropriate to do so. i would not approve anybody disclosing things that weren't appropriate to disclose. >> do you know of any other cases where material in an ongoing investigation were
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released by the press officer to reporters? >> i don't know the details, congressman. >> are you aware of the ig rule which says that material in an ongoing -- >> yes, i appreciate that. when this inquiry came in from the congress, we did consult with the inspector general. he determine ed he had no objection with the release of the material. i would not have authorized the release otherwise. >> there's been much talk today about b fruit of the poisonous tree. a wild goose chase for a villain and they found their villain in mr. struck who was removed from the investigation. there might be fruit from the poisonous tree here. and it's a forth amendment doctrine that relates to evidence that derives from an illegal search or seizure.
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have you heard any allegation having conduct ed an illegal search or seizure? >> no. >> thank you very much for your testimony. i yield back. >> thank you. the chair recognizes mr. radcliffe for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman. good to see you. >> like wise. >> i had a line of questions that i wanted to go into, but like many of the folks on this committee, last night i had a chance to see a number of these text messages between agent peter struck and ms. page. you have been asked about those. have you had a chance to read them? >> not all of them, congressman. >> how many have you read? >> a few dozen, i believe. >> i will tell you i can't read some of these publicly. they are that obscene. they are that offensive. as someone who served with you
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at the department of justice and reveres the independence of the department of justice, i will tell you that i changed my questioning to ask you about them because as i read them, i found them so sickening and heartbreaking that i felt. compelled to do so. in addition to being sickening and heartbreaking, these texts are also evidence. they are not evidence of an appearance of impropriety, they are evidence of an actual visit y'allic bias of prejudice, of actual hatred for the subject of the special counsel's investigation by folks serving as the independent investigators and lawyers on the special counsel itself. mr. deputy attorney general, i guess please tell me when you read these texts your heart fell and that you were appalled by what you read there. >> i dent mean to kwifl with you, congressman. the special counsel investigation does not have any
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identified subjects as individuals other than the persons who have been charged. but i can tell you with regard to those text messages, we concluded when we learned about them that it was appropriate to complete the inspector general's investigation and if the inspector general reaches a conclusion it's misconduct, i have an opinion as anybody may about what it looks like, but it's important for me since i supervise that investigation so to await a formal conclusion. then any recommendation before i reach a official decision and take any action. >> when you line up about struck and ms. page along with bruce orr and all the other conflicts of interest, i would tell you that, first of all, these aren't run of the mill conflicts of interest. employees of the department sometimes have spouses that are
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involved with corporations, but we're not talking about companies like walmart or microsoft. we're talking about fusion gps that had ten employees and his wife owas one of them. >> i want to clarify. mr. orr was part of my office when i arrived, i never involved mr. orr in the russia investigation, so he had no role assigned by me. >> i understand that, but i guess i'm getting at the conflict of interest here and the appearance of impropriety are colossally bad. let's talk about judgment. you said in response to the e questioning we should have great confidence in mueller and director ray and in yourself. and you pointed out that is as soon as director mueller found out about mr. struck that he took action. isn't he the one that chose them
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in the first place? >> i don't know to what extent mr. mueller. my goal was to get him in and work iing as quickly as possibl. i don't know any screening he did. >> do you know what anyone did with respect to vetting this team? if you set out to create an appearance of bias or prejudice or impropriety or conflict of interest, the only way you could do a better job of doing it would be to pick this team and have them wear their i'm with her t-shirts to work every day. >> deputy attorney general, i
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have talked often about the fact that i think people can lose faith and trust in elected officials, but if they lose faith in investigations like the fbi and department of justice to fairly investigate violations of the law, we may lose the republic. the daily transgressions that become public one after another are not serving either the department of justice or the fbi well. and i just encourage you to do everything you can to restore integrity to those organizations that i know we have both revered. >> i agree with you entirely, congressman. i want to assure you that when attorney general sessions talked with me about taking on this job, he conveyed to me that his desire to make certain we do everything we can to enhance public confidence in the rule of
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law and ensure the department of justice runs appropriately. he, like you and me, served as a u.s. attorney for 12 years and he was so proud to return because of the deep respect he has for the department. i think that's reflected in the appointments that have been made to the department, setting myself aside. we have a superb team of experienced official who is are in position to run it. we have 115,000 employees. things go wrong. but i can assure you we will respond appropriately when they do. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. the chair recognizes the gentle lady from washington for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. deputy attorney general, thank you for your service to the country at this consequential time. we have spent three hours and many of my colleagues have continued to harp on the theme of expressing concern with fbi agent peter strong and the text
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messages released yesterday. i'd like to remind everyone of where we were just a little over a year ago. the fbi was conducting investigations of hillary clinton's e-mails and leaks occurred routine ly -- viewed clinton as the anti-christ. and said, quote, the reason why agents are leaking is they are pro trump. these leaks had serious consequences and arguably swung the election results. i didn't hear any of my cleegs on the other side expressing concern about the fbi's bias last year when this was happening despite the very real problems we were seeing. i agree with you in your earlier statement that political affiliation is different from
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bias. i believe i'm quoting you correctly when you say that. i want to remind my colleagues that people are allowed to have their personal opinions and their political affiliations. special counsel mueller and director james comey and you are lifelong republicans. but that is not what is at issue. as much as my colleagues on the other side would like to deflect attention away from the urgency of the special counsel's investigation into obstruction of justice and collusion at the highest levels of our government, it is clear to me after listening to three hours of questioning that none of this is about text messages. it is rather a full-fledged irresponsible and very dangerous attempt on the other side to attack and undermine robert mueller's investigation and the credibility, his credibility and to lay the groundwork for a desire to fire robert mueller or invalidate the results of his investigation.
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acts that would cripple our democracy and acts the likes of which we have not seen since watergate. let me warn my colleagues that history will not judge those acts kindly. and being dragged into a president's personal venn ddett or apparent attempts to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy is something we must resist. and so, deputy attorney general rosenstein, let many ask you again. is it your sense that the fbi's impatricia y'allty is at any risk? >> it's important to distinguish the reputation of the fbi from the character of the fbi. reputation is damaged by every incident that comes to public attention. but the character of the fbi is a function of the approximately 37,000 employees. as i said earlier, i have been very impressed with the character of the agents and employees who i know personally. >> do you believe that the fbi
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as an agency is politically motivated? >> i don't believe you can characterize any agency. we all recognize there can be individuals who do things they shouldn't do. but that's something we address when it comes to our attention. >> deputy attorney general, what can you do to protect the integrity of special counsel mueller's investigation and the results that it comes out with? >> i don't think there's anything special we need to do. director mueller has a mandate and is conducting an investigation and will continue to conduct it until it's concluded. >> you have said this a couple times. do you have full faith and confidence in director mueller's ability to conduct this investigation? >> yes, i do. >> thank you. let me move to election security. on november 15th when the attorney general appeared before the committee i asked requests about the justice department's actions to ensure the security of our elections. at the time, the attorney general said he had not yet
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ordered a review of what laws might need to be updated to protect our elections from foreign influence. has such a review since been ordered? >> we have a lot of ongoing work relating to protection of elections. that's high priority for us. we have met with director ray and some of his experts. we're going to continue to do everything we can to ensure our elections. >> thank you. let me use my last few seconds to ask you about civil rights. i have been very concerned that the doj is not actively defending civil rights and is is dismantling structures that for decades have been used to protect people from police brutality and discrimination. what's the status of the 18 open reform agreements, 5 open investigations and 1 case in active litigation brought under
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section 14141 that is managed by the civil rights division? >> i don't have personal knowledge of all of those, but if i may, yesterday i attended the annual awards ceremony of the civil rights division. the civil rights division has a lot of very talented and proud attorneys. the attorney general spoke about his deep respect for the work of the civil rights division so i'm confident that work will go on. >> i would appreciate a pons sponls to that later when you have a chance. >> the chair recognizes the e gentleman from georgia. >> thank you. a few things i'm -- there's been a lot of questions and understanding of bias and a lot of things. i think something that was interesting. two things i want to base on the questions i have. someone asked is a special counsel not accountable. you said, no, they are accountable to you. >> right. >> i think which presents my line of questioning.
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i think there has to be a little bit of embarrassment of what's going on right now. i think you in good conscious chose director mueller believing, as many of us did, a very respectable record. now we're starting to find out this team has been put together. one of the questions asked was did you know of his bias? you responded no. given the indication, the flip side you would agree there's a bias at least to be presented in the text messages. >> i agree that the text messages raise concern. i'm going to withhold my judgment until the investigation is completed. >> that brings up an interesting question. i spent time with the fbi director ray and it was really interesting that e he felt like he didn't have to provide to this committee after that he realized we do have direct jurisdiction. e he brought up this issue of where he is now. i want to focus the last few
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minutes on where this issue is. at the time, you give direct accountability. was there a discussion about moving him off the committee off the investigation? >> i believe we were together when e we learned from the inspector general about what he had found. >> by the way, when did you have that discussion ask he was removed? >> approximately july 27th. >> it is just coming out that he was removed, correct? >> i think the fact that he was no longer on the case was known. the reasons were not known. >> and i think that's the interesting thing. perception is reality in most parts. whether that's true or false, perception is reality. we found a problem. this investigation could be tainted. now it's starting to come out. i do have a question in a process. because mr. ray last week said he was not demoted. he was just moved to hr. i made then comment at that point that said it's funny that
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the second in command of the investigation division being put on a high profile investigation, one of the highest in this town and being moved over to hr was not a demotion. why would you put somebody with challenges that you have now seen in texts, which we didn't have last week. why would you put him in hr? there seems to be a problem there. when he was removed from the investigation, did he possess a security clearance? >> i believe he did. i don't have personal knowledge. i'm fairly confident he did. >> you don't know if he has security clearance? >> i'm certain he would have had a security clearance. >> is it revoked or suspended at this point? >> not to my knowledge. >> why would it not be? >> not revoked? >> because i think what we're having here is there's a double standard. the new agent coming in having what is now perceived as bias, working on a case where that
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bias would at least be perceived by average individuals as having ab influence on the outcome of the investigation. especially him being involved in these other parts of this, changing letters, changing this. i think the interesting issue here is is he being treated differently than a younger agent or a line agent in another field office? >> i appreciate that question. if i may explain, i can understand why to the average american it might seem unusual. but within the department of justice, we're subject to the government employment regulations. and there are very strict rules about what we may or may not do. when we have an allegation of misconduct, it's investigated. we don't take any disciplinary action unless and until a conclusion is made that it's warranted. so the decision to transfer the agent was made based on what was known at the time. it's not a punishment. if there's an adverse finding, and again i'm supervising, i
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need to withhold my judgment. if there's adverse finding, our employees have due process rights. they have a right to provide explanation or defense. >> i appreciate where you're headed there. this is a gentleman who through these texts that we have seen is is an understanding to protect america, he didn't like the new president. he's still involved in the fbi. he still has a security clearance. does it not strike you that at least this person who had access to very high risk, sensitive security issues dealing in the russia investigation, why would they have not been separated out, has he been polygraphed in regards to this? >> the inspector general is responsible for handling that review. when he concludes it, as i said,
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it will be a public report. with regard to the timing, i should clarify. i hoped the report would have been done in november. but it's not completed yet. i anticipate it will be ready soon. >> is there a reason why? >> the inspector general made a determination that he wasn't finished. >> i think the impression here is somebody has been treated special and you're looking at it and from your having the accountability for the special counsel, it's on you at this point to make sure that is corrected. right now there's a lot of mistrust out there. >> the gentleman from illinois is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. do you agree with the finding of the agencies of the intelligence committee that russia on orders of vladimir putin actively worked to interfere in the 2016 presidential election? >> i agree with the assessment of the intelligence committee, yes. >> in an october interview with the usa podcast, you stated,
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quote, if we have foreign countries seeking to interfere in our elections, i think e we need to take appropriate actions in response, end quote. i wholeheartedly agree with you. unfortunately, attorney general sessions stated that we're not where we need to be on this issue. there's no review underway by the department on what steps should be taking. you said protecting the elections is is a high priority. you had conversations with the attorney general and fbi director. a simple yes or no. has there been a review on the attacks of the 2016 election and what doj must do to protect the sglsh that's the second time this issue has been raised. i did not watch all the attorney general's testimony. i'll have to check. i believe he may have been referring o to a review of legislation as opposed. >> i asked specifically what
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steps had been taken following the appearance on the senate side in a question asked. if any steps had been take on to review the elections and take steps to protect future elections. i'm asking the same question of you. has there been a review of what russia tried to do to interfere in our elections last year and what must we do to protect elections next year? >> i believe the answer is yes. i can get further information for you if you'd like. >> if that answer is yes, it has not been shared with us. i think this is an important issue. the elections are a short time away. we need to make sure they are secure. have there been any specific actions taken by the attorney general following his appearance before this committee? you talked about meetings. anything specifically you can share with us as actions to protect our elections. >> yes, the fbi has -- the attorney general i met with a
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team of fbi experts and discussed a variety of things they are doing. some of which are classified. in addition to that, homeland security has a role to play in this in coordination with state and local election officials. there's a lot going on in that area. >> i appreciate that. i think we have to expect that 2016 wasn't the first time the russians have tried to interfere with our elections. they are going to try to interfere in future elections. their attacks are going o to become more aggressive, more intensive, more complicated. we need to be staying a step ahead of them. twice now the attorney general sessions, first in front of the is senate and then recently in front of this committee, said not enough has been done. the meet iing you are talking about, did that it happen before november or is that subsequent to mr. sessions appearance here? >> i don't recall the date. i'd be happy to review it. i don't think there's any
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inconsistency in my answer. >> mr. sessions committed to me that the department would brief this committee on any actions taken. last month after his appearance, i sent the follow up letter asking for that briefing before the end of the year and before this week and the adjournment of congress. i have not received a response let alone a scheduling of a briefing. are you willing to commit we can have a briefing that you'll update on actions being taken to make sure our elections are secure next year? >> i'll make sure it happens. i will make sure we respond to your letter. we make every effort to. i'm sure it's in the cue. >> i would hope that this moves to the top of the queue. i think if the confidence of the american people in our electoral process, if the confidence of the american people in our democracy is damaged as the russians clearly have tried to
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do, then the future of the republic is challenged. this is not a partisan issue. we need to make sure that people respect our elections, know their votes will be counted, know their voices will be heard. i'm imploring the department of justice to work with this committee, to work with congress, to make sure if the american people can be confident in the future of our elections. i hope i can count on you to work with us. >> absolutely. that is near the top of the list for us. i know it is for the attorney general as well. >> we are advise d that we have votes on the floor. we will be back in about 35 to 40 minutes. if you want to get a bite to eat or whatever. we'll have time. the committee will reconvene immediately after this vote series.
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i think we have four to six more members to ask questions.
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a break in this hearing as members of the committee are attending a series of votes over in the house. deputy attorney general rosenstein and the committee
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will return after those votes to continue with his testimony. you should know that this hearing will continue live online on our website at coming up later today, house and senate negotiators will be meeting to discuss reconciling the tax reform bills out of each chamber. live coverage will start at 2:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span 3. also online at you can listen with the free c-span radio app. until then, senate minority leader chuck schumer today called on mitch mcconnell to withhold a tax reform vote. alabama senator-elect doug jones is to be sworn into the senate and so the majority leader says he would like to have that vote after the senator has been sworn in.