William Barr Testifies on Presidents 2020 Justice Department Budget... CSPAN April 10, 2019 8:00pm-10:08pm EDT
of living here unless you know exactly what you're doing, it's tremendous whether your wife carries a gun and trained in using it. >> coming up next, william barr's testimony to the senate appropriations subcommittee. the more of president trump's visit to texas today where he signed an executive order to encourage energy infrastructure and development. top executives from the nation's largest bank testified before the house financial services committee about financial regulations and lending practices. >> on capitol hill today, attorney general william barr told lawmakers that he plans to review whether there was improper surveillance of the trump presidential campaign during the 2016 election. he made the comment at a senate appropriations sub committee hearing that included questions about the president's 2020 budget request. in the justice department
[inaudible] >> preserving during our unfortunate recent government shutdown. i am sorry for the stress that was created and i hope that we are able to avoid future shutdowns by enacting timely appropriation bills including commerce just as science. in order to complete his and write the fiscal year cjs appropriation bill the committee needs to understand the department resource needs. the presence of why budget request over $30 billion for the department of justice. because you indicated yesterday
he will report to congress on the mueller investigation next week it is my hope that the budget request will remain the major focus of today's hearing. i am not naïve but i hope that is the case. i would like to begin by asking you a question about your testimony yesterday and i would like for you to respond that during your time in regard to clarifying an issue related to the mueller report. when we met before your confirmation, you and i met, i told you i would like to see the mueller report released to the butt public as quick as possible in the fullest extent allowed by law. will you, as i hope, release the redacted version of the actual report special counsel mueller submitted to you or did you intend to indicate in your testimony comments yesterday that you will only provide a
report of your own findings that are derived from the mueller report? the focus of this hearing president fiscal year 2020 request. the fy 20 request is not based off the departments fy 19 and does not contemplate the increases provided for the government 1.9% increase included for federal employees. the baseline of the fy 20 request is below the current appropriation and i encourage you to take time today to discuss any needs that may not be adequately represented in the present proposal before us. in particular, i hope you will discuss the resource needs that they relate to the firststep act. i'm a cosponsor for that legislation and i'm concerned to learn that the fy 20 request only includes 14 million additional funds for the implementation of the legislation. that figure is far short of the $75 million that was authorized
by congress. i do know several program increases for the department of justice this year, these increases reflect the administration's priorities which include strengthening national security, combating violent crime, cyber crime, drug trafficking in opioid debt epidemic. under the executive office of immigration review, e or in the environment national resource division, fy 20 request $670 million in border security efforts including 100 additional immigration judges and tenure positions at the environment and national resources land acquisition sections. i understand the importance of those increases, i am discouraged is just not include technology enhancements.
fy 19 provisions allowed for $25 million for technology improvements to transform yours paper system to an electronic case management system. that electronic system though incredibly important, was only forward-looking. the $25 million that we put in place for the department of justice did not include paper files associated with the 861,513 cases that are backlogged at ec and asp to encourage his practice in 19 report language directed the department to develop a plan for
folding existing cases into the electronic case management system. i hope to learn more about the status of and permitting that plan as well as the department intentions to incorporate the battle into the system and if there are additional needs with full implementation of electronic records let's discuss those today mr. attorney general. the department fy 20 request reflects broad and multi- admission and protecting and defending the united states. members of the d.o.j. community, law enforcement committee, fbi, dea, atf, u.s. marshals and the bureau of prisons and the people who work there put their lives on the line every day to keep her country and community say. the departments mission and law enforcement focus on safety and stability. it is impurity that the congress that it ensures is adequately equipped and i look forward to working with you. unfortunately a number of indicators now show that for the third straight year police suicide outnumbered lives lost in the line of duty. much like our veterans and
active-duty severed members law enforcement officers need access to comprehensive, mental wellness and many the struggle to provide. i will think attorney bar for your attention and acknowledgment of the committee's request and our questions for the record of the fy 19 budget hearing a year ago as you know the departments responses to these questions for eight months late making it impossible for our committee to consider the departments responses as we crafted our fy 19 bill. i want to note that after i brought this to your attention we received d.o.j. responses in very short order. it is my -- i thank you for that is my hope that under your leadership the department will continue to respond expeditiously to the issues questions for the records. one of the things i remember from the conversation we had
before your confirmation was your commitment to work closely with congress and the subcommittee in particular to have an open dialogue and transparent conversation in your answer to those questions on the record will be and continue to be appreciated. i will add an additional thank you and thank you for your presence here today. this testimony is important. i now recognize the ranking member senator she. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good morning it attorney general barr thank you for appearing up above the subcommittee. we want to try and focus most closely on your budget. but had to begin with two concerns i have about actions that you and the justice department have taken. first i saw your testimony yesterday and i still do have questions on the special counsel's report. i believe this report has serious national security implications. we know that russia interfered in our election, we note the special counsel has brought nearly 200 charges against 34
individuals and three companies including six former trump officials and 26 russian nationals. i'm concerned by recent media reports that those working on the special counsel team believe your summary to congress over the severity of the damaging actions of those in the white house including the president. the american people should be allowed to see the report in its entirety so they can make their own judgments about its content. i'm also troubled by the department's recent decision to support a district court decision that would completely invalidate the affordable care act. i have questions for you as to why this decision was made. this recent action by the department will put millions of americans including 118,000 granite stators at risk of being able to afford or not have access to the current healthcare coverage. the loss of protection for pre-existing conditions and soaring prescription drug costs for seniors will affect thousands. this includes vulnerable
americans like a young boy named seth from northfield, new hampshire. he lives with hemophiliac. it's a disease that requires hundreds of thousands of dollars of medication and treatment costs every month. before the affordable care act seth's father would have to change jobs because seth medical costs are constantly running up against the families annual limits on the dollar value of insurance coverage. children like seth, those living with pre-existing conditions stand to lose the most if the affordable care act is wiped out. they could be denied insurance coverage because of their medical conditions and insurers would be able to jack up costs and cut off coverage after medical bills reach an arbitrary threshold. i believe we need to work together, republicans and democrats, to improve the health care law. not unraveling. i hope that we will be able to do that in the coming months and
years. i do acknowledge, as i said, that you are here today in your role as attorney general to explain the department fiscal year 20 budget request. the complex and often difficult work of the department is vast, ranging from national security investigations, to operating a national prison system, to management of billions of grants to state and local entities. yet in fiscal year 2020, the department has requested nearly 2% less funding for its missions than the level provided in the on notice we passed last month. the bureau of prisons is a large part of this reduction. a cut of 188 million below what we just enacted in fiscal year 19. it is disconcerting that the department would/the budget for bop in light of our direction in congress to continue hiring particularly so as not to rely
on augmentation, which is a dangerous practice of using administrative staff like teachers and counselors as correctional officers. including expanding programming for inmates -- cutting programming for inmates across the country including berlin in my home state of new hampshire. it's also troubling that the department seems to have forgotten about meetings for the requirements for present reentry as part of the recently passed first step act. there is only 14 million requested with little detail as to how you plan to use that money. with 75 million has been authorized for this effort. i was also surprised about drastic reductions in eliminations proposed for justice department grant programs including those to help our communities fight opioids. i'm deeply concerned that this budget request cuts nearly 100 million in funding, that
which is provided for justice grant programs to help communities respond to the opioid crisis with a balance of enforcement, treatment and prevention programs. i'm interested to hear your reasons why your fy 20 budget dramatically reduces the critical funding and eliminates key programs like antiheroine taskforces, which we provided 32 million to cover in mentoring programs for youth who are directly affected by the toll opioids have had on their families and communities. refunded that at 15 million. we see this very dramatically in new hampshire where as i think we discussed previously, we have the third-highest overdose death rate in the country. i understand that there's more demand on these programs and even we in congress have appropriated. so what i don't understand is why were talking about eliminating them. in closing, i want to echo the
appreciation that was expressed by chairman moran for the 112 career employees at the department of justice. they work very hard to keep americans safe from crime and terrorism and especially during the government shutdown they worked without any guarantee that they would be paid. so i know that i speak for everybody on this committee and thanking them for their service. i then forward to your testimony today, mr. attorney general. >> before we turn to the attorney general for his remarks i'd recognize the vice chairman of the full commitment senator lahey for any comments or opening statement he'd like to make. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i agree with both you and senator shaking in the hundred and 12000 who kept him working during the shutdown it went on for 35 days and i remember very well the day it ended in four of us met in our office and we made an agreement on the
appropriations and democrats and republicans joined and passed the president vetoed the first one because it came only 1.6 billion for the wall. the agreement that we agreed to gave 1.3 billion. but he accepted that and i thought it was about time we got back to work. now, there are a lot of pressing issues facing justice department, immigration enforcement, combating opioids, violent crime, protecting voting rights. a lot of these are going to be discussing this morning. i want to express my appreciation to robert mueller and his team for their service to our country. determining exactly what happened during unprecedented attack on our democracy. we already know from the investigation 37 indictments
they uncovered serious misconduct reaching some of the highest levels. even if the president's involvement did not amount to approvable crime and thankfully so. the american people and representatives in congress now expect to see the special counsel's work. it is my hope that you're still committed to the greatest possible degree of transparency. as you know, classified material can be shared with congress and is on a constant basis. but there also present for sharing grand jury information as well. especially in high-profile investigations that gain public interest. in ongoing investigations is another reason to redact certain information like all things in life eventually end. one way or another the vast majority of the special counsel's report will ultimately
be put under become public. it attempts to hide his boss of the report from the par public scrutiny along the way will only fuel suspicion raised by many that the justice department which represents the united states is playing the role of president trump's defense team. for the integrity of the department, i know you well enough, you agreed that this is a result that must be awarded. your imprint of the course of justice and rule of law in these moments are going to be scrutinized long after both you and i are gone from public service. the only way out in my view is transparency. you do have the discretion to release the full report to congress. nothing in the letter of the law stands in your way. i hope in the coming weeks you'll work in good faith with congress to accomplish that. mr. chair, i will have a number
of questions on the budget and i appreciate the courtesy of being recognized. >> you're welcome mr. vice chairman. attorney general barr, were ready for your testimony. thank you for joining us and anxious to hear what you have to say. >> thank you chairman moran and ranking member shaheen and vice chair lahey and members of the subcommittee. i am pleased to be here today to present the president's fiscal year 2020 budget for the department of justice. i joined here today by the department's chief financial officer assistant attorney general for administration lee loftus. we are looking forward to discussing how our requested appropriations will help protect the safety and the rights of your constituents. rather than read a statement to you let me just say i am here to talk about the departments 29-point to billion dollars fy
20 budget request i believe the budget request supports our priorities and we are seeking hundred and 28 million of increases for violent crime prevention work. were seeking 291 million enhancements for drug abuse in opioid efforts. we have 131 million for national security and cyber crime efforts. and i'm seeking an additional 72 million for immigration work. i am proud of the departments accomplishments in our workforce of more than 112,000 men and women and i'm looking forward to your support for the resources we need for the important work. with that, i am happy to answer any question. >> attorney general thank you for your brief statement and thanks for the opportunity to ask questions. i would just reiterate and ask for an answer to the question i
raised in my own i opening statement. i was uncertain as to what you are conveying yesterday during your house testimony about whether you will provide a report of the roof report or a redacted version of the actual mueller report. >> yes. it's my intention to provide the latter, as i said in my confirmation hearing. the regulation under which were operating did not contemplate and specifically was meant to avoid these public reports. but i feel i have the discretion in these circumstances to make the report public as long as it's consistent with the law. as i said in my hearing, that i was going to try to be as transparent as possible and that is what i have been working toward. there are four areas -- i intend to release the report with reductions made in poor areas. they were specified in my
march 29 letter. the first area is six e-mail to because -- i'm talking here, by the way, about the report that would be available to the public generally. and then i'll talk about a little bit about the report available to the committees of congress. the report and working on now, i would like to make available with reductions that would enable me to it make a public generally. there are four categories, the grand jury material, which by law, must be retained did within the department absence very specific circumstances which i do not think exist here. second category is any material identified by the intelligence community that would put at risk intelligence sources and methods. the third category is information that would impair existing prosecutions and investigations that are going forward right now. either by affecting the ability of the department to pursue them
as effectively as we'd like or being unfair to the individuals who are actually parties to that prosecution. you will recognize that special counsel mueller did spin off a number of cases which continue in progress and are being handled in the department. and so we have to make sure that nothing in the report contingent on the ongoing cases. the final category is information that implicates the privacy or reputational interest of peripheral third parties who are not charge. the people who are making these reductions in implementing these four categories are the department working with the special counsel office lawyers and those of the people that are about making the reductions. as i mentioned yesterday, we plan to identify very
specifically which reductions relate to which category and try to explain why that reduction was made. i also said yesterday, when it comes to congress, once i get this done in the public, everyone has a report, i'm willing to work with the committees. the regulation requires -- it doesn't require, but has my notification to go to the judiciary committees and i intend to take up with the house and the senate judiciary committees. the chair in the ranking members of each. what other areas, you know, they feel they have a need to have access to the information and see if i can work to accommodate a lot. as is been correctly said here, the fact that information is classified as a mean that congress cannot see it. so i'm willing to work on some of these categories. the category i think is the most
inflexible under the law right now is a grand jury material. but even there, once reductions are completed, i intend to read the report and see if there are areas where it affects the intelligibility, or really has an impact on the report. i am willing to work with the judiciary committees to see if there's a workaround that could address any concerns or need that they have. >> under the assumption that your answer was interest to my colleagues i'm going to continue with another question beyond my time. i want to talk about grant funding that has been delayed due to litigation surrounding sanctuary cities. in the past the department has tried to enforce federal immigration laws by imposing special conditions or bonus points and recipients of federal grant funding.
these conditions restrict grant funding to the jurisdictions that certified there in compliance with federal law stating that they are not sexually cities or states. that's not something that i'm complaining about in this question. what i'm concerned about is the money that has been held up as a result of litigation because of pending litigation in regard to burn jack grant funds. we have had success in that occurring, but unfortunately that has not been the case in the fy 18 cops hiring grants. these solicitations were polled in applicants are still unable to apply for cops hiring grants going back to fy 18 awards. have you reviewed the departments policies? is there a plan to figure out how we can provide those necessary resources to local law enforcement to retain and higher law enforcement officers? >> yes. i think the problem is really a
function of the phenomenon of nationwide injunctions that are imposed by district court judges. this is actually a fairly recent phenomenon. the old practice in law was that of a district court judge issued a decision, the judge could redress the aggrieved businesses of the party before the court. but now courts are granting nationwide injunctions as a result at the district court in northern california, which is i think the court that may have been involved here. grant an injunction, they enjoin the grant program nationwide. now one of the reasons we were able -- leak and correct me if i'm wrong about this, but one of the reasons we were were able to get out the burn jack grants was that there'd been a district court in chicago that had joined the nationwide.
we went to the seventh circuit. they require the courts to reduce its injunction just to its jurisdiction. when that happened they were able to get out the burn jack grants. which happens with the cops grants, is enjoin by a district -- several district court judges. we are arguing if not today, within the next two days within the seventh and ninth circuit to have the address so we can get those grants out. frankly, i think we need to come to grips with this issue of nationwide injunctions. i think the way the system should do these issues, it should percolate up through various circuit courts and so forth and up to the supreme court in the idea that one district court judge can kill programs nationwide is a serious problem. >> taking for your answer. if you're successful in finding a path to see that the cops grants are available, please be prepared as a department to proceed quickly if and when that occurs. i don't think local law enforcement has been able to even submit a grant application.
it is significantly delayed and maybe there's a way that those grant applications -- i don't know what the injunction covers. but maybe there's a way to submit the grant application even if you can't award a grant until you receive judicial authority to do so. >> i will look into that. >> thank you. senator sheehy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me echo what senator moran was saying about the cops grant. it is very onerous for us to be affected by these rulings. i want to go back to your comments about the four reasons that you intend to read back portions of the special counsel's report. the fourth one was information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputation interest of peripheral third parties. does that mean you'll be rejecting information to protect the represent national interest of the president ?
>> no. i'm talking about people in private life, not public officeholders. >> thank you. news just broke today that you have a special team looking into why the fbi opened an investigation into russian interference in the 2016 elections. i wonder if you could share with the committee whose on the team, why you felt the need to form that kind of team and what you intend to be the scope of the investigation? >> yeah. as i said in my confirmation hearing, i am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence act committees directed at the trump campaign during 2016. in the law has already been investigated in a substantial portion has been investigated and is being investigated by the office of inspector general at
the department. but one of the things i want to do is put together all the information from the various investigations that have gone on including on the hill and in the department. and see if there are any remaining questions to be addressed. >> and can you share with us why you feel a need to do that? >> well, you know, for the same reason we are worried about foreign influence in elections. we want to make sure that durina political campaign is a big deal. it's a big deal. the generation i grew up in which is the vietnam war, a period where people were all concerned about spying on antiwar people and so forth. enter by the government. there were a lot of rules put in place to make sure there's an adequate basis for law enforcement agencies get involved in political
surveillance. i'm not suggesting that those rules were violated but i think it's important to look at that. i'm not talking about the fbi necessarily, but intelligence agencies for broadly. >> so you're not suggesting, though, that spine occur? >> well, i guess -- i think spine did occur, yes. i think spine did occurs. >> the question is whether it was adequately predicated. and i'm not suggesting it wasn't adequately predicated. i need to explore that. i think it's my obligation. congress is usually concerned about intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in the proper lane and i want to make sure that happened. we have a lot of rules about that and i want to say that i've said i'm reviewing this.
i haven't set up a team yet, but i do have in mind having some colleagues help me pull all this information together unloading me know whether there are some areas that should be looked at. i also want to make clear, this is not launching an investigation of the fbi. frankly, to the extent there were any issues of the fbi, i do not view it as a problem that's endemic to the fbi. i think there was probably failure among a group of leaders there at the upper echelon. so i don't like to hear attacks about the fbi because i think the fbi is an outstanding organization and i think chris ray is a great partner for me. i'm very pleased that he is there as the director. and if it becomes necessary to look over some former officials activities i expect i'll be relying heavily on chris and work closely with him and
looking at the information. but that's what i'm doing. i feel i have an obligation to make sure that government power is not obvious. and that's one of the principal roles of the attorney general. >> i certainly agree. i think we all have an obligation to ensure government power is obvious. the question i have is what happens when the executive is potentially playing that role? that's where it doesn't seem to me that there has been adequate oversight. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome mr. attorney general. last june your predecessor, then attorney general sessions, announced that the department would no longer defend the affordable care act pre-existing conditions provisions because
they were inseparable from daca's individual mandate. two weeks ago, you department went much further deciding that it would not defend any provisions of daca. this present risk other important provisions in addition to protecting people's pre-existing conditions such as the medicaid expansion, coverage for young adults, and coverage for preventive services. the individual mandate is a highly regressive penalty and i long to process, and congress repealed. i disagree strongly with the department decision not to defend the rest of aca. in a letter that i wrote to the predecessor last june into you
on april 1. i made the point that the individual mandate can be struck down and severed from aca while the remainder of the law can stay in place. this is not just my opinion, in 2010 the chief justice, roberts said in the pre-enterprise fund case that under the doctrine of separate ability that generally speaking when confronting a constitutional law we try to limit the solution to the problem severing any problematic portions while leaving the remainder intact. in 1990 when you are ahead of the department office of legal counsel under president george h. w. bush, you authored an opinion finding that the president could enforce the remainder of the statue after an
uncuon constitutional provisiond been severed. i agree with her wholeheartedly 1990 opinion. what led you to take a different approach. >> thank you, senator. when i visited with you before my confirmation i promised you that i would personally take a look at this issue and i did. and i studied it carefully. i provided my views robustly within the deliberative process that was going on in the executive branch. as i said when the attorney general is providing legal advice i think the first obligation to provide the advice that you think is the right legal answer and how you would decide if you were a judge. which is what was the advice i gave. but i also have said that if
other stakeholders in the executive branch and the people involved, agencies and support, and up in a different place, as litigator for the united states it's attorney general should be able to advance positions that he believes are defensible in a legal position even if they are not position that the attorney general would adopt if the attorney general with the judge deciding the case. in this situation the ultimate decision was to support the position of the states including texas and the decision of the district court judge. the rationale for that is that it's a defensible and legal
under legal position given that that was the decision of the district court and the position of four justices on the original fip case who felt that if the mandate goes the rest of the statue goes. i know there's an additional point which is the fact that congress did take out the penalty from from the mandate and therefore that should be viewed as validating the rest of the statue. those issues were debated but at the end of the day i felt that the position was a defensible position and was the decision of the executive branch. >> i would just say a final point that congress had the opportunity to strike other provisions and chose not to. >> yes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator collins. senator leahy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. attorney general thank you for
being here. over the decades we have had a chance to talk at these hearings many times. let me go back to the discussion of your march 24 letter and you said the president did not commit obstruction of justice. you said that before any reference to congress. of course you have the position and the evidence, you don't believe the president can be indicted on an office use of the mechanism is to develop or congress. not a criminal court. did you have any conversation with special counsel about why he did not reach a conclusion one way or the other on obstruction? >> yes. i did. he also has a full explanation
of that in the report i'll be making available hopefully next week. >> did he expressed an expectation and leaving the obstruction decision to congress? >> not -- he didn't say that to me, no. >> he said the obstruction decision should be up to you? >> he didn't say that either. but that is generally how the department of justice works. generally grand juries are to investigate crimes and prosecutors role at the end of the day is binary. are there churches are no churches or is is crime or not a crime. >> i've had experience -- >> i know. i don't feel -- i'm looking forward to explaining my decision that i briefly outlined
in the march 24 letter but i don't feel like i can do it until the report is out because i think the report contains a lot of information that would give meaning and content to the discussion and i can't do it in the absence of getting out. i'm anxious to get it out, that's what i've been working toward and i said i'm up to the hill as soon as the hill will have me. i guess is at the end of the month to testify about that. >> of follow-up that senator moran asked. have you overruled mr. mueller or his team on any reduction questions? >> no. >> one way or the other? >> no. >> have you discussed specific reductions with the white house question. >> no. >> just curious before this came
out, you are at an annual st. patrick's day event at the white house with the prime minister of ireland exchange shamrocks and so on. and apparently it will seem very happy about the discussions, you and the president. were you discussing the report? >> was i? >> yeah. >> no. it was actually in front of several justices of the supreme court and other dignitaries. >> you're sure of that? so anybody that heard you outside was wrong customer. >> yeah. >> did you reject grand jury material of course in the watergate and can start
investigations the grand jury secrecy was overcome to allow congressional access. have you asked the district court to release grand jury material to congress? >> did you say -- reciting the start investigation? >> and watergate, yes. >> the start investigation involves specific statute. >> rule six see? >> no. the statue setting of the independent counsel provided for the report going to congress and overrode 6a. i don't think the star situatio- >> more specifically, have you as a district court to release grand jury material? >> no. the law of right now is in the district of columbia that that the court can only wave six a
for one of the grounds specified specifically trip specifically in 6a. there's no hot power in the court to do that. and if someone chose me and makes a persuasive argument that it is covered, unwilling to listen to that, but i don't see it. >> and lastly, a dollar amount, your budget were told from atf would result in 370 -- could lose 370 positions under the president's budget even though it shows a slight increase because of the attrition and everything else. are you satisfied with atf in a time of violent crime and everything else losing these positions? >> are you talking about the 377
positions that mr. brandon mentioned? >> i understood 370, but whichever. >> we don't think he will lose those positions. there's some complicated accounting here that i'm a little mystified by myself. as i understand it we have been continually investing a number of atf agents and what they are worried about bringing on too many agents in excess of funds that were gonna be appropriated and they had -- the way they quickly make up for that is to take out headcount rather than make cuts across the board. we don't think that they are -- and mr. loftus can give you more of an explanation. >> my time is up, but i would really like more because history
or the administration's 46. either way, and looks very much like cuts and atf. >> i can add senator, atf does have a 4% increase in this budget. i have spoken with the atf chief, i think he's an outstanding guy and i work closely with him over many years. i do know they are concerned about the resources in their budget but we have looked at the 4% increase. we don't think the 4% increase translates into a loss of hundreds of positions. but we are willing to work very closely with atf to make sure we can protect certainly their agents. again, any money that atf receives, can be put to very good use and we look forward to working with both atf and the committee on this one. >> senator leahy, thank you. we have three votes scheduled at 11:40 five. my intention is to go until those votes are called and don't anticipate coming back after
that occurs. senator kennedy is recognized. >> i don't intend to talk much about your budget. i think we both know that congress will make sure you're at a point funded. i want to talk a little bit about the mueller report. i think it was inevitable that some people were going to be disappointed in the result or results that mr. mueller reach. you can only be young once an amateur. there will be some who were so disappointed in the result the real attack the process in bad faith and i strongly encourage you to ignore that. just call them like you see you then. follow the law. can we agree that if you turned over the mueller report without reinjury material redacted to only members of congress, can we
agree that there is a material risk that the grand jury information with lee? >> i think so. >> i mean, that's been known to happen. >> yes, occasionally. >> yes. and why would that be bad? >> because we depend on the secrecy of the grand jury for a whole system of justice. people have to be assured when they go into the grand jury that these are going to be confidential sessions. >> i got it. can we agree that if you turned over an unredacted report to the members of the united states congress that included material that might impair an existing investigation or investigations, that there's a material risk that that information might leak? >> yes senator. there's a risk. >> why is that bad? >> well, presumably the reason people are interested in seeing
the report is because they believe it's important for the criminal justice process to work allowing other information to come out with first-rate from the prosecutor standpoint, the system from working in other cases and from the defendants standpoint would be potentially unfair to the defendant. >> let's talk about reputational risk if you turn over -- excuse me, can i add something. >> certainly. >> and some of these cases there are gag orders from the court prohibiting this information going out. >> okay. if you would turn over in unredacted report containing unredacted information that could raise reputational risk, can we agree there's a material risk that that would leak? >> yes, senator. >> why is that bad? >> it goes back -- if someone has not committed a crime at the end of the day, and in this context if they're not public
officeholders, if the private citizens, the government is not in a position to say that they did anything wrong. it would be unfair fundamentally unfair to put the information out. >> without the especially the case for someone who thought the communication was confidential ? >> yes. >> kind of like doctor ford? who thought she was making a confidential communication until some member of the judiciary committee or their staffs turned her life upside down. >> i'm not aware of the circumstances myself. >> i'm not either. i wish i was. it was probably the greatest injustice i've seen in the time i've been here. let me talk a little bit in the minute i have left, i'm going to land this plane on time. i know you're taking a look at
the genesis of the investigations with respect to 2016 election. quickly, can we agree that the fbi is the premier law enforcement agency in all of human history questionnaire. >> absolutely. >> can we agree that we want fbi agents and justice department to have thought about the world, social economic problems and thought about how to solve the problems. you don't want a dummy working for the fbi or the justice department, correct? but they are supposed to act on the political beliefs are they? >> no senator. >> it appears to me that there were a handful of men and women at the fbi and possibly at the department of justice who did act on political beliefs in 2016. some work for donald trump.
you don't believe me ask secretary clinton. some of them were for secretary clinton. if you don't believe me as president trump. and that's not right. we need to stop this from ever happening again. my plane has landed. >> thank you, senator kennedy. senator reid. >> thank you very much attorney general. the return to the march 24 letter of judiciary committee. you quote the special prosecut prosecutor, director mueller with respect to allegations of the obstruction of justice. you say while this report does not include the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. which raises the question in my mind, did the special counsel find a probable cause that the crime had been committed? >> i'm not going to characterize his report. the report will speak for itself and that's what i want to get it out. >> well then let me just follow
up, but i think my letter says he did not find a crime was committed. >> no, i understand that. but i think it's important to note that he said i did not find a crime but i cannot exonerate the president that suggest that the responsibility of probable cause existed for crime but however, someone either director mueller or yourself them made a determination that the evidence would not be beyond -- cannot convince a jury under jury beyond a reasonable doubt or the policy of department was not to charge the president because of the constitutional issue of impeachment. so again i'm trying to understand why not only director mueller said this, but you repeated it, that the president was not exonerated from the
obstruction of justice allegation. >> as explained yesterday, i was trying to state just the bottom-line conclusion and not characterize it or summarize the report beyond just stating the bottom-line conclusions. and i thought the best way of doing that was taking that language from bob mueller's report -- >> let me turn the question around, if there was no evidence of probable cause, then i would presume he could've said very clearly that there was no crime committed. that he could in fact exonerate the president. as you seem to have done with allegations of conspiracy between the campaign in russia. >> i think that sentence says he did not find there was a crime and he's not exonerating. -- trying to characterize his
reasoning or his report. that's why it's important to get the whole report up instead of trying to read little pieces. probable cause is a very low standard for determining when you start investigating something. a lot of things have probable cause. >> i think -- i agree with you completely. it's important to get the whole reported to the american public because there are serious questions that we are going back and forth on in your response is very critical. those questions will be solved until the american people see the report. not sections of it, not paraphrases of it but the entire report. let me just quickly ask another question which is, do you have any specific evidence that there was anything improper in the counterintelligence investigation by the fbi or anything improper with the investigation carried out with the council of the 2016 election? do you have any evidence? >> that was a compound question. >> there is a counterintelligence investigation with respect to the 2016 election revolving primarily the trump campaign. there is an investigation by director mueller into the 2016
campaign and other issues. have you have any evidence that there was anything improper in those investigations? >> i have no specific evidence that i would cite right now. i do have questions about it. >> so the panel you're putting together -- >> i'm not putting together a panel. >> sages have interest in this, no evidence #. >> i have concerns about various aspects of it. >> do believe that the investigation that director mueller undertook was a witchhunt or illegal as been asserted by the president? >> as i said during my confirmation, it really depends on where you're sitting. if you are somebody who is being falsely accused of something you would tend to be --
>> you're sitting as the attorney general of the united states with a constitutional responsibility if you could answer in that regards -- i'm not going to characterize. it is what it is. mueller and his team conducted an investigation and report. >> i'll use my own adjective. >> you can use your own adjectives and those in i assume to include witchhunt or illegal. is that correct? does would not be in your answer? >> i have not referred to them as -- >> thank you. >> senator murkowski. >> thank you, mr. chairman. attorney general welcome. i want to start my questions with the issue of marijuana. senator gardner has really taken the lead on this issue over here in the senate i have been supportive of his efforts he is trying to move forward with the states act. i am cosponsoring that. when we visited and during your
confirmation process, you explained that you believe the current conflict between federal and state marijuana laws is untenable, those are the words you describe. you also explained that you will not upset the settled expectation or the reliance interest that have developed because of the policies from the prior administration. but you did state that you believe the current situation really has to be addressed. i know and understand that you don't support the wholesale legalization of marijuana. he made it clear that we face a binary choice between the federal prohibition and a "federal approach to correct the disconnect between state and federal marijuana laws". so i think you committed to me and others that this is something that congress has to address the right way which is through legislation and we would agree with that that the states
act is an approach that does what you have recommended, it just the federal law the right way to a federal approach to marijuana and the president has expressive support. can you share with me, share with the committee where you are on this approach that has been outlined in the states act and whether or not we can work with you on this issue? . . .
but i've just circulated through the department for comment and i think that is the process we are in now and once we get those comments we will be able to work with you on any concerns. we are much more than that approach. >> you have a group of folks over here that would like to work with you and the department on that. let me move to the special domestic violence criminal division in the 2013 reauthorization we recognized tribal special domestic division that allowed tribes to prosecute non- native offenders in the tribal courts and this was for a
limited class. last week the house passed its reauthorization vehicle that expand the jurisdiction to a broad class of domestic violence as well as crimes against children and a fault on tribal police officers. the vehicle they are coming reauthorization vehicle allows for a pilot project specific to villages that have 75% or greater to exercise this jurisdiction. all these provisions are a step in the right direction. you and i have had discussion about the issues just protection in general in outlining areas in very remote parts of my state where we have got to be thinking outside of the box when it comes to how we provide protection and
so allowing for these limitations based on jurisdiction over really hard when you have women and children that are vulnerable. so, i am hoping that we can continue to work with you on these jurisdictional issues. i'm hopeful we will have a chance to bring you up to date so we can get you out into some of the villages and see how the tribal courts are functioning and again better explore the opportunities to provide for a level of safety. i do appreciate you including a 5% set aside from the crime victims fund. this is going to make a difference but if you can comment in any way on this aspect of tribal jurisdiction and what it might mean for the domestic violence protection. >> they face unacceptably high levels of violence in very remote areas, and i've actually
scheduled a trip to alaska specifically to visit some of these communities so i would approach this with a great deal of sympathy for the need to think outside the box an of theo something that's effective in protecting this vulnerable population, and i'm prepared to work with you to try to fashion something that will work. >> i would appreciate that and also working on the murder, missing and indigenous women's initiative that we are working on i look forward to that as well. >> thank you very much mr. chairman and attorney general for being here and your service. i would just ask the more that you can reveal if it doesn't interview in the criminal investigation or intelligence that we need to protect the more you can do the more healing will happen for the country.
no matter what side of the aisle we are on we are concerned about the health care of america but also how we prevent the gouging going on and some of those in the middle. the success holds and i think it will come of the courts will col overturn and one of the courts will overturn basically the position that's been taken by the administration. if that's the case, what process do you have and how do you proceed if the client is not acceptable towards the defeat by the highest court in the land if it goes there hell do we get
back. if the position taken by the department just recently circuit ultimately loses, then the aca stays in effect. >> you have a client you have to represent coming you are representing the client and then have to represent people in the united states of america which is still intact and we are trying to fix it. i think it's basically harmed us from fixing the repair that we had for over a year and a half that could tremendously helped that we haven't been able to move forward because there's been the chance of repealing it and on and on. are you going to be in the
position to defend the highest court in the land does not accept -- >> yes, absolutely. >> west virginia i supported the special agents in charge of the region and fbi office and efforts to check the largest distributors. it's now well known a single pharmacy in west virginia and little town of kermit received shipments of 9 million. the immediate suspension from the substantial likelihood to probable cause which gives the clout to stop these shipments into the little states and this
role is put back to probable and basically is very contentious and substantial which basically stopped it cold in its track. it is tremendous and powerful to our states. my final one would be on the foreign investment i'm very much concerned about what's going on and the investments they are making sometimes they have a front for this and we have not
engaged in the law enforcement agency and the department keeping track of the types of actions taken by the foreign companies that could be harmful and artificiain artificial inted machine learning on and on and on that we know what they've been going through espionage and sabotage. >> we want to work with you on that and i would say that they understand if we are not allowed to go into china or russia in heaven is meant for ownerships or control over any of the critical infrastructure why
would we allow them to come and use of front window basically basically is in the control. >> this is one of my highest priority is. thank you for your service. i wanted to ask about the bureau of prisons during the shutdown the officers and staff remained on duty, but we have hazleton in west virginia and we've had several murders in hazleton and i'm sure senator manchin has the same thing. we've had complaints from staffing that the shortages that it's not safe for the correctional officers that are being asked to perform different duties may be banned but they are for originally assigned for.
this is an area that we have stumbled and i've been looking into this. it's been very frustrating because i've always supported the bureau of prisons in the past and think that it's a great organization and if we are going to have people incarcerated for you to makwehave to make sure te incarcerated under proper conditions. the way i look at it, the authorized level is good and adequate. it's that we are for the 5,000 people short of our authorized level. why has.com about? part of the overall members of the hiring freeze which i listed yesterday, but they were in the regional and headquarters and
the shortages out in the facilities themselves wasn't to freeze. what this basically is bureaucracy and the way these organizations go about bringing in people and they need to much of a lead time so the way that it works if a person at this level leads into the next person moves up and they don't start the process until everyone's taken a new chair then they go out and it takes months and months to get that person on board that makes no sense because every year we lose 2600 of these correctional officers. so we have to turn on the spigot and keep these entry level people coming in at the rate we are going to be able to get up to that's how we are approaching
it the ratios are going up in certain situations. it is a tough job and so anything we can do to help on that it is a scourge on our country and in our particular region. i know that you are increasing the budget in that area but are there areas that are working better on the disruption part of drug interdiction that you think we need to put more emphasis on rather than spread out as far and wide as we are?
>> i really can't say that i think where we are we are having a lot of success and reproducing it elsewhere and as you know we have essentially a two-pronged strategy one is the drugs that have been overprescribed and diverted and created this population of people that are addicted and we had to push that down to a smaller group. senator manchin mentioned a abot hotspots we have a lot of resources focused on doing that. the other is going after the local distribution we are adding $254 million of money to our budgets that will be administered through the dea as
they've been encouraging the department of justice with the hiring freeze for which the department response has been there is no hiring freeze you just announced yesterday. there has been a hiring freeze since 2017. we've been encouraging it to be lifted for quite a while. senator van hollen. >> thank you mr. chairman and mr. attorney general. i gather from your testimony that if you were a judge, you would find against the position they are taking in the case. is that right? you said your recommendation and the administration was touch each would likely conclude against the position but you said that the client of the
administration for taking this position. did i understand your testimony? whatever advice i gave the administration would have initially been my personal view to the best legal -- >> if you were a judge, you told them that he would not support the case. is that the administration's position? >> i'm not going to say what the advice bus. >> i think it is clear from your testimony you said they still have some basis for going forward. let me ask you with regards to the report whether the
president's action and intent could be viewed as obstruction do you agree with the assessment and that the evidence is presented difficult issues on those matters? >> i'm not going to comment until the report is out. >> i'm not asking what is in the report. i'm asking whether you agree that there were difficult issues of making that assessment. hispanic that isn't a question i can answer. but you looked at the report and the evidence of the report and
made a decision and you said the president is an guilty of the obstruction of justice. i'm asking in your review did you agree that there were difficult issues of the law in fact? >> i'm going to give my comments after. >> you put your view of the report out there on this issue of obstruction of justice. nobody asked you to do that. >> you put your assessment, you made a conclusion on the obstruction that wasn't contained in the report, and i'm simply asking you when you look at the evidence did you agree with the team there were difficult issues? >> i'm going to a display my decision and to the extent that requires any assessment of the report, >> did it require you to look
into the president of the united states with respect to obstruction of justice? >> i'm not going to discuss my position. i will lay out after the report is out. >> the thing is you put this out there. the president went out and said he was exonerated that wasn't based on anything in the report with respect to obstruction of justice it was based on your assessment and now you won't elaborate at all as to how you reached that conclusion. i'm not asking within the report i'm asking your conclusion. it was the conclusion of a number of people including me. i am the attorney general. it was also the conclusion of the deputy general. i will discuss the position. >> did he support the conclusion? in your june 2018 men kno 2018 u indicated a president can commit obstruction of justice in
sabotaging a proceedings truth finding functions. did you see any evidence in the report about whether or not she committed what you called a classic sense of obstruction of justice? >> i'm not going to discuss the content of the report. it will be made public. >> i will come up and testify at that point. the thing about it is you put your conclusion out there and now you refuse to talk about any basis of your conclusion. i'm asking how you reached the last question can you assure us the key factual evidence relevant to charges of obstruction of justice can you assure us the key factual evidence in the report related
to charges of obstruction of justice that will be available in the public report backs >> i believbacks >> i believe it will end that's why i want to review it after by the way they can cut both ways. my last question relates to the process from your house testimony which you are allowing the team to make the reductions in three of the four areas you mentioned is that a perfect understandincorrectunderstandin? in other words you are leaving the discretion of to them on the three of the four criteria that you mapped out. >> i stated what th that the cas are and the people implementing it are the justice lawyers with special counsel lawyers they are implementing those categories and you are not going to
overrule the judgment with respect to any of those categories. the people in the department are making those protections. >> thank you mr. chairman very much for being here. we've talked about a lot of things that are very important. i want to talk about one that is sweeping the country as we mentioned briefly before and that is the opioid epidemic and not just that. we have been opioid epidemic but we have an addiction epidemic. we are number two in prescribing wibberley we've got 3 million people, we had hundreds of millions prescribed last year and so your team i understand you ranked that's very high and
kept that ranking but i'd like to talk about how we can come up with some innovative new strategies in order to combat. if we provide you with additional resources, do you have any idea to anything different we can do that we are doing now? we are making a dent of 72,000 deaths last year these are statistics sadly we are spending a lot of money but i don't know that we are having great succe success. i do think we are starting to see some good results. the initial data suggests we stop seeing an increase in the opioid overdose deaths. part of that is just the ability. my understanding is drug dealers are carrying it to keep their
clients alive so that part of that. i don't know what the statistic would be if we didn't have that. we are making progress on reducing diversion and over prescription of the drugs and we are locking up a lot of healthcare providers and bringing a lot of civil action and applying technology a lot more where there is suspicious pattern of subscription support and attacking them very aggressively. on the first leg of the strategy to reduce the addictive population i think a huge part of this is to address the traffic coming up from mexico,
our drug supplier and the organizations in mexico are very formidable enterprises. it's mixed in with all other kinds of drugs so people don't know what they are taking across the southern border it's an important part. >> another part of that we've got the postal inspectors doing a good job, there's just not a whole lot of them. in the past the interoperability hasn't been there.
it's much better than it used to be but i wish that he would look into that in the same of mentioning the southern border i agree and also getting the shipments and distributing them through the rest of the country from someplace here. >> the fbi has the code that is starting to get some success on the trafficking of drugs. online and policing the males is an important part of it and we are now applying the technology to get a lot more progress on these online dealers. there are some technologies coming along that over surprising in terms of being able to intercept them. finally one of the tools we have that is one of the most effective are the drug courts.
they are doing that now. others are doing it. having the ability to make somebody stay clean, have a job so they can support their families most of them do is a great asset so i hope that he would support that and that is the way that weekend i think really make a dent. >> i suppose the drug courts that are in sports and 75 million a budget for this so we will continue to support that. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> in 15 minutes we had a vote of three. we will conclude shortly after the vote is called. >> thank you attorney general for your service and for being here. i have many questions about the
budget, but i'm going to first turn to some questions that are urgent and concerning about the special counsel's report. the primary purpose of the investigation us both to thoroughly investigate issues around 2016 but also provide a clear and objective conclusion and report to the american people. i am concerned over the last three your actions created confusion and distrust around the process and look forward to the release of us which of the report as you can to the american people. and to congress. you stated that the redacted portions of will be color-coded and accompanied by explanatory notes that describe the basis. while those indicates which of the four categories will provide some information to congress about the specific justification you mentioned you envision a situation where congress under the appropriate safeguards could
verify the categories can you tell me something about the safeguard you have in mind? >> i don't know how detailed some of the descriptions may be. some of them may be generic that some of them may be able to provide information if there is a gag order in the case that says apart from whatever we feel about infringing on the case, there's an order that would be implicated by the reviews. i expect that will be put in. >> or their safeguards likely to be worked out? >> an easy one is the classified information i would want to make sure that was the safeguard shared with a limited number of people go that kind of thing we would normally do in the situation. >> i was struck that the district court district of columbia reported that the grand
jury convened hasn't been discharged and is continuing its investigation. did anyone pressure of a special counsel to conclude his investigation and submit his report before it was complete? >> i didn't. >> did anyone else? >> not that i'm aware of. >> why -- there are press accounts that members of the special counsel's team, the investigators prepared summaries for public release of sections of the report. why did you summarized the conclusions reached by the special counsel and the results of investigatio the investigatin releasing some of these prepared for public release summaries? >> actually, the deputy attorney general and i were expecting a report that would make it very easy for us to determine what had to be taken out and what wasn't. that isn't how the report came to us.
so, i immediately recognized that there was going to be something that can lag time between the receipt of the report and when we could actually get it out and decided that none of it was releasable as i received it because none of it had been vetted for material that every page has a warning that it could contain material. >> every page of a warning and you were certain that the team had invented it. but we get to two other questions if i could, forgive me. >> i felt that it was important to just advise the country as to what the bottom-line conclusions were. i wasn't in arrested even if i had summaries available, which i didn't on sunday, i wouldn't have put out a summaries because i think summaries no matter who's preparing them are going
to be subject to criticism. what people have to remember is generally the department of justice does come out with binary conclusions and so just stating the bottom-line on each of those i think was entirely appropriate. >> who if anyone outside of the justice department has seen portions or all of the special counsel's report backs has anyone in the white house seen any of the report? i'm not going to -- >> as i said, i'm landing the plane right now and i've been willing to discuss my letters and the process going forward, but the report is going to be out next weekend i am just not going to get into the details of the process until the plane is on the ground. >> at what point will you allow congress to know whether or not the white house was given the full report, briefed on the full report -- it is striking the president claimed complete and total exoneration if he didn't see the report was briefed on
the report. >> as i said once the report is out, i'm happy to discuss the process. >> i very much look forward to that. getting your unsolicited june 8 letter to the justice department regarding obstruction of justice, did you ever consider a weereducing your self from makia conclusion about whether a charge of obstruction of justice should have been made? >> i consulted with the career ethics officials at the department. >> and debate concluded your men on the topic did not require -- stacthe neck that is correct. >> chairman graeme the attorney general has been very faithful to his insistence that he not disclose anything of significance until he's in front of your committee. >> great. but you cannot possibly be surprised he would claim exoneration without having read anything. [laughter] so, anyway, i hate to talk about appropriations in the committee, but i will.
>> if sequestration goes back into effect and its to do that, how would it affect the fbi in your ability to defend the nation? >> these are some of the hard ones. i can tell you the last time we had sequestration in 2013, the department had $1.3 billion at risk and people at the fbi, the rest of our law enforcement agencies, the bureau of prisons, all those agencies had their funding intact and staff impacted and the people were at risk for furlough. we had to move several hundred million dollars from other accounts in the department into the accounts to keep our people working. sequestration had a tremendous impact on the department of justice, tremendous work to avoid the dutch are mental effect of sequestration.
>> if we go back down the road it would make us less safe. >> i believe it would curtail the safety obligations of the department of justice and its national security operations. >> okay, thank you. mr. attorney general, i'm sure you share that assessment. as to what you are going to do weevils say but mostly for the first, but i am intrigued by the idea of this working group or some group working at the other side of the ledger. do you agree every american should be concerned whether there was a warrant obtained without information? >> absolutely. the fourth amendment is one of our most cherished civil liberties. >> so you think it's appropriate to look at and you will look at? >> yes. do you share my concern that you were going to open up a counterintelligence investigation against a
presidential candidate that you have to have a very good reason? >> yes, absolutely. and a counterintelligence investigation is designed to protect the target of the foreign influence. it's not the prosecutorial function is at? unless espionage or some of the lord is developed. >> so would it be that a candidate was never briefed by the department and that your campaign may be targeted by a foreign entity? >> that is one of the questions i have is i feel normally the campaign would have been advised of this. >> can you think of a good reason right now why they wouldn't have been? >> i'm interested in getting the answer. they get to former u.s. attorneys and chris christie and rudy giuliani involved in the campaign, and i don't understand why it was not advised. >> apparently when senator feinstein had a person on her
staff that was connected to the government she was raped. is that the normal way to do things with the counterintelligence investigation? >> she was briefed by a staff member that they thought might be connect to the chinese it toe government and she took action and fired the guy. is that what you're supposed to be doing? >> that's what i would if i were attorney general and that situation came up i would say yes, briefed the target of the foreign espionage activity. >> so you are pledging to this committee and the country as a whole to find out what happened with a warrant application, find out about the counterintelligence investigation to make sure that the law was followed and if there was any abuse to report to congress and the public is that accurate? >> that's accurate i just wanted to satisfy myself that there was no abuse of law enforcement
powers. >> i'm glad you are doing that. when it comes to mr. mueller are you talking to him about the material facts >> i haven't talked to him about it because people are working on it. >> so there is a collaboration between your people about what to take out and let me begin on the grand jury side. >> it was described by people sitting at the same table. >> and you've are making sure prosecutors have a say about what is released because it may jeopardize the cases. and when it comes to classified information you are talking to the intelligence committee and making sure they are okay. thank you very much. >> thank you mr. chairman and attorney general for being here. i want to give you a chance to rephrase something you said because i think when the attorney general of the united states uses the word spying it is rather provocative, and in my view unnecessarily inflammatory and i know what you are getting
at because you have explained yourself in terms of answering senator graham's questions into the questions of others. do the want to rephrase what you are doing because i think the word spying could cause everybody in the cable news ecosystem to freak out and i think it's necessary for you to be precise with your language here. you normally are and i want to give you the chance to be precise here. >> i am not sure of all of the connotations of that. but some unauthorized surveillance. is that more appropriate in your mind? >> this is your call. i did want to give you the chance to sav say it how you wao save and make sure you didn't misspeak because you talked for a long time yesterday and i want to make sure.
>> on the summaries within the report, i get that on every page there was a sort of admonition that this may contain material. the question i have relates to your desire to make sure the whole thing is intelligible. are these reports going to be -- excuse me, are these summaries when the report was released going to be intelligible? i assume there may be some reductions were none but the basic question for the public is are we going to get the gist of this or is it going to be on january 2015 and then you have to flip 15 pages to find the next? >> you will get more than just. >> i want to ask about the memorandum in your confirmation hearings that i'm not going to go after companies that have relied on the memorandum.
are you planning on restoring it or establishing your new guidance? those are public policy questions and assuming we cannot come to an agreement on a new statutory framework, what is the plan for the department of justice? >> i'm going to have to make some difficult choices. >> do you care to elaborate? >> people that have already taken action on the memorandum, one open question in my mind is that the states continue to pass these walls are we going to continue to forbear i would like to see congress address this issue. >> is there any internal guidance regarding these sort of difficult questions? >> none that i've given. >> so they are operating without
guidance. >> the department of justice is operating under my general guidance that i am accepting the memorandum from outside generally left it up to the u.s. attorneys in each state to determine what the best approach is in that state and i haven't heard any complaints from the states that have legalized marijuana. >> attorney general sessions said we are moving forward and we will act fairl blacked fairlh suppliers of marijuana under the controlled substances act. i'd send to follow-up letters. where are we on this? >> i have been pushing hard over the last few feet to get that process underway and i think we are going to move forward. it's important to get those additional supplies. >> can you assure me i'm not going to be here a year later
asking the same question? >> yes. >> thank you. how often has the department declined for the federal statute or is it fair to say that it's in frequent? >> the obama administration -- >> that was the only one and as a policy you try to make these choices as infrequently as possible and they refused to defend the act and under the trump administration you are refusing to defend the affordable care act so it has to rise to a level of political policy of importance that
supersedes the judgment of a lot of careers at times would you agree with that? >> i'm not sure if it is a question of career or non- career attorneys there are disputes within any administration. >> senator feinstein. >> now if they made on the question i am really surprised y the answer because the supreme court did uphold the law and now the attorney general is saying we will not defend it regardle regardless. it seems to me that is a problem if something is passed and upheld as legal that the attorney general has a duty to
defend it. >> it was originally upheld because the mandate was upheld as a tax and chief justice roberts opinion said it can be upheld as a taxi can do that couldn't otherwise be so are finding it a taxi would have had five votes against it. once the penalty was removed, the financial penalty was removed, that provision could no longer justified as a tax which means that it would have to fall so the mandate fell in my opinion i don't even think it is a question that it was unconstitutional because it could no longer be upheld as a taxi and then the question becomes if it falls even though there was no penalty attached what is its impact on the rest of the statute. four of the justices felt that
the whole statute had to fall so as i said before you arrived at the end of the day i felt that this was a defensible legal position to take. >> in my experience which i guess i've been here 26 years, i have never seen this before that a decision like this would be made by one individual on the basis of what has been a huge decision legislatively and signed by a president based on i'm not sure quite what. >> who was the one individual? me?
>> no, no. it's not important. you are saying despite the fact the supreme court in the united states upheld what has been a major law to be passed and signed by the president that you are just not going to defend it. >> that does happen occasionally in our system. the principle over the department of justice says our default position is to defend statutes even if we don't agree with the statutes and think that the argument is a weak argument for example last time i was in the justice department i thought the flag statute was unconstitutional but we depend it. we lost. >> why wouldn't you defend this? >> because occasionally the
administration determines another position should be taken. >> is this determined by the white house? >> the process in the executive branch, number of agencies and the different players even in the white house to get involved in these things. >> i assume you wouldn't take this position unless this is what the president wanted. this affects pre-existing conditions and everybody in the united states. it went through a great deal of hearing and testimony and amendment passage. >> it was very controversial. >> exactly, but it is a big wall and it's been operational for a period of time and people depend
on it for their healthcare and all of a sudden along comes and this isn't just my way of saying it, somebody and i'm going to take this whole thing on. >> there were 20 or more states that were challenging it. there was a lot of opposition to it a lot of states have weighed in and i think the administration is on the side of those. as i said yesterday, people should sort of take a deep breath if it's such a position that the administration is taking then there's nothing to fear. it will be upheld. >> in 26 years, i've never seen this kind of thing.
>> i know it happens rarely in each administration but i would be surprised most administrations have from time to time -- >> i don't want to take the time. maybe we can discuss this because it struck me like lightning that one person decides, i assume the president wants you to that made this decision and every thing that was done by way of proper legislative action has been taken. i just don't ever recall anything like this happening in the last quarter of a century. thank you mr. chairman. >> attorney general we are about to conclude. i have a follow-up question and so does senator shaheen, then we will wrap up. i want to go back to something you said in your testimony that you'vyou vindicated the possibiy
that unauthorized surveillance or spying occurred, and my question is maybe twofold, my question is what is the basis for reaching that conclusion or that something occurred and what are the consequences for those who committed unauthorized surveillance? >> did you say that i said it occurred to? >> you indicated i tried it at least reflect on what your quote was that you thought a political campaign occurred in the course of an agency's investigation into russian interference in 2016. >> i thought the question was did i have any basis. >> and i'm now asking with the facts are that lead you to death. >> okay. i felt i am concerned about it and i was asked whether there was any basis for it and i believe there is a basis for my concern but i'm not going to
discuss it. >> what are the potential consequences for those that violated the law? >> a defense with the facts ultimately prove to be. which will be determined in the prosecution. >> possibly, but also there can be abuses that may not rise to the level of a crime but people might think is bad and put in the rules against it. i remember when there was a lot of people upset with the fbi spying on civil rights groups over nuclear freeze groups and so forth and so as a result of that there were a lot of safeguards built in and also concerns about surveillance reporters so safeguards have been putting. it doesn't necessarily have to
result in a criminal investigation or fighting of a crime, but part of my responsibility is to protect the civil liberties of the american people, and i think something that is important is the law enforcement and intelligence agencies respect the limits on their powers. >> i am of the same generation which those things occurred. i remember that & j. edgar hoover fbi surveyed groups. i want to ask a couple of what i hophope will be short questions over the past two years the subcommittee in congress provided levels of funding that is true about the recent omnibus as well. we have not yet reauthorize the
violence against women act and i want to be reassured the justice department despite this authorization will continue to provide the funding appropriated by congress. >> absolutely. >> i support the reauthorization of the act. >> i hope you'll share that with some members of your administration. >> i haven't seen a specific vehicle for that but in concept i would certainly like to see it done. the prior general issued a number of memos and during his tenure that provided guidelines for everything from sentencing for u.s. attorneys on drug offenses to immigration policy and even the protective detail for the secretary. do you intend to review any of those and should we expect there might be a different outcome after your review and i have a
particular specific question because it is around the issue of quotas for immigration judges and whether you believe judges should have come about federal judges and immigration judges should have quotas around the number of cases that they are expected to get through in a period of time. >> you want a specific or the general question fax i've been in the job seven weeks and i haven't put in the process for reviewing all the stuff so right now it's just a question of something being brought to my attention. i haven't looked at that particular guidance, but i understand that it's important for the metrics so we can figure out how to manage the caseloads. certainly i wouldn't be happy with a quote us but have to have
enough given people take into account the factors that go into the productivity such as the duplication of the case and things like that. >> i have one thing on the protective details, there's for the marshals to do a feasibility look at providing executive branch into details i've asked them to take a look at getting the executive branch wide if it takes resources if they go in that direction. but we have been asked to take a look at it and that is what it's been all about. >> i appreciate that. is there a reason to believe that there are more valid press against members of this
administration or any executive branch now than there has been in the past? >> i don't have that information. i don't know the way the question came to us was simply take a group that does conditional and executive protection of the profession to have a group like that look at it for the administration i want to make it looking back at the colloquies i am not saying improper surveillance occurred. i'm saying that i am concerned about it and am looking into it. i will give you both a chance. i mentioned this in my opening statement and other times and circumstances this would have been a more significant topic of conversation in this hearing for
justice related to immigration that are included in the conversations that we will be having. the doj requested 110 million-dollar increase above the enacted in 19 levels for the immigration judges in 500 additional positions including 100 attorneys and judicial law clerks and in addition to that, as you vindicated the marshals service is a request for $32 million for federal defense, prisoner detention programs to support housing and transportation care for federal detainees that are not criminals but are within the immigration system waiting adjudication or following adjudication and the office of the solicitor general and environmental national resource division as well as the
southwest border law-enforcement violent crime initiative. if you care to indicate anything about these issues and their importance to the current circumstance we find ourselves in related to immigration. mr. general? .. in addition i would highlight for you the importance of electronic records and moving forward with getting the department in this regard out of the paper world and onto computers. my opportunity to ever witness that appears before my committee is to say, mr. attorney general
your circumflex i doubt this applies to but if there was something that you want to amend, alter or correct or something that you failed, we fail to ask you that you want to make certain that we hear we would welcome you to do so's >> if i review the transcript and see a problem i'll let you know. >> i wish it work that way. thank you for your presence and thank you for the information you convey to us. senator she can and i are grateful. if there are no other questions have a good afternoon. if there are no further questions this afternoon senators may submit additional questions for the subcommittees official and we would respond within 30 days. we value that. entering your efforts to effort that in the past subcommittees stands to recess. [inaudible]
>> the complete guide to congress is now available. it has lost the details about the house and senate for the current session of congress. contact and bio information about every senator and representative. plus information about committees, state governors in the cabinet. the 2019th congressional directory is a handy spiral-bound guide, order your copy from the cspan online store for $1895. >> on this week the senate has been focused on judicial and executive's nominations. they are two district court judges from indiana and texas. tomorrow senators return to debate and vote on bernhardt to be interior secretary. that is live on c-span2. meanwhile the house has finished its work for the week and they remain out of session during easteeaster and passover holida.
and they begin to break in virginia. legislative business resumes on april 29. as always, you can follow the house live on c-span. >> the cspan is stopping at middle and high schools across the country to present prizes and awards to the winners of our student cam video competition. you can see the top 21 entries every morning before "washington journal" and watch every documentary along with those honorably mentioned and behind the scene winners online at student cam.org. >> president trump traveled across texas on wednesday to sign to executive orders on energy infrastructure development including one that gives him the authority as
president to decide whether permits should be issued for cross-border projects such as pipelines. before the signing president trump spoke to local officials and members of the international union of operating engineers. notable attendees included texas as governor in texas land commissioner. ♪ proud to be an american ♪ where at least i know embry ♪ where walt forget the man ♪ who died and gave that right to me ♪ ♪ i'll gladly stand up ♪ next to you ♪ there ain't no doubt ♪ i love this land ♪ god bless the u.s. a ♪ from the lakes of minnesota ♪ to the hills of tennessee
♪ across the plains ♪ from sea to shining sea ♪ from detroit down to houston ♪ new york to l.a. ♪ where there is pride in every american ♪ ♪ heart and its diane to say ♪ i'm proud to be an american ♪ where at least i know i'm free ♪ i won't forget the man ♪ who died and gave that right to me ♪ ♪ i'll gladly stand ♪ up next to you ♪ but there ain't no doubt i love ♪ ♪ this land ♪ god bless the you as a ♪