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William Barr
  William Barr Testifies on Mueller Report Before Senate Judiciary Committee...  CSPAN  May 1, 2019 3:43pm-5:33pm EDT

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washington journal tomorrow morning, all dedicated to the barr hearing today. that's on c-span radio beginning at 7:00 a.m. eastern. next up here on c-span3, we're going to bring the entire hearing from today. it's just over five hours. . the first order of business is to try to cool the roo >> thank you. the first order of business is to cool the room down. the attorney general will be testifying here in a bit. i want to hage hthank him for c
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to the committee and giving us an explanation as to the actions he took and why he took them regarding the mueller report. and here's the good news. here's the mueller report. you can read it for yourself. 400 and something pages. i can't say i've read it all, but most of it. there is an unredacted version over in the classified section of the senate, a room where you can go look at the unredacted version. and i did that. and i found it not to change anything in terms of an outcome. but a bit about the mueller report. who is mueller? for those who may not know -- i don't know where you've been, but you may not know. bob mueller has a reputation in this town and throughout the country as being an outstanding lawyer and a man of the law who is the fbi director, who is the
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deputy attorney general, who is in charge of the criminal division at the department of justice. he was a united states marine. and he has served his country in a variety of circumstances long and well. for those who took time to read the report, i think it was well written, very thorough. and let me tell you what went into this report. there were 19 lawyers employed. >> approximately 40 fbi agents. intel analysts. forensic accountants and other staff. 2,800 subpoenas issued. 500 witnesses interviewed. 500 search warrants executed. more than 230 orders for communication records, so the records could be obtained. 13 requests to foreign
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governments for evidence. over $25 million spent over two years. we may not agree on much, but i hope we can agree that he had ample resources, took a lot of time and talked to a lot of people. and you can read for yourself what he found. the attorney general will tell us a bit about what his opinion of the report is. in terms of interacting with the white house, the white house turned over to mr. mueller 1.4 million documents and records. never asserted executive privilege one time. over 20 white house staffers, including eight from the white house counsel's office, were interviewed voluntarily. don mcgahn, chief counsel for the white house, was interviewed
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for over 30 hours. everybody that they wanted to talk to from the trump campaign on the ground, they were able to talk to. the president submitted himself to written interrogatories. so to the american people, mr. mueller was the right guy to do this job. i always believed that attorney general sessions was conflicted out because he was part of the campaign. he was the right guy with ample resources. and the cooperation he needed to find out what happened was given, in my view. but there were two campaigns in 2016. and we'll talk about the second one in minute. so what did we learn from this report? after all this time and all this money, mr. mueller and his team concluded there was no
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collusion. i didn't know, like many of you here, on the republican side, we all agreed that mr. mueller should be allowed to do his job without interference. i joined with some colleagues on the other side to introduce legislation to protect the special counsel that could only be removed for cause. he was never removed. he was allowed to do his job. so no collusion. no coordination. no conspiracy between the trump campaign and the russian government regarding the 2016 election. as to obstruction of justice, mr. mueller left it to mr. barr to decide after two years and all this time, he said, mr. barr, you decide. mr. barr did. there were a bunch of lawyers on this committee and i will tell you the following. you have to have specific intent to obstruct justice.
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if there is no underlying crime, pretty hard to figure out what intent might be if there was never a crime to begin with. the president never did anything to stop mueller from doing his job. so i guess the theory goes now, we don't -- okay, he didn't collude with the russians and he didn't specifically do anything to stop mueller. but attempted obstruction of justice of a crime never occurred, i guess is sort of the new standard around here. we'll see if that makes any sense. to me it doesn't. now, there's another campaign. it was the clinton campaign. what have we learned from this report? the russians interfered in our election. so can some bipartisanship come out of this? i hope so. i intend to work with my colleagues on the other side to introduce the deter act and to introduce legislation to defend
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the integrity of the voting system. senator durbin and i have legislation that would deny anyone admittance into the united states a visa through the immigration system if they were involved in interfering in an american election, working with senator whitehouse and blumenthal to make sure if you hack into a state election system, even though it's not tied to the internet, that's a crime. i would like to do more to harden our infrastructure, because the russians did it -- it wasn't some 400-pound guy sitting on a bed somewhere. it was the russians. and they're still doing it. and it could be the chinese, it could be somebody next. so my take-away from this report is that we've got a lot of work to do to defend democracy against the russians and other bad actors. and i promise the committee, we will get on with that work, hopefully in a bipartisan fashion. the other campaign.
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the other campaign was investigated not by mr. mueller. by people within department of justice. the accusation against secretary clinton was she set a private server up somewhere in her house and classified information was on it to avoid the disclosure requirements and the transparency requirements required of being secretary of state. so that was investigated. what do we know? we know that the person in charge of investigating hated trump's guts. i don't know how mr. mueller felt about trump, but i don't think anybody on our side believes that he had a personal animosity toward the president when he couldn't do his job. this is what strzok said.
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he's in charge of the e-mail investigation. he's, trump, abysmal. i keep hoping this charade will end and people will just dump him. february the 12th, 2016. paige is department of justice lawyer assigned to this case. march 3rd, 2016. god, trump is a loathsome human being. strzok: oh, my god, trump's an idiot. paige: he's awful. strzok: god, hillary should win 100 million to nothing. compare those two people to mueller. march 16th, 2016. i cannot believe trump is likely to be an actual serious candidate for president. july the 21st, 2016. trump is a disaster. i have no idea howdy stabilizing his presidency would be. august the 8th, 2016. three days before strzok was made deputy acting in charge of the counterintelligence division
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of the fbi. he's never going to become president, right? paige to strzok: no. no, he won't. we'll stop him. these are the people investigating the clinton e-mail situation. and start the counterintelligence investigation of the trump campaign. compare them to mueller. august the 15th, 2016. strzok: i want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in andy's office, that there is no way he gets elected. but i'm afraid we can't take that risk. it's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40. august 26th, 2016. just went to the southern virginia walmart. i could smell the trump support. october the 19th, 2016.
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trump is a fucking idiot. he's unable to provide a coherent answer. sorry to the kids out there. these are the people that made a decision that clinton didn't do anything wrong, and that counterintelligence investigation of the trump campaign was warranted. we're going to in a bipartisan way, i hope, deal with russia. but when the mueller report is put to bed, and it soon will be, this committee is going to look long and hard at how this all started. we're going to look at the fisa warrant process. did russia provide christopher steele the information about trump that turned out to be garbage that was used to get a warrant on our american citizen. and if so, how did the system fail? whereas their real effort between papadopoulos and anybody in russia who used the clinton
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e-mails stolen by the russians or is that thought planted in his mind? i don't know, but we're going to look. and i can tell you this. if you change the names, you all are going to look too. everything i just said, just substitute clinton for trump and see what all these people are cameras would be saying out here about this. as to cooperation in the clinton investigation, i told you what the trump people did. i'll tell you a little bit about what the clinton people did. there was a protective order for the server issued by the house and there was a request by the state department to preserve all the information on the server. paul cambeta, after having the protective order, used a
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software program called bleach bit to wipe the e-mail server clean. has anybody ever heard of paul c cambeta? no. under protective order from the white house to preserve the information, under a request from the state department to preserve the information on the server, he used a bleach bit program to wipe it clean. what happened to him? nothing. 18 devices possessed by secretary clinton she used to do business as secretary. how many of them were turned over to the fbi? none. two of them couldn't be turned over, because judith casper took a hammer and sterodestroyed two them. what happened to her? nothing. so the bottom line is, we're
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about to hear from mr. barr the results of a two-year investigation into the trump campaign, all things russia, the actions the president took before and after the campaign. $25 million, 40 fbi agents. i appreciate very much what mr. mueller did for the country. i have read most of the report. for me, it is over. is over senator feinstein. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and welcome attorney general. on march 24th, you sent a letter to chairman graham and the ranking member of this committee, providing your
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summary of the principle conclusions set out in special counsel mueller's report. this letter was widely reported as a win for the president, and was characterized as confirming there was no conclusion. following this letter, the white house put out a statement declaring the special counsel, and i quote -- the special counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction,ent end quote. and that the report, quote, was a total and complete exoneration, end quote, of the president. however, last night the "washington post" reported that special counsel mueller sent you a letter in late march, where he said, your letter to congress failed to, quote, fully capture the context, nature and substance of his office's work and conclusions, end quote. and that he spoke with you about the concern that the letter
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threatened to undermine the public confidence in the outcome of the investigations. that's in quotes, as well. then on april 18th, you held a press conference where you announced repeatedly that the mueller report found no collusion and no evidence of a crime. an hour later, a redacted copy of the mueller report was provided to the public and the congress. and we saw why mueller was concerned. contrary to the declarations of the total and complete exoneration, the special counsel's report contained substantial evidence of misconduct. first, special counsel mueller's report confirms that the russian government implemented a social media campaign to mislead millions of americans. and that russian intelligence services hacked into the dnc and
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the dccc computers, stole e-mails and memos and systematically released them to impact the presidential election. your march letter stated that there was no evidence that the trump campaign, quote, conspired or coordinated with russia, end quote. however, the report outlined substantial evidence that the trump campaign welcomed, encouraged and expected to benefit electorally from russia's interference in the election. the mueller report also details how time and time again the trump campaign took steps to gain advantage from russia's unlawful interference. for example, president trump's campaign manager, paul manafort, passed internal campaign polling data, messaging and strategy
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updates to constantine kilimnik, a russian national, with ties to russian intelligence. the mueller report explains how paul manafort briefed kilimnik in early august of 2016 on, and i quote, the state of the trump campaign and manafort's plan to win the election, end quote. including the campaign's focus on the battleground states of michigan, wisconsin, pennsylvania and minnesota. next, the mueller report documents the trump campaign's communications regarding secretary clinton's and the dnc's stolen e-mails. specifically, the report states, and i quote, within approximately five hours of president trump calling on russia to find secretary clinton's e-mails, russian intelligence agency, gru
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officers, quote, targeted for the first time clinton's personal office, end quote. the mueller report also reveals that president trump repeatedly asked individuals affiliated with his campaign, including michael flynn, quote, to find the deleted clinton e-mails, end quote. these efforts included suggestions to contact foreign intelligence services, russian hackers and individuals on the dark web. the report confirms that trump knew of wikileaks' releases of the stolen e-mails, and received status about -- status updates about upcoming releases. well, his campaign promoted coverage of the leaks. donald trump jr. communicated directly with wikileaks and at its request, publicly tweeted a
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link to e-mails stolen from clinton's campaign manager. second, in your march letter to congress, you concluded, and i quote, that the evidence is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense, end quote. however, special counsel mueller methodically outlines ten episodes. some continuing multiple actions by the president to mislead the american people and interfere with the investigations into russian interference and obstruction. in one example, the president repeatedly called white house counsel, don mcgahn, at home and directed him to fire mueller. saying, quote, mueller has to go. call me back when you do it. then later, the president repeatedly ordered mcgahn to
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release a press statement and write a letter saying the president did not order mueller fire him. the mueller report also outlines efforts by president trump to influence witness testimony and deter cooperation with law enforcement. for example, the president's team communicated to witnesses that pardons would be available if they, quote, stayed on message, end quote, and remain, quote, on the team, end quote. in one case, the president sent messages through his personal lawyers to paul manafort that he would be taken care of and just, quote, sit tight. end quote. the president then publicly affirmed this communication by stating that manafort was, quote, a brave man, end quote, for refusing to break.
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similarly, the mueller report stated, the president used inducements in in the form of positive messages in an effort to get michael cohen not to cooperate and then turned to attacks and intimidation to deter the provision of information or undermine cohen's credibility. finally, while the march letter to congress and the april press conference left the impression there were no remaining questions to examine, this report notes several limitations. mueller faced while gathering the facts that congress needed to examine. more than once, the report documents that legal -- excuse me -- conclusions were not drawn, because witnesses refused to answer questions or failed to recall the events. in addition, numerous witnesses,
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including but not limited to jared kushner, sarah sanders, rudolph guiliani, nickin this c michael flynn, steve bannon and john kelly all stated they could not recall events. the president himself said more than 30 times he could not recall or remember enough to be able to answer written questions from the special counsel. the special counsel also recounted that, quote, some associated with the trump campaign deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that featured encryption or do not provide for long-term retention of data, end quote. based on these gaps, the mueller report concluded, and i quote again, the office cannot rule
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out the possibility that the unavailable information would have shed additional light on or cast a new light on events described in the report, end quote. and contrary to the conclusion that the special counsel's report did not find evidence of communication or coordination between the trump campaign and russia, the mueller report explicitly states, and i quote, a statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts. volume t2, page 2. let me conclude with this. congress has both the constitutional duty and the authority to investigate the serious findings contained in the mueller report. i strongly believe that this committee needs to hear directly from special counsel mueller
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about his views on the report in his march letter. i also believe senators should have the opportunity to ask him about these subjects in questions directly. i have requested this to our chairman, to authorize a hearing with special counsel mueller, and i hope that will happen soon. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. before we receive your testimony, mr. barr, we have the letter that mr. mueller sent to you on march 27th, 2019. i'll put that in the record now. the floor is yours. >> well -- i've got to swear you in. sorry. to swear you in. sorry. you do solemnly swear the testimony you're about to give this committee is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? >> yes. >> sorry about that.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member feinstein, members of the committee. during my confirmation process, there were two concerns that dominated, as i think you will all agree. the first was whether i would in any way impede or curtail special counsel mueller's investigation. and the second, whether i would make public his final report. as you state, bob mueller was allowed to complete his work as he saw fit. and as to the report, even though the applicable regulations require that the report is to be made to the ag and is to remain confidential and not be made public, i told this committee that i intended to exercise whatever discretion i had to make as much of the report available to the public and to congressional leaders as i could, consistent with the law. this has been done.
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i arrived at the department on february 14th, and shortly thereafter, i asked it to be communicated to bob mueller's team that in preparing the report, we requested that they make it so we could readily identify 6e material. so we could quickly process the report -- >> did ycould you tell the public what 6e is? >> 6e is grand jury material that cannot be made public. it's prohibited by statute. and i wanted that identified so we could redact that material and prepare the report for public release as quickly as we could. when i arrived at the department, i found -- and was eventually briefed in on the investigation. i found that the deputy attorney general and his principle associate deputy at o 'callaghan were in regular discussions with the counsel's office, had been,
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and they communicated this request and had discussions about both the timing of the report and the nature of the report. on march 5th, i met with bob at the suggestion of the deputy and the principle associate deputy, bob mueller. i met with bob mueller to get a readout on what his conclusions would be. on march 25th -- and at that meeting, i asked -- i reiterated to special counsel mueller that in order to have the shortest possible time before i was in a position to release the report, i asked that they identify 6e material. when i received the report on march 22nd, and we were hoping to have that easily identified,
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the 6e material, unfortunately, it did not come in that form. and it quickly became apparent that it would take about three or four weeks to identify that material and other material that had to be redacted. so there was necessarily going to be a gap between the receipt of the report and getting the full report out publicly. the deputy and i identified four categories of information that we believe required redaction. and i think you will all know of them. but they were the grand jury material, the 6e material, information that the intelligence community advised would reveal sensitive sources and methods, information that if revealed at this stage would impinge on the investigation or prosecution of related cases, and information that would unfairly affect the privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties. we went about redacting this
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material in concert with the special counsel's office. we needed their assistance to identify the 6e material in particular. the redactions were all carried out by doj lawyers with special counsel lawyers in consultation with intelligence community. the report contained a substantial amount of material over which the president could have asserted executive privilege. but the president made the decision not to assert executive privilege and to make public as much of the report as we could, subject to the redactions that we thought required. now, as you see, the report has been lightly redacted. the public version has been estimated to have only 10 me% redactions. the vast bulk of those redactions relate to -- are in volume one, which is the volume that deals with collusion, and relates to existing, ongoing
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cases. volume two has only about 2% redactions for the public version. so 98% of volume 2 dealing with obstruction is available to the public. we have made a version of the report available to congressional leaders that only contains redactions of grand jury material. for this version, overall redactions are less than 2% for the whole report, and for volume 2, dealing with obstruction, they are less than .1 of 1%. so given the limited nature of redactions, i believe that the public -- publicly released report will allow every american to understand the results of the special counsel's work.
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engaged in two distinct schemes. first the internet research agency, a russian entity with close ties to the russian government conduct add disinformation and social media operation to sow discord amongst americans. second the gru, russian military intelligence, hacked into computers and stole e-mails from individuals affiliated with the democratic party and hillary clinton's campaign. the special counsel investigated whether anyone affiliated with president trump's campaign conspired or coordinated with these criminal schemes. they concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to establish that there had been any conspiracy or coordination with the russian government or the i.r.a. as you know volume two of his report dealt with obstruction and the special counsel considered whether certain actions of the president could amount to obstruction.
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he decided not to reach a conclusion. instead the report recounts ten episodes and discusses potential legal theories for connecting the president's actions to elements of obstruction offenses. now, we first heard that the special counsel's decision not to decide the obstruction issue at the march 5th meeting when he came over to the department and we were frankly surprised that they were not going to reach a decision on obstruction. and we asked them a lot about the reasoning behind this and the basis for this. special counsel mueller stated three times to us in that meeting in response to our questioning that he emphatically was not saying that but for the olc opinion, he would have found obstruction. he said that in the future the facts of a case against a president might be such that a special counsel would recommend abandoning the olc opinion but
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this is not such a case. we did not understand exactly why the special counsel was not reaching a decision. and when we pressed him on it, he said that his team was still formulating the explanation. once we heard that the special counsel was not reaching a conclusion on obstruction, the deputy and i discussed and agreed that the department had to reach a decision. we had the responsibility to assess the evidence as set forth in the report and to make the judgment. i say this because the special counsel was appointed to carry out the investigative and prosecutorial functions of the department and to do it as part of the department of justice. the powers he was using including the power of using a grand jury and using compulsory process exist for that purpose, the function of the department of justice in this arena, which is to determine whether or not there has been criminal conduct. it's a binary decision.
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is there enough evidence to show a crime and do we believe a crime has been committed. we don't conduct criminal investigations just to collect information and put it out to the public. we do so to make a decision. and here we thought there was an additional reason, which was this was a very public investigation and we had made clear that the results of the investigation were going to be made public and the deputy and i felt that the evidence developed by the special counsel was not sufficient to establish that the president committed a crime and therefore it would be irresponsible and unfair for the department to release a report without stating the department's conclusions and thus leave it hanging as to whether the department considered there had been criminal conduct. so the deputy attorney general and i conducted a careful review of the report with our staffs and legal advisors. and while we disagreed with some of the legal theories and felt that many of the episodes
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discussed in the report would not constitute obstruction as a matter of law, we didn't rest our decision on that. we took each of the ten episodes and we assessed them against the analytical framework that had been set forth by the special counsel and we concluded that the evidence developed during the special counsel's investigation was not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. let me take a little bit about this march 24th letter and bob mueller's letter which i received on the 28th. when the report came in on the 22nd and we saw it was going to take a great deal of time to get it out to the public, i made the determination that we had to put out some information about the bottom line. the body politic was in a high state of agitation. this was massive interest in
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learning what the bottom line results of bob mueller's investigation was, particularly as to collusion. former government officials were confidently predicting that the president and members of his family were going to be indicted. there were people suggesting that if it took any time to turn around the report and get it out, it would mean that the president was in legal jeopardy. so i didn't feel that it was in the public interest to allow this to go on for several weeks without saying anything so i decided to simply state what the bottom line conclusions were, which is what the department normally does, make a binary determination is there a crime or isn't there a crime. we prepared the letter for that purpose to state the bottom line conclusions. we used the language from the report to state those bottom line conclusions. i analogize it to announcing
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after an extended trial what the verdict of the trial is pending release of the full transcript. that's what we were trying to do, notify the people as to the bottom line conclusion. we were not trying to summarize the 410-page report. so i offered bob mueller the opportunity to review that letter before it went out and he declined. declined. on thursday morning, i received -- probably it was received at the department wednesday night or evening. but on thursday morning i received a letter from bob, the letter that's just been put into the record. and i called bob and said, you know, what's the issue here? and i asked him if he was suggesting that the march 24th
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letter was inaccurate and he said no, but that the press reporting had been inaccurate and that the press was reading too much into it. i asked him specifically what his concern was. and he said that his concern focused on his explanation of why he did not reach a conclusion on obstruction. and he wanted more put out on that issue. he argued for putting out summaries of each volume, the executive summaries that had been written by his office. and if not that, then other material that focused on the issue of why he didn't reach the obstruction question but he was very clear with me that he was not suggesting that we had misrepresented his report.
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i told bob that i was not interested in putting out summaries and i wasn't going to put out the report piecemeal. i wanted to get the whole report out and i thought summaries by very definition regardless of who prepared them would be under inclusive and we'd have a series of different debates and public discord over each tranche of information that went out and i wanted to get everything out at once and we should start working on that. so the following day i put out a letter explaining the process we were following and stressing that the march 24th letter was not a summary of the report but a statement of the principal conclusions and that people would be able to see bob mueller's entire thinking when the report was made public. i'll end my statement there, mr. chairman. glad to take any questions.
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>> thank you very much. as to the actual report itself, was there ever an occasion where something was redacted from the report that mr. mueller objected to? >> i wouldn't say objected to. hi understanding is the categories were defined by me and the deputy. i don't believe -- >> did you work with him to redact the report? >> right. those categories were executed by doj lawyers working with his lawyers. i think there were maybe a few judgment calls, very few, as to whether or not as a prudential matter should be treated as a reputational interest or something. so there may have been some occasions of that. >> as i understand it you did not want it to hurt somebody's reputation unless it affected
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the outcome. is that correct? >> right. >> was there any disagreement about 6e material? >> not that i'm aware of. >> any disagreement about classified information? >> not that i'm aware of. >> so the conclusions in your four-page summary you think accurately reflect his bottom line on collusion, is that correct? >> yes. >> you can read it for yourself if you've got any doubt. as to obstruction of justice, were you surprised he was going to let you decide? >> yes, i was surprised. i think the function he was carrying out, the investigative and prosecutive function -- is performed for the purpose -- >> how many people did he actually indict? >> i can't remember off the top of my head. >> it was a lot. >> yeah. >> so he has the ability to indict if he wants to, he used that power during the investigation, is that correct? >> that is correct.
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the other thing that was confusing to me was that the investigation carried out for a while as additional episodes were looked into, episodes involving the president. so my question is or was why were those investigated if at the end of the day you weren't going to reach a decision on them? >> so did you consult deputy attorney general rosenstein about the obstruction matter? >> constantly. >> was he in agreement with your decision not to proceed forward? >> yes. i'm sorry, the agreement what? not -- >> not to proceed forward with the obstruction. >> right. >> so very quickly give us your reasoning why you think it would be inappropriate to proceed forward on obstruction of justice in this case. >> well, generally speaking, an obstruction case typically has
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two aspects to it. one, there's usually an underlying criminality. >> let's stop right there. was there an underlying crime here? >> no. >> so usually there is? >> usually. but it's not necessary but sort of the paradigmatic case is there's an underlying crime and then the person implicated or people implicated are concerned about that criminality being discovered, take an inherently malignant act, as the supreme court has said, to obstruct that investigation. such as destroying documents. >> -- people were worried about that he fired comey to stop the russia investigation. that's one of the concerns people had. let me tell you a little bit about comey. i do not have confidence in him, comey, any longer. that was chuck schumer, november 2nd, 2016. i think he, comey, should take a hard look at what he has done and i think it would not be a
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bad thing for the american people if he did step down, bernie sanders, january 15th, 2017. the president ought to fire comey immediately. and he ought to initiate an investigation. that is congressman nadler, november 14th, 2016. did you have a problem with the way comey handled the clinton e-mail investigation? >> yes. i said so at the time. >> okay. so given the fact that a lot of people thought comey should be fired, did you find that to be a persuasive act of obstructing justice? >> no. i think even the report at the end of the day came to the conclusion if you read the analysis that a reason that loomed large there for his termination was his refusal to
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tell the public what he was privately telling the president, which was that the president was not under investigation. as to how go forward, would you recommend that this committee and every committee in congress do our best to harden our infrastructure against future russian attacks? >> absolutely, yes. >> do you think russia is still up to it? >> yes. >> do you think other countries will be involved in getting involved in our election in 2020? >> yes. >> is that a take away from the mueller report? >> yes. >> do you share my concerns about the fisa warrant process? >> yes. >> do you share my concerns about the counterintelligence investigation and how it was opened and why it was opened? >> yes. >> do you share my concerns that the lack of professionalism in the clinton e-mail investigation is something we should all look at? >> yes.
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>> do you expect to change your mind about the bottom line conclusions of the mueller report? >> no. >> do you know bob mueller? >> yes. >> do you trust him? >> yes. >> how long have you known him? >> 30 years, roughly. >> do you think he had the time he needed? >> yes. >> do you think he had the money he needed? >> yes. >> do you think he had the resources he needed? >> yes. >> do you think he did a thorough job? >> yes, and i think he feels he did a thorough job and had adequate evidence to make the calls. >> do you think the president's campaign in 2016 was thoroughly looked at in terms of whether or not they colluded with the russians? >> yes. >> and the answer is no according to bob mueller? >> that's right. >> he couldn't decide about obstruction. you did. is that correct? >> that's right. >> do you feel good about your decision? >> absolutely. >> thank you very much.
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>> chairman, mr. attorney general, the special counsel's report describes how the president directed white house counsel don mcgahn to fire special counsel mueller, and later told mcgahn to write a letter, quote, for our records, end quote, stating that the president had not ordered him to fire mueller. the report also recounts how the president made repeated efforts to get mcgahn to change his story. knowing that mcgahn believes the president's version of events was false, the special counsel found, and i quote, substantial evidence, end quote, that the president tried to change mcgahn's account in order to prevent further scrutiny of the president towards the investigation. special counsel also found that mcgahn is a credible witness with no motive to lie or
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exaggerate, given the position he held in the white house. here's the question. does existing law prohibit efforts to get a witness to lie, to say something the witness believes is false? >> yes. lie to the government, yes. >> and what law is that? >> the obstruction statutes. >> the obstruction statutes. and you don't have it, i guess, before you? >> well, i'm not sure which one they were referring to here. it was -- it was probably 1512-c-2. >> so these things in effect constitute obstruction. >> well, you're talking in general terms. you're not talking -- >> i'm talking about specifically -- yes. you're correct in a sense. that substantial -- the special counsel in his report found substantial evidence that the president tried to change mcgahn's account in order to
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prevent, and this is a quote, further scrutiny of the president toward the investigation. end quote. the special counsel also found mcgahn is a credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate. so what i'm asking you, then, is that a credible charge under the obstruction statute? >> we felt that -- we felt that that episode, the government would not be able to establish obstruction. if you go back and look at the episode where mcgahn -- the president gave mcgahn an instruction, mcgahn's version of that is quite clear in each time that he gave it and that was that the instruction said go to rosenstein. raise the issue of conflict of
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interest. and mueller has to go, because of this conflict of interest. so there's no question that that -- that the -- whatever instruction he was giving mcgahn had to do with mueller's conflict of interest. now, the president later said that what he meant was that the conflict of interest should be raised with rosenstein, but the decision should be left with rosenstein. on the other end of the spectrum, it appears that mcgahn felt it was more directive and the president was essentially saying, push rosenstein to invoke a conflict of interest to push mueller out. wherever it fell on that spectrum of interest, the "new york times" story was very different. the "new york times" story said flat out that the president directed the firing of mueller. told mcgahn, fire mueller.
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now there's something very different between firing a special counsel outright, which suggests ending the investigation, and having a special counsel removed for conflict, which suggests that you're going to have another special counsel. so the fact is that even under mcgahn's -- and then, as the report says, and recognizes, there is evidence the president truly felt that the "times" article was inaccurate and he wanted mcgahn to correct it. so we believe that it would be impossible for the government to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the president understood that he was instructing mcgahn to say something false. because it wasn't necessarily false. moreover, mcgahn had, weeks before, given testimony to the special counsel and the president was aware of that. and as the report indicates, it
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could also have been the case that he was primarily concerned about press reports and making it clear that he never outright directed the firing of mueller. so in terms of -- so in terms of the request to ask mcgahn to memorialize that fact, we do not think, in this case, that the government could show corrupt intent beyond a reasonable doubt. >> just to finish this, but you still have a situation where a president essentially tries to change the lawyers' account in order to prevent further criticism of himself. >> well that's not a crime. >> so you can, in this situation, instruct someone to lie?
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>> no, it has to be. well, to be obstruction of justice, the lie has to be tied to impairing the evidence in a particular proceeding. mcgahn had already given his evidence. and i think it would be -- plausible that the purpose of mcgahn memorializing what the president was asking was to make the record that the president never directed him to fire. and there is a distinction between saying to someone, go fire him -- go fire mueller, and saying, have him removed based on conflict. they have different results. >> what would that conflict be? >> well, the difference between them is if you remove someone for a conflict of interest, then there would be another -- presumably another person appointed. >> yeah, but wouldn't you have to have it in this kind of situation an identifiable conflict that made sense? or else doesn't it just become a fabrication?
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>> now we're shifting from the issue of writing the memo or somehow putting out a release later on and the issue of the actual direction to mcgahn. so the question on the direction to mcgahn has a number of different levels to it. first as a matter of law, i think the department's position would be that the president can direct the termination or the replacement of a special counsel. as a matter of law, the obstruction statute does not reach that conduct. putting that aside, the next question would be if it reached the conduct, could you hear establish corrupt intent beyond a reasonable doubt. what makes this case very
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interesting is that when you take away the fact there was no underlying criminal conduct and no inherently maligned obstructive act. that is, the president was carrying out his constitutional duties. the question is, what is the bacteria of taking away the underlying crime? and it's not -- the report suggests that one impact is, well, we have to find some other reason why the president would obstruct the investigation. but there's another impact, which is, if the president is being falsely accused, which the evidence now suggests that the accusations against him were false, and he knew they were false, and he felt that this investigation was unfair, propelled by his political opponents and was -- and was hampering his ability to govern, that is not a corrupt motive for replacing an independent counsel.
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so that's another reason that, you know, we would say that the government would have difficulty proving this beyond a reasonable doubt. >> my time is up. >> senator grassley. >> senator johnson and i wrote you about text messages between peter strzok and lisa page that appeared to show the fbi may have tried to use counterintelligence briefings for the trump transition team as intelligence-gathering operations. i hope you will commit to answering the latter in writing, but also providing committees the requested briefing. that's my question. >> yes, senator. >> have you already tasked any staff to look into whether or not spying was properly predicated and can congress expect a formal report on your findings?
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>> yes, i have people in the department helping me review the activities over the summer of 2016. >> i suppose it depends on what conclusions you come to, but is there any reason why congress wouldn't be briefed on your conclusions? >> it's a little early for me to commit completely, but i envision some kind of reporting at the end of this. >> the clinton campaign and the democrat national committee hired fusion gps to do opposition research against candidate trump. fusion gps then hired christopher steele, former british intelligence officer, to compile what we all know as the steele dossier. that reportedly used russian
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government sources for information. the steele dossier was central to the now debunked collusion narrative. now, here's the irony. the mueller report spent millions investigating and found no collusion between trump campaign and russia. but the democrats paid for a document created by a foreign national with reported foreign government sources. not trump, but the democrats. that's the definition of collusion. despite the central status of the steele dossier to the collusion narrative, the mueller report failed to analyze whether the dossier was filled with disinformation to mislead u.s. intelligence agencies and the fbi. my question. mueller spent over two years, $30 million, investigating
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russian interference in the election. in order for a full accounting of russian interference attempts, shouldn't the special counsel have considered on whether the steele dossier was part of a russian disinformation and interference campaign? >> i don't -- special counsel mueller has put out his report, and i've not yet had anyone go through the full scope of his investigation to determine whether he did address or look at all into those issues. one of the things i'm doing in my review is assemble existing information out there about it. not only from hill investigations and the oig, but also to see what the special counsel looked into. so i really couldn't say what he actually looked into. >> but you think -- in other words, if you had looked at all that information right now,
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you're telling me you could have said yes or no to my question. >> if i had looked at it. >> yeah. and you're going to -- you're going to attempt to find some of this information. >> yes. >> and make it available. >> yes. >> similarly, should want the special counsel have looked into the origins of the fbi's investigation into alleged collusion between the trump campaign and russia? >> the origins of that narrative? >> yes. >> i don't know if he viewed his charter that broadly. and i don't know whether he did or not. something that i am reviewing. and, again, we'll look at whatever the special counsel has developed on that. >> yeah. in volume two of the report, the special counsel declined to make a traditional prosecutorial decision. instead, the special counsel laid out 200 or so pages relating to a potential obstruction analysis, and then dumped that on your desk.
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in your press conference, you said that you asked the special counsel whether he would have made a charging decision or recommended charges on obstruction. but for the office of legal counsel's opinion that the special counsel made clear, that was not the case. so, mr. barr, is that an accurate description of your conversation with the special counsel? >> yes. he reiterated several times in a group meeting that he was not saying that but for would have obstruction. >> yeah. if the special counsel found facts sufficient to constitute obstruction of justice, would he have stated that finding? >> if he had found that, then i think he would state it, yes. >> okay. was it special counsel mueller's responsibility to make a charging recommendation?
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>> i think the future attorndep general and i thought it was. but not just charging, but to determine whether or not conduct was criminal. the president would be charged -- could not be charged as long as he was in office. >> do you agree with the reasons that he offered for not making a decision in volume two of his report and why or why not? >> i'm not really sure of his reasoning. i really could not recapitulate his analysis, which is one of the reasons in my march 24th letter, i simply stated the fact that he did not reach a conclusion and didn't try to put words in his youth. mouth. i think that if he felt that he shouldn't go down the path of making a traditional prosecutive
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decision, then he shouldn't have investigated. that was the time to pull up. >> okay. there have been a number of leaks coming out of the justice department or fbi during high-profile investigations. the inspector general found that during the department's investigation of hillary clinton for mishandling highly classified information, there was a culture of unauthorized media contacts. during the russian investigation, the leaks continued. leaks undermine the ability of investigators to investigate. further leaks to the papers, while congress has questions to the department go unanswered, is unacceptable. why -- what are you doing to investigate unauthorized media contacts by the department and fbi officials during the russian investigation? >> we have multiple criminal leak investigations under way. >> thank you. >> senator leahy.
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>> thank you, attorney general. i'm somewhat troubled by your testimony here and in the other body. you appeared before the house appropriations on april 9th. you were asked about media reports and the special counsel's team is frustrated that your march 24th letter didn't adequately portray the report's findings. then i believe it was congressman chris asked if you knew what those members of the special counsel's team were concerned about. you testified in response, "no, i don't." you then said you merely suspected more information was released with the letter. now we know that contrary to what you said april 9th, that on march 27th, robert mueller wrote to you, expressing very specific
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concerns that your march 24th letter -- remember your testimony on april 9th -- that your march 24th letter failed to captu capture -- to quote mr. mueller, the context, nature and substance as those in his report. and what really struck me, mr. mueller wrote that your letter threatened to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel. and assured full public confidence in the outcome of the investigation. why did you testify on april 9th that you didn't know the concerns being expressed by mueller's team when, in fact, you had heard those concerns directly from mr. mueller two weeks before? >> well, as i said, i talked directly to bob mueller about his letter to me and specifically asked him what exactly are your concerns.
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are you saying that the march 24th letter was misleading or inaccurate? or what? he indicated that it was not. he was not saying that. and that what he was concerned >> that wasn't my question. >> i'm get to the question. the quest from chryst was that reports emerged recently, press reports that the members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your march 24th letter in that they don't adequately or accurately portray the report's findings. i don't know what members he's talking about. and i certainly am not aware of any challenge to the accuracy of the findings. >> mr. barr, you seem to have learned to filibuster rules even better than senators do. my question was, why did you say
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you were not aware of concerns when weeks before your testimony mr. mueller had expressed concerns to you? that's a fairly simple -- >> well i answered a question. the question was relating to unidentified members who were expressing frustration over the accuracy relating to findings. i don't know what that refers to at all. i talked directly to bob mueller, not member of his team. and even though i did not know what was being referred to and mueller never told me that my expression of the findings was inaccurate, but i did then volunteer i thought they were talking about the desire to have more information put out, but it wasn't my purpose to put out more information. >> mr. barr i feel your answer was purposely misleading and i think others do too. let me ask you another one.
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you said the president has fully cooperated with the investigation, but his attorney had told an independent he would be taken care of if he didn't cooperate fully in the investigation. >> can you repeat that? >> mr. manafort and cohen were told by trump's personal attorney they would be taken care of if they did not cooperate. you said the president was fully cooperating. is there a conflict there? yes or no? >> no. >> you think it's fully cooperating to instruct a former aide to tell the attorney general to unrecuse himself, shut down the investigation, and declare the president did nothing wrong? >> i don't think -- well, obviously since i didn't find it was obstruction, i felt that the evidence could not support --
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>> i'm asking if that's fully cooperating. i'm not asking if that's obstruction. ifs that fully cooperating? >> he fully cooperating. so by instructing a former aide to tell a former attorney general to unrecuse himself and shut down the investigation that's cooperating? >> where is that in the report? >> the president dictated a message to lewandowski to tell sessions he should announce he did not recuse himself from the russia investigation. it appears to president did nothing wrong. is that cooperate something. >> firstly, asking sessions to enrecuse himself we do not think the obstruction. >> i'm not asking you what's obstruction. i'm asking you if he's cooperating. >> i don't know if that declares the president did nothing wrong, although the president in terms
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of collusion did nothing wrong. isn't that correct? >> collusion is not aobstructin. but is that fully cooperating? >> well, i don't see any conflict with that and fully cooperating with the investigation. >> the president of course declared many times publicly in tweets and at campaign rallies and that he would testify but he never did testify, is that correct? >> as far as i know. >> i think you know whether he testified or not. >> as far as i know, he didn't testify. >> mr. mueller found the written answers to be inadequate, is that correct? >> i think he wanted additional, but he never sought it. >> and the president never testified. >> well, he never pushed him. >> the president never testified. now, is the fact that
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mr. mueller found the trump campaign was receptive to some of the offers of assistance from russia, or the fact that the trump campaign never reported any of this to the fbi, does that trouble you? >> what would they report to the fbi? >> that they were receptive to offers of assistance by russia. >> what do you mean receptive? i think the report says -- obviously they were expecting to benefit from whatever the russians. >> page 173, the report says, in summary the investigations have multiple links between trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the russian government. those links included russians offering assistance on the campaign. in some instances the campaign was receptive to the offer where as others they were not. that doesn't bother you at all? >> i don't understand exactly
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what that refers to. >> you have to report. i just gave you the report. i know my time is up. i'm making the chairman nervous. >> no, just very well done. senator cornyn. >> general barr, the chairman pointed out of the hillary clinton email investigation there were a number of -- at mr. comey's press conference, i think it was july the 5th, 2016, there were a number of prominent democratic members of senate who said comey should resign or be fired. i believe you said that you have concluded as an as a matter of law that the president as the head of the executive branch of government he has the right to fire executive branch employees. is that right? >> that's right. >> the president was relying on
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the deputy attorney general, relying on rod rosenstein's critique of mr. comey's conduct holding that press conference, releasing derogatory information about secretary clinton, but announcing that no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges against her. is that right? >> that's right. >> you started your career, i believe, in the intelligence community and moved on of course to the department of justice, and thank you for agreeing to serve again as attorney general and help restore the department's reputation as an impartial arbiter of the law, and not the political arm of any administration. i think that's very, very important that you and director wray continue to reference in that regard and i'm grateful to you for that. but i do believe we need to ask the question, why didn't the
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obama administration do more as early as 2014 in investigating russian efforts to prepare to undermine and sow dissension in the 2016 election? mr. mueller's report does document that the russian government through intelligence agencies and internet research, i.r.a. i think it's called began their efforts in 2014 and we know they met with some success. is it any surprise to you based on your experience that the russians would try do everything they can to try to sow dissension in american political life, including in our elections? >> no, not at all. i mean, i think the internet creates a lot more opportunities to have a -- you know, to have
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that kind of covert effect on american bodies of politics so it's getting more and more dangerous, but the russians have been at this for a long time in various different ways. but the point you made about bob mueller's efforts on i.r.a. that's one of the things that struck me about the report. i think it's very impressive work they did in moving quickly to get into the i.r.a. and also the gru folks. i was thinking to myself, if that had been done in -- starting in the beginning of 2016 we would have been a lot further along. >> for example, we have heard a lot about the steel dossier. mr. steel is a former british intelligence officer hired to do opposition research by the hillary clinton campaign on her political adversaries, including
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president trump or candidate trump at that time. how do we know that the steel dossier is not itself evidence of russian disinformation campaign, knowing what we know now that basically the allegations made therein for second hand, here say, or unveri unverified. can you state with confidence that the steel dossier was not part of the russian misinformation campaign? >> i cannot state that with confidence. that is one of the areas that i'm reviewing. i'm concerned about it. and i don't think it's entirely speculative. >> we know that from published reports that the head of the cia, mr. brennan, went to president obama and brought his concerns about the initial i indications of russian involvement in the campaign as early as late july of 2016, and
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instead of doing more during the obama administration to look into that and disrupt and deter russian activities that threatened the validity or our campaign in 2016 it appears to me that the obama administration justice department and fbi decided to place their bets on hillary clinton and focus their efforts on investigating the trump campaign. but as you have pointed out, thanks to the special counsel, we now have confidence that no americans colluded with the russians in that efforts to undermine the american people. we now need to know -- and i'm glad to hear what you are telling us about your inquiries and your research in your investigation. we now need to know what steps the obama fbi, department of justice, and intelligence community, what steps they took to undermine the political
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process and put a thumb on the scale in favor of one political candidate over the other, and that would be before and after the 2016 election. what's the defensive briefing that a counterintelligence investigation? >> you can have different kinds of defensive briefings. if you learn that somebody is being targeted by a hostile intelligence service, one form of defensive briefing is to alert that person to the risks. >> i think attorney general lynch said it is routine in count counterintelligence investigations. would you agree with her? >> yes. >> do you know whether a defensive briefing was ever given to the trump campaign by the fbi based on their counterintelligence investigation? did they ever tell the president before he was -- january 2016
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what the russians were trying to do and advise him to tell people affiliated with his campaign to be on their guard about russians trying to undermine public confidence in the election? >> my understanding is that did not happen. >> that failure to provide a defensive briefing to the trump campaign, that would be an extraordinary or notable failure, would you agree? >> i think under these circumstances, one of the things i can't fathom why it did not happen. if you're concerned about interference in the election and you have, you know, substantial people involved in the campaign, former u.s. attorneys -- he had three former u.s. attorneys in the campaign. i don't understand why the bureau would not have gone and given a defensive briefing. >> thank you. >> senator durbin. >> thanks chairman.
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thanks, general barr. i have been listening to my republican colleagues and it seems they're going to work together to coordinate the lock her up defense. this is not supposed to be about the mueller investigation, the russian involvement in the campaign. it is really about hillary clinton's emails. finally we get down to the bottom line. hillary clinton's emails. questions have been asked about benghazi, travelgate, white water. there's a lot we should be going through today. that's unresponsive to the reality of what the american people want to know. they paid a lot of money, $25 million for this report. i respect mr. mueller and believe he came up with a sound report, though i don't agree with all of it. i found some of the things general barr, you engaged in really leave me wondering what you believe your role as attorney general is when it comes to something like this. listen to what -- since it's put in the record, let me read it. listen to what you received in a
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letter on march 27th from bob mueller. the summary the department of justice sent to congress did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of the office's work and conclusions. we communicated that concern to the department on the morning of march 25th. there's now public confusion about the critical aspects of our investigation. this threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel, to fulfill pub look assurance in the investigation. i cannot imagine you received that and could not answer congressman chryst directly. you said no, i don't know. after you received this letter. what am i miss something. >> well, as i explained to senator leahy, i talked directly to bob, and bob told me that he did not have on jury
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instructions -- objections to the accuracy. >> attorneys don't put things in writing unless they're pretty serious about them. i got to ask you, if he puts it in writing u your concern to the representations you couldn't recall that when congresswoman chryst asked you that a few days later? >> no, i'm saying the -- the march 24th letter state that had bob mueller did not reach a conclusion on obstruction and had language about not exonerating the president. my view of events was there was a lot of criticism of the special counsel for the ensuing few days, and on thursday, i got this letter. and when i talked to the special counsel about this letter, my
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understanding was his concern was not the accuracy of the statement of the findings in my letter. but that he wanted more out there to provide additional context to explain his reasoning on why he didn't reach a decision on obstruction. >> i'll just say this, mr. barr, if you receive a letter from bob mueller a few days after your march 24th letter it was clear he had genuine concerns at that point. >> yeah, his concerns was he wanted more. after a months long trial, if i wanted to go out and get out to the public what the verdict was, pending preparation of the full transcript and i'm out there saying, here's the verdict and the prosecutor comes up and taps me on the shoulder and says, well, the verdict doesn't really fully capture all my work.
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how about that great cross-examination or third day trial? i'm not just trying to capture everything. i'm trying to tate the verdict. >> you just used the word summarize. >> summarize the principle conclusions. >> which most people would call a summary. whether or not you can prosecute a sitting president, you had strong feelings. they were in your memo to the trump defense team. >> did i discuss that? >> you certainly discussed whether or not the a president should cooperate with an investigation. you said at one point, in summarizing the findings of mueller that the white house fully cooperated. we know for a fact and you have stated already, the president never submitted himself to what was characterized as a vital interview, an actual sitdown interview under oath. and the questions, some 30 times
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his memory failed him, so to say the white house fully cooperated i thinks is a generous conclusion. on the office of white house counsel, i refer you to volume of the mueller report. and on page 1 he talks about the whole issue if he was in any way restricted in what he could conclude about the liability of a sit president. you dismissed that in your opening statement. you said you had nothing to do with it. how do you explain on the first page of volume two that it had a lot to do with it. it's the reason he couldn't reach a conclusion. >> it's a prudent shl conclusion. that he should not reach a decision, which is different than citing the olc, saying that
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but for the olc opinion i would indict. >> i'm just going stand by what he has written and i ask others to read it as well. the last point i want to make is about don mcgahn. if you read the section here, pages 113 to 120 on don mac began's experience, the president wanted him to state publicly the "new york times" article was not true, that he had not asked mcgahn to fire the special counsel. mcgahn refused and there's speculation whether he risked being dismissed or resigning over the issue. for you to suggest this was some sort of kabuki dance with rod rosenstein i think the president's intent was clear. he wanted this to end. he told lester hold, going back to the issue raised by the chairman, the reason to get rid of comey is the russia investigation. over and over again, the president was explicit and expository in his style. let me ask you this conclusion.
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my time is up. do you have any on jury instructions, can you think of an on jury instructions why don mcgahn shouldn't testify before the committee on his experience? >> yes, i mean, i think that he's -- he -- he's a close advi adviser to the president. >> never exerted executive privilege. may have waived it. >> we haven't waived executive privilege. >> at this point you're saying -- what about bob mueller. should he be able to testify? >> i said publicly, i have no on jury instructions. >> what about don mcgahn? >> that's a call for the president to make. >> he's a private citizen. >> i assume he'd be testifying about privileged matters. >> i hope we can get to the bottom of this with witness matters after we take another close look at hillary clinton's emails. thank you. >> might do that. senator lee. >> in his classic decent in
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morrisson v olson, nothing is so affective as the ability to charge one's opponent and his associates are not merely wrong headheaded, naive, and ineffective, but in all probability crooks. nothing gives an appearance to validity of such charges as a justice department investigation. that observation has i think been born out time and time again over the past two years. time and time again, the president's political adversar adversaries have exploited the mueller probe, its mere existence to spread enwent doe to undermine the legitimacy of the 2016 election and the lenlt si of this administration. for example on january 25, 2019 speaker nancy pelosi asked, what does putin have on the president politically, personally, or
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financially? mr. attorney general, is there any evidence to suggest that vladimir putin quote unquote, has something on president trump? >> none that i'm aware of. >> on february 20, 2019 former fbi deputy director andrew mccabe said on national television to the entire nation that he thinks it's possible that donald trump is a russian agent. mr. attorney general, is there any evidence that you're aware of that suggests remotely that president trump is a russian agent. >> none that i'm aware of. >> representative eric swalwell repeatedly claimed donald trump, quote, acts on russia's behalf. attorney general barr, is there anything you're aware of to back that up that the president acts on russia's behalf? >> none that i'm aware of. we have had heard over and over again on national tv, in the
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house and on the senator floor and in the media we have heard about the president's alleged collusion with russia, but what we have heard is as baseless as any conspiracy theory that we have seen in politics. any that i can think of. the only difference here is that the purveyors of this conspiracy were in many cases prominent members of the opposition party. that's concerning. now, from the beginning, there were some indications that the russia investigation was perhaps not always conducted with the absolute impartiality that the american people have come to expect and hope. partially given that the track record of excellence that the u.s. department of justice has shown. according to the mueller report itself, the investigation into the trump campaign began on july
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21, 2016 after a foreign government contacted the fbi about comments made by george papadopoulos. is that accurate, or were there other precipitating events that helped lead to this? >> that is the account that has been given in the past as to how it got going. >> but you previously said you think it's possible that the federal bureau of investigation i improperly spied on the trump campaign. i assume that's carter page. is that or will there other things there? >> many people seem to assume that the only intelligence collection that occurred was a single confidential informant and an fisa warrant. i would like to find out whether that is in fact true. it strikes me as a fairly anemic
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effort, if that was the counterintelligence effort designed to stop a threat as it's being represented. >> was carter page under surveillance during his time working for the trump campaign, which was roughly january 2016 to july 2017? >> i don't know. >> was any other trump campaign official under surveillance at that time? >> these are the things i need to look at. i have to say, as i've said before, the extent that there was any overreach, i believe it was a few people in the upper echelons of the bureau and perhaps the department, but those people are no longer there, and i'm working closely with chris wray, who i think has done a superb job at the bureau and we are working to reconstruct exactly what went down. one thing people should know is
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the bureau has been a little bit handicapped because of the pending mueller investigation and the oig investigation. >> as we know, the fisa warrant was based largely on the steel dossier and specifically about two facts about page's trip to moscow to deliver a speech. first according to the warrant, page had a secret meeting with the president of roznet. does the mueller report confirm that? >> met with who? >> with mr. sechin. >> i don't remember that. i want to stay away from getting too deeply and the fisa issue, because that's currently under investigation by the oig. >> understood. second and more importantly the warrant also says that page met
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with igor devekin to discuss comp ro mat. does the mueller report confirm he met with him? >> i don't think so. >> does it confirm he met about comp ro mat with anyone? >> i don't think so. >> the main reason for the warrant has been discussed by the mueller report, which is the gold standard of what we are discussing here. i'm glad that you're looking into it. i would encourage you to look into why the fbi relied on this false information. and i hope you'll share the results. the public obviously has a right to know what happened here. the u.s. department of justice, the federal bureau of investigation, have a long history, and a long history of success that he has been based on respect. they deserve to understand there
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is not so much power that's been concentrated in that one industry. that the outcome of an investigation can depend on the whims of who might be assigned to it. they have a right not to believe that a particular investigation might be struck and paged. might not be tarmaced. might not be influenced by an improper consideration politically or otherwise. thank you mr. attorney general. >> senator white house i'm told we are going to have two votes beginning at 2:25. we'll go senator whitehouse and why don't we come back an hour later? break for an hour, do the votes and have lunch. senator white house. >> you this, chairman. attorney general, you had a conversation with chairman graham earlier this morning in which you described the importance of, to use chairman graham's words, hardening our electoral structure against foreign interference. i ask you, is anonymous election
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funding an avenue for possible foreign election influence and interference? >> yes. >> let's turn to the march 27th letter, which you received and read march 28th, the mueller letter. >> mm-hmm. >> correct? >> yes. >> when did you have a conversation with bob mueller about that letter that you referenced? >> i think it was on the 28th. >> same day that you read it? when did you first learn of the "new york times" and "washington post" stories that would make the existence of this letter public, the ones that came out last night? >> i think it could have been yesterday, but i'm not sure. >> when they contacted you to ask for any comment? >> they didn't contact me. >> contacted doj to ask for any comment? >> i can't remember how it came up, but someone mentioned it. >> at some point you knew the mueller letter was going to become public and that was
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probably yesterday. >> i think so. >> okay. when did you decide to make that letter available to us in congress? >> this morning. >> would you concede you had an opportunity to make this letter public on april 4th when representative chryst asked you a very related question. >> i don't know what you mean by related question. seems to me to be a very different question. >> i can't even follow that down the road. i mean, boy. thags some masterful hair splitting. the letter references enclosed documents and enclosed materials. right? are those the same things as what you call the executive summaries that mueller provided you? >> with this letter? >> yes.
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>> it's all the same document. when you talk about the executive summaries that mueller provided you they were the enclosed documents that mueller provided you that we have not been provided? >> i think they were. they had been provided though. they're not report. they're the summary in the report. is the language of the report in the report. there's nothing else he provided you? >> i think that's what he provided. if there is anything else, will you provide it to us in if it's different in any form. it's odd to be given a letter without -- >> there's a redacted version of the letter, of the summaries that were embed in the report. >> can we get that? >> sure. >> great, thank you. you said it was not grand jury or presented a risk to intelligence sources or would interfere or compromise ongoing
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investigations or affected by executive privilege? >> there were redactions made in the executive summaries, but as i searched i wasn't interested in putting out summaries, period. >> this is another hair splitting exercise, because bob mueller described your letter as a summary. you can say it wasn't, but mueller said it was a summary. >> i wasn't interesting in summarizing the whole report. as i say, i was stating the bottom line conclusions. >> your letter its says it's intended to describe -- >> yeah, describe to report. meaning -- >> when you describe the report in four pages and it's a 400-page report, i don't know why you're cowering whether it's a summary or not. >> i state in the letter the principle conclusions. let me also say, bob mueller is the equivalent of a u.s. attorney. he was exercising the powers of attorney general under the
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powers of attorney general. he's part of the department of justice. his work included when he sent his report to the attorney general. at that point it was my baby. and i was making a decision as to whether or not to make it public, and i effectively overreed the regulations, used discretion to lean as far forward as i could to make that public. it was my decision how and when to make it public, not bob mueller's. >> with the respect to the olc opinion that informed bob mueller's opinion as he describes in the report, do you agree that that is merely an executive opinion and that under our constitution, the decision as to what the law is is made by the judicial branch to the united states government? >> i'm sorry. >> with respect to the olc opinion that directed mueller's decision not make a ruling on obstruction, do you believe that
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is an executive opinion and urn our constitution, what the law is gets decided by the judicial branch of government? >> yes. >> can it be tested whether it's right or not? >> none that comes to mind. >> then it could be wrong. >> i guess hypothetically. >> there are legal minds that disagree with that. >> excuse me? >> there are many respected legal commentators and lawyers who disagree with that. >> it's hard to find lawyers that agree on anything. >> so the interesting thing to me is it goes on to say because of the olc opinion, we have to give the president an extra benefit of the doubt because he is denied his day in court where he could exonerate himself. that seems like a fallacy to me, because if you are the president of the united states, you can either waive or readily override
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the opinion and say, i'm ready to go to trial. i want to exonerate myself. let's go. >> how is this relevant to my decisions? >> it's relevant -- >> because i assumed there was no olc opinion. >> well, we have a report in front of us that says that this influenced the outcome. and in particular it influenced the outcome because it depriefed the president of his ability to have his day in court, and he could easily have his day in court by waiving or overriding the olc opinion that has no judicial basis, correct? >> well, i don't think that there was anything to have a day in court on. i think that the government did not have a prosecutable case. >> but part -- mueller obviously didn't agree because he left that up to you.
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he said he could neither confirm nor deny a prosecutable case there. he left that to you. and when he did, he said -- and you apparently have agreed this olc opinion bears on it and it would be unfair to -- >> i don't want to characterize bob's thought process on this. >> i'm not asking to you characterize it. it's in his report it's in writing. >> i'm not sure what he means by that. >> with respect to the word. i have a minute? i just want to nail down. you used the word spying about authorized doj investigative activities. >> are you talking about my testimony before the house appropriations? >> yes. in the entirety of your previous career of the department of justice, including as attorney general, have you ever referred to authorized department investigative actives officially or publicly as spying?
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i'm not asking for private conversation. >> i'm not going to adjure the use of spying. my first job in cia was spying and i don't think it has any he jortive meaning at all. to me it's whether it's authorized and adequately predicated, spying. i think spying is a good english word that in fact doesn't have synonyms because it's the broadest word, incorporating all forms of intelligence. i'm not going back off spying. i use it frequently. as do media. >> when did you decide to use it? was it off the cuff, or did you intend -- >> it was actually off the you have can, to tell you the truth. when senator -- when the senator -- i mean, the -- >> congresswoman probably. >> schatz from hawaii? >> whoever it was, go ahead.
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>> when he challenged me and said, did you want to change your language, i was thinking, what's the issue? i don't consider it a pejorative. frankly we went back and looked at press usage and up until the outrage a few weeks ago, it's commonly used in the press to referred to as authorized activity. >> but it's not commently used by the department. my time is up. >> it's commonly used by me. >> thank you very much. we'll come back at 10 until 1:00. thank you.
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we'll have all of today's senator judiciary committee hearing with attorney general william barr tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span and and c-span radio. he returns tomorrow to testify before the house judiciary committee. c-span's "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, we are getting your reaction to attorney general william barr's first day of testimony on the mueller report. join the conversation all morning with your phone calls, facebook comments and tweets. be sure to watch "washington journal" live at 7:00 a.m. eastern time thursday morning.
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join the discussion. here's a look at system of our featured programs this weekend on book tv. saturday at 6:50 p.m., tyler cowan with his latest book, big business. >> most of the money is spent as voters desire. you look at our man in the white house, president donald trump. what he's doing on trade, i disapprove, most american businessmen disprove. in terms of law, most american businessmen are against. >> in depth, live with kathleen hall jameson for a discussion on her latest books, "packaging the presidency" and" cyberwar". join our conversation with kathleen hall jameson. then at 9:00 eastern afterwards, stanford university professor jennifer ever hart with her
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insights on racial bias. she's interviewed by florida democratic congresswoman val jennings. >> a lot of people talk about that as old racism, but this implicit bias may be something you don't know you have, how it's affecting how you're thinking. even if we know about the stair yo types we don't always know those stair yo types are influencing what we are doing, how we are treating someone, how we are evaluating someone. watch this weekend on book tv on c-span 2. once, tv was simply three giant networks and a government supported service called pbs. then in 1979, a small network with an unusual name polled out an idea -- let viewer decide all on their own what was important to them. c-span opened washington policy making for all to see, bringing you unfilters content to the
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people. in the last 48 years it's changed. there's no monolithic media, youtube stars are a thing. but c-span's big idea is more relevant today than ever. no government money supports c-span. it's nonbipartisan coverage of washington is funded as a washington service by your cable or satellite provider. on television and online, c-span is your unfilters view of government so you can make up your own mind. military leaders testified by u.s. operations in north and south america at a hearing. they answered question about the crisis in venezuela and combatting the influence of russia, cuba, and china in the laen america. this is two and a half hours.