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tv   CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto  CNN  February 22, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PST

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tasked with leading the department of justice is vowing to prosecute the domestic extremists involved in the deadly attack on the u.s. capitol january 6. >> and also promising a department of justice re-set, restoring the century and a half old legacy of political independence. and the supreme court clearing the way for the manhattan district attorney cy vance to obtain donald trump's tax returns. this is a huge loss to trump who had fiercely fought to shield his financial papers from prosecutors but he is not able to do that now said the high court. >> no doubt a loss for the president there. and we wan to bring in our experts. manu, if i could begin with you. it is been 30 years, you have to go back to janet reno for an attorney general that had to
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wait this long for a confirmation hearing. why so long and what do we expect to happen now? do we expect him to get bipartisan support? >> it is expected that he'll get bipartisan support and for the delay here is a mixture of politics and politics. republicans did not want to move forward on the the proceedings during the impeachment trial. they did not allow the effort to be green lighted. and this is also held up because of a power sharing agreement that allows the 50/50 senate to organize. so lindsey graham who was a republican in the minority, was the chairman of this committee at the beginning of this new congress because that power sharing agreement had not been in place. that is no longer the case. and dick durbin is the chairman and now they're moving ahead. now ultimately we do expect some republicans to support in nomination on the floor which is why after today, after tomorrow, the confirmation hearings, we do expect a vote in the full judiciary committee over the next week and a half and then going to the full senate. that is quite a delay from when
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past presidents have gotten their past attorney general nominees oftentimes on the first days or first few weeks of the administration. that is not the case for hear for merrick garland. i expect most republicans, some may vote against him and a lot will vote for him. it is a big question how he answers today. will he get pinned down as republicans try to pin him down on pursuing investigations that they want to pursue and will he decide he can't get pinned down and will that be enough to satisfy republicans on this committee. so a lot of questions from republicans and from both sides about what he will do about the former president an the former president donald trump's role in the january 6 attacks. that is a big focus. >> that is something that i think is really interesting, laura coates, that he brings up and dick durbin said this to repo reporters walking into the
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hearing, i want merrick garland to focus on the attacks and not on other things and the just department does not report to him. hold that thought. let's listen to the nominee judge merrick garland. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. ranking member and members of the judiciary committee. i'm honored to appear before you today as the president's nominee to be the attorney general. i would like first to take this opportunity to introduce you to my wife lynn, my daughters jesse and becky and my son-in-law zan. i'm grateful to them and to my entire extended family that is watching today on c-span every day of my life. the president nominated the attorney general to by a lawyer not for any individual but for people of the united states. july 2020 marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of the department of justice. making this a fitting time to remember the mission of the
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attorney general and of the department. it is a fitting time to reaffirm that the rule -- the role of the attorney general is to serve the rule of law and to ensure equal justice under law. and it is a fitting time to recognize the more than 115,000 career employees of the department and as lawmaker agencies and their commitment to serve the cause of justice and protect the safety of our communities. if i am confirmed as attorney general, it will be the culmination of a career i have dedicated to ensuring that the laws of our country are fairly and faithfully enforced and the rights of all americans are protected. before i became a judge, almost 24 years ago, a significant portion of my professional life was spent at the justice department. as a special assistance to ben
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civiletty, the last the attorney generals as a supervisor in the criminal division and finally as a senior official in the department. many of the policies at the justice department developed during those years are the foundation for reaffirming the norms that will ensure that the department adheres to the rule of law. these are policies that protect the independence of the department from partisan influence and law enforcement that strictly regulate communications with the white house, that establish guidelines for fbi domestic operations and foreign intelligence collection, that ensure respectful treatment of the press, that read the freedom of information act generously that respect the professionalism of doj employees and set out the principles of
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federal prosecution to guide prosecutorial discretion. in conversations that i had with many of you before this hearing, you asked why i would agree to leave a lifetime appointment as a judge. i have told you that i love a judge. but i have also told you that this is an important moment for me to step forward because of my deep respect for the department of justice, and for its critical role of ensuring the rule of law. celebrating doj's 150th year reminds us of the origins of the department. which was founded during reconstruction in the aftermath of the civil war to secure the civil rights that were promised in the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. the first attorney general appointed by president grant to head the new department led it in a concerted battle to protect black voting rights from the violence of white extremists.
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succes successfully prosecuting hundreds of cases against white supremacist members of the ku klux klan. almost a century later the civil rights act of creitied the civil rights division to uphold the constitutional rights of all americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society. on the website of the department's civil rights division, remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice. communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, in education, in employment, and in the criminal justice system. and they bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climb change. 150 years after the department's founding, battling extremist
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attacks on our democratic institutions also remains central to the department's mission. from 1995 to 1997, i supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the oklahoma city federal building who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the federal government. if confirmed, i will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the capitol on january 6. a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a corner stone of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government. and that critical work is but a part of the broad scope of the department's responsibilities. justice department protects americans from environmental degradation and the use of market power. from fraud and corruption, from
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violent crime and cyber crime and from drug trafficking and child exploitation. and it must do all of this without ever taking its eye off of the risk of another devastating attack by foreign terrorists. the attorney general takes an oath to support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic. i am mindful of the tremendous responsibility that comes with this role. as attorney general, later supreme court court justice robert jackson famously said, quote, the prosecutor has more control over life, liberty and reputation than any other person in america. while prosecutors at their best are one of the most benef sent forces in our society when they act from malice or other based
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motives, they are one of the worst. jackson then went on to say the citizens' safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who speaks truth and not victims. who serves the law and not fictional purposes and who approaches the task with humility. that was the prosecutor i tried to be during my prior service in the department of justice. that is the spirit i tried to bring to my tenure as a federal judge. and if confirmed, i promise to do my best to live up to that ideal as attorney general. thank you. >> thank you, judge garland. before i turn to my questions, i want to add a few mechanics for the hearing. senators will have eight minutes in the first round of questions, followed by a five minute second round. and i ask members to do their best to stay within their allotted time.
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we will take a break every once in a while for ten minutes. i'm hoping the first will be sometime near 11:00 at about 12:15 and 12:30 we'll break for lunch for 30 minutes. i beg you to stick with that schedule as you can and be back in time so that we could keep the hearing moving along. so at this point, let me turn to questions. you were sent to oklahoma city, 1995. what happened there was the deadliest act of home grown domestic terrorism in modern american history. 168 people had been killed, including 19 children. hundreds were injured. you were supervising the prosecution of timothy mcveigh and terry nichols who were accused of leading in that destruction. now, if you are confirmed as attorney general, which i
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believe you will be, you will face what is known as the biggest most complex investigation in justice department history. and that is the investigation around the events of january 6. 230 have been arevrested so far. some 500 are under investigation. we know that the death of at least one police officer is one of the major elements in this investigation. i'd like to ask you to reflect on two things. what is going on in america. is oklahoma city just a oneoff and unrelated to what happened here and could you measure based on what you've learned so far what kind of forces are at work to divide and destroy the american dream? secondly, when it comes to this prosecution, are there elements that we should consider in terms of law enforcement to deal with this rising threat to the
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american democracy? >> thank you, senator. thank you very much for the opportunity to address the committee today. i'm grateful for this opportunity. i don't think that this is necessarily a one-off. fbi director wray has indicated that the threat of domestic terrorism and particularly of white supremacists extremists is his number one concern in this area. this is coupled with an enormous rise in hate crimes over the past few years. there is a line from oklahoma city and there is another line from oklahoma city all the way back to the experiences that i mentioned in my opening respect to the battles of the original justice department against the ku klux klan. with you me do everything in the power of the justice department to prevent this kind of in interference with the policies
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of american democratic institutions and i plan, if you confirm me for attorney general, to do everything in my power to ensure that we are protected. >> judge garland, it goes without saying, but we want to make it a record, we abhor violence, whether it comes from the right or left, whatever its source. it has to place in responsible constitutional dialogue in america. currently, though, we're faced with elements that weren't there 25 years ago in oklahoma city. a proliferation of weapons, secondly social media and the internet, which serves as a gathering place for many of these domestic terrorists. what are your thoughts about how we should deal with those elements from law enforcement view point? >> well, mr. chairman, i certainly agree that we are facing a more dangerous period than we faced in oklahoma city,
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than at that time. what have i have seen, and i have no inside information, and it looks like an extremely aggressive and perfectly appropriate beginning to an investigation, all across the country in the same way our oklahoma city investigation was, but many times more, i don't yet know what additional resources will be required by the department. i could assure you that this would be my first priority and my first briefing when i return to the department if i'm confirmed. >> judge garland, several years ago i went to an immigration court hearing in downtown chicago. it was in a high-rise loop building. i met the immigration court judge. she had been on the job almost 20 years and it seemed like a very conscientious and fair
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person. she asked me to stay for the doct call and particularly for the first clients on the docket. the first clients on the docket were a 4-year-old girl named marta and the judge asked that all of the people in the courtroom be seated, she had to be helped into the chair that was too tall for her to get into. she was handed a stuffed animal to hold during the hearing and at the same table was an unlikely boy named hamilton who was given a match boxcar which he played with on top of the table. he was six years old. they were victims of the zero-tolerance policy. we remember it well. thousands of children were forcibly removed from their parents, separated and many times lost in the bureaucracy. some have stated that the policy about the trump administration was a continuation of obama era
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policy. that isn't true. the obama administration did not have policies that resulted in the mass separation of parents and children. and on rare occasions separations occurred this was due to suspicion of trafficking or fraud, not because of intentional cruel policy to separate children. the justice department inspector general conducted an investigation of the zero-tolerance policy and noted that the justice department was quote, the driving force, closed quote, in that policy. there is still a lot that we do not know about that policy and the accountability for the officials who were responsible for it. so let me ask you this. this committee is going to hold oversight hearings to get to the bottom of it. will you commit to cooperate with those investigations. >> senator, i think the over sight responsibility of this committee is one of its very most important things. it is a duty imposed by the constitution and i greatly respect it. i think that the policy was
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shameful, i can't imagine anything worse than tearing parents from their children. and we will provide all of the cooperation that we possibly can. >> thank you for that. when it comes to congressional over sight, this committee has a role in restoring independence and integrity to the justice department through over sight hearings. it has a long standing tradition of holding annual justice department oversight hearings but sadly it is been three years since the attorney general has been called before this committee. i pledge that as chairman, i will hold annual doj oversight hearings where members from both sides of the aisle could ask important questions of you and in that capacity. i don't want to go into detail but would you agree to cooperate in that commitment to oversight hearing? >> of course, if i'm confirmed i
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will certainly cooperate. >> and when requests are made for information by members of the committee, i hope that i could also have your commitment to cooperation in providing timely answers? >> yes, mr. chairman, we will be as responsive as we possibly can. as i said, i have great respect for and belief in the oversight role of this committee. >> thank you. senator grassley. >> yeah, since you're currently a sitting judge, you're bound by the code of conduct of u.s. judges. nevertheless, i hope that we could get frank answers from you on your views and when we talked last on the phone, you told me that you would get guidance from the administrative office an what you can or can't say. i assume that you sought that guidance. if so, what did they advise you? >> yes, senator grassley, i did. and they advised me just as you
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and i thought that they would, cannon three bars me from commenting on any pending or impending case that is in any court. but i am free to talk about policy with you. >> okay. i'm going to go to the durham investigation. at barr's hearing he tated the following with regard to mueller's investigation, quote, it is virtually that the special council be allowed to complete his investigation. also at that same hearing senator feinstein asked, quote, will you commit to providing mr. mueller with the resources and funds and time needed to complete his investigation, end of quote. attorney general barr answered senator feinstein with a one word yes. with respect to special council durham's investigation, i expect
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that he will be allowed to complete his investigation. if confirmed will you commit to providing special council durham with the staff resources and funds and time needed to thoroughly complete the investigation. >> senator, i don't have any information about the investigation as i sit here today. and another one of the very first things i'll have to do is speak with mr. durham and figure out how his investigation is going. i understand that he has been permitted to remain in his position and sitting here today i have no reason to think that that was not the correct decision. >> okay. and i suppose that would be an answer that he would only be removed for cause then, would that be your position? >> well, senator, i really do have to have an opportunity to talk with him. i have not had that opportunity.
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i don't have any reason, from what i know now, which is very little, to make any determination on that ground. but i don't have any reason to think that he should not remain in place. >> if confirmed, would you commit to publicly releasing special council durham's report just like mueller report was made public? >> so senator, i'm a great believer in transparency. i would, though, have to talk with mr. durham and understand the nature of what he's been doing and the nature of the report. but i am very much committed to transparency and to explaining just department decision-making. >> at this point, i'm not going to take exception to the answers you gave me about durham because i think you're an honorable person. they're not quite as explicit as i hoped they would be, like we got from barr for the mueller
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investigation, but i think you've come close to satisfying me. but maybe not entirely. we're in the midst of poly drug crisis in addition to opioids, methamphetamine and cocaine and fentanyl and analogs are plaguing our country, increasingly sophisticated drug trafficking organizations both domestic and internationally try to skirt the law by changing their molecular structure. so the center for disease control has found that drug overdose deaths rose to the highest level ever measured during the pandemic. with the overall jump in deaths being driven most substantially by drugs like fentanyl. we must stop this fentanyl substance from entering our neighborhoods and killing thousands of americans.
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so my question is, as you lead the justice department, having oversight over the drug enforcement administration within that department, and they will be addressing the spread of fentanyl analogs and related substances by pushing for continued class wide prohibition of fentanyl. so i didn't quite make my question clear. would you lead the justice department in pushing for continued class wide prohibition of fentanyl dialogues? >> senator, i'm familiar with this problem. one of my roles as the chief judge of the d.c. circuit was to serve on the pretrial serves committee for the pretrial services agency for the district and we were constantly advised of the fact that the formula was being slightly changed
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constantly. and this was a problem both for detection as well as for the problem of enforcement. to be honest, i'm no chemist. this is one of the reasons i ended up being a lawyer instead of a doctor. but i would need to look at what would be proposed. but i do understand the scope of this problem and i'm in favor of doing something either by scheduling or legislation if i'm confirmed that would address the problem that you're talking about, which is an enormous problem for enforcement. >> yeah. i want to go to the death penalty. because we have some people already prosecuted where the death penalty has been advocated or sought and one of those is the people that were involved in boston marathon.
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so, the question the justice department again under the obama administration sought and received and appropriate death sentence of death, that sentence is currently being appealed. will you commit to defending these sentences on appeal? >> well, senator, this now we're rubbing up against the exactly problem that you asked me about in the beginning. these are pending cases. and as a sitting judge, the cannons bar me from making comment on pending cases. >> my last question will have to deal with the investigation that is underway by some of us in congress about hunter biden. have you discussed the case with
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the president or anyone else, and i don't expect you to discuss your private conversations with the president, but members of this committee always ask judges or other people what did you discuss with the president, for instance, your position on abortion. so have you discussed this hunter biden case with the president or anyone else? >> i have not. the president made abundantly clear in every public statement before and after my nomination that decisions about investigations and prosecutions will be left to the justice department. that was the reason that i was willing to take on this job. and so the answer to your question is no. >> thank you. >> thanks senator grassley. senator leahy is next but he is outside of the jurisdiction of zoom at the moment.
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i guess that is appropriate. and so senator feinstein will be recognized. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and welcome. throughout your career you have been praised by people on both sides of the aisle. when you were nominated at the supreme court, president obama said you, quote, someone who would bring a spirit of decency, modesty and integrity and even-handedness and excellence, end quote. similarly senator orrin hatch calls you, a quote, fine man who would be a moderate choice for the court. kerry severino once called you, quote, the best scenario we could hope for to bring attention and politics in the city down a notch. at a time when america feels more polarized than ever before, this sort of bipartisanship is
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truly rare. so i ask this question, can all americans, regardless of their political affiliation, counts on you to faithfully and fairly enforce our laws? >> yes, senator, that is my personality. that is everything i've done in my career and that is my vision for the justice department. to dispense the law fairly and impartially without respect to persons and without respect to political parties. >> thank you for that statement. on january 6th, a group of white supremacists launched a terrorist attack on our capitol in an attempt to over turn the results of a democratic election. their attempt failed and resulted in at least five fatalities, including a capitol police officer. it also led federal prosecutors to file over 180 charges and
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initiate 25 domestic terrorism cases. so this is not the first time that the justice department has been forced to investigate and prosecute white supremacists for an act of terrorism. you received high praise for investigating and supervising the prosecution of the oklahoma city bombing perpetrators in 1995. so here is the question. what steps will you take to ensure that the perpetrators of the attack on our capitol are brought to justice? >> senator, i think this was the most heinous attack on the democratic process that i've ever seen and one that i never expected to see in my lifetime. one of the very first thingsly do is get a briefing on the progress of this investigation. i intend to give the career prosecutors who are working on
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this matter 24/7, all of the resources they that could possibly require to do this. and at the same time, i intend to make sure that we look more broadly, to look at where this is coming from, what other groups there might be that could raise the same problem in the future and that we protect the american people. and i know that fbi director has made the same commitment. >> thank you for that answer. over the last four years, the independence of the attorney general has been repeatedly attacked. for example, president trump once told "the new york times," quote, i have the absolute right to do what i want to do with the justice department, end quote. do you believe that, in fact, the president does have the absolute right to do what he wants with the justice department?
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>> the president is constrained by the constitution as are all government officials. the issue here for us are the set of norms and standards to which this president, president biden, has agreed that he will not interfere with the justice department, with respect to its prosecution and investigations. those decisions will be made by the department itself and by -- led by the attorney general and that they will be without respect to partisanship, without respect to the power of the perpetrator or the lack of power without respect to the influence of the perpetrator or the lack of influence in all of those respects that the department will be independent. the department is a part of the executive branch and for that reason on policy matters we follow the lead of the president of the administration as long as it is consistent with the law. and the role of the department is to advise the president and the administration and the other
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agencies about what is consistent with the law. that is our obligation and we'll do so objectively based only on our reading of the law. >> well thank you for that. i think you've laid it out clearly and directly and it is very much appreciated. if the president's interest and the public's interest are in conflict, which interests does the attorney general represent? >> the attorney general represents the public interest, particularly and specifically as defined by the constitution and the statutes of the united states. >> do you believe that the president has the authority to order the attorney general to open or close an investigation or a prosecution? >> this is a hard question of constitutional law. but i do not expect it to be a question for me. as i said, just said to you, the president has promised that
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those decisions will only be made by the attorney general and that is what i plan to do. i do not plan to be interfered with by anyone. i expect the justice department will make its own decisions in this regard. >> well, thank you. i'm going to cease at this time. but i just want to say that i think you've had a remarkable career. you've done very special things and always in a very reasonable, sober penetrating way. so i just want to say thank you for that. >> i'm grateful, senator, thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you senator feinstein, we hope that senator graham who is next up is ready? senator graham? >> can you hear me? >> we can hear you. you have eight minutes. >> great. yes, sir. congratulations to you and judge garland, congratulations on your appointment. i think you're a very good pick for this job. so i'm going to try to go
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through as much information as i can. do you promise to defend the portland courthouse against anarchist. the federal court building in portland? >> any attack on a federal building or damage to a federal building violated federal statues and those who do it will be prosecuted. >> when it comes to the peep who attacked the capitol on january 6, will you let the committee know if you need more resources. >> yes, absolutely, senator. i do think one of first jobs is to consult with the prosecutors and the agents who are investigating that matter and see what resources they need and i'm eager to have -- i'm eager to have an invitation from the senate to ask for more resources. >> sure. please, thank you. i think all of us want to prosecute every single person that deserves to be prosecuted. so whatever you need, i'm sure
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you will get from this committee. >> thank you, senator. >> have you read the horowitz report? >> senator, in our conversations, you asked me to read it. it is some 400 pages long and i asked permission to read also the very long executive summary. >> that is good. >> and i have done that. >> so what is your general take? >> well my general take is that there were certainly serious problems with respect to fisa applications particularly for mr. page. and in the subsequent report, to the way in which fisa applications are documented, the inspector general had a substantial number of recommendations for how this could be fixed and how it must be fixed. i understand that he submitted those to the fbi director and i understand the fbi director agreed totally and either has
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made those changes or is in the course of making them. i intend, if i'm confirmed, to speak more deeply and directly with mr. horowitz, the inspector general about this, and with director wray and make sure that these and any other things that are necessary be done. i am always concerned and i have always been concerned that we be very careful about fisa. it is a tool that is very useful and important for investigations involved in foreign -- >> that is good to hear. so klein smith, are you familiar with the fact that a lawyer for the fbi has been prosecuted, pled guilty to altering information to the fisa court? >> i did read about that, yes. senator. >> what would happen to somebody under your charge that did that? how would you feel about that -- >> well somebody who makes a false statement to the fbi or the inspector general during an
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investigation is violated 18 usc 1001 and i prosecuted those myself. >> do you believe that durham investigation is a legitimate investigation? >> senator, i don't know anything really about the investigation. >> you've heard the horowitz report. do you think somebody should look at what happened? >> well i do think somebody should look at what happened with respect to the fisas, absolutely. and i believe the inspector general has done that. >> based on what -- your review of the horowitz report, do you think james comey was a good fbi director? >> senator, i really don't want to get into analyzing any of the previous -- >> well, you know, very critical and appropriately so at times, i find it stunning that you can't say, in my view, that he was a terrible fbi director. but have you ever been to the
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border? have you been to the u.s./mexico border? >> no, sir, i haven't. >> i would like you to go because i just got back because i learned that drug cartels are using our asylum laws against us. they will collect people to sort of rush the border and once they're apprehended they'll claim asylum and most of these claims and they are rejected and that will take resources away from securing the border and detecting drugs and protecting the nation against terrorism, this is a behavior by the cartels. will you look into that practice of using asylum claims by drug cartels to weaken border security? >> i have not known about this. and i will certainly look into this problem. i think the drug cartels are a major menace to our society and the poisan that they put into our streets is damaging
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communities of every kind. if they have -- if they have a -- >> i think you'll find patriots there and when they make mistakes, they need to be held accountable. but that is one of the toughest jobs in the country. >> senator -- senator i apologize for speaking over, but -- over you, but there is a little bit of a lag. >> i'm sorry. >> it is not your fault. it is a lag in the technology, i think. >> okay. well i did -- i have a southern accent -- >> it is not the accent. i'm familiar with southern accents. >> get high speed internet. this is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. are you concerned that al qaeda and isis types are going to try to hit us again? >> i'm very concerned that foreign terrorist organizations will try to hit us again, yes. i don't know enough at this point about the capabilities of those two. but it really doesn't matter which foreign terrorists that -- the terrible thing is attack.
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and as i said in my opening statements, with all of the other things that the justice department will have to do, it must keep its eye on the ball with respect to foreign terrorist attacks. i was sitting in my office, arriving at my office as the first planes -- first plane hit the trade center and i was sitting in my office and could see smoke rising over the pentagon. i could assure you that this is top of mind for me. >> well, one of the reasons i am very inclined to support you is i believe what you just said is true. i think you have a very deep understanding of the threats america faces and to my colleagues on the committee, al qaeda has been diminished, isis has been greatly diminished but they're out there and they're trying to -- they will this year sometime, i hope i'm wrong, let us know they're still there so it is great to hear that the
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potential future attorney general understanding that our nation is very much still under threat. so when it comes to interacting with the committee, we're going to be talking about section 230 reform. what is your impression of section 230 liability protection for big tech and is it time revisit that topic? >> senator, i have to be the first to confess when i have relatively limited information about a subject, i have had one case on section 230, it is a very straightforward application of the law so i know what it is. i also know that many members of this committee have ideas for how it should be amended and i would have to have that opportunity if i'm confirmed to talk with you about that and to understand all of the conflicting concerns and the complexities of how to alter it if it is to be altered. the devil in these things is always in the details and you on
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the committee know more about this than i do and i look forward if i'm confirmed to having the chance to talk about it with you. >> thank you, congratulations on your nomination. thank you. >> thank you. senator whitehouse. >> thank you, chairman. and welcome judge garland. >> thank you, senator. >> people who have been prosecutors understand that it is not the legislature's business to meddle around in a prosecution. at the same time we have oversight responsibilities. in your view, is it appropriate for congress to ask the doj give an honest look at investigative matters? >> senator, i know of your own long experiences as a prosecutor and including some of it which overlap with man and i'm deeply
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respectful and appreciative of it. when you ask it that way, it is always possible for anyone to ask about matters like this. the department has to be very careful with respect to the congress and the same way it has to be respectful -- careful with respect to the white house. that no investigations get started just for partisan, and i'm not suggesting that is what you were asking. >> no, i agree with you. >> but we have to be careful about this. >> after the fact, once any investigation is closed or concluded, it is appropriate in the exercise of our over sight to assure that an honest look was taken? >> yes, of course, it is. there are obviously limitations on the department's ability to speak. they include everything from grand jury and so forth -- >> understood. with respect to january 6th, i would like to make sure that you are willing to look upstream
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from the actual occupants who assaulted the building in the same way that a drug case you would look upstream from the street dealers to try to find the king pins and that you will not rule out investigation of funders, organizers, leaders or aiders and abetters who are not present in the capitol on january 6. >> there is a question and again your law enforcement experience is the same as mine. investigations, i began as a line assistance u.s. attorney and a supervisor. we begin with the people on the ground and we work our way up to those who are involved and further involved and we will pursue these leads wherever they take us. >> thank you. >> that is the job of a prosecution. >> as chairman durbin mentions
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there have been problems in the department in the last four years. judge gleason's brief is one stunning reproach of the department, judicial decisions out of the d.c. district court and the southern district court have been pretty damning. and press reports, too many to mention, have raised concerns about problems within the department during that period. how do you plan to assess the damage that the department sustained so that you could go forward with a clear understanding of what needs repair? >> well, senator, i am a strong believer in following the processes of the department. that is my experience, in all of my experiences of the department regardless of whatever level i served. the traditional process is for issues to be raised before either the inspector general or the office of professional responsible in the areas that you're talking about, that they
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conduct investigations and they certainly seem to -- extremely capable of conducting thorough investigations. they then make recommendations. and that would be the normal procedures in the department and i would respect if i'm confirmed that would be the kind of procedures i would want to follow. >> i would submit you may want to take it on most systematically than that but we could leave if a for a later day. on this side of the committee, we've experienced more or less a four year stonewall of information from the department of justice and from the fbi. for 2017 to 2020 we had 25 doj and fbi witnesses who failed to answer some or all of the questions for the record that senators asked them, 21 answered none of the questions of the record from other side. i have sent, during the course of those years, 28 different
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letters on various subjects that went completely unanswered. it got so bad that chairman graham brought the deputy attorney general and went through the list and try to figure out why the hell we weren't getting answers and where the de facto policy came of refusing to answer questions of senators. i think we need to understand what happened during that period. why these questions weren't being answered. the base question, the point of entry is why were these questions not being answered. upon whose instructions were these questions not being answered? why? what was behind, what was the motive for refusing to answer these questions. once we've cleared that up, then i think we have to go through the backlog of questions that the department refused to answer. as you know, sometimes congress asks questions that are touchy
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for a department. somebody may have misbehaved. there may be wrongful conduct that has taken place and i hope you will agree that covering up misconduct is never an acceptable reason for refusing to answers of congress. >> well, i certainly agree that covering up anything is never an appropriate reason for not answering a question of congress. there will be no policy defact or otherwise if i am confirmed that will direct the department to not be responsive to this committee and to its members. i want the department i lead to be as responsible -- responsive as possible and at the very least to explain why, if it can't answer a question, or can't answer a letter, why it can't do so. >> correct. >> that is the minimum you're entitled to. >> correct. and i don't want this just going forward. i want to be able to go back and
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get answers to those backlog questions that were wrongfully refused. would you help us make sure that that happens? >> yes, senator. as we talked in our conversation before, i would definitely direct the previous answer -- questions be answered. i only ask you and the other members of the committee as a matter of resource and priority allocation to give us the department some sense of the priorities of which when still need to be answered and perhaps in what order. >> we will do that. and last, i have just a few seconds left, so i'll just flag two things. i think that the office of legal council has taken a lot of hits. from the torture memos to the warrantless wiretap memos to the southern district to the d.c. court decision to the extremely self serving and self
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propagating view of presidential investigations, this is a part of the department that i think is in real trouble. another role of the departments is the policing and the intermediation of executive privilege for an administration and i think that is an area that has been in complete collapse. and i look forward with my time now expired to working with you to figure out what to do about -- and what to do about the role the department of justice when executive privilege is asserted. >> thank you, senator. i look forward to speaking with you. >> senator cornyn. >> welcome, judge. i enjoyed our conversation the other day. thank you. >> as did i. >> thank you for that. as i told you, my sole criteria for voting for your confirmation is your pledge to make sure that politics does not effect your job as attorney general. and i believe you told me that you could make that commitment,
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is that a commitment you could make here publicly today? >> yes. absolutely. i would not have taken this job if i thought that politics would have any influence over prosecution and investigations. i just want to be clear about -- to clarify as to not disappoint you. with respect to policies of the administration, which i assume are driven by politics, although as a judge, i wouldn't know for sure, it is our obligation to advance the policies of the department as long as they are consistent with the law and our evaluation of the law has to be based only on the law and not politics. >> thank you for that clarification. i think being attorney general has got to be the toughest job in the united states government. because you serve at the pleasure of the president, but you also have, as you appropriately point out, an obligation to equal justice and impartial enforcement of the law. if you were asked to do something that you considered to
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be in violation of the law, or unethical, would you resign? >> well the first thing i would do is to tell the president or whoever else was asking me to do that, that it was unlawful. i do not expect this to happen with this president who has made it completely clear publicly and in private that he will not do that. but if i am asked to do that and an alternative is not accepted, i would resign, yes. >> judge garland, i think one of the biggest problems that the administration of justice has had here in the united states for the last particularly the last couple presidencies has been the perception that there is a double standard. one that applies to maybe one political party or people with -- of wealth and another one that applies to the opposing political party or people who
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don't have the resources in order to defend themselves against the awesome investigative and prosecutorial powers of the department of justice. of course, you're acquainted with frays above the supreme court court equal justice under the law. do you agree with me that a double standard -- a perception of a double standard of justice could be a cancer that will eat away at public confidence in the administration of justice and that commitment to equal justice? >> absolutely, senator. as i have said to many people, i think probably including yourself, ed levy is my model for the attorney general. his role was to be sure that justice was meted out fairly and impartially without any special favors for anyone. this is the definition in my view of the rule of law that the powerful and the powerless, one party and another party, one
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community in the united states and another community in the united states, all are treated equally in the administration of justice. >> the chairman's recitation of things that he perceives as being inappropriate at the department of justice, ended with the -- started and ended with the trump administration. but let me take you back a little further into the biden/obama administration. you're familiar with the press conference of james comey, the fbi director had in july of 2016? where he discussed the investigation of hillary clinton for inappropriate use of her email server. >> i remember it, senator, yes. >> according to the justice department norms and procedures and rules that your well acquainted with as a result of your experience, is that an appropriate step for an fbi director to take to talk about derogatory information in a case that they say no reasonable prosecutor would pursue?
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>> senator, i don't think it's useful for me to comment on specific matters involving specific former officials. i have no problem at all telling you that the justice department's policies make clear that derogatory comments about subjects, targets, even people who have been indicted except for what is in the indictment are not appropriate. and if i am confirmed, i will zealously attempt to -- rein cul kate that experience. when i was speaking to the press after each court hearing in oklahoma city, i was making sure that i did not say anything about the defendants who have just been before the court and who have done -- we know after conviction, horrible things that i would not say anything other
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than what the charges had been brought against them, what the judge reported. and i believe that is an important part of federal prosecution. >> i know you don't want to comment on mr. comey's actions but what you just described strikes me as a diametrically opposed to what he actually did. senator graham asked you if you had read the horowitz report on the investigation of cross fire hurricane. i understand that your time has been limited up to this point. but would you pledge to read all 404 pages of that report if you're confirmed? >> i will senator, it may take me some time but i have a head start by reading the executive summary so i think i should be able to get through it. >> i think it is important that you do so. >> okay. >> because of the abuse not only of the fisa process, where that fbi lawyer lied to the fisa court in order to get a warrant to spy on a american citizen,
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but the use of counterintelligence investigation against a presidential candidate and the run up to the election, are you familiar with the steele dossier? >> only what i read in the newspapers and i have to admit that i've read only conflicting reports about it in the papers. >> well it is been revealed that the sources for the steele dossier used in part in order to get pfizer warrants, that the sub-sources could well be -- could well be russian intelligence officers using that in order to get -- as part of a russian active measures campaign. are you familiar with the practice of the soviet union and now the russian federation to use active measures as part of their intelligence service attacks against the united
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states? >> so, not from my experience either as a judge or as a prosecutor, but again from reading media reports i know what the words mean and i have a general idea of what you're speaking about, yes. >> judge garland, my time is about up. but i think we talked about the role of the judiciary committee and authorizing the tools like section 702 of the foreign intelligence surveillance act and the importance of preserving public confidence, that those tools will be appropriately used, and that will be appropriate over sight at the department of justice and the fbi as well as the judiciary committee and the intelligence committees. do you agrow -- agree that abu those authorities jepparized those tools in a way that is detrimental to the security of the united states. >> absolutely, senator. my entire career as a justice department official is aimed at ensuring that we used fisa only
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as appropriate under the law as it existed at the time. it is not only that i'm worried about losing a tool that is essential, it is also that i'm worried about a transgressing the constitutional rights of americans and both are important and probably the latter is way more important in my view. we have to be careful about respecting american citizens' constitutional rights. >> thank you , judge. >> senator klobuchar. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman congratulations on your new job and congratulations to you, judge garland, on your nomination. >> thank you. >> i was -- i listened with much happiness in your opening remarks when you talked about being the lawyer for the people that you want to serve the law and not factional purposes and that you use the important adjective humble. i think we could nee


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