Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Dan Sullivan R-AL on Memorial Day the Brady Doctrine  CSPAN  May 22, 2020 2:27am-3:02am EDT

2:27 am
the day, and morning business be closed. further, upon the closing of morning business, the senate proceed to executive session to resume the tipton nomination. further, at 5:30, the senate resume consideration of the badalamenti nomination under the previous order. i finally notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22, monday, june 1 count as the intervening day with respect to cloture motions filed during today's session of the senate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there's no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the mr. sullivan: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. sullivan: mr. president, it is thursday, one of my favorite times in the week, because it is the time i get to come down on the senate floor and recognize an extraordinary alaskan who we refer to as the alaskan of the week. now, memorial day is fast
2:28 am
approaching, certainly one of the most sacred days in our nation throughout the year. and this week's alaskan of the week, sharon long, it's a day that is a particularly profound day. sharon long is a gold star mother, lives in anchorage, and she remembers her son grant frazer every day of the year. but for her and her family and for so many people who knew grant, who served with grant, memorial day is a day when his memory is particularly honored. mr. president, before i get into sharon long's story as well as the remarkable story of her son grant, let me talk a little bit
2:29 am
about what's going on in alaska right now, as we and our country continue to face the challenges of this pandemic. we're doing pretty we will in our state -- medically, certainly. things could of course change quickly. but the number of people infected by the virus is very slow. businesses are starting to reopen. life by no means is back to normal. and there's much that we're going to need to do to recover from this virus and pandemic, which has very, very negatively impacted so many parts of the great state of alaska's economy. the energy sector, the tourism sector, fishery sector -- we will get through this stronger and more resilient, but it's a challenging time. mr. president, as you know,
2:30 am
memorial day weekend commemorates many virtues of our nation -- service, selflessness and, of course, sacrifice. but memorial day also commemorates and inspires hope. and i know hope can be a bit hard to come by during these challenging times, but i don't think we have to go very far to see signs of hope in our great nation, in my great state. hope is in the faces of those we love. in alaska, it's in our mountains, in our glaciers, in our clear waters. it's also woven into the fabric of our country, the soul of our nation. it's at the very heart of who we are, and it's been so throughout our history, often manifesting itself in the battles that have shaped our nation over decades, over centuries, that define so
2:31 am
much of the american character and the people who fought those battles and died defending their nation who we commemorate this weekend. and hope is what sharon long and other gold star mothers throughout our state and nation love lost a child while defending america have to offer us. so let me tell you about sharon's story. and about her son, marine corps lance corporal grant frazer, who gave his life for our nation. from seattle, sharon moved to our state to live with her aunt and uncle when she was just 16 years old. she graduated from west high school in anchorage, studied political science at alaska methodist university, which is now alaska pacific university, and embraced the great state of alaska with everything she had. it was a heady and exciting time
2:32 am
in alaska. the prudhoe field on the north slope was just discovered, the biggest oilfield in north mesh -- the late 1960's, early 1970. one of the biggest land claims act in u.s. history was being debated and then passed right here on the floor of the united states senate. alaska was a wide, open space that wanted the energy of my generation, sharon said, and she got to it. she got to work. she worked at the department of natural resources, an agency that i had the honor of being the former commissioner of. she worked for the joint federal-state land use planning commission for alaska, inventorring the -- inventorying the abundant natural resources we have in our state. and she sand a girlfriend traveled the world for a year
2:33 am
and landed at the end of her tour in d.c. she was young, broke, on a friend's couch, and she came here and asked for and got a job with former alaska u.s. senator mike gravel. some might remember him here in the senate. she worked on natural resources for him. eventually she made her way back home to alaska, met her husband, an air force anecessary they'llologist, james frazer, who made his way into private practice. sharon helped run the office, and they had two wonderful children, grant and victoria. so who is grant frazer, her son? popular at service high school in anchorage where he graduated. he was an actor who loved the works of homar and shakespeare, he was a mountain biker, a seer, a pianist, a tennis player, he
2:34 am
was lighthearted and miss chiefious and according to his marine brothers the only thing that could really rile him up is when they talked about his sister the way in which sometimes marines have the way of doing. you did not joke about his sister victoria, who by the way now is a professional soprano singer who has performed all over the world. so sharon and her husband james assumed that grant would become an athlete very is or a scholar -- very, very smart young man -- but shortly after 9/11, like so many patriotic young americans across our nation, he surprised his family and his friends when he announced he was joining the marines. no, no, no, no, sharon told her son. that isn't the plan. you are going to school -- now.
2:35 am
he told his mom, mom, this isn't my scholarly time of leech. i'm ready to serve and fight for my country, if need be. he knew he would thrive in the marines, and he did. he planned on coming back home to anchorage to work as a paramedic with the fire department. grant and i briefly overlapped in the marine corps unit we both served in in alaska, fourth reconnaissance battalion, which was later deployed to iraq in 2005. on august 3, 2005, in anbar province, iraq, grant was on a mission, operation quick strike, to avenge the killing of his fellow marines that had happened just a few days earlier. he was riding in an amtrak vehicle on an attack into the
2:36 am
city. they hit a massive improvised explosive device and was 22 years old when he made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. now, i love our military, but let's face it -- sometimes it can be bureaucratic and boneheaded. it took 11 years and the tenacious work on the part of grant's amazing mother, sharon, to finally get her son an appropriate burial across the street at arlington. just two days before the funeral, i was sitting next to general joe dunford, the marine corps chairman of the joint chiefs of staff at a dinner. i told general dunford about grant's heroism and about sharon
2:37 am
long's heroic perseverance to get her son appropriately honored with a burial at arlington. on an overcast day september 30, 2016, grant frazer was put to rest among his brothers and sisters, our nation's heroes who we honor this weekend at arlington national cemetery. family, friends, and especially united states marines from all across america came to that service to say goodbye to their friend. i was there, and when i got there, i was honored to see many marines, but one in particular who came to the funeral early and stayed till the very end -- the chairman of the joint
2:38 am
chiefs, general dunford, attended in his dress blues out of respect for this young marine corps lance corporal. he later told me that when he read about what happened with grant, he couldn't sleep. he wanted to be at the funeral to honor grant's sacrifice and that of his family, especially his mother, sharon. general dunford stayed after most others had left to talk to sharon long, grant's mother, and his marine corps brothers. i don't live very far from here, the general told sharon. i will be checking in on grant from time to time. now, mr. president, i've been to a lot of funerals in my marine corps career. but this was the most moving funeral i've ever attended. not because of the presence of a
2:39 am
four-star general and chairman of the joint chiefs, general dun forks the most powerful u.s. -- general dunford, the most powerful u.s. military officer? the world really. not because of the serendipitous presence of the marine captain in charge of the arlington burial honor guard whose twin brother was one of the fallen marines who grant frazer had been sent to avenge the day he was killed 11 years earlier. it was so moving on that day because on that day rank didn't matter, medals didn't matter. that day we were all just americans grieving the loss of one of our own. miss chiefious, smart marine corps lance corporal grant frazer, an actor, an alaskan, a
2:40 am
brother, a son, and it was so moving because of the dignity, grace, and beautiful determination exhibited by sharon long, who epitomizes the love, the suffering, and quiet sacrifice of so many gold star mothers across our country, especially this weekend. sharon stays in touch with grant's marine corps brothers. they call her on mother's day. they send her flowers, invite her to their weddings, their kids' birthday parties. two of them showed up at their
2:41 am
family home when sharon's daughter victoria -- we already talked about -- and her date were headed to prom. they needed to make sure grant would be, would have approved of victoria's date. i'm sure victoria appreciated that. grant would have been in the same place in life as these young men are now. as one of them said to sharon, i came back home from iraq to live the life grant couldn't. and sharon is proud of all the men and women who have served, who serve with grant, who continue to serve. she understands their calling. she understands their camaraderie. these incredible warriors in our nation give her hope. with men and women like that, sharon has said, quote, how could you not be proud of this country? how could you not be optimistic about this country?
2:42 am
mr. president, the lives of hundreds of thousands of america's sons and daughters have been lost fighting for our great nation, and on memorial day they're in the hearts of all americans. they're in the hearts of all alaskans. they're in the hearts of all gold star families. and they're in the hearts of sharon long and her family. like gold star mothers all across the country and in our great state, sharon was fiercely determined to advocate for her son. she sacrificed much but never gave up, and neither will we ever give up on them, on them, or their memory, which we commemorate this weekend. sharon long's actions were called in the memorial day words of president reagan in 1985
2:43 am
after placing a wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier, a place that is not far from grant frazer's eternal resting place. as president reagan said, if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men and women, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and final sacrifice. our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough. the united states and the freedom for which it stands and the freedom for which they died must endure and prosper. their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. it has costs. it imposes burdens. and just as they, whom we commemorate, were willing to sacrifice so much, so too must
2:44 am
we in a less and final and less heroic way be willing to give of ourselves for our nation. thank you, sharon long, for your brave sacrifice, for your dignified determination, for your hope which gives us hope as we head into another sacred memorial day weekend, thank you for being our alaskan of the week. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that my following remarks appear in a different section of the "congressional record." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sullivan: mr. president, i would like to speak about the due process protections act
2:45 am
which was sponsored by myself and senator durbin of illinois and which passed the united states senate last night unanimously. i want to thank my colleagues for their support for this simple but important bill. in fact, the due process protections act is so simple that it really probably shouldn't be necessary. but believe me, it is necessary unfortunately it is necessary, and i was pleased that this body passed it last night. mr. president, let me explain. the due process clause of the u.s. constitution as interpreted by the united states supreme court in the landmark decision brady vs. maryland requires that
2:46 am
prosecutors turn over all material evidence favorable to the defense. that's what a fair trial is about. the prosecutor has exculpatory evidence as we call it. you need to make sure the defense has it. this is such a bedrock element of our criminal justice system and constitutional due process that the name of this kind of evidence is simply now called brady evidence, after the case brady vs. maryland. now the vast majority of the federal prosecutors and, by the way, f.b.i. agents who work in our criminal justice system are patriots, many are veterans, they work day in, day out to keep us safe and abide by their
2:47 am
constitutional duties and obligations. and they do turn brady evidence over to the defense as they're required to do by the constitution. the sad fact is, mr. president, some prosecutors don't do this. some choose instead to win at all costs by taking shortcuts. not justice, but shortcuts. and when i say shortcuts, i'm talking about violating a defendant's constitutional rights. the prevalence of these violations is not easy to quantify. these brady violations as we call them. one study -- and i'm not vouching for the accuracy -- stated, and this was a study called the national registry of exonerations, stated that from 1989 to 2017, prosecutors
2:48 am
concealed exculpatory evidence at trial in half of all murder exonerations. that fact -- if that statistic is even remotely true, it is outrageous and needs to stop. now, mr. president, such potential brady violations have once again been in the news with the's ciewtion of form -- with the prosecution of former national security advisor michael flynn, general michael flynn. there's all kinds of articles out there. i recently wrote the head of the f.b.i. about this very issue, about the potential brady violations by federal pros prosecutors that appears to have taken place in this prosecution. what that has done in my state, mr. president, is it has opened
2:49 am
old wounds, old wounds and difficult memories. my colleagues here, every single one of them remember the late great senator ted stevens of alaska. as a matter of fact, his portrait is right off the senate floor, an incredible new portrait that we just put there recently. he was charged by federal prosecutors with making false statements and was convicted very prior to his reelection, which he lost because of the conviction by prosecutors. not long after the conviction, it started to become apparent that there was prosecutorial misconduct in that very high-profile case. so the trial judge in that case
2:50 am
appointed a special prosecutor to investigate this, and there was a report that came out in 2012 by the justice department, by the special prosecutor that was highly critical of the prosecutors and the f.b.i.'s conduct. in particular, mr. president, they withheld all kinds of brady evidence. just six months after senator stevens' conviction, it was revealed that federal prosecutors had concealed numerous pieces of evidence that very likely could have resulted in his acquittal. among the more egregious examples -- and there were manya witness whose testimony would have supported senator stevens, the government flew the witness home to alaska.
2:51 am
that's pretty pathetic. the prosecution also concealed that its star witness who was testifying against senator stevens had an illegal sexual relationship with an underage woman whom he had asked to lie about the relationship. and to this day, to this very day there are still questions about whether the federal government offered that star witness in exchange for his testimony, leniency on not prosecuting him for violating the man act. still questions to this day. the special prosecutor that the district judge appointed to investigate the prosecutorial misconduct in the stevens case
2:52 am
found that the justice department lawyers had committed, quote, deliberate and systemic ethical violations by withholding critical evidence pointing to senator stevens' innocence. that's the justice department's special prosecutor determining just how corrupt the justice department was in prosecuting and convicting ted stevens. yet, the special prosecutor who investigated all this also found that the district court judge was powerless to act against the wrongdoers, the corrupt prosecutors, because the district court had not issued a direct written court order at the beginning of the trial requiring the prosecutors to
2:53 am
abide by their ethical and constitutional obligations as laid out in brady vs. maryland. now, it's a bit remarkable because every law student knows you learn brady vs. maryland your first year in law school. but somehow these prosecutors over across the street at the justice department forgot about it, and they were going to be punished but the system of justice said you can't punish them because they didn't know. because the judge didn't tell them. again, mr. president, i'm not sure we even need a law to deal with this, but like i said, unfortunately we do. as you can imagine, this was maddening to the people of alaska. those who violated senator stevens' constitutional
2:54 am
rights -- and, by the way, forever changed the political landscape not just in alaska, but in america. don't get me going about what happened there. that these prosecutors couldn't even be held accountable and were not held accountable because they weren't instructed by the district court about the brady evidence requirements that they learned in law school their first year. so in response to the stevens case and due to growing concerns about the unfortunate frequency of brady evidence violations by prosecutors, a number of federal district judges began issuing specific local rules or standing orders that explicitly remind prosecutors of what they learn in their first year in law school, which is you have to turn over brady evidence. but the federal judicial
2:55 am
conference advisory committee on the rules of criminal procedure procedure -- so essentially the judges that advise on the rules -- have consistently declined to require all federal courts to do the same. so right now all federal courts don't have to issue instructions on brady evidence. well, today, mr. president, congress is beginning to change all of this. my bill, which passed last night unanimously, the due process protections act, codifies this practice and requires it of every federal judge nationwide by amending rule 5 of the federal rules of criminal procedure to require a judge issue a written order to prosecution and defense counsel that confirms that disclosure
2:56 am
obligations of the prosecutor under brady vs. maryland and its progeny under every criminal case. now our bill allows each judicial district flexibility to promulgate their own model rule, but they have to do it. congress is telling them that they have to do it so they will do it. having this standing order in place will explicitly remind the prosecution of their obligations making it a priority to protect the due process of all americans, including defendants, and it will provide for quicker recourse upon discovering any brady violations that occur. now, mr. president, we obviously can't undo what happened to the late great senator stevens nor can we undo all the harm that it has caused to my state, my
2:57 am
constituents, and really the people across america who have also been victims of these kind of violations because it undermines trust in our system of justice. but going forward we can work to stem the corrosive effects to our democracy when prosecutors don't abide by their constitutional obligations. we can work to ensure our system of justice, the foundation of american democracy is stronger and fairer for all, and that's what the due process protections act will do. so i want to thank the chairman of the judiciary committee, lindsey graham, for helping facilitate this bill's passage, my colleague, senator durbin, who was my original cosponsor of this bill, and the other cosponsors, senators lee from utah, booker from new jersey,
2:58 am
cornyn from texas, and whitehouse from rhode island, and hall from kentucky. that is about as broad of a political array political spectrum in the u.s. senate, democrats and republicans, who believe in this issue, and that's why i think it is so important. our system of justice will be fairer once our bill passes the house and is signed into law by the president, and i just want to thank my colleague, all my colleagues, who voted for this he necessary -- for this necessary and important and simple piece of legislation. and unfortunately, we need -- that unfortuna
2:59 am
3:00 am
3:01 am
period treasury secretary steve nugent of the future of the american economy and says there is a strong likelihood the u.s. would need another coronavirus stimulus package. he also promised to review any aid loans that were more than $2 million. this was hosted by the hill newspaper. >> mr. secretary, thank you for joining us this morning. i want to get right to the news. 2.4 million new jobless claims of unemployment this morning, several senate republican said yesterday they want to see some action now on the next relief package. is another package necessary and if so, when. >> well, let me


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on