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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  April 30, 2015 11:00am-1:01pm EDT

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this committee contacted you, a republican contacted you on behalf of this program. are you aware of that? >> i don't recall. i know that that case was the subject of communications from both hearts of congress congressman, the sls program. are you aware of bipartisan contact in support of this program? >> i am. >> so it's safe to assume that three cases presented to us by the ig did not include any republican members' support for those projects, as you saw them? >> as best i can recall the report. >> i asked the ig in this hearing, and he did not answer the question. i'm trying to say again the report was incomplete. gentlemen, ladies, we all get
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asked by our constituents all the time to support very projects. deputy secretary there's been some question about this review board that you allegedly created to review the l.a. films case. are you aware of that? >> yes, but that was not created -- for that case. that was created for all cases. the concept of the decision board was generated in 2011. i discussed with career employees the application of that decision board to the issue of difference, which was of tremendous concern in the community, in the eb5 program. i discussed its application with a number of career employees in 2012 and ongoing. >> so it was not limited to that one case. zblf the decision board or deference board, as it was
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termed subsequently was a reform applicable to the eb5 program writ large and it was needed and especially with respect to the the issue of difference, which caused so much consternation in the community, wh u when uscis would make a decision. investors would invest. capital would be infused. business prokts would begin, and then the agency would change its interpretation, reverse course, and prokts would collapse and jobs would be lost. >> thank you: and my last question goes to this. was it unusual for you as the director of the agency to refer items to counsel for their review and opinion? oo. >> i did that, congressman, with
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some frequency depending on the issue. >> and with respect to the eb5 cases, with outside stakeholders, you sought advice of counsel in these cases? >> i did. and quite frektly we would discuss the league issues and other issues involved in these cases. >> thank you, i yield back. >> now recognize the gentleman from new york. >> mr. mayorkas thank you for appearing before us today. to reit date the chairman's comments, we didn't write the report. we're duty bound to follow up on it. i want to ask you a series of questions. if you can keep the answers as brief as possible, i would appreciate it. with respect to the l.a. film regional center issue did you in fact speak to governor rendell about that issue? >> i believe i did in a conference call, i believe i
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did. to the best of my recollection. >> to the best of your recollection, do you recall what was said during that conference? >> i apologize. i'm sorry? >> do you recall what was said? >> i do not. >> but you do recall that you spoke to him about the issue. >> i know i spoke with him about an eb5 case, and i believe it involved the the l.a. films case. i'm not certain, congressman. >> now the deference review board that was referenced as part of the l.a. film regional center issue did that in fact exist after this l.a. film regional center issue? >> i learned from the inspector general's report that it was not convened since the l.a. films case. my hope is that, number one the agency was not issuing incorrect decisions. >> i understand. i just want to know if the the board is ever used. your answer is it was not. >> based on my reading, it appears it was not. >> well, you were working there.
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>> i left some time after. and so i did not keep track of the conduct of the deference review board especially because of the changes that i made in our administration of the program, the knew leadership that i brought, the new office that i created, and the new processes that we put in place. >> thank you, now with respect to the deference review board, was it ever used before the l.a. films regional center case? >> to the best of my recollection congressman, we discussed using it in 2012 with respect to another eb5 case, and we decided that a different process could be used to resolve the very same issue of deference in that eb5 case. >> i'm sorry to cut you off again. it just requires a yes or no annals. was it used with before that case or not? >> to the best of my knowledge, no. >> and it wasn't used since? >> to the best of my knowledge, no. >> thank you.
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now, um with respect to the las vegas regional center issue do you recall specifically speaking with senator reid about this? >> i do. >> okay, and also with respect to -- do you remember speaking with steve olsen, the executive director of select usa? >> i do not remember speaking with him about the case. that doesn't mean i did or did not. i just don't recall. >> now with respect to the buff coast case that was mentioned in the report, do you recall having contacts directly with governor mcauliffe? >> i do. >> and how much such contacts did you have with him about this case? >> i remember, to the best of my recollection, less than a handful. but that's to the best of my recollection now, as i sit here, congressman, i remember a meeting i atented at which mr. mcauliffe was present in the
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department of homeland security headquarters, at the direction of the then secretary's office. i remember him calling to plain over the ensuing couple of years, i believe. a few times. >> and the general discussions were about gulf coast and trying to get that approved is that correct? >> they were. mr. mcauliffe complaining about our adjudication in the cases. >> thank you now you mentioned during your opening statements, and i think in your testimony as well, you got involved to ensure that cases were decided correctly, end quote. do you recall saying that? >> absolutely? >> weren't there procedures in place to handle the cases at your agency? >> there were, but there were times when cases were brought to my attention by my own employees to resolve complex legal or policy issues. that was with respect to the eb5 cases and many other cases
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outside of the eb5 program. >> with respect to the eb5 cases, those were there established procedures for handling the eb5 cases? >> wre. >> i believe that they contemplated supervisorial review. and so when that was warranted, supervisors engaged. and i viewed myself as the ultimate supervisor responsible for the agent cease fair and correct administration of the law. >> so it was appropriate for you to interject yourself in the process as you saw fit? >> it was my responsibility to ensure that we're adhering to the law, congressman. and if that warranted my involvement in a case, then i became involved. i was a very hands-on leader,
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and i believe for the benefit of the agency and all of its workforce. >> it's hard to do i know and i have to do this once in a while in my years as a prosecutor to take a step back and look at it from a layman's perspective perspective. you have instances in which individuals are trying to influence the eb5 process for their own benefit. enyou are taking their input and then in turn interjecting yourself into those cases and trying to affect the outcome of those cases, to the benefit of the individuals who ask for your support. it's fair to say that may give you a perception of something less than impartiality. isn't that fair to say? >> congressman, i would not characterize it that way. what you said is i would interject myself to drive to a decision that would benefit those individual ls, and that is not true. whau i did do is get involved in
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cases to ensure we were adhering to the law. whether that led to a denial of a case or the approval of a case. >> well, it's fair to say if these allegations are true, you've interjected yourself into these cases in an attempt to influence the outcome. and i point specifically to the allegation that you wanted the case file in the mcauliffe instance, because you wanted to rewrite the the decision yourself. is that fair to say? >>. >> no, congressman, respectfully, that is not accurate. i interjected myself, to use your terminology. in many, many cases in the agency. >> i'm not talking about that case. i sat around the table and discussed the legal issued that were involved in the green deck case that our own agency designated as complex, that our
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own agency referred to its own appellate review office because of the complexity of the issues. and when we resolve a particular issue, i offer to write the legal analysis, just as i had offered to attend in person a settlement conference in a particular case because i thought i could add value to the correct position of the case, just as i offered, and chairman will appreciate this just as i offered to try a case that involved national security interests because our agency felt that we were compelled to great citizenship to an individual that i believe did not deserve citizenship and posed a danger to our community. and i offered to try that case myself. for the benefit of the agency, for the benefit of the interests that our agency was the guardian
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of. >> chairman will indulge me for just one moment. thank you. the perception even if there was no wrong doing here. the perception is people are calling, at least in the gulf coast case for example someone who has a very strong interest in seeing commodities, certain actions were taken by you and looking back on it wouldn't it be fair to say that you said yourself you regret the the perceptions caused by your actions. t isn't it fair to say that perception is part of the problem and kinds of flies in the face of your ethical guidelines, the perception is almost as bad as doing something wrong. and looking back, sh wouldn't you say at a minimum it was not a good idea to have such access from the outside and just deal the cases based on the facts. >> if i can congressman, and mr. chairman, if i could also have your indulgence, because this is a very important point and it
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speaks to the value and importance of the inspector general's report which i have tremendous respect for. i took actions in these cases to guard against a perception issue. i was aware of it. i consulted with counsel. i consulted with many i colleagues. i have thought a great deal about this issue because as the chairman noted the ethics and integrity memorandum that i issueded is extremely important, and the principles articulateded therein are extremely important, and principles i have adhered throughout my 18 years of government service. 12 as a federal prosecutor and four as the director of u.s. citizenship and immigration services. and approaching as the deputy secretary of homeland security. i have thought a great deal
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about the report. i have thought about the allegations. and i have reviewed them with great care and reflected upon them and my activities and the concerns expressed by my colleagues. and i do regret the perceptions that my activities created and i take responsibility for those perceptions, and i thought about what else could i have done to better guard against those perceptions, and that is one reason i value so much the report that the inspector general prepared. and why i have endorsed and embraceded the protocols that secretary johnson reported and the office of counsel for the department of homeland security have promulgated. those protocols would have better equipped me to guard against the perception of some employees who did not necessarily have complete context with respected to my
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involvement in these three cases. nor my involvement in so many other cases. and i appreciate the opportunity to address your important questions. >> yes man's time is expired. and the gentle lady is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. mayorkas i have a lot of questions, so i too would like to have expedient answers. you started in 2009 in this program over the eb5 program right? >> yes, i became the director in august of 2009. >> and when did you leave? >> i left in december of 2013. >> and when were these three cases in particular the subject of consideration and supposedly your involvement? >> 2011 on, and i apologize.
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i can't provide a more discreet time frame. >> do you know when the inspector general started his investigation? >> i don't. i believe it was in 2012 or 2013. >> some of this happened while you were there and some of it happened while you were gone? >> i learned of tp investigation in july of 2013. >> during his investigation, how many times did he interview you? >> i was interviewed once. >> during that interview, did he raise the issues that preferential treatment and preferential access was alleged and decisions based upon that access on your part was alleged with regard to these three cases? >> yes. that subject was raised in the interview. and i should say the inspector general himself did not interview me. but investigators did. >> did the investigators tell you the the individuals that you supposedly gave access to?
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>> i believe the allegation was that i gave access to some individuals with interest in the outcome of the cases. >> but did they identify them for you? my question is basically this. the inspector general only reported to us that there was access by people who are of one political persuasion. the information that we had been briefed on consistently is that there was bipartisan interest in each of these instances. so i want to know at what time did you ever inform the inspector general that in addition to the people that he was concerned about in his office, that there were equally as many other either nonpartisan or partisan individuals from either side of the aisle who expressed consistent interest in the outcome of these cases. >> i believe i informed the inspector general's office that
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these cases were the subject of bipartisan support. i don't believe i identified particular individuals, and i did articulate the over arching and critical principle that our obligation is to decide a case, not by who is interested in it, but by the law and the facts in the particular case. >> thank you. one of the things that i heard you say, or i read, was that perhaps individuals who had made these allegations who were lower, on in the hierarchy, did not know what was going on because you were discussing these issues with counsel and with members above you in the hierarchy. and so they didn't know that you were in fact, checking with legal counsel and others as you
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were proceeding to work your way through these particular issues, as you might on other issues too. is that correct? >> i think there were individuals with whom i worked at all levels of the agency, with whom i interacted about these cases, but i -- i've thought a lot about this. but perhaps i could have done a better job of providing full context for those with whom i worked, and maybe that would have better guarded against the perception. >> well, are those the ones that are below you in the system? that were below you in the organizational chart? in other words, you would be communicating down to them? is that what you were doing on behalf of these cases or in the interest of resolving these issues? >> those were individuals who reported to me either directly or through chains. >> so you did have interaction with people you were seeking counsel from at the counsel level or at your level or above? >> oh, yes.
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with respect to my involvement in these cases i was very open with my colleagues. >> on the three cases that have been a part of this discussion and the only discussion we've had, two of them had an outcome which was not favorable to the individuals who were seeking the applications. is that right? >> i know that in the green tech case, after my involvement concluded, because once the complex league issues were addressed, i withdrew from involvement in the case. my involvement was no longer warranted. i know that complaints regarding the case continued for quite some time. in the sls case, my involvement was very discreet with respect to whether we were applying our expedite criteria correctly.
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and i conquered with the career employee who read the eb5 office at that time. and then with l.a. films. i was not involved in hthe, what has been termed the deference board. ives not involved in its deposition exhibit making. >> so in your opinion, why are these three issues before you these allegations raised by these employees that were beneath you? was there something going on in your agency? >> well, i will say this if i may. and i would like to answer your question directly. i was very active -- >> and i would just like to state we're about a minute 30 overtime. >> excuse me. with all due respect, mr. chairman. we just had an 11 and a half
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minute interaction between my esteemed colleague -- >> and that's fine. and i gave the witness a very long opportunity for a very long time to respond to his benefit. >> i can wait for another round. >> i'm going to have to keep a little more discipline. but go ahead. this will be your last question. >> i will come back for a second time. because there's only two of us here. but i just ask for consistency. >> i'm not going to allow ten minutes for every member. >> how do we pick and choose? >> the last one, the response from the opinions was a little bit on the long side and i allowed that to go forward but i have to make some discipline as chairman. >> excuse many me. >> chairman. i think what the gentle lady is asking for is a balance. and at no point did anybody get
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a time called on them. gentle lady was only a minute over. all we had to do. >> we will have a balance. it will be more disciplined moving forward in the hearing or we will not be done by the time votes occur. having said that, the gentle lady, please ask your last question. >> i believe that mr. mayorkas was in the process of answering a question, mr. chairman. >> if i may, i'll answer it very briefly by saying this. it is my responsibility to ensure that my employees understand my actions as a leader of the agency. it's my responsibility to ensure they understand entirely and completely the reasons for my involvement and the consequences of my involvement. at this time i was making extraordinary changes in the the eb5 program and our administration of it.
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>> thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> i have a series of questions. but i tell you i also have a series of questions i would like to bring before the inspector general as to why we were only given a little bit of information regarding these three issues in particular, andd with some sort of partisan -- so i don't know what your plans are, but i don't think we're done here. and i thank mr. mayorkas. i really wanted to talk to you about all the improvements you made to the management of this office and the department in general, and how we should be applauding that. maybe next time. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. and let me just say, i'm very
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lenient with time normally as a chairman. i let members go over five minutes, but within bounds on reason, on both sides of the aisle. with that now, the chair recognizes mr. walker. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> the chairman did not interrupt the member, buzz i think was directly to mr. mayorkas. the 2009 eb adjudication policy contains question with external stake holders. the section of the policy states it takes place between staff and stake holders regarding specific eb5 cases, the conversation must be recorded or detailed minutes of the session must be taken and included in the recording of the proceeding. the eb5 program maintains an e-mail account for external stake holders to use when seeking general eb5 program
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information, inquiring about the status of impending cases, or requesting the expedite of an impending eb5 case. u.s. policy personnel are directed to instruct all policy case specific and general eb5 related communications with oex ternl stake holders through this e-mail account, or through other established communications channel, such as the national customer service center or uscis office of public engagement. so, during your tenure as director, would you be considered uscis personnel and as such the clause in this policy i just read, would it be applicable to you, yes or no? >> yes, i was a uscis personnel. those guidelines would apply to me. however, they should not be at the detriment of ensure we get to the right result in a case. and so i would become involved in a case if my involvement was
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warranted to adhere to the law that congress passed. >> so are you saying you unilaterally made that decision, whether you should kind of abide by the policy, is that my understanding? or are you sayingsome different here? >> i'm saying something different, congressman, if i may. and i apologize if i was unclear. i was a consultative leader. when i am involved in a certain case, sometimes to my employees, sometimes because a concern was raised by a member of congress sometimes by a stakeholder i did not do that in the dark of night, but did that openly in collaboration with my colleagues to ensure we were resolving legal and policy issues correctly, and bringing forest of the laws that congress passed in the eb5 program. >> fair enough. you also had contact over e-mail, telephone and in person with eb5 external stake holders
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including ed rendell. where the status of impending cases were discussed. is that correct? >> yes. >> okay. and these e-mail communications occurred through your uscis e-mail, and not the established e-mail, national customer service or other established communication standards. is that correct? >> they were with me through e-mail own occasion. and i would share my e-mails with the colleagues. >> how would you go about sharing those e-mails with your colleagues? >> so for example, in the green tech case, when my involvement was needed to address the issues with which the agency was grappling, i would forward my e-mails to counsel. >> mr. mayorkas would you say that was in line with the eb5 policy or not? >> i would have to take a look at the policy, but it was in line with our ultimate obligation to adhere to the law.
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i became involved when my involvement was necessary. se when the complexity of the legal issues warranted it. when my involvement was not necessary, i did not engage. in fact, if one takes a look at the chronology of these cases, one will see that i was involved when the issues warranted, and when the issues were resolved i withdrew from my involvement. >> i got a couple more. there seems to be a pattern as far as overriding the policy when it's your interpretation that you feel like the overall law was more important. your telephone calls and in-person meetings were not recorded and/or detailed not taken into the record of proceeding. true or false? >> i couldn't speed to that. i certainly communicated if i may, congressman, i communicated the facts with my colleagues. how those were recorded i'm not certain. i will say this. >> before you move on there.
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at this point i've counted about 14 or 15 times where you said i believe so but i'm not certain. to the best of my recollection, and then onto something else. let me go back to the question. did you follow in line with the policy? do you need to reread the policy? or in your interpretation that you're testifying, that you felt there was a larger scope to go by instead of the policy itself? >> congressman, i sought each and every -- >> that's my last question after he responds, i will yield back. >> i sought each enevery day to adhere to the highest legal an ethical standards that guide a public servant. the protocols that secretary johnson directed and the office of general council promulgated will bring improvements to the very issue about which you inquire. >> mr. chairman i yield back. >> i thank the member. chair now recognizes chairwoman
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from new york. >> thank you. mr. mayorkas, you have made reference in your testimony and in your written statement that you support and embrace secretary johnson's protocols that were developed to more ably ensure that employees understand the involvement of their supervisors in specific cases. can you -- forgive me if i missed this, but did you tell us what the protocol changes were? >> no i haven't, and i believe they were issued formally this past monday. and the office of general council set forth protocols that speak to a clearance process before certain leaders become involved in particular cases. they define very generally the circumstances in which that involvement is warranted or i should say optimal. they speak to the congressman walker's issue in question. they speak to the recording of
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the involvement. so there's clarity and understanding by all employees with respect to the reasons for the fact of that involvement. and i clearly would have benefitted from those protocols. >> own what about whether or not in order to address his line of questioning about perception. are you or someone in your position, you're not there anymore, in many charge of cis, are they able to accept phone calls from elected officials? >> under the protocol, i believe so. and i believe the protocol speaks to that. and the fact that those communications should be recorded. >> okay. >> and by recorded i mean memorialized. not necessarily audibly recorded. >> i will agree that very often perception becomes reality. perception is an issue that we all have to deal with.
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you have gone through and been questioned very much about the actions that you took and the perceptions that they actually gave other people, whether accurate or not. but i think the more relevant question, mr. chairman, that we have to ask on this committee, and maybe we do this in a closed session, do these phone calls that all of us make to various federal agencies inquiring about specific issues is that a negative perception right there and should we not do that? or can we figure out a way that we can serve our constituents, because that's what these phone calls do in a nonpartisan way, because republicans and democrats both do it, and do it in a way that makes sure that the perception is not misconstrued and there's a transparency. so i just throw that out there and thank you for your consideration. >> chair now recognizes mr. perry. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. mayorkas, good afternoon.
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good morning. americans pride themselves on a transparent government where any person from any background has an equal chance of success. where a person's success or failures is blind to privilege or association, and that success is solely based upon merit as it relates to objective criteria for ensuring fairness while denying individuals in positions the latitude to use their position to unethically benefit for themselves or for them whom they wish to curry favor. based on that premise, under what circumstances do you consider preferential treatment by a government official acceptable? >> congressman, if i may the principle -- >> that's fine. you should what circumstance is preference preferential treatment acceptable? >> i embrace your articulation of that principle? >> so there aren't any? >> preferential treatment is not
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acceptable. >> with that understanding -- with the understanding that you work throughout your tenure to revise the eb5 visa adjudication process and as a former united states attorney, is it accurate to state that you're aware that the adjudicateive process was governed by statute, regulation and policy? >> absolutely so. >> so that's a yes. and is it also accurate you violated established uscs policy for handling inquiries into the program? >> i do not believe i did, congressman. >> so you're saying that the office is wrong? is and that's okay if you're saying that? >> no i am not. and this is very important because the process of the office of inspector jengeneral is one i have profound respect for, and i understand the importance. the office of inspector general found that employees have -- >> i'm talking about what you did. >> yes, that had a perception that i granted preferential treatment to individuals with an
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interest in these cases. i am responsible for the perception that my employees have of the work that i do. >> okay. and i bear that responsibility. and i regret the perceptions that my work created. >> okay. but you disagree that you violated the policy. that's fine. you can. do you consider the eb5 visa valuable? do you know what the value is? what's the cost? generally speaking, within the parameters of the program. >> when you're asking what does it cost, the fee? >> 500,000 to a million dollars, right? >> oh, i'm sorry, to obtain a visa. >> that's the kind of money we're talking about here. >> we're talking about a million dollars unless the investment is in an area of high unemployment. >> significant money. so as of july 15th and i don't mean to rush but i only have so much time. as of july 15th, 2011, did you
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have a previously existing relationship with chairman and ed rendell? >> before when? >> july 15th 2011. >> not to my recollection. >> the answer is no there. is it true as of july 13th 2011 adjudicators were going to deny eb5 visa applications for a firm known as l.a. films? >> i believe from my reading of the inspector general's report that is the case. >> so you believe so. >> and is it also true that on july 15th two days later getting a phone call from somebody that you did not know, probably knew of him you received a call from former pennsylvania governor ed rendell, and within an hour of this call, you directed your staff to reopen the denied application for l.a. films. true or false? >> if i may, i want to clarify something in your question congressman. >> sure. >> because i believe that governor rendell reached out to me about an eb5 case earlier.
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and it was in response to the compare man's inquiry. perhaps another member of this committee. i don't remember the chronology. >> well, i have the chronology. you just told me you didn't have a previous relationship. now you said you reached out to him previously. that's a little cloudy for me. you're telling us it's a coincidence that former p.a. governor ed rendell was a paid consultant representing l.a. films and he just happened to call you two days afs it was known the la films eb5 request was going to be denied, and tla within hours of receiving the governor's call, you mr. mayorkas, directed your staff to reopen the case for l.a. films. is that a coincidence? >> i would respectfully take issue, congressman with your characterization of the question. >> i understand that. you're an attorney, right. it doesn't seem like you came very prepared for the the meeting knowing that it was coming. one final question, mr. chairman. what is dhs's policy for
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employee use of personal e-mails in the context of april 7th 2015, i sent a letter to the secretary requesting to see da copy of your e-mail usage policy. why has it taken so long -- i know you can't answer that question. what was the policy for the employee use of personnel e-mails? do you know? >> to the best of my knowledge, official business is to be conducted on official government e-mail, and i will follow up with your question congressman, with respect to your request for a copy of you are e-mail use usage policy. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. mayorkas thank you for being here today. as sub committee chairman on oversight, it's amazing how -- i guess being in the committee room and oversight causes
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selective memory with some people. so i'm understanding the process a little bit more of asking multiple questions over and over. and i think -- i appreciate you being here and willing to share with us what you recall. first i want to ask you about the deference review board. when you established that, did they already have -- when they first met, were there policies and procedures in place when they convened the first meeting? >> congressman the board was first considered in formulated in concept about two years agoierago earlier in 2011. it was discussed when first published as a proposal and evolved since then. and the board convened in the l.a. films case and i am not
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awarea aware of what procedures it did or did not have in place at that time. >> according to the ig's report, it indicates they had no policies in place when they first convened. how many times did they convene? >> my understanding from the report, congressman, is is that it convened once. >> and it was only regarding the l.a. films case. >> that is correct. and my hope is two-fold. one, that with the issuance of a governing eb5 memorandum approximately two months after the board convened, that gave better guidance to the adjudicators. we were no longer making guidelines we deemed incorrect and had to reverse at the great expense and consternation of stake hoeld stakeholders as well as members of congress. and that we were adhering to our
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deference policy with greater orthodoxy than had previously been the case. because the concern was that we were failing to honor our own substantive eb5 policies. >> so the drv was formulated as an appeals board for someone who was denied. it was used once and then disbanded because now you have a policy in a way that an appeal could be done. is that correct? >> congressman i would say that the decision board was con contemplated as an issue resolution board when an eb5 case reached a certain point. >> so once the drb was disbanded, what was the process when someone was denied their application? what was the appeal process then? >> i don't know that the drb is by its acronym was ever
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disbanded or just not utilized but if an issue was not resolved yet, the uscis adjudicators could, for example pose inquiries to the party in interest. they could request evidence and there could be a line of communication of written questions and written responses. usually fact-based, trying to obtain evidence that addressed one of the elements of the particular visa category at issue. and the decision board was contemplated in 2011 to bring greater efficiency to that process so that the parting interest could convene with the appropriate uscis representatives to seek to resolve the legal or policy or factual issues that had not yet been resolved. >> so based upon what you're telling me in the oig report,
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the drb meant one time they heard an appeal and they overturned it. it was disbanded. how many denials since then have been appealed and then approved? >> how many denials of eb5 cases or -- >> eb5 cases. because my concern with this program is that -- enit looks like staff has done a pretty good job with this, but my concern is this is an avenue that could be abused for one who has money to buy citizenship in the united states. >> congressman, if i can, two things. it contemplates not only the investment of capital, but importantly the investment of capital that leads to the the creation of a certain number of jobs for u.s. workers. number two, and what i think you might be hinting at which is a
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subject that mr.d is a concern of an avenue for people to come into the united states, and the importance of ensuring that our national security interests are well protected in this program. and i actually made significant reforms in our administration of the eb5 program to bring that national security vetting rigor to the program. i brought in the fraud detection director to get involved with and engage in the eb5 cases. i should say also if i may, congressman, that it was i who created the fraud detection and national security directorate to bring greater fraud detection and national security rigor to all of our adjudications across the agency. >> but mr. chairman, one more question. regarding gulf coast mr.
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mcauliffe had contacted you beginning in 2008, and from questions we've had that continued on in 2011, i assume that although mr. mcauliffe had several roles during that time period, ceo of green tech automotive. he was also a chairman of hillary clinton's presidential campaign and chair of the dnc in various times there, i assume that the contact he made was regarding ceo of green tech automotive. now during that time period, when i -- we read the ig's report, gulf coast was denied, i guess, the investment for green tech, for three different reasons. all of them when you read the reasons, was to prevent against someone just being able to buy citizenship into the united states. one was the investment funds would not be at risk.
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the investor did not have a managerial role in the center, and the proposal did not pass a single single continuous region. but with several e-mails and phone calls with mr. mcauliffe it seems you decided then to engage, and according to the ig's report, said you were willing to rewrite the decision. if i may, congressman, first, just a point of clarification the time frame was not 2008 to 2011. i became the director of the agency in august of 2009. i think it was a well subsequent to that. these very legal issues that were involved in the green tech case our own agency certified for internal administrative appellate review because of their complexity. and my involvement was to ensure
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that we were resolving those issues in adherence to the laws that congress passed, and the regulations that we as an agency promulgated in the service of those laws. >> but isn't that what the drb would have done had it stayed in place, to avoid your direct involvement? >> the dr -- i don't recall the timing of the drb. but we did not launch the drb to the best of my recollection congressman, at the time that these legal issues rose to my attention. i would have to look at the timing. but we were not ready for the decision review board at that time. whether we had published the concept of it by that time, i just don't -- i don't rulecall. i will say this, that the resolution of those three issues was reached in adherence to the law. the issue of at risk and the correct reading of in the matter
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of assuming was decided correctly. >> so you're inferring that the staff did not correctly interpret the law, but once your engagement came in then there was a direct interpretation of the law. >> i think that our collaborative review of these issues led to the correct result in these cases. because i did not decide them alone. >> so does the law need to be clarify clarified? it sounds like the law must be pretty subjective then? >> i think that at that time, the agency and as i referenced in my opening statement, the agency did not have adequate guidance to its adjudicators, and we fixed that. two months after the deference review board met, approximately two months after we promulgated for the first time a comprehensive policy memorandum that better guided adjudicators in the administration of this program. >> thank you, sir.
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mr. chairman? >> chair now recognizes mr. sheila jackson williams. >> i thank the ranking member. as i indicated, i had to marking up the usa freedom act, an opportunity to protect the civil liberties and the privacy rights of americans while we protect domestic security, another aspect of responsibility that i know that you take very dear as the deputy secretary for homeland security. let me just indicate that i missed the discussion on the swearing-in or not swearing-in, and i draw support from my colleagues who raise the point -- and i support them -- that although you willingly were sworn in, i do think it's appropriate that if the answerer of the report is sworn in, then the presenter of the report should be, as well, with no in any way denigrating of the
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inspector general. i want to go through some points. first, that you came to the deputy secretary to improve infrastructure aspects of one of the largest departments in this government, department of homeland security. many of us on this committee were there when this department and this committee ultimately was founded, if you will, after the select committee on homeland security. we are well aware of the monumental responsibility of security and many other very important duties that this agency has including the oversight of the secret service and our border security. so i believe that this is a matter that we should put to rest so you can get back to the office and do the work that adheres to the securing of this nation. what i would say -- and you can listen as i say it my understanding is that the i.g.'s report found no wrongdoing
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found no unlawful act committed for an unlawful purpose, and found no lawful act for an unlawful purpose. my understanding is that there was nothing attributed to you that you did unlawfully. is that accurate? >> i believe the inspector general did not make a finding that i violated any laws. i do believe the inspector general found that i did not adhere -- >> i will get to that. i'll let you answer that in a moment. i want to answer the unlawful at this point. is that what the -- to your understanding -- that the inspector general found that you did not do anything unlawful? >> that is my understanding. >> that's my understanding so i will not ask you to do yourself in. i will ask -- i will indicate that that is my understanding of the beginning parts of the report. the report found that there were three unusual acts, but none determined to be unlawful. we'll get to the unusual acts.
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i think you answered the question as i was listening to the inquiry made by my colleague, is that there are adjudicatorad adjudicateors on the eg5 and you sign off on their work that is does. am i clear on that? >> congresswoman, i don't sign off on their work. what i meant to articulate if i did not do so clearly is that i as the leader of the agency bear ultimate responsibility for the correctness of our decisions, our administration of the law. >> and so they do the work there is not a signature that you have on it. but you are taking responsibility for making sure whatever comes out of the department of homeland security that may have been under your jurisdiction as director or new deputy secretary is accurate. is that what you're saying? >> yes. >> we thank you for that. but there was work done by other persons on the eb5 applications.
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is that correct? >> yes. >> and are you now saying that that work is now being directed with better criteria and guidelines that can be checked and double checked by others to make sure that the work is correct. >> i think we made a tremendous number of improvements, very significant improvements that better kwiched our personnel -- equipped or personnel to administer the decision in adherence to the law. >> and the unusual acts -- did it play into, in your interpretation as poor guidelines or structure for the eb5? >> congresswoman, i did -- my involvement in these cases was as my involvement in many many other cases, whether eb5 or
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otherwise. when a case presented issues that warranted my involvement, i became involved in. my own employees brought cases to me because of issues involved. members of congress brought cases to my attention. stakeholders brought cases to my attention. i learned from the media of certain cases. and if the issue warranted my involvement, i engaged in it if the issue didn't, i did not. these cases were the subject of the inspector general's review. when an issue, for example in the green tech case warranted my involvement, i worked with my colleagues to resolve the issue. when the case no longer warranted my involvement, i withdrew. >> so lets me-- let me if i can interpret what you're saying, you have a commitment to this country, and you have a commitment to the better workings of the u.s. department
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of homeland security s.. is that correct? to make this an effective department? >> i do. >> so your intervention came about through newspapers, stakeholders or other to make a department or be -- to make the department better and be a problem solver when it was brought to your attention. would you interpret your intervention in that category? >> absolutely, congresswoman. i would say i have an additional calling, and that is an abiding duty to the law. >> let me just be clear. i am a strong supporter of eb5 for the poor and minority communities across america. and i would really hope that as the department looks to that process that those communities may be the ultimate benefactors in instances and that there are structures in place. i will tell you if there's anyone that i believe that can put those structures in place would be you and secretary johnson because i do have a sense that you both want to be problem solvers. so here's my question -- would
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you comment on the value of investment in some of these poor communities where jobs can be created -- and two, in any of the decisions that you have been noted for, cited for, if you will, did you have any personal stake -- was there any self-sbrks and-- self-interest and did you benefit financially from any involvement in those particular instances? >> congresswoman, i did not have any personal interest or benefit in any way from the disposition of any case pending before u.s. citizenship and immigration services. and the dramatic increase and interest in the eb5 cases during my tenure was a reflection of the great interest in seeing an infusion of capital and the creation of jobs in communities that were suffering high unemployment at the time. >> i think the final point of my
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inquiry -- and i thank the chair and ranking for their indulgence -- is first to get on the record that eb5 done right can infuse economic opportunity and jobs to struggling community across america. so let me ask this question as you are the deputy secretary -- are those some of the elements that you look at in directing or the procedures of your now person that do the initial review or decisionmaking -- have those kinds of framework in their mind, in their eyesights of creation of jobs and helping underserved communities across america? >> those are some of the specified elements of an eb5 adjudication that a certain amount of capital must be invested if it's an area of high unemployment, and that is defined specifically, then that impacts the amount of investment capital that must be made. and also, there are -- one of
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the elements is the likely -- i hope i have my legal terminology correct -- but the creation of jobs in the united states for the amount of capital ten jobs must be created or are reasonably likely to be created. >> well, i'll work with you to increase that number. but i'll end on the note of saying mr. deputy secretary you did not benefit from any of these decisions personally? >> i did not. >> let me thank you for your service. i think that we have gotten a thorough review of your service your commitment to this country, and the fact that we are better off, that you are serving the department of homeland security, but more importantly that eb5 will be an investment in the american people and job creation where it is needed. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i thank the gentlelady. the chair recognizes the ranking member for purposes of entering a document into the record. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for purposes of entering into the record. i have a statement from the
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international brotherhood of teamsters. >> without objection, so ordered. let me close sort of by saying thank you for coming here today to give your side of the story storystory -- i'm sorry, we have ms. torres just arrived. you're recognized. >> i apologize mr. chairman, for the late arrival. we were marking up another bill. >> understood. >> deputy secretary thank you very much for being here. i know that this was not quite an easy task for you today. i'm new to the committee and new to this issue, and i really would like for you to outline the steps that you took as a director of a u.s. citizenship and immigration services. and now as deputy secretary to improve the transparency of the eb5 program. >> thank you very much, congresswoman. i made a number of reforms to
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the eb5 program culminating i think in the ultimate public development and publication of a governing policy memorandum that set forth clear resolutions to issues in the eb5 program with which the agency was grappling for quite a number of years. i created a new eb5 program office and created a senior executive service leadership position for that office. we created it in washington, d.c., because of, in part, because of the amount of interchange we had with other government agencies and stakeholders here in our nation's capitol. we selected an individual in the new leadership position that came from a financial regulatory background. we brought strengthened fraud detection and national security protocols and safeguards to the
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program. there were a series of reforms that we made to the program to address the loud chorus of concerns and complaints that we received not only from members of congress, from both parties, but especially from the public at large. >> moving forward. you have already identified some dhanchlgs. what else would you say that you and the department can work on, lessons learned, and how can we improve transparency? >> two things come nold mind. one to which i referred earlier in my testimony congresswoman. one is the very important protocols with respect to leadership involve investment certain cases that were promulgated this monday at the direction of the secretary, jay johnson, promulgated by the
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office of general counsel. i think that will bring greater transparency to leadership involvement in particular cases. we also welcomed the opportunity as secretary johnson wrote earlier this week, we welcomed the opportunity to provide technical advice to members of congress as they review the eb-5 program as it approaches its sunset period of time. there are programatic changes that can buttress the national security and fraud -- anti-fraud regime that is currently in place. >> thank you very much. thank you for your patience. >> the chair recognizes -- it's a closing argument but may be a question. i'm going to open up to one last round of questions and then we'll close. sir, can you -- i have some interest -- in the case of the gulf coast state with the dnc former chair terry mcauliffe, it involved eb-5 visas for chinese
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foreign nationals. do you know who these foreign nationals are? >> i do not. >> okay. yet you did intervene in this case and said that you would rewrite the decision yourself. >> what i did do, mr. chairman, is i offered to write a legal analysis of one of the issues that we resolved around the table. it was the matter of whether the requisite amount of investment capital was at risk. that's my best recollection of that discussion. >> which is -- it is a risk or not, correct. i understand that standard. were these chinese foreign nationals properly vetted for national security reasons? >> i would hope so. it is our responsibility, of course to ensure that individuals who are granted visas do not pose a national security risk to our nation.
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one of the critical improvements that i made mr. chairman to our administration or the eb-5 program was to bring our fraud detection and national security expertise to bear in the vetting of eb-5 petitioners. >> i commend you. do you know in this case if they were vetted for national security reasons? >> his no involvement to the best of my recollection -- >> would you have intervened in a case like this and rewrite the discussion if you knew there was any national security concern? >> mr. chairman, let me say two things. one, i was brought -- i became involved in the case to address discreet issues, number one. and not all of the issues involved in a case. but i -- >> this does draw an issue and concern. >> if i may mr. chairman -- >> -- properly voteding applicants? >> if i may because this is
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important and goes to a number of issues. i read a report that raised concerns of national security or fraud in this case, and i referred this case immediately myself to our fraud detection and national security directorate. when an issue arose in the green tape cape -- and i believe it was subsequent to our resolution of the at-risk management and issues involving the case, i learned of a concern, i believed it was a public concern not one that percolated within our own agency. i brought in our fraud detection and national security personnel to look at it. >> in this case? >> in this case. >> okay. and that's -- i'm glad to hear that. at first you said "i hope so." now you have a more definitive response to that. i would like to know because i don't know who they are. i would like for the department to produce to me the names of these individuals who applied
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and their background and the national security vetting of these individuals. of course, i make that request if you will agree to that. >> of course we can. >> lastly, just -- you know miss sheila jackson lee testified, asked you questions earlier previously and you said we're always focused on the fact there should be no communication that provides an avenue for undue influence on the ad jude indication. and it should be independently based on the laws and facts which you stated previously. i think -- if you created a policy, which you did, i think you need to follow it. maybe if you don't follow it create a new policy. when you say there should be preferential treatment as a policy and -- it's one thing as ms. rice points out. members of congress do contact all the time and just ask that
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you look at the case. these cases are different. these cases you set up a separate board to deal specifically with 249 petitions and -- and then another case, you overruled cases you've already approved. and in one case decided to rewrite the decision yourself. it seems to me it's more than just a phone call from a member which miss right point outs out we're entitled to do and you acted on that. in this case, you went out of your way, very much an exception to the rule, that has the appearance -- as you stated in your opening statement -- of preferential treatment. and i just -- you say that's the purpose. and then of course you do have penalties here even if the appearance is violated that there should be disciplinary penalties including removal from office. what do you think's appropriate in your case? >> mr. chairman, i was involved
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in these cases as i was involved in many many cases both in the eb-5 program and outside the eb-5 program. the level of my involvement depended on the need for my involvement to help resolve difficult issues. my level of involvement in these cases is mirrored in other cases, as well. and it wasn't a question of who brought the case to my attention but rather what the case needed to resolve it in adherence to the law and the policy. >> well so i'm clear because i want you on the record -- in your opinion, you did not violate your own ethics policy? >> if i may mr. chairman the inspector general found that by virtue of my involvement in these three cases, employees perceived that i exercised undue influence in these cases. i thought i had taken steps to guard against that.
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i bear responsibility for the perception of my employees. that is my responsibility i acknowledge that, and i have profound respect for the office of inspector general. in this investigation and throughout their work. >> we appreciate your honesty and candor. do you believe that there should be any disciplinary action in your case? >> mr. chairman secretary johnson has spoke weekend me about this matter. he has spoken with me, and we discussed not only my involvement in this case but we discussed lessons learned and discussed the protocols that he time he directed and since promulgated which i support and embrace. >> i thank the witness for your candor, as always, and honesty.
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the chair recognizes the ranking. >> thank you very much. deputy secretary, the eb-5 program, can you for the committee indicate whether or not those individuals who invest in the programs, can you describe the vetting of that noftor or investor for the committee? >> there are two issues as best as i recall congressman, that are issue. one is the need to ensure that the funds that are invested are from a lawful source. then there is the vetting of the individual him or herself to determine whether they -- to ensure that they do not pose a national security risk or otherwise pose a public safety
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danger such that their admission to the united states should be denied. more specific than that, i cannot at this moment -- >> during your ten year at the department, were you involved in either of those two processes within the eb-5 program? >> i did not conduct the vetting or forensic work myself. >> is it commonplace for members of congress to contact usis on behalf of the eb-5 program? >> congressman as i mentioned, we received more than 1,500 communications from members of congress per year about the eb-5 program. the number of communications we received from congress about this program dwarfed the number of communications we received
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about any other program we administered. >> is it not uncommon for governors or other interested individuals to contact usis on behalf of the eb-5 program? >> the eb-5 program was the subject of communications from all corners and all quarters by virtue two of distinct forces at play. number one, the increasing importance of the program because of the challenges our economy faced at that time. and number two, the poor administration of the program by our agency, which i should underscore was not the fault of adjudicators but the fault of the institution for not providing hard-working and dedicated public servants with the support they needed.
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these are very complicated legal business economic cases. >> and that contact either by members of congress or governors or state -- other state and local officials has been by both democrats and republicans? >> yes, sir. >> and so did you have your -- or your staff thought this kind of contact should not take place? >> we were -- we were proud of our responsiveness to members of congress. it's our responsibility. >> so if anybody contacted you on behalf of the eb-5 program under your direction, you did not feel that that contact was
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improper or would have changed your decisionmaking on that particular project? >> the fact of the contact would not influence our decision decisionmaking. the question is what would the law require based on the facts at issue in the particular case. >> i yield back mr. chairman. >> let me thank the witness for being here today. miss torres, do you have any additional questions? i apologize. you do not? okay, thank you. i want to thank the witness for being here today. members of the committee may have some additional questions for the witness, and we'll ask you to respond to these in writing pursuant to the committee rule 7c. the hearing record will be open for ten days. without objection, the committee stands adjourned. thank you.
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a reminder that if you missed any of this hearing, it t will be available at more live coverage coming up today here on c-span3 at 1:00 p.m. eastern. navy secretary ray mabus will
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discuss the state of america's sea service and some of the maritime budgetary and resource challenges facing the force in the 21st century. he'll be at the national press club in washington, d.c., in 45 minutes. again, 1:00 p.m. eastern live. later today, the bbc will host the final election leaders event featuring british prime minister and party chair david cameron, labor party leader ed miliband and leader nick klegg. each to be questioned separately by a sued audience. the u.k. general election takes place on thursday may 7th. and back here in the u.s., vermont independent senator bernie sanders announceing he's running for president as a democrat. avoiding the fanfare that many have encountered when announcing their candidacies, he laid out
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goals for addressing income inequality, addressing climate change and scaling back the influence of money in politics. today's announcement provides hillary clinton with her first official rival for the party's nomination. senator sanders, by the way, just wrapped up a news conference outside the capitol. we'll have those remark for you-- remarks for you a bid later. now, senator sanders was in new hampshire recently where he was interviewed by wmur-tv in manchester for their series with 2016 presidential hopefuls called "conversation with the candidate." senator sanders was asked about foreign policy, immigration, education, and energy sources. >> and good evening everyone welcome to the latest in our "conversation with the candidate" series. our guest evening independent vermont senator bernie sanders. tonight we'll be getting to know senator sanders and find out where he stands on the key issues that are out there. at the start of our show, i'll
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be asking candidates questions. after the break we'll have our studio audience ask the questions in sort of a town hall-style format. before we start let's get a look at the candidates' bog ranger. >> bernie sanders of born in 1941 in boston he graduated from the university in 1964 and moved to vermont. his first elected position was mayor of burl ton. the independent won by ten votes and went on to serve as mayor for four terms. in 1988, he lost his first run for vermont's sole congressional seat. two years later, sanders was elected to the first of his eight terms in the house of representatives. then in 2016 he won a seat -- in 2006, he won a seat in senate and was elected again in 2012. with 24 years of legislative experience, he's the longest serving independent member of congress in the history of this country. he's focused his career on supporting the middle class, the environment, universal health care, supporting veterans and is very outspoken about what he
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calls the influence of big money in politics. sanders is married with four children and seven grandchildren. >> all right. with that out of the way, let's introduce senator bernie sanders. >> great to be with you, josh. >> you have an independent, so i can't ask this of many candidates. what party would you run in if you should run for president? >> that's one of the issue we're dealing with now. there is a lot of i think disappointment and disillusionment with both major political parties. i am the longest serving independent. on the other hand putting together a campaign in 50 states outside of the two-party system having to get on the ballot, et cetera, requires time, energy and money. that is one of the issues we're weighing. >> is there a preference? would you forever to run as an independent? >> if i were a billionaire that would probably be the premise. i'm not a billionaire. >> okay. the slood thatlikelihood is that you would run as a democrat? >> we'll see. >> okay. in the news obviously the situation involving foreign
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policy and isis is garnering a lot of opinion varying opinions on how aggressive the u.s. should be in combining islamic terror. >> i was disappointed by the letter sent by 47 of my republican colleagues essentially trying to sabotage the effort of john kerry and the obama administration to reach an agreement with iran so they do not develop a north america e nuclear weapon but do it -- develop a nuclear weapon but do it in a way that does not start a war. i voted against the war in iraq. i do not want to see a never-ending quagmire for american troops in the middle east. i hope very much that that agreement will be developed. the second point is that i get very concerned by countries like saudi arabia who literally border on iraq, where isis is
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functioning, and they say we want american troops on the ground. well, saudi arabia and people don't know this, has the third largest defense budget in the world. bigger than u.k. or france. and i think at the end of the day, the war against isis is about a war for the soul of islam which is going to have to be won by the muslim nations themselves. we should be supportive. and we are supportive with air attacks and special operations. but the day-to-day struggle is going to have to be waged by the muslim countries themselves. and i want to see them get more involved than we are right now. >> all right. so more limited approach. and no boots on the ground when it comes to isis. >> correct. >> all right. and as for the letter you were alluding to, it involves a nuclear program in iran. do you believe iran should have the capability or be allowed more or less to have a nuclear program? >> absolutely not. no, that would destabilize a
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region which is already ex-extraordinarily unstable. i think if the alternative to a negotiated process to prevent them is a war i want to do everything i can to prevent the war and support the effort for a negotiated process to prevent them from getting the weapon. >> what do you think the u.s.' role is in the middle east when it comes to -- big picture now -- the islamic terror groups that are growing in size, and we're see something home-grown instances wherever they're able to recruit in the u.s.? >> i think we've got to organize and mobilize and support the nations in the region. i think along with the rest of the industrialized world we've got to give them support in terms of air strikes, which we're doing now. special operations. but the idea -- we have been at war in iraq and afghanistan well over a decade. and the cost has been extraordinary for this country. the idea of getting involved in a never-ending war in that region disturbs me very very
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much. i think at the end of the day, the muslim countries themselves with our support, they're going to have to take the lead to defeat isis. >> you're aware that people will see that as you know what, that's burying our head in the sand. by the time we get aggressive with it, they'll be on our door and it will be too late -- >> i don't accept that. burying our head in the ground -- we've been in afghanistan and iraq. how did the war in iraq work out? was it really so good? i don't think so. i think it destablized the entire region and led to many of the problems we're seeing now. so i don't think that the united states is going win the war for the soul of islam. i don't think so. the muslim countries will have to win that war with our support. but they're going to have to be front and center on this. >> how much does the immigration debate play a role when it comes to national security? do you believe that to be separate? >> i think it's primarily a separate issue.
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not a national security issue. >> all right. as that issue is debated in washington, d.c., what to do about, it a lot of people think the country can't sustain more immigration legal or otherwise because of the stress that it puts on our public services, where do you see this debate headed, and -- >> i believe in -- i voted several years ago against the immigration bill because of provisions that were in there which worry me very much. that is right now real unemployment in this country is 11%, youth in a moment is 17%. african-american youth unemployment is higher than that. i don't think we should be bringing in a lot of low-wage workers from other countries. god only knows that we have a lot of people in this country who can do that work. on the other hand, what i believe absolutely that we need to develop a path toward citizenship for the 11 or so million undocumented workers. we're not going to ship them
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elsewhere. it needs to be a process. the last bill which i did support, i managed to get a billion and a half dollar provision amendment included which would provide money for youth employment opportunities which is a significant step forward in addressing the problems of youth unemployment. >> beef up border security, is that a priority? >> sure. i mean absolutely. i think we have done that in a significant way. >> all right. we'll take a break and get to our audience. stay with us. we'll continue our skewed audience conversation after -- studio audience conversation after this. stay with us. >> now "conversation with the candidate" continues. >> welcome back to "conversation with the candidate." tonight's guest vermont senator bernie sanders. time for questions from the audience. i'll jump in if a followup is needed. now to the first question from the audience coming from george sanders -- no relation -- from claremont. george, take it away. >> thank you, senator, for being here. my question tonight is in addition to voting in each of
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our elections what can we as individual citizens do on an ongoing basis to hold this congress for accountable for its dysfunction? >> thank you, george. that is an extremely important question i think shared by millions of americans. in my view, what we have now in this country is a congress which is heavily dominated by big money interests and large campaign contributors. that's the sad reality. in this last midterm election coke brothers, other billionaire families spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. what does an ordinary citizen do within that context? number one we have got to address the issue of voter turnout. you're right in saying that the least we could do is vote. but you know in the last election, 63% of the american people didn't vote. 80% of young people did not vote. low-income people did not vote. billionaires spent huge sums of money. the first thing we have to do is create an environment which says
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american democracy is supposed to involve all people, not just the people on top. second of all, i think what we need to do is to develop a middle-class agenda that says that our main function in congress now is the to reverse the decline of the american middle class. means raising the minimum wage, in my view. means creating the millions of jobs that this country desperately needs. means asking the wealthiest people to start paying their fair share of taxes. that is what the american people want. if politicians in washington are not prepared to support the middle class, you know what you tell them? thank you, but no thank you. your term is over. >> thank you very much for the question, george. now to our next question to the audience. this one coming from kathleen allen. kathleen? >> thank you for being here. with the average social security yearly earned income of around $15,000, how do us seniors get the message accepted by politicians and the voters that
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we can't afford any cuts to the social security and medicare programs whether by privatization or plain cuts? >> kathleen, thank you very much for that question. i say that as the founder of the defending social security caucus in the senate. just a few facts. let me be very clear. if you see somebody getting occupy tv and saying social security -- getting up on tv and saying social security social security is going broke and we need to make cuts in social security, they are simply not telling you the truth. today, social security in its trust fund has $2.8 trillion, can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible american for the next 18 years. social security is not going broke, and as you indicated, the average person in the middle is getting $14,000 a year. there are seniors in new hampshire, vermont, and in this country we're trying to get by on $11,000 $12,000 $13,000 a
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year. it is criminal it is cruel to talk about cutting benefits for those people. i've helped lead the fight against efforts to cut. what's the solution? 18 years means we're not in crisis, but we need it longer than that. right now if somebody is making $10 million a year and somebody is making $118,000 a year, they are paying the same amount into the social security trust fund. you lift that cap, start at $250,000. you know what you can do? you cannot only extend social security until 2006 -- 2060 you can expand benefits. i was at a press conference with a committee to preserve social security and medicare. two million signatures on petitions from sfls across the country -- seniors across the country, don't cut social security. the recession -- ranking member of the budget committee. it is an enormously important issue. social security is life and death for so many of our people. we've got to expand it, not cut it. thanks for the question.
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>> do you believe, senator, that you can expand benefit to social security without means testing -- >> absolutely. no, means testing is a bad idea because what's the means? do you know what the means is -- it's not billionaires, it gets down to $40,000 or $50,000. we have an increase in poverty in this country among seniors, people are struggling to determine whether they're going to pay for food, heats, medicine, you don't cut social security, you strengthen it. >> thank you. our next question from ken merrifield of franklin. good to see you, sir. >> good to see you. senator, if you were chosen as the next president of the united states, a child born on your inauguration day would probably graduate from high school in the year 20635, would probably -- 2035, would probably retire from the work force about the 2080s. i wonder if you could tell us your ideas your plans, policies that you would put in place to ensure that that child is able to compete.
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and obviously increasingly complex and difficult marketplace in the world. >> thanks, ken. let me be frank. as longest serving independent in american history, my views are a little different than any of my colleagues'. let me start off, we treat children in this country abysmally. every american should be ashamed that we have by far the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. one out of every five kids is living in poverty. that should not be the case. second of all, our childcare system is a disaster. working families in vermont new hampshire, all over this country finding it very difficult to find quality affordable childcare. thirdly, if a kid graduates high school and wants to go to collegi -- and i think as you've indicated we live in a highly competitive global economy. why are we making it harder for kids to go to college because the cost of college through the
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roof. countries throughout the world germany, scandinavia, do you know how much college costs? zero because they understand it is a good investment for the future of their country. i'm going to introduce legislation shortly that will make public colleges and universities tuition-free. i think that's a good thing for the american people and good for our economy. making college affordable ending the outreach that so many of our young people are struggling with huge student debts. all of this speaks to changing our national priorities. we don't give tax breaks to billionaire could you don't spend more than we should on the military and then say to working families all over this country, sorry, your kids can't go to college. so i am very much in favor of changing our national priority, paying more attention to the needs of young people. >> quickly free tuition sounds great, but how do we pay the bills? >> at a time when we have massive income and wealth inequality, when 99% of all new income today is going to the top
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1%, i can think of many ways to fund higher education. >> fair enough. next question, this one from social media. coming from facebook. jim and meredith strout write, " "over the years there have been a variety of labels placed on you, not the least flattering of which is socialist. do you feel you are a socialist?" >> i am -- if you ask me i am a democratic socialist. what does that mean? it means that it makes send to look at countries like denmark and norway and sweden and countries throughout europe who have accomplished great things for working families. you go to a country like denmark, they don't have great discussions about whether or not people can afford health care. health care is a right of all people. and by the way, they end up spending much less per capita than we do. that's true all over the rest of the world. we're the only nation in the industrialized world that doesn't guarantee health care to all people as a right, and we end up spending a lot more than other countries. there's something to be learned from those countries.
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in terms of higher education, huge issue, the cost of higher education. country after country throughout europe which have had labor government the or democratic socialist governments, their cost is zero for the family. that makes sense to me. retirement benefits are stronger in many countries new york stock exchange denmark, do you know whatments minimum wage -- what the minimum wage is? about $20 an hour if you work at mcdonald's. not too bad. i think as a nation we should learn from countries that have combated child poverty, that provide health care to all people, free college education, and have a tax system which is fair and progressive which says to the people on top in those countries, yeah, you got a lot of money, we're going to ask you to start paying your fair share so we can have a strong middle class. >> we thank you for the question on facebook. back to our studio audience and a question from eileen brady. eileen? >> hi. welcome, senator. how can the clients that i work with at a homeless shelter and
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soup kitchen be part of the political process when they're totally convinced that ed thatd that money buys campaigns? they're discouraged and, unfortunately, i think it contribute to the huge percentage that don't vote. >> eileen, that is an enormously important question. i think it's not only homeless people -- thank you congratulations for your work taking care of the homeless and most vulnerable in our society. it is not just homeless people who think that the deck is stacked against them. it is tens of millions of people who understand that while they may have the right to vote billionaires can spend hundreds of millions of dollars and liberally buy and sell politicians. changing that is not going to be easy. if i run for president, that would be my major mission. i would hope regardless of our political point of view, no matter what it may be no
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american is happy when 63% of the people did not participate in the last election. what we need in my view is to give hope to beam through an agenda which speaks to their needs. what do low-income people need? decent paying jobs, right? do you know what we've got do? raise the minimum wage to a living wage. you got people in this state in vermont who make $25,000, $30,000 a year don't get overtime-time because they're supervisor. you have women making 78 cents on the dollar compared to men. that's wrong. we've got to change that, as well. in the terms of low-income people, we should not have homelessness. i've introduced and passed legislation to build loche rental housing so people -- low-income rental housing so people can live with dignity. we have some 45 million people in this country living in poverty. that's almost more than at any time in the modern history of america. at the same time we're seeing a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires.
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that is the crisis that we face and that's got to be changed. >> thank you. back to the audience. another question from will andrews. >> thank you. thank you, it is my pleasure to be here. my question is a form -- would the united states consider a form of isolationism in order to not send men, material, and money overseas until we get our own v.a., our own social security taken care of? >> what i'm hearing is before you spend millions more abroad, let's take care of the needs of the american people. >> yes. >> this is what i think -- as the former chairman of the veterans committee in the senate and who worked in a bipartisan way to pass the most significant veterans legislation in many many years which will significantly improve health care for our veterans, clearly we need to take care of the people in need in this country. but i would also say that we canterbury our heads in the sand. it's a dangerous world out there. as i just mentioned to josh a moment ago, i do not support
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sending american combat troops into iraq to take on isis. that's primarily a job of saudi arabia, of qatar of the uae, of jordan, those countries should lead the effort. on the other hand, we can't be isolationist. what you're really talking about is changing national priorities in this country. taking care of those people who are hurting and not giving more tax breaks to corporations who stash their money in the kayman islands. this gets back to the question asked earlier -- why does that happen? why do we ignore the needs of the middle class and provide for the billionaire class? that is the power they have politically today. that's what we've got to change. thank you. >> all right. another question from the audience. robert svey. thanks for -- seevey. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. senator sanders, as president would you pursue a carbon tax to
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make all forms of energy competitive and to give much-needed dallas to infrastructure projects? >> well, the answer is that's what i've done. along with senator barbara boxer, she and i several years ago introduced the first carbon tax in the history of the united states congress. look, let me touch on an issue that i know is controversial. and it's sensitive. i happen to believe and agree with the overwhelming majority of scientists who tell us that climate change is real, it is caused by human activities. it is already causing devastating problems. if we do not get our act together, the situation will only get worse in years to come. i believe that we need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. it is unacceptable to that you have coal companies, oil companies putting forth all of this carbon and not paying the costs associated with it. the answer is yes. i do support a carbon tax.
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>> to be clear, when you talk about climate change being real in your opinion, how far should the government go to combat it deal withdrawal it -- >> i agree with the world's scientific community that climate change is the major environmental crisis facing up the planet that they are estimating that in this country the planet will become five to ten degrees fahrenheit warmer by the end of the century, leading to floods, droughts, extreme weather disturbances, coastal communities under water. i think we have a major crisis. i think the government has got to be very bold along with governments throughout the world. not only an american problem it is an international problem in transforming our energy system. it is a huge issue. >> senator, let's go to another social media question now. a facebook question from jeffrey flanders. he writes, "with a couple of states legalizing marijuana and
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many considering it, where do you stand on a nationwide legalization of marijuana?" >> well, when i was the mayor of burlington, we have university of vermont there. one or two kids were smoking marijuana. that was a joke. it was more than one or two. i don't recall that too many were being arrested. it wasn't an issue that we felt was of the highest priority. arresting kids smoking marijuana. i'm also on board legislation, i have co-sponsored legislation dealing with medical marijuana. colorado was the first state in the country to legalize marijuana. i want to take a good look at the plusses and minuses of that. and we can go from there. >> we have a couple of minutes to cram this in. back to the studio audience now. coming from gabe patchy. >> welcome to beautiful downtown manchester. personal and public costs that deal with alzheimer's and other dementias are rising at alarming rates. yet, research to find -- to prevent these debilitating
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diseases is definitely inadequate. would you support investing in higher levels of funding for research to incur the future costs that could bankrupt medicare and medicaid at some point? >> okay, we have about 30 seconds. >> the answer is absolutely. you're right, the projection is that the costs in dealing with alzheimer's disease is going to be many, many many tens of billions of dollars. so it makes a lot of sense from a human point of view as well as a cost-effective point of view to find cures to that terrible illness. yes, i certainly would support increased funding. >> all right. thank you for the question. thank you, senator. that's all the time that we have now for the television portion. coming up next in our series, republican donald trump will be on the program. while we're signing off on television, this is "conversation with senator sanders" that will continue on line as well as our mobile app. check us out there and find 30 more minutes of questions from our studio audience.
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for now, thank you very much for watching. have a great night. >> senator sanders who announced his candidacy for president held a news conference outside the u.s. capitol a short time ago. >> let me take a few questions. we don't have an endless amount of time. let me say that, this country in my view has more serious crises than at any time since the great depression of the 1930s. for most americans, their reality is that they're working longer hours for lower wage, and inflation-adjusted income, they're earning less money than they used to years ago despite a huge increase in technology and productivity. so all over this country i've been talking to people. they say how does it happen? i'm producing more working longer hours for low wages.
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my kid can't afford to go to college. i'm having a hard time affording health care. how does that happen? at exactly the same time 99% of all new income generated in this country is going to the top 1%. how does it happen that the top 1% owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%? my conclusion is that that type of economics is not only immoral, not only wrong it is unsustainable. it can't continue. we can't continue having a nation in which we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major nation on earth, at the same time as we're seeing a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires. so that's the major issue. the major issue is how do we create an economy that works for all of our people rather than a small number of billionaires. the second issue directly related is the fact that as a
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result of the disastrous supreme court decision on citizens united, we now have a political situation where billionaires are literally able to buy elections and candidates. let's not kid ourselves. that is the reality right now. so you got the coke brothers and other billionaire families now prepared to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in elections to buy the candidate of their choice or extreme right wing candidates. i'm the former chairman of the senate veterans committee. i can tell you i don't believe that the men and women who defended american democracy fought to create a situation where billionaires own the political process. that's a huge issue that we've got to deal with. right now in terms of issues, we have a republican party with virtually few exceptions that does not even recognize the reality of climate change, let alone that it is caused by human activity, let alone this the
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scientific community tells us this is the major global environmental crisis that we face. and i want to see this nation lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel, to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. real unemployment in america is not 5.5%. if you include people who have given up looking for work, people working part time when they want to work full time real unemployment is 11%. we need to create millions of jobs and the best way is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and i've introduced legislation to do that. create 13 million jobs. in my state of vermont and throughout the country young people, bright young able kids cannot afford college, and others are leaving school deeply in debt. in germany, countries around the world, they understand that you tap the intellectual capabilities of young people, you make college tuition in public universities and public colleges free. that's my view as well.
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so there are enormous issues facing this country. let me conclude by saying this -- i say this to the media -- i've never run a negativenadic my life. i've been in many campaigns. you ask the people of vermont. they will tell you bernie sanders has never run a negative ad. i hate and detest 30-second ugly negative ads. i believe that in a democracy what elections are about are serious debates or serious issues. not political gossip, not making campaigns into soap operas. this is not the red sox versus the yankees. this is the debate over major issues facing the american people. honest people. my conservative friends differ with me. that's fine. that's called democracy. that's a good thing. but i would hope -- and i ask the media's help -- allow us to discuss the important issues facing the american people and let's not get hung up on political gossip all the other soap opera aspects of modern campaigns. thank you. let me take a few.
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[ inaudible ] >> without giving you a detailed proposal now, i regard it as unacceptable that you have major corporations in this country who make billions of dollars in profit who do not pay a billions of dollars in profit who do not pay a nickel in federal income tax because they stash their money in the caymen islands. the wealthiest people have got to join the united states of america. they got to come back to this country and they got to maintain and respect their responsibilities. it's not to shift jobs to china and avoid paying federal taxes. we need real tax reform that says to the wealthiest people you have to pay your fair share of taxes. [ inaudible question ]
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>> i grew up in family that did not have a lot of money. my dad came to this country at the age of 17. my mother graduated high school. we didn't have a whole lot of books. my brother introduced me to a lot of the ideas. i hope my brother does well in his race for politics in the uk. [ inaudible question ] >> absolutely not. to say that people disagree on issues and point them out, that's what a debate is about. certainly i'll be doing that. you know this better than i do. turn on these ugly 30 second ads and vicious personal attacks against candidates. i think the american people are tired of that. i've never done that this my entire life but i run vigorous
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campaigns. [ inaudible question ] i think what's more fair is the role of politics. ideas that are palatable. the issue is not the clinton foundation. that's fair issue. the issue is the huge amounts of money that it takes to run a campaign today. i'm going to have to raise my campaign contributions, the bernie small
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contributions. i seriously want them. i wonder if it's possible for any candidate who is not a billionaire to be able to run successful campaigns. if that is the case i want you to recognize what a sad state of affairs that is for american democracy. [ inaudible question ] this is what i can tell you. i voted against the war in iraq. many of the things that i said back then turned out to be true. i believe it continues a trend of horrendous trade policies that have cost us billions of
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decent paying jobs. i help lead the effort against the keystone pipeline. with that i'm going to get going. last question. last question. [ inaudible question ] you got to understand. i ask you to understand my history. you're looking inging at a guy with the most unusual political history of the united states of congress. i have run it's not only i'm the longest serving independent i've run for statewide office. i got 1% of the vote. i don't know if i should be proud of that but my last election i got 71% of the vote. that's not the right question. the question is if you raise the
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issues that are on the hearts and minds of the american people, if you try to put together a movement that says we have got to stand together as a people and say that this capitol, this beautiful capitol our country belong to all of us and not the billionaire class. that's not raising an issue, that's winning elections. that's where the american people are. thank you. [ applause ] coming up in about five minutes at 1:00 p.m. eastern time, navy secretary ray mabus will discuss the state of america's naval forces and some of the maritime, budgetary and resources facing the navy. that's coming up in a few minutes from now here on
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c-span3. the very fact of signing that paper was viewed as an october of war. we're going to send the people to settle. that was viewed as an act of war. in may of 1956 john brown his sons and a couple of other followers dragged five men along the creeks and they have shot and hacked to death. that cleared that area of
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southern settlers. >> if you look at the schools just standing outside, you'd be very hard pressed to determine whether white students or african-american students attended because the school board really did provide all the same materials that the white schools offered. what is even more interesting for most people when they come to visit is they find out after graduating from elementary school african-american students attended integrated middle and high schools. why there were no supporters of segregation, the african-american community also was very proud of their schools because these were excellent facilities.
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this sunday afternoon at 2:30 we're live from oak ridge cemetery in springfield to commemorate the anniversary of president lincoln's funeral with over 1,000 reenactors and recreation of the 1865 eulogy. also this weekend, the grand prize winners in our student cam documentary competition. at 8:00 the festivities of the
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state visit of japanese prime minister abe. author slevin looks at michelle obama from childhood to white house. our live three-hour conversation with documentary and film maker jon ronson. join the conversation. he'll also be taking your phone calls, e-mail or facebook comments and tweets. get the complete schedule at
1:00 pm today navy secretary ray mabus will have the luncheon address before press club members. he'll talk about the state of america's naval forces along with the challenges the navy faces. ray mabus his remarks getting under way in a moment or two. >> for more information visit our website, that's


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