tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN November 30, 2015 3:00pm-4:01pm EST
justice enforcement of the gun laws, we take those gun laws very seriously and are committed to using the full laws and regulations on the books. we typically use those laws at the federal level in conjunction with our many and numerous violent crime initiatives. for example, in my former position as u.s. attorney in the eastern district of new york, many of our gang cases also carried with them firearms charges. they would not necessarily be the lead charge. they may not be reflected in the data that you have, but they certainly are on important tool in every prosecutor's arsenal in combatting violent crime. >> then why aren't they being prosecuted for those violations related to firearms? by the way, this doesn't just mean using a firearm in the conviction of a crime. it also means illegal sales of firearms. it means lying on the instant check system, the last year for which we have complete data. 76,000 people were found to have
committed the felony of swearing to false information on that form. 5,000 were referred for prosecution, but the 94 u.s. attorneys offices across the country could only find time to prosecute 62 out of 76,000. so somebody going into a gun store to buy a weapon knows that even if they're caught and often they're not caught because the system doesn't have all the information it needs in it, but even if they're caught, they often find that the odds are 1 in 1,000 that they'll be prosecuted. what are you doing about that? what should be done about it? and why has this decline been so precipitous over the years? >> with respect to the types of cases that are prosecuted, as i indicated, a lot of the firearms prosecutions are done in conjunction with our violent crime program, and they may not show up in your statistics as the lead charges. they are a significant part of the arsenal that every federal prosecutor utilizes.
most recently, i've convened a summit with the top elected officials, police chiefs, and leaders of major cities to talk about violent crime that's currently taking place in several major cities with a focus on finding the causes and finding the best ways to direct federal resources to those particular cities. >> do you expect these prosecutions to go up as a result of that? >> congressman, what we do is we look at the root causes of violence in a particular area. if, for example, the firearms were the main issue there, we would focus our efforts there. we follow the facts and the evidence -- >> not necessarily prosecuted for the gun violation. if that's the case, would you agree with me then that it doesn't make sense to add new gun laws when we already have hundreds of them that are not being enforced today and you don't seem to anticipate an increase in the use of those current laws to prosecute people who misuse firearms? >> i think at this point it would be difficult to speculate as to what numbers would look like in a year with respect to
any particular criminal program. i would say the department of justice is committed to using the laws that are currently on the books as part of our violent crime initiative, as part of our desire to keep all communities safe, and that does include our firearms laws. >> i want to cover one more topic that concerns me greatly. during the fbi's investigation of the irs matter, the president stated on super bowl sunday that there was not, quote, even a smidgen of corruption at the irs. at the end of that investigation, no charges were filed. two weeks ago, the president stated with respect to secretary clinton's e-mails, quote, this is not a situation in which america's national security was endangered, end quote. should we expect that when the fbi finishes its investigation of this matter that no charges will be filed, does the department allow statements by the president to dictate its investigative practices? >> mr. chairman, the department reviews facts and evidence
submitted before it. we apply the laws to those facts and evidence. we take all the appropriate steps in every matter that we review. and that is how we will essentially manage every matter under our purview. whether it relates to the irs, to an e-mail matter, or every matter that comes before us, and with respect to the president's comments, they have no influence or bearing on how the department manages these matters and i would have to refer you to him for a review of those. >> i'm glad to hear you say that. in your view, wasn't it inappropriate for the president to once again inject his personal views into an ongoing fbi investigation? >> mr. chairman, i really don't have a comment on the president's expression of his views. >> he's a chief executive officer of the united states, and everything that operates within the executive branch is under his purview, including the very important independent nature of the fbi in conducting its investigations. wouldn't it be better if the president of the united states did not comment on the merits of
those investigations while they're going on? >> mr. chairman, i really don't have a comment on the president's statements. >> thank you very much. the chair recognizes the ranking member, the gentleman from michigan. >> thank you very much, chairman goodlatte. attorney general lynch, i want at my panel at this year's congressional black caucus legislative forum. it was marvelous. at that event you spoke about the breakdown in trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. you also spoke about getting to the root of the problem with a comprehensive approach to training, to policy, and to research. many of the law enforcement officers in attendance agreed with your comments. how are you planning on reaching out to the broader law enforcement community to promote
these ideas? >> thank you, mr. conyers, congressman conyers. this is, in fact, one of my top priorities as attorney general. i'm incredibly proud to say that the department of justice has already begun the type of outreach that i was discussing at that particular event. through our cops office in particular, the community-oriented policing service office, we reach out directly to police departments across the country and offer technical assistance. we offer training. we offer peer-to-peer support. we have found that an incredibly effective way to share information within the law enforcement community is peer-to-peer police officer to police officer, chief to chief. so we work with the departments that have, in fact, made great strides in the area of police community relations and seek to match them up with other departments who are having challenges in this area and who would be receptive to their input.
i also, as i noted in my opening statement, have been on a six-city community policing tour. as i talk with residents, with young people, elected leaders, i also talk with police officers. i do meet with the chiefs and supervisors, but i also talk to the rank and file, the officers who are on the beats of our cities, to get their ideas as to what has worked in their city, as to why a positive relationship has developed in the cities where they've had challenges and where they have had struggles. i've listened to their stories of commitment and dedication and their embrace of community policing and concern for residents as a program and policy that makes policing more efficient and that makes communities safer. and i'm incredibly proud to support those efforts. >> thank you. in recent weeks there have been some suggestions, some from within your department, that our dialogue on these issues have
somehow reduced the willingness of some police officers to perform their duties. i know of no real evidence so substantiate this claim, but in your opinion, does our conversation about civil rights and the appropriate use of force by police somehow make us less safe? >> mr. congressman, our discussion about civil rights and the appropriate use of force and all police tactics can only serve to make all of us, community members and police officers, safer. in my discussions with police officers around the country, i have found positive engagement on these issues. i have found them to have some of the best thoughts and best practices to share with other departments on these issues. issues like the best practices for deescalation of certain situations, issues like the best practices for maintaining a
relationship with community organizations and citizens councils, issues on police safety. they've provided us valuable input in our program such as providing bulletproof vests, body worn cameras. they are focusing on the best ways to use these new technologies. so while certainly there may be anecdotal evidence, there's no data to support it and what i have seen in my travels across this country is the dedication, the commitment and the resolve of our brave men and women in law enforcement, to embracing 21st century task force recommendations and to continue to have a dialogue that makes our country safer for all. >> thank you. the state of alabama's plan to close 31 driver's license offices demonstrates how one policy decision can have wide-ranging discriminatory effects. the media has picked up on this,
and this will make it harder for citizens of these rural counties to vote. i'm just as concerned about the discriminatory economic effects of this decision which will fall hardest on rural poor and african-american communities. i imagine a black farmer driving hundreds of miles across rural alabama to renew an expired driver's license and on this committee, we know what might happen to such a young man. what tools does the department have to combat discrimination in all of the ways it manifests itself, and how are you going to be using these tools in this case? >> thank you, congressman. with respect to the department's enforcement of our various civil
rights statutes, it is certainly robust and will continue to be so. while we no longer have the advantage of the pre-clearance provisions that were in the voting rights act, we still have significant provisions of the voting rights act that allow us to review actions and decisions taken, albeit after the fact to determine whether there has been a discriminatory intent or as very often the case, a discriminatory result. we can engage in negotiation and conversations. many times we do that before we even move to litigation, in an attempt to reason with or have a discussion with entities that are making significant changes. often those discussions are very productive. i was pleased to see that after discussions with members of congress that the state of alabama may be making some modifications to those changes and certainly those types of discussions are an efficient way to bring about change and raise these important issues. but i will reiterate, congressman, that the department of justice is committed to
enforcing the civil rights laws that we do have on the books, and we are committed to a vigorous review of matters that are brought to our attention and will ensure a full, fair and efficient review of those matters and take the action that is appropriate. >> thank you so much. last question, more than 30,000 people die from gun violence in this country every year. what can this committee, the committee on the judiciary, right now do that would save at least some of those lives? >> well, mr. congressman, i think there is a significant debate and discussion going on as to how to best save lives in that situation, and i think that all voices are necessary in that debate and discussion and certainly if congress were to consider new laws, i'm sure this committee would be deeply involved in discussions and that is up to congress as part of our
purview, and the department would be happy to work with you with regard to that. i think that we also have to look at the root causes of the violence. as i indicated in response toen earlier question, just last month i convened a summit on violence with several of the major leaders of the cities, police chiefs and mayors, as well as police executives. what the department is doing is looking for ways to identify the root causes of so much of the violence that we are seeing, even as violence is at historic lows nationwide. we still have some communities that struggle with this issue. in some instances it is gun violence. some instances we see an increase in drug use, methamphetamine, heroin, opiates. just yesterday i met with the national conference of mayors and had discussions on these very issues. but the differences that all communities present and the need to have a full and robust discussion about these issues. >> thank you so much for your
testimony and your views. >> ray:. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, mr. conyers. the chair recognize the gentleman from wisconsin for five minutes. >> thank you very much, madam attorney general and welcome. we hope to be seeing you for a bit, at least for the next 14 months. i have a question relative to the issue of the guantanamo detainees. congress recently passed and the president is expected to sign into law legislation that explicitly prohibits the use of federal funds to move detainees from guantanamo bay to the united states. former white house counsel gregory praig wrote an op-ed arguing that the law is unconstitutional and president obama can legally ignore it. as you are america's top lawyer, do you believe that president obama could legally ignore legislation prohibiting the transfer of detainees to american soil? >> thank you, mr. congressman.
what i would say on this issue certainly is, as the administration has stated, the closure of guantanamo bay is something that is part of the administration's policy and the department of justice supports that as well. at this point in time i believe the current state of the law is that individuals are not transferred from guantanamo to u.s. shores. that position is reiterated by the legislation that you mention and my understanding as you indicated is i do believe the president has indicated that he would sign that. certainly it's the position of the department of justice that we would follow the law of the land in regard to that issue. >> the question i had is, do you believe that the law is unconstitutional as mr. craig has opined in last week's "washington post," and would you ignore the law based upon that argument? >> well, mr. congressman, i'm actually not familiar enough
with mr. craig's analysis to comment on that, so i'm not able to comment on his views about the statute. certainly with respect to the existing state of the law, the department of justice is committed to fully following that and the closure of guantanamo bay is being carried out in compliance with that law. i believe it is the view of the department that we would certainly observe the laws as passed by congress and signed by the president. only very rarely would we take the step of finding an unconstitutional provision was something we could not manage. we would of course seek to work with congress and the administration to resolve that issue. >> does this mean that you think it's okay for the president to transfer these people who are some of the world's most dangerous terrorists to countries other than the united states, but it would not be okay for him to transfer them to the
united states? >> mr. congressman, the current state of the law allows for the transfer of certain detainees from guantanamo bay, those that after a vigorous review process are placed in that transfer category to countries that after significant vetting and promises of management can accept them. with respect to individuals being transferred to the united states, the law currently does not allow for that, and that's not, as i am aware of, going to be contemplated given the legal descriptions. >> if the senate failed to pass this bill, in your opinion, what will be the effect on the
sharing of law enforcement data with certain of our european allies? >> thank you, congressman. we fully support the judicial redress act and i actually would like to thank you and the other members of this committee for the important work that you have done on this issue. this legislation is critical to continued law enforcement sharing of information from the u.s. and the european union. in fact, i have been involved in discussions with ministers from the european union on the data protection act often called the umbrella act, as well as a judicial redress act. it's our view that this important legislation should be passed. it would provide, as you know, redress for european union citizens should there be an unauthorized or misuse of their data in the u.s. which is a privilege enjoyed by u.s. citizens within the european union, without this we do have a grave risk of not having the completion of the data protection or umbrella
agreement. sadly, recent events have shown us the importance, the critical nature, of making sure that we have these safe and secure portals for transferring information from one law enforcement entity to another. >> let me make one point as my time is expiring. while the judicial redress act does not deal with the sharing of counter-terrorism information, there frequently is an interface between those who want to commit terrorist activity and those who do commit petty crimes which would end up being in the law enforcement a file. a would just look at today's "new york times" where comments relative to the attack in paris and what apparently happened in the neighborhood in brussels where it says in a neighborhood known for extremists, a trail of petty crimes and missed plots. the judicial redress act might
be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together from petty crimes so that there can be missed plots. thank you for your support. >> thank you, mr. congressman. >> thank you. the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york, mr. nadler, for five minutes. >> i thank the chairman and i thank the attorney general. madam attorney general, in the immediate after math of the terrorist attacks of september 11th, 2001, the department of justice established a victims compensation fund that provided more than $7 billion to families who lost loved ones on that day. in the years after the attacks it became clear that thousands of first responders and survivors continue to suffer major health consequences from the attacks and their after math. thousands of lawsuits were filed against contractors and others by these victims. in 2010, congress enact an act which provided essential
healthcare service to those in need and re-opened the victims compensation fund to those families whose losses became apparent after september 11th, providing them an alternative to litigation. in the last five years the victims compensation fund has provided nearly 6300 first responders and survivors with $1.4 billion in compensation determinations. since we enact the bill, i am aware of no further 9/11-related lawsuits. despite its current success, on september 30th, 2015, congress allowed the vcf and the world trade center health program to expire. fortunately, there is legislation pending in the house to permanently reauthorize the victims compensation fund and the world trade center health program. the bill now has the co-sponsorship of 247 co-sponsors of the majority of the house, including more than 50 republicans and a filibuster approved majority in the senate with 65 co-sponsors.
if congress fails to act, thousands of first responders will lose compensation on which they depend to support their families when they are tragically gone. the vcf is preparing to shutter its operations once it processed existing claims. if it's not fully reauthorized, the first responders who have already received notice of compensation could actually see that amount cut by up to 50%. we are literally talking about taking money out of the hands of a sick police officer. i am deeply s lly saddened to t that is how congress plans to remember the heros of 9/11. attorney general lynch, do you agree that this is not the proper way to honor the heros of 9/11? don't you think that the survivors and firefighters and police officers who risked their own lives and suffered health consequences because of it deserve the full support of the american people and a fully funded victims compensation fund? >> thank you, mr. congressman. this is indeed an important
issue. of course we will always be deeply indebted to those first responders and brave men and women who risked their lives to search for and recover victims, to remove debris at the site, to carry out the recovery efforts at ground zero at 9/11. certainly it's an important issue both to me as attorney general and as someone who was in new york on 9/11 and who had friends and former colleagues who were in that group of those who were on the scene and who were involved in those activities. this is, in fact, a serious issue for those who are affected by it, and i greatly appreciate your expression of compassion for those who have fallen ill. with respect to the bill that is currently pending, certainly on behalf of the department of justice we would do all that we could to work with you to make sure that there were any questions or issues that could be addressed, and we hope that there would be none. this is indeed an important issue, and again, i think it is something that deserves certainly strong review, serious consideration, and please let us
know how the department can be of assistance to any of the members as they consider this important issue. >> thank you. as you may know, kmarm goodlatte and others have introduced legislation to re-open the vcf. unfortunately, their bill would open the fund only temporarily and authorize very limited funding. it was heavily criticized as a result. the newbill, however, is a permanent reauthorization and has bipartisan support, 247 co-sponsors. the bill, like the black lung program that we have for black lung survivors, like the nuclear program we have for people who were e radiationed is permanent, recognizing the permanent nature of the disabilities. i hope you will thank the president for signing the bill into law in 2010 and do everything that you can to see that this legislation is fully funded as soon as possible. >> yes. thank you, sir.
>> thank you. i had another question on a different topic. it was referred to the statute that says that you can't bring guantanamo detainees to the united states. the chairman in his opening remarks commented that this might be dangerous to do so, et cetera. my question is the following. forgetting the legalality for the moment, if guantanamo were closed and detainees were brought to super max facilities, prisons in the united states, in what conceivable way could this threaten anyone's safety? in what conceivable way could housing someone in a super max federal prison affect the local community, especially when you're talking about 60 or 70 people, not 7,000 people throughout the country, and has anyone ever escaped from a super max federal facility?
>> well, it certainly is a tribute to the strong effort of the bureau of prisons, i don't believe anyone has ever escaped from super max and certainly the men and women of the bureau of prisons are dedicated professionals and do everything in their power to run that institution in a way that protects the american people but also contains the security issues therein. with respect to your question, congressman, it's certainly difficult to say. obviously i have the greatest pride and respect for the brave men and women of the bureau of prisons. indeed, i feel that the men and women of the entire department of justice can do anything, so certainly i think that they are up to any task that is assigned to them. of course, we look forward to working with congress to consider these issues should such a change be made. >> in other words, the summary of your testimony is that bringing people to super max prisons would pose no danger to anyone in communities or in the united states? >> well, mr. congressman, i
certainly am not in a position to say that any prisoner poses no danger ever. we certainly have the security regulations over a host of dangerous inmates for very, very significant reasons. but i am of course tremendously proud of the work of the men and women of the bureau of prisons. this issue is before congress. i believe it's going up to the white house and we work with congress with respect to whatever decisions are made in providing information that could best inform its decisions. >> thank you. my time has expired. >> the time has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas for his questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madam attorney general, under this administration, the number of sanctuary cities has doubled to about 340 jurisdictions. as a result, many innocent americans have been killed. what are you doing to discourage jurisdictions from claiming sanctuary status?
>> i'm sorry, the last part of your question. >> what are you doing to discourage municipalities from asserting sanctuary status? by doing so they are endanger americans because individuals are released who commit crimes including murder, rape and so forth. what are you doing to discourage sanctuary cities? >> with respect to the issues that you raised, certainly they are very serious. we are committed to enforcing our criminal immigration laws -- >> there's -- what are you doing to enforce that law. >> i believe it's in the purview of -- >> no. it's in an act. i introduced it. it became law in 1996. >> i'm sorry, sir. i'm having trouble hearing you. >> there is clearly a law in existence that prohibits jurisdictions from refusing to cooperate with the federal
government when it comes to detaining criminal immigrants. what are you doing to enforce that law? >> where we have a situation where that situation occurs, we certainly would talk with that jurisdiction. we would reach directly in and enforce the criminal laws against the individuals themselves. >> but you're not doing so. give me one example where you have enforced current law that prohibits jurisdictions from claiming sanctuary status? >> what i'd like to do, sir, is study that issue and provide information to you on that point. >> i would hope that you would have more knowledge about enforcing immigration laws than that, but i will await your report as to what you have done. the next question is, a recent ieg report found that chairman chaf fis's secret service file was improperly accessed and publicly disclosed by secret service managers. this may have violated the privacy act, the computer abuse act, and perhaps amount to obstruction of justice. have you taken any disciplinary
action whatsoever against the secret service managers involved with the disclosure of that file? >> congressman, my understanding is that that matter is being handled by their inspector general. the secret service as part of the department of homeland security, so with respect to those specific administrative or disciplinary actions, my understanding is that their inspector general -- >> some of the laws that may have been violated come under your jurisdiction. are you aware of any investigation by d.o.j. into that matter or not? >> i'm not able to comment at this time. i would certainly provide information to you. >> you would certainly let the member involved know of any investigation, would you not? >> i'm sorry, sir? >> you would certainly let the member involved know of any investigation, would you not? >> well, typically we do not comment on whether an investigation is open or not. >> i'm not asking you to comment publicly on the details. i'm asking you if you would alert the member if there was an investigation ongoing. >> are you referring to the member of the secret service? >> the member of congress.
>> the member of congress, thank you, sir. we would certainly do everything we could to provide what information we could consistent with our law enforcement obligations. >> okay, thank you. let me ask you one more question about the fbi. that is, to your knowledge, has the president or any white house staff or you or any of your staff attempted to influence the fbi's investigation of former secretary clinton? >> no, sir. >> do you have any idea when that investigation will be completed? >> well, i'm not able to comment on the status of that matter, and we typically do not comment. also, it's impossible to predict when any matter will be concluded, so i'm not able to give you information on that. >> i'm not asking for a comment on the contents of the investigation, just an idea of when it might be finished, or have you heard when it might be finished? >> sir, again, i'm not able to comment on the timing of the conclusion of any matter. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman.
>> thank you, sir. >> recognizes the gentle woman from california for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you attorney general. it's a pleasure to have you here, and i look forward to working with you not only today but in the months ahead. as you likely know, i am on the immigration subcommittee and i follow closely what your department is doing in that arena. your predecessor, attorney general holder, testified in 2013 before the senate and this is a direct quote, it is inexcusable that young kids, 6, 7-year-olds, 14-year-olds, have immigration decisions made on their behalf against them and they're not represented by counsel. in july of this year, the american immigration council and several other organizations filed a class action lawsuit in
district court in the western district of washington challenging the validity of removal proceedings for children without appointed counsel. their argument was that an 8-year-old couldn't receive a full and fair hearing in the immigration court without representation. as you know, i'm sure, the administration has made efforts to provide counsel to small children by funding nonprofit groups, but the assistant attorney general who argued, i think a mr. leon fresco, actually argued contrary to that in the district court. i'm wondering, if the department's position has changed since mr. holder left the department and whether you think it could meet due process to have an 8-year-old who speaks only spanish appear in immigration court without a
lawyer and be able to argue the nuances of immigration law, do you think that meets due process requirements? >> thank you, congressman. with respect to the argument that was made on the issue, of course i'd have to review those pleadings to understand the specific context and whether or not there was an appropriations issue involved as to whether -- >> fair enough. what do you think about the due process issue? >> again, thank you for the issue because it is an important one. as you noted, certainly it's the department's position that as a general matter, all who appear before tribe unales, whether they be courts, administrative bodies, tend to have a fairer process if they are represented by counsel. certainly we have statutes and laws to that effect with regard to adults, criminal matters, and the like. for those children, also it certainly would seem to increase efficiency of the entire process to have counsel. as you've noted, i believe that
through our grant process we have supported nonprofit or ngo organizations that have provided counsel there for those children. >> so you're not willing to say that it doesn't meet due process requirements at this point? >> what i'd like to do is look at the procedures that are in place before i made a constitutional determination about due process, but i certainly do agree that it's an area of concern and that as a general matter, we support counsel in proceedings for litigants, particularly children. >> let me ask you this, the department of homeland security office of inspector general has done an analysis. we have many people from central america in particular who are seeking asylum, and what he reports, there's a review called operation streamline that found that the department of justice has actually prosecuted asylum seekers for illegal entry before their asylum case is heard.
it seems to me that -- not only does that violate the requirements of international law, but it doesn't seem like an efficient use of resources if someone gains asylum under the law. their prosecution would not be very pertinent. i'm wondering, have you reviewed that report yet? >> i have not reviewed that specific ig's report. what i can tell you is that the prosecution and apprehension of individuals at the border is one to which not just the department but the specific u.s. attorneys in those border states devote significant time and attention and steps are taken at the initial level to try and ensure that those who are seeking asylum are handled appropriately and that those who are coming in for other intents and purposes are handled through the immigration law system and often the criminal law system.
>> can i ask you whether you would please take a look at that report and make sure that we're actually using our resources in a sensible way relative to asylum seekers. >> certainly. we're always happy to review the way in which we use our resources. >> finally, i want to mention a situation. we've had a class action complaint that's now moot because the individuals who filed the complaint have been released from detention. they're mothers who are being held in prison with their children. they had a demonstration and in response they were put in solitary confinement with their children and their argument was that they have free speech rights. here's my question. do you think immigrants in detention are entitled constitutional rights of due process and the first amendment and the like? >> well, i certainly think that when it comes to the conditions in our detention centers, we need to do all that we can to
ensure that treatment is fair, humane, and cognizant of the individual rights of all of those who come through those systems. i think that we have recognized certain rights for those within our borders, certain rights for citizens and varying degrees constitution. barring that or even taking it into consideration, i believe that all of our detention centers should be run officially, fairly and humanely. >> my time is expired, mr. chairman. tnk you for allowing me to go a little bit over. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. attorney general lynch, as you may recall, a woman working for the irs named lois lerner was held in contempt by the oversight and government reform committee and the "full house" and referred to the department of justice under your
predecessor. do you recall that? >> i'm aware of the reports of that, thank you, sir. >> speaking of those reports, the committee reviewed more than 1 million documents, did approximately 50 interviews and produced a report. are you familiar, have you read that report? >> i have not had occasion to read the committee's report. >> they released a bipartisan part in august of this year finding that the irs abused conservative applicants for nonprofit status. i repeat abused applicants. did you read that report? >> i have not had occasion to read that report, congressman. >> the gentleman sitting behind you signed on your behalf about an 8-page report explaining to us why nothing went wrong legally at the irs. are you familiar with that letter to congress? >> yes, i'm familiar with the letter that the department has provided to congress on this matter. >> in that case you didn't just indicate that, in fact, no laws were broken. you indicated that it was just mismanagement and that you found
no laws broken. isn't that correct? >> actually, congressman, i believe that our review found that the management of the process by which tax exempt applications were handled at the irs was characterized by manage management and inefficiency in numerous circumstances. >> right, so you found there was an administrative problem, not a legal problem. madam general, are you familiar with two usc 194? >> i'm sorry? >> 2 usc 194. it states in a statute covering congressional contempt, states that it shall be the duty of the relevant u.s. attorney to bring the matter before the grand jury. in the case of the referral of lois lerner for contempt, the u.s. attorney failed to comply with that law under your predecessor.
are you willing to comply with that law? are you willing to have the current u.s. attorney comply with 2 usc 194 which very clearly says shall have the duty, not may, not can make an independent decision about whether or not that individual has done wrong or should be held in contempt. will you comply with 2 usc 194 and instruct your u.s. attorney to bring that contempt before congress? >> congressman -- >> before the grand jury. >> congressman, i believe that matter has been reviewed by the u.s. attorney at the time and a prosecutorial decision was made. >> again, it states that it shall be the duty of the relevant u.s. attorney to bring before the grand jury. the u.s. attorney did not do so. is it your opinion that shall do in a law passed by both houses of the congress and signed by the president is a discretion? >> i believe that the matter was reviewed by the former --
>> ma'am, when something says that you or your employees shall do something, do you believe that's discretion? >> sir, as i indicated, i believe that in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, the matter was handled and resolved. >> then we disagree on the meaning of shall. i guess for your purpose, shall and may are synonyms is that correct? they're equally to be sdielded by your choice? you're telling me shall is something that has discretion. what part of discretion is in shall do. shall is, you will do? >> in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, that decision was made. >> you have no respect for laws passed if you don't like them. you think you have discretion when something says shall is what you're testifying to
testimony. my question to you is, during your predecessor, the committee on oversight and others asked for a woman working for you, miss boserman wanted to do a transcribed interview. at that time the department of justice said she would not be made available because there was an ongoing investigation. since you have now dismissed that investigation, are you prepared to make her available to committees for a transcribed interview? >> congressman, it's the practice of the department not to provide line attorneys for congressional testimony. we seek to provide the information that will help you in your oversight duties -- >> mr. conyers is still sitting here. mr. conyers very bravely took on the bush administration where relevant u.s. attorneys and case law effectively now is that, in fact, if a committee of congress wants somebody, it is not a discretion to say no. in the case of hair yet hiremey
that was pretty well adjudicated and mr. conyers made it clear that congress has a right to have someone. previously it was not that you would not make a line attorney available, but miss boserman was part of an ongoing investigation. since that investigation is done, are you saying today that you refuse to have her available under any conditions? >> i'm saying that i'm being consistent to the policy of the department of justice -- >> i'm not asking a policy question. i'm asking about one individual. when there is no ongoing investigation, they would like to talk about a past investigation. if she is requested, will you make her available? >> congressman, as i've indicated, we provide information to the committee and we seek to do so through a number of means, as we have indicated. we've provided a letter and we are certainly happy to continue with our offer of a briefing to the full committee on this matter. with respect to line attorneys of any investigation, it is not the policy of the department of justice to have the line attorneys testify because they
do their work independently and focusing solely on the facts and the law and we do not want them having to deal with the issue of a political review of their work. they are focused solely on the facts and the law and they follow the evidence where it leads. with respect to the letter, as i believe the previous deputy attorney general indicated in this matter we're happy to provide information to this committee and i believe we have offered a briefing to members of the committee on the matter as well and we certainly stand by that offer. >> mr. chairman, i appreciate the indulgence for her answer as insufficient as it was. >> our thanks to the gentleman. we recognize the gentle woman from texas, miss jackson lee, for five minutes. >> mr. chairman and ranking member, thank you so very much. attorney general lynch, thank you so very much for your service and might i as well thank your staff who have always been responsive to me and the members of this committee as we try to work toward justice for the people of the united states.
a moment, as i begin my questioning, i want to say to you, i apologize. there are going to be pointed questions that if i can get yes or no and we'll work on it would be helpful so that i can get through them. as i do so, let me offer to the people of france again our deepest sympathy. this committee in particular is well aware of the impact of terrorism. our subcommittee on crime is in homeland security and investigations, so i offer it to the people of france and certainly we stand ungtd with them as the justice department through the president of the united states have already been working. to that point i have a headline that says the u.s. justice department working with french authorities after attacks which is a good thing. and i say that because there have been a massive race by various states to make pronouncements of blocking syrian refugees, people seeking asylum and i understand the fear. i hope that we do not operate
under fear. but my question is, your confidence in procedures, and i would suggest that there be an interagency task force as i hope that we will have a task force either out of this judiciary committee on paris or either -- i know there's one recommended by the majority that we will have one that is bipartisan on this issue. it would be helpful to the administration. do you feel confident in our processes as a partner to this process of being able to discern who amongst those suffering people would be a bad guy? i understand we're doing 10,000. i think that's the number the president has offered. do you perceive your processes to be assured and sure? >> thank you, congressman. and i do look forward to continuing this dialogue with you on this important point. we do have robust screening
measures in place, interviews, biometric data. we gather information from refugees of all countries because our first goal is the protection and safety of the american people, as well as carrying out the compassionate nature also of the american people. >> and you feel comfortable if a terminology was used that you would certify that you could be confident on those that you processed, that you would use every measure to certify their non-intent to do harm in this country? >> certainly we would use every measure as we always do to ensure that those who are allowed into the country would not pose a threat to the american citizens. >> i look forward to working with you. let me move on to law enforcement and emphasize that obviously they become more important in these times and we thank them for their service, but we also know and i think your testimony earlier said that we are better when they are better. what is your thought -- we introduced a law enforcement trust integrity act which
includes a provision on data collection, but it also includes provisions on accreditation, that the national association of police chiefs have always supported. what do you think the importance of having departments subject themselves for accreditation determining best practices in helping them as well as the american public? >> in my discussions with law enforcement across the country i have found them eager for assistance in sharing best practices. i've also found them eager for recognition of their professionalism and accreditation is one way to do that. i think there are a number of ways to do that. certainly we in the department are working with a number of the police organizations to try and develop consistent and national standards on data collection, and we rely heavily on their expertise for guiding those standards. we would look to start with that same process with regard to any move toward accreditation also.
i've found that law enforcement frankly is focused on professionalism and focused on spreading those best practices as best they can. >> let me do this so that my chairman will points. sentencing reform and the value of reducing mass incarceration. legislation that will reduce the treatment of juveniles and put it in a positive light. i would like you to make an overall comment on that. and then the idea of no fly for foreign terrorists. meaning those who have gone to the fight being particularly discerned before coming back to the united states. if i could get that. and let me close on these three points if i could please, which are very important. i know i'm leaving out important points that i wanted to make. the voting rights, you already had a question on that. but isn't it more efficient on a preclearance approach such that it might be more helpful for us
to reinstate that preclearance because it will be more efficient? and i'm going to give you these three cases, if i could meet with your staff on them are really a blatant miscarriage of justice. sandra bland case. we have not had response from the justice department. the case of robby tolin that went up to the supreme court and indicated he had been mistreated. he lived and was shot by an officer on his driveway. and then a nonviolent person that is in the state prison of texas with a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense, first offense. it is almost unbelievable. so i would like you to just answer the questions i gave you. these ones about the cases i would like to meet as soon as possible with your staff on these issues. >> i look forward to continuing to work with you on those important issues. certainly with respect to voting rights, the preclearance remedy
is one we found not just to be effective but efficient. we felt it was a way in which to engage with jurisdictions as they contemplated changes to their laws and prevent them from going down a road that would have disenfranchised their citizens. certainly we felt it was efficient and much less costly than litigation. it is an important part of the voting rights act. we certainly support the efforts to restore the preclearance remedy to the voting rights act. >> i said juvenile justice, clemency, and -- i'm sorry. juvenile justice. i asked you about juvenile justice, prison reform and sentencing for reducing mass incarceration, the value of that. >> the time has expired but the witness can answer the question. >> i thank the chairman for his indulgence. >> with respect to sentencing
reform we feel it's a vital measure that recognizes that while we put measures in place several years ago designed to protect the american people, as we look back on those measures, we see the collateral consequences that it did not just to citizens, but to communities. we also are able to evaluate with the passage of time whether or not those lengthy sentences were the most effective way to deal with the offenders that they tended to sweep up. so certainly as part of an overall review of our criminal justice system to make sure it is always as efficient and fair as possible, sentencing reform has an important role to play in that and the department is supportive not just of the committee's efforts but congress' efforts in that regard. >> and we will look forward to meeting with your staff this week about these cases that i mentioned, including sharonda jones. >> thank you. >> thank you for being here today. i know you know well that one of
the parts of the mission of the u.s. department of justice is to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic. i have a couple of news articles. i know we don't treat them for the truth of what's always in them. but we have to pay attention to them. one of them was fox news that talked about isis having certain terror cells in 15 states and targeting those states. and then one where we are told by cbs news national security correspondent was reporting that the pentagon was notifying various soldiers who had appeared on lists and neighborhoods and cities that had been targeted by isis throughout virginia. and were actually trying to get the police to increase patrols in these particular neighborhoods of these cities. and my question to you is, would you not conclude that it would be reasonable to conclude that if terrorists were brought from guantanamo bay to a particular
city in the united states that it would be reasonable to conclude that could increase the likelihood that one of those cities could be placed on one of these lists be it from isis leadership or some domestic isis copycat in the united states? >> i'm not able to speculate on what a detainee may or may not do if they were in the u.s. >> let me correct that. you apparently didn't understand my question. i'm not talking about what the detainee would do. i'm talking about if you brought terrorists from guantanamo bay and located them in a particular city in the united states, would it not be reasonable to conclude that that might enhance the likelihood that that city could be placed on one of these targeted lists? >> with respect to the lists that you refer to, i'm not aware of the source of the -- >> i'm not asking that. you know there are lists that are around. do you not -- are you disputing that you have no knowledge there are any of these allegations of
lists around the country today? >> well, congressman, with respect to the matters that you have mentioned regarding the fox news report, as i indicated, i'm not aware of the -- >> you're not aware of any lists in the united states today that target particular cities or states by isis or someone claiming to be representative of isis? >> as i indicated with respect to the first article that you mentioned -- >> no. any of them. i'm talking about any of the lists. you're not aware of any of these lists? >> i thought you mentioned two. perhaps i did not -- >> my question for you, wouldn't it be reasonable to conclude if you brought terrorists from guantanamo bay and located them in a city it could very well enhance that city's being on one of these targeted lists? yes or no? that's a pretty easy question. if you disagree with that, you can say no. if you agree with it, yes. >> congressman, i thought you were referring to the service members who were on -- >> i'm making it clear.
any list that targets a city or state in the united states, if you bring terrorists from guantanamo bay, wouldn't it be reasonable to conclude that that can enhance that city's ability to be on one of those targeted lists? >> i think there are any number of factors -- >> would you not agree that would be a factor that would enhance that ability? >> i think there are any number of factors. >> would that be a factor? . there are any number of factors. >> but you would disagree that would be one of those many number of factors? >> congressman, i don't agree or disagree. >> as the attorney general of the united states, you don't have an opinion whether or not bringing terrorists from guantanamo bay, locating them in a city would have any capability at all of putting that city on a hit list by isis? you don't have an opinion on that? >> congressman, there are any number of factors. >> i'm asking would that be one of those factors? >> i believe i indicated there would be any number -- >> you wouldn't answer the question. madam attorney general, i think that's atrocious that you don't even have an opinion of that. let me ask you this then in the limited time i have if you will answer this question.
you talk about data. we have certain events in ferguson, baltimore, that you will have an event and that will escalate into violence. you talked about the police. have you attempted to gather any information about outside organizations that may come from outside the communities and also escalate that violence. >> we do gather information on individuals as well as organizations -- >> do you have a report you can provide to this committee of your investigation and what that has concluded with a list of those organizations? >> congressman, we do not generate a report. what i was indicating was in our review if a matter is referred to us, particularly if there was a violent issue -- >> i'm not talking about whether it's a crime. do you have any information -- you talked about police escalating the violence. do you have any information that these outside groups may be coming in and also escalating that violence? >> congressman, the reports that we do would not focus solely on one factor.
>> so you haven't focused at all on outside groups that could escalate the violence? >> if a matter is brought to our attention, it would come under our review. >> but you haven't done any. >> we don't have a report on that for you, sir. >> have you done any investigation? >> sir, if a matter is brought to our information, it would. come under our review. >> mr. chairman, with that i yield back without getting a single answer to a single question we posed. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from tennessee, mr. cohen, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. i'm going to be like ms. lee and ask you a lot of questions. there's a lot on my mind. >> i'm sorry, sir, i can't -- >> i have a lot of questions. we have limited time. in july, a young man named darius stewart was shot and killed by memphis police. he was a passenger in a motor vehicle stopped for a traffic citation. he was asked to get out of the car. they looked at him, put him in the car. a tussle occurred. he was shot and killed. the d.a. asked the grand jury to indict voluntary manslaughter.
the grand jury chose not to. how that was presented, who knows. obviously not as well as a ham sandwich could have presented. i asked the department of justice to look into it. your first response is you monitored the case. now that the case has gone through the grand jury process and not getten the result the d.a. wanted, i would like to ask as i asked in writing before for the department of justice to look into this case and see if civil rights violations may have occurred. >> i would like to have my staff reach out to you and get that information, sir. >> are you familiar with the case? >> we have a number of similar matters under review. >> i hope you will become familiar. it's a situation many people in the city of memphis including myself feel was a miscarriage of justice equal to any of those others in the united states. for some reason it hasn't risen to the radar of the united states attorney general and we hope it will. the dea took