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tv   Attorney General Testifies at Senate Oversight Hearing  CSPAN  November 16, 2021 3:14pm-7:23pm EST

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down load the app for free today. >> now testimony from attorney general merrick garland. the senate judiciary committee hosts topics include an october memo on threats against school boards and officials, the fbi mishandling of the u.s. gymnastics sexual abuse investigation, and the january 6th capitol attack investigation. this runs just over four hours.
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good morning. this hearing will come to order. we've had three oversight hearings this year in the senate judiciary committee including the committee's first fbi oversight since 2019. next month the first department of homeland security oversight hearing since january 2018. today we're holding the first department of justice oversight hearing since october 18th, 2017. that was the only time during
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the four-year trump administration this committee held an agency wide department of justice oversight hearing. annual oversight hearings were the norm under the obama administration. i am pleased to restore this tradition. i thank attorney general garland for appearing today. you were confirmed by the senate in march on a bipartisan basis and took the helm of the justice department at a precarious moment. under attorney general barr and his predecessors the department often played the role of president trump's personal law firm. time and again trump appointees overrode the professional judgment of the department's nonpartisan career attorneys to advance the president's agenda. their efforts took a dark and dangerous turn in the waning months of the trump term when doj political appointees aided president trump's big lie efforts to challenge the integrity of our election. first attorney general barr cast aside decades old policy designed to prevent the
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department from impacting elections. he directed u.s. attorneys and the fbi to investigate the election fraud claims of nonetheless rudy guiliani after these claims had been summarily discredited and disproven by countless state election officials. and barr repeatedly publicly and baselessly claimed that mail voting would be rampant fraud, a charge he himself rejected when the votes were actually counted. after he lost the 2020 election, president trump found another justice department ally in jeffrey clark. a mid level political appointee who became the president's big lie lawyer. clark pushed the department of justice leaders to overturn the election. when they refused, he plotted with president trump to replace them. trump and clark brought the department to the brink and were thwarted only after the threat of mass resignations across the
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department of justice. i commend those department of justice attorneys many of whom were trump appointees who at that critical moment in history resisted president trump and his plot to attack our democracy. the events this committee described in our recent subverting justice report were among the most brazen examples of president trump attempting to bend the department of justice to his will and his agenda. that they were the natural culmination of four years of attacks on the department of justice. there is straight line from these events to the violent insurrection in the capitol building on january 6th. when trump and his allies could not prevail in court and lost case after case claiming voter fraud they took their big lie to the justice department. when they didn't prevail there they dispatched an angry mob to storm the capitol to stop us from counting the electoral votes. i commend the many agents and
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prosecutors who were working day in and day out to bring these violent insurrectionists to justice. i hope the department will be just as steadfast in pursuit of those who encouraged and incited the attack and those who would prevent the american people and their representatives from uncovering the truth. i am sorry the republican senate leader refused to join the bipartisan commission that was proposed to investigate the january 6th insurrection attack. i look forward to hearing from the attorney general this morning about the work that is under way to combat the growing threat of domestic violence extremism. the department cooperated with our committee investigation into the jeffery clark scheme and it deserves credit for doing so. over the course of several months the department provided documents, authorized testimony, and resolved executive privilege issues, enabling us to uncover on a bipartisan basis i might add, just how close we came to a full blown constitutional
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crisis. attorney general garland when you appeared before us in february you acknowledged i quote great respect for the oversight role of the committee and committed your department to be quote as responsive as we possibly can to comply with information requests. i commend you for the steps you've taken but i believe i speak for all of my colleagues in saying there is still room for improvement when it comes to department responses. the department must deliver on its mission to ensure fair and impartial justice. let me give you an example. in the closing days of the trump administration, the department's office of legal counsel issued a memo wrongly declaring in my estimation that federal inmates released to home confinement under the bipartisan cares act must return to the federal bureau of prisons custody following the covid-19 emergency. in fact the cares act includes no such requirement.
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these nonviolent inmates are already home and are overwhelmingly reintegrating into the community with success. on april 23rd, i sent you a letter joined by senator booker urging you to rescind this memo. six months later, we still have not received a response. another example, in november of 2020 the trump administration published a rule discouraging inmates from completing programs under the first step act to reduce their chances of reoffending. this was a major measure that was undertaken, the first step act, by combining a prison reform measure that was cosponsored by senator cornyn and senator white house with a sentencing measure cosponsored by senator grassley and myself and signed into law by the president. senator grassley and i sent you a letter on may 5th urging the department to reject the proposed rule and instead enact a rule consistent with the first
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step act of reducing recidivism. it has been more than five months. we still haven't received a response. the first step act allowed the bureau of prisons to grant compassionate release in extraordinary and compelling circumstances such as a once in a century global pandemic. under the trump administration, listen to these numbers. the bureau of prisons denied all but 36 -- 36 of 31,000 compassionate release petitions filed during the pandemic. in the first six months of the biden administration the bureau of prisons approved just nine compassionate release requests. when the infection rate in the bureau of prisons was six to seven times the national infection rate, and the death rate equally appalling, when compassionate release requests were received, 31,000 of them, only 36 were allowed.
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meanwhile the pandemic has been devastating in our bureau of prison facilities. 265 inmates have died including six within the last few weeks. the death of 42-year-old man in august came after the department of justice denied his compassionate release request. republicans and democrats worked together to pass the first step act to make our justice system fair and our community safer. these reforms are only as good as their implementation. attorney general garland as you come before this committee, the right to vote and have the votes of every american counted is under attack like no time in decades. this year alone state legislators have introduced more than 425 bills making it more difficult for americans to vote particularly people of color. 19 states have enacted 33 of these laws. some of these laws set new limits on voting by mail. others cut hours for polling locations. all of them, all of them are designed to achieve the same outcome. make it more difficult to vote.
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at the same time, big lie proponents are pushing new laws to give partisan state legislators the ability to overturn election results they don't agree with. they are ousting local election officials who faithfully apply the law and oversaw an election trump's own department of homeland security called the most secure in american history and their efforts coincide with an unprecedented increase in violent threats toward state and local election officials. i'd like to add at this point about the violent threats, it is rife across america. those of us who are airline passengers know what the flight attendants are facing with thousands of confrontations, even violent over wearing masks on aircraft. i sent a letter to you signed by others saying this has to be taken seriously. these assaults in the so-called name of liberty are unacceptable. your october 4th memo relative
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to schools and school board officials is worth mention. some members of this committee i think are really inconsistent with reality. those who think the insurrectionist mob of january 6th was merely a group of tourists visiting the capitol ignore the pillaging, deaths, and serious injuries to over a hundred law enforcement officials. those who argue that school board meetings across america not more dangerous and more violent than in the past are ignoring reality. i went on and just typed in this morning school board violence on one of the search engines. page after page is coming up. in my state of illinois, mendon, illinois is a small rural town in adams county the western part of our state that i have represented for almost 40 years. it is a quiet, solid community. and, yet, they have their own instances, school board meeting, where an individual had to be arrested because he had
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threatened violence against the school board members over masks in schools for example. the story is repeated over and over again. the state of minnesota, senator klobuchar knows the story well. the state of idaho. we are seeing violence at the school board meetings in an unprecedented number. i don't believe -- i think you made it clear and you don't believe that we should infringe on free speech but free speech does not involve threats and violence, period. we ought to join with local law enforcement officials to protect the school board members who are being intimidated in this way. i want to close by mentioning an issue i said to you personally. i am honored to represent the city, which you grew up in and which i now visit with great frequency obviously. and that is the city of chicago. the gun violence situation there is intolerable. intolerable. we're not the only city in america by any means that is facing this. we need to have your assurance that there is a concerted,
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determined effort to deal with gun violence at the federal level, coordinating our effort with the state and local officials. with that in mind, i hope we can reach some agreement to do so very quickly. let me hand it off now to the ranking member senator grassley. >> thank you, chairman durbin. this committee has a constitutional obligation to ensure that the department complies with the laws that we write and execute those laws according to our intent. in the performance of our constitutional duty we write letters seeking answers and records from the department and its component agencies to better understand what they are doing. like wise the entire executive branch not just doj has an obligation to respond to congressional oversight requests. today, i can say with confidence
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that under general garland's leadership the department has failed across the board to comply with this committee's republican oversight request and i appreciate very much, chairman durbin pointing out a letter he and i wrote five months ago and haven't received an answer. if my name being on that letter has any reason it hasn't been responded to i'll take my name off of that letter. in contrast you provided democratic colleagues with thousands of pages of materials. moreover, president biden has politicized and inserted himself into the department policy making, notably directing the end of compulsory process for reporter records and criminal leak investigations and most recently inserting himself when he said the department should
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prosecute anyone who defies compulsory process from the january 6th committee. at your confirmation hearing, i read to you what i told senator sessions at his confirmation hearing for being attorney general this, quote, if senator feinstein who then was ranking member, if senator feinstein contacts you, do not use this excuse as so many people use that if you are not a chair of a committee, you do not have to answer the questions. i want her questions answered just like you would answer my questions, end of quote, that i gave to senator sessions. so you said to me at your hearing, quote, i will not use any excuse to not answer your questions, senator, end of quote. you have failed to satisfy that
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statement. example. i've asked the department for records relating to hunter biden's october, 2018 incident where his gun ended up in the trash can near a school. now, that is a firearm incident. your atf used the federal freedom of information act to refuse producing those records when that law doesn't even apply to the congress. i've also asked for information relating to chinese nationals linked to the communist chinese regime that are connected to the biden family. one individual was not just linked to chinese regime, he was apparently connected to that country's intelligence service. hunter biden reportedly represented him for $1 million. now, even though the department already made public in court
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filings that doj possesses information relating to him, in response you stated, quote, unfortunately, under the circumstances described in your letter, we are not in a position to confirm the existence of the information that is sought if it exists in the department's possession. well, let me emphasize. what you already made in public in a court filing. so you're telling me, you can't even confirm its existence. now, with respect to the criminal investigation of hunter biden, senator johnson and i wrote to you twice this year regarding a person named nicholas mcquaid. mr. mcquaid was employed at a law firm until january 20, 2021 when he was hired to be then
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acting assistant attorney general for the department's criminal division. before he was hired, he worked with christopher clark, who hunter biden reportedly hired to work on his federal criminal case a month before president biden's inauguration. now, the department hasn't disputed any of these facts. however, you refused to confirm whether mr. mcquaid recused from the hunter biden case. that seems to be a pretty simple thing to say one way or the other. the son of the president of the united states is under criminal investigation for financial matters. a senior attorney under your command has apparent conflicts with that matter. your refusal to answer questions casts a very public cloud over the entire investigation. a cloud that you should easily
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do away with if you just were just a little bit transparent. when i placed holds on your nominees for the department's failure to comply with republican oversight requests, i said, either you run the department of justice or the department runs you. right now, it looks like the department of justice is running you. since your confirmation, in less than a year, the department has moved as far left as it can go. you politicized the department in ways it shouldn't be. case in point, your infamous school board manual. you publicly issued this memo merely five days after the national school board association wrote a letter to president biden. now, incredibly, they asked the department to use the antiterrorist patriot act
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against parents speaking their minds to local school officials. the school board association has since apologized for that letter but not before the department relied on their letter to mobilize federal law enforcement in state and local matters. meanwhile, actual violent crime is on the rise in the country. your memo treats parents speaking freely to be worthy of the department's heavy investigative and prosecutorial hand. you've created a task force that includes the department's criminal division and national security division to potentially weaponize against parents. your memo also creates a special training and guidance for local school boards and school administrators to recognize threats against them. according to your memo, these
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threats including -- include an undefined category of, quote-unquote, other forms of intimidation and harassment. so, now the last thing the justice department and fbi need is a very vague memo to unleash their power especially when they've shown zero interest in holding their own accountable. i don't -- when you don't hold your own accountable. let's not forget about obama/biden administration, fisa abuse during crossfire hurricane. abuses that the department of the fbi for years denied even to be possible. and then you allowed a disgraced former fbi official off the
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hook, paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers' money when the inspector general determined that he lied to investigators seven times. yes, seven times. over the course of three different occasions. or the fbi's and the department's total failure to protect hundreds of kids from abuse by larry nassar and then covered it up when we had a bipartisan hearing to learn about those courageous survivors your deputy attorney general didn't even show up. so getting back to the national school board association matter, these parents are trying to protect their children. they're worried about divisive and harmful curriculum based upon critical race theory. they're speaking their mind about mask mandates. this is the very core of constitutionally protected
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speech and free speech is deadly to the tyranny of government and is the lifeblood of our constitutional republic. to say your policies are outside of the main stream would be an under statement. mothers and fathers have a vested interest in how schools educate their children. they are not as the biden justice department apparently believes them to be national security threats. what is a national securities threat? things like ms-13. what is a national security threat is like our open southern borders. what is a national security threat is the federal government's failing to adequately vet individuals from afghanistan. i suggest that you quickly change your course because you're losing credibility with the american people and with this senator in particular.
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thank you. >> thanks, senator grassley. we now turn to the attorney general for his testimony. first welcome honorable merrick garland to testify before the senate judiciary committee for the information of the members, the mechanics are such after i swear in attorney general garland he will make his opening statement and we'll go to a round of questions. each senator will have seven minutes. i'll try to hold folks close to that number so everybody can be accommodated. if there is a request we may have a second round of questions, three minutes per senator. attorney general garland, would you please stand to be sworn in? do you swear or affirm the testimony you are about to give to the committee will be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> thank you. let the record reflect the attorney general answered in the affirmative. now please proceed with your opening statement. >> good morning chairman durbin, ranking member grassley, and
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distinguished members of this committee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. no my address to all justice department employees on my first day in office i spoke about three co-equal priorities to guide the department's work -- upholding the rule of law, keeping our country safe, and protecting civil rights. the first core priority, upholding the rule of law, is rooted in the recognition that to succeed and retain the trust of the american people, the justice department must adhere to the norms that have been part of its dna since edward levy's tenure as the first post watergate attorney general. those norms of independence from improper influence of the principled exercise of discretion, and treating like cases alike, are what define who we are as public servants. over the last seven months i have served as attorney general the department has re-affirmed and where appropriate updated and strengthened its policies
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that are foundational for these norms. for example, we strengthened our policy governing communications between the justice department and the white house. that policy is designed to protect the department's criminal and civil law enforcement decisions and its legal judgments from partisan or other inappropriate influences. we also issued a new policy to better protect the freedom and independence of the press by restricting the use of compulsory process to obtain information from or records of members of the news media. the second core priority is keeping our country safe from all threats, foreign and domestic, while also protecting our civil liberties. we are strengthening our 200 joint terrorism task forces, the essential hub for international and domestic counterterrorism cooperation, across all levels of government nationwide.
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for fy-22 we are seeking more than $1.5 billion a 12% increase for our counterterrorism work. we are also taking aggressive steps to counter cyber threats whether from nation states, terrorists, or common criminals. in april, we did a cyber review and task force. in june we seized a $2.3 million ran some payment made in bitcoin to the group that targeted colonial pipeline. keeping our country safe also requires reducing violent crime and gun violence. in may, we announced a comprehensive violent crime strategy which deploys all of our relevant departmental components to those ends. we also launched five cross jurisdictional strike forces to disrupt illegal gun trafficking and key corridors across the country. and to support local police
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departments and help them build trust with the communities they serve, our fy-22 budget requests over $1 billion for grants. we are like wise committed to keeping our country safe from violent drug trafficking networks that are among other things fueling the opioid overdose epidemic. opioids including illicit fentanyl cause nearly 70,000 fatal overdoses in 2020. we will continue to use all of our resources to save lives. finally, keeping our country safe requires protecting its democratic institutions including the one we sit in today from violent attacks. as this committee is well aware, the department is currently engaged in one of the most sweeping investigations in its history in connection with the january 6th attack on the capitol. the department's third priority is protecting civil rights. this was a founding purpose when
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the department was established in 1870. today the civil rights division's work remains vital to safeguarding voting rights, prosecuting hate crimes, ensuring constitutional policing, and stopping unlawful discrimination. this year we doubled the size of the civil rights division's voting section and our fy-22 budget seeks the largest ever increase for the division totaling more than 15%. we have appointed department wide coordinators for hate crimes work and stepped up our support for the community relations service. we are also revitalizing and expanding our work to ensure equal access to justice. in addition to these core priorities another important area of department focus is ensuring economic opportunity and fairness by reinvigorating antitrust enforcement, combatting fraud, and protecting consumers. we are aggressively enforcing the antitrust laws by challenging anticompetitive mergers and exclusionary practices. in fy-22 we are seeking a
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substantial increase in funds for the division. we like wise set up a covid-19 fraud task force to bring to justice those who defraud the government of federal dollars meant for the most vulnerable among us. in seven months in sum the justice department has accomplished a lot of important work for the american people. there is much more to be done. thank you for the opportunity to testify this morning. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, mr. attorney general. hardly a day goes by in the city of chicago that someone isn't killed with a firearm. the cases are heart breaking. little boys and girls coming in, standing on their porches and going to school, and on august 7th, the chicago police officer ella french and her partner were conducting a routine traffic stop in the city. the person in the car opened fire. officer french, age 29, was
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murdered. her partner was severely wounded. i never saw such an outpouring of emotion in the city. i went down to rita high school on the south side near beverly where they had the memorial service. there were hundreds if not thousands of women and men in uniform and just ordinary citizens standing, waiting for their turn to pay tribute to ella french for what she had done for our city. two days later, we found out from the u.s. attorney's office that the gun used to murder her was obtained from indiana through a straw purchase. that is when a person who can clear a background check buys a gun from a gun dealer and gives it to someone who cannot clear it. what are we going to do about this? what is going to be done at the federal level to show we are taking this seriously? ours isn't the only city facing this challenge and we've got to act and act soon.
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>> mr. chairman, i am as concerned as you are and i'm sure all members of the committee are about the rise of violent crime all across the country. i was in chicago as you know at almost the exact time the officer you speak of was killed. i have gone to meet with the families of atf agent who was killed on duty and i have stood on the mall with the candlelight vigil for many other police officers who were killed in the line of duty. the justice department is doing everything possible with respect to violent crime. in may of this year i launched the violent crime initiative, which brings together all of our law enforcement on the federal level to meet with, coordinate with, cooperate with state, local, tribal, territorial law enforcement to fight this issue. our federal agencies, dea, atf
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marshals, the fbi, are all deeply involved in this. our programs, proejt safe neighborhoods continue in all these ways and we are looking for large amounts of money for providing grants to police departments. specifically with respect to the gun trafficking that you are speaking about, as you know, chicago is one of the task force cities we have announced for purposes of tracing the gun trafficking problem and we are doing so and finding the straw purchasers and arresting them as well. i could not agree more that this is a serious, serious problem that needs the attention of the entire country's law enforcement and that the justice department is very much involved in the fight. >> i'm going to be meeting with those federal law enforcement agencies to talk about the strike force and what they're doing, how they're cooperating with state and local law enforcement. i hope to do it maybe even this week on a private basis and then see what more i can do.
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i think we all have a responsibility when it comes to this issue. let me ask you about the home confinement issue. we all know under the cares act there was an allowance for that possibility. we know that since march of last year, more than 33,000 inmates have been released to home confinement, including those released under the cares act, less than 1% of those inmates have been returned to bop facilities for any rules violation. do you agree that recalling the thousands of individuals who successfully transitioned back into society would be contrary to purpose home confinement which is to allow an individual, quote a reasonable opportunity to adjust to and prepare for re-entry of that prisoner in the community? >> senator, i very much agree that the home confinement program has proven successful. that it both relieved the pressure on the prisons with respect to covid-19 pandemic, but also gave people an
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opportunity to adjust themselves to their communities. you are right that we have seen very few violations of the conditions. so i'm very strongly in favor of being able to continue this program. >> well, i'm hoping that we can get a definitive reversal of the olc opinion that was dropped on the desk as president trump left office and make it very clear what will happen if and when and i pray that is soon the covid-19 emergency is lifted. i'd like to move to another topic which has already been addressed by myself and senator grassley. i really invite the members of this committee if you don't believe me type school board violence into your computer and take a look at what's happening. it is happening all across the country. in my state as i mentioned, a 30-year-old man arrested and charged with battery, disorderly conduct after striking a school board member at a meeting. california, father yelling profanities at an elementary
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school principal. his daughter calmed him down. he later returned to confront the principal and struck a teacher in the face who attempted to intervene. ohio school board member sending threatening letters saying we're coming after you. after the board member posted the letter on facebook the president of the board of education for a nearby district reported his board received similar threats. pennsylvania, a person posted threats on social media which required the police to station outside each of that district's schools. local law enforcement is investigating the person who made the threats and will maintain a police presence in schools and school board meetings for the foreseeable future. in texas, a parent physically assaulting a teacher ripping off her mask. it goes on and on and on. these are not routine people incensed or angry but people acting out their feelings in a violent manner over and over again. the same people we see on airplanes and other places, some of whom we saw here on january 6th. so when you responded as quickly
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as you did to that school board request, did you have second thoughts after they sent a followup letter saying they didn't agree with their original premise in their first letter? >> senator, i think all of us have seen these reports of violence and threats of violence. that is what the justice department is concerned about. it is not only in the context of violence and threats of violence against school board members, school personnel, teachers, staff. it is in a rising tide of threats of violence against judges, prosecutors, secretaries of state, against election administrators. against doctors, against protesters, against news reporters. that is the reason that we responded as quickly as we did when we got a letter indicating that there were threats of violence and violence with respect to school officials and school staff. that is the reason, that's what we are concerned about. that is part of our core
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responsibility. the letter that was subsequently sent does not change the association's concern about violence and threats of violence. it alters some of the language in the letter, language in the letter that we did not rely on and is not contained in my own memorandum. the only thing the justice department is concerned about is violence and threats of violence. >> senator grassley? >> yeah. before i ask my question i'd like permission to introduce in the hearing record a letter from the iowa association of school boards, disagreeing with the national school boards association request for intervention from federal agencies and law enforcement and other concerns that they have. >> without objection. >> general garland, regarding your october 4th school board memo last week, you said the memo was for law enforcement
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audience despite it being on your public website as a press release, as a result of your memo local school officials and parents may not speak up in these meetings out of fear the federal government will do something to them. so that is a poisonous, chilling effect. apparently that letter wasn't actually supported by organizations but was sent by two unauthorized staff. so last week the organization disallowed it, since you and the white house based your memo on this delegitimized letter, i assume you're going to revoke your extremely divisive memo that you said was instigated because of that letter. that is a question. >> senator, the memo which you refer to is one page. it responds to the concerns about violence, threats of violence, other criminal conduct. that is all it's about and all
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it asks is for federal law enforcement to consult with, meet with, local law enforcement to assess the circumstances, strategize about what may or may not be necessary, to provide federal assistance if it is necessary. >> presumably, you wrote the memo because of the letter. the letter is disavowed now. so you're going to keep your memo going anyway, right in is that what you're telling me? >> senator, i have the letter from nsba that you are referring to. it apologizes for language in the letter but continues its concern about the safety of school officials and school staff. the language in the letter that they disavow is language never included in my memo and never would have been. i did not adopt every concern that they had in their letter. i adopted only the concern about violence and threats of violence. and that hasn't changed. >> who in the justice department was responsible for adapting your polarizing october 4th
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memo? >> i signed the memo and i worked on the memo. >> the press release accompanying your memo mentions that the national security evasion will get involved in school board investigations. is the justice department national security division really necessary for keeping local school boards safe if parents aren't domestic terrorists, if the patriot act isn't being used, why is the national security division involved at all? this kind of looks like something that would come out of some communist country, expansive definition of national security. >> the memo is only about violence and threats of violence. it makes absolutely clear in the first paragraph that spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our constitution. that includes debate by parents, criticizing school boards. that is welcomed.
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the justice department protects that kind of debate. the only thing we're concerned about, senator, is violence and threats of violence against school officials, school teachers, school staff. just like we are concerned about those kinds of threats against senators, members of congress, election officials. in all of those circumstances we are trying to prevent the violence that sometimes occurs after threats. >> your memo stated that the justice department is opening dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting assessment and response. why is the department -- what is the department doing with tips it receives on this dedicated line and what are you doing with those parents who have been reported? >> the fbi gets complaints, concerns from people around the country for all different kinds of threats and violence. that is what this is about.
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the place where people who feel that they've been threatened with violence can report that. these are then assessed and only pursued if consistent with the first amendment. we have a true threat that violates federal statutes or that needs to be referred to a state or local government, or local agency for their assistance. >> on the other hand are there criminal investigations opened for situations where school officials are trying to assess private data of parents with opposing views on critical race theory? >> i don't know about that, but the justice department certainly does not believe that anybody's personal information should be accessed in that way. if there is a federal offense involved or a state or local offense involved then of course those should be reported. >> the nonpartisan justice
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department inspector general established that andrew mccabe lied under oath to fbi investigators. he lied under oath to the justice department inspector general. it should also be noted that mccain leaked government information to the media and then called the new york and fbi field offices and blamed them for the very leaks he caused. under your leadership instead of punishing him the department reinstated his retirement, expunged his records as part of the settlement. he will reportedly receive $200,000 of retirement back pay, and his attorney will reportedly receive $500,000 in legal fees. so it seems to me that that's beyond incredible. general garland, did you authorize the settlement and if not, who did? >> the mccabe settlement was a recommendation of the career lawyers litigating that case
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based on their prospects of success in the case. the case did not involve issues about lying but a claim that he was not given the amount of time necessary to respond to allegations and the litigators concluded they needed to settle the case because of the likelihood of loss on the merits of that claim. the inspector general's report still stands. we have not questioned in any way the inspector general's findings, the reference with respect to false statements was made to the justice department in the previous administration and declined in the previous administration. the only issue here was an assessment of litigation merits. >> short followup. since somebody else authorized it do you agree with the taxpayer picking up a multimillion dollar bill for someone that lied under oath to
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government officials? >> i think the assessment made by the litigators was that the bill to the taxpayers would be higher if we didn't resolve the matter as it was resolved. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> attorney general garland, good to see you. thank you for being here. i'm sure the members of the committee are eager to discuss with you what the justice department is doing, what could be done better. just say this. after four tumultuous years in which the former president viewed the justice department as his personal law firm, i'm pleased the department is once again living up to the most fundamental principle in our american justice system that nobody is above the law. i learned about the justice department in law school that
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the experience i had with it for years as a prosecutor and litigator, so with what has happened the past four years i thank you, attorney general, for bringing the department back from the brink. there is still a lot to be done but i think americans should take comfort that the rule of law is again being enforced. now, it is hard to over state how urgently we must act to protect americans' constitutional right to vote. there is reason for alarm. many states are rapidly moving to restrict access to the ballot for tens of thousands of americans from all walks of life. in the wake of the shelby county and the decision the department's tools to stem this tide of voter suppression have been greatly diminished.
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i know you do whatever you can to defend the right to vote. how does congressional inaction in response to the supreme court's decision limit the ability of the department to protect americans' constitutional right to vote? >> thank you for that question, senator. right to vote is central pillar of our democracy and as i've said many times the central pillar that allows all of the rights to proceed from it. the justice department was established in part to protect the rights of -- guaranteed under the 13th, 14th, 15th amendment to vote. voting rights act gave us further authorities in that respect. we are doing as you say everything we can. we have doubled the size of the voting rights section. we have brought our section 2 case but there are limitations on our authority that the supreme court has imposed one of
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which is the elimination of section 5 of the voting rights act, which provided an opportunity to do preclearance reviews so we did not have to review each matter on a one by one basis and then the recent -- that was shelby county as you pointed out and recently a narrowing of what we regarded as the meaning of section 2 and our authorities under section 2. both of those could be fixed by this congress and would give us considerably greater opportunity and ability to ensure the sacred right to vote, if they were. >> and then the supreme court, didn't the supreme court make it very clear we could fix that if congress wanted to? >> that is correct in the opinion they indicated these were matters that could be fixed by congress >> i hope they will. i think it is very important all americans be protected in their right to vote. in my home state of vermont we take that very seriously. now, we have the bipartisan --
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to stay in the crime victims fund after 20 #it 1. it has been signed into law, major piece of this legislation requires funds collected in deferred and prosecution agreements be deposited into the victims' fund which had been projected to reach a ten-year low. since this bill has become law, have any funds from deferred or nonprosecution agreements been deposited into the crime victims' fund? if not, why not? >> it was something we sought and were grateful for your support for and introduction of. we acted immediately after it was passed and something like north of $200 million has
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already been deposited in the fund thanks to that act. we now project that the fund should be liquid all the way through the end of 2022. >> thank you. we can review it after that, because i think you and i would both agree we want to have long term sustainability in this fund. >> absolutely. >> so let's work together on that. now, there's been some discussion here and elsewhere about the larry nassar investigation and the chairman had these very impressive gymnasts who testified before us. it was heart wrenching listening to them. and they talked about how they were seeking accountability. and i could not help but think how brave they were to testify.
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the justice department initially declined to bring charges against the disgraced fbi agents involved in the investigation. i was concerned and i said at the time, i've seen many people prosecuted for lying to fbi agents. here you had two fbi agents who lied to fbi agents. one was fired the other resigned. no prosecutions. the department now reviewing that decision not to prosecute and do you have any update with regard to that review? >> senator, i think heart wrenching is not strong enough as a description of what happened to those gymnasts and the testimony they gave. i believe deputy attorney general monaco said at her hearing that we are reviewing this matter.
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new evidence has come to light that is cause for a review of the matters you're discussing. >> i hope it will because as i said i have seen so many prosecutions of somebody lying to an fbi agent and i understand that. when the fbi agent lies to the fbi agent, they should also face the same as anybody else does. thank you very much. mr. chairman? >> thank you, senator leahy. mr. chairman, could pit something in the record from 17 state attorneys general disagreeing with the department's october 4th memorandum and ask that that memorandum be withdrawn? >> without objection. senator graham? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. attorney general are you aware of the caravan of about 3,000 people approaching the state of texas? >> i have read about it in the news media, yes.
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i think it is south of mexico city. >> yes, apparently headed toward texas. what would you tell these people? >> well, i would tell them not to come but the job of the justice department has to do with prosecution and use of the way in which the asylum and removal claims are adjudicated. >> so you would tell them not to come? >> it depend on why they are coming. >> if they're coming to make asylum claims what would you tell them? >> the department of homeland is the agency responsible for border control >> i get that but you are the attorney general of the united states. do you think our asylum laws are being abused? >> asylum laws are passed by the congress. >> do you think they are being abused? >> i think that question is one
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that has to be evaluated on a one by one basis in each -- >> have you talked to -- when is the last time you've been to the border? >> a week ago, maybe ten days ago. >> did they tell you anything about asylum claims being made by people that are mostly economic claims not asylum claims? did they mention that to you? >> i don't recall exactly. >> you don't recall being told by the border patrol that they're overwhelmed, they can't hold the line much anymore, that we've had 1.7 million people apprehended, and the big magnet, the pull factor is the way the catch and release program around asylum, that didn't stick out to you? >> that was not a discussion that i had when i was there. >> who did you talk to? >> i was at the border at ogales and spoke to border patrol >> i was there about six months ago. they never mentioned to you the
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pole factors of illegal immigration? >> this was a review of what they were doing at the border. >> it was a simple question. they never mentioned to you that they've got a problem with being overrun by asylum seekers? >> i know from reading the news media that border patrol agents feel that way. i mean, it is not about reading the paper. you were there talking to them >> i don't recall that. i don't want to -- tell you about a conversation that i'm not sure about. >> i'm just stunned you can't recall that. let's talk about gnt. the under secretary for policy said while isis-k poses more of a short term external threat al qaeda could regain the ability to launch attacks outside of afghanistan within a year or two. do you agree with that? >> i agree that clda has always
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presented and continues to present a persistent threat to the united states homeland. >> the question is what's changed. you say always. has any recent event changed the likelihood of attack? >> i don't know. >> you don't know we withdrew from afghanistan? >> i know we withdrew. i don't know whether the withdrawal will increase the risk from al qaeda or not. >> so you are the attorney general of the united states. secretary wray testified openly twice that due to the lack of ability to have eyes and ears on the ground and the unreliability of the taliban that an attack on the united states within six months a year is far more likely after our withdrawal, you are not aware he said that? >> the job of the justice department and fbi is protect against those kinds of attacks in the homeland. >> does it make sense that would be a dynamic of our withdrawal? do you trust the taliban to
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police al qaeda and isis on our behalf? >> i do not trust the taliban. >> as a matter of fact, they've openly told us they will not work with us regarding containing the al qaeda/isis threat. are you aware of that? >> i think there's been inconsistent statements by the taliban. >> they just literally said that. >> i think there have been inconsistent statements but their statements are not anything that we can rely on. >> well, when they tell you to your face we're not going to help you, do you think they're kidding? do you think they really will help us but are just telling us to our face they won't? >> isis-k, al qaeda, associated forces are and continue to be -- >> we're talking about the taliban. the taliban has told the united states they will not work with our counterterrorism forces when it comes to al qaeda or isis. what response should we have regarding the taliban when they say that? >> i think we have a number of
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different tools available. >> like what? >> we have economic sanctions. we have -- if they need money from the united state for humanitarian and other reasons. this is a -- >> so the leverage over the taliban is whether or not we'll give them money. >> senator, the job of the justice department is protecting, using the fbi and the national security agency -- >> the national security division is part of our counterterrorism operation, right? >> it is one -- >> has anybody from the national security division briefed you about the increased likelihood of attack emanating from afghanistan after our withdrawal? >> every day i am briefed by the fbi. >> my question is specific. has anybody briefed you about the increased likelihood of an attack emanating from afghanistan by isis or al qaeda because of our complete withdrawal? >> we are worried about the risk of attack by -- >> i know -- it is one thing to
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be worried. has anybody told you the likelihood of an attack is greater because of our withdrawal or not? >> there are different views about the degrees of likelihood that doesn't change our posture which is -- >> it doesn't change your posture if you go from a possibility of being attacked to a six-month to a year time window of being attacked. >> we have asked for substantial additional funds for our counterterrorism operations. >> is that in light of the withdrawal from afghanistan? >> in light of a lot of changing circumstances in the world. >> well, let me just put a fine point on this. secretary wray has told the world that isis and al qaeda in afghanistan present a threat to our homeland. the taliban has told us they're not going to help us when it comes to policing these groups. the department of defense has said we're six months to a year
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away from a possible attack by isis and al qaeda. it just seems to me there is not a sense of urgency about this. >> there is a sense of urgency. >> what have you done specifically since our withdrawal in afghanistan to deal with this new threat? >> we have strengthened and increased the efforts of our joint terrorism task forces. i have met with them. >> literally what have you done? >> i'm telling you. >> just put it in writing. just write down what you've done. >> i'll be happy to have our staff -- >> thank you, senator graham. senator whitehouse? >> thank you chairman. welcome attorney general garland. two topics. the first is executive privilege. we've been through a rather
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bleak period with regard to executive privilege. i think you would call it the anything goes period in which any assertion of executive privilege no matter how fanciful or preposterous was yo sengsly allowed to stand in very significant departure from the law out there for years regarding executive privilege. at the same time that the substance of executive privilege was being expanded beyond recognition, the procedure for evaluating the determinations was completely ignored. this is the procedure that was established by president reagan's white house. so we now have a situation in which there is very substantial destruction and disarray in the area of executive privilege
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determinations. and as you know under the reagan memo the department of justice had a role kind of as an arbiter to be between what department was objecting and whatever congressional committee was pursuing information. that role completely fell apart in the last administration, and it needs to be rebuilt in some predictable fashion. the role of the courts has become highly problematic because delay is very often dispositive in these matters. and the courts are now a haven for delay with respect to executive privilege determinations. so i think we need to look at that as well. senator kennedy and i had a hearing on this executive privilege problem in our court subcommittee. the department of justice was not represented at that hearing. i would like to ask you to
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detail somebody from the department of justice to talk to senator kennedy and me about this executive privilege problem and work with us on trying to figure out a solution making the role of the department of justice more clear and transparent and perhaps embodying it in rule or regulation or law and trying to figure out how to accelerate at the courts a way o get quicker decisions because otherwise as i said delay is just dispositive and we lose not because we're wrong but because we're delayed. would you have somebody be our point of contact on that please? >> absolutely. of course. >> great. thank you. next, i've been pursuing the question of the department's investigation into january 6th since pretty early days starting with a letter in january 8th
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that asked about the resources being deployed into this investigation and whether a task force, prosecution task force is being set up and so forth and another letter february 24th with regard to domestic extremists, violence groups, potential role. we've learned a little bit more now and we've learned there was a lot of money sloshing around in the background behind the january 6th rally and behind the raid, the riot in the capitol. for instance, we know that the bradley foundation, which is the big funder, gave money to turning point u.s.a. and to public interest legal foundation and it gets even more interesting because turning point u.s.a. has a twin called turning point action 501 c 3 c 4 combo which also got money from the judicial crisis network to
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support the so-called italy-gate, debunk editly-gate theory. at the same time the public foundation had mr. eastman who was cranking out his fanciful memo for president trump how to overturn the election, the judicial crisis network is the same thing from a corporate standpoint as something called the honest elections contract which is bringing a fanciful case in pennsylvania regarding election fraud and the judicial crisis network was also funding the republican attorney general's association which was making robocalls to get people to come to the riot. now, i don't know what is going on behind all of that. but i am hoping that the due diligence of the fbi is being deployed not just to the characters who trespassed in the capitol that day and who engaged in violent acts, but that you're
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taking the look you would properly take at any case involving players behind the scenes, funders of the enterprise, and so forth, in this matter as well. there has been no decision to say we're limiting this case just to the people in the building that day. we're not going to take a serious look at anybody behind it. >> senator, i am very limited as to what i can say >> i understand that. >> we have a criminal investigation going forward. >> please tell me it has not been constrained only to people in the capitol. >> the investigation is being conducted by the prosecutors in the u.s. attorney's office and by the fbi field office. we have not constrained them in any way. >> great. and the old doctrine of follow the money, which is well established principle of prosecution, alive and well? >> it is fair to say that all investigative techniques with which you are familiar and some maybe that you're not familiar with because they post date your time are all being pursued in
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this matter. >> thank you. thank you, chairman. >> thank you very much. senator cornyn? >> thank you. >> good morning, mr. attorney general. on september the 29th, 2021, as you know, the national school board association wrote a letter to the president asking him to address the disruptions, confrontations that we've seen at local school boards across the country, parents expressing concerns about not only the curriculum but also just generally the education of their children. and public schools. would you agree that parents have a fundamental right to be involved in their children's education? >> absolutely. that is the job of parents to be involved and this is the role of the first amendment to protect their ability to be involved.
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that is why my memo begins by saying, we respect the right to spirited debate about curriculum, about school policies, about anything like that. >> so it is not just a good idea. it is actually protected by the constitution of the united states, would you agree? >> absolutely. >> on october 4th, a few days later less than a week later after the national school board association wrote this letter, the justice department issued the memo that's already been discussed. why did this rise to the level of a federal concern as opposed to the local and state level? >> this arises out of repeated reports of violence and threats of violence not only with respect to school boards and school officials and teachers but as i mentioned earlier also with respect to secretaries of
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state and election administrators, judges, prosecutors, senators, members of congress. the justice department has two roles here. we assist state and local law enforcement in all ways and we enforce federal laws, which prohibit threats of violence by telephone, by e-mail. >> but you as a long-time federal judge with a distinguished legal career, you understand that not every crime, assuming it is a crime, is a federal crime, correct? >> absolutely. >> and some of these things, unless there is some nexus to interstate commerce or to the federal government, they're largely within the purview of the state and local law enforcement authorities, correct? >> i think you put that correctly. we have authority with respect to the mail, with respect to the internet.
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>> well, i'm not -- let me give you an example. if somebody says to the school board member, if you do that, i'm going to meet you outside and punch you in the nose, is that a federal offense? >> no. that is not a federal offense >> i agree. >> there is nothing in this memo suggesting that it is. >> and why in the world would you cite the national security division in this memo as one of the appropriate entities of the department of justice to investigate and perhaps prosecute these offenses? >> so my memo itself doesn't mention the national security division. it is mentioned in another memo that was released by the department. the national security division like all the other law enforcement components cooperates with and is involved in discussions about how to go forward on different kinds of matters. they were involved for example in the election threats. they were involved in the threats against judges and prosecutors. they were involved in the hate crimes threats cases.
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it is a natural part of our internal analysis. >> let me ask you, did you see the national school board association letter to president biden before you issued your memorandum on october 4th? >> yes, i did. that was part of the reason their expression at the beginning of the memorandum -- >> they raised some of the concerns that you voiced here today, correct? >> they raised some of them. they raised others i do not agree with and were not included in my memo. >> well, you are aware on october 22nd the national school board association apologized for its letter. you are aware of that, aren't you, sir? ofrjts i am. >> and it said that, went on to say we regret and apologize for the letter. there was no justification for some of the language in the letter. they acknowledge the voices of
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parents should be and must continue to be heard and when it comes to decisions about their children's education, health, and safety. you did not apologize for your memorandum of october 4th even though the national school board association did. why didn't you rescind that memorandum and apologize for your -- for the memorandum? >> the core responsibility of the justice department is protecting americans from violence and threats of violence as i said in my opening. >> you just said not every act of violence is a federal crime. correct? >> right. not every bit of street crime and the kind of violence we've been talking about earlier today is also a federal crime but we assist state and locals to help them in their investigations of these kind of matters. every single day in nonfederal matters we are partners with our state and local partners. >> well, mr. attorney general,
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you've acknowledged that parents have a right, a constitutional right to be heard on the education of their children in public schools. can you imagine the sort of intimidation, the sort of bullying impact that a memorandum from the department of justice would have and how that would chill the willingness of parents to exercise their rights under threat of federal prosecution? did you consider the chilling impact your memorandum would have on parents exercising their constitutional rights? >> the only thing this memorandum is about is violence and threats of violence. it opens with a statement -- >> my question is did you consider the chilling effect this would have on parents' constitutional rights? >> to say the justice department is against violence and threats of violence --
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>> did you consider the chilling effect your memorandum might have on parents exercising their constitutional rights? i think you can answer that yes or no. >> what i considered, which i wanted the memorandum to assure people, that we recognize the rights of spirited debate. >> mr. attorney general you are a very intelligent and accomplished lawyer and judge. you can answer the question. did you consider -- >> i did not -- >> -- the chilling effect this sort of threat of federal prosecution would have on parents' exercise of their constitutional rights to be involved in their children's education? >> i don't believe it is reasonable to read this memorandum about chilling anyone's rights. it is about threats of violence and expressly recognized the copyright to make arguments about your children's education. >> as the senators are going back and forth for votes during this time we have to try to keep to -- >> let the record reflect the attorney general refused to
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answer the question. >> let the record reflect that the senator from texas is allowed to go over his allotted time. senator klobuchar? >> thank you very much. just to confirm something, mr. attorney general, can you confirm to this committee as you did earlier before the house judiciary committee that the purpose of the memo that you were just discussing with senator cornyn is to have meetings to discuss whether there is a problem, to discuss strategies, discuss whether law -- local law enforcement needs assistance or doesn't need assistance? is that the purpose of it? >> yes. i thank you for making that point, senator. i say that in the memo, that the purpose of the memo is to convene meetings with federal, state, and local, tribal leaders and to facilitate discussions of strategies for addressing threats to assess the question and open lines of communication about those threats. >> thank you. i want to move to some other
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threats. and that is the hearing that actually senator blunt and i had yesterday, the bipartisan hearing. we both called witnesses. it was before the rules committee. and it was with both republican and democratic election officials. the attorney general of arizona, a republican local official in philadelphia. and they told stories that horrified senators on both sides of the aisle. the philadelphia election official commissioner, local election official, had been sent letters basically saying that they were going to kill him and his three kids, naming the kids, as well as putting his house and his address out there. katy hobbs the attorney general of arizona received a voice mail saying i am a hundredor and i think you -- i am a hunter and i
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think you should be hunted. you will never be safe arizona again. can you talk about what is going on with threats against election workers and by the way we had the republican secretary of state from kentucky talked about the fact that it has been difficult. they are losing in many jurisdictions across the country. they don't have enough election workers because people are afraid. we don't have to discuss at length where these threats are coming from. i just want to have election officials, a functioning democracy. can you provide an update on the election threats task force and talk about the kinds of threats we're seeing to election officials? >> yes, senator. very much like the circumstances with respect to the school boards when the national school board association wrote us a letter advising of threats of violence and violence. earlier this year we received communications from the national association of secretaries of
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state, the national association of election administrators, raising concerns about threats of violence and violence in that area. in that -- soon thereafter i met virtually unfortunately because of the pandemic with a large number of election administrators and secretaries of states where they recounted these -- the kinds of threats you're talking about. and that led us to establish a task force which again coordinated efforts between the federal law enforcement agencies, u.s. attorneys' offices, and state and local law enforcement across the country. it is the case that many of those kinds of threats can be handled by state and local law enforcement and should be where they're capable of doing that. the federal government has an important role as you say in protecting our democracy and
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protecting against threats against public officials. that is an ongoing task force, evaluating threats if that particular area. >> thank you. to another area, the competition policy and antitrust subcommittee, i've urged the justice department to make antitrust enforcement a top priority. we recently have a nominations hearing for jonathan cantor. that seems to be moving ahead. i support the division's enforcement efforts including i know they are preparing for 18 trials which is the most in decades. and could you talk about the antitrust budget senator grassley and i have passed a bill with the support of the members of this committee to add some additional resources to the antitrust divisions. lee and i have held numerous, very informative hearings about various issues related to antitrust. could you talk about what is happening there? >> the justice department is
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very much committed. as i said it is a key focus of our attention. antitrust enforcement because it is essential for well being and the well being of our citizens. we have aggressively moved in this area. we have already stopped the merger of two of the top three largest international insurance brokers. we have as you say continued. we are in the middle of trials, criminal trials with respect to price fixing and market allocation. we have the ongoing matter involving exclusionary conduct in the google case. we are looking. we have investigations and attention in many areas from health care to agriculture to allocations within labor markets. >> could i just ask you, regarding the criminal cases, given the antitrust agency's authority to seek substantial civil fines for violations
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helping enforcers deter anticompetitive conduct? >> i'm sorry. i -- >> with civil fines, would that be helpful? >> yes. having the ability to seek civil fines as well would be helpful. of course if we succeed in the criminal case the follow on civil cases become quite easy as i know from my own antitrust practice. but we are down in the number of attorneys in the antitrust division considerably and we need an expansion. that is why we've asked for a 9% increase, total increase of $201 million in our fy-22 budget. the number of mergers has skyrocketed and the number of people in the division evaluating those mergers has decreased. we need help in that regard. >> thank you. i appreciate the bipartisan work we've done in this committee on that front.
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last july the department announce it was adopting a new policy restricting the use of compulsory processes to obtain information from members of the news media acting within the scope of news gathering activities an issue you and i discussed at your confirmation hearing. as a part of that announcement you asked the deputy attorney general to undertake a review process to further explain, develop, and codify the policy. can you provide an update on the steps the deputy attorney general has taken to ensure the new policy is implemented? >> yes. so issuing a memo is good and it controls the justice department now. the next step now is to have a regulation which will give us some greater permanence and the next step after that would be legislation. which the justice department supports. with the deputy attorney general -- what the deputy attorney general is doing now is trying to formulate the general outlines of my memorandum into a regulation which can replace the
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current, pretty detailed regulations that we have. that is what she is involved in right now. >> excellent. thank you very much. >> mr. attorney general, we have promised you a five-minute break at 11:30. we can take it right now or i can have senator lee and kunz ask. up to you >> i am happy to go ahead with senator lee and kunz. >> let's proceed. senator lee. >> thank you mr. chairman and attorney general garland for being here. mr. attorney general, i've been concerned in recent weeks by some steps taken by the biden administration. steps that i fear represent a significant amount of overreach. seven weeks ago you had president biden giving a speech in which he promised to enlist the assistance of corporate america, all of corporate america with more than 99 employees in firing people who don't get vaccinated. now, i am vaccinated and have encouraged everyone close to me to get vaccinated. i don't think it is the role of
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the federal government to do that. it is threatening to cripple employers by imposing absolutely punishing fines on them and they are now doing his dirty work even before this act of over reach has been reduced to an order that could be litigated, litigation that i believe would end the way youngstown versus sawyer ended. now about a month after that we had your october 4th memorandum in which you direct the department of justice and the fbi to intervene in what as far as i can tell is a state and localish yow. that is a series of issues involving how parents advocate for their children with their local school boards. and i also believe that doing that and doing that through the department of justice in the way that you did it, directing the assistance, enliting the help of
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all 94 u.s. attorneys, therefore every satellite office of the department of justice nationwide, doing it in a way that i think has a natural tendency to chill free speech in this area, i question seriously the role of the federal government in protecting people at local school board meetings from their neighbors. it is after all most of the time state law not federal that is at play when there is criminal activity. federal crimes are a subset of crimes generally. so you've referenced several times today that your letter covered only violence and threats of violence and yet the very opening line of your memo says in recent months there has been a disturging spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against
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school administrators, school board members, teachers, and staff who put in the vital work of running our nation's public schools. you refer to this over and over again. it is a pretty broad statement. i believe this has a tendency to chill free speech. that is exercised at the state and local level typically by neighbors, by parents to local school boards. in hindsight would you agree a natural consequence of your memo could be chilling free speech, protected speech by parents protesting local school board policies? >> senator, the memo is aimed only at violence and threats of violence. it states on its face that vigorous debate is protected. that is what this is about and that is all this is about. >> what about harassment and intimidation? are those federal crimes? >> they are federal crimes. >> are you referring to like witness tampering intimidation?
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>> 18 usc 2261a which makes it a crime with the intent to injure, harass, or intimidate, placing a person in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury through communications over the internet. like wise, 47 usc 223a making telephone calls with intentions to harass. i want to be clear, though. that those are only within -- i take your point -- those are only within what is permitted by the first amendment. and the supreme court has been clear about that, too. in virginia vs. black the court explained when intimidation is not protected by the constitution. and that is when it is made with the intent to place the victim in fear of blarm or death. so that is what we're concerned about here. >> well, one of the things that concerns me is we've got 17 attorneys general led by
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attorney general in nevada and joined by a total of 17 attorneys general including the fantastic attorney general in the state of utah. they've weighed in and said there is not a barrage of accusations, no unusual flood of accusations of threats of violence against school board members. nothing unusual, nothing that they can't handle at the state and local level. normally things like this against state and local officials involving state and local government entities like school boards are not federal. now, in response to a series of questions before the house judiciary committee, including some questions by congressman jim jordan from ohio, you were asked your factual predicate for your october 4th memorandum and conclusions in this regard. you answered before that committee that your factual predicate for that was the october 22nd memorandum from the
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national school board association. the national school board association has been mentioned and has since withdrawn that memo, and yet you said that was the factual predicate. given that was the factual predicate and it has rescinded the memo saying there was no justification for some of the language used in that letter will you rescind your memo? >> senator, to the best of my recollection i said that the impetus for the letter from my memorandum was that letter and also reports of this kind of activity. >> what reports? >> i said, again, at the time, that they were news reports that had been published and i think that some of the other senators here have described some of those news reports and we certainly have seen subsequently more news reports and statements by board members of threats to kill them. >> the congressman from texas said, raised in that same
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hearing, the issue of a 14-year-old girl in a school bathroom being sexually assaulted in loudoun county and you indicated in response to that that you weren't aware of that. in the six days before you testified before the house judiciary committee, have you become familiar with the publicly reported details of that case? >> yes, i have read about the case, yes. >> if you were unfamiliar with this, instances of violence and intimidation the national school board association cited in the letter how did you determine the intervention by the fbi and doj was necessary, that that was the right approach? >> it was the right approach in the letter is to meet with local law enforcement. that is what we've asked for is to meet to assess the situation to see what their needs are, strategize, and to open lines of communication. now, i am hopeful that many areas of local law enforcement
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will be well able to handle this on their own. this is what the justice department does every day. consult with our local and state partners and see whether assistance is necessary. of course, we continue to have our own federal responsibilities with respect to communications by the internet and on social media, on telephone, through the mail. but i'm hopeful we will not be needed in this area, that our state and local partners will be able to handle these threats. >> my time has expired. i just want to state for the record as i close that my staff and i went through every news source raised by the national school board association. there was no explicit death threat. and just here to reiterate my concern that not every outburst or expression of concern by
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neighbors among neighbors at a local school board meeting warrants a federal investigation. certainly doesn't warrant the involvement of 94 u.s. attorneys in a way that threatens, intimidates, and inevitably chills first amendment activity. thank you mr. chairman. >> mr. chairman, one more request for introduction of a letter from another attorney general on rescinding the memorandum. this one from ohio attorney general yost. >> without objection, senator kunz? >> thank you, chairman durbin, ranking member grassley. thank you, attorney general garland. as you well know, oversight of the executive branch is an important part of the duties of this body and so i just want to commend the chair for prioritizing this and you for your time here. while at times challenging, this process is key to fulfilling our constitutional responsibilities. we know we have substantial work to do to restore confidence in our democratic institutions and
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i think your engagement here today is a key part of that. so thank you for your diligent and thorough answers to the questions being presented today. let me just start with a question about some characterizations being made here and other settings about the trajectory of the biden administration in terms of responding to violent crimes. some are asserting the department of justice is focused on defunding the police or hamstringing or undermining law enforcement as appropriate. my impression instead is the president requested an additional 388 million for the hiring program increase of 200 million over the previous year, cjs post just posted includes a hundred million dollars for new community violence intervention programs. and the biden administration ensured that over 350 billion previously available grants
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under the cares act could be used to hire more law enforcement personnel at the state and local level even beyond prepandemic levels. could you speak briefly to how these different programs and initiatives are in fact designed to prevent violent crime, designed to support our state and local partners, and how these investments could work to assist, support, and protect law enforcement in conducting their obligations and duties in our communities in an appropriate way? >> yes, senator. i would add one more pile of requests there which is for over 500 million for the jag grants which also go to the state and local law enforcement directly. >> oh, yes. >> we are very concerned about violent crime. this is an area which is again primarily the responsibility of state and local law enforcement but nonetheless has bipartisan support, has had this since the
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1909s, for federal government involvement to help prevent. we are as a consequence have historically since then and accelerating and now lashed up with our state and local partners in partners and task forces and joint organizations in every city and every community in the united states to help our local law enforcement protect their communities against violence. we also have federal obviously laws which help us in this regard. and these include money we've requested for dea, ats, for the fbi and resources to help us support these circumstances. >> as we've discussed before my hometown was one where i was responsible for local law enforcement when i was an elected county official. we appreciate these additional investments and the partnership
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with federal law enforcement and think it's an important part of our work to combat violent crime all over this country. ycht to turn to immigration. you've been asked by a number of my colleagues about it. there seems to be anything we do to help migrants will necessarily make the border less secure, more chaotic, but i disagree. i think it's possible for us to reduce multi-year court backlogs, improve the humanitarian aspects of handling migrants and build a system that is orderly, consistent with rule of law, more humane and more fair. i'd love to understand how we in congress to reduce backlogs, improve the process and also contribute to securing our southern border. do you have thoughts you would care to share briefly, or would you be willing to share those with us in writing? >> wide be happy to have the
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department get back to you in writing, but i will say we have requested additional funds so we can put in an additional 600 personnel including 100 immigration judges into our executive office of immigration review so that we can do the kind of acceleration that you're talking about. we've made a number of internal changes with respect to the way cases are handled in order to accelerate that, but we do need more money in that respect, and i've made that plea already to the appropriations committee, but we have to get back to you with more detail. >> and just superficially, is it your understanding when applicants for asylum have access to legal counseling the odds they return for final position and have a fair and appropriate process go up? >> i certainly think the odds they have a fair and appropriate process could go up. it seems quite logical them returning to the proceedings would go up because they would know they'd have that
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opportunity. i don't know any of the statistics about that. >> understood. intellectual property as you know is a concern of mine. i want to briefly mention doj trust issued a statement jointly with the department of commerce and the u.s. trade office recognizing when a patent involved in voluntary standard efforts these are typically global efforts around critical communications technologies and others, all legal help should be available and that incentivizes participation and plays a vital role in bringing the benefits of innovation to americans and also critical for our competition with china and other countries. i'm hearing doj has imminent plans to abandon that position or reverse it and replace it with one that does not given that there are nominees in process likely now for both aag,
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for anti-trust and now for patent and trademark office, would you commit to waiting until there are senate confirmed leaders in these positions before they're a confirmed policy? >> anything you could do to make that go swifter would be greatly appreciated. i have to say this is bit outside the area of my expertise, but not that i assume any such thing would have to come through me before it would be announced. nothing like that has come to my office yet. >> i welcome the opportunity to stay in communication with you. my last quick question relates to the office of justice which has in the past under a previous administration in prisons and the criminalination of poverty, tomorrow this committee will hold a vote on the driving for opportunity act, a bipartisan bill leading with senator wicker and a number of members from this committee, and it will make
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progress in terms of ways in which the decades old practice of stripping people of the driver's licenses for unpaid court related fees or fines, which advances the criminalization will be reversed. can you say about the plans to access for justice and your view about the importance of continued progress in criminal justice reform? >> yes, senator. equal justice under law as described in the supreme court is a core principle of american democracy, put you can't have equal justice under law if you don't have access to justice. and for much of my career as a judge and even before that, even before being in the justice department and additionally even as a lawyer in private practice i've been concerned about getting access to attorneys so that lawyers -- so that people
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who need help with individual circumstances can have assistance. the president issued an executive order on this. and there is a report. i'm not positive whether it's public, but i believe it is. with respect to reinvigorating the rotten table to address this question which i believe i'm a cochair, i second degree for review within the department, and we have determined we should stand up once again and independent within the department office of access to justice. we have enough money to do that in the very short-term. not to talk too much about our request for money but our fy 22 budget request does ask for significant appropriations so we can stand up a staff and get that office going. >> great. thank you, mr. attorney general. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator coons. the senate is going to stand in
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recess. >> senator cotton is recognized. >> on may 11th tony fauci testified his agency, quote, has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research and the institute of veerology. last week his agency admitted they had in fact funded gain of
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research in the one institute of virology. are you investigating tony fauci for lying to office? >> it's a long time rule in the justice department not to discuss pending investigations, potential investigations. >> okay, that's fine. do you believe tony fauci was truthful when he said his agency had never funded gain of -- >> that's outside of my scope of knowledge. >> let's turn to your outrageous directive sicking the feds on parents across schools of america. when you crafted that october 4th memo did you consult the senior leadership at the fbi? >> my understanding was the memo or the idea of the memo had been discussed with the fbi. >> did anyone at the fbi discuss any doubt or disagreement or hesitation with your decision to issue that memo? >> no one expressed that to me. >> no one. >> no one expressed that to me,
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no. i'm sorry? >> a lot of fbi officials have contacted my office and said they opposed this decision. >> i doubt any of them spoke to me about it because i didn't peek to anyone. >> all right, judge, you repeatedly dissembled this morning about that directive. chuck grassly asked you a simple question why you'd sick the department of justice on parents. john cornyn asked you the same thing. you said it wasn't in your october 4th memorandum. it was in a press release from your office right here in front of me, october 4, 2021, for immediate release. you were going to create a task force that includes the national security division. what on earth does the national security division have to do with parents who are expressing disagreements at school boards? >> nothing in this memorandum or any memorandum is about parents
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expressing disagreements with their school boards. the memorandum makes clear that parents are entitled and protected by the first amendment to have vigorous debates. we don't -- the justice department is not interested in that question at all. >> okay, even in that case what does the national security division, judge -- these are the people supposed to be chasing jihadist and chinese spies. what does the national security division have to do with parents at school boards? >> this is not, again, about parents at school boards. it's about threats of violence. >> let me turn to that because you've said that phrase repeatedly throughout the morning. we've heard it a dozen times this morning. as senator lee pointed out the very first line in your october 4th memorandum talks about harassment. when your memo says harassment and intimidation?
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>> senator, i said in my testimony that it involves other kinds of criminal conduct, and i explained to senator lee that the statutory definitions of those terms and the constitutional definitions of those terms involve threats of violence. >> okay, let's look at one of the statutes you cited. section 223, that statute covers the use of not just telephones but telecommunications devices to annoy -- to annoy someone. so are you going to sick your u.s. attorneys and the fbi on a parents group if they post on facebook something that annoys a school board member, judge? >> the answer to that is no. and the provision i was particularly drawing to his attention was 2261a. >> i wasn't talking about 2261a. judge, you also told senator klobuchar this memorandum was about meetings and coordination. meetings and coordination.
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i have in my hand right here that i'll submit to the record a letter from one of your u.s. attorneys to all of the county attorneys, to the attorney general, to all sheriffs, to the school board association it states -- and when she talks about federal investigation and prosecution, nothing about meetings, not about coordination. it's about federal investigation and prosecution. did you direct your u.s. toerps to issue such a letter? >> i did not. i have not seen that letter. >> it's got three pages. it's got three pages of spread sheets about all the federal crimes a parent can be charged with to include the ones you cited. did the main justice make the spreadsheet, judge? >> i have no idea. my memorandum talks specifically ability setting up meetings. i'll read again convened meetings. >> judge, we've all read your meetings. i have and the record now shows one of your u.s. attorneys sending out a letter about federal prosecution
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investigation and lists in detail the federal statutes. judge, you talk a lot about intimidation and harassment. have you issued a memorandum like your october 4th memorandum about black live matters rights from last summer? >> you're talking about the summer of 2020 -- in the sum of 2020 -- >> there were a lot of crimes committed. >> there were a lot of crimes and they were under the previous administration. >> okay, judge, what about this? it is no doubt even though parents, the school boards are within jurisdiction you keep saying senators. have you started an investigation into inharassment of senator kyrsten sinema in a bathroom because she won't go along with the democrat party big tax agenda. >> i don't know whether the senator has referred the matter to the justice department or not. >> you've cited as a basis for
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that directive the national school board association's letter september 29th, was that directive being prepared before the school board association letter was issued? >> i don't believe so. certainly i don't have any idea. >> i think that answers the question. you keep citing the school board letter and news reports. one of the news reports cited in that letter which you presumably mean is from louden county, virginia -- >> that is not what i was talking about. >> well, if you keep citing news reports and that's the prominent news report anyone in america has seen. that refers to scott smith whose 15-year-old daughter was raped in a bathroom by a boy wearing girls clothes. and the louden county school board covered it up because it would have interfered with their transgender policy during pride amount. and that man scott smith because he went to a school board and tried to defend his daughter's
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rights was condemned internationally. do you apologize to scott smith and his 15-year-old daughter, judge? >> senator, anyone's child who was raped is the most horrific crime i can imagine and certainly entitled and protected by the first amendment to protest to their school board about this. >> but he was cited by the school board association a domestic terrorist which we now know that letter and those reports were the basis -- >> no, senator, that's wrong. >> judge, it's shameful. this testimony, your directive, this performance is shameful. thank god you are not on the supreme court. you should resign in disgrace, judge. >> senator garland, do you want to complete your answer. >> i wasn't sure there was a question there. but let me be clear the news reports i'm talking about were not the reports in that letter. there were other news reports everybody here has heard about, subsequent reports everybody has heard about. there's nothing in this
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memorandum. and i wish if senators were concerned about this they would quote my words. this memorandum is not about parents being able to object in their school boards. they are protected by the first amendment. as long as there are no threats of violence they are completely protected. so parents can object to their school boards about the curriculum, about the treatment of their children, about school policies. all of that is 100% protected by the first amendment, and there is nothing in this memorandum contrary to that. we are only trying to prevent violence against school officials. thank you. >> senator hirono. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to insert into the record "the washington post" article that is entitled -- claimed the justice department is spying on parents at school board meetings.
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i'd like to insert this article into the record. >> without objection. >> it's good to see you, mr. attorney general. i will quote from the first sentence of your memo. in recent months there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threat of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools. this is a fact. we have all seen the news coverage of people actually threatening to hurt school board members for going about their jobs. that is a fact. so when i listen to my republican colleagues going on about the intent of this memo, i'm again reminded of the often juxtaposition that we should all not believe what we see with our own eyes. like the january 6th
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insurrection is just a bunch of tourists visiting the capitol. give me a break. we now see a supreme court weaponized to support the position of the most conservative causes. we see a rush to the supreme court on cases involving abortion rights, gun rights, lgbtq rights, voting rights, union rights. thank you, mr. attorney general for making the protection of our civil rights one of the department's core priorities. i want to turn to the need to combat hate crimes. it's been about five months since president biden signed the covid-19 hate crimes act into law, and i sent a letter to you last month requesting an update on the department's implementation of the act and to reduce hate crimes and hate incidents. yet another thing we've all seen with our own eyes, a rise in hate crimes during this period of the pandemic. mr. attorney general, would you
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briefly describe the actions that you and the department have taken thus far to implement the covid-19 hate crimes act? >> thank you, senator. even before the act i had issued a memorandum within the department to assess how we were dealing with hate crimes and to better organize the manner in which we were doing that. and then we're grateful that the congress passed the covid 129 hate crimes act. since then i issued a subsequent memorandum based on what the associated attorney general and the deputy attorney general had provided in terms of department's progress under that act. and i believe we have now implemented everything that was required of us in the act. that, of course, doesn't mean we've solved hate in america. but we've done the things the statute has asked us to do. we've appointed a coordinator for all hate crimes matters. i've appointed an expediter in the civil rights division criminal section to expedite our
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investigations. we've established a task force of federal law enforcement and u.s. attorneys offices meeting with state and local law enforcement to coordinate, to explain, to develop strategies with respect to hate crimes. we've had trainings for state and local territorial and tribal law enforcement to help them recognize these circumstances. we've asked -- we've established a language coordinator, a facilitator so that our memorandum and press releases in these regards can be translated appropriately. and we've asked for a considerable additional funds in our appropriations so that we may give more money to state and locals, tribal and territorial law enforcement to assist in these matters. >> i appreciate the efforts you have taken, and i think this will result in, of course, some
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factual information about the extent of hate crimes, and incidents in our country so that we can better prevent and prosecute as appropriate. you've been asked before i think in the house hearing about the china initiative. if we end the china initiative will we no longer go after economic espionage and ip threats by china? >> there are two issues here we always have to keep uppermost in our mind. one is that the peoples republic of china is a serious threat to our intellectual property. they represent a serious threat with respect to espionage. they represent a serious threat with respect to cyber incursions and ransomware in the united states. and we need to protect the
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country against this. and we will, and we are opening cases in that regard. the other thing that has to be remembered is that we never investigate or prosecute based on ethnic identity, what country a person is from or came from or their family. >> thank you. were you done? >> yeah. >> and the reason i asked about the china initiative is that under the previous administration which instituted this so-called initiative, there appears to have been racial profiling which basically ruined the lives of a number of chinese people. and i want to give an example. the justice department previous administration dragged a professor at the university of tennessee through a two. year espionage investigation causing him to lose his job.
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at the end of the investigation doj lacked any evidence of espionage and instead charged the doctor with wire fraud and false statements for apparently failing to disclose his association with the chinese university on a nasa grant application. his trial ended in a mistrial after which a juror said she was, quote, pretty horrified by the lack of evidence, end quote. when doj sought a new trial, the district granted the motion for acquittal finding no harm to nasa and no evidence that dr. who knew nasa's funding restriction applied to chinese universities. so i would say from your answer that regardless of whether we have something called the chinese initiative you have no intention of not paying attention to other bad acts from china. so i say we should get rid of this, this initiative that results in racial profiling. thank you, mr. chairman.
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>> senator kennedy. >> good morning, senator. >> general, i'm looking at this letter from one of your u.s. attorneys from october this year where you wrote to the montana attorney general all the county attorneys and all the sheriffs in his jurisdiction suggesting ways that parents could be prosecuted, the school board mayor for appearing in school board meetings in accordance with your directive. and one of the suggestions made by your u.s. attorney is parents can be prosecuted for repeated
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telephone calls. not threatening anyone just on the theory that repeated telephone calls could be harassment. really? >> i haven't seen that memorandum. i've tried to express as clearly as i can here -- >> i heard you, general. but this is one of your u.s. attorneys. >> again, i haven't seen -- >> isn't this special -- general, you're just a vessel. let me tell you what i'm talking about. with respect to the national school board's association letter you're just a vessel, aren't you? >> i'm not sure what you mean by that but i signed this memorandum. i worked on this memorandum, and
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this memorandum is my memorandum. >> let me tell you what i mean. we know that the national school board association was upset because parents were coming to school board meetings to object to the teaching of critical race theory. we know that in drafting the letter the national school board association collaborated with the white house for several weeks. they worked on it together. and we know the national school board association wants the white house and the association were happy with the letter, the national school board association sent the letter to the white house, and the white house promptly called you and said sick the fbi on parents at school boards here. and that's what i mean. the white house is the prophet
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here and you're just the vessel, is that correct? >> senator, i did not speak with anyone from the white house. that's why i worked on this memorandum. this memorandum reflects my views we need to protect public officials from violence and threats of violence while at the same time protecting parents ability to object to -- >> i get that. do you get word you'd be fired if you didn't issue the mem random? >> senator, i decided on this memorandum on my own. i don't care -- i said from the very beginning i've taken this job to protect the department of justice, to make independent determinations with respect to prosecutions and in investigations, and i will do that. >> okay, sorry to interrupt, general, but i don't have much time.
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when you got the letter from the white house that prompted your memorandum to give the fbi new duties and making sure our parents aren't dangerous domestic terrorists, you didn't investigate before you issued your memorandum the incidences cited in the letter, did you? >> i took the statement by the national association which represents thousands of school board members. when they said they were facing violence and threats of violence, and when i saw in the news media reports -- >> but you didn't investigate the incidents in the letter, did you? >> this is the first step. it's an assessment step that comes before investigations -- >> but before you issued the memo you didn't investigate the incident. >> the memo is intended to begin assessment. >> and, in fact, most of the instance in the letter did not involve threats of violence, did
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they? >> i think that's correct. most of them did not. they would not be covered by federal or state law. i agree with that. they would be protected by the first amendment. but threats of violence are not covered by the -- >> can we agree that we have thousands, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of kids growing up today who are more likely to commit a crime than -- and go to jail than own a home and get married? >> i don't know about the comparative statistics. i do know there are too many people committing crimes. >> and one of the reasons for that is lack of parental involvement, isn't it? >> i think parental involvement is essential. i think it's key to bringing up good kids. >> so why would you want to issue a memorandum listing incidents that you didn't
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investigate that anybody who has any fair-minded knowledge of the world knows is going to have a chilling effect on parental involvement with respect to what their kids are learning at school? >> i want to be clear again, senator. my memorandum did not list any of those incidences. >> come on, general, we both know this had a chilling effect. you don't think there are parents out there in the real world who said, moment my god, we shouldn't go to the school board meeting, there'll be fbi agents there? this isn't lala land. your actions made it clear, general. let me ask you one last question. when men follow a united states senator who happens to be a female into a womens room to
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harass her about her beliefs, why is that just part of the process as president biden says? but when a parent goes to a school board meeting to protest that her child is being taught that babies can be white supremacists is subject to fbi prosecution? >> the description you just gave, that parent is not subject to fbi investigation. there's nothing in this memorandum that suggests this. we protect united states senators against threats of violence -- >> you did a good job with senator sinema. >> within the last month we have indicted somebody who made threats of violence against both alaska u.s. senators. recently we just indicted somebody else who made threats -- >> can i ask one more?
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>> could you wrap up please, senator kennedy? >> i'm sorry? >> could you wrap up. i'm chairing this -- >> eyes, i will. i'm going to ask one last one. what led you to conclude before you issued your memorandum sicking the fbi on parents that law enforcement at the state and local level couldn't handle it? >> let me be clear, senator, we did not sick the fbi on parents. that's not what this memorandum is about. nor did we conclude that local law enforcement is unable to deal with the problem. the purpose of this memorandum is for our federal law enforcement to engage with state and local and determine whether they need assistance. >> and you don't think this had any chilling effect whatsoever on parents out there? >> the memorandum expressly said at the beginning it is aimed at violence and threats of violence and expressly said that public
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debate about school policies are -- >> well, i like you, general, a lot. but i think on this issue you've turned into someone you said you wouldn't be. >> i recognize senator booker. please proceed. >> general, i want to start with an area bipartisan to what we're getting towards. today is the 35th anniversary of the anti-drug abuse act which established drastically different definitions for crack and cocaine use. i'm not sure there's been a bigger bipartisan vote this year where 149 republicans voted with almost all the democratic caucus to address this disparity. the effect of that law was 100-1
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the work of, again, bipartisan senators here led by senator durbin negotiated the fair sentencing act which was a change of that despairty from 100-1 to 18-1. the president biden publicly supported the bill. and again, i just think this should be an area that will be an area of accord. but i want to know your opinion. do you agree it's time to end the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine especially the impact on people of color. and if you believe that, why do you believe that?
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>> yes, i believe that. the justice department supports equal treatment of crack and powder cocaine. the sentencing commission has over the last decade maybe more than that produced a series of reports which undercut what was supposed to be the scientific basis for the distinction between the two. and it's made quite clear there is no warranted basis for distinguishing between the two. so once that is on the cusp there can be no grounds for that. on the other side not only are there no grounds for it, it clearly does have an impact on communities of color and also recognized by the sentencing commission statistics. there's no justification for this, and we should end this. >> i appreciate that. one last clarification. while there's a lot of unanimous support for this on both sides of the aisle there are some people that worry about it
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somehow affecting crime or crime rates. could you discuss your opinion of that perspective? >> well, i think powder cocaine as it's dangerous with respect to crime rates as crack cocaine both of which have now been, unfortunately, overtaken by fentanyl and the opioids. but both of those are bad problems but equalizing penalties for crack and powder should have no difference with our respect to ourability to fight crime. >> i appreciate that sir. can you bring up what senator durbin brought up at the time, a letter he and i sent you regarding people on home confinement in the last days of the trump administration on january 15, 2021, the justice department's office of legal counsel issued a memo arguing
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the bop must reincarcerate everyone on the cares act home confinement at the end of the covered emergency period. if they do not otherwise qualify. now, these were folks that were pretty extremely scrutinized beforehand. they've been returned to their communities. they have been reengaging with family, with children. they have -- not folks showing any criminal activity or problems. senator durbin and i really believe and we were urging the department of justice to rescind this trump era mem row which incorrectly concludes people released to home confinement and abided to their conditions of release must be torn away from those families and go back to b.o.p. custody. i would love to know where you stand on this issue. to me it's an issue of justice, an issue of restorative justice.
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it's an issue of compassion and understanding the collateral consequences of ripping people back and putting them in prisons unnecessarily not to mention the cost of taxpayers. clearly i have my opinion, but i'd like to hear yours. >> clearly it would be terrible to return these people to prison after they've shown they can live in home confinement without violations. and as a consequence we're reviewing the memorandum you spoke about and other authorities congress may have given us to permit us to keep people on home confinement. and as you know and the president is reviewing the clemency authority in that -- >> how long should we expect that review before you make a determination? >> i can't say exactly. >> are we talking six months or less than six months? >> i'm not exactly sure how long that will take.
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it may require rule making, so that may take more time. but we can be sure it will be accomplished before the end of the cares act provision, which extends to the end of the pandemic. and so we are not in a circumstance where anybody will by returned before we have completed that review and implemented any changes we need to make. >> and in regards to just compassionate release in general will the department of justice consider filing motions for individuals on home confinement that reside in jerks like the 11th circuit where courts have covered only medical age and family circumstances ground? obviously there's still a pandemic, and we know putting people into environments greatly increases their chances about restrictions on release in places like the 11th circuit. >> it's something i haven't thought about, senator. i guess the bureau of prisons is
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the agency that decides those questions has to have a uniform policy across the country. i haven't thought about the possibility of making distinctions based on which circuit, because you're quite correct different circuits have different views about the scope of compassionate release. i'll take that back for consideration if it's all right with you. >> i have concerns about implementation which i'll ask in writing to you. i want to be respectful of my colleague, the senator from the great state of oklahoma. >> ouch. >> forgive me, omaha. >> omaha is not a state, brother. >> sorry, where are you from? >> we used to be able to beat stanford in football and we will return. >> thank you. sorry, cory is not as funny as i thought he would be there.
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yoerj, i know you're tired of talking about the memo. >> i'm happy to answer any questions you have. >> i think most of us and the american people are flabbergasted if your answer is you have no regrets about this memo. is that what you're telling us? you think this is wise? >> senator, the obligation of the justice department is protect the american people against violence and threats of violence and that particularly includes public official. i think that is still a concern for the department. this memo doesn't do anything more than ask our law enforcement to consult with state and local law enforcement to determine whether they need assistance in this regard and whether there are any federal jurisdictional issues involved. >> general, you and i both know that it is political hackery that brought that topic to your desk, not reality. i am strongly against all violence, against everyone in
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public life and all threats of violence. you've not at any point here given us any data that show why this would in any way be a federal priority at this time. the chairman not here right now, but chairman durbin has repeatedly talked this morning about how he googled it and is pretty convinced there must be lots of threats. can you help us understand why so many states are disconnecting their organizations from the national association of school boards? you are aware that the national association of school boards has recanted of the memo, correct? you know they've rejected their own letter to you. are you aware of that? >> i've read their letter. their letter doesn't recant some of their concerns about safety. it recants some of the language -- >> we're all for safety. >> -- which i never adopted. >> the why tid the ohio school board association sever their relationship with the national school board association? >> i don't know.
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>> why did the missouri school board association sever their relationship with the national school board association? why did the pennsylvania school board association sever their relationship with the national school board association? because this was political hackry. the kind of stuff you told us when you were seeking confirmation that you would be against. you had the audacity to begin your opening statement today by telling us one of your big three priorities was make sure communications by the white house and justice department were not politicized. the last three administrations have politicized the department of justice the three including you now. you told us one of your priorities in running doj was to reject the kind of politicization we saw in the trump doj and in the obama doj. you told us that was one of your priorities. you wrote a memo here that came from political staffers who have been rejected by their organization coordinating with the white house to try to exaggerate a threat so that they could make sure that parents
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felt intimidated. you told us -- i wouldn't use the exact language senator kennedy used about you were a vessel. but one of two things is true here. either you were just a vessel of common staffers at the white house or you yourself are in favor of politicizing the doj. you told one of my colleagues a minute ago you've not read the memo from the u.s. attorney from montana. i'll read it to you if you want or i'll bring it to you if you can read it. it's an insane letter. the u.s. attorney from montana takes predicate for why he's doing what he's doing, your memo. and on october 14th he sends a list of all the counter terrorism statutes that should be considered to be used against parents who are upset about things that might be happening at their school boards. maybe there's lots of specific evidence of violence being threatened against school board members in montana, but he -- his memo or his response to your memo includes a letter where he says that anonymous
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telecommunications harassment, repeated telephone calls or repeated harassing communications should be things that are potentially brought up as the basis for federal charges against parents. do you agree with this letter about october 14th? >> senator, i'm going to say again this is aimed at violence and threats of violence. and i don't care if they come from the left or the right, from up or down. i don't care if they're in favor of curriculum or against a particular kind of curriculum. we can imagine all these arguments against school boards coming from either the right or the left, it doesn't matter. arguments against school boards are protected by the first amendment. threats are not protected by the first amendment. and we received a letter from the national association of school boards, no reason to believe -- >> no, you didn't receive an anonymous letter. white house political co-wrote it with this organization, which is why the organization has
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rejected it. you know these facts now to be true, and yet you still won't disavow your memo. why? you didn't receive some objective, neutral letter because all these people were being threatened. you are the -- you are responding to a political campaign to politicize the department of justice. how big is the threat that american parents pose right now? when you lead a big organization, you have 100,000 plus employees. you have a lot of violence to go after. are parents at school boards one of two three concerns you face right now? >> this memorandum is not about parents at school boards. it doesn't matter whether they're parents or anyone else. it has to do with threats against public schoolteachers, public school officials. it is not -- >> i want to know what the data is. >> the purpose of this memorandum is to get our law enforcement to assess the extent of the problem.
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and if there is no problem, if state and local law enforcement are capable of handling the problem, then there is no need for our involvement. if this memo does not say to begin prosecuting anybody. it says to make assessments. that's what we do in the justice department. has nothing to do with politics. >> will you report back to this committee with what you find about these threats? because what you just said i completely agree with. we're against violence against public official. you and i agree. we're against threats of violence against public officials. you and i agree. we are for local police powers investigating local crimes. and there's definitely yokels and idiots that makes threats against police and public life. you're not minimizing it. and we both believe local law enforcement is more than able to handle one idiot or 12 idiots at school board meetings.
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but you made it a federal issue and i have no idea why. and at no point today have you offer us a shred of data. so my question is will you pledge you'll report back to this committee with the results of your investigation about how big a threat the american parent class is to school boards in the country? >> i will be happy to get a report back to you, but this is not about the american parents. >> i know. it's about the politicization of doj, and you decided to submit as a vessel and you know better. >> i'm sorry, but i don't agree with that, senator. >> thank you, senator. welcome to our committee, mr. attorney general. and let me just begin by thanking you and your team for the sense of integrity and transparency that you've protto the department of justice after a time when the rule of law and the greatest law enforcement agency in the history of the world was gravely threatened by
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a lack of dedication and commitment. i think it's very important what you have done even though we may have differences of opinion, we may disagree. but nobody can doubt your commitment to the rule of law. i want to ask you about a matter i know you're familiar with it. the committee held a hearing on the fbi's mishandling of the nassar investigation, larry nassar who was convict of the most heinous kind of abuse which goes back to young athletes and gymnasts particularly. four women shared their stories with us. they showed up to tell their stories in spite of the very grave obstacles. the inspector general concluded that two fbi agents made false statements during their investigation into nassar. and to the i.g. himself, the
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inspector general during an investigation the fbi agent refer those cases to the department of justice. what i'd like to ask is the department of justice in effect show up by providing an investigation to whatever its investigation is with respect to those the prosecution of those agents. the deputy attorney general announced that the criminal division was conducting a new review, as you know, and that new information has come to light. while we wait for that review to be completed what i'm seeking from you is a commitment that you will explain the decision when it's made. i recognize that as a former prosecutor that defamations typically are not explained. but the justice manual itself says that in criminal civil rights cases, quote, it is often the practice to send case
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closing notification letters in cases closed with indictment or a prosecution because cases, quote, often spark intense public interest even when they're not prosecuted and that such letters are, quote, particularly encouraged in cases of police misconduct and other cases involving law enforcement officers, subjects, end quote. in this case we have exactly that situation. and i'm asking for commitment you'll provide an explanation for you decision. >> senator, this is a hard problem for us. what we're talking about here are false statements. needless to say if the results of this review is prosecution, that will become public. on the question of whether and how much we can say if all we do is decline, i'm just going to have to take that back for
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consideration. i take your point, and i will think about it very carefully as well in the criminal division. >> i understand you're not ruling it out, but i'm going to continue to press for an explanation. i think the gymnasts deserve it. so does the american public. and i hope that you will make a decision to provide a full and complete explanation because i think the credibility of the decision will largely depend on it. let me just say in my view we need to do more than focus on the fbi agents that the inspector general referred for prosecution because this failure was institutional failure. institutional to the fbi, to usa gymnastics and the entire olympics system. it was an institutional breakdown. and to date there's been no
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accountability for anyone in power. to that end i am announcing that in the commerce subcommittee i chair, the subcommittee on consumer protection, we're going to continue to work with senator muran and i years ago we began with the investigation and oichllics reform investigation. we're going to engage in former oversight of olympic and paralympics committee, the national governing bodies and safe sport to ensure their purported commitment to safety is not an empty process. the gymnasts have asked us. they deserve us. they deserve it, and we're going to fulfill that obligation. but in my view the department of justice has to do more as well given the fbi's gross mishandling of the nassar
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investigation and a new review of all the information related to nassar and u.s. lpc more broadly is warranted here because there are other examples of potential misconduct that deserve a fresh look. for instance, senator muran and i referred the former ceo of the u.s. opc to the department of justice for potentially purging himself before our subcommittee in 2018. we don't know what if anything our department did with that referral. we've heard virtually nothing. in addition, the former u.s. attorney for the southern district of indiana whose office was involved in the nassar investigation is now representing one of the disgraced fbi's agents. he's representing one of the fbi agents referred for prosecution.
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i don't know whether that's a violation of ethical rules or some other kinds of department of justice policies, but it raises significant questions, and the department should have an interest in them. so i hope that we can expect more from you by way of explanation. and i hope that we can count on you for in a new review of information related to the nassar investigation, usa gymnastics and u.s. opc to determine whether there are additional cases where prosecution is necessary to hold wrongdoers accountable. >> the institutional failure that you speak of is quite apparent. i thought the testimony by the gymnasts was, as i said, heart
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wrenching, and they were courageous. the fbi director has adopted all the recommendations of the inspector general and is putting them into effect. in addition, we have adopted new regulations, new authorities in the department. to be clear if the fbi is investigating a case of assault on a child and determines that it no longer has -- that it doesn't have jurisdiction, it immediately informs the relevant state or local prosecutors and law enforcement. this is what didn't happen in the nassar circumstance. and ensure that that is done so that the state and local will be able to continue with respect to transfers from one fbi office to another, another failure in that case, that those be monitored to ensure that those transfers occurred.
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we take this extremely seriously. what happened is just awful. and you have the commitment of the justice department and of the fbi director and of the fbi to make these kind of institutional changes to ensure that this doesn't happen again. >> i appreciate those points, but as you well know because as your own long and impressive record as a prosecutor there's nothing like accountability, individuals being held accountable to send a message particularly a deterrent message to an institution. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. and i have a list from the republican side and this is the order they've given me. blackburn, holley and cruz. senator tillis?
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senator tillis, i don't know if your mic's on. >> better? >> better. >> you may regret it. but mr. attorney general, thank you for being here. in response to the memo, i know you've repeatedly said this is not about parents. 15 years ago i was pta president at my daughter's high school, participated in a lot of school board meetings, and i still watch it on public access back in the county when i'm home. the basis for your memo was substantially the letter that you all received. is that correct? >> that was an important part of it, yes, senator. >> do you think there was an -- i've seen some of the widely reported situations in school board meetings, but thereany empirical basis for -- i've seen a lot of raucous school board
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meetings. i've participated in them. is there any empirical basis the doj do any work outside to say they establish what we consider to be overreach on behalf of the doj? >> as i've explained what we looked at was the letter from an organization that represents thousands of school board members and school boards and public reports of threats of violence. and even since then i've further read quite expressed threats of violence. >> mr. attorney general, i want to try to keep in time in deference to my colleagues behind me. i do -- i know you said it's not about parents, but when the doj releases the memo and i think more importantly the press statement, i think that it does have the chilling effect on parents being willing to go and express their concerns with the direction the school board is going when all of a sudden you think that your words in this
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list of crimes that the department has sent i guess to at least the state of montana and others, it could have a chilling effect on people who legitimately have a concern and want to express it, but i do believe it will have a chilling effect on people who have the rights to express their concerns, like loudoun county. a ridiculous overreach. the full force of the fbi is now something a parent has to think ability before going to express their concerns. like i said, they have been raucous for decades and they will be raucous for decades to come. i really do believe that you should seriously consider
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rescinding, revising a statement out there that concerns me for the parents that i want to show up to school board meetings and have the school boards held accountable. the other thing we should talk about are the numerous examples of school board members being caught saying audacious things. it's one thing you have seen over the past year, think of some of the provocative statements they have said, they thought they were behind closed doors but they were on the internet ridiculing parents. pretending like they have all control of their children's education and future. we have got to get more parents engaged, and i think that the effect of the doj action is the exact opposite of that. but most of my colleagues have covered my concerns, and i agree with those that are expressed on my side of the aisle. in response to senator graham on immigration, you said that you did go visit the border. it sounds like you were down there mainly from the perspective of your role in the doj. i understand that homeland security is primarily responsible, but i would encourage you to go back down there and maybe we could share with you our itinerary to talk about why i do believe it should be a great concern to the doj.
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we have almost 1.5 million asylum cases on the docket, and about 80% are adjudicated as not having a valid claim. so doesn't that data lead you to suggest that the asylum system is being abused? just -- that's data from the doj. >> senator, i don't know for sure about the data, but the purpose of the -- of asylum adjudication is to adjudicate asylum. >> i understand that. >> it allows them to make -- this is a statutory claim. >> i'm not an attorney. you're an accomplished judge. so i'm looking at this from a practical standpoint. when the data says that almost 2 million people have crossed the border illegally since january. and it is 80% likely that they're not going to have a valid asylum claim. how any reasonable person couldn't look at that and say something is being abused here,
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it's a gateway to get into this country, drift into the shadows, and virtually never leave the country. but here's the one that i'm most concerned with, and why i think a briefing with the same people that we met with at the border, many of the people on this committee were there when i was. hundreds of got-aways a day getting across the border. and got-aways are not ones that want to be processed through asylum. they want to evade detection. they want to drift -- how on earth can we assume that there's anything but a malign purpose for them trying to evade detection? otherwise, you just get into the system. you're going to be here for years, you're going to abuse the asylum system. they're skirting it to the tune of a couple hundred a night, and this has been going on for months. so now we have thousands of people who came into this country -- when the cartels
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sent -- they'll send up 50 people over to engage the border patrol so they can send another couple hundred into our society. they're drug traffickers, there are human traffickers. there are gun smugglers, there are gang members, and they're coming in by the thousands every month. that is a doj problem. that is a crime in our communities problem, and it's actually making the hispanic communities, the majority of which are coming over are hispanic, those communities less safe. i would really encourage you to go back to the border and look at it from the perspective of your role as attorney general. and the hundreds and the thousands of illegals who are coming across our border every day, many of them drifting in and evading detection and making our communities less safe. i do have a number -- i have intellectual property, a number of implementation issues i'm going to submit for the record, but mr. garland, we have a problem at the border. and the doj has to engage and
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recognize that part of that problem, you're going to have to fix. we have to stop the $13 million a day that the cartels are getting for human trafficking. that's a documented number. we have to stop the tons of fentanyl and drugs that are poisoning americans because we have an out of control border situation. this is a law enforcement issue. i understand it's an immigration issue, but we have to get you, i think, read up the same way we were the last time at the border. talk to people on the ground and understand why this is going to make your job more difficult and it's already making america much less safe. thank you, mr. chair. >> senator padilla. >> thank you, mr. chair. let me begin with a comment before i get to a few issues and a few questions, particularly in light of recent comments from some of my colleagues about immigration, migration, what is, what isn't happening. i want to start by recognizing senator coons' remarks earlier
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who asked you about what you're doing to address the backlog in immigration. what are the best, most smart approaches to tackling unlawful migration is to improve the effectiveness, the efficiency of lawful migration. it's not just investing in immigration courts but access to counsel. and these are issues my office hears about on a very regular basis. so i was heartened that you'll be asking for additional resources to address those issues. this is certainly an area where money is needed to improve the processing of immigration cases while ensuring due process. to my questions. first, a response that i and several of my colleagues have been waiting on since april 15th, when i and seven other members of congress sent you a letter concerning the department's funding and oversight of predictive policing
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tools. which are deployed by law enforcement throughout the country. as we highlighted in that letter, and i'm happy to provide an additional copy to you, we're concerned the department of justice may be devoting precious taxpayer resources to ineffective tools and encouraging local law enforcement to also devote resources to unproven strategies. worse still, those tools may be perpetuating a vicious cycle of discriminatory policing against historically marginalized groups. because we have not yet received a response, we do not know, for example, what, if any, conditions there are by the department of justice on the agencies and departments who deploy predictive policing tools with the aid of federal funds. i find it's unacceptable. so, attorney general garland, it's been over six months since our letter was sent to the department of justice.
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and we have yet to receive an official response. can you explain the delay and when we can expect a response? >> i can't explain the delay. i don't know what the reason is, but i will immediately take this back and be sure that the office of legislative affairs responds to your letter. >> okay. we'll get you another copy of that letter before we leave here today. next issue. as most, i believe we should all agree, we need an open and competitive economy that also works for workers. we talked a lot about entrepreneurs and capitalism, consumer protection, but we need an economy that also works for workers. and this demands the department of justice's attention to combat artificially suppressed compensation, employer collusion, and increasing inequality. for example, noncompete clauses or no-poach agreements limit the ability of many workers throughout our economy to switch to better paying opportunities
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or start their own businesses. in a number of sectors. antitrust protection for labor organizing does not yet explicitly extend to gig economy workers who are classified as independent contractors by their employers. corporate consolidation can limit the pool of companies in the labor market competing to attract and retain workers. attorney general garland, what is the department of justice doing to insure that there's competition in our labor markets and is this yet another area where the department needs additional resources to fulfill the mission laid out by president biden? >> thank you for the question. the justice department's antitrust division agrees. i don't know if you hear either, agrees that competition in labor markets is as much a part of the antitrust laws as our consumer
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markets or product markets. we have a number of investigations involved in those areas that you're talking about. we have a criminal case, all public. on the no-poaching issue, we have brought cases and investigations regarding allocations of labor markets. so i think i can fairly say we agree with you. this is an area of concern, and it's an area of antitrust division focus. the antitrust division does need more money. and more lawyers and economists and investigators. it was down substantially, one of the lowest head counts in quite a number of years. and we very much need to fill that back. and that's why our fy '22 appropriations request asks for a substantial increase in money for the antitrust division. >> wonderful. i look forward to supporting
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those requests for additional resources. and finally, in the time remaining, yet another topic. earlier this month, this committee released a report detailing former president trump's scheme to pressure the department of justice and overturn the will of the people who voted for now president joe biden so that he could serve again as president. the report outlines behavior that follows a pattern and practice of intimidation, coercion, and outright bullying by the former president's administration. if we don't hold these bad actors accountable, we face the possibility of eroding public trust in our institutions. americans are looking for accountability. and they're looking to you, attorney general, as the leader of your agency, to administer justice. my question is this, are you
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willing to recommit yourself to pursuing every possible avenue and every possible lead for holding those accountable who have used public office to undermine and demean our democracy? >> as a general matter, the answer of course is yes. i don't want to talk about specific investigations except to point out what's already been stated publicly on the record, which is a component of the justice department, although an independent one, inspector general is examining the matters that -- about which you're speaking. and i have full confidence that he will advise me and the department of what he finds and we will then take appropriate action. >> thank you. and just in closing i would hope that would include a review and consideration of allegations documented in a recent "rolling stone" article where participation in the lead-up to january 6th was not limited to
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just white house officials but actual members of congress. thank you. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you. we're going to recognize senator blackburn and then take a five-minute break, return, and we have senator ossoff, senator hawley, senator cruz. and i just say to the two or three members who have said they might be interested in a three-minute round, please be here. you have to be physically present because this has been a long day for all of us who stayed here most of the time, particularly for the attorney general. so senator blackburn and then a five-minute break. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and general garland, thank you for being with us today. i have to tell you that it is with much disappointment that i
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have watched the doj be so politicized. and the way things have been carried out when you look at the memo to parents, you heard a lot about that today, and it's because we're hearing a lot about that. and i just have to ask you, knowing that you really helped bring to justice those that caused the oklahoma city bombings, would you really, honestly, put parents in the same category as a terry nichols or a timothy mcveigh? >> my god, absolutely not. >> then why -- why would you ever release a memo? i mean, did you write that memo? did staff write that memo? what would have led you to do this? it is so over the top. >> there's nothing in the memo that in any way draws any
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comparison to anything like that. this memo is about violence and threats of violence. >> sir, i have to tell you that that may be your opinion, and, you know, many times perception is reality. and reading that memo myself, tennesseans reading that memo, what they found in that memo, what they heard you say was if you show up and you question these school boards, you will be deemed a domestic terrorist. you could be investigated by the fbi. i mean, the fbi has a lot of other things that they should be focusing on. and the fbi should be there looking at issues like china. now, the knoxville fbi has been very concerned about china, so
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give me a little update. what's the status of the china initiative at the doj? >> so senator, we are -- we regard the people's republic of china an extraordinarily serious and aggressive threat to our intellectual property, to our universities. >> okay, you're stonewalling me on that. we all know they're an aggressive threat. >> we continue to investigate -- >> okay. >> the prc efforts to -- >> do you see them as an adversary? >> i see them as adversarial with respect to our ransomware, with respect to hacking our -- with respect to counterintelligence -- >> well, we know that over the last several months, the last nine months, several espionage prosecutions of researchers have been dropped. our charges have been dismissed,
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including those of a ut professor at ut knoxville, and of course, the huawei case is there. so this is in spite of the fact that director wray recently testified that the fbi opens a new chinese espionage investigation every 12 hours. so are there apparent failures of the initiative? is it a lack of leadership? or is it a compromised position with the administration? is it incompetence? >> every case is evaluated on its own with respect to the law and the facts. we continue to open cases involving the people's republic of china daily, as the director said. we will not in any way let up our concerns about -- >> okay. all right, i want to move on. i'm glad to know you're not going to go soft on china because this administration is going soft on china.
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on your directive, going back to the school board association and the directive that you sent out. the nsba has apologized. are you planning to apologize to the parents of this country? moms and dads. >> there is nothing in this memorandum that any parent should be concerned about. >> there's a lot that parents should be concerned about. let me ask you about the durham investigation, because 44 senators joined me in a letter that we sent to you in august. and we still have not received a written response from you on the status of the durham investigation. so will you provide for me a written status report of the durham investigation? >> the particular aim, i think, of the letter asked about the
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budget. as i said at the house committee, mr. durham is continuing -- >> we asked for a status update, and we also asked that a report be made public, available to the public on the completion of his work. will that be made public? >> on both of those questions, the budget has been approved as i already announced and with respect to the report, i would like as much as possible to be made public. i have to be concerned about privacy act concerns and classifications, but other than that, the commitment is to provide a public report, yes. >> can you guarantee this committee that special counsel durham has free reign to proceed wherever his investigation takes him without any political or otherwise undue influence or interference? >> there will be no political or otherwise undue interference. >> okay, susan hennessey, susan hennessey was recently hired to work in your national security division. this is a troubling hire because of her political bias. she has made several comments
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that show she is incapable of working impartially on sensitive matters within the national security division. particularly on the durham investigation. for example, december 1st, 2020, ms. hennessey stated, and i am quoting, durham has made abundantly clear that in a year and a half, he hasn't come up with anything. i guess this kind of partisan silliness has become characteristic of barr's legacy, but unclear to me why durham would want to go along with it. end quote. so how can the american people be certain that she is going to be fair and impartial when she is on the record making those statements? so has she retracted that statement? do you intend to ask her to retract that statement? >> i have to confess, i don't think i have ever met ms. hennessey, and she has
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nothing whatsoever to do with the durham investigation. >> you might want to look at her. she's there in your national security division. and she is very much opposed to this. i want to thank you for your time. i am going to send a couple of questions to you for more complete answers, but i associate myself with the comments by my colleagues that the border issues have turned every town into a border town, and every state into a border state. the amount of drugs, the amount of trafficking that is flowing in here, talking to local law enforcement, the way they're looking at the cartels. mr. attorney general, there is a lot that needs to be done to secure this country, and the parents of the kiddos in our schools, they are not the problem. there are other problems that need your attention. >> thank you, senator blackburn. the committee will stand in
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recess for five minutes. meeting will resume. senator hawley? >> mr. chairman, did you call on me? i'm happy to go. >> i'm sorry. i didn't see senator osoff. thank you, senator hawley. thank you, mr. chairman. attorney general, nice to see you. thank you for joining us. last week, the senate passed legislation that i introduced alongside chair durbin and ranking member grassley, the prison camera reform act. to reduce violence and civil
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rights abuses in b.o.p. facilities by overhauling the security camera system that ig horowitz has found is outdated, unreliable, as well as the means of recording and preserving the footage from those systems. do you agree these reforms are necessary and should this bill become law, will you commit to prioritizing the implementation of the requirements it imposes upon the b.o.p.? >> yes, and yes. >> thank you, attorney general. i'd like to discuss with you staffing issues at the bureau of prisons. earlier this year, the gao, which as you know is a nonpartisan independent watchdog, concluded that b.o.p. lacks a reliable method for assessing the scope of staffing issues or the impact on incarcerated populations and staff of staffing issues at b.o.p. facilities. do you agree the inability to reliably measure this problem impedes b.o.p.'s ability to find
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gaps, for example, shortages of personnel to help implement the first step act and antirecidivism programs, as well as makes it more difficult for congress to respond, and will you commit to working with my office to help identify where there's gaps in planning or budgeting or personnel management or the authorities that b.o.p. has? >> yes, senator. i met with the comptroller general about this, about various of his reports and this one in particular. and i agree this is a serious problem at the bureau of prisons. the deputy attorney general has been working on this problem for quite some time now. as she has repeat meetings with the bureau of prisons to go over this issue with respect to staffing and assessments. and i would be happy to have somebody on our staff meet with your staff. >> thank you, attorney general. the inspector general has determined that b.o.p. lacks a clear and consistent policy for the use of solitary
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confinement in b.o.p. facilities. has b.o.p. to your knowledge issued such a policy? >> i don't know the answer to that. >> okay, will you work with my office to determine whether they have and what may need to be done to make sure they do? >> of course. >> thank you, attorney general. a question about commercial data and its use in doj investigations. in 2018, the supreme court issued a decision that government agents must obtain a warrant that shows the location of a device over a seven-day period. this data is widely available for many u.s. persons on commercial markets through data brokers and other technology companies. to your knowledge, do any federal agencies currently purchase data or any doj components currently purchase data or contract for services that provide device location data from commercial vendors? is this data used in investigations or prosecutions? >> i don't believe that we purchase location data.
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but i'll be happy to look into that and get back to you on that as well. >> i would be grateful because i think there are serious fourth amendment concerns there. i would like to discuss the fisa process with you. in its report last month, the office of the inspector general noted that doj and fbi had work to do the implement the ig's recommendations to strengthen the process for fisa applications. while this has unfortunately become a partisan issue, it's fundamentally an issue of privacy, due process, and the integrity of the foreign intelligence surveillance court and the applications it receives. the ig's report notes that the fbi has not significantly changed the process by which a supervisor such as the assistant attorney general for national security division reviews and documents the factual assertions made in fisa applications. and i discussed this issue with matt olson when he was before the committee for his confirmation.
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so what steps is the doj taking to make substantive changes to the fisa review process and comport with the ig's recommendations? >> i completely agree that this should not be a partisan issue. fisa on the one hand is an extraordinarily important tool for our ability to protect the country against foreign enemies. and on the other hand, it's a tool that has to be dealt with with the most extreme care because we have to protect american citizens from unwarranted surveillance. nontraditional surveillance. i take the inspector general's report extraordinarily seriously. i believe the one you're talking about refers to events in 2019. regardless, we take this very seriously, and the fbi director does as well. the national security division of the department reviews what
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the fbi is doing with respect to fisas routinely. the office analyzes them to be sure they are following the correct rules. and we intend to continue that kind of intensive review to insure that internal regulations and the requirements are maintained. >> thank you. >> thank you, attorney general, and i believe there is within the last couple of months some additional recommendations or concerns expressed by the ig about the implementation of changes pursuant to its prior conclusion. >> this must be the woods -- i think this is the woods file. >> that's correct. >> i quite agree that this has to be done better. as i think he said, it's a work in progress. and there is certainly a considerably more room for improvement, and we're focused on making those improvements. >> okay, well, please note there's bipartisan concern about
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seeing those improvements implemented. a final question about press freedom. you issued a memo in july prohibiting the department from using subpoenas, court orders, or warrants to obtain information on the confidential sources of reporters. and this new policy, as you defined it, offers broad protections for members of the news media but does not qualify or define with specificity who qualified as members of the news media. is there a specific interpretation of that phrase that's been issued in internal department guidance? >> the answer to that is no. we have discussed this with representatives of the news media continuously, and as part of our review for purposes of turning this memorandum into a regulation, we're continuing to discuss this. as you can imagine, it's very difficult to make that kind of definition. >> but very important to get it right. >> i completly agree. >> and i think my staff will likely ask yours for a briefing on the progress of your deliberations and perhaps we'll weigh in. thank you for your service, attorney general, and for your
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responses. and i yield back. >> thanks, senator. senator hawley. >> thanks very much. attorney general garland, on october 4th, you issued an unprecedented memo that involved the department of justice and the fbi and local school districts, local school boards. nothing like it in our country's history. it was based, you testified, on this letter from the national school board association that we now know the white house was involved in writing. they've retracted the letter, they've apologized for the letter. they say they regret the letter, but you won't retract the memo and said earlier that you have no regrets, and you've defended yourself repeatedly saying you're focused on violence. but now, of course, we have seen the memo from your own justice department advising state and local and other prosecutors about all of the different federal causes of action that they can bring against parents that are not about violence. they're about harassment and intimidation. i'm looking here at this memo. it identifies no fewer than
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13 possible federal crimes involving harassment and intimidation, including making annoying phone calls. do you think a parent who makes a phone call to a school board member that she has elected, that that school board member deems annoying, should be prosecuted? >> no, i don't, and the supreme court has made quite clear that the word intimidation is one that directs a threat to a person with the intent of placing the victim in fear of bodily harm or death. prosecutors who investigate these cases know the supreme court. this is a very famous case. >> prosecutors do, but parents don't, general garland. do you think that a parent who looks at the 13 different federal crimes that your justice department has identified, they might be subject to and prosecuted for, like making annoying phone calls, do you think they're going to feel that they're welcome to speak up at a
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school board meeting? how about this one. they could be prosecuted for using the internet, i guess that would be facebook, in a way that might cause emotional distress to a victim. is that a crime of violence? >> senator, i haven't seen the memo that you're talking about, and even from the description, it doesn't sound like it was addressed to parents. >> no, it wasn't addressed to parents. it was addressed to prosecutors. that's the problem. why haven't you seen the memo? >> i don't know why i haven't. i do not get every memo that every u.s. attorney sends out. but if you're -- >> wait a minute, i just want to be sure i understand this. this is a memorandum that collects 13 different federal crimes parents could be charged with. it has united states department of justice on the top of it. and you're telling me you haven't seen it? >> who is the memo from, senator? >> the united states department of justice, united states attorney for the district of montana. >> i have not seen a memo from the district of montana. >> not a high enough priority for you? >> that's not the question.
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>> it is the question. answer my question. is it not a high enough priority for you when you're threatening parents with 13 different federal crimes? these aren't crimes of violence. you've testified today you're focused on violence. that's not what your u.s. attorneys, they work for you, that's not what they're saying. you haven't seen it because it's not a high enough priority or what? >> it's not a question of priorities. no one has sent me that memo. >> what do you mean, no one has sent you the memo? you run the department of justice, do you not? >> there are 115,000 employees of the department of justice. >> indeed, and you are in charge of every one of them. this was a sufficiently important case that you issued a memo. you, over your signature, issued a memo involving the fbi and the department of justice in local school boards, local school districts. your u.s. attorneys are now threatening prosecution with 13 different crimes, but it's not a high enough priority for you? it got lost in the mix? >> once again, i have never seen that memo. >> that's what concerns me,
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general garland. >> well, it wasn't sent to me. i hope you will assure your constituents what we are concerned about here is violence and threats of violence. >> that only leads me to conclude -- all i can conclude from this is either that you're not in control of your own department or that more likely what i think to be the case is that you knew full well that this is exactly the kind of thing that would happen. when you issued your memo, when you involved the department of justice and all of its resources, and the fbi and all of its resources, and local school boards and local school districts, you knew that federal prosecutors would start collecting crimes that they could use against parents. you knew they would advise state and local officials that these are all of the ways parents might be prosecuted. you knew that that was the likely outcome. and that's exactly what's happened. and we're talking about parents like scott smith, who is behind me, over my shoulder.
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this is a father from loudoun county, virginia. here he is at a school board meeting. he was forcibly restrained, he was assaulted, he was arrested. why? because he went to an elected school board meeting. he's a voter, by the way. he went to an elected school board meeting to raise the fact his daughter was assaulted, sexually assaulted in a girls' restroom by a boy. this is what happened to him. now, you testified last week before the house you didn't know anything about this case. i find that extraordinary because the letter you put so much weight on, the letter that's now been retracted, it cites this case directly. there's a news article cited in the letter. it's discussed in the letter. but you testified you just couldn't remember it. maybe this will refresh your memory. do you think people like -- parents who show up to complain about their children being assaulted ought to be treated like this man? >> parents who show up to complain about school boards are protected by the first amendment. >> do you think they ought to be prosecuted in a different way
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than your u.s. attorneys are identifying? >> if what they're doing is complaining about what the school board is doing, policies, curriculum, anything else that they want to, as long as they're not committing threats of violence, then they should not be prosecuted and they can't be. >> let me ask you about this. several of my democrat colleagues have today just in this hearing multiple times have compared parents who show up at school board meetings like mr. smith here, have compared them to criminal rioters. do you think that's right? do you think that a parent who shows up at a school board meeting who has a complaint, and maybe she doesn't use exactly the right grammar, you think they're akin to criminal rioters? do you agree with that? >> i do not, and i don't remember any senator here making that comparison. >> oh, really? these folks who came here on january 6th and the riot at the capitol. >> i don't think they were referring to the picture you're showing here. >> i certainly would hope not. they're referring to parents who go to school board meetings. mr. smith is a parent who went to a school board meeting.
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i'll leave it at this, general garland, you have weaponized the fbi and the department of justice. your u.s. attorneys are now collecting and cataloging all of the ways they can prosecute parents like mr. smith because they want to be involved in their children's education, and they want to have a say in their elected officials. it's wrong. it is unprecedented, to my knowledge, in the history of this country, and i call on you to resign. thanks, mr. chairman. >> senator cruz. >> thank you, mr. chairman. for eight years under barack obama, the department of justice was politicized and weaponized. when you came before this committee in your confirmation hearing, you promised things would be different. i asked you specifically, quote, will you commit to this committee that under your leadership, the department of justice will not target the political opponents of this administration? here was your answer, quote, absolutely. it's totally inappropriate for the department to target any individual because of their politics or their position in a campaign.
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that was your promise just a few months ago. i'm sorry to say you have broken that promise. there is a difference between law and politics. and, general garland, you know the difference between law and politics. law is based on fact. it is impartial. it is not used as a tool of political retribution. this memo was not law. this memo was politics. on wednesday, september 29th, the national school board association wrote a letter to the president asking the president to use the department of justice to target parents that were upset at critical race theory, that were upset at mask mandates in schools, to target them as domestic terrorists. on the face of the letter, the letter was in repeated consultation with the white house, in explicit political consultation with the white
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house. that was on wednesday, september 29th. five days later, on monday, so right after the weekend, boom. you pop out a memo. giving them exactly what they want. now, by the way, i understand that. in politics, that happens all the time. an important special interest wants something, sir, yes, sir, we're going to listen to them. let me ask you something, general garland. in the letter which you told the house of representatives was the basis for this abusive memo targeting parents, how many incidents are cited in that memo? >> i have to look back through the memo. you don't know. >> how many of them are violent? >> the general -- >> how many of them were violent, do you know? >> i don't know. >> there's a reason you don't know. because you didn't care, and nobody in your office cared to find out. i did a quick count just sitting here during this hearing. i counted 20 incidents cited.
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of the 20, 15 on their face are nonviolent. they involve things like insults. they involve a nazi salute. that's one of the examples. my god, a parent did a nazi salute at a school board because he thought the policies were oppressive. general garland, is doing a nazi salute, is that protected by the first amendment? >> yes, it is. >> okay. 15 of the 20 on the face of it are not violent, they're not threats of violence. they're parents who are unhappy. yes, miraculously, when you write a memo, the opening line of your memo, in recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence. you know what, you didn't look and nobody on your staff looked. did you even look up the 20 instances? >> as i have testified, the decision to make -- to send the memo -- >> did you look up the 20 instances? >> i did not. >> did anyone on your staff look them up?
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>> i don't know the answer. >> of course you don't. general, there's a reason. look, you started your career as a law clerk for justice brennan. you've had many law clerks during the years, during your time as a judge. i was a clerk to chief justice rehnquist. i'll tell you what, if i drafted an opinion for the chief justice and walked in and it said, there's a disturbing pattern of violence. well, ted, how do you know that? i got someone who claims it. you would fire a law clerk who did that. you're the attorney general of the united states. this was not a tweet you sent. this is a memo to the federal bureau of investigations saying, go investigate parents as domestic terrorists. >> that is not what the memo says at all. >> is it what the letter says? >> that's not what -- >> is it what the letter says? >> i don't care what the letter says. >> you don't care. you said it was the basis of your memo. you testified under oath before the house of representatives the letter was the basis of your memo.
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now you don't care about the letter? >> the letter and public reports of violence and threats of violence, my memo says nothing about domestic terrorism. there's nothing about parents committing any such things. my memo is an attempt to get an assessment of whether there is a problem out there that the federal government needs to -- >> the letter on its face says the actions of the parents could be the equivalent a form to domestic terrorism. directed at parents. this was the basis of your memo. >> my memo -- >> the department of justice, when you're directing the fbi to engage in law enforcement, you're not behaving as a political operative because a political ally of the president says, hey, go attack these parents because we don't like what they're saying. department of justice, you did no independent research on what was happening, did you? >> the memo has nothing to do with --
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>> did you do independent research? >> the memo has nothing -- >> did you do independent research? >> the memo has nothing -- >> you're not answering that question. you have testified you know nothing about the violent sexual assault that happened in louden county, even though it's one of the bases in this letter. >> i read about it since then. >> you told the house last week you knew nothing about it. >> i did not know about it at the time. >> this week, the court concluded a 14-year-old girl was raped by a boy wearing a skirt in the girls' restroom. the school district covered it up, released the boy, sent him to another school. where he violently raped another girl. the father who mr. hawley just showed you was the father of the first girl. he was understandably -- do you understand why a parent would be upset when your daughter is raped at school, the school board covers it up, and then lies to you and claims there had been no assaults. we have no instances of assaults
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in our bathroom, and that was a flat-out lie as the court concluded this week. do you understand why the parent would be upset? >> absolutely. and any expressions of upset are protected by the first amendment. >> except you just called him a domestic terrorist. >> i never called him that. >> this letter calls him a domestic terrorist. you based an official direction from the attorney general on this letter. i tell you what, the nsca is so embarrassed of the letter, they have apologized for it and retracted it, but you don't have the same willingness to apologize and retract what you did. let me ask you something else. a big part of this letter is they're upset about parents not wanting critical race theory taught. your son-in-law makes a very substantial sum of money from a company involved in the teaching of critical race theory. did you seek and receive a decision from an ethics adviser at the department of justice
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before you carried out an action that would have a predictable financial benefit to your son-in-law? >> this memorandum is aimed at violence and threats -- >> i just asked a question. did you seek an ethics opinion? did you seek an ethics opinion? did you seek an ethics opinion? judge, you know how to ask questions and answer them. did you seek an ethics opinion? >> you asked whether i sought an ethics opinion that would have a predictable effect on something. this has no predictable effect in the way you're talking about it. >> if critical race theory is taught in more schools, does your son-in-law make more money? if critical race theory is taught in schools, does your son-in-law make more money? yes or no? >> this memorandum has nothing to do with critical race theory. >> would you answer? >> i'm answering the best i can. >> yes or no, did you seek an ethics opinion? did you seek an ethics opinion? >> this memorandum --
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>> general, are you refusing answer if you sought an ethics opinion? >> i'm telling you -- >> answer it directly. you know how to answer a question directly. did you seek an ethics opinion? >> i'm telling you if i thought there was any reason to believe there was a conflict of interest, i would do that. >> why do you refuse to answer the question? why won't you just say no? >> i'm sorry. >> you're not going to answer the question. >> ask the question again. >> did you seek an ethics opinion? i'm saying again, i would seek an ethics opinion -- >> so no is the answer, correct? >> senator, your time is up. >> let the record reflect the attorney general refuses to answer whether he sought an ethics opinion and apparently ethics are not a terribly high priority in the biden justice department. >> i don't think that's a fair reflect of what i said. >> then answer the question. senator, you have gone way beyond any other senator's time. i think you ought to be at least respectful of other senators at this point. >> mr. chairman, do you know whether he sought an ethics opinion? >> i think you've exchanged that so many times, we know where we
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stand. we have a request for three-minute rounds, and i have one from senator hirono, senator lee, and senator booker. i'm sorry, and first, of course, ranking member grassley. we're going to stick to three minutes. it's been four hours since the attorney general has been in that chair with a couple breaks. and i think we should try to wrap up if we can. >> request to put something in the record. a "wall street journal" editorial titled, about the domestic terrorist parents. the article notes that the october 4th doj memo should be formally rescinded. >> without objection. >> general, after a great deal of pressure from victims in congress, i know that you're taking another look at the department's disgusting decision not to prosecute employees for lying to government officials in the nassar investigation.
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do you anticipate that the department will similarly expunge the records of these employees just like mccabe or continue to give them get out of jail free cards as you have done so far? >> as i said, senator, we are reviewing the decisions with respect to the alleged false statements. that review is done by the criminal division. >> okay. beginning in the summer of 2020, american cities began to see appalling and unprecedented spike in violent crime, murders, and gang violence, as liberal politicians operated under the rallying cry of defund the police. this movement translated into over 1,200 deaths in 2020 alone. in the summer of 2020, then-attorney general barr instituted operation legend. by any measure, this surge in
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federal agents was a resounding success. by december of 2020, over 6,000 arrests have made been made. over 2,600 firearms had been taken off the streets. and approximately 467 people have been arrested for homicides. given the clear success of operation legend, why is the department seemingly directing its efforts towards school board meetings, but not towards real threats and real acts of violence that happen every day in american cities? so a simple question. does operation legend still exist? >> my understanding is that operation legend was directed at violence over the summer of 2020. we have addressed another surge of federal prosecutorial and law enforcement efforts. this last summer we have stepped up the amount of money we're giving to state and locals and we have increased our joint task forces together.
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i visited a federal and state law enforcement in new york and in chicago and in los angeles and in san francisco. all aimed at violent crime in those areas. and we've asked for considerable additional money, about $1 billion in grants, to fund the state and local police in fy '22. so i think that's -- i hope that answers your question. >> okay. only four packers, jbs, tysons, cargill, and national beef control more than 80% of the cattle market. we've yet to learn anything from this investigation. could you provide an update and can you commit to expediting this investigation so our cattle producers know whether there are
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any antitrust violations? >> i can't discuss the specific investigations. we have long-standing policies against that. but i can tell you that the antitrust division is aggressively concerned with competition in the market that you described. we are also in frequent consultation with the agriculture department with regard to the stockyards -- packers and stockyards act. we regard this as an area where we have to be very much concerned about exclusionary behavior. >> thank you. >> senator hirono? senator, i think your mic is not turned on. >> one thing i have to say is, we listened to -- i don't know, going on hour three is that the republicans, once they focus on something, they just stick with it. it is amazing to me that there's all this mischaracterizing of the attorney general's memo as
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well as a letter from the acting u.s. attorney of montana. and his letter is also totally mischaracterized as to what the focus of the attorney general's letter is. i would like to submit for the record the acting attorney -- u.s. attorney of montana's letter. >> without objection. >> as i said, it's pretty -- it's kind of amazing but not unusual that my republican colleagues will continue to focus on something that the attorney general has to continue to testify for the last three hours, whatever it is, that his letter is being mischaracterized. and they will focus on that until the "n"th degree. at the same time, what is a real is the fact that we have 530 voter suppression bills that have been introduced in 47 states, the vast majority by republican legislatures and
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people's votes are literally being stolen through these voter suppression actions. and do we hear word one about the fact that this is happening, all across the country, that the stealing of votes is happening? does a single republican even care about that? no. so let's let that sink in. that they talk about all of these memos that totally mischaracterizing and yet what is actually happening in voter suppression, not a peep. so i want to ask you, mr. attorney general, shelby county pretty much gutted the voting rights act and then followed by -- wherein the majority opinion suddenly comes up with all these guideposts that the justice department now has to prove in order to protect our right to vote.
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so can you just tell us what the impact of the supreme court's shelby county and other decisions have been on the justice department's ability to protect our right to vote and is are there tools that we can provide through congressional action that will enable you to protect our right to vote? >> yes, senator. the right to vote is a fundamental pillar of american democracy. the voting rights act is one of the greatest statutes that was ever passed. it enabled the justice department to protect people's right to vote and to prevent against discrimination based on race, ethnicity with respect to patterns or practices, with respect to voting. in shelby county, the supreme court took out the most important tool we have, which was section five, which allowed
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preclearance by the justice department or alternatively allowed the state to go to a federal court to get clearance. and that left us with the circumstance of having to examine each case one by one with the burden on the justice department. so one thing that the congress could do is put section five back in place as the supreme court indicated could be done with the appropriate legislative record. second, burnovich interpreted section two in a way that the justice department disagrees with. as we made clear in our papers. i'm not saying anything we didn't say in our supreme court argument. they narrowed it in a way that we think was not consistent with congressional intent and which makes our ability to challenge discriminatory changes in voting much more difficult. congress could, again, fix that by bringing back section two to what congress originally intended and making that clear
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in the statutory language. both of those changes would be enormously important from the point of the justice department's success in protecting the right to vote. >> thank you, senator. >> i'm sorry. >> thank you, senator. >> mr. chairman it's clear that we will have to do those things that the attorney general recommends the people's right to vote without a single republican going in that direction. that's how pathetic it all is. >> thank you, senator. senator lee? >> thank you mr. chairman. attorney general garland, i find it deeply concerning that you still haven't cited a single example of a true threat of violence. and if i'm understanding this correctly, and i've been here for most of this hearing. i've had to step out to vote a couple of times. but i think you seem to admit you didn't do any independent research outside of receiving the september 29th national school board association letter.
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now, one of the things i find perplexing and quite troubling, this came in -- it was sent on september 29th. i believe that was a wednesday. the following monday, just days later, just barely over a weekend, you responded with your memo. now, i submit as a member of the judiciary committee with oversight responsibility over your department, i request information all the time. it takes time. i understand that. sometimes it takes months to get a response back. i'm always grateful when i do get a response back, especially when it's a response that contains meaningful information. i understand people are busy and they've got a lot of stuff to comply with. but if one association can send one letter without any independent research on your part and within days, barely over a weekend, get not just a response, but an action memo signed by the attorney general
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of the united states, i think that's weird. i think that makes me really uncomfortable. especially when the national school board association, as i understand it, had publicly stated that they've been coordinating with officials at the white house on this for weeks. it doesn't feel right. it doesn't seem right to me. now, last week two of our counterparts on our house counterpart judiciary committee asked you a little bit about the number of people entering the united states illegally. about 1.3 million have entered the united states illegally this year. that's a lot of people. of those 1.3 million, i'm quite confident, based on my own past experience as a federal prosecutor, i'm quite confident that some non-insignificant portion of those will have previously been deported. and as you know, that is a felony federal offense.
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illegal re-entry after previous deportation. since they've asked you about that, have you had a chance to identify how many prosecutions have been brought for illegal re-entry this year, and i would be curious about that. i would also be curious as to whether there's anything analogous to the october 4th memo? >> on that question, the 1.3 million are arrests, i think, made by cbp. they are referred. they are -- cbp makes the decision about whether to put those people into removal proceedings or to refer them to the justice department for prosecution. we have this year charged thousands of cases, thousands of cases, criminal cases, with respect to violations of the
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immigration laws, with respect to crossing of borders. i don't have the exact number. we can get you that exact number. but the number is in the thousands. >> my time is expired. i express the concern because when the department becomes focused on things that are not part of its business, namely harassing, threatening, intimidating parents of america, they sometimes lose focus on the things that only the federal government can do. like controlling our border from the dangerous effects of illegal immigration. and illegal re-entry in particular. thank you. >> senator cruz and cotton are seeking three-minute rounds, is that correct? senator booker as well. senator booker. >> the memo reads, in recent months, there's been a disturbing spike in harassment and intimidation and threats of violence against school administrators, board members,
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teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools. is that true? >> yes, sir. >> i mean, it is true. >> it is true. >> i have a list of very disturbing instances. in texas, a parent physically assaulted a teacher. in pennsylvania, a person posted threats on social media which required police to station outside of a school district. law enforcement investigating the person. i can keep going. ohio, a school board member was threatening a letter that began with, with we are coming for you. domestic terrorism in the united states, has it been more from overseas radical terrorists since 9/11 or more from home grown terrorists, most of them being right-wing extremists? which has been greater since 9/11? >> i want to be careful about that. the threats that we face with respect to terrorism and none of those descriptions have to do with terrorism. but the threats that we face in the united states come both from foreign terrorists -- >> a church in south carolina, a
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synagogue in pennsylvania, a school, parkland, a school, newtown. has there been threats and violence against schools in the united states of america, coming from what types of groups? >> they come from domestic groups. >> from domestic groups. >> yes. >> has there been a long, pages long list of what my staff could grab, threats and violence against school officials in the united states of america in the last year? >> i haven't seen the list. but it accords with my recollections. >> let me show you the letter that i've heard so much about that i pulled it to read it. you say literally threats -- excuse me, spirited debate about policy matters is protected under the constitution. i'm quoting one of my colleagues today. does that sound like harassing and intimidating moms and dads? you affirm at the top of your letter that spirited debate is
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allowed. while spirited debate about policy matters is protected under the constitution, that protection does not extend to threats and to violence that we have been watching on our tv screens. intimidating people, threatening to hurt them, taking physical action. but you know what, you did not call for the doj and the fbi to monitor school board meetings, did you? >> no, i did not. >> you did not call for anyone to evoke the patriot act, did you? >> no, i did not. >> sir, what you call is for the doj to convene meetings to discuss strategies for addressing those threats. >> that's correct. >> is that intimidating moms and dads going to school board meetings? >> i can't see how that could be interpreted --
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>> sir, i know something about law enforcement intimidation. it stems from going up as a black man in america. i know what it feels like to be pulled over, to be accused of stealing things, to every time i drive over the george washington bridge as a teenager, to know i had to put extra time because i was being pulled over by law enforcement. if someone was to read the actual letter, you are literally saying as the leader of the highest law enforcement in the land, that you protect spirited debate, that you think, though, given the climate of school violence in america. i've met with victims from parkland. mr. president, i'm sorry, i have watched republican after republican go over time.
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i know you're gently banging that gavel. but i've watched it all today. my colleagues violate what you said at the beginning was a strict time limit. and i would ask you to afford me two more minutes. >> is there an objection? no objection. >> have you met with parkland survivors? >> i met with survivors at the white house -- >> yes or no? you've met with survivors of school violence. >> i've met with the parkland families. yes. >> do you have a responsibility in a climate of threats and violence taking place at schools, do you have a responsibility to convene strategy meetings to try to make sure we do not have eruptions of violence in the country? is that a responsibility of the federal government? >> yes our job is to protect -- >> did you specifically say
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anything in this letter that can be seen as harassing moms and dads and parents or did you explicitly say that the constitution protects spirited debate? >> i specifically said the constitution protects spirited debate and i don't believe there's anything in this letter that could be read to intimidate mothers and fathers. >> and i'm not talking about the outrage machines that seem to fuel our politics on both sides. i'm talking about the actual letter here, sir, that you wrote. you're a good-hearted person. is there anything in this letter that could specifically lead a good-hearted parent who is against mask mandates, who somehow believes that the teaching of racial discrimination is repugnant to them, is there anything in this letter that would prevent them from going and speaking to it and yelling and being upset and letting their elected officials
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know what they really believe? is there anything in the print of this letter that could be seen to leading to that type of intimidation? >> no, senator. all of those things are protected by the constitution. >> will you say that one more time? >> all of those things are protected by the constitution. >> i hope that you will do your law enforcement work. there's too much violence in this country. there's been too many domestic terrorist attacks. i don't want to have the next hearing here to be about some incident. i hope you continue to convene your strategy sessions, to protect parents and children and school officials from any kind of of the heinous violence that we have seen way too much of in this country and that we all bear a responsibility for stopping. thank you, mr. chairman, for the allowance of the extra time. >> thank you, senator. senator cruz? >> we talked a minute ago about the difference between law and politics. we heard some impassioned political speeches but also a
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question that was asked, is there anything in this memo to tell a parent that they're being targeted for harassment and intimidation? i would note that the letter from the school boards cited 20 instances, 15 of which were nonviolent. the letter from the school board described them as domestic terrorism. within days, the department of justice snapped to the commands of a special interest and issued a memo directed to the department of justice and the fbi. this is where law matters. the opening sentence describes a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence. now, you spent a long time as a judge. when you have three things listed, am i correct that anyone interpreting that, reading it, would conclude that harassment and intimidation are something different than threats of violence, given that you listed each of the three out separately? is that consistent with the
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canons of construction? >> the memorandum is addressed to professional prosecutors. >> i asked you a question. not who it was addressed to. >> senator, at least let him respond. not when he answers -- you're taking my time now. this is not coming out of my time. when i ask a -- >> i've given you more time than any other senator. listen, all i'm asking is allow him to respond. >> mr. chairman, when i ask a question, he can answer the question. but he's proceeding to ask a total non sequitur. >> please let him respond. >> i'll ask the question again. the opening line of the memo specifies harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence. is it correct under the ordinary canons of construction that a legal reader would understand that harassment and intimidation means something different from threats of violence? is that correct? >> the legal reader would know virginia versus black, the supreme court's definition of intimidation, and a legal reader would know the definition of harassment.
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>> and would a parent? >> it's not addressed to parents. >> but parents read it. you're the attorney general of the united states. you said you can't think of anything harassing. you directed the fbi to go after parents -- all right. let's move on to a different topic. - after the parents. you said you are willing to use the power of the department of justice to target those with political views different from you, even if it is at a pta meeting. let's try the other side. are you willing to force enforce the law fairly? against people who are political allies of the president? and a senate hearing in may, doctor fauci said, the nih has never and does not now, fun to gain a function research in the wuhan institute of virology. that was under oath. on october 20th, the nih principal deputy director, in writing directly contradicted him. those two statements cannot be true.
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ot beas you know, section 1000,f 1:18, makes it a crime to knowingly make statements that are false. will you appoint a special prosecutor? >> the memorandum that i issued is not partisan in any way. it has nothing to do with what i agree with or don't agree with. i don't care whether the threats of violence come from the left or the right. >> could you answer the question? >> we don't comment on criminal investigations or other -- >> them amazingly, when it's a political administration, you comment loudly in a memo -- >> i did not -- >> president biden recently said in a town hall that officers who declined to get vaccinated should be fired. do you agree with president biden on this? >> i think that all police officers -- i stood on the stage at the
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mall, with a 700 and something police officers that died this -- year >> let me try again, do you agree with the president? it's a yes or no. you've asked questions as a judge? do you know how to ask a yes or no? >> officers who died this year, many died from covid-19 -- >> you agree with the president that officers who refused to get vaccinated should be fired? >> if they had been vaccinated they wouldn't have died. >> so that's a yes? >> please let me, sir -- >> in chicago, a third of the police officers did not file their vaccination status. do you think that chicago should fire a third of its police officers when word rates and crime rates are skyrocketing? >> that's a determination of the city of chicago and -- >> the president said yes. you are the chief law enforcement officer of the united states. do you agree with joe biden saying fire police officers, despite the skyrocketing crime rates? >> that is a question of state law there and one to be decided
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by that state. >> you have no view -- on >> senator, you time has expired. >> well, you used two minutes of. it >> no, sir, i did not. senator blumenthal. >> thank you, thank you for being here, mister attorney general. -- an issue that i know you are familiar with in the state. and i wanted to say that i was encouraged and pleased when president biden issued an executive order requiring the department of justice to complete a review of documents sought by the 9/11 survivors. they are in court now taking advantage of the overwhelmingly approved measure that gives courts jurisdiction over their claims for the harm they suffered when their loved ones
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were killed during the 9/11 attacks. and i was glad to see that the fbi has released at least one document on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 deaths. i still am focused on the states secret of privilege, the invocation of it in past years, before the administration, the over use of it. the trump justice department failed to provide meaningful justification for withholding these documents from the 9/11 families and i think we see now that there was no justification. thaso i know the departments review's ongoing and that you will continue to disclose. i hope, as much information as possible, as quickly as possible. possible.just to address the des use of the privilege more broadly, the memo requires the
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department of justice to provide periodic reports to congress identifying the cases where privilege is invoked. and explaining the base basis for invoking it. i sent a letter earlier this month about the reporting requirement because this committee has received only two reports in 2011 in 2015. and in the six years since, the department has failed to provide such reports. it's just come to the point -- i'm respectfully asking for commitment that you will provide these periodic reports the congress and review the departments policies with respect to its invoking the state secrets privilege so us to comply with the 2009 memo. it may have gone too quickly over the various actions of the
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department. the memo i'm referring to, requires those periodic reports. so in the ears seconds that i have left -- >> the answer to both questions is yes. we are currently reviewing that memo. we will strengthen it. and it has not made a response in 2015. i assure you, we intend to do that, yes. >> thank you, senator cotton. >> i want to return to your exchange this morning with myself. you made an admission, on this memo on october 24th. you acknowledge there was no initiative to draft this memo or create these task forces before wednesday, september 29th when the national school board association issued that letter. is that correct? >> i don't know. all i know is that the first time i started working on this
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was after receiving the letter. that's all -- i >> so, from your standpoint, you are not aware of any effort in the department of justice before that letter was sent on september 29th? >> i think it's fair to say, if you are suggesting that this letter and with the other public notices of violence against school board members and teachers -- what form the basis for this -- >> did the memo? what did the memo -- >> -- >> did you sign? it >> i did. >> -- >> i -- >> want you pointed out that the letters have been outstanding for months. how is it that the department was able to move so rapidly on a single letter that has now repudiated the letter, and that it has also apologized for sending the letter? -- >> an organization that represents thousands of school
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board members that -- >> appointed to represent thousands, because state school boards across the country have been repudiated and trying to withdraw their membership. that's why the national school board association withdrew its own letter. school who brought this to your attention? >> may i answer the question? >> i'm asking the question now. >> you asked an earlier question, may i answer the question? the answer is why speed. when we them get threats of violence, we need to act swiftly. i would have hated to have gotten this letter and then effects of violence that occurred in the interim -- >> okay -- >> it's addressing the circumstances, that's all there is here. we can't wait until somebody dies -- >> okay, well you keep citing media reports. there were 24 incidents in that letter. they were nonviolent -- >> that's not what i was referring to -- >> you said earlier it was in the reports. okay, what other reports did you see about violence of
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school boards? >> i hadn't seen them specifically but i had known that there was proof of what they had seen before -- >> but that's all you had talked about. after the -- fact >> it was october 4th -- >> who brought this to you and ask you to sign it? >> nobody brought the memo to me -- >> well, someone had to bring it to you. hey, judge, i have to take the side of the parents -- >> that's not an accurate description -- >> is this an initiative of lisa monaco? >> this went through normal processes in the department and i worked on it myself -- >> someone was a proponent. i bet you did not write the first draft. where did it come from? did it come from lisa monaco? >> i didn't work on this memorandum but it represents my views -- >> did it come from the -- office? >> i'm not going to discuss the internal workings of the justice department here.
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this memorandum reflects my view and i stand behind it and i continues to stand behind it -- >> are you aware of conversations between members of the department of justice in the lead up to that memo? >> there were no conversations with me. i'm sure there were conversations. it's perfectly appropriate when the white house receives a letter, all for the law enforcement response across the board not to respect the specific case for the white house, with the justice department. >> are you aware of conversations between your officials and white house officials and the members of the school board association, all cooperating together, which is why you are able to move in four days, judge? four days, two of which were weekends. >> i am sure there were conversations with the white house. i have no idea whether there were conversations with the school board association. >> -- i bet we will find out that there were. and it won't happen when there are republicans in charge. >> let me be clear, glynn this
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is an investigation of any particular process. in the same way you ask me to worry about violence in the streets, it's perfectly appropriate for the white house to urge me to worry about violence in the streets. the same way that it is appropriate for the white house or any other organization to urge me to worry about election threats. there is nothing that i know knew about this organization, that is in anyway partisan. i never viewed the school board association as a partisan organization. >> why won't you repudiate the letter and say that you made a mistake? because you relied on that information? >> they didn't repudiate the letter, they repeated language in the letter that i don't agree with. but there are concerned about safety in the schools, and with violence. that's why. >> thank you. senator blackburn has asked for
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three minutes. i will conclude with my own three minutes after that. senator blackburn. >> thank, you mister chairman. attorney general garland, you just told me that you don't think you ever met susan hennessy. did you hire susan hennessy? >> i have signed off on authority, i suppose, for everyone in the justice department -- >> know, i -- >> that's the best i can answer with respect to that. but the question you are worried about, senator, and i understand this has to do with durham, and i explained, this has nothing to do with the durham investigation. >> were you aware of her coming in before you hired her? >> again, i -- >> you don't know? >> there are 115,000 people in the justice department. >> i'm fully aware of that. and it's amazing that among those 150,000 people, those 115,000 people investigate
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crime on the streets or in the board, and they -- i'm going to return to this memo on october 4th. they memorandum cites harassment, intimidation and threats of violence, and would i'd like to know who chose those threats of violence? this your flex your views but it's apparent that you did not write this memo yourself. and so i would like to know, who came up with that language. was that yours? or was that submitted language? >> i don't know whether -- let me put it this way, this is language that law enforcement officers understand very well. it is convened in the federal statute and -- >> we'll, at the supreme court, he submitted last week that you were concerned only about true
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threats. so are you going to revise your memorandum to make it clear that this applies only to true threats of violence? instead of classifying parents in this country with a terrorists such as timothy mcvay and terry nickel? the other thing i would like to know, you said earlier, that your memo is based on the ncsa letter and the news reports. so you said that there was not a lot of independent research done by you. and your staff. so if you would please submit to us for the record the news reports that you are referencing so that we will be able to have that as a frame of reference? and also we would love to know who actually did write that memo and who came up with the idea of calling parents
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domestic terrorists? one other thing, do you agree with the supreme court decision that the second amendment is a civil rights? and what is your civil rights division doing to make sure it is being protected? >> just a backup on some of the questions, on domestic terrorism and parents, i do agree that the second amendment is part of the bill of rights. the civil rights has some general authorities. it also has specific statutory authorities. i don't know if they are in the specific statutory authority in the memo given by congress of the civil rights division. i'm not aware of one. >> okay, so we can depend on you to support the second amendment? that's what you are saying, to
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defendant? >> yes, of course, it's part of the bill of rights. >> all right, and i will look forward to the other submissions in writing. >> thank you, mr. attorney general, think you for your patience. you have been sitting in that chair for four and a half hours without breaks. many colleagues have had questions, then come back and ask more, sometimes the same question. i'd like to make this observation. i understand completely why you issued that memo. i wish my colleagues would reflect as to why that memo is important not just for school board members but to send a message across america that there is a line we will draw when it comes to political expression. when you say words, wave your arms, it's all protected. but when you threatened some person with violence, that is never going to be protected and should not be. it isn't that long ago that gaby giffords, one of our
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colleagues in the house, was gunned down in arizona. her husband is now serving as our colleague in the united states senate. i don't know the political bent of the person who shot her. it's basically irrelevant. but we should never countenance that as adequate or proper political expression. steve scalise, republican congressman from louisiana, was gunned down by someone from my state who i believe was identified with the left. it doesn't make any difference. a good man has suffered as much as he has because of that. now we are hearing about in great britain, david ames, stab at a constituency meeting. can we not even disagree on issues to a great degree, and agree with the premise that anyone who engages in violence or threats of violence has stepped over the line when it
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comes to threats from the right or the left? i think that that's what you were trying to say in your memo to the school boards. and like you, i've never heard the school board association identified with great, strong special interest groups. i haven't seen that since i've been i in congress. i would just say, thank you for doing that, it was the right thing to do. it has been mischaracterized and distorted. not only today but before. i think we can prove by our actions that we are not trying to stymie free speech, but only that we will draw a line. at least one of the people who was criticizing you today, and talking about the situation on january 6th, was actually cheering the demonstrators on january 6th. and there is ample evidence of that. i would think that we've got to draw a line in this civilized society, and that we will be respectful of one another even
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if we disagree politically. i thank you for your testimony. would you like to have a closing comment? >> thank you senator, no, i appreciate your remarks, though. >> thank, you -- [inaudible]
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