tv Deputy Attorney General Nomination Hearing CSPAN March 29, 2015 5:05am-7:01am EDT
ing from churchill or somebody else saying let's let the lusitania go into the sea. nothing like that exists. >> tonight at 8:00 on c-span. othe senate judiciary committee held a hearing at tuesday on the nomination of sally yates to be the next deputy attorney general. she serves as the acting deputy ag. she was nominated january 8. questions included mandatory sentencing, human sex trafficking, countering violent extremism. this is just under two hours.
the constitution recognizes us as equal. i was going to call on you first because you are the senior member here today. it you have been a respected member of the house of representatives and you know miss yates. hope you will start. john lewis: thank you very much. i am delighted and pleased to be here. i am on a to be here with my friend from the georgia delegation. we are introducing the united states attorney for the district
of georgia. she has been nominated to serve as deputy attorney general of the united states. her dedication to public service is in her blood. both her father and grandfather served in the georgia court of appeals. her father was one of the great lawyers in the state of georgia and in our nation. she is principled, tough has used her commitment to justice to strength law enforcement and the community. she graduated from the university of georgia with honors. her career in private practice she tried 15 traces -- cases to
verdict. in one of her first notable pro bono victories, she recovered property taken from the first african-american landowner. in 1989, she began her career. over the next two decades, she was known for her aggressive work, fighting violent crime with cybercrime, human activity, gang activity. the u.s. attorney prosecuted the infamous terrorists who bombed the 1996 olympics in atlanta. five years ago, she was confirmed as the first woman
u.s. attorney for the northern district of georgia. she took a unique approach to leadership. her first action was to go on a listening tour, to hear from the people she would serve. she made it clear, she made it crystal clear, she made it plain and simple and in every quarter that her mandate was simple. evenhanded justice served the people. her leadership was tough. in this time in a link between law enforcement and the community, it has become strained. sally yates made an effort to reach out and she continued to reach out. under her leadership, the u.s.
attorney's office organized a youth justice summit at georgia state university. in a student forum initiative with community and schools in georgia. a youth advocate advisory council to meet with high school students and leaders. a mock trial program with the law school. it she hosted public discussion with the governor and the chamber of commerce. she worked with the urban league and the state board of pardon and parole's to establish a 12 week program to provide job training and counseling for parolees. in the last year, citizens
across the country have led the nation know that law enforcement is not fair and reports are now verifying some of their concerns are valid. long before these problems came to light, selling yates led her office to build community relationship and she is still doing it everyday. she knew it was important, very important, to seek out and prosecute crime wherever she found it and create an understanding of how justice serves us all. mr. chairman and ranking members, i introduce a true champion of justice, a true champion of his right and fair and just here in a leader who is
a woman of principle, compassion, and faith. she is a daughter of atlanta. she is a citizen of georgia. i believe she will make an outstanding deputy attorney general of the united states. i support her nomination. thank you. johnny isakson: i am pleased to share the dais with john lewis. i'm happy to wish him his 75th birthday which is saturday. happy birthday, john. i hope you have 75 more. i've had the chance to introduce a lot of georgians and different venues. i never had one of forward to more than today and introducing sally yates. i have known her and her husband
for a long time. her children are with her. she is a great hero of the state of georgia. she has been in the district of georgia prosecuting criminals and for the last five years she has been the chief attorney and proven herself over and over and over again to be effective fair diligent, and the person you would want representing you. she is a graduate of the georgia school of journalism and vote school of law. she is a double dog. she graduated magna cum laude. she has been referred to as tough and tenacious. i thought i would quote from mark twain when confronted with
a difficult decision, always do what's right. you will surprise a few and astonish the rest. she is exactly what this country needs in the u.s. attorney's office in washington dc. she will call it like she sees them and she will be fair and just. she has impeccable taste integrity, and an impeccable record. i defer to david purdue. david perdue: it's my distinct honor to join senator isaacs men and congressman yates. i want to echo their words. her distinguished career in federal service, for years she has gone after the most violent criminals.
the department and people of georgia are fortunate to have benefited from her work in the service of justice for so many years. i join my colleagues in welcoming her to the committee and congratulated her on the honor this nomination. it's my privilege that as a yellow jacket to welcome this bulldog to this committee. thank you. chuck grassley: thank you both and you are free to go. otherwise, we would be glad to have you listen to us as well. i welcome you to the senate judiciary committee. it's been a big day for you and your family. congratulations on your nomination. we will consider the nomination of sally gates to be deputy attorney general. i would start by noting that she is already doing the job. she has been serving as acting deputy since the beginning of the year.
she already has some experience leading the department. she has been exposed to the challenges the department faces. before her service, she served in the u.s. attorney's office for northern georgia for 25 years. she has experience in running an office and important experience as a prosecutor. when nominees appear before us, they avoid answering questions. they say they are not able to provide answers. because she has been on the job for a few months, i assume she will be able to answer questions about the department for us. i won't repeat all of my concerns with the way the department of justice has been run for the past six years. i out loan -- outlined those. my concerns remain.
i will be interested in discussing these matters with missy ates today. she has a lot of impressive experience as a prosecutors throughout her career. she has been in a number of discussions. one thing i will discuss with her about today is the position she takes regarding mandatory minimum sentences. in testimony before the sentencing commission, she said mandatory minimum sentences increase deterrence and cooperation by those involved in the crime. she called mandatory minimums essential law enforcement tools and argued that they have helped reduce crime rates. as i am hoping the next attorney general provides an independent voice and works to depoliticize the department, i have the same
hope. i'm looking forward to hearing her perspective on the current state of the department as she provides testimony. i will be listed for improvements she would implement to make it more transparent grid it is deeply politicized and i'm hopeful the next will have what it takes to make some changes badly needed. i turn to our ranking member senator blumenthal. richard blumenthal: thanks for conducting this hearing in such a gracious way. i would some point we will clarify all the stuff about bulldogs and yellowjackets. i come from a state where we haven't bulldog mascot. we welcome you anyway.
today is a proud one for me as a former united states attorney and a former attorney general of my state. like a number of us, we have a background in law enforcement. you pay demise the best of a public interest lawyer and law enforcer. fair, just honest as mr. lewis referred to you. i think you have gained respect for the people who are the most critical judges, people on the streets, fbi agents and dea and enforcers and postal inspectors and secret service who have contacted our committee and spoken through others to say how much they have respected your work and admired your tenacity and your toughness it also your
essential fairness in enforcing the law. those qualities as we have discussed in private meeting will be critically important because the role of a prosecutor is not only to get convictions but to achieve justice. i am paraphrasing, the department of justice faces enormous challenges ahead. new leadership will be important to that direction. i want to say how much i appreciate the leadership we've seen from attorney general holder. i think he deserves gratitude from our nation. i am hopeful that we will confirm his replacement very shortly, she is eminently well-qualified. i hope we would move quickly to your confirmation as well. i look forward to supporting you and i wanted to say my thanks to your family who are here today.
i know that your son and daughter may not have always believed your edicts were right fair, and just, there were moments when you're directions were questioned by them. i know that you are proud of them as they are extremely proud of you and i want to thank your husband for his public service as well as yourself. thank you very much for being here and answering our questions today. chuck grassley: i would like to swear you. you affirm that the testimony you are about to give before the committee will be the truth the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god? are free not to make any opening statement you want to make. you can introduce anybody else
that is proud of your nomination. sally quillian yates: thank you chairman. it's an honor to appear before you today. i am grateful for this opportunity and grateful for the nomination. i would like to thank senator isakson and senator purdue and congressman lewis for their introductions. i am humbled by their confidence in me and grateful for their remarkable lives of service to our state and country. it's meaning to me to appear here surrounded by my family. my husband daughter, and son i'm incredibly proud of each one of them. my husband is a lawyer, he followed his heart and runs a school for children with learning disabilities and children who are deaf and hard
of hearing. my daughter is a special education teacher in north carolina and my son is a sophomore in college where he is studying environmental policy and political science. my only regret is that my parents have passed away and are not here. they gave me a call to public service. i come from a long line of lawyers, lawyers and methodist preachers. even my grandmother was a lawyer. she was one of the earliest women admitted to the georgia bar. she served as a legal secretary instead. my father and his father were state appellate court judges. they demonstrated by example that the law is an instrument for ensuring that right is done in the world. my father died shortly before i graduated from law school and i
recall him counseling me then to think about the job i was going to pursue when i graduated from law school and make sure the work that i chose my graduated was more than just a job or a way to earn a living. he believe that we have an obligation to use our legal education for the greater good. he encouraged me to find a path for i could make a real difference in the world. it that path took me to the department of justice. i joined the u.s. attorneys office in 1989 and it has been my home ever sense. when i joined the office i did not expect that i would be with the department of justice 25 years later. once i experienced the privilege of representing the people of the united states, of getting to do what i believe is right and fair and just in every case, anything else would've been just
a job. bob barr entrusted me with my first decision and that was a line prosecutor. i began the way all young prosecutors do, investigating cases and working with agents and witnesses to ensure that those who violated the law were held accountable and that our community was made safe. my cases became more complex. i assumed leadership positions in the office. i was eventually the first female u.s. attorney in georgia. i carried the values instilled in me and my family, that the law can be an estimate for good when it is applied objectively and fairly. it's a credit to the institution that i have held leadership positions in both democratic and republican administrations and
that i've witnessed career men and women consistently follow the facts of the law with great distinction and without regard to politics. over the years i have seen the department from a variety of vantage point. i prosecuted public corruption regardless of party and let our team to holding accountable the olympic arc bomber. -- park bomber. we went after the worst of the worst weather they were human trafficking rings or cyber criminals. i was vice chair of the attorney general's advisory committee. when the president nominated me it was the greatest honor that i
could imagine. i'm proud to say that in the brief. that i have acted as acting deputy general, i've seen the same skill and dedication in our attorneys that i knew back in the northern district of georgia. in taking on the day-to-day operations of the department, i also understand that we face critical national security and criminal justice challenges. i believe that we can work together to face these challenges. in my role as the chief operating officer of the department, i will ensure that the resources that congress provides to the department of justice as effectively as possible to protect the public that we all serve. i know that several of you have served previously in the department and share my love of the screen is to do should. as you know, the department of justice is unique among agencies.
it must be independent nonpartisan. we don't represent an ordinary client. as the representatives of the people, we must be governed by doing what is just. this is been my life's work. if i can promise you that i will spend h and every moment guided solely by the department's singular mission, to seek justice. thank you and i look forward to your questions. chuck grassley: did you want to introduce family and friends? sally quillian yates: certainly. this is my husband, my son, my daughter. chuck grassley: any friends or family you have, would you like their name in the record? sally quillian yates: thank you senator. we will have seven minute questions.
the second round will be five minutes. i will start. in the last year, i have asked the attorney general four times to disclose the office of legal counsel's opinions regarding the lawfulness of the presidents controversial executive actions. in response, they refused to provide all opinions but said if i had any concerns about a particular executive action i can follow-up. less than two weeks, the president released five taliban commanders without notifying congress as he was required to do. i took the department up on its suggestion and asked for the legal advice doj provided before the decision was made to release the taliban five. the department responded six months later.
it provided a document that the department gave the government accountability office in an after-the-fact effort to defend its actions. we all remember the government accountability office had concluded that the administration had acted unlawfully when it released the taliban five. that document isn't good enough. it is disappointing considering that the attorney general set before this committee last year and assured me he would look for ways to get this information to congress. would you provide this committee with the opinion of the office of legal counsel that it offered on this matter and whether the information for the senior taliban to manders were released
-- commanders were released as the law requires? sally quillian yates: your question touches on a critically important issue, transparency. it is important that the people of the united states understand the basis for actions by various departments of the government. we are committed to getting you the information that you need to understand the basis of those actions. traditionally, the llc -- olc has not been disclosed for good reason. we want to encourage them to come to department of justice and seek counsel and for there to be a full and frank exchange of information and ideas. like a standard attorney/client relationship, we don't want to have a chilling effect on that.
i think we generally follow the physicians that has been followed throughout the department of justice and many administrations to decline to revive the actual opinions themselves. sally quillian yates:chuck grassley: you would not give me the opinion as i requested? sally quillian yates: i would work with you to see the have the information you need. i would be happy to talk with you about the underlying rationale. chuck grassley: i won't get the opinion? sally quillian yates: i don't believe there is a reason to revisit the opinion itself. chuck grassley: the decision has been made that congress can't have the opinion and we won't get the opinion. sally quillian yates: i don't have any present intention to revisit that decision now. we will get you all the underlying rationale. chuck grassley: let me follow up.
the administration has released other ol see opinions. i don't accept the idea that they can pick and choose which of these opinions it might release and which it won't based on perceived political interests. the department of justice explained that the legal reasoning that it used to justify executive amnesty, we have seen that it is very flimsy. the department owes the people an explanation as to why it advised that the president could release the taliban five without notifying congress. i intend to follow up and ask you about this in my written questions. you and i had discussions of how important oversight is for me. just so you know, it isn't
reasonable that some opinions can be released and others can't. you don't want to revisit that. i want to go to another point. i only have two minutes left. this will probably be the last question i can ask. your testimony he for the commission in 2010 stated that crime rates were reduced by mandatory sentencing. there are tangible benefits to law enforcement and public safety for mandatory minimum sentences. they increase deterrence and cooperation by those involved in crimes. you called them a essential law enforcement tool.
judges are exhibiting undue leniency for some white-collar offenses and some child exploitation offenses. he recommended that it might be appropriate to create some new mandatory minimum sentences. at some later time, you made a speech saying we can't jail everybody. prison spending was reducing other doj spending and we can afford to have so many people in prison. you served as a federal prosecutor for 25 years or it do you stand by the testimony that mandatory minimum sentences are an essential law enforcement tool? sally quillian yates: i believe that mandatory and him sentences are an important tool for prosecutors. i think we have an obligation to use that tool as effectively and
efficiently as possible. i'm a career prosecutor. i would not support anything that would undermine public safety. i also know that we have a serious reality that we are facing and that is our prison population is exploding. as a result of that, resources that would go to prosecutors and federal agents to investigate crime are being diverted to the bureau of prisons. it takes up almost two thirds of the department budget. that is untenable and unsustainable. i believe that mandatory minimum sentences are an important tool, but we need to use that tool effectively. richard blumenthal: at the outset i would like to ask permission to include in the record a statement from senator patrick leahy, our colleague
from from aunt in some word of miss yates'nomination. i would like to include letters from colleagues, law enforcement officials, officials in georgia and support that nomination. chuck grassley: without objection. richard blumenthal: but me ask you about loc opinions. it's been a tradition common to most recent administrations that those are not generally released. sally quillian yates: that is my understanding, yes. richard blumenthal: let me ask you about the era of prisons and mandatory minimums. the policies on this issue have gone back and forth. i can member a time when everybody was against them and then they were adopted i many states.
-- by many states. i think we need to do more research and study on what is effective in deterring wrongdoers and lawbreakers in this area and use the most cost-effective policy. you have rightfully say the christ -- costs of incarceration. i assume you would be open to that research. sally quillian yates: i believe that mandatory minimums have a place in our criminal justice system, the most current research indicates it's the certainty of punishment that has the greatest deterrent effect, not necessarily the length of the sentence. richard blumenthal: you made reference to the sizable amount of the department budget that is spent on prison. my understanding is one of the
growing segments of the population are women prisoners in the system. in danbury connecticut the bureau of prisons is constructing a new facility and i am hopeful i can follow up with you on construction of that new facility and dan very because in 2013, it would take 18 months and it would open in 2015. that construction has been delayed. there is a question about whether we are providing the kind of environment that makes for only fair but also effective incarceration. i hope that you would be willing to work with me and consult with me on that issue. sally quillian yates: i would forward to that.
richard blumenthal: on another issue, the department opened a criminal investigation concerning the gm ignition switch and the circumstances surrounding that failure to disclose the defects in the ignition switch which caused injuries and fatalities. the number of fatalities is approaching 60 according to ken feinberg. i hope you will be working with us in bringing that criminal investigation to a prompt and just conclusion. i think the decisions to be made by those victims of the gm diggnation switch -- ignition switch will include that
investigation. deterrence of the kind of alleged wrongdoing that occurred, concealment and even potential fraud against the government, depends on an effective conclusion to that investigation. sally quillian yates: certainly. i appreciate you raising this with me. when we talked last week, i would work with you on this issue as well. richard blumenthal: let me ask you as a newcomer to your position and not to department of justice let me give you the opportunity to talk about where you think your priorities will be, whether it's human trafficking or organized crime or national security or terrorist threats to the country.
where'd you think the resources of the department could be and should be enhanced? sally quillian yates: we face a number of challenges at the department of justice. national security is always and must be our number one priority. we have other challenges as well. cyber security is a very important issue for us. we are seeing that it impacts the full spectrum. issues with private industry and our own personal privacy. cyber security is critically important for our department. there is another issue we need to focus on and that is our relationship with law enforcement. i've been fortunate to work with all levels of law enforcement for the 25 years i was a prosecutor. i think having and strengthening
that relationship will be an important priority for us. i hope i will be able to bring the perspective of the field in assessing our priorities. using our resources in the most effective way possible is a critically important right party for the department of justice. we need to make sure that we are bringing that focus to our investigative agencies. it is important that we are not generating stats but having an impact on the communities that we serve to make them as safe as possible. one of the things i would like to do is work with our law enforcement agencies to ensure that they are focused on making an impact on the safety of the community rather than just generating statistics. richard blumenthal: part of aiding local law enforcement is determining what kinds of equipment, training makes a difference to local law enforcement. assessing what will be of greatest assistance to them in dealing with the vast
variety of challenges that they face. sally quillian yates: just last week, i was fortunate to have a meeting with the head of many of the local law enforcement organizations. the purpose was not for me to talk but to listen to them. i could hear their concerns and priorities how we could work together going forward. richard blumenthal: thank you very much and my time has expired. sally quillian yates:d. chuck grassley: would you take over until i get back? it's my understanding that it would be cornyn and then durban. that is the way a think it works out.
john cornyn: i guess the biggest problem someone in your position could happily come to washington dc is the politics. the ambiguity that seems to exist too often in my view about the role of the chief law enforcement officer of the united states and i would include high-level appointees like you. where your loyalties lie.
you have been clear about your dedication to the law in your pursuit of justice. sometimes here at the highest levels of the department of justice, this has happened in republican and democratic administrations, you serve the pleasure of the president and your confirmed by the senate. when asked a question about the law, sometimes you get a political answer. can you explain to me your perspective on where your loyalties will lie given the fact the you are appointed by the president and serve at his pleasure. can you tell the president know? sally quillian yates: i think you have raised a critically important issue. that is the independence of the department. i can tell you my loyalties lie and that is to the people of the united states and the constitution.
that is what i have been doing for the last 25 years. when i was an assistant attorney, i specialized in public corruption prosecutions. you have to stand up to some powerful people. that is what i have been doing for the balance of my career. i have been doing this for a long time and i am committed to the department of justice and the cause of justice. john cornyn: according to a threat assessment from texas according to this classified threat assessment, mexican cartels control human trafficking routes in texas. the nature of the command and control of human smuggling along the border is varied, including cartel members having
organizational involvement and responsibility over human trafficking operations. the agreed that transnational criminal organizations control much of the human trafficking in and about the united states? sally quillian yates: human trafficking was a significant issue for me as united states attorney. some accounts indicate that atlanta is the number one city in the country for child sex trafficking. i know that whatever it was, it was too large. we are at an unfortunate crossroads in atlanta of another issue. we were the east coast hub for the mexican cartels. i had an opportunity to combat both of these.
my experience with the cartels have been the day go wherever the money is. or wherever there is a profit to be made. human trafficking is the second fastest growing illegal enterprise in the world, second only to drug trafficking. it's not surprising that they would want to be involved in human trafficking as well. john cornyn: your answer reflects what i believe to be the fact, they do go where the money is whether its people or drugs or weapons. that ought to cause us a lot of concern. will you make that a priority if confirmed to this office? sally quillian yates: absolutely. this was one of my top priorities in atlanta. i want to ensure that we were not doing one-off drug cases that we were doing everything we could to dismantle the mexican cartels and work our way up as high as we can in the organizational structure. john cornyn: i hope that the
senate gets unstuck on human trafficking legislation. i am optimistic that we will. we will be able to provide additional resources to law enforcement and the victims to help them heal and return to as normal a life as they can. since i came to the senate i have been engaged with my friend senator leahy on freedom of information reform. the department of justice has oversight responsibility for implementation of the freedom of information act. according to a recent ap report in response to a request regarding the first ladies dresses i guess the question had to do with who pays for those. the responding agency blocked out the quote. they claimed an exemption that
protects personal and medical files such as cells is your numbers and addresses. in 2009, the counsel to the president had an unpublished memorandum ordering agencies to consult with the white house counsel's office on any request for documents i'm not sure what white house equities are. is it appropriate for the white house to review foia requests? sally quillian yates: thank you for the question. i think our foia laws are in place for transparency. the department of justice is committed to ensuring that they are followed not just in the letter but also in the spirit. i am not familiar with the request for the first lady's
dresses or gotten into foia litigation. i can assure you that going forward i would be happy to work with you and other members of the committee to ensure that we are fulfilling our obligation under the foia laws. john cornyn: i appreciate your commitment to work with us on this. there is a lot of work that needs to be done at the department and in the federal government generally about transparency. thank you very much. good luck. sally quillian yates: thank you senator. dick durbin: let me ask you about human trafficking. i think the bill is a good bill.
we have been mired down on one aspect of the bill. it is felt strongly that we need to address this. you have dealt with some capacity with the victims of human trafficking. it strikes me that these victims are very young. that is on tragic aspects of this. most of them are in some state of servitude because the people who are controlling their lives. this leads me to a generalized question. the victims are impregnated wood apparently be subject to sexual assault, statutory rape in most states and involuntary sexual assault by definition in most categories. what we are trying to reach the question about how they would be
treated if pregnant and if they would be regarded as victims of rape. could you make any observation on that? sally quillian yates: and the time i have been in involved in prosecutions at the u.s. attorney's office, some of the most meaningful work that i have done is to spend time with the victims of these cases. i am careful to try not to call them victims but survivors because that is what they are. their courage is humbling. i am not familiar with the details of each state's statutory rape laws. in georgia, if you have sex with an underage woman she would be a victim of statutory rape. to give you real legal answer on that, i would need to have a better understanding of each state's laws.
dick durbin: we are tied into this issue of rape and abortion. many of us believe that the victim/survivor would automatically be characterized as rape victims because of their age or situation. i won't hold you to any strict standard of it. on this issue that has been raised, we are cosponsoring a bill and we have discussed this. it was 1995 or earlier when congress established mandatory minimums. we were trying to reduce the rate of crime. we were trying to eliminate the uncertainty in sentencing. we wanted to send a message to those who committed a crime that there was a price to be paid. the net result has been a
dramatic increase in the number of individuals incarcerated in our federal system, charged under these mandatory minimum statutes. especially in the category of nonviolent drug offenses, we have seen a dramatic increase. we do not eliminate any maximum penalties on any crimes. we try to divide -- provide the low end of mandatory minimum for a narrow category of crime. i guess my question to you is the same one raised by chairman grassley. is this going to make it more difficult for the prosecutor to get the cooperation of the defendant or to basically see that justice is served if such a
change or made? sally quillian yates: thank you for that question. i feel strongly about this. the smarter sentencing act is going to make our country much safer. with specific respect to the question you have asked about prosecutors being able to get cooperation from defendants, i'm not worried about that. in the last year, we have done research on statistics after the passage of the new department policy. this is an initiative where the department is trying to use mandatory minimum send his -- sentences. many of my colleagues in local are concerned they won't get cooperation from defendants if
they did not have the hammer of a mandatory minimum hanging over their heads. the statistics indicate that is not the case. the percentage of dependence pleading guilty in drug cases has remained the same. actually it has gone up half a percent. likewise the percentage of drug defendants who are cooperating in drug cases has also remain the same. as a prosecutor who was doing this before we had some of these mandatory minimums or sentencing timelines, i was not surprised by that. i defendant will always have an incentive to want to get a lower sentence. not only from a gut feeling did i not think it would be the case the evidence indicates that did not have a detrimental impact. dick durbin: you noticed that
the vast expenditure of our federal resources are in incarceration. the average is an 11 year incarceration. sally quillian yates: absolutely. the beer of prisons every year takes up a larger and larger percentage of the department budget in that money has to come from somewhere. where it has been coming from is from agents and prosecutors and critically and importantly money for state and local law enforcement systems, like the cop on the street. those of the things that keep our country safe. the me also say that there are some defendants that need those law systems. there are some that need to be in prison for a very long time because they are dangerous in our society needs to be protected from them.
we need to use those lengthy sentences in a smart way to keep our country safe. sen. durbin: that is why senator lee and i have not eliminated them for any crimes. we are trying to narrow this into the category least likely to be a threat if there sentences were short and -- shortened. thank you for your testimony. sally quillian yates: thank you. sen. lee: thank you senator durbin. i wholeheartedly support and am honored to be working with senator durbin and others. first of all misdeeds, i want to congratulate you on your nomination and thank you for coming here today to answer questions today. i also want to thank your husband for joining you in this effort.
i'm sure you come to appreciate the attorney general -- the deputy attorney general, it is in many ways the functional head of the u.s. department of justice. the attorney general ultimately sets department policy about the most important matters in the day-to-day responsibility of carrying out those policies and overseeing the department of justice's work. if also the deputy. you and i have met a couple of times now and i very much enjoyed our conversations. i've been impressed with their credentials, your theory and europe coachable -- your experience, your approachable manner. i'm sure those qualities serve you very well as the acting attorney deputy general and continue to do so if you are conference. i want to ask you about two areas of concern that we have discussed a bit before.
first, the probably responsible the of the department of justice to give competence and credible and independent device. -- advice. and what would you do as deputy to restore the trust and the confidence of the congress and the american people generally in the work that is carried out by the department? on the first category, the department of justice is the u.s. government's legal arm. some might describe it as the federal government internal law firm. as a member of its senior leadership and its second-highest ranking lawyer in this position, who do you think is your client? as the client the president, the attorney general, the congress? who is the client? sally quillian yates: there's a very clear answer and that is the people of the united states.
it is not the president, it is not the congress. it is the people of the united states. sen. lee: that requires a degree of independence, doesn't that? sally quillian yates: it absolutely does, sir. sen. lee: i think it is important to remember that lawyers generally always do well to remember what their clients is and, in many cases, deciding who speaks for the client can be a difficult task that becomes especially difficult when dealing with government, especially a large one. let's talk a little bit about the president's executive action on immigration and i'm referring here to the executive action announced in november 2014. before the president took that her to glare, some 22 times -- executive action, some 22 times prior to that, the president tried to give status to those
immigrants unlawfully and came an opinion from the office of legal counsel explaining why a combination of maximally exercise prosecutorial discretion and constrained inferences from past practices made it legal for the president of the united states to not only refuse to carry out immigration laws against entire broad categories of individuals, but also to affirmatively issue work permits to individuals that congress had deemed ineligible for work permits. now, i'm going to ask you about that opinion and a minute, but i just want to review the landscape from it. when miss lynch came before our committee for her confirmation hearing just a few weeks ago she testified that she had found that policy reasonable and indeed, made clear enough that she thought it was correct. since then, since that hearing was held a few weeks ago, there
was something significant that has changed in that a federal district court for the southern district of texas issued a lengthy opinion in the context of a preliminary injunction, rejecting the analysis and imposing an injunction against the president's action. the department is now fighting that injunction and we all have to wait and see how the fifth circuit results that dispute. i want to ask you -- are you familiar more or less with the court's opinion of what it does, and in light of the opinion, in light of its findings, conclusions, and analysis, do you think reasonable lines can differ as to whether the president's conclusions were lawfully? sally quillian yates: this is an issue where people have strongly held views.
that is very understandable. it is an issue on which reasonable people can disagree. the fact that matter is, as you pointed out, this matter is in the courts now. as everybody here knows, the test -- texas district court has ruled and the department of justice will abide by that ruling, not just in texas, but across the country. unless a higher court reaches a different decision. this issue is now the court to be resolved and we will observe that really -- ruling, whatever it turns out to be. sen. lee: i appreciate that you say reasonable lines can reach reasonable conclusions. have you read the opposite leaves the -- legal referendum that i am referring? sally quillian yates: yes, sir. sen. lee: in your current position, you were not serving as the active general at the time that it was issued. have you since formed your own
legal opinion as to whether the legal analysis in that opinion was correct? sally quillian yates: as you noted, senator, i've been serving as active did -- attorney general since january. it is involved in litigation on this matter. as the acting deputy attorney general, it is really not appropriate for me to giving my personal opinion on any matter in which the apartment is involved in pending with the geisha and -- litigation including this matter as well. i stand by those pleadings. sen. lee: are there limits to prosecutorial discretion? sally quillian yates: there are. sen. lee: if the president decided that he or she would direct all personnel within the presidential administration not to enforce any tax rate above 25%, with that strike you --
would that strike you as an appropriate use of prosecutor toil -- prosecutorial discretion? sally quillian yates: i think there are limits, but the finding and drawing those lines really requires knowing all the facts and looking at the law but statutory law, case law, and regulatory law, and examining that and considering that. i would not be bunch of a lawyer if i gave you a knee-jerk reaction to that. sen. lee: sure, sure. there may be an occasion that if you are confirmed as the attorney general you might be serving for one reason or another as the acting attorney general. in that fashion, there might be times where you get a call from the white house saying, what you think of x and what you would be asked to offer your knee-jerk reaction? i would assume your knee-jerk reaction would you help the amount of skepticism and say that i could reduce the tax code
by executive action just by saying no taxes would be collected above 25%. would you agree with that? sally quillian yates: certainly. if i were called to give my on the spot reaction, we would give our own gut reaction. i'm a careful lawyer and i want to look at the law and talk with experts. i would want to think about the ramifications of of it and give a reason that opinion. sen. lee: it sounds a little different than prosecutorial discretion. sally quillian yates: again, it does not sound quite like something i would think was probably a good idea but before i could give you a legal conclusion on that i would want to do all the things i just described. sen. lee: thank you very much. i see that my time is expired. senator perdue. sen. perdue: thank you, senator lee. thank you misuse --, missy at. thank you for your family today.
i do not know what it was like growing up in the house of a top prosecutor, but the fact that they have survived -- i commend them on that. [laughter] sally quillian yates: they monopolies bit intimidated. i can tell you that. sen. perdue: i've watched her career in georgia and i've watched you ill after the human traffickers, the sex offenders the drug cartels and even the gangs that we have argued talked about today. i also saw you go against white collar criminals and even elected officials, even in the mayor in a public corruption case in georgia. i commend you for that. and your comments as morning you made a comment saying that your loyalties were the people of the u.s. and the u.s. constitution. the deputy attorney general has to be first and last independent and nonpartisan. i would second that. i've also put, for the record my observation is that is
exactly what you did in your role in georgia and i hope you bring that to this role in the justice department in washington. i want to change gears though. you mentioned earlier in your copy and -- comments that you would be ceo and i think that is right as deputy attorney general. it is a $27 million budget. that would put you in the top 150 commercial organizations in the country, if not the world. yet been there about three months and started about the same time. yeah been there and i will like you to give you observations in the three months and what reforms and changes d.c. you like to make as priorities. sally quillian yates: thank you for your kind introduction this morning. i've been here since mid, about the same time that you happen to
start. i've been drinking from the fire house. i tried to bring the same management skills to the department of justice. it is the same thing but on a much larger scale. one of the things that i tried to do there was to make sure that we are setting goals. i'm a big believer that you need to have strategic objectives. that is right down to each and every component in each and every employee of the department of justice, having a strategy and goals that they are setting. that is something that we are working on now. what are the things that we are going to proactively push forward in that apartment? as a manager i'm trying to gather the information there and be able to set some of those goals going forward for the next two years, if not quite two years. i think i mentioned earlier that a critically important thing that we do at the department of justice is to continually reassess what our greatest law enforcement challenges are and to ensure that we are devoting our resources to those issues and those challenges, rather
than just continuing to do the same old thing that we have been doing before. i am asking our law enforcement agencies as well as are 38 components to go through and do a current assessment as to where we are and what our challenges are so that we can better focus on resources and they are going forward. i know that being a chief operating officers and i does this person is something that you have experience and i would welcome advice from you. [laughter] sen. perdue: let me follow up. you served as the vice chair of attorney general's advisory committee if i remember correctly you are involved in their smart on crime initiative if i'm correct. can you discuss why you thought smart on crime was necessary and what your role in the design input -- implementation of it was and why is it pertinent today ? sally quillian yates: i think it
is something you can relate to because more on crime was using our limited resources and resources of federal prison space to keep our country as safe as possible. smart on crime was designed to identify those defendants who were causing or wrecking the greatest habit in our community and to make sure that our lengthy prison sentences are reserved for those defendants of that we can free up the other resources that we so greatly need in the area of prosecutors and the area of investigators and in being able to provide resources to our state and local law enforcement officers. having the cop on the street is one of the most important things that we can do for public safety. sen. perdue: let me change gears once again. he testified earlier in 2011 on the issue of release for illegal immigrants who are in the federal criminal justice system. i think in your testimony that unit explained the justice
department's opinion was that these individuals should continue to be eligible for supervised release after sentencing. that was a position contrary to recommendation. can you talk about your position and the one ultimately taken by the commission? sally quillian yates: the commission did go the other way on that come about that, about the time, as a department we believe that we maintain supervision in the case that we had a defendant reenter and reenter illegally that we would be able to use the tools that we need to be able to bring them immediately back to the court system at that point. sen. perdue: sen. perdue: one question. i know this is a long-standing question, but as your role as deputy, you support the attorney general obviously and your ultimate boss is the president of the united states. and you disagree with the attorney general as your boss and disagree with the president and you have to command respect for the people inside the department on a daily basis to
make us safer, and you said that safety and not statistics was your number one goal. help me understand how you balance those three issues relative to the ultimate objective you have of making us safer as a country. sally quillian yates: senator throughout my career, i've made it a practice to speak my mind. i've done that during the time that i was a assistant. sen. perdue: can we ask your husband that? [laughter] sally quillian yates: he might like me to speak my mind a little less, to be honest with you. i've made it a practice to speak my mind and i will continue to do that if i'm fortunate enough to be confirmed in that position. you are right. if i'm conference i do number two, not number one person. i would be the chief operating officer. i still expect that my view would be solicited, even if it is not solicited, i might give it. sen. perdue: thank you for your testimony. thank you, mr. chairman.
sen. franken: it is up to me to decide whether i'm ready or not? i'm not ready. i'm doing this out of respect for senator sessions and i'm completely ready. this is my great respect for him. sen. sessions: senator franken is always ready and always good at timing. you can be sure of that. well, miss yates, you are going into a different world in the united states attorney offices. i have observed both over the years and you are going to need all those values that you have learned going before federal
judges every day, knowing that you prosecute one person one day and another one the next and it is absolutely essential that in both cases the law was applied fairly. i feel that every united states attorney that has any good character understands the pressure and the burdens to do that. director freeh, the former fbi director, was so calm entry of you -- complementary of you. he thought that you were exceptional. you background is good for this job. the atlanta office has always been a good office. the king and spalding team with former attorney general griffin bill was a good friend to be associated with, that is for sure.
it tends to be a political world at the department of justice. i guess my first question the follow-up on his -- do you understand that in this political world that there will be people calling and demanding and pushing and insisting on things that they do not know what they are asking for and could indeed be corrosive of the rule of law? could diminish the respective department of justice has? could diminish the rule of law in the united states? are you aware of that? you may be aware of that in the time that you have been here. sally quillian yates: i'm not been here, but i've only been here for a couple of months, but i can tell you that i'm committed to the department of justice. i left our department. i care deeply about our mission and i would do everything in my power to detect the integrity that is the department of justice. sen. sessions: i understand that.
senator lee asked you about this tax situation where the president -- i think i heard him say that 35% tax rate is too high and he is going to say that we are not going to collect more than 25%. you said that it doesn't sound like something i would agree with. i would say that should not take you too long to say. no, this isn't right. sally quillian yates: i agree senator. what i was telling you was that that was my gut reaction to it. if i'm doing battle with anybody, i want to make sure that i have the law and the facts and the precedent behind me to get a reason to judgment. if i'm in a discussion where people have different views, i want to make sure that i've got what i need to back up my views. sen. sessions: you have to watch out because people will be
asking you to do things and you just need to say no about. do you think that attorney general has the responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that is improper? and a lot of people defended the lynch nomination, for example, by saying, he appoint somebody who is going to execute his views. what is wrong with that? what is the views that the president went to execute is unlawful, should the deputy attorney general say no? sally quillian yates: i think the attorney general or the deputy attorney general have the obligation to follow the law and constitution to give their independent legal advice to the president. sen. sessions: does the office of legal counsel, which makes many of these opinions that impact policy, visit report through the deputies office or directly to the attorney general? sally quillian yates: when you look at the charts the legal
counsel reports to the deputies office. it is important that the office of legal counsel also be independent because federal agencies across our government where gilly come to the office of legal counsel, seeking advice and guidance about what is not. it is critically important that the office of legal counsel advice be just that -- advice and not advocacy. sen. sessions: well, that is true. like any ceo with a law firm sometimes, the lawyers have to tell the ceo that you cannot do that. do not do that. you will get a suit. it is going to be violation of the law. you will regret it. please. the matter how headstrong they might be. do you feel like that is the duty of the attorney general's office? sally quillian yates: i do feel like that is the duty of the attorney general's office to fairly and partially evaluate the law and provide the president and administration with impartial legal advice. sen. sessions: just as in a fraud case or any other drug
case you might've prosecuted in a few years over the years immigration law is important to be consistently and effectively enforced. should it not? sally quillian yates: i believe that all of our laws should be consistently and effectively enforced and within the confines of the constitution. sen. sessions: that is a good answer, but they have not been. you're taking over as the deputy of attorney general to the united states of america and we have just a collapse of integrity in immigration enforcement. in the president's position on executive amnesty just celebrates the collapse of integrity, resulting in the lowest morale in the department of homeland security officers who enforce the law in the entire government. they have even sued their
supervisors because they are being told to not follow their own to enforce the law, but to carry out political policies. there is a lawsuit over that. they sued their bosses over that. and i think they are correct. i remember john ashcroft was attorney general for bush and he has been celebrated for being -- when he was in the hospital, they try to get him to sign a document that dealt with terrorism that he thought went too far. he refused to do so. i hope that you feel free to say no in the character of john ashcroft and others who said no to president nixon on certain issues. let me just ask you briefly this question. i would like to have a clear average -- answer if i could feed you think the president's executive action announced on november 20 is legal and constitutional? can you give us a yes or no
answer? sally quillian yates: since mid-january, i've been serving as the active deputy attorney general in the department of justice. the department of justice is currently litigating this matter. since i'm the active deputy at turner of general -- attorney general, it is not appropriate to give my opinion on this matter or any matter that the department of justice litigating. sen. sessions: i care about your official position. your official opinion is defending the presence actions. is that correct? sally quillian yates: i stand by those pleadings. sen. sessions: thank you. >> thank you. i know that senator cornyn have asked you that we have been working on the trafficking issue and you were asked about some of the border issues and i went down there with cindy mccain on this issue of trafficking and
had a very good visit about that. isen. klobuchar: i thought i would ask you about addressing human trafficking in georgia in your former job and how you see it going forward in the department of justice. sally quillian yates: human trafficking is one of the most pressing criminal justice issues that we are facing in the department and in our country right now. when i became a u.s. attorney five years ago, i highly to human trafficking as an area where we are going to prioritize resources. we were one of the first offices in the country to perform an act team. it is a task force of agencies and prosecutors as well state and local prosecutors to go after aggressively as we possibly could the traffickers and those who were assisting the traffickers with these young women and children. it is important as aggressive important is no, that alone is not enough. one of the first things that i did was to hold a human
trafficking summit and to ensure that we were first educating our community about what is going on within their very neighborhoods. that is important for a couple of reasons, not just general public education. but because it is also important that we educate people about the signs of human trafficking. so that when they see someone who they think could be in that position, that they will alert law enforcement. a third thing that we did was to train law enforcement in georgia about recognizing the signs of human trafficking. oftentimes, it is the local street cop that is most likely to encounter the trafficking victims. they really do not know what to be looking for. oftentimes they looked at these young women and children as willing prostitutes as opposed to trafficking victims. we engaged in very intense training that they would recognize the signs and, in fact, a couple weeks after our first trainings, a local law enforcement officer pulled over a car on interstate and it was a
man and a young girl that did not feel quite right him based on the training that he had received. he did what he was trained to do and that was to separate the two event. -- the two of them. when he did, he learned from this young girl that she was traffic for two years and was 14 years old and was trained to be rescued. because of the training that he received, she was rescued. i say that not the best on the back, but to highlight how important is that we do more than just focused on enforcement and that we need to educate and train as well. sen. klobuchar: exactly. i present that. i am hopeful that we will reach some agreement on that legislative floor and get some funding as well as the safe harbor bill that i'm leading to pass through this committee unanimously a few weeks ago. i think it is guidance and incentives for the state. the civil rights bill -- this marks the 50th anniversary. so many people gathered in selma.
half a century later, we have made tremendous progress in ensuring voting rights, but i've been disappointed that we have not been able to move forward on the voting rights amendment act. as you know, there are some republicans that are close in the house. what are your plans to ensure the justice department remains committed to protecting the right to vote? sally quillian yates: i was incredibly privileged to be in some of the anniversary and i think that congressman lewis is presence earlier today is a really powerful reminder of the sacrifices that he and our other fellow citizens have made to ensure that
sally quillian yates: it can become more of a science class than a trial where you have individuals, often time, teenagers, who have died as a result of these drugs, so we are very grateful to you for your leadership op this issue and think this is both as so many areas are in our criminal justice area, it's a criminal justicish, but it's a public health issue as well. senator frank iten: first of all congratulations on your nomination. during your short-term act, you and i have had occasion to speak on a number of occasions and on some issues that i care about. i'd like to thank you for taking
those concerns to heart and working with my office to see they're addressed. we also met in my office earlier this month, and i'm impressed by your grasp of the issues and your commitment to enforcing the law. you and i have spoken twice about the issue of terrorist recruitment. it's an issue that i and senator klobuchar have been very focused on because we've seen it happening in minnesota for some time. starting before i came to office, first with al shabaab and isil. i pressed the fbi director and others publicly on the issue over the years and it's something that i and senator klobuchar will continue to press doj on. last september, we urged the department to make sure it's focusing its resources on countering violent extremism in the united states and places where those efforts are needed most and we were pleased to see minnesota was chosen as one of those sights for the new doj
pilot program on that. we've been in touch with law enforcement as well as local community minnesota on an ongoing basis and i'm going to continue and so will senator klobuchar, the implementation of the program and we'll keep pressing the administration make sure both the state is getting the resources it needs and that the effective communities are fully engaged. real cooperation with the community and responsiveness is essential for this program's success. i understand you've been in communication with an about need -- with andy lugar about the need for the program to start as soon as possible. we have some real momentum when we had the summit at the white house, i thought our pilot program was showed that it was in motion.
will you commit to working with us to make sure that this happens so that we can be sure that our efforts to counter violent extremism are effective and do you have any thoughts on how to improve or expand upon the pilot program? sally quillian yates: thank you for the question, senator, and thank you for meeting with me and give inging me an opportunity to talk with you on a couple of occasions now about these issues. certainly, countered by violent extremism has always been important, but even more so now. we've seen a level of sophisticate from isil that demands a comprehensive response and it can't just be a law enforcement response. it has to be a response in coordination with our communities and that's what these pilot programs are designed to do. when you and i had an opportunity to speak, i think i told you that minneapolis has been at the top to have list in terms of the effectiveness of that program and the really comprehensive approach being
taken there and partnership between law enforcement and the communities. this is crime prevention and it is the most essential crime prevention that we can be doing. and so, the department is absolutely committed to working with you, with all, ensuring that we are doing this as effectively as possible. senator franken: and hopefully we'll get the resources we need without delay so that the momentum that andy has started will continue, right? sally quillian yates: absolutely, senator, in fact, i was at this same cb conference as well and had an opportunity to not just hear from various folks in the different cities engaged in this, but to feel the energy in the room. there is an urgency about that. and i agree with you that the resources will be critical to being able to do that as well. senator franken: thank you. i want to talk about mental
health and law enforcement. for years, public officials have been concerned about our nation's overflowing prison system. america is 5% of the world's population with 25% of its inmates and i think one of the biggest problems we've used our criminal justice system as a substitute for a functioning mental health system. use of solitary confinement and a lack of adequate mental health resources are part of vicious cycle in our prisons. a cycle that especially poor individuals, those who have been unable to afford or access mental health services are likely to get caught up in and with devastates consequences and this is why i will be reintroducing my bill on criminal justice mental health very soon. called the comprehensive justice of mental health act. it makes smart investments in law enforcement training critical intervention training
treatment and counseling corrections based programs and mental health court. my question is will you work with me on these efforts and what do you think you can do as deputy attorney general to promote a positive approach in deeming with mental health in our criminal justice system? sally quillian yates: thank you senator, absolutely. i would look forward to working with you on this. this is one of the most challenging issues that we have in the department of justice now. within the last couple of years, there has been a push towards veterans treatment courts as an example. this is something that u.s. attorneys across the country are now exploring and certainly that's something i believe as deputy attorney general that i can encourage those types of courts as well. senator franken: this act wow would fund veterans treatment courts you know, mental health courts where the prosecutor, the arresting officer, the defense attorney and the judge all agree this person does not belong in the criminal justice system. it may be in the case of a drug
court someone who's medicating a mental illness and certainly our men and women who came back from iraq and afghanistan. have been doing that to some, to a great degree and they deserve (202) 748-8000 -- to not be put in prison, but to have the opportunity to be diverted in a treatment program. sally quillian yates: i would look forward to working with you on that, senator. senator whitehouse: welcome
mrs. yates, good to have you here. congratulations on your nomination. i look forward to working with you as refugee of the department of justice. i know what in absolutely essential role the deputy attorney general, the dag has, in the operations of the department. our chairman, senator grassley and i, will be working together on the reauthorization of the juvenile justice bill and i know that that's an important area to the department and we look forward to working with you to enable that bill to move forward and get passed into law. it's been many years since there's been an authorization. we've learned a lot about how juveniles are treated in the system and what's effective and what isn't since then, so i think there are positive effects we can have through this legislation and i want to thank you the chairman for taking the leadership role in this reauthorization. it's obviously significant when a chairman is willing to do that, so, thank you, sir.
we've talked in the hearing quite a bit about sentencing reform. i want to, i'm obviously very involved in that. with senator cornyn on the reentry side. of the discussion and we hope that our bill will be a vehicle that can move forward and perhaps get other elements added to it as well and do a more comprehensive package. i also have a bill on comprehensive addiction recovery. that's less immediately doj's business. but we do have it in this, it's a very related issue, put it the that way. and i hope that we can get your support in working through any issues that, in the context of addiction recovery. there was a school of thought
for a while that drug use was a moral failing and an evil and that the best way to get after it was to punish it in a whole variety of ways, including creating a whole raft of the consequences that ensue if you have a drug conviction that there are hundreds of these laws that have been put all over the place and i think upon more mature reflection, we've seen that treatment works. recovery works. and when somebody's on a path to recovery, you're really not helping them or anybody else by saying you can't work in schools. you can't get a college loan you can't do this, you can't do that, you can't do the other. so i hope you'll work with us on that and i'd just like to hear your thoughts about the role of moving from a more treatment based response to addiction and away from a inkarstive and punitive response.
sally quillian yates:thank you, senator for your work on this and your question. we have seen in states alock the country, red and blue state, that have taken really more creative approaches to addressing criminal justice and particularly drug use issues. we see in our criminal justice system that drug addiction does fuel many crimes and i look at this as a form of crime prevention, of trying to address an addiction issue, to ensure that person has a path forward and to ensure that others that are not victimized. when they commit crimes that are driven in part at least by their drug addictions, so i would look forward to working with you and others on that matter. senator whitehouse good. :the last topic i want to address with you is cybersecurity. cybersecurity has a lot of different elements. it has a national security element.
obviously. there's considerable capacity for sabotage. against the electric grid and other very essential elements of our infrastructure. there is a huge flow of intellectual property that is stolen out of people's computers and i think the vast majority of that, up in china, where they have a policy of trying to steal american intellectual property for mercantile reasons so they can compete with us without having to pay to license the technology. there's enormous amounts of financial crime, not just around america, but around the world. hugely lucrative for these criminals and then privacy concerns when you're social security information the being hacked, stolen and sold on a website so that shall be can
open up a credit card in your name and that kind of stuff, so i think it's a very big deal. and i think we need to be deliberating what our law enforcement response to it should look like. i noted that it is basically a subset of the fbi's responsibility's with secret service and other agencies have been having also a piece of it. that does not seem particularly thoughtfully organized. i note that cyber is probably a greater risk to our country now. than narcotics trafficking. and alcohol, tobacco explosives and we have entire agencies dedicated to those. no agency specifically dedicated to cyber. i note that within the department of justice, these cyber responsibility is divided between the criminal division
and national security division and i note that about every six months, there's a new iteration of the structure for dealing with cyber that emerges from the department, so, clearly, we're we have a work in progress. but i would like to ask you if you would commit to working with us and with omb, we are bringing omb to these conversations because i know how awkward it is for an executive agency to have a conversation about budget without the keepers present in the room. they get quite cross about that if they're not there, to have a conversation about in the out years, what should our cyber law enforcement structure look like? i don't think we're there yet. i don't know if you think we're there yet. but i certainly think it's a conversation worth having and i'd like to hear your thoughts. sally quillian yates: thank you senator. and you have really touched on one of the most critical
challenges that faces the department of justice and our law enforcement community and our national security intelligence community now. you rightly pointed out that it touches every aspect of our lives. and there is certainly great work being done to attempt to coordinate our efforts in this area. both on the national security side and on the criminal side, but i think that you're right. that we need to step back and try to think about how we can structure ourselves in a way that would be most efficient going forward. now, this is an area, too, and contrast to a lot of other criminal justice challenges, that is evolving, changing every day and changing rapidly. and i think it's incumbent upon us not to just keep up with it wu to get out in front of it and to try to project where we're going to be five, ten, 20 years from now and to be structured in a way that we'll be able to adequately respond. senator whitehouse thank you : chairman, and i look forward to the conversations between omb, doj and members of this committee to make sure we're set up properly to deal with this threat. thank you, chairman.
senator grassley: i have two or three questions and we have a vote at noon and i think both i and senator blumenthal will be able to finish our questioning. i would ask if you would finish up the meeting after i go, is that ok? ok. but before i ask the questions just to thank you for your appearance today. and members that couldn't be here or even in my case, have some questions in writing and people have a few days to submit those questions, and we'd like to have those back before you would go on the agenda and i think you'll be able to do that. and the few days i was talking about is -- the record will stay open for one week. i have a question dealing with whistleblowers. this may have been something we discussed privately. but i want to go over it again. earlier this month, we held a hearing looking into the
regulations that are supposed to protect fbi whistleblowers. the justice department government accountability office have both published reports including that many fbi whistleblower cases are dismissed on technicalities because the whistleblower reported wrongdoing to quote unquote, the wrong person. do you think the system is working as it should to encourage and protect whistleblowers at the fbi and with regard to the wrong person, why wouldn't it be all right to have protected disclosure if made to a -- to a direct supervisor? sally quillian yates: thank you senator. thank you for the honor of appearing before you here today. and i want to thank you for your work with regard to whistleblowers protection. and i know you've been at this for a very long time. and as a district attorney who followed discipline cases. whistleblowers root out fraud and corruption and malfeasance
and they are critical and in my role as the chief operating officer of the department i think they will play a critical role for me in helping to identify problems within our own organization. so that we can operate as efficiently and fairly as we are charged with doing. i've not yet seen this report and i'm looking forward to reviewing that report and determine what actions, if any to determine what aks whistleblowers need to have to feel comfortable coming forward. senator grassley: i think you answered my first question just now. sally quillian yates: that is a relief. senator grassley because it was : about that report. again, i would suggest to you, and also your comment, whether or not doj regulations should clearly -- whether fbi
disclosures to congress and if you don't think so why. sally quillian yates: senator i've not had an opportunity to look at that specific issue. i can tell you that i believe whistleblowers need to be protected and that is critically important to feel comfortable to come forward and if there are revisions that need to be made i want to look at those and work with you to make those revisions. i simply have not had an opportunity to look at that specific provision to give you a reason or a knowledgeable answer on that. senator grassley: instead of two questions along this line that i was going to finish my line of questioning on this, this issue, let me suggest to you that the department of justice should make sure that whistleblowers aren't sanctioned for violating gag orders that -- and gag orders are used to thwart congressional oversight of whistleblowers cases and there
ought to be an exception in any gag orders for disclosures to the congress and then my final admonition would be whether you would review that reform before you answer my written questions? sally quillian yates: i would certainly be happy to review that report, yes, certainty -- senator. senator grassley: and the phone may be help you give your answers to the questions i gave. and this is my last issue. in the last two months the inspector general has notified congress that the fbi impeded his access to records four separate times as part of four separate i.g. reviews. apparently the delay is due to the fbi's desire to review the materials first and then obtain permission to disclose from the attorney general or from you in your deputy position. one of the delays involved the i.g.'s review of two fbi whistleblower complaints.
how is it appropriate for the fbi to decide -- pardon me -- how is it appropriate for the fbi to decide which documents it will produce to independent investigators looking into whether the whistleblowers retaliated against the fbi. we are talking about the power of the inspector general. sally quillian yates: thank you senator. and i believe the inspector general plays a critical role at the department of justice, and identifying malfeasance or just waste, fraud and abuse and that is why one of the first things i did when i became acting attorney general was to ask to sit down with the acting inspect inspector general. we knew each other for a while and we were inspector general corruption chiefs and we've known each other for a while. and we talked about this issue
you have described here. and my understanding of the issue is an issue that relates how certain documents protected by the grand jury secrecy privilege or protected pursuant to wire tap orders are reviewed and produced to the i.g. it is my understanding that those documents have never been withheld but our investigative agencies believed they needed to review the documents and go through a particular pros pes -- process before being provided to the inspector general. i understand -- i get that he needs to get those documents quickly and so for the last few weeks i've been working with folks in the department of justice to try to come up with a procedure that will expedite our ability to provide those documents very quickly to the inspector general. if that is not satisfactory to him, we would be happy to work with you and other members of congress on any legislation if it is needed to comply with the law, yet also be able to get our
i.g. the documents he needs as quickly as possible. >> [ inaudible ]. senator grassley: i thank senator blumenthal for finishing the meeting. senator blumenthal i'm going to : finish it right now because i don't have any additional questions. i want to thank miss yates and her family again and thank you for your willingness and to undertake this very, very important responsibility and for your excellent testimony today. thank you. sally quillian yates: thank you mr. chair and senator blumenthal. it's been a privilege.
>> coming up next, live on c-span your calls and comments on washington journal. then "newsmakers" with iowa and new hampshire gop chairs. then, a hearing with secret service director joseph clancy. >> tonight on "q and a" erik larson on his new book, "dead weight. mr. larson: the question gets complicated when you ask why was the ship allowed to enter the irish sea without the detailed
warning that could have been provided. this has led to some very interesting speculation as to whether this chip was -- ship was set up for an attack by churchill or someone from the admiralty. it's interesting. i found no smoking memo. leave me, i would have found a smoking memo if it exists. there is nothing from churchill to jackie fisher, or someone else, letting the ship going to the irish sea. nothing like that. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern ann's and pacific. this morning, "usa today" investigative reporter, steve riley, talks about the nation's power grid. and, steve nardizzi, ceo of the
wounded we more your project. then, charles schmitz has the latest on yemen. as always, we will take your calls. "washington journal" is next. ♪ host: good morning on the sunday, march 29. congress is in recess for the next two weeks marking the start to the passover season. it is also the start of holy week for christians around the world. president obama and vice president biden will start the week in boston tomorrow for the ceremony of the opening of the dmk institute. we will have live coverage on our network. reuters is announcing that european diplomats are trying to break an
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