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tv   Rod Rosenstein Speaks on the Rule of Law at CSIS  CSPAN  March 1, 2019 5:47pm-6:49pm EST

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eastern, cory booker will speak in selma, alabama on the vic -- anniversary of the clash between demonstrators and police in 1965, known as bloody sunday. watch on c-span,, or listen on the free c-span radio app. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1970 nine, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme eventsand public policy and washington, d.c., and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> deputy attorney general rod rosenstein said new attorney
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general william barr would make the right decision when asked about the molar investigation's final report. this conversation came on the importance of the rule of law. this is just over an hour. [applause] >> one of the issues we talked about was fake news. i regret to say i'm not the longest-serving deputy attorney general. in my home state of maryland, there was a u.s. attorney that served for 19 years and i served for only 12. so i am far from achieving that
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distinction. but my career in the department does go back so far that i remember when bill parr was attorney general of the united states. [laughter] mr. rosenstein: he was actually deputy attorney general when i began my job and then ascended to the attorney general position thereafter and we are very grateful, very fortunate to have him back. i think that is yet another example of a superb appointment that president trump has made which i believe does demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law. and i'm grateful for the center for strategic and international studies for giving me the opportunity today to talk about my perspective on the rule of law and some of the things i think we're doing to accomplish that. a prosperous and safe society needs to divest some people with the power to govern, the ability to set enforcement rules to punish violations and do act on behalf of the people. the question is, how that
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governing power should be exercised and controlled. when of our nation's founders, john adams, advocated a government of laws, not of men. the goal is for the people who exercise government power to act in accordance with neutral principles and fair processes while respecting individual rights. the idea dates at least to the fourth century b.c. when the greek philosopher aristotle wrote it's more proper that the law should govern than any one of the citizens. last year, president trump issued a proclamation explaining that we govern ourselves in accordance with the rule of law rather than the whims of an elite few or the dictates of collective will. through law, we have ensured liberty. as the president recognized law provides the framework for freedom. at its best, law reflects moral choices. principled decisions that promote society's best interests and protects citizens'
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fundamental rights. john macarthur mcgwire described law as a system of wise restraints that make men free. the restraints preserve liberty. because they are prescribed in advance and they apply to everyone without regard to rank or status. the rule of law is indispensible to a prosperous and thriving society. it allows businesses to enter into contracts. it gives innovators protection for their discoveries. it keeps people safe from dangerous criminals. and it allows us to resolve our differences peacefully through reason and logic. justice anthony kennedy explained it this way. in a rule of law system, when you apply to a government clerk for a permit and you meet the criteria, you're not asking for a favor. you have a right to the permit, and that clerk has an obligation
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to give it to you. in many countries, that concept of government officials bound by law to serve the people simply does not exist. now, a society can achieve the appearance of the rule of law without accomplishing it in fact. shakespeare's play "henry iv," a prince brags about his connections to the devil. he proudly proclaims, i can summon spirits from the vastly deep. a skeptical friend mockingly replies, so can i. but the question is, will they come when you call them? [laughter] mr. rosenstein: an agreed-upon set of rules is a necessary condition for a system that operates under the rule of law but it is not a sufficient condition. the rule of law is not just about written percepts.
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it's not just about the words. it depends on the vigilance and character of the individual men and women who faithfully implement it. the enforcement mechanism is crucial as james madison recognized in federalist 51, because you must first enable the government to control the governed and in the next place oblige it to control itself. the founders of our nation well understood that challenge. first, they fought a war on their own soil to break foreign monarch. then they operated for a decade be under the articles of confederation with the weak central government that proved incapable of fulfilling its obligations. so in 1787, the constitutional convention met in philadelphia to establish the foundational rules for a new form of government. the founders agreed on a written constitution establishing a system that divides government power among the legislative,
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executive and judicial branches. the system protects against the concentration of power by allowing each branch to check and balance the others. sometimes it's a messy system, as we see played out time to time not too far away on capitol hill. the founders recognized that. when benjamin franklin was walking home from the constitutional convention a woman named elizabeth powell stopped him and asked him what type of government the founders created. franklin replied with these words, a republic, if you can keep it. some people think that politicians are responsible for keeping the republic. but franklin spoke to an ordinary citizen, a woman who at the time did not even have the right to vote but he said it was her responsibility, not his, to keep the republic. blessed is that a constitutional republic's success depends on people, on citizens, conscientiously applying and respecting the rules. one indicator we are faithfully
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enforcing the rule of law is when we accept a result even though we personally dislike the outcome. we respect it because it's the result of a fair process, an objective analysis of the facts and a rational application of the predetermined rules. an independent judiciary is a central pillar of our system. our federal judges, by design, do not defer to the popular will. they do not run for election. they do not answer to the executive branch. nor are they beholden to the legislature. their duty is to say what the law is, independently and impartially. they take an oath to administer justice without respect to
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persons and to impartially perform their duties. the judicial branch is independent because we accept its final rulings even when we disagree with them. the judiciary serves as a check on the other branches, not a subordinate. now, american institutions and the people who compose them often fall short of our ideals know system is infallible but at our core our system fundamentally respects the rule of law by which we mean a system that's just and protective of human freedoms. not all nations share that concept. as we seek to build bridges with foreign adversaries, it's important for us to understand the different visions that underlay their legal systems. in china, for example, the supreme court urged government officials to resist western style judicial independence, deriding it as erroneous and mistaken. the chinese communist party sits above the government. in january, a party directive instructed the country's courts to protect the party's political security. instead of maintaining
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independence from the executive branch, the chinese judiciary's duty is to further communist party goals. the party controls the appointment of judges and even dictates some of their rulings. daily practice in the court is also a studying contrast. in our courts, the presumption of innocence is perhaps the most important safeguard of individual liberty. when our government makes an allegation of wrongdoing, we need to prove it. we must present evidence that satisfies the rules governing this ability. we need to call witnesses who remain credible when subjected to vigorous cross-examination. that's one of the reasons why it's important for government officials to refrain from making allegations of wrongdoing when they're not backed by charges that we are prepared to prove in court. a trial, a defendant gets a right, an opportunity to present
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his own evidence and present his own witnesses and that presumption of innocence is overcome only if we prove our case to the unanimous satisfaction of a judge and 12 random citizens. if even one juror is unconvinced, the defendant prevails. government officials may sincerely believe a defendant is guilty but their belief is irrelevant. investigators and prosecutors in america do not get to decree which facts are true. in contrast, the chinese system effectively presumes guilt when a defendant stands accused of a crime. moreover, that presumption is all but irrebuttable. chinese judges receive the government's evidence before trial. without opportunity for common or cross-examination by the defense. live testimony is offered only rarely. there's little to no opportunity to impeach witnesses, prosecutors as a result rarely lose.
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there are also substantial difference in our criminal arrest and detention practices. in the united states, a person has a right to appear before a neutral judge within 48 hours . if police satisfy a judge in advance through a sworn allegation of wrongdoing before arrest, the defendant still has a right to review by a judge without unnecessary delay. a criminal defendant may be detained in the united states only if there is a judicial findings that there's probable cause to believe he committed a crime. not simply based upon the assertion of government official. in addition, federal law still requires release before trial. unless a judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant would pose a risk of flight or danger to the community while released while waiting an adjudication at trial. in china, forms of extra judicial pretrial detention is enshrined in law.
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the former president of interpol was forcibly detained by his own government without explanation. in china that's not a violation hmong as been detained under a new form of custody. under that form of custody, a suspect is held at an undisclosed location and denied access to legal counsel for as and in aix months province, chinese law has ethnic uighurs, native to the province. today, more than one million uighurs and others are reportedly detained in internment camps.
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they're forced to renounce their culture and religion and they face political re-education. that's today in the modern era. the province's law authorizes the arrest of anyone for violation that include expressing allegiance to uighur culture and reading prohibited religious books. many have been arrest and detained for long periods of time without charge, trial, or due process. citizens of countries that operate in that way are subjected to rule through law rather than rule of law. the law does not charge anyone with serving as an independent guarantor of liberties or a
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check on political influence as in the american system. instead, the law is an instrument of state power, a mechanism for rulers to maintain control and to quash dissent. in the absence of a culture that respects the rule of law, written protections are routinely violated and seldom enforced. victims are bereft of any legal remedy. in those nations, law may be used instrumentally as either a weapon or a shield, not merely against their domestic populations but also beyond their borders. they direct their transactional approach to the law outward with far-reaching effects. china, san francisco, appears to detain foreign citizens as a means of retaliating or inflicting political pressure on other countries. in 2014, canadian authorities arrested a chinese national named soo ben at the respect of the united states to face serious charges. we sought his extradition for hacking-related officials and the theft of sensitive military
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and export control data that was sent to china. in an apparent act of reprisal, chinese authorities apprehended a canadian couple who lived in china for 30 years without incident. they were accused of spying and threatened with execution. a wife ultimately was detained for six months before being released on conditions. the husband did not meet with a lawyer for almost a year. he was held for more than two years. meanwhile, soo ben, the defendant charged in the united states, consented to his transport here, retained a lawyer of his choice and received all the protections afforded a criminal defendant in our system, including the right to a fair and open trial. in some cases, china, russia and other authoritarian nations overtly shield their nationals from the fair administration of justice. for example, they refuse in some cases to provide mutual legal
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assistance in response to justified requests from the united states and other countries for evidence necessary to criminal investigations and prosecutions. as transnational crime increases as transnational crime increases in scope and complexity, we increasingly face cross-border criminal investigations. defendants, witnesses and evidence that span the globe. countries depend heavily on the expeditious international cooperation to build cases and to locate, arrest, extradite
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hostages. if we don't cooperate we will all be vulnerable to criminal activity by persons operating in other countries. providing those safe havens for criminals is a violation of the rule of law. some countries undermine the law by using extra legal means to forcibly repatriate fugitives. china sends agents new orleans as fox hunt teams to the united states and elsewhere to track down chinese nationals accused of political or corruption crimes. those squads enter foreign countries under false pretenses, track down fugitives and deploy intimidation tactics to coerce them to go back to china. inside china, government officials possess authority to preserve exit bans, prohibiting some foreigners leaving the country without judicial approval. they sometimes use bans as a form of coercion, to compel a victim's relative or friend suspected or wrongdoing to return to china. one american teenager, a college sophomore enrolled not far from here, is now trapped in china being used effectively as a hostage in an effort to coerce his father to return to china. china's abuse of foreign visitors as political pawns caused the state department to
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issue a travel advisory last month. in the united states, we strive to faithfully and responsibly discharge our responsibilities to assist foreign law enforcement, providing due process, holding criminals accountable, and respecting individual rights. when chinese citizens who commit crimes in other countries remain in china, china neither extradites them nor holds them accountable there. in contrast, the united states extradites its own citizens as well as foreign nationals when the law warrants it. over the past five years, we have extradited 95 americans. we also cooperate with other countries' request for mutual legal assistance and for assistance in their investigations and prosecutions. we do so based on a fair-minded assessment of the evidence. last year, for instance, the united states removed a chinese fugitive, sue phen who allegedly embezzled money from the bank of china.
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combating transnational crime requires foreign partners to act reciprocally, transparently and in good faith. when a fair-minded assessment of the evidence recognizes significant crimes, nations should not shield citizens from the fair administration of justice or subvert legal process. some countries also seek to achieve their ends by changing global criminal justice norms. for instance, russia and china seek to replace the budapest convention of cybercrime. that convention is approved and now in effect by 60 nations, including the united states. it harmonizes national interests and enhances the flow of electronic evidence among nations in order to facilitate the investigation of cybercrimes while balancing civil liberties and privacy interests. russia rejects the budapest convention, complaining it allows individual owners of data
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to control it. in its place, russia seeks to allow a new convention that would enhance the ability of regimes to control communication, limit information systems -- part me -- limit information sharing between nations and impede efforts to investigate cybercrime. we reject that effort the goal to undermine an open internet governed by the rule of law and protected by international cooperation. i want to emphasize, the people of china, russia, and other nations that do not share our respect for individual rights are not our enemies. it's good for us to seek common ground with their leaders. president trump describes our relationship as a new era of competition. he extends an open hand to rival powers that seek to challenge
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american influence, values, wealth. we will attempt to build a great partnership with those in other countries, but, the president says, in a manner that always protects our national interest. the rule of law is central to our national interest. we cannot expect any system to be flawless in execution. the key issue is whether the government establishes fair rules, respects individual rights, and punishes violations. consider the murder of jamal khashoggi. there may be factual disputes about who is responsible for an extra judicial killing, but we must agree on the principle that each culpable person should be held accountable because a government that operates under the rule of law cannot condone the cold-blooded murder of nonviolent dissidents. let me conclude with an observation. i'm proud to serve in the department of justice with 115,000 colleagues who promote the rule of law, a goal held jointly by our partners in state
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and local law enforcement. we share a noble calling to pursue justice, a calling enforced by the additional safeguard of independent judiciary. we work regularly with our law enforcement partners in china, russia, and other nations to advance our interests but always with clear-eyed understanding of our responsibility to serve as vigilant custodians of the rule of law. our constitution aspires to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity. in order to sustain it in an interconnected world, we should defend and do so in practice and not just on paper. thank you very much. [applause] suzanne: deputy attorney general, thank you for those terrific remarks and excellent
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discussion about the difference between the rule of law and rule through law and the competing visions around the importance of an independent judiciary. i certainly recall well when i was travel frequently to beijing when i was the undersecretary of the department of homeland security, often with your colleague, bruce schwartz, and others from the justice department, and we would have conversations with the counterparts in beijing where we would try to explain why we could not, as political leaders, in my case, simply direct our law enforcement, folks in our justice department, or courts to take a certain action. i had a sense after lots of these conversations that we were
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maybe enhancing mutual understanding about our system. but do you see any prospect for change? what is the prospect that those competing visions in china and competing visions in china and in russia are likely to change in terms of moving from rule through law to rule of law, and what do you think is the role of international organizations in promoting a global consensus around the rule of law, organizations like interpol? mr. rosenstein: well, this is pretty sophisticated. you probably appreciate all this but i don't know all americans appreciate the extent we engage in countries which are our rivals including china and russia. i have visited china myself as part of an interpol conference about a year and a half ago and we have positive working relationships with law enforcement officials in all of these countries. but the point, the underlying
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point, which i emphasized in my remarks, we need to understand that they're coming from a different culture. they're coming from a system that has different values. what we need to do is find a way to engage, promote american interests and american values while recognizing the limitations that our partners -- that is our law enforcement colleagues in other countries have as a result of the system under which they operate. we have folks in our government who understand that well. people who suzanne and i traveled with and who participate when we meet with representatives of foreign countries and i think it's important for us to understand our goal is to advance american
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interests, changing values in foreign countries is a pretty big task. and i think that our primary goal ought to be finding a way to ensure that our values are enforced. the part of that i discussed, when foreign nationals are violating american laws, we need to make sure they're held accountable. when evidence or witnesses are in foreign countries, we need a mechanism to return those folks here under the rule of law. that's why organizations like interpol, which i have been involved in, are critical. it's really critical to make sure organizations like interpol share and operate under our values. there was publicity about interpol a few weeks back, a contest for the presidency, which was ultimately won by a career law enforcement officer from south korea because tools like that, the interpol red notices, for example, which allows fugitives to be stopped in foreign countries, are subject to abuse. they can be abused if the people who are seeking them are not appropriately enforcing the rule of law norms. so i think organizations like
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interpol are an opportunity for us to ensure that our values are respected to promote our own interest and in addition to that, and point that suzanne raises, it gives us an opportunity to communicate our values and principles to leaders of other countries which may have an impact on the way that they view their legal system and potentially drive reforms. i think we need to be realistic about the limitations and our ability to dictate how our countries are going to dictate their legal systems. suzanne: so you made the point in your remarks that -- you talked very eloquently about our aspirations for an independent and impartial justice system and operate through the rule of law
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but we are not always perfect and certainly there's legitimate criticism when we fail to reach or aspirations and very constructive work on behalf of judicial reform, justice reform advocates, but in the project i lead here at csis, we are looking at and have gathered abundant evidence that russia, specifically, has chosen to enter that debate in ways that are pernicious and design not to make us better but in fact to weaken support for the institution of our justice system. and we have -- we have seen this in social media where they pour gasoline on the flames of division that engulf social media. when those divisive issues, particularly immigration, racial injustice, accusing prosecutors and judges of being really puppets of the establishment, tools of political leaders. and we see this quite pervasively. what i am wondering is, do you have a sense that americans realize that these information operations, these propaganda campaigns are not just about elections which is where most of the public attention seems to be focused? you spoke in aspen about elections being one tree in the forest. do you have a sense that there's a growing awareness of these broader campaigns to undermine
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the pillars of democracy, whether it's media or the justice system or -- mr. rosenstein: well, i hope that there's growing awareness. this is a good opportunity to expand it, perhaps. and, yes, it is important for us to people understand there are efforts by foreign countries, russia in particular, to exacerbate tensions in america to fuel social tensions and we see that played out through the scheme alleged in the indictment returned last year charging particular russian nationals with fomenting controversies surrounding the 2016 presidential election. as suzanne mentioned, that's just one example. it's not as if somebody woke newspaper 2016 and decided, let's try to influence an election and let's just do this one thing. we're involved in relationships
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with rivals who have international aims that conflict with ours. and who seek to gain influence in america. so my role in this is twofold. first of all, working with the february f.b.i. and intelligence agencies to combat foreign influence efforts, not just about elections, but efforts to exfiltrate technology, for example. stealing secret from american companies, compete unfairly. we combat this through counterespionage negotiations. we also combat it through criminal prosecutions which involve our federal prosecutors. and also another aspect of my role is to make the public aware and make targets aware, companies, educational institution that is may be targeted by foreign nationals and average americans who need to understand that what they are reading on the internet may not what it appears to be. that's not a challenge unique to foreign influence campaigns.
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there are efforts to cede people all the time through the internet and advertising. the particular threat that we face with regard to foreign government is the ability to bring a significant amount of resources to bear and concentrate them on particular issues where they believe they can have an impact. i think all the efforts that we're taking i think we'll be successful both in combating them and minimizing the foreign efforts, but also in immunizing americans by warning them about the challenges they may face. suzanne: one of the themes, narratives that we seed in the evidence that we have gathered, the data we're looking at that russia is particularly pushing is precisely that the notion that you raise about competing visions of justice system, of law, simply a tool of political leaders. and that, in fact, that is the narrative they are trying to push and convince americans that, in fact, our justice system, our legal system is just a tool of political leaders. we saw it most recently, we have
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seen it across social media in many context, we saw it laid out very clear in the criminal complaint last september against the russians who were engaging with the backhanded kremlin in the -- where there specific instructions given to portray the special prosecutor has a quote puppet of the establishment. and loss of effort to attack both that investigation but also d.o.j. and f.b.i., including yourself, and i wonder -- mr. rosenstein: i hadn't noticed. suzanne: we'll share it with you. i'm sure you would love to read them. mr. rosenstein: no. i don't want to read them. suzanne: but i wonder if you are concerned about the impact that these kinds of narratives might have, for example, on the public's willingness to accept
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the outcome of the special prosecutor's investigation. mr. rosenstein: you may be disappointed to know i'm not going to answer that question directly because i don't comment on open investigations. i actually -- i'm more optimistic than your questioning suggests maybe you are about the american people. i think you can be misled if you just follow the internet or cable tv about what american people think and how appropriately skeptical they are of information that is they don't simply believe everything they see on tv or the internet. my experience in terms of people i deal with in my daily life outside the beltway but even inside is that i think people are appropriately able to balance different consideration cans. so i am relatively optimistic about it. i think it is important that we continue to highlight the threat, not just about that
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particular case, criticism of me or any particular government official because, frankly, when you go in government you have to recognize you are going to be subject to criticism of the part of the job. i think people are able to step back and look at a wide arrange of information and evaluate how the government is doing. hopefully not be unduly distracted by critiques like that one. suzanne: as we have looked at these influence operations, they are coming from not just china but other adversary nations, and how to counter them, one of the key elements it seems to ask is building public resilience against the messaging. not just taking messaging and working on other ways of deterring the messaging, but building the public's ability to be resilient in the face of disinformation campaigns. that's one of the reasons i was so grateful that you were willing to take time today to come and talk about the importance of our system and understanding and cherishing that system. what's your sense about the value of continuing to do that and the importance of civic education and reinstilling civic engagement in this country as a
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way of strengthening our resilience against these kinds of pernicious information operation.
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mr. rosenstein: i speak frequently as i did today about founding year in the constitution. i think the further we get from the founding year, the more people take freedom and liberty for granted. the less they recognize how much it he depends on the governmental structures we have in place and the culture that supports it. so i make it part of my mission wherever i speak, i occasionally speak to student groups as well as lawyers and general audiences, i try to make a point of educating them about our constitutional system. i have seen it in my own children. my kids were still in high school when i was nominated for this position and they went through the confirmation process with me. and it was eye opening for them
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to see the separation of powers and the tension between the branches play out. i'm talking about the confirmation hearing before i got really controversial. even then. of course as a result of subsequent events you see it all the more so. they understand, i think as people pay attention to these issues, they understand democracy is messy. it's a messy system and designed to be that way. it's a product of the fact that people don't have a knee-jerk reaction to believe what everyone .everybody tells them. it results in a messy process. i do think it's important to communicate that the people we enjoy is a product of a unique constitutional system. unique in the world. that it's a better system than the systems in place in other places. doesn't mean it's perfect, doesn't mean it can't be improved upon, i think it's critically important to educate people about this. as kids grow up today, their world is more interconnected. when i grew up the world was pretty small. you didn't have communication
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was people from outside your neighborhood. today kids are growing up, communicating daily with foreign nationals. reading things posted all over the world. it's important for us to make sure we communicate to them about what is unique in our system. i fully support those civic education efforts and i try to do my part. suzanne: you are doing that today. we're grateful for that. i love along those lines i love your reference to ben franklin's famous remark, a republic if you can keep it. and the way you see in that obligation on every one of us. i often remark about the fact that our national anthem not only starts with a question, o say, can you see, but it ends with a question. does that star spangled still
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wave over the land of the free and home of the brave? i'm on a campaign to get stadiums and ballparks to put that question mark at the end. going to work on that when i'm at spring training this weekend at the nationals. mr. rosenstein: a couple of my favorite talking points. suzanne: but i do think how do we get across to more americans that is a question that is asked of them every day. and they have a role in answering it. it's not just appreciate the wonderful system we have. we'll lose it if we don't all understand that that system is there because of us and we have an obligation to sustain it. mr. rosenstein: thank you for pointing out we don't know exactly what franklin said. no one was carrying a recording device. it's attributed to franklin. and the "star spangled banner" point that's an insightful metaphor. the ""star spangled banner"" we sing at ballgames was a poem. it was a sears of questions because he didn't know when the
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sun rose was the "star spangled banner" still waving. i think it is a useful illustration of that point. they were fighting for liberty. they did not take it for granted. today we shouldn't take it for granted, either. i think it's important for us to engage in that kind of civics debate. to talk about why our system is preferable to other systems. and to continue to improve on it. suzanne: in your confirmation hearing to be deputy attorney general, you talked about the values you learned growing up in your small hometown of lower moreland, pennsylvania. one of those values was to, quote try to leave things better than you found them.
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those of us who have been privileged to serve in leadership positions in government certainly share that objective and goal as we enter into office. as you approach the end of your 29-year career in the department of justice and your time as deputy attorney general, how are you feeling both in terms of what you have been able to accomplish and about the place that you are leaving and it's well-being. mr. rosenstein: i have thought about that. obviously we're in a politically challenging era, but a lot of them r you need to recognize when you take these jobs. i actually very confident about the department of justice. part of it is because of the people that i work with, the folks that we have appointed in this administration, which is really an outstanding group. political appointees, who are working with our career folks to enforce the rule of law. not everybody agrees with our policies, that's what elections are about. changing policies. but the principles of the department are being enforced. when we find people who -- when there are credible allegations of wrongdoing by department employees, we're taking action. it's not always as quick as everybody would like because we do follow processes. but we are taking appropriate action and we're promoting rule of law. i think when you look back in
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the long run it's always hard when you are caught up in any issue of significant public controversy to be objective about it, but i'm very confident when we look back in the long run on this year of the department of justice, we'll be proud of the way the department's conducted itself anti-president will deserve credit for the folks that he appointed to run the department. bill barr, jeff rosen's been nominated to replace me. chris wray at the f.b.i. these are folks we can count on to promote and preserve the rule of law. suzanne: along those lines we got a question about what counsel you would give your daughters on public service, particularly in law enforcement, and the department of justice. i have a little sneak preview of what your answer might be having read your remarks that you gave last week in wharton. i was telling the deputy attorney general at lunch that i thought about him last night while i watched a few minutes of the academy awards. because he quoted in his wharton remarks "rocky balboa." mr. rosenstein: philadelphia. my hometown. ben franklin is from there, too. i encourage my kids to consider public service. there are plenty of patriotic americans who contribute without ever working in government. i don't think it's essential. their interest in public service has been enhanced as a result of my experience. you might think, oh, it's so unpleasant to be criticized in the media. they'll be scared off. not at all. they are inspired by it and
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inspired by the folks i work with. the opportunity to come visit the department of justice and meet the people i work with. the career folks in the department and other members of the administration. i encourage them and i think that they do have an interest. one of my daughters is very eager to intern on capitol hill. so i anticipate that they will spend some time in public service. suzanne: i'll explain the reference to the academy award. the quote of course to rocky balboa quote i read, the deputy attorney general used in his wharton remarks was about it's not about how hard you get hit, or how hard you hit, but about your ability to get back up when you have been hit hard. and i recall correctly lady gaga made very similar remarks last night. mr. rosenstein: i did not endorse the lady gaga interpretation. i do invoke the original version, the rocky balboa version. keep moving forward is the conclusion. that's our motto. my daughter clearly endorsed this because she surprised me, my 17-year-old daughter, almost, not for my birthday, she actually had a quotation inscribed on a plaque i have
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hanging in my office. i know she got the point. suzanne: we have a question here about our educational opportunities that we provide. over the past 0 years we educated many chinese national ph.d.'s. most go back to china. do you think we should require service or curtail this education? how will we prevent a technological surprise and develop our own? mr. rosenstein: not sure that required service reference means. i fully support those kind of exchanges. i think that people have the opportunity to see our system and understand how it operates. that will inspire them to make changes in their own system. that underlies a lot of the president's approach to dealing with foreign countries is we have such confidence in our system we believe that if we expose people to our way of life and if they understand the benefits of following our model, they are more likely to pursue peace and adopt our values. i think that's a worthwhile program.
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we talk about director wray and i talk a lot about the challenge we face by virtue of chinese nationals who exfiltrate -- that doesn't mean we shouldn't invite them just make sure we know the risk. and not entrust people with sensitive information who may betray us and provide it to our adversaries. suzanne: a question here that points out that the united states only ranked 19th out of 113 countries included in the 2018 rule of law index. while the goal ranked as high should the u.s. prioritize improving its rule of law to meet the standards set by those in its regional income group? and what initiatives would you propose to further that? related question is, based on your tenure in the department, are there reforms to the department that you think might enhance its independence and public trust and confidence? mr. rosenstein: the first question he, i don't know who is
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responsible for those ratings or what criteria they are using. i'm not in the position to comment on that. obviously any system can be improved. i happen to believe ours is one of the best. so i'm skeptical who ranks us 19. i have to study the other 18. i have had now almost three decades of experience in our system. seeing how it operates gives me great confidence. the department of justice there are always reforms. we actually made reforms in the department. we're eager to look to things that have gone wrong and figure out how we can address them. one of the challenging issues we face in the department, and this is an issue we'll discuss nationally, is the question of whether transparency is a good thing. it was a knee-jerk reaction to suggest we should be transparent
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about what we do in government. there are a lot of reasons not to be transparent about what we do in government. judge webster is sitting here in the front row, he's been doing this work since long before i, the government, just because the government collects information doesn't can mean that information is accurate. it can be misleading if you are overly transparent about information that the government collects. i think we do need to be cautious about that. and that's again not to count on any particular case. there may be legitimate reasons for making exceptions. as a general principle my view is the department of justice is best served when people are confident that we're going to operate, we're investigating the american citizens in particular. do it with appropriate sensitivity to the rights of uncharged people. when we charge somebody with a violation, we need to be prepared to prove it by evidence
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beyond any reasonable doubt. and the agents i worked with during my tenure on the frontlines in law enforcement were if we aren't prepared to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt, we have no business making allegations against american citizens. i know there is tension there between the desire to be more transparent and let everybody know what we're doing and the desire to ensure the government through its work is not unduly tainting anybody. but my own view about it is we're better off following the rules and ensuring that our employees respect their obligations to conduct their investigations in confidence. suzanne: i think one of the ways to address the challenge between the benefits of transparency and transparency may not be possible or feasible, is to at least help educate the public about the neutral principle that is are being applied to make those decisions and determinations so they don't conclude these are political. certainly we have seen this again going back to the work we have been doing here looking at efforts to undermine public confidence in the justice system instances where transparency is not possible because of policies around privacy. cases involving juveniles, for
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example, are particularly attractive targets for russian propaganda efforts trying to sow false allegations and accuse prosecutors and judges of keeping secrets because they are doing something wrong. one of the things we have thought about and talked with some folks about is creating a core of, particularly attorneys and judges, who could help educate the public about process. to help them understand why in a case involving juveniles all the details may not be able to be brought out. but this is the process that would be followed. and the importance of having voices in local communities. is that something that the justice department has ever thought about in terms of the importance of educating folks about those instances in which you perhaps can't be as transparent but these are the detailed principles that guide those decisions. mr. rosenstein: yes. that's an invitation to expand on my previous answer. one of the things that gives me great confidence is the
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processes in place and that's independent of who is running in any particular time. specifically the department of justice we have internal watchdogs. many people are not aware of that. for example, individual members of congress have suggested that
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they need to be the reviewers of the work of the department of justice. i have explained that's already been accounted for. we have within the department an independent inspector general, presidential appointed and senate confirmed, whose job it is to conduct independent reviews of the work of the department of justice when he determines it's appropriate. those are fully independent reviews that result in detailed reports. sometimes they are made public. sometimes they are sensitive and not made public. when they find wrongdoing or misconduct, which they do regularly, we take appropriate action. if there is potential criminal wrongdoing we refer to a u.s. attorney for possible prosecution. if it's not, we have the ability to impose administrative sanctions. if somebody left department, we can refer them to disciplinary action if they are a member of a state bar association. we have in the department of justice an office of
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professional responsibility which has a unique obligation or responsibility to review the compliance of federal prosecutors. we have designated ethics officers who evaluate whether or not we have conflicts of interest or reasons why we shouldn't participate in particular matters. law enforcement agencies including d.e.a., a.t.f., u.s. marshal service have their own internal office professional responsibilities. my confidence in the integrity in law enforcement is not because i assume nobody will do wrong. contrary, i have spent much of my career as correction officer. my confidence is a product of the process that is exist. and the folks who have responsibilities to review alleged wrongdoing to make independent findings and i know because i have seen over the course of years that they are aggressive in making those findings. i think it is important as suzanne said to message that. to reassure people that we do have mechanisms of accountability. we're not going to jump just because somebody goes on cable tv and says there was wrongdoing f our independent professionals and office of professional responsibility of inspector
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general make an assessment and determine either there is pred case or even there is just concern about whether a process needs to be reviewed, they have the man power to do it. our inspector general has about 475 employees. i once said 500 in a congressional hearing he got angry with me. it's not that many. suzanne: he wishes. mr. rosenstein: i rounded up. the point is we do have the capacity to do that. we have demonstrated, i say we, he, the inspector general, has demonstrated his ability to do that. i think that that -- i know that's an appropriate mechanism to do these things. some of the things we do are not appropriate to expose at a congressional hearing t wouldn't be in the interest of america to do that kind of thing. it is in the interest of america to know that somebody a going to be able to o do it. fortunately we do have a mechanism that accomplishes that. suzanne: in the interest of transparency, i understand and explaining process, i understand and certainly respect your general admonition are you not going to talk about ongoing investigations.
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but i think it might be helpful for folks to understand, if you can, discuss is having generally what the process is with respect to something like the special prosecutor's report. what is the process, then, that may not be completely visible to americans, but that they are to understand is taking place. mr. rosenstein: trying to make it worthwhile for the reporters who came all the way here. the answer is i can't generalize about it because the special counsel regulation has only been invoked in a few occasions. each one is somewhat -- it's important to understand the context. i don't have time to give you the whole context here. before this regulation was adopted in 1999, there were special counsel. it wasn't a regulation that specified how they should operate. for a couple decades before the special counsel regulation, there were also what are called independent counsels. most americans do not know the difference between a special and independent counsel, but to me it's a critical difference. independent counsel under the federal statute that existed up until 1999 was a post watergate reform created a prosecutor who
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was independent of the department of justice. appointed by the judiciary, not accountable to the executive branch. and by 1999, there was a broad agreement among democrats and republicans that was not a good idea. that the prosecutorial power should not be somebody who is independent to the executive branch and only accounted to judges. they codified it in the special counsel regulation what is they believed, the folks who wrote them, was the best way to operate. so we're now operating under those rules. and under those rules the special counsel is accountable to the department of justice. there is a lot of confusion about this. there is no confusion by bob mueller or me or the people working with us about the accountability of the special counsel. and the responsibilities are set forth in the regulation. we're going to comply with those rules. the question suzanne refers to, which has been the subject of much speculation, is what's the attorney general going to do?
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you have to ask him that question. the special counsel regulation actually was put together in a very thoughtful way. and the goal of special counsel regulation was to ensure that when the attorney general, acting attorney general believed it was appropriate, that we would establish a process whereby there would be some additional independence, structural independence comes in in the fact that a special counsel, if the special counsel proposes to take an action and is overruled by the attorney general, or the acting attorney general, we are required to report that to the congress. that's the structural independence provided in the statute. the special counsel is a
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subordinate employee who reports to the attorney general or the acting attorney general and who complies with department policies, including requirement to pursue -- obtain approval for certain actions just like an acting united states attorney, for example, would need to do. i can't answer your question because that's going to be a decision the attorney general makes with what to do with whatever information is provided to him. i can tell you i think the regulation was appropriately written to ensure that we can be confident that the investigation was conducted in an independent way and that if that special prosecutor believed something should be done and we prohibited him from doing it, there would be a report about that to congress at the end. beyond that, i think attorney general barr is going to make the right decision. we can trust him to do that. he has a lot of experience to do that. bill barr when he was attorney general in the first go-round in the course of his 14 months or so, he appointed a couple of special counsels, not subject to this regulation, but i think we can count on him to do the right thing. suzanne: it's been terrific hearing from you today and
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understanding, again, all of the ways in which you have worked for 29 years to do the right thing. and we're extremely grateful, both for your public service and for your having taken time out of what i know is an unbelievably busy schedule to spend so much time with us today. we're grateful and wish you-all the best. mr. rosenstein: thank you very much. [applause] mick mulvaney is the keynote speaker later today at the ronald reagan dinner. live coverage begins at 7:45 onlinestern on c-span, or listen on the c-span radio app. and come up more coverage trumpow when president
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speaks to the gathering. the democratic presidential field is growing. he will speak at the campus of brooklyn college, where he was a student. senator cory booker speaks sunday in selma, alabama. theservice commemorates bloody sunday march were demonstrators, including john lewis were beaten by alabama state troopers on the bridge. >> the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. not what your country
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can do for you. ask what you can do for your country. >> the people who knocked these buildings down will feel [indiscernible] book, thes newest presidents. noted historians rank the best in the worse -- the best and the worst. explored the events that shaped our leaders, challenges they faced and the legacies they left behind. on shelves april 23, but you can preorder your hard copy today wherever books are sold. the washington state


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