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Immigration Protests Underway Outside Trump Event; Justice Kennedy's Retirement Ignites Fierce Battle Over Successor; Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired June 28, 2018 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a Milwaukee public schoolteacher. I'm the vice president of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association. What is being -- what's happening to families and children at the border of this country is indefensible. It is torture. And the people of this city aren't going to stand by and allow it to happen. When there is not justice, there is not going to be peace.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If Trump could hear you right now and if he was watching this, what would you want the president to hear?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president needs to pay attention to what families and the people across this nation are saying. We're united. We're one. What happens to another family is happening to my family. We're not going to let that happen.
YOUNG: Describe the passion here. Because people have been very vocal for the last 45 minutes to an hour. How do you feel being here, sitting in the middle of the street?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an honor and it's a duty. It's our duty.
YOUNG: Very emotional about this. What is touching you about this so much?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would want people to fight for my family. It's that simple. I'm going to be out here, we're going to be out here fighting until our families are safe.
YOUNG: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
YOUNG: So you can feel the passion here, Poppy. Look, there's been a conversation about making sure the president definitely hears them. Of course, there is that buffer zone, there is that fundraiser that's happening down the way here. And, like I said, they have been blocking off roads systematically to make sure the protesters can't get so close.
Well, one of the things you noticed here is they came organized with these signs and they have been marching. For the most part, they stay out of the street. Then we they got closer to here, they did take over and occupy some of the streets here. So there is traffic being blocked. But so far no confrontation between the protesters, police or traffic at all. It's been very peaceful, they're making sure they get their voices heard, but at the same time, it has been very organized.
And she's not the only person who has been crying throughout this. There has been conversations out here where people have been sharing their information in terms of just, like, how they feel about what is going on and what this means for our country. And they definitely want people to know that the Midwest cares about what's going on at the border.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Ryan Young, that was very clear in that interview you did. And the president is there, raising money for Governor Scott Walker, of course, also Wisconsin home of House Speaker Paul Ryan. It's certainly been in the news a lot this week with the Harley-Davidson news as well, a lot going on there, but a clear message being sent from those protesters.
Thank you, Ryan.
Meantime, Republican Senate leadership says it plans to have a new Supreme Court justice sworn in and seated by the start of the new term in October. That has angered many Democrats who want to stall the vote until after the midterm election in November in the hope that they might retake the Senate and therefore have a say in who replaces retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Kennedy is retiring at the end of next month and has been a swing vote in many landmark cases over his 30 years on the bench of the high court. And his departure clearly, clearly leaves the ability for President Trump to shift the court firmly to the right.
Our Jessica Schneider is in Washington with more.
And, Jessica, there is -- I mean, we know the list that the president is choosing from, but before we get into that, just talk about the importance, how monumental Kennedy's vote has been.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This could be a seismic shift in the balance of power at the court, Poppy. It is no doubt that the court will change dramatically because it is highly unlikely that the next justice would have the same sort of moderate tendencies that Justice Kennedy had.
Kennedy, of course, sided with conservatives on issues like campaign finance and gun control and voting rights while on the flipside he voted with the liberal wing to uphold abortion rights as well as affirmative action. And, of course, he was the justice who wrote the majority opinion making same-sex marriage the law of the land that was in 2015.
So while Justice Kennedy essentially saw both sides here, the justice that President Trump nominates will likely be a staunch conservative and will likely side exclusively with conservative causes brought to the court. But what's important to note here is a lot of people are bringing up abortion. A new justice doesn't necessarily mean "Roe v. Wade" would be overturned immediately, but a new court with a new conservative member, it would definitely be more likely to uphold restrictive state laws on abortion and that in turn could eventually lead to an overturn of "Roe v. Wade," once the lawsuits at the state level make their way to the Supreme Court.
So really, Poppy, a lot of stake -- a lot at stake with this retirement, just because the balance of power in this court will shift so dramatically to a much more conservative leaning court -- Poppy.
HARLOW: And even though the final decision of the term was handed down this week, they still have some business at hand and that is deciding what cases to hear in the next term, in the fall. And they've just decided moments ago to hear a case, Jessica, about double jeopardy.
[10:35:06] What can you tell us?
SCHNEIDER: Yes. Just when we thought the Supreme Court has said their final words for the term we're getting a bit more information. They did have that closed door conference yesterday. That's when they decide what cases to take up next term. That is also when Justice Kennedy announced to his fellow justices that he would be retiring.
So you're right, the court this morning issuing those orders, deciding to take up seven new cases. One of them pertaining to double jeopardy. I'll put it for you plainly here, they want to take up whether the double jeopardy clause bars states from prosecuting cases that have already been prosecuted at the federal level.
So, interesting thing, if they do take it up and they decide that you can be prosecuted for the same crime federally and on the state level.
SCHNEIDER: Could this play into the Russia investigation? That is all happening at the federal level.
SCHNEIDER: If the court were to say, sure, it can happen at both levels, could there be prosecutions at the state level? We shall see? That's a long time coming -- Poppy.
HARLOW: And you can also of course only pardon federal cases, not in state charges. So that makes it even more interesting.
SCHNEIDER: That's right.
HARLOW: Jessica Schneider, thank you very much for that.
All right. Let me take you to Washington, D.C. right now. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte making some remarks. This hearing on the 2016 election and how the DOJ and the -- the FBI handled it is getting underway once again.
We've already heard the opening statements from Representatives Goodlatte and Nadler. So in just moments, we should be hearing the opening remarks. Let's listen in.
REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, welcome.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler, and members of the committee. I always welcome the opportunity to appear before this distinguished body, but today is not a happy occasion. Based on my 30 years of experience, federal law enforcement working with the outstanding men and women of law enforcement federal, state and local in many of your districts, there is nobody who would be more committed to rooting out abuse and misconduct when there is credible evidence that it occurred.
The inspector general conducted a thorough investigation and found that some Federal Bureau Investigation employees deviated from important principles in 2016 and 2017. Everyone knew about some of those departures when they occurred. Such as discussing criminal investigations and encroaching on prosecutorial decisions.
We learned about others through the internal investigation such as leaking to the news media and exhibiting political bias. We need to correct errors, hold wrongdoers accountable and deter future violations.
Director Wray will describe what the FBI is doing to accomplish those goals. At the Department of Justice, our mandatory annual training will include lessons from the inspector general's report, and we are considering other recommendations. We already revised the department's confidentiality policies to emphasize that nonpublic sensitive information obtained in connection with our work is protected from disclosure.
We intend to enforce that principle on our employees, and we need to demonstrate respect for it ourselves by protecting sensitive information and trusting it to the FBI. A congressional oversight is vital to democracy. By June 27th letter which I will submit for your consideration explains how the executive branch handles congressional oversight requests for law enforcement and intelligence information.
The FBI is managing an extraordinary volume of congressional oversight requests, some of which seek details about criminal investigations and intelligence sources. As a result of President Trump's commitment to transparency, the FBI is making unprecedented disclosures to the Congress including granting access to hundreds of thousands of pages of investigative information and thousands of pages of classified documents.
As with most things in Washington, the real work is not done on television, and it's not all done by me. Trump administration officials are meeting and talking with your staff every day. They're working overtime with teams of FBI employees, to accommodate requests and produce relevant information to this committee, other House committees, and several Senate committees. This committee requested the production of all documents relevant to the inspector general's review. As you well know, the FBI normally declines such requests because of
the circumstances of this case and concerns that we developed during the investigation, the department agreed to produce all relevant FBI documents. I understand that the universe of potentially relevant documents was in the range of 1.2 million. Only a fraction are actually relevant.
We began the production even before the inspector general finished his report after we confirmed that the investigation was substantially complete and production at that time would not interfere with it.
[10:40:11] As you know, the FBI struggled for some time with the scope and volume of the production some of your colleagues brought to my attention that the FBI's redaction policies created the appearance that relevant information was being concealed. I looked into the issue and I understood their concern. As a result, I called on U.S. attorney John Lausch from Chicago to take charge of the project.
Mister Lausch is here with me today and I know he's talked to some of you in recent days, he's been working on this project for some time. Mr. Lausch brings experience in handling large document productions in the private sector. He worked with committee members and staff, and arranged a production process that seems to be working very well. I understand that some people still state concerns about the speed of the production, but those concerns are mistaken.
Most requests have been fulfilled. Another document productions are in progress for this committee and other committees. I have devoted almost 30 years to the service of my country, my line of work, we keep an open mind and we complete our investigations before we ledger wrongdoing by anybody.
Our allegations are made under oath and supported by credible evidence. We treat everyone with respect and deal with one another in good faith. You and I are the beneficiaries and the temporary trustees of a remarkable experiment in self-government. Like each member of Congress, the deputy attorney general, the FBI director, and other department officials represent the people of the United States.
President Trump appointed us, Senate confirmed our nominations, and we swore an oath and we accepted responsibility for helping to run the Department of Justice. That oath requires us to make controversial decisions. So here is the advice that I give Department of Justice employees, faithfully pursue the department's law enforcement mission and the administration's goals in a manner consistent with laws, regulations, policies and principles.
Be prepared to face criticism. That's part of the job. But ignore the tyranny of the news cycle, stick to the rule of law and make honest decisions that will always withstand fair and objective review. Our department's 115,000 employees work diligently every day to keep America safe. Most of their good work is never the subject of any congressional hearing.
It is a tremendous privilege to work in an organization that seeks the truth and serves the law. But the Department of Justice is not perfect. We will keep working to make it better and we welcome your constructive assistance. Thank you.
GOODLATTE: Thank you, Deputy Attorney General. Director Wray, welcome.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Thank you.
GOODLATTE: I want to thank you both for getting here. I know you've come a long way to get here and under difficult circumstances with an injury.
WRAY: Thank you, good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the FBI's response to the inspector general's report on DOJ and FBI activities in the run up to the 2016 election. We take that report very seriously and we accept its findings and its recommendations. We are already doing a whole number of things to address those recommendations. And we are determined to emerge from this experience better and wiser.
The FBI is entrusted with a lot of authority, and our actions are appropriately therefore subject to close oversight. That oversight can make the FBI stronger and the public safer. Part of that oversight includes fulsome responses to legitimate oversight requests for documents and information. For months we have been working with your committees to make witnesses available, answer questions, and produce or make available to you and your staff over now 880,000 pages.
Although we have now substantially complied with a majority of the committee's subpoena, we are determined to get through the outstanding items and we have increased staffing on this project even further. In just the past week, for example, we've had approximately 100 employees working day and night, dedicated to this project, through the weekend, to collect, review, process and produce thousands of additional pages.
Turning to the IG's report, although the IG report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper consideration actually impacting the investigation under review, that report did identify errors of judgment, violations of or disregard for policy, and decisions that certainly in the benefit of hindsight were not the best choices.
[10:45:13] So I'd like to briefly summarize the steps we're taking to address the report's recommendations. First, we're going to be holding employees accountable for misconduct. We have already referred conduct highlighted in the report to the Office of Professional Responsibility, which is the FBI's independent disciplinary arm. And once the necessary process is complete, we will not hesitate to hold people strictly accountable.
Second, we're making sure that every employee understands the lessons of the IG's report through in depth training, starting at the top, starting with the executives. So we don't repeat mistakes identified in that report.
Third, we're making sure that we have the policies, the procedures and the training needed for everyone to understand and remember what is expected of all of us. That includes drilling home the importance of objectivity and of avoiding even the appearance of personal conflicts or political bias. Ensuring that recusals are handled correctly, making all employees aware of our new media policy which I issued last November.
I'm making clear that we will not tolerate noncompliance with that policy. Ensuring that we follow DOJ policies about public statements on ongoing investigations and uncharged conduct and ensuring that we adhere strictly to all policies and procedures on the use of FBI systems, networks, and devices.
I've also directed our new associate deputy director, the number three official in the FBI, to lead a review of how we staff, structure, and supervise sensitive investigations so that we can make sure that each one is conducted to our highest standards.
The IG report makes clear that we've got important work to do, but I do want to emphasize that this report is focused on a specific set of events, in 2016, a small number of employees connected with those events. Nothing in this report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole where the FBI as an institution.
I want to be very clear with this committee about the FBI that I've gotten to see up close and personal in the 10 months since I've taken on this job. As I meet with our offices all over the world, offices represented by every one of the members up here on the dais, I encounter really remarkable, inspiring stories about the work our 37,000 men and women are doing every single day.
We have rescued more than 1300 kids from child predators this year alone. We have arrested more than 4600 violent gang members in just the past few months. We have disrupted recently terrorist plots ranging from places like fisherman's wharf in San Francisco to a crowded shopping mall in Miami. And I could go on and on.
Our men and women are doing all of that great work and much, much more with the unfailing fidelity to our Constitution and the laws that it demands, the bravery that it deserves, and the integrity that the American people rightly expect.
That means we're going to do this job by the book. I am committed to doing that. I would not be here if I wasn't committed to making sure we do it that way and I expect all our employees to do the same. That means following our rules, following our policies, following our long- standing norms. There will be times when we feel extraordinary pressure not to follow our process and policies, but in my view, those are precisely the times that we need to adhere to them the most.
We've got to stay faithful to our best traditions and our core values, making sure that we're not only doing the right thing, but doing it in the right way and pursuing the facts independently and objectively no matter who likes it. That in my view is the only way we can maintain the trust and credibility of the people we serve.
Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, thank you again for the opportunity to address inspector general's report. I look forward to answering the committee's questions.
GOODLATTE: Thank you, Director Wray. We'll no proceed under the five-minute rule with questions. And I'll begin by recognizing the gentleman from Florida, Mr. DeSantis.
REP. RONALD DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome to the witnesses. Mr. Rosenstein, August 8th, 2016, text message in the IG report from Lisa Page to Peter Strzok. "Trump's not ever going to become president, right? Right?" Peter Strzok responds, "No, no, he's not, we'll stop it."
Now the Justice Department had previously provided text messages from that date. They included all the messages we now have except the we'll stop it text message. Why didn't the Justice Department produce that to Congress when we asked?
[10:50:04] ROSENSTEIN: Mr. DeSantis, I spoke with our Inspector General Michael Horowitz yesterday and he told me that when he testified, he didn't have a full opportunity to explain and the technological details are pretty complicated, but he assured me he had had a long telephone conversation with Mr. Jordan after the hearing and explained it. He's much better positioned than I. What I can assure you --
DESANTIS: So let me just ask this then, let me say this --
ROSENSTEIN: If I could just explain, sir. I want to assure you and the American people, we're not withholding anything embarrassing. The message was not in the original material that inspector general -- he found these messages.
DESANTIS: Right, so he -- you guys didn't find it and he did. And so we're asking you to produce stuff and obviously, you know, we're expecting a good faith effort. You guys didn't find it, and maybe somebody else deleted or something happened before you guys, but he was able to find it and you didn't. So it's very disappointing to see that text message there because I think you would agree, just think of the timeline here.
You have Peter Strzok, he opens up the counterintelligence investigation against Trump's campaign, the end of July, then a week later this text message, he ain't going to be president, we'll stop it, then the next week, the infamous insurance policy text message, where he says we can't take the risk of a Trump presidency, you need an insurance policy. The American people see that, doesn't that undermine the whole integrity of the actions of people like Peter Strzok?
ROSENSTEIN: Yes, Congressman, that obviously is highly inappropriate. And --
DESANTIS: Well, it's more than that, though.
(CROSSTALK) DESANTIS: It's more than that. I mean, the inspector general did find that the bias affected. He didn't say it affected the decision about Hillary, but he said once we got into the fall, when you had the Huma Abedin e-mails and they were slow walking on that by Peter Strzok, he was really concerned with pursuing this collusion investigation. And he testified on the record that it was absolutely reasonable to say that the bias not only existed, but affected what he did.
Let me ask you this. What did the DOJ or FBI do in terms of collecting information, spying or surveillance on the Trump campaign, be it Stefan Halper or anybody else working on behalf of the agencies?
ROSENSTEIN: As you know, Congressman, I'm not permitted to discuss any classified information in an open setting, but I can assure you that we are working with oversight committees and we're producing all relevant evidence to allow me to answer those questions.
DESANTIS: Let me ask you this then. Did the Obama administration, anybody in the administration direct -- anybody, Halper, anybody else -- to make contact with anyone associated with the Trump campaign?
ROSENSTEIN: As I said, Congressman, I appreciate obviously the -- I understand your interest, But I'm not permitted to discuss classified information.
DESANTIS: Well, we want the documents. So I know we're in a back and forth on that. But the American people need to know where the counterintelligence powers of the Obama administration unleashed against Trump's campaign, if that was done, was it done appropriate.
Let me ask you this, you talk about the Mueller investigation, it's really the Rosenstein investigation. You appointed Mueller, you're supervising Mueller and it's supposedly about collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia and obstruction of justice, but you wrote the memo saying that Comey should be fired. And you signed the FISA extension for Carter Page.
So my question to you is, it seems like you should be recused from this more than Jeff Sessions just because you were involved in making decisions affecting both prongs of this investigation. Why haven't you done that?
ROSENSTEIN: Congressman, I can assure you that if it were appropriate for me to recuse, I would be more than happy to do so and let somebody else handle this. But it's my responsibility to do it. And all I can tell you --
DESANTIS: Well, how does it -- then how do you have obstruction of justice possibility for a president exercising his powers to fire an FBI director that you said should be fired and, oh, by the way, the IG report makes it clear, Jim Comey should have been fired. So why are we still doing this with the Mueller probe?
ROSENSTEIN: Sir, I am not commenting on what is under investigation by the Mueller probe and to the best of my knowledge neither is Mr. Mueller. I know there's a lot of speculation in the media about that. But that doesn't relieve me of my obligation not to discuss the subject matter of the investigation.
DESANTIS: Do you accept what IG Horowitz said regarding Peter Strzok, and the fall campaign with Huma Abedin e-mails, how he slow walked that, versus how he was so gung ho about the Trump-Russia collusion. Remember, he texted Lisa Page. The other thing Hillary mattered because we didn't want to mess it up. This matters because it matters. That's what he wanted to do. And that's where he was focusing his energy on. Horowitz said his bias is appropriate explanation for his conduct. Do you agree?
ROSENSTEIN: I certainly agree with the findings of the inspector general report and I think those messages clearly do indicate bias.
DESANTIS: You guys have some work to do because if the bias is affecting official action, that is a big, big problem. I yield back the balance of my time.
GOODLATTE: The chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California, Miss Lofgren, for five minutes.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), CALIFORNIA: Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Director Wray, this may be an appropriate time to make what is kind of an easy request.
[10:55:04] But could you state for the record what is the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation's policy on commenting on any matter related to an ongoing criminal or counterintelligence investigation? And does this policy apply to document production, even when requested by Congress?
ROSENSTEIN: Yes, Congresswoman, and Director Wray may be able to speak more specifically to the reasons why the FBI doesn't comment on counterintelligence investigations, but we do not discuss counterintelligence investigations or criminal investigations while they're ongoing.
WRAY: Congresswoman, it's always been my experience that the department and the FBI did not comment on ongoing investigations. There are a number of reasons for that, that go back to all of the days when I was a line prosecutor and long, long before that. They have to do with protecting the reputations and the privacy of the people who are subject of the investigation, they have to do with protecting the integrity of the ongoing investigation, they have to do with protecting the rights to fair trial when that's relevant, and there are a whole number of reasons.
And when you add the counterintelligence dimension, there is the need to protect sources and methods. And one of the central learnings of the inspector general's report, frankly, that we're here talking about with this committee, is about what goes wrong when you do talk about ongoing investigations.
LOFGREN: Right. So these policies apply to all current and former personnel at DOJ and the FBI as well as to the special counsel investigation, correct?
ROSENSTEIN: That's correct.
LOFGREN: Thank you. You know, it seems to me, I mentioned this the other day, that we are here pursuing release of the information that in my experience on this committee, 24 years on this committee and nine years as a member of the staff of one of the members of the committee, I've never seen this happen before. And having been given the opportunity along with just Mr. Nadler, Mr. Goodlatte, and Mr. Gowdy, to actually read the entire application on the Carter Page, the FISA application, along with the accompanying documents, took me all day. I mean, I canceled all my appointments.
It's very obvious why that material should not be in the public arena. There are people, I think, who would certainly -- could lose their lives if their identities were made known. And it is an example of the requirement that you labor under, but also that the committee labors under.
I want to mention, Mr. Jordan is here, so he'll correct me if my understanding is incorrect. But I understand Mr. Jordan accused you, Mr. Rosenstein, on the floor during debate, of threatening the HIPSY staff if they attempt to hold you in contempt for failing to comply with document requests. And I think it's important we put this on the record.
Have you, Mr. Rosenstein, ever threatened congressional staff including but not limited to House Intelligence Committee staff as it relates to requests for your -- for you to produce documents or any other matter for that?
ROSENSTEIN: Congresswoman, people make all kinds of allegations. And in my business, we ask who is the witness, how credible are they? And if somebody comes forward and swears under oath that I threatened them, I'll be happy to respond. All I can tell you with regard to that matter is that in the room at the time were three officials appointed by President Trump, confirmed by the United States Senate, Director Wray, Assistant Attorney General Boyd and me, two former Republican U.S. attorneys also in the room, with us, Greg Brower, who at the time serving as the legislative liaison for the FBI, and Scott schools.
LOFGREN: So you're answer is no.
ROSENSTEIN: The answer is no. I have not threatened anybody.
LOFGREN: Thank you very much. I just like to close with this as my time is running out. It just seems to me that we are asking you two to violate the policies that you labor under and we have been doing that repeatedly. We have got the 500 page IG report, you've acknowledged the needs to improve areas. Last week we held a six-hour hearing. Yesterday, 11 hours, trying to get the FBI to violate the same policies that you are upholding today.
And I think it is really not what this committee should be doing. I do not believe it is in the best interests of this country and certainly it does not uphold and elevate the rule of law, which is what this committee should be doing and has been doing for the quarter century that I've served on it. And I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
GOODLATTE: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Gaetez, for five minutes.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Director Wray, I am in violent agreement with the statements you made after this report was published that nothing in the report impugns the patriotic work of the FBI employees who are serving in my district and around the world.