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Acting Attorney General Says I Have Not Interfered in Any Way in Mueller Probe; Whitaker Says He Has Not Talked to Trump About the Mueller Probe; Whitaker Is Being Grilled by Lawmakers on The Russia Probe; Whitaker Asked About Family Separations at The Border; Whitaker Says He Has Not Received Mueller's Report. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired February 8, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Congressman stopped short of that and that would have been a significant line of questioning because Matt Whitaker: had denied ever talking about the Mueller probe to the President, but according to our reporting, he can't denial the SDNY probe --


BROWN: He never actually denied it because he wasn't asked specifically.

KEILAR: You're a former DOJ official, the idea that the acting Attorney General might deny that just based on the characterization of lashing out, although we're assuming that the President was at least animated, we know that he was animated from Pam and Laura's reporting, would that be -- what would that tell you if the acting Attorney General is trying to find wiggle room just by around that term "lashing out"?

ERIC COLUMBUS, FORMER OBAMA DOJ OFFICIAL: I think he's very eager not to do anything that will sellout the President because his future career may depend on that. At the same time, he doesn't want to trample on the Mueller investigation because he may believe in it and doesn't want to have that legacy in the way that many former Nixon aides did. So, he is trying to be very careful, thread a needle here and That's his main goal is to run out the clock by doing that.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He doesn't want to dump on Rosenstein on the way out the door and there are some Republicans who can't stand Rosenstein and he wouldn't -- he wouldn't do that either. He wouldn't take on Mueller specifically. Eric Swalwell tried to get him to take him on and he wouldn't and he said he agreed that he was honest and that he was not conflicted and that he had his respect, although he wouldn't say the sentence that the Congressman wanted him to say for the convenient sound bite. He's walking this line because Republicans don't like Mueller, don't like Rod Rosenstein, but he for now runs the Justice Department.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He does. Remember the whole premise for Democrats of bringing Whitaker before their committee in the first place when they won the majority, they said that they wanted him to come in order to ask basic questions about whether he's messing with the Mueller probe since he was put in charge without being, you know, confirmed, being -- somebody who has publicly stated opposition to the Mueller probe and on some really basic questions that he did answer, his answer was effectively no. So, on that we did get some answers and a lot more we did not.

KEILAR: All right. I am going to hand over the reins here to Brooke Baldwin as she continues our special coverage of the Matt WHITAKER: testimony before Congress. Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hey. I'm Brooke Baldwin. It's Friday. I have lost count of how many hours we're into this Matt Whitaker. He's been testifying in front of the House judiciary committee. You've been listening to all kinds of discussions over what he has said and hasn't said, citing executive privilege during certain occasions. In case you have not been glued to the television as we all have for the last several hours, let's just reset for recall of you at the top of the hour and go to our senior Congressional correspondent Manu Raju who is up on Capitol Hill who is listening to this whole thing. What are you hearing from lawmakers on this?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: The one thing that WHITAKER: has tried to make clear in this hearing where there's not been much clarity, he did not speak to the President about the Special Counsel's investigation. That was what he tried to make clear early on that that was not a part of his discussions, but there are also questions about his decision not to recuse himself over the investigation because he said that it was his own personal decision that it's fine for him to continue overseeing this investigation despite the views of ethics officially -- it's coming back on.

BALDWIN: Let's go back.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: You haven't taken any sort of oath to Donald Trump, have you?

MATT WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: No, I have not taken any oath.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: And you have signed a nondisclosure agreement with the White House and Donald Trump?

WHITAKER: We signed an ethics pledge which was the most robust ethics pledge [inaudible] DOJ employment documents.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: And there was no nondisclosure agreement with anything you signed?

WHITAKER: I don't believe so but I don't know what the standard DOJ forms are.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: In fact, the only thing you really had to do before you could assume your current position was take an oath to the United States Constitution, isn't that right?

WHITAKER: I probably took the oath a second time when I came back to the Department of Justice. REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Let me ask you a series of questions about the U.S. Constitution that you can easily answer yes or no, and the first question is, there is no sentence in the Constitution that states that the President's National Security adviser can't be indicted, correct?

WHITAKER: Congressman, as is consistent with the practice of the Department of Justice, we investigate crimes and we prosecute individuals that commit crimes.

[14:05:00] REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Just asking a simple question. I'll go on. There's no sentence in the U.S. Constitution that states the President's former campaign chairman can't be indicted, correct?

WHITAKER: Same answer to my -- to your previous question.

LIEU: Does that sentence exist in the Constitution?

WHITAKER: Of course, it does not., Congressman, you know that and I know that.

LIEU: Right, because Paul Manafort was indicted. There is no sentence that says the President's children can't be indicted, correct?

WHITAKER: Congressman, you can give me the whole list --

LIEU: I'll give you three more.

WHITAKER: OK. No sentence in the United States Constitution that says that the President's children cannot be indicted.

LIEU: There's no sentence in the U.S. Constitution that says the Vice President can't be indicted, correct?

WHITAKER: That's correct.

LIEU: There's no sentence in the U.S. Constitution -- this is my last one -- there's no sentence in the U.S. Constitution that says the sitting President of the United States cannot be indicted, correct?

WHITAKER: Congressman, because that is the opinion of the office --

LIEU: I don't actually care what the DOJ policy is. I'm asking the Constitution.

WHITAKER: Consistent with practices, the Department of Justice for years --

LIEU: yes or no question, Mr. Whitaker I'm asking you a factual --

WHITAKER: Under both administrations.

LIEU: After this hearing, you can spin the Constitution all you want as you sit here today -- WHITAKER: I'm not spinning the Constitution.

LIEU: You just have to answer a factual yes or no question. I'll make it even easier for you. There's no sentence in the Constitution that says, quote, "the sitting President of the United States cannot be indicted," unquote, correct? Yes or no?

WHITAKER: You know --

LIEU: I have it right here. Is that --

WHITAKER: I have a copy myself.

LIEU: Is that sentence in the Constitution? It's not, correct? I'm not trying to trick you. It's not a hard question. Again. It's a founding document of our federal government. Is that sentence in this Constitution?

WHITAKER: Congressman, you and I both know that the way the OLCP opinion is written --

LIEU: I'm asking about the Constitution.

WHITAKER: The sitting President of the United States can't be indicted.

LIEU: I'm just going to -- Mr. Chair, I am just going to submit the U.S. Constitution for the record and say, no, that sentence is not in there. I'll move on.

Earlier today you had testified that you did not communicate to Donald Trump or senior White House advisers about the Special Counsel's investigation. I'll ask you a related question. Did you communicate to Donald Trump or any senior White House advisers about investigations from the Southern District of New York concern the Trump Organization, the Trump Inaugural Committee, Michael Cohen or the investigations that relate to Trump entities or potentially the President?

WHITAKER: Congressman, I mentioned that -- I said other investigations in my opening statements. I don't have anything further to add to that answer.

LIEU: And when you said other investigations, you mean you communicated to the President about --


LIEU: That you did not?

WHITAKER: What I said in my opening statement. I'll refer you back to my opening statement. I was very clear about that.

LIEU: Did you communicate to the President or any White House advisers about any investigations in the Southern District of New York -- WHITAKER: Again, I was very explicit in my opening statement as to

that -- not only -- about my communications regarding the Special Counsel's office and I said "other" investigations in the Southern District of New York would be included in other investigations.

LIEU: OK. Thank you. I want to move to another subject. The President has talked about national emergency under the latest FBI data, it's correct, isn't it, that violent crime across the United States has gone down?

WHITAKER: Yes, we celebrate actually the violent crime is gone down for the last two years.

LIEU: Property crime has gone down as well, isn't that right?

WHITAKER: Congressman, as I sit here right now, generally all crime is down over the last two years since Trump was elected.

LIEU: My last question to you, you would agree with Donald Trump, wouldn't you, when last year he tweeted out that border crossings are at a 45-year low?

WHITAKER: We saw a precipitous decline in border crossings after the President was leaked and sworn into office. We haven't been able to retain those gains and we see an absolute dramatic surge in family units.

LIEU: Thank you.

JERRY NADLER, CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Time of the gentleman has expired. Mr. Raskin?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND: Mr. Whitaker, before you took the call from President Trump, you had a fascinating career. Owned a daycare center, a concrete supply business, trailer of sales, GOP activist, U.S. attorney who unsuccessfully prosecuted Iowa's first openly gay legislature on Trumped up Hobbs Act charges that were dismissed by the jury in about an hour. Senate candidate. There have been some scandals too. Here's one. Trump's Acting Attorney General involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings, veteran says I spent the money on a dream.

[14:10:00] I lost everything but the newspaper say you struck gold when you arrived in Washington which the President calls the swamp. Here's one. It tells the story, conservative nonprofit with obscure roots in undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million. According to "The Washington Post," three years after you arrived in Washington, Whitaker received more than $1.2 million as the leader of a charity reporting have no other employees. That's a pretty good deal.

What was the name of the charity that you ran, Mr. Whitaker?

WHITAKER: Congressman, you've mentioned a lot in your --

RASKIN: I'm asking a very specific question. What was the name of the charity?

WHITAKER: You have challenged my character --

RASKIN: No, no. I'm asking you a question. I control this time, Mr. Whitaker If you want to ask the Chairman for time of your own, this is my time. You don't run this committee. You don't run the Congress of the United States and you don't run the Judiciary Committee.

NADLER: The gentleman will suspend. The gentleman is correct. The witness will answer the questions and it's up to the gentleman to decide what questions. The gentleman will continue. We'll resume.

RASKIN: What was the title of the not for profit that you ran?

WHITAKER: At what time period, sir?

RASKIN: What was the last title? I know it changed its name three different times. What was the final name?

WHITAKER: While I was employed as the executive director it was called the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust.

RASKIN: Did you name it?

WHITAKER: I did. Actually --

RASKIN: Those are highly noble goals, accountability and civil trust. Let's talk about some accountability and proof civic trust. Mr. Whitaker, I've got a question for you.

WHITAKER: No. You asked me a question.

RASKIN: I control the floor, Mr. Whitaker. You don't understand.

NADLER: The gentleman controls the time and if he wishes as many -- many members have gone on occasion, they make a statement, if he wishes to proceed to another question, it's his time.

WHITAKER: Congressman, I do not feel -- Mr. Chairman, I do not feel like my answer would be complete on the record --

RASKIN: See if you can get into this, where the money came from that you were paid, the $1.2 million that you were paid before you went to the Department of Justice.

DOUG COLLINS (R) GEORGIA: Mr. Chairman, point of order which overrules your question.

NADLER: The gentleman will explain -- the gentleman will suspend. The gentleman will explain his point of order.

COLLINS: Again, if he wanted -- if he wanted to do a confirmation hearing, this is not in the scope of this hearing. This is not a confirmation hearing and is not shown to be --

RASKIN: Mr. Chairman this goes -- NADLER: The gentleman's point of order is not well taken. The gentleman -- the gentleman from Maryland has the discretion to ask the questions. The gentleman will proceed.

COLLINS: Appeal the ruling of the Chair.

NADLER: The gentleman has appealed the ruling of the chair. The gentle lady has moved the table. All in favor of the motion to table the appeal of the ruling of the chair will vote aye, opposed nay. The ayes have it. The motion is tabled.

COLLINS: Mr. Chairman, can you and I engage -- can we suspend the clock?

NADLER: We're in the middle --

RASKIN: Point of order, Mr. Chairman. Is the ranking member going to continue to interrupt when he doesn't like the flow of questions?

COLLINS: I will probably make a point of order when it is needs to be made.

RASKIN: The use of it was actually a point of order.

NADLER: Everyone will please suspend. We will -- the gentleman made a point of order. It was ruled out of order. Right now, the gentleman has the time. If the ranking member wants to make a point, I'll recognize him after the gentleman is completed. The gentleman will resume.

RASKIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's been reported publicly that there was one donor and as we understand it, I think your testifying today that you were the sole employee of the group so there was one donor and one employee. Do you know who the donor was to the group that funded your salary for $1.3 million?

WHITAKER: Yes, I do.

RASKIN: Who was the donor?

WHITAKER: The donor was another nonprofit 501c3 organization called the Donor's Trust.

RASKIN: That was the pass-through vehicle, but who reached into their pocket and wrote the check to go through that to pay your salary?

WHITAKER: Congressman, as you know because you've looked at this issue, the Donor's Trust is much bigger than the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust and raises millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars every year. I actually, as I sit here today have no idea who the donors to Donor's Trust --

RASKIN: Thank you. I've got a theory that I want to float with you. It goes to something very strange that's been happening at the Department of Justice, really, recently. Casino billionaire and Sheldon Adelson hates online gambling. For obvious reasons. It's competition for him.

[14:15:00] He wants people in the casinos not online. He spent more than a million dollars lobbying Congress to override a 2000 opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel, DOJ saying that the Wire Act plainly prohibits only sports gambling online, not gambling in the states which is why Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, lots of states have built important businesses for themselves online. But Congress wouldn't change the law according to the demands of Mr. Adelson, so rather than change the law he decided to get the Department of Justice to change the interpretation of the law and he threw millions into a campaign to remake the DOJ and get the Office Of Legal Counsel to perform a complete reversal and say that the Wire Act bans the kinds of lotteries that states run online even though its language plainly prohibits only sports betting and when Donald Trump won and Mr. Sessions became AG and you became chief-of-staff, DOJ leadership ordered a reevaluation of this legal question and what do you know, the Office Of Legal Counsel found some subtle and invisible points of law that escaped the Department of Justice back in 2011 and it reversed the plain reading of the interpretation which talked specifically about sports betting. Now, were you involved in that decision?

WHITAKER: Congressman, the General Sessions was recused at the time that decision came out --

RASKIN: So, were you recused too?

WHITAKER: I was recused too. I was not involved in that decision.

RASKIN: Did you ever talk to Sheldon Adelson about it?

WHITAKER: No, I've never met Sheldon Adelson about it.

RASKIN: Did you talk to any of his lobbyists about it?


RASKIN: Did you talk to Charles Cooper about it?

WHITAKER: No, but I do know Charles Cooper. I would point out, one of the things, Mr. Raskin -

RASKIN: You can ask the chairman for time but I can't give you my time. We only have five minutes.

WHITAKER: OLC came out --

NADLER: The gentleman controls -- the gentleman controls the time. At the conclusion of his statement -- at the conclusion of his five minutes, I will afford the witness some time but the gentleman controls the time.

RASKIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In January and February of 2018, the chairman and vice chairman of Wild Rose Casinos and Resorts, a casino in Iowa each donated $2,600 to your Senate campaign which was over four years before when you lost that campaign. How did these casino operators come to donate to your campaign several years after you lost? Did you talk to them?

NADLER The gentleman has expired. The witness may answer the question.

WHITAKER: To answer your question specifically, no, I did not. To go back to the other point I'd like to make, Congressman, is that the first OLC opinion that preceded the one we just issued in November was done in the state of Illinois provided a white paper regarding the position on the Wire Act and so I think it is very consistent and your inference that somehow that that process was corrupted or corrupt is absolutely wrong and the premise of your question I reject.

NADLER: The gentle lady from Washington, Ms. Jayapal.

REP. PRAMITA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Whitaker, thank you for being with us, our country is still reeling families separated at the border. I was the first member of Congress to talk to hundreds of women and men who had been ripped apart from their children. I went into a federal prison to talk to those women, many of them had not even been able to say good-bye to their children. They sat in the room next door as they heard their children yelling for them and they were not able to go and speak to their children. And for weeks they didn't know where their children were. I -- most of these women, most of the men were seeking asylum and your department instead of allowing them their legal right to seek asylum, your department instead imposed a zero humanity policy to prosecute them in mass proceedings resulting in the U.S. government tearing thousands of children from their moms and dads, and this is still happening, and the truth is we may not know how many children were separated from their parents. So, Mr. Whitaker, you were Attorney General -- former Attorney General Jeff Session's chief-of-staff at the time? Is that correct?

WHITAKER: Of the zero-tolerance policy being implemented?

JAYAPAL: You were his Chief of Staff.

WHITAKER: At what point in time?

JAYAPAL: At the family separation policy. Let me just tell you were.

WHITAKER: There was no family separation policy. There was a zero- tolerance policy.

JAYAPAL: This has been given four Pinocchio's, multiple times. I'm just going to tell you that you were the former Attorney General's chief-of-staff. Last month Senator Merkley released a leaked draft memo by senior officials of the Department of Justice and homeland security outlining policies to separate children from their families. Were you aware of this memo at the time?

[14:20:00] WHITAKER: No.

JAYAPAL: So as the chief-of-staff you were not aware of what your boss was doing?

WHITAKER: Was the memo -- I'm sorry. You're talking about the leaked memo or the memo that General Sessions issued --

JAYAPAL: There was a leaked draft memo by senior officials at the Department of Justice, you were the chief-of-staff, I would think you would know and you would be a senior official, you would know about that memo. The memo stated that a policy of criminally prosecuting parents would require close coordination between DHS and the Department Of Health And Human Services which would be tasked with housing children separated from their moms and dads yet a report released by the Government Accountability office last October says that DHS and HHS were, quote, unaware that your boss -- former boss's zero-tolerance policy memo was coming. Is it correct that the Department of Justice provided no advance notice to those departments?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, the department's --

JAYAPAL: It's just a yes or no. Did you provide advanced notice to the --

WHITAKER: We conducted a press conference in San Diego with the head of the immigration customs enforcement when we announced the zero- tolerance policy and all the zero-tolerance policy does is says that we will take all referrals from DHS --

JAYAPAL: I'm going to stop you right there. It is my time. According to the GAO report -- the GAO, the Government Accountability Office report on family separation, DHS and HHS officials told us the agencies did not take specifically planning steps because they did not have advanced notice of the Attorney General's April 2018 memo. It went on to say, specifically, CPB, I.C.E. and ORR officials stated that they became aware of the April 2018 memo when it was announced publicly. So before or after the -- let me go back. Are you saying that CPB, I.C.E. and ORR lied to the GAO and that they were somehow aware and given advance notice?

WHITAKER: No, I'm not going to suggest that anybody was not telling the truth. I'm saying that when we publicly announced the zero- tolerance policy it was pursuant to a public event in San Diego --

JAYAPAL: So, prior to the public event -- Mr. Whitaker, prior to the public event, these -- I.C.E. CPB and ORR officials told the GAO that they had not gotten any notice, I'm not talking about once it was public, I'm talking about whether there was advanced notice. Let me go on. Before or after the zero-tolerance policy was put into place and I call it the zero-humanity policy, did the U.S. attorneys track when they were prosecuting a parent or legal guardian who had been separated from their child? There's only one answer to this. It's gone through the courts.

WHITAKER: You know, did we track it?

JAYAPAL: Did you track when you were prosecuting a parent or legal guardian who had been separated from a child?

WHITAKER: I don't believe we were tracking that.

JAYAPAL: You were not tracking. That is the correct answer. And when parents are prosecuted and sentenced, they are in DOJ custody, correct?

WHITAKER: Correct, they are custodies transferred to the U.S. marshal.

JAYAPAL: These parents were in your custody, your attorneys are prosecuting them and your department was not tracking parents who were separated from their children. Do you know what kind of damage has been done to children and families across this country, children who will never get to see their parents again? Do you understand the magnitude of that?

WHITAKER: I understand that the policy of zero tolerance --

JAYAPAL: Has the Justice Department started tracking parents and legal guardians who were separated from their children at the border?

NADLER: The time of the gentle lady is expired. The witness may answer the question.

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, I appreciate your passion for this issue and I know that you've been very involved on the front lines of this --

JAYAPAL: This is about more than my passion. This is about the children's future, Mr. Whitaker. Please answer. Go ahead. Please.

NADLER: The witness may answer.

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, the responsibility for the arrests and the detention and together with the custody of the children was handled by DHS and HHS before those people were ever transferred to DOJ custody through the U.S. marshals.

NADLER: Thank you. The time of the gentle lady is expired. Ms. Demings.

[14:25:00] REP. VAL DEMINGS (D), FLORIDA: Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Whitaker, I spent 27 years in law enforcement, I served as the chief of police. I took an oath just like you did and I took that oath very, very seriously to uphold the Constitution and to protect this country from all enemies foreign and domestic. I hope you took the oath that you took very, very seriously, but today as I've sat through and my colleagues is right, this is painful because I believe that you have worked to make our criminal justice system -- to make a mockery out of it. And it's painful for me for you to do that and anybody up to and including the President of the United States. But let me ask you this and it's really been painful for someone who has been given so much responsibility representing the men and women who have dedicated their lives to public service, that really means a lot to me. I hope it means a lot to you. Mr. Lieu asked you if you ever communicated with President Trump about investigations in the Southern District of New York. Instead of answering you referred him back to your statement, referred him back to what was written for you, but all you said is that you didn't make any statement, that you didn't make any promises or commitments to President Trump. I want to know whether you talked to President Trump at all about the Southern District of New York's case involving Michael Cohen? WHITAKER: Congresswoman, as I've mentioned several times today, I am

not going to discuss my private conversations with the President of the United States.

DEMINGS: So yes or no, did you --

WHITAKER: No matter what the question is.

DEMINGS: Did you discuss with the President Trump anything about Michael Cohen?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, as I have expressed several times today, I am not --

DEMINGS: Did you ever have any conversations with the President about firing or reassigning any personnel, U.S. attorneys or others who work with the Southern District of New York? With the President or anybody, anybody at all, did you ever have any conversations with anybody about reassigning or firing any personnel including U.S. attorneys with the Southern District of New York?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, I sit on top of the Department of Justice, as you mentioned --

DEMINGS: Did you ever have any conversations about anybody who works with the District of Virginia firing or reassigning? With anybody, not just the President, anybody at all?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, I am not going to talk --

DEMINGS: So, let's talk about the great 115,000 men and women who work for the Department of Justice, because I agree that they are extremely talented highly principled public servants who are dedicated to upholding our great Constitution and the laws of the United States. I'm sure you're familiar with this because you keep up at a rally last fall the President said looks what's being exposed at the Department of Justice and the FBI. You have some real bad ones. You see what's happening at the FBI. They're all gone. They're all gone but there's a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that, too. Do you agree with the President's characterization of the Department of Justice and the FBI as the Attorney General please tell me why you would agree or why you would not agree with that statement?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, since I've become the acting Attorney General, I have re-established a positive relationship between the Department of Justice and the White House.

DEMINGS: Before you became -- established that positive relationship, what was your opinion of the 115,000 men and women who dedicate their life to public service before you had your current position, what was your opinion of them?

WHITAKER: I have a very high estimation of the men and women at the Department of Justice. They are the most exceptional, hardworking people that I have ever -- DEMINGS: You disagree with the President's characterization because

they don't deserve it, Mr. Whitaker, and you are -- you supervised, you managed them, you don't -- then you don't agree with the President's characterization of them, is that correct?

WHITAKER: Listen, before, Congresswoman, in all due respect, I feel very strongly that as the acting Attorney General of the United States that I have to set the tone for the entire Department of Justice and what is so important --

DEMINGS: If I worked for you, Mr. Whitaker, and you thought I was highly principled and very talented and that was your answer when I was asked or you're asked about how do you view the people who work for you that's your answer, that's pretty pitiful. Let me ask you this, you've only mentioned drugs coming through the southern border. The problem at the southern border as characterized by you and the President. Could you please paint a picture of drugs flowing through our ports of entry because I'm told that overwhelming number or percentage of drugs that flow into our country come through the ports of entry? Do you agree or disagree with that statement and if so, yes or no why not?

[14:30:00] NADLER: The time is expired. The witness may answer the question.

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, we actually both agree. The ports of entry at our southern border are most trafficked with drugs and illegality, it also comes in between ports --

DEMINGS: Overwhelming of drugs come through the ports of entry --

WHITAKER: On our southern border.

DEMINGS: Do you agree or disagree with that?

WHITAKER: I believe that a tremendous amount of drugs come through our southern border, yes.

NADLER: The gentleman, Correa.

REP. LOU CORREA (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, sir. I wanted to ask you about your enforcement priorities, one of my jobs here in Congress is to serve the Department of Homeland Security and within that job, one of my most important critical jobs is to make sure our citizens are safe, to protect our nation against terrorist threats.