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INSIDE POLITICS

Acting Attorney General Whitaker Testifies before House Judiciary Committee. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired February 8, 2019 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00]

JACKSON LEE: So you are denying reports that you shared many one-on- one calls with President Trump and his then-Chief of Staff John Kelly when Jeff Sessions is still attorney general?

WHITAKER: Again, Congresswomen, is there someone that provides the basis for that question, or is that an anonymously sourced article...

JACKSON LEE: I am asking the questions, sir. Answer the question, yes or no.

WHITAKER: Could you repeat the question, please?

JACKSON LEE: So you're denying the reports that you shared many one- on-one calls with President Trump and then his Chief of Staff John Kelly? Are you denying that, yes or no?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman -- congresswoman, as I have mentioned several times today in my opening statement and otherwise...

JACKSON LEE: Yes or no?

WHITAKER: ... I am not talking about the conversations that I have had with the president of the United States or his senior staff.

JACKSON LEE: So that is a no?

WHITAKER: I don't think you can assume anything from that.

JACKSON LEE: Well, let me just pursue on my line of questioning.

Since the investigation secured numerous indictments, I would like to pursue the line of questioning with respect to your understanding of the Mueller investigation and the review that you have given. Have you given an extensive review?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, I have been briefed on the special counsel's investigation.

JACKSON LEE: Do you believe the involvement of the hostile foreign entities interfering with the elections is more severe than the false representation of voter fraud in elections? Do you believe that a foreign interference with the elections is more severe? WHITAKER: Congresswoman, I believe foreign interference in our election system in the United States is a very serious and ongoing concern. I also believe that voter fraud is a serious concern.

JACKSON LEE: After you left office, you pursued a series of other political offices one of which was the United States Senate. Yes or no, if during the pursuit of that office a hostile foreign power contacted you -- contacted you to offer dirt on your opponent, which at the same time included other candidates such as Steve King and now Senator Joni Ernst, would you have contacted the FBI?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, I -- I -- I'm not here to address...

JACKSON LEE: Yes or no?

WHITAKER: ... hypothetical questions. I -- and I'm here for an oversight hearing. I don't believe -- you know, I was very unsuccessful in my in my Senate campaign...

JACKSON LEE: You have the responsibility of answering the question. Would you have contacted the FBI if you were asked to take dirt on your opponents?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, if I was contacted by a foreign national or a foreign country when I was a candidate for United States Senate, I would have most likely reached out to the FBI. But it didn't happen, so it's hard for me to answer your hypothetical question.

JACKSON LEE: With respect to civil rights, you have not under your jurisdiction prosecuted one voting rights case, is that correct?

CHAIRMAN: (OFF-MIKE) Time of the gentlelady has expired, the witness may answer the question.

WHITAKER: Congresswoman -- in -- in -- just so I have a complete answer on this, we'll follow up in writing as to the voting rights cases that we've done.

CHAIRMAN: Right, thank you.

Mr. Gohmert. Is he here (ph)?

Mr. Jordan.

JORDAN: I thank the chairman.

Mr. Whitaker, why did Rod Rosenstein send a memo to Bob Mueller on August 2nd, 2017 concerning the scope of the special counsel investigation?

WHITAKER: Congressman, thank you for that question. And I know this is of a great interest to you and I hope we can have a discussion about this today.

The special counsel regulations require a scoping of the special counsel's investigation that identifies the subject and the targets of the investigation. So I am certain that it -- it would have identified the scope of the investigation, pursuant to the special counsel's (inaudible)...

JORDAN: Well, my question is -- my question is not -- well, I'll get to that. My question is why? Because it was two and a half months after the special counsel was formed.

So let's go back to the beginning document, which you told the chairman earlier you were -- you were completely briefed on the special counsel's investigation.

I want to go ahead (ph) -- it's just a one-page document, Order Number 3915-2017 says this Mr. Whitaker, "The special counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation including any matters that arose or may arise direction from the investigation." That's pretty broad, do you agree?

WHITAKER: Yes. And -- and in my experience, it's consistent with other appointments of special counsels.

JORDAN: That's fine. I mean, I think it may be too broad -- but it's as -- as broad as you can get, one-page order, go do your investigation and anything that arises out of it you can investigate as well.

But then two and a half months later, we get this. This three-page memo from Rod Rosenstein Acting Attorney General to Robert Mueller Special Counsel, title says, "Scope of the investigation definition of authority."

This is what confuses me. Because in this memo that only Mr. Mueller and my guess is you, and Mr. Rosenstein and a few people in (ph) Justice Department have seen -- most of it's blacked out. In this memo it says this, "The following allegations were within the scope of the investigation at the time of your appointment and are within the scope of the order."

Well, if that's true, why do you have to say it? If you could do it all along, why do you have to put in a memo?

WHITAKER: Congressman Jordan, first of all, I was -- because of General Sessions' recusal from the special counsel's investigation, I was also recused from that investigation. And so I -- I was not at the department (ph)...

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: I'm not asking that. I'm asking -- you said you were fully briefed, the chairman asked...

WHITAKER: But you're asking -- you're asking me, why at the time, Rod Rosenstein...

JORDAN: I'm asking you why, two and a half months after the broadest order you can have, why did Rod Rosenstein say, hey, you could do this all along but now I'm putting it in a memo. And I'll tell you what really troubles me, Mr. Whitaker, is right after that statement, "The following allegations were within the scope of the investigation at the time of your appointment and are within the scope of the order." Right after that, you know what -- you know what happens? Everything's redacted, look at this -- the whole darn thing.

So if you could do it all along, and you have to send a memo to him two and a half months later and then you redact everything after it. You know what's under the redactions, Mr. Whitaker?

WHITAKER: I do, sir.

JORDAN: You do. Are there names under the redaction, Mr. Whitaker?

WHITAKER: In my experience with investigations generally, you would not have a public document identifying targets or subject matter of an investigation, especially if someone is not ultimately charged with a crime...

JORDAN: Let me -- let me frame it this way, did Rod Rosenstein give the special counsel the authority to investigate specific Americans?

WHITAKER: Congressman, Mr. Rosenstein acting as the attorney general -- because of Mr. Sessions' recusal, gave authorization and jurisdiction to the special counsel. And so, yes, under the special counsel regulations, that's the whole purpose of the special counsel...

JORDAN: No, no -- so I -- I want to make -- you said, yes. So there are specific names two and a half months in to the investigation that Rod Rosenstein gave the special counsel, specific American names, to go investigate?

WHITAKER: Congressman, as you know...

JORDAN: Because -- I mean, if that's the case, then it's -- I hope you -- I want to know a yes or no, I hope you know...

(CROSSTALK)

WHITAKER: As you know, this is the subject of an ongoing investigation. And I -- and I spoke to you generally about investigations.

JORDAN: But I'm asking you a specific -- or, let me ask it this way. Can you give us assurances that there are not specific names under this 70 percent redacted memo that Rod Rosenstein sent to the special counsel?

WHITAKER: Congressman Jordan, I know this is...

JORDAN: Because...

(CROSSTALK)

WHITAKER: ... a very important subject to you.

JORDAN: And you know why I'm asking this, Mr. Attorney General. Because in this country we don't investigate people, we investigate crimes. And if there are specific American citizen's names in this redacted -- and I asked Mr. Rosenstein to see this, and he got all mad and huffy with me in his office and wouldn't show it to me.

But I think the American people -- if this alters, changes the names of specific Americans, the scope of the investigation of the Special Counsel, don't you think it's appropriate for the American citizens to know the full parameters of an investigation into the guy they made president of the United States?

WHITAKER: Congressman, let me be very specific about this because you are right: We investigate crimes, not individuals.

JORDAN: And that's why I'm asking you the question, I would like a yes-or-no answer. Do you -- are there names mentioned under this redacted portion of this memo?

WHITAKER: On that -- as I mentioned before, that memo props up a confidential investigation, as is every Department of Justice....

JORDAN: Simple question, Mr. Whitaker: Are there names, specific American names mentioned in this redacted, 70 percent redacted memo that happens two and a half months after the special counsel gets his order to start his investigation, where he was given the broadest latitude you can possibly have?

NADLER: The time of the -- the time of the gentleman has expired. The witness may answer the question.

WHITAKER: I would just refer the congressman to the general practice of the Department of Justice, that we investigate crimes and not individuals.

NADLER: Thank you. Mr. Cohen?

COHEN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Attorney General, the inspector general of the GSA -- we have a rather scathing report on the GSA's decision not to address significant issues concerning the government's post office and its lease to the Trump family, concerning the emoluments clause.

And it was said that GSA attorneys said they did not refer the matter to OLC, but a senior attorney told the I.D. that the OLC, Office of Legal Counsel, knew about the Old Post Office lease and it was up to them to do something.

Are you aware of anything the Justice Department did to look into violations of emoluments clause at the Trump hotel?

WHITAKER: Congressman, the emoluments clause, as it relates to the Trump hotel, is the subject of several ongoing litigation matters.

COHEN: Right.

WHITAKER: And so, while I can acknowledge that I am aware of the -- not only the situation you described but generally the litigation surrounding the emoluments clause, as the acting attorney general sitting here today, I'm unable to talk specifically about those cases.

COHEN: You can't say if there are any memos from the Office of Legal Counsel regarding emoluments clause violations and limitations?

WHITAKER: Congressman, as I sit here today, those -- the emoluments clause as it relates to the Trump organization, especially the hotel in Washington, D.C., is the subject of ongoing litigation.

COHEN: And the Justice Department is helping to represent the president in those suits, is he not?

Is that appropriate, when it's a violation, of him making personal monies out of the Trump hotel and being charged with violations of the emoluments clause by not reporting it to the Congress, as he's supposed to by the Constitution?

Shouldn't he have his personal lawyers and not Justice Department lawyers represent him for this nefarious conduct?

WHITAKER: Congressman, I can understand that this is an important issue to you, but as it relates to the emoluments clause and the Department of Justice, the defense of the president of the United States, it is well within our purpose to be involved in that case.

COHEN: You said that, if the -- if the special counsel's investigation looked into President Trump's finances, it would be crossing a red line. You said that, I think, in a television interview. The attorney general has made clear that Mr. Rosenstein told the special counsel he could go into any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.

If matters arose from the investigation, directly or indirectly, that the Trump family owed lots of money to Russian oligarchs and people real close to Putin, and that affected the actions that they took as the president of the United States on behalf of the United States of America, would you agree that that was not crossing a "red line" but, in fact, was a red line from Moscow that we need to look into?

WHITAKER: Congressman, when I made that statement, I was a private citizen and had no publicly available information -- I only had publicly available information. And so I made that as a commentator and not as the acting attorney general of the United States.

I am very familiar with the responsibilities of my office as acting attorney general, and we make our decisions based on the law and the facts, on a case-by-case basis.

COHEN: So that's no longer your opinion?

It's not crossing a red line for him to look into the finances, if they might have interfered with the objective judgment of the president concerning his duty of trust to the United States of America and not to his personal financial interests or his family's?

WHITAKER: Congressman, as I -- as I mentioned earlier, at that Department of Justice, and as long as I'm acting attorney general, we're going to follow the law and the facts wherever they may lead, and we're going to do our jobs with fidelity.

COHEN: Thank you, sir.

Let me ask you this. There have been -- there's been a conviction in the special counsel investigation of Mr. Manafort, jury trial conviction. There have been guilty pleas from Flynn, Manafort, Gates, Papadopoulos and Michael Cohen, and dozens of indictments, including 13 Russian nationals, three Russian companies and Roger Stone.

Would you say special -- the special counsel's investigation is a witch hunt?

Are you overseeing a witch hunt?

WHITAKER: Congressman, as I've mentioned previously, the special counsel's investigation and so I think it would be inappropriate for me to...

COHEN: But you wouldn't oversee a witch hunt, would you? You'd stop a witch hunt, wouldn't you?

WHITAKER: Congressman, it would be in appropriate for me to talk about an ongoing investigation.

COHEN: You said that you're not interfering with the special counsel's investigation. Have you denied him any funds he's requested at all?

WHITAKER: Congressman, I can tell this is an important issue for you, but let's...

COHEN: It's an important issue for the American public and for the whole world.

WHITAKER: Congressman, to answer your question directly, I have not denied any funds to the special counsel's investigation.

COHEN: Have you denied him the opportunity to go in any areas where he wanted to investigate or any matters of investigation?

WHITAKER: Congressman, as I previously testified, I have not interfered with the special counsel's investigation.

COHEN: I yield back the balance of my time.

NADLER: I thank the gentleman. Mr. Gohmert?

GOHMERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And, Acting Attorney General, thank you for being here today. I'm amazed...

WHITAKER: It's good to see you again, Congressman.

GOHMERT: Yeah. I'm amazed that you would be coming since your successor is going to apparently be confirmed next week and you will no longer be acting director. So I don't know what kind of suicide wish you had, or whatever, but it's good to see you.

One thing I wanted to hit first was a statement that you had made, and I want to confirm that these are your words. And I quote, "There is no doubt in the law enforcement community that the vast majority of the illegal drugs in this country is coming over our southern border, a pattern that is true for all crimes generally, and there is no doubt that criminals and cartels seek to exploit weaknesses in our southern border."

Are those your words?

WHITAKER: While I don't know which speech or statement you're quoting, it sounds like something I would have said, yes.

GOHMERT: And you wouldn't have said that if you didn't believe that?

WHITAKER: Oh, I believe what you're saying. The drugs and the general illegality that's born in through our southern border is having a negative effect on our country.

GOHMERT: Now, I want to get to this issue of career officials, since colleagues on the other side of the aisle have made such a big deal about it, that you have not -- they accuse you of not following the advice of "career officials." Do you know the backgrounds of the people that are working directly under you and directly under Rod Rosenstein?

WHITAKER: Congressman, I sit on top of an organization that has 115,000 employees.

GOHMERT: I'm talking about the people directly to you and directly to Deputy Rosenstein.

WHITAKER: I am familiar with the people that report to both of us, yes.

GOHMERT: Yeah...

WHITAKER: Although I will tell you I think Rod Rosenstein, as deputy attorney general, has over 100 direct reports as deputy attorney general.

GOHMERT: Well, that was something I recommended to Attorney General Sessions, that he needed to reorganize and have some of those people reporting directly to him.

But one of the mistakes, I think, my dear friend Jeff Sessions, for whom I have immense respect -- one of the mistakes that I saw him making, he was listening to people who love Sally Yates, loved her efforts to disrupt anything that President Trump tried to do, they loved what President Obama did through the Justice Department. And -- and in fact, had informed Jeff that one -- that his contact at the -- with the NSC was sitting on his notices, so either developed conflicts or wasn't properly prepared.

And that was Tashina Gauhar. And she reported directly to Rosenstein. He -- the A.G. should have somebody -- the liaison with the NSC should report directly to the A.G. and not go through Rod Rosenstein, and especially when they are setting the attorney general up to be harmed.

But this -- and then Anthony Ferrante, I know currently -- apparently he's the senior managing director of FTI Consulting. He was another one that some considered a career position at the DOJ.

Let's see. He had Jordan Kelly there. He's -- she's currently director of Cybersecurity Policy and Instant Response at the NSC, through the White House.

There are reports that she met routinely with the Mueller investigators. You've -- you know, between these people who, like Tashina Gauhar, just thoughts Yates was wonderful.

I would hope that wisdom in you as acting director, wisdom in the incoming attorney general will be to look at the backgrounds, look at the people who are political hacks. And figure out, "Oh, they're giving me advice on this, this is not for my well-being. This is to hurt the President of the United States."

And I know you may just have another week, but I would encourage you, that as people make a big deal about career, look behind career. Look where their loyalties are. Because even though they may be in a career position, if their loyalties are not to the attorney general and not to the President of the United States, and are more political than they are constitutional, disregard what they say. I yield back.

NADLER: Time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. Johnson?

H. JOHNSON: Thank you.

General Whitaker, do you agree with the president's statement that the Russia investigation is a witch hunt?

WHITAKER: As I mentioned previously, Congressman, I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment about an ongoing investigation.

H. JOHNSON: Well, you commented about the Roger Stone investigation, which is ongoing, did you not?

WHITAKER: Congressman, just to be clear about this...

(CROSSTALK)

H. JOHNSON: You did comment on that. We heard you...

(CROSSTALK) WHITAKER: ... I -- I...

H. JOHNSON: ... comment on the Roger Stone investigation. Why would you comment on the Roger Stone investigation, but you are reluctant to answer our questions about the Mueller investigation?

WHITAKER: Well, that's a good question, Congressman. And my comments about the Roger Stone investigation were merely to acknowledge that I was aware that CNN had appeared to receive or was -- was at the location (ph)...

(CROSSTALK)

H. JOHNSON: Well, you don't know whether or not...

WHITAKER: ... arrest location...

H. JOHNSON: ... the CNN reporter was camped out with no advance knowledge, or whether or not he was tipped off or not. Isn't that...

WHITAKER: Congressman, that is true. But I am very concerned...

(CROSSTALK)

H. JOHNSON: Right. Well, let me move on.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITAKER: ... that an operation (ph)...

H. JOHNSON: Let me move -- hold on, sir.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITAKER: ... at (ph) the FBI is...

H. JOHNSON: I'm controlling the time. Let me move on. I'd like to take a moment to better understand your decision not to recuse yourself from the supervision of the special counsel's investigation.

Isn't it a fact, sir, that you received your final ethics guidance on this matter on December 19th, 2018?

WHITAKER: I appreciate this question, and I'm glad this is the -- opportunity for me to address this...

H. JOHNSON: It's a pretty direct question. Did you receive your final guidance on that question on December 19th?

WHITAKER: As you know, we have communicated with Congress the entire process that I went to -- went through to address any recusal questions that I might have. And I had no conflict of interest, I had no financial...

H. JOHNSON: Let me -- let me just ask you. I understand you take that position. But my simple question is, isn't it a fact that you received your final ethics guidance on that question on December 19th, 2018?

WHITAKER: Congressman, we laid out very explicitly the process that we went through. And ultimately, the decision whether or not to recuse was my decision.

(CROSSTALK)

NADLER: Mr. Whitaker...

WHITAKER: ... and I made (ph) that decision...

NADLER: ... you were asked a direct...

WHITAKER: ... very comfortable with that decision.

NADLER: Mr. Whitaker, you were asked a direct question. And it's getting a little tiresome, hearing you stall and wasting the member's time. The member only has five minutes. He asked you a specific question. Did you last receive advice on that on December 18th? The answer ought to be yes or no, or some other date. Or I don't remember.

But you don't -- we don't need a speech. The gentleman may repeat the...

COLLINS: Mr. Chairman?

NADLER: No.

The gentleman may repeat the question...

COLLINS: No, Mr. Chairman, I mean, if we're going to -- if we're going to counsel the witness and act as his attorney as to (ph) how he should answer, are you answering the question or is the witness answering the question?

NADLER: I'm asking the witness...

COLLINS: It's (ph) a yes or no.

NADLER: ... not to stall.

COLLINS: And we have endured that many times here when he's trying to answer (ph) the...

NADLER: The gentleman is...

COLLINS: ... question in the way that he is asked.

(UNKNOWN): Point of order. Point of order...

NADLER: The gentleman -- the gentleman is out of order. Mr. Johnson has the floor.

H. JOHNSON: And I'd like to come back to ...

NADLER: Your time will be restored. H. JOHNSON: Thank you, sir.

Sir, isn't it a fact that career officials at DOJ recommended to you that you recuse yourself to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest on bias? That was the guidance that you got from career DOJ officials about your participation or oversight of the Mueller investigation. Isn't that correct?

WHITAKER: Congressman, I made my recusal decision by myself...

H. JOHNSON: But there were career...

WHITAKER: ... after consulting with...

H. JOHNSON: ... DOJ officials who advised you that you should not touch that investigation. Isn't that correct?

WHITAKER: Congressman...

H. JOHNSON: Yes or no?

WHITAKER: I consulted with career ethics officials. I consulted with my senior staff. I consulted with the Office of Legal Counsel. It was my decision to make. I decided not to recuse. I'm happy to walk through the step-by-step advice that I received.

H. JOHNSON: There were four...

WHITAKER: But I consulted and I...

H. JOHNSON: ... there were four individuals who you consulted who advised you that you had the ability to not recuse yourself from this investigation, isn't that correct?

WHITAKER: Congressman, the regulations actually say that I have...

H. JOHNSON: Four individuals advised you that you did not have to recuse yourself. Is that correct?

WHITAKER: Congressman, let me be clear. It was my decision to make...

H. JOHNSON: You're not being clear, sir, other than...

WHITAKER: ... and I made the decision.

H. JOHNSON: ... in your obstruction and refusal to answer my question.

WHITAKER: I'm not obstructing anything. I'm answering your question.

H. JOHNSON: You are obstructing...

WHITAKER: I consulted with a lot of people regarding my recusal, but it was my decision...

H. JOHNSON: But you're not telling me who it was.

WHITAKER: ... I followed the regulations (ph).

H. JOHNSON: Who did you consult with?

WHITAKER: As I mentioned, I consulted with career ethics officials...

(CROSSTALK)

H. JOHNSON: Name me some names.

WHITAKER: I consulted with my senior staff, and I consulted with the Office of Legal Counsel.

H. JOHNSON: Name me some names, sir.

WHITAKER: Well, one person would be the assistant attorney general for the Office of...

H. JOHNSON: What's his name?

WHITAKER: ... Legal...

H. JOHNSON: Or her name?

WHITAKER: Steve Engel.

H. JOHNSON: And who else?

WHITAKER: He's a Senate-confirmed...

H. JOHNSON: Who else did you consult with?

WHITAKER: I also consulted with his principal deputy.

H. JOHNSON: And that person's name is?

WHITAKER: His name is Curtis Gannon.

H. JOHNSON: And who else did you consult with, sir?

WHITAKER: Congressman, I...

H. JOHNSON: I'm asking you...

(CROSSTALK)

WHITAKER: ... public exposure of these folks...

H. JOHNSON: ... a pretty clear question, sir. Who else did you consult with about whether or not you should recuse yourself from the Mueller investigation?

WHITAKER: Generally, who did I consult with?

H. JOHNSON: I want to know specifically who you talked to.

WHITAKER: OK, well I -- I talked to Brad Weinsheimer, who is the senior career official at the Department of Justice.

H. JOHNSON: And he advised you that your recusal was unnecessary or did he advise you to recuse?

WHITAKER: He actually could not identify any precedent for me to recuse. He said it was a close call, he said that...

H. JOHNSON: (OFF MIKE)

WHITAKER: I'm sorry, did you have a question?

H. JOHNSON: Go ahead.

WHITAKER: OK. He said that my other public statements did recognize the professionalism and competence of the Special Counsel. He said that out of an abundance of caution that he would -- that if asked, he would recommend a certain course.

But again, it was -- he also said ...

H. JOHNSON: Did he recognize that you should (ph) recuse yourself?

NADLER: The -- the time of the gentleman has expired.

WHITAKER: Can I finish?

NADLER: The witness may finish his answer.

WHITAKER: OK. He also said, Congressman, that the decision was mine to make based on the regulations of the Department of Justice and I made that decision and I stand by that decision.

NADLER: Mr. Ratcliffe?

RATCLIFFE: Mr. Attorney General, I spent a number of years as a federal prosecutor, and because of that service I have literally hundreds of friends at the Department of Justice right now and at its component agencies like the FBI.

Folks that I have tremendous respect for, and so I appreciate your stated desire earlier today to want to highlight their good work and for the new members of the Judiciary Committee, an oversight hearing is typically where that would take place, where an Attorney General would give an accounting of the work of 115,000 men and women in the Justice Department and provide some idea of the vision with respect to the department's priorities, priorities like drug and human trafficking, preventing terrorism, reducing gun and gang violence.

Now earlier this week, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle indicated that they had a great desire to reduce gun violence in this country. In fact, we had an eight hour hearing with six witnesses that talked about the need to reduce gun violence in this country.

We started this hearing at 9:30 this morning, it's now 12:30 in the afternoon and I haven't seen you field a single question from the other side of the aisle about any of the enforcement priorities of the Department of Justice, despite the fact that you are the head of an organization that has a greater ability to impact and reduce gun violence than anyone or anything in the country.

So I may be the only person today that wants to ask you a question about that, but I'm going to use the remainder of my time for that purpose. When I was at the Department of Justice, we had a very successful initiative called Project Safe Neighborhood.

It was a program that took guns out of the hands of criminal offenders. It was a successful program that was killed by the Obama administration, the Obama Justice Department ended it. I understand that it has been reinstated during the Trump administration.

I'd like you to inform us about its progress, as well as any other measures or programs or enforcement priorities of the Department of Justice with respect to reducing gun violence in this country.

WHITAKER: Thank you, Congressman. As you know, we served as United States Attorneys together until you went into politics and -- and I went into private practice. I want to talk specifically -- and this is a really good question about Project Safe Neighborhoods.

In 2017, Attorney General Sessions announced the expansion of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which encourages U.S. Attorneys offices to work specifically with their unique communities they serve to develop a customized crime reduction strategy.

One study showed that when you and I were doing PSN, it reduced crime overall by 4.1 percent and with case studies showing reductions up to 42 percent of violent crime.

We had the Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference, as I mentioned in my opening statement, and I can tell you that, especially in our largest cities, our 29 major cities, we are seeing a reduction of violent crime because of U.S. Attorneys specifically working with their sheriffs and police chiefs and their federal and state and local partners in reducing gun violence.

You know, some other things that we've done is -- is the Attorney General was one of the four Cabinet positions that were part of the School Safety Commission that came out with a report in the last several months that gave a practical outline as to how states especially could work to reduce gun violence, including the idea of the ERPO's.

And there is -- you know, Congressman, I really -- I appreciate your tone that this oversight hearing is -- is not an -- a hearing about the types of things that we're talking about, but to ice -- you know, Congressman -- the Chairman sent me a letter specifically outlining things that he wanted to talk about and I don't feel like we've talked about many of those things.

So I'm glad that you offer that opportunity to talk about the Department of Justice efforts reducing gun violence.

RATCLIFFE: Thank you, Attorney General. I'd like to yield the remainder of my time to Congressman Jordan.

JORDAN: I -- I appreciate the gentleman yielding. Mr. Whitaker, are there any other memos -- any other memos that Mr. Rosenstein has sent to Mr. Mueller that we don't know about and if we did, would be redacted like the one that happened on August 2nd, 2017?

WHITAKER: Congressman, as -- as -- as you know, the Special Counsel's investigation is ongoing and it would inappropriate for me to talk about any other memos related to that.

JORDAN: Well, Mr. Whitaker, we already know that there's been some modification of the broadest order I think you could have with this August 2nd, 2017 memo.

[12:30:00]

And all I'm asking is are there any other modifications, any other changes to the parameters of an investigation into the President of the United States?