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Attorney General Bill Barr Testifies Before Congress; Joe Biden Delivers Address in Delaware. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired July 28, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. THOMAS TIFFANY (R-WI): Shortly after State Street -- State Street was destroyed -- and by the way, it's disappointing in some of the film that I've seen that the police cruiser that went flaming down State Street was not included in that -- but shortly after that, about a week afterwards, two monuments at the state capitol that I used to walk by all the time were torn down.
One was of Hans Christian Heg, who was the abolitionist Norwegian immigrant who died at Chickamauga defending the Union and providing for the end of slavery -- fighting for the end of slavery here in the United States.
The other monument that was torn down -- by the way, they took a tow truck and tore it down -- was Lady Forward. Lady Forward is there because of women's suffrage. Wisconsin was the first state to pass suffrage back in the early 1900s here in the United States of America. Those were torn down.
Just yesterday, a woman, a social worker, who teaches at a local school just outside Madison in Mount Horeb, she was charged with beating a state senator -- a Democrat state senator. Her name is Samantha Hamer. Hopefully she will be given justice.
But I want to emphasize to my colleagues on the left that if you're -- if you think you're insulated from Antifa, which is supposedly a myth, you should really think about that because them and other radicals, they will not spare violence on anyone.
Their anarchy is meant to destroy our country and I would ask you to -- if you want to contact a former colleague of mine, state senator Tim Carpenter, a Democrat, he'll tell you he was beat to a pulp on that night at midnight, when they were tearing down those statues. It is not a myth.
So Mr. Attorney General, I would ask -- Mr. Bernell Trammell -- I don't know if our Attorney General -- Attorney General Kaul in Wisconsin or the mayor of Milwaukee are going to pursue what appears to perhaps be a political execution.
Are you familiar with that situation in Milwaukee?
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: You mean the shooting of that gentleman?
BARR: I -- I've read about it.
TIFFANY: If the Attorney General and other law enforcement in Wisconsin do not act, will the federal government study the situation and bring justice for Mr. Trammell and his family?
BARR: Yes, we'll certainly study that situation.
TIFFANY: This is not a myth. You're hearing it from all over the country and we're hearing all the time about Portland and Seattle. This happened in Madison, Wisconsin also, where a mayor -- a far leftist mayor proudly carries that banner, sat on a street -- actually, not a street, a highway -- with protesters and shut down traffic and then State Street, one of the most iconic streets in the state of Wisconsin and Madison, was destroyed. And I'm not so sure that those businesses are going to get their businesses back.
It is not a myth, folks. What's happening is real across our country and we need to stop the riots. These are not peaceful protests, these are riots that are happening and we need to call an end to it and I hope you, Mr. Attorney General, will work towards that end.
BARR: Thank you.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. Ms. Scanlon?
REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): Attorney General Barr, I wanted to follow up on some questions from one of my colleagues. You testified earlier that you have, at times, voted by mail. Is that correct?
BARR: I remember, I think, once voting by mail.
SCANLON: So if public records show you voted by mail in 2012 and 2019, you'd agree with that?
BARR: I think -- you know, I can't really remember the details. I think on one occasion, I had to go to a station and vote before -
SCANLON: OK but you did at least once vote by mail -- I'm reclaiming my time, sir.
SCANLON: I raise this because in May of this year, 800 public health experts from across the nation sent a letter urging Congress to quote "prepare for a presidential election by mail to allow Americans to vote from home and assure their health and safety."
You're aware that health experts have emphasized that voting by mail is critical to protect public health in this upcoming election, correct?
BARR: When was that?
SCANLON: In May of this year. If you're not aware of it, I can provide this to you -
BARR: I'd be interested in seeing -
SCANLON: -- your staff.
SCANLON: Great, I have an extra copy for you. So that public health advice is really important to citizens in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because we have a large population of seniors who are at higher risk for the coronavirus. They shouldn't have to choose between risking their lives and exercising their right to vote.
But the problem we're facing is that the President has repeatedly sought to cast out on the security of mail in ballots saying that the 2020 election could be rigged with quote 'millions of mail in ballots printed by foreign countries' end quote. And you Sir have repeated this disinformation.
BARR: Well it's not disinformation.
SCANLON: Mr. Barr, I don't have a question for you yet. Here it comes though. Last month you echoed the President's conspiracy theory when you suggested in at least three interview that quote 'foreign countries could manufacture counterfeit ballots' end quote to influence the presidential election. Correct? You did that in at least three interviews?
SCANLON: OK. But in fact you have no evidence that foreign countries can successfully sway our elections with counterfeit ballots, do you?
BARR: No, I don't, but I have common sense.
SCANLON: OK. OK. Well and that's what you responded when you were directly challenged on that. You said no you didn't have evidence, but it was obvious. According to state election officials, your alleged concerns here are not obvious, but in fact are outrageous. Every state in the union has absentee ballots.
Two thirds of the states allow for vote by mail by -- for any reason. Five states -- Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Utah vote entirely by mail and have done so for decades. Even the U.S. military uses mail in ballots, doesn't it?
SCANLON: OK. So isn't it true that you after suggested without evidence that foreign adversaries could sway our elections using counterfeit ballots -- election experts and officials from around the country said that what you suggested was virtually impossible, preposterous, would never and would be readily detected due to the multiple levels of security used with mail in ballot systems.
BARR: They're not in multiple levels of security.
SCANLON: OK. Well so (inaudible).
BARR: And I don't agree that it's a (inaudible)--
SCANLON: OK. Reclaiming my time, and again I'm happy to supply you with the.
SCANLON: Statements that were (inaudible).
BARR: Before Donald Trump raised concerns about it every major publication
SCANLON: In fact -- reclaiming my time, Sir. In fact, there is no evidence that foreign countries can make counterfeit ballots and create a real threat to our election security. Are you aware that in May, the President tweeted and I quote 'mail in voting will lead to massive fraud and abuse? It will also lead to the end of our great Republican party' end quote.
BARR: I was unaware of that tweet.
SCANLON: Well that tweet suggests, Sir that the President is spreading disinformation about mail in ballots because he's afraid that if more people vote he and his party will lose.
The fact, Mr. Barr, is that our foreign adversaries can not actually influence our elections by submitting massive counterfeit ballots, but the FBI and our intelligence services have repeatedly warned that those adversaries are actively trying to sew mistrust of our election systems; and by repeating disinformation about mail in voting, you and the President are helping them. Just switching gears, you would agree.
BARR: Well I'd like the opportunity to respond to that.
SCANLON: That prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with the political party, wouldn't you?
BARR: Who -- whom makes contributions?
SCANLON: You said in 2017 the prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with the political party. Correct?
BARR: Yes. Yes.
SCANLON: And in fact, you and your wife have donated over $730,000 to Republican and Conservative candidates including donations of $58,000 to Republican Senators and Senate Candidates in the four months preceding your confirmation. That's correct, isn't it?
BARR: Are you surprised I'm a Republican?
SCANLON: Is that correct that you made those donations?
BARR: Over a long period of time.
SCANLON: Including just before?
BARR: That's accumulative of a long period of time, but basically.
SCANLON: Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
BARR: I never hid the fact that I'm a Republican.
SCANLON: And I would also.
BARR: I was talking about career prosecutors generally -- have generally historically avoided making contributions -- was my view.
SCANLON: There's no question before you (ph). $730,000 is not.
NADLER: Time of the gentlelady has expired. Ms. Garcia?
SCANLON: Mr. Chairman, I would like -- I would like -- I would seek unanimous consent to introduce the 800 -- the public health expert letter signed by 800 individuals. The Attorney General's repeated interviews, in which he suggested that our elections could be undermined -- the overwhelming reaction from election officials around the country and the articles concerning his campaign donations. Thank you.
NADLER: With that objection, the articles will be entered into the record. Ms. Garcia?
REP. SYLVIA GARCIA (D-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Barr, your department released Paul Manafort -- the President's former campaign manager -- early from prison in May out of concern for the coronavirus.
In March of 20 -- March 26th and April 3rd, your department released guidelines -- criteria -- by which prior -- sending priorities by which people would be released early.
By your own department's admission, Manafort did not meet that criteria. Since the start of this pandemic, we have repeatedly urged you to use your authority to protect vulnerable populations in prisons and instead you release the President's former campaign manager. Sir, do you know how many Federal inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 as of today?
BARR: Yes, I have that number.
GARCIA: Quickly, Sir because the clock ticks. BARR: Well.
GARCIA: Well we have a slide if you'll -- they'll bring it up that shows us that 10,000 inmates have tested positive and over 1,000 staff have tested positive. Do you know how many have died?
BARR: About 100 -- almost 100 I think.
GARCIA: That's right. It's about 99 inmates have died, and yet only 5 percent have been released under your guidelines.
BARR: 7,000 and--
GARCIA: You stated in May that you were taking quote 'every measure we can to protect Federal inmates.' The numbers so ever tell a different story as do your actions. Despite releasing Manafort, your lawyers continue to argue against the release of prisoners.
In April, vulnerable prisoners, who suffer from serious at risk health conditions like chronic asthma, health -- heart disease and kidney disease, file a lawsuit for early release in Ohio.
These prisoners were being quote 'overcrowded in like cattle' because prisons were not able to social distance them. 550 prisoners sought release, yet your own depros (ph) -- department process only 7 applications and denied them all. Yet, you had time to process Manafort's application.
BARR: I didn't process Manafort's application.
GARCIA: Well your department did, Sir. But apparently not these vulnerable Americans living at great -- grave risk. In fact, in a series of rulings in April and May, an Ohio district court ordered that your department quote 'act with urgency' and to quote 'move inmates out due to continued risk of harm to prisoners and to government staff.' And Sir, your department challenged that court order, did it not?
BARR: I'm not familiar with that.
GARCIA: Well you all did. You did not help move these inmates out as order. In fact you tried to block the district court's order. However the Supreme Court on May 26th, rejected your department's request. Sir, nine prisoners had died and it's been two months since the Supreme Court's order. Do you even know today how many of those prisoners have been released or how many more have died?
BARR: No I don't. You know we had 100.
GARCIA: Well, Sir.
BARR: We started out this with 170,000 prisoners, so we've lost.
GARCIA: I just need you to try to explain to me and to America how is it that the former campaign manager of the President of the United States did not meet -- who did not meet the priority criteria, got released -- even though your own department admitted he didn't meet the guidelines, but all these other folks were not.
If it was deadly enough of a virus that you needed to protect the former campaign manager, why not all of these Americans who also have vulnerable -- or vulnerable and have at risk conditions.
Mr. Barr, the contra says it all, and it is not just in Ohio. In fact, in my own home state in Texas, a Federal prison housing women with mental and medical health issues just confirmed last week that of the 1,357 prisoners over 500 tested positive for COVID.
One prisoner recounted we're like a whole bunch of hamsters in a cage chasing our own tails, and yet none have been released. Mr. Barr, have you seen those statistics? Yes or no?
BARR: The -
GARCIA: Well if you can't answer it (inaudible).
BARR: I put out guidelines -- general guidelines -- to propel the release of.
GARCIA: Which, Sir -- you have not released anyone.
BARR: I put out general guidelines.
GARCIA: One of those prisoners is a mother, Andrea Circle Bear, who had to give birth on a ventilator in that facility because your department prioritizes releasing Paul Manafort instead of vulnerable Americans.
A few weeks after this photo, Mrs. Bear died. Along with two other women housed in this facility from COVID-19. Sir, you could -- you could be saving lives by reducing the prison population, yet you have blatantly abandoned your duty to these women. You have shamelessly abandoned your oath of office to protect all Americans impartially because you have prioritized giving special favors to the President's friends.
This is not equal justice under the law. It's not the law that you and I both learned in law school. It is too simple (ph) systems of justice, one for the president's friends and one for everyone else.
BARR: The director of the BLP (ph) -
GARCIA: It is flat wrong -
BARR: Yes, the director -
GARCIA: Thank you and I yield back.
BARR: Yes the director of the BLP (ph) testified -- testified under oath -
NADLER: Gentlelady (inaudible) - BARR: -- that no one from justice department was involved.
NADLER: Gentlelady yields back.
BARR: Yes but the gentleman had not been given an opportunity to respond. And that's been a consistent problem.
NADLER: Mr. Neguse. Mr. Neguse is recognized.
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Mr. Attorney General. I want to go through a couple of your prior statements. On April 19 or excuse April 18, 2019 you stated quote "that the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel's investigation." You're aware of that?
NEGUSE: Today, yes or no, Mr. Barr, under the penalty of perjury do you testify that statement was true at the time you made it?
BARR: I thought it to be true at the time I made it.
NEGUSE: On -
BARR: Why isn't it true?
NEGUSE: On June 9 -- I'll get to that, Mr. Barr.
BARR: I mean does it have to do with -
NEGUSE: Mr. Barr, I will get to that. Reclaiming my time. You answered the question.
NEGUSE: I have another question for you, on June 19, 2020 -
BARR: No, actually I need to answer that question.
NEGUSE: Mr. Attorney General, you did answer the question.
BARR: NO, you said under penalty of perjury. I'm going to answer the damn question, OK?
NEGUSE: You said the answer was yes is what you said. Are you saying no?
BARR: Well, I think what I was referring to and I'd have to see the context of it was the supplying of documents.
NEGUSE: No, Mr. Attorney General the statement was not limited to the supply of documents. You stated at a press, Mr. Attorney General, --
BARR: I think that's what -
NEGUSE: Reclaiming my time. BARR: I think that's what I was talking about.
NEGUSE: Reclaiming my time.
BARR: I think that's what I was talking about.
NEGUSE: Reclaiming my time. You stated at a press conference on April 19, 2019 that the White House fully cooperated with the special counsels investigation, you knew when you made that statement that the president had not agreed to be interviewed by the special counsel. Now on June 18 of this year -
BARR: I think I subsequently said -
NEGUSE: Mr. Attorney General -
BARR: -- I was referring to the production of documents.
NEGUSE: On June 18 -- Mr. Attorney General, on June 18 of this year, the Department of Justice issued a statement saying that Mr. Berman a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York had quote "stepped down", you're aware of that statement being released by the department, correct?
NEGUSE: And do you testify today that that statement was true at the time the department issued it?
BARR: He may have not known it but he was stepping down.
NEGUSE: He may not have known that he was stepping down, that's your testimony today?
BARR: He was being removed.
NEGUSE: Mr. Attorney General, the statement did not say that he was being removed, it did not say that he was being fired, it said that he was stepping down. Apparently your testimony today is that that was in fact accurate when Mr. Berman has testified under oath to this committee that it in fact was not.
Now I want to talk about (inaudible) -
BARR: No, no, he was removed -- he was removed and I wanted an opportunity to offer another job (inaudible) -
NEGUSE: I understand your rationalization for your answer -
BARR: -- the next day.
NEGUSE: -- but the American people --
BARR: It's not a rationalization.
NEGUSE: -- we'll let your answer speak for itself. Now, Mr. Attorney General, earlier this year President Trump stated that he had planned to make what he described as vice presidents quote "Ukraine dealings an issue on the campaign trail".
Earlier this year on February 10, you stated that you had set up a quote "intake process for submission of information excuse me "intake process" end quote for submission of information relating to the Ukraine to the Justice Department and that included quote these are your words "anything Mr. Giuliani might provide".
Do you recall making those comments?
BARR: Something along those lines.
NEGUSE: You can see there isn't anything standard about the Attorney General creating a special process for information related to advancing -
BARR: I disagree.
NEGUSE: You disagree?
BARR: And I also made it clear that that is a vetting process that's available to anybody.
NEGUSE: Is that right. Which U.S. Attorney have you assigned to receive information from Vice President Biden's personal lawyers regarding President Trump?
BARR: Well, maybe if they had vetted the dossier -
NEGUSE: There's no -
BARR: If the vetted the dossier we wouldn't have the whole -
NEGUSE: Mr. Attorney General, there's no U.S. Attorney of course that you appointed to do that because what you have done with respect to this process is unprecedented. Now -
BARR: It was cautionary so that we do not pollute the criminal investigative process with Ukrainian disinformation.
NEGUSE: I will give you an opportunity to explain this intake process. My understanding is that you have directed the (inaudible) -
BARR: You are going to give me an opportunity?
NEGUSE: I planned, I intend to right now.
NEGUSE: The eastern district of New York, the U.S. Attorney responsible for that district, my understanding is that you have asked that U.S. Attorney to be responsible for the intake process, is that right?
BARR: No. NEGUSE: That's wrong. The U.S. Attorney -
BARR: The U.S. Attorney in the eastern district was given oversight of all Ukrainian related cases. Any new cases involving Ukraine.
BARR: We face a problem with Ukraine which is unreliable information coming in. There's a lot of corruption there, it's a hall of mirrors.
NEGUSE: I appreciate. Mr. Attorney General -
BARR: And I wanted to make sure that before got into criminal proceedings and this was to everyone's benefit, particularly Vice President Biden -
NEGUSE: Mr. Attorney General
BARR: -- that the information was scrubbed -
NEGUSE: I appreciate you noting that -
BARR: -- in conjunction with the intelligence committee.
NEGUSE: -- and that is consistent with the memo that you issued which said any and all new matters relating to Ukraine shall be directly exclusively to the eastern district of New York for investigation and appropriate handling, just as you've described right now.
Now, of course the U.S. Attorney responsible in the eastern district of New York was recently changed. My understand is a few weeks ago a few weeks ago you announced that Seth DuCharme would be taking over to replace Rich Donoghue. Mr. DuCharme prior (inaudible) --
BARR: (Inaudible) is in charge of the vetting.
NEGUSE: Mr. Attorney General, prior to taking this position, Mr. DuCharme worked at Main Department of Justice, is that correct?
BARR: Yes, he was a counselor to me, and then he was the --
NEGUSE: He was counselor --
BARR: -- and then he was the principle assistant deputy attorney general.
NEGUSE: That's right. And rather than having the acting U.S. Attorney -- the deputy U.S. Attorney rather in that -- sir (ph), you now have appointed --
BARR: They wanted to swap jobs.
NEGUSE: -- you now have appointed your prior counsel to oversee that very same process. With that, I yield back my time, Mr. Chairman. UNKNOWN: Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. Ms. McBath.
UNKNOWN: Mr. Chairman, before we go to Ms. McBath, could I enter a couple of documents under -- ask unanimous consent to enter four documents of the four memos I referred to setting the guidelines for who gets released (ph), a "Washington Post," article about Paul Manafort's release and a testimony from the Counsel of (Inaudible) Locals 3-3, for the record?
NADLER: Without objection.
Ms. McBath is now recognized.
REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to start by thanking you, Attorney General Barr for joining us today, and for the work that the committed public servants in your department are doing to keep our country safe. But sir, just a few months ago in May you said that you would be taking the president's position and urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
When asked if you will still take that position even if it means, and I quote, "stripping millions of Americans of their healthcare in the middle of a pandemic." You stated that the case would not be argued until October, and that the president expects to fix and replace Obamacare with a better system.
Attorney General Barr, let's be very, very clear. A public -- as public health officials and data have shown us, this pandemic is simply not going away. Just last week it was reported that one hospital was planning to send coronavirus patients home to die due to limited resources to treat them.
So we're still facing an extremely critical and extremely serious situation. And even if you expect the president to figure out a new plan by October, the president has not yet put in place another system, nor is there any guarantee that he will do so by October.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right, we're going to pull away from this House Judiciary Committee hearing, which has been going on for the last couple of hours, to go now to this man, the former vice president, a man who hopes to be the next president of the United States, on his fourth piece of his economic recovery plan, Joe Biden.
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JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- and a place to belong.
I saw hope as a senator when, as I said, I watched my son, the attorney general of Delaware, Beau Biden. He would attend mass at Sacred Heart just up the street here. And then he would walk here with his notebook in hand in his pocket, sit around for the better part of the day, and see if he could find ways to help, and see what they may need or not need.
And it was on the -- as I said, the East Side where I was a teenage lifeguard and my career as a public defender started. That's how I got so involved with the community.
And this center, as I said, is named after my buddy, Hicks Anderson. He was everybody's friend. Hicks and I went way, way back. We -- just walk around Wilmington, and everyone -- everyone has a story about Hicks, how he cared, how he always was there for you, and how he built a wonderful family, including twin sons who gave back so much to this community, and continue to do.
They served in the United States Army. And now they're serving jointly as the poet laureates for the state of Delaware. And Nnamdi (ph) is a state representative. And Hicks and his family and everyone else at this center embodied the defining story of America.
For generations, Americans who were black, brown, Native American, immigrant have always been found they -- pushed out, not fully included, from our democracy and our economy.
And it is by pure courage, heart and grit they never gave up, as they pursued the full, the full promise of America.
That is the story of the people of this community and of this country. That is why I couldn't think of a more meaningful place to talk about my Build Back Better economic agenda, a bold, practical that is going to help build a stronger and a more just and sustainable economy for everybody, everybody this time included.
And it is a story of two civil rights heroes we lost last week, one who showed us the way forward, each of them their separate ways.
Reverend C.T. Vivian, who faced down drownings and beatings. And his comment was, you can't turn your back upon the idea of justice. Enormous courage.
And my friend and American hero Congressman John Lewis, who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge one last time on Sunday, who once said, freedom is not a state; it's an act.
I have been over the bridge twice, once with him, and I thought I knew a lot about it, until you walk that bridge -- and some of you have done it -- and you get to the crest of the bridge, the first time you can see down the other side.
When I walked over with him a couple of years ago, I thought to myself, what in God's name did it take in terms of internal fortitude, courage to walk down there seeing those folks with clubs and on horses waiting at the bottom of the bridge with no way back?
I spoke to John just before he died. He was on his deathbed. And I said -- he could talk. He wanted to talk. Instead of answering my concerns for him, he asked about me. He asked about us. He asked that we stay focused on the work left undone to heal this nation, to remain undaunted by the public health crisis and the economic crisis, taking the blinders off in this crisis of -- and show the systemic racism for what it is that plagues this nation.
People have seen now those people who allowed them to shelter in place, all of those folks risking their lives, stacking the shelves in the supermarkets, farming the food, getting it to the -- our tables, all those folks, most of whom are black and brown.
One thing the Senate and the president can do right away is pass right away, pass the bill to restore the Voting Rights Act. Just yesterday, it was renamed in the Congress in memory of John Lewis.
You know, back the effusive praise we heard since he passed, especially from many of our Republicans friends. Back it with some action. Protect that sacred right to vote that he was willing to die for. If they don't, I have been saying all along, it is one of the first things I will do as president if elected.
We can't let the fundamental right to vote be denied, especially in the middle as this pandemic rages on, nearly 150,000 dead from COVID- 19, and counting. More than four million Americans have tested positive, and counting.
Black and Latinos are three times as likely to be infected and twice as likely to die from the virus as white people. More than 30 million, and counting, are collecting unemployment checks. Black unemployment is at 15 percent, Latino 14.5 percent.
Forty percent, 40 percent of black-owned businesses, 440,000 in total, have reported they had to shut down.
And everything is worsened by this crisis of presidential leadership. To change the tone, over the last few days, as Trump has, doesn't change the facts of the last four years.
Donald Trump faces a real test, and he's failed it, the basic threshold of being president, the duty to care for the entire country, not just his reelection prospects. He's shown that he can't beat the pandemic and keep you safe. He can't turn the economy around and get America back to work.
And he is, horrifyingly and not surprisingly, intentionally stoking the flames of division and racism in this country.
I have said from the outset of the recent protests that there's no place for violence or destruction of property. Peaceful protesters should be protected, and arsonists and anarchists should be prosecuted. And local law enforcement can do that.