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AG Garland Testifies Before GOP-Led House Judiciary CMTE; Garland Grilled About Hunter Biden Case At House Judiciary Hearing; Schumer Schedules Votes On Three Key Military Nominees; Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) Discusses About Sen. Tuberville's Stall Of Military Appointments. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired September 20, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentlelady yields back. The gentleman from Texas is recognized.
REP. TROY NEHLS (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Garland, what is a confidential human source?
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it's an FBI term. I don't know all the technicality, but it's ...
NEHLS: Let me define it for you. It's in your own policy here.
NEHLS: An individual who is believed to be providing useful and credible information to the FBI from any authorized information collection activity and from whom what the FBI expects or intends to obtain additional, useful and credible information in the future, all right, and whose identity, information or relationship with the FBI warrants confidential handling.
So these guys or individuals, you pay them $42 million a year. Did you know that? The IG said you're paying these sources $42 million a year. Did you know that?
GARLAND: I know informants are paid, yes.
NEHLS: It's $42 million a year. So do you believe that they're credible, they're valuable, the FBI is using these guys. We're paying them a lot of money. Would you agree with that?
GARLAND: I agree. Some are more credible.
NEHLS: Very good, so they're credible.
GARLAND: More credible than others.
NEHLS: You're paying them a lot of money, you got a lot of them out there. So let me paint the picture for America. Hunter Biden joins Burisma in 2014. Burisma, very, very corrupt Ukrainian energy company. He has no experience in oil and gas. He admits it. He said, I don't have any experience. I know why I'm there. I have a dad.
I have with me a document called the FD1023. Have you seen this?
GARLAND: Yes, sir.
NEHLS: You're familiar with it?
GARLAND: Yes, I have seen it.
NEHLS: Okay, it's used by the FBI, everybody in America, it's used by the FBI. It is a confidential human source reporting document dated June 2020. You're familiar with it.
In this document, the FBI's confidential human source says Burisma, now the corrupt company, needed to keep Hunter on the board so everything would be okay. And according to the human source, they hired Hunter Biden to, "protect us through his dad for all kinds of problems."
Mr. Garland, does that concern you?
GARLAND: The ...
NEHLS: Okay, it should. I've got limited time. Remember, your sources are credible, trustworthy, honest and valuable. Are you familiar with Viktor Shokin?
GARLAND: The document that you're talking ...
NEHLS: Who is Mr. Viktor Shokin? Sorry, I've got three minutes left.
GARLAND: You want me to answer that?
NEHLS: Yes, Viktor Shokin. Who is he?
GARLAND: I don't know. Do you want me to answer the first question?
NEHLS: Okay, he's the prosecutor, folks. He's the prosecutor that was - he oversees all the corruption in Ukraine. We know there's corruption over there. For the American people watching, after a few months, a few months after Hunter Biden joined the Burisma board, Viktor Shokin was named prosecutor general for Ukraine to target corruption. And one of his investigations was into Burisma.
In this FD1023 document, the human source clarified that Burisma's CEO, the man in charge of Burisma, said he has many text messages and recordings that show he was coerced to make such payment to ensure Viktor Shokin was fired. Matter of fact, there were 17 of them.
Mr. Garland, it's clear. Joe Biden wanted Shokin fired so he would stop looking into Burisma, where Hunter was on the board. Would you agree?
GARLAND: The ...
NEHLS: All right, let's let the American people decide. Play the clip. Play the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to - convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kyiv. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEHLS: Pay attention, sir, please.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: ... Yatsenyuk that they would take action against ,,,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GARLAND: I'm listening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: ... the state prosecutor and they didn't.
So they said they had - they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I'm not going to - or we're not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You're not the president. The president said - I said, call him. I said, I'm telling you, you're not getting the billion dollars. I said, you're not getting the billion. I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEHLS: There you go. Mr. Attorney General, what you just saw there was Joe Biden in his arrogance and role as the vice president in this country saying if you don't fire Shokin, the United States isn't giving the $1 billion loan. Why would Joe Biden say that as the vice president? Why would he say such a thing? Was it policy? Was it our policy at the time? Yes or no?
GARLAND: That ...
NEHLS: It wasn't. I have documents here. Interagency Policy Committee dated October 15th saying Shokin ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Point of information, is the gentleman ever going to let the gentleman answer the question?
NEHLS: ... I'm on my time, pipe down - saying Shokin had made significant reforms. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbeknown (ph) to the gentleman ...
NEHLS: He's made significant reforms Shokin did. Matter of fact, John Kerry says he was impressive. And you know, within a few months after Shokin was fired, they appoint a prosecutor that said, we're not going to look into Burisma anymore. Cancel that. Forget it. We're not looking into Burisma. Boom, here comes the million dollars.
Joe Biden threatened the Ukrainian president and the prime minister, everybody can see it, to fire Shokin or the United States won't give the billion dollars. If that is not quid pro quo, sir, what is?
I will tell you what it is and America agrees with me, it's bribery and it's impeachable. Are you going to do something about it?
GARLAND: (Inaudible) ...
NEHLS: I bet you're not and that's why you, sir, also need to be impeached. I yield back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time of the gentleman has expired. The chair now recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Moran.
REP. NATHANIEL MORAN (R-TX): Attorney General, you are a line assistant - a U.S. attorney for years and a federal judge. After that, you have significant experience with the processes surrounding criminal investigations. Tell me, what's the normal process for obtaining and executing a search warrant?
GARLAND: You go to a federal judge. You present an affidavit, which you believe constitutes probable cause. The federal judge looks at it, makes a determination of whether it does constitute probable cause. He then signs a search warrant and it's then executed.
MORAN: And what's the purpose of a search warrant?
GARLAND: The purpose of a search warrant is to find either - to find evidence of a crime for which there has to be probable cause that it's in that location.
MORAN: When executing a search warrant on a location that may contain evidence of a crime, what benefits are there for doing so without notifying the putative defendant or the target of the investigation or his attorney ahead of time that execution of the search warrant is forthcoming?
GARLAND: Sometimes you make notifications. Sometimes you don't, if you think that the person who has the evidence of a crime is obstructing justice or is going to move the evidence or will secrete it, if you warn them in advance, then you don't give it. If you don't have then - those concerns, you may give advance notice.
MORAN: So in the instance of not withholding notice, you do so because sometimes they're going to actually move the evidence if you give them a heads up, correct?
GARLAND: It's a general hypothetical matter, yes.
MORAN: And in most instances, in your experience of decades of law enforcement, have you seen that more times than not you give a heads up to the defendant or is it odd to give a heads up to the defendant?
GARLAND: I can't actually make a statistical resolution. I think it's the case that the government tries to use less intrusive methods if they can. And if they can't, use more intrusive and more emergency methods.
MORAN: I agree with that, but typically when you're going to execute a search warrant, typically I think people would understand this from common knowledge, you would not actually give the heads up. Would you agree with that?
GARLAND: I think as a general matter, that's correct.
MORAN: IRS Supervisory Special Agent, Gary Shapley, one of the whistleblowers, testified that AUSA Lesley Wolf told investigators, "Optics were a driving factor in the decision not to request a search warrant for the guest house at the Biden's Delaware residence where Hunter Biden had stayed for a time."
AUSA Wolf further told the investigators that "there was more than enough probable cause for the physical search warrant there," but the question was whether the juice was worth the squeeze. And she further said, "A lot of evidence in the investigation will be found in the guest house of former Vice President Biden," but there is no way investigators will get that approved.
Now, do you agree with Ms. Wolf that optics of an investigation should be the driving factor in law enforcement decisions when investigating potential crimes?
GARLAND: I have to say again, as I said before, singling out assistant U.S. attorneys is a dangerous matter. The supervisor of that case, Mr. Weiss, he is the one who made decisions in that case. He is the one who can answer questions as to whether those things happened or whether he did ...
MORAN: So let's take her out of the equation and let's just take the statement generally. Do you believe that optics of an investigation should be a driving factor in law enforcement decisions as to whether or not to execute a search warrant or not?
GARLAND: The Justice Department has standards for its work and improper considerations are not part of those. The only questions are those driven by the facts in the law.
MORAN: Mr. Shapley also testified that AUSA Wolf objected to a search warrant IRS investigators requested for a storage unit purportedly containing all the documents from the vacated office of the law firm owned by Hunter Biden. Investigators scheduled a call with U.S. Attorney Weiss, who agreed that they could search the storage unit if it remained abandoned for 30 days.
But immediately after the call, investigators learned that AUSA Wolf had reached out to Hunter Biden's defense counsel to tell them about the storage unit, effectively ruining investigators' chance to access potentially critical evidence. In your experience, as you said earlier, this is not the typical thing that happens, correct?
GARLAND: Once again, I don't know anything about these allegations. I don't know whether they are correct or not. These are questions most appropriately put to Mr. Weiss at the appropriate time and to be covered in his report if he thinks that's the appropriate way to resolve that.
MORAN: Can you conceive of a reason why Mr. Weiss or Ms. Wolf would have given a heads up to Hunter Biden's legal team that the search of the storage unit was forthcoming?
GARLAND: I'm not going to get into hypotheticals about this.
MORAN: For somebody that was involved in the investigation at that point, who was literally delaying obtaining potential evidence in the case, do you think it was appropriate that then she was involved in the negotiation of the IRS deal with Hunter Biden?
GARLAND: I'm not actually following the question. Assisting U.S. attorneys who participate in investigation, also participate in prosecutions, is that what you're asking?
MORAN: Attorney General, I appreciate your time here today, but I'm concerned that these facts are just some examples of what's been going on here where ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time.
MORAN: I apologize, I know my time's out. I yield back. Thank you for your time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time of the gentleman expired. The gentleman from Maryland is recognized for unanimous consent.
IVEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't - I guess I have my five minutes. I would ask if - for the unanimous consent to offer some exhibits. First, I would offer ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No objection.
IVEY: District Attorney Bragg's March 31, 2023 letter in response to the committee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay.
IVEY: I would offer ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No objections.
IVEY: ... the letter from Attorney Abbe Lowell, a Hunter Biden's attorney, to the Committee of Judiciary Oversight and Ways and Means dated September 14, 2023 and its attachments.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No objections.
IVEY: I would offer the letter of - from Ms. Willis (ph) to the Chairman on September 7, 2023.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No objection.
IVEY: And I would offer this article from CNN's Annie Grayer, top IRS official, latest witness to dispute allegations from whistleblower on Hunter Biden tax case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No objection.
IVEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You bet. The gentleman from - gentlelady from Wyoming, Ms. Hageman. We got ...
REP. HARRIET HAGEMAN (R-WY): We have been investigating very serious charges made about your department and other elements of the Biden administration, which allege ignoring the law to protect political allies from being held accountable for their wrongdoing. One aspect of this allegation, brought by two very credible whistleblowers from the IRS, demonstrates a strategy of delaying criminal investigation into Hunter Biden and blocking any investigations into the corruption of Joe Biden.
The whistleblower testimony notes that U.S. Attorney David Weiss, in November 2022, allowed the statute of limitations to expire, even though Hunter Biden's attorney had already agreed to extend the statute on the 2014 and 2015 charges, which charges included an attempt to evade or defeat taxes and the fraud and false statements related to the million dollars that Burisma paid to Hunter Biden while his father was vice president.
During a recent transcribed interview with the committee, FBI officials from the Baltimore field office refused to answer questions about the expired 2014 and 2015 tax charges because they were allegedly part of a "ongoing investigation." Are the tax charges related to these years in fact part of an ongoing investigation?
GARLAND: Again, I have no familiarity with the details of this particular investigation.
HAGEMAN: Okay, so you don't know one way or the other?
GARLAND: That's right. I left it up to Mr. Weiss.
HAGEMAN: So how are charges for which the statute of limitations have already expired part of an ongoing investigation?
GARLAND: Again, I don't know anything about this case.
HAGEMAN: So why would charges that have already expired because of the statute of limitations be part of an ongoing investigation?
GARLAND: In the - answer in the hypothetical, because I don't know the facts, often charges from previous times are used as part of an ongoing investigation.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: We've been listening to the Attorney General testify before the House Judiciary Committee, at times a very heated hearing, as Republicans have been questioning the Attorney General over his involvement or lack thereof in the Hunter Biden probe, as well as investigations into former President Donald Trump.
We're joined now by CNN's Evan Perez who's been watching the hearing very closely. So, Evan, Garland has been grilled repeatedly about, again, the Trump investigation, Hunter Biden investigation. He is not really offering specifics, which is par for the course.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's what we expected. And one of the things that he has repeatedly said is you should ask David Weiss, who is the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney who has overseen this investigation for almost five years. He's also now a special counsel.
And, by the way, the Justice Department offered for the committee to - back in July - they offered him to come in and do an interview. And my understanding is that the committee only in the last couple of days has come back with - to set up a date for such an interview. It appears our Manu Raju has heard from his sources that Jim Jordan wants to talk to a bunch of other people before he talks to David Weiss.
And they've been bringing in a lot of witnesses to try to figure out what was going on behind the scenes in this investigation. Which, by the way, I mean, there's legitimate questions, right, to ask about what's been going on for four and a half, five years on an investigation like this, very important questions. And the Justice Department should be able to answer some of those.
What I found remarkable today, though, was the number of times that Republicans on this panel were just asking the same question over and over, knowing what they were going to get, and they seemed to be hung up on one particular detail about whether David Weiss really had the authority he had. And they were going around in circles because the answer was Garland has said what he said, which is, if you need more authority or if you want to bring charges in jurisdictions where you're not authorized or - where - that are not Delaware, you can let me know and you'll have that authority.
And I think we have some sound from the hearing where some of that is - goes over. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): "Mr. Weiss has full authority to bring cases in other jurisdictions if he feels it's necessary." That was your response, Attorney General, to Sen. Grassley's question on March 1st 2023. Just reference it when Mr. Bishop was questioning you. Only problem is he'd already been turned down by the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, Mr. Graves. So he didn't have full authority, did he?
GARLAND: I had an extended conversation with Sen. Grassley at the time. We briefly touched on the Section 515 question and how that process went. I've never been suggested ...
JORDAN: My point is real simple. My point is real simple, Mr. Garland. You said he had complete authority, but he'd already been turned down. He wanted to bring an action in the District of Columbia and the U.S. attorney there said, no, you can't. And then you go tell the United States Senate under oath that he has complete authority.
GARLAND: I'm going to say again that no one had the authority to turn him down. They could refuse to partner with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: And so that's where this is sort of going around in circles, because in the end, what Garland is saying is true, right? Under the Justice Department rules, if you - in Delaware, the U.S. attorney in Delaware wants to bring charges in D.C. or in L.A., they can ask to partner with those U.S. attorneys. They can't be blocked, right? He can't be blocked by those U.S. attorneys.
And so there's this sort of misunderstanding of the way things work that works for Jim Jordan and the political point he's trying to make. But the attorney general, I think, is saying what the facts are and so that's one of the issues here.
I think it doesn't matter really in the end, though, Brianna, as you know from watching some of these hearings over the years that there's a political point being made and it doesn't really matter what the answer is.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Well, the political point that they have to make as they try to undercut this whole - these - all these proceedings, is undercutting David Weiss, who, let's remind people, he's a Trump appointee and you have Ken Buck, who is a Republican, saying if Merrick Garland ...
KEILAR: ... had decided to pick someone else besides David Weiss to do this, he would be facing the same kind of criticism from Republicans. They're going to criticize him no matter what.
I think what really strikes me is, look, this is so much of what we're watching here, an unserious circus. It is a parade of long debunked narratives and misinformation, whether it is Jim Jordan talking about Donald Trump doing everything that is asked about him when it comes to his documents at Mar-A-Lago, which we certainly know he did not.
You have so much reporting on that and you wouldn't have spent months doing it if that were the case. From this thing about the Ukrainian prosecutor, I mean, we know the facts on that. It's so clear.
PEREZ: Right. And look, I mean, part of this is building up to what is coming next, which is this - the beginning of their impeachment inquiry. And so what this is, is sort of getting their base and their audience sort of ginned up for what is coming attractions, right?
And so they knew they weren't going to be able to get a lot of the answers from the Attorney General, but in the end, David Weiss is the person in charge of this and so - but, again, if you're trying to build towards the impeachment inquiry, which is what they're trying to do, that's what the purpose of today was.
SANCHEZ: When they would let him answer questions at times, it seems like he would start to make a sound and then immediately they would interrupt him.
PEREZ: A little bit of a performance art (inaudible) ...
SANCHEZ: Political theater, right.
SANCHEZ: Evan Perez, thank you so much.
KEILAR: And coming up, more than 300 military promotions are stalled by this one senator. But now, Tommy Tuberville is forcing Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer to cave to his requests for some confirmations individually. We have a member of the House Armed Services Committee who's also a veteran who's going to join us live to respond.
KEILAR: Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, is backtracking on his refusal to hold confirmation votes for individual military leaders after Republican senator, Tommy Tuberville, threatened to use a rare maneuver to push through a vote on the leader of the Marine Corps.
Tuberville is holding up Senate confirmation of more than 300 general and flag officers in opposition to the Defense Department's abortion travel policy for service members and their families. Schumer preempted Tuberville's threatened maneuver, announcing standalone votes on the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Marine Corps Commandant and the Army Chief of Staff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Besides the most extreme elements of the Republican Party, no one thinks this is a good idea. And in the face of that opposition, it seems that Sen. Tuberville is becoming more and more desperate to get out of the box he has put himself in. He's desperate to shift the responsibility on to others. But I've made it clear that we will not allow anyone to shift this on to Democrats.
The Senate should not have to go through procedural hoops just to please one brazen and misguided senator. But this is where we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: All right. Joining us now is Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, Seth Moulton, who is a veteran of the Marine Corps himself.
Was this the right move, sir?
REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Well, no. Fundamentally, it's not the right move because it sets a terrible precedent. There are 300 - over 300 other officers and their families who are waiting for appointments.
So it's not just paralyzing the top levels of our military, the most famous folks that you see on TV. It's paralyzing the entire top level of our officer corps. What I've heard from a lot of these officers is that they're just considering getting out. So Sen. Tuberville is not only holding things up, he's decimating our leadership ranks in the military. And we cannot allow this to be a precedent.
So look, Senator Schumer was forced into this by the move - by Sen. Tuberville to just simply vote on the commandant. But we cannot go forward this way. The other big risk, by the way, is that if you have individual votes on every single nominee, as has never been done before in Senate history, you risk politicizing every single one of these votes.
And so you find a nominee who's very well qualified militarily, but some senators happen to disagree with whatever political views he has. And all of a sudden, you refuse that nomination, you're politicizing the military. There are bigger costs to what this senator from Alabama - this football coach is doing.
KEILAR: But - and I hear you on that, but do you think there might be a case for Schumer calling Tuberville's bluff, showing Americans what it really is to go through this process of approving general and flag officers one by one? Might that create the pressure that is needed to move Tuberville here?
MOULTON: Look, I'm not disagreeing with Sen. Schumer's decision here, given Tuberville's move to just have a vote on the commandant. He's trying to get two other really important positions still.
KEILAR: I'm talking about going beyond these three and just eating up time on the Senate floor to make the point of what Tuberville is really asking for. Should he consider that, Schumer?
MOULTON: I mean, maybe he should consider it, Brianna. I mean, it's his job to figure out how to run the Senate. But the bottom line is, look, we're sitting here in Washington right now because the Republicans can't even fund the government. They couldn't even pass the bill to pay the troops this week. They couldn't even pass the procedural rule to get to that vote.
That's like not striking out in baseball, but simply crashing and burning between the dugout and the batter's box. They didn't even make it to a vote. That's how much disarray the Republican Party is in right now.
So if we can't fund the government, we can't approve military promotions, we've got really, really big problems here. And it's all because of Republican intransigence. It's all because the Republican Party has become subservient to this extremist wing represented by Sen. Tuberville.
KEILAR: Look, I think we know even Republicans think that Tuberville is going about this in a pretty ham-fisted way. Lawmakers, they usually take up their issues with the military, with its civilian leadership. They don't use the military as pawns, as he's doing. That said, are Democrats going to the mat here over a policy that it turns out service members and their families can't even really use?
I ask you that because Politico is reporting that as few as a dozen service members have actually used this policy.
MOULTON: It doesn't matter how many people have used it. What matters is that we don't have to - a caste system in our military where you don't get the health care that you need if you're a woman. I mean, what message does that send to every person who might consider joining the military, to half of America, who might consider joining the military during a recruitment crisis.
The idea that it's separate but equal in some way in our military, that you just don't get access to health care if you're a woman because you happen to be stationed in a state that does not allow certain types of health care like abortions. It's just fundamentally antithetical to our country, to our military's values.
And by the way, Republicans talk about the DoD paying for abortions. That's not even what's at stake here. The DoD is not paying for abortions. It's simply allowing military members to take leave to go get health care that they need if it's not offered in the state where they happen to get stationed.
KEILAR: It is - I will be clear, though, it is paying for the travel, it is not paying for the procedure. I only say that ...
MOULTON: That's right.
KEILAR: ... because I made that point to your colleague, Michael Waltz, and he said, he sort of dismissed that idea. But certainly, no, they are not paying for the procedure.
MOULTON: That's the truth.
KEILAR: They're paying for the travel and they're allowing the leave. MOULTON: You're a hundred percent right.
KEILAR: Yes, they're allowing the leave, that's very clear.
MOULTON: That's right. You're right. This is - it's not just an idea, it's the truth. You're right, Brianna.
That's what's at stake here. So it just it just shows how small Senator Tuberville is. How out of touch he is with what our military is all about.