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Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before GOP-led House Judiciary Committee. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 20, 2023 - 12:30   ET



REP. JEFF VAN DREW, (R) NEW JERSEY: And never in my life did I think I would see our great DOJ turn to a -- into a politicized weapon to be yielded on an investigation to attack political rivals. I still hold the thousands of hardworking staff with high regard. But unfortunately, there are some within the department, in my mind, who have betrayed their oaths. And for that, you must be held accountable.

I hold you accountable for the labeling of parents as domestic terrorists standing up for the proper education of their own children. I hold you accountable for the anti-Catholic memo, imagine sending agents undercover into Roman Catholic churches because they were supposedly domestic terrorists. And I hold you accountable for unleashing a Special Counsel with a history of botched investigations on our current president's political rival.

The department under your leadership, I am sorry to say -- and I am sorry to say, has become an enforcement arm of the Democratic National Committee. If there is a perceived threat to the Democratic Party, this DOJ attacks every single time. But when there are actionable threats against conservatives, this DOJ stays put. Protesters outside -- violent protesters outside of the Supreme Court justice's home, unpunished. Attacks on Pro-Life Centers, unpunished.

The two-tiered system of justice is clear and it's clear to the American public. And the buck stops with the man in charge, that man is you. The actions of the DOJ are on you. The decline of American's trust in our federal law enforcement is on you. The political weaponization of the DOJ is on you. Attorney General, I need a simple yes or no to the following. Just yes or no, because we don't have much time. Do you agree traditional Catholics are violent extremists, yes or no?

MERRICK GARLAND, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Let me answer what you've said in that long list of -- I would be happy to answer all of those.

VAN DREW: Attorney General, I control the time. I'm going to ask you to answer the questions I ask.

GARLAND: You control time by asking me a substantial number of things and let me get...

VAN DREW: I didn't ask you those things. I made a statement. GARLAND: I will asnswer the...

VAN DREW: Attorney General, through the Chair, I ask you, do you agree that traditional Catholics are violent extremists? Answer the question.

GARLAND: I have no idea what you are -- what traditional means here. The idea --

VAN DREW: Catholics that go church.

GARLAND: Let me just -- can I answer your -- may I answer your question?

VAN DREW: Yes or no?

GARLAND: The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous, it is so absurd. I can't even answer your question.

VAN DREW: Mr. Attorney General, it was your FBI that did this. It was your FBI that was sending and we have the memos, we have the e-mails, were sending undercover agents into Catholic churches.

GARLAND: Both I and the Director of the FBI have said that we were appalled -- have said we were appalled by that memo.

VAN DREW: So then you agree they are not extremists?

GARLAND: We were appalled by that memo.

VAN DREW: Are they extremists or not, Attorney General?

GARLAND: I think that...

VAN DREW: Are they extremists or not, Attorney General?

GARLAND: I've been thinking that memo is appalling.

VAN DREW: Are they extremists or not? I'm asking a simple question. Say no if you think that was wrong.

GARLAND: Catholics are not extremists, no.

VAN DREW: Was anyone fired for drafting and circulating the anti- Catholic memo?

GARLAND: You have in front of you the inspection division's investigation.

VAN DREW: Just tell me yes or no please.

GARLAND: I don't know the answer...

VAN DREW: We have no time.

GARLAND: I don't know the answer to that. There is a disciplinary process that the Attorney General is not permitted to intervene in.

VAN DREW: OK. Do you agree that parents attending school board meeting should be categorized -- should parents that go to school board meetings and are very vocal about their kids' education should they be classified as domestic terrorists?

GARLAND: Of course, not and my memo made clear objections to policies in schools are protected by the First Amendment.

VAN DREW: So it is not? The president this week accused you -- not the president himself, his staff and it was in "The Wall Street Journal" and it was leaked out of mismanaging the Hunter Biden probe. Do you agree? Yes or no?

It was in a "Wall Street Journal" article. I'm not saying that.

GARLAND: Do I agree with the Wall -- I'm sorry, do I agree with "The Wall Street Journal"?

VAN DREW: Yes, on the information they released that staid you botched this probe.

GARLAND: I think I have dealt with the Hunter Biden investigation the way I have told this Committee (ph).

VAN DREW: Mr. Chairman, I yield my remaining time to you.

REP. JIM JORDAN, (R-OH) CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I appreciate it. The gentleman yields back. The gentlelady from Pennsylvania is recognized.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Attorney General Garland, for your decades of service to the Department of Justice.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You are just watching heated and important testimony on Capitol Hill. We will take you back there in just a moment. But joining me now is one of the lawmakers who has been doing the questioning, Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington. Congresswoman, thank you for joining us. It appears that you may be having some technical difficulties there. We are going to go back to the hearing and fix that, and we'll come back to Congresswoman Jayapal.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL, (D) WASHINGTON: ...the last administration when they appeared before us. As we all should know, the Justice Department works for the American people to prosecute crimes, uphold the rule of law and Americans' individual rights and keep our country safe. And Congress, of course, has a legitimate duty of oversight.

[12:35:00] But, the blatantly political and misleading rhetoric, which we have been subjected to today, undermines the seriousness of this committee's work and ultimately, the legitimacy and core values of our American institutions. It's painfully obvious to anyone who cares that our colleagues have called this hearing not to conduct legitimate oversight, but to once again defend the indefensible actions...


RAJU: (Inaudible) Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal who is doing some of the questioning, joining us now to talk about this very contentious hearing. Congresswoman, thank you so much for taking the time. We'll go back to the hearing in a matter of moments, but you just saw some fireworks there with Congress Jeff Van Drew.

But, when the Attorney General was asked about the Hunter Biden, he has been a little bit more circumspect. Chairman Jim Jordan, the Republican, says the fix is in. He argues Hunter Biden's indictment was a face-saving move. How has the Attorney General in your view dealt with this? And has he been forceful enough in your view in pushing back against these accusations?

JAYAPAL: Manu, I think he has been very forceful. And in fact, he keeps answering the same questions that get asked over and over again by the Republicans. Frankly, I think the Republicans have been wasting their time. They are not getting new information. This isn't about that. It's about a soap box for these baseless conspiracy theories and what the Attorney General has consistently said is that David Weiss had all of the leeway he needed, the latitude he needed and he has been given full authority.

And by the way, Mr. Weiss was appointed by Donald Trump as a U.S. attorney. And so, I think there isn't any "there" there and it's just unfortunate to me that this is what has happened to our committee. We're just pushing forward baseless conspiracy theories that undermine the Department of Justice, which is important to the American people.

RAJU: Of course, Republicans have been very critical of David Weiss. The collapsed plea deal, they believe he did not go far enough. But Hunter Biden's team believes that Weiss and his charges went too far. In your view, how has the Special Counsel handled this lengthy investigation? Has he done so appropriately?

JAYAPAL: I mean, look, I don't have the inside information on what the Special Counsel is doing, but I think we have to trust his words that he was given full authority by Attorney General Garland, that he did what he thought was right, and that when he asked to be appointed Special Counsel, the Attorney General immediately said yes. That's what the American people need. That's what Attorney General Garland has been clear about.

He's not going to be used and he said it in his testimony this morning as the -- he's not the attorney for the president. He's not the prosecutor for Congress. He's going to follow the facts and allow his Special Counsel to do the same. That's really, I think we have to take this at their word instead of trying to make this into a conspiracy theory, which I think really undermines not only Mr. Weiss, but also the Department of Justice. That's dangerous, Manu.

RAJU: Yeah. In our recent CNN poll, Congresswoman, 6 in 10 Americans say it was either illegal or unethical for Joe Biden to be involved in Hunter Biden's business dealings while current president was vice president. He is -- just 38 percent in that same poll said Biden was not involved. I'm wondering if -- are you considered that Democrats, including the White House, are making a mistake by essentially allowing Republicans to control the narrative when it comes to Hunter Biden?

JAYAPAL: Well, look, I think we have to be careful and I think the media has to be careful about this too. We have one president, a former president who has been indicted of 91 criminal counts -- indicted, including by grand juries made up of the American people. I think we should be focused on that and that's why I think it's so disturbing that during the hearing today, all we heard about was Hunter Biden. This is the Trump prosecution team, if you will, on the other side.

All they want to do is make sure that they distort the facts and confuse the American people. And I hope people will remember what happened on January 6th. What this Department of Justice has been doing to transform the Department of Justice, and that they will pursue the facts on the Hunter Biden case to the end, regardless of who the president is. That's what I want in a Department of Justice. I hope that's what the American people want.

RAJU: And before I let you go, there are urgent talks right now in Congress to avoid a government shutdown. Just ten days left. The Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries today met with a more moderate group than yours, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. Are you on the same page with the Democratic leadership and some of the moderate members in your caucus about finding a way out of this shutdown, potential shutdown?

JAYAPAL: Leader Jeffries met with the progressive caucus on Monday evening, so we have also had a very recent meeting with him. And I think we are all on the same page, which is Kevin McCarthy should keep the deal that he made with President Biden on funding, but he hasn't done that. He has broken that. He has turned the gavel over to Marjorie Taylor Greene. And I think there's a lot of agreement from both Republicans and Democrats that Kevin McCarthy is a weak leader.


He has not worked for the American people. We need to keep the government open with a clean continuing resolution. And that can be done with all Democrats and just a few Republicans.

RAJU: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from Washington, thank you so much for joining us. And we are going to go right back to the hearing.


GARLAND: I had promised him that I would give him any resource that he needed. And that he has support and to go further, that would go into pending investigation.

REP. BEN CLINE, (R) VIRGINIA: OK, let's talk about that authority. Back on March 1st, you told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Mr. Weiss had the full authority to bring cases in other jurisdictions if he felt it was necessary. On June 7th, Mr. Weiss wrote to the Judiciary Committee stating you have been -- he had been granted ultimate authority over the matter including responsibility for deciding where, when and whether to file charges.

But by June 30th, he had changed his tune and said that his charging authority was geographically limited and he -- and it would be up to the U.S. Attorney's office and then you to determine whether he can partner on the case. And if not, he can request Special Attorney status from the AF pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 515. And he had been assured that if necessary, he would be granted 515 authority in D.C., Central District of California or any other district, where charges could be brought.

Let me ask you, is there some distinct legal authority known as special attorney status?

GARLAND: I'm sorry?

CLINE: Is there some distinct legal authority known as Special Attorney status?

GARLAND: Section 515 permits the Attorney General to sign an order to authorize a prosecutor to work in another district.

CLINE: And if you had already decided that he had full authority, why did you feel it was necessary to sign that document?

GARLAND: I'm sorry, I didn't --

CLINE: Why did you feel that -- why did Mr. Weiss feel that he would need that extra authority if you had conveyed to him that he would have all that authority?

GARLAND: You'll have to speak with Mr. Weiss about that. I think his three letters are quite clear that he understood, he would have the necessary authority and that no U.S. attorney could block him.

CLINE: OK. We asked you earlier about his request for this authority. And we need to know who he spoke to about this authority and when. Before he asked you in August, he had discussions about this with others at the Department. Who did he discuss Special Counsel authority with and when did he do that?

GARLAND: I'm not going to discuss internal deliberations of the department. I guaranty that...

CLINE: Those aren't, well.

GARLAND: ...Mr. Weiss would have the authority that he needed. And the moment he asked for the authority, I gave it to him.

CLINE: Did he discuss it with the Deputy Attorney General?

GARLAND: Again, I'm not going to get into a discussion of deliberations within the Justice Department.

CLINE: That's not a valid constitutional objection.

GARLAND: Well, that is a valid constitution deliberation -- constitutional objection. It has to do with the ability of the Justice Department to do its communications, just as your deliberations with your staff and other members are protected by the constitution.

CLINE: Detailing who had conversations and when does not implicate the internal deliberations at the department. The substance of those deliberations simply detailing who and when does not implicate those.

GARLAND: Yeah, I'm not going to get into the internal discussions of the department or who talked to who about what. Mr. Weiss has told this committee that he well understood his ability to bring a case wherever he wanted. And I have said that he had that ability.

CLINE: Do you think that the extraordinary circumstances that you cited in the appointment have anything to do with the June 22nd and July 19th testimony of whistleblowers Special Agent Shapely and Zeigler?

GARLAND: I don't think it has anything to do with Mr. Shapely, no.

JORDAN: Gentleman.

CLINE: I yield to the Chairman.

JORDAN: Appreciate the gentleman yielding. Mr. Garland, have you or are you investigating who leaked the information that appeared in "The Washington Post" on October 6, 2022 about this investigation? That the Hunter Biden investigation.

GARLAND: You're saying there was an October 2022...

JORDAN: October 6, 2022, "Washington Post" writes a story about the Hunter Biden investigation. I am just -- I wonder if you investigated who leaked that information to "The Washington Post"?

GARLAND: I don't know the answer to that question.

JORDAN: Has it been referred to the Inspector General? Do you know that?

GARLAND: I don't want my answer to suggest that there is or isn't such an investigation. I know that the Inspector General sent a letter to Congress explaining that there was -- that he had an ongoing assessment with respect to the whistleblowers' charges. I don't know if that's what you're referring to.


JORDAN: Time of the gentleman has expired. The Chair now recognizes the gentleman from Colorado.

REP. JOE NEGUSE, (D) COLORADO: I thank the Chairman and the Ranking Member for holding this hearing. Thank you, Attorney General, for your testimony, for appearing before us and your service to our country. I have great respect for my colleague from Virginia on the other side of the aisle. I am a bit confused as to why they have zeroed in or focused in on this particular letter in such a myopic way, but your testimony and I wrote down words here, that the moment he, meaning the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney Mr. Weiss asked for the authority, I gave it to him. Seems pretty straight forward.

And as you said, the letters that Mr. Weiss has written to this committee are publicly available and encourage anybody who is watching these hearings to certainly review those. As you said, clearly, they are consistent with each other in terms of reading those letters collectively. I think it's important, Mr. Attorney General, to perhaps talk a bit about your record and your background in light of the various attacks unfortunately by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

My understanding is that you served as a Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States early on in your career. Is that right?

GARLAND: It's my first job out of being a law clerk, yeah.

NEGUSE: Your first job at a law school?

GARLAND: After law clerk.

NEGUSE: After law clerk, of course. You later were in private practice.


NEGUSE: And you left private practice to become a line attorney at the Department of Justice?

GARLAND: That's right. To be an Assistant U.S. Attorney.

NEGUSE: An Assistant U.S. Attorney, a federal prosecutor taking on organized crime cases, drug trafficking cases, violent crimes?

GARLAND: Yes, I don't know about the organized crime, organized drug trafficking, yes.

NEGUSE: Following that service, you served in the Department of Justice as the principal associate...

GARLAND: Attorney General -- Deputy Attorney General, yes.

NEGUSE: Deputy Attorney General, this is in the mid-'90s?

GARLAND: That's right.

NEGUSE: And in that capacity, you supervised a range of high-profile cases. Is that right?

GARLAND: Yes, they were high-profile cases.

NEGUSE: Unabomber case?

GARLAND: The what?

NEGUSE: The Unabomber case.

GARLAND: Unabomber case, yes.

NEGUSE: The Atlanta Olympic bombing?

GARLAND: Olympic bombing, yes.

NEGUSE: The Oklahoma City bombing case.

GARLAND: Yes, that's right.

NEGUSE: You received praise with respect to the later investigation from the then Republican Governor of the State of Oklahoma. Is that right?

GARLAND: Yes, who was a very good partner in the investigation with respect to Oklahoma.

NEGUSE: You then were nominated and appointed to the federal bench, U.S. District Court of Appeals here in Washington, D.C., correct?

GARLAND: For the U.S. Court of Appeals, yes.

NEGUSE: Right. You were confirmed by a bipartisan majority, over 20 Republican senators voted for your confirmation.

GARLAND: I'll take your word for it. I think that's correct.

NEGUSE: You served on the bench for a significant period of time, ultimately becoming the Chief Judge.

GARLAND: Yes, that's right.

NEGUSE: You left that position to return to the Department of Justice, where you had started your career.


NEGUSE: And you were confirmed into this position in which you now hold on a bipartisan basis in the senate.


NEGUSE: I think it's unfortunate, Mr. Attorney General, that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have conflated questions about various cases that the department has brought with impuning (ph) your integrity. And I can assure you that the vast majority of the American people don't share their opinion. And that my constituents, the folks back in Colorado are grateful for your lifetime of service that you have given to this country.

And I recognize that this is, I suspect, a frustrating exercise in terms of this particular hearing, because I suspect that you'd like to be talking about the prevalence of fentanyl in the communities and the work that the Department of Justice is doing to interdict it. The gun violence epidemic in our country and the work that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are doing to stop it. And my hope is that the next oversight hearing perhaps those can be the focus the bulk of the hearing.

I would be remiss if I didn't say one note about a rule that the Department of Justice recently promulgated. As you may recall, in 2021, March of 2021, I sent a letter to the Department of Justice requesting that the Department of Justice issue a rule regulating stabilizing braces. One of these braces was used, as you might recall, in a mass shooting in my community in Boulder, Colorado, where ten Coloradans tragically lost their lives, including one police officer. And the Department of Justice issued a final rule earlier this year on this precise topic. Unfortunately, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have made it their mission to overturn this rule. I wonder if you might be able to just elaborate a bit on how the rule was drafted and deliberated within the department.

GARLAND: Yes, well, that horrific event in Boulder was one of several examples of the use of attachment of a semiautomatic pistol to a stabilizing brace intended to permit its firing from the shoulder.


That violates the rule, the congressional statute against short- barreled rifles being possessed without registration, anything under 16 inches. The reason for Congress' statute, which I think probably goes down to the Al Capone era, was the power of such a weapon and the ability to aim such a weapon when on the shoulder. All that was done in this rule was to make clear that if you convert a pistol into a rifle designed to be fired from the shoulder, you are subject to the registration requirement.

NEGUSE: Thank you, Mr. Attorney General. I yield back.

JORDAN: The Attorney General has requested a short break. So, the committee will stand in recess for a few minutes, and then we will be back for the remainder of our members' questions.


RAJU: All right. High stakes and high drama today on Capitol Hill. You were just watching an important moment. The Attorney General under oath, Republicans accusing the top lawyer in the country of putting in the fix. Now, I'm joined here by CNN's Jeremy Diamond, CNN's Evan Perez, CNN's legal analyst Carrie Cordero, and Laura Barron-Lopez of the PBS NewsHour.

So we have been watching this lengthy hearing all day. What is your take-away from how the Attorney General has dealt with all these accusations so far of political bias? CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think he's done about as well as he could, recognizing that Attorney General Garland is about as opposite on the spectrum from the political nature of this Judiciary Committee as one can get. And so, he was in the position of, number one, trying to defend the Justice Department that he is trying to lead in a way that it conducts its business in a nonpartisan way and at the same time, really not answering any substantive questions as it pertains to the Hunter Biden case, which is what the Republicans on the committee want to focus about.

And so, he really did put off to the U.S. attorney who is handling that case in the future any substantive questions about that investigation. And that leaves us in a different -- difficult position because, on one hand, it makes it look like he's not answering questions. On the other hand, if he would have said, "Oh, yes, I have talked to the U.S. attorney about all of his charging decisions and, yes, I have reviewed the file carefully, and I'm steeply involved in the facts," then that would open him up to a tremendous amount of criticism.

RAJU: No question about it. Here he is damned if you do, damned if you don't. And just (inaudible), just how the Republicans have been grilling him all day, in case we have not been watching every minute of this but want to get caught up, there is an exchange that happened between Republican members of this committee -- many of them have been very contentious. Here is just a taste of how Garland has handled this.


GARLAND: I do not intend to discuss internal Justice Department deliberations, whether or not I had them.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON, (R) LOUISIANA: Oh, OK. So your testimony today is you are not going to tell us whether you have had discussions with Mr. Weiss. Does it take years to determine if Hunter Biden lied on a federal form related to purchasing a firearm?

GARLAND: Mr. Weiss was a long-time career prosecutor. President Trump appointed him as U.S...

JOHNSON: You are not answering the question.

REP. DAN BISHOP, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: You've said that, sir. Did you take the necessary steps to inform yourself what authority he understood he had or what obstacles he was encountering?

GARLAND: Mr. Weiss had, as I said from the beginning, at the very beginning, that he had authority over all matters that pertain to Hunter Biden.

JORDAN: Who decided? The White House decided. They serve at the pleasure of the president, right?

GARLAND: Mr. Weiss was...

JORDAN: Joe Biden decided to keep David Weiss as U.S. attorney. You weren't sworn in until March.

REP. MATT GAETZ, (R) FLORIDA: Doesn't it weird that he's making -- he has become this immediate success in the art world as his dad is president of the United States? Isn't that odd?

GARLAND: I'm not going to comment about any specific investigation.

GAETZ: Not going to comment, not going to investigate. So...


RAJU: I mean, Evan, you've covered the Justice Department. You've watched Merrick Garland for years. What is your take?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Look, I think the Attorney General is being a lot more forceful than he has been at these hearings in the past. Often, he kind of just takes the punches and just -- but, today, he has actually been very forceful, pushing back, getting a little bit certainly animated when he was being accused of discrimination against Catholics. One thing I think we should note is that Hunter Biden has actually struggled to sell any of these paintings, so Matt Gaetz's facts are actually not right when it comes to that question.

But I think the Attorney General is kind of going around in circles with the Republicans who are just asking the same question over and over and over. I'm actually surprised that they don't really have a more coherent strategy here because there are important questions to ask about this investigation, such as why it has taken this long. But they're not going to get very much out of him.


RAJU: Yeah. And we have heard criticism after criticism over the Special Counsel appointment of Weiss, who was the U.S. attorney investigating Hunter Biden under Donald Trump. He continued on. Now he is the Special Counsel. Jim Jordan says he was intentionally picked for that position because he will protect Joe Biden.


JORDAN: Now, we get a Special Counsel and who does the Attorney General pick? He could have selected anyone -- he could have picked anyone inside government, outside government. He could have picked former Attorney Generals, former Special Counsels, but he picks the one guy, the one guy he knows will protect Joe Biden.


Laura Barron-Lopez, White House Correspondent, PBS NewsHour: I mean, the logic doesn't really make sense because of the fact that he was -- he was -- this prosecutor was appointed by former president Donald Trump. And I think that, you know, Republicans are grasping at straws here a bit. And you see that they're trying to create this cloud that ties Hunter Biden to Joe Biden even as they're questioning Merrick Garland. Even though this DOJ investigation, as far as we know, is totally applied to Hunter Biden in his potential wrongdoings and the gun charges. And I'm curious to see how the hearing next week goes, the first impeachment inquiry hearing because of the fact that to Evan's point, they have been asking a lot of the same questions, are not connecting the dots whatsoever, and that goes to the fact that they don't have any evidence right now that connects Hunter Biden to his father Joe Biden in any wrongdoing.

RAJU: Yeah. And they're trying to show that the president was involved in some of these decisions. They have not proving that the president was involved in some of these decisions. The White House has stayed away from the Hunter Biden investigation. How much concern is there among Democrats that they're not doing enough to push back against some of these accusations?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that this hearing kind of bears out some of the White House's strategy in terms of keeping the president and the White House's official operations as far away from this as possible because had the president said anything about this case or indicated in any way that he had interfered or sought to influence this investigation, you can be sure that that would have come up in this hearing.

And while Merrick Garland was certainly the punching bag for Republicans during a lot of this hearing, it is hard to see how they were -- whether -- that they were able to actually draw any real blood. You know, they are operating with this kind of alternate set of facts and insinuations. But none of them actually seem to actually pierce what Merrick Garland is doing here, which is saying, look, I've done this by the book and I'm simply doing to have to direct your questions to the people who can answer them when they can answer them once this investigation is complete.

PEREZ: Real quickly, one of the big themes, right, is to get answers from David Weiss, who is the man who could answer some of these questions. I should note, the Justice Department offered an interview with David Weiss. They offered it back in July and they said he is available to you in October. And it is not until I think recent days that the committee has actually -- the Republicans have actually responded.

RAJU: Yeah.

PEREZ: So, they could have tried to build towards getting some answers. But they've -- I think you know this as well from your own reporting, Manu, that they have kind of been holding off on trying to get David Weiss' --

RAJU: Yeah, I asked Jim Jordan about this directly. He said that he wants to interview everybody around David Weiss before bringing him in and interviewing him. How unusual is it, first -- would it be for a Special Counsel to come in and testify before Congress while a criminal case is pending against one of its subjects?

CORDERO: Well, I think in that case, it wouldn't be any different than the way that a U.S. attorney or an Attorney General. The general default position of the Justice Department across the board is that they're not going to comment onion ongoing investigations.

RAJU: Yeah.

CORDERO: And now that this case has transitioned into a new phase with this follow-on from the plea deal that didn't work out, this is still an active investigation. And so, I would really question how informative he could be at this stage until they bring this case to some kind of resolution.

RAJU: And there's been suggestion, Kevin McCarthy's suggesting that they could move forward with an impeachment inquiry into Merrick Garland. We have not heard about that at all as they looked at (ph) Joe Biden. Whatever happened to that? Do you think that Republicans are actually going to move forward with that Merrick Garland impeachment inquiry? Or is it gone by the wayside?

CORDERO: I think, right now, no. But if they think that it will be politically beneficial to them, which they think that the whole impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden will be politically beneficial to them, then they will go down that route.

RAJU: Yeah.

CORDERO: But right now, it doesn't appear (inaudible).

RAJU: One impeachment at a time takes out a lot of -- takes out a lot of oxygen out of the room. Thanks, guys, for joining us here. Thanks for joining "Inside Politics." Much more live coverage of this important hearing. The Attorney General under oath answering questions, as "CNN News Central" starts right now.