tv Attorney General Testifies at Senate Oversight Hearing CSPAN November 17, 2021 3:21am-7:29am EST
good morning. this hearing will come to order. three oversight hearings this year. next month first deputy of homeland security oversight hearing since january 2018. today the first department of justice oversight hearing seance october 18, 2017. only time in the form --. annual oversight hearings were the norm under the obama administration and i am pleased to restore this tradition. i thank attorney general garland
for appearing today. time and again trump appointees overroad the professional judgment of the department's non partisan career attorneys to advance the president's agenda. the efforts took a dark and dangerous turn in the waiting months of trump term when doj political appointees aided president trump's big lie efforts to challenge the integrity of our election. first attorney general barr cast aside decades old policy to prevent the department from impacting elections. he directed u.s. attorneys and the fbi to investigate the election fraud claims of nonetheless rudy giuliani after these claims had been summarily discredited and disproven by countless state election officials.
and barr repeatedly, publicly and baselessly claimed that mail voting could be rampant to fraud, a charge he himself rejected when the votes were actually counted. after he lost the 2020 election president trump found another justice department ally in clark. clark pushed department of justice leaders o overturn the election and when they refused he plotted with president trump to replace them. clark and trump brought the department to the brink and were thwarted only after the threat of mass resignations across the department of justice. i commend those department of justice attorney, many of whom were trump appointees who at that critical moment in history resisted president trump and his plot to attack our democracy. the events this committee described in our recent subverting justice report were
among the most brazen examples of president trump attempting to bend the department of justice to his will and his agenda. there were the natural culmination of four years of attacks on the department of justice. they are a straight line from these events to the violent insurrection in the capitol building january ofth. when trump and his allies could not prevail in court and lost case after case after case claiming voter fraud. they took their big lie to the justice department and when they didn't prevail there they dispatched an angry mob to storm the capital to stop us from counts the e electoral votes. i commend the prosecutors working day in and day out to bring those to justice. i am sorry that the republican
senate leader refused to join the bipartisan commission that was proposed to investigate the january 6th insurrection attack. i look forward to hearing from the attorney general this morning about the work that is under way to combat the growing threat of domestic violent extremism. over the course of several months the department provided document, authorized testimony and resolved executive privilege issues, enabling us to uncover on a bipartisan basis just how close we came to a full blown constitutional crisis. attorney general garland you appeared before us in february and acknowledged great respect for belief in the oversight role of the committee and you committed your department to be as responsible -- as responsive as we possibly can to comply
with information requests. i commend you for the steps you have taken, but i believe i speak for all of my colleagues in saying there is still room for improvement when it comes to department responses and the department must deliver on its mission to ensure fair and impartial justice. let me give you an example. in the closing days of the trump administration, the department's office of legal counsel issue ad memo wrongly declaring in my estimation, the federal inmates released to home confinement on the bipartisan cares act must return to federal bureau's prison custody following the covid-19 emergency. in fact the cares act includes no such requirement. these non violent inmates are already home and overwhelmingly we integrating into community with success. on april 23rd, i sent you a letter joined by senator booker, urging you to rescind this memo. six months later, six months
later we still have not received a response.. november of 2020 -- this was a measure undertaken by combining a prison reform measure that was co-sponsored by senator cornyn and senator white house with a sentencing measure co-sponsored by senator grassley and myself and signed into law by the president. senator grassley and i send you a letter may 5th urging the department to reject the proposed rule and instead enact a rule of reducing recidivism. it's been more than five months we still haven't received a response. the first step act crowd the bureau prisons to grant release in extraordinary and compelling circumstances such as a once in
a century global pandemic. under the trump administration, listen to these numbers, the bureau of prisons denied all but 36 of 31,000 compassionate release petitions filed during the pandemic. in the first six months the biden administration, bureau prisons approved just nine requests. when the infection rate was six to seven times the national infection rate and the death rate equally appalling when compassionate release requests were received. 31,000 of them. only 36 were allowed. meanwhile the pandemic has been devastating in our bureau of prison facilities. 265 inmates have died, including six within the last few weeks. death of 42 year old man in august came after the department of justice denied his compassionate release request. republicans and democrats worked
together to pass the first step act to make our justice system fairer and communities safer. attorney general garland as you come before the committee the right to vote and have the votes of every american counted is under attack like no time in decades. this year alone, stage legislators have introduced more than 425 bills making it more difficult for americans to vote. particularly people of color. 19 states have enacted 33 of these laws. all of them are designed to achieve the same outcome, make it more difficult to vote. at the same time, big lie proponents are pushing new laws to give partisan state legislators the ability to overturn election results they don't agree with. they are ousting local election officials who faithfully applied a law and oversaw an election that trump's own department of
homeland security called the most secure in american history. and their efforts coincide with an unprecedented increase in violent threats storing state and local election officials. i'd like to add this point about violent threats. it is life across america. those of us, airline passengers, know what the flight attendants are facing with thousands of confrontations, even violent confrontations over wearing masks on aircraft. i sent a letter to you joined by others saying this has to be taken seriously. these assaults in the so called name of liberty are unacceptable. and your october 4th memo, relative to schools and school board officials and their own peril at this point i think should be mentioned. i have heard statements from members of this committee which i think are really inconsistent with reality. those who think the insurrectionist po mob at january 6 was merely a group of
tourists visiting the capitol ignored the pillaging, deaths and serious injuries to over a hundred law enforcement officials and those who argue that school board meetings -- are ignoring reality. i typed in school board violence on a search engine this morning. page after page is coming up. in my state of illinois, menden illinois silly a small town in adams county t western part of our state that i've represented almost forty years. the as quiet, solid community and yet they had their own instance at a school board meeting where a individual had to be arrested because he had threatened violence against the school board members over masks in schools. the story is repeated over and over again. state of minnesota. senator klobuchar knows the story well. state of idaho. we're seeing violence at school
board meetings at unprecedented number. i don't believe and you don't believe we should infringe on free speech but free speech does not involve threat zps violence, period. and we all to have protections against it. i want to close with an issue i said to you personally. i'm honored to represent the city which you grew up in and which i now visit with great frequency, obviously. and that's the city of chicago. the gun violence situation there is intolerable. intolerable. and we're not the only city in america by any means facing this. we need your assurance that there is a concerted determined effort to deal with gun violence at the federal level coordinating our effort with the state and local officials with that in mind i hope we can reach some agreement to do so very quickly and let me hand it off now to the ranking member senator grassley.
>> thank you chairman durbin. we write letters seeking answers and records from the department and its component agencies to better understand what they are doing. likewise the kpier executive branch not just doj as an obligation to respond to congressional oversight requests. today i can say with confidence that under general garland's leadership the department has failed across the board to comply with this committee's republican oversight request. and i appreciate very much chairman durbin pointing out a letter that he and i wrote, five
months haven't received an answer. if my name being on that letter has a reason it isn't being respond to, i'll take my name off of that letter. in contrast, general garland. you provided democratic colleagues with thousands of pages of materials. moreover president biden has politicized and inserted himself into the department policy making notely direct -- notably directing end of kpulsry positive of criminal records and investigations and most recently inserting himself when he said the prosecution should president anyone who defies compulsory process from the january 6 committee. at your confirmation hearing i read to you what i told senator session at his confirmation
hearing for being attorney general this. quote, if senator feinstein, who then was ranking remember, if senator feinstein contacts you, do not use this excuse. as so many people use. that if you are not a chair of a committee, you do not have to answer the questions. i want her questions answered just like you would answer my questions. end of quote that i gave to senator sessions. so you said to me at your hearing, quote, i will not use any excuse to not answer your questions, senator. end of quote. you have failed to satisfy that statement. example. i've asked the department for records relating to hunter biden's october 2018 incident where his gun ended up in a trash can near a school. now, that is a firearm incident. your atf used the federal
freedom of information act to refuse producing those records when that law doesn't even apply to the congress. i've also asked for information relating to chinese nationals linked to the communist chinese regime that are connected to the biden family. one individual, patrick ho was not just linked to chinese regime. he was apparently connected to that country's intelligence service. hunter biden reported by represented him for one million dollars. now, even though the department already made public in court filings that doj possesses fisa information related to patrick ho, in response you stated, quote, unfortunately under the circumstances described in your letter, we are not in a position
to confirm the existence of the information that is sought if it exists in the department's possession. well let me emphasize, what you already made it public in a court filing. so you're telling me you can't even confirm its existence. now, with respect to the criminal investigation of hunter biden, senator johnson and i wrote to you twice, this year, regarding a person named nicholas mcquaid. mr. mcquaid was employed at a law firm until january 20, 2021. when he was hired to be then acting assistant attorney general for the department's criminal division. before he was hired, he worked with christopher clark who hunter biden reported by hired to work on his federal criminal case, a month before president biden's inauguration.
now, the department hasn't disputed any of these facts. however, you refuse to confirm whether mr. mcquaid recused from the hunter biden case. that seems to be pretty simple thing to set you one way or the other. the son of the president of the united states is under criminal investigation for financial matters. a senior attorney under your command has apparent conflicts with that matter. your refusal to answer just -- questions casts a very public cloud over the entire investigation. a cloud that you should easily do away with, if you just were just a little bit transparent. when i placed holds on your nominees for the department's failure to comply with republican oversight requests, i said either you run the
department of justice or the department runs you. right now it looks like the department of justice is running you. since your confirmation, in less than a year, the department has moved as far left as it can go. you politicize the department in ways it shouldn't be. case in point. your infamous school board --. you publicly issued this memo nearly five days after the national school board association wrote a letter to president biden. now incredibly they asked the department to use the anti-terrorist patriot act against parents speaking their minds to local school officials. the school board association has since apologized for that letter, but not before the department relied on their letter to mobilize federal law enforcement in state and local matters.
meanwhile actual violent crime is on the rise in the country. your memo -- speaking freely to be worthy of the department's heady investigative and prosecutorial hand. you've created a task force. a task force that includes the department's criminal division and national security division to potentially weaponize against parents. according to your memo these threats include an undefined category of quote/unquote other forms of intimidation and harassment. is now the last thing the justice department and fbi need is a very vague memo to unleash
their power, especially when they have shown zero interest in holding their own accountable. i don't -- when you don't hold your own accountable. let's not forget about obama/biden administration, fisa abuse during cross-fire hurricane, abuses the department and the fbi for years denied even to be possible. and then you allowed a disgraced former fbi official off the hook paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers money, when the inspector general determined that he lied to investigators seven times. yes, seven times. over the course of three
different occasions. or the fbi's and the department's total failure to protect hundreds of kids from abuse by larry nasser and then covered up when we had a bipartisan hearing to learn about those courageous survivors. your deputy attorney general didn't even show up. so getting back to the national school board association matter. worried about dwizs and critical race theory and speaking their minds about mask mandates. this is the very core of constitutionally protected speech. and free speech is deadly to the tyranny of government. and is the life blood of our constitutional republic. to say your policies are outside of the mainstream could be an understatement. mothers and fathers have a vested interest in how schools
educate their children. they are not, as the biden justice department apparently believes them to be, national security threats. what is a national security threat is things like ms. 13. what is a national security is like our open southern borders. what is a national security threat is the federal government failing to adequately vet individuals from afghanistan. i suggest that you quickly change your course because you are losing credibility with the american people and with this senator in particular. thank you. >> thank you senator grassley. welcome honorable merrick garland to testify before the committee before the information of the members, the mechanics are such after we swear? attorney general garland he'll make his opening statement then
we'll go through a round of questions each senator will have seven minutes. i'm going to try to hold folks close to that number so everybody can be accommodated. if there is a request we may have a second round of questions of three minutes per senator. attorney general garland will you please stand to be sworn in. do you swear or firm the testimony you are about o give before the committee will be the truth, nothing but the truth so help you god? i do do. >> let the record reflect the attorney general answered in the affirmative. please proceed with your opening statement. >> good morning, senator durbin, ranking member grassley. and distinguished mes of the committee. thank you for the opportunity today. i spoke about three co-equal priorities that should guide the department's work. upholding the rule of law, keeping our country safe and protecting civil rights.
the first core priority, upholding the rule of law, is rooted in the recognition that to succeed and retain the trust of the american people, the justice department must adhere to the norms that have been part of its dna since dwarf levy's tenure of the first postwatergate attorney general. tenure of the first postwatergate attorney general. those are what define who we are as public servants. over last seven months i have served as attorney general, the department has reaffirmed and where appropriate updated and strengthened its policies that are foundational for these norms. for example, we strengthened our policy governing communications between the justice department and the white house. that policy is designed to protect the department's criminal and civil law enforcement decisions and its
legal judgments from partisan or other inappropriate influences. we also issued a new policy, to better protect the freedom and independence of the press by restricting the use of compulsory process to obtain information from or records of members of the news media. the second core priority is keeping our country safe from all threats, foreign and domestic. while also protecting our civil liberties. we are strengthening our 200 joint terrorism task forces, the essential hub for international and domestic counterterrorism cooperation across all levels of government nationwide. for fy 22 we're seeking more than $1.5 billion, a 12% increase for our counterterrorism work. we are also talking aggressive steps to counter cyber threats, whether from nation states, terrorists or common criminals.
in april we launched both a comprehensive cyber review and a ransomware and digital extortion task force. in june we seize ad 2.3 million dollar ransom payment made in bitcoin to the group that targeted colonial pipeline. keeping our country safe also requires reducing violent crime and gun violence. in may we announced a comprehensive violent crime strategy which deploys all of our relevant departmental components to those ends. we also launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to disrupt illegal gun trafficking in key corridors across the country. and to support local police departments and help them build trust with the communities they serve, our fy 22 budget requests over one billion dollars for grants. we are likewise convinced to keep our country safe from violent drug trafficking networks are that among other
things fuelling the opioid overdose epidemic. including illicit fentanyl, opioids cause nearly 7,000 fatal overdose this is 2020. we'll continue to use all of our resources to save lives. finally, keeping our country safe requires protecting its democratic institutions, including the one we sit this today from violent attacks. as this committee is well aware, the department is currently engaged in one of the most sweeping investigations in its history in connection with the january 6th attack on the capitol. the department's third priority is protecting civil rights. this was a founding purpose when the department was established in 1870. today the civil rights division's work remains vital to safeguarding rights. this year we doubled the size of
the civil rights division voting section and fy 22 budget seeks the largest ever increase totaling more than 15%. stepped up support for community relations service. we are also revitalizing and expanding work to ensure equal access to justice. in addition to these core priorities another important area of department focus is ensuring economic opportunity and fairness by reinvigorating anti-trust enforcement, combatting fraud and protecting consumers. we are aggressively enforcing the anti-trust laws by challenging anti-competitive mergers and exclusionary practices. in fy 22 we are seeking a substantial increase in funds for the division. we likewise set up a covid-19 fraud enforcement task force to bring to justice those who defraud the government of federal dollars meant for the most vulnerable among us. and some, in seven months the
justice department has accomplished a lot of important work for the american people. and there is much more to be done. thank you for the opportunity to testify this morning. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you mr. attorney general. hardly a day go goes buy in the city of chicago someone isn't killed with a firearm. the cases are heartbreaking. little boys and girls coming, standing on their porches and going to school. and on august 7th, the chicago police officer ella french and her partner officer carlos shenez were conducting a routine traffic stop in the city. person in the car opened fire. officer french age 29 was murdered and the other officer severely wounded. i never saw such an outpouring of emotions in the city. i went down to rita high school on the south side near beverly where they had the memorial service. there were hundreds, if not thousands of women and men in
uniform and just ordinary citizens standing, waiting for their turn to pay tribute to ella french. two days later we found out from the u.s. attorney's office the gun used to murder her was obtained from indiana in a straw purchase, when a person who can clear a background check buys a gun and gives it to someone who cannot clear it. what is going to be done about this? at the federal level to show we're taking this seriously. ours isn't the only city facing this challenge and we've got to act and act soon. >> mr. chairman, i am as concerned as you are. and as i'm sure all members of this committee are about the rise of violent crimes all across the country. i was in chicago as you know. almost the exact time that the officer that you speak of was killed. i have gone to meet with the
families of atf agents who was killed on duty. and i have stood on the mall candle light vigil for many other police officers killed in the line of duty. the justice department is doing everything possible with respect to violent crimes. in may of this year, i launched the violent crime initiative which brings together all of our law enforcement on the federal level to meat with, to coordinate with, to cooperate with, faith local, tribal, territorial law enforcement to fight this issue. our federal agencies, dea, atf, marshals and fbi are all deeply involved in this programs. project safe neighborhoods continue in all these ways and we're looking for large amounts of money to provide in grants to police departments. specifically with respect to the gun trafficking that you are
speaking about, as you know, chicago is one of the task force cities that we've announced for purposes of tracing gun trafficking problems. and we are doing so at finding the straw purchasers and arresting them as well. i could not agree more that that is a serious, serious problem that needs the attention of the entire country's law enforcement and the justice department is very much involved in the fight. >> i intend to be meeting with those federal law enforcement agents to talk about strike force and what they are doing and how they are cooperating with state and local law enforcement. i hope to do it maybe even this week on a private basis and then see what more i can do. i think we all have a responsibility when it comes to this issue. let me ask you about the home confinement issue. we all know on the carries act there was an.a.r.e.s. act there was an allowance for that possibility and since march last year more than 34,000
inmates have been released to home confinement, including those released under the c.a.r.e.s. act expanded authority. less than one percent of those have been returned to facilities for any rules violation. do you agree that recalling the thousands of individual who is successfully transitioned back into society would be contrary to the purpose of home confinement, which is to allow an individual, quote, a reasonable opportunity to adjust to and prepare for reentry of that prisoner in the community? >> senator, i very much agree that the home confinement program has proven successful, that it both relieved pressure on the prisons with respect to covid-19 pandemic but also gave people an opportunity to adjust themselves to their communities. and you are right that we have seen very few violations of the conditions. so i'm very strongly in favor of being able to continue this program. >> well, i'm hoping that we can get a definitive reversal of the
olc opinion that was dropped on the desk as president trump left office. and make it very clear what will happen if and when and i pray that soon, the covid-19 emergency is lifted. i'd like to move to another topic already addressed by myself and senator grassley. i invite the members of this committee. if you don't believe me. type school board violence into your computer and take a look at what's happening. it is happening all across the country. in my state as i mentioned a 30 year old man arrested and charged with battery, disorderly conduct after striking a school board member at a meeting. california, father yelling profanities at an elementary school principal. his daughter calmed him down. he later returned to confront the principal and struck a teacher in the face. ohio, a threatening letter saying we're coming after you. and the president of board of education for a nearby district reported his board received similar threats.
pennsylvania, person posted threats on social media which required the police to station outside each of that district's school. local law enforcement is investigating the person who made the threats and will maintain a police presence at schools and school board meetings for the foreseeable future. in texas, a parent physically assaulting a teacher ripping off her mask, and it goes on and on and on. these are not routine people incensed or angry. these are people who are acting out their feelings in a violent manner over and over again. the same people we see on airplanes and other places. same people, some of whom we saw on january 6th. so when you responded as quickly as you did to that school board request, did you have second thoughts after they set a follow-up letter saying they didn't agree with their original premise in the first letter? >> senator, i think all of us have seen these reports of violence and threats of violence.
that is what the justice department is concerned about. it is not only in the context of violence and threats of violence against school board members, school personnel, teachers, staff. it is a rising tide of threat os violence against judge, against prosecutors, against secretaries of state. against election administrators, against doctors, against protesters, against news reporters. that is the reason that we responded as quickly as we did when we got a letter indicating that there were threats of violence and violence with respect to school officials and school staff. that is the reason, that is what we are concerned about. that is part of our core responsibility. the letter that we -- that was subsequently sent does not change associations concern about violence or threats of violence. it alters some of the language in the letter. language in the letter that we did not rely on and is not
contained in my own memorandum. the only thing the justice department is concerned about is violence and threats of violence. >> senator grassley? >> yeah. before i ask my question i'd like permission to introduce a letter from the iowa association of school boards disagreeing with the national school boards association kb for intervention from federal agencies and law enforcement and other concerns that they have. >> without objection. >> general garland, regarding your october 4th school board memo, last week we you said the memo was for law enforcement audience despite it being on your public website as a press release. as a result of your memo local school officials and parents may not speak up in these meetings out of fear the federal government will do something to them. so that is a poisonous, chilling
effect. apparently that letter wasn't actually supported by organizations but was sent by two unauthorized staff. so last week the organization disallowed it, since you and the white house based your memo on this delegitimized letter, i assume you are going to revoke your extremely divisive memo you said was instigated because of that letter. that's a question. >> senator, the memo, referred as one case. it responds to the concerns about violence, threats of violence, other criminal conduct. that is all its about. and all it asks is for federal law enforcement to consult with, meet will local law enforcement to assess the circumstances, strategize about what may or may not be necessary and provide federal assistance if it is
necessary. >> presumably, you wrote the memo because of the letter. the letter is disallowed now. so you are going to keep your memo going anyway, right? is that what you are telling me? >> senator i have the letter from nsba that you are referring to. it apologizes for language in the letter. but it continues its concern about the safety of school officials and school staff. the language in the letter that they disallow is language was never included in my memo and never would have been. i did not adopt every concern that they had in their letter. i adopted only the concern about violence and threats of violence. and that hasn't changed. >> who in the justice department was responsible for drafting your polarizing october 4th memo? >> i signed the memo, and i worked on the memo. >> the press release accompanying your memo mentions the national security division will get involved in school board investigations. is the justice department national security division
really necessary for keeping local school boards safe if parents aren't domestic terrorists as the patriot act isn't being used, why is the national security division involved at all? this kind of looks like something that will come out of some communist country expansive definition of national security. >> the memo is only about violence and threat os violence. it makes absolutely clear in the first paragraph that spirited debate about policy matters is protecting under our constitution. that includes debate by parents criticizing the school board. that is welcome. the justice department protects that kind of debate. the only thing we're concerned about senator is violence and threats of violence against school officials, school teachers, school staff. just like we're concerned about those kind of threats against senators, members of congress,
election officials, in all of those circumstances we are trying to prevent the violence that sometimes occurs after threats. >> your memo states that the justice department is opening dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment and response. why is the department -- what is the department doing with tips it receives on this dedicated line? and what are you doing with those parents who have been reported. >> the fbi gets complaints, concerns from people around the country for all different kinds of threats and violence. that is what this is about. a place where people who feel that they have been threatened, violence, can report that. these are then assessed and they are only pursued if consistent with the first amendment. we have a true threat that violates federal statutes or that needs to be referred to a
state or local government, federal agent, local law enforcement agency for their assistance. >> on the other hand, are there criminal investigations being opened for instance where school officials are trying to assess private data of parents with opposing views on critical race theory? >> i don't know about that. but the justice department certainly does not believe in anybody's personal information should be accessed in that way. if there is a federal offense involved or state or local offense involved, then of course those should be reported. >> the non partisan justice department inspector general established andrew mccabe lied under oath to special investigators and under oath to the justice department inspector
general. and called field offices and plamd them for the very leaks that he caused. under your leadership instead of punishing him the department reinstated his retirement, expunged his records as part of the settlement. he will reportedly receive $200,000 in retirement back pay and his attorney will reportedly receive 500,000 in legal fees. so it seems to me that that's beyond incredible. general garland did you authorize the mccabe settlement and if not, who did? >> mccabe settlement was a recommendation of the career lawyers litigating that case based on their prospects of success in the case. the case did not involve issues about lying. it involved a claim that he was not given amount of time necessary to respond to
allegations and the litigators concluded they needed to settle the case because the likelihood of loss on the merits of that claim. the inspector general's report still stands. we have not questions in any way the inspector general's findings. the reference with respect to false statements was made to the justice department in the previous administration and declined in the previous administration. the only issue here was an assessment of litigation merits. >> short follow up. do you agree with the taxpayer, since you didn't, somebody else authorized it, do you agree with the taxpayer picking up a multiple dollar pill for someone that lied under oath to government officials? >> i think the assessment made by the litigators was that the bill to the taxpayers would be higher if we didn't resolve the matter as it was resolved. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> senator leahy. >> thank you mr. chairman. attorney general garland, good to see you and thank you for
being here. and i'm sure the members of the committee are eager to discuss with you what the justice department is doing, what could be done better. i'll just say this, after four tumultuous years and with the former president viewed the justice department as his personal law firm, living up to the most fundamental principle in our american justice system, that no one, nobody, is above the law. that's really what i learned about the justice department when i was in law school, that the experience i had had with it for years as a prosecutor and as a litigator. so i was dismayed, seeing what happened in the past four years, and i thank you, attorney general, for bringing the department back from the brink.
there's still a lot to be done. but i think americans should take comfort that the rule of law is again being enforced. now, it's hard to overstate how urgently we must act to protect americans' constitutional right to vote. and there is reason for alarm. many states are rapidly moving to restrict access to the ballot for tens of thousands of americans from all walks of life. in the wake of shelby county and this year's brnovich decision, this congress' tools to protect the right to vote is greatly diminished. how is congressional inaction in response to these supreme court decisions limiting the ability of the department to probate americans' constitutional right to vote? >> thank you for that question, senator.
the right to vote is central, as i've said many times, an essential pillar that allows all other rights to proceed from it. the justice department was established in part to protect the rights guaranteed under the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment to vote. the voting rights act gave us further authorities in that respect. we are doing, as you say, everything we can. we have doubled the size of the voting rights section. we've brought a section 2 case. but there are limitations on our authority that the supreme court has imposed, one of which is the elimination of section 5 of the voting rights act which provided an opportunity to do preclearance reviews so we did not have to review each matter on a one by one basis. and that was shelby county, as
you pointed out. recently in the brnovich case, a narrowing of what we recorded as the meaning of section 2 and our authorities under section 2. both of those could be fixed by this congress and if they were, it would give us considerably greater opportunity and ability to ensure the sacred right to vote. >> didn't the supreme court make it very clear that we could fix that if the congress wanted to? >> that's correct, in the opinions they indicated these were matters that could be fixed by the congress. >> hopefully they will, because i think it's very important that all americans be protected in their right to vote. in the state of vermont we take that very seriously. now, we have the bipartisan fix to stay in the crime victims fund act of 2021. it's been signed into law. a major piece of this legislation requires fund
collected to be deferred and nonprosecution agreements be deposited into the criminal victims' fund which had been projected to reach a ten-year low. since this bill has become law, have any funds from deferred or nonprosecution agreements been deposited into the crime victims fund, and if not, why not? >> senator, the fix was something we sought and we're grateful for your support and for your introduction of it. we acted immediately after it was passed and something like north of $200 million has already been deposited in the fund thanks to that act. we now project that the funds should be liquid all the way through the end of 2022. >> thank you. and we can review it after that,
because i think you and i would both agree we want to have long term sustainability in this fund. >> absolutely. >> let's work together on that. now, there's been some discussion here and elsewhere about the larry nasser investigation. the chairman had the very impress gymnasts who testified before us, it was heart-wrenching listening to them. they talked about how they were seeking accountability. i could not help but think how brave they were to testify. the justice department initially declined to bring charges against the disgraced fbi agents involved in the investigation. i was concerned, and i said at the time that i've seen many people prosecuted for lying to
fbi agents. here you had two fbi agents who lied to fbi agents. one was fired, the other resigned. no prosecutions. is the department now reviewing that decision not to prosecute? and do you have any update with regard to that review? >> senator, i think "heart-wrenching" is not even strong enough as a description of what happened to those gymnasts and to the testimony they gave. i believe deputy attorney general monaco said at her hearing that we are reviewing this matter. new evidence has come to light, and that is cause for review of the matters you're discussing. >> i hope you will, because as i said, i've seen so many prosecutions of somebody for lying to a fbi agent and i
understand that. when an fbi agent lies to a fbi agent, they should also face the same that anybody else does. thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator leahy. >> mr. chairman, can i put something in the record from 17 attorneys general expressing their disagreement with the department's october 4th memorandum and ask that that memorandum be withdrawn? >> without objection. senator graham. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. attorney general, are you aware of the caravan, about 3,000 people, approaching the state of texas? >> i have read about it in the news media, yes. >> i didn't know -- i think it's south of mexico city. >> yes, they're apparently headed toward texas. so what would you tell these people? >> i would tell them not to come. but the job of the justice department has to do with
prosecution and with the way in which the asylum and removal claims are adjudicated. the principal -- >> right. so you would tell them not to come? >> it depends on why they're coming. >> if they're coming to make asylum claims, what would you tell them? >> well, the department of homeland security is the animals responsible for border control. >> i get that. but you're the attorney general of the united states. do you think our asylum laws are being abused? >> asylum laws are statutes passed by the congress. >> yeah. do you think they're being abused? >> i think this is -- that question is one that has to be evaluated on a one by one basis, in each -- >> when is the last time you've been to the border? >> like a week ago, maybe ten days ago. >> did they tell you anything about asylum claims being made by people that are mostly economic claims, not a felon
claim? did they mention to you? >> i think it's fair -- i don't recall exactly. i think it's fair -- >> do you recall being told by border patrol that the big magnet, the pull factor, is the way the catch and release program around asylum, that didn't stick out to you? >> that was not a discussion that i had when i was -- >> who did you talk to? >> i was at the border at nogales, spoke to -- >> yeah, i was there about six months ago. did they never mention to you the pull factors of illegal immigration? >> this was a review of what they were doing at the border with respect to -- >> it's a simple question. they never mentioned to you that they've got a problem with being overrun by asylum seekers? >> i know from reading the news media that border patrol agents feel that way.
>> i mean, it's not about reading the paper. you were there talking to them. >> i don't want to tell you about a conversation that i'm -- >> i'm stunned that that didn't -- that you can't recall that. so let's talk about afghanistan. the secretary, undersecretary for defense policy said, while isis-k poses more of a short term external threat, al qaeda could regain ability to launch attacks outside of afghanistan within a year or two. do you agree with that? >> i agree that al qaeda has always presented and continues to present a persistent threat to the united states homeland. >> well, no, the question is what's changed? you say "always." has any recent event changed the likelihood of an attack? >> i don't know -- >> you don't know that we
withdrew from afghanistan? >> i know we withdrew. i don't know whether the withdrawal will increase the risk from al qaeda or not. i do know -- >> so you're the attorney general of the united states. secretary ray testified openly, twice, that due to the lack of ability to have eyes and ears on the ground, and the unreliability of the taliban, that an attack on the united states within six months is far more likely after withdrawal? you're not aware that he said that? >> the job of the justice department and of the fbi is to protect against those kind of attacks in the homeland. >> does it make sense that that would be the dynamic of the withdrawal? do you trust the taliban to police al qaeda and isis on our behalf? >> i do not trust the -- >> as a matter of fact they have openly told us they will not work with us regarding containing the al qaeda/isis threat, are you aware of that? >> i think there's been
inconsistent statements -- >> no, they just literally said that. >> i think there have been inconsistent statements. but their statements are not anything we can rely on. >> well, when they tell you to your face we're not going to help you, do you think they're kidding? do you think they really help us but they're just telling -- >> i think isis-k, al qaeda, associated forces, are and continue to be -- >> we're talking about the taliban. the taliban has told the united states they will not work with our counterterrorism forces when it comes to al qaeda or isis. what response should we have regarding the taliban when they say that? >> i think we have a number of different tools available -- >> like what? >> we have economic sanctions, they need money from the united states for humanitarian and other reasons. this is -- >> so the leverage over the taliban is whether or not we'll give them money? >> senator, the job of the justice department is
protecting -- using the fbi and the national security agency -- >> the national security division is part of our counterterrorism operation, right? >> it is one -- >> has anybody from the national security division briefed you about the increased likelihood of attack emanating from afghanistan after our withdrawal? >> every day i'm briefed by the fbi -- >> no, my question is specific. has anybody briefed you about the increased likelihood of an attack emanating from afghanistan by isis or al qaeda because of our complete withdrawal? >> we are worried about the risk of attack by -- >> i -- it's one thing to be worried. has anybody told you the likelihood of an attack is greater because of our withdrawal? >> there are different views about the degrees of likelihood. that doesn't change our posture. >> it doesn't change your posture if you go from a
possibility of being attacked to a six-month to a year time window of being attacked. >> we have asked for substantial additional funds for our counterterrorism operations and -- >> is that in light of the withdrawal from afghanistan? >> in light of a lot of changing circumstances in the world with respect to -- >> let me just put a fine point on this. secretary reyes told the world that isis and al qaeda in afghanistan present a threat to our homeland. the taliban has told us they're not going to help us when it comes to policing these groups. the department of defense has said we're at six months to a year away from a possible attack by isis and al qaeda. and it just seems to me there's not a sense of urgency about this. >> there is a sense of urgency. the -- >> what have you done specifically -- i'll end with this -- specifically what have
you done since our withdrawal in afghanistan to deal with this new threat? >> we have strengthened and increased the efforts of our joint terrorism task forces. i have met -- >> literally what have you done? just put it in writing, just wright down what you've done. >> i'll be happy to have our assess what -- >> thank you. >> thank you, senator graham. senator whitehouse. >> thank you, chairman. welcome, attorney general garland. two topics. the first is executive privilege. we've been through a rather bleak period with regard to executive privilege. i think you would call it the anything goes period in which any assertion of executive privilege, no matter how fanciful or preposterous, was essentially allowed to stand in very significant departure from
the law that has been out there for years regarding executive privilege. and at the same time, that the substance of executive privilege was being expanded beyond recognition. the procedure for evaluating executive procedure determination was completely ignored. and this is a procedure that was established by president reagan's white house. so we now have a situation in which there is very substantial destruction and disarray in the area of executive privilege determinations. and as you know, under the reagan memo, the department of justice had a role kind of as an arbiter, to be the honest broker between whatever executive agency was objecting and whatever congressional committee was pursuing information. that role completely fell apart
in the last administration. and it needs to be rebuilt in some predictable fashion. the role of the courts has become highly problematic, because delay is very often dispositive in these matters, and the courts are now a haven for delay with respect to executive privilege determinations. so i think we need to look at that as well. senator kennedy and i had a hearing on this executive privilege problem in our courts subcommittee. the department of justice was not represented at that hearing. but i would like to ask you to detail somebody from the department of justice to talk to senator kennedy and me about this executive privilege problem and work with us on trying to figure out a solution, making the role of the department of
justice more clear and transport and perhaps embodying it in rule or regulation or law and trying to figure out how to accelerate at the courts a way to get quicker decisions. because otherwise, as i said, delay is just dispositive and we lose not because we're wrong but because we're delayed. would you have somebody be our point of contact on that, please? when i say detailed, i don't know on our payroll, just a point of contact. >> yes, of course. >> great, thank you. next, i've been pursuing the question of the department's investigation into january 6th since pretty early days starting with a letter in january 8 that asked about the resources that were dealing deployed into this investigation and whether a task force, a prosecution task force was being set up and so forth. then another letter, february 24, with regard to domestic extremist violence groups'
potential role. we've learned a little bit more now, and we've learned there was a lot of money sloshing around in the background behind the january 6th rally and behind the raid, the riot in the capitol. for instance, we know that the bradley foundation, which is a big funder, gave money to turning point usa and to public interest legal foundation, and it gets even more interesting because turning point usa has a twin called turning point action,501(c)(3) combo, at the same time the public interest legal foundation had as its director mr. eastman who was cranking out his fanciful memo
for president trump, how to overturn the election. the judicial crisis network is the same thing from a corporate at some point as the honest elections, bringing a fanciful case in pennsylvania regarding network fraught. the judicial crisis network was also working to make robocalls to help people come to the riot. i don't know what's going on behind all that but i'm hoping the due diligence of the fbi is being deployed not just to the characters who trespassed in the capitol that day and who engaged in violent acts but that you're taking the look you would properly take at any case involving players behind the scenes, funders of the enterprise, and so forth, in this matter as well. and there has been no decision to say we're limiting this case just to the people in the building that day, we're not going to take a serious look at anybody behind it.
>> senator, i'm very limited as to what i can say. >> i understand that. >> we have a criminal investigation going forward. >> please tell me it has not been constrained only to people in the capitol. >> the investigation is being conducted by the prosecutors in the u.s. attorneys office and by the fbi field office. we have not constrained them in any way. >> great. and the old doctrine of follow the money, which is a well-established principle of prosecution, is alive and well? >> it's fair to say that all investigative techniques of which you're familiar, and some maybe that you're not familiar with because they postdate your time, are all being pursued in this matter. >> thank you. thank you, chairman. >> thank you very much. senator cornyn. >> thank you. good morning, mr. attorney general. on september 29, 2021, as you know, the national school board
association wrote a letter to the president asking him to address the disruptions, confrontations that we've seen at local school boards across the country. parents expressing their concerns about not only the curriculum but also just generally the education of their children in public schools. would you agree that parents have a fundamental right to be involved in their children's education? >> absolutely. it's the job of parents to be involved. and this is the role of the first amendment, to protect their ability to be involved. that's why my memo begins by saying that we respect the right to spirited debate about curriculum, about school policies, about anything like that. >> so it's not just -- it's not just a good idea. it's actually protected by the constitution of the united states, would you agree? >> absolutely.
>> on october 4, a few days later, less than a week later after the national school board association wrote this letter, the justice department issued the memo that's already been discussed. why did this rise to the level of a federal concern as opposed to being addressed at the local and state level? >> this arises out of repeated reports of violence and threats of violence, not only with respect to school boards and school officials and teachers but, as i mentioned earlier, also with respect to secretaries of state and election administrators, judges, prosecutors, senators, members of congress. the justice department has two roles here. we assist state and local law enforcement in all ways, and we
enforce federal laws which prohibit threats of violence by telephone, by email -- >> but you as a long time federal judge with a distinguished legal career, you understand that not every crime, assuming it is a crime, is a federal crime, correct? >> absolutely. >> and some of these things, unless there's some nexus to interstate commerce or the federal government, they're largely within the purview of the state and local law enforcement authorities, correct? >> i think you put that correctly. we have authority with respect to the mail, with respect to the internet, with respect -- >> right. let me give you an example. if somebody says to the school board member, if you do that i'm going to meet you outside and punch you in the nose, is that a federal offense? >> that's not a federal offense. >> i agree. there is nothing in this memo
suggesting that it is. >> why would you cite the appropriate entities in the department of justice to investigate and perhaps prosecute these offenses? >> so my memo itself doesn't mention the national security division. it is mentioned in another memo released by the department. the national security division like all the other law enforcement components cooperates with and is involved in discussions about how to go forward on different kinds of matters. they were involved, for example, in the election threats. they were involved in the threats against judges and prosecutors. they were involved in the hate crimes threats cases. it's a natural part of our internal analysis. >> let me ask you, did you see the national school board association letter to president biden before you issued your memorandum on october 4? >> yes, i did.
that was part of the reason. their expression at the beginning of that memorandum of -- >> they raised some of the concerns that you voiced here today, correct? >> they raised some of them. they raised others that i don't agree with and were not included in my memo. >> well, you're aware that on october 22, the national school board association apologized for its letter. you're aware that, aren't you, sir? >> i am, but -- >> and it went on to say we regret and apologize for the letter, there was no justification for some of the language in the letter. they acknowledged that the voices of parents should be and must continue to be heard and when it comes to decisions about their children's education, health, and safety. you did not apologize for your memorandum of october 4 even though the national school board association did. why didn't you rescind that
memorandum and apologize for the memorandum? >> the core responsibility of the justice department, as i said in my opening, is protecting americans from violence and threats of violence. >> but you just said not every act of violence is a federal crime, correct? >> right, and not every bit of street crime and the kind of violence that we've been talking about earlier today is also a federal crime. but we assist state and locals to help them in their investigations of these kind of matters. every single day, in non-federal matters, we are partners with our state and local partners. >> mr. attorney general, you've acknowledged that parents have a right, a constitutional right to be heard on the education of their children in public schools. can you imagine the sort of intimidation, the sort of
bullying impact that a memorandum from the department of justice would have and how that would chill the willingness of parents to exercise their rights under threat of federal prosecution? did you consider the chilling impact your memorandum would have on parents exercising their constitutional rights? >> the only thing this memorandum is about is violence and threats of violence. and it opens with a statement -- >> but my question is did you consider the chilling effect this would have on parents' constitutional rights. >> to say that the justice department is against violence and threats of violence -- >> did you consider the chilling effect your memorandum might have on parents exercising their constitutional rights? i think you can answer that yes or no. >> what i considered, i wanted the memorandum to assure people that we recognize the rights of spirited debate and -- >> mr. attorney general, you're
a very intelligent and accomplished lawyer and judge. you can answer the question, did you consider -- >> i do not -- >> -- the chilling effect that this sort of threat of federal prosecution would have on parents' exercise of their constitutional rights to be involved in their children's education? >> i don't believe it's reasonable to read this memorandum as chilling anyone's rights. it's about threats of violence. and it expressively recognizes the constitutional right to make arguments about your children's education. >> senators are going back and forth for votes during this time. we're going to have to try to keep to -- >> let the record reflect the attorney general refused to answer the question. >> let the record reflect that the senator from texas was allowed to go over his allotted time. senator klobuchar. >> thank you very much. just to confirm something, mr. attorney general, can you confirm to this committee, as you did earlier before the house judiciary committee, that the purpose of the memo that you
were just discussing with senator cornyn is to have meetings to discuss whether there's a problem, to discuss strategies, to discuss whether local law enforcement needs assistance or doesn't need assistance? was that the purpose of it? >> yes, thank you for making that point, senator. i say that in the memo, that the purpose of the memo is to convene meetings with federal, state, and local, tribal leaders, and to facilitate the discussions of strategies for addressing threats, to assess the question and open the lines of communication about those threats. >> thank you. i want to move to some other threats. and that is a hearing that actually senator blount and i had yesterday. it was a bipartisan hearing. we both called witnesses. it was before the rules committee. it was with both republican and democratic election officials. the attorney general of arizona,
a republican local official in philadelphia. and they told stories that horrified senators on both sides of the aisle. the philadelphia election official commissioner, local election official, had been sent letters basically saying that they were going to kill him and his three kids, naming the kids, as well as putting his house and his address out there. katie hobbs, the attorney general of arizona, received a voicemail saying "i am a hunter and i think you should be hunted, you will never be safe in arizona again." could you talk about what's going on with threats against election workers? and by the way, we had the republican secretary of state from kentucky talked about the fact that it has been difficult, they are losing in many jurisdictions across the
country, they don't have enough election workers because people are afraid. and we don't have to discuss at length where these threats are coming from. i just want to have election officials, i want to have a functioning democracy. can you provide an update on the election threats task force? and talk about the kind of threats we're seeing to election officials. >> yes, senator. very much like the circumstances with respect to the school boards, the national school board association wrote us a letter advising of threats of violence and violence. earlier this year, we received communications from the national association of secretaries of state, national association of election administrators, raising concerns about threats of violence and violence in that area. soon thereafter, i met virtually, unfortunately, because of the pandemic, with a
large number of election administrators and secretaries of state where they recounted the kind of threats that you're talking about. and that led us to establish a task force, which again coordinated efforts between the federal law enforcement agencies, u.s. attorneys' offices and state and local law enforcement across the country. it is the case that many of those kind of threats can be handled by state and local law enforcement and should be, where they're capable of doing that. the federal government has an important role, as you say, in protecting our democracy and protecting its threats against public officials. so that is an ongoing task force evaluating threats in that particular area. >> thank you. thank you. to another area, the chair of the competition policy and antitrust subcommittee, i've urged the justice department to
make antitrust enforcement the top priority. we recently have a nominations hearing for jonathan cantor, that seems to be moving ahead. and i support the division's enforcement efforts, including i know they're preparing for 18 trials which is the most in decades. and could you talk about the antitrust budgets? senator grassley and i have passed a bill with the support of member of this committee to add some additional resources to the antitrust divisions, we've had numerous informative hearings about issues related to antitrust. can you talk about what's happening there? >> the justice department is very much committed, as i said it's a key focus of our attention. and i trust enforcement because it's essential for consumer wellbeing and the wellbeing of our citizens. we have aggressively moved in this area.
we've already stopped a merger of two of the top international insurance brokers. we have, as you say, continued -- we are in the middle of trials, criminal trials with respect to price fixing and market allocation. we have the ongoing matter involving exclusionary conduct in the google case. we are looking, we have investigations and attention in many areas from health care to agriculture to allocations within labor markets. >> could i just ask you, you talked about the criminal cases, could giving the antitrust agencies authority to seek substantial civil fines for sherman act violations help enforcers deter anticompetitive conduct? >> i'm sorry. >> would civil fines, would that be helpful. >> yes. having the ability to seek civil fines as well would be helpful. of course if we succeed in the criminal case, the follow-on civil cases become quite easy.
as i know from my own antitrust practice. but we are down in the number of attorneys in the antitrust division, considerably. and we need an expansion. that's why we've asked for a 9% increase, total increase of $201 million in our fy '22 budget. the number of mergers has sky rocketed and the number of people we have evaluating those mergers has decreased. we need help in that regard. >> thank you. and i appreciate the bipartisan work this committee has done on that front. the department announced a new policy that restricts the use of compulsory process to obtain information from members of the news media acting within the scope of news gathering activities. as a part of that announcement
you asked the deputy attorney general to undertake a review process to further explain, develop, and codify the policy. can you provide an update on the steps the deputy attorney general has taken to ensure that the new policy is implemented? >> yes. so issuing a memo is good, and it controls the justice department now. the next step, though, is to have a regulation which will give us some greater permanent unanimous. the next step after that would be legislation which the justice department supports. what the deputy attorney general is doing now is trying to formulate the general outlines of my memorandum into a regulation which can replace the current pretty detailed regulations that we have. that's what he's involved in right now. >> excellent. thank you very much. >> mr. attorney general, we have promised you a five-minute break at 11:30. we can either take it right now or i can have senator lee and coons ask. up to you. >> i'm happy to go ahead.
>> let's proceed. senator lee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, attorney general garland, for being here. mr. attorney general, i have been concerned in recent weeks by some steps that have been taken by the administration, steps that i fear represent a significant amount of overreach. seven weeks ago, you had president biden giving a speech in which he promised to enlist the assistance of corporate america, all of corporate america, with more than 99 employees in firing people who don't get vaccinated. i'm vaccinated, i've encouraged everyone close to me to get vaccinated. but i don't think it's the role of the federal government to do that, threatening to cripple employers by imposing absolutely punishing fines on them and they're now doing the dirty work even before this act of overreach has been reduced to an order that could be litigated,
litigation that i believe would end the same way youngstown versus sawyer ended. and now, you know, about a month after that, we had your october 4 memorandum in which you direct the department of justice and the fbi to intervene in what as far as i can tell is a state and local issue, that is, a series of issues involving how parents advocate for their children with their local school boards. and i also believe that doing that, doing that through the department of justice, doing it in the way that you did it, directing the assistance, enlisting the help of all 94 u.s. attorneys, therefore every satellite office of the department of justice nationwide, in a way that i think has a natural tendency to chill free speech in this area. i question seriously the role of the federal government in
protecting people at local school board meetings from their neighbors. it is, after all, most of the time, state law, not federal, that's at play when there is criminal activity. federal crimes are a subset of crimes generally. so you've referenced several times today that your letter covered only violence and threats of violence and yet the very opening line of your memo says "in recent months there's been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, school board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools." you refer to this over and over again. it's a pretty broad statement. i believe this has a tendency to chill free speech. free speech that is exercised at the state and local level
typically by neighbors, by parents to local school boards. in hindsight, would you agree that a natural consequence of your memo could be chilling free speech, protected speech by parents protesting local school board policies? >> senator, the memo is aimed only at violence and the threats of violence. it states on its face that vigorous debate is protected. that is what this is about. that is all this is about. >> what about harassment and intimidation? are those federal crimes? >> they are federal crimes. >> are -- are you referring to like witness tampering, intimidation, under 18 usc 12? >> 18 usc 2265-a, which makes it a crime to intend to injure, harass, or intimidate, placing a person in fear of bodily injury through communications over the internet.
likewise, 223-a, making telephone calls with intention to harass. now, i want to be clear, though, that those only are within -- i take your point, those are only within what is permitted by the first amendment. the supreme court has been clear about that too. in the virginia versus black case, the court explained when intimidation and not protected by the constitution. and that is when it is made with the intent to place the victim in fear of bodily harm or death. so that's what we're concerned about here. >> one of the things that concerns me is, we've got 17 attorneys general, led by attorney general of nevada and joined by a total of 17 attorneys general, including sean reyes, the fantastic attorney general of the state of utah. they've weighed in and said there is not a barrage of accusations, no unusual flood of accusations of threats of violence against school board
members, nothing unusual, nothing that they can't handle at the state and local level. normally things like this against state and local officials involving state and local government entities like school boards are not federal. now, in response to a series of questions before the house judiciary committee, including some questions asked by congressman jim jordan from ohio, you were asked your factual predicate for your october 4 memorandum and for your conclusions in this regard. you answered before that committee that your factual predicate for that was the october 22 memorandum from the national school board association. the national school board association, it has been mentioned, has withdrawn that memorandum. given that it's rescinded its memo saying there was no justification for some of the
language they used in that letter, will you rescind your memo? >> senator, to the best of my recollection, i said the impetus for my memorandum was that letter and also reports of this kind of activity. >> what reports? >> i said, again, at the time, that they were news reports that had been published. and i think some of the other senators here have described some of those news reports. and we have certainly seen subsequently more news reports and more statements by board members of threats to kill them. >> congressman chip roy of texas said -- raised in that same hearing the issue of a 14-year-old girl in a school bathroom being sexually assaulted in loudoun county. and you indicated in response to that that you weren't aware of that. and in the six days before you testified before the house
judiciary committee, have you become familiar with the publicly reported details of that case? >> yes, i have read about the case, yes. >> if you are unfamiliar with the supposed instances of threats of violence and intimidation that the national school board decided in the letter, how did you determine that intervention by the fbi and doj was necessary? >> to meet with local law enforcement, that's what we've asked for, to meet, assess the situation, see what their needs are, strategize, and to open lines of communication. i'm hopeful many areas of local law enforcement will be well able to hand this on their own. this is what the justice department every day. we consult with our local and state partners to see whether assistance is necessary. and of course we continue to have our own federal
responsibilities with respect to communications by the internet and on social media, on telephone, through the -- through the mail. but i'm hopeful that we will not be needed in this area, that our state and local partners will be able to handle these threats. >> my time has expired. i just want to state for the record as i close that my staff and i went through every news source raised by the national school board association. no explicit death threat. and i reiterate my concern that not every -- not every outburst or expression of concern by neighbors among neighbors at a local school board meeting warrants a federal investigation. it certainly doesn't warrant the involvement of 94 u.s. attorneys in a way that threatens, intimidates, and tends inevitably to chill first
amendment activity. >> senator coons. >> just one second. >> one more request for introduction of a letter from another attorney general on rescinding the memorandum, this one from ohio, attorney general yost. >> without objection. senator coons. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, attorney general garland. as you know, oversight of the executive branch is an important part of the duties of this body. i want to commend the chair and ranking for prioritizing this and you for your time here. while at times challenging, this process is key to fulfilling our constitutional responsibilities. and we know that we have substantial work to do to restore confidence in our democratic institutions. and i think your engagement here today is a key part of that. so thank you for your diligent and thorough answers to the questions being presented today. let me just start with a question about some characterizations that are being made here and in other settings about the trajectory of the
biden administration in terms of responding to violent crimes. some are asserting that the department of justice is focused on defunding the police or hamstringing or undermining law enforcement. instead, the president requested an additional $388 million for the cops hiring program, an increase of $200 million over the previous year. the cjs request just posted includes money for community crime presentation programs. the biden administration ensured that $350 billion previously available grants under the c.a.r.e.s. act could be used to hire more law enforcement personnel at the state and local level even beyond pre-pandemic levels. could you just speak briefly to how these different programs and initiatives are in fact designed to prevent violent crime, designed to support our state and local partners, and how
these investments could work to assist, support, and protect law enforcement in conducting their obligations and duties in our communities in an appropriate way? >> yes, senator. i would just add one more pile of requests there, which was for over $500 million for the burden jag grants which go to state and local law enforcement. yes, we are very concerned about violent crime. this is an area which is primarily -- again, primarily the responsibility of state and local law enforcement. but nonetheless, has bipartisan support, has had this since the 1990s, for federal government involvement to help prevent. we are as a consequence, we have historically since then, accelerating and now latched up with our state and local partners and task forces and
joint organizations, in every city, in every community in the united states to help our local law enforcement protect their communities against violence. we also have federal, obviously, laws which help us in this regard. and these include money that we've requested for dea, for atf, for the fbi, for the marshals service, all increases to allow us to support these circumstances. >> and as we've discussed before, my hometown is one where i was responsible for local law enforcement when i was an elected county official. we appreciate these additional investments and the partnership of federal law enforcement and think it's upon work to prevent violent crime all over this country. i want to turn to immigration. some of my colleagues seem to think anything we do to help migrants will necessarily make the border less secure and more chaotic. i disagree, i think it is
possible for us to reduce multiyear court backlogs, improve access to counsel, improve the humanitarian aspects of handling migrants and build a system that is orderly, consistent with the rule of law, more humane and more fair. i would love to understand how we in congress can help you through legislation, as well as through funding, to reduce immigration court backlogs, improve access to counsel, improve the process, and also contribute to securing our southern border. do you have thoughts you care to share briefly or would you be willing to share those with us in writing? >> i'll be happy to have the department get back to you in writing. but i will say we have requested additional funds so that we can put an additional 600 personnel including 100 immigration judges into our executive office of immigration review so that we can do the kind of acceleration that you're talking about. we've made a number of internal
changes with respect to the way cases are handled in order to accelerate that. but we do need more money in that respect, and i've made that plea already to the appropriations committee. but i would be happy to get back to you with more detail. >> and just superficially, is it your understanding that when applicants for asylum have legal counseling, the odds that they return for their final disposition and the odds they will have a fair and appropriate process go up? >> i certainly think the odds that they have a fair and appropriate process go up. it seems quite obvious that their chances of returning go up, but i don't have statistics about that. >> back in december of 2019, doj antitrust issued a statement jointly with nist and the department of customers and the u.s. department of patent and
trademark office recognizing that global efforts around critical communications technologies and others, that we want to play a vital role in bringing the benefits of innovation to americans, also critical to competition with china and other countries. i'm hearing doj has imminent plans to ban that or reverse it and have one that does not embrace all remedies. given that there are nominees in process likely now for both aag for antitrust and now for patent and trademark office, would you commit to waiting until there are senate confirmed leaders in these positions before a change in policy? >> i would love to have senate confirmed leadership in the antitrust division and anything you can do to make that go
swifter would be greatly appreciated. i don't have to say, this is a bit outside the area of my own expertise. i assume any such thing would have to come through me before it would be announced. nothing like that has come to my office yet. >> i welcome the opportunity to stay in communication. my last quick question relates to the office for access to justice, which has in the past, under a previous administration, been a leader in debtors' prisons and the criminalzation of poverty. tomorrow there will be a vote on a bipartisan bill that will make progress on the ways in which a decades-old practice of stripping people of their driver's licenses for unpaid court-related fees and fines, which advances the criminalization of poverty, will
be reversed. can you speak about your view about the importance of continued progress in criminal justice reform? >> yes, senator. equal justice under law, has described in the pediment above the supreme court, is a core principle of democracy. but you can't have equal justice under law if you don't have access to justice. i've been concerned about getting access to attorneys so that lawyers -- so that people who need help with their individual circumstances can have assistance. the president issued an executive order on this. we have -- and there is a report, i'm not positive whether it's public, but i believe it is, with respect to reinvigorating the roundtable, whose job it is to address this
question, of which i believe i'm a co-chair. i asked for a review within the department and we have determined that we should stand up once again an independent, within the department, office of access to justice. we have enough money to do that in the very short term. but our -- not to talk too much about requests for money, but our fy '22 budget request does ask for a significant appropriation so we can stand up a staff and get that office going. >> great. thank you, mr. attorney general. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator coons. the committee is going to stand in recess for five minutes. when we return, senator cotton is up if he is here. if not, senator kennedy.
this committee will resume. senator cotton is recognized. >> an may 11th, tony fauci testified that they don't have wuhan function in biology. they admitted they had funded research in the wuhan institute of biology. are you investigating tony fauci for lying to congress? >> there's a long-time rule in the justice department not to discuss pending investigations, potential investigation. >> that's fine. do you believe tony fauci was
truthful when he said his industry had never funded research? let's turn to your outrageous memo. did you consult with senior leadership at the fbi? >> did anyone express any doubts or hesitation to issue that memo? >> no one expressed that to me, no. >> no one? >> no. >> a lot of fbi officials have contacted my office and said that they oppose this decision. >> i doubt any of them spoke to me about it. because i didn't speak to anyone. >> all right. judge, you repeatedly dissembled
this morning about the directive. for example, the national security division. they asked why you would stick on pairing. cornyn asked you the same thing. you said it was in another memorandum. it was in a press release from your office. right here in front of me, for immediate release. what on earth is the national security division have to do with parents expressing disagreement at schoolboards? >> nothing in this memorandum or any memorandum is about parents expressing disagreements with their school boards. the memorandum makes clear that parents are entitled and protected by the first amendment. we don't. the justice department is not
interested in that question at all. >> these are people supposed to be chasing jihadist and chinese spies. what does it have to do with parents at school boards? >> it's a not, again, about parents at schoolboards. it's about threats of violence. >> threats, violence and threats of violence. we've heard it a dozen times this morning. the very first line in your october 4th memorandum refers to harassment and intimidation. why do you continue to talk about violence, when your memo talks about harassment and intimidation? >> i said it involves other kinds of criminal conduct and i explained to senator lee that the statutory definitions of the terms and the constitutional definitions of the terms involve threats of violence. >> section 223.
that includes annoying, annoying. are you going to post, if they annoy a school board member? >> no. and 2261 a -- >> i wasn't talking about 2261 a. you also mentioned 22 a, that's what i mentioned. and you told senator klobuchar this was about meetings in coordination. i'll have in my hand, a letter from one of your u.s. attorneys to all the accounty attorneys, sheriffs, school board association in which he talks about federal investigation and proskugds. not about a meeting.
about federal investigation of prosecution. did you direct your u.s. attorneys to issue such a letter? >> i have not seen that letter. >> it's got three pages. of spreadsheets about all the federal crimes a parent can be charged with, including the one you sielted. i'll read it again. >> we've all read your memorandum and heard you dissemble about your memorandum. i have one of your attorneys sending out a letter in detail. the federal statute. you talked a lot about intimidation. have you issued a memorandum like your october 4th memorandum last summer? >> summer of 2020? in the summer of 2020?
>> a lot of crimes were committed. >> and they were under the previous administration. >> judge, what about this? it's no doubt your school boards aren't within jurisdiction. you keep saying senators. have you started an investigation into the harassment of senator kirsten sinema in a bathroom because she won't go along with the democratic agenda? being harassed in a bathroom. >> you've sited the basis for that directive, the national school board association's letter, september 29th. was that directive being prepared before september 29th? before the school board association letter was issue snd >> i don't think so. >> i think that answers the question. >> i answered that before.
>> you keep siting news reporlgts. one you presumably mean is from louden county, virginia. >> that is what what i was talking about. whose 15-year-old daughter was raped. she was raped in a bathroom by a boy wearing girl's clothes. and the louden county school board covered it up because it would have interfered with their transgender policy. and that man, scott smith, because he went to the schoolboard and tried to defend his daughter's rights was condemned internationally. do you apologize to scott smith and his 15-year-old daughter, judge? >> anyone whose child was raped is a most horrific crime i can imagine and is protected by the first amendment to protest to their school board about this.
>> but he was sited by -- >> that's a private -- >> we know that's the basis -- >> no, that's wrong. >> your testimony, your directive. you should resign. >> senator garland, you want to complete your answer? >> i wasn't sure there was a question there. but let me be clear, news reports were not the news reports in that letter. there were other news reports that everybody here has heard about. subsequent reports everybody has heard about. and i wish senators were concerned about this. they would quote my work. this memorandum is not about parents being able to object in their school board. they are protected by the first amendment, as long as there are no threats of violence, they are completely protected.
so, parents can object about curriculum, about the treatment of their children, about school policies, all that is 100% protected by the first amendment and there is nothing in this memorandum contrary to that. we are only trying to prevent violence against school officials. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to insert into the record the "washington post" article by salvador rizzo that is entitled the false gop claim that the justice department at school board meetings. i'd liking to insert this article into the record. >> without objection. >> it's good to see you, mr. attorney general. i will quote from the first sentence of your memo. in recent months there has been a disturbing fight and harassment and intimidation and
threat of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools. this is a fact. we have all seen the news coverage of people actually threatening to hurt school board members before going about their jobs. that is a fact. so, when i listen to my republican colleagues going on about the intent of this memo, i'm reminded they often take the position to not believe that we should not believe what we see with our own eyes. it's like characterizing the january 6th insurrection as a bunch of tourists visiting the capitol. give me a break. we now see the supreme court recognize the support the position of the most conservative causes. we see a rush to the supreme court on gun right said, lgbtq
rights, abortion rights, union rights, voting rights. thank you, mr. attorney general, for making the protection of our civil rights one of the department's core priorities. i want to turn to the need to combat hate crimes. it's been five months since president biden signed the covid hate crimes action into lieu. i sent a letter asking about the implementation of the act and its efforts to reduce hate crimes and incidents. yet another thing that we have all seen with our own eyes, the rise in hate crimes during this period of the pandemic. mr. attorney general, would you briefly describe the actions you and the department have taken this far to implement the covid-19 hate crimes act. >> thank you, senator. before the act, i issued a memorandum within the department to assess how we were dealing with hate crimes and to better organize the manner in which we were doing that. and then we're grateful that the
congress passed the covid-19 hate crimes act. since then, i issued a scent memorandum based on what the assistant and deputy attorney general had provided under that act. and i believe we have implemented everything required of us in the act. that doesn't mean we solve hate in america. but we have done the things the statute has asked us to do. we have appointed a coordinator for all hate crimes matters. and i've appointed an expediter in the civil rights division, criminal section too, expedite investigations. we've established a task force, federal law enforcement and u.s. attorneys offices meeting with state and local law enforcement. to coordinate, explain, develop strategies. we've had trainings for state
and local territorial and tribal law enforcement to help them recognize these circumstances. we've established a language coordinator facilitator so that our memorandum and press release has been used regardless. and we've asked for additional funds in our appropriations so we may give more money to state and local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement who assist in these matters. >> i appreciate the efforts you have taken. and of course, so factual information about the extent of hate crimes. incidents in our country. so that we can better prevent and prosecute as appropriate. you've been asked before, i think in the house hearing about the china initiative. if we end the china initiative,
will we no longer go after economic espionage and i.p. threats by china? >> there are two issues that we always have to keep upper most in our minds. one is that the people's republic of china is a serious threat to our intellectual property. they represent a serious threat with respect to espionage. they represent a serious threat with respect to cyber incursions and ransom ware in the united states. and we need to protect the country against it. and we will and we are in cases in that regard. the other thing that always has to be remembered is that we never investigate or prosecute, based on ethnic identity.
on what country a person is from or came from or their family. >> thank you. i'm sorry, were you done? >> yeah. >> and the reason i ask about the china initiative is under the previous administration, which instituted the so-called initiative, there appears to have been racial profiling, which basically ruined the lives of a number of chinese people. i want to give an example. the justice department, previous administration, dragged unnamed professor of the university through a two-year espionage investigation, causing him to lose his job. at the end of the investigation, doj lacked any evidence of espionage and instead, charged the doctor with wire fraud and false statements for apparently failing to disclose his association with the chinese university on a nasa grant application. his trial ended in a mistrial,
after which a juror said she was, quote, pretty horrified by the lack of evidence, end quote. when doj sought new trial they granted the motion for acquittal, finding no harm and no evidence nasa knew the funding restriction applied to chinese universities. so, i would say, regardless whether we have something called the chinese initiative, you have no attention to not pay attention to espionage and other bad acts by china. i say we should get rid of this, what? this initiative that results in racial profiling. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator kennedy. >> good morning. general, i'm looking at this letter from one of your u.s.
attorneys from october this year, where he wrote to the montana attorney general, all the county attorneys and sheriffs in his jurisdiction. suggesting ways that parents could be prosecuted. from school board meetings in accordance with your directives. and one of the suggestions made by your u.s. attorney is parents can be prosecuted for repeated telephone calls. not threatening anyone, just on the theory that repeated telephone calls could be harassment.
really? >> sir, i haven't seen that memorandum? i've tried to express as clearly as i can here. >> i hear you, general. but this is one of your u.s. attorneys. >> again, i haven't seen -- >> isn't that special. general, you're just a vessel. let me tell you what i'm talking about. with respect at the national school boards association letter, you're just a vessel, aren't you? >> not sure what you mean by that but i signed this memorandum, i worked on the memorandum and this is -- >> let me tell you we know that the national school board association was upset because parents were coming to school board meetings to object to the teaching of critical race theory.
we know that in drafting the letter, the national school board association collaborate would the white house for several weeks, they worked on it together. and we know that the national school board association wants the white house and the association were happy with the letter. the national school board association sent the letter to the white house and the white house promptly called you and said sick the fbi on parents at school board hearings. and that's what i mean. the white house is the profit here and you're just the vessel, correct? >> sir, i did not speak with anyone from the white house while i worked on this memorandum. the memorandum reflects my views that we need to protect public officials from violence and threats of violence, while at the same time protecting
parents' ability to object -- >> i get that. i heard your testimony. were you worried you'd be fired if you didn't issue the memorandum? >> i'm not -- i signed on this memorandum on my own. i said from the very beginning. i've taken this job to protect the department of justice and make independent determinations with respect to prosecution, and i will do that. >> i'm sorry to interrupt but i don't have much time. now, when you got the letter from the white house that prompted your memorandum to give the fbi new duties and making sure our parents aren't dangerous domestic terrorists. you didn't investigate, before you issued your memorandum, the incidents sited in the letter,
did you? >> the statements by the national association, which represents thousands of school board members. when they said that they were facing violence and threats of violence and when i saw in the news media reports -- >> but you didn't investigate the incidents in the letter, did you? >> this is the first step. this is an assessment step. it comes before investigation. >> but goodfore you issue the memo, you didn't conduct an investigation? in fact, most of the? stance in the letter did not involve threats of violence, did they? >> i think that's correct. they would not be covered by federal or state law. they would be protected by the first amendment. but threats of violence are not covered. >> can we agree that we have thousands, 10s of thousands,
maybe hundreds of thousands of kids growing up today who are more likely to commit a crime than -- and go to jail -- >> i don't know about comparative statistics. >> and one of the reasons is lack of parental involvement, isn't it? >> i think it's key to bringing up good kids. >> so, why do you want to issue a memorandum listing incidents that you didn't investigate? that anybody who has any fair-minded knowledge of the world knows is going to have a chilling effect on parental involvement with respect to what their kids are learning at school.
>> to be clear again, my memorandum did not list any of those incidents. >> come on, general, we know this had a dhiling effect. you don't think all there were parents who said there will be fbi agents there? >> i tried to make clear, as clear as i could and now i have subsequently made clear in every public statement -- >> your actions made it clear, general. let me ask you one last question. and to woman to harass her about her believes. why is that just part of the process? as president biden biden says but when a parent goes to a school board meeting to protest
that her child is being taught that babies are -- can be white supremacists is subject to fbi prosecution? >> that parent is not subject to fbi investigation. there is nothing in this memorandum that suggests this. we protect united states senators against threats of violence -- >> you did a good job with senator sinema. >> in the last months, we indicted somebody who made threats of violence against both alaska senators. we just indicted somebody else -- >> could you wrap up, please, senator kennedy. >> yes, ma'am, just one last one. what led you to conclude, before
you issue your memorandum, sicking the fbi on parents, that law enforcement at the state and local level couldn't handle it? >> to be clear, senator, we did not sick the fbi on parents. that's not what the memorandum is about, nor did we conclude local law enforcement is unage to deal with the problem. the purpose is for federal law enforcement to engage with state and local and determine if they need assistance. >> and you don't think this had any chilling effect whatsoever on parents out there? >> the memorandum expressly says at the beginning it is aimed at violence and threats of violence and expressly says robust debate about school policies -- >> right, right. >> thank you. >>ish issued -- >> thank you. i recognize senator booker. >> general, i want to start with
an area of bipartisan what we're getting towards. today is the 35th anniversary of the antidrug abuse act, which established vastly different sentences for crack and powder cocaine. we're seeing a wonderful convergence in congress, most recently in the house of represents, where you had this wide bipartisan vote. i'm not sure if there's a bigger vote this year, where 149 republicans stroeted along with the democratic caucus to address this disparity. the effect of that law was 100-1. the work of again, bipartisan senators here, negotiated led by senator durbin and the fair sentencing act, which was a change of the disparity from 100-1 to 18-1. senator durbin and i have introduced the equal act, which has already been passed by the
house. it has republicans and democrats, paul graham, as well as my colleague on my side of the aisle. the president, biden, publicly supported the bill and again, i just think this should be in everyone's obvious accord. but i really want to know your opinion. do you agree it's time to end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, especially given the impact it has on people of color? and if you believe that, why? >> i do believe that. the justice department supports this bill and supports equal treatment. and the sentencing commission has, over the last decade, maybe more than that, produced a series of reports that undercuts what was supposed to be the scientific basis for the distinction between the two. and it's made quite clear there
is no warrant basis for this and no grounds for that. on the other side, not only are there no grounds for it, it clearly does have a desperate impact on communities of color and clearly recognized by the sentencing commission statistics. you have that kind of circumstances, there's no justifyification for this and we should end it. >> i appreciate that. one last clarification, while there is unanimous support on both sides of the aisle, there are some people that worry about it somehow effecting crime or crime rates. could you discuss your opinion of that perspective? >> i think powder cocaine is dangerous with respect to crime rates as crack cocaine. both of which have now been unfortunately over taken by
fentanyl and opioids. but both of those are bad problems with respect to crime. equalizing penalties for crack and powder should have no difference with respect to our ability to fight violent crime. >> appreciate that. can i revisit what senator durbin brought up at the top, the letter they sent to you regarding the people currently on home confinement. the last days of the trump administration, january 15th, 2021, the justice department office issued a memo arguing they must reincarcerate everyone on the cares act home confinement at the end of the covered emergency period if they do not, otherwise qualify for home confinement. these are folks that were extremely scrutinized before hand. they've been returned to their communities, reengaging with
family, with children, they have folks that are not showing any criminal activity or problems. senator durbin and i are willing to lead and we are urging the department of justice to rescind this trump-era memo, which incorrectly concludes people who have been released to home confine mgt and abided by the conditions of their release musz be torn away from those families. and go back to bop custody. i just really would love to know where you stand on this issue. to me, it's an issue of justice, an issue of recorded justice, an issue of compassion and understanding the collateral consequences of ripping people back and putting them in prisons unnecessarily, not to mention the cost to taxpayers. clearly i have my opinion but i'd like to have yours. >> i agree with you. it would be a terrible policy to
return these people to prison after they have shown that they are able to live in home confinement without violations. and as a consequence, we are veviewing the olc memorandum you spoke about and we're reviewing the other authorities that congress may have given us to permit us to keep people on home confinement and, as you know, we're also, and the president is reviewing the clemency authority in that respect. >> how long should we expect that review? >> i can't say exactly. >> are we talking six months or less than six months? >> i'm not exactly sure how long that will take. it may require rule making and so that may take more time. but we can be sure it will be accomplished before the end of the cares act provision, which extends until the end of the pandemic. we're not in a circumstance where anybody will be returned before we have completed the
review and implemented any changes we need to make. >> and regards to passionate release in general, will the department of justice consider for people that rely in the district, like the 11th circuit, where they have interpreted relief statutes to cover only medical aid and circumstances ground. obviously there's a pandemic and we know putting people into environments, it greatly increases their chances. i'm concerned. >> this is something i haven't thought about, senator. i guess the bureau of prisons, the agency that decides those questions, has to have a uniform policy across the country. i haven't thought of the possibility of making distinctions based on which circuit. because you're quite correct, different circuits have different views about the scope of compassionate release.
i'll take that back for consideration, if it's all right with you. >> and i'll ask in writing to you. i want to be respectful of my colleague, my friend, the senator from the great state of oklahoma. >> ouch. >> forgive me, omaha. >> omaha's not a state. >> sorry, where are you from, sir? >> we used to be able to beat stanford in football and we will return. >> gentleman, thank you. sorry, cory's not as funny as i thought he would be. >> mr. attorney general, i know you're tired of talking about the memo. did you say you're not? >> i'm happy to answer any questions you may have. >> i think the american people are flabbergasted if your report is you have no regrets about the memo. >> senator, the obligation of
the justice department is to protect the american people against violence and threats of violence and that particular lee includes public officials. i think that is still a concern for the department. the memo doesn't do anything more than ask our law enforcement to consult with state and local law enforcement to determine whether they need assistance in the regard and whether there are any federal jurisdictional issues involved. >> general, you and i both know it is political hackery that brought that topic to your desk, not reality. i am strongly against all violence against anyone in public life and all threats of violence. you've not at any point given us any data to show why this would be a federal priority at this time. chairman durbin has repeatedly talked about how this morning he googled it and it's pretty convinced it must be lots of
threats. can you help us understand why so many states are disconnecting their organizations from the national association of school boards? you're aware that the national association of school boards has recanted of the memo, correct? they've rejected their own letter to you? are you aware of that? >> their letter doesn't recant their concerns about safety or recant some of the language in there. >> we're all for safety. >> which i did not adopt. the languages they have recanted, i haven't adopted and never would adopt. >> why did they sever -- >> i don't know. >> why did the missouri school board association sever from the national school board association? why did the pennsylvania school board separate themselves? because this was the kind of stuff you told us, when you were seek to conformation, that you would be against. and you have the audacity to
begin the opening statement to tell us one of the three priorities is to make sure communications between the white house and justice department were not politicized. the last three administrations in a row have politicized, including you. you said one of the priorities is to reject the politatization we saw in the trump and obama doj. you wrote a memo here that came from political staffers, who have been rejected by their organization, coordinating with the white house too, try to exaggerate a threat so that they could make sure parents felt intimidated. you've told us, i wouldn't use the exact language senator kennedy used that you were a vessel. but one of two things is true. either you were a vessel of political comstaffers at the white house or you, yourself, are in favor of pliticizing the doj. you told a colleague a minute
ago that you have not read the memo from the u.s. attorney from montana. i'll bring it to you and you can read it. this is one of your direct reports. it's an insane letter. he takes the predicate for why he's doing what he's doing, your memo, and on october 14th, he sends a list of all the counter terrorism statutes that should be considered to be used against parents upset about things happening add their school board. maybe there's specific evidence of a violence being threatened in montana but his response to your memo includes a letter where he says that anonymous telecommunications harassment repeated telephone calls, or repeated harassing communications should be things potentially brought up as the basis for federal charges against parents. do you agree with this letter about october 14th? >> as i'll say again this is aimed at violence and threats of violence.
i don't care whether they come from the left or the right or from up or from down. i don't care if they're in favor of curriculum or against a particular kind of curriculum. you can imagine there all these arguments coming from the left or right, it doesn't matter. arguments against school boards are protected by the first amendment. threats are not. and we received a letter from the national association of school boards -- >> you didn't receive an anonymous letter. white political co wrote it with this organization, which is why they rejected it. you know the facts now to be true and still won't disavow your memo. why? you didn't receive an objective, neutral letter because all the people were being threatened. you were responding to a political campaign to politicize the department of justice.
how big is the threat that american parents pose right now? you have 100,000 plus employees. you have a lot of violence to go after. are parents at school boards one of the top three concerns you face right now? >> this memorandum is not about parents at school boards. it doesn't matter whether there are parents or anyone else. it has to do with tletsz against public school teachers, school officials. it is not -- >> i'm against all those threats. i want to know what the data is. >> i don't need data to -- the purpose of the memorandum is to get our law enforcement to assess the extent of the problem and if there is no problem, if states and local law enforcement are capable of handling the problem, then there's no need for our involvement. this memo does not say to begin prosecuting anybody. it says to make assessments. that's what we do in the justice department.
has nothing to do with politics. >> whattia said i completely agree with. we are against violence against public owficials. we're against threats of violence against public officials. you and i agree. we're for local police powers investigating local crimes and there are definitely yokals and idiots who make threats against lots of people in public life. i don't minimize it, you're not but we both believe, and in your heart of hearts, i'm sure you believe local law enforcement is more than able to handle one idiot or 12 idiots at school board meetings. but you made it a federal issue and i don't have any idea why and at no point have you offered us a shred of data. and the threats the american parents class is to school boards in the country? >> i will be happy to get a
report back to you but this is not about american parents. >> i know. it's about the politization of doj and you're a vessel. >> i'm sorry. but i don't agree with that, senator. >> thank you. welcome to our committee, mr. attorney general. and let me begin by thanking you and your team for the integrity and trance parns you brought the department of justice after a time when the rule of law in the greatest law enforcement agency in the history of the world was gravely threatened by a lack of that dedication and commitment. i think it's very important what you have done, even though we may have differences of opinion, we may disagree but nobody can doubt your commitment to the rule of law. i want to ask you about a matter
i know you're familiar with it. the committee held the hearing on the fbi's mishandling of the larry nassar investigation, who was convicted of the most heinous kind of abuse, with respect to athletes. great women shared their stories with us, they showed up to tell their stories and go through grave obstacles. the inspector general concluded that two fbi agents made false statements during their investigation into nassar. and to the ig himself, the inspector general, during the investigation. the fbi agents lied. he referred those cases to the department of justice. what i'd like to ask is that the department of justice now, in effect, show up by providing an
explanation with regard to the prosecution of the agents. the deputy attorney general announced the criminal division was conducting a new review and that new information is for that review to be completed. what i am speaking to you is a you will explain when it's made and it's typically not explained. the justice department itself says that in criminal civil rights cases, quote, it is case closing notification letters and cases closed with indictments. and for prosecution. because they often spark intense public interest. and they're quote particularly
encouraged for police misconduct. and you have exactly that. and i'm asking for commitment to provide an explanation. >> this is a hard problem for us and it's about violations of civil rights act and what we talk about are false statements. needless to say if the result of this review is prosecution, that will become public. the question of how much, whether and how much we can say, if all we do is decline, i'm going to have to take that back for consideration. i will think about it very carefully as well. >> i understand you're going to continue to press for an explanation. i think the gymnasts deserve it and so do the american public.
i hope you'll make a decision to provide a full and complete explanation. because i think the credibility will largely depend on it. in my view we need to do more than focus on the fbi agents that the inspector general referred for prosecution because this failure wasn't institutional. failure. institutional to the fbi team u.s.a. gymnastics and entire olympic system. and to date, there been no account lkt for anyone in power. to that end, i am announcing that in the subcommittee i chair, the subcommittee on consumer protection, we're going to continue to work with senator muran and i again years ago.
literally began years ago with the investigation and olympics reform legislation. we're going to engage in further oversight, olympic and paralimpic committees, the national governing body and they to insure their committed to safety is not. and they observe it and going to fulfill that obligation. and given the fbi's gross mishandling of the nassar investigation. i believe a review of all the information related to nassar and the ospc more broadly is warranted here because there are other examples of potential misconduct that deserve a fresh look.
for instance, senator and i referred the former ceo of the ospc to the department of justice for potentially purgering himself. we don't know what, if anything, the department did with that referral. we've heard virtually nothing. in addition, the u.s. attorney for the southern district of indiana, whose office of involved in the national investigation, is now representing one of the disgraced fbi agents. representing one of the fbi agents referred for prosecution. i don't know if that's a violation of ethical rules or some other department of justice policies. but the department should have an interest in them. so, i hope that we can expect
more from you by way of explanation and i hope that we can count on you for a new review of the information related to the nassar investigation, u.s.a. gymnastics and usopc to determine whether there are additional cases where prosecution is necessary to hold wrong doers accountable. >> the contritional failure you speak of is quite apparent. i thought the testimony by the gymnasts was heart wrenching. and they were gracious. the fbi director has adopted all the recommendations of the inspector general and putting them into effect. in addition, we have adopted new regulations and authorities within the department to be clear that the fbi is
investigating a case of assault on a child and is determined it doesn't have jurisdiction, it immediately informs the relevant state or local prosecutors and law enforcement this isn't what happened in the nassar circumstance and insure that is done so that the state and local will be able to continue. like wise, respect to transfers from one fbi office to another. another failure in that case, that those be monitored to insure those transfers occur. do you take this extremely seriously what happened is just awful. and you have the commitment of the justice department and the fbi director and the fbi to make these kinds of instugzal changes to insure this doesn't happen again.
>> as you well know because of your own record, there's nothing like folks being held accountable to send a message. thank you. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. and i have list from the republican side. this is the order they've given me. blackburn, holly and cruz. two democratic senators who have not asked at this point, we'll wait to see if they arrive. senator tillis. senator tillis, i don't know if your mic is on. senator? >> may regret it but hi, mr. attorney general. thank you for being here.
in response to the memo, i know you've repeatedly said this is not about parents. 15 years ago, i was pta president, participated in a lot of school board meetings and still watch it on public access when i'm home. the basis for your memo was substantially the letter that you all received. received. is that correct? >> that was an important part, yes, senator. >> do you think there was -- i have seen some of the widely reported situations and some school board meetings, but is there really any empirical basis -- i have seen a lot of raucous school board meetings. i have participated in them. did the doj do any real work outside of the public reporting to say there's a disturbing trend that requires the kind of what we consider to be overreach on behalf of the doj? >> no, as i have explained, what we looked at was the letter from an organization that represents thousands of school board
members and school boards. and public reports of threats of violence and even since then, i have further read quite express threats of violence. >> mr. attorney general, i want to try to keep in time in deference to my colleagues behind me. i do, i know you have said it's not about the parents. but when the doj releases the memo, and i think even more importantly, the press statement, i think that it does have a chilling effect on parents being willing to go and express their concerns with the direction the school board is going. when all of a sudden you think your words and this list of crimes that the department gets to at least the state of montana and others, it could have a chilling effect on people who legitimately have a concern they want to express, but now they may think they come cross wise with the fbi. so i do believe that it will have a chilling effect on people
whose right they have to go in, express their concerns, like louden county. ridiculous overreach. i think that it will have that effect. because the full force of the fbi is now something a parent has to think about before they go before a school board meeting to express their concerns and they get frustrated. like i said, they have been raucous for decades and they will be raucous for decades to come. i really do believe that you should seriously consider rescinding, revising a statement out there that concerns me for the parents that i want to show up to school board meetings and have the school boards held accountable. the other thing we should talk about are the numerous examples of school board members being caught saying audacious things. it's onethening you have seen over the past year, think of some of the provocative statements they have said, they thought they were behind closed doors but they were on the
internet ridiculing parents. we have got to get more parents engaged, and i think that the effect of the doj action is the exact opposite of that. but most of my colleagues have covered my concerns, and i agree with those that are expressed on my side of the aisle. in response to senator graham on immigration, you said that you did go visit the border. it sounds like you were down there mainly from the perspective of your role of the doj. i understand that homeland security is primarily responsible, but i would encourage you to go back down there and maybe we could share with you our itinerary to talk about why i do believe it should be a great concern to the doj. we have almost 1.5 million cases on the asylum docket, and about 80% are adjudicated as not having a valid claim. so doesn't that data lead you to suggest that the asylum system is being abused? just that's data from the doj.
>> senator, i don't know for sure about the data, but the purpose of the -- of the asylum adjudication is to adjudicate asylum. >> i understand that. >> it allows them to make -- this is a statutory claim. >> i'm not an attorney. you're an accomplished judge. i'm looking at this from a practical standpoint. when the data says that almost 2 million people have crossed the border illegally since january. and it is 80% likely that they're not going to have a valid asylum claim. how any reasonable person couldn't look at that and say something is being abused here, it's a gateway to get into this country, drift into the shadows and virtually never leave the country. but here's the one that i'm most concerned with, and why i think a briefing with the same people we met with at the border, many of the people on the committee were there when i was.
hundreds of got-aways a day getting across the border. and got-aways are not ones that want to be processed through asylum. they want to evade detection. they want to drift -- how on earth can we assume that there's anything but a malign purpose for them trying to evade detection? otherwise, you just get into the system. you're going to be here for years, abuse the asylum system. they're skirting it to the tune of a couple hundred a night, and this has been going on for months. now we have thousands of people who came into this country when the cartels sent, they'll send up 50 people over to engage the border patrol so they can send another couple hundred into our society. they're drug traffickers, there are human traffickers. there are gun smugglers, there are gang members, and they're coming in by the thousands every month. that is a doj problem. that is a crime in our communities problem, and it's
actually making the hispanic communities, the majority of which are coming over are hispanic, those communities less safe. i would really encourage you to go back to the border and look at it from the perspective of your role as attorney general. and the hundreds and the thousands of illegals who are coming across our border every day, many of them drifting in and evading detection and making our communities less safe. i do have a number -- i have intellectual property, a number of implementation issues i'm going to submit for the record, but mr. garland, we have a problem at the border. and the doj has to engage and recognize that part of the problem, you're going to have to fix. we have to stop the $13 million a day that the cartels are getting for human trafficking. that's a documented number. we have to stop the tons of fentanyl and drugs poisoning americans because we have an out of control border situation.
this is a law enforcement issue. i understand it's an immigration issue, but we have to get you, i think, read up the same way we were at the border. talk to people on the ground and understand why this is going to make your job more difficult and it's already making america much less safe. thank you, mr. chair. >> senator. >> thank you, mr. chair. let me begin with a comment before i get to a few issues and a few questions, particularly in light of recent comments from some of my colleagues about immigration, migration, what is, what isn't happening. i want to start by recognizing senator coons' remarks earlier who asked you about what you're doing to address the backlog in immigration. what are the best, most smart approaches to tackling unlawful migration is to improve the effectiveness, the efficiency of
lawful migration. it's not just investing in immigration courts but access to counsel. thee are issues my office hears about on a very regular basis. so i was heartened that you'll be asking for additional resources to address those issues. this is certainly an area where money is needed to improve the processing of immigration cases while insuring due process. to my questions. first, a response that i and several of my colleagues have been waiting on since april 15th, when i and seven other members of congress sent you a letter concerning the department's funding and oversight of predictive policing tools. which are deployed by law enforcement throughout the country. as we highlighted in that letter, and i'm happy to provide an additional copy to you, we're concerned the department of justice may be devoting precious taxpayer resources to
ineffective tools and encouraging local law enforcement to office devote resources to unproven strategies. worst still, those tools may be perpetuaing a vicious cycle of discriminatory policing against historically marginalized groups. because we have not yet received a response, we do not know, for example, what if any conditions there are by the department of justice on the agencies and departments who deploy predictive policing tools with the aid of federal funds. i find it's unacceptable. so attorney general garland, it's been over six months since our letter was sent to the department of justice. and we have yet to receive an official response. can you explain the delay and when we can expect a response? >> i can't explain the delay. i don't know what the reason is, but i will immediately take this back and be sure that the office of legislative affairs responds to your letter. >> okay.
we'll get you another copy of the letter before we leave here today. next issue. as most, i believe we should all agree, we need an open and competitive economy that also works for workers. we talked a lot about entrepreneurs and capitalism, consumer protection, but we need an economy that also works for workers. and this demands the department's attention to combat artificially suppressed compensation, employer collusion, and increasing inequality. for example, noncompete clauses or no poach agreements limit the ability of many workers throughout our economy to switch to better paying opportunities or start their own businesses. antitrust protection for labor organizing does not yet explicitly extend to gig economy workers who are classified as independent contractors by their
employers. a corporate consolidation can limit the pool of companies in the labor market competing to attract and retain workers. attorney general garland, what is the department of justice doing to insure that there's competition in our labor markets and is this yet another area where the department needs additional resources to fulfill the mission laid out by president biden? >> thank you for the question. the justice department's antitrust division agrees. i don't know if you hear either, agrees competition in labor markets is as much a part of the antitrust laws as our consumer markets. we have a number of investigations involved in those areas that you're talking about. we have a criminal case, all public. on the no-poaching issue, we have brought cases and investigations regarding allocations of labor markets.
so i think i can fairly say we agree with you. this is an area of concern, and it's an area of antitrust division focus. the antitrust division does need more money. and more lawyers and economists and investigators. it was down substantially, one of the lowest head counts in quite a number of years. and we very much need to fill that back. and that's why our fy '22 appropriations request asks for a substantial increase in money for the antitrust division. >> wonderful. supporting those requests for additional resources. and finally, in the time remaining, yet another topic. earlier this month, this committee released a report detailing former president trump's scheme to pressure the department of justice and overturn the will of the people
who voted for now president joe biden so he could serve again as president. the report outlines behavior that follows a pattern and practice of intimidation, coercion, and outright bullying by the former president's administration. if we don't hold these bad actors accountable, we face the possibility of eroding public trust in our institutions. americans are looking for accountability. and they're looking to you, attorney general, as the leader of your agency to administer justice. my question is this, are you willing to recommit yourself to pursuing every possible avenue and every possible lead for holding those accountable who have used public office to undermine and demean our democracy? >> as a general matter, the
answer of course is yes. i don't want to talk about specific investigations except to point out what's already been stated publicly on the record, which is a component of the justice department, although an independent one, inspector general is examining the matters that -- about which you're speaking. i have full confidence he will advise me and the department of what he finds and we will then take appropriate action. >> thank you. and just in closing i would have hoped that would include a review and consideration of allegations documented in a recent "rolling stone" article where participation in the lead-up to january 6th was not limited to just white house officials but actual members of congress. thank you. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you. we're going to recognize senator blackburn and then take a five-minute break, return, and we have senator ossoff, senator
hawley, senator cruz. and i just say to the two or three members who have said they might be interested in a three-minute round, please be here. you have to be physically present because this has been a long day for all of us who stayed here most of the time, particularly for the attorney general. so senator blackburn and then a five-minute break. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and general garland, thank you for being with us today. i have to tell you that it is with much disappointment that i have watched the doj be so politicized. and the way things have been carried out when you look at the memo to parents, you heard a lot about that today, and it's because we're hearing a lot about that. and i just have to ask you,
knowing that you really helped bring to justice those that caused the oklahoma city bombings, would you really, honestly put parents in the same category as a terry nichols or a timothy mcveigh? >> my god, absolutely not. >> then why -- why would you ever release a memo? i mean, did you write that memo? did staff write that memo? what would have led you to do this? it is so over the top. >> there's nothing in the memo that in any way draws any comparison to anything like that. this memo is about violence and threats of violence. >> sir, i have to tell you that that may be your opinion, and you know, many times perception is reality. and reading that memo myself,
tennesseans reading that memo, what they found in that memo, what they heard you say was if you show up and you question these school boards, you will be deemed a domestic terrorist. you could be investigated by the fbi. i mean, the fbi has a lot of other things that they should be focusing on. and the fbi should be there looking at issues like china. now, the fbi has been very concerned about china, so give me a little update. what's the status of the china initiative at the doj? >> so senator, we are -- we regard people's republic of china an extraordinarily serious and aggressive threat to our
intellectual property, to our universities -- >> okay, you're stonewalling me on that. we all know they're an aggressive threat. >> we continue to investigate -- >> okay. >> the prc efforts to -- >> do you see them as an adversary? >> i see them as adversarial with respect to our ransomware, with respect to hacking our -- with respect to counterintelligence -- >> well, we know that over the last several months, the last nine months, several espionage prosecutions of researchers have been dropped. our charges have been dismissed, including those of a professor at ut knoxville, and of course, the huawei case is there. so this is in spite of the fact that director wray recently testified that the fbi opens a new chinese espionage investigation every 12 hours.
so are there apparent failures of the initiative? is it a lack of leadership? or is it a compromised position with the administration? is it incompetence? >> every case is evaluated on its own with respect to the law and the facts. we continue to open cases involving the people's republic of china daily, as the director said. we will not in any way let up our concerns about -- >> okay. all right, i want to move on. i'm glad to know you're not going to go soft on china because this administration is going soft on china. on your directive, going back to the school board association and the directive you sent out. the nsba has apologized. are you planning to apologize to parents of this country? moms and dads. >> there is nothing in this
memorandum that any parent should be concerned about. >> there's a lot that parents should be concerned about. let me ask you about the durham investigation, because 44 senators join mead in a letter that we sent to you in august. and we still have not received a written response from you on the status of the durham investigation. so will you provide for me a written status report of the durham investigation? >> the particular aim i think of the letter -- as i said at the house committee, mr. durham is continuing -- >> we asked for a status update, and we also asked that a report be made public, available to the public on the completion of his work. will that be made public? >> on both of those questions, the budget has been approved as i already announced and with respect to the report, i would like as much as possible to be
made public. i have to be concerned about privacy act concerns and classifications, but other than that, the commitment is to provide a public report, yes. >> can you guarantee this committee that special counsel durham has free reign to proceed whenever his investigation takes him without any political or otherwise undue influence or interference? >> there will be no political or otherwise undue interference. >> okay, susan hennessey, susan hennessey was recently hired to work in your national security division. this is a troubling hire because of her political bias. she has made several comments that show she is incapable of working impartially on sensitive matters within the national security division. particularly on the durham investigation. for example, december 1st, 2020, ms. hennessey stated and i am
quoting, durham has made abundantly clear that in a year and a half, he hasn't come up with anything. i guess this kind of partisan silliness has become characteristic of barr's legacy, but unclear to me why durham would want to go along with it. end quote. so how can the american people be certain that she is going to be fair and impartial when she is on the record making those statements? so has she retracted that statement? do you intend to ask her to retract that statement? >> i have to confess, i don't think i have ever met ms. hennessey, and she has never -- >> you might want to look at her. she's there in your national security division. and she is very much opposed to this. i want to thank you for your time. i am going to send a couple
questions to you for more complete answers, but i associate myself with the comments by my colleagues that the border issues have turned every town into a border town, and every state into a border state. the amount of drugs, the amount of trafficking that is flowing in here, talking to local law enforcement, the way they're looking at the cartels. mr. attorney general, there is a lot that needs to be done to secure this country, and the parents of the kiddos in our schools, they are not the problem. there are other problems that need your attention. >> thank you, senator blackburn. the committee will stand in recess for five minutes.
meeting will resume. senator hawley. >> mr. chairman, did you call on me? i'm happy to go. >> i didn't see senator thank . thank you, mr. chairman. attorney general, nice to see you. thank you for joining us. last week, the senate passed legislation that i introduced alongside chair durbin and ranking member grassley, the prison camera reform act. to reduce violence and civil rights abuses in bop facilities by overhauling the security camera system that ig horowitz has found is outdated, in reliable as well as the means of recording and preserving the footage from the systems. do you agree these reforms are necessary and should this bill become law will you commit to
prioritizing the implementation of the requirements it imposes upon the bop? >> yes, and yes. >> thank you, attorney general. like to discuss with you staffing issues at the bureau of prisons. earlier this year, the gao, which as you know is a nonpartisan independent watchdog, concluded b.o.p. lacks a reliable method for assessing the scope of staffing issues or the impact on incarcerated populations and staff of staffing issues at b.o.p. facilities. do you agree the inability to reliably measur this problem impedes b.o.p.'s ability to find gaps, shortage of personnel to help implement the first step act and antirecidivism programs as well as makes it more difficult for congress to respond, and will you commit to working with my office to help identify where there's gaps in
planning or budgeting or personnel management or the authorities that b.o.p. has? >> yes, senator. i met with comptroller general about this, about the various of his reports and this one in particular. and i agree this is a serious problem at the bureau of prisons. the deputy attorney general has been working on this problem for quite some time now. as she has repeat meetings with the bureau of prisons to go over this issue with respect to staffing and assessments. and i would be happy to have somebody on our staff meet with your staff. >> thank you, attorney general. the inspector general has determined that b.o.p. lacks a clear and consistent policy for the use of solitary confinement in b.o.p. musilts. has b.o.p. to your knowledge issued such a policy? >> i don't know the answer to that. >> will you work with my office to determine whether they have and what may need to be done to
make sure they do? >> of course. >> a question about commercial data and its use in doj investigations. in 2018, the supreme court issued a decision that government agents must issue a warrant and show the device over a seven-day period. this data is widely available for many u.s. persons on commercial markets through data brokers and other technology companies. to your knowledge, do any federal agencies currently purchase data or any doj components currently purchase data or contract for services that provide device location data from commercial vendors? is this data used in investigations or prosecutions? >> i don't believe that we purchase location data. but i'll be happy to look into that and get back to you on that as well. >> i would be grateful because i think there are serious fourth amendment concerns there. i would like to discuss the fisa process with you. in its report last month, the
office of the inspector general noted the doj and fbi had work to do the implement the recommendations to strengthen the process for fisa applications. while this has unfortunately become a partisan issue, it's fundamentally an issue of privacy, due process, and the integrity of the foreign intelligence surveillance court and the applications it receives. the ig's report notes that the fbi had not significantly changed the process by which a supervisor such as the assistant attorney general for national security division reviews and documents the factual assertions made in fisa applications. and i discussed this issue with matt olson when he was before the committee for his confirmation. what steps is the doj taking to make substantive changes to the fisa process and comport with the recommendations? >> i completely agree that this should not be a partisan issue. fisa on the one hand is extraordinarily important tool for our ability to protect the
country against foreign enemies. and on the other hand, it's a tool that has to be dealt with with the most extreme care because we have to protect american citizens from unwarranted surveillance. nontraditional surveillance. i take the inspector general's report extraordinarily seriously. i think the one you're referring to talks about events in 2019. regardless, we take this very seriously, and the fbi director does as well. the national security division of the department reviews what the fbi is doing with respect to fisas routinely. the office analyzes them to be sure they are following the correct rules. and we intend to continue that kind of intensive review to insure that internal regulations and the requirements are
maintained. >> thank you. >> thank you, attorney general, and i believe there is within the last couple of months some additional recommendations or concerns expressed by the ig about the implementation of changes pursuant to its prior conclusion. >> this must be the woods -- i think this is the woods file. >> that's correct. >> i quite agree that this has to be done better. as i think he said, it's a work in progress. and there is certainly a considerable more room for improvement, and we're focused on making those improvements. >> please note there's bipartisan concern about seeing those improvements. a final question about press freedom. you prohibited the department from using subpoenas, court orders or warrants to obtain information on the confidential sources of reporters. and this new policy, as you defined it, offers broad protections for members of the
news media but does not qualify or define with specificity who qualified as members of the media. is there a specific interpretation of that phrase that's been issued in internal department guidance? >> the answer to that is no. we have discussed this with representatives of the news media continuously, and part of our review for purposes of turning this memorandum into a regulation, we're continuing to discuss this. as you can imagine, it's very difficult to make that kind of definition. >> but very important to get it right. >> i complete agree. >> and i think my staff will likely ask yours for a briefing on the progress of your deliberations and perhaps we'll weigh in. thank you for your service, attorney general, and for your responses. >> thanks, senator. senator hawley. >> thanks very much. attorney general garland, on october 4th, you issued an unprecedented memo that involved the department of justice and fbi and local school districts, local school boards. nothing like it in our country's
history. it was based, you testified, on this letter from the national school board association that we now know the white house was involved in writing. they retracted the letter, they apologized for the letter. they say they regret the letter, but you won't retract the memo and said earlier you have no regrets, and you defended yourself repeatedly saying you're focused on violence. now, of course, we have seen the memo from your own justice department advising state and local and other prosecutors about all of the different federal causes of action that they can bring against parents that are not about violence. they're about harassment and intimidation. i'm looking here at this memo. it identifies no fewer than 13 possible federal crimes involving harassment and intimidation, including making annoying phone calls. you think a parent who makes a phone call to a school board member that she has elected,
that school board member deems annoying, they should be prosecuted? >> no, i don't, and the supreme court has made quite clear the word intimidation is one that directs a threat to a person with the intense of placing the victim in fear of bodily harm or death. prosecutors who investigate these cases know the supreme court. >> prosecutors do, but parents don't, general garland. do you think a parent who looks at the 13 different federal crimes that your justice department has identified, they might be subject to and prosecuted for, like making annoying phone calls, do you think they're going to feel that they're welcome to speak up at a school board meeting? how about this one? they could be prosecuted for using the internet, i guess that would be facebook, in a way that might cause emotional distress to a victim. is that a crime of violence? >> senator, i haven't seen the memo that you're talking about and even from the description, it doesn't sound like it was
addressed to parents. >> no, it wasn't addressed to parents. it was addressed to prosecutors. why haven't you seen the memo? >> i don't know why i haven't. i do not get every memo that every u.s. attorney sends out. but if you're -- >> wait a minute, i just want to be sure i understand this. this is a memorandum that collects 13 different federal crimes parents could be charged with. it has united states department of justice on the top of it. and you're telling me you haven't seen it? >> who is the memo from, senator? >> the united states department of justice, united states attorney for the district of montana. >> i have not seen a memo from the district of montana. >> not a high enough priority for you? >> that's not the question. >> it is the question. answer my question. is the not a high enough priority for you when you're threatening parents with 13 different federal crimes? these aren't crimes of violence. you testified today you're focused on violence. that's not what your u.s. attorneys december they work for you, that's not what they're
saying. you haven't seen it because it's not a high enough priority orwhat? >> no one has sent me that memo. >> what do you mean, no one has sent you the memo? you run the department of justice, do you not? >> there are 115,000 employees of the department of justice. >> indeed, and you are in charge of every one of them. this was a sufficiently important case that you issued a memo. you, over your signature, issued a memo insulting the fbi and the department of justice in local school boards, local school districts. your u.s. attorneys are now threatening prosecution with 13 different crimes, but it's not a high enough priority for you. it got lost in the mix? >> once again, i have never seen that memo. >> that's what concerns me, general garland. >> well, it wasn't sent to me. i hope you will assure your constituents what we are concerned about here is violence and threats of violence. >> that only leads me to conclude -- all i can conclude from this is either that you're not in control of your own department or that more likely
what i think to be the case is that you knew full well that this is exactly the kind of thing that would happen. when you issued your memo, when you involved the department of justice and all of its resources, and the fbi and all of its resources, and local school boards and local school districts, you knew that federal prosecutors would start collecting crimes that they could use against parents. you knew they would advise state and local officials that these are all of the ways parents might be prosecuted. you knew that that was the likely outcome. and that's exactly what's happened. and we're talking about parents like scott smith who is behind me over my shoulder. this is a father from louden county, virginia. here he is at a school board meeting. he was forcibly restrained, assaulted, arrested. why? because he went to an elected school board meeting. he's a voter, by the way. he went to an elected school board meeting to raise the fact his daughter was assaulted,
sexually assaulted in a girls restroom by a boy. this is what happened to him. you testified last week before the house you didn't know anything about that case. i find that extraordinary because the letter you put so much weight on, the letter that's now been restracted, it cites this case directly. there's a news article cited in the letter. it's discussed in the letter. you testified you just couldn't remember it. do you think people like -- parents who show up to complain about their children being assaulted ought to be treated like this man? >> parents who show up to complain about school boards are protected by the first amendment. >> do you think they ought to be prosecuted in a different way that your u.s. attorneys are identifying? >> if what they're doing is complaining about what the school board is doing, policies, curriculum, anything else they want to, as long as they're not committing threats of violence, they should not be prosecuted and they can't be. >> let me ask you about this. several of my democrat
colleagues have today just in this hearing have compared parents who show up at school board meetings like mr. smith here, have compared them to criminal rioters. do you think that's right? a parent who shows up at a school board meeting who has a complaint, and maybe she doesn't use exactly the right grammar, you think they're akin to criminal rioters? >> i do not, and i don't remember any senator here making that comparison. >> just like the folks who came here on january 6th and the riot at the capitol. >> i don't think they were referring to the picture you're showing here. >> i certainly would hope not. they're referring to parents who go to school board meetings. mr. smith is a parent who went to a school board meeting. general garland, you have weaponized the fbi and the department of justice. you u.s. attorneys are now collecting and cataloging all of the ways they can prosecute parents like mr. smith because they want to be involved in their children's education, and they want to have a say in their elected officials. it's wrong. it is unprecedented to my knowledge in the history of this
country, and i call on you to resign. thanks, mr. chairman. >> senator cruz. >> thank you, mr. chairman. for eight years under barack obama, the department of justice was politicized and weaponized. when you came before this committee and your confirmation hearing, you promised things would be different. i asked you specifically, quote, will you commit to this committee that under your leadership, the department of justice will not target the political opponents of this administration? it was your answer, quote, absolutely. it's totally inappropriate for the department to target any individual because of their politics or their position in a campaign. that was your promise just a few month ago. i'm sorry to say you have broken that promise. there is a difference between law and politics. and general garland, you know the difference between law and politics. law is based on fact. it is impartial.
it is not used as a tool of political retribution. this memo was not law. this memo was politics. on wednesday, september 29th, the national school board association wrote a letter to the president asking the president to use the department of justice to target parents that were upset at critical race theory, that were upset at mask mandates in schools, to target them as domestic terrorists. on the face of the letter, the letter was in repeated consultation with the white house, explicit political consultation with the white house. that was on wednesday, september 29th. five days later, on monday, so right after the weekend, boom. you pop out a memo. giving them exactly what they want. now, by the way, i understand that. in politics, that happens all the time. an important special interest
wants something, sir, yes, sir, we're going to listen to them. let me ask you something, general garland. in the letter which you told the house of representatives was the basis for this abusive memo targeting parents, how many incidents are cited in that memo? >> i have to look back through the memo. >> you don't know. how many of them are violence? >> the general -- >> how many of them were violence, do you know? >> i don't know. >> there's a reason you don't know. because you didn't care, and nobody in your office cared to find out. i did a quick count just sitting here during this hearing. i counted 20 incidents cited. of the 20, 15 on their face are nonviolent. they involve things like insults. they involve a nazi salute. that's one of the examples. my god, a parent did a nazi salute at a school board because he thought the policies were oppressive. general garland is doing a nazi
salute, is that protected by the first amendment? >> yes, it is. >> 15 of the 20 on the face of it are not violent, they're not threats of violence. they're parents who are unhappy. yes, miraculously, when you write a memo, the opening line of your memo, in recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence. you know what, you didn't look and nobody on your staff looked. did you even look up the 20 instances? >> as i have testified, the decision to make -- to send the memo -- >> did you look up the 20 instances? >> i did not. >> did anyone on your staff look them up? >> i don't know the answer. >> general, there's a reason. look, you started your career as a law clerk for justice brennan. you had many law clerks during the years, during your time as a judge. i was a clerk to chief justice rehnquist. i tell you what, if i drafted an
opinion for the chief justice and walked in and it said, there's a disturbing pattern of violence, well, ted, how do you know that? i got someone who claims it. you would fire a law clerk who did that. you're the attorney general of the united states. this was not a tweet you sent. this is a memo to the federal bureau of investigations saying go investigate parents as domestic terrorists. >> that is not what the memo says at all. >> is it what the letter says? >> that's not what -- >> is it what the letter says? >> i don't care what the letter says. >> you don't care. you said it was the basis of your memo. you testified under oath before the house of representatives the letter was the basis of your memo. now you don't care about the letter? >> the letter and public reports of violence and threats of violence, my memo says nothing about domestic terrorism. nothing about parents committing any such thing. my memo is an attempt to get an assessment of whether there is a problem out there that the federal government needs to --
>> the letter on its face says the acactions of the parents could be equivalent to domestic terrorism, directed at parents. this was the basis of your memo. >> my memo -- >> the department of justice, when you're directing the fbi to engage in law enforcement, you're not behaving as a political operative because a political ally of the president says, hey, go attack these parents because we don't like what they're saying. department of justice, you did no independent research on what was happening, did you? >> the memo has nothing to do with -- >> did you do independent research? >> the memo has nothing -- >> you're not answering that question. you have testified you know nothing about the violent sexual assault that happened in louden county, even though it's one of the basises in this letter.
>> i read about it since then. >>ia told the house last week you knew nothing about it. >> i did not know about it at the time. >> this week, the court concluded a 14-year-old girl rag a skirt in the girls' restroom. the school district covered it up, released the boy, sent him to another school. where he violently raped another girl. the father who mr. hawley just showed you was the father of the first girl. he was understandably -- do you understand why a parent would be upset when your daughter is raped at school, the school board covers it up, and then lies to you and claims there had been no assaults. we have no instances of assaults in our bathroom, and that was a flat out lie as the court concluded this week. you understand why the parents would be upset? >> absolutely. any expressions of upset are protected by the first amendment. >> except you just called him a domestic terrorist.
>> i never called him that. >> this letter called him a domestic terrorist. an official direction from the attorney general on this letter. i tell you what, the nsca is so embarrassed of the letter, they apologized for it and retracted it, but you don't have the same willingness to apologize and retract what you did. let me ask you something else. a big part of the letter is they're upset about parents not wanting critical race theory taught. your son-in-law makes a very substantial sum of money from a company involved in the teaching of critical race theory. did you seek and receive a decision from an ethics adviser at the department of justice before you carried out an action that would have a predictable financial benefit to your son-in-law? >> this memorandum is aimed at violence and threats -- >> i just asked a question. did you seek an ethics opinion? did you seek an ethics opinion? judge, you know how to ask
questions and answer them. did you seek an ethics opinion? >> you asked whether i sought an ethics opinion that would have a predictable effect on something. this has no protectable effect. >> if critical race theory is taught in more schools, does your son-in-law make more money? if critical race theory is taught in schools, does your son-in-law make more money? >> this memorandum has nothing to do with critical race theory. >> would you answer? >> i'm answering the best i can. >> yes or no, did you seek an ethics opinion? did you seek an ethics opinion? >> this memorandum -- >> general, are you refused to do so if you sought an ethics opinion? >> i'm telling you -- >> you're saying no. answer it directly. you know how to answer a question directly. did you seek an ethics opinion? >> i'm telling you if i thought there was any reason to believe there was a conflict of interest, i would do that. >> why do you refuse to answer the question? why won't you just say no? >> you're not going to answer the question.
>> ask the question again. >> did you seek an ethics opinion? >> i'm saying again, i would seek an ethbes -- >> so no is the answer, correct? >> senator, your time is up. >> let the record reflect the attorney general refuses to answer whether he sought an ethics opinion and apparently ethics are not a terribly high priority in the biden justice department. >> i don't think tlts a fair reflect of what i said. >> then answer the question. >> senator, you have gone beyond any other senator's time. you ought to be at least respectful of other senators at this point. >> mr. chairman, do you know whether he sought an ethics opinion? >> we have a request for three-minute rounds, and i have one from senator hirono, senator lee, and senator booker. i'm sorry, and first, of course, ranking member grassley. we're going to stick to three minutes. it's been four hours since the
attorney general has been in the chair with a couple breaks. and i think we should try to wrap up if we can. >> request to put something in the record. a "wall street journal" editorial titled about the domestic terrorist parents. the article notes that the october 4th doj memo should be formally rescinded. >> without objection. >> general, after a great deal of pressure from victims in congress, i know you're taking another look at the department's disgusting decision not to prosecute employees for lying to government officials in the nassar investigation. do you anticipate that the department will similarly expunge the records of these employees just like mccabe or continue to give them get out of jail free cards as you have done so far? >> as i said, senator, we are
reviewing the decisions with respect to the alleged false statements. that review is done by the criminal division. >> beginning in the summer of 2020, american cities began to see appalling and unprecedented spike in violent crime, murders, and gang violence, gang violence as liberal politicians operated under the rallying cry of defund the police. this movement translated into over 1,200 deaths in 2020 alone. in the summer of 2020, then attorney general barr instituted legend. by any measure, this surge in federal agents was a resounding success. by december of 2020, over 6,000 arrests have made been mad 600 firearms have been taken off the
streets and people arrested for homicides. given the clear success of operation legend, why is the department seemingly directing its efforts towards school board meetings, but not towards real threats and real acts of violence that happen every day in american cities. does operation legend still exist. >> my understanding that operation legend was directed at violence over the summer of 2020. we have addressed another surge of federal prosecutorle and law enforcement efforts. this last summer we have stepped up the amount of money we're giving to state and locals and we have increased our joint task forces together. i visited a federal and state law enforcement in new york and in chicago and in los angeles and in san francisco. all aimed at violent crime in those areas. and we've asked for considerable additional money, about
$1 billion in grants, to fund the state and local police in fy-22. so i think that's -- i hope that answers your question. >> okay. only four packers, jbs, tysons, cargill and national beef hold a tremendous amount of market power. we've yet to learn anything from this investigation. could you provide an update and can you commit to expediting this investigation so there are cattle producers know whether there are any antitrust violations? >> i can't discuss the specific investigations. we have long-standing policies against that. but i can tell you that the antitrust division is aggressively concerned with competition in the market that you described. we are also in frequent
consultation with the agriculture department with regard to the stockyards -- packers and stockyards act. we have to be very much concerned about exclusionary behavior. >> thank you. >> senator hirono. senator, i think your mic is not turned on. >> one thing i have to say is, we listened to -- i don't know, going on hour three is that the republicans, once they focus on something, they just stick with it. it is amazing to me that there's all this mischaracterizing of the attorney general's memo as well as a letter from the acting u.s. attorney of montana and his letter is also totally mischaracterized as to what the focus of the attorney general's letter is. i would like to submit for the
record the acting attorney -- u.s. attorney of montana's letter. >> without objection. >> as i said, it's pretty -- it's kind of amazing but not unusual that my republican colleagues will continue to focus on something that the attorney general has to continue to testify for the last three hours, whatever it is, that his letter is being mischaracterized. and they will focus on that until the nth degree. what is a real problem is the fact that we have 530 voter suppression bills that have been introduced in 47 states, the vast majority by republican legislatures and people's votes are literally being stolen through these voter suppression actions and do we hear word one about the fact that this is happening all the country that the stealing of votes is
happening? does a single republican even care about that? no. so let's let that sink in. that they talk about all of these memos that totally mischaracterizing and yet what is actually happening in voter suppression, not a peep. so i want to ask you, mr. attorney general, shelby county gutted the voting rights act and then followed by -- wherein the majority opinion suddenly comes up with all these guideposts that is justice department now has to prove in order to protect our right to vote. can you just tell us what the impact of the supreme court's shelby county decisions have been on the justice department's ability to protect our right to vote and is there something we can do?
are there tools that we can provide through congressional action that will enable you to protect our right to vote? >> yes, senator. right to vote is fundamental pillar of american democracy. the voting rights acts is one of the greatest statutes that was ever passed. it enabled the justice department to protect people's right to vote and prevented against discrimination based on race, ethnicity with respect to patterns or practices, with respect to voting. in shelby county, the supreme court took out the most important tool we have, which was section five, which allowed preclearance by the justice department or alternatively allowed the state to go to a federal court to get clearance. and that left us with the circumstance of having to examine each case one by one with the burden on the justice department. so one thing that the congress
could do is put section five back in place as the supreme court indicated could be done with the appropriate legislative record. second, burnvich interpreted it in a way that the justice department disagrees with. i'm not saying anything we didn't say in our supreme court argument. they narrowed it in a way that we think was not consistent with congressional intent and which makes our ability to challenge discriminatory changes in voting more difficult. congress could, again, fix that by bringing back section two to what congress originally intended and making that clear in the statutory language. both of those changes would be enormously important from the point of the justice department's success in protecting the right to vote. >> thank you, senator. >> i'm sorry. >> thank you, senator. >> mr. chairman it's clear that we will have to do those things
that the attorney general recommends the people's right to vote without a single republican going in that direction. that's how pathetic it's all in. >> thank you, senator. senator lee. >> thank you mr. chairman. i find it deeply concerning that you still haven't cited a single example of a true threat of violence. if i'm understanding this correctly, and i've been here for most of this hearing. i've had to step out to vote a couple of times. but i think you seem to admit you didn't do any independent research outside of receiving the september 29th national school board association letter. one of the things i find perplexing and quite troubling, this came in -- it was sent on september 29th. i believe that was a wednesday. the following monday, just days later, just barely over a weekend, you responded with your
memo. now, i submit as a member of the judiciary committee with oversight over your committee, i request information all the time. it takes time. i understand that. sometimes it takes months to get a response back. i'm grateful when i get a response back, especially when it's a response that contains meaningful information. i understand people are busy and they've got a lot of stuff to comply with. if one association can send one letter without any independent research on your part and within days barely over a weekend get not just a response, but an action memo signed by the attorney general of the united states, i think that's weird. i think that makes me really uncomfortable. especially when the national school board association, as i understand it, had publicly stated that they've been coordinating with officials at the white house on this for weeks.
it doesn't feel right. it doesn't seem right to me. now, last week two of our counterparts on our house counterpart judiciary committee asked you about the people entering the united states illegally. 1.3 million have entered the united states illegally this year. that's a lot of people. of those 1.3 million, i'm quite confident based on my own past experience as a federal prosecutor, i'm quite confident that some noninsignificant portion of those will have previously been deported. as you know, that is a felony federal offense. illegal re-entry after previous deportation. since they asked you about that, have you had a chance to identify how many prosecutions have been brought for illegal re-entry this year, and i would be curious about that. i would also be curious as to
whether there's anything memo? >> on that question, the 1.3 million are arrests i think made by cbp. they are referred. they are -- cbp makes the decision about whether with those people into removal proceedings or to refer them to the justice department for prosecution. we have this year charged thousands of cases, thousands of cases, criminal cases, with respect to violations of the immigration laws, with respect to crossing of borders. i don't have the exact number. but the number is in the thousands. >> my time is expired. i express the concern, because when the department becomes focused on things that are not part of its business, harassing,
intimidating parents of america, sometimes lose focus on the things that only the federal government can do. like controlling our border from the dangerous effects of illegal immigration. thank you. >> senator cruz and cotton are speaking three-minute rounds, is that correct? senator booker as well. senator booker. >> in recent months, there's been a disturbing spike in harassment and intimidation and threats of violence against school administrators, teachers and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools. is that true? >> yes, sir. >> i mean, it is true. >> it is true. >> i have a list of very disturbing instances. in texas, a parent physically assaulted a teacher. in pennsylvania, a person posted
threats on social media which required police to station outside of a school district. law enforcement investigating the person. i can keep going. ohio, a school board member was threatening a letter with we are coming for you. domestic terrorism in the united states has been more from overseas radical terrorists since 9/11 or more from home grown terrorists, most of them being right-wing extremists? which has been greater since 9/11? >> i want to be careful about that. the threats that we face with respect to terrorism and none of those descriptions have to do with terrorism. but the threats that we face in the united states come both from foreign terrorists -- >> a church in south carolina, a synagogue in pennsylvania, a school, parkland, a school newtown. has there been threats and violence in schools in the united states of america coming from what types of groups? >> they come from domestic
groups. >> has there been a long, pages long list of what my staff could grab, threats and violence against school officials in the united states of america in the last year? >> i haven't seen the list. but it accords with my -- >> let me show you the letter that i've heard so much about that i pulled it to read it. you say literally threats -- excuse me, spirited debate about policy matters is protected under the constitution. i'm quoting one of my colleagues today. does that sound like harassing and intimidating moms and dads? do you affirm at the top of your letter that spirited debate is allowed? spirited debate about policy matters is protected under the constitution, that protection does not extend to threats and to violence that we have been watching on our tv screens.
intimidating people, threatening to hurt them, taking physical action. you know what, you did not call for the doj and the fbi to monitor school board meetings, did you? >> no, i did not. >> you did not call for anyone to evoke the patriot act, did you? >> no, i did not. >> sir, what you call is for the doj to convene meetings to discuss strategies for addressing those threats. >> that's correct. >> is that intimidating moms and dads going to school board meetings? >> i can't see how that could be interpreted -- >> i know something about law enforcement intimidation. it stems from going up as a black man in america. i know what it feels like to be pulled over, to be accused of stealing things, to ever time i
drive over the george washington bridge as a teenager, to know i had to put extra time because i was being pulled over by law enforcement. if someone was to read the actual letter, you are literally saying as the leader of the highest law enforcement in the land, that you protect spirited debate, that you think given the climate of school violence in america, i met with victims from parkland. mr. president, i'm sorry, i have watched republican after republican go over time. i know you're gently banging that gavel. but i watched all today. my colleagues violate what you said the beginning was a strict time limit. and i would ask you to afford me two more minutes. >> is there an objection? >> no objection.
>> have you met with parkland survivors? >> i met with survivors of the white house -- >> yes or no? you met with survivors of school violence. >> i met with the parkland families. >> yes. do you have a responsibility in a climate of threats and violence taking place at schools, do you have a responsibility to convene strategy meetings to try to make sure we do not have eruptions of violence in the country? is that a responsibility of the federal government? >> our job is to protect -- >> did you specifically say anything in this letter that can be seen as harassing moms and dads and parents or did you explicitly say that the constitution protects spirited debate? >> i specifically said the
constitution protects spirited debate and i don't believe there's anything in this letter that could be read to intimidate mothers and fathers. >> and i'm not talking about the outrage machines that fuel our politics on both sides. i'm talking about the actual letter here, sir, that you wrote. you're a good-hearted person. is there anything in this letter that could specifically lead a good-hearted parent who is against mask mandates, who somehow believes that the teaching of racial discrimination is repugnant to them, is there anything in this letter that would prevent them from going and speaking to it and yelling and being upset and letting their elected officials know what they believe. is there anything in the print of this letter that could be seen to leading to that type of intimidation. >> all of those things are protected by the constitution. >> will you say that one more time? >> all of those things are protected by the constitution. >> i hope that you will do your
law enforcement work. there's too much violence in this country. there's been too many domestic terrorist attacks. i don't want the next hearing to be about some incident. i hope you continue to convene your strategy session, to protect parents and children and school officials from any kind of of the heinous violence that we have seen way too much of in this country and that we all bear a responsibility for stopping. thank you, mr. chairman, for the allowance of the extra time. >> thank you, senator. senator cruz. >> we talked about the difference between law and politics. we heard some impassioned political speeches but also a question that was asked, is there anything in this memo to tell a parent that they're being targeted for harassment and intimidation. i would note that the letter from the school boards cited 20 instances, 15 of which were nonviolent. the letter from the school board described them as domestic
terrorism. within days, the department of justice snapped to the command to the special interest and issued a memo directed to the department and the fbi. this is where law matters. the opening sentence describes a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence. now, you spent a long time as a judge. when you have three things listed, am i correct that anyone interpreting that, reading it would conclude that harassment and intimidation are something different than threats of violence given that you listed each of the three out separately. is that consistent with the cannons of construction? >> the memorandum is addressed to -- >> i asked you a question. not who it was addressed to. >> senator, at least let him respond. >> not when he answers -- if he wants -- >> you're taking my time now. this is not coming out of my time. when i ask a -- >> given you more time than any other senator. >> listen, all i'm asking a
allow him to respond. >> mr. chairman, when i ask a question, he can answer the question. but he's proceeding to ask a total nonsector. i asked -- >> please let him respond. >> i'll ask the question again. the opening line of the memo specified harassment, intimidation and threats of violence. is it correct under the ordinary cannons of construction that a legal reader would understand that harassment and intimidation mean something different from threats of violence? is that correct? >> the reader would know virginia versus black, the supreme court's definition of intimidation and a legal reader would know the definition of harassment. >> and would a parent? >> it's not addressed to parents -- >> parents read it. you're the attorney general of the united states. you said you can't think of anything harassing. you directed the fbi to go after parents -- all right.
let's move on to a different topic. we've sadly seen that you're willing to use the enforcement power of the department of justice to target those who have political views different than you, even if it's a mom in a pta meeting. are you willing to enforce the law fairly against people who are political allies of the president? at a senate hearing in may dr. fauci said the nih has not ever and does not now fund gain of function at the wuhan institute of virology. on october 20th, the nih principal deputy director in writing directly contradicted it. those two statements cannot be true. as you know, section 1001 of title 18 makes it a federal crime to knowingly make false statements to congress. is the department of justice investigating dr. fauci for lying to congress? >> i'm going to say, again, the memorandum that i issued is not partisan in any way.
it has nothing to do with what i agree with or i don't agree with. i don't care whether the threats of violence come from the left or the right. >> could you answer the question i asked? >> we don't comment on criminal investigations or other investigations -- >> amazingly, when it's the political enemies of the administration, you comment loudly in a memo. let me ask one other question -- >> president biden recently said in a national town hall that police officers who declined to get vaccinated should be fired. do you agree with president biden on that? >> i think all police officers -- look, i stood on the stage at the -- at the mall where the 700 and some police officers died this year -- >> let me try again. do you agree with the president. it's a yes or no. you've asked questions as a judge. you know how to get a yes or no. do you agree with the president? yes or no? >> a large of percentage of the law officers who died this year died from covid-19. >> do you agree with president
biden that police officers declined to get vaccinated should be fired? >> if they have been vaccinated, they wouldn't have died -- >> is that a yes. you do agree with the president? in chicago, a third of the police officers did not file their vaccination status. do you think chicago should fire a third of its police officers when murder rates and crime rates are skyrocketing? >> this is a determination that the city of chicago will have to make. >> do you agree with the president? the president said yes. do you agree with him? do you agree with joe biden saying fire police officers despite skyrocketing crime rates. >> that's a question that is a one of state law and will have to be decided by the state. >> you have no -- >> senator, your time is expired. >> you used two minutes -- >> no, i certainly did not. senator blumenthal. >> thank you, again, for being here, mr. attorney general. i'm going to shift topics to an
issue that i -- you're familiar with, the 9/11 families and the secrets privilege. and i want to just say that i was encouraged and pleased when president biden issued an executive order requiring the department of justice to complete a review of documents sought by the 9/11 survivors. as you well know, they're in court now taking advantage of the overwhelmingly approved measure that gives our federal courts jurisdiction over their claims for the harm they suffered when their loved ones were killed during the 9/11 attacks. and i was glad to see that the fbi has released one document on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 deaths. i still am focused on the
state's secret privilege, the invocation of it in past years, before this administration, the overuse of it. in fact, the trump justice department failed to provide any meaningful justification for withholding these documents from the 9/11 families and i think we see now that there was no justification. so i know the department's review was ongoing and that you will continue to disclose, i hope, as much information as possible, as swiftly as possible. just to address the department's use of the privilege more broadly. the memo requires the department of justice to provide periodic reports to congress identifying the cases where the privilege is invoked. and explaining the basis for invoking it. i sent a letter earlier this month to you about this reporting requirement because this committee has received only
two reports in 2011 and 2015 and in the six years since, the department of justice has failed to provide such reports. just to come to the point, i am respectfully asking for a commitment that you will provide these periodic reports to congress and review the department's policies with respect to its invoking the state secrets privilege so as to comply with the 2009 memo. i may have gone too quickly over the various actions of the department. but i'm referring to the 2009 memo which requires those periodic reports. so in the eight seconds that i have left -- >> the answer to both questions is yes. we are currently reviewing that memo. if anything, we will strengthen it and we do intend to make periodic reports and it is not a
periodic report to have not made a response since 2015, i assure you. we intend to do that, yes. >> thank you very much. >> senator cotton? >> judge, i want to return to our exchange this morning. as i reflected on it, you made a shocking admission. you issued this memo direct on monday october 24th. you acknowledged there was no initiative to draft this memo or create these task forces before wednesday, september 29th when the national school board association issued that letter. is that correct? >> i don't know. all i know is that the first time i started working on this was after receiving the letter. that's all i -- >> from your standpoint, there is -- you are not aware of any effort in the department of justice before that letter was sent on september 29th. >> it's fair to say as you're suggesting that this letter and what the other public notices of violence against school board
members and teachers, are what form the basis -- >> this memo is dated october 4th. did you sign it on october 4th? >> i did. >> four intervening days, two of which were weekend days. that is a record for the federal government. >> when we -- >> chuck grassley pointed out you have not responded to letters for his that have been outstanding for months. how it is the department of justice was able to move so rapidly on a single letter from a special interest group that has now repudiated that letter and apologized to its members for sending the letter. how do your department move so fast on this matter? >> an organization that represents thousands of school board members -- >> they purport to represent thousands because state school boards across the country have been reputuating them and trying to withdraw their membership. that's why the national school board association with drew its own letter. who brought this to your
attention? >> you asked me a question, may i answer the question. why speed? the answer is, when we get reports of violence and threats of violence, we need to act swiftly. i would have hated it to have gotten this letter and then acts of violence occurred in the interim. only act here is the circumstances we can't wait until somebody dies. >> okay. you keep citing media reports. there were 24 incidences in that letter. >> they were not media reports i was referring to. >> you said earlier it was news reports. what other reports that you saw about potential violence at school boards were you basing this memo on? >> i don't recall them specifically. but i have now, again, seen since that time that people are repeating what they have said before. >> that's all after the fact. it doesn't go toward your frame of mind. who brought this to you? who brought this memo to you and asked you to sign it?
>> nobody brought the memo to me. >> someone had to bring it to your attention. we're about to sick the feds on parents. >> no one said -- >> someone -- >> that's not the -- this memorandum went through the normal processes within the department and i worked on it myself -- >> someone was a proponent. i bet you didn't write the first draft of this? >> i did work on this memorandum and it represents my views and it represents my reading of the materials -- >> did it come from gupta's office? >> i'm not going to discuss the internal workings of the justice department here. this memorandum reflects my view and i stand behind it and i continue to stand -- >> are you aware of the -- are you aware of conversations between members of your department of justice and the white house leading up to that letter -- >> i'm sure there were -- there were no conversations with me. i'm sure there were
conversations. it's perfectly appropriate when the white house receives a letter calling for law enforcement response across the country. not with respect to a certain case. >> are you aware of conversations between your department of justice officials and white house officials and the members of the school board association all cooperating together which is why you were able to move in four days, judge, four days. two of which were the weekend. >> as i said, i'm sure there were conversations with the white house. i have no idea whether there were conversations with the school board association. >> well, i bet we're going to find out we were. >> there's nothing wrong with there being such conversations. let me be clear again. this is not a request to investigate any particular person or prosecute any particular person. in the same way you, you ask me to worry about violence in the streets, it's appropriate for the white house to urge me to worry about violence in the streets. same way it's perfectly appropriate for the white house
or any other organization to urge me to worry about election threats. there's nothing that i knew about this organization to suggest that it is in any way partisan. >> now that they've repudiated their letter, why won't you say they made a mistake? >> they repudiated language in the letter which i did not adopt and don't agree with. but their concerns are about safety in the schools. and about violence and this is a core concern of the justice department. that's why. >> thank you. senator blackburn has asked for three minutes and i conclude with my own three minutes after that. >> thank you, mr. chairman, attorney general you just told me that you don't think you ever met susan. did you hire susan?
>> i have sign-off authority for everybody in the justice department. that's the best i can answer with respect to that. the question you were worried about, senator, and i understand had to do with durham. she has nothing to do with the durham investigation. >> were you unaware of her comments before you hired her? >> again -- >> you don't know? >> i hire 115,000 people in the justice department. >> i'm fully aware of that. it's amazing that those 115,000 people can't investigate things like crime on the border, crime on the streets and, you know, the i'm going to return to this memo of october 4th. it cites harassment, intimidation and threats of violence. what i would like to know, who chose that language, harassment, intimidation and threats of
violence? you've said this reflected your views. but it's become apparent that you did not write this memo yourself. so i -- i would like to know who came up with that language? was that yours or was that submitted language? >> i don't know whether -- let me put it this way, this was language that law enforcement officers are very well understand. it is contained in the federal -- >> in the house judiciary committee last week, you said you were concerned only about true threats. are you going to revise your memorandum to make it clear that you -- this applies only to true threats of violence instead of classifying parents in this country with domestic terrorists such as timothy mcveigh and
ask questions and then come back and ask some more. sometimes the same questions. i would just like to make this observation. i understand completely why you issued that memo. i wish my colleagues would reflect for a single moment as to why that memo is important not just for school board members, but to send a message across america that there's a line we're going to draw when it comes to political expression. when you say words, when you wave your arms, that's all protected. but when you threaten someone with violence or engage in acts of violence, that is never going to be protected and shouldn't be. it isn't that long ago that gabby giffords was gunned down. >> the republican congressman
from louisiana was gunned down on a baseball practice field by someone from my state who i believe was identified with the left in politics. it doesn't make any difference. it was an outrage that that good man suffered as much as he has because of it. now we have the story in great britain, david ames who goes to a town meeting and is stabbed to death in his constituency in england. can't we -- even if we disagree on issues to a great degree, agree with the premise that anyone who engages in violence or threats of violence has stepped over the line whether they come from the right or the left. i think that's what you were trying to say in your memo about the school boards. and like you, i have never heard the school board association identified as great strong special interest group, i haven't seen that in the years i've been in congress. there are many great, strong special interest groups. i would just say to you, thank
you for doing that. it was the right thing to do. it has been mischaracterized and distorted not only today but since then. but i think we can prove by our actions that we are not trying to stifle free speech. but only saying to people, we're going to draw a line. i was -- i found it fascinating that at least one of the people who was criticizing you today in talking about the situation on january 6th was actually cheering the demonstrators on january 6th and there's ample evidence of that. i would think we've got to draw a line that excepts in this civilized society that we're going to be respectful of one another, even if we disagree politically. would you like to have a closing comment? >> i appreciate your remarks. thank you. >> thank you very much. the committee stands adjourned.