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tv   Part 1 - Attorney General Testifies on Justice Dept. Oversight Matters  CSPAN  October 21, 2021 7:59pm-9:28pm EDT

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now to the house judiciary committee for testimony by attorney general merrick garland. this is live coverage here on c-span3. >> i'm going to to start, four three, two, one.
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you can begin. house committee on judiciary will come to order. without objection the chair is authorized to declare recesses of the committee at any time. welcome everyone to this morning's hearing and oversight of the department of justice. before we begin i would like to remind members we have established an e-mail address and distribn dedicated to circulating exhibits, motions or other materials members might want to offer as part of our fuld like to submit materials please distribute them and we'll circulate them to members and staff aif you would like to submit materials please distribute them and we'll circulate them to members and staff as quickly as we can. also face conversation are required for all meetings in enclosed space such as committee hearings except when you are recognized to speak. i will now recognize myself in opening statement. good morning mr. attorney general, and thank you for appearing before our committee
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today. in the department of justice performance as it should it is champion of bill of rights protector of rule of law and corner isotope of institution it is a make up the republic. y general you have the responsibility to keep the department functioning at this high level, preserving the constitution for our children children's children. you have assumed this responsibility at a c nation's history. for four years democratic institutions that you have sworn to prots a judge and now as attorney general were deeply undermined by the former president and his political enablers. during that time the trump administrationeveraged the department to protect the president and his friends and to punish his enemy, both imagined. and when the former president lost the last election he summoned the top law enforcement officers in the country and demanded they use the full install him for another term. plan failed. at least in part because at least some department officials refused to help him overturn the election. even now however, the
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ex-president and his allies continue to cast doubt on the ppear to be drafting a plan to overturn the next one. and next time we may not b so lucky. your task as unvenue unenviable judge garland. it must build back confidence and respect for the constitution and rule of law. enough just to right the ship. as a chief law enforcement officer of our nation it is also your respo country understand and reckon with the violence and the lawlessness of the last administration while maintainingthe department's prosecutorial independence. january 6th insurgents stormed the capitol building in what appears to be a pre-planned our government. seeking to overturn the votes of their fellow americans and believing in the lie told them by president trump and his followers. i commend the department for doing tible for
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the violence of january 6th to st follow the facts in the law where they lead. because although you have rightly brought hundreds of c5arges with those who physically trespassed in the capitol, the evidence suggests you will soon have hard decisions to make about those who organized and st place. and we must acknowledge the simple truth, that none of the individual who is attacked the capito out of thin air. according to the southern poverty law center membership in white nationalist groups grew 55 percent in the trump presidentedsy. membership in hate groups overall remains historically high. the covid-19 epidemic as with many national crises broughtut both the best and the worst of our fellow americans. while every day heroes struggled to save lives and keep peoplend hate incidents skyrocketed. innocent people lost their lives and communities were shattered. i know doj and its components are cree to biden
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administration's national strategy for countering violent extremism and i'm lookingring more about working to prevent violent extremists from gaining further foothold in our country. this gxtremistd in an epidemic and violence and intimidation directed at healthcare professionals, tehers essential workers, school that prizes democratic involvement in every level of government. the right to be hea a voice is guaranteed byo8 the constitution. but nobody has the right to threaten his or herith absolutely right to ask the fbi and federal prosecutors to meetlocal law enforcement agencies and set upnication so that we can confront this spike in violence head on. a broader pattern here. in each of these cases the rise of president big lie growing violence se set of individuals havehe same sort of misinformation stoked the same sor little interest in solvinglems. but this country tenure
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as attorney general cannot be defined only by we have much more to do to deliver on our nation's fundamental process of liberty and justice for all. black ando live in ahey can trust the local es. i applaud you for to limit these chokeholds and no-knock warrants and we must continue to work together to address the issues that allow minal jusely impact people of color.l$ across the country state legislatures are restricting the ser cynical political motives. your departmentn to secure our next elgr rights restoration act that will give you the tools you need to nakedly undemocratic belong. similarly, texas law to ban abortion after six weeks and punish abortionrestrict its citizeionally protected rights. it does so by offering to pay a bounty to those who turneven strangers if they suspect someone violated the law or helped a woman get an abortion after six weeks. this suspicion and stops women from seeking help.
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the as dangerousconstitution department's swift action to protect these essential rights. we cannot become a country where only some people in enjoy their constitutional rights. as attorney general, you have the power to help our country navigate the of the last four thank you again for appearing before us today. i look forward to your testimony. ranking member of the judiciary the gentlemen from ohio mr. jordan for his opening hank you mr. cha doj was political and went after their opponents. are you kidding me? three weeks as to involve the fbi local skoorbd general of the united states does just that. general of the uni political organization asked to be dpl days. we've saidgeneral 13 letters in the last takes weeks and months to get af the letters we've got nothing. they just gave us the finger said we're not g to you. and all were actually sent to the attorney general. here is a letter sent a specific thing to b days here is what fbi to convene leaders. communication cnieporting. a snitc line on parents. a left pion politically, i don't communication withborder somethin a
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federal dedicated lines of communication on violent crime in violent crime went democrats have defunded police. can't do that. racist hate america curriculum. nope. can't focus on the southern border where this.s: the samerick garland is0 on --. hiredgps, hired garbage together. gave that to they they had a a basis to open up inveenigation into a at q the firm hired by the campaign. cut outhe middle men. going dhe fbi. ji at the fbi handed bunch toldlson anded indicted by the special counsel. few weeks ago the i report tha maid over 200 errorsssmi lies in just 29 randomlyisa thettorney general of the u inhadedicated line of commu mr. chairman afraid. for the fffste,ime during time2d i talked to the good folks getlk country.
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they tell me for the first time dray lenjoy in the first amendment h assaulted in the last year, stop and think aboute told yould gness owners we esses, causing many to go bankruptenur order inbe in ten.nia in your h mask. in vermont you didn't haveveen allowed to have friends and and of course there is always a double s make the rul never seem to follow'em. and the bidenhz adminr lose your even if you have had have natural vaccine or you will lose your almost forgot. the biden administrationts anoed line of communication for reporting. d banks to report onever $600 for every american the that agency with its service t irs, you know, the that targeted conservatives the lasnce he government. we'reú there. dly people are there. are going to cower andtn andairman what
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rule? --inquiry, what rule? audio, visual materials on the ofrepublic- this protocol members to provide 48 hours notice they ar materials. was not úk helpful tool weto manage hearings and make sure videos playedlemenwoman has abouted not provide the 48 notice. playing audquivalent as introducing
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hearing record.ourse object to each other's request but membersright to object ioose and an objection has been heard. hairman did we ever vote on that? >> obviously y to u of the it seems democra yld back the po order? gentlemen would say- thell n a rule. >> it is at point of ord before. playing audio visual is equivalent printed materials into the hearing record. in the normal course of(usiness we do not object to each others requests but members have the right to object if >> -- i'd ask you to rule on my poin. ofem made a valid point >> move toothing to appeal. there's been non no ruling. there's just been an objection and the objection has heard. now we'll the attorney l introduce today's garland was sworn in as the 86th attorney general of the united states march 11 2021.
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immediately preceding his confirmation as attorney general, mr. garland was a judge of the united states court of apeelts to district of columbia circuit. he was appointed to that position in 1997 served chief judge of the circuit 2013 to 2020 and served as chair of the conference of the united states from 2017 until 2020. in 2016 president obama nominated him for the position of associate justice of the united states supreme court. before becoming a federal judge substantial part of his professional life at the department of justice. special assistant to the attorney general. assistant united states attorney. deputy attorney general in the criminal division and principle associate deputy attorney general. early in his career he was in private practice and also taught at harvard high school. earning both of his underges from university.
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second circuit and supreme court justice william brennan. we welcome the attorney general and thank him for participating today. if you please rise, i will begin by swearing you in. raise your right hand. do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury the testimony you are about to give is true and correct to thees best of your knowledge, information and belief so help you god. let the record show the witness has answered in the affirmative. thank you and please be seated. your written statement will be entered into the record i in its entirety. accordingly i ask you summarize your testimony in five minutes to. help you stay within that time g light on your table. when the light switches from green to yellow. you have one minute to conclude your testimony. when the light turns red, it signals your five minutes have expired. attorney general garland you may begin. >> good morning, charm nadler ranking member distinguished members of this committee.
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thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. my address to all justice department employees on my first day in office i spoke about three co-e thattish. upholding rule of law. keeping our country safe and protecting first amendment rights. the justice department must adhere to norms part of its dna since edward levy's tenure as the first attorney general. ofd exercise of discretion and treating like cases alike defined who we are as public servanonths that i have served as attorney general the department has reaffirmed and where appropriate, updated and strengthened policies that are foundational for these norms. for example, we strengthened our policy governing communications between the justice department and the white house.
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that policy is designed to protect the department's criminal and civil law enforcement decisions and its legal judgments from partisan or other inappropriate influence. we also issued a polic better protect the freedom and independence of the press. by restricting the use of compulsory process to from or records of members of the news media. the second priority is keeping our country safe. from all threats foreign and domestic wile also protecting our civil liberties. our 200 joint terrorism task forces which are the essential hubs for international and domestic counterterrorism cooperation government. for fy-22 we're seeking more than $1.5 billion, a 12% increase for our counterterrorism work. we are also taking aggressive steps to counter cyber threats, whether from nation state, criminals. in april we launched both a comprehensive cyber review and
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ransomware and digital extortion task force. in june we seized a 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 announce ad comprehensive violent crimes strategy which deploys all of our relevant departmental components to those ends. we also launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to disrupt illegal firearms 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 $1 billion for grants. we are likewise keeping our country safe from violent drug trafficking networks which are fuelling the overdose epidemic. opioids including illegal fentanyl cause nearly ,070 fatal overdose
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deaths in 2020. we'll continue to use all resources at our disposal to save lives. country safe requires protecting its democratic institutions including the one we sit in today from violent attack. as the committee is well aware, in one of the most sweing investigations in its history in connection with the january the department's third core priority is protecting civil rights. this was a founding purpose when the justice department was today the civil rights divisions's work remains vital to safeguarding voting rights prosecuting hate crimes and stopping unlawful discrimination. this year we doubled is it size of the civil rights divisions voting section and fy-22 budget features the largest in 15%. coordinators for hate crimes work and stepped up support for
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community relations service and efforts to advance environmental justice and tackle climate change. we are also revitalizing and expanding our work to ensure equal access to justice. in the days ahead we look forward to working with congress to restore a stand alone access ffice within the department dedicated to addressing the most urgent legal needs of communities across america. in addn core priorities and other important area of departmental focus is ensuring anti-trust enforcement, reinvigorating that enforcement, combatting fraud and protecting consumers. we are aggressively enforcing our anti-trust lawing anti-competitive mergers and exclusionary conduct and by prosecuting price fixing and elocution schemes that harm both consumers and workers. in 3rz we're seeking additional resources to reinvigorate
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anti-trust enforcement across the board. we also stood up the covid-19 fraud enforcement task force to bring to justice those who defrauded the government of federal dollars meant for the most vulnerable among us. in sum, 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 today and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you for your testimony. we will now proceed under the five minute rule with questions, and i will recognize myself to begin for five minutes. mr. attorney general, in the 2013 decision shelby county versus holder. the supreme court gutted section five the voting rights act rendering its pre clearance division inoperative. direct result the right to vote has come in under renewed and steady assault and states have spent the past eight years enacting a slew of barriers to voting that target or impact
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communities of color and other historically disenfranchised groups. before this committee in august the assistant attorney general christen clark testified section five of the voting rights act was truly the heart of the act and called it the department's most important tool for safeguarding voting right nitrogen our country. why is section five pre clearance so crucial to combatting d practices? >> thank you mr. chairman. vote the right to vote is a fundamental aspect of our democracy. in many ways it is the right from which all other rightsr. the voting rights act was a gem of american legislation, as president ronald reagan said and as other presidents on both sides of the aisle have said. a key part of that provision was section 5, as you said. this was a pre clearance provision, which required specified states where there had been discriminatory practices that patterns or practices of voting should be submitted to the department for pre clearance to determine whether they violated
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the act. there was another alternative, if state did like the result from the justice department it could go to a court and get a resolution there. but the great idea of pre clearance was to allow advanced review for those things went into effect rather than require the justice department on a one by one basis after the fact. makes it extremely difficult to attack unlawful prescriptions on voting practice. >> thank you, assistant attorne general clark testified number two is no substitute for the important preemptive review provided by the process. the full impact of the supreme court's recent decision in bernvich versus dmc on section two remains to be seen. however in the absence, what steps is the justice department taken to increase voting rights under section two? >> section two is a remaining
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tool. it is extraordinarily important and it does give us some impact. in order to better effectuate that provision we've doubled the size of the voting rights section because it will take more people to evaluate state laws on a one by one basis. so we are going about doing that'll. we have brought one case as you know with respect to changes in georgia. we are looking car other states and we are looking carefully at the redistricting which is occurring as we speak now as a result of the census. we continued to do that and vigorously make sure that section 2 is appropriately enforced. >> if you should find that given states reapportionment, for example, was unconstitutional and you sued it could take six or eight years for those suits to be resolved as we've seen. and that's one reason -- another reason for the necessity pre clearance.
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only one last question for you. the country and the congress is still reeling from the events of january 6th and the select committee is diligently pursuing its investigation into the insurrection. this week chairman thompson and his colleagues voted to hold in contempt steve bannon who failed to supply with the committee subpoenas. and the measure will be taken you have by the house later today. unfortunately the actions of individuals likeew to us. many committees including this one repeatedly face obstruction from the prior administration in the former president's loyal allies. congress however is not an enforcement body and looks to the department to handle criminal matters when appropriate. so i ask you mr. attorney general, regardless of politics will the department follow the facts and the law and expeditiously consider the referrals put forth by the select committee in and when they are approved by the full house? >> the department recognizes the important oversight role that this committee and house of representatives and the senate play with respect to the
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executive branch. i will say what spokesperson for the u.s. attorneys office in the district of columbia said i think yesterday or the day before the house of representatives votes for referral of a contempt charge, the department of justice will do what it always does in such circumstance apply the facts consistent with the principles of prosecution. >> thank you very much. >> pull the mic a little closer. >> oh i'm sorry. is that better? of course. >> mr. shabt. >> thank you. mr. chairman i'd start bying is you unanimous consent that an op ed that appeared in "wall street journal" by the auto over the patriot act entitled patriot act wasn't meant to target --. most of us at other jobs before
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we got here to congress. for example, i practiced law for quite a few years. i was county commissioner i was a member of cincinnati city council and before that schoolteacher. in cincinnati in the inner city. all the students in the school were african american and i taught the 7th and 8th grade. it was my experience that the kids who did the best were the ones who had parental involvement. education. does that make sense to you? >> yes i think parental involvement is very important in education. >> thank you. now with that in mind having parents involved in their children's education, i have to say i found it deeply disturbing that the national school board association convinced the biden administration to sick you and your justice department the fbi, the full power of the federal law enforcement in this country on involved parents. as if they were domestic terrorists. one of the tools in your arsen of weapons of course is the
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patriot act that i just mentioned. not many current members of this committee were here when we passed the patriot act. but i was. and mr. chairman you were too. and i remember clearly that we were both concerned about potential abuse of this new law enforcement tool. and that is why, for example we insisted on sunset provisions on some aspect of the patriot act. but i can tell you, not in a million years did we dream that one day we'd see the justice department treat american parents as domestic terrorists. and in a primer on domestic terrorism issued last november by none other than the fbi, mr. attorney general, the stated that quote, under fbi policy and federal law, no investigative activity related to may be initiated based on first
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amendment activity unquote. now, parents speaking up at a school board meeting against the teaching of critical race theory or anything else they want to talk about is clearly a first now, of course school board meetings can sometimes be highly emotional affairs. parents do care about their kids' education. how they are being taught what they are being taught. and these parents have every right to be heard, even if former virginia governor terry mcauliffe thinks otherwise. now, no one has the right to be violent, or threaten violence. and if anyone does that they can be dealt with by security or by local law enforcement. but we don't need the vast power of the federal government throwing its weight around. we don't need you, your justice department or the fbi trampling on the rights of american paro is just want the best possible education for their children. so mr. attorney general, let me ask you this.
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according to the sarasota heralde, one example of a so called terrorist incident was a parent merely questioning whether a school boardbers had earned their high school diplomas. now that might have been rude. but does that seem like an act of domesticou or your justice department ought to be investigating? >> absolutely not. and i want to be clear, the justice department supports and defends the first amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish about the edu their children about the curriculum taught in the schools. that is not what the memorandum is about at all. nor does it use the words "domestic terrorism" or "patriot act." like you, i can't imagine any circumstance in which the patriot act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children nor can i imagine the circumstance where they would domestic terrorism. >> thank you, i'm nearly out of
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time so let me just conclude with this. we ought to be encouraging parents to be actively involved in the ocean education of their third down. mpetitive with the children of japan and south korea a india and yes, china, for tomorrow's job, they better be getting a topnotch education in this country. let's support and welcome parental involvement, not use the vast powers of federal law enforcement to target parents as domestic terrorists. i yield back. >> the gentlemen yields back. once again, i would remind all members that guidance from the office of attendings states that face coverings are required for all meetings in enclosed spaces such as committee hea authorized to speak and that means you, jim, and marjorie and matt and lot of're people i can't recognize because of distance, etc. so please everyone observe that
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rule. i now recognize mr. lofgren for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you mr. attorney general for being here this morning. after a confirmation hearing, you characterized what happened on january 6th as quote, a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy. i agree with that. and in your written testi out that the intelligence the intelligence community has identified domestic violent extremists as the primary threat to our nation. and further note that your department is committee to keeping our country safe by protecting our democratic institutions. i would note that protecting ours not limited to the department of justice. the congress also has that obligation to protect our democracy. to that end, we have a select committee that is reviewing the events leading up to january 6,
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and has a legislative mandate to devise legislative recommendations to prevent future acts of domestic extremist violence to strengthen the resiliency of our nation's democratic institutions to propose laws that will keep us our democratic system safer. now, with that background in mind we are, as you are aware, seeking information to inform us to perform that role. before you were ag you were a judge. and i note that in your judicial 2004 there was a case judicial watch versus the department of justice, where the court ruled, ial communications privilege applies only to documents solicited and received by the president or his immediate white house advisers who have broad and significant
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responsibility for investigating and formulating the advice to be given to the president. i think you're familiar with that case. do you think that's still good law? >> yes, i think the dc circuit good source of law. >> in the supreme court case nixon v. administrator of gsa, 1974 the judicial watch case actually relied on that precedent, that case said that the communications to advise the president would be only on official government matters. do you think that's still good law? >> i think the supreme court's opinion is still good law until it's reversed. but i see no sign that it's going to be reversed. >> we were here in the judiciary committeetimony from mr. mcgahn, and the court wrote in the 2019 ca quote, to make the point as plain as possible it is clear
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to this court for the reasons explained above that with respect to senior level aides, absolute immunity from compelled congressional process simply does not exist. do you think that's still good law? >> i believe the mcgahn case is still good law. >> recently the department of justice informed a federal district court that quote, conspiring to prevent of lawful certification of the 2020 election and to injure members of congress and inciting the riot at the capitol would, quote, plainly fall outside the scope of employment of an officer or employee of the united states of america. since your department filed that i assume you agree with that. >> yes. >> so i'm not going to ask you about what your department will do if the house of representatives adopts a referral to your department because i take you at your word that you will
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follow the preceden follow the law in the ordinary course of events. i would just note that your defense of the rule of law for the department of justice and your standing for the rule of law also means the rule of law for the congress of the united states. article i was the first article for a reason. we have a role to play in making sure that our democratic institutions are dependedfended. i thank you for your service to our country and i look forward to your deliberations so that the congress of the united states can play its rightful role in defending our institutions and adopting legislation that will strengthen our institutions and preserve and protect our democratic republic. with that mr. chairman i yield back. >> the gentlelady yields back. mr. gohmert. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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thank you, judge garland, for being here. you said a moment ago you couldn't imagine a parent being labeled a domestic terrorist. but parents all over the country believe that's exactly what you labeled them by your memo indicating you were going to get involved in board meetings school board meetings because of the threat of domestic terrorism. so if you can't imagine a parent being labeled a domestic terrorist, i would encourage you to redo your memo so it's not so -- perceived as being so threatening to people concerned about their kids' education. but i want to take you to january 6. it's a very common topic here for people. umm, has any defendant involved in the january 6 events been charged with insurrection?
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>> i don't believe so. >> well, that is the word most used by democrats here on capitol hill about january but no one has been charged with it that we could find either. how many protesters on january 6 were charged with obstructing an official proceeding for four to six hours, do you know? >> i don't know the exact number. obviously there are 650 who were arrested some for assaulting officers some for obstructing proceedings, some for conspiring to obstruct proceedings. i can get you the numbers for each of the specific -- >> thank you. i would be interested in getting that number. but regarding the men who broke the gla the two doors there at the speaker's lobby when the two capitol police had been standing there moved to the side to allow them access were any of those people who broke glass and did damage to those doors
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working for the fbi or other federal law enforcement entities? >> this is an ongoing criminal investigation, and i'm really not at liberty to discuss. there have been some filings in the nature of discovery which has been provided to the defendants. but other than that i can't discuss this now. >> well, we've seen some of those filings that talk about persons 1 through 20 something. were those persons, 1 -- designated by number were those people who were employed by the fbi or federal entities or were they confidential informants? >> again, i don't know those specifics. but i do not believe that any of the people you're mentioning the indictment were either one. >> was a determination ever made as to whoúl repeatedly struck
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roseanne boilylan in the head with a rod before she died? >> again, i think this was a matter that was investigated by the u.s. attorneys office. >> there's a witness on video saying that it was a dc metro policeman. i didn't know if you have been able to confirm or deny that. well on june 22 of 2016 judge, most of the democrat members of congress took over the house floor and for the first time in american history, members of congress obstructed official proceedings, not for four to six hours, but for virtually 26 hours, not just violating over a dozen house rules, but actually committing the felony that some of the january 6 people are charged with. that was during the obama administration. nobody has been charged. and those kind of things where you let democrat members of congress off for the very thing
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that you're viciously going after people that were protesting on january 6 gives people the indication that there is a two-tiered justice system here in america. you know well you've been a circuit court judge, you know well that confinement, pretrial confinement is not ever to be used as punishment. yet there are people and understand as a former tough law and orderjudge, i would sentence everyone regardless of their party, who did violence or committed crimes on january 6 to appropriate sentences. but for heaven's sake they are being abused in the dc jail. have you done an inspection over there of the dc jail since your department has some jurisdiction? >> so my understanding is judge
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lamberth who i respect very much -- >> yeah, he held the warden haven't seen improvement. >> he asked for a review. and the justice department is conducting a review the marshals did an inspection th which was reported in the news. and the civil rights division is examining the circumstances. this is the district of columbia jail it's not the bureau of prisons, you understand. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. as i've explained to members on many occasions, i view wearing a face mask as a safety issue and therefore is an important matter of order and decorum. since i am responsible for preserving order and decorum in this hearing, i am requiring members of the committee to wear face masks. i came after the office of the attending physician released this guidance on wearing masks in committees some time ago. still is that members wear their masks at all times when they are not speaking. i will take members' compliance
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of this rule into consideration when they seek recognition. i see mr. roy, for example. i now r >> thank you, mr. chairman. general, let me thank you for your enormous work that the department is doing. i have a series of questions. help me out in your answers so that i can secure responses. as you well know the senate judiciary committee did an outstanding report on how the former president and his allies pressured doj to overturn the 2020 election. in particular they noted a series of dates in which they assess that the former president grossly abused the power of the presidency. he also arguably violated the criminal provisions of the hatch act which prevents any person from commanding federal government employees from engaging in political activity. were there be any reason the doj would not further research or determine prospectively that the
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former president could be prosecuted under the 4567hatch act? >> congresswoman, the justice depart very longstanding policy of not commenting on potential investigations or actual or pending investigations. it's a foundational element in our rule of law and norms. it's to protect everyone no matter what their position president, former president, congresswoman, senator, or ordinary citizen, and i'll have to rest on that that i can't comment on -- >> thank you. i take it there is no thank you so very much. the justice department investigated texas, five secure juvenile facilities, findings sexual abuse. can i quickly get an answer working with the justice department conditions at these facilities since the facts were gross in terms of the abuse of those children? i think you're investigating georgia as well. mr. general? >> so we are investigating texas. that was announced, and i believe the governor welcomed
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that investigation. and it's being done by a combination of the civil rights division and all four u.s. attorneys offices in texas. >> thank you, sir. with respect to compassionate release which came about during the c.a.r.e.s. act, 39% of american prisoners contracted covid-19. 2,700 persons have died. there is a potential of the compassionate release being eliminated and those out, but also i found that is not being utilized appropriately now. the attorney inspector general said that bop was not prepared with the issue -- was not prepared to deal with the issue of compassionate release on a granular level and of course the director said prisons are not made for social distancing. my question is will you monitor what is going on with compassionateh@ release in terms of people concerning and the
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fair use of compassionate release under this issue of covid? >> congresswoman, the answer is yes. obviously the pandemic was not something that the bureau of prisons was prepared for or frankly most american institutions were not prepared for. it created a lot of difficulties. it did lead to compassionate release, leaving people in home confinement. i don't know the specifics that you're mentioning but we arearefully how the bureau is responding now to this dangerous circumstance of covid-19. >> thank you, general. we found as it relates to the women in prison 6,600 are serving huge sentences of life parole -- life with parole life without parole virtual life et cetera. 86% of women in jail have experienced sexual violence. this is the report as it relates to women of color. can we have a more vigous trauma, mental health protocol
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for women in prison? federal. >> deral. i think we're required to be careful about such things and we've asked for additional if you could funding for that purpose. >> thank you. can i quickly ask, bawa which was not passed by the house, will that passage help you deal with domestic violence against women? it's domestic violence awareness month this month. would it help you be more effective in prosecuting moving forward? >> yes, we support reauthorization of the violence against women act. >> i'm going to make a few statements. gun violence in children has accelerated in a 19-year high in 2017. i would appreciate talking further about greater prosecution on gun trafficking and the proliferation of guns. secondarily, hate crimes has surged as well and we want to hear about the resources being used for hate crimes.
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and then as you well know we have been the poster child in texas for racial gerrymandering and let me thank you for the work you've done under section 2, i just want to make sure this is on the radar screen of the justice department dealing with that issue of redistricting. but my question finally is the texas abortion law, one of the worst -- >> the gentlelady's time has expired. >> -- i'm asking that -- >> the gentlelady's time has expired. mr. owens. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, attorney general, attorney general garland, for coming before our committee today. i like to take every opportunity i have to share with our nation the making of a great community. i grew up in one, in the deep south, 1960s. though in the depth of jim crow segregation the community produced giant americans like clarence thomas condoleeza rice thomas stole, walter williams and colin powell. this was not by accident. it was not -- and it was also not rare. the community of faith, family
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free market and education. education was the very core of our success. i was raised in a home with teachers. my dad was a college professor of 40 years. my mom, a junior high school teacher. theye trusted to do what teachers have done throughout our history, to teach children how to read write, add, subtract and to think critically. success in education was always based on parental involvement. it was both expected and welcomed. in my great state of utah these changed. we do not expect nor will we tolerate leftist teaching of our children behind our backs the evil of crt, how to hate our country and hate others based on skin color. some of the most recent actions that the department of justice have taken against parents are concerning. and i would like to direct my questions around that topic. similar questions have been asked and i do want to make sure -- make it very clear to some of my constituents some of the concerns i have. we can all agree that true threats and violence at school board meetings are inexcusable.
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attorney general garland, do you agree with the national school board association that parents who attend school board meetings and speak passionately against inclusion of programs like critical race theory should be characterized as domestic terrorists? >> i do not believe that parents who testify, speak, argue with complain about school boards and schools should be classified as domestic terrorists or any kind of criminals. parents have been complaining about the education of their children and about school boards since there were such things as school boards and public education. this is totally protected by the first amendment. i take your point that threats of violence are not protected by the first amendment. those are the things we're worried about here. those are the only things we're worried about here. >> thank you so much for that. is there legal precedence for the department of justice to investigate peaceful protests or
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parental involvement at public school meetings? >> just to say again, we are not investigating peaceful protests or parent involvement in school board meetings. there is no precedent for doing that and we would never do that. we are only concerned about violence threats of violence against school administrators teachers staff, people like your mother a teacher. that is what we're worried about. we are worried about that across the board. we're worried about threats against members of congress. we're worried about threats against police. >> thank you very much. thank you much for that. i'm also a member of the education and labor committee. on october 7, republican members of this committee sent you a letter you and secretary cardonea cardona, expressing a concern about remarks that the secretary had made about parents. we asked that you brief the committee before taking action on parents' lawful expression of legitimate concerns. have you received that letter and do you plan on testifying
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before the house education and labor committee? >> i'm sorry, i don't recollect the letter but i'll ask my staff to find out where it is. >> okay. let me just say this as i wrap this up and i do appreciate you being here attorney general. i was aware of a time when our race led our men, matriculating from college, black men matriculating from college and i'm now aware in 2017 that 75% of black boys in the state of california cannot pass reading and writing tests. that's a big shift. and the difference is in those days when i was growing up parents were involved. there was a trust that we can send our kids to school and they can be taught how to love our country, love each other, and love education. that has been changed drastically. and i think i'm going to implore parents out there, get involved. now is the time. do not trust any other adults
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particularly our educational system for the future of your kids. get involved. fight for your rights for your kids to be taught how to love our country, love education, and move forward. and i think if we do that we'll get back to old school america where we can appreciate the fact of who we are and an educational system that should be teaching us how to do that. i yield back my time. >> the gentleman yields back. mr. cohen. >> thankchair. welcome, general garland. i feel it's a difficult position for me to question you because i have such respect for your acumen your probity, and your rectitude, which is widely recognized. but there are questions i must ask. the senate judiciary committee had a report recently about the attempts of president trump to get department of justice employees involved in the stop the steal campaign trying to subvert the election. are any of those people that were involved in that still in
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the justice department? >> all the bold face names i know about were political appointees all of whom are not at the department. i don't know the answer otherwise. i don't believe so. but -- >> thank you. i would appreciate if you would check into that if they were and they participated in this that they should come to your attention and they should have certain sanctions, i believe. you have defended or sought to continue to defend president trump in his defamation action brought by e. jean carroll. he called her a liar. for what it was worth, he said she wasn't his type. his type is apparently fairly expansive. and you're defending him. do you think that the public sees that as a proper use of department of justice resources, when it's been shown that we're short on personnel in the civil rights division and that we need that personnel, and yet we're defending president
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trump's defamation lawsuit by a woman whom he has defamed? >> congressman, we are not defending the defamation made by the former president. as i've said publicly several times, sometimes being the attorney general and sometimes being the judge means taking positions with respect to the law that are required by the law but which you would not take as a private citizen. in this circumstance the justice department's briefing is not about whether this was defamation or wasn't defamation. it was solely on the question on the application of the tort claims act. and there is consistent precedent in the dc circuit which holds that even defamatory statements made during press conferences by public officials are within the scopehat very narrow purpose and very narrow defamation.
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>> if i may, sir, and i appreciate that and read that but this was an act he took when he was a private citizen, he is now again a private citizen, and was totally outside anything to do with being president. i hope you will look into it again because i think the public the rule of law, you made clear, and i know you believe this is one of the major tenets of the department of justice, to uphold the rule of law. michael cohen has a felony on his record spent time in prison for paying at the direction of president trump hush money to stormy another woman. i believe it's pretty well-known that president trump was individual 1 as described in the indictment. he couldn't be indicted because of department of justice policy you don't indict a sitting president. he's no longer a sitting president. do you believe that not looking into indicting individuals 1 equally if not more guilty than michael cohen is not an abuse of equal protection under the law and an abrogation of the idea that the rule of law is --
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>> so congressman, a very important element of the rule of law is the norm of the justice department that we don't comment on whether we're investigating what investigating, what the status of investigations are, unless or until there's a public charge. that's important to protect everyone whether it be a former president, an existing president, or a public official or a private individual. >> i will accept that but i hope that you will look at it because i believe that he is equally if not more guilty and it does seem that people get favored treatment, if he's not prosecuted. transparency is important as well. amy berman jackson tried to release some records regarding bill barr's downplaying of trump's obstruction of the mueller investigation. this committee was looking into the emoluments clause violations of the trump hotel and got an order to see some records. do you believe that transparency those situations are ones where transparency was not permitted to the american public as well as the whole
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mueller report which hasn't been redacted? >> with respect to judge jackson's ruling i respect judge jackson, she was a former colleague, i respect her very much. we just have a difference of opinion with respect to theive privilege exception. we believe that in that circumstance the memorandum which was given to attorney general barr is protected by that so that all attorneys general can receive honest advice from their subordinates. that matter is before the dc circuit now. everything i've just said is in our papers so i'm not saying anything outside the record. and it will be resolved by the dc circuit. >> the gentleman's time has expired. mr. johnson of louisiana. >> thank you. mr. attorney general, millions of americans are deeply concerned today that instead of addressing the most pressing issues facing our country, we're watching the biden/garland justice department be weaponized that you are using your authorities now to advance
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far left policies and attack republican-led state actions and erode constitutional norms. the most recent case in point that's been brought up this morning, your memorandum directing the fbi and other icials to get involved in local school board debates. it concerns us that it was issued just five days after the national school board association sent a letter to president biden which referred to concerned parents as the equivalent of quote, domestic terrorist and perpetrators of hate crimes unquote. given the timing of all this your memo appears to have been motivated by politics more than any pressing federal law enforcement. this is concerning to us and it's worthy of investigation. it also concerns us that your actions may have been motivated by your family's financial stake in this issue. published reports show that your son-in-law co-founded a company called panorama education. we now know that company publishes and sells critical race theory and so-called antiracism materials to schools across the country and it works with school districts nationwide to obtain and analyze data on
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students often without parental consent. on its website the company brags it's surveyed more than 13 million students in the u.s. it's raised $76 million from powerful investors including people like mark zuckerberg just since 2017. my first question is this. are you familiar with title v of the code of federal regulations which addresses the rules of im impartiality of federal employees and officials? >> i am very familiar with it. i want to be clear once again that there's nothing in this memorandum which has any effect on the kinds of curriculums that are taught or the ability of parents to complain about the kinds of -- >> i understand your position on the free speech. >> it's not a position. >> just a minute. the question is the question is the thing that is concerning to those parents that are showing up at these school board meetings the very basis of their objection and their vigorous debate as you mentioned earlier, is the curricula, the very curricula
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that your son-in-law is selling. so to millions of americans, my constituents, i was home all weekend, i got an earful on this they're very concerned on that. subpart e of the federal regulation says an employee of the federal branch is discouraged from engaging in conduct that's likely to affect the financial interest of someone close to them. your son-in-law your daughter clearly meets that definition and so the question is did you follow that regulation did you have the appropriate agency ethic official look into this did you seek guidance as the federal regulation requires? >> this memorandum is aimed at violence and threats of violence. >> i understand >> there -- >> i understand that. excuse me. did you seek ethics counsel before you issued a letter that directly relates to the financial interest of your family yes or no? >> this memorandum does not relate to the financial interests of anyone. >> i take that as a no. >> the memorandum is against
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violence and threats of violence. >> mr. attorney general, will you commit to having the appropriate ethics designee review the case and make the results public? >> this memorandum is aimed at violence and threats of violence. >> i understand your talking point. you're not anger my point. with all due respect, will you submit to an ethics review of this matter yes or no? >> there is no company in america or hopefully no law-abiding citizen in america who believes that threats of violence should not be prevented. there are no conflicts of interest that anyone could have. >> according to you. but sir, with due respect, that's the purpose of the federal regulation. we need objective third parties to review our activities. you don't get to make that decision yourself. it doesn't matter. you're the chief law enforcement of this country. this raises questions in the minds of millions of americans and your impartiality is being called into question. why would you not submit to a simple ethics review? >> i am exquisitely aware of the
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ethics requirements. >> but you're not following them. >> i have followed them and lived with them for the last 25 years. >> did you seek an ethics review or not? >> i'll say again, there are no conflicts of interest in the justice department -- >> according to you. i don't want to be disrespectful but you are not respecting the constitutional norms and federal law that directly applies to your activities. this is of great concern. this is why people are losing faith in our institutions losing faith in the department of justice. you and i both know as cons people lose their faith in our system of justice, if they lose their fai idea that justice is blind, that there are not two standards -- >> the time of the gentleman has expired. would the attorney general like to respond to the innuendo? >> no you will i can say is i completely agree that rule of law and respect for it is essential and i will always do everything possible to uphold that and to avoid to any conflict of interest.
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>> but you will not -- >> the time of the gentleman has expired.innuendo it was a question. >> mr. johnson of georgia. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here general garland. this summer the house passed hr 4, the john r. lewis voting rights advancement act, which would strengthen sections 2 and 5 of the voting rights act, and also this summer the department announced that it was suing the state of georgia under section 2 of the voting rights for working to protect the rights of all americans to vote. general garland, section 2 of the voting rights act prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race while section 5 of the act mandates that changes to voting practices in certain covered jurisdictions be
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precleared by federal authorities. with the supreme court having nullified section 5, in effect the preclearance requirement, by ruling that the coverage formula was unconstitutional does the department view section 2, litigation alone, as adequate to safeguard voting rights or must congress pass the john lewis voting rights advancement act and reinstate section 5 in order for voting rights to be adequately safeguarded? >> the justice department supports that act. section 2 is what we have. section 5 is what we need. >> knowing that the house has already passed hr 4, does the justice department support passage of the john lewis voting rights advancement act in the united states senate? >> yes, sir. >> thank you. on september 4, 2021 doj announced an investigation into
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georgia prisonconditions. "the new york times" reported that over 25 incarcerated persons died last year by conf homicide in georgia prisons and 18 homicides as well as numerous stabbings and beatings have been reported this year. what is the timeline for this investigation and will you commit to briefing the committee and the georgia delegation on the results of the inquiry? >> we are doing that investigation. it's pursuant to statute, which authorizes the civil rights division to bring those kinds of cases. i can't tell you what the timeline is. these kind of things take a considerable amount of time. and i'm not sure what the legal requirements are with respect to briefings outside. this is now in court. so i'm not sure what additional material can be provided outside of what we provide in court. but we'll look into it for you.
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>> thank you. much of what is known about conditions in georgia prisons is derived from social media posts including video footage posted during a prison riot last year. how are social media and the u.s. of smuggled smartphones by inmates aiding doj in its civil rights investigation of georgia's prisons? >> i'm sorry, i don't know the answer to that question but i'll see if i can ask at the civil rights divisio they're using that material. >> all right, thank you. mr. attorney -- general garland, the sackler family has used every trick in the book to escape accountability for their role in the opioid epidemic including abusing the bankruptcy system to secure civil immunity from their victims. and now johnson & johnson has scrambled its organizational charts to put tens of thousands of legal claims into bankruptcy to avoid further liability for
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its cancer causing powder. do you believe culpable individuals and corporations should be allowed to use the shell game to shield themselves from liability? >> i don't know anything about the second example that you gave. as to the first, the justice department's bankruptcy trustee has weighed in to appeal the decision to immunize from personal liability. and i think that matter is now pending in court. >> thank you. lastly i will note that there has been a lot of discussion by my friends on the other side of the boards. and i will point out the fact that there are reports that restrictions on the discussion of race and history in schools, these laws that are being put forward by republican-led states are causing administrators to tell teachers that in addition to having an
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opposing view on slavery, now they are saying that you've got to include an opposing view on the holocaust, if you have any books that are teaching about that you've got to have an opposing view. this is the danger that we -- the gentleman's time-- >> the expired. mr. jordan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the department of justice challenges it. september 1, joe biden criticizes the new law in texas, eight days later the department of justice challenges it. september 29 a political organization asks president biden to involve the fbi in local school board five days later, the department of justice does just that. mr. attorney general, was it just a coincidence that your memo came five days after the national school board association's letter went to the president? >> so we are concerned about violence and threats of violence across the board, against school officials, against -- >> is there any connection
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attorney general, with the school board letter and five days later your memo regarding school board issues? >> obviously the letter which was public and asked for assistance from the justice department was brought to our attention, and it's a relevant factor in -- >> who gave you the letter? >> i'm sorry? >> how did you become aware of the letter? >> i read about the letter in the news. >> who at the white house told you to write the memo? >> no one at the white house spoke to me about the memo all. i am sure at least i would certainly believe, the white house communicated its concerns about the letter to the justice department. and that is -- >> that's my next question. did you or anyone at the justice department discuss the memo with white house personnel or with anyone at the white house before the memo was septembernt? >> i did not. i don't know whether anyone discussed the memo. i am sure that the communication from the national association of school boards was discussed between the white house and the justice department and that's
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perfectly appropriate, just as -- >> who are those individuals,t the white house talked to the justice department? >> i don't know. >> did they talk to you? >> i think i've answered no one from the white house spoke to me. but the perfectly appropriately concerned about violence just like they're concerned about violence in the streets, and they make requests of the justice department in that respect, just like -- >> did you or anyone at the department of justice communicate with the american federation of teachers the national education association, the national school boards association, prior to your memo? >> i did not. i don't know. >> you don't know if anyone else at the justice department did? >> i don't know. >> did you or anyone at the justice department communicate with those organizations, aft, nea, national school boards association, prior to the letter? did you help the national school board association put together the letter? >> i have had no such conversations. i would be surprised if that happened. but i don't know. >> will fbi agents berd meetings? >> no and there is nothing in this memo to suggest that.
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i want to again, try to be clear. this memo is about violence and threats of violence. it's not -- >> the same day you did the the press release, monday october 4, 2021. the press release says justice department addresses violent threats agaials and teachers. now are you said earlier to a question to one of my colleagues on the republican side that parents aren't domestic terrorists we're not going to treat them that way. paragraph. according to the attorney general's memorandum the justice department will address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel. those efforts are expected to include creation of a task force consisting ofntatives from the department's criminal division civil rights division the fbi, office of justice programs and the national security division. i find that interesting. you said there's no way you're going to be treating parents as domestic terrorists but you've got the national security division in a press memo that day. >> my memo does not mention the
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national security division. >> i didn't say it did. i said the press release accompanying your memo that day from the department of justice, here it is. >> i want to be as clear as i can be. i want to be clear as i can be. this is not about what happens at school board meetings. it's only about threats of violence and violence aimed at school officials, school employees, and teachers. >> the first cnn ofsentence of your memo in recent months there has been a disturbing spike in harassment and threats of violence. >> yes. >> when did you review thea regarding this uptick? >> i read the letter and we have been seeing -- >> whoa whoa. so you read the letter? that's your source? >> so let me be clear. this is not a prosecution or an -- >> was there an investigation someone did that said there has been a disturbing uptick or do you just take the words of the national school board association? >> the national school board association, which represents thousands of school boards and
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school boards members, saysre these kind of threats. when we read in the newspapers reports of threats of violence. when that is in the context of threats -- >> the source for the very first -- >> the time of the gentleman has expired. mr. deutsche. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, general garland, for being here. what concerns me is a lack of concern about threats of violence. general garland, let me give you no, ma'am examples some ty florida, a woman was concerned about people going by her home and brandishing weapons. in california a parent physically attacked a teacher, sending him to the hospital. in arizona, a school official was told "you're going to get knifed." a fistfight broke out after a school board meeting in missouri. i appreciate attorney general
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garland, your concern about threats to people who are doing their job trying to help our kids get good education. i'm grateful to you for that. my question is as our governor in florida claims yourhe doj, i would like to know whether governor desantis in the state of florida has been cooperative in your efforts to protect our schools. >> i don't -- i don't know the answer to the question that you're asking. we are trying to prevent violen violence. it's not only about schools. we have similar concern with respect to election workers, with respect to hate crime, with respect to police officers. this is a rising problem in the united states of threats of violence. and we are trying to prevent the violence from occurring. iate it and i am shocked and dismayed by the lack of concern of some of my colleagues on this committee. last year attorney general garland, as you pointed ou overdose in america. young people aged 15 to 24 saw a
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48% increase. earlier this year i lost my8x nephew to an accidental overdose after he consumed a legal herbal with fentanyl. last month the dea issued its first public safety alert in six years and has ramped up enforcement efforts resulting in the seizure of over 11.3 million pills. in a "washington post" article, de dea warns about fentanyl-laced pills, which i will submit for the record. >> without objection. >> a pill must be made in a reputable lab. we are in the midst of an overdose crisis and counterfeit pills are driving so much of it. many of these counterfeit pills that alarm the dea are being sold on social media sites, instagram,
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youtube. he said the drug dealer isn't just standing on a street corner anymore, it's sitting in a pocket on your phone. attorney general, what more should social media companies be doing to prevent young people from finding deadly drugs on their platform and what more can you do about it? >> with respect to the latter question what we can do about it the dea has intensified focus on this problem of fentanyl crossing the border from mexico made from precurso the people's republic of china. this is a very dangerous circumstance. the dea -- much of the -- i think the articto comes from a press conference that the dea administrator gave. a significant portion of these pills are lethal overdose with one pill. and this is an extraordinarily dangerous problem that we are putting our full attention to. >> attorney general garland, i assure you there is strong --
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notwithstanding much of what else you'll hear today, strong bipartisan support in this congress to combat the threats of fentanyl rising overdoses. finally, the person who shot and 17 people at marjorie stoneman douglas high school pled guilty. unfortunately the protection of lawful commerce in arms act has victims and surviving family members from their day in court, proceeding broad immunity in civil lawsuits unique to the gun industry. unfortunately the department of justice has a long history of intervening in civil cases filed by gun violence survivors to defend this law. the question is whether you people that repealing the law in america. >>he president has already stated his opposition to that statute.
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but our obligation in the justice department is to defend the constitutionality of statutes that we can reasonably constitutional. that's the position the justice department takes, whether we like the statute or not, we defend the constitutionality of congress' work. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. at this time we will take a very short, five because i think america needs two great parties that are open. minute recess. >> the committee will come to order. >> i thank the
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