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tv   William Barr House Hearing  CNN  May 2, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PDT

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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. a very good morning to you and to our viewers in the u.s. and aroundment world. welcome, i'm jim sciutto in new york. >> and i'm poppy harlow. right now you see live pictures, attorney general bill barr was supposed to be in that room in the witness chair for a hearing that could have been even more combative, more explosive, more divisive than yesterday's hearing of the senate judiciary committee. this right now is the house judiciary committee, you see the chairman jerry nadler there. as for the attorney general, bill barr, he is a no show, objecting to the democratic chairman's plans to have committee lawyers do some of the reque questioning. >> he could be hit with a subpoena. first house democrats want to enforce the subpoena barr blew off yesterday. as we are speaking that is bill barr leaving his home today, of course, he is no the going to
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that hearing at the house judiciary committee. he would have been, he was scheduled to and now democrats are talking about the possibility of a subpoena, though nor the moment they're focused on getting the fully unredacted mueller report without any of the redactions that were made and crucially with all of the underlying evidence, inste spent the day defending how he handled -- this is barr -- released and summarized that report not only against attacks from democrats but also a letter from the special counsel himself saying that he mischaracterized the special counsel's findings. manu raju is outside that house hearing. barr is not there, he was meant to be the main attraction, so what happens today without him in the chair? >> reporter: democrats are going to make their objections known very clearly here. they are furious on multiple accounts with the justice department, not just the attorney general for refusing to show up, there is an empty chair right now in this room with a placard that says william p. barr. they will make it clear that he
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skipped this hearing because they believe he is afraid to take questions from staff attorneys, but they are also going to try to focus mostly on the refusal of the justice department to provide that unredacted mueller report with the underlying evidence. jerry nadler is warning that he plans to hold william barr in contempt of congress if that full report is not turned over within the next couple of days. he's having some conversations to see if they can reach any sort of accommodation, but there's no signs that the justice department plans to give, so as a result that's going to be one front. the second front, a subpoena for bill barr. we don't expect that subpoena to be issued and served to the attorney general today for him to appear at this committee hearing, but we do expect that to happen in a matter of days and democrats are warning they will enforce that subpoena. whether that means going to court or not remains to be seen, but this will all play out in just a matter of moments. republicans saying it's democrats who are doing these mention that essentially partisan grandstand, saying they
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sabotaged this hearing unnecessarily by changing the format. nevertheless, the justice department and the house democrats could end up in court fighting about all these issues. >> remember the kavanaugh hearings, the republicans on the senate judiciary committee they brought in a prosecutor, a lawyer to ask questions, but this is now being called somehow out of the rules. manu, stay with us, we know you will stick outside the right there. >> let's bring in laura jarrett at the justice department. good morning to you. great reporting on this all the way through. chairman nadler says bill barr is, quote, afraid and that congress has the right to see everything that the special counsel found including the underlying evidence. what does the department of justice say this morning? >> both sides are slinging arrows at each other over there, really at logger heads at this point and dug in. the justice department essentially accusing chairman nadler of bad faith in a lengthy letter last night explaining, one, on the issue of this
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unredacted mueller report, obviously nadler wants to see the fully unredacted version. the justice department has invited members of congress, leadership on the hill, over to the justice department to see basically a mostly unredacted version, but it still has certain redactions for grand jury material which the justice department says that it cannot turn over. in this letter last night they say the following, poppy, you served such a subpoena on the justice department knowing that the department could not lawfully provide the unredacted report. that the committee lacks any legitimate legislative purpose for seeking the complete investigative files and that processing your request would impose a significant burden on the department. so that's a short way of saying you are not going to get the fully unredacted mueller report. now, obviously nadler can try to use mechanisms through the committee to try to get a contempt vote on that issue, but that could be a slog as manu pointed out this could go to court, could take a while. we will be a couple weeks or
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perhaps months before we see how this all plays out, poppy. >> imagine that, a slog in washington. we just noticed something as we were watching the run up to the hearing here, one of the members from tennessee, representative cohen, has a bucket of kfc fried chicken. >> we need the camera to go a little bit more to the right and we will show it to you. >> guessing that might have something to do with barr is a chicken for not showing up. we will know momentarily. we have our panel of smart people here. lawyer ration i just want to ask you a question. in defying this subpoena for the fully unredacted report the department of justice says this subpoena is not legitimate oversight. in our system of government, just a basic question, is it the doj's call as to whether the house, whether congress, has this legitimate oversight over the executive branch? whose call is it? >> it's actually congress' call -- >> ultimately.
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>> sorry, do you mean? >> sorry, there are two lauras. i'm going to go with the lawyer laura, first, but, laura, i'd also like your view. >> we're both lawyers, jim. >> oh, that's right, i forgot about that. i just took away your j.d., laura jarrett. we will go with the former prosecutor first. >> laura jarrett is fabulous, i'm happy to be confused with her any day of the week. the idea of congress being the people who have the actual prerogative to decide what happens here. the reason s remember, we're talking -- >> so sorry to jump in. here is the chairman. >> -- and related matters. i will now recognize myself for an opening statement. attorney general barr has informed us that he will not appear today, although he worked to accommodate his concerns he objects to the prospect of answering questions by staff counsel and to the possibility that we may go into executive session to discuss certain sensitive topics. given the attorney general's
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lack of candor before other congressional committees, i believe my colleagues and i were right to insist on the extended questioning. to my knowledge, not even the ranking member was opposed to the idea of moving into closed session, if necessary. but even if democrats and republicans disagree on the format of this hearing, we must come together to protect the integrity of this chamber. the administration may not dictate the terms of a hearing in this hearing room. the challenge we face is bigger than a single witness. late last night the department of justice wrote to inform us that they will ignore our subpoena for the unredacted mueller report and the underlying evidence. they have made no meaningful attempt at accommodating that subpoena which was due yesterday. the letter references the attorney general's offer to 12 members of congress -- 12 out of 435 -- to look behind some but not all of the redactions provided that we agree not to
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discuss what we see with our colleagues and that we leave our notes behind at the department of justice. it is urgent that we see the documents we have subpoenaed. i cannot agree to conditions that prevent me from discussing the full report with my colleagues and prevent the house from acting on the full report in any meaningful way. an accommodation designed to prevent us from taking official action is no accommodation at all. every member of this committee, democrat and republican alike, should understand the consequences when the executive branch tells us that they will simply ignore a lawful subpoena from congress. if left unchecked this act of obstruction will make it that much harder for us to hold the executive branch accountable for waste, fraud and abuse, or to enact legislation to curb that kind of misconduct or any kind of misconduct, no matter which party holds this chamber on the white house at a given moment. the challenge we face is also
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bigger than the mueller report. if all we knew about president trump were contained in the four corners of that report, there would be good reason to question his fitness for office, but the report is not where the story ends. in the days since the department of justice released the redacted version of the report, president trump has told congress that he plans to fight all of our subpoenas. the average person is not tree to ignore a congressional subpoena, nor is the president. his premise to obstruct our work extends far beyond his contacts with the russian government and allegations of obstruction of justice. the president has also prevented us from obtaining information about voting rights, aca litigation and his cruel family separation policy, among other matters. the challenge we face is also not limited to this committee. in recent weeks administration witnesses have simply failed to show for properly noticed
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depositions. the secretary of the treasury continues to ignore his clear statutory obligation to produce the president's tax returns. the president's private attorneys sued chairman cummings in his personal capacity in an attempt to block the release of certain financial documents. ladies and gentlemen, the challenge we face is that the president of the united states wants desperately to prevent congress, a co-equal branch of government, from providing any check whatsoever to even his most reckless decisions. he is trying to render congress inert as a separate and co-equal branch of government. the challenge we face is that if we don't stand up to him together today, we risk forever losing the power to stand up to any president in the future. very system of government of the united states, the system of limited power, the system of not having a president as a dictator is very much at stake. the attorney general of the united states is sworn to uphold
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the constitution as our nation's chief law enforcement officer. he has an obligation to do everything in his power to warn the president of the damage he risks and the liability he assumes by directly threatening our system of checks and balances and of limited government. sadly, the attorney general has failed in that responsibility. he has failed to check the president's worst instincts. he has not only misrepresented the findings of the special counsel, he has failed to protect the special counsel's investigation from unfair political attacks. he has himself unfairly attacked the special counsel's investigation. he has failed the men and women of the department of justice by placing the needs of the president over the fair administration of justice. he has even failed to show up today. yes, we will continue to negotiate for access to the full report for another couple of days, and yes we will have no choice but to move quickly to hold the attorney general in contempt if he staults or fails
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to negotiate in good faith, but the attorney general must make a choice. every one of us must make the same choice. that choice is now an obligation of our office. the choice is simple, we can stand up to this president in defense of the country and the constitution and the liberty we love, or we can let the moment pass us by. i do not -- and we have seen in other countries what happens when you allow such moments to pass by. i do not know what attorney general barr will choose. i do not know what my republican colleagues will choose. but i am certain that there is no way forward for this country that does not include a reckoning with this clear and present danger to our constitutional order. history will judge us for how we face this challenge. we will all be held accountable in one way or the other. if he does not provide this committee with the information it demands and the respect it deserves, mr. barr's moment of
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accountability will come soon enough. i now recognize the ranking member of the judiciary committee for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let's be very clear. there is only one reason and one reason only at this point we are not being able to fulfill our constitutional role of oversight and that is the chairman's demands that were played out yesterday. we could have had a hearing today, what bothers me the most about this is not only did in standing for the questions that were discussed and the issues that have been discussed mean me and the chairman, not only did he take the ability for the american people to hear again from bill barr, he took our ability to hear from bill barr today. to protect, maybe, because some didn't feel like they could ask proper questions, maybe they wanted more staff questions, who knows, but yesterday we found this, that he claims that he
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wants staff to question the attorney general because the five minute per member is not enough. but yet we approved a motion yesterday that said we could do a whole hour, an extra hour between the chairman and myself. he could have took one of these fabulous members that he has, and he has some excellent attorneys on his side, some of the best. he could have given them all 30 minutes and they could have questioned the attorney general any way they wanted to. instead we go back to a circus political stunt. to say we want it to look like an impeachment hearing because they won't bring impeachment proceedings. that's the reason. take whatever you want to take, you could go out and have press conferences, you can state it from this dais, state wherever you want, but the reason bill barr is not here today is because the democrats decided this he didn't want him here today. that's the reason he is not here. you could have done anything else you wanted and what is
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amazing to me is to say that he is scared of answering questions, scared -- you can disagree with the attorney general all you want, but for yesterday he sat for over six hours in the senate voluntarily answering questions, even on a second round that was taken up by democrats who wanted to ask more questions, and you can agree did he do good, did he do bad, it doesn't matter, but we're not getting that opportunity today because of the stunt and the circus continues over here. all we had to do, we agreed to more time, we could talk about executive session, but, no, for some reason for some purpose except the optics of something they can't do or didn't want to do right now they wanted to have a staff am he be to ask questions. if that staff member wants to ask questions run for congress, find a committee, but you know i could continue on and on and on about the issue that we have here and the impeachment agenda and saying that he's black ma ilg this committee, terrified to come before this committee.
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i think yesterday he proved he is not terrified to sit before anybody, especially the senate which they actually extended the request he time on. he answered the question. whether you like the question or not. as my chairman told me yesterday it's not a matter of whether we agree or disagree on this. we have the position, you do the motion. you can agree or disagree with the attorney general but not hearing from him is a travesty for this committee today. but i would be remiss if i also did not mention the largest tragedy of this day, that actually was from yesterday. the chairman just stated a few moments ago that we can't let moments pass and i agree completely because what happened yesterday on this dais was a travesty. when you do not recognize members for valid motions, when you call things dilatory, questioning the motives of what members are doing it for. i have sat on this committee for six years and i have sat through
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hours of motions to strike the last word, of giving other members on the minority side more time, more time. one of my biggest concerns i ever had with chairman goodlatte is why do you let it continue? just call the previous question. on two occasions last congress he did. on resolutions of inquiry. after almost six to seven hours of debate. the question i have here is not what bill barr is scared of, my question is what are the democrats scared of? they don't want bill barr here today. they've had the report, this he have' read it, they don't like what's in it. the chairman won't even look at what the attorney general offered him. it's pretty amazing to me he wants to go in executive session and ask questions about it but he won't go read it. you can go read it and ask for more. but here is the problem today, and this problem from yesterday is not over. if the majority wants to run a committee in which minority rights do not matter,
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parliamentary procedure does not matter, we saw it on full display yesterday. it will not continue, we will continue this exercise and we will exercise what we have as minority which is the minority rights to ask questions, to make motions. because at the end of the day unless we've forgotten, mr. chairman, you've got more votes than we do. you will get what you want. but just like we sat on this side and you sat on this side and got to spend hours talking about whatever you wanted to talk about while chairman goodlatte sat there and let you do it, and all you want -- and the question that bothered me the most yesterday was we've got time, we have to get on to another bill. timing does not trump minority rights and there is not a member on this dais that should say it's not. and freshman members or anybody else who is here for the first time, that's not how this committee works. if you don't believe me, ask the prior chairman three times was
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chairman of this committee and he laid it out clearly yesterday. when we degree gate members of my side, calling ms. lesko's amendment ridiculous, calling ours dilatory, that's just wrong and should offend everybody on this dais. mr. chairman, this is wrong. the tragedy of today is not that you have an empty chair, not that you have props, you can call the attorney general whatever you want, i'm reminded of sticks and stones kind of quote, but what really bothers me today is the travesty of what happened in minority rights yesterday and there is not a member of the skraths who were on this committee last year that can honestly look me in the face and say y'all were not treated much better by a chairman who actually followed the rules than we were treated yesterday. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. collins. normally at this point i would introduce the witness, but instead we will coulden exclude this proceeding. i just want to say we didn't
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choose not to have mr. barr come, he chose. we cannot permit him or anybody in the administration to dictate the manner in which we function. this does not include our inquiry into the attorney general's handling of the mueller report -- >> point of parliamentary inquire. >> -- or his conduct before congress. nor -- >> i seek recognition for parliamentary inquiry. >> -- and it's underlying materials. we will not hear from the attorney general today but this committee intends to get the information it needs to conduct the constitutional oversight and legislative responsibilities. we will defend the progressives of congress, we will defend the rights of the american people to know what's going on. we will defend the constitutional scheme of equal and coordinate branches of government, we will make sure that no president becomes a monarch. we need the information without delay. the hearing --
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>> mr. chairman, i -- and will do so with trampling minority rights. >> mr. chairman, there is not going to be a recognition of members who seek legitimate inquiry as to the procedures -- >> what's happening, guys? >> okay. >> well, you heard jerry nadler, the chairman of the house judiciary committee uttering the words normally at this point i would introduce the witness. there is no witness. bill barr did not show up, but some theatrics there with republicans on the committee blaming democrats for barr's no show saying that they imposed rules, et cetera, that then denied republican members a chance to question barr. interesting argument there. but there were clearly some fireworks at the house committee hearing yesterday when they were discussing the rules of this procedure. >> right. you had the ranking republican
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there, doug collins, who you just heard from calling this essentially a political circus in his words and the chair of the committee jerry nadler who has the power to decide if they will hold barr in contempt or if they will subpoena him saying that this is a moment of accountability, that it will come soon enough for bill barr and that history will judge them with how they handle this. let's bring our experts back in. we have democrats and republicans who will go to the mics and make their case and we will bring you those as they come. laura coates, just to you, you were mid-thought when we jumped into this. what is your take away? >> now you have this idea of form over substance, poppy. the idea here is that why did barr choose not to come. we know that dr. christine blasey ford had to submit to questioning by somebody other than a member of congress and that was deemed acceptable. why the change now? you had the arguments being made on bost sides as the head lawyer in the country you should be more than capable of fielding
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questions about issues. on the other side you have the idea couldn't there have been some flexibility to allow the person people and members of congress to proceed with congress. i think senator lay lee said it best when he was interviewing william barr when he said he seems to know the rules of fill busters perhaps better than members of congress. perhaps he was hoping to run out the clock as opposed to having the opportunity to have holistic questioning that could be followed through, follow-up questions even without all of that being said and with it all being said, however, it really is absurd that this is a form over substance matter when william barr should be more than capable of answering questions about matters of extreme importance of which congress has the ability and the right to exercise oversight. >> david chalian, you heard doug collins the ranking republican's argument there saying that, you know, the democrats were imposing rules that were unfair,
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in effect blaming the democrats for the fact that barr didn't show up which is a bit of a stretch you might say, but do you understand what the complaints are? are they legitimate complaints? >> well, he's complaining about minority rights, right, in a majority rules scenario and, you know, this is the difference of elections. he is a he claiming that the republican majority on this committee treated the democratic minority in the last congress far better than chairman nadler is treating the republicans in the minority. listen, i look at this and i said, god, i can't imagine why america doesn't really love congress, hold it in high regard or think that their government is functioning well. i mean, this is a bit absurd. i understand both sides are going to make their points, but if this is what government looks like, congress and congressional oversight looks like, i think it's -- it loses whatever substantive point on the balance of powers between the branches,
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whatever nadler is trying to make here i think this sort of showmanship doesn't help either side make their points. >> the attorney general to have showed up. he showed up for the senate judiciary committee run by republicans, why can't he show up for the house judiciary committee which has equal oversight of the department of justice run by democrats? whose fault is that? >> obviously as nadler said at the end and he is right it is the attorney general who decided not to show up, therefore, the blame should go to him for not appearing, but as you know he was trying to negotiate the rules here and as laura coates was just saying attorney general barr would be more than well-equipped to handle sustained questioning from staffers. my question back, jim, is what were we going to learn from this hearing after watching him in the senate judiciary committee hearing yesterday, what are we missing out on by not having him
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here before the house judiciary committee? i don't know the answer to that. >> and i think congressman nadler's point in having an attorney or expert to ask some of those follow-up questions was perhaps to address that, david, things that they think they might miss, but, again, he is a lawyer, there are a lot of good lawyers on that committee who could do some of this questioning as representative collins said, that he could hand over time from other members to those attorneys. talk to us, laura, about the steps and the power that nadler has as the democratic chairman of this committee. there are three options, contempt is one of them, what are the other options here? >> well, first on the issue of barr appearing, i mean, he can now try to get a subpoena for him to appear. if they still can't reach an agreement on the format and it appears that they can't, it appears that par is not going to go to give on this issue of having the committee counsel question him, hen nadler would have to try to force that through a contempt proceeding but that's going to require more votes. if he gets the votes then he has
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to take that to court and get a court to agree with him on it. it's a drawn out process and so to david's point, what is this all for? if this is supposed to be a truth seeking function in the best sense of it, what is the purpose of this and what are we really trying to get at? and, you know, as you pointed out, poppy, there is something like 30 -- >> laura, hold your thought there for a moment because we have a member of the committee, a member of the judiciary committee democratic member speaking now. have a listen. >> my line of questioning today had i had the opportunity would have been around ongoing attempts at obstruction of justice. this is not just something that is in the past. but the president is continuing to tweet and say things that imply that if somebody refuses to tell the truth or speaks against him that there will be consequences to pay. there are numerous things that we have a responsibility and an obligation to investigate and to
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oversee and i think we are truly in a new phase of this entire situation that is deeply, deeply destructive to the constitution and to the foundations of our democracy. >> i think what the house judiciary committee and my colleagues and chairman nadler did today was to do something that the american people have not seen. since the watergate proceedings of richard nixon they have not seen a president not stand up to the congress but stand up to the constitution in a way that rejects all of its parameters and all of the dignity and the order that we have run this country. the constitution started out by saying we wanted to form a more perfect union. today the attorney general joined with his super visor, the president of the united states, decided to show the american
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people thattes in not a democracy that, in fact, we do not adhere to the rule of law and we will continue to be disrespectful to the people's house. i think my line of questioning as my colleagues have indicated would be just the truth. as the march 27th mueller letter stated to the attorney general that he wanted the documents to be released. they were not released. so here we stand today with no other option other than to hold the attorney general in contempt which we hope that will happen. we have not done that because we wanted to continue negotiations. so i would simply ask the question is this the way we want to run this nation? do we want a president that does not welcome the truth and subjecting those who work for him to be tested on the truth. do we not understand the constitution and article 1 and article 2?
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this judiciary committee will not be targeting anyone, all we will be doing is doing our job and that is to have members of the cabinet of the president of the united states to come before this committee and tell the truth. we will not stop until we get the truth or until the truth is told to the american people and the american people will decide as we go forward that the truth has to be acted on and that's what i think some of our republican friends are afraid of. >> attorney general bill barr is not one of the most dangerous men in washington, d.c. for three reasons, first, he intentionally mischaracterized the mueller report, he was then told by robert mueller that he mischaracterized the mueller report and instead of apologizing he doubles down and continues to mislead the american people. second, today he ignored the oversight responsibilities of
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congress and lawfully issued subpoenas. third, right now he is suing to eliminate your healthcare coverage. let's not forget light now he is suing in court to eliminate preexisting conditions healthcare coverage and taking healthcare coverage away from millions of americans. we in congress will reign him in, we will hold him accounta e accountabl accountable. >> as a first time member of congress i can't imagine anyplace else i would rather be right now. i mean, as a student of american history, as a supporter of our constitution this is just such a grave moment and i hope everyone is understanding how grave it is, particularly those at the white house. thank you. >> good morning, everyone. you know, i just have to say as a former police chief that it
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was painful and disgraceful to see the nation's top cop abandon his responsibilities to allow an empty chair to speak for him this morning, however, as a committee member we were respectful enough to put the honorable william p. barr, to put honorable on his name tag, if you will, this morning. if you look at what the attorney general has done since he has been in office, he has certainly worked harder to protect someone who does not deserve to be protected. there is not much that the attorney general has done as the nation's top cop that we can consider honorable. so this morning was a dark day,
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a dark morning for the united states of america and all that the department of justice should mean to this nation. so thank you. >> in the 2016 elections this nation was attacked from outside of its borders by the russians. as a result of their outside attack we are now being attacked from the inside by the very trump administration whom the russians favored. this is a very dark day and a very dark time for our republic. it is under attack. the worst kind of damage that can be done to america is from its enemies from within. we have enemies and we have aiders and abetters of those enemies. i'm afraid that we have reached a time when the people of this
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great nation must stand up and demand that congress take appropriate action to stop this attack on our republic and save this nation its dem tracy and all of the ideals of liberty, fairness and justice that we all hold dear. thank you. >> i've been a student of government all my life. i watched the watergate hearings from the beginning to the end. this smacks so much of watergate. an attorney general like john mitchell who believes the president is above the law, that is not america. the president is not above the law and if the president thinks the special counsel's investigation is a witch-hunt, he cannot stop it. but our attorney general thinks so. chicken barr should have shown up today and answered questions. he was afraid of barry burke, he was afraid of norm eisen, an
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attorney general who was picked for his legal acumen and his abilities would not be fearful of any other attorneys questioning him for 30 minutes. this man was kicked to be roy cohen and to be donald trump's fixer. the black sox look clean compared to this team. it's a sad day in america. >> good morning. i did not have the privilege of being born into this country, i became an american citizen when i was 20 years old and i took an oath to protect and defend the constitution against all foreign and domestic enemies. attorney general barr took the same oath and today he shows that the only oath that he is now following is to protect and defend the president, who right now is threatening the strength of our democracy. having come from latin america i understand very well what it means when a man in power starts
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circumventing equal branches of government. we must not allow this to happen in the united states of america. thank you. >> good morning. the attorney general has a constitutional responsibility to uphold the rule of law, instead he has done everything to undermine the rule of law. the so-called attorney general is abrasive, evasive and unpersuasive. he is a disgrace to the office that he currently holds. the so-called attorney general is missing in action, absent without official leave and has clearly made the decision to serve as the personal fixer for donald trump, inconsistent with the oath of office that he has taken. we as house democrats recognize that we are a separate and co-equal branch of government. we don't work for donald trump. we work for the american people. we have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a
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check and balance on an out of control executive branch, donald trump, the so-called attorney general and his minions are out of control right now. we won't overreach, we won't overpoliticize, we won't overinvestigate, but we will do our constitutional oversight responsibility, the so-called attorney general can run, but he cannot hide. >> today attorney general barr and this administration have done a great disservice to the american people. it's not only about the mueller report, but this is about protecting the integrity of our national security, this is about protecting the integrity of our elections, this is about protecting the integrity of people in this country being able to have affordable healthcare. they have done a great disservice to the american
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people and we, congress, have the responsibility as a co-equal branch of government to protect and to serve and make sure the american people have the facts and the information that they need to make sure that they know that government is truly working on their behalf. my colleagues and i will continue to stand to fight for the truth, continue to stand for what is right to make sure that democracy works for each and every individual in this country. today we will still continue to stand to wait for the truth because you deserve it. [ inaudible question ] >> i think the members, i think we all believe very strongly that the next step is to begin proceedings to hold the attorney general in contempt for the failure to comply with the
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subpoena yesterday. i think we are all pressing our chairman to do that. he as he has been is attempting to negotiate in good faith to see if the attorney general will do it voluntarily, but in the absence of an agreement there it is our position that the attorney general is in contempt of congress, that we have a responsibility to compel his compliance with a lawfully issued subpoena. as i said earlier, if the executive branch can willfully violate lawfully issued subpoenas they will have successfully eliminated congressional oversight. it cannot be up to the executive branch to decide what witnesses and what evidence we will collect in our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibility. so the next step will be an effort to begin proceedings to hold the torn general in contempt, if, in fact, this negotiation or conversation doesn't result in an agreement. i think we -- >> the contempt proceeding would take quite a long time. haven't you essentially blown
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the opportunity to question the attorney general here in a public setting? >> no, but -- >> well, at this point i think there is also a question of what the attorney general is going to continue to say and do. he did not show in the senate hearings yesterday that he was going to answer some of the very difficult questions. in fact, he made it clear on several occasions that he thought that it was fine for the president to lie, for the president to say things to people and encourage them to not tell the truth. so at this point another step that we will be taking and that the chairman has already put into place is we want robert mueller to come and testify before us. at this point i think we need to hear directly from the special counsel about his report and about his findings. clearly he felt troubled enough by what attorney general barr did and said that he wrote not one but two letters to the attorney general.
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he even prepared summaries of his two volumes that could be released immediately to the american people and yet we did not see that happen, it was almost 32 days, i think, from the time that he delivered his report to yesterday when we learned that he had these summaries prepared and ready to go to the public. so at this point i think in addition to holding the attorney general in contempt, should these negotiations not work out, we need to have robert mueller. at this point i don't feel that i can thrust anything that the attorney general is saying because i don't know who the attorney general works for. he certainly is not working for the american people. [ inaudible question ] >> first of all, the one thing i'd like to say is democrats are not rushing toward impeachment, but neither are we afraid of it. the format that we are using is a format to be able to educate
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the congress and the american people about how much untruth has been said. these are dangerous times because if we set the precedent as general barr has done, who is next not to respond to the congress? what cabinet officer in the midst of a crisis, is it the acting department of homeland security secretary in the midst of a crisis? is it the health and human services? so one of the things that we will continue to do is use possibly the contempt proceeding as our chairman may decide to do. in addition, we will not take off an ultimate act that we are allowed to do under the constitution. but let me show you the example. when the tapes were found with richard nixon, the american people said enough is enough. i can assure you as we build the blocks of finding out the truth there is still that proceeding, but we will not be baited into
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it as our friends in the committee choose to try and do. we will only do it as this constitution gives us the power to do. so we are not intimidated by the fact that it may be a little longer. the idea of the attorneys as many have seen is the continuity of questioning. that means that you can cross-examine in the midst of your time frame. collectively the excellent members of congress that are on this committee i have been stunned and excited by their questioning and their thoughts. we will put all that together. but what happens when the lawyers -- and i have been on impeachment proceedings in this committee, judges and others, is the line of reasoning that allows even the american people to see the building blocks and the story narrative of truth that is so very important.
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>> well, democrats there certainly not mincing words. some pretty remarkable proclamations, ted lue saying barr is one of the most dangerous men in washington, d.c., description of enemies within as americans -- american officials who are acting against their own country. a sad day for america. taking this moment very seriously. >> it was startling, i think, the word choice. it was intentional. i mean, ted lue going up there and saying intentionally the first words out of his mouth attorney jenl bill barr is one of the most dangerous men in washington. the question is what are they going to do about it. >> they said the members at least are pushing to hold bill barr in contempt now, saying that the chairman jerry nadler has been doing his best to negotiate. of course, nadler has raised this possibility, the question is does he feel he's reached the end of negotiations with the attorney general, but they also talked about calling bob mueller to come testify. >> which could happen very soon. >> absolutely. >> let's bring our experts back
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in. elie honig also joins us along with david chalian, laura jarrett. laura, if you could just tick through for us, i think you were in the middle of answering when we jumped back in there, what no you? you heard the democrats say we are pushing our chairman jerry nadler to proceed with contempt, you know, holding the attorney general in contempt. what would that look like if it happens? >> so assuming that they are successful with that contempt vote, they have a couple different options. some more realistic than the others. they can try to use what are their inherent contempt powers and get the sergeant-at-arms to go arrest bill barr. that seems like a long shot. they could try to get a u.s. attorney to prosecute him for criminal contempt. given that bill barr oversees all of the u.s. attorneys across the country, again, doesn't seem like that's going to happen. >> not likely. >> the third option i think is if this he want to pursue this
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and press it is the most likely, which is to go into court and to try to get a civil contempt order from a federal judge. now, again, it's going to be a slog, it's going to be a process and especially on something like this, both sides are going to try to make their best case for why they offer reasonable accommodations and the other side with as so out jo ut land i wish. the justice department will say this is unprecedented, there have only been a few cases where senior administration officials, senate confirmed cabinet officials were questioned by staff and that happened in the context of impeachment proceedings. their position is this isn't an impeachment proceeding. chairman nadler disagrees with that. there have been plenty of people who weren't cabinet officials questioned by staff but it would be rare for the attorney general could be questioned not behind closed doors. i think the remedy would be to try to do that civil contempt
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order. they have to decide where do they want to sort of use their power here and where do they want to flex their muscle. they have a number of other issues going on and they want to get robert mueller in. of course, this he want to hear from the man who was actually writing to the attorney general, voicing his concerns at the same time. they are negotiating with the justice department on that at the same time as they're going after the attorney general for his own testimony. >> christine blasey ford is an example outside impeachment hearings where a witness was questioned by a lawyer, that being just a few months ago. he will. he honig, people go to jail for being held in contempt by congress for not appearing. again, unusual obviously to pursue that course with a sitting attorney general, but if you or i were to refuse to come, we would face that risk, would we not? >> you're right, jim. i have had cases unfortunately where i've sent people to prison for failing to comply with lawful subpoenas or lawful court
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orders in the criminal context. you try to do it as sparingly as possible because it's a heavy tool, but, yes, that possibility does exist. is it going to happen to william barr? no way. as we noted before he happens to be in charge of the department of justice which has the authority to make this decision. so there's no possible way that happens. look, there is a narrow issue of will bill barr testify or be made to testify which is very important and there's also an even more important issue of the fundamental constitutional powers between the branches, between congress and the executive branch. we're going to see this come to a head some way, somehow. maybe it will be this, maybe it will be with efforts to get mueller to testify, maybe it will be with the controversy over the background checks. there's four or five of these brewing now invariably it's going to go to the courts and it will come down to congress versus the executive branch with our third branch the judiciary deciding. >> and on the mueller point, i mean, you know, nadler has said the department of justice has not objected to that request to have mueller come testify, which
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could happen soon. david chalian, help us understand politically the big picture here. you have a president who has an attorney general who has just proven that he will go to the mat for this president by his testimony yesterday and by not showing >> well, in case the four-page letter of principled conclusions as the attorney general called it or the press conference or his appearance yesterday before the senate judiciary committee or now his refusal to come hadn't done it, bill barr is now the political lightning rod in washington, which means he is going to become an even more polarizing figure than he already has been. it's going to be something that will work for each side's base, which is there's political incentive for each side to keep this fight up. so that's sort of the larger political picture of what's happening here. i do think what you just heard elie say and what nadler i think
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is probably on his strongest ground about is this notion of the battle between the branches. that constitutional question is one that will be fleshed out and deserves to be fleshed out. there's no doubt about that. if you look in our recent polling, guys, it is clear that the american public has some contradictory feelings about what the democrats should do. they do, the country does think investigating the obstruction of justice charges is something congress should continue to pursue. they think congress should pursue getting a fully unredacted copy of the mule report. there is support across the country for that, but there's also a warning a democrats in our polling that says democrats may be going too far in investigating everything. so i do think the democrats politically are going to have to figure out their targets here. they're not going to be able to fight every single fight and keep the country with them. >> it's a tough balance.
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quickly, before we go, does bill barr, you covered justice depart for a long time, does he feel damaged at all by that. we have our silos in washington. he's getting a lot of praise on the right. the "wall street journal" is saying finally a real attorney general, which the president retweeted. what are you hearing from around bill barr as to his assessment of his own performance. >> i think you saw a little frustration spill out at the hearing yesterday, especially at the end, where he's asked about the letter from the special counsel where he voiced his concerns about the fact that barr's four-pager, he felt like, hadn't told the full story. he said it was a little snitty. and at that point, you really kind of saw sort of bill barr unleashed in a way where he had been mostly, i thought, pretty together throughout the hearing, pretty nimble. obviously, being very lawyerly and splitting hairs on different issues, but at that point, i think he was pretty much done. i think he's dug in on this.
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he's not going to be bullied. he wanted to show yesterday who is boss and he's certainly not going to give up to chairman nadler on this if he thinks it's going to allow for further ground later on. >> i think you're right. laurt jarrett, david chalian, elie, great to have you. >> the trump administration, also this is really notable and knot lost in the headlines over the barr hearing but this matters a lot. late yesterday, the trump administration revived its fight over obamacare, now arguing in new court filings that the entire law should be struck down. when the president says pre-existing conditions, i'll protect those, they're fighting in court to do something that would eliminate that protection. >> that's issue that always top of people's voting issues. >> live with that next. a wealth of information. a wealth of perspective. ♪ a wealth of opportunities. that's the clarity you get from fidelity wealth management.
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>> we're about to hear from the chairman of the house judiciary committee following this abbreviating hearing where barr did not show up. >> the failure of attorney general barr to come to the hearing today is simply another step in the administration's
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growing attack on american democracy and its attack on the right of congress to be a coordinate branch of government and to have the information it needs to legislate and act on behalf of the american people. the administration by its policy of across the board -- across the board defiance of congressional subpoenas is saying that only the executive matters, that we don't need, we don't want limitations by congress, that the constitution imposes on us. this is a grave danger for american democracy, and we must do all we can in the name of the american people to insure that when the trump administration ends, we have as robust a democracy to hand to our children as which was handed to us. and today is a day of testing
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and everyone will be judged by history in terms of how they react to this. >> how concerns are you this is all going to get bogged down in the courts and because of your insistence on letting staff attorneys do some questioning, it will now take longer for you to get answers you have been demanding the. >> we're going to use what process we have in the courts and elsewhere to get the answers and the information we need, in particular, the subpoena for the entire unredacted mueller report and the underlying documents was due yesterday. the attorney general, we got a letter late last night refusing us -- refusing to adhere to the subpoena. this is indefensible. and it is part of the attack on american democracy by this administration. we will make one more good faith attempt to negotiate and to get the access to the report that we need. and then if we don't get that,
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we'll proceed to hold the attorney general in contempt and go from there. >> how long are you going to give the attorney general to answer your questions? and to negotiate in good faith? >> a day or two. >> by the end of the week, you want this result? >> maybe by monday. we'll see. >> why not negotiate a middle ground where the format of today's hearing? haven't you in a sense made it harder to get the answers you have been asking for? >> we cannot concede to the administration the ability to control the manner in which congress does its job. the attorney general is bound, as are other witnesses to come before the committee. and he cannot dictate to us how we'll do our job. we feel this was the most effective way of doing it and that's our decision. >> using fines as part -- >> say again. >> your colleague before you
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came up brought up the idea of maybe imposing fines under contempt as a way to try to get him to comply. is that on the table? how would that work? that's not something we see every day. >> we'll explore all of the options. and that's one of the options. >> how do you respond to the doj saying you're a lawyer, why can't you question barr yourself? >> the administration, the attorney general apparently is afraid of proper cross-examination. we ask questions under the five-minute rule. we have seen a pattern from this administration. the administration witnesses filibuster for 4 1/2 minutes and then give a nonresponsive answer for the next half a minute and then it's on to a different question who may have other questions in mind or may not properly follow up the way a good cross-examiner would. we feel the best way of doing this is to have all our members ask their five minutes of questions each and have counsel be able to bat cleanup, follow
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loose ends, and hold the witness, the attorney general in this case, to ask follow-up questions so that he can't evade as easily as he can. obviously, the attorney general is afraid to face that kind of questioning. i mean, what we saw today is besides the attitude of contempt the administration has for congress, what we saw was fear. fear of effective cross-examination, period. >> there was the chairman of the house judiciary committee there, again, poppy and i both were talking about this, not mincing his words. talking about a growing attack on american democracy, not just barr's refusal but other administration officials refusal is a danger to democracy. >> democrats are dug in. they're going to fight this.
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he talked about just a few days now and when he'll issue a subpoena. laura jarrett is with us at the justice department. elie honig, jackie kucinich on the political site. elie, to you on where we go from here, what do you expect? do you expect bill barr will be held in contempt? as a journalist, one of the journalists in the crowd rightly asked, isn't that just going to get tied up in the courts and drag out the clock? >> not particularly optimistic that their last-ditch effort that representative nadler talked about to negotiate will succeed. assuming it does not succeed, next step would be contempt and then we're going into the courts. yes, it will take time and yes it will get sort of complex and difficult. things move through the court at a slower pace than people often imagine. it's hard to see this case getting litigated and it's not just a one-shot deal. they'll start in the district court and whoever loses will almost certainly appeal to


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