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tv   Senators Cassidy Leahy Cornyn and Blumenthal on Special Counsel for...  CSPAN  May 18, 2017 4:49pm-5:07pm EDT

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i think there's more to be done. i think there should be an independent commission that asks very fundamental questions. what will we do the next time elmer putin comes after us >> what were the biggest unanswered question >> there were a lot of questions about details and the role of attorney general sessions. in each instance he made it clear that he felt this had the danger of going too far in getting into information that bob muller might need >> the president referred to this as a witness hunt >> i think that's outrageous. anyone who knows director muller, his service to our country in the military or as federal judge, to characterize any undertaking as a witch hunt is totally unfair >> did he shed any light on the comay memo >> the memo effectively talking about [inaudible]
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>> did rod rosenstein take any responsibility for the firing of james comey in the memo that he worke wrote? if not where does responsibility like >> i think he stressed the responsibility that it was the decision of the president. it's an executive branch decision and it was an executive action. his memo was written within the context of it. he very much avoided giving specific answers as to circumstances around writing the memo and if somebody helped him and who reviewed it saying that should be part of mr. muller's investigation. he totally backed away from ever going back >> did he tell you may 8 was
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the day which he knew [inaudible] >> i missed the beginning of his opening statement. i cannot say for sure >> is it your impression based on the briefing that this has now crossed the threshold to a criminal matter >> he stress this is an investigation. he did not go beyond that. to say that it goes beyond that would prejudice people's opinion to the nature of it. >> will the appointment of the special counsel negatively impact the ability to investigate >> that was never raised >> is it your understanding that rosenstein knew that comay would be fired before he wrote that memo >> he said he did, that the president had made such statements already >> he said a special counsel could hurt our country terribly. do you agree with that >> i don't think it hurts our country >> what you make of the fact
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that the president knew he was going to fire comay before he had a conversation >> what he pointed out is that no action is final until its final period you can imagine the president's frustration saying that he wanted to fire the guy. until that happens you don't know if that happens >> did he direct him to write the memo? >> i don't recall so i better not respond >> the white house initially said the president made his decision based on rosenstein's memo but it turns out that's incorrect >> that was raised as a point and he deferred the rest of the exploration of that to mr. muller >> what is your view of a potential nomination of lieberman >> i've not heard that >> he is the leading candidate this afternoon >> that's interesting. one of the democrats said he did not think any politician should be nominated so i suppose joe qualifies as a politician but maybe you have
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to define politician he said mr. muller [inaudible] senator leahy, do you have a comment? >> what is your take away from the briefing? >> i won't go into the briefings or any of the questions, but i felt before i went to the briefing that the public deserves a strong [inaudible] how russia has tried to influence our country and whether they still try to influence our country is dangerous. is a good man and an honest man and he's a person of integrity and i've known him for years. the appointment of robert
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muller was a very good one. it does not mean the congress should now say our debt job is done, we don't have to investigate this. we really do >> does it make the investigation tougher going forward? >> no i think it's two different things. they have tools and abilities that the congress may not have, but the american public has every reason to wonder what is happening to our government. are we being manipulated by russia, a country that does not have our best interest at heart. that's what we have to answer >> senator cornyn you have a moment >> what's your take away >> we just got through with a very important briefing from the deputy attorney general who has appointed robert
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muller the former director of the fbi to head up the investigation into the russian issue. one of the issues i raised with him is my concern that we have multiplicity of congressional committees investigating the same matter and how can we best coordinate those activities with director muller and the fbi so we don't inadvertently interfere or impede his investigation. we understand the importance of the executive branch and of director muller ring this investigation. we don't want to do anything to get in the way, but it seems to me that with all of the various oversight investigations occurring in the senate intelligence committee and subcommittees that that is a train wreck waiting to happen. i am hoping we can get through the majority leader and perhaps senator schumer, some sort of agreement that there
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will be what rosenstein asked for which was a single point of contact. we could well inadvertently impede an investigation and basically make it impossible for them to take the matter to court and we don't want to do that >> had the president already decided to fire james comey before the letter was written >> the fbi director serves at the president's pleasure so he's not limited in terms of rationale. it was my understanding that was one of the rationale but not the ultimate rationale [inaudible] >> senator you removed yourself [inaudible] we understand joe lieberman
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has emerged to the top of the list is fbi director >> i think in a very divided nation's capital and a very divided country, so lieberman is probably the only person who could get 100 votes in the senate. he is universally well-respected for the president said this is a witch hunt and it could hurt our country to have this counselor >> what i interpreted him saying is in regard to his activity. he believes there's no basis to it. russia was very much involved in trying to undermine confidence in our election and it's a serious matter that we are conducting a broad bipartisan investigation in the committee that i sit on giving access to some of the most raw intelligence that the community produces. we are taking this enormously seriously >> are you suggesting they should narrow down the scope >> no emma i'm just saying there will be a lot of requests made of the fbi and the department of justice as part of this investigation and
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so we need to coordinate as the designated special counsel , how we seek witnesses and documents and that sort of thing because you can imagine if they are getting multiple requests from all sorts of committees that there will be a lot of confusion and delay. i don't think it's in anyone's interest to delay or impede or impair this investigation >> should continue at the pace and scope >> i think it's right but we need to be focused on our role. we are not the fbi or the department of justice. we are conducting oversight investigations and that is our appropriate role >> has the nature of the investigation changed to a criminal investigation and what are the repercussions >> i assume this has been a counterintelligence investigation, but as general rosen rosenstein said this will be up to director muller
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under the appointment he has >> senator blumenthal >> thank you. let me just say briefly, i'm not going to go into the substance of his answer except to say that those answers really need to be given to the american people in public under oath. he should come before the judiciary committee and tell the american people what he has told us and i urged him to do so because it is important to the confidence and trust of the american people in our criminal justice process. i was disappointed in some of his answers. they were less forthcoming and specific then i think they should of been, but i will await judgment until i hear more and i will be posing additional questions as we go along >> what were some of your
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biggest unanswered questions coming out of the meeting >> relating to the background of his memo and others in the department of justice, and the reasons for the firing of director comey. >> >> weather is the firing of
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director komi or the memo prepared for the witnesses that may have knowledge about the interference of this election and the collusion that may have happened and potential obstruction. we're talking about potential and allegations and to have the guts and the backbone to stand up and to anyone in the department of justice or the administration who tried to interfere or inhibit that investigation. we will know if that is occurring and the response given to us today from the attorney general is very sensitive that the scope and the mandate has to be mandated related to the
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russian meddling or the possible trump collusion. >> one of your colleagues said it was clear that it is now a criminal investigation . is is now a criminal investigation?. >> bob mahler is doing a investigation as a special prosecutor with criminal allegations that are extremely serious including possible obstruction of justice and no conclusion whether there was but there was a number of pieces of evidence that there may have well been has the investigation has to follow that evidence wherever it leads. by unsatisfied the attorney general means what he says with a mandate that anything
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related to those allegations can be pursued and must be pursued. we're talking a criminal investigation. >> do you think he will make a good fbi director?. >> i will not comment specifically until someone is nominated. for the fbi director for somebody with a background and expertise and experience in criminal justice and to have no political connections senate that would rollout joe lieberman. >> i'm not rule -- ruling out anybody that this is my preference. >> and wherever it leads.
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in what the special prosecutor may pursue. and i did against the special prosecutor in the senator was glad that now he was appointed the special prosecutor and those specific charges are up to the special prosecutor. i am not assuming anybody as a target because there may be others.
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>> does he give his commitment for what ever he needs. >> he did. i asked specifically that was a very important point to have the independence and the resources and unlimited mandates which
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