tv Members of Congress Testify on Oversight of Justice Department FBI CSPAN February 17, 2023 10:46am-12:03pm EST
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> this year. we'll cover more about objection pictures all thrusted clarice us at anytime. we walk metal into this first hearing of the select subcommittee. the chair now recognize the judgment of the mr. gaetz to lead us in the pledge of allegiance. >> i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
>> the chair now recognizes up for an opening statement. november 18, 2021, and fbi whistleblower disclosures to republicans on the house judiciary that the fbi created a threat tag for parents voicing their concerns at school board meetings. april 26 him 2022, another fbi whistleblower discloses that the fbi employs are being run out of the bureau for attending conservative political events. may 11, 2022, another fbi whistleblower discloses that dozens of parents with a threat tag designation to their name are investigated by the fbi. this all so happens to be the same whistleblower who said the fbi leadership, the rank-and-file members, the fbi leadership is rotted at its core. his clearance has been revoked and he has been suspended.
june 7, 2022, another fbi whistleblower is retaliateds against after giving feedback on an anonymous survey. july 27, 2022, another fbi whistleblower discloses that agents are pressured to reclassify cases as domestic violent extremism cases to hit self-created performance metrics. september 14, 2022, and fbi whistleblower discloses that the fbi views the betsy ross flag as a terrorist symbol. september 19, 2022, another fbi whistleblower discloses that the washington field office is deliberately manipulating january 6th case files to make it appear that domestic violence extremism is on the rise. he's been suspended. november 8 -- excuse me, november 4, 2022, another fbi whistleblower discloses the fbi
accepts private user information from facebook without thesu uses consent and information is from only the conservative side of the politicalal spectrum. this is only a sampling. in my time in congress i've never seen anything like this. dozens and dozens of whistleblowers fbi agents coming to us talking about what's going on the political nature of the justice department. not jim jordan saying this. not republicans, not conservatives. good, brief fbi agents who are willing to come forward and give us the truth. and thisna is just the fbi. americans have concerns about the double standard at the department of justice. americans have concerns about the disinformation, it's more to the department of homeland security form. americans have concerns about the atf andnd what they're doing to the second amendment and, of course, they have concerns about the irs and the thousands of new agents who are coming to that organization. finally there are concerns about what we've learned in the
twitter files where big government and big tech colluded to shape and mold the narrative and to suppress information and sensorfi americans. over the course of her work in this committee we expect to hear from government officials and experts like we have here today. we expect to hear from americans who have been targeted by their government. we expect are in the media and we expect to hear from the fbi agents who have come forward as whistleblowers. we think many ofmm them both sit for transcript interviews as when did on tuesday and we put several of them will come and testify in open hearings. and finally we expect to bring forward legislation that will help protect the american people. we hope our democrat colleagues will work with us.to the day of the resolution creating this committee was debated and passed though, mr. geoffrey kemp mr. nadler, said democrats would quote fight as tooth and g nail. we hope that attitude changes. we want to workss with them.
protecting the first amendment shouldn't be partisan. protecting the constitution should be partisan and protected the fundamental principle of equal treatment under the law should not be artisan. with that i yield to the ranking member for here opening stateme statement. >> thank you, chairman jordan. nobody disputes thehe important role of congressional oversight. i know firsthand how important it is to ask questions and demand answers of the federal government. in the ordinary course of business network informs the legislative process. an extraordinary times when misconduct in the executive branch threatens. to undermine our democratic institutions, congressional oversight can serve to protect the integrity of our republic. for example, i'm proud of the role i played as an impeachment manager in the second impeachment of president donald trump and the aftermath of the attack on the capitol. that bipartisan work with both a
measure of accountability and assign to the american people that congress had no intention of being bullied into giving up on a peaceful transfer of power. but there is a difference. my colleagues between legitimate oversight and weaponization of congress andnd our processes, particularly our committee work, as a political tool. i'm deeply concerned about the use of this select subcommittee as a place to settle scores, showcase conspiracy theories and advance an extreme agenda that risks undermining americans faith in our democracy. some ofra today's witnesses woud have us believe that the department of justice and the federal bureau of investigation are part of a deep state cobol. one even wrote a book describing the fbi itself as a threat to democracy -- kabul. the department jesses and fbi
cannot get it right. history history is full of examples of these agencies giving it very, very wrong. we have colleagues in this congress who have been subject to politically motivated, hateful, racist investigations by our government. that does notav logically follow that every investigation or criminal inquiry by the fbi or the department of justice is political or ideologically based. but in ourot current climate wih domestic terrorism on the rise and hate speech normalize by national politicians, the department of justice and the fbi are doing their best to protect us from sliding into chaos. this past monday the fbi capture two individuals, one in your nazi leaderec and founder of an group who are plotting a racially motivated attack on baltimore's power grid. they said their goal was to, quote, completely destroy this
whole city, endci quote. last week the fbi infiltrated and disrupted air major cyber criminal group extorting schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure around the world. and last summer the fbi engage in a mass violent crime enforcement effort that took nearly 6000 violent criminals off of our american streets. let's not forgett the tremendous work of the fbi and the department of justice after the attack on her homeland on september 11, 2001. some of my republican colleagues love to talk about the threat of violent crime but they appear oblivious to the fact that their dangerous rhetoric and baseless accusations against the justice department and fbi itself at times pose a direct threat to those organizations ability to do the work that they're doing to protect our communities. recent threat bulletins of highlighted a shocking increase
in threats of violence against law enforcement agencies. and a significant uptick after the f fbi executed a search warrant at president trump's property atin mar-a-lago. the federal law enforcement officers association has vehemently denounced what he described as quote, politically motivated threats that are unprecedented in recent history and absolutely unacceptable, end quote. fortunately examples of these threats are not hard to find. last year some of that to plant a a dirty bomb outside the fbi headquarters. another attempted to storm the cincinnati fbi field office while wearing body armor and carrying an ar type rifle. my third was arrested after he made a credible threat stating quote every single police of expletives and works for the fbi in any capacity from the director on down to the janitor who cleans their expletive toilets deserves to die. you have declared on us, and now
it's open season on you, end quote. thesee allegations are deeply troubling, and hope that the chairman and members of this subcommittee will be mindful of the risks that go hand-in-hand with heated rhetoric. i rushed to accusations and subpoenas without a factual basis and without any effort to engage with agencies through the accommodation process flies in the face of due process and demeans congressional oversight process. it makes a mockery of our institution. as a former prosecutor i'm even more troubled by the suggestion that the subunit may attempt to investigate ongoing criminal investigations. as ahead of the reagan justice department's office of legal counsel wrote yearsis ago, granting congress access information about active criminal investigations will in effect make congress a partner in the investigation, creating a
quote substantial danger that congressional pressures will influence in the course of the investigation and potentially quote hamper prosecutorial decision-making in future cases. this would not only damage law enforcement efforts, it would shake the public's confidence in the criminal justice system. i hope not but but i suspecf the investigations the majority, my republican colleagues want to look into and potentially mucked up involve criminal investigation into former president donald trump. i want to be crystal clear. my democratic colleagues and i will resist any attempt by this subcommittee to derail ongoing, legitimate investigations into president trump, any of the president, and others within his orbit here during the course of the subcommittees work i suspect we will heartr both members and
witnesses described the events of january 6th, 2021, in ways that simply do not mash with reality. whenbe this happens i would encourage everyone watching today to review the impeachment record and report of the january 6th select committee which lays out the true facts in shocking detail. i recently sent a letter to the chairman notingg that despite or policy and political differences, i am hopeful that there may be matters of investigation within the stated mandate of the subcommittee under which we may collaborate. i met this. i mean this. and i still hope that we can findwi common ground and explore it in a bipartisan manner that respects the due process rights and interests of all involved. the chairgr and his colleagues continually use the moniker of protecting free speech. rethat sounds good. i hope they all recognize that there is a speech that is not constitutionally protected.ot
racist, hate, incitement to violence. and i also hope and if the protection of truth speaks of free speech, extends to all americans, we will see. .. to all americans. we will see. i hope we can use this subcommittee to conduct legitimate oversight to help advance policies to address the real challenges that americans face every day rath government abuse of power do not solely rest with the executive branch. it can come from the legislative branch as well. on our present course, this exercise is little lower than a political stunt designed to inject extremist politics into legislative oversight function and the justice system. the american people deserve better than that. thank you and i yield back.
>> reporter: >> opening statements will be included in the record. we will introduce the first panel of witnesses. senator chuck grassley were presented ohio -- iowa since 1971. the ranking member of the committee on the judiciary and committee on finance. senator ron johnson represented the state of wisconsin in the united states senate since 2011. he served as chairman of the senate homeland security and government affairs committee. representative jamie raskin represented maryland's eighth district since 2017 and serves on the committee of oversight and accountability. former member tulsi gabbard represented hawaii for 8 years in the house of representatives for 20 years she served on the hawaii national guard and the u.s. army reserve including deployment in iraq and kuwait. we thank you for your service.
a long-standing practice is not to ask questions of former colleagues that appear before us. in light of that practice our first panel will have ten minutes to deliver their testimony. thank you for being here and the senator from iowa is recognized. >> thank you for this opportunity to appear. thank you for inviting me to come here. what i'm about to tell you sounds like it is out of a fiction spy thriller, but it actually happened, and it happened in our own government. congressional oversight is a constitutional demand. we dedicate our careers to it. i have, at least. during the course of my service, i ran countless investigations. in the past few years i have never seen so much effort from the fbi, the partisan media and some of my democratic colleagues to interfere with
and undermine very legitimate inquiries. it is because of a triad of disinformation and outright falsehoods. as one example, look at crossfire hurricane. bit by bit, piece by piece, it has been deconstructed and shown to be a politically motivated investigation which it was. we all know now that it was the democratic national committee along with the clinton campaign who colluded with the russians. they used a former russian spy, fusion gps, and law firm, to create a fake dossier, and then tried to cover it up. now the most recent example of this triad, our efforts against my and senator johnson's ongoing biden family investigation. that investigation started on
august 14, 2019, when i was chairman of the senate finance committee, with a letter that i wrote to the treasury department. my letter was about a questionable financial transactions subject to the committee on foreign investment that related to a matter involving the biden family. the investigation continued in advance, democratic leadership, and partisan media, began their attack on our investigation. this is where that spy thriller starts to heat up. on july 13, 2020, then minority leader schumer, senator warner, then speaker pelosi and chairman schiff sent a letter with a classified attachment to the fbi.
that letter expressed a purported belief that congress was the subject of a foreign disinformation campaign. it was targeted at the johnson grassley investigation. however, the classified attachment included unclassified element that attempted and failed to tie our work to a russian agent. not surprisingly, those unclassified elements were leaked to the press to support a false campaign accusing senator johnson and me of relying on material from a russian agent and thus advancing russian disinformation. it was pure nonsense that the
irresponsible media portrayed this as the truth. guess what, then, chairman schiff claimed without any evidence whatsoever that are oversight work was rooted in russian disinformation. of course, you know he conveniently left out that are oversight work was rooted in official us government and obama administration records, then senator blumenthal ordered an op-ed in the washington post accusing our investigation of, quote, perpetuating russian disinformation in the u.s. senate. and then, guess what? minority leader schumer and ranking member widen tried to offer a resolution in the senate disparaging our biden investigation. they in a sense were basically calling us russian stooges.
pretty simple. that violate it senate rules in their efforts and were appropriately shut down. july 16, 2020, days after the july 13th letter, ranking member members widen in peter's wrote a letter to me and senator johnson asking for a briefing of the fbi's foreign influence task force. our staff, and the ranking member's staff had already -- we had already received the briefing march 2020 that put the issue to rest. why another briefing? the point being there was no real purpose for another briefing let alone a member level briefing, other than to further undermine our investigation. some democratic colleagues were
not interested in anything but using this to destroy our investigation. at these democrats insistence, the fbi caved in august 2020 senator johnson and i had that infamous briefing from the fbi and as we had feared the contents of that briefing were later leaked to the washington post even though the fbi promised us confidentiality. that leaked, outrageously and in accurately connected that fbi briefing to our investigation in another effort to falsely label our good government oversight work as russian disinformation. the wall street journal
editorial board was on top of it because that board did the right thing and wrote a piece about the briefing titled, quote, the fbi's dubious briefing. did the beer row set up two gop senators at the behest of democrats? so simply put, the briefing was unnecessary and irrelevant to the substance of our investigation. it was only done because the democrats wanted to do so, it could try and smear us and the fbi wrongly did their bidding. to this very day, director ray refuses to provide senator johnson and me as constitutional officers records relating to that briefing including the alleged intelligence basis for it.
director ray has failed to perform duties required of his position. another example of this democratic disinformation campaign involved the george kent, former state department deputy assistant general. senator johnson and i ran a transcribed interview, before the interview, democrats acquired material for that russian agent, the same one i mentioned earlier. at the interview democrats, not republicans, democrats asked mr. kent about the same material. mr. kent said it was disinformation. think about that. after all the spears the democrats were throwing at the two of us, in the end it was the democrats who introduced
russian disinformation from a russian agent into the investigative record as an exhibit. our own intelligence committee warned was actively seeking to influence us politics. not me or senator johnson, not our staff. it was democrats who inserted disinformation from the russians into our official record. the partisan media and democrat leadership are to be ashamed of themselves for fake information that they spread about the investigation. in the end, they all failed to stop senator johnson and me. on august 23rd, 2020, senator johnson 23, 2020, senator johnson and i released our first biden investigation report. there's been a lot of talk
about treasury records. and that 2020 report, we made public -- we should another report november 18, 2020. our report exposed extensive financial relationships between hunter and james biden and chinese nationals connected to the communist regime. more precisely, chinese nationals connected to the chinese government military and intelligence services. senator johnson and i transitioned to be ranking members. we haven't forgot about what the triad of partisan media, what they did to us. we did what any congressional
investigator worth their salt would do, we gathered more records to prove them all wrong. we acquired authentic bank records, substantiated findings of previous storyboards, they financially linked hunter biden and james biden to entities and individuals connected to the communist chinese regime and we acquired business records with hunter and james biden's signatures alongside the same chinese nationals. how are they supposed to be paid? according to bank records, they were linked to the communist regime. in three floor >> we made those bank records public and asked this question to our partisan detractors, the same one i mentioned throughout my remarks and maybe a few others.
i these official bank records russian disinformation? we also shared hundreds of pages of bank records with us attorney wise. he failed to respond. as the investigation continues, whistleblowers approach my office with allegations that the fbi created an assessment in august of 2,020, the same month the fbi briefed me and senator johnson. according to these whistleblowers, that assessment was used by fbi headquarters to improperly discredit negative hunter biden information as, you might expect, disinformation. as a result, this scheme allegedly caused investigative activity to entirely cease. it has been further alleged to me that in september 2020, the same month we released our
first report, fbi headquarters personnel began placing their analysis of the credibility of reporting related to the biden family in what i have been told is a restricted access so but i'll. further allegations involve fbi personnel at the washington field office who improperly ordered information to be posed by the fbi related to hunter biden's criminal conduct in october 2020 just before the election even though it was verified, or it was verifiable. other whistleblower disclosures to my office made clear the fbi has in its possession very significant, impactful, and voluminous evidence with respect to potential criminal conduct by hunter and james biden.
these disclosures allege that president biden was aware of hunter biden's business arrangements and may have been involved in some of them. we are still not sure what has been done with this information. the fbi's track record doesn't create much faith that the information is going to be followed up on. the justice department and fbi are suffering for political infection does cause the american people to trust these storied institutions. it would also threaten the american way of life. unfortunately, what you heard from me, this story of government abuse and political treachery is scarier than fiction. it really happened. mister chairman, your committee here so assembled, has an opportunity to help us to write
the last chapter in this real-life drama. we must pursue the facts and the evidence. senator johnson and i will do the same and willing to work with you. >> senator johnson. >> ranking member plaskett and members of the subcommittee. thank you for asking me to testify my personal knowledge and experience with federal agencies being weapon eyes against us citizens. senator grassley described the most egregious examples by multiple actors and agencies to undermine and sabotage our joint investigations but let me be clear. throughout my testimony, i am not talking about the men and women in government who conduct themselves with integrity and patriotism. at the outset it is important to recognize corrupt individuals in federal agencies that i am talking about. i'm not acting alone.
the political movement, most members of the mainstream media, big tech social media giants, global institutions and foundations, democratic party operatives and elected officials. as files reveal, these actors work in concert to defeat political opponents and promote left-wing ideology and government control over our lives. the disclosure of how the obama administration weapon eyes to the irs to harass tea party groups by denying them tax-exempt status. my personal knowledge and expense with agency corruption began in 2,023 when i was chairman of the subcommittee on homeland security and governmental affairs. my first investigation revealed
the extensive editing of james comey in his statement that exonerated secretary clinton regarding her use of a private email server for official business. it is important to note those partisan edits were made by the same cast of characters in the fbi who initiate and drive the russian trump collusion investigation. during the investigation of the fbi's involvement in the russian collusion hoax, senator grassley and i've made public highly partisan text messages between peter and lisa page, think our services have become leaking like mad, scorned, worried and political, they are kicking into over hive, what was never the intention it deserves.
in 2022 interview with jeff gerth, peter struck -- peter stzrok. the text came not from the caa that other levels of us government or congress. who might those leakers be? why reporters don't that aren't outraged at being fed misinformation and why haven't they blown the whistle on the leakers. why didn't the mainstream media investigate how we were all duped? the answer is they weren't duped, they weren't complicit in fostering the political turmoil our country has been experiencing over the last six years. those were key ingredient in the most destructive political dirty trick in us history, the creation and promotion of the russia trump collusion narrative. to be most effective that
narrative relied on coordination between government actors and the media and the left had allies in the fbi. and able to verify the steel dossier, the fbi authorized christopher steel $1 million to provide verification. by december 2016 the fbi knew they had investigated steel's primary sub source as a russian spy. in the main body, the department of justice inspector general's report on pfizer abuse, the fbi, quote, any indication, of russian influence on the steel dossier. our investigation included unredacted footnotes to the same document that completely contradicted that statement.
why would the false statement appear in the report but the truth be hidden in classified footnotes. 14 months later, in february 2018, the fbi still brief to the senate intelligence committee that the dossier had validity. the report found no evidence of collusion, and impeachment of donald trump, the cooperation between the house intelligence can be in the impeachment whistleblower remains murky. then chairman adam schiff originally denied his commit had contact with the whistleblower prior to the filing of the complaint. later they attempted to walk that back. the genesis of the impeachment is yet to be fully investigated. it needs to be. prior to the impeachment proceedings hunter biden's conflict of interest in ukraine became public.
senator grassley and i began investigating was we didn't target joe and hunter biden, their actions demanded it. december 9, 2019, the fbi you should a grand jury subpoena and took possession of hunter biden's laptop from john paul mc isaac. a computer shop owner in wilmington, delaware. as the fbi left his shop with the laptop mister mc isaac recalled an agent saying, quote, it is our experience that nothing ever happens to people that don't talk about these things. that statement was the opening salvo at a coordinated effort over the next ten months to sabotage any public revelation of hunter biden's laptop or wrongdoing connected to the bidens. senator grassley provided a number of ask -- examples of that sabotage and we will release a report that goes into greater detail than we have
time for today. when available, i hope everyone will read it. the most egregious and effective act of sabotage against the truth was the public letter signed by 51 former intelligence officials who claim the laptop had, quote, all the classic earmarks of a russian information operation. the letter itself was an information operation that interfered with and impacted the presidential election to a far greater extent than anything russia ever could have hoped to achieve. each of those intelligence officials needs to be interviewed to determine how that letter was masterminded. when we condemn the violence on january 6th, we all condemn the
violence on january 6th. the further the fervor in which the biden department of justice pursued those protesters and riders. through lack of interest, and with unequal application of justice and violation of january 6th defendant's due process rights remain unanswered. swat team arrests and treatment of prisoners are legitimate concerns. neither the senate or house investigations adequately explained why the capital was so woefully unprepared, how many federal agents informants were in the crowd. covid has exposed the awesome power that can be misused by government officials. loss of basic freedoms has been nothing less then breathtaking. our response the pandemic has
been a miserable failure, a miserable failure. over 1 million lives lost. the human toll of economic devastation by just shutdowns that did not work. the loss of learning another psychological harms toward children. federal health officials deny patients early treatment and to this day refused to acknowledge the extent of significant injuries caused by the covid vaccines. emails between anthony fauci and francis collins reveal how they intended to use their awesome government authority and power to accomplish the, quote, devastating takedown of scientists who offer an approach to handling the pandemic. emails reveal fauci's attempt to hide his agency after role in funding dangerous research that might have led to the
creation of the deadly coronavirus. we don't know because those agencies won't provide the unredacted documents. federal health agencies have not been honest or transparent. i've written 50 oversight letters and the majority of questions i asked received inadequate response. i've requested information the public has a right, has a right to know. the courage and compassion to treat covid patients using their prescription rights have been vilified. censored in their careers destroyed. other health professionals have noticed, toed the line and remained silent. parents who out of concern for their children question school
boards administrator 7 labeled potential domestic terrorists and must now fear scrutiny from the federal law enforcement. releasing the twitter files and louisiana lawsuits against the biden administration we are getting a picture how active government officials were in suppressing free speech and controlling the narrative. it's becoming obvious the world health organization has been captured by the chinese government, global institutions in general captured by the left and charitable foundations are exerting far more power over public policy than should be allowed. chairman jordan, members of the committee, you have important work before you, you've been generous in granting 10 minutes for the testimony they barely scratched the surface in describing the complexity, power, and destructive nature of all forces that we face.
our founders fully understood the government to anarchy. it was something to fear. they devised a set of checks and balances to limit government power and influence over our lives. ideally, a free press would hold all government officials equally accountable. with today's media mosley biased to the left, congressional oversight is needed now more than ever. because the administration is not cooperative and transparent congress needs will to blowers for agencies throughout the federal government. i urge men and women with integrity to come forward and reveal the truth. senator grassley and i will encourage bipartisan oversight in the senate. we stand ready to assist your efforts in any way that we can. thank you. >> we look forward to your
report, now recognize representative raskin for his testimony. >> dear colleagues. our framers were enlightenment thinkers who wrote us and enlightenment constitution. we want government to operate on the basis of facts, science, and common sense, not ignorance and superstition. they wanted america to usher in an age of reason. the framers constitutionalize the third law of motion, checking every action with an equal and opposite reaction. congress, in article 1, was given the central role of legislating and making progress for our people. the oversight function is not specified in article 1 but the supreme court always said it implied something necessary and proper for the legislative function. as madison famously said, those who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves
with the power that knowledge gives. your subcommittee could conceivably become part of a proud history of serious bipartisan oversight stretching from the teapot dome investigation, the boeing investigation to the watergate hearings, the tobacco hearings, the select committee on the january 6th attack or take oversight down a dark alley filled with conspiracy theories and disinformation. a place where facts are the enemy, and partisan destruction is the overriding goal. millions of americans already fear that weaponization is the right name for this special subcommittee, not because weaponization of the government is its target, but because weaponization of the government is its purpose. what's in a name? everything is here. the odd name of the weaponization subcommittee constitutes a case of pure
psychological projection. when donald trump and his followers accuse you of doing something, they are usually telling you exactly what their own plans are. by stabbing a select subcommittee on weaponization there telling us donald trump's followers who control the subcommittee will continue weapon icing any part of the government they can get their hands on to attack their enemies, anyone who stands in the way of their quest for power. to be clear, that is not an exclusively partisan operation. they have proven they will weapon eyes the government not just against the other party but against anyone who refuses to bend to the will and whim of one donald trump, whether that is a lifelong republican like brad raffenberger or president zelenskyy or political movement like black lives matter, it was
close personal friend of ally of trump's like his personal lawyer, michael cohen for many years, or even a sycophantic trump cabinet appointee and lifelong republican like attorney general william barr if these people break from the habits of lying and lawlessness that define life as a camp fire in the coats of donald trump, but if the weapon eyes amaga campaign isn't exactly partisan it is entirely political. because it has an overriding electrical focus. it is all about restoring donald trump, the twice impeached former president, to the office he lost by 7 million votes in 2020, and tried to steal back in a political coup and violent insurrection against our constitutional order on january 6, 2021. you disagree? please don't take my word for it. as our chairman might say, listen to what chairman jordan himself had to say six months
ago at the conservative political action conference in dallas where he was predicting gop victory in the 2022 elections and promising oversight of hunter biden's laptop and the claim that the federal government is treating moms and dads like the ones in the room like terrorists would be the centerpiece of the gop's work in the house when they got it back into power. with a friendly interviewer, chairman jordan gave the game away entirely, quote, all those things need to be investigated just so you have the truth, he said, plus, that will help frame up the 2024 race, when i hope and i think donald trump is going to run, and we need to make sure that he wins. we need to make sure that he wins. this call to arms for the 2,024 presidential election was met with wild applause from the cpac audience. i urge you all to watch the interview.
i -- serious bipartisan committee focused on weaponization of the government would 0 in quickly on the trump administration itself which brought weaponization to frightening new levels across the board. consider a few examples i have time for illustrative of dozens i can provide the subcommittee. in a 6-week period in 2020, donald trump fired or removed five different inspectors general simply for doing their jobs and not caving into trump's coercive political demands to cover different forms of administered in, wrongdoing, and misconduct. april 3rd, 2020, trump informed congress he was firing intelligence committee in spector general michael atkinson who received able to blow her complaint in august 2019 about improper demands made by trump 2 ukrainian president volodymyr zelenskyy. may 2020, trump fired steve linen from the state department and later claiming he had no idea who he was and fired only
at secretary pompeo's response. he was investigating pompeo's decision to bypass congress in sending billions of dollars in arms to saudi arabia. i don't have time to get into details of the others. may 20th, he fired the transportation deputy ig. the acting ig for the defense department, he moved christie graham, acting inspector general of hhs. second, breaching traditional separation between the president and department of justice, prosecutions, trump and his obliging sycophantic attorney general's like jeff sessions and william barr, repeatedly pressured career prosecutors to go hard or go soft in particular cases always seeking to reward trump's friends or punish his enemies. if weaponization of the department of justice has any meaning, this is it. consider the agree just case of gregory craig, white house counsel under obama, who was
targeted by the doj for alleged foyer violations and indicted on a single count of making false statements. he was acquitted unanimously by the jury in less than five hours, one of his lawyers observed of the part of justice hounded his client without any evidence or any purpose. former us attorney jeffrey berman said that greg craig never should have been prosecuted. consider the case of michael cohen, the president's former lawyer and confidant for many years who pleaded guilty to campaign-finance violations over hush money payments he arranged before the 16 election to keep stormy daniels and karen mcdougall from talking about sexual affairs they had with donald trump. after william barr became attorney general in february 2019, he worked to kill further investigations related to those payoffs and suggested mr. cohen's conviction on campaign
finance charges itself be reversed, even though six months had passed since cohen entered a guilty plea. amazingly after cohen was imprisoned for a year and being transferred out of prison to home confinement during covid 19, william barr and the doj intervened to block his transfer because cohen would not accept the condition of his ankle bracelet home confinement, not to engage in first amendment activities, specifically writing and publishing a book about donald trump or saying anything in public on tv or in social media about donald trump. cohen had been home for two weeks when this unconstitutional demand from doj appeared. when he and his attorney dared to ask questions about it, three federal marshals showed up with handcuffs and shackles and he was returned to the otis phil correctional institute where he spent 16 days in
solitary confinement before they got the case before federal district judge who found william barr's purpose was transferring cohen from a lease back to custody, was retaliatory in response to cohen desiring to exercise his first amendment rights to publish a book critical of the president and to discuss the book on social media. can you think of a more egregious example of weapon icing the department of justice for nakedly political purposes than imprisoning and putting in solitary confinement the president's own former lawyer simply because he wanted to exercise his first amendment rights. consider the john durham investigation. the john durham special counsel investigation was set up in 2019 by william barr to find wrongdoing, in the origins of the muller investigation.
we heard murmurings about this today. after four years and millions of dollars spent, it was a total flop, without anything like the deep state conspiracy republicans had been denouncing. it couldn't find anything of substance to it. barr and durham kept abusing -- pressing and abusive ways i hope you will investigate. one former doj prosecutor, a defense lawyer who represented two witnesses before the durham probe told the new york times he was shocked. the stuff had my head spinning, he said. what - when did these guys drink the kool-aid and who served it to them? amazingly, when prosecutors participated, came into evidence of a real offense from italian government officials, a major financial crime committed
by donald trump, durham was deputized to investigate and the whole investigation disappeared from without a trace. trump's enablers now want this subcommittee not to examine the durham debacle as a case study in dangerous weaponization of the justice department but to pick up the baton from the defeated and demoralized durham team, to keep the wild goose chase going today. the former president had no quorums about weapon icing our law enforcement and military against first amendment activity for political purposes. i commend to you the debacle that took place, june 1st, 2020, where they mobilized an interagency law enforcement troop and unleashed them on horseback with pepper spray and batons. rubber bullets against a totally lawfully present crowd.
i want to be clear. i'm not suggesting any of the investigations that have taken place in the last two years have been perfect. i am sure they could have been improved. that is a legitimate thing to ask but it is one thing to engage in systematic oversight driven by commitment to facts and the truth, and something radically different to set up a platform for a series of partisan attacks that are just vindictive and meant to frame up a presidential campaign in 2024. some of the new rhetoric we can be hearing is dangerous as the ranking member was pointing out. execution of a perfectly lawful judicial search warrant in palm beach in august of last year, politicians and media figures began denouncing the fbi in vitriolic terms. since then, the fbi and dhs have observed an increase in violent threats posted on social media against federal
officials including a threat to place a dirty bomb in front of fbi headquarters in between general calls for civil war and armed rebellion. we for those calls before in this chamber. on august 11th last year, a person wearing a technical vest and armed with ai style rifle attended to forcibly enter the fbi cincinnati field office. when officers responded, he fled the scene and a pursuit followed with a standoff with fbi demanding -- multiple shots in ohio state highway patrol. the public is skeptical about the strange new venture with the strange new name, the members involved have done everything they can to block the january 6th committee's investigation of the worst insurrection and a mystic violence attack on an american election in our history. the public wonders whether members who refuse to comply with congressional subpoenas themselves should be issuing
congressional subpoenas to other people. oversight must be organized around a comprehensive search for the truth, truth is that will lead to progress, not around revenge, which will lead us as a country to chaos and ruin. i hope the subcommittee will find a way to embark on a truly bipartisan agenda with all members participating in the green on a common agenda. i wish you well and godspeed on behalf of a difficult venture you are about to proceed on. >> we respect the fbi agents particularly the ones that have come to us and we focus on the facts, something i felt was not exactly presented in your testimony. i understand the senator from wisconsin has a number of documents to be entered into the record. without objection those will be entered and we will get those,
senator johnson. we turn to former colleague, former democrat member from the great state of hawaii, congressman gabbard. >> thank you, thank you for the opportunity to be here to speak with you today. benjamin franklin said without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom and no such thing as public liberty. without freedom of speech. i love our country and cherish our god-given freedoms that are enshrined in the constitution. like every one of you i took an oath as a soldier and a member of congress to support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic. i have the privilege of serving alongside many of you in congress for 8 years representing the people of hawaii's second congressional district on the armed services and foreign affairs committees and want to continue to serve as lieutenant colonel in the
army reserves for almost 20 years. during that time i deployed to three war zones and participated in multiple overseas training exercises and the opportunity to see firsthand what life is like in countries where there is no first amendment, no free press, where government deems itself a moral arbiter to its people, dictating to them what is right and wrong, what can and cannot be said, who can speak, who cannot, who is free to worship and who is not. our founders understood the importance of enshrining our god-given freedoms in the constitution and bill of rights, to ensure that no matter which party or person may be in power, our founding documents serve as a reminder of these freedoms that are guaranteed. thomas paine said he would make his own liberty secure, us guard even his enemies from opposition. if he violates this duty
establishes a precedent that will reach to himself which we can't be so shortsighted to think silencing speech that we don't like today will not result in our own voices being silenced tomorrow. the work you have been charged with in this committee affect all americans and it is too important to allow it to fall victim to partisan politics. no matter how deep your differences we must stand on the side of liberty. unfortunately, right now we live in a country where many americans are afraid to speak freely, afraid to express themselves, afraid to have open dialogue and debate, afraid of losing their job, being canceled, or being accused of a crime which could happen if recently introduced legislation criminalizing hate speech is passed into law, speech that no matter how abhorrent is still protected under the first amendment. now, this fear, this culture of
fear and self-censorship is not unfounded. we have individuals in our government often working through their arms in the mainstream media and big tech doing exactly what our founders rejected, trying to control what we the people are allowed to see and say under the guise of protecting us from so-called misinformation or disinformation. of course they appoint themselves as the sole authority and voice of truth of information. backed by the most lethal force on earth, the power to target anyone they deem a threat. they are the ones who get to decide what is true and what is false, what is information and what is misinformation or disinformation. they say they are doing this for us, that they are doing this for our own good, to protect the people, but in reality, the truth is they think we are too stupid to think for ourselves, too stupid to discern for ourselves and draw our own conclusions.
the idea that we must blindly accept what the government or those in power tell us is true goes against the very essence of our constitution, bill of rights, created as a resounding rejection, churches and authorities. they tell us we must blindly trust them or face the consequences, even though the government has a history of lying to us, the american people. you were lied to about the weapons of mass destruction in air rack which spurred the war i and so many others served in and sacrificed their lives in. they lied for almost two decades claiming success in afghanistan when we saw failure after failure after failure coming at a great cost to this country. lies about vietnam revealed in the release of the pentagon papers, we saw allies about our own government illegally surveilling americans.
these are a few examples, there are many more. ranking member plaskett talked about how individuals in the fbi throughout our country's history have abused their power weapon icing those agencies to advance their own political interests. this is not and cannot be reduced to a partisan fight. the stakes are too high. we must all recognize our own response ability to stand against such abuses. as we sit here today the danger is if we choose to reject or challenge whatever those in power declare is the so-called truth, we are accused of being anti-authority, we are accused of being a danger, spreading misinformation and then targeted, smeared and called things like russian asset, white supremacist, extremist trader and so on.
more dangerous, government institutions which exist to serve the people are being weapon eyes against us. the department of homeland security declared a heightened terrorism threat, the first was the proliferation of false or misleading narratives which though discord or undermine public trust in us government institutions. they are the ones who get to decide what false or misleading narratives are. former cia director john brennan said members of the biden team are moving and laserlike fashion to uncover as much as they can about what looks similar to insurgency movements we have seen overseas. an unholy alliance of religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists and even libertarians. end of quote. attorney general garland
charged his genetic terrorism unit with targeting those who hold, quote, anti-authority views. that included parents who dared to protest the board of education meetings, standing up for the rights of themselves to have a say in their children's education. a draft copy of the department of homeland security quadrennial homeland security review outlined their intent to target, quote, inaccurate information on a host of topics. including the origins of covid, vaccines, us withdrawal from afghanistan, and us support to ukraine. there misinformation disinformation and mall information team exists a, quote, counter all types of disinformation. once again, they get to determine what this disinformation is. meta-ceo mark zuckerberg revealed that facebook limited the exposure of the hunter
biden laptop story just weeks ahead of the 2020 election after talking with the fbi. twitter took similar action. they recently apologized for doing so recognizing that their decision was wrong. the cozy relationship between white house officials, the department of homeland security, the fbi, and big tech, is well documented, resulting private companies not restricted by the first amendment, doing the dirty censorship work of those in government who are not legally allowed to do so themselves. the threat big tech monopolies pose is real and serious. i had personal experience with this. after the first democratic primary presidential debate in 2019, i was the most searched candidate of the night. unfortunately, and suddenly, my google ad account was
mysteriously suspended without notice or explanation. there were no responses to multiple attempts to resolve whatever problem could have caused this but my account was reinstated again with no explanation or apology. but their actions limited liability to connect with voters seeking more information about my candidacy and why i served as -- it not only happened to me but other candidates running for various offices. joe kent running for office in washington state is one i know personally of. it happens all the time with big tech monopolies interfering when the democracy by minute relating search results based on whatever it is they want the american people to know about a particular candidate or issue that should be concerning to all of us. recently we learned the release of twitter file detailed by matt taibbi and others were
behind 68 and their list of 634 social media accounts linked to, quote, russian influence activities online. hamilton 68's work was widely cited as fact. harvard, stanford, news organizations across the board, and from both political parties, ahead of the intelligence committee. the problem, it was false. twitter, the vast majority of counts hamilton 68 targeted were neither strongly russian nor strongly bots. they were mostly antiestablishment american voices across the political
spectrum. i was one of them. hillary clinton accused me, a sitting member of congress, a soldier and candidate running for president of being, quote, groomed by the russians. her baseless smear worked as intended. it was something that was repeated over and over, headline after headline, article after article, pushed online in every way. this had the harmful impact that was intended. i could give you many examples of interactions i have had with people throughout that campaign and today but i remember one in particular that had an impact, weeks after the statement was made i was in south carolina at a campaign event when an elderly woman came up to me. i could tell she was very disturbed, she came up and put her hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes, her eyes
welling up, hands shaking, and she said look me in the eyes. i need to know if you are working for putin. she was serious. i couldn't believe it. i looked her straight back in the eyes and express to her from my heart how much i loved this country so much i am willing to die for it. more recently, us senator mitt romney accused me of treason, a crime that is punishable by death under our laws. i challenged him to back this serious allegation up with evidence. what was this based on? there was no response, no explanation, no evidence, and certainly no apology. these accusations are often
shrugged off as k, it is politics, people say things about each other all the time we get may be easy for some of you to say, but for somebody who wears the uniform, this is serious. it is serious not only to me but to my fellow service members and veterans, every one of us making a decision to raise our right hand, volunteering to lay our life down for this country. what does that mean in reality? it means before every deployment, in our own hearts, we have to make peace with the possibility that we may not come home. it means writing letters to our loved ones, trying to find the words to express our love and gratitude, knowing that that may be our final goodbye. it means, for those of us who
do come home, doing our best every single day to honor the great sacrifices of our brothers and sisters who paid the ultimate price. it is much bigger than me or any one individual, when those who dare to challenge the experiment, powered by a powerful conglomerate of government corporate media and big tech weapon icing all i have against the people for their own selfish gain, has a dangerous chilling effect on free speech, and it sends a very powerful message. if you dare to challenge us, we will come after you. the more we allow this to happen, we start looking less and less like a democratic republic, and more and more like a banana republic. instead of a government ordained to secure these rights, we are increasingly facing a government determined to take those rights away. .. a government ordained to secure these rights, we are now increasingly facing a government determined to take those rights away.
george washing ton warned, for if men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite their consideration of mankind, reasons that no use to us. at the freedom of we have to stop this insanity and protect these sacred freedoms. vanquish the fear and self-censorship that is now pervasive. everyone of us taking action to breathe new lifeui into the open marketplace of ideas and is at the heart of a thriving democracy, encouraging vigorous and substantive debates. encouraging people to think for themselves so we can draw our own conclusions, , where we can disagree without devolving into hate, where we can respect each other as fellow americans and treat each other with aloha. the work you have before you is critical for all these reasons theam stakes are high, the consequences for better or worse will be long-lasting. for the sake of the american
people, our freedom and the future offo this country we lov, i pray we can set aside our partisan differences in commit to standing together to defend the constitutional right of every american to live free. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, congresswoman gabbard. we appreciate the letter remarks. we thank you for being here. senator johnson we thank you as well for your testimony. the committeeco will stand in recess for five minutes of more or less to get ready for the second panel. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]