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Charles Schumer
  Democratic Leaders on Justice Dept. IG Report  CSPAN  June 14, 2018 4:29pm-4:59pm EDT

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mail, ups, fedex, whatever, alarming numbers, more than traffic deaths across the country. we moved legislation, all of it bipartisan, i think at the end of the day we'll pass about 50 bills in the house. there's some good encouragement that the senate will take these up prior to the august break. >> tools in the toolbox cost money. how much new money is being devoted to the opioid crisis? okay. good afternoon, everyone. i'm proud to be joined by my colleague senator feinstein and warner and my dear friend and house colleague who i know longer than anybody probably in this room jerry nadler. leader pelosi, ranking member cummings and shiff are voting and on their way and they'll
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speak when they get here. we now know the long awaited report from the inspector general has been made public. several things are crystal clear. first and foremost, anyone who is hoping to use this report to undermine the mueller probe or prove the existence of a deep state conspiracy against president trump will be sorely disappointed. those of us who are interested in the truth, however, are pleased to know that the not r inspector general wrote time and time again that when it came to the clinton e-mail investigation, quote, no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or improper considerations. no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations. rather, we concluded that they were based on the prosecutor's
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assessments of the facts, the law and past department practices. ma plain and simple, couldn't be plainer, couldn't be any more strong repudiation of those who wish to say that there was bias in the mueller investigation. did director comey, the fbi amid doj handle the public aspects of the investigation into hillary clinton's e-mail correctly? of course not. we democrats said that then. the inspector general makes it clear now. director comey's mishandling of the publicity around the e-mail campaign all accrued to the benefit of then candidate trump, not the other way around. it was trump who benefitted from all these mistakes. so it hardly reflects deep state or bias against him. as the president told lester holt in his own words on
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national tv, he fired director comey because of the russia probe. what does this all mean going forward? we know in the days ahead the president and his allies will try to twist themselves into pretzels and try to use this report to undermine the special counsel and the russia probe. unfortunately for them, nothing on this report lays a glove on special counsel mueller or the ongoing russia probe. if this was the president's plan to take down the special counsel, president trump swung and missed. the special counsel's integrity is widely recognized and his investigation has already produced hmm two dozen indictments and guilty pleas. nevertheless, the president isn't one to let the facts get in his way. we have no doubt he'll be tweeting all sorts of false information and unyou information. there are two facts not
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susceptible to spin. one, donald trump won they election, so the complaints about the fbi and james comey and all the rest don't lead anywhere. at the end of the day, the actions reviewed in this report helped donald trump win the election, not the other way around. and two, this report contains no evidence to make any reasonable person conclude that the special counsel investigation is anything other than independent, impartial and just as important today as it was before this report was issued. senator feinstein. >> thank you, leader. all i have been able to read is the executive summary where the recommendations are. i think senator schumer summarized the most important one, and that is -- and i'm reading from the report. we found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper
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considerations. rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutor's assessment of the facts, the law and past department practice. what the i.g. did conclude was that james comey violated department of justice policies on three occasions with his july 5th press conference, his october 28th letter to congress and his november 6th notification to congress. now, many of us agree on that conclusion, and the i.g. report repeatedly says that the justice department forbids discussion about ongoing investigations. again, let me read a quote from the report. comey engaged in ad hoc decision making based on his personal views, even if it meant rejecting longstanding department policy or practice. we found unpersuasive comey's
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explanation as to why transparency was more important than department policy and practice with regard to the reactivated mid year investigation. while by contrast, department policy and practice were more important to follow with regard to the clinton foundation and the russia investigations. department policy and practice is to not discuss investigations. and for me, that's the key take away today. house and senate republicans continue to demand the deputy attorney general rosenstein and special counsel mueller disclose information about the russia investigation. if it was wrong for comey to release information related to the clinton investigation, it would be wrong for the fbi and justice department to release information about the mueller
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investigation. throughout the clinton investigation, republicans in congress demanded information from director comey and doj under subpoena and threat of contempt. today they're doing the same thing with the mueller investigation. it was wrong then and it's wrong now. instead of demanding disclosure of information about the ongoing investigation, congress should protect investigative information from disclosure. lastly, the fbi said the following, and i quote, although no bias or other improper consideration was found in the fbi's decisions or actions, the appearance of bias is disconcerting and potentially damaging to the fbi's ability to perform its mission. law enforcement must not only avoid actual bias, but also the
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appearance of bias. >> thank you, senator feinstein. >> thank you. >> senator warner. >> thank you. two or three quick points. one, this is an example where the system worked. there were concerns raised. the inspector general did a thorough and lengthy review, pointed out mistakes were made so that the white house and its allies that continue to make ad hominem attacks against the integrity of virtually everyone who works at the department and the fbi, i hope would do a bit of a pause. here was an example where the system worked. there's two conclusions i draw from the report. one, no political bias. and two, the actions of then fbi director more than one time actually benefitted mr. trump's campaign and his election
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chances. so i hope we can put this behind us and continue to allow the mueller investigation and the last remaining bipartisan investigation, the senate intelligence committee investigation, to finish our work. >> thank you, senator warner. leader pelosi. >> thank you very much, leader schumer for bringing us together. i appreciate the comments made by you. as i was coming over here, i heard you. and by senator feinstein and ranking member on intelligence senator warner and ranking member on judiciary senator feinstein. i'm honored to be here with my colleague ranking member jerry nadler on the house judiciary committee. and others may be joining us. adam is here. now we're joined by ranking member on intelligence adam schiff. in addition to what was presented, i wanted to make two points which may be additional, but i want to emphasize them. one is that the i.g. informed us
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that leaks to rudy giuliani were part of the investigation. we'll see what that takes us to. the report does not answer how he got those leaks and democrats are demanding answers. secondly, the report says that the fbi was under constant pressure from congressional republicans. that pressure has now been directed to the mueller investigation. the report provides no basis for the gop to challenge the legitimacy of the mueller investigation. it must continue unhindered. it's deeply disturbing that the republicans remain obsessed with undermining our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. republicans need to end this and focus on what matters, protecting our democracy. just this week, special counsel mueller said that the election meddling operations are still occurring. yet yesterday the house gop failed to appropriate a single
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dollar to protect our elections. they refused to hold a full committee hearing on election security and homeland or house administration committee. congress takes an oath of office to support and defend the constitution and to protect the american people. democrats are honoring that oath with real actions to secure our elections. and i repeat, we found no evidence, says the inspector general. we found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors are affected by bias or other improper considerations. rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutor's assessment of the facts, the law and the past department practice. i yield now to the distinguished ranking member of the judiciary committee in the house jerry nadler. >> thank you very much. like senator feinstein, i've only had time to read the executive summary. i have two key reactions after reviewing it. first, the decisions described in the report all helped donald
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trump win the election. all the errors were in trump's favor. when he appeared before the house judiciary committee in 2016, in september of 2016, i told director comey that he was wrong to treat the two presidential candidates differently. speaking at length about the clinton investigation on several occasions, while refusing to acknowledge even the existence of what we now know was the investigation of the trump campaign. the report today confirms that we were right to be worried about the double standard. it also confirms that mr. comey was absolutely wrong in his decision to publicly reopen the investigation in october. his choice was not as he often frames it between silence and disclosure. his choice was between, as the report puts it, policy/practice and not following policy/practice. we also, if we learned anything
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from these findings, it should be that the department of justice and special counsel mueller must be able to complete the investigation without political interference, a lesson that my republican colleagues seem to have missed. second, the comments of my republican colleagues since this report were released are completely untethered from reality. republicans are clinging to the hope that somehow some way their long debunked myth of an fbi conspiracy against president trump is still true. a group of freedom caucus members just wrote the department of justice asked for, and i did you not, an investigation into the investigation of the investigation. a second degree or third degree investigation. facts are facts. secretary clinton did not, as my republican colleagues suggest, receive special treatment. the political views of the agents running this case did not affect the outcome of the investigation. these are findings of the
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report. where the department of justice and the fbi deviated from normal policy and practice, they did so to the detriment of secretary clinton and the benefit of the campaign of donald trump. if you're still unconvinced, if you think that this report stands for anything but the fact that the republican narrative that we have heard and i'm sure we'll continue to hear is completely false, i direct you to the key findings of the inspector general. i think it's quoted right here. we found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or by other improper considerations. rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutor's assessment of the facts, the law and past department practice. so let me express the hope that we will now see an end to the slander by our republican colleagues and by the president,
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of the people of the department of justice, of the fbi and the continues attempts to pressure them into not doing their jobs properly, the continuing attempts of what i think are continuing obstruction of justice acts. thank you very much. >> adam schiff, ranking member on intelligence in the house. >> thank you, mr. leader. just to underscore a couple points, i think probably the two key conclusions of the inspector general report are first that no political bias influenced the decision making at either the fbi or the department of justice. while there may have been political bias exhibited in some private text messages, none of that political bias influenced decision making in the clinton e-mail investigation. the second, i think, key conclusion of the inspector general is that director comey and others made serious errors of judgment. while these serious errors of judgment were not driven by political considerations, they were nevertheless serious mistakes. those mistakes unquestionably
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had the effect of helping the trump campaign. now, that was not by design, but that was the effect. you need look no further than candidate trump's comments applauding then director comey for discussing the investigation in october to see which way those errors in judgment cut. none of this report obviously reflects at all on the continuing investigation by special counsel. it is more important than ever that that investigation go on unimpeded. but it is not completely irrelevant in the sense that one of the points made by the inspector general perhaps among the gravest mistakes attributed to director comey was discussing an ongoing investigation publicly, sharing information about an ongoing investigation with congress with the knowledge that that information would likely be made public. that is of a continuing concern. as some in congress pressed the
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justice department once again to disclose information about a pending investigation. we should not repeat that mistake again. so just to sum up, there were serious errors of judgment made. those errors of judgment were not made owing to political bias, but nonetheless they were serious mistakes. those mistakes had the effect of helping the trump campaign. none of this reflects on the special counsel's work. we're determined to make sure that work goes on unimpeded, but we should be mindful of the inspector general's conclusion that discussing an ongoing investigation, sharing information about an ongoing investigation when it is likely that investigation will be made public is a mistake and we should be doing everything possible not to repeat that mistake. thank you. >> congressman cummings, ranking member of the oversight committee in the house.
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>> thank you very much, senator schumer. after reviewing the inspector general's report today, there is one broad overarching and inescapable conclusion that i draw. the fbi's actions leading up to the presidential election helped donald trump in his effort to become president of the united states of america. director comey had a double standard. he spoke publicly about the clinton investigation while keeping secret from the american people the investigation of donald trump and russia. director comey talked publicly about hillary clinton's closed case, which resulted in no charges, and disclosed the reopening of the case in october of 2016 based on e-mails that
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showed absolutely nothing new. at the same time, he kept secret from the american people the ongoing investigation of president trump's campaign and russia, which was happening exactly at the same time. i felt disheartened by this report because i warned director comey personally against this double standard before the election. i want to share with you a statement that i issued on october 31st, 2016, just days before the election. here's what i said, and i quote, if it comes out after the election that the fbi kept secret from the american people the fact that it was investigating former trump campaign manager paul manafort
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or seeking access to his e-mails or investigating anyone else associated with trump, then i have no idea how director comey will be able to explain his actions. i do not know how director comey will justify his decision to withhold information relating to trump while publicly announcing ongoing investigative steps against his opponent just day s before the election. i issued that statement october 2016. sadly, this is precisely what the inspector general's report confirms today. the report concludes that these actions violated longstanding guidelines intended to protect citizens from unfair attacks and prevent the fbi from influencing our elections.
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let me close by making one final comment. we understand why director comey did this. republican i witnessed it myself. the simple lesson from the today's report is that the fbi should not have buckled under this republican pressure. these policies are intended to keep the fbi from doing exactly what it did. influencing the course of a presidential election. ironically today, republicans are lobbying the same attacks against special counsel robert mueller.
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it's time for those attacks to stop. special counsel mueller's investigation has produced 18 indictments against 20 individuals and three companies encompassing 75 criminal acts and has yielded five guilty pleas. i've said it before, ladies and gentlemen, but we are in a state where we have to protect the soil soul of our democracy, it's so important that we get this right. things that are happening today may not be reversed during my lifetime. but i'm going to fight with everything i've got to make sure we maintain this democracy, that allowed all of us to be where we are today. thank you. >> thank you, congressman cummings will take questions on this subject. >> didn't the president point to this report and say look, james comey violated protocol multiple times. i was completely justified in
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firing him. >> well the bottom line is the president said he fired him because of the russia investigation on an interview with nbc. and so that speaks for itself. >> concern about the fact that the justice department waited until today to disclose the newly revealed text messages between peter stroud and the page in which they talk about stopping donald trump. stroud said in an august 16 message, responding to a message said we'll stop it, referring to trump becoming president. are you at all concerned about the conduct of peter strzok in these messages? >> it's nothing new in this report. strzok has made many bad comments and it led director mueller to remove him from his investigation, as soon as those came out. i believe it was last february. several months ago. >> go ahead, jerry, sure.
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>> the report, the report finds and this is on page 3 of the executive summary, it says we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations including political bias affected the specific investigative decisions we reviewed or that the justifications offered for these decisions were pretexturl. >> i will say the word private in these messages to the specific investigative decisions we reviewed. rather, consistent with the analytic approach described above, we found that these specific decisions were the result of discretionary judgments made during the course of the investigation by the mid year agents and prosecutors and that these judgment calls were not unreasonable. in other words the report specifically finds whatever the private political opinions of strzok and paige expressed in the emails between the two of them, they did not bring that bias in any way to the
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investigation and that the investigative decisions made by them and others were all reasonable it further says in some instass, we further found evidence that in some instances strzok and paige advocated for more aggressive investigative measures in the mid year investigation such as the use of grand jury subpoenas and search warrants to obtain evidence. in other words, in some instances strzok and paige were more hawkish against the hillary side if you will than the decisions that were ultimately made. >> my personal opinion? it's up to ray. my personal opinion is no. lots of people had, we don't know the political opinions of other people. as long as they showed bad judgment writing those things, but as long as they kept them from, from affecting their judgments or affecting the decision in the key finding of the investigation, one of the key findings of the inspector
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general, is that none of those personal political opinions affected the investigation or decisions in the investigation in any way and therefore do not detract from the validity of the whole thing. >> given all the criticism of director comey and his judgment in this report from those of you on stage, do you think anything you've learned today undermines his credibility in the area where he's a witness in the mueller probe on these obstruction and so forth? >> he didn't handle himself well here. but no one has cast aspersions at this point. we'll have to wait to see if he's a witness. but no one has cast aspersions on that aspect of things. on his honesty. it's an error of judgment but not an error of credibility. >> i was going to make precisely that point which is the inspector general criticizes director comey properly for a failed exercise of judgment.
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not for lack of candor, not for a lack of integrity, but for exercising judgment. in a way that was inconsistent with department policy and the explanations he gave did not merit ignoring the department's policy. the director has sought to frame the issue as reveal or conceal. and i think the inspector general properly framed the issue as abide by the department policies or ignore them and the director should have abided by them. >> last question. >> many democrats were reflexively defensive of hillary clinton during the election. many endorsed her even before the outcome of this probe. with the beenfit of hindsight was there a real question at the heart that needed to be probed? and was this investigation legitimate from the beginning? the fbi investigation? >> the fbi investigation of
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hillary? >> yes. >> look, their findings speak for themselves. plain and simple. thank you, everybody. >> former fbi director james comey has this reaction to the department of justice inspector general report. i respect the doj ig office which is why i urged them to do this review. the conclusions are reasonable, even though i disagree with some. people of good faith can see an unprecedented situation differently. i pray no director faces it again. thanks to the ig's people for hard work. the fbi will be holding a briefing on the report at 5:30
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eastern, we'll have live coverage of that briefing on c-span 2. can you also watch on or listen on our radio app. there's a link to that report on our website, now here's a house subcommittee from earlier today to discuss a recent gao report on cost overruns at nasa. this is just over an hour.