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tv   Washington Journal John Malcolm  CSPAN  December 12, 2018 5:16am-5:46am EST

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in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television company. and today, we continue to bring unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. john malcolm is the director of the meece center at the heritage foundation joining us to talk about president trump's pick to be the next attorney general. you are an assistant u.s. attorney when mr. -- mr. barr was attorney general. talk about his resume before his job and since. >> an interesting tidbit, i happen to be in the rose garden on an unrelated matter when president bush nominated me to be the attorney general. so --
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>> did you know him before that? but i didn't but i knew of him. it happened we went to the same high school and college. he is from new york and his parents are professors at columbia university. he got undergraduate degree there and a graduate degree in government and chinese studies. he worked as an intelligent analyst and a legislative aide at the cia for 4 years so he has an intelligence background while he was going to law school at night at george washington university. he was a private practice for a while and during the reagan administration for a bit of time he served on the staff of the white house domestic policy staff. then during the time of president hw bush, he was first assistant to the attorney general. the man in charge of the office of legal counsel. which is the body within the justice department providing legal advice to the justice department and every executive branch, agency and to the
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president. he then served for 2 years as deputy attorney general. then when richard thornburg resigned to run for senate, he became the attorney general and was the 77th attorney general. >> he was in his early 40s when he was attorney general. correct? >> that was right. 68 now so we can work our way back. >> unusual to be attorney general that young? >> yes, i would say so but he was very impressive in the positions he previously served. >> how so? >> for instance, the office of legal counsel is a very important position. there were lots of thorny legal questions that come before the office. one of the questions that came up was whether or not the u.s. could under the constitution invade panama for the purpose of seizing and taking manwell noriega. he ran the day-to-day operations of the justice department. he was naturally the attorney general, not now but they are
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made acting attorney general and while he was acting attorney general there was a crisis in that there was a hostage taking at a prison in talladega, alabama. 121 armed cubans -- inmates took nine hostages and for 10 days there was a standoff. it ended with the hostage rescue team going in and no one got hurt. that very much impressed president bush and decided because of his toughness and level nesting the crisis he was attorney general. >> what has he been doing since? >> he is on a different date a number of different positions. he was general counsel and executive vice president at gte. he merged with bell atlantic to become a verizon communications and served in that role as well for number of years. then for the last 2 or 3 years, he has been counsel at the law firm of kirkland -- >> what is your reaction since his nomination was announced?
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>> these are contentious times. i would know by the way that when he was confirmed as head of olc, deputy attorney general and attorney general he was unanimously confirmed by the senate and at the time that -- the senate was controlled by the democrats. that will not happen this time around but he has a steady hand and does not have a close personal relationship with the president. obviously there are people saying that he has use on executive power and has made a couple of critical comments about the mueller investigation or the firing of jim coney -- jim comey or sally yates but i think you will be confirmed. >> you could count patrick leahy in that column. these are some of his tweets since he was announced. i have known bill barr for a long time. he has a long record and the private sector and public service that needs to be thoroughly vetted. this includes recent troubling comments about investigations of keen interest to the president who is nominating
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him. he went on to tweet that i look forward to discussing these issues and others at the hearing. i hope you will use the opportunity to unambiguously commit should he be confirmed to upholding the rule of law and protecting the special counsel's investigation against any interference. >> i suppose my comment to that is that the comments were fairly tame. he made them as a private citizen then. he has not had access to the evidence that robert mueller has. if he becomes ag you will see the evidence. he knows bob mueller very well by the way. they travel in the same circles around washington legal elite. paul mueller was head of the criminal -- they probably met together daily. and i'm sure he will answer questions whether it satisfies senator leahy are not. no ag should make commitments to anybody but i note that when he was at the confirmation hearing to be attorney general
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he was asked about his loyalty to president bush and he said, let me be clear, my loyalty is to the constitution. >> we are talking with john malcolm this morning. the heritage foundation about the president's nomination of william barr to be the next attorney general. if you want to join in the conversation, 202748 8001 if you are a republican, 202-748- 8000 if you are a democrat, 202 748-8002 if you are independent. take us back to that confirmation hearing in 1991 and set the scene. joe biden was chairing the judiciary committee at that time. why was he unopposed? why did nobody vote against him? what were some of the questions that were brought up? >> he had a reputation for independence and integrity. he had run the department very well. by the way, we will talk about
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the special counsel, bill barr when he was attorney general named at least two special counsel to investigate alleged wrongdoing by the bush administration. so he had shown a certain independence in that regard. the one point he was asked about abortion and whether there was a right to privacy in the constitution. boy, the answer he said was yes i recognize there is a right to privacy in the constitution but i don't believe it applies to abortion. senator biden at the time said you are the first person to candidly answer that question who has ever come before the committee and i will award that candor. but these are different times and -- >> talk about his role in part in stemming from the iran- contra. >> pardons are not always controversial but every president seems to have controversy. build -- bill clinton had his under eric holder involving mark rich. there is no question at the end of his term, president bush pardoned i think it was 5 or 6
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people related to the iran- contra scandal. most notably, the secretary of defense. it was known he had spoken to bill barr about them and it was surprising he did not speak about exactly what role bill barr had. that will be a privileged communication remaining between the two of them. >> one more reaction from a member of the committee. democrat from oregon saying i must answer questions about whether donald trump demanded his loyalty or extracted promises about constraining robert mueller's investigation as a condition of being nominated. a failure to answer those questions will be disqualifying he says. >> is up to senators to answer what is qualifying or disqualifying. i have no doubt he will answer that question and no doubt -- no promises were asked and then were given. >> we will start with an independent. good morning. >> good morning and thank you. i remember years ago when brian lamb was hosting and this was a
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time when barack obama was first nominated as president. he has selected hillary clinton as secretary of state but he also deliberately did not put in the inspector general at the secretary of state office. i believe that will be the center focus and contention. many of us took up rules and everybody called them out. -- most of them are put on their bob obama and we know this. i want to know about conflict of interest. even though mr. mueller and mr. rosenstein were not on that board, certainly they knew that the inspector general position deliberately being vacant, they only put an interim, loyal democrat in that spot.
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it is the first time in our history the beauty -- that we did not have an inspector general at the secretary of state office. since its inception in 1959. robert mueller, there is no comment on him at that point. he was the head of the fbi and rob rosenstein was attorney general i believe at the state of maryland. your comments on this, sir, there is a lot of conflict. i had top-secret clearance in the navy and am fully well aware of russia's capabilities and the lack of capabilities. i never dreamed we would ever sell enriched uranium to russia or any other entities and yet at the same time you move forward a few years and the same people are involved in the so-called investigations of these things. >> we will let john malcolm bring up -- take up those topics.
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>> there is a lot to unpack. rod rosenstein was the u.s. attorney in maryland at the time of the sale of uranium. and certainly it was investigated or is being investigated whether or not hillary clinton was given undue pressure to get that bit -- get that guilt on. the collar for two --, the committee of foreign investments in the u.s. i used to sit on some of those meetings and it is one assets are sold to foreign entities. >> is the aji part of that process? >> it is usually the head of the criminal division of the department of justice. i was deputy at the time and he often had me attend the meetings. i'm not sure about what the history of the ig at the state department's. i know that the ig at the justice of -- justice department and i hold him in high regard. he is completely apolitical and dogged in the way he goes about
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his job. >> there are members on the republican side of the island capitol hill -- isle of capitol hill who want to investigate the clinton foundation. has mr. barr weighed in on that? >> at one point he said if you find that there is smoke suggesting collusion between the comp -- the trump campaign and the russians, that it exists with the clinton foundation and the uranium one deal. the department of justice said at one point they would look into the clinton foundation. i don't know if they were looking into the uranium one deal or if they would take it up if our was confirmed. >> a republican is up next. >> good morning. i have two questions. i just want to know why do democratic senators think they can demand from a republican attorney general loyalty to a
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gop president like president trump yet they don't ask or demand that of a democratic attorney general like obama put in his best friend. and it was known it was a best friend. it seems like a double standard. a republican attorney general has to declare independence and almost like i will never talk to this president or even agree with him. whatever. but they never stressed that with the democratic side. and the other thing is, what is wrong with the attorney general being appointed that does support our president who is loyal to him? why can't he be loyal to the constitution and to our president? because he is the chief executor of our nation. attorney general, even though he is the top lawyer for all of us, he is still a republican and he should be in lockstep with our president because they are both she and lot -- chief
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law enforcement officers. >> thank you very much for those questions. i don't think there is any question that eric holder had a very close relationship with barack obama. there were some conservatives who believed that eric holder vended the law to suit the desire of his close personal friend who was the president. there is not that sort of relationship to the best of my knowledge between donald trump and william barr. there is nothing wrong with loyalty. the attorney general is a clinical appointee and serves at the pleasure of the president. but his primary fidelity is to the rule of law into the constitution. there is nothing wrong with loyalty and trying to advance this administrations legal arguments and policies as long as they comport with existing law and the constitution. the attorney general, any officeholder has a higher duty to the constitution than to any individual up to and including
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the president. >> new york is next. independent jim, go ahead. >> hello i want to ask a question. it may be off subject but he would know about it. i feel like we are being invaded by central and south america. everybody's talking about the russians because we are not speaking russian. at the library, the books have not gone thrown away in languages other than spanish. i would like to know, please answer this question. has trump thought about operation -- that eisenhower did in the '50s. that would be great. goodbye. >> i will give a simple answer. i don't have the slightest idea. >> william barr on immigration issues? >> he certainly wrote an op-ed along with michael mckenzie and edney's praising jeff sessions. and one of the things he praised him for was for his
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tough response on illegal immigration. he was known to be tough on illegal immigration at the time that he was attorney general. he certainly knows how to respond to crises. when he became attorney general, there was a large spike in violent crime. i know that he transferred a whole bunch of investigators who had been doing counterterrorism work in order to address gang violence and violent crime. this is a guy who can recognize the administration priorities and make resources to address them. >> what lesson should william barr take from jeff savage -- jeff sessions, his time as attorney general and relationship with president trump? >> he should not recruit himself from oversight of the mueller investigation. but of course since he was not involved in the campaign and to the best of my knowledge had no discussions with the investors that should be not a problem. >> what is the independent counsel law? >> it no longer exists.
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the independent counsel law was a post-watergate reform the basically allowed a three-judge panel of the d.c. circuit to appoint somebody under the law once the attorney general said, it meets the following qualifications of potential wrongdoing by high-ranking officials. and the d.c. circuit would appoint an independent counsel. that independent counsel, for all intents and purposes on that matter, was the attorney general. we had an independent counsel to the whitewater investigation, ken starr who after finishing his tenure as independent counsel came up for reauthorization and the lie was allowed to relapse. bubbler is not independent counsel, he is special counsel reporting to the attorney general and is governed by the rules of the justice department. >> this is william barr back
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from 1999 talking about the role of independent counsel but also the role of the aji and these kinds of investigations. >> i do want to say something about the independent counsel. i do think that there have been and there always will be cases where someone from the outside of the department should be brought in to supervise the case. but that does not mean you need independent counsel statute to set up a individual. prior to watergate, and now we can rely on the old system which is the attorney general ultimately has to bring in someone with sufficient stature to win the confidence of the peoples of the matter will be handled appropriately. >> your reaction? >> congress came to that very conclusion. that you could appoint somebody from the outside and in this case bob mueller who could be supervised for the department of justice. and they could do it -- do a thorough job to investigate potential wrongdoing. and when he was attorney general, bill barr named at least two special councils,
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perhaps independent counsels themselves. retired judges, one came to look at allegations made by a company called --. they allege that the cia had stolen their software and was using it for covert operations. he and -- appointed another retired judge to investigate a bank that had supposedly made loans to iraq for billions of dollars for agricultural purposes diverted to purchase weapons. >> john malcolm with the herd -- with the heritage foundation getting reaction to the nomination of william barr. as the next attorney general. what is the meece center at the heritage foundation? >> it is a component within the heritage foundation obviously named after the 75th attorney general. we look at legal questions and we do policy analysis, host public events, people can go to and read what
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scholars have to say on all manner of legal issues. >> the director of the center taking your calls. jessup maryland, republican. good morning. >> good morning. will mr. barr have the authority to go after eric holder, loretta lynch, john brennan for committing perjury under oath? secondly, will he be able to hold bubbler and the investigation accountable for using unverified him a phony dossier is bought and paid for by the dnc and hillary clinton? to change the election results of 2016? will he be able to do that? >> thank you for the questions. with respect to the first question, he will have the authority to investigate anybody for potential violations of federal law. certainly perjury is a violation of federal law. not in any way, shape or form opining that they committed
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perjury but if there are credible allegations they did they have the authority to investigate that. with request -- respect to your second question about the fisa abuse process , the inspector general has announced he is doing an investigation into potential abuses of the foreign intelligence surveillance act, fisa. the process is past reports have been generally accepted on both sides of the political aisle. i expect he will look into that. how it will impact the evidence that bubbler or other prosecutorial offices gather, that is something he would have to look at. if there was violation of law, i suppose that is something he would have to consider. >> more senate reaction. this is rand paul on sunday when asked his thoughts on william barr's use of executive power. >> on the president's nomination of william barr, it
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has been noted that he has an expansive view of executive power. and i heard that i thought, he may have trouble getting rand paul's vote for confirmation. am i correct? >> that is right. i'm concerned he has been a big supporter of the patriot act which lowered the standard of spying on americans and even went so far as to say that the patriot act was pretty good and we should go much further. i'm disturbed he has been a big fan of taking people's property, civil asset forfeiture without a conviction. any poor people in our country have cash taken from them and then the government says, proof u.s. where you got the cash. then you can get it back. the burden is on the individual. this is a terrible thing called civil asset forfeiture. i have not made a decision on him but i can tell you the first things i've learned about him being for more surveillance of americans is troubling. >> senator paul isn't -- entitled to his views and i'm
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sure he will ask the nominees his use on both subjects. the patriot act came up years after bill barr was attorney general . certainly it passed overwhelmingly and has been reauthorized overwhelmingly. with respect to civil asset forfeiture, i am a little bit in rand paul's cam. i believe civil asset forfeiture should be retained but that there should be reforms that make it harder for the government to steal someone's assets without a criminal conviction or allegation of criminal wrongdoing by an individual. it probably is tough on asset forfeiture. jeff sessions was tough on that but that is part of an ongoing conversation. regardless of what happens to bill barr, i'm sure that discussion will be ongoing. >> a democrat from california, good morning. >> good morning. i'm glad to know that mr. meese is alive. in the early '80s i was sent by him, a petition about playboy
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magazine. i believe it was. should it be canceled? my opinion was no. because there are some good things in there. i had a lot of questions and anyway i was wondering if you could tell me what happened and what were the results of that petition? and you can reach me at the number that i called on. i would appreciate the info. and say hello to mr. meese. i hope he is someone that i can still admire. >> thank you for getting up so early sandra. to the question, ed meese just turned 87 years young. is very vital and i see him often and i will pass on your good wishes. i'm afraid i don't know
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anything about that petition. although i don't know if i have the ability to look into it but i will ask him about it when i see him. >> bob from massachusetts, and independent. good morning. >> my question for you is, who is the most powerful individual in america? is it the president of the united states or the ninth circuit? it seems like the ninth circuit is more powerful than the president of the united states. they can overrule anything he wants to do. president obama could sign anything he wanted. daca for instance was a major thing against the law. for him to let millions of people into the country and there is nothing to be done about it now. he says, let these people in. but he did that stuff and there wasn't any circuit judge is shutting anything that he did down. mr. trump cannot do anything without somebody in hawaii or california or west virginia,
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some judge that is more powerful than the president of the united states can just take away anything he says. can you answer that, please? >> thank you very much for the question. it is certainly true that president obama, very aggressively positions with respect to efficient -- existing law under the daca programs and eric holder certainly supported president obama's positions. you are right. that the ninth circuit, like all the courts of appeals are very powerful people. the only resort or recourse to an adverse decision from the ninth circuit is through the supreme court. the supreme court takes very few cases. it is the largest circuit and has repeated to be and i do not deny the veracity of this. the most liberal circuit. i don't think it is an accident that the people challenging
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various aspects of the trump administration almost invariably file their lawsuits in federal court within the jurisdiction of the ninth circuit. the president, i would still say since he can send troops into battle is probably a little bit more powerful than the ninth circuit. and of course if it wants to be so, the supreme court is higher on the pecking order. >> to bring this back to william barr, what do we know about his views on the judiciary and activist judges? >> he is a conservative. i never heard him say anything about originalist him or textualism. he certainly is a conservative and would be in favor of judges interpreting and applying the law as it is written rather than looking for hidden intent or cleaned by statements made from congressional record. perhaps he will be probed about those matters when he is up for confirmation hearings. but of course he has not been nominated to be a judge. he is nominated to head the justice department and he will
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act for the supreme court through these -- his solicitor general. >> we will find out and we will be watching those hearings here on c-span. thank you for your time. >> great to be with you. >> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up wednesday morning, to discuss the problem solvers caucus with the cochairs, new york republican congressman tom reed and new jersey democratic congressman --. talking about u.s.-saudi relationships. be sure to watch washington general. live at 7:00 eastern wednesday morning. joined the discussion. on wednesday, actio did -- editor mike allen sets down with members of congress and health and human services secretary to talk about healthcare and ways to make it more accessible.
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that is live at 8 am eastern here on c-span 3. later on, law enforcement and homeland security officials testify before the senate judiciary committee about chinese espionage efforts against the u.s. that is also live here on c-span 3 starting at 10 am eastern. sunday night on q&a, this american nazi party had supporters that came to rallies at madison square garden. as the footage shows, storm troopers giving the salute with a swastika against george washington, that was for george washington's birthday. this was a active fascist movement in the '20s and '30s earlier than people think and associated with the phrase, america first. >> university of london literature professor sarah churchwell looks at the history of the terms america first and the american dream. in her book, but hold america. sunday night at 8:00 eastern on


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