tv Members of Congress Testify on Oversight of Justice Department FBI CSPAN March 23, 2023 3:31pm-4:48pm EDT
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>> subcommittee will come to order, -- declare recess at any time, welcome everyone to this first hearing of the select subcommittee, the chair now recognizes the gentleman from florida, mr. gates, lead us with the pledge of allegiance. >> i pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the united states of america. to the republican with we stand, one nation under god, in divisible -- with justice for all. >> the chair now recognizes for the opening statement. november 18th, 2021, an fbi whistleblower discloses to republicans on the house judiciary that the fbi created a threat tag for parents voicing their concerns at school board meetings. april 26th, 2022, another fbi whistleblower discloses that
the fbi employees are being run out of the bureau for attending conservative political events. may 11th, 2022, another fbi whistleblower disclosures that dozens of parents with a threat tag designation to their name or investigated by the fbi. this also happens to be the same whistleblower who said the fbi leadership, not the rank and file members, the fbi leadership it's rotted at its core. it's clear it has been revoked, he has been suspended. june 7th, 2022, another fbi whistleblower is retaliated against after giving feedback on an anonymous survey. july 27th, 2022, another fbi whistleblower discloses that agents are pressured to re-classified cases as domestic violent extremism cases to hit self created performance metrics. september 14th, 2022, an fbi whistleblower discloses that
the fbi used the betsy ross flag as a terrorist symbol, september 19th, 2022, another fbi whistleblower disclosures 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 8th, excuse me, november 4th, 2022, another fbi whistleblower discloses the fbi accepts private user information from facebook, without the users consent and information is from only the conservative side of the political spectrum. this is only a sampling. and 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 in the political nature at the justice department. not jim jordan saying this, not republicans, not conservatives, good, brave fbi's agent were
going to come forward and give us the truth. this is just the fbi. americans have concerns about the double standard at the department of justice, americans have concerns about the disinformation in governance board the department of tried to form, americans have concerns about the atf and 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, big tech, colluded to shape and mold the narrative and disappear s information in censor americans. over the course of our work on 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 the government. we expect to hear from people in the media. we expect to hear from the fbi agents who have come forward as whistleblowers. we think many of them will set
for transcribed interviews, as one did on tuesday. we believe several of them will come and testify in open hearings. finally, we expect to bring forward legislation that will help protect the american people. we hope our democrat colleagues will work with us. the day the resolution creating this subcommittee was debated and passed, mr. jeffries, mr. nadler, said democrats would, quote, fight us tooth and nail. we hope that attitude changes. we want to work with them. protecting the first amendment should not be partisan, protecting the constitution should not be partisan, and protecting the fundamental principle of equal treatment under the law should not be partisan. with that, i yield to the ranking member for opening statement. >> thank you, chairman jordan, nobody disputes the important role of congressional oversight. i know, firsthand, how important it is to ask questions and demand answers of the federal government.
and the ordinary course of business, that work informs the legislative process. in 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 was both a measure of accountability and assigned to the american people that congress had no intention of being bullied into giving up on a peaceful transfer of power. there is a difference. my colleagues between legitimate oversight and weaponization of congress and our processes. particularly, our committee work, as a political tool. i am deeply concerned about the use of this subcommittee as a
place to settle scores. showcase conspiracy theories. and advance an extreme agenda that risks undermining americans faith in our democracy. some of today's witnesses would have us believe that the department of justice and the federal bureau of investigation are part of a deep state cabal. one even wrote a book describing the fbi itself as a threat to democracy. the department of justice and the fbi do not always get it right. history is full of examples of these agencies getting 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 not logically follow that every investigation or criminal inquiry by the fbi or the department of justice is political or ideologically based. but, in our current climate, with domestic terrorism on the
rise in hate speech normalized by national politicians, the department of justice in the fbi are doing their best to protect us from sliding into chaos. this past monday, the fbi captured two individuals, one and neo-nazi leader, and founder of an -- who were plotting a racially motivated attack on baltimore's power grid. they said their goal was to, quote, completely destroy this whole city, and quote,. last week, the fbi infiltrated and disrupted a major cybercriminal group, extorting schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure around the world. last summer, the fbi engaged in a mass violent crime enforcement effort that took nearly 6000 violent criminals off of our american streets. let's not forget the tremendous work of the fbi and the department of justice after the
attacks on our homeland on september 11th, 2001. some of my republican colleagues love to talk about the threat of violent crime, but they appear oblivious to the fact that they're 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 are doing to protect our communities. recent threat bulletins have highlighted a shocking increase in threats of violence against law enforcement agencies. and a significant uptick after the fbi executed a search warrant of president trump's property at 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, and quote. unfortunately, examples of these threats are not hard to find. last year, someone threatened
to plant a dirty bomb outside of the, fbi headquarters. another attempted to storm the instance in any fbi field office, while wearing body armor and carrying an ar type rifle. the third was arrested after he made a credible threat, stating, quote, every single piece of expletive who worked for the fbi incapacity from the director on down to the janitor who cleans their expletive toilets deserves to die. you have declared war on us, now, it's open season on you. and quote. these allegations are deeply troubling, and i hope that the chairman and members of the subcommittee will be mindful of the risk that go hand in hand with heated rhetoric. a rush to accusation in 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 demean's congressional oversight process.
it makes a mockery of our institutions. as a former prosecutor, i'm even more troubled by the suggestion that the subcommittee may attempt to investigate ongoing criminal investigations. as the head of the rig and justice departments office of legal counsel wrote years ago, granting congress access to 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 were not only damage law enforcement efforts, it would shake the public's confidence in the criminal justice system. i hope not. but i suspect much of the investigations, the majority, my republican colleagues want to look into, the potentially
mock up involve criminal investigations 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 other president, and others within his orbit. during the course of this subcommittees work, i suspect we will hear both members and witnesses describe the events of january 6th 2021, in ways that simply do not mesh with reality. when this happens, i would encourage everyone watching today to review the impeachment record in real report of the january 6th select committee, which lays out the true facts in shocking detail. i recently sent a letter to the chairman, noting that despite our 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 meant this. i mean this. i still hope that we can find common ground and explore it in a bipartisan manner that respects the due process rights and interests of all involved. the chair and his colleagues continually used the moniker of protecting free speech. that sounds good. i hope they all recognize that there is a speech that is not constitutionally protected. racist, hate incitement to violence. and i hope, and if the protection of true speech, of free speech, extends 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. rather than undermine every agent, officer and prosecutor on the job. government abuses of power do
not solely rest with the executive branch. it can, and we've seen it come from the legislative branch as well. on our present course, however, this exercise seems little more than a political stunt. designed to inject extremist politics into the legislative oversight function and the justice system. the american people deserve better than that. thank you, mister chair, i yield back. >> thank you member, without all -- opening stay mitchell the. we'll introduce our first panel of witnesses. the united states senate since 1981, he is currently current chair and on the judiciary and the committee on finance, welcome, senator grassley. senator, ron johnson has the state of wisconsin and the united states senate since 2011. he has served as the chairman of the senate homeland security and government affairs committee, welcome senator johnson. representative jamie raskin, congressman raskin has
represented maryland's eighth congressional district, since 2017. on the committee of oversight and accountability. and we have with us, former member tulsi gabbard for years. and house of representatives for nearly 20 years, she has served our country in the hawaii army national guard, and the u.s. army reserve including deployments in iraq in kuwait. we thank all of you for your service. a long-standing committee practice is to not ask questions of our colleagues and former colleagues, it appear before us in light of that practice our first panel will have ten minutes to deliver their testimony, again, we thank you for being here. and senator from iowa is recognized for ten minutes. iowa is thank you chairman jordan and ranking member glascott for this opportunity to appear. i think you for inviting me to come here. what i am about to tell you sounds like it's out of some 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, and during the course of my service i have run countless investigations, in the past few years i have never seen so much effort from the fbi, the partisan media and some of my democrat colleagues, to interfere with and undermine very legitimate congressional inquiries. it's because of the triad of disinformation and outright falsehoods, as one example, is crossfire hurricane, bit by bit, piece by piece, it has been deconstructed and shown to be 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,
and used a former russians by, gps, law firm, to create a fake dossier and try to cover it up. the most recent example of this triad, at work, our efforts against my and senator johnson's ongoing family, biden family investigation. that started on august 14th, 2019, with a letter that i wrote, to the treasury department. my letter was about a questionable financial transaction, subject to the committee on foreign investment that related to a matter involving the biden family. as our investigation continued and advanced, democratic leadership and partisan media
began their attack on our investigation. this is where that spy, thriller starts to heat up. on july 13th 2020, and minority leader schumer senator warner and then speaker mostly and chairman schiff sent a letter with a classified attachment to the fbi and that letter expressed a purported belief that congressman was a subject of a foreign disinformation campaign. the letter was targeted at the johnson rapidly investigation. the classified attachment included unclassified element that attempted and failed to -- the and unsurprisingly those
unclassified elements were leaked to the press, support a false campaign accusing senator johnson of relying on material for a russian agent. and then fancying russian disinformation. chair nonsense. it's the irresponsible media portrayed this all as the truth. guess what? click chairman schiff claimed without any evidence whatsoever that our work was rooted in russian disinformation. he conveniently left out that our oversight work was actually rooted in official u.s. government and obama administration records. and then senator blumenthal,
also wrote an op-ed in the washington post accusing are of estimation of quote perpetuating russian disinformation in the u.s. senate. and of quote. and when minority leader schumer and ranking member wyden tried to offer a resolution in the senate, disparaging our biden administration they were basically calling us russian stooges. that violated senate rules. and their efforts. and of course were appropriately shut down. on july the 16th 2020, we are days after july 13th, then ranking member members widen and peters wrote a letter asking for a briefing from the fbi's foreign influence task force. our staff and the ranking
member staff had already received a briefing march of 2020 that put the issue to rest. so 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 of our democratic colleagues were not interested in anything but using the briefing to try and destroy our investigation. but at these democrats insistence the fbi caved. in august 2020 senator johnson and i had the infamous briefing from the fbi that was needless. and then as we had feared the contents of that briefing were later leaked to the russian
post even though the fbi had promised confidentiality. that leak outrageously and inaccurately enacted that fbi briefing to our investigation in another effort to falsely label our good government oversight work as a russian disinformation. the wall street journal editorial bird 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 bureau set of two gop senators at the house of democrats? simply put the briefing was unnecessary and completely irrelevant to the substance of our investigation.
it was only done because the democrats wanted to do so. so they could try to smear us. and the fbi wrongly did their bidding. -- as constitutional officers records relating to that briefing. including the alleged intelligence basis for it. director wray has consistently failed to perform duties required of his position. another example of this democratic disinformation campaign involved george kent. former state department deputy assistant general. senator johnson and i run a transcribed interview with george can. before the interview democrats hurt acquired material from that russian agent.
the same one that i mentioned earlier. at the interview democrats, now republicans, democrats asked mr. kent about the same material. mr. kent said it was disinformation. think about it, after all the spears they were throwing out 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. as a foreign agent who our own intelligence committee warned was actively seeking to influence u.s. politics. not me, or senator johnson. not our staff. it was the democrats who asserted disinformation from the russians into our official
record. media -- fake information. if they spread, that they spread about our investigation. so they all failed to stop senator johnson and me. on august 23rd 2020 senator johnson and i released our first biden investigation report, i know there has been a lot of talk in this town about treasure records and you ought to pursue them, in that 2020 report we made public the contents of many treasury records. but we did not stop there. we issued another report number 18, 2020, our report exposed extensive financial relationship 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. with the new congress of course, senator johnson and i transitioned to be ranking members. we have not forgotten about the tryout of partisan media, fbi, democrats, and leadership 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 a previous to report, financially linked hunter biden and james biden to entities and individual connected with the communist chinese regime. we also acquired business records with hunter and james
bidens signatures alongside those same chinese nationals. how are they supposed to be paid? according to bank records, there were wires from companies linked to the communist regime. in three floors speeches we made those bank records public, and asked this question to our partisan detractors. the same ones that i mentioned throughout my remarks and maybe a lot of others. are these official bank records? are they russian disinformation? we shared hundreds of pages of bank records with u.s. attorney weiss. he failed to respond. now as our investigation continues, whistleblowers approach my office with allegations. that the fbi created an assessment in august 2020, the same month that they briefed me and senator johnson. according to these whistleblowers, that is hazmat
was used by fbi headquarters to improperly discredit negative hunter biden information as disinformation. as a result, his scheme allegedly caused investigative activity to entirely safe. it has been further alleged to me than in september 2020, the same month senator johnson and i released our first report, those fbi headquarters personnel began to place their malices up their credibility of their reporting related to the biden family and what i have been told is a restrictive access sub file. further allegations to my office -- russian field office, who improperly ordered information to be closed by the fbi related to hunter biden's potential criminal conduct in october
2020. just before the election. even though it was verified or it was verifiable. other vista whistleblower disclosures to my office made clear, the fbi has within its possession very significant impactful in voluminous evidence with respect to potential criminal conduct by hunter james biden. these disclosures also allege that joe biden was aware of hunter biden's business arrangements and may have been involved in some of them. we still aren't sure. what's 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. it's clear to me, the justice department and the fbi are suffering from a political infection that, if it's not defeated, will cause the american people to no longer
trust these storied institutions. it will also threaten the american way of life. unfortunately, what you heard for me, this story of government abuse and political treasury, is scarier than fiction. it really happened. but, mister chairman, your committee here, so assembled, is an opportunity to help us write the last chapter in this real life drama. you must relentlessly's pursue the facts and the evidence. senator johnson and i will do the same, and are willing to work with you. thank you. >> thank you so much, senator grassley. senator johnson. >> chairman jordan, ranking member plaskett, members of the select committee. thank you for inviting me to testify about my personal knowledge of an experience with federal agencies being weaponized against u.s. citizens. senator grassley has just described the most egregious
examples undertaken by multiple actors and agencies to undermine and sabotage our joint investigations. to begin, let me be clear. throughout my testimony, i am not talking about the men and women in government who conduct them selves with integrity and patriotism. at the outset, it is important to recognize, corrupt individuals within federal agencies that i am talking about are not acting alone. they operate as vital partners of the left-wing political movement, that includes most members of the mainstream media, big tech social media giants, global institutions and foundations, democrat party operatives, and elected officials. as a twitter files revealed, these actors work in concert to defeat their political opponents and promote left-wing ideology and government control over our lives. my eyes begin opening to this
reality with the disclosure of how the obama administration weaponized the irs to harass tea party groups, by denying them tax exempt status. my personal knowledge and experience with agency corruption began in 2015, when i became chairman of the senate committee on homeland security and governmental affairs. my first investigation ultimately revealed the extensive editing of then fbi director james comey, of his july 5th, 2016 statement that exonerated secretary clinton regarding her use of the private email server for official business. the edits were clearly made to downplay the seriousness of her actions. it is important to note those partisan edits were made by the same cast of characters in the fbi who would initiate and drive the corrupt russian trump collusion investigation. during our investigation, the fbi's involvement in the
russian collusion hoax, senator grassley and i uncovered it made public highly partisan text messages between fbi employees, peter strzok, and lisa page. his december 15th 2016 texts, quote, think -- began leaking like mad. scorned, worried and political, they're kicking into overdrive has never been given the attention it deserves. in 2022, interview with jeff -- strzok said he now believes quote, it is more likely the texts came not from the cia, but from senior levels of the u.s. government or congress. who might those leakers be? why aren't reporters receiving the leaks, outraged at being fed false information? why haven't they blown the whistle on the leakers? why didn't the mainstream media robustly missed a gate how they were all duped. the answer is, they weren't
duped. they were complicit in creating and fostering the political turmoil our country has been experiencing over the last six years. those leaks were a key ingredient in the most destructive political dirty trick in u.s. history. the creation and promotion of a false russia trump collusion narrative. to be most effective, however, that narrative relied on coordination between government actors and the media. and the left had allies in the fbi. unable to verify the steele dossier, the fbi offered christopher steele $1 million to provide verification. by december 2016, the fbi knew they had investigated steele's primary source as a russian spy. the main body of the department
of justice and the inspector general's report on -- abuse, fbi official -- is quoted as saying that the fbi, quote, did not have any indication whatsoever, unquote, of russian influence on the steele dossier. our investigation uncovered redacted footnotes to that same document that completely contradicted that statement. why would falls statement appear in the report, but the truth be hidden in classified footnotes? 14 months later, in february 2018, the fbi still briefed the senate intelligence committee that the dossier had validity. when the mueller report found no evidence of collusion, the left engineered an impeachment of president trump. the cooperation between the house intelligence committee and the impeachment whistleblower remains murky.
then chairman adam schiff, originally denied his committee had contact with the whistleblower prior to the filing of the complaint. acclaim schiff later attempted to walk back. the genesis of the impeachment saga has yet to be fully investigated. it needs to be. prior to the impeachment proceedings, hunter biden's obvious conflict of interest in ukraine became public, and senator grassley and i began investigating. we did not target joe and hunter biden. their actions demanded it. on december 9th, 2019, the fbi issued a grand jury subpoena and took possession of hunter biden's left talk from john paul mick isaac. a computer shop owner and wilmington, delaware. as the fbi left his shop with a laptop, mr. mick isaac recalled one agent saying, quote, it is our experience that nothing ever happens to people that
don't talk about these things, unquote. that statement was the opening salvo in a coordinated effort over the next ten months to sabotage any public revelation of hunter biden's laptop or any wrongdoing connected to the bidens. senator grassley has provided a number of examples of that sabotage. we will release a report that goes into far greater detail than we have time for today. when available, i hope every one will read it. perhaps the most egregious and effective act of sabotage against the truth was the public letter signed by 51 former intelligence officials that proclaimed the laptop had, quote, all the classic earmarks of a russian information operation, unquote. that letter itself wasn't information operation that
interfered with and impacted the 2020 presidential election to a far greater extent than anything russia ever could've hoped to achieve. each of those intelligence officials need to be interviewed to determine how that letter was masterminded. we all condemn the violence of january 6th, we all condemn the violence on january 6th. further the fervor in which the biden department of justice has pursued those protesters and rioters stands in stark contrast. to the lack of interest in the summer of 2020 riders. serious questions regarding instances of unequal application of justice in violation of january 6th defendants due process rights remain unanswered. swat team arrests and treatment of prisoners are legitimate concerns. neither the senate nor house
investigations adequate -- adequately explained why the capitol was so woefully unprepared or 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 than breathtaking. the response to the pandemic has been a measurable failure. over 1 million lives lost. the toll of the economic devastation by shutdowns that did not work. other psychological harm to our children. federal help the fuels denied patient early treatment and to the stay 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 a quote, devastating published takedown of scientists who offered a different approach to handling the pandemic. i have emails also revealed fauci's attempt to hide his agency's role in funding dangerous research that might have led to the creation of the deadly coronavirus? we don't know because those agencies would not provide the unredacted documents. federal health agencies have not been honest or transparent, i have written over 50 oversight letters on the vast majority of the questions i have asked, have either received an adequate response, or no response at all. i have requested information that the public has a right, has a right to know.
doctors who have had the courage and compassion to treat covid patients using their off label prescription ranks have been vilified, censored in their careers destroyed. other health professionals have noticed, towed the line and remained silent. parents who out of concern for their children questioned school boards administrators have been labeled domestic terrorists and must now fear scrutiny from the federal law enforcement. with release of the twitter files, in louisiana and missouri lawsuits against the biden administration, we are getting a clear picture of how active government officials were in suppressing free speech and controlling the narrative. also becoming obvious that the world health organization has been captured by the chinese government, the global institutions in general have been captured by the left, and some charitable foundations are
exerting for more power over public policy than should be allowed. chairman jordan, members of the committee, you have important work before you. although you have been generous in granting me ten minutes to offer my testimony, i have barely scratched the surface in describing the complexity, power and destructive nature of the forces that we face. our founders fully understood the government was necessary to avoid anarchy. they also knew that government power was something to fear. that's why they devised a set of checks and balances to limit governments power and influence over our lives. ideally, a free press would hold all government officials equally accountable. with today's media mostly biased to the left, congressional oversight is needed now more than ever. because the administration is not cooperative and transparent,
congress needs whistleblowers from agencies throughout the federal government. i urge men and women with integrity to come forward and reveal the truth. senator grassley and i will do everything we can, we stand ready to assist your efforts in any way that we can. thank you. >> thank you senator johnson, we look forward to your report, we hope that is coming shortly. now recognized, representative reston for his secretary. >> chairman jordan, ranking member plaskett, do your colleagues. -- who wrote an enlightenment constitution. operating on the basis of facts, scientists. not ignorance and superstition. they wanted america to usher in the age of reason. with the separation of powers,
-- checking every action with an equal and opposite reaction. congress was given the central role of legislating and making progress for our people. they oversight function is not specified in article one, but the supreme court has always said that it is implied, something necessary and proper for the legislator to 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 into the boeing investigation to the watergate hearings to the tobacco hearings, to the select committee on the january 6th attack. or, it could take oversight down a very dark valley. 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 its government is its purpose. what is in a name? everything is here, the odd name of the weaponization subcommittee constitutes a case of pure psychological production. with former president donald trump and his followers accusing yo of doing something, they're usually telling exactly what their own plans are. by establishing a select subcommittee and weaponization they are telling us that donald trump's followers, who obviously control the subcommittee, will continue weaponizing any part of the government they can get their hands on to attack their enemies, to find if there is anyone who stands in the way of their quest for power. to be clear, that is not an
exclusively partition operation. they prove that they will weaponize 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 state election officials like georgia secretary of state brad raffensperger, the foreign head of state like president zelenskyy, a political movement like black lives matter, or the ones close personal friend and ally of trump's, 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 bits of lying and lawlessness that define life as a camp follower in the cold donald trump. but if the weaponized maga campaign isn't exactly partisan's is entirely political because it has an overarching electoral focus and
it's all about restoring donald trump, the twice impeached former president to the office 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 six 2021. do you disagree? don't take my word for it, as our chairman might say, listen to what chairman jordan had to say himself six months ago, at the political action conference in dallas where he was predicting gop victory in the 2022 elections and promising that oversight of hunter biden laptop, and the claim that the federal government is treating moms and dads like the ones in this room like terrorists, would be the interviews of the gop's work in the house when they got back into power. relaxing 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 president trump is going to run. and we need to make sure that he wins. we need to make sure that he winds. this call to arms for the 2024 presidential election was met with wild applause from the cpac audience, i urge everyone of this committee to go back and watch the video. from a serious and bipartisan committee focused on weaponization of the government, -- new levels across the board. consider a few examples i have time for. dozens i can provide the subcommittee. one in a six-week period. donald trump fired a removed inspectors general simply for doing their jobs. and not feeding into trump's chorus of political demands to cover different administration
wrongdoing in misconduct. april 3rd, 2020, trump informed congress that he was firing intelligence community inspector general michael atkinson. who would received a whistleblower complaint in august 2019, about improper demands made by trump to ukrainian president volodymyr zelenskyy. may 2020, trump fired steve lydick, the state department, later claiming he had no idea who he was. i'm saying that he fired him only as secretary pompeo's request, that inspector general was investigating pompeo's decision to bypass congress in sending billions of dollars in arms to saudi arabia. i don't have time to give the details of the others, but may 20, he fired mitch -- the transportation deputy ig. he relieved of duty glenn fine, acting ig for the defense department. he removed christy grim, the acting inspector general of hhs. second, breaching the traditional separation between the president and department of
justice criminal prosecutions, trump and his obliging sycophantic attorney generals, like jeffrey 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 to punish his enemies. if weaponization of the department of justice had any meeting, this is it. consider the egregious case of gregory craig, a white house counsel under obama. who was targeted by the doj for alleged -- violations, and finally indicted on a single count of making false statements. he was acquitted unanimously by the jury, in less than five hours, and one of his lawyers observed the department of justice had hounded his client without any evidence, and without any purpose. former u.s. attorney, jeffrey berman, said that greg craig never should've been prosecuted. consider the case of michael cohen. the president's former lawyer and confidant, for many years. august 2018, he pleaded guilty
to campaign finance violations over large hush money payments he arranged before the 2060 election, to keep porn star, stormy daniels, and karen mcdougal from talking about sexual affairs they had with donald trump. you guys remember this one. after barr became attorney general in february 2019, he worked to kill further investigations related to those payoffs. and suggested that mr. cohen's conviction on campaign finance charges itself be reversed. even though six months had already passed since cohen had entered a guilty plea. amazingly, after cohen was imprisoned for a year, and then being transferred out of prison to home confinement during covid-19, barr in the doj intervened to block his transfer because cohen would not immediately accept, as a condition of his ankle bracelet home confinement, not to engage in first amendment activities. specifically, of writing and
publishing a book about donald trump, or saying anything in public on tv or social media about donald trump. cohen had already been home for two weeks, when this unconstitutional demand from doj appeared and when he and his attorney dared to ask questions about it, three federal marshals showed up with handcuffs and shackles, he was returned to the otisville correctional institute, there, he spent 16 days in solitary confinement, before they're able to get his case before a federal district judge who immediately found that his purpose, quote, interesting cohen from release on furlough and home confinement back to custody was retaliatory in response to cohen desiring to exercise his first amendment right to publish a book, critical of the president, and to discuss the book on social media. can you think of a more agree just example of weaponizing the department of justice for naked lee political purposes then
imprisoning and putting in solitary confinement the presidents own former lawyer, simply because he wanted to exercise his first amendment rights? >> consider the john durham investigation, encouraging republicans including the good chairman, john durham special counsel investigation was set up in 2019 by barr to try and find wrongdoing by intelligence or law enforcement agencies in the origins of the mueller investigation, we've heard some of the murmurings about this today. after four years, and millions of dollars spent, the durham investigation closed as a total flop, without unearthing anything like the deep state conspiracy that republicans have been denouncing around here for years. they couldn't find anything of substance to it. yet, barr and durham kept pressing and clearly abuse of ways, i hope your subcommittee will investigate. one former doj prosecutor robert lusk in, a defense lawyer who represented to witnesses before the durham probe, told the new york times,
he was shocked. this stuff had my head spinning, he said. what did these guys, when these guys drink the kool-aid and who served it to them? amazingly, when prosecutors participated in this wild goose chase, actually came into possession of the evidence of a real offense, from a government officials, of a potentially major financial crime, committed by donald trump, durham was suddenly deputized to investigate it in the whole investigation mysteriously disappeared 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 just function, but rather, to pick up the baton from the defeated and demoralized durham team into keep the wild goose chase going today. third, the former president had no qualms about literally weaponizing our nations law
enforcement and military against first amendment activity for his political purposes. i commend to you the debacle that took place on june 1st, 2020, and lafayette square, where they mobilized an inter agency law enforcement troop and then unleashed them on horseback with pepper spray and buttons. billy clubs, the rubber bullets, against a totally lawfully present crowd. mister chairman, i want to be clear, i'm not suggesting that any of the investigations that have taken place during the last two years have been perfect. sure, they could've been improved. that's a legitimate thing free to ask. it's one thing to engage in systematic oversight, driven by a commitment to facts, and the truth. it's something radically different to set up a platform for a series of hit and run partisan attacks that are just vindictive and -- it meant to frame up a
presidential campaign in 2024. some of the new rhetoric we've been hearing can be dangerous. as the ranking member was pointing out, after the execution of a perfectly lawful judicial search warrant in palm beach in august of last year, politicians and media figures begin denouncing the fbi, the fbi agents, in vitriolic terms, and since then the fbi and dhs have observed an increase in violent threats posted on social media against federal officials and facilities, including a threat to place a dirty bomb in front of fbi headquarters and issuing general calls for civil war and armed rebellion. and we've heard those calls before. on august 11th, last, year a person wearing a technical vest and armed with an ar-style rifle and nail gun, attempted to forcibly enter the fbi cincinnati field office. when officers responded, he fled the scene, and a pursuit followed. during a prolonged standoff with fbi, the man fired multiple shots at ohio state highway patrol.
chairman, the public is skeptical about this strange new venture, with a strange new name that's being launched. because so many of the members involved have done everything they can to block the january 6th committee's investigation of the worst insurrection and demands domestic violent attack on american election and american congress in our history. the public wonders whether members who refused to comply with congressional subpoenas themselves should be issuing congressional subpoenas to other people. oversight must be organized around a comprehensive search of the truth. truth that will lead to progress and not around revenge which will lead us as a country to chaos. i hope the subcommittee will find a way to embark upon a truly bipartisan agenda with all members participating and agreeing on a common agenda, i wish you well, and godspeed on behalf of this difficult venture that you are about to proceed. >> i think the gentleman, i can
assure the gentleman from maryland, we will respect the fbi agents, particular the ones have come to us, doesn't have come to us, and we will focus on the facts, something i felt was not exactly presented in the proper way in your testimony. i understand that the senator from wisconsin has a number of documents he'd like to ask to be entered into the record. without objection those will be entered. we'll get those for you, senator johnson, we now turn to our former colleague, the former democratic member on the great state of hawaii, congressman gabbard. thank you very much chairman jordan, ranking member plaskett and members, aloha, thank you for the opportunity to be here and speak with you today. benjamin franklin said without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as winston. no such thing as public liberty. without freedom of speech. i love our country and i cherish our god given freedoms
that iran tried in the constitution. like every one of you i took an oath, both as a soldier as then as a member of congress to support and defend the constitution of the united states. against all enemies foreign and domestic. i have had the privilege of serving alongside many of you in congress for eight years, serving on the armed services and foreign affairs committees, i am honored to be able to continue to serve as a -- where during that time i deployed to three war zones and participated in multiple overseas training exercises. i had the opportunity to see firsthand what life is like in countries where there is no first amendment. no free press, where government redeems itself to be the arbiter to its people. convicting what is right and wrong. dictating what can be said, who was speak, who is not, who is free to worship and who is not.
our founders understood the importance of -- to ensure that no matter which party or person may be in power at any given time, our founding documents serve as a reminder of these freedoms that are guaranteed to every american. thomas payne said he that would make his own liberty so caramelized guard even his enemy from opposition. for if he violates this duty he establishes a president that will reach to himself. we cannot be associated cited as to see that shouting speech that we don't like today will not result in our own voices tomorrow. this affects all americans and it is too important to allow it to fall victim to partisan politics. no matter how deep your differences, we must all agree to stand on the side of liberty. right now we live in a country
where many americans are afraid to speak freely, to express themselves and have real open dialogue and debate. upgrading of losing their job, being canceled or being accused of a crime which could happen if recently introduced -- in criminalizing so-called hate speech is passed into law. which is still protected under the first amendment. this fear and 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, 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. i'm information. backed by the most lethal force on earth with the power to
target anyone they deem a threat. they alone are the ones soft as needed 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 they think that we are too stupid to think for ourselves. too stupid to discern for ourselves and to draw our own conclusions. the idea that we must blindly accept whatever the government or those in power tell it is true goes against the very essence of the constitution in below rights. which were created at resounding rejection of the reign of kings, churches and authorities. they tell us we must plainly trust them or face the consequences. even though our government has a long history of lying to us. the american people. just to cite a few examples, about the weapons of mass destruction in iraq which spurred the war that i and so
many others served in, and so many others sacrificed their lives in. they lied for almost two decades claiming success in afghanistan when in fact we saw failure after failure, after failure coming at a great cost to this country. we saw lies about vietnam that were the old in the release of the pentagon papers. lies about our own government, illegally surveying americans. these are just a few and there are many more. ranking member plaskett talked in her opening comments about how individuals in the fbi also, throughout our country's history, have abuse their power, weaponizing the agencies to advance their own political interest. this is not and cannot be reduced to a partisan fight. the stakes are too high. we almost recognize our own responsibility to stand against such abuses. as we sit here today the danger is that if we choose to reject
or challenge whatever those in power declare as the so-called truth, we are accused of being anti authority, of being a danger to society and accused of spreading misinformation and then are targeted and smeared and called things like russian assad, white supremacist, extremist, racist, trader and so on. our own government institutions which exist to serve the people are being weaponized against us. the department of homeland security declared a heightened domestic terrorism threat due to three factors. the first is the proliferation of false or misleading narratives which sow discord or undermine public trust in u.s. government institutions. and of quote. they are the ones who get to decide what those false or misleading narratives are.
former cia director john brennan side of 2021 that members of the biden team are moving in laser-like fashion to try to uncover as much as they can about what looks a very similar to insurgency movements that we have seen overseas. -- what and even libertarians. and of course. attorney general garland -- with targeting those who holds quote, anti authority views. including parents who frustrated at one of education meetings, standing up for the right for themselves to have a say in their children's education. a draft copy of the department of homeland security outlined their intent to get quote unquote inaccurate information about a host of topics, to include the origins of covid,
vaccines, the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan and u.s. support to ukraine. there misinformation, disinformation and malinformation team exists to quote counter all types of disinformation. once again, they get to determine what this disinformation is. meta ceo mark zuckerberg revealed on the joe rugged experience podcast recently that they spoke limited of the hunter biden laptop story weeks of the 20 election only after talking to 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, big tech, it's no well documented and results in private companies known 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 to our government is real. i've had firsthand experience, after the debate in 2019 i was the most searched candidate of the night. unfortunately and suddenly my google ads account was mysteriously suspended without any notice or explanation. there were no responses to our multiple attempts to resolve whatever problem could've caused this. but after sometime past my account was reinstated, with no explanation or apology. but their actions limited my ability to connect with voters. who are actively seeking more information about my candidacy, and why i was offering to serve them as president commander in chief. this has not only happened to me, it has happened to other candidates running for various officers, joe can't running for congress in washington state.
what i know personally. this happens all the time with these big tech monopolies interfering in our democracy by manipulating search results based on whatever it is that they want the american people to know about a particular candidate, or issue that should be concerning to anyone of us and all of us. recently we have learned that with the release of the twitter files detailed by matt tightly b and others, high-level former fbi and cia, other government officials are behind hamilton 68. their list of 644 social media accounts supposedly linked to quote russian influence activities online. hamilton 68's work was widely cited as fact, by institutions like harvard and stanford, mainstream news organizations across the board. by members of the house of representatives and senate for both political parties, including the head of the
intelligence committee. the problem is, it was false. twitter themselves determined that the vast majority of counts that hamilton 68 targeted on this list of 644 were quote neither strongly russian nor strongly bots. and of quote. mostly anti establishment american voices, from across the political spectrum. i was one of them. former secretary of state hillary clinton accused me, a sitting member of congress, a soldier and a candidate running for president as 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 that i have had with people throughout that campaign and still today. but i remember one in particular that had an impact weeks after the statement was made. i was in self carolina at a campaign event. when an elderly woman came up to me and i could tell that she was very disturbed. she came up and she put her hands on my shoulders and she looked into my eyes. her eyes welling up. handshaking. 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 eye, and expressed her from my heart how much i love this country, so much that i am willing to die for it. more recently, u.s. 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 no apology. these accusations are often shrugged off as, it's politics. people say things about each other all the time. that may be easy for some of you to say, but for some of you who wears the uniform, this is serious and it's serious not only to me but to my fellow service members. at some point in our lives, making a decision to raise our right hand, prepared and volunteering to lay our lifetime for this country. what does that mean, in reality? it means that for 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 it may be our final goodbye. it means for those of us who do come home, doing our best every day to honor the great sacrifices of our brothers and sisters who paid that ultimate price. this is much bigger than me or anyone individual, when those who dare to challenge the establishment are targeted by this powerful conglomerate of government and corporate media, big tech, weaponizing all that they have against the people for their own selfish gain, it 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 the democratic republic and more and more like a banana republic. instead of a government ordained to secure these rights, we are now increasingly facing a government determined to take this right away. george watching to warn, 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 the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us. the freedom of speech may be taken away and dame and silent we maybe led like sheep to slaughter. we have to stop this in saudi. and protect the sacred freedoms. vanquish the fear and self center ship that is now pervasive, every one of us taking action to breathe new
life into the marketplace of ideas that is a thriving democracy. encourage rigorous debate, encouraging people to think for themselves so we can draw our own conclusions, we can disagree without devolving into hate. we can respect each other as fellow americans untreated show they're with aloha. the work you have before you is critical for all of these reasons. the stakes are high and the consequences for better or worse will be long-lasting. and for the sake of the american people our freedom and the future of this country we love i pray we can set aside our partisan differences and commit to standing together, to defend the constitutional right of every american delivery. thank you. >> thank you. we appreciate those final remarks. we thank you for being here, senator johnson we thank you as well for your testimony, the committee will stand in recess for five minutes more or less to get ready for the second