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tv   Former Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein Testifies on the FB Is Russia...  CSPAN  June 3, 2020 8:00pm-11:19pm EDT

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washington journal program were through our social media feed. c-span, created by america's cable television company as a public service and brought to today by your television provider. >> next, rod rosenstein testifies on the phis application process and how it was used by the fbi to investigate potential ties between trump in the presidential campaign. this hearing as part of an ongoing review into possible misuse of the process. mr. rosenstein left the justices department more than year ago and was asked about his role at the time of the investigation and his decision to appoint special counsel. chatter]
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chairman graham: good morning, everybody. for those watching on television, it is 28 degrees in here. [laughter] >> is that what it is? chairman graham: i do not know, but let it the air conditioning works. thank you. we will have a hearing today about all things crossfire, hurricane and the robert mueller
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investigation. we will have five minute rounds. as usual, i will try to make sure you are able to finish your thought in five minutes, and not cut you off. i appreciate all of the participation. mr. rosenstein, thank you for coming to the committee voluntarily. we appreciate your service to our country and your bridges a patient in the hearing today. and i will try to do a pretty short opening statement, then we will get to the witness. why are we here? i think we have a clip. this is mr. rosenstein on may 1, 2018. it really does illustrate -- chairman graham: turn it up. mr. rosenstein: we make
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mistakes. we are not flawless. if we accuse somebody of wrongdoing, we need credible witnessesa nd prepared to prove our case in court and we have to put our signature on the charges. that is something that everybody appreciates. there is a lot of talk about fisa applications. people seem not to recognize what that is. it is actually a warrant, like a search warrant. in order to get a fisa search warrant, we need an affidavit signed by a law officer who swears and that the information is true and correct. and that is the way we operate. if it is wrong, sometimes it is, if you find out something that needs corrected, that person will face consequences. or could face discipline even prosecution. chairman graham: thank you.
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that was delivered at the freedom forum by mr. rosenstein in may of 2018, and you described the way the system is supposed to work. what brings us here is the fact it did not work that way. based on a report that was delivered to this committee in 2019, that the process did not work the way that mr. rosenstein described it in 2018. what do we know? we know that information was withheld from the report. we know, according to mr. horowitz, without the dossier, paid for by the democratic party prepared for by a former british agent working with a russian sub source, without that dossier there would've been no warrant issued against carter page. we know that an email was doctored to get the fisa warrant by a lawyer at the fbi. so, wire we hear?
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why are we here? we are trying to figure out why that happened. and our desire is to make sure it never happens again. every american should be concerned by the fact that the inspector general found criminal wrongdoing, abuse and a warrant application against carter page, an advisor to the trump campaign , and we are here to try to find out who knew what it when -- what and when. to find out if mr. rosenstein that the sub source -- the dossier? lawyer know that the fbi doctored an email showing the relationship between mr. paige and the cia, changing it where there was no relationship? did you know that? and if you did, why? flask everybody, did you know?
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and now that you know, how do you feel about it? i want the country to understand that the molar -- robert mueller investigation was allowed to go forward with bipartisan support. i remember the senators coming to me, including senator grassley and senator tillis, saying let's make sure that robert mueller can do his job without interference. it president was hot when came to the investigation. and we came up with legislation to protect the general counsel from being dismissed without cause. to let the country know, the president know, it was important for mueller to do his job. now it is important to find out what the hell happened. how could it have gotten to be where it wound up being? therevidence, if any, was in may of 2017, when robert
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mueller was appointed by mr. rosenstein, that anybody on the campaign was colluding with the russians? was there a lawful predicate to appoint robert mueller to begin with? we will be looking at that. and we will be looking at how the warrant was signed over and over by the highest ranking officials in this country and given to a fisa court on four different occasions over months, and it was full of lies and criminally altered. i hope you want to know that. i sure do. you have got to remember the people running the investigation are the same people that were running crossfire hurricane. at least until they got fired. so the warrant application that mr. rosenstein signed in june of 2017, the last application
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against carter page, who prepared the application? ge, march 3,and pai "oh my god, he is an idiot." win."ry should the fbi lawyer who authored the after the election said, " resistance." this is the fbi lawyer in charge of the mueller investigation. 2016,y, on august 8, carter page says he will never be president, right? no he won't.,
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we will stop him." we are going to get to the bottom of this. we did a lot together when it can be russian interference in our election. we had hearings. we talked about russia and other had talker sees for undermining democracy. in the interference election. extremist content and direction to's from october 2017. drotecting our elections an virtual currencies as avenues for foreign interference, june, 2018. cyber threats against our national infrastructure on august, 2018. we have looked at russia's role in the election. now, we will look at the mueller investigation. and we are going to look hard. and we are going to see if what
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mr. rosenstein said at the start of the hearing comes true. that if somebody corrupts the process, that if somebody lies to the court, they will face discipline or maybe criminal prosecution. you describe, mr. rosenstein, the way it should work. indication ofs an what happens if it doesn't work that way. what will happen? there are millions of americans pretty upset about this. there are people on our side of the aisle who believe that this investigation, crossfire hurricane, was one of the most corrupt, biased criminal investigations in the history of the fbi. and we would like to see something done about it. mr. durham is looking at the criminality part. what is our job? our job is to explain to the american people what the
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russians were up to, and we did that together. our job was to give mr. robert mueller the james tanner -- the chance to do his work, and he did. now it is our job to take the report that shows 17 violations and try to warrant explain how that happened and it shed light on the fact that it did happen and hope the system will respond. what are we going to be looking at? we will be looking at general flynn's case. onwill get the fact that january 4, 2017, the field office of washington, d.c. said there is no longer justification for general flynn to be considered part of crossfire hurricane. we are going to be looking at the mueller report -- appointment in may of 2017, to see if there was a crime worthy of being investigated. was there anything there.
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we will look backward, so we can move forward. we are going to hold people accountable. if you do not donald trump, fine. but this is not about liking trump or not liking trump, this is about us as a nation. we are talking about the nominee for president on the republican side and his campaign being under continual investigation. we are talking about warrants being issued after the president was sworn in. yeare talking about a two investigation that spent $25 million to $30 million, but turned people's lives upside down, to save this should've ever happened to begin with. we will be talking about how it , who isthe rails responsible for it getting off the rails, and making sure that they are punished appropriately , sothe system is changed
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that in the future no other candidate for president, no other sitting president has to go through this. that is why we are here. it is going to take awhile, but we will not be deterred in our effort to get to the bottom of what i think was a very major abuse of power. senator feinstein? sen. feinstein: thank you very much, mr. chairman. as you have made abundantly clear, we are here at your request to examine crossfire hurricane. that's the fbi investigation into russian election interference and ties to the trump campaign. let me begin with a little but of history. the president has long claimed that the investigation of his campaign was a witch hunt and a hoax, and has demanded that his allies "investigate the investigators." officials,bama era
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including joe biden. as support for this claim, the president and his allies .point to errors identified by michael horowitz in fisa on a former trump campaign aid carter page. the inspector general did in int identify serious errors the handling of the carter page fisa application. a broader fisa audit revealed that many of these problems are unfortunately widespread. this needs to be fixed . and efforts to do so are already underway in the fbi, congress and the fisa court itself. contrary to the president's claims that his campaign was unfairly targeted, inspector general horowitz found no
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evidence of political or antitrust bias in the crossfire hurricane investigation. carefullyched this ig now since 2012, that is eight years, and find him to be independent and believable. and inspector general horowitz also confirmed that the opening of the investigation into possible ties between the trump campaign and russia was in fact justified. explains,z's report australian officials informed 2016, thatlate july, trump campaign advisor george papadopoulos was told that russia was willing to "assist the campaign," meaning assist the trump campaign, by anonymously releasing dirt on
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clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." weekbi learned this one after wikileaks had a release 20,000 emails that russia had hacked from the computers of the democratic national committee. and thes by russia, possibility that the trump russia's plansf to use the stolen emails to interfere in the 2016 election created a counterintelligence concern that the fbi was obligated to investigate, i think everybody would recognize that. that counterintelligence investigation eventually became the mueller investigation, when in may of 2017, the dippy attorney general, rod rosenstein, appointed robert mueller as special counsel after
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the president fired the fbi director, james comey. revealed investigation "sweeping and systematic" interference by russia in the 2016 election. thatshould cause everyone is an american some deep concern. significantly, the special counsel investigation determined that the russian government "perceived it would benefit from a trump presidency and worked to secure the outcome." that is from the mueller report, volume one, page one. the investigation uncovered more than 120 contacts between the trump campaign and individuals linked to russia, revealing that the trump campaign knew about, it wouldand "expected"
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benefit electorally from russia's interference. and the investigation established that individuals associated with the trump theaign lied to congress, special counsel and of the american people about their contacts with russia. horowitz confirmed that none of the fisa errors his investigation uncovered call into question "any part of the special counsel's report." hastoday, mr. rosenstein said that the special counsel investigation was "justified" and "an important investigation." andrtunately, the president his allies have been trying to rewrite the special counsel's
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findings and since the day they were released, but ignoring or excusing what happened in 2016 is really very dangerous. it puts american democracy and national security at risk. fbi director wrey has confirmed that russia continues to attempte, and that its to influence the 2020 election, "a significant counterintelligence threat." special counsel are mueller also warned that russian interference was happening "as we sit here." yet, instead of denouncing foreign interference, president trump has encouraged and even demanded it. in a televised interview following the mueller report,
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president trump said there was wrong" with foreign governments offering political dirt on an opponent. ,"d that he would "take it likely without informing the fbi. on president publicly called china to investigate joe biden, his rival in the 2020 election. the remarks of the president. and the president abused authority by withholding critical military aid in an oval office meeting -- and an oval office meeting in an effort to pressure the ukrainian president to investigate joe biden. unfortunately, it appears senate republicans now plan to spend the next several months bolstering the president's attack on the russian investigation, and his
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biden.tic nominee, joe congress should not conduct politically motivated investigations designed to attack or help any presidential period.e, mr. chairman, this would be true at any time, but even more so now as our nation confronts the brutal police killing of george floyd and its aftermath, and remains in the middle of a public health and economic crisis. thank you. chairman graham: thank you. you solemnlyn, do swear the testimony is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? mr. rosenstein: i do. chairman graham: you may make your statement. mr. rosenstein: thank you chairman graham, ranking member of feinstein and other members of the committee. thank you for inviting me today.
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when i was sworn in as the deputy attorney general on april 26, 2017, i became responsible for helping the attorney general to supervise 115,000 department of justice employees and to oversee hundreds of thousands of cases. one of the most important matters pending in the department was an investigation into russian election influence schemes. the attorney general, jeff sessions come had complied with his legal obligation to recuse himself from that investigation several weeks before i arrived. the matter had been under the supervision of the acting deputy attorney general as a result. many federal agents and prosecutors were working on criminal cases that officials considered potentially relevant to russian election meddling. as a result of events that followed the departure of the fbi director, i was concerned that the public would not have confidence in the investigation
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and that the acting director was not the right person to lead it. i decided appointing a special counsel was the best way to complete the investigation appropriately and to promote public confidence in its conclusions. as we now know, the eventual conclusions were that russians committed crimes seeking to influence at the election, and americans it did not conspire with them. a special counsel appointment was consistent with the department of justice's prec edent. attorney general bill barr and janet reno each in the 1990's appointed special counsel in several cases, and concluded that a prosecutor with some degree of independence from the department could best resolve sensitive matters. recently, the attorney general william barr has assigned u.s. attorneys to take charge of significant investigations. but in may of 2017, there were
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only three confirmed u.s. attorney's remaining, al obama administration appointeesl who had been ordered to resign and were permitted to hold over for a few months. some people confused special counsels and independent councils. independents are appointed by federal judges. the department of justice does not supervise them. they often expand their jurisdiction, and the usually investigate for many years. in contrast, special counsel mueller was supervised by the department with jurisdiction that was limited in scope and duration. i asked at the special counsel to review each criminal allegation the fbi considered relevant to russian interference and to recommend whether to close the matter, to investigate because it might be relevant to russian election meddling, or to refer the matter
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to another prosecutor. i also established a supervisory chain of command within the department. highly qualified department attorneys met regularly with the special counsel team to review recommendations about which matters to investigate and to approve steps in consultation with me. whenever the special counsel proposed charges for which of the u.s. attorney would need approval, the department of justice in the headquarters division, those charges were the tax, as usual, by division and national security division, or the criminal division. i understand that today's hearing may focus on the foreign intelligence surveillance act. when i served as deputy attorney general, every fbi fisa application was written by agents and attorneys, reviewed by supervisors, sworn under oath about a federal agent, certified by the fbi director.
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before any application was omitted to the court, a senior department official, either the attorney general, the deputy attorney general or the assistant attorney general for national security met with national security division supervisors to ensure that the application set forth a valid legal and factual basis. ultimately, each application was submitted to a federal judge who decided whether it set forth probable cause to justify the issue of a warrant. every application that i approved appeared to be justified abused on the facts alleged. and the fbi was supposed to be following protocols to ensure every fact was verified. but investigative reviews published by the inspector general in december of 2019 and march of 2020, those revealed the fbi was not following protocols and that significant errors appeared in files in
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connection with the crossfire hurricane investigation. the inspector general concluded, and i quote, "that so many fundamental errors were made by three separate handpicked teams in one of the fbi's most sensitive investigations. that it would raise significant questions regarding the gaging of command's management and supervision of the pfizer process -- fisa process." whenever agents make serious engages inr misconduct, the department of justice must take immediate action. and if policies fall short, those policies need to be changed, ensuring the integrity of governmental processes is essential to promoting confidence in the rule of law. necessary tos correct mistakes and punish wrongdoers, it certainly should not go on today that our law
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enforcement agencies are filled with men and women who act with integrity. as we watch them deal with extraordinary circumstances throughout the country this week, we should take this opportunity to let them know that they have our support in depreciation. in conclusion, i know members of this committee share a ofmitment to the principles the department of justice and i look forward to addressing your questions. thank you. chairman graham: i want to echo what you said. most fbi agent and law , wercement officers appreciate them, but every once in a while people get off script and that is what brings us here today. you signed a warrant application to get the2017 carter page warrant renewed, is that correct?
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mr. rosenstein: yes. chairman graham: have you looked at the horwitz report? mr. rosenstein: yes. chairman graham: if you know now -- if you knew that what you know now, would you have signed it? mr. rosenstein: i would not. chairman graham: the reason you would not is because information was withheld from the court, is that correct? mr. rosenstein: among other reasons. chairman graham: and somebody altered an email -- mr. rosenstein: correct. chairman graham: so they were 17 violations that mr. horwitz found, but i cannot stress enough to the country that he alld the most egregious of the onlyssier was reason the carter page warrant was issued to begin with in january of 2017, the man who provided the information told the fbi it was a bunch of garbage and then they used it twice more. what kind of country is this? what happens to people who do that? did you know that? you did not know that, did you?
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mr. rosenstein: no. chairman graham: do you think mccabe knew that? mr. rosenstein: i hope not. chairman graham: was he in charge of the investigation? mr. rosenstein: yes. chairman graham: did he ever lie to you? mr. rosenstein: i do not believe, senator, that there were any occasions in which he identified he lied to me. chairman graham: did he ever say anything looking back that is perplexing to you? mr. rosenstein: well, that is a very broad question. chairman graham: do you think he was truthful to you? mr. rosenstein: i believe that mr. mccabe was not fully candid with me, he certainly was not forthcoming. in particular with regard to mr. comey's memoranda of his interviews with the president, and regarding suspicions about the president, mr. mccabe did not reveal those to me for at least a week after he became acting director, despite the fact we had repeated conversations focusing on this investigation and for whatever
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reason pretty he has said publicly, in public comments about the investigation, that his team had been leading up to certain important decisions for some time. from my perspective, they had been conducting the investigation for i believe approximately nine months -- chairman graham: how much did you rely on his statements to sign the warrant? how much did it -- mr. rosenstein: i would not they ever relied on his statements. i had an understanding of what he had told me, but the document stands for itself. it is 100 pages. and it is based on what i understood to be in the application. chairman graham: you did a scope letter in august of 2017, after you appointed mueller. do you know what i am talking about? mr. rosenstein: yes. chairman graham: who prepared that? mr. rosenstein: i do not know exactly who prepared it.
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i know how it came about. chairman graham: explain it quickly. mr. rosenstein: i am not sure how quickly i can do it, but -- i would ask mueller to look at the whole or all of the relevant matters. chairman graham: where did the information in the document come from, from the mueller team? mr. rosenstein: it came to me through the team i set up to interface with the mueller team. chairman graham: the team that interfaced with the mueller team, did they make the conclusion that you need to be looking at papadopoulos and all these people for colluding with russia? mr. rosenstein: one of the reasons i was reluctant to release these documents publicly is because we investigate people who are not necessarily guilty, and so i did not have any presumption that these folks were guilty of anything. chairman graham: did you believe they committed a crime? mr. rosenstein: i understood that there was predication to investigate, i did not believe -- chairman graham: where did that
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come from? mr. rosenstein: from information that came to me from the fbi. chairman graham: was it from page? mr. rosenstein: i do not know who was preparing the documents. chairman graham: were they in charge, were they the investigators early on for mueller? mr. rosenstein: my understanding that they were working with mueller. chairman graham: what input did they have in the information in the memo? mr. rosenstein: i do not know the answer to that. chairman graham: who provided the information in the memo? mr. rosenstein: which memo? chairman graham: the one where you lay out the scope of investigation. mr. rosenstein: that came through discussions between mr. mueller's team and -- chairman graham: did anybody on your team recommend that you look at papadopoulos? where did the idea that george papadopoulos was working with the russians come from? mr. rosenstein: these matters were already open when i arrived. chairman graham: the point is they were open. these were the same people doing
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cross fried hurricane -- classifier hurricane -- crossfire hurricane, and i believe they designed it the scope of their own investigation, is that fair to say? that you are just a conduit? mr. rosenstein: i was relying on information. chairman graham: you did not do an independent investigation yourself, did you? mr. rosenstein: my job is not to do the investigation. chairman graham: but you basically relied on what they gave you, is that fair to say? mr. rosenstein: i relied on the information -- chairman graham: like you did with the warrant. mr. rosenstein: correct. chairman graham: the same people that give you the warrant application also gave you the .cope investigation for mueller we are here to find out how much we can trust these people. to appoint a special counsel, there has got to be evidence, a criminal investigation of a person or matter that is warranted. what with the crime -- what was the crime you are looking at? mr. rosenstein: it is important to understand that that is what is required under regulations. but it is not required to
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appoint a special counsel. chairman graham: was there a crime being looked at? mr. rosenstein: in this case, yes. chairman graham: what was the crime? mr. rosenstein: the underlying crime was the russian influence operation. chairman graham: can you tell us what evidence existed that general flynn was colluding with the russians in may of 2017? mr. rosenstein: i do not -- of the evidence against general flynn -- first of all -- chairman graham: what evidence existed that general flynn was colluding with the russians in may of 2017? mr. rosenstein: i cannot comment on that case. chairman graham: did you know in january of 2017, the fbi field office said, we recommend general flynn be removed from crossfire hurricane? mr. rosenstein: i did not. chairman graham: with that have mattered? mr. rosenstein: yes. chairman graham: did you know that they had recordings from mr. papadopoulos somewhere overseas saying, no, i never worked with the russians. to the effect that if the
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campaign did, that would be treason, did you know that existed? mr. rosenstein: no. chairman graham: how many times did carter page meet with donald trump? mr. rosenstein: i do not know the answer. chairman graham: how many times did papadopoulos meet with donald trump? mr. rosenstein: i do not know the answer. chairman graham: i can tell you. zero. the dossier claims that paul manafort -- that carter paid was a condit of paul manafort passing on russian information. are you aware that carter page has said numerous times, i never talk to paul manafort? mr. rosenstein: yes. chairman graham: the point is, when you made this appointment, the people named in it, there is a zero evidence that they were working with the russians. zero. and this went on for two years. and people had their lives turned upside down. that general flynn in 2017,
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january 4, the fbi agent who had been looking at him, said the recommended he be dropped and -- said no, the seventh floor wants to look at him. if you had known that commit would you have asked more questions -- had known that, would you have asked more questions? mr. rosenstein: yes. chairman graham: anyway, thank you for your service. knowing what you know now, do you have any reservations about making the mueller appointment, given the fact that all the people named in this scope letter -- there is like zero evidence by may 2017 that they were working with the russians, any concerns at all? mr. rosenstein: i think there are a couple issues. the first is whether the investigation is appropriate. the second was whether it was appropriate to sign it over to mueller. the decision i made was based on information i had at the time. chairman graham: i am not arguing with you about assigning it to mueller, i am asking if there was a legitimate reason to believe that any of the people
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named in this letter were actively working with the russians in august of 2017? mr. rosenstein: in august of 2017 -- chairman graham: that is when you signed the memo. mr. rosenstein: my understanding was there was. chairman graham: what was it? mr. rosenstein: again, senator, the investigation has concluded and these people were not conspiring with the russians. the information available at the time -- chairman graham: why did we have the investigation at all if we concluded that they were not working with the russians? mr. rosenstein: i do not believe we had concluded it at that time. chairman graham: january of 2017, there is no evidence that carter page had worked with the russians. the dossier was garbage. and papadopoulos was all over the place, not knowing he was being recorded in denying working with the russians. nobody has ever been prosecuted for working with the russians.
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the point is, the whole concept that the campaign was colluding with the russians, there was no there there in august of 2017, do you agree or not? mr. rosenstein: i agree with the general statement. chairman graham: thank you. >> thank you. i would like to begin with the impact of the steele dossier, if i might. inspector general horowitz confirmed that the crossfire hurricane investigation was open because the fbi was told the trump campaign advisor, george papadopoulos, had advanced knowledge of that russia was planning to release stolen emails to harm clinton and help trump. made thatficials who decision had not even seen the
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dossier, but because the steele dossier was cited in the fisa applications, the president and his allies falsely claim that the entire russia investigation was started because at the steele dossier would never have happened if it had not been for steele's reporting. you appointed special counsel robert mueller, is that true? mr. rosenstein: yes. sen. feinstein: you supervise his investigation. can you identify any findings in mueller's 448 page report that rely on information from the steele dossier? mr. rosenstein: i do not believe there such information. sen. feinstein: thank you. theyou identify which of 199 criminal counts resulting from the mueller investigation rely on information from the steele dossier? mr. rosenstein: i do not believe
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it was relied upon. sen. feinstein: thank you. can you identify investigative steps taken by robert mueller that relied on information in the steele dossier? mr. rosenstein: i would not know the answer to that with regard to individual steps. sen. feinstein: thank you. did special counsel mueller ever bi orssed concern that f doj officials had unfairly targeted the president or his campaign for investigation? mr. rosenstein: i never had that discussion with mr. mueller. sen. feinstein: did he indicate there was not a legitimate reason to investigate ties between the trump campaign and russia? mr. rosenstein: you never indicated that there was not a legitimate reason to complete the investigation. sen. feinstein: did you ever have any concerns that the investigation was illegitimate, theed, unfairly targeted on president or his campaign?
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mr. rosenstein: i spoke with mueller about ensuring that there is no bias in the investigation. as you know, we had an issue with one of the agents, and another fbi employee working on the case. i talked with him at that time and subsequently about the importance of making sure that everybody on his investigation understood, whatever their political views, that they needed to set that aside and make sure the investigation was not affected by bias. sen. feinstein: do you believe that was carried out? mr. rosenstein: i do, because that confidence in mueller's integrity. sen. feinstein: do you believe the investigation was a hoax, witchhunt or a deep state conspiracy? mr. rosenstein: i do not believe the investigation was a hoax, but with regard to the nature of the allegations, keep in mind the allegations are coming from other sources and -- from the allegations. sen. feinstein: you signed off on also difficult steps in the
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mueller investigation, was that because you believe them to be legitimate and supported by the evidence? mr. rosenstein: everything that i approved, yes. nothing came to my attention that i thought was illegitimate. sen. feinstein: thank you. chairman graham: thank you. senator grassley. material related to general flynn has been released, so too has the transcript with the russian ambassador. those materials include records of that show, one, the fbi planned to close of the flynn case until it was interrupted, and notes that the fbi may have deliberately set him up to get him fired. three, the fbi had no derogatory information on flynn. four, there was no legitimate factual predicate to interview
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him. mr. rosenstein, you and mueller withheld these records from congress. and flynn's legal team. in june of 2018, i met with you to discuss the flynn case and my other oversight request. you suggested to me that congress should be satisfied with the facts contained in the plea agreement. in light of all of the brady material that has finally been released, it is clear that you are misleading me, congress and the american people when you suggested we should be satisfied with flynn's plea agreement. thetion, the whole point of mueller investigation was to uncover interference in the 2016 et mueller ignore the
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fact that reports from before he was appointed said the steele dossier contained disinformation. remember, that is the same dossier that was paid for by the democrat national committee and the clinton campaign. did you instruct mueller to investigate the original or the origin of the dossier? if not, why not? mr. rosenstein: first of all, i certainly did not intend to mislead you or anybody else. i do recall the conversation, and my view was that the case was pending in court. there is a long-standing printable in the department that when a case is pending, we let the judicial process worked through and we do not engage with congress about pending cases. and that is the only reason i was reluctant to disclose information, not that i was concealing anything. i did not know there was that
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evidence. in with regard to the evidence in the record now because it was followed up on by the department, i will not express an opinion on that, we wait till general barr said something about it. with regard to the other question you asked, sender, keep in mind that my goal with regard to the special counsel was to get that investigation focused and get it resolved as expeditiously as possible. i knew that an investigation of the steele dossier and origins of the russia investigation would be far more complicated and take more time, and i did not believe, and i do not think general barr believes that we need an independent special counsel from outside the department to do that. -- tol barr has trusted do that. i did not ask mueller to do that. and i am grateful that we ramped up the special counsel phase in 22 months. if there is other information to
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be uncovered, i am confident it will be uncovered. grassley: when you approved the fourth and final fisa against carter page, were you aware that intelligence reports warned that the steele dossier was a product of russian disinformation? were you also aware that the steele dossier was not fully verified, and some of his sources supported clinton? if so, why did you approve the fisa? mr. rosenstein: i did not. i know time is limited, but the thele dossier is not in fisa. my understanding, and i reviewed a lot of fisa applications, my understanding is that what is in the affidavits is verified. so the steele dossier and all the nonsense in the media about these allegations that have been
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made, that is not in the fisa application. what is in the application was verified information. of course, there is other information. it is not just information that came from mr. steele. point.assley: one final in may of 2017, he wrote a memo to the attorney general recommending that james comey be terminated. that same day, the president terminated you. on may 12, you sent an email that said "the boss and his staff do not know about our discussions." on may 16, the day you appointed -- the day before you appointed mueller, you emailed it former deputy attorney general and said, "i am with mueller, he shares my views. duty calls. sometimes the moment chooses us.' " ,"en you referenced "the boss
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who were you referring to? and did you discuss appointing mueller with any obama officials, and if so, who? mr. rosenstein: as a criminal investigator, we found emails were useful evidence, but sometimes they can be misleading because they are out of context. if you will allow me the time to explain both emails. the first refers to the fact i had spoken with director mueller about the possibility, if i find it necessary to appoint a special counsel, whether he would be available. it was determining whether i have that option. i had not made a decision to appoint him. and jeff sessions, as many of you know, is one of the most principled people i have met. he recused from that investigation and his position was, will not discuss it. what happened there was is general sessions reached out independently to director mueller, to ask him to come in
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for advice on whether to or about the new fbi director. there was a lot of things going on at the time, one was the appointment of a new selection of candidates for the new fbi director. somee email, which i know in the media misconstrued, i was simply alerting director mueller , when you talk to the boss, the attorney general, keep in mind he does not know anything about the russia investigation. 's a very innocent email. and an example of how they can be misconstrued. another one was related to the search for an fbi director. i believe i was actually in the white house counsel's office at the time and we were talking about potential candidates for the fbi director. and i had been speaking with the former deputy attorney general, trying to encourage him to apply for the job and he was reluctant to apply for the job. and i was lobbying to get him to
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apply for the job. i asked to call one of our former attorney general's to speak with the deputy encourage him to apply. and i think when i said i am with mueller, i meant that literally, that he was with me at the white house. and when i said, you need to step up, i was encouraging him, the former deputy attorney general, to step up and apply to be fbi director. it is a completely innocent email. i understand how it looks nefarious, but i can assure you that i have been in the department -- or had been in the department for 30 years, those emails are all preserved. i would not be putting anything nefarious in an email. hopefully, i would not be saying anything nefarious at all. but i certainly would not put it in nanaimo. chairman graham: senator lee. sen. lee: thank you for being here. i have not been shy about the fact, i even had an op-ed in the
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washington post last month, that the fbi made serious mistakes during its surveillance of former trump campaign manager advisor carter page. the fisa renewal application presented to you for approval in june of 2017 was one of those. the committee held a hearing on this already last december, after the inspector general released his 478 page report. you said you have that with you. crossfire hurricane became the russia investigation. counterintelligence investigations into george papadopoulos, michael flynn, all of whom were convicted of felonies. and carter page. now, the only time, as i understand, the fbi applied for a fisa surveillance order in these investigations, the only time they did was with respect to carter page.
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is that correct? mr. rosenstein: that is my understanding, yes. errorsahy: and the 17 with respect to the carter page application all came after, so they would not impact the launch of the broader russian investigation, is that correct? mr. rosenstein: i believe that is correct. sen. leahy: thank you. report is 448er pages. do you know how many pages of the 448 refer to carter page? mr. rosenstein: i do not. sen. leahy: i will let you know. it is seven pages. that means 441 on other matters. i mentioned the carter page case because it demonstrates the fisa application process itself is flawed. march, theort last
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inspector general found 29 fbi applications for fisa surveillance at that he reviewed, 25 or 86% of them had each.rage of 20 issues that is what i mean about the scrutiny. communityntelligence made unanimous assessment that was shared by the bipartisan, republicans and democrats alike in the senate intelligence committee, that russia interfered in our elections. do you agree that the fbi's errors in the carter page case do not undermine those unanimous assessments? mr. rosenstein: yes. i do agree. sen. leahy: thank you. so we do have the unanimous assessment within the intelligence community, and the
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republicans and democrats on the intelligence committee, russia interfered in our election. it wasbelieve interference that the trump campaign welcomed. "mr. putin, are you listening" and so on. even if the investigation had never occurred, and the american people should be in the dark on the russian interference in our election, i find deeply troubling. putin'se that served interest more than ours. i believe we should not have anybody interfering in our free and fair elections, is that correct? mr. rosenstein: i do agree with you. sen. leahy: as deputy attorney general, and for a while the supervisor of the investigation,
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the special counsel reported to you. before you saw any indictments, the special counsel, did they provide you with an explanation of charging decisions, including against a dozen russian nationals and military intelligence officers, as well as paul manafort, michael flynn and george papadopoulos -- you did not object to those charges or the indictments, correct? mr. rosenstein: i did not object, but i actually do not sign any documents. sen. leahy: but you found nothing to object to? mr. rosenstein: i was not aware of any reason to object. sen. leahy: and while supervising the russian investigation, you never rejected explicit requests by the special counsel to take investigative steps or pursue an indictment, correct? mr. rosenstein: that is correct. sen. leahy: thank you. i want the chairman to notice this. my colleagues on the other side, exactly five minutes. chairman graham: you have set
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the standard for the rest of us. sen. leahy: yeah, right. chairman graham: [laughter] thank you. but you did mention a very important point, i cannot remember what it was but i will think about it in a minute. senator cornyn. senator cornyn: i know you dedicated almost your entire adult life to serving the department of justice. and i know you love and revere that institution, the people that work there. and rightly so. but i can only imagine how disappointing it must be to you now to learn following the revelations of the inspector general's report and other investigations some of the facts nd circumstances leading up to the investigation of the trump campaign. first of all let me take you back to director comey. you wrote a memo, i believe it
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was in may of 2017, recommending to president trump that he fire director comey, correct? mr. rosenstein: memo to attorney general sessions, yes. senator cornyn: memo to the attorney general, and that was forwarded to the president. and your principal concern was that director comey usurped the role of the department of justice when he held a press nference on july, 2016 where wasaid that hillary clinton extremely reckless in the way she handled her email server. but he said that no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute her. and thus in the process of saying well, she's probably not going to get charged with a crime, but nevertheless let me tell you-all about all the derogatory information. that was in violation of the new orleans -- norms and rules and
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regulations of the department of justice, correct? mr. rosenstein: yes. senator cornyn: you concluded in your memory to director -- excuse me, attorney general sessions, that he would probably do that again since he saw nothing wrong with the way he handled that, correct? mr. rosenstein: i don't recall my exact words, senator. but -- i have it in front of me. i think of me. it's important we have an f.b.i. director who recognizes that that was wrong, yes, sir. senator cornyn: this was an example of the f.b.i. getting involved in a political -- in the midst of a president dedges political campaign and holing a press conference talking about der roguetory information they discovered but saying no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute. can you explain to us why it's important that the department of justice, including the f.b.i., doesn't get involved in the middle of political campaigns? mr. rosenstein: i think there are a couple issues there. one is the sensitivity about
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campaigns. the other is the principle that the department of justice doesn't disparage people. our prosecutors conduct investigations, and if they determine they believe the evidence warrants prosecution and meets the principles of federal prosecution, they return indictments, and the jury and judge decide about guilt. if we don't indict people, senator, it's not our job to disparage them. that's why i wrote that memo. it's also why i believe it's unfair and unfortunate that carter page fisa was leaked because the principle here, senator, we conduct investigations. we presume people innocent and don't disparage them unless and until we have evidence to warrant prosecution. senator cornyn: during the policy of the department of justice not to get involved in political campaigns and attempt to influence those, it strikes me as unprecedented in the 201 time frame you had opened investigations of both candidates running for
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president, both the democratic nominee and the republican nominee, would you agree with me there is no precedent for that american history? mr. rosenstein: i believe that's correct. senator cornyn: talk a little bit about how the f.b.i. handled the investigation in crossfire hurricane. we talked about the steel dossier. as you know at the time christopher steel was on the payroll of fusion g.p.s. to do opposition research for the democratic national committee on behalf of the hillary clinton campaign, he was also retained as a confidential human source by the f.b.i., correct? mr. rosenstein: i don't know all the details, senator. what i do know is that whoever was paying him is one issue. the other issue is what was the basis for believing he was credible. did the f.b.i. have an appropriate basis for believing he was credible. the inspector general report suggests that they misstated that or overstated their basis
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for believing he was credible. senator cornyn: the inspector general noted that steel said, i don't work for the f.b.i. i work for fusion g.p.s. i'm a businessman, but i may pass some information that's useful to the f.b.i. do you remember that? mr. rosenstein: i know that from the report, yes. senator cornyn: at the same time he was a confidential human source for the f.b.i., he was on the payroll of fusion g.p.s. doing opposition research for hilltry clinton's campaign. he was ultimately terminated by the f.b.i. for violating the rules by leaking the information to the press, but he continued to backdoor information to the f.b.i. through bruce orr, correct? mr. rosenstein: my understanding. i don't know the chronology when he was on the payroll of fusion g.p.s. but generally i believe that's correct. senator cornyn: with the chairman's indulgence f we can put footnote 350 on the screen. i asked attorney general barr back in may of 2019, i said can
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we state with any confidence that the steel dossier was not part of a russian disinformation campaign? his answer was, well, that's one of the areas that i'm reviewing. i'm concerned about it. and i don't think it's entirely speculative. well, we know that bill, in charge of the counterintelligence division, they did consider the possibility that steal was part after russian disinformation campaign. but then thanks to the diligence of senator grassley and senator johnson and the director of national intelligence, we now have a copy of the less redacted footnote 350 to the inspector general report, which points out, if you can see it, that not only did steele have regular interaction with russian oligarches, but there was a potential for russian disinformation influencing
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steele's election reporting. it did not have high confidence that the subsources for steele's reporting and assessed the reference subset was part of a russian disinformation campaign to den nate u.s. foreign relations. -- denigrate u.s. foreign relations. mr. rosenstein, it strikes me that mr. putin must be extraordinarily pleased with how this all played itself out. not only was hillary clinton and her campaign disparaged, not only was president trump and his campaign disparaged, and put through what can only be described as hell for the last 3 1/2 years of an investigation, when in fact the source of some of the information that was used not only to secure a fisa warrant but to conduct a counterintelligence investigation may, in fact, have been part of a russian
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disinformation campaign. does that concern you? mr. rosenstein: it concerns me very much, senator. i'm a bit of a disadvantage. i was in the job for only two years. i have been gone now for about 13 months. i don't have access to any information that's been generated through the investigation. i do not know what attorney general barr has discovered with regard to that. i think it's important, senator, for us to keep us in mind it is established, i believe, that russia's efforts included disparaging he hillary clinton as you said. that doesn't mean russia is on the other candidate's side. russia is on russia's side. i think we should be just as concerned there is evidence they were disparaging or attacking or trying to undermine president trump as we were about their activity was regard to secretary clinton. i don't know the answer but i am concerned. senator cornyn: i agree. point i was trying to make is the crossfire hurricane investigation based almost entirely on the allegations of
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christopher steele and the sources he provided, which may have been part of a russian disinformation campaign which had successful divided the country and created a lot of chaos in the ensuing 3 1/2 years. thank you, mr. chairman. mr. rosenstein: whether it's russian disinformation or other disinformation, i think the f.b.i. needs to figure out where did it come from, why was it submitted, were any crimes committed? that's an appropriate area of investigation. i just don't know what the evidence reflects. chairman graham: senator durbin. senator durbin: thank you, mr. rosenstein. thank you, mr. chairman. i miss baseball. obviously a lot of americans miss baseball as well. they are broadcasting old baseball games now and i'm watching them. i'm wondering today the people who have tuned into this hearing over c-span, of the senate judiciary committee, must think they are watching a rerun, a classic hearing of several years
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ago on the mueller report, but, unfortunately, this is not a rerun. this is the priority of the senate judiciary committee today. today in june of 2020. those who tuned in might have expected that we'd have a hearing concerning the public health crisis facing america, the pandemic which we are fighting every day which has claimed over 100,000 american lives. they might think we would krt issue of profiteering in this pandemic within the jurisdiction of this committee, but we are not. perhaps we'd take up the issue of privacy and contact tracing, an important issue, but we're not taking that up, either. they might wonder if we would actually have a markup to establish legitimate public health standards to protect americans and american businesses, but we are not. they might even wonder if we would take up the issue of racism in the administration of justice in america, certainly a timely topic, but we are not.
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they might wonder if we would ask a question about president trump's suggestion 48 hours ago that he would have a federal mill tarization of--militarization of law enforcement across the united states, certainly a significant constitutional issue, but, no, we are not taking that up today. instead we are taking up the mueller report. an investigation that was completed more than a year ago. why? we are taking it up because it has become a bloody shirt on the right. listen to what the attorney general of the united states said two weeks ago in a quote at a department of justice press conference about the investigation, mr. rosenstein, which you were in charge of. it was a grave injustice and it was unprecedented in american history. the law enforcement and intelligence apparatus of this country were involved in advancing a fault and utterly baseless russian collusion narrative against the president. the proper investigative and
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prosecutive standards of the department of justice were abused, in my view, in order to reach a particular result. mr. rosenstein, the attorney general of the united states called it a false and utterly baseless russian collusion narrative against the president. there have been other things said, too. the chairman of the committee. on december 9, described the f.b.i.'s counterintelligence investigation as an endeavor that, quote, became a criminal conspiracy to defraud the court, to trample on the rights of an american citizen, mr. carter page. he went on today, this morning, talking about whether we should -- has any lawful predicate to appoint mueller to begin with. he called hurricane crossfire one of the most corrupt, biased investigations in the history of the f.b.i. mr. rosenstein, that was an investigation you were in charge
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of. it was conducted by an individual you personally selected. do you consider it to be an utterly baseless, corrupt criminal investigation as you reflect on it today? mr. rosenstein: do i not consider the investigation to be corrupt, senator. but i certainly understand the president's frustration given the outcome, which was that there was no evidence of conspiracy between the trump campaign advisors and russians. senator durbin: we are about to embark on an investigation by this committee which may be the largest investigation i have ever witnessed here. tomorrow i understand the chairman will ask for authority to issue 53 subpoenas for witnesses. what an irony we began this year in an impeachment trial where the republicans refused to produce one document or one witness, not one witness when it came to questions of the impeachment of the president. tomorrow there will be 53 names
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submitted and they will not be cleared with the minority, as i understand the proposal by the chairman. he alone will have the authority to decide which ones to call. we will attempt to amend his subpoena on the democratic side to make sure that if we are clearly trying to find the truth in this matter about whether this was an utterly baseless investigation, we believe we should also be calling a few other witnesses. how about michael cohen who negotiated a trump-moscow deal until june of 2016. perhaps paul manafort, repeatedly passing campaign information who had russian intelligence ties. manafort's russian business partner, which mueller found to have russian intelligence ties. the deputy chairman who instructed manafort to feed campaign information to clalem
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nick. george papadopoulos whose comments prompted the opening of the investigation. roger flynn, michael stone. more on the list. if we truly want to get to the bottom of this and bring alt witnesses in whether this was a baseless claim of russian collusion with anyone in the united states, certainly we want the record to be complete, don't we? don't we want witnesses to give us complete testimony? i would hope so. mr. rosenstein, let me ask you the bottom line question when it comes to what we are considering today. mr. mueller, whom i respect though i may disagree with in one context or another, reached some very basic conclusions. in light of any wrongdoing in the fisa court involving carter page and others and all the information you know today, mr. rosenstein, do you disagree with the key finding of mr. mueller that russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign in a sweeping and systematic fashion?
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mr. rosenstein: i' gree-h gree. senator durbin: do you believe they worked to secure that outcome? mr. rosenstein: i can only tell you what the conduct was. senator durbin: do you agree there were more than 120 contacts as mr. mueller found in his report between the trump campaign and individuals linked to russia? mr. rosenstein: i have no reason to dispute that. senator durbin: do you agree the trump campaign knew about, welcomed, and expected to benefit from the russian interference as mr. mueller found in his report? mr. rosenstein: what page are you referring to? senator durbin: volume one, pages one and two. mr. rosenstein: i'm not sure whether you are quoting from the report, senator. i have it in for what purpose does of me. senator durbin: statement within the report, volume one, pages one and two. mr. rosenstein: i have it right here. senator durbin: knew about,
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welcomed, and expected to benefit elech torely from the russian i.n.s. feerns. do you have any reason to dispute that finding? mr. rosenstein: i apologize. i'm not seeing those words in the report. if you can direct me to the report. senator durbin: i will. i don't have it at the moment but will i produce it. do you disagree with the mueller report conclusion that trump campaign planned to press strategy campaign messaging based on possible release of clinton emails by wiki leaks, volume one, page 54? mr. rosenstein: that says according to mr. gates. that's attributed to mr. gates. i don't think that's a finding of mueller. it's what one of the witnesses said. senator durbin: do you have any reason to believe it's not true?
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mr. rosenstein: i have no information beyond the fact the witness said it. senator durbin: this report has been public for over a year. it has been debated. it has been paragraphsed, analyzed, and the bottom line conclusions have not been disputed. though there may have been some wrongdoing involving any one person in the investigation, it's still -- it boggles the mind that the attorney general of the united states would say this is baseless. i yield. chairman graham: thank you. i'll turn to -- i'm going to respond if i may about what i'm doing and why. i believe and all of us believe that if the republican party had paid mr. steele through an organization money to dig up dirt on hillary clinton and he used a russian to create a bunch of garbage that was used to get a warrant against a clinton campaign operative, you would have a different view of this. that you would be raising holy
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hell and all your friends in the media would be front page news everywhere. treason. but it's trump it's ok as long as you are out to get somebody you need to get. damned way you do it. this committee will not accept that standard. this committee looked at everything you wanted us to look at in terms of russian behavior. did russia interfere? you better believe they d will they do it again? yes, they will. was this the ukrainians, no? this was the russians who stole the emails. the russians who divided the american people in terms of the 2016 campaign. but it wasn't the russians, my friend, who withheld information from the fisa court keeping carter page's life turned upside-down. it wasn't the russians who refused to tell the court that the underlying dossier that was crucial to the carter page warrant was a bunch of garbage. it wasn't the russians who manipulated an email to keep getting a warrant against american citizens.
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it wasn't the russians who withheld information from the court about general flynn that they were setting him up and out to get him. it was the department of justice, it was the f.b.i., it was people who hated trump. people had a political bias, an demean him before and after he was elected. if you want people subpoenaed i will certainly listen to what you got to safmente but this stinks. this is a sad episode in the history of the f.b.i. there was no there, there. in august, 2017. it may not bother you, but it bothers us. and i hope it will bother the american people and we'll fix it. senator lee. senator lee: on june 29, 2017 you signed off on the third fisa renewal application. did you read that application? mr. rosenstein: yes. senator lee: having been asked
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to sign off on it you had read it. were you aware of the multiple errors and omissions later discovered and disclosed by the inspector general? mr. rosenstein: no. senator lee: were you aware that the information provided by christopher steele, commonly referred to as the steele dossier, was the basis of the assertions in the fisa application? mr. rosenstein: i believe, senator, that some of the assertions in the application are from steele. my understanding is, but only some. senator lee: were you aware of the fact that the steele dossier, which you just acknowledged, was at least the partial basis for this was bought and paid for by the democratic national committee and shared with the hillary clinton campaign? mr. rosenstein: i don't believe i had that detailed information at the time. senator lee: you're being asked to do something significant. you are asked as the deputy attorney general, the acting attorney general in this circumstance, to sign off on something. and yet you don't have a critical piece of information. that's a problem. it seems to me. it's a problem especially given that the foreign intelligence surveillance act can be used,
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can be manipulated, has been abused and manipulated to spy on a presidential campaign. a campaign that turned out to be for the man who became the 45th president of the united states. were you aware that the pplications mischaracterized christopher steele's past work mr. rosenstein: i was not aware of that. senator lee: if you had known about these errors and occasions in july of 2017 would you have signed off on it? mr. rosenstein: no. senator lee: why not? mr. rosenstein: my understanding is these fisa applications followed a very rigorous process. and they were accurate. they were verified. the whole principle of having an agent sign it under oath you can rely on the facts. senator lee: the whole point of having the deputy attorney general sign off on them would be somebody who is accountable who is accountable to the voters who could verify their accuracy, is that right? yet that did not happen.
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mr. rosenstein: i don't think the idea is for the person who approves the filing, which is the attorney general, deputy, or national security assistant attorney general, to personally verify the facts. taste to make sure the process has been followed and the document sets forth a proper basis. it did set forth -- senator lee: the process there simply to provide cover to do something unlawful. the process is there ideally, one would hope, to make sure the rule of law is respected. mr. rosenstein: correct. senator lee: before you became the acting attorney general in this context, didn't you -- at some point get a sense for the politicization within the f.b.i. at the top level of the f.b.i., even beyond jim comey? mr. rosenstein: no. senator lee: you didn't have any sense there was a targeting of a presidential candidate and later someone who became the president of the united states? mr. rosenstein:dy not have that impression. senator lee: what was the legal
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basis for appointing robert mueller? didn't you become concerned at some point about the composition of mueller's staff? let's take for example, mr. weissman. he is now fundraising for joe biden, his right. previously he was an advocate of the hillary clinton campaign. did that bother you that you had known democratic operatives, overwhelmingly democratic leaning people who were part of this team? mr. rosenstein: it would have been preferable to have a more politically diverse group, but if they followed the rules, their political ideology wouldn't matter. senator lee: if everyone followed the rules, political ideologies wouldn't matter. mr. rosenstein: senator, i had bob mueller in charge of this. based upon that and my conversation was him, i'm fairly confident that the political bias did not enter into that investigation. senator lee: at any point where were you asked by a member of congress to launch a criminal investigation of president trump?
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mr. rosenstein: i don't believe so. senator lee: getting back to the fisa application process, why didn't you urge the foreign intelligence surveillance court amicus curiae given this? mr. rosenstein: you asked me about reed reading the fisa. there are a lot of fisa application that is come through. some are more significant than others. this one was usual in that i already knew about it because of the russia investigation. most of the fisa applications presented to me i'm the last eyes on them before they are filed to the court. and i know nothing about them. this one i knew a fair amount about and gave it to me in advance so i could review t not that i read every page but familiar what was in it. it actually, if you read the report, i know most people haven't seen the unredacted version, my recollection of t. vint seen it for some time, it was fairly persuasive. it had already been approved three times. this is the re-authorization. senator lee: thank you. you indicated moments ago that
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mr. mccabe did not lie to you. but you also acknowledge he was not fully candid. what's the difference? mr. rosenstein: well, lying is when you have ask somebody a direct question you get a false answer. candor is when you're forthcoming with information that somebody needs to know, and i believe, senator, that mr. mccabe should have recognized when i became acting attorney general i needed to know about mr. comey's memos. he didn't understand that. he did not tell that to me until a couple hours before they showed up in the "new york times." senator lee: what and when did he tell you about the comey memos? when should he have done that? didn't he -- he waited for at least a week before telling you about some of the intel related concerns. he had an obligation to tell you, weren't you his boss? mr. rosenstein: i don't know if he had a legal obligation.
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my philosophy as a manager was you have a responsibility to tell the boss the things he needs to know. that's an important thing i needed to know. senator lee: that would have been regarded as material. the omission of that had you been aware of it probably would have been grounds for termination. mr. rosenstein: if i had asked him and he misrepresented it, yes. senator lee: thank you, mr. chairman. i see my time has expired. >> thank you, chairman. welcome back to the incredible , inking judiciary committee mr. rosenstein., mr. rosenstein. we used to have a say in circuit court nominees, you no nothing protects them, even having to come from our states. we gave that away. we used to oversee executive privilege claims, now a witness utters the word privilege and we shriveled up. we gave that away. we used to screen out extremists and unqualified judges, now it's hard to see any bottom to whom we'll confirm. we gave that away. and we face the danger now that
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historic ttee committee will begin running political investigatory errands. senator whitehouse: i think facing that risk it's worth having some assurances about howing this go to be conducted. i say this based on the experience of looking at the house intelligence committee and the republican side of that committee and its efforts to disparage and interfere with the ueller campaign. that was not yet been fully investigated. i don't believe that mueller investigated any linkage between the house intelligence committee, republicans' efforts, and the white house. or their efforts and trump's lawyers, but i strongly suspect that the house intelligence committee republicans were
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advised, controlled, or directed by trump lawyers either in the white house or on the trump legal team. and that sorry experience, if that is in fact the case, again investigation would reveal it, but we have had no investigation, should not be replicated in the senate judiciary committee. i hope that we can receive appropriate assurances here that whatever investigation we undertake will not be controlled by the trump white house and will not be controlled by the rump campaign. as we pursue this oversight, one other aspect of the incredible shrinking judiciary committee is that we used to require the f.b.i. and department of justice to answer our questions. now we just get ignored. there is's a bin someplace in the f.b.i. and department of justice into which our questions get thrown.
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and, mr. rosenstein, you were sworn in on february 1, 2017 as deputy attorney general you resigned from the department on may 11, 2019. in between those dates we had 24,ings on may 2, 2017, may 2017, june 27, 2017, october 18, 2017, december 6, 2017, february 6, 2018, march 13, 2018, june 12, 2018, june 18, 2018, june 6, 2018, july 18, 2018, july 31, 2018, december 12, 2018, and may 1, 2019 with department of justice witnesses and none, none of the committee's questions for the record were answered. ever. none.
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can you explain why that took place, mr. rosenstein, under your watch? where was the policy not to answer this committee's questions? did it come from you? did it come from the attorney general? did it come from the white house? did it come from o.m.b.? why were q.f.r.'s never answered? where was that policy founded? mr. rosenstein: senator, i recall answering some correspondent -- correspondentence. senator whitehouse: letters are a separate issue. i have a separate case on those. i'm focusing on committee questions for the record. why not? what is the policy from? who told you not to answer these questions? where did that come from? where is that in the department? mr. rosenstein: i know i testified in my confirmation hearing which would have been march of 2017. and i answered questions for the record, i believe, following, including there may have been some from you after that hearing. senator whitehouse: these are
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all the ones i listed and in all those questions were not answered. that's a lot of hearings with no questions not answered. mr. rosenstein: i don't believe i testified at any of those hearings. it's not -- senator whitehouse: i'm thinking there is a policy at the department of justice not to answer q.f.r.'s, unless you think it is a coincidence no q.f.r.'s weren't answered. something is up and it makes me -- we sent a letter to chairman graham, all of us, on february 11 about this of this year because it has gotten so frustrating that there is a policy somewhere in this administration not to answer ommittee q.f.r.'s. now we can't even get a q.f.r. answered. out of the clear blue sky the first thing we are investigating is the exact thing the trump campaign wants us to investigate. the only time we ask for anything from this department is when it's a political errant. and every other time you can't
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even get a decent q.f.r. answered. ever. i can go through the letters i haven't gotten any answer to, either. but there is a stone wall and we should not be selective about whose information gets through the stone wall at the department. and this, mr. rosenstein, happened on your watch. my time is up. chairman graham: senator whitehouse. senator cruz. senator cruz: thank you, mr. chairman. >> may i ask a q.f.r. depoip yes. >> as to what the heck is going on with our nonresponse to q.f.r.'s? that one may go into the bin of the department of justice as well with all the others that never get answered. but the day will come when there is a democrat department of justice and attorney general. the day will come when there is a democrat sitting in that chair . and a policy that you don't ever get q.f.r.'s answered by the
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department that we oversee is not a good policy. it is someone's policy and i want it stopped. chairman graham: thank you very much. as to the hearing yesterday there were a lot of questions asked about covid-19 and prisons and i expect, hopefully those will get answered, particularly senator blumenthal's questions about the court case. point well made. senator cruz. senator cruz: thank you, mr. chairman. prior to 2016 and 2017 the worst known instance of abuse of power by an administration was richard nixon's abuse of his administration to target his political enemies. by any measure what the obama-biden administration did in 2016-2017 makes everything richard nixon even contemplated pail -- pale in comparison.
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richard nixon rightfully faced impeachment and ultimately resigned as a consequence of his misconduct. the evidence that has been made public has made clear that the obama administration targeted his political opponents, tarring targeted president trump and his campaign, unleashed, weaponized, and politicized the department of justice, f.b.i., and intelligence community and that the decisionmaking to do so went right up to the very top. we know that on january 4, 2017 the f.b.i. concluded in the document that has just been released that general michael flynn was, quote, no longer a viable candidate to be part of this larger case. their investigation did not yield any information on which to predicate further investigative efforts. the f.b.i. is closing this investigation. that was january 4, 2017. the next day, james comey, the
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director of the f.b.i., is sitting in the oval office with barack obama, with joe biden, and james comey, according to a memo from susan rice, one of the most remarkable c.y.a. memos written in washington, written on her last day in office, emailed to herself, saying, by the way, this investigation into the national security advisor coming in to the new office, the president has said do it, quote, by the books. she said by the book three times. james comey tells the president, we are investigating michael flynn by the book. well, unless the book is richard nixon's watergate, the day before the f.b.i. said they were closing the investigation, and there is james comey telling barack obama we are going after general flynn, a decorated three star general, the incoming national security advisor of the president, with joe biden
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sitting right there nodding along. joe biden himself personally unmasks michael flynn's name. that's the world you came into, mr. rosenstein. that's the department of justice you came into. where it had been corrupted and politicized, you read the inspector general report, mr. rosenstein. mr. rosenstein: most of it, yes, sir. senator cruz: you read the 17 repeated material misstatements documented within the inspector general report. mr. rosenstein: i have read that, yes, sir. senator cruz: you are aware one of those is a lawyer fraudulently altering an email creating counterfeit evidence that became the predicate for a sworn statement in the fisa court. mr. rosenstein: that is in the inspector general's report, yes, sir. senator cruz: are you aware of other instances the depp of justice employees fraudulently creating evidence to submit to court? mr. rosenstein: every instance i
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am aware of would be appropriately investigated and hopefully appropriate action would be taken. senator cruz: mr. rosenstein, on may 17 you appointed bob mueller special counsel. on june 29, you signed the third fisa application. on august 2 you signed the second scope application. you came into a profoundly politicized world, yet all of this was allowed to go forward under your leadership that unfortunately leads to only two possible conclusions. either that you were complicit in the wrongdoing. which i don't believe was the case. or that your performance of your duties was grossly neglect -- negligent. was there any more important case the department of justice had that an investigation into weather the president of the united states is a russian asset, colluding against the united states? mr. rosenstein: that's the way you're characterizing the
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investigation, senator. there was certainly lots of important investigations, but i as one of the most he most important. senator cruz: ok. behind the steele dossier had disavowed it and said it's not 2r50u? mr. rosenstein: at the time i reviewed it -- i certainly reviewed it and no i did not know that. senator cruz: at the time you reviewed it, did you know there was significant exculpatory material omitted? mr. rosenstein: no. senator cruz: did you know a lawyer on your staff had fraudently altered the material as a basis for an investigation. mr. rosenstein: that lawyer was not on my staff i was not aware of t senator cruz: on the f.b.i. staff who reports to the attorney general. mr. rosenstein: correct. senator lee: did you know the steele dossier was paid for by the d.n.c.? mr. rosenstein: i don't believe so. senator cruz: did you ask any of those questions?
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mr. rosenstein: well, the questions i would have asked, senator, would have been is the information represented to me verified. and i would anticipate, senator, that if somebody knew that it wasn't, or that there was some issue about the credibility, informant or accuracy -- senator cruz: when you are going into a department that has been politicized, i understand it's easier not to rock the boat. not to question the people there. but you were the acting attorney general of the united states and had a responsibility not to allow political targeting -- let me ask you. did it strike you as strange, my time has expired i'll leave this as the last question. did it strike you as strange that the f.b.i. and the department of justice was going after a three star general, the incoming national security advisor to the president, who they already said they were going to dismiss the case against, and their predicate for all this is the logan act which
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you know perfectly well is an unconstitutional law that has never been -- no one has ever been prosecuted under in the history of the department of justice and should have been laughed out of the room and any response department of justice -- responsible department of justice f. someone suggested we are going to go after the incoming national security advisor for violating the logan act which says an american citizen can't talk to a foreign leader, i guarantee today john kerry is violating the logan act. fortunately it's unconstitutional law who cares. why did you not it laugh this out of the room? why did you get to answers on this? why did you let this pile of partisan lies consume the country for two years? mr. rosenstein: i appreciate -- you back a lot into your question and i know the time is limited. first of all, senator, i think it's not accurate to say that we didn't rock the boat. as you may be aware when i went into that job with attorney general sessions we made a lot
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of significant changes. wasn't just about the russian investigation. it was a lot more going on in the department of justice. so i would not have been reluctant in any way to rock the boat if i believed there was something improper going on. with regard to general flynn, to take that particular issue, senator, my understanding at the time that i arrived, was that general flynn had lied to the vice president and to f.b.i. agents and that i believe, was the primary issue that was under investigation at the time. i didn't know all the background that appears in the pleading it was filed by the u.s. attorney general in d.c. senator cruz: you didn't bother to ask. you didn't bother to drill in and show me the background. this may be the most important case we have in the whole country. let me do more than rubber stamp the document put in front of me? mr. rosenstein: i don't believe i was rubber-stamping, senator. and i fully appreciate your concern. and obviously you always wish you could have done more. but we did have 70,000 cases filed that year.
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i devoted more attention to this case than anything else, but i still didn't know everything. so that's the best i can give you, senator. chairman graham: senator klobuchar. senator klobuchar: thank you, mr. chairman. welcome back, mr. rosenstein. i have made very clear that i think that it is absurd to be having this hearing. i know we are going to have a hearing which i appreciate on criminal justice reform in a few weeks after the murder of george floyd in my state. but i think we could also be doing so many other things on the pandemic, the effect the pandemic has had on immigrationpolicy. but we are here today. i thought that was absurd. then i heard senator cruz and i have to say to compare richard nixon to barack obama, richard nixon who left the white house in disgrace to compare him with president obama, who left the white house with grace and dignity, something we miss very much, especially this week, when
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we saw the president of the united states using the bible as a prop in front of a church in washington, d.c., after the justice department tear gassed people protestors in order to set the stage for that press conference, no. i would like the record to reflect that this comparison is not only wrong today, between richard nixon and barack obama, it will never stand the test of time. let me start out with this, mr. rosenstein. you appointed special counsel robert mueller to oversee the f.b.i.'s counterintelligence investigation to ensure that it was conducted independently in may of 2017. the special counsel found that russian interference in our election was sweeping and systematic and that the investigation, as you know, ultimately resulted in 34 indictments of individuals and the convictions of six of president trump's associates and advisors on federal charges. last may you said that there was, quote, overwhelming
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evidence that russian operatives hacked american computers and defrauded american citizens, end quote, as, quote, part of a comprehensive russian strategy to influence elections, promote social discord, and undermine america, end quote. do you still agree with that statement? mr. rosenstein: yes, i do. senator klobuchar: are you aware of any facts that call into question the finding in the special counsel's report that the russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion, or that the russian government perceived it would benefit from a trump presidency and work to secure that outcome? are there any facts -- mr. rosenstein: according to the report, senator, i certainly believe that director mueller's report accurately refleblingts his conclusions. i don't know what's in the mind of the russians, we can only evaluate the evidence we have. that's what the intelligence suggests. senator klobuchar: are you aware of any facts that call into question the assessment of
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f.b.i. director wray, backed up by many, many trump intelligence officials, that russia's interference in our elections is ongoing, that its i.n.s. feerns in the 2018 mid terms 234 christopher wray's words were a dress rehearsal for the 2020 elections, are you aware of anything that would lead to you think that russian interference in our elections going forward has stopped? mr. rosenstein: i am not aware of anything that suggest it stopped. while i was in office, senator, i spent a fair amount of time working with director wray and other officials to try to combat foreign interference. senator klobuchar: given the dret to our democracy posed by foreign election interference, while we by the way have the threat of voter suppression due to this pandemic and other laws, it is critical that we remain know dusted -- focused on the facts. the inspector general's report found on page 17 that the investigation, the crossfire hurricane investigation, was opened to determine whether people associated with the trump
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administrationp campaign were coordinating with the russian government, do you adisagree with that? mr. rosenstein: that is my understanding. senator klobuchar: as part of a political campaign, especially a foreign adversary like russia, would pose a threat to national security. is that correct? mr. rosenstein: it would if it were true, yes. senator klobuchar: due agree -- do you agree that interference in our elections by foreign governments constitutes a national security threat? mr. rosenstein: yes. senator klobuchar: that is why i would like to look forward, when you look forward what do you see in front of us? you see this ongoing threat to our democracy, which is why i have advocated so strongly along with senator lankford, senator graham, so many for backup baper pal lots in our election. -- ballots in our election. it is part of the reason i think the mail-in ballots in addition to protecting the health and safety of voters would protect us from foreign interference and that's why you have republican dominated states like utah have
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used these mail-in ballots. it would be helpful in that way. one other policy idea here is that we need to do, as we continue to see ongoing attempts by foreign governments to influence our elections on social media. senator graham and i and senator warren have put forward the honest ads act. are you familiar with that bill? mr. rosenstein: i am not. senator klobuchar: that is a bill that would require the same disclosure rules and disclaimer rules for political ads that we have for ads that we see on tv. i would simply require that when someone gets an ad for political campaign or an issue ad that's paid for and meets the federal standards that they would in other forms, that you have to have a disclosure on them and that you have to make a public record of this ad. i just want to again remind my colleagues of this bill because after years senator mccain first
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did this bill with me it's still sitting dormant. i think that when you look at what the senate intelligence committee just recommended was that we should bring our laws into the 21st century to ensure that voters are able to know who is paying to influence our political system, at the very least when we know we also have unpaid influence do you think it would be helpful to know who is paying to influence our political system? mr. rosenstein: senator, i'm very reluctant to express a view about legislation on the spur of the moment. i'll be happy to look at it. senator klobuchar: i appreciate that. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to start by noting my surprise to hear from my democrat colleagues that the mueller report is now of no consequence after what they put this country through for years on end, endless investigations, millions of dollars spent, an impeachment inquiry against the president of the united states,
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and now we hear from person after person on that side of the dais that the mueller report is of no consequence. no consequence? i kind of happen to think that the successful weaponization of the f.b.i. by a presidential campaign, by the hillary clinton presidential campaign for the first time in american history, getting the f.b.i. to submit to a federal court false information, false information, to get a wiretap, during a presidential campaign, kind of think that that is a relevant piece of information that maybe ought to be within the jurisdiction and cognition of this committee. senator hawly: of course my democrat friends say there is nothing to see here because now we have one of the largest scandals ever to engulf the f.b.i. and the dodge dofpblgt let me remind you, mr. rosenstein, about what the fisa court said when it found out that it had been systematically lied to by the f.b.i. and the department of justice. this is what the court said. suea spahn at this, on its own,
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the f.b.i.'s handling of the carter page applications as portrayed in the inspector general's report was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor that is owed to the court. the frequency which with these representations made by f.b.i. personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case calls into question whether information contained in other f.b.i. applications is reliable, end quote. in other words, the fisa court wond first it can trust anything the f.b.i. says. anything. now you signed off on a fisa application to a federal court in an ex parte proceeding. the other side didn't have a chance to argue it. you signed off on t it had 17 material misstatements, falsehoods, omissions. you signed off on it. you also said at the time you thought it was an above average application. how could you sign off on something with this number of
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misrepresentations that the fisa court later came back and said, this destroys our trust in the f.b.i. you signed off on it personally. how could this happen? mr. rosenstein: i approved the submission of it. and four federal judges signed off on it, too, senator, because like me, they believe that the information had been verified and was accurate. senator hawly: do they have a duty to verify? mr. rosenstein: no, the agents. senator hawly: did you not have a duty to verify? mr. rosenstein: i had a duty to make sure -- senator hawly: did you rubber stamm temperature. mr. rosenstein: senator the deputy -- senator hawly: you said a few minutes ago -- you testified today that you didn't read it. i'm curious -- mr. rosenstein: i didn't say that. senator hawly: would you like to us have your testimony read back. i can't say i read every page. mr. rosenstein: i did say that, yes. senator hawly: you didn't read it or rubber stamp it. mr. rosenstein: i have to explain the process -- senator hawly: i think we are
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familiar with the process. the o.i.g. gave us the process. by time it got to you you had 17 critical errors, falsehoods, leading the federal court to say they have never seen anything like this and can't trust anything else the f.b.i. says and you signed off on it. let my ask you this who do you hold responsible? you're saying it's not you. mr. rosenstein: no. i'm saying i'm accountable for t but the question is why did it happen. i'm no longer in the department. but there are people who are there who i expect will figure out why it happened and will fix the problem. so i'm not trying -- senator hawly: do you have any theories? mr. rosenstein: i only know what the inspector general's report reflects. i have been gone for 13 months. senator hawly: a process that is so corrupted it resulted in the abuse of a federal court in an ex parte proceeding during a presidential campaign is a threat to american democracy? is a threat to the integrity of our elections? would you agree with that?
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mr. rosenstein: it's certainly a threat to the integrity of the judicial system and the fisa process. i need to explain to you, senator, that when you are running an organization of 115,000 people, you are not going to be able to personally verified. senator hawly: that's why you can't be held responsible. at the end of the day it's nobody's fault. the fisa court has been misled, the fisa court is saying we can't trust anything the f.b.i. says but nobody is to blame. let me ask you, who should we hold responsible? what do you want this committee to do? the other side wants us to do nothing. they don't want to talk about t they are happy for these abuses to go on apparently. what do you suggest we do? mr. rosenstein: there are issues of accountability and blame. i' accountable. i'm here -- i'm accountable. i'm here being chastised by you. but the question is blame. what went wrong? we need to figure out what went wrong. when you say i signed off on it, it suggests that my responsibility was to actually do the investigation and verify
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the information. that's just not the responsibility of the deputy. the responsibility is to make sure we have an accurate process in place that guarantees the integrity of the applications. senator hawly: the process wasn't in place. mr. rosenstein: turned out it wasn't, exactly. if i'm at fault because hi a reason to know that or should have, i should be blamed or that. but i just don't -- i didn't see that in the i.g. report. i didn't see him blaming me or my predecessors. and that's all i know about it, senator. i'm certainly accountable for it. but in order to solve this problem, yelling at me is not going to solve the problem. we need to figure out what happened. did people engage in this conduct are systemic problems and fix them. senator hawly: of course. thank you, mr. rosenstein, for your service. and i'm sure this committee will take every pain not thold you accountable or responsible. apparently -- mr. rosenstein: i am accountable. senator hawly: i don't know what this committee is left to do. do i know this, what has happened is unacceptable. we heard the f.b.i. director sit in the seat you are in say he's not accountable. he says he's not making any
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changes. in fact he's done nothing. the current f.b.i. director, to address the situation. nobody seems to want to do nifplgt meanwhile we are in another presidential election year. i look toward to hearing how the f.b.i. has weaponized the fisa court again in this election year. we'll hear about that two or three years from now. the these circumstances are not acceptable. that's why i'm glad we are doing this. we have to hold somebody accountable. mr. rosenstein: senator as i said -- if i could finish the answer. again there are questions much accountability and questions of blame. and it is the responsibility of director wray to solve these problems. i don't know -- i'm not familiar -- i certainly hope he solves. chairman graham: here's what's happening. we have recommendation from horowitz how to make sure this doesn't happen again. we have mr. durham looking at criminality. it's up to this committee to look up -- come up with a process, hopefully bipartisan, to make sure this doesn't happen
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again. we are on it. i think it's important. i think it's important senator coons be called on. mr. rosenstein: if i could follow up. i'm accountable. i feel accountable for anything that went wrong in the department on my watch. i think the issue is how we fix it. chairman graham: i understand what you're saying. senator coons. senator coons: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you. -- mr. rosenstein, thank you for your testimony today and for your service. we have some important questions in front of us. as we know president trump has often repeatedly and loudly called the entire russia investigation a witch-hunt. but inspector general horowitz found found the f.b.i. had an authorized purpose when it opened crossfire hurricane which was grounded in protecting our national security in investigating federal crimes. do you agree with that conclusion? mr. rosenstein: yes, i do. senator coons: do you believe the whole russia investigation
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was a fraud and witch-hunt? mr. rosenstein: no. senator coons: in your oversight role over the special counsel's vestigation -- chairman graham: see if you can get into a new mike. senator coons: it is my microphone working at all? thank you very much. let me try again. much better. in i might, mr. chairman, i'm going to start again. chairman graham: absolutely. senator coons: thank you. mr. rosenstein, thank you for your testimony and for your service and for your appearance before us today. president trump has called the russia investigation a witch-hunt which is in sharp contrast with inspector general horowitz who concluded the f.b.i. had an authorized purpose when it opened crossfire hurricane which was count grounded in protecting our national security in investigating federal crimes. do you agree with that? mr. rosenstein: i agree with
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inspector horowitz's conclusion. senator coons: if your oversight role over the investigation, did you raise a concern about the appropriateness of the investigation and prosecution of michael flynn? mr. rosenstein: i was not aware of any reason to question the appropriateness at that time. senator coons: you were the acting attorney general for that investigation. did you approve of his guilty plea? mr. rosenstein: yes, sir, based on my understanding that the evidence demonstrated his guilt and he and his attorneys admitted his guilt. senator coons: did you ever raise any concerns about whether flynn's false statements were material to the f.b.i.'s national security investigation? mr. rosenstein: i was not aware of any issue. senator coons: are you awareny of precedent for the department of justice moving to dismiss a case after a defendant pled guilty to lying to the fib anybody? -- f.b.i.? mr. rosenstein: i don't know the answer to that, senator. there may be. i'm not personally aware. the department certainly has moved to dismiss cases in the past. senator coons: you authorized the filing the indictment in the roger stone case.
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mr. rosenstein: correct. senator coons: : and a jury convicted -- mr. rosenstein: if i could clarify. i believe -- i don't believe i was acting attorney general at the time of the stone case was filed. i'm certainly aware of it. don't know that i as a legal matter, i don't know i authorized it. senator coons: in any event, a'w that i authorized it. event, a jury convicted roger stone. you think he convicted those crimes which she was connected -- convicted? mr. rosenstein: they found him guilty, yes. >> in any case, the department filed a different motion within a day. the career attorneys went further and resigned from the department. are you aware of any recent case where political appointees filed a sentencing recommendation that is so markedly different from what career prosecutors filed. mr. rosenstein: i understand your question.
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technically, every pleading we file. the name of the attorney. i consider u.s. attorneys responsible for them. >> do you think a public president should criticize or attack ongoing department investigations? mr. rosenstein: i'm not going to comment on the president. as i made clear, i understood the president's frustration and i don't think it is my job to articulate on how he does that. >> the president has referred to what he calls obamagate, which she repeatedly says is worse and repeatede, this committee were journalists as to what obamagate is have not come up with any evidence. are you aware that obama has
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committed any federal crime? >> i am not. >> there is a lot of questions about the fisa word. carter page was not indicted in the mueller investigation, correct? mr. rosenstein: correct. not indicted and presumed innocent. i think it is unfortunate that information was leaked. it,n fact, by the end of attorneys, former strategist was convicted of crimes in federal court. you approved of the investigative steps in those cases and approved the filing of those charges, correct? mr. rosenstein: i don't know if i was there for the last one but i believe all the files were legitimate. >> you were quoted in the
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washington post saying " certainly in retrospect, there were things i would've done differently but i think we got the big issues right." do you think you got the big issues? mr. rosenstein: i think we did. we had a team in the department and i believe we got the big issues right. i am questioning the scope and reach and dedication of time of this committee to reinvestigate what i think inspector general horwitz has thoroughly investigated. we are in the middle of three simultaneous national crises. a public health epidemic, a public health downturn, and understandable nationwide protests inflamed by anger at the brutal and public feeling of george floyd. -- killing of george floyd. there are many issues to turn to and i appreciate your testimony.
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>> thank you, senator. i assure you we will get to other issues but i will just say this. the fbi was told in january the dossier was not reliable. hearsay gave mr. steele all the information and the warrant was reviewed on two occasions after that. know aboutdid not the information being withheld. i think it is ok to ask everybody if they know. one agent in the bottom of a basement somewhere who did all of this by themselves? i don't think. -- >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i appreciate you holding this hearing. it is remarkable to me that people on the other side of the dies here think this is a waste of time. i think this is an important part of oversight, preservation, and integrity of our justice system. baseball and love the reruns are pretty good. fact i got emotional washing the six series game with atlanta until i realized it was 20 years ago. but the league here in the senate is working. weator durbin would suggest are not doing anything else but this is one hearing of several we are having this week. i would remind everybody that we had a hearing on the covid-19 response just yesterday. i would also talk on hearings on implement in the cares act in the banking committee.
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a numberlso talk about of other hearings that are focused on doing everything we can to keep running. although think that our leader mcconnell has been criticized for us being here, on the one hand people are saying shame on you for being here and shame on you for not doing anything else. doing a lot here. i think the integrity of the department of justice and the fbi is probably where the of having a discussion over. i also heard my colleagues speak dismissively of the idea of a hoax or witchhunt. to go online so had a reasonable source and hoax is disguised as a malicious deception. a lot of what we are talking about here are malicious deceptions and omissions. somemission of a truth in
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dictionaries is tantamount to ally. a witchhunt is described as a campaign directed against a person or a group holding unpopular views. we have seen email transmissions by some people who were responsible for the fisa warrants. looks to me like they had a different political view. so i actually believe hoax and witchhunt may be accurate to describe some of the things that went on. and let me tell you, this is pretty personal to me. mr. rosenstein, you may remember that i went on a bill with my colleague to make sure we were able to keep more in place and continue the investigation. that on the premise we could trust the people doing the investigation and now i know i couldn't. stand by the fundamental
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position that i took but i'm a little bit angry with what is happened here. , you mentioned you had three handpicked teams that were working on this investigation and based on my research i believe that page, -- that they were on both of those teams. i also believe that they are guilty of a hope. information that they had access to. handpicked team, you say you are trying to pick some of the better players? mr. rosenstein: i would hope that's what they did. >> so you hope these people have enough training and experience to know that withholding that information was something that was a bad idea? wherehis rise to a level we could say it is just an oversight?
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the damming information we found, can we honestly believe these highly trained people could have just said i forgot about that material? mr. rosenstein: senator, i don't know who it was. i don't believe those allegations are in the work, but whoever it is, i think they should be held accountable. and i think it goes .eyond alluded that at least ethically he had information that would have been helpful for you to have that sounds like a deception to me. capable, smart, experienced person. why on earth would something like that could any reasonable
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that? think mr. rosenstein: i don't want to speculate about what was in anybody else's state of mind. >> well, i will. i think it's because they were trying to move towards an outcome that fed what some people the organization had in mind. you can't read the males between some, you can't look -- i am not a prosecutor, but it doesn't take a law degree to recognize these were not mistakes. these were intentional actions and it's why this hearing, why the subpoenas, and why this investigation needs to go forward. your opening statement, the vast majority of people in law havecement, fbi, and doj
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been disgraced as a result of bestncompetent actions and and have to get to the bottom of. -- of it. join as a former prosecutor and state attorney general in expressing my agreement that we owe a great debt of gratitude to the men and women in state and local police, the fbi, and law enforcement generally as we do to our united states military is helping to keep us safe and free. my fear is that immense power may be misused by political leaders to apply them in ways interfere with
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our constitutionally guaranteed rights. is one of the reasons i will join next week with my andeague senator kaine offering amendments to the national defense authorization act that would restrict the president's power to misuse that military and police force. to federalize and militarize law enforcement. measures thatce will restrict the overbroad and virtually undefined powers of the president under the insurrection act so that he will be held accountable. and while we are talking about reform and the chairman has said we should be looking forward, let's talk about fisa reform. if we are looking for ways to improve that law and prevent any sorts of errors in the future,
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why not adopt reform? i am advocating them and i'm looking for republican others in that effort, as i did under president obama when i first suggested there be an to make surerocess that any errors were eliminated. the chairman has said that the mueller investigation went quote off the rails. if that investigation was off the rails, it's a pretty remarkable trade to deliver the results that it did. included 199 charges, 37 indictments, nine convictions, five prison sentences. you, mr. rosenstein, and i should remind you at the very outset, i was the only
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member of the committee voted against you. mr. rosenstein: i am well aware that. >> i one of the six on the floor of the senate that i voted against you and the reason was solely that you refused to commit that you would appoint a special counsel, and then you did. and then i lauded you for it and i committed you for preserving the independence of that investigation. let me ask you, is it your testimony today that had you known them what you know now, that you would not have appointed robert mueller to serve as special counsel? mr. rosenstein: i believed it was the right decision under this or senses. it's the consequence of making this -- of this job but i believed it was the right decision at the time. >> if you had known then what
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you knew now, he would have intervened or stopped that investigation? mr. rosenstein: based on what i know, senator, no. but i'm open to the possibility that there is more information. if more information emerges -- >> today and probably for the future. it comes from the inspector general whose report you have in front cover correct -- in front, correct? take issue with any
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part of the special counsel's ."port that was his testimony before this committee in december when he presented his report. umbrage,all of the outrage, and heated political rhetoric, the report and its conclusions and findings remain unchallenged by the inspector general. would you agree? -- >> if the mueller investigation , as a matterence fact, it is of tremendous consequence. said, there was overwhelming evidence that russian operatives hacked
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american computers and defrauded and that isizens only the tip of the iceberg of a comprehensive russian strategy to influence elections, promote social discord, and undermine america. that was your characterization. what we are saying is of no consequence is in fact all of the stuff about carter page, the steele dossier. at the end of the day, the reason that report is of consequence is it shows that the -- ands interfered in the trump campaign welcomed it. i think it is that the to recognize russians are on the russian side. they don't affiliate with
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republican or democrat party. they are on the russian side they are an adversary in that fence shift and everybody, regardless of your politics. >> and the reason we are here today is to deflect attention from an economic crisis, health care emergency, and stations in our streets and communities that legitimately asks for justice. and if we want to fix the problem, but we should do is set ofform, not rehash a allegations that is in fact of no consequence. why you began the investigation and why the department began the investigation was, first, the russian government hacked the democratic national committee.
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second, q. week's published 20,000 emails stolen from the wikileaks published 2000 initial stolen from the dnc, and third, a trump official bracket that a foreign government told the trump campaign that it could help them with the anonymous release of damaging information on hillary. clinton.y mr. rosenstein: i did not begin that investigation but it began nine months before. >> those of the reasons the investigation began, correct? mr. rosenstein: i was not there. >> thank you very much. i appreciate you being here today and for appearing before the committee today. lawyer, i'm not going to apologize for that. i appreciate some of the
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eloquent speeches we have heard here. we have heard a lot of passion coming out of a lot of people and i appreciate that. i am here as an american and an island and most iowans aren't iowan and most aren't lawyers but they are watching today and saying what the heck has gone on in these institutions? was a kid watching cbs or whatever vacco crosslegged in front of my tv and watching all these law enforcement shows. thinking, how awesome is the fbi? to a small, rural farm kid, that's a big deal. to see the jackets with those yellow letters. it really is awe-inspiring.
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but what we have seen in the last couple of years has really reputation,e fbi's the doj's reputation. i don't know that a lot of kids nowadays are looking at the fbi saying someday i would love to be wearing that blue jacket, because there are some real issues that need to be addressed. there are answers that need to be had for the american and i am sorely disappointed by everything that has gone on. would likecolleagues us to believe that we cannot walk and chew gum at the same time here. we have convenience store clerks working everyday to the pandemic. here in congress, we are essential workers to and we should be here addressing these issues. so i'm glad you're here and
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willing to step up and take this criticism. i understand you are not serving as the dag any longer but you are here to answer questions, so thank you for doing that. under the obama administration, the integrity of the entire fbi has been called into question by this is notelement something we can continue to allow happen. we know there are so many out there, we need to the american people to understand this is an agency that is there to protect us. it is the enemy of what we should see in our agencies and that has been damaged. so whether you are a democrat or republican, independent or
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whatever, we really need the old fbi back. would -- youn, you are confirmed as digi in april dag in april of 2017 and i'm sure you have dealt with many others. speaking generally on the topic , yousa surveillance typically want subject to know you are conducting an investigation on them? mr. rosenstein: absolute not. the whole principle is that it is a covert investigation. ,f they know you are looking they are much less likely to engage in open communication that would allow you to discover what they are up to. number two, the people we investigate are presumed innocent.
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have a responsibility not to damage them by the investigation. investigation is not supposed to be a punishment and thus is very important. in june, you were briefed on and signed that third fisa renewal application, extending the surveillance until 2017. which theint at application came to your desk for your signature, the news about the surveillance had already been leaked to the media. is that correct? at that point, carter page knows he is being surveilled, he is being investigated. but the fbi wants to continue conducting surveillance. why? mr. rosenstein: because they believed the extension might generate relevant evidence.
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the fact that he is publicly known as obscene effect are you would expect consider, but my understanding is they still believe the application met the aandard but i think that is very insightful and valid question. >> it is very valid. why did it happen then? you raise any questions when you were briefed of that third application? it is the fourth application so it is the third extension, but yes. i was told they had considered that and they believed that it warranted one more extension. the legal standard actually requires setting forth new information and there is new information that -- in the application that appeared to
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justify extending. >> i would say the reason to on someonerveillance that already knows they are being watched is truly as a political tool. it is political interference. that's why so many of us are so disappointed in the fbi, doj. we have to see those corrections. i am thankful we are having those hearings. it is pertinent we are having this now as we are involved in another presidential cycle. we really do have to find and hold accountable people that have committed those crimes. chairman, ifn: mr. i could just respond. number one, with regard to the political interference
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suggestion, it was my understanding that lisa page had not been involved in a campaign, was not working in the administration. so i did not view that as targeting any political information. i think we are in a different report, iut in the think it accurately reflects that the application appeared to state it was lawful and i would not have improved it if i believed it was targeted at getting campaign. and i appreciate you raising this. i grew up with those television shows, and since i'm here, i think it's worth taking the opportunity to tell you that i have worked with many, many federal agents over my career and i want to assert -- assure you that some of the finest i
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know our employees in the fbi and department of justice. while the department needs to be fixed, i want you to know the confidence you have is justified. >> the senator will be joining us telephonically and is up next. >> the pandemic has now crossed a grim milestone. our country is in turmoil. last week, any minneapolis police officers openly murdered george floyd in public the. -- in public view. and what was the crime he allegedly committed that because the cosby officer to shove his 00 floyd'sloyd snack neck? knee into floyd's neck.
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we have see this before. racism is clear and long-standing. the committee is having a hearing on something that has already been covered exhaustively by the justice department's inspector general in a nearly 500 page accord where they reviewed hundreds of , it has found no documentary or testimonial evidence that no political bias or improper motivations influenced the fbi investigation. moreover, the investigation was opened -- factual predicates. we know that the fbi director has already implemented steps based on the inspector general's
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report. hearing wastes this committees time in a blatant effort to support the president's conspiracy theories and to help the president's reelection. how can we make the proper use of this committee's time? that was the inspector general. in september 2018, the new york times reported that you suggested wearing a wire to secretly record president trump after he fired fbi director call y. the article reported that you discussed members saying the 20 for the minute to remove mr. trump from office.
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on april 26, 2019, the washington riposte -- the washington post reported you were in danger of losing your job. post, wheno the president trump called you for an explanation, you tried to assure the president you were on his team. while discussing the investigation you reportedly the investigation credibility." president, ithe claim?d the >> you packed to that question. i hope you will allow me to answer the idea that i was involved in some conspiracy with the president, it is ridiculous. >> you can respond to my specific question but this first question is, did you tell the president i can land the plane
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?uestion is thati can tell you it was completed appropriately and expeditiously and i made no inappropriate commitments. hint atou suggest or secretly recording president trump? >> i did not secretly hint at recording president trump. >> have you ever discussed the possibility to remove the president from office? i have -- >> i have never suggest that in any way to remove the president from office. we all know that attorney general barr used certain characterizations of the mueller report which i would say are not in aate, but he did say
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letter he wrote to congress, he said, deputy attorney general and i have concluded that the evidence developed during the investigation is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice. this attorney -- does attorney general barr accurately present your view regarding the obstruction of justice? >> senator, i do not believe that the evidence collector by the special counsel, that is correct. >> that was not my question. it has nothing to do with collusion. we also know that president trump did not cooperate fully with the investigation on that part. you did know a number of obstruction of obstruction of justice actions by the president. or do you agree that there was no obstruction of
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justice involved? >> that is what i tried to answer the first time. the answer is yes, i do not believe the president committed a crime that warrants prosecution. and that is the issue that we review as prosecutors. >> excuse me, the mueller report says that they did not find enough evidence to go after the president for collusion and we all know that a sitting president cannot be indicted but they did raise a number of obstruction of justice actions by the president and left open the issue of whether or not that would be indictable. -- by the way, more than 1000 former federal prosecutors that served under both republican and democratic administrations disagree with you regarding the obstruction of justice issue. they said they believe the
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president''s conduct as described in the mueller report results in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice. they emphasized that these are not matters of professional judgment. they further noted that to look at these facts and say that prosecutors could not sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice runs counter to logic and experience. you areexplain why right and more than 1000 former doj prosecutors are wrong on the issue of obstruction of justice by this president? >> senator, we have a lot more than 1000 former doj prosecutors and i don't know whether all of those people read the entire report or are familiar with the evidence, but i was and i believe attorney general barr has already explained his conclusion. i think it is important that we reach conclusions. it determines the merit of the prosecution or it does not.
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we determined that case does not merit prosecution. people are free to disperse contrary opinions. >> i think i have to repeat myself. i read the mueller report. they did not say that there was not enough evidence with regard to obstruction of justice. with mueller, i don't know why he did not come to the conclusion. there was actually enough evidence on the obstruction of justice issue. but then they could not indict the president. that part is really clear. thank you. >> if i may, chairman. i think that is unfair, senator because the investigation was concluded. it was appropriately reviewed. no one recommended prosecution. the attorney general and i concluded the prosecution was not warranted. >> i think that question has been asked and answered. thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. i just want to clear up a few
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issues. first of all, once again we have heard here from some in the committee that inspector horwitz's report which you have discussed with us today found that there was no evidence of bias in the activities of the fbi and in the crossfire hurricane investigation. i think that is clearly not what they found. first, let me establish this. in the report itself, the inspector general found that the crossfire hurricane receipt of the election reporting on -- in september 2016 played a central and essential role in the fbi and department's decision. you agree with that? what was in the application and i understand that people who were more directly involved have testified about that.
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i don't know everything that they knew, but that is my understanding. >> thank you. with regard to this question of whether there is bias. this is one of the main reasons we are here as to what happened and why the problems that arose came up. the inspector general found 17 significant violations of procedure that resulted in you stating here earlier today, that had you known them, you would not have signed the request. context, he did indicate that he found bias, but that he could not prove that the bias decisionse of the that were made. do you agree? >> yes, sir. it is not that he did not find highest your he did not find evidence that the bias affected the outcome. >> the praise that he used his
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that he could not find documentary or testimonial evidence that the bias caused the decisions made by the team, correct? >> i accept that. >> i asked the inspector about that when he testified before us about his report. he basically confirmed that. i concluded with him. how did you try to find out that it bled into the decision-making. i asked those who had the bias and i asked those who are making the decisions and they said they did not let bias because their decision-making. and because i could not find documentary or testimonial evidence otherwise, i concluded i could not prove that there was bias in the final decision-making. that is how i read it. at that point, i said to him that i had founded inexplicable. i think he used that word. that yout mindnumbing
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could not see the bias leading into the decision-making. and he responded to me by saying, i said, how could you not reach that conclusion. he said, "there is such a range of conduct that it is inexplicable and the answers we got were not satisfactory that we are left trying to understand how could all of these errors have occurred over a nine-month among threeme or so teams handpicked, one of the highest profile cases in the fbi going to the very top of the organization involving a presidential campaign." i think he was saying he thought it was and explicable. i said to him, i understand that. i think it is explicable. i think it was bias. my question to you is, what do you think? >> i think it is a very important issue. the thing to keep in mind, and again, i have the experience in
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law enforcement. our goal is to be nonpartisan in operations. we have people with very strong political views on both sides. i have my own political views. the attorney general's always have their own political views. the goal is to train them about the way they go about their work to exclude political partisan consideration under consideration -- decision-making. wasn't that our employees have political views, it was that there political views appear to be influencing their conduct of the investigation at least based on what their messages suggested. the inspector general completed his investigation and he reached this conclusion. my goal is to avoid actual political influence. number two, to avoid the appearance of political influence which is very difficult. keep in mind, we do not require employees to have no views, we
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just encourage them to set those views aside. >> i understand the difference between the appearance of political influence and the reality of it. i question goes to the fact that when you have, as the inspector general said, when you have all of these, 17 significant errors. one of them including a criminal action of changing a document, occurring over a nine-month period of time among people -- three teams handpicked in one of the most high profile cases in the country, isn't there a point in which you much say -- must say that there is a real possibility that this appearance is real? >> it is the appearance that the work was not done improperly. whether it was the result of bias, i think that is something general barr needs to address and i believe he will. >> you indicated that the outcome of the special counsel's investigation was that we found the russians did commit crimes seeking to influence our
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election and that americans did not conspire with them. that is correct. >> yes, sir. >> i will conclude with this, going back to your introductory comment and that is as you concluded your testimony, you indicated that the inspector general concluded that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate handpicked teams on one of the fbi's investigation that fbi officials would be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the chain of command, management and supervision of the pfizer process. you still stand by that? >> i always emphasize to my subordinates it is very important for us to follow the rules because if we don't, people question our motivations. it is understandable that you would be concerned about that and my hope is that the attorney general will be able to put in
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place new policies and if people committed misconduct, they will be held accountable. >> i think there was way more than just significant questions about the fbi's train of command. i think there are questions about whether bias bled into this investigation. >> thank you very much. senator booker? >> chairman, thank you very much. i am finding myself repeating a theme from earlier in this last few weeks. i just not understand why we as a committee are focusing on things that further deepen the discords of partisan posturing in america. i might be missing something, but to me we are in a pandemic we have not seen since 1918, an economic crisis like we have not seen since the depression and uprisings across america like we have not seen since 1968. i have been down here for a month or so.
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the first hearing be held for a judicial seat is not open until september. and now we are doing something that is affirming discord in this country at a time that the ,urting in america right now that we could actually answer that by having a committee hearing on the issues that speak to the heart of our country right now. i talk to people on both sides nothe aisle, not in the -- just in my state, but on this committee to deal with the issues related to the savage murder of george floyd. that wee is goodwill could demonstrate right now. the chairman is going to have some committee hearings but i come from a school of thought that justice delayed is justice denied. our delay in meeting the urgency of this moment is problematic.
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i know the goodness on the others out of the aisle. i think i am senator kennedy's second favorite for he in all of the senate. record,epeat for the the justice department inspector general has found unequivocally that the fbi's investigation into the links between the trump campaign and russia had a legitimate basis, those are the words, and was not motivated by political bias. that is the inspector general's words. second, special counsel mueller appointed and overseen, numerous links between the russian government and the trump campaign and found that the trump campaign expected it would benefit from russian interference. i quote the president of the united states, "russia, if you are listening." come on.
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molars investigation resulted in investigationars resulted in a total -- mueller's investigation. it is no question that this investigation was justified. it is no question that foreign interference was a threat to our elections in 2006 and remains one today. are we having a hearing on how to stop the russians from interfering in our elections which are 150 plus days from now? no. are we having a hearing on urgent issues dealing with the pandemic? no. are we having a hearing on the devastation happening in our country? no. are we having a hearing on the broken criminal justice system that threatens the lives of black americans every single day in this nation? no. we are sitting here showing the
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american public that we argue with each other very well. at a time that rome is burning. i amshifting gears because excited to have you here. you are familiar with the crisis going on in this country. did you watch the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of the murder of george floyd? did you watch that? >> i'm not sure i watched the entire. >> do you know about the obama administration task force on policing? >> i am familiar with it. >> did you know they had black lives matter's people on that task force? >> i don't think i knew that. >> big police chiefs? >> yes. >> the one question i have and i will submit the rest of mind for the record is that in september 2007, -- those recommendations
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of that task force, bipartisan task force, police officers, incredible task force, have not been implemented. i wish we could go into that further. attorney general sessions shut down a justice department program that enabled the office of community oriented policing program, shutcops it down. had a part that work collaboratively with police departments and issued reports on how to improve police practices. you think ending that reform program made the streets of our nation safer or are police departments better? >> i don't mean to quibble with you. i do not recall that we ended collaborative reform. >> i did not say ending collaborative reform. i said specifically within the cops program, there was an effort going on that was ended.
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do you not remember that? i'm happy to review it. questionssubmit my for the record. i am grateful for having the six minutes allocated to me. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. i want to make sure i understand your testimony. theugust when you signed sculpt memo of 2017, you did not know that on january 4, 2017 the fbi recommended dropping general flynn, is that correct? >> i have no recollection of that. i think i would remember it. i do not remember that. >> the evidence has been discovered and turned over to the court. the fbi notes you are not aware of those, right? >> correct. >> thank you. >> senator kennedy?
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, as i think you know, we are here to talk about bias. acts on that bias. it seems to me that it is one thing to talk about bias as a or an intellectual proposition. but it is quite another thing see it in living color. you a couple of demonstratei think and ass in living color he promised to act on that bias promise to act on that bias.
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"bernie sanders is an idiot like trump. i figure they will cancel each other out." february 4, 2016. lisa page, "trump has no dignity or class. he simply cannot be president." "trump, 2016, lisa page, is a loathsome human." "ohh 3, 2016, peter strzok, my god, trump is an idiot." march 3, 26 team, peter strzok, "hillary should win 100 million or nothing. " lisa page, "did you hear trump made a, eight about the side of is?" pen size of
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this man cannot be president. 2016, lisa page, "this guy ." an enormous douche we will stop it. mr. strauch and ms. page were men or women. they were senior officials of the fbi. it, pleasetand theyct me if i am wrong, were deep in this hurricane and muelllar investigation --
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er investigation. they were decision-makers. and you made these emails public, which i appreciate. but what we are talking about routine.ot a this was an investigation of the president of the united states of america. investigationhe of a presidential campaign. here is what i have never understood. public,se emails became and you knew about them, when you learned about them, you did the right thing. you made them public. i presume you made them available to mr. mueller.
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mr. strauch and ms. page were removed from the mueller investigation. nobody gets fired around here. it is either to divorce spouse then fire somebody. why didn't you or some other senior official at the department of justice or the director of the fbi or some other senior at the fbi say, , stop ainute, stop second. we are investigating a president and a presidential campaign. i'm going to ask some more questions. maybe i should not have been trusting people telling me this stuff. if you or some of your
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colleagues in the trump administration had done that, that the fbie seen , general flynnd did not do anything wrong. agent at the white house had said, he is not lying. y'all, i am not just putting on you, but y'all would have dossierat the steele was unadulterated b.s. and you would have found that some people at the fbi had been lying. you. to lying on the warrant applications. and maybe you would have said, wow, does the mueller
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investigation need to be trying to put carter page and general flynn -- what is going on here? but nobody did that. and that bothers me. >> i appreciate your question, senator. i had the report open to the appropriate page. regard torrect with inspector horowitz's conclusions. he pointed out that they are entitled to political views. the question is are you following the rules and are you articulate in those views that will cap down on the integrity of the process. when that information came to our attention, i think we did the right thing. stricter horwitz audit to my attention and the attention of director mueller. director mueller took the appropriate action. the investigation was not concluded yet, so he was not able to impose any discipline.
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i believe the woman involved left the department voluntarily. with regard to the status of the fortunately we are at the conclusion and we were able to say that no americans conspired with the russians. my impression at the time was that there was predication for the investigation and general horwitz agreed with that. there may be more information that comes to light. i think we ought to take that into consideration as well. but with regard to all of those ises, all i can tell you, -- think one more point point to make, there are a lot more people involved in this. scoresre dozens, perhaps of federal agents and attorneys involved. i think he has asked a very good question.
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once you find out that the people who were in charge of crossfire hurricane also became the mueller lead investigators and say had bias, why wasn't there a timeout to do something like a procedure, slow down, can we really trust the work of these people. that was not done, was it? >> i believe it was. >> would you agree with me that it was done poorly? we did not find anything that horwitz found. how did he find this and you did not? >> that is my internal affairs officer. >> all i can say is senator kennedy's point is well taken. anybody in their right mind when they found struck and page were so over the i can't believe all of this was laying there and nobody could find it if they really look. i don't believe you are part of a conspiracy to defraud, i don't believe you are out to get the
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president, but his point is, this went on for two years. and it was clear that somebody should have stopped and take a timeout and that never happened. when horowitz looks at it in 2019, he found a ton of stuff. that should unnerve all of us. mr. rosenstein: i think it is a valid question, why didn't i do something? from my perspective, that is what i do, i refer allegations to the inspector general. sen. graham: i think the point is, this went on two years and in august, 2017, not of the people named in the memo had a tie to russia at all. general flynn wanted to be dropped out of the thing. carter page was norm or a russian agent than i am a chinese astronaut. papadopoulos said many times when he did not know he was being taken there would be treason over the russians -- we don't understand how it started to begin with and i think you
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were very honest upfront to saying if you know now, maybe things would have been different. but that is all this is about, trying to figure out how it went so long. >> you did a better job with my time. -- i have one other sen. graham: yeah, sure. >> this is what really bothers me. i really believe the fbi is a bomb enforcement agency -- the american people trusted. whenon't want an american pi agent marks under door to have to go, i wonder if he is a republican or democrat. likeere you got a guy flynn, and i never met the general, but the fbi had already he didn't dot anything wrong, there was no collusion.
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it appears they required to take one more shot, some people at the fbi were going to interview him at the white house, so they could catch him in an act. the agents who interviewed him came back and said, well, i don't think he is lying. know, thext thing we prosecutors working for mr. mueller are saying, here is the deal, you are going to plead guilty to buy into the fbi where we are going to prosecute your kid, you're going to break you in the process. i don't think that is justice. i don't care whether you are a trump supporter or a clinton supporter or a biden supporter, that is not justice. if it went down that way, i would agree with you. i understand you reach that inference. all i can tell you is i was not under the impression that he had not lied, as i think i made
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clear, i was under the impression that mr. flynn had willfully lied to the fbi into the vice president. so this fact -- >> but under oath -- mr. rosenstein: the fact that you put in there that the agents do not believe he had lied, i don't recall understanding that at the time and i have read the filing and i'm sure that general barile give us a full read out at the appropriate time, the case is still pending so we have not heard the full story. if there is any evidence of misconduct there, i'm confident tot general barr will bring light. i don't think we should jump to that conclusion until we have heard from general barr. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. senator booker asked why are we here? we are here because trust, as you wrote it, in the fbi and the department of justice. you see this carried out by the
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area fbi and doj and people -- they cannot believe this happened. i have to tell you, mr. rosenstein, when you think about insurrection, generally you think about violence, you think about armed criminals, they are taking to the streets. thathere are some plots are there that are done -- they are quiet rebellions and they use the cloak of law to shield them. officials corrupt really exploited their powers to destroy careers, you got partisan hacks that manipulated conspiracy theories to destroy careers, to destroy their and theseenemies, unsubstantiated conspiracies -- this is really what gets us --
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this has wasted a lot of our and itd a lot of money has destroyed the trust and the mueller witchhunt tried and failed to get rid of a president and then you have the impeachment and the democrats try that, they tried and failed, and the deal is that the american people should be able doj to have fbi and one set of rules and one standard and that that will apply to everybody. , that did not happen. there has not been accountability and there seems to be a double standard. one for the in crowd and a different one for the out crowd. let's go back to mr. mccabe during the ig caught him lying three times under oath.
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thinkve said you did not he was completely forthcoming, i think was your phrase it -- your phrase you use. in his conversation with you. if there is a double standard in that andyyou think mccabe should be criminally charged with lying? mr. rosenstein: i don't express any opinion about that. i don't have access to the evidence. i'm not in a position to comment on it. the evidence being whatever information was gathered throughout the investigation. >> you have no opinion -- if he -- if you lied. and we know he lied. mr. rosenstein: if you willfully lied and it was material and satisfied the principles of the federal prosecution, then yes. >> ok. michael flynn was a target
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because he supported donald trump. correct? mr. rosenstein: i do not understand that to be the reason. >> let's look at a double standard here. and look what happened 10 years ago when the segment doj prosecutors went after the light senator ted stevens and they withheld material. that was vital and relevant and it is a tragedy that senator sanders -- senator stevens was exonerated only after he passed. let me ask you this. is history repeating itself today? to the prosecutors that went after flynn and they withheld evidence and they violated his constitutional right, should the charges be dropped? not going ton: i'm comment on a pending case but it is important for you to know, i read the briefing that was filed and i know people jump to the
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conclusion that there may have been wrongdoing by the prosecutors, i have not seen that allegation raised by the attorney general. >> you have no opinion if there should be consistency? mr. rosenstein: there should be consistency. >> you believe there should be consistency. if you are consistent, he charges would be dropped, correct? mr. rosenstein: it is hard for me to compare the two cases. >> ok. you have your daughters here with you today. and you've got one that wants to be an entrepreneur. mr. rosenstein: i would rather not get too many details about my daughter in a congressional hearing, but a very proud of her. >> we are all proud of our children and many times, as a mom and grandmom, some of that role-playing does the best. let's say your daughter is an entrepreneur, is wildly successful, locks the political system, runs for office, and wins. then she finds out she has been
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spied on. then let's say another daughter has followed in your footsteps and gone to doj and has become a employee and is heartbroken when she finds out that some of the prosecutors and agents are bending the rules and skirting around and using that to spy on a president and she comes to you and says, what should i do? and the other daughter says, dad, what should i do? there to be two tiers of justice or would you want there to be one? would you want there to be consistency? mr. rosenstein: i would want there to be consistency. >> you would want there to be consistency, exactly right. that is why we are doing these earrings. --t was dr. president trump what was done to president trump , i was the vice chair of the
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transition team, i don't know if they spied on me. outside of the rule of law and it is so disappointing to us -- i have come here and i have listened to everybody's questions. that you want to kick the can and not give us an answer because if we don't get this right and if we don't straighten out what happened with crossfire hurricane and whatever else was in this mix, then my children, your precious daughters, my precious grandson are not going to have a government that they can believe in and trust to do the right thing. i yield my time. mr. rosenstein: if i can briefly respond, i do not mean to punt, it is sickly i am not carrying the ball at the moment. i'm not in a position to know
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what the evidence is besotted -- beyond what i'm seeing in the media and i rely on the people who are in authority to take appropriate action. i do not believe that mr. mueller was trying to get rid of the president. i was working with a team of trump appointees and i don't think any of those people believed that i was trying to get rid of the president. that is not what we were about with regard to general flynn. i think that case will be resolved. if there are allegations of wrongdoing, they will be remedied. i do think it is not a matter of planting, is a matter of reserving judgment given that i do not have access to the evidence at this time. as weraham: i want to say conclude here, i have always found you to be an honest man and i don't think you are part of any conspiracy to get the president, but i do believe that general flynn went through hell, from the court that matter, carter page was abused, and i can't believe the system did not pick it up in the fact that it didn't is why we
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are here. to make sure it never happens again. but there is a statement i wanted to respond to and we will wrap up. this comes from mr. mccabe. " mr. rosenstein's claims to have been misled by me or anyone from the fbi regarding our concerns about president trump in the trump campaign's interactions with russia are completely false or cow -- completely false. moses -- iime -- briefed mr. rosenstein on jim comey's memos describing his interactions with the president days after mr. rosenstein wrote the memo firing jim comey. mr. rosenstein's testimony is an art with the factual record, it looks to be another sad attempt by the president and his men to rewrite the history of their actions in 2017. they have found in mr. rosenstein then and now a
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willing accessory in that effort." would you like to respond? mr. rosenstein: what think you need to appreciate is i have a strong team working with me at the department of justice. i had some of the finest lawyers that i have ever met working with me at the department of justice. it was a team that included trump appointees, included career people, i'm sure there were republicans and democrats, and that's why i'm confident in what i did, because i spoke with my team, not mr. mccabe, i spoke with my team about the actions i was taking to make sure that they were appropriate. i did not say that mr. mccabe misled me. those were not my words. i think he is responding to somebody's question. what i said was he did not reveal the comey memos to me for a week. and that is true. a revealed them to me only couple hours before they showed up in the new york times and he did not reveal to me that he was having internal deliberations with his team about whether to
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target high-profile people for investigation. his position as he did not have to do that until after he had signed off on it and that may be true under the rules as they were written at the time, but my view is that is the kind of thing i need to know. i have not accused him of making the statement to me, i sickly said he was not fully forthcoming and i think that is accurate and i'm confident that the folks who work with me will back me up on that. i don't wish mr. mccabe any ill bail. he is suing over his termination, the court will make a determination about that. the bottom line is, for whatever reason, he did not feel comfortable disclosing that information to be for a week and i think i should have known that earlier and i think i had a right to know it and a bite to know the deliberations inside the fbi because mr. mccabe knew i had just come into this job, i had not been around for nine months, i did not know what they were investigating except what he represented to me and that was my only source of
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information, i did not have evidence, i did not talk to witnesses. sen. graham: you were relying on what you were told by the mccabe team. mr. rosenstein: i was relying on the information from the fbi and i have not made any unfair allegations against mr. mccabe. sen. graham: all i can say as we wrap up is mr. mccabe will have the same opportunity you have to sit in that chair and tell us what happened and the reason that i think he is an appropriate witness is i find it hard to believe -- maybe it is russian subthat the source that was interviewed in january on two different occasions after january 20 17 told fbi investigators, dr. test wasterintelligence analysts not reliable, it was hearsay, it was never meant to be used the way it was being used. i find it hard to believe that when the case fell apart against carter page in terms of a bright application, it did work its way
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up to the top, maybe it is two people at the bottom that withheld this information and never shared it with anybody, but that's what we are trying to find out, how could you renew a bright application in june of 2017 when the sub source tells you in january of 2017, the documents you need to get the warrants are a bunch of garbage. i want to know how you continue to be know those warrants. i believe you, but somebody had to know and mr. mccabe was the guy most directly in charge, so i look forward to talking with him. we will hold the record open. yes, please. mr. rosenstein: i want to be clear about one thing. -- >> i want to be clear about one thing. have there been any additional facts today that were not in the ig report? sen. graham: i think what i learned is the august memo, his team consulted with the mother team, but the information in the august memo came from the
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mueller people. i did not know that. does that change your conclusion -- mr. rosenstein: let me just clarify, when mr. mueller came on board, he inherited the team that was doing the investigation. it's to their regular people, but there were people he inherited. like peter strzok and lisa page, correct? mr. rosenstein: correct. sen. graham: much more to find out. thank you very much, we will hold the record open for questions, thank you. mr. rosenstein: thank you, senator. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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>> on thursday the senate judiciary committee meets to consider authorizing subpoenas for individuals involved in the fbi investigation into possible ties between the trump and russian officials. watch live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span, online at, or free on the c-span radio app.
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♪ c-span has unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events. you can watch all of c-span's public affairs programming on television, online or on our free radio app. be part of the conversation through c-span's daily washington journal program or our media feed. c-span, created by america's cable television companies as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. minnesota attorney general keith ellison announced additional criminal charges against the police officers accused in the death of george floyd. he also upgraded the charges against derek shaaban to --chauvin to second-degree murder. chauvin was


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