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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 29, 2015 2:00am-4:01am EST

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earlier this afternoon you detailed a very broad understanding of the president's potential authority and that try as i might i could not find a hypothetical that you considered to be beyond the power of the president. i'd like to ask you now a question that i've asked attorney general holder and that he repeatedly declined to answer and it's in a different context. it concerns the civil liberties and privacy rights of americans. and drone policy. and my question to you is, in your legal judgment, is it constitutional for the federal government to utilize a drone strike against an american citizen on u.s. soil if that individual does not pose an imminent threat? >> senator, certainly i'm not aware of legal authority that
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would authorize that, nor am i aware of a policy seeking authorization to do that. if could you share more information with me? >> my question is about the constitutional limits on the federal government's power. attorney general holder repeatedly declined to answer the question about whether it is constitutional for a drone to use lethal force against an american citizen on u.s. soil if that individual doesn't pose imminent threat. now, let me be clear, i think the answer to this is very easy. my question to you is, is it constitutional for the federal government to do so? >> senator, i think with respect to the use of lethal force by any means, one would always want to look at the law enforcement issues involved there. and certainly if could you provide more context there i could place it in the scope of a case or an issue that i might have familiarity with.
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>> it is in the nature of a hypothetical. but you are certainly aware that the federal government is currently using drone strikes overseas. the federal government also maintains drone surveillance domestically here at home. the senate had an extended debate on the limits of federal government authority with respect to the privacy and civil rights of american citizens. and i'm asking you, in your view, does the constitution give any protection to american citizens does the constitution allow the federal government to do what it has done overseas utilize lethal force from a drone could it do so against an american citizen here at home if that individual did not pose an imminent threat? >> senator with respect to the use of -- again, as i said before, of lethal force by any means, be it drone or someone on the street, the use of lethal force is generally regulated by either police guidance or by the nature of the interaction. based on what you are describing to me, i don't see
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interaction between the american citizen that you are referring to and anyone to generate the type of lethal force you're referring to. >> i'm disappointed that, like attorney general holder, you are declining to give a simple straightforward answer and in fact what i think is the obvious answer of no, the federal government cannot use lethal force from a drone to kill an american citizen on american soil if that individual doesn't pose an imminent threat. i don't view that as a difficult legal question and indeed it demonstrates what i think has been the consistent failing of this administration's approach to constitutional law, is that it always, always, always ops in favor of government power. let me ask you a different question. this administration's department of justice went before the united states supreme court and argued that law enforcement could place a g.p.s. on any american
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citizen's automobile with no probable cause and no suspicion. in your legal judgment, is placing the g.p.s. on the automobile of the men and women gathered here, with no probable cause or suspicion, is that consistent with the fourth amendment's protections of american citizens? >> i believe the supreme court has resolved that issue senator, and i believe that law enforcement agencies seeking to use that type of technique would need to obtain a warrant. >> you are correct. the supreme court resolved that issue. it resolved it unanimously. 9-0 it rejected the holder justice department's position. my question is, if you were attorney general at the time, would you have agreed with that argument that law enforcement can place g.p.s.'s on any american citizen's car? >> certainly i wasn't involved in the legal analysis or discussion then, based upon the practice prior to the supreme court argument and the fact that law enforcement had used various techniques this was a new technique that was being
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evaluated and had been used in a variety of ways. so my understanding was that after a careful consideration of precedent and practice, the department made a strong argument, the supreme court has reasoned and has ruled that a warrant is required and certainly that is the law of the land. should i be confirmed as attorney general, that's certainly the practice that i would follow. >> the obama justice department 22 times has gone before the supreme court arguing for broader government authority. and 22 times it has been unanimously rejected. 9-0 the court has rejected those claims. another case was a case where the obama justice department argued before the supreme court that the first amendment has no relevance, says nothing about whether a church may select its own ministers or pastors. do you agree with that position that was put forth by this justice department? >> i have no read the briefs on that so certainly i'm not aware of the full articulation of
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that position. but i believe the supreme court has spoken and has resolved that issue. certainly should i be confirmed as attorney general, i would follow that precedent. >> you are correct again, the supreme court resolved that 9-0. rejecting the opinion, and i would note justice kagen, an appointee of this president, said from the bench in that argument to the department of justice's lawyer, i find your position amazing, that the justice department would argue the first amendment does nothing, says nothing about a church's ability to appoint its own ministers and pastors. let me ask you, if you are confirmed as attorney general, will you commit to this committee to provide greater scrutiny to the positions the justice department takes before the supreme court, and in particular to stop the practice
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over and over again of advocating for broad government power which has resulted in 22 times the supreme court unanimously rejecting that argument? >> senator, should i be so fortunate as to be confirmed as attorney general, i will take every case that comes before the department of justice seriously. i will consult with the career prosecutors there also with any solicitor general's office on the facts of the case, the relevant law and in conjunction with them give -- provide my best judgment as to the approach to take. >> is it your understanding of the role of the attorney general that the department of justice should always advocate greater government power? >> senator my view is that the department of justice advocates to defend statutes as passed by congress and that its greatest function is to represent the american people. with respect to specific cases again, i will always do as i have done throughout my career as a lawyer, i will carefully examine the facts of the case, the relevant law, precedent and make the best reasoned argument that there is to support the
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position that's being advocated. >> let's shift to another area where this department of justice has not been, in my view faithfully enforcing the law. in may of 2013 the inspector general of the treasury department concluded that the i.r.s. had wrongfully targeted citizen groups for their political views. when that news broke, president obama publicly said he was outraged. he said he was angry and he said the american people had a right to be angry. ms. lynch, do you agree with what president obama said then that the american people have a right to be angry at the i.r.s. targeting citizens for their political views? >> senator my view is that political views or bias have no place in the way in which not only the department of justice, but all agencies carry out their duties. and certainly when people hear of something that raises that issue, i can understand their concerns.
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>> in the nearly two years that have transpired, the individual who led the i.r.s. office in question, ms. lois learner, has testified twice before congress and has pleaded the fifth. which, as you are well aware, means she raised her hand and said, if i answer your questions, it means i may incriminate myself in criminal conduct. in the nearly two years since that time has transpired, not a single person has been indicted. in the nearly two years since that time has transpired, many of the victims of the illegal targets have yet to be interviewed. and in the nearly two years that have transpired, we've discovered that the department of justice appointed to lead the investigation a partisan democrat who has been a major donor to president obama and the democratic party. indeed, she's given over $6,000 to president obama and the democratic party. in your view, is it consistent with fairly and impartially
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enforcing the law to have an investigation into the abuse of power by the i.r.s. headed by a major democratic donor? >> senator, my understanding of that investigation is really from public records. i'm not familiar with the specifics of it. i can certainly tell you that complex vexes often do take several -- complex investigations often do take several months if not a year or two to resolve. i'm not able to provide you information on that point that you raised. with respect to how an investigation is staffed, again, i believe that while i'm not familiar with the details of this, certainly my view is that the department has career prosecutors who are devoted to the constitution and to the fair and effective exercise of their judgment and that the department has made the decision as too how to best staff the case and manage -- as to -- as to how to best staff the case and manage the case.
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should i be confirmed, i look forward to learning more about the matter. i appreciate you raising concerns with me and i hope you will continue to do so should i have the opportunity to work with you in the future. >> one of the terrific things about the department of justice is that it has a long and bipartisan tradition of remaining above the fray. from partisan politics. of demonstrating a fidelity to law, so that when serious accusations of abuse of power, and in fact of abusing the i.r.s. were raised against richard nixon, his attorney general, eliott richardson, a republican, appointed an independent counsel to investigate those -- council to investigate those allegations free of any tainted propriety or partisan bias. likewise when serious allegations of wrong doing against clinton were raised,
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his attorney general made the same determination to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the matter free of partisan bias or taint. the question i would ask you if you're confirmed as attorney general, would you commit to this committee to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the i.r.s. abuse of power who at a very minimum is not a major obama donor and who can be counted on to actually investigate the facts and follow them wherever they may lead? >> senator again, i'm not familiar with the investigation in great detail at this point. my understanding is that that matter has been considered and that the matter has been resolved to continue with the investigation as currently set forth. should i be confirmed as attorney general i can commit to you that i will take seriously every allegation of abuse of power brought to my attention and in conjunction with career prosecutors and this body where appropriate, make the best decision about how to handle that investigation.
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>> you're correct, the matter has been considered. indeed, i sent a letter to attorney general holder laying out the facts and asking him to follow the bipartisan tradition of his predecessors and uphold the rule of law. and he responded in writing that he was declining to appoint a special prosecutor. and that the basis of his declining to do so was the, quote, discretion of the attorney general. so despite the internal d.o.j. rules that require recusal if there's even an appearance of bias, the attorney general refused to appoint a special prosecutor. you say you're not familiar with this investigation. i think that's unfortunate because when you and i visited over a month ago in my office, we talked about this investigation. i told you it was a very serious concern of mine and i asked before your hearing if you would take the time to familiarize yourself with what had occurred. and yet your answer today is
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that you're not aware of what's happening. let me ask a more general question. would you trust john mitchell to investigate richard nixon? >> you're referringing to former attorney general mitchell? >> yes. >> again senator, based on the hypothetical, i'd have to know what the issue was and what you were requesting him to do. >> would you trust john mitchell to investigate the allegations of wrong doing in the break-in at watergate against richard nixon? would you trust john mitchell, who had run richard nixon's campaign to investigate the allegations that ultimately led to richard nixon resigning the presidency? >> well, i think that matter has been resolved. >> indeed. [laughter] >> certainly with respect to how that matter should have been handled and attorney general mitchell's involvement in it, i believe his role in it has been resolved as well. so i'm sorry, i don't think i'm understanding the basis of your question, sir.
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>> ms. lynch, there are many of us who are alumni of the department of justice. who have most respected the department when it demonstrated independence from the president. when the department was willing to stand up to the president, when the attorney general behaved not as if he or she were the personal lawyer for the president who appointed them, but rather when the attorneys general in both parties have behaved as independent, impartial law enforcement officers who owe a fidelity to the constitution and the laws, prior to becoming attorney general eric holder had a reputation as a u.s. attorney, of upholding the law. and i was hopeful when he was appointed that he would carry that reputation forward as attorney general. it has saddened me greatly that he has not done, so and i will say it is disappointing in this
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hearing that try as i might there has been nothing i have been able to ask you that has yielded any answer suggesting any limitations whatsoever on the authority of the president. that does not augur well for this committee's assessment of your willingness to stand up to the president when the constitution and the laws so require. do you agree with that characterization? >> senator, as i've indicated before i believe that the role of the attorney general is to provide their most objective, well researched, independent legal advice to the president or any agency who may come before them with a respect for -- with a request for opinion and where there is a legal basis for the request being made, to indicate so. but where there is not, to also tell the president or any other
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executive agency that what they are asking for is not within the flamework -- framework of the law. i believe that that's the role of the attorney general. i believe the attorney general must represent the people of the united states and should i be so fortunate as to be confirmed, they will be my client and they will be my first thought. >> the they that you refer to as your client, for clarification, to whom did the they refer? >> to the american people. >> and yet, and i'll ask again, can you articulate any limitations on the authority of the president that as attorney general you would be prepared to stand up and tell the president no, there is some modicum of power you do not have? >> senator i believe that the role of the attorney general does encompass the role of advising the president of when actions do not have the appropriate legal framework and
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when they may not be undertaken. that is something that i believe is an important part of the functions -- functions of the attorney general and certainly should i be so fortunate as to be confirmed it is something that i would not hesitate to do. it is part of the function of the attorney general, even of a cabinet member, to be independent of the president. and to provide their best independent legal judgment on any issue presented to them. >> i hope that you will very much carry through on that. it is discouraging that in the course of this hearing you have been unwilling to say that the president lacks the authority to refuse to enforce tax laws, labor laws, environmental laws, immigration laws. that you have declined to say that the president cannot order a drone strike on an american citizen on u.s. soil. and that you have refused to commit to a fair and impartial investigation of the i.r.s.
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abuse of power by a special prosecutor. i hope if you are confirmed that your conduct in office differs from the answers you have given at this hearing. my time has now expired. i see senator leahy is here. so i recognize senator leahy. >> senator tillis is here too. i withhold my time i have. >> thank you, senator. ms. lynch, i wanted to go back to, and i do apologize for all this cycling, if you saw the activity over in the senate chamber, you know why we're going through. it certainly not for a lack of -- through it. certainly not for a lack of interest in this topic. i want to go back to the idea of the limited resources within the d.o.j. and some matters that i'd like to get some sense that if you should be confirmed, that you would take a look at it and potentially
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reconsider some of the priorities of the current attorney general. i'll give you one example. in north carolina we did change the election law, early voting. we went from 17 days to 10 days. in that law though, we made it by law you could never offer fewer hours of early voting than the highest number that you'd ever offered in that particular county. what that had the effect of in this last election cycle is historic turnout. even among minorities. and so i've got -- we've got a lawsuit filed by this department of justice where i'm named in it questioning that. but then we have 12 states that have no early voting whatsoever. and i'm wondering why -- it seems to be inconsistent, when have one state that's preserving the most that it's ever had been, other states that have never offered it, that we would -- in a time of limited prosecutorial resources, that we would
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actually allocate that way, given all that's been said today about the limits of resources and the need to allocate them to their best and highest use. can you give me some sense of your thinking on that? >> with respect to the current litigation that's been filed, i haven't been involved in it to date. i do know that it is proceeding through the courts and i believe there will be further action this summer. there may be a trial, i'm not sure. so i think we will have to wait and see the judicial determination on the impact of the changes in the north carolina state law. as i indicated earlier states obviously have a great interest and a great interest in both preserving the right to vote and protecting the integrity of the vote. and many of them do so in ways that are effective throughout several states. the department of justice will always have a concern if the matter is raised as to whether or not there is a negative impact, that is to say a foreclosing of their right to
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vote, and certainly people can differ on the impact that will be had. and that will always be the issue in a case to be brought along those lines. certainly nothing -- i don't believe anything would have been personally -- personally aimed at you, sir. so with respect to that, when the issue is whether or not a change in statutes somehow infringes upon this, our most important right, it is something that the department of justice will always review. but certainly, sir, i look forward to having discussions with you about the nature of, not this case, because it's under litigation, but other matters in which the department is taking an interest and getting the views of you and others on this committee on them. >> i think it's very important because should you be confirmed, i think again we will always be in this state of not enough resources for all the things that we want to do. and it just seems to me that this may be one example where if you look objectively at the
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supreme court case, states that are doing everything that they can to respect and promote a citizen's right to vote, that to spend or additional time and resources reprosecuting laws doesn't seem to be the best use of resources in the context of the limited resources that we've discussed and several members on this panel have discussed today. i would look forward to -- should you be confirmed, to having a discussion with you about how we can be sure that we are putting it to the best purposes. for the good of the american people. that you're trying to serve or that will you try to serve. >> thank you sir. >> thank you. >> senator sessions. >> thank you mr. chairman. i'm honored to serve with you and also to have served with former chairman and i
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appreciate the opportunity today. i just want to pursue, to me, some legal rights here. it seems to me that if there are two people applying for a job as a truck driver, one of them is a lawful immigrant or a citizen, and another is not under the president's order, the person unlawfully here magically at moment becomes eligible to compete against an unemployed american truck driver. i think that's bizarre. and the idea that there are rights attached to someone here unlawfully, that they can take jobs from americans, is antithetical to common sense. so i think that somebody needs to be asking themselves who is protecting the american worker,
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the people who are paying the salaries, you, the president, and all of us? and as a matter of law, the people who elect us are the people we are most directly accountable for and that's the citizens of the united states. so i'm worried about that. what kind of lawsuit -- what kind of claim you have thought about this that might somebody who loses out to a person who claims that they're legal to work now, because of the president's order and they didn't become a truck driver and the person that was renlt rye -- recently legalized did get the job? >> well, senator, at the outset i do want to state that it's my understanding that, and there is no right to work for an undocumented immigrant in the country, so they would not have the right to work -- >> they would under the president's -- >> for those people who can
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obtain documentation, be it a green card or visas or other cards, they would have the ability to apply for positions. with respect to -- >> could i ask you about that? the president's going to give work permits to five million. they would be, under his theory, entitled to work. he would have created five million persons to compete against five million americans for a limited number of jobs. right? >> senator i believe that if the process were to be implemented, what i reviewed, there would be criteria set up for people to apply for work permits, they would apply, they would have to be a decision as to whether or not they would receive them and then i do not know what level of employment they would be able to apply for, but assume that they could apply for positions. >> the estimates are, i think, from the white house, it would be as many as -- a total of five million. and they would be given work
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authorization, photo i.d.'s, social security numbers and the ability to participate in social security and medicare. are you aware -- and to me i find no lawful basis for this. as the attorney general and the person who supervises the office of legal counsel, whose opinion you basically affirmed here today then you become in a sense the point person for this effort. and some have suggested, well it's homeland security. but homeland security asks your department attorney general holder's department the office of legal counsel, an opinion that would allow them to do so. so in effect had the department of justice said no, that this is not appropriate and cannot be justified, homeland security would have been bound by that rejection, would it not?
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>> homeland security would have been bound by that opinion as i believe they were with respect to the portion of their proposal to which the office of legal counsel did say no, there was not a legal basis for another portion that they sought toimplement and i believe they did not implement that. >> i'm only talking about what they did agree to. that apparently would be the -- to create this new number of workers. are there plans to -- what if somebody not in the five million is arrested for speeding next week, would they be deported? >> senator, i don't know how the department of homeland security would manage the removal. certainly a criminal record, if there would be an arrest and a conviction, would place someone at jeopardy of -- in jeopardy of losing their deferential status, if that's what they initially had. >> well, the point is that you're not going to deport any
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of the seven million either. that's the policy that's become clear in the last few years. so the administration i would suggest quite plainly is nullifying american immigration law, to a degree that's breath taking in effect. for example, you're saying that not only will we not find the resources, ask for the resources, nobody's asked for more resources to enforce the law if they need them. the president isn't asking for it, because he has no intention, if it was given to him, to use that money for that effect. so that's the problem we've got. that's why the american people are wondering who's going to defend them, who's going to defend their children who are out trying to find a job. african-americans have the highest unemployment rate among young people, the data's clear.
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this large flow of immigration at this time, low employment is hurting the poor, the -- is hurting the poor the most. so i would say to you that i'm not raising this just to make an argument about what kind of immigration policy we need. i'm raising this as a constitutional and legal question of incredible importance. as i read to you, professors have said this is perhaps the greatest presidential overreap reach in history -- overreach in history. congress refused to pass what the president wanted to do. i'm not saying that you made that decision, you didn't. but your department gave the legal opinion that justified it. after he 28 times said he didn't have authority to do it. it's really an amazing event. so mr. chairman, i respect the nominee. she's got a good family.
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i know was raised right. and i appreciate that. maybe you're just in a difficult position that's not necessarily your fault. but i am not satisfied that we at this point in history can just slide by and let this go. i think we need to confront this issue as a congress that nieced -- needs to use the powers that it has and that's why i have difficulties with your nomination. i respect you and appreciate your appearance today and your willingness to answer questions. >> before i go back to senator tillis for three or four minutes, let me assure everybody that senator tillis, senator leahy, i've got a couple requests of you. and then i think we're done. >> thank you. another roll call vote has started up.
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i'll be leaving soon. i'm sorry there's been so many questions that have nothing to do with your qualifications. you were shown a book and told -- [inaudible] the prosecution of ted stevens is the last administration. this administration exonerated. be that as it may, we talk about immigration, we've had millions of people here that every administration knows you can't just remove 10 million, 12 million people. as president reagan said, both president bushes said, i've been here since president ford, they've all taken that same position. as far as jobs are concerned, the chamber of commerce strongly supported the immigration bill that this
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committee passed two years ago and the senate passed by a bipartisan majority. grover norquist, a very conservative economist, said it would add billions of dollars billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars to our economy. it would increase jobs, not dee crease -- decrease them but increase jobs. i wish the speaker of the house had allowed it to come to a vote over in the other body. it would have passed. but that's not an issue for you. the issue is are you qualified to be attorney general. i've seen a lot of attorneys general in the -- going on to my 41st year. some were very good in both parties. i think i've had levy in jerry
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ford's administration. others i remember one that all my republican colleagues voted for. when he was here before this committee and asked questions we'd give him questions in advance and he answered, i don't know the answer or i'm not sure, i can't answer that, even though he'd had the questions weeks in advance. they voted for him. i must say that i cannot think of anybody in all these years i've been here who has struck me so much as being qualified to be attorney general as yourself. you're a prosecutor's prosecutor. i think the attorney general is the attorney general of the united states, there for all of us. i refer to my days as a young law student, being recruited by
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the then attorney general robert kennedy. but i was too home sick for vrt so -- vermont so i didn't stay. i'm not going to have further request questions because i'm satisfied -- questions because i'm satisfied with what you said so far. you'll have my vote and my strong support. and i hope in the remaining part of this administration you'll be there to enforce the laws of the united states. >> thank you mr. chairman. i have nothing further to say. i'll put the rest of my statement in the record. >> thank you senator. >> thank you senator. i apologize, i should have taken care of this question. but my final question, ms. lynch, is really around the philosophy that you may bring to the department of justice. in december, 2014, the government accountability office issued a report that was titled the department of justice can strengthen procedures for disciplining its attorneys. there were a couple of examples going back to even i think the handling of new orleans police officers related to the katrina
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-- hurricane katrina where either misconduct or they had perjured themselves. would you agree with me that the department of justice employees who would engage in this sort of activity, either through prosecutorial misconduct or through perjuring themselves in court, are they the kind of personnel that would i -- that you would allow to continue to be employed in the d.o.j.? >> with respect to personnel issues, i take very seriously the integrity of every member of my staff and would also take very seriously the professionalism of the members of all the staff of the department of justice. all of whom i have found to have been a privilege and a pleasure to work with and to be dedicated career professionals and dedicated to not just improving their skills, but the highest standards of professional conduct. when they cross a line, they are dealt with. and that will continue to happen, should i be confirmed as attorney general.
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but i will say that wrpts to the staff and the attorneys at the department of justice, they are some of the most effective and professional individuals that i've had the pleasure to be affiliated with. >> should you be confirmed, since this report was just dated last month i hope that it's something that you would take into account as you go into the organization and look at the resources that you've inherited responsibility for. thank you very much and thanks to the family in particular. i know it's a long day and those seats aren't that comfortable. so thank you all and again congratulations on the honor that you have from the president's nomination. thank you very much. >> thank you, senator. >> i changed my mind. i'm not going to ask you two questions. i'm going to submit them for -- along with some other questions for you to answer in writing. i thank you very much for being patient today. it's been a long day and i suspect some members of the committee were more impressed with your answers than others.
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we're going to recess for the day and have our second panel tomorrow. i think you should -- i hope you'll count yourself lucky, let's say compared to judge mckasey. when he testified he was forced to come back for a second day of questions. finally, i'd like to note that after tomorrow's panel i'm going to give everyone one week to submit questions for the record. that's standard practice on this committee. and once again thank you for being so patient and putting up with the chaos that i form early referred to. thank you and we are recessed now. thank you. >> thank you, senator. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015]
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we will have more live coverage of the confirmation healthcare.going to be u.s. attorney general tomorrow. legal analyston than testimonied ur almost ey and clarence newsom among those testifying. day two beginning at 10:00 a.m. eastern. senators mark kirk and robert menendez have induced legislation to impose new sanctions on iran if negotiators fail to reach a deal by june 30. the senate banking commit cree markup sanctions legislation sanctions
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legislation live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3. before the senate confirmation hearing to be attorney general began we spoke to a capitol hill reporter for background. what are her call fixes to be attorney general? >> loretta lynch kenly currently is the u.s. attorney in the eastern district of new york based in brooklyn and has been there since 2010 and approved by the senate without a hearing for that spot. she has been a life long prosecutor and attorney. she previously worked for about a decade in that same office and she has prosecuted a large number of civil rights cases gang-related cases and other crimes and worked a lot with
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police, the f.b.i. and federal law enforcement agencies and she was born in north carolina and to pay rents who had humble beginnings and worked her way very mar up to harvard law school and got her law degree and started her career from there basically on a law and order type of prosecutor. >> what about the committee itself? we mentioned that eric holder was approved overwhelmingly by a then democratic-controlled senate screw youjewishry committee. judiciary committee. >> last time it was a democrat controlled judiciary commit me and this time with the republicans they are in charge of what happens and how it will go and i expect them to use this to ask her about a lot of obama's policies that are
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controversial that they don't like. for instance, immigration the justice department part of the justice department gabe the legal okay for administration to do late he executive action so they will want to know about that. they will be setting the agenda on that and a bunch of or issues. it will be a less friendly crowd than she might have gotten if it was still controlled by the democrats. >> back in december a after the president mid the nomination announcement senator vitter announced he wouldn't support the nomination. what are the numbers in testimonies of republicans that have to support the nomination to get it through committee? >> they ju need a major i. senator vitter did say last december that he was a no vote right now and that he would be strongly pushing against her. in connection with the immigrationimmigration executive order. senator ted cruz and mike lee expressed concerns about what
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ms. lynch will say at the hearing about the immigration order. they both say this is an unlawful thing the president has done to overstep his executive authority and that justice department allowed that to happen. they will be looking to press her about this immigration issue and why it is legal for the president to do it. they are not -- if they are not is ad they could be no votes as well. there is or concerns up and down the republican wing in fact all republicans signed on to a letter yesterday to who are loretta lynch and current a.g. hold are are talking about whether or not they should bring suspected terrorists to trial in american civilian courts. the republicans would rather see a policy where they use military tribunals and detain those people they willselves.
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they will be looking to focus on her story as a person and her qualifications as an attorney which are pretty much without question at h point. and she has a great story. they will want to focus that and then any questions h they -- chance this he get to ask questions they may try to rehabilitate any answers that she may have misstepped on earlier. she will have to defend the obama administration policies from questioning by the republicans but at the same time she wasn't there in the justice department headquarters making a lot of these decisions so she does have distance and democrats will want to focus on administer asher as aperson. >> we have been seeing audience members arrive. who will be there with loretta lynch and who will introduce her before the committee? >> introduced by the two senators from new york. she said that she will be bringing her family who could
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make it. her mother can't make it. her father will be here and one of her brothers. another one of her brothers was a fay i have navy seal and has since passed away and she will have his pin with her today on the witness table according according to the justice department. >> follow coverage on twitter. thanks for the preview. >> sure, thank. >> on the next "washington journal" we look at president obama's attorney general nominee loretta lynch and get the latest on the senate confirmation herrings with charles grassley and then a conversation on proposed changes to the criminal justice system with marc mauer and we will talk about the nomination and senate confirmation process and tick your phone calls, e-mails and 2003s.
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washington journal live each morning at 7:00 eastern on c-span. here are some of the features pro-ams tore this weekend on the c-span networks. on book tv saturday night at 10:00 on afterwads, white house correspondent for american urban radio april ryan on her more than 25 years years in journalism and coverage of three presidential administrations. and sunday at man on "in depth" three hour conversation with walter isaacson. and on american history tv saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern on the civil war boston college history professor heather cox richardson on how the cowboy during reconstruction became symbolic of a newly unified america. and sunday evening at 6:00 we will tour the house it is a the head quarters of the american red cross and learn
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prosecutorialabout thelife of its founder. found the complete television schedule at call us, e-mail us or send us a tweet. join the c-span conversation. like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. >> we will have more coverage of loretta lynch's confirmation hearing in a moment and more live coverage from the judiciary committee tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. eastern. first, before wednesday's hearing began we spoke to people who were waiting in lane to get that the -- into the confirmation confirmationarying. >> you were the first person in line here early with us. why are you here and what are you expecting to learn from the hearing today?
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>> i represent the judicial crisis network and i have been following this nomination for my organization for the laugh several weeks. an incredibly important nomination because the department of justice has an eform usenormous influence. we think it is important that this nomination be one that is going to preseven the integrity of the department of justice going to apply the rule of law under the law itself along with the constitution with the highest levels of professionalism and integrity. >> what priorities for the next attorney general to focus on? >> a lot the next attorney general can do in terms of roux deucing what we consider an overcriminalization problem. and i can go into great detail. another would be reducing the politicization of certain aspects of the department of
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justice. a lot of critics have criticized the department. the next attorney general needs to do a lot to rehabilitate the reputation of the department? >> i'm hear because the confirmation means so much to me in general because she would be the first african american woman to hold the position of attorney general and i hope she goes to the reform to the criminal justice system. >> standing in line for the hearing. what are you expecting to hear? >> i afree with the previous person that you interviewed this is a historic occasion. i'm sure that this -- that loretta lynch is extremely capable, the president says so, the standing attorney general has said so and i'm sure they she will do a good job. i'm here to remind her that i'm with the d.c. ferguson group and code pink and we are here to remind her that black lives matter and it is person that she gets on top of issue and takes
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the bull by the horns as it were and make the police accountable for their actions. >> on the next "washington journal" we look at president obama's attorney general nominee and get latest on her senate confirmation hearings with charles grassley. then a conversation on proprosed changes to the criminal justice system. later we will talk to politico congressional reporter about loretta lynch's nomination and the senate confirmation process and also take your phone calls e-mails and tweets. ever this sunday on q&a dr. francis jensen on the recent discoveries about the teenaged brain. >> this don't have the frontal lobes to actually reason. the cuss and effect of consequences, of actions are not very clear to them because their
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frontal lobes are not at the ready. they are not as readily accessible. they have frontal lobes just not that the connections cab connections can't be made as quickly. and also a lot of the hormones are changing a lot in the body of young men and women and the brain hasn't seen these yet in life until you hit teenaged years so the brain is trying to learn how to respond to these new hormones rolling around and locking on to receptors and is synapses of different types and contributes to the roller coster rollercoaster kind of experience that we windchill as parents. >> sunday night at -- we watch as parents. sunday night at 8:00 eastern on q&a. >> president obama's pick to be the next u.s. attorney general loretta lynch testified at her confirmation hearing before the senate judiciary.
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>> good morning. i welcome everyone to this very, very important hearing. before we start i would like to state a few things. these are some groundrules. pretty much the same as what former chairman and my friend senator leahy and others have done, stated in past. senator leahy and others have done stated in the past. i want everyone to be able to watch the hearing without
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obstruction. if people stand up and block the view of those behind them, or speak out of turn, it's not fair or considerate to others. so officers would then remove those individuals. i know that there's a lot to protest regarding this administration's policies, but this isn't the time or place to do it. before i turn to our opening statements, i wanted to go over a couple of housekeeping items and explain how we're going to proceed. senator leahy and i will give our opening statements. then i will call on senators schumer and gillibrand to introduce the nominee. following miss lynch's opening remarks we'll begin with the first round of questions, in which each senator will have ten minutes. after the first round, we're going to do eight minute rounds
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of questions. i want everyone to know that i'm prepared to stay here as long as members have questions that they'd like to ask. i think this is a most fair way to proceed, both to the responsibilities of the senate and senators, and most importantly, to the nominee who has to sit here through all of this, and answer our questions and i think we all know that this is a very important position in the cabinet, and we should do what we can to move it along within our rules. we have a lot of ground that we want to cover in live questioning. one final note on scheduling. i would like to take a short break of maybe 45 minutes sometime around 12:30 or 1:00. and i know that we have a series of stack votes this afternoon and in regard to, i think, 18 amendments we have to vote on, the plan right now is to keep this hearing going even though
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it may be a very chaotic way to do things and maybe not as respectful to the position of attorney general as ought to be, but i don't know how else to get through the process to get every question asked that wants to be asked. so i would ask that all of my colleagues remain very flexible and keep it going. and that means some accommodation by members on my side of the aisle to chair when i can't be here, over there voting. with that i'm going to turn to my opening statement and immediately go to senator leahy. miss lynch i've had a chance to talk to you privately on two occasions. i welcome you to the senate judiciary committee. it's a very big day for you, and especially for family and friends that are proud of you. i congratulate you on your nomination. you've already been confirmed by
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the senate, as u.s. attorney. but the process involved to serve as the 83rd attorney general is a bit more rigorous. for one thing u.s. attorneys don't even have hearings, let alone one like this. so my hope is that we discuss some of the most important matters facing our nation, and in the process of doing that, then we'll get to know you a bit better. the fact of the matter is, this nomination comes at a pivotal time for the department of justice, and for our country, and as i discuss some of those things, those are probably things you have had nothing to do with. but you have an opportunity to make some changes. the next attorney general will face some very difficult challenges, from combatting cyber crime to protecting our children from exploitation, to helping fight the war on terror.
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but i'm not just concerned about the tough decisions that come with the office, there are challenges facing the department of justice that go to the heart of our system of government. how about restoring faith in the bedrock principles like respect for the rule of law in the fair and evenhanded application of those laws. how about restoring respect for the he coequal branches of government. how about taking care that the law is faithfully executed and not rewritten. how about the department of justice honoring once again its long-standing duty to vigorously defend our nation's laws, even when political appointees disagree with the policy. then there is the office of legal counsel. i'm interested in returning that office to its rightful place as the impartial crown jewel of the justice department. its opinion should be firmly rooted in the constitution's text. neutral interpretation of statutes. and sound judicial precedent.
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they shouldn't be transparently self-serving attempts to justify whatever the president or an attorney general wants to do for political reasons. and let me say it right here. the office of legal counsel should be sharing with the american public the opinions it's providing to the president especially when they supposedly sanction the unprecedented authority that the president claims to possess. and i'm going to work to see that it does. the public's business ought to be public, transparency, i believe, and in fact does bring accountability. these ideals and principles are foundational to the republic. but ideals and principles aren't simply academic. and they don't exist in a vacuum. over the last few years, public confidence in the department's ability to do its job without regard to politics has been shaken with good reason.
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it's not just republicans who see the problem or who recognize it as a real-world affects on our own fellow americans. the department's own inspector general listed as one of its top management challenges quote, restoring confidence in the integrity, fairness and accountability of the department, end of quote. the i.g. cited several examples including the department's falsely denying basic facts in the fast and furious controversy, the inspector general concluded this quote resulted in an erosion of trust in the department end of quote. in that fiasco, our government knowingly allowed firearms to fall into the hands of international gun traffickers and it led to the death of patrol agent -- patrol agent brian terry. and then after congress called on the leadership of the department to account for this foolish operation, what did they
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do? did they apologize to the family and rush to uncover the truth? quite the opposite. they denied spun and hid the facts from congress and the american people. they bullied and intimidated whistle-blowers, members of the press, and anyone who had audacity to investigate and to uncover the truth. the department has also failed to hold another government agency accountable through internal revenue service. we watched with dismay as that powerful agency was weaponized and turned against individual citizens. and why? what exactly did these fellow citizens do to make their government target them? they had the courage to get engaged and speak out in defense of faith freedom and our constitution, and for what? they then were targeted by the irs. what was the justice department's reaction to the targeting of citizens based on political beliefs? well they appointed a campaign donor to lead an investigation that hasn't gone anywhere.
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and call it then a day. that simply isn't good enough. meanwhile the department's top litigator, the nation's solicitor general is arguing in case after case for breathtaking expansion of federal power. i'd like to have you consider this. had the department prevailed in just some of the arguments that it pressed before the supreme court in the last several years there would be essentially no limit on what the federal government could order states to do as a condition for receiving federal money. another case the environmental protection agency could fine a homeowner $75,000 a day for not complying with an order and then turn around and deny that homeowner any right to challenge the order or those fines in court when the order is issued. the federal government could review decisions by religious organizations regarding who can serve as a minister. the federal government could ban books that expressly advocate for the election or defeat of political candidates. and the fourth amendment
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wouldn't have anything to say about police attaching a gps device to a citizen's car without a warrant and constantly tracking their every movement for years -- or for months and years. these positions aren't mainstream, in my judgment. at the end of the day, the common thread that binds all these challenges together in my judgment is the department of justice that is very deeply politicized. but that's what happens when an attorney general of the united states views himself and these are his own words, as the president's wingman. i don't expect miss lynch and i will agree on every issue but i for one need to be persuaded that she will be an independent attorney general and i have no reason to believe at this point she won't be. the attorney general's job is to represent the american people. not just the president not just the executive branch. so today we will hear from miss lynch.
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as far as i know miss lynch has nothing to do with the department of justice problems that i just outlined. but as new attorney general she can fix them. tomorrow we'll hear from a second panel of witnesses, many of whom will speak directly to the many challenges facing the justice department. as i listen to both panels i'll be considering whether miss lynch has what it takes to fix the obama justice department. we need to get back then to first principles and that starts with the depoliticizing the department of justice. because the american people deserve that. so i hope, miss lynch can fix these flaws. senator leahy. >> thank you. i won't speak as long because i just want to focus on loretta lynch, and not on all the problems that some may see in
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this country. it is a pleasure to welcome her to this committee. she's smart, she's tough, she's hard-working, independent. she's a prosecutor's prosecutor. and her qualifications with beyond reproach. been unanimously confirmed by the senate twice before to serve as a top federal prosecutor based in brooklyn, new york. i hope we have another swift confirmation for miss lynch. as u.s. attorney for the eastern district of new york she's brought terrorists and cyber criminals to justice. she's obtained convictions against corrupt public officials from both political parties. she's fought tirelessly against violent crime and financial fraud. she's remained determined to protect the rights of victims. miss lynch has worked hard to improve the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
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and that's one of the reasons why her nomination enjoys strong support from both. she has prosecuted those who have committed crimes against police officers as well as police officers who committed crime. her record shows that as attorney general miss lynch will effectively, fairly and independently enforce the law. i hope we all remember that she is the nomination for attorney general, and that's why i'm focusing on her. she's born in north carolina, the daughter of a baptism preacher and a school librarian and we're honored to have members of her family here with us today and i know you'll be introducing them later. she grew up hearing her family speak about living in the jim crow south but she never lost faith that the way to obtain justice is through our legal system. in her nomination is historic
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when she's confirmed as the 83rd attorney general of the united states she'll be the first african-american woman to lead the department of justice. really i can't think of anyone more deserving of that honor. she's going to lead a justice department that faces complex challenges. nearly one-third of its budget goes to the bureau of prisons, and that drains federal resources from nearly all other public safety priorities. a third of the budget goes to prisons. and a significant factor leading to the budget imbalance is the unnecessary creation of more and more mandatory minimum sentences. passing new mand tear minimum laws has become a convenient way for lawmakers to claim their tough on crime. even when there's no evidence that these sentences keep us safer. that's one of the reasons why we have the largest prison population in the world. that's why i oppose mandatory minimums. i hope we can find a way to face
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this mass incarceration problem and the justice department needs strong leadership to keep up with the rapid development of technology. we must stay ahead of the curve to prevent and fight the threat of cybersecurity and data privacy. think what it would have been like the last few days in the northeast if a cyber terrorist could have closed down all our electrical grids. the growing threat of cyber crime is very real. but also the specter of unchecked government intrusion in our private lives, particularly dragnet surveillance programs directed at american citizens tells us the community faced a political deadline this june. three sections of the intelligence surveillance act are set to expire. i believe we have to protect our national security, but we also have to protect our civil liberties, which make us unique as a country. so we have to reform our nation's surveillance laws so we
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can realize both goals. and the next attorney general is going to play a central role in protecting all americans. all americans. the president's selection for attorney general, no matter who the president is, deserves swiftly, fairly and on the nominee's own record. i believe americans realize the role this important cannot be used just as one more sound bite washington political football. i'm confident that we stay focused on miss lynch's impeccable qualifications and fierce independence, she's going to be confirmed quickly by the senate. she deserves a fair, thoughtful and respectful confirmation process. and the american people deserve an attorney general like miss lynch. so i thank you for your years of public service. i look forward to your testimony. >> for those of you who are new to our hearing it's tradition
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that senators from home state introduce nominees from their state. so i'm now going to call on senator schumer and then senator gillibrand senators from new york, to do that. and since we're under such a tight schedule, if i could ask you to keep it to five minutes it would be very nice. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you and ranking member leahy and the members of the committee. it's my great privilege to introduce loretta lynch, a proud new yorker, and the nominee to be the next attorney general of the united states. born in north carolina, her father was a fourth generation baptist minister. a man who grew up in the segregated south. and her mother picked cotton when she was a girl so her daughter would never have to. well their daughter grew up to be one of the keenest legal minds that our country has to offer. someone who has excelled at every stage of her education,
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and her career, while cultivating a reputation as someone who was level-headed, fair judicious and imminently likable. if there's an american dream story, miss lynch is it and adding to the american dream story, miss lynch's late brother lorenzo was a navy s.e.a.l. still, despite her intellectual and career achievements miss lynch has always been a nose to the grindstone type rarely seeking a claim, only a job well done. she has earned a reputation for keeping her head down, and avoiding the spotlight, just like me. at just over five foot and with her consistention stated approach to the public spotlight, some might underestimate miss lynch. but as hundreds of criminals have learned the hard way, looks can be deceiving, and miss lynch
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packs a powerful punch. when you look at the breadth and depth of the cases she's handled, it's clear loretta lynch is law enforcement's renaissance woman. one i would mention, the abner louima case, where she convicted police officers who horribly abused the haitian immigrant. as we have seen, these types of cases can create great tension between the police and the community. but despite the high-running emotions that accompanied this notorious case miss lynch was praised by lawyers on both sides, as well as community leaders and police officials for her judicious, balanced and careful approach. mr. chairman members of this committee in this age of global terrorism, the a.g.'s role in national security has never been more important. it makes apparent that the confirmation of a new attorney general cannot and should not be delayed any longer. today we've already heard and
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will hear a lot more, about issues completely unrelated to miss lynch's experience and her qualifications. if anything, that just goes to show how qualified she is. no one can assail loretta lynch and no one has. who she is, what she has done and how good an attorney general she would be. so instead, some are trying to drag extraneous issues executive orders on immigration, the irs, into the fray to challenge her nomination because they can't find anything in her record to point to. let me be clear attempts to politicize this nomination to turn this exceptional nominee into a political point scoring exercise are a disservice to the qualified candidate we have before us today. i originally recommended loretta lynch for the position of u.s. attorney in 1999 because i thought she was excellent. sure enough, she was.
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when president bush took office, she went to the private sector to earn some money. but when i had the opportunity to recommend a candidate to president obama i was certain i wanted miss lynch to serve again. so i called her on a friday afternoon. she was happy with her life in the law firm. but i was confident that with the weekend to think it over she'd be drawn to answer the call to public service. and sure enough, her commitment to public service was so strong that she called me back on monday to say yes. she passed unanimously out of the senate twice already. wouldn't it be nice if we could pass her unanimously out of the senate a third time? based on her record, we should. mr. president, if we can't confirm loretta lynch, then i don't believe we can confirm anyone. and i would like to remind my colleagues that the president's immigration policies are not seeking confirmation today.
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loretta lynch is. when we move to vote, hopefully sooner rather than later you won't be voting for or against the president's policies you'll be voting on this eminently qualified law enforcement professional, first-rate legal mind and someone who is committed in her bones to the equal application of justice for all people. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator gillibrand. >> thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member leahy. i am honored to be here today with senator schumer to introduce united states attorney for the eastern district of new york loretta lynch. as president obama's nominee to serve as the next attorney general for the united states. to serve as united states attorney general requires deep experience in the field of law. it also requires a brilliant intellect, and it requires a steady moral compass. i have met with miss lynch two months ago and i can tell you, she meets all of those criteria. she is strong, tough,
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independent, and fearless. and as one of our country's most accomplished and distinguished women serving in law enforcement, i urge my colleagues to support her nomination. she is an outstanding candidate for this job. miss lynch began her service as the u.s. attorney for the eastern district of new york in 1990, where she rose quickly to serve as chief of the long island office, and then deputy chief of general crimes and chief of intake and arraignments. for 15 years she has been a prosecutor in the u.s. attorney's office for the eastern district of new york and since 2010 she has served as mirbly as united states attorney for the eastern district of new york. in that position she has demonstrated a superior sense of judgment and remarkable legal expertise. miss lynch has dealt with an impressive array of cases on subjects ranging from civil rights to organized crime to terrorism. these are each issues that our new attorney general will have to engage with constantly from day one of her tenure.
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miss lynch's experience as a federal prosecutor in new york will undoubtedly serve her exceptionally well in washington. she is extraordinarily well qualified and i believe she deserves a quick confirmation process. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator gillibrand. it's now, just as soon as the table is cleared, it's going to give miss lynch an opportunity to come and before -- before you
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seat yourself would you take an oath, please? would you raise your hand, and i'll give the oath. do you affirm that the testimony you're about to give before the committee will be the truth the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? >> i do. >> thank you. >> the committee welcomes you, and i know that it's an honor for all of us to have you before us. but it's also an honor for you to be selected by the president, and it's quite an honor for your family. so i would ask if before you make your statement if you would like to introduce anybody to the committee, and speak about them any way you want to. and then if there's people that aren't introduced by you that you would like to have their name in the record and you'd submit their names, i'd be glad
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to include that in the record. so would you proceed as you choose? >> turn your microphone -- >> yeah, i think the microphone is not automatic. >> thank you, senator. let me introduce for the record, i'm delighted to welcome numerous family and friends here with me today. i'd like to introduce first and foremost my father. the source of my inspiration in so many ways. he's to my immediate left the reverend lorenzo lynch. >> thank you. >> immediately to his left is my husband, stephen hargrove who has supported me in all of my endeavors, no matter how poor they make us. immediately to his left is my younger brother the reverend leonzo lynch who is the fifth generation of ministers in a direct line in my family. and my sister-in-law nicole lynch. i'm also here with several other family members and friends whom
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i would love to introduce but i am informed that you have a schedule for the afternoon. so i will keep to that. but let me say to all of them how tremendously gratified i am for their support, not just today, but over the years. chairman grassley, senator leahy, distinguished members of this committee, i'm honored to appear before you in this historic chamber among so many dedicated public servants. i want to thank you for your time this morning and i also want to thank president obama for the trust he has placed in me by nominating me to serve as attorney general of the united states. it's a particular privilege to be joined here today by the members of my family that i've introduced, as well as the other numerous family and friends who have come to support me and whose travel and service i am so appreciative. mr. chairman, one of the privileges, and in fact one of my favorite things in my position as united states attorney for the eastern district of new york is welcoming new attorneys in to my
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office and administering to them the oath of office. it is a transformative moment in the life of a young prosecutor. and one that i actually remember well. and as they stand before me prepared to pledge their honor, and their integrity i remind them that they are making their oath not to me not to the office, not even to the attorney general, but to our constitution. the fundamental foundation for all that we do. it is to that document and the ideals embodied therein that i have devoted my professional life. and senators, if confirmed as attorney general, i pledge to you today, and to the american people, that the constitution the bedrock of our system of justice, will be my lodestar as i exercise the power and the responsibility of that position. i owe so much to those who have worked to make the promise of that document real for all americans. beginning with my own family.
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all of them and so many others have supported me on the path that has brought me to this moment. not only through their unwavering love and support which is so beautifully on display today, but through their examples and the values that have shaped my upbringing. my mother loreen who was unable to travel here today is a retired english teacher and librarian for whom education was the key to a better life. she still recalls people in her rural north carolina community pressing a dime or a quarter, into her hand to help support her college education. as a young woman, she refused to use segregated rest rooms, because they did not represent the america in which she believed. she instilled in me an abiding love of literature and learning, and taught me the value of hard work and sacrifice. my father lorenzo, who is here with me today is a fourth generation baptist preacher who in the early 1960s opened his
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greensboro church to those planning sit-ins and marches. standing with them while carrying me on his shoulders. he has always matched his principles with his actions, encouraging me to think for myself, but reminding me that we all gain the most when we act in service to others. it was the values my parents instilled in me that led me to the eastern district of new york. and from my parents, i gained the tenacity and the resolve to take on violent criminals, to confront political corruption, and to disrupt organized crime. they also gave me the insight and the compassion to sit with the victims of crime and share their loss. their values have sustained me, as i have twice had the privilege, indeed the honor of serving as united states attorney leading an exceptional office staffed by outstanding public servants, and their values guide and motivate me even today.
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senator, should i be confirmed as attorney general my highest priorities will continue to be to ensure the safety of all of our citizens, to protect the most vulnerable among us from crime and abuse, and to strengthen the vital relationships between america's brave law enforcement officers and the communities they are entrusted to serve. in a world of complex and evolving threats, protecting the american people from terrorism must remain the primary mission of today's department of justice. if confirmed, i will work with colleagues across the executive branch to use every available tool to continue disrupting the catastrophic attacks planned against our homeland, and to bring terrorists to justice. i will draw upon my extensive experience in the eastern district of new york, which has tried more terrorism cases since 9/11 than any other office. we have investigated and prosecuted terrorist individuals and groups that threaten our nation and its people, including
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those who have plotted to attack new york city's subway system john f. kennedy airport, the federal reserve bank of new york, and u.s. troops stationed abroad. as well as those who have provided material support to foreign terrorist organizations. and i pledge to discharge my duties, always mindful of the need to protect not just american citizens, but american values. if confirmed, i intend to expand and enhance our capabilities in order to effectively prevent ever-evolving attacks in cyberspace, to expose the wrongdoers, and bring those perpetrators to justice, as well. in my current position, i'm proud to lead an office that has significant experience prosecuting complex international cyber crime including high tech intrusions at key financial and public sector institutions. if i am confirmed, i will continue to use the combined skills and experience of our law enforcement partners, the
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department's criminal and national security divisions and the united states attorney community to defeat and to hold accountable those who would imperil the safety and security of our citizens through cyber crime. i will also do everything i can to ensure that we are safe if guarding the most vulnerable among us. during my tenure as u.s. attorney, the eastern district of new york has led the prosecution against financial fraudsters who have callously targeted hard-working americans including the deaf, the elderly, and stolen not just their trust but their heard-earned savings. we have taken action against abusers in over 100 child exploitation and child pornography cases. and we have prosecuted brutal international human trafficking rings that have sold, sold victims as young as 14 and 15 into sexual slavery. if confirmed as attorney general, i will continue to build upon the department's
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record of vigorously prosecuting those who prey on those most in need of our protection. and i will continue to provide strong and effective assistance to survivors who we must both support and empower. senators, throughout my career as a prosecutor, it has been my signal honor to work hand in hand with dedicated law enforcement officers and agents who risk their lives every day in the protection of the communities we all serve. i have served with them. i have learned from them. i am a better prosecutor because of them. few things have pained me more than the recent reports of tension and division between law enforcement and the communities we serve. if confirmed as attorney general one of my key priorities would be to work to strengthen the vital relationships between our courageous law enforcement personnel, and all of the communities we serve. in my career i have seen this
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relationship flourish. i have seen law enforcement forge unbreakable bonds with community residents. and i have seen violence ravaged communities come together to honor officers who have risked all to protect them. and as attorney general i will draw all voices into this important discussion. in that same spirit i look forward to fostering a new and improved relationship with this committee, the united states senate, and the entire united states congress. a relationship based on mutual respect and constitutional balance. ultimately i know we all share the same goal and commitment to protect and to serve the american people. now i recognize that we face many challenges in the years ahead. but i have seen in my own life and in my own family how dedicated men and women can answer the call to achieve great
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things for themselves for their country, and for generations to come. my father that young minister who carried me on his shoulders has answered that call. as has my mother that courageous young teacher who refused to let jim crow define her. standing with them are my uncles and cousins who served in vietnam, one of whom is here to support me today. and my older brother, a navy s.e.a.l. all of whom answered that call with their service to our country. senators, as i come before you today in this historic chamber i still stand on my father's shoulders. as well as on the shoulders of all of those who have gone before me, and have dreamed of making the promise of america a reality for all, and worked to achieve that goal. i believe in the promise of america, because i have lived the promise of america. and if confirmed eded to be attorney
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general of the united states i pledge to all of you and the american people that i will fulfill my responsibilities with integrity, and independence. i will never forget that i serve the american people. from all walks of life. who continue to make our nation great, as well as the legacy of all of those whose sacrifices have made us free. and i will always strive to uphold the trust that has been placed in me to protect and defend our constitution. to safeguard our people, and to stand as the leader and public servant that they deserve. thank you all, once again, for your time and your consideration. i greatly appreciate this opportunity to speak with you today. i look forward to your questions, and to all that we may accomplish in the days ahead. together, in the spirit of cooperation, shared responsibility, and justice. thank you for your time today. >> and thank you, miss lynch, for that statement. before my ten minutes starts for the first round i'd like to talk
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to my colleagues just a minute, because of the 18 votes that are coming up this afternoon and because of chaotic situation, and the most important thing is getting this hearing over in one sitting, in one day even if it goes into the evening i hope my colleagues will be cognizant of what we normally do between senator leahy and i, we're fairly liberal on letting people go over, and whether we have five, seven or ten minute rounds in any hearing, my practice is generally if you got one second left you can ask a question, and -- but this time i would prefer that you kind of stick to the ten minutes, and i'm not very good at gaveling people down, so take -- take care of my committed will you please? again before the first ten minutes starts i'd like to make
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something clear just for myself. i can't speak for my colleagues. and it takes off on two things. one, what you said about you wanted to improve relationships with the committee, and with congress. i -- we welcome that very much, and that will be very, very helpful. particularly in regard to our responsibilities of oversight. secondly taking off on something senator schumer said, and just speaking for myself if i use this subject or that subject or another as a basis of maybe questioning what the president or an attorney general has done, i want it clear that that's not the issue for me now. the issue is whether or not the constitution or the laws have been violated, or whether the justice department has acted in an appropriate way. now i would start with my questions. on november the 20th last year president obama announced that
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he would defer deportation of millions of individuals in the country undocumented. not only is this action contrary to our laws it's a dangerous abuse of executive authority. if you're confirmed as the next attorney general before you take office, you will take a oath. you will raise your right hand and swear quote support and defend the constitution of the united states, and to bear true and false -- true faith and allegiance to the same, end of quote. your duty as attorney general is not to defend the president and his policies. your duty is your oath to defend the constitution. so my first question, with that oath in mind i ask you, do you believe that the president has the legal authority to unilaterally deportations in a blanket manner for millions of individuals in the country illegally and grant them permits and other benefits regardless of what the u.s. constitution or
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immigration laws say? >> thank you for the question, senator. and you raise a very important issue of how we manage the issue of undocumented immigrants here in our country while still welcoming those who bring such great value to our shores, to our business community, and to our culture. certainly i was not involved in the decisions that led to the executive actions that you reference. and i am not aware of at this point, how the department of homeland security has set forth regulations to actually implement that. so i can't comment on the particulars of what will happen. i have had occasion to look at the office of legal counsel opinion through which the department of homeland security sought legal guidance there as well as some of the letters from constitutional scholars who've looked at the similar issue. and certainly it seems to be a reasonable discussion of legal precedent, the relevant statute, congressional actions, along with the enforcement discretion of the agency.
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and i don't see any reason to doubt the reasonableness of those views. i do think, however that the ultimate responsibility of the department of justice is to always when presented with issues by the white house or any agency to review those issues carefully, to apply the relevant law, and make a determination as to whether or not there's a legal framework that supports the requested action. and i found it interesting, as i was reading the legal counsel opinion that some of the proposals that were set forth and asked about the office of legal counsel opine did not, in fact, have a legal framework. and i don't believe that those were actually implemented. so i do think it is very important that as the department of justice through any of its agencies, the office of legal counsel, or in a direct conversation with the president, or any other member of cabinet always ensure that they are operating from a position of whether or not there's a legal framework that supports the
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requested action. and the advice provided must be thorough, it must be objective, and it must be completely independent. >> let me take off on one word you used discretion. and i presume that may have applied to prosecutorial discretion that was part of the president's rationale. if this is lawfully exercised on an individual basis, depending on the facts of a specific case, it is in fact, case by case. so this is not so much a philosophical question as a practical thing. what it doesn't allow anybody to do is tell whole categories of people that the law won't apply to them going forward. no one seriously disputes these broad principles. even the office of legal counsel opinion on the president's executive action accepts them. so let me ask you this. what are the outer limits of the doctrine of prosecutorial
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discretion? and why don't the president's actions exceed those boundaries when we're talking about millions of people? how does this action realistically allow for a case by case exercise of discretion? >> senator, as i reviewed the opinion, and looked at the issues presented therein from the perspective of my career as a prosecutor and as a united states attorney and applying those principles of the exercise of discretion i viewed it as a way in which the department of homeland security was seeking legal guidance on the most effective way to prioritize the removal of large numbers of individual -- individuals given that their resources would not permit removal of everyone who fell within the respected -- respective category. and that certainly was the framework from which i viewed that. in looking at it from that perspective, the department of homeland security's request and suggestion that they, in fact, prioritize the removal of the
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most dangerous of the undocumented immigrants among us those who have criminal records, those who are involved in national security and terrorism, those who are involved in gang activity violent crime, along with, i believe, people who have recently entered and could pose a threat to our system, seem to be a reasonable way to marshall limited resources to deal with the problem. as a prosecutor, however, i've had experience obviously in doing similar things in finding the best way to attack a serious problem with limited resources. but as a prosecutor, i always want the ability to still take some sort of action against those who may not be in my initial category as the most serious threat. and i didn't see anything in the opinion that prevented action being taken from individuals who might otherwise qualify for the deferral. again, i'm not aware of how the department will actually go forward and implement by regulation this matter. i haven't had the occasion to study that. and i don't know, in fact, if
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those are out. certainly, if i'm confirmed as attorney general, i look forward to learning more about that process, and making sure that we're using all of our resources to protect the american people particularly against the dangerous offenders who rightfully stand at the top of the removal list. >> well, i think you're telling me that you can do it for a few thousand, or a few tens of thousands of people that maybe have committed a crime or something, but it seems to me that common sense would dictate that it's impossible to do prosecutorial discretion the way it's traditionally the way it's been done on an individual basis for the millions that are left over. let's move on. i'd like to move away from the president's refusal to enforce the law and talk about this administration's failure to apply the law in an even handed way. this goes to the irs. according to the treasury department inspector general
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that's not me, the inspector general, the irs used inappropriate criteria to deny tax exempt status to conservative organizations, ask unnecessary questions and lastly slowed approval of their application. initially, president obama remarked that any irs actions to target conservatives would be outrageous. then the president said there wasn't quote even a smidgen of corruption in what occurred at the irs. yes a few months later they testified before the house judiciary committee that there was a, quote, very active ongoing criminal investigation into the matter. so this brings me to these questions. i'd like to know how to reconcile these two statements. . . what the president said was accurate, then why in the world would the fbi be conducting an
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ongoing criminal investigation? a rhetorical question. would the investigation be just for show? i'm going to take the director at his word. so if is there is an ongoing criminal investigation at the fbi, how could it be appropriate for the president to reach the conclusion about the -- >> to the actions of any of the agencies of our government. there are certainly no bias or favoritism or anything other than the even handed application of the relevant laws and regulations. that's always been my goal as a prosecutor and would be my continued goal should i be confirmed. with the respect to the irs investigation, i'm generally aware there is an investigation going on, but it's not a matter that's either being conducted by my office or that i have been briefed on atss united states
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attorney. so i'm not able to comment on the status now. >> based on what you just said then i can shorten this up by asking you this question. you spent a career in law enforcement. when would it ever be appropriate for any president for the results of and comment on it publicly while the investigation is still ongoing? >> senator, with respect to this investigation or any other, i'm not aware of the context or the basis for the president's remarks so i'm not able to determine whether they were done after any evaluation of the investigation or whether they were a matter of opinion. i'm not able to comment on that specific remark. certainly as part of the department of justice exercise of its powers, whether at the u.s. attorney level or here in washington, investigations are handled independently and without provision of materials before their conclusions to others in the executive branch or other agencies. >> senator leahy, thank you very
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much. >> thank you mr. chairman. i have been fortunate that my native state of vermont has allowed me to serve here for four decades. i have listened to several different committees i have been on to a lot of statements by nominees. i cannot think of one who is so moving as your statement. and i intend to make sure i send copies to all members of my family and other friends. my years of law enforcement in vermont gave me a lot of respect for the difficult and dangerous work we ask police officers to do every day. i know the toll it can take not only on the officer, but often times on their families. i try to support the work of law enforcement to keep our community safe. they have to have the resources
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they need, whether it's bullet proof vests or funding for innovative criminal justice efforts. i've also been moved by the tragic events in ferguson and new york. they have focused on what we know as a reality sometimes of strained relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve. i appreciate your reference to that in your statement. but you worked very hard as a u.s. attorney. could you elaborate on that a little more? >> thank you, senator. i think you have raised one of the moel important issues which is the need to resolve the tensions that appear to be discussed and appear to be rising between law enforcement and the community.ies that we
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serve. as a prosecutor and united states attorney, these tensions are best dealt with by having discussions between all parties so that everyone feels that their voice has been heard. with respect to our brave law enforcement officers we ask so much of them. we ask them to keep us safe. we ask them to protect us literally from ourselves and we ask them to do it often without the resources that they need to be safe and secure themselves. yet they still stand up every day and risk their lives for us. many of our community residents because of a host of factors feel disconnected from government in general today and when they interact with law enforcement transfer that feeling to them as well. even if someone is there to help. what i have found. most effect i have is listening to concerns. being open helping them see that, in fact, we are all nin this together and that the concerns of law enforcement a safe society, a free society are the exact same concerns of every
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resident of every community there. >> would you agree that that's something that has to be r considered by not only federal law enforcement but by state and local law enforcement and that they the federal government can help in that respect? >> absolutely, senator. one of the most important roles that the department of justice plays is not necessarily its most visible role but it's the support we provide to state and local law enforcement partners through our grant program and through our training program. we try our best to criedprovide them with the resources that they need to carry out their job safely effect andsafe ly and effectively. >> no prosecutor's office has the resources to prosecute every crime before it. you have to decide which ones are priority. let me talk about one. in state court there was a case where a child rapist received
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two years. you obviously disagreed with that. you brought federal charges. i think bill o'riley on fox called you a hero and says you should be respected by all americans for standing up to gross injustice and i agree on that. how do you -- let me back up. more and more of 9 justice department's budget is going into our federal prison system so you have limited resources. how do you make these kind of judgments? how do you determine which cases are the important ones and also the very difficult thing realizing if you go after certain cases it means you don't have the resources to go after others. >> certainly, senator. one of the privileges of being the u.s. attorney for the
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eastern district of new york has been the ability to work with so many of my united states attorney colleagues across the country. all of us engage in this process every day, and we start with a full and frank evaluation with our law enforcement partners of the crime issues facing our particular districts. we try and determine what are the greatest threats to the people that we have sworn to serve. and that is what i do in the eastern district of new york every day. we then look at our resources and set priorities and goals to achieve the safest community we can. we do have tao always maintain the flexibility to look at specific cases such as the goodman case and determine if a federal interest exists and if a victim has not been protected and has not been heard and use federal resources there as well. >> let me go into one that takes resources, but we have had some
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people say terrorists lock them up in guantanamo even though we know what that is costing american people. you successfully prosecuted a number of terrorism cases in the eastern district of new york. the case against individuals that you said plotting against john f. kennedy airport and so on. just this month you charged two al qaeda members for attacking american troops in afghanistan and iraq. i have been impressed not only in your district but other parts of the country who have brought these terrorists to trial in our federal courts. we show the re of the world we can do it. there's been convictions. osama bin laden's son-in-law being one. and then they have been locked up. now do you find the criminal
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justice system, i think i know your answer, as an important counterterrorism tool. >> senator, it's certainly an important counterterrorism tool in the arsenal of tools that we have to deal with this ever growing and ever evolving threat. let me say my view is if terrorists threaten american citizens here or abroad, they will face american justice. we work with our counterparts throughout the executive branch to determine based on every case the most appropriate venue for bringing terrorists to justice as our primary goal is to prevent further destruction. within my own career as u.s. attorney, when the decision has been made that the case should be handled by a u.s. attorney's office, we proceed in that fashion. we also work closely however with the office of military commissions and consult with them and share information to make those decisions for the best way to manage every case.
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>> as these cases come to you, i want to ask you a question. >> the efforts to confront acts of torture carried out in our country's name. do you agree that water boarding is torture? >> water boarding is torture, senator. >> and thus illegal? >> and thus illegal. >> i knee you're going to be asked a lot about immigration. it makes me think we should be focusing on your qualifications for this job. it might speak also to the qualifications of congress. we work for months in this committee, night and day, hundreds of hours hearings
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markups, debate and we pass by a strong bipartisan majority an immigration bill that referenced so many of these things that we now hear discuss canned. the leadership decided not to bring it up. i think that was a mistake. so now we deal with the question of executive action. you didn't ri writewrite the executive action. >> i was not aware of it until it was rendered. >> would you say if you have millions of people in this country who may not be in a legal status that perhaps strain our resources to think about how we would de. port 10 to 12 million people. >> i believe that statement is
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fair, sir. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> senator hatch is the next one. i wanted to inform all the members that since everybody was here at the fall of the gavel it will be done on a seniority basis as opposed to first come first serve basis. senator hatch is next. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate it. ms. lynch, welcome to the judiciary. we appreciate your service. i'm impressed with your qualifications and i hope i can support your nomination. it's important to hear what you understand your role and duty will be. do you agree that when the constitutionality of a law is challenged the attorney general has a duty to defend that law if raised to be made? >> senator, i believe that one of the first and foremost duties of the department of justice is to defend the law as it's pass ed by this body. . >> i'd like you to answer these questions. i'm trying to get through a number of them. i think you can answer most of them yes or no if you can.
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if you're confirmed will you commit to defend the laws in the constitution of the united states regardsless of your personal and philosophical views? >> absolutely sir. >> i'm glad you said that. attorney general holder answered that same question in the same way. the justice department had made reasonable arguments that the defense of marriage act is constitutional, but the attorney general chose to stop making those arguments because of his personal views. by breaking his promise, he cast out about others who make the same commitment as you did today. i don't doubt your sincerity. we have met together and i have a high opinion of you. but is there anymore assurance you can give us on something like that? >> senator, it's my view that when it comes to the position of the attorney general and the role of the department of justice in defend inging the statutes as passed by this congress, the issue is not my personal view r or any issue of bias or policy even but it is
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the duty and responsibility of the department of justice to defend those statutes. certainly, as we have seen, there may be rare instances where, and again i was not involved in that analysis, but there may be circumstances where careful legal analysis raises constitutional issues but i anticipate those would be few and far between. i also think should we reach that point if there's a matter, it's a matter i would prefer to have discussion about. >> okay, i appreciate that answer. i'm concerned that the administration has exceeded its lawful authority in an effort to avoid working with us up here in congress. i understand why they might not want to work with congress from time to time, but unfortunately the constitution requires us to work together. and that the department justice has facilitated this pattern of behavior. the department has done so in a number of ways in exceeding and
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contravening lawful authority in the programs it helps administer such as with the latest executive actions o on immigration, in purporting the legal justification for other agencies to ignore the law, as occurred with the transfer of terrorists without notifying congress, which is an obligation, and in taking extreme litigation positions, which by my account, the supreme court has rebuked 20 times. given these disturbing pattern, how can you ensure us you will say no to the white house or other executive branch agencies when they wish to act beyond the law as its written? >> senator, i think one of the most important functions of the department of justice is o to provide a legal framework, if it exists, when questions are raised. but consistent with that, every good lawyer knows you must also provide the information that indicates that the legal framework may not exist for certain actions that someone may want to take. every lawyer has to be
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independent. the attorney general even more so, and i pledge to you that i take that independence very seriously. >> you did that in my office and i appreciate that because i think you'll be a great attorney general if you'll do that. last august you gave a speech in switzerland in which you praised attorney general holder's initiative to limit mandatory sentences to only some of the criminals who congress said should receive them. but prosecutors did not have authority to decide that entire category of defendants will not receive a sentence that the congress has mandated. isn't that another example of using prosecutorial discretion to change the law without congress? >> senator, with respect to the material that you're referring to when i u gave that speech, i was referring it to the smart on crime initiative which seeks to manage another entractable problem of the large number of
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narcotics defendants and the limited resources we have to handle those and prosecute them. >> and i want o to help you with that. >> and prosecute them effectively. in fact, in my own experience both as an assistant united states attorney and united states attorney, we have had to deal with similar issues in the eastern district of new york. we have had tremendous issues with narcotics importations over the years. and we have had to work out ways of resolving those cases many of them go to trial but we also have had to prioritize the cases that we will seek mandatory minimums for and those will we seek guidelines sentences for. with respect to the smart on crime initiative that has been implemented in the field every prosecutor from the united states attorney on down to line assistants are encouraged couraged to still consider cases that might fall into a category where initially you would not seek a minimum, but consider whether they would be appropriate. those cases have occurred and will continue to occur.
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>> i understand. it's currently written the electronic communications privacy act requires only a subpoena for law enforcement to access e-mail that has been opened, even though a search warrant would be required for for a print out of the same communications sitting on a desk. to make matters more complicated, the privacy standard for accessing data stored abroad. without an actual legal framework in place, this puts the privacy of american citizens at risk for intrusion by foreign governments. in the coming days, i intend to reintroduce the leads act which will promote international cooperation. will you commit to working with me on this important subject? because it's important we solve those problems. >> the subject of electronic privacy is central to so many of our


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