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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 30, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm EST

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>> i think they are going to have a little fun. >> just a moment to two left in the white house briefing. we will leave it at this point. the u.s. house is about to come in for what is expected to be a brief pro forma session. no legislative business or votes are scheduled. member's return monday at 2:00 eastern with no votes until 6:30 p.m. we could see a vote on the bill that could reveal the nation's health care law and order bill. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.] the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. the chair lays before the house a communication from the speaker. the clerk: the speaker's rooms, washington, d.c. january 30, 2014 2015. i hereby appointed honorable
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thomas j. rooney to act as speaker pro tempore on this day. signed, john a. boehner, speaker of the house of representatives. the speaker pro tempore: the prayer will be offered by the guest chaplain lieutenant commander james dance, chaplain united states navy, office of the chief of navy chaplains, washington, d.c. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, we acknowledge that the earth is yours and the fullness thereof. the world and day that dwelled therein. because of whom you are, we deem it imperative that we seek you for wisdom and guidance as we endeavor to opiate another session of the house during which we shall attend to the interests of the american people. help us to temper our conversations of humility and patience as we give due diligence to the work that has been assigned to our hands. may we be embeaued with a renewed sense of passion, purpose and patriotism. as we strive to serve this great nation that we all love. bless these, our united states.
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it is in your most holy name we pray. amen. the speaker pro tempore: the chair has examined the journal of the last day's proceedings and announces to the house his approval thereof. pursuant to clause 1 of rule 1 the journal stands approved. the chair will lead the house in the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the chair will receive a message. mark: mr. speaker, a message from the senate. the secretary: mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: madam secretary. the secretary: i have been directed by the senate to informed house that the senate has passed s. 1, an act to approve the keystone x.l. pipeline, in which the concurrence of the house is requested. the speaker pro tempore: the chair lays before the house sundayry communications -- sundry communications.
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the clerk: the honorable the speaker, house of representatives, sir. this is to notify you formally, pursuant to rule 8 of the rules of the house of representatives, that i have been served with a subpoena for documents issued by the united states district court for the eastern district of louisiana, in connection with a criminal case currently pending before that court. after consultation with the office of general counsel, i will determine whether compliance with the subpoena is consistent with the privileges and rights of the house. the honorable the speaker, house of representatives, sir, this is to notify you formally, pursuant to rule 8 of the rules of the house of representatives, that i have been served with a third party subpoena for documents issued by the united states district court for the eastern district of louisiana in connection with united states vs. rainy, a matter currently pending before that court. after consultation with the office of general counsel, i will determine whether compliance with the subpoena is consistent with the privileges and rights of the house. signed, sincerely, fred upton,
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member of congress. the honorable the speaker, house of representatives, sir, pursuant to the permission granted in clause 2-h of rule 2 of the rules of the u.s. house of representatives, the clerk received the following message from the secretary of the senate on january 28 2015, at 12:22 p.m. appointment, joint committee on taxation with best wishes i am signed, sincerely karen l. haas. the speaker pro tempore: the chair announces the speaker's appointment pursuant to section 4-c of house resolution 51 114th congress and the order of the house of january 6, 2015, of the following member to serve as co-chair of the tom lantos human rights commission. the clerk: mr. pitts of pennsylvania. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the house stands adjourned until noon on monday next for morning hour
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debate. >> the house is finishing up. bills possible next week include one repealing the nation's health care law, also a bill dealing with border security. live coverage of the house when members gavel back in here on c-span. the red alledge was on capitol hill wednesday for her confirmation hearing. you can see her testimony to the senate judiciary committee sunday at 10:30 a.m. eastern time here on c-span. earlier today, former presidential candidate mitt romney conducted a conference call to tell supporters his plans for the upcoming presidential election. he revealed he is not planning to run for president. here's his brief announcement about four minutes. >> good morning. this is meant -- mitt.
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let me let you know who was on the call. there's a large number people who signed on to be leaders of our 2016 finance effort. in addition, state political leaders here for several of the primary states on the line. here in new york city and on the phone are people who have been having me think through how to build a new team, as well as supporters from the past, and you've all been kind enough to volunteer their time during the celebration stage. welcome, and thank you. your loyalty and friendship, and your desire to see the country with new conservative leadership does in fact warm my heart. after putting considerable thought into making another run for president, i've decided it's best to give others in the party the opportunity to be our next nominee. let me give you my thinking. first come i'm convinced that with the health of the people on this call, we could win the nomination. -- with the help of the people
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on this call, we can win the nomination. we would have enough funding to be more than competitive. with few exceptions, the field political leadership is ready and enthusiastic but a new race. and the reaction of republican voters across the country was both surprising and heartening. i know that early poll numbers move up and down a great deal during the campaign, but we would have had no doubt started in a strong position. -- started in a strong position. one poll had me leaving the next closest contender newly to do one come also leading in all of the formerly states. but i'm convinced we could win the nomination, but i fully realize it was a difficult task. at a hard fight. i also believe, with the message of making the world safer providing opportunity for every american, regardless of the neighborhood they live in, and working to break the poverty, i would have the best chance of beating the eventual democrat nominee. but that's before the other
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contenders have had the opportunity to take their message to the voters. i believe that one of our next generation of republican leaders, one who may not be as well-known as i am today, well who was not yet taken the rest across the country, one who is just getting started will mellow -- well emerge as being able to do -- beat the democratic nominee. i expect and hope that to be the case. i feel it is critical that america elects a conservative leader to become our next president. you know that i wanted to be the president. but i do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge you may have a better chance of becoming a president. you can't imagine how hard it is for anne and me to step aside especially knowing of your support of the support of sort of people across the country. but we believe it is for the best of the country, the party, and the nation.
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i have been asked, and will certainly be asked again if there are any circumstances whatsoever that might develop the could change my mind. that seems unlikely. accordingly, i'm now organizing a pack -- i'm not organizing a pac for taking donations. i'm not hiring a campaign team. i encourage all of you to remain involved in the process of selecting a republican nominee for president. please feel free to sign up on a campaign for a person you believe may become our best nominee. i believe a republican winning back the white house is essential for our country. i will do whatever i can to make that happen. so in all my supporters, friends, and family who worked tirelessly and loyally to support my campaigns in the past , we will always be deeply appreciative. what you have already done is a tribute to your patriotism, we
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are overwhelmed and humbled by your loyalties us, by your generosity of spirit, and by your friendship. god bless you all and douglas are great country. goodbye. >> the house select committee on benghazi held a status hearing tuesday with state department and cia officials running updates on pending committee request and documents and interviews. the committee's test with reporting -- is tasked with reporting on the 2012 attack on the u.s. diplomatic compound in benghazi the kill for americans -- killed four americans.
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looks welcome to everyone. >> this is the third hearing on the benghazi committee. the committee will come to order. the chair notes a quorum of two members for taking testimony as present. the chair will further note -- well, before i note that, -- [no audio] consistent with rules and practices of the house without action, well, that point has now been rendered moot. so, you have been reappointed to the committee. and all members can participate fully. okay. okay. all right. the chair will recognize himself and then the ranking member for purposes of making an opening statement. the committee on benghazi exists because the house of representatives voted for it to exist.
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and in the process made it very clear what is expected. if you have not read the house resolution authorizing this committee, i would encourage you to do so. for those asking for a road map or a scope of the investigation or want to know what the committee intends to do, the resolution passed by the house of representatives, i hasten to add, with seven democrats voting yes, answers all of those questions. the resolution asks this committee to investigate all policies, decisions, and activities related to the attacks. the preparation before the attacks, the response during the attacks, efforts to repel the attacks, the administration's response after the attacks, and executive branch efforts to comply with congressional inquiries. the operative word in the resolution is the word all. and the word all is about as comprehensive a word as you could use. so it stands to reason, if you're asked to conduct a full
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and complete investigation into all policies, decisions and activities, you need to access all witnesses, and all relevant documents. because the final task assigned to this committee is to write a comprehensive report complete with recommendations on how to prevent future attacks. and to write a comprehensive report, you need access to all witnesses, and all relevant documents. it is essential we talk to every witness with knowledge, and examine all relevant evidence. if six people witness an important event, you cannot credibly report on that event by examining one out of the six. frankly, you can't credibly report on that event by interviewing two out of the six. each witnesses has a different perspective, each witness may have observed a different fact. each witness has a different vantage point. so to do your job, you have to interview all witnesses. so, too, with documents. it is interesting, but not relevant, to note the number of
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pages agencies produced to congress. what is both interesting and relevant is whether the agency has produced all documents responsive to the request. giving congress 10,000 pages of material out of a universe of 10,000 pages of material is good. giving congress 10,000 pages of material out of a universe of 100,000 pages of material does not get us any closer to issuing a final report in a timely fashion. and make no mistake, time is of the essence. the world is not a safer place as some of you may have noted even this morning. it is not safer than it was in 2012, so the sooner we make recommendations related to the improvements that make lives better for the women and men who serve us abroad, the better. moreover, time does not make investigations or witness
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recollections, or memories, or evidence better, either. the purpose of today's hearing is to hear from some agencies and entities about the state of compliance with request for documents and access to witnesses and we have had some success. the state department provided the committee with 25,000 pages of documents. previously provided to the oversight committee, but now with fewer redactions. in addition this production included, finally, 15,000 new pages of documents. these documents include significantly more traffic from state department leadership than in previously provided information to congress. these new documents are a reminder that no previous standing committee compiled or had access to a complete record of events. which is precisely why the speaker constituted a select committee. to produce a complete, definitive record for our fellow citizens.
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additionally, as of recent the cia made available some of the documents we requested in november. and while it is good to finally receive the new documents, the pace at which this process is moving is not conducive to the committee concluding its work expeditiously, and frankly, it should not take a public hearing to make progress on these requests. our hearing should be about substance, not process. we should be analyzing documents, not waiting for them to appear. i want to read a quote. i can promise you that if you're not getting something you have evidence of, or you think you ought to be getting, we will work with you, and i will appoint someone to work directly with you starting tomorrow. with you, mr. chairman, to have a review of anything you don't think you've gotten that you're supposed to get. let's get this done, folks. that was secretary john kerry.
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and that was in april of 2013. so my objective is simple. i want to be able to look the family members of the four murdered americans in the eye and tell them we found out everything that we could. i want to be able to tell my fellow citizens including the man from oregon who sat beside me on the plane yesterday who used to guard facilities across the world as a marine, that we made improvements that make women and men who serve us in dangerous places safer. and i want to be able to look my fellow citizens in the eye regardless of their political ideation, and say, this is what happened, and this is how we can make sure it does not happen again. so there will be no mystery to my questions today. there will be no trickery and no artifice. i want to know when the agencies are going to comply with the request made by this committee so we could finish the work assigned to us, because i have zero interest in prolonging the work of this committee.
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and by the same token i have zero interest in producing a product that is incomplete. so in conclusion, i want to be as clear as i can possibly be. we intend to access all of the information necessary to do the job the house instructed us to do. and we need to access that information now. talking to only some of the witnesses will not work. and accessing only some of the documents will not work. if you want all of the truth then you need all of the information and we will do it in a respectful way worthy of the memory of the four who were murdered and worthy of the respect of our fellow citizens. but it is going to be done, and the sooner the agencies make these documents and witnesses available to us the sooner we can do what we were asked to do pop with that i would recognize the gentleman from maryland. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i agree with you that we need to have all the information.
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we need to have all the documents. we need to have everything that you just talked about sooner rather than later. mr. chairman and my fellow committee members, i'm a bit saddened to report today that there are major, major problems with this committee's work. democratic members have grave concerns about the partisan path this committee has taken over the past year, a path we believe undermines the credibility of the investigation itself. and the very things the chairman just said he's fighting for to make sure we come up with a credible report. we spent months trying to resolve these problem ss s privately. but we can no longer remain silent. when the committee was established last may, many questioned whether it was
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devolve into unseemly partisanship. many worried that it would become a repeat of the oversight and government reform committee. where ridiculous allegations were made with no evidence, no evidence to back them up. excerpts of documents were leaked out of context. to promote false political narratives. and democrats were cut out of the investigative process. i know because i was a ranking member and i was cut out over and over and over again. in response, chairman gowdy assured the families of chris stevens, shawn smith, ty woods and glen doherty that this investigation would honor their loved ones by being bipartisan.
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fair, and based on the facts. one of the things that i said to the father of tyrone woods is that i would do everything in my power to seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. so help me god. the chairman said that he would transcend politics, and that's a quote. he stated these words and they meant so much when he said them. he said, if we engage in a process that is not fair according to the american people, we will be punished as we should be for that. end of quote. unfortunately, since then , democrats have been excluded from core components of this investigation.
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people may find it difficult to believe but eight months into this investigation democrats and republicans on this committee have not spoken jointly with even a single witness. instead, we were stunned to discover that the chairman and the staff have interviewed at least five individuals on their own without including democrats or even notifying us. we learned about these interviews from the witnesses themselves, and from press accounts, not from our republican colleagues. even worse, when our staff inquired about some of these interviews, republicans downplayed their significance. they said these interviews were not important, that one of them said nothing, quote, of note. and that the committee did not
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plan to use them. but when we spoke to these witnesses, we got a different story. they share key facts that undermine allegations the committee is investigating. let me repeat that. when democrats had a chance to interview some of these individuals, they provided factual information that challenge allegations these committee is investigating. rather than bringing this information forward when the committee first obtained it, the information was buried. the chairman's right. we need all the facts. facts that may not be consistent with some of the things that we're hearing. because the families of those four americans deserve that and the american people deserve it. the truth, the whole truth, and nothing put the truth.
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-- nothing but the truth. these are not actions of a bipartisan investigation. to have secret meetings and witnesses. the way to honor the four americans killed in benghazi is to seek the truth, not to ignore the facts. to contradict frequency political narrative. a credible investigation recognizes the importance of collecting these facts, and putting to rest false allegations, rather than allowing them to fester. to try to address these problems we asked the chairman to hold a vote on basic committee rules. just want some rules. we wanted to ensure that all members, both republicans and democrats -- and i emphasize that, both republicans and democrats, could participate fully in the investigation and would no longer be excluded.
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some may recall that our hearing in december was delayed because democrats were meeting with the chairman beforehand to discuss these problems. as a matter of fact, there were some of our republican colleagues that had drifted into that meeting. following that meeting, the chairman promised that we would hold a vote on the committee committee rules. we even met with the speaker and he gave his blessings. but no vote has been held. what is so disappointing is that this has been going on for months. we wrote private letters to the chairman laying out these problems in detail. hoping to resolve them. we explained that this will not be a credible, fair and factual investigation until the committee holds joint meetings interviews, and discussions with potential witnesses, and includes all members in key aspects of our work.
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that is not an unreasonable request. in fact, it is exactly how several other committees currently operate, such as the house armed services committee. and those -- there are those who will say that well maybe it's not in their rules. well, house armed services apparently has not decided to move to common ground. they decided to move to higher ground. but today after eight months we still have no committee rules, so we have no choice but to make these letters public. as we explained last may when we agreed to join the committee, we need someone in the room simply to defend the truth. but we cannot defend the truth if republicans lock us out. until this changes the committee will be viewed as nothing more than yet another partisan, expensive and time-consuming campaign to continue politicizing this terrible
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tragedy. finally, mr. chairman, let me say a few words about today's hearing. many people are concerned about the racial face of this committee's investigation. but rather than blaming federal agencies we should acknowledge that the reason for the delay lies in the committee's own actions. the fact is that the committee waited six months before sending its first request for new documents. six months. it took the committee almost a month longer to request witness interviews from the state department. and even now, eight months into the investigation, the committee still has not sent a document request to the department of defense, and has yet to request a single witness interview from the cia. cia. although i continue to believe that the best way forward for our committee is to reach agreement on a truly bipartisan approach, i can no longer say that i am optimistic that this will happen.
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nevertheless, our door is always open and we will always be willing to sit down in the pursuit of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. with that i yield back. >> mr. rubin you are recognized for your five-minute opening statement. >> thank you chairman gowdy, ranking member cummings and distinguished members of the committee. it's an honor to be with you and thank you for providing me with the opportunity to give testimony to your committee this morning. my name is joel rubin, and i'm the deputy assistant secretary of state for house affairs in the department's legislative affairs bureau. in this role, i serve as the department's chief liaison to the house. responsible for ensuring that the multitude of foreign policy issues that the house cares about, from fighting terrorism to preventing a nuclear iran, to expanding our economic alliances in asia, to supporting your constituents when they travel overseas, are dealt with both efficiently and effectively. i've served in the federal government for more than a
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decade, including bethesda hill staffer and as a civil servant in the state department during the bush administration. i work closely with committees and leadership in the house on a daily basis ensuring that the department's relationships and communications with the house are strong, and that's why i'm here before you today. as you know, the state department has a strong record of cooperation with your committee. something which we're proud of, and something that you yourself recently acknowledged, mr. chairman. statements for which we're grateful. this is consistent with our work prior to this committee's formation. as the department has provided nearly two years of steady cooperation with congress on benghazi by responding to requests from ten committees through hearings with several officials, including former secretary clinton, and by providing more than 20 witness interviews, and more than 55 congressional briefings, in addition to responding to hundreds of congressional inquiries. since the formation of this committee in may of last year, we provided four briefings and witnesses for two more hearings plus today's. and crucially, we have produced
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more than 40,000 pages of documents related to the tragic benghazi attacks, all of which are in the hands of your committee today. since our most recent conversation with the committee last month about its pop -- top priorities, the department has been hard at work on implementing your most recent requests for documents, and interviews. our progress has been slowed somewhat by the holidays and the briefing we provided to you on january 13. but also by the breadth and time span of the document request itself. nonetheless, we will begin producing documents soon to the committee to meet this request. nonetheless, we will begin producing documents soon to the committee to meet this request. to put it bluntly, your priorities are our priorities. therefore, in addition to the priority documents we will be providing soon, we look forward the continuing to work with
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your staff to ensure that your requested interviews can proceed. it's important to remember that from a management perspective, we cannot respond to every request for a hearing, a briefing, documents or interviews sim ulultaneoussimultaneously, but we can and will prioritize our resources to address each request in the order you identify as most important to you as the committee did in december. turning to the december
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requests __ to try and find a way forward. we are hopeful that an accommodation can be reached. in closing, we are proud of the steady progress that we have made on the committees document request. we are grateful to the committee and to the staff for your collegiality and we look forward to continue to work with the committee on your most recent request on which you will see tangible responses in the near future. thank you, and i look forward to questions. >> mr. chairman, ranking member, and members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity.
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i apologize in advance for my cough. since the committees creation, we have celebrated dialogue with the staff. as of last friday, we have fulfilled all requests. we granted access to compartment __ and to the director of national intelligence, provided the committee with documents relating to libya in question. last friday, we granted access to documents requested by the committee. with regard to committee requests __ we will work with the committee to grant that in a timely fashion. we are committed to providing the committee with access to information that you need while safeguarding intelligence.
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we look forward to continuing dialogue in the weeks ahead and i look forward to your questions today. >> the chair now recognizes himself or questions. mr. rubin, have you read the house resolution? >> pardon me. yes, i have. >> what is your understanding of what this committee has been asked to do? >> my understanding is that the committee has been asked to review incidents rrelated to the benghazi attacks and all the evidence described at the beginning. >> you understand that we have been asked to look at all policies, decisions, and activities that contribute to the attacks? >> thoroughly that is our understanding and we support providing information related to that request. >> that affect our ability to prepare for the tax? >> ultimately __
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>> you have read the resolution, you're not that __ you're not disagreeing? >> we refer to .. >> including trying to bring the perpetrators to these attacks? did you read that in the resolution? >> i do not have in front of me. >> i would be thrilled to get your copy of the resolution. for now, you have to take my word that it says the executive branch to bring these perpetrators to these attacks. can you tell me specifically how are interviewing witnesses will depress the prosecution? >> the department of justice has been cleared __ >> i am asking you. it was in your opening statement. you're telling how a former prosecutor how are interviewing of witnesses, and have already been interviewed by the state department. the video that you showed us
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last week, that agent interviewed the witnesses in preparation for video. the arb and the best practices panel, and your own agency can interview people in preparation for a video, how can congress not interview the the witnesses? >> no one is saying that congress cannot interview the witnesses. >> you just said it would jeopardize, and i'm wondering how. >> my understanding is that congress has been in touch. >> who has told you that? >> mmy colleagues in state department. >> i'm looking for a name because i have to clear up this misconception that simply talking to a witness, who has already talked to three other investigatory bodies, and somehow congress cannot talk to these witnesses although apparently everyone else can. i'm curious how that jeopardizes an ongoing prosecution.
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>> i'm not an attorney or prosecutor, ym is the chief liaison to the state department. why have conveyed is the justice department has told us this could have an impact and would like to have a conversation with you and your committee about that. >> do you believe congress has the constitutional authority to provide oversight? >> every day i do that with my job, yes or. >> what is your interpretation of all policy activities? >> in what context? >> in any context? how about contributing to the attacks, what is your understanding of all policies, all decisions, all activities? >> the approach music in the state department is to provide materials at the direction of the committee. the requests for interviews that you reiterated here today, i'm explaining that the justice department has said that they would like to have conversations with the
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committee for the concerned about the welfare of these agents. >> i would like to ask you something. there are 12 people out here who may not agree on any other solitary thing, but all of us agree that we do not want to jeopardize the security of anybody who works for this government, nor does anyone want to jeopardize an ongoing prosecution. can we stipulate that. >> certainly. >> we can also stipulate that talking to witnesses while not jeopardizing a prosecution. >> i'm confident that in discussions between the justice department and committee, that can be addressed. >> mr. rubin, d.c. the justice department at this hearing? >> no sir. >> they are not here because we do not have any issues with them.
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what i want you to do is help this committee gain access to precisely the same witnesses that everyone else from the arb to the best practices panel, two_year_old agents that compile the panel to the witnesses. >> as i said at the beginning my statement, we are happy to engage with you on this, we have never said no. >> i appreciate that. i want to make sure you and i have an understanding with each other. a six people observed an important event and you are being asked to write a final definitive account of the event, how many of those six would you want to talk to? >> i understand. >> it is not a trick question. >> i understand the point. given the quantity of documents __
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>> mr. rubin, we'll get to the quantity of documents in a minute. isaid 40,000. that is an impressive number. that is 40 copies of doctor zhivago. 40 copies of crime and punishment. 40,000 out of how many? how many documents? that is our question. is 40,000 half, two thirds? >> we have made a comprehensive search. as you know, the state department spans __ >> i'm not ask you to bring any and buses back to search the emails. not a single one. how many state employees does the state department have? >> roughly 70,000. >> and we have asked for emails from seven floor principles. do you think that is a reasonable request?
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>> iin your committee december letter, where the main principles __ first, in fact all of those principles, there are emails and documents related to them in those 40,000. >> have you responded to if we have all of the emails that we have asked for? >> __ >> if there are multiple email accounts, we want all the emails. >> we agree and __ >> you may have noticed my colleague from maryland use the word glacial, i find that word interesting when you vote against a committee and threatened to not want to stay in that committee, and continually walk away from that committee when you cannot identify a single solitary person who you would issue a
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subpoena to, before you got the 15,000 pages of documents that you just provided. when you have conversations with members in congress to stop the conversation and say, let me go get a democrat. you heard the word glacial. we will pick up the pace. i have no interest in prolonging this, none. you will have to pick up the pace with us. >> absolutely, and this is why we are here today. we had to witnesses available. since paul last year, we are prepared at a time, proactively __ >> i appreciate that. are you familiar with a subpoena the dates back to 2013? >> yes. >> arb is a statutory creation, would you agree? >> yes. >> would you agree that congress can amend or enhance the arb?
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you agree that congress should provide oversight over one of its statutory provisions? how can we do that if you cannot give us the documents related to the arb? >> first, of the 40,000 pages of documents that the committee has received, any of those are in fact related to the arb. >> mr. rubin, i appreciate, i really do. i appreciate the work many. i appreciate 40,000. i keep coming back to one word that is in the house resolution and that is all. >> sir __ >> ddo we have all of the documents? >> what we have communicated to you and your staff, and what we have been grateful for is the committee's explanation of its top priorities. we would be very honored to continue to have those discussions. the arb, as you have noted here, becomes a top priority __
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>> we should not have to take among priorities. you have 70,000 employees. what we will not do is identify one group in emails and go to a witness interview with that person, and the two months later get another group of emails, when our colleagues on the other side were not interested in creating this committee, but then complain about the pace of the committee. it is time to pick up the pace. >> that is why we are here and that is why we have continually engage proactively with you and your committee. we are happy to continue to do so. i would mention that the 70,000 employees are engaged in their jobs. >> i appreciate that. i do not want any ambassadors or security guards taken off any of their jobs.
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compliance with congressional inquiries is important. if you have it time for: a diplomacy, i did get time for compliance with congress, and i think you would agree. with that, i recognize the gentleman from maryland. >> thank you, i will try something different here. i will let you get a complete sentence out so that we can hopefully get some information. first of all, the first document request that we sent out was on november 18. the committee was formed in may. between may and november, that is five or six months, before the committee made a document request. the chairman would have everyone believe that they would have been begging for documents since day one. fact number one is that from may to november, there were no document requests from this committee. if you're not interested in
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dragging out, that just boggles the mind that you would not make a document request. putting aside, for the moment, that there had been nine separate investigations. gosh, i do not know if anyone can count of the number of document request that you have received from those nine separate investigations. the reason the democrats in this committee are concerned about the so_called glacial pace __ that is a long time to wait for a document request if you're in a big hurry. the second thing about the back_and_forth, if i can tell __ and is hard because you were being cut off so much __ you have not said no to the request of interviewing any witness. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> so this stonewalling effort, as described , is that you have
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never said no to the interview request. maybe we will get to the point where you do say no. you are making a legal point where the justice department always gets a little queasy when someone else wants to interview a witness. as a former prosecutor, i know. that does not mean that you do not do it. i want the record to be very clear here that the state department has not said no. if we get to the point where they do, then we could have a conversation about it. that whole back_and_forth that would create the illusion that the reason the committee is moving so slowly is because of your unwillingness is very unfair to you and to the state department. there may come a time in this committee's investigation where you're being uncooperative. we're not there yet.
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why was this committee formed in the first place. one thing i want to make clear for mr. gowdy is he will never get everything will question answered, and he will never get every single document. i have been a legislator for 24 years and prosecutor for very long time, and i've never encountered a time in history where every question gets answered. it is frustrating. then, amongst those six witnesses, you get six different stories. we will not get every single question answered. delay that promise out to the families involved, to the people's lives were destroyed by this, that we will somehow answer every question when no other investigative committee in the history of the world has been able to answer every field question, that is unfair. that is not what we are doing . we have nine separate
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investigations that have been done. for democrats, the concern on this committee is whether or not this committee have a clear purpose. or is that purpose clearly partisan? the other thing i will readily admit is that benghazi was an awful incident in our nation's history. the people who were in charge when it happened, they have to feel very bad about it happening. it is the nature being the president that bad things happen on your watch. when george w. bush was president, 9/11 happened. when clinton was president, somalia, among other things. when reagan was present, we had two suicide bombers in beirut. there is no question that benghazi is about incident in the obama administration. it has always been my suspicion that the purpose of this is to
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focus on not bad incident as much as possible for partisan political reasons. now, give them the benefit of the doubt. for may, no document request until november 18. we're in january and we had no vote on the rules. we have a loose timeline for people who want to drag it out as close to 2060 as possible. if we want to honor these families and do a realistic investigation __ then, we have a final fact. there were specific witnesses that were interviewed by republican majority and they did not tell the democrats. in a couple of instances, those witnesses contradicted the information that the majority was seeking. again, information is not provided to us. i served as ranking member in the armed service committee,
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and i have had my disagreements with the chair, but nothing like that, where evidence on the other side was excluded from the minority party. all of those facts add up to this being a partisan political investigation. if you want to change that, and actually try to work together, that would be wonderful. as i ranking member pointed out, after we raise these issues of interviewing witnesses, and not telling democrats, not only was it not change, you are attempting to write it into the rules of the committee that that would be permissible. that is our concern. the slow pace of this, again, we start in may. we had a first document request in november. interviewing witnesses without including democrats, all this points to a goal and objective of this committee that does not have much ado about finding out the truth or preventing further
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attacks. i hope we get better at this, but what i just witnessed between the chairman and mr. rubin hardly encourages me. as members of congress, we are always bumping heads with wine and menstruation or another. we always want to interview the witnesses. when we get to the point where you say no, we may have a problem. while understand is the document request includes two years of information from about 14 different people all around libya, as well as emails and texts. that is a heck of a lot of information. good luck finding it.
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i do not know if you will find everything, but it is clear that there is no stonewalling effort here. the reason we have moved so slow is because of the decisions made by the committee. again, i tend to be kind of more inpatient than my ranking member __ for me, a week ago when i found out about all of this, i said, what is the point, what are we doing here? mr. cummings is a patient and thorough man. is the committee would now include us in these things, stop accusing the state department of stonewalling when they're not, and pick up the pace a little bit, i guess it is still possible that this committee could serve the purpose of the state. we've all been what the republican majority voted for in creating this commission. they want everything.
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it will take time to get everything, i would imagine. the mere fact that the house of representatives, controlled by republicans, does not change the possibilities. this is a more of a partisan priority than trying to get to the truth. top of the list, this has to be bipartisan. particularly one because it found that some of those witnesses were being interviewed in an attempt to establish a line of __ an argument. and it turned out that was directly contradicted, and do not tell the other side. if you get a piece of information like that you do not provided to the other side, as a prosecutor, you go to jail. that is a violation of law of court.
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i would hope that congress would at least live up to that. i sincerely hope we do better. i look forward to the documents. i do not envy your job. there is only documents in the world, and i do hope you provide them. i yield back. >> we will now recognize the chair lady from alabama. >> i think mr. smith for giving me a little bit of a break. i will now ask a series of questions to follow up on the chairman on the process. wiki document this 40,000 documents universe. i want to get a better perspective from you. is that __ is it your position that 40,000 is it, or is 40,000 one quarter, one half? can you give us an idea of what this universe of documents looks like?
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>> 40,000 is the accumulation of 2+ years of searching, gathering those documents from the entire state department. we have provided these. >> rights. i'm trying to figure out in the entire universe of documents that we have yet to receive, as mr. galli said, we're looking for all. what portion of that is 40,000? where does that fit into the universe? >> 40,000 pages of documents. i may be set 40,000 documents, it is 40,000 pages of documents. that is a significant amount. that is what we have search for and what we have found. >> at this moment, you do not know where that is __ i do not want to get hung up on that, i really want to talk about the process that you are using to gain access. let's start with __ are you
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using a centralized location to ensure that you are properly capturing all of the documents or is it mind out to other bureaus? >> i appreciate the question. at the state department, we do not have a single person responsible for document requests. what we have a document requests that comes from congress, the requested information sought essentially means that all individuals at the state department who may be related to the information have to go looking in their files. often times, these are offices responsible for country issues, people working in the __ >> can you tell us right now how many people you have working on the production of documents that have been requested as it relates to benghazi? >> regarding the collection of documents, i cannot tell you how me state department people
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over the past several years have provided document specifically. >> there is not a benghazi group, so to speak? there is not a group of people who had been tapped to say, you are in charge of document collection for the incident regarding __ the incident of the dust that of the people in benghazi? >> it is a fair question. what happens is when we get information, there are people that reviewed the documents. we had a discussion with the committee where he came to an agreement with the chairman and the committee that at the state department, we would provide minimal reaction on the 40,000 pages of documents. those reactions are made by experts to look at __ >> back to my question, is there a group of people that have attacked as individuals who work on document collection for benghazi? yes or no. is there a good book people
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that have been edified as the benghazi group? >> again, the production is across the board. >> so no, there is no benghazi group. if there is no benghazi group, i would say with 40,000 pages of documents that have been produced, not knowing in the universe of documents, what percentage of documents that is __ why has there not been a group of individuals that you have said __ as said before, not to take away from the important task of the job, but this is an important task an issue. of those 70,000 employees, why can we not get one group of people designated either state department to say that it is your job to respond?
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>> i assure you that this is of highest priority. when individuals at the state department are requested to provide documents, people move on it. it is the cognitive nature of providing all the information available, and we want to make sure we do that well. that means that if we have one or two individuals, they made the things. >> i do not need one or two, i meant whether or not the state department takes it seriously enough to ensure that we have a group of people to see what happened in the days month leading up to this and the days and months after. i want to move on. do they do a keyword search? do they type in libya, or benghazi, or tripoli for any or
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all records? is the staff member deemed relevant and the keywords are completed? what does this look like? when you say to that one employee that this is your job to do this, what do they do? >> it is as you describe. it means going and searching the files. searching the electronic, searching hard files. we have multiple document request under way all the time by congress on multiple issues that affect the whole breadth of american foreign_policy. what that means in practical purposes is that congress says we need document on topic x. that topic is shared with the department and individual at the department have to go search as to whether or not they have information on that document. >> why is so much time spent
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with backing material on these documents? >> the state department has an agreement in place with the committee which is minimal reduction on the documents. >> some of the documents have been highly redacted. obviously, that takes time as well. >> man, those are not necessarily state department reductions. we cover foreign_policy across_the_board. multiple agencies are involved in the review process. >> every document that we received is digitally stamped. it has a number assigned. this leads us to conclude that there is a digital format. why has the department provided paper copies when we requested
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a digital copy? >> i'm happy to take back that request. >> please do it please report back to the committee as soon as you can on that. there is no order to the paper documents that are being produced. they are not in bates numbered order. they're not by person, office, or bureau. there just boxes of documents. can you give us the assurance that your further production of documents will occur, not only timely as you can see by the passion of the members of the committee that we want to get to the truth __ but quicker you can get us this information, the better __ particular because of the volume, but there is no rhyme or reason as to what you're sending us. could you provide them in some sort of order? >> this goes back to the original question that you
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asked. we're trying to provide the documents in as quick of a manner as possible that are relevant to the committee for the investigation. if you are asking that we collate the paper, do the work to review it ourselves __ >> well, you're taking a lifetime to redirect information, it seems like you could at least put them in some sort of order. i look forward to your further participation in this committee and willingness to provide us the responses quickly. i would appreciate you get back to us on the electronic format of these documents. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> the chairman will now recognize the lady from california. >> i would like to pick up where my colleague left off which was encountering on the
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question of the department of state not coming forth with witnesses. i hold in my hand a letter from the department of justice that is dated november 21, 2014. in a letter, it states that they have concerns because they have an ongoing investigation and that prior to any interviews that the committee would conduct, that they would notify the department of justice prior to that. i would ask unanimous consent to present this letter. >> without objection, and i would be happy to reconcile the two. >> i would like to consider with my questions and comments. maybe there will be an opportunity for determined to speak on the time. >> very well. >> i think it is clear that the
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drg has voiced its concern. and that it is wrong to suggest that witnesses are being withheld from the committee. i believe it is the case that no one has said that there witnesses they cannot be interviewed by the committee. i just found it important to show that as far back as november, the doj did communicate with this committee and expressed its concerns. i like to think our witnesses for joining us today. i have to admit that when this committee was first announced, some of us were skeptical about the scope and intentions of the investigations. there was from the outset, some uncertainty as to the questions that the committee would be answering, and whether or not democratic members of this committee would be fairly included in the work of the committee.
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could partisanship in fact be set aside, and logic in fact guide the investigation? committee members on the democratic side waited patiently when we were told that there would be transparency, and that questions would be outlined that still need to be answered. eight months later, our committee still lacks that scope and transparency, and more than ever, credibility. more than ever, and commits that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are in search of this medical feature __ this unicorn, and the unicorn being some sort of the forest conspiracy __ and that this nefarious conspiracy does not even exist.
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after the last few months, the majority has systematically brought democratic members of meaningful contribution in this investigation. as my colleagues have noted, democrats have been excluded from discussions thatthe chairman and his staff had had with material witnesses. the chairman has refused to convene an organizational meeting or to establish rules of our concern around the increasingly partisan direction of the committee. in fact, we're told that we could only have a vote on the rules if we agreed to go on his rules, even though we think they are unfair. i do not know what kind of logic that is that you can have a vote, only if it is the boat that i want.
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witnesses have been interrogated without any of our members or staff present. we have been left in the dark as to what answers chairman galley __ gowdy wants. when convenient, they have left out he witnessed testimonies when they do not corroborate the conclusions they are trying to reach. ffor example, back in september, secretary of state came up with a startling allegation that former secretary of state hillary
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clinton's aide ordered the destruction of documents to aid congress and the arb from ever seeing them. chairman gowdy called this allegations serious, and told foxnews in mid_october that the committee would be investigating them. what he felt to the net that at the time of the foxnews interview, the committee had already investigated the maximal claim and not had already found evidence against it. republicans excluded democrats from the interview and told us that they have learned nothing quote of note from that witness. when democrats staff spoke to that witness, they did not recall having been in that review session that mr. maxwell described. he also denied ever having to fly documents that would be unfavorable to the committee.
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that witness was perfectly willing to talk to democrats and has always been willing to talk to us. he also never asked to be talked to as a confidential source. chairman gowdy, when asked why we were excluded from the interview, he has never answered that. as a former prosecutor, mr. chairman, you understand that evaluating the credibility of witnesses includes whether or not the information they provide can be corroborated. they learn that this claim was not substantiated by key witnesses and to me that is incredibly telling. unfortunately, because of facts, they failed to diebold's affirmation to our side.
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if our goal is the truth and not a predetermined outcome, these interviews should __ should have been conducted jointly with democrats in the room. these actions sabotaged a serious and credible investigation. they make it an unfair, exclusionary investigation with no transparency. i, for one, and not willing to sit by silently any longer. maybe there is a good reason for all of this nonsense. in eight months since its formation, the majority of the committee has failed to deliver on promises __ they have yet to summon any cia witnesses, and yet to yield any new information that has not
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already been uncovered by the previous eight and that investigations into the attack on the embassy in benghazi. in my colleagues and i found frustrating day, it is with good reason. we have had enough of this pursuit and quest to this mythical unicorn. eight separate investigations. bipartisan in the distance where both sides agreed on the rules, and none of us have found his nefarious conspiracy. if something were audited eight times by the irs __ eight separate times for the same crime and no wrongdoing was down, we would say it was lunacy to extend the time and money to put them through that again. yet, here we are again. this time, this time perhaps if we change the rules, make them unfair and lopsided, give one
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side the advantage of hearing the witness testimony and other site not, keep them locked out of the room, then maybe the outcome would be different in this committee from the previous eight. mr. chairman, the american public, the victims themselves deserve better. i am urging you to adopt rules that allow for participation of both republican and democrat in all future committee interviews so that we can conduct credible, nonpartisan, and transpatr investigation into this matter. in the time that i remaining, i want to say that i apologize to our witnesses. these are tensions that have the boiling over for quite some time. they are tensions that have been raised again and again. we did not vote to panel this committee because we suspected that this is where it would end up.
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i hate to say it but those who were more cynical had the better argument. with that, i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you, and i assure her that i would never give veto power to a subpoena. with that, i recognize the gentleman from illinois, mr. roscoe. >> thank you. i would like to point out some inconsistencies that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are making. mr. smith basically said that you will never get that __ it is impossible, you will never get all the answers are all the documents. that is an internal inconsistency, and they need to work it out. mrs. sanchez just made an argument that certain information was __ what have disposed of a particular question, but have the information been released, they would have made an argument that this was selective leaking
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of information. to mr. cummings point, to go back and make a classic strawman argument, you do not hear that very much, and there was really no pretext to it. the classic strawman arguments as this is the oversight committee, it is not. it is a completely different committee with a completely different chairman. really, to characterize this as a partisan process that is glacial in nature, when the majority has accepted the majority __ which is to have two subject request at the __ it is ridiculous. mr. rubin, thank you for your time today. i thought it was ironic that you are talking out in the timing of these things, and that is what has everyone concerned, but you're talking in seasons of the year.
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you said with some happiness, we produce two witnesses since the fall. isn't that ironic? you are not talking in terms of days or weeks, or months __ your characterizing timing from the department of state in terms of seasons of the year. you come into this with an opinion, based on your past writing, you wrote a piece on politicizing the benghazi attacks back in october 2012. is that right? let me read the first two paragraphs and i want to get your opinion on how that opinion intersects with today. you wrote the killing of four american citizens in benghazi was an attack of terror. they put their lives on the lines and emotive region, they deserve the support of their
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government back home. instead of getting that support, their deaths have been used as a partisan attack on president obama. what has failed them is our system. whether than to get all the facts out, conservatives are trying to six blame for political advantage. i understand that there have been a lot of things coming off of capitol hill as it relates to benghazi. you do not think that this is a free list, partisan investigation, do you? >> chris stevens was a friend of mine. i worked on capitol hill. >> i understand that. mr. rubin, do you think this is a frivolous partisan investigation?
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>> i'm not commenting on the question as to whether this is a frivolous or partisan investigation. you are residing what __ >> i'm interested in a simple question. do you think that this investigation is frivolous and partisan? what is your opinion? >> third, again, in 2012, after chris stevens was killed __ and i remember the morning because he was a friend, and i remember when his name was announced on the radio, my heart sank. i knew chris and he represented the best of the state department. i'm sorry, his name at the time was not being used in a manner that i thought was respectful. >> is this privilege? i am asking your opinion. it's this frivolous and partisan?
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>> as the chairman himself has said, in a letter and a public comment _ >> i thought that was an easy layup. to say, no, of course this is serious, and of course it is not partisan. i find it shocking that you cannot give a straight answer. let's move on. i find myself often times translating for people, translating back home what is meant by what we say up here. you are in the business of a foreign language, and you have misinterpreted a language of a southern chairman. to come in here and claim that you are gratified that we are pleased with your cooperation __ let me translate for you,
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he does not think this is going well, and he thinks you are part of the problem. you claimed in your original testimony that in this role, you represent __ your testimony is that you are responsible. is that right? >> my testimony that i'm the chief liaison. the state department has a significant number of people work at significant number of issues. in my job, i convey those issues as they relate to congress, and back and forth in the dialogue. >> mr. rubin, back in november __ november 18, one season ago, this committee requested the documents and emails. i brought my computer here today and i know it is not the same thing, i do not want oversimplify it, when i go to
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my email and type in something like united airlines, for example, dozens of things come up within the twinkling of an eye. when can we expect you to use a similar enterprise? is there a date that we can rely on? the admission you have never said no is ridiculous. to say no, you do not have to say no. after that, when my kids would come to me and they would say something, and i did not want to do it, i would say let me think about it. you are doing the same thing, you're saying let let us get back to you. in raiders of the lost ark, when the government guy comes and says we have taught people working on it. an indiana jones says, what people?
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the government guys says, top people. you are the government guide. you are standing up for top people. you have to bring your game and be the expediter. be the one who shares your past opinions of congressional investigations and take on the job of being an advocate for that we can all get to the bottom of this. the other side does not get to argue in the alternative that this is not moving fast enough. it does not work and it is flat_footed. what we need from you is expedition, recognizing that chairman is not happy __ do not confuse the time of the south __ i am from chicago and we're trying to be very direct, and that is to be part of the remedy, mr. rubin.
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>> as i said, sir, and i can assure you from my testimony, we will begin the production of documents within days. we also need the guidance from the committee as to its top priority. >> you are making an argument, mr. rubin, that says that these things have to be consecutive requests. they are not consecutive, their concurrent. you can walk and chew gum at the same time. if the point was made the __ that you have 70,000 employees. that is an old trick. >> sir, we have a record of cooperation with this committee. we proactively offered a briefing to this committee. >> come on.
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we need the documents, and promptly. my time has expired, i yield back. >> we will go to the german __ gentleman from california. >> thank you. i'm still trying to figure out who is indiana jones in that analogy. i do not think there is indiana jones on this panel, as much as i would like to say that there is. i like to comment on a couple of things. i'm not sure if i've a question for any of the panelists. thank you for us in your time with us today, not sure why you're here, but i appreciate your presence. mr. rubin, it within your reason for being here is so that we can beat up on you. i think that is unfair to you and unfair to the state department, considering that if we will assess the slow pace of investigation, we should look to ourselves.
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given that we did not ask for anything will document from the state department during the first half of the year __ the entire katrina investigation finished its work before we requested documents from the state department, and certainly before this point in our investigation. i think the problem here is not the pace of the state department's response, the problem all along has been __ this committee has such an indefinite scope, we do not know exactly what we're looking for. this was a big part of the reason that the democrats had reservation in purchasing in the committee, or forming the committee. as the chairman pointed out, originally only seven democratic member supported this committee because it was
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unclear other than the political purpose, what the purpose was of this committee. and in the reauthorization, not a single democrat supported, in fact for voting against the package that reauthorizes committee. a big part is, it now, eight months later, we still do not know what we are looking for. this is a problem, not only for this committee going on indefinitely, but also for the pace of getting our documents request responded to. if we had a better idea of what we are looking for, we could narrow our request and get it complied with. part of the reason why i think the charter for this committee was as broad as the chairman mentioned is because we really
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did not know the purpose of this committee. where we look at gunrunning, and nonexisting dan orders, or military assistance that was ordered to not be provided, or any other number of myths. the challenge is that on any of these issues, there was no factual controversy. there wasn't when this committee was established. we have had numerous investigations, and we cannot narrow in on a particular set of facts because it was not a fact_based butte, as much as a political dispute as to how to interpret the event. the charter was very broad, and because of that it was voted on partyline basis. we hope to participate and that it would turn out to be something different. initially, it looked to be that way. the first two hearings were on a very productive course __ and that was, what have we done as
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far as arb. we have not narrow the scope to those things. we have not narrow the scope at all. we still do not know what we are looking for, but we know we are looking for something. it is part of the reason as to why we think it is so important that we agree on the scope, otherwise it will go on forever. it will be a partisan fishing expedition, or drawn out to the effective next presidential cycle. at the end of the day, we have never asked for a veto over subpoena. what we have asked for it to be notified of them, a chance to weigh in __ when they are not disputed, for our ranking member to vote on them, and when __ we have to have at
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least a vote -- that's the goal. so i think defining the scope is going to be important. ifst going to have credibility. the final point i would make on this is if this investigation doesn't produce a bipartisan report, it will have been a complete failure. it will be a meaningless failure because if we don't produce a bipartisan report at the end of the day, it will have no credibility. so if we're going to invest our time in this, let's make it worthwhile, let's make it bipartisan so that the country and the families will have the confidence of knowing that this was an objective work product.
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because honestly, if at the end of the day we have a report and the republicans vote for it and the democrats vote against it, yes, it will pass. you have the majority, you can do pretty much whatever you want. but it will have been a complete waste of time. and it will be a disservice to the families and a disservice to the taxpayers. so if we're going to get to that bipartisan work product at the end of the day, we need to know who you're talking to. we need to know when they agree with the narrative and when they disagree with that narrative. we ought to be part of the discussions about who we're subpoenaing. we ought to be part of the discussion about what we're really going to focus on here. i mean, at the end of the day, is it really about gun running? does anyone really think that's what this is about? and if it's not, ok, let's not waste our time on that. so let's figure out what this is about. let's, you know, dedicate ourselves to making this a bipartisan work product at the end of the day, and we all have too much to do and there's too much at stake and too many families who are so deeply impacted by this that they deserve better than anything less than bipartisan. and i yield back.
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>> the gentlelady from indiana is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to agree that we do need to get to the bottom. we do need to find out what happened, and that's what everyone has been talking about. but the manner in which you do that, whether you're a lawyer, as i am, former u.s. attorney, whether you are a law enforcement official who conducts investigations, whether as my friend from illinois said whether you are a parent trying to get to the bottom of an incident, you have to ask questions. and you have to interview those who were involved. but when the incident involves numerous documents, typically in any investigation, you try to get the documents ahead of time so that you run an efficient fair investigation when you get
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to ask witness questions, you have documents in front of you that you can ask them the most relevant questions. and that, i think, is -- has been the problem that we have had is that while you, mr. rubin, have talked about cooperating, you have required us to prioritize rather than giving us, as ms. roby talked about, the universe of documents. and so things have been, you know, dribbed and drabbed out to this committee over a period of time. and in large part because of that, that is why we have not had interview -- have not interviewed witnesses yet because we've been waiting on the documents for months, and i think when this committee was established, the state department knew, as we said we were going to take the work, the documents from the other committees, we didn't want to duplicate the effort. we wanted to take the documents from the other committee, and it's taken a long time just to
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get those. what was produced to ogr, what was produced to intel? so i just want to say, we are -- have tried in a very thorough, fair manner to try to extract the documents from the various agencies that have already given the documents to different committees. our recommendations do plan to be very -- we do need to make bipartisan recommendations. i agree with that. but in order to conduct a fair thorough, thoughtful, efficient investigation, we have to have the documents first. that's why we focused on the documents. and i have to ask how can we possibly learn from the attacks if we don't learn about the attacks? we can't make recommendations going forward if we don't have all of the facts about what happened before, during, and after the attack. and there are documents that remain to be reviewed. we've learned that.
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you have recently given us new documents that were never reviewed prior to the establishment of this committee, even though there have been eight committees that received and requested documents in the past. this committee is still getting new documents. and our challenge is we don't know how many more new documents are out there, and how can that be after two years, since this tragic incident, how can it be that we are still getting new documents? and the need to review those documents is anyone who conducts any investigation, that is critical prior to interviewing witnesses. who have yet to tell their stories to congress. so many witnesses have yet to tell their story to congress. and i want to focus on our request to interview those witnesses. our first two requests -- and there will be more requests, mr. rubin -- our first two requests to the state department
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were to interview 22 state department personnel 18 of whom were in benghazi in the months prior to the attack. and experienced firsthand the deteriorating security posture as well as the four who were in benghazi. none of those people have been interviewed by congress, to my knowledge, none. and so for the other side to you know, really try and capture all that's been done, how is it that 22 people who have direct knowledge have not yet been interviewed by any committees in congress? so there are no asked and answered questions from 22 different people with firsthand knowledge. so we're not seeking to duplicate any work that's already been done. this is new, fresh work that needs to be done. people who were there, people
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who were in benghazi prior to the attack, and actually people who were there during the attack. so would you agree with me, mr. rubin, that firsthand knowledge rather than a summary, a report, another agent coming in and talking to us, firsthand information is better than secondhand information, would you agree? >> sorry. ma'am, the request for these interviews came on december 4, i believe, and we spoke quickly with the committee and the staff to try to figure out what the highest priority were, and it was communicated to us that the four diplomatic security agents, ds, and that's where it runs into this complexity of an ongoing investigation to prosecute potentially the individual that is in custody for those terrorist attacks and the justice department has raised concerns that we need to be mindful of. that's the only discussion that we've had related to that.
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>> thank you. and please note that as a former u.s. attorney and someone who is in charge of victim witness subcommittee for attorney general ashcroft and attorney general gonzalez, i'm very concerned about prosecutions and about victims and witnesses. and let me just share with you that our staff is in communication with the justice department, and we will handle these witnesses appropriately. but if we made a request to you on december 4 of all of these witnesses -- and i appreciate you would like them to be prioritized -- it's january 27 today. there is no date yet scheduled for an interview of any of these people. we're not going to wait to receive now all of these documents, which would have been the more efficient way for a real investigation to be done. so we'd like to know what date and because we want to preserve the safety and security of these personnel, we'd like to know, i would say within the next 24 hours, which witnesses will be made available next week and which witnesses will be made
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available the following week and which witnesses will be made available the following week and so on. and we all have a certain number of staff, but our staff will go to these witnesses, or we will work with you to make arrangements to get these staff back to washington, d.c., to conduct these interviews. are you in agreement that that can be done? >> to provide a bit of context -- >> and we will be working with the justice department on all of this as well to ensure their safety and security. so assuming that we take the justice department prosecution off of your plate and assume we work with them on how this will be done, will you work with us to get these interviews set up in the next week? >> ma'am, we're always open to communicating and speaking with you. the experts -- i am not the legal expert for the state department. i will not take on that role. >> who is the legal -- who is the legal expert? >> we have lawyers at the state department that are continually in touch and individuals and staff with the staff of the committee.
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>> and who is -- >> and we're always open to that conversation. >> i appreciate that. who is the lawyer from the state department that we should be communicating with with respect to scheduling these interviews of up to 22 different witnesses? >> i'd have to get you the specific person, but i'm sure that the staffs know who they are speaking with directly about these issues. >> who is the head of legal affairs for the state department? >> well, the legal adviser is nancy mcleod. that's -- that's the legal adviser, the top of the state department bureau for legal affairs. but the context of the letter request for these interviews it's important to remember that after we received the request, we have gone to the committee to ask for the priorities. in that interim process, we have prepared briefings. we have been engaged, and it took several weeks to get the priorities from the committee. >> why do we need priorities? they're all priorities. 22 people -- why do we have to prioritize? why does our staff have to prioritize to the state department? >> because we want to know for
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your work to make it as easy as possible what it is that you are looking at as the highest to-do item on your checklist. >> when we don't know what they have to say, it is difficult mr. rubin, to know who has the most information. and so at this point, we have the bandwidth, and i would suggest that the other side has the bandwidth to being the process to set up a schedule as to when we will interview each of these 22 witnesses. 18 who have not been interviewed who worked in benghazi and in libya prior and four who were there at the time of the attack. and so will you work with us? will you commit -- >> of course. >> that your legal department will work with us to -- and we will pledge that we will work with the justice department on these witnesses, too, because we absolutely do not want to compromise that investigation. but these are individuals, some of whom have been interviewed by the arb, is that correct? >> i'm not intimately knowledgeable of every
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individual the arb spoke with. >> we must have these interviews done in an expeditious manner, and if we could please get the documents ahead of time, it will make it most effective, and we won't need to have multiple interviews with these important eyewitnesses. >> thank you. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the chair would now recognize the gentleman from kansas, mr. pompeo. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's been a very productive hearing. mr. schiff seemed confused by why you're here, mr. higgins. i'm going to enlighten him perhaps a little bit about why you're here today. the central intelligence had turned over a series of documents to the house permanent select committee on intelligence when it wrapped up its investigation. it returned those documents as it did under its instructions and its rules and provided them to you in a letter of may 8. then chairman of the committee mike rogers, asked you to hold hold on to them in a way that
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would be available to this committee in a very expeditious manner. since at least october, this committee has been seeking those documents. november 19, one of your staff said, quote, working to try to set up a time next week. end of quote. december 8, one of your staff attorney says quote, we're in the process of organizing and page numbering. end quote. and then december 15 one of your staff attorneys said quote, we'll reach out to you soon, end of quote. this is a series of documents you've already identified. you turned them over on thursday of last week. after chairman gowdy had to go through the process that you were going to have to come here today and answer to why you hadn't turned over the documents. coincidence? >> no, sir. thank you for the question. and i absolutely understand your frustration and the committee's frustration. producing these materials has taken longer than you consider acceptable and certainly longer than we anticipated as those e-mails from november and december suggest. if you bear with me, let me see if i can explain the delay. >> if you will do so quickly i'd be happy to bear with you. >> i will do so as quickly as i
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can. let me see if i can explain the delay. the committee first requested access on november 14, one of the e-mails you referenced. over events overtook that request. the committee revisited the issue on december 8 asking to see the documents during the week of december 15. at that point, those of us in contact with the committee, as those e-mails, again, suggest, thought that it should be a pretty straightforward process of delivering to you the materials that we previously produced to the house intelligence committee. during this time, while we were in contact, our staff most familiar with the benghazi-related documents have been working on the state department document request, reviewing those 40,000 pages for cia equities. when we asked them to prepare our own documents for delivery to the committee, they made three discoveries. first, they discovered the documents we had provided to hipsi and they had returned to us were disorganized. they were not in chronological order or any logical order. secondly, they realized that the documents did not comply with the limited redaction criteria that we have previously
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discussed with this committee's staff directors. third, they learned that cia had not kept an exact soft copy of what had been produced to hipsi. so what that meant was that we had to go through a fairly time-consuming process of identifying the matching soft copies for the hard copies of thousands of pages that were produced to hipsi, pairing them implmenting the limited redactions that we had agreed with staff directors and then inserting them in chronological order and run into technical problems with bates numbering them, but we were hoping they would all be able to be bates numbered as well. >> let me see if i can summarize. you couldn't figure out how to get them back to us in a timely fashion. but when the hearing was noticed, you figured it out. >> our internal goal was to finish it -- our internal goal was to finish it by this friday. we did accelerate that time line. >> you bet, to meet the hearing. >> to meet the hearing deadline. we planned to finish the process as i designed as bureaucratic and as cumbersome as it sounds by this friday at the latest. >> i appreciate that.
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>> i apologize for the delay. >> this was a pretty simple request. some of the other challenges that the state department identified didn't exist here. >> i appeared simple on its face, but we discovered it was more complicated. >> let me talk about witnesses. there have been comments from the other side that we haven't asked for witnesses. we're going to. will you agree that you will help us find those folks, we'll do all the right things to safeguard these folks, they are warriors, we don't want to compromise them at all. will you agree that you will work with us closely to help us get those folks so that we can get their testimony as well? >> yes, sir. we actually just received today the committee's request to speak with the eyewitnesses, and we will do so. >> great, thank you. that brings up a point. you just got it today. i assume when these witnesses come, you're going to hope we only have to interview them once. is that correct? >> i would hope so. >> it would be your strong preference that we not turn up a document after we've brought these folks back from goodness knows where to come testify that we don't have to call them back to address another document. so one time is better than two.
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and certainly better than three. right? >> absolutely. >> and mr. rubin, you'd agree with that? >> yes, although i'm not the expert in interviews. >> but you'd prefer if we have to round up, we just do it once and not have to gather them up get your lawyers, all that goes with that a second or a third time. that's better from your agency's perspective. fewer of your 70,000 top people, right? >> i can't speak to the effectiveness of interviews, but -- >> here's what i can say. we have heard today from the other side that we haven't called witnesses. and i will tell you, until you get us the documents, we're going to be very loathed to bring them because i know we will never get these folks back a second time. you all will find hundreds of reasons not to bring them the first time and thousands of reasons not to bring them the second time. and we're just going to do this right. we're going to do this where we're actually going to pursue this inquiry in a reasonable way. mr. higgins, it took us a long time to get some of our senior staff clearances. we had a three-star general that couldn't get an sci completed
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until when was it? when the hearing was noticed shortly before the hearing is noticed, we get the final set of clearances that we need. can you assure us that that won't happen in the future? we'll probably have additional folks that need to be cleared. this is a comedy between the branches that you all have done good work on in the past. and it's one of the things, again, we've been trying to move this along. now we have the minority saying we're too slow. but we didn't have clearances for staff members in a timely fashion. >> we will commit to working with you to make the clearance process work as smoothly as possible. i'm happy to explain in more detail if you like the various -- what cia's limited role is in the clearance process and why it's taken as long as it has in a few instances. but the bottom line is we will work with you to clear individuals as quickly as possible. >> in the case that we're doing something wrong, you don't have the information, we are happy to expedite that as well. but the executive branch sat for far too long and prevented this committee from taking on the task that we have been charged with. and so we hear the minority today talk about it. but the executive branch prevented us from having access to information and having to information and having staff
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people having access to information that was necessary for us to execute this investigation the way these families deserve. >> usually when clearances have taken longer than we would like or you would like, it's because necessary information to adjudicate staff access to sensitive compartmented information, which is the limited piece that cia does, was not provided and we either had to come back to the committee or go back to our interagency partners. we've worked through that. i think our security officers and committee security officer now have a good understanding of how we can move clearances forward in an expeditious fashion. >> have you received any documents from the minority? >> no, i have not. >> have you received any witness request requests? >> no requests independent from the requests that we received this morning. >> mr. rubin, have you received any document request from the minority on this committee? >> we have not, sir. >> have you received any witness requests from the minority on this committee? >> similar to mr. higgins.
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>> so this -- today, this is fascinating to watch, mr. schiff and mr. cummings talk about us being too slow. you've seen all the impediments that have been put in our way, whether it was clearances or priorities or documents we can't get our hands on. they claim that they want to get mr. cummings says, i want to make sure we complete a fact-finding investigation. he hasn't asked for a single fact, not one. it must be the case that he believes every fact has been determined, that every relevant line of inquiry has been completed, that there is not a single witness left in the universe to be interviewed. the minority complains they've been shut out. they haven't asked for a single thing that they have not been granted by an incredibly gracious chairman gowdy with respect to a witness that they wanted to call before this witness or a document they sought from any group within the executive branch. the hypocrisy to come today and say we are both moving too slow and asking for too much is something the american people will get to judge as we move forward. but i can assure you that everyone on this committee -- and i hope the minority will join in this effort in a serious way as well -- we're going to ask the questions, and it may be
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the case, as mr. smith said, we won't get to all of the answers that we would like to get to but we're going to work at it. we're going to take this charge seriously. and i hope the minority will participate as well. they talk about us being too slow, and yet they act as if their job is to play defense right, to stop us from engaging in this inquiry, not participate in it. not say, mr. chairman, i think we ought to ask this witness questions x, y, and z. mr. chairman, might it be possible that we could obtain documents from this particular group? no, rather they simply act as if they are the brake on this committee's investigatory work as if their sole role is to claim that this investigation is political and not to participate. we still have men and women out in the world who are engaged in important intelligence collection activities and keeping america safe. we have an obligation to make sure this committee gets it right. and i hope the minority on this committee will begin to take that role seriously, that they will participate actively, that they, too, will seek witnesses
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and documents and information such that when we get done they, too, will be able to sign the report. i would love nothing more than to have a bipartisan report that gets to all the facts. but if the minority continues to believe that their role is to play fullback to our efforts, to block everything we do, not to clear the way, but rather to obfuscate, i suspect we'll end up in a place where we get a good factual report, but the american people don't get the full resolution that they deserve. with that, i yield back my time, mr. chairman. >> thank you. i now now recognize the gentleman from georgia, mr. westmoreland. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i just wanted to make a couple comments about some of the statements that's been made about the delay in this committee and the request for documents. this committee was formed in may, and i don't know if the minority leader didn't appoint
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the other side's members for two or three weeks. but we had to staff up. both sides had to hire staff. and then once we hired the staff, they had to get security clearance, which mr. higgins and mr. pompeo alluded to. we had a retired three-star general that applied for clearance last september. and i think he got it last thursday. now, if that's not dragging your feet, i don't know what is but i don't know why we would have wanted all these documents, 40,000 pages of documents, if we didn't have staff cleared to read them. i mean, we members of congress i know y'all don't think we do much, but, you know, for us reading 40,000 pages of documents, that's what the staff's for. and so just in the amount of time it took to staff up to find the right people from both sides of the aisle and then to get their security clearance, i think everybody needs to understand it took a while.
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and then as far as the delay you know, i think the delay has come from our chairman being too bipartisan. i know there was hours, if not a couple days, spent on arguing about how much time each member would get. and i think the minority wanted it down to nine minutes and 20 seconds each, the way this thing was deliberated. and so when you have to spend a couple days arguing about, you know, 40 seconds or 20 seconds or whatever it is, you're not going to get very far. and as far as us being in a majority, i think the president said in 2009 elections have consequences. as mr. pompeo said, he and i both sat on the intelligence committee. and reading the resolution that was put before the house, we have those same authorities as
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the intel committee. mr. higgins, would you agree with that? >> the resolution does carve this committee into house rule 10, which establishes the intelligence committee's authorities over intelligence sources and methods. >> so you will give this committee the same respect that you would hipsi and any request for documents or witnesses that they might request? >> i'd be happy in a classified setting to discuss the materials that cia has provided as well as the limited set of redactions that we are implementing pursuant to conversations with this committee's staff directors. >> ok. and 40,000 pages came from the state department. and mr. rubin mentioned that there were a lot of -- talking about redaction, there was a lot of other agencies, i guess, that had to look at what was in there
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as far as redacting the information. when the cia received this, were there any redactions already done? >> we had a team that we sent down to the state department to review. these are materials that had previously had been produced in part in unclassified form with redactions. we sent a team down to review the redactions, see which redactions could be lifted. as mr. rubin indicated, the documents are now less redacted than they were previously in part because other agencies like cia lifted their redactions. again, any remaining redactions that are cia redactions are pursuant to discussions that we've had with the staff directors here. >> so is the cia the only redactions that are there now? >> i can't speak to that, i'm afraid. >> mr. ruben, is that the documents, the 40,000 pages, only the cia redactions?
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>> so the different agencies that have redacted in different areas cut across the entire interagency as all -- many agencies involved in foreign policy. i'm sorry, sir. >> no, i'm sorry. do we know what agencies redacted what parts of -- >> we'd be happy to meet with your staff to go over specific documents to identify where those redactions came from. >> ok. but you know where they came from, the redactions, and why they're there, right? >> again, if another agency did it, we would engage with the committee staff and with that agency to help figure that out. >> so by sending this to the cia -- and i'm assuming that the cia had, unlike the state department, had some people specifically set up looking at these benghazi documents? >> between our office of congressional affairs and our office of general counsel, we have people that we have designated to review benghazi-related documents.
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so we actually sent people to the state department. they didn't send it to us. >> so you sent them to the state department rather than the state department sending you over some documents and you looking at it. you actually sent folks over to the state department. >> that's correct. >> is that correct? you know, and i'm assuming that for both the intel committee and this committee that the redactions you make are for methods and sources. is that correct? >> that's correct. again, i'd be happy to provide more detail and in a different setting. we have discussed that with the staff directors from both sides. >> ok. so do you think that the state department shares e-mails between employees that would have methods and sources in it? >> there may be times that e-mails in the state department's possession do include cia information that would speak to intelligence sources and methods. >> between employees?
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>> or between, say -- >> so the state department feels like they are employees that can see methods that members of congress can't see? mr. rubin, i'll ask you the question. are there e-mails between state department employees that disclose meds smethods and operations and stuff that they can see that members of congress can't see? >> in terms of communicating with other agencies, we have classified communications systems that are part of the daily operations on foreign policy, broadly speaking and national security. so certainly state -- we communicate with all relevant agencies who are engaged in national security. >> well, i know that mr. higgins testified that all of our facilities have been secured and
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certified by the cia. i guess that they're secure. and i think most of the members have top security clearance. and so are you saying that the state department employees just send these e-mails back and forth over something and that we shouldn't be seeing that? >> no, sir. related to the document requests and the 40,000 pages of documents that you have, there are some classified documents. there are some unclassified documents. >> and what would be considered classified from another agency that members of congress would not need to see? >> there's a process for determining when information is classified as well as to what level -- i can't speak in total specificity, but generally when communications are classified between agencies or within agencies, that type of information, as related to the document requests, we're also seeking. >> so is the cia the last agency to get the redactions to say

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