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Jun 28, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, delivered the following opening remarks during a Judiciary Committee hearing with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray on “oversight of FBI and DOJ actions surrounding the 2016 election.”


“Mr. Chairman, the events that have led up to this hearing are totally unacceptable. 


“On Monday of this week, you notified us of this hearing without the seven-day notice required by the rules.


“On Tuesday, you started our Committee markup more than an hour late, without notice to the Minority.  Then you allowed Mr. Jordan to offer an amendment to a resolution of inquiry that was patently non-germane—and then you stood out of view of the cameras, in the hallway just off the hearing room, while the Majority voted to overturn the ruling of their own Chair that the amendment was not germane.


“On Wednesday, you dropped all Committee business to interview Peter Strzok, who had already volunteered to come in for an interview before you threatened him with a subpoena.


“Today, we meet so that the Majority can criticize the Deputy Attorney General to his face, largely about documents that you know he cannot produce.  We will take a break so that we can go to the floor and vote on a so-called “resolution of insistence” based on the Jordan amendment from earlier this week—a measure that is without precedent, without the force of law, and clearly a pretext for a move against Mr. Rosenstein that the Majority already has planned. 


“And what is the great emergency that justifies this last-minute hearing?  Why has the Majority abandoned the rules and traditions that govern civility in the House?  The tired story of Hillary Clinton’s emails, of course, plus a few conspiracy theories about the Special Counsel. 


“When President Trump and his Administration were actively separating families at the border—ripping children out of the arms of their parents, and causing untold suffering to thousands of families—that did not merit an emergency hearing.


“And now that thousands of children are still separated from their parents, with no clear plan from this Administration for reuniting these families, where is the emergency hearing on that issue?


“We know that Russia, after successfully interfering with the 2016 elections, is actively working to disrupt the upcoming elections as well.  The former National Security Advisor testified that our intelligence agencies have received no instructions from the White House to protect the integrity of our election system.  Have we scheduled an emergency hearing on that issue?


“For that matter, have we conducted any oversight at all on election security; on the family separation crisis; on the Administration’s failure to protect Dreamers; on the Justice Department’s radical decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act; on the Supreme Court’s recent decisions to undermine voting rights and workers’ rights; on the President’s ongoing conflicts of interest and violations of the Emoluments Clause; or on the myriad other pressing issues within our Committee’s jurisdiction?  No, as with so many issues, this Committee has stayed silent.


“But on Hillary Clinton’s emails?  Sound the alarms.


“Despite an Inspector General’s report that, in more than 500 exhaustive pages, demonstrates conclusively that the outcome of the Clinton investigation was not affected by any improper bias, political or otherwise, we are wasting precious Committee time to chase Hillary Clinton.


“The Republicans seems desperate to prove that there was some sort of pro-Clinton and anti-Trump conspiracy within the FBI when, in fact, the overwhelming evidence shows exactly the opposite.  Virtually every action criticized in the Inspector General’s report—Director Comey’s July announcement, his disparate treatment of the Clinton and Trump investigations, and his October decision to announce the discovery of additional emails—ultimately harmed the candidacy of Secretary Clinton, and inured to the benefit of Donald Trump.


“But I guess we shouldn’t let facts stand in the way of a good manufactured emergency.


“According to the Republican memo for today’s hearing, today is also an opportunity for Members to consider “the Justice Department’s compliance with the committee’s March 22 subpoena,” a subpoena that was not issued in compliance with House Rules and, therefore, cannot be enforced.


“Even if it were a properly issued subpoena, the fight over document production seems to have boiled down to certain documents that the Republicans know the Department of Justice cannot turn over—much of it evidence related to an ongoing criminal investigation, the scoping documents outlining specific lines of inquiry in an ongoing criminal investigation, and the identities of confidential human sources still working undercover in the field.


“And that, of course, is the whole point.  As part of their coordinated and determined effort to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation, Republicans are requesting documents they know they cannot have. 


“If they somehow find themselves in possession of sensitive documents that go to the core of the Special Counsel’s investigation, and if past practice holds, those documents will end up in the possession of the subject of the investigation—namely, President Trump.


“And if the Majority is rightly denied, they will do their best to undermine the credibility of the Department of Justice, the credibility of the Deputy Attorney General—and, by extension, the credibility of the Special Counsel. 


“They will likely try to hold Mr. Rosenstein in contempt.  Some have even threatened him with impeachment.  They may argue that he must be removed his oversight role over the Special Counsel’s investigation.


“This is an investigation, I might remind my Republican colleagues, that has already yielded five guilty pleas, and that has led to the indictment of 20 people so far.  The President and some of his closest advisors are under investigation for having participated in a criminal conspiracy with a foreign power against the United States.


“That is an emergency.


“The President practically confessed to Lester Holt on television that he obstructed the investigation into that conspiracy when he said that he fired former FBI Director Comey because of “this Russia stuff, with Trump and Russia.”


“That is an emergency.


“But is that the subject of today’s emergency hearing?  No.  Or of any emergency hearing?  No it is not.


“I know that this has been a hard week for the Majority.  I know that it must be tempting to change the subject and rally the base with cries of “lock her up!” 


“But we do not have the luxury of hiding or voting present at this critical juncture in our democracy. 


“We cannot hide from our responsibilities. We cannot hide from our obligation to conduct oversight of a corrupt Administration.  We cannot hide from our constitutional duty to protect our elections from foreign interference, or to stand up for the rules, and for our democratic institutions, and for the rule of law.


“I ask my colleagues to consider this question as we proceed:  when the Special Counsel’s work is complete, when the enormity of what he finds has been laid bare, how will the American people judge your actions today? 


“I yield back the balance of my time.”

115th Congress