December 11, 2019

In Response To Harris, Justice Department IG Proclaims Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine Scheme Is “Very Concerning”

Horowitz Admits Other Executive Branch IGs Have Discussed the Ukraine Scheme 

 Full Video of Harris’ Questioning

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday pressed Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz on a number of troubling incidents suggesting that Attorney General William Barr allowed political influence to threaten the independence of the Department of Justice.

Harris pointed to reports that Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, is actively engaged in a scheme to advance political activities on behalf of President Trump. Horowitz acknowledged such a scheme would be concerning. Later, Harris asked about the multiple agencies implicated in and discussed on the Ukraine call. Horowitz acknowledged that various IGs across the Executive Branch have discussed the Ukraine call.

Transcript excerpts:

HARRIS: So it was recently reported that the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, asked Ukrainians to help search for dirt of the political rivals of the president. In exchange for the help, Giuliani offered to help fix criminal cases against them at DOJ. Giuliani and his associates two of whom have been indicted and are now in federal custody, allegedly reached out to a Ukrainian energy tycoon who faced legal problems in America. In exchange for helping find dirt on the president's political rivals, Giuliani's associates reportedly connected the Ukrainian with lawyers who could get a top-level meeting at the United States Department of Justice. In essence, Giuliani's scheme was an attempt to trade get out of jail free cards for political favors. As part of Giuliani's plan, Attorney General Barr met with the Ukrainians' lawyers, who asked that the Department of Justice withdraw evidence in the tycoon's bribery prosecution. Earlier today, you said you are not investigating matters related to ongoing Ukraine issues. Does that mean that you have decided not to investigate these incidents?

HOROWITZ: No. As I think mentioned in a recent letter and I've been in touch with fellow IG’s who have been asked by members to look at those issues. We've been in communication with each other. I think as Mr. Fine, the Defense Department IG wrote to several members of Congress. He was foregoing at the time, undertaking any work while the House investigation proceeded and any matters here in the Senate. And, you know, as I mentioned, we will look accordingly at any action that we have the jurisdiction to review, getting back to the section 80 discussion. No other IG has that limitation, by the way. So they can investigate their secretary, deputy secretary, administrator, whomever. I just point that out because that's important to keep in mind as we get requests. And why are we different than the state department IG? The EPA IG?

HARRIS: Couldn't agree with you more.

HOROWITZ: And that’s the issue.

HARRIS: Couldn't agree with you more. Do you agree that if true, Giuliani's scheme is alarming?

HOROWITZ: I think anything like that would be very concerning.

[…]

HARRIS: President Trump's phone conversation was an apparent effort to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. And the call involved officials at multiple agencies, including the Department of Justice, the State Department, the Office of Management and Budget, and others. Are you working with the Inspectors General of these various agencies on that issue?

HOROWITZ: As I mentioned, I'm – you know, allegations that come in, we'll talk with our fellow IGs –

HARRIS: On that specific one, are you working with other IGs?

HOROWITZ: We're not – I don't have any ongoing work at this point. Again, I'm not sure what my legal – if I'd have a statutory authority to look at actions by lawyers at the department related to misconduct.

HARRIS: Have you been approached by any other IGs to work with them on an investigation that related to that phone call?

HOROWITZ: I'll say we've had discussions generally. I don't know what – whether other IGs at this point have or do not have ongoing investigations.

HARRIS: You’ve had conversations generally about this phone call?

HOROWITZ: About – about, generally, Ukraine-related matters and discussions, generally.

HARRIS: How about specifically about this phone call?

HOROWITZ: I don't recall, as I sit here, discussions about it. But again, I have to go – I have to–

HARRIS: You have to refresh your memory?

HOROWITZ: –I have to refresh my recollection on this issue.

A full transcript of Harris’ questioning is below:

HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Horowitz, thank you for conducting your thorough investigation into the origins of the Department of Justice’s Russian investigation. So your report makes clear that the FBI had a legitimate reason to investigate the Trump campaign. Is that correct?

HOROWITZ: Sufficient predication.

HARRIS: And, in addition, your office found no evidence that the FBI launched a politically-motivated investigation, is that correct?

HOROWITZ: That's correct.

HARRIS: And another key finding was that the FBI committed several errors in his applications and in their applications to surveil Carter Page.

HOROWITZ: Or maybe more than several.

HARRIS: And as the FBI director Wray himself has acknowledged, your investigation found serious FBI misconduct that needs to be addressed and Director Wray also said that the FBI fully accepts your investigation's findings. Is that correct?

HOROWITZ: That's correct.

HARRIS: On the other hand, Attorney General Barr has been highly critical of your findings. During the final stages of your investigation, he even embarked on his own personal investigation by meeting with foreign leaders in foreign lands. Apparently, in search of evidence that contradicts the fact that Russia interfered in the 2016 United States presidential election to benefit Trump. Clearly, Barr's investigation, which was launched to do the bidding of President Trump, has two objectives. One, to undermine the integrity of our intelligence community. The goal: to cast doubt on the finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in order to benefit the Trump campaign. And two, to intimidate the men and women of our intelligence community by suggesting that our national security professionals will face serious consequences if they investigate wrongdoing on the part of this President or his operatives. So, General Horowitz, I appreciate your extensive work and the work that your office has devoted to this investigation. But, in addition, you have the power and the duty to investigate misconduct committed by the Attorney General of the United States, who is doing the bidding of the President to undermine our intelligence community. And I trust you take that duty seriously.

HOROWITZ: I do. And I'd just like to add that, under the law, under the Inspector General Act, it carves out from my authority, the ability to look at misconduct by department lawyers from the line lawyer all the way to the top and the Attorney General.

HARRIS: But history has also shown us that the Inspector General can participate in an investigation of the Attorney General. And that, in fact, happened with General Gonzales. Do you recall that?

HOROWITZ: That happened, and it's worth noting, that happened after the Attorney General said our office was not going to get the case. That it was going to go to the Office of Professional Responsibility and the choice for our office was whether to join that investigation or not, but that wasn't initiated through us.

HARRIS: So then who –

HOROWITZ: That’s the important point. The law has to change, Senator. And it should change.

HARRIS: So are you recommending the law changes –

HOROWITZ: Absolutely.

HARRIS: If I propose legislation to change the law, would you support that?

HOROWITZ: Absolutely. In fact, there's legislation Senator Lee has sponsored, several members have co-sponsored. The House has passed this unanimously.

HARRIS: And you would support it?

HOROWITZ: Absolutely, 100%.

HARRIS: So it was recently reported that the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, asked Ukrainians to help search for dirt of the political rivals of the president. In exchange for the help, Giuliani offered to help fix criminal cases against them at DOJ. Giuliani and his associates two of whom have been indicted and are now in federal custody, allegedly reached out to a Ukrainian energy tycoon who faced legal problems in America. In exchange for helping find dirt on the president's political rivals, Giuliani's associates reportedly connected the Ukrainian with lawyers who could get a top-level meeting at the United States Department of Justice. In essence, Giuliani's scheme was an attempt to trade get out of jail free cards for political favors. As part of Giuliani's plan, Attorney General Barr met with the Ukrainians' lawyers, who asked that the Department of Justice withdraw evidence in the tycoon's bribery prosecution. Earlier today, you said you are not investigating matters related to ongoing Ukraine issues. Does that mean that you have decided not to investigate these incidents?

HOROWITZ: No. As I think mentioned in a recent letter and I've been in touch with fellow IG’s who have been asked by members to look at those issues. We've been in communication with each other. I think as Mr. Fine, the Defense Department IG wrote to several members of Congress. He was foregoing at the time, undertaking any work while the House investigation proceeded and any matters here in the Senate. And, you know, as I mentioned, we will look accordingly at any action that we have the jurisdiction to review, getting back to the section 80 discussion. No other IG has that limitation, by the way. So they can investigate their secretary, deputy secretary, administrator, whomever. I just point that out because that's important to keep in mind as we get requests. And why are we different than the state department IG? The EPA IG?

HARRIS: Couldn't agree with you more.

HOROWITZ: And that’s the issue.

HARRIS: Couldn't agree with you more. Do you agree that if true, Giuliani's scheme is alarming?

HOROWITZ: I think anything like that would be very concerning.

HARRIS: And Mr. Giuliani recently returned to Ukraine in search of dirt on the president's political rivals. Apparently, in order to cook up a dossier of his own. Yesterday, he told reporters that President Trump asked him to brief the Justice Department and Senate Republicans on what, if anything, he finds. Do you and are you concerned that the Justice Department would coordinate with the president's personal lawyer on a scheme clearly designed to benefit the president's political campaign?

HOROWITZ: I'm going to look at the evidence myself and facts. I've learned to, before taking any action, to not just rely on news reports or other allegations, but to actually spend the time to look at them. So I'd ask to take a look at that. And again happy to come in and meet with you and talk about it.

HARRIS: Please do. I’d appreciate that. Is it appropriate for the Attorney General or anyone at the Department of Justice to take actions that are slowly – are solely designed to benefit the president politically?

HOROWITZ: I think that would create questions about – on various rules that the department and practices at the department.

HARRIS: During Attorney General Barr's last appearance before this committee, I asked him, has the president or anyone at the white house ever suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?

HOROWITZ: Mhm.

HARRIS: After pondering the word, suggest, the Attorney General declined to answer. The Attorney General's non-response suggested to many that he has opened politically-motivated investigations. Indeed, we know that during a call with the president of Ukraine, President Trump said that Attorney General Barr would follow up regarding the quote on quote favor that the president demanded. Did the Attorney General or anyone at Justice follow up with the president's call?

HOROWITZ: I don't know the answer to that question. And again –

HARRIS: Does anyone in your office know the answer to that question?

HOROWITZ: I don't believe anybody in my office would know it. And, frankly, it gets to the question of a decision by the attorney general whether to open an investigation or not. Which, in most instances, I won't foreclose it completely, but in most instances, would fall squarely within the prohibition on my jurisdiction.

HARRIS: President Trump's phone conversation was an apparent effort to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. And the call involved officials at multiple agencies, including the Department of Justice, the State Department, the Office of Management and Budget, and others. Are you working with the Inspectors General of these various agencies on that issue?

HOROWITZ: As I mentioned, I'm – you know, allegations that come in, we'll talk with our fellow IGs –

HARRIS: On that specific one, are you working with other IGs?

HOROWITZ: We're not – I don't have any ongoing work at this point. Again, I'm not sure what my legal – if I'd have a statutory authority to look at actions by lawyers at the department related to misconduct.

HARRIS: Have you been approached by any other IGs to work with them on an investigation that related to that phone call?

HOROWITZ: I'll say we've had discussions generally. I don't know what – whether other IGs at this point have or do not have ongoing investigations.

HARRIS: You’ve had conversations generally about this phone call?

HOROWITZ: About – about, generally, Ukraine-related matters and discussions, generally.

HARRIS: How about specifically about this phone call?

HOROWITZ: I don't recall, as I sit here, discussions about it. But again, I have to go – I have to–

HARRIS: You have to refresh your memory?

HOROWITZ: –I have to refresh my recollection on this issue. I obviously have been spending a fair amount of time preparing to deal with the 400-plus-page report that we're talking about today.

HARRIS: Involving Ukraine.

HOROWITZ: Yeah. No, right. This report –

HARRIS: Okay. The American system of justice was founded on the principle of equal justice under the law, and that principle obviously means there cannot be one system of justice for one group of people and a different system of justice for others. And I have spent my career fighting for equal justice and I'll tell you that everybody in a Department of Justice obviously has a duty to make sure that people get a fair shot. Unfortunately, recent reports suggest that the actions taken by the Justice Department leaders fall far short of their obligation to pursue equal and evenhanded justice. For example, in 2011, the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion that paved the way for states to legalize online gambling. This opinion was opposed by Sheldon Adelson, who is a major donor who spent millions of dollars to support President Trump. And his lobbyist also sent a memo to top DOJ officials asking that the opinion be reversed. And, of course, then the OLC reversed the 2011 opinion in January of 2019. Has your office investigated whether political considerations motivated the Department of Justice's abrupt reversal of online gambling?

HOROWITZ: I'm fairly confident that we would be barred from doing that by the statutory prohibition. I don't think we would have legal authority to look at why the Office of Legal Counsel made a decision one way or another unless there was a criminal allegation connected to it.

HARRIS: My time is up. Thank you.

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