Rep. Johnson Statement in Judiciary Hearing on Oversight of FBI & DOJ Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election

June 19, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, asked a crucial question of Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on whether his office would look into any criminal referrals from the pending lawsuit against Donald Trump brought by the New York Attorney General. Below is a transcript and video link of the exchange:

Rep. Johnson’s Statement & Questions of DOJ IG in Judiciary Hearing:   

Chair: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Johnson, for five minutes. 

Mr. Johnson: Mr. Chairman, between the Republican-led committees, there have been numerous hearings on the topic of Hillary Clinton’s emails. Hillary Clinton has been the gift that Republicans can’t get enough of.

The American people will recall that during the run up to the 2016 presidential election, House Republicans held numerous hearings about then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 

We remember what House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy admitted when he told a reporter: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s not trustable.”

Well Mr. Chairman, today finds us again mired in another hearing about Hillary Clinton’s emails. Instead of holding hearings to muck up Hillary Clinton, Republicans today are holding this hearing while hoping the people of America are distracted from the important issues of the day. 

As chants of ‘lock her up’ fade from our memories, our consciences are being disturbed as we hear the Pro Publica footage of the little children crying ‘I want my mamma. I want my daddy.’ 

As I prepared for this hearing last night, all I could hear were the cries of those children, being held in private for-profit jails, crying out for their parents.

Mr. Chairman, I think we should have hearings about how the Trump administration is deporting parents as their children remain wards of this country.

And we can also be looking into issues like what was reported last week – the New York Attorney General’s investigation and criminal referral to the Department of Justice – the same day the OIG Report came out, the New York AG sued Donald Trump, his children and the Trump Foundation with alarming allegations about flagrant violations of the law, and potentially criminal acts. 

The New York AG found, and I quote: In sum, the investigation revealed that the Foundation was little more than a check book for payments to not-for-profits from Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization. This resulted in multiple violations of state and federal law because payments were made using Foundation money regardless of the purpose of the payment. Mr. Trump used charitable assets to pay off the legal obligations of entities he controlled, to promote Trump hotels, to purchase personal items, and to support his president election campaign.”

The complaint included images of emails from campaign staff, such as Corey Lewandowski, directing political spending out of the Foundation’s accounts.

It included a not, clearly in the President’s own handwriting, directing Foundation money to be used to settle a lawsuit against Mar-a-Lago, his country club estate for the ultra-rich.

This is stunning. The NY AG alleged that there were “multiple violations of state and federal law.” The New York Attorney General sent an official criminal referral letters to the IRS and Federal Election Commission to investigate tax and election law violations. 

The letter to the FEC copied an official from the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.

Now more than ever, we need strong and independent oversight to ensure that federal law enforcement and prosecutors can do their job free of political pressure. 

Based on the President’s past statements and actions, I have serious concerns that he or his political allies will attempt to make this new potential criminal case go away. 

And so, we will once again need to rely on your office Mr. Horowitz for that oversight. Can you commit to us here today that your office will look into this criminal referral to ensure there is no improper outside influence – or inside influence for that matter -- including any attempts from the President or his staff to shut down an investigation into the conduct of the President or his family? 

Mr. Horowitz: So, certainly matters that are within our jurisdiction and authority we’re prepared to conduct appropriate oversight of. There will be some things that are within our jurisdiction and some things that are not within our jurisdiction. It depends ultimately what comes to us in terms of the referral or not – if and when one does come. That’s what I can tell you with a hypothetical, but that is why we’re here as the Inspector General Office and if it’s within our jurisdiction we’ll obviously take any referrals and look at it carefully. 

Mr. Johnson: I thank you for your exhaustive investigation in this report. I think you’ve done a great job and I yield back.


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