Transcript for Rep. Jason Chaffetz says Oversight Committee is 'certainly pursuing' Comey documents
Just because there's an investigation or work being done at the department of justice doesn't excuse the congress from doing its own work and getting to the bottom of things. This is about the fight for the soul of our democracy. We cannot afford to lose this one. There you see the leaders of the house oversight government reform committee. Jason Chaffetz, Elijah Cummings. Thank you for joining us the morning. Mr. Chairman, let me begin with you. Your reaction to the extraordinary meeting between the president and the Russian foreign minister, lavrov. You have revelation of highly classified information and the report that the president was calling James Comey a nut job in the meeting and saying the pressure is off. Your reaction? I hope it's not true. I don't know if that was said or not said. I would like the president to beat them over the head with the fact that if they did, the Russians, did interfere in any way, shape, or form, how wrong that is and how outraged America is on both sides of the aisle. If you were lynning carefully to general Mcmasters, the president apparently didn't bring up the Russian interference. Will you demand to see the notes of that meeting? We have been asking for -- I want every note that they have, George. There have been so many lies. So many contradictions. I think documents will help us to ferret out what is the truth and what is a lie. I'm hoping the chairman will issue subpoenas so we can get every document. I think we need that. You have also asked the justice department and James Comey of any documents he has of any meet wgs the president. You have asked him to testify may 24th. Have you heard from James Comey or the justice department? I believe director Comey and I will have a conversation on Monday. I have not spoken with him. Nobody's seen the documents. Even the reporter at "The new York Times" has not seen the documents. Maybe director Comey has them. I don't know where they reside. I don't know in there are documents. We're pursuing them. If they're there, I hope we find them and get them sooner or later. When you look at the pattern of interactions are the former FBI director. The meetings in January. The meeting in February. The firing of James Comey. What we have learned about the notes of James Comey. Some of your democratic colleagues are already seeing the beginnings of a case for impeachment. Are they right or sit going too far? Think we need to gather the facts. I have always been one to be very careful with regards to the gathering of the facts and then coming to the colon collusions as opposed to having a conclusion and trying to search for the facts. I've seen that in the past, so many times. I think that we -- that will take care of itself. Basically, George there are three things going on here. One, we have to figure out what this whole idea of the Russians interfering with our elections was all about. After all, 17 of our intelligence agencies said it did happen. Two, we have to figure out whether there was collusion and that -- I'm sure that will come out. And three, we have to figure out exactly whether there was some type of coverup. That's how I see this. All along we have to look at it very carefully. The congress has its role. We have the role for the independent commission. And certainly, the special counsel. One of the ore things we learned this week, there is a person of interest in the investigation who is now a senior official in the white house. Does the white house have a responsibility to ve veal who that is? I want to see that this person is prosecuted. The president makes a good point. No matter who is in the white house you cannot have the type of leaking of information, sources, methods, classified information. I don't care who it is, Democrat or Republican, you cannot have that happen. So, not only do you need to wall them off, you probably need to put handcuffs on them and put them in jail. That's for people who are leaking. That's different than the person of interest in the investigation, isn't it? E don't know where this is going to go. We have to let the investigators and the FBI and others to do their job. We're not in a position to go individual by individual and do these type of interviews. Congressman, how do you think the white house shoeld deal with the person of interest in the ib vest gags? I think that will come out whether the white house acts or not. That will be left up to Mr. Mueller, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for. There can be -- there will be hopefully parallel investigations going on. Just the other day in our briefing, Mr. Rosenstein told us he pretty much welcomed us pursuing our investigation with regard to look at this broad picture. Of -- of the whole idea of the Russians interfering with our elections. Can I interrupt you for a second? In that meeting, sit true that Mr. Rosenstein did not tell you who told him to write that memo that was released at the parallel with the firing of James Comey? No. He didn't tell us. No. He did not. But again -- Why not? You gotta ask him. Ky tell you, George, my impression, when I walked out of the briefing, this thing runs deep. In other words, think that there may be quite a few people that may have some problems with the law. Um -- with regard to this whole incident. But -- we have got to stay focused. Impeachment is one thing. But, George, we gotta concentrate on the the fact that the Russians interfered with our elections. And I keep telling people. Don't lose -- don't get so caught up in impeachment that you forget about that. Because I'm telling you, that's something that goes to the very heart of our democracy. We can't have people in Russia determining who will be the president of the United States. And what policies will be pursued. No, we cannot have that. Democrats, independents, all of us ought to be concerned about that. That's a role that clearly the congress has so play and that's a role that an independent commission that congressman and I have proposed would play. Finding the answers to those questions. Mr. Chairman, you've announced you're leaving congress on June 30th. Some colleagues suggest you should leave now. What is your reaction? I'll work with the steering committee and we'll pass the baton. I gave people six weeks's notice. I was honest and candid. I want to pass the baton. We'll do so. There's a lot of ine ve gags going upon a lot of good work. I want to do it in the right way. Thank you both for joining us. "The roundtable" is coming up.
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