Good morning Chairman Conyers, Ranking Member Smith, and Members of the Committee.
I have provided the Committee with a lengthy written statement detailing some of the Department’s work under my leadership to protect our Nation, our children, and our civil rights. I am proud of our past accomplishments in these and other areas, and I look forward to future achievements.
I am here, however, to answer your questions to the best of my ability and recollection – not to repeat what I have provided in writing.
Before we begin, I want to make three brief points about the resignations of the eight United States Attorneys.
These points are the same ones that I made before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. My feelings and recollections about this matter have not changed since that time.
First, as I have said repeatedly, each of those United States Attorneys are fine lawyers and dedicated public servants. I have publicly apologized to them and to their families for allowing this matter to become an unfortunate and undignified public spectacle, for which I accept full responsibility.
Second, as I have said before, I should have been more precise when discussing this matter. I understand why some of my statements generated confusion, and I have subsequently tried to clarify my words.
That said, I believe what matters most is that I have always sought the truth – in every aspect of my professional and personal life. This matter has been no exception. I never sought to mislead or deceive the Congress or the American people. To the contrary; I have been extremely forthcoming with information. I am here today to continue to do my part to ensure that all facts about this matter are brought to light.
Finally, recognizing my limited involvement in the process – a mistake I freely acknowledge – I have soberly questioned my prior decisions.
I have reviewed the documents available to the Congress – but please keep in mind that, in deference to the integrity of the ongoing investigations, there is some information that I have not seen.
I have also asked the Deputy Attorney General if I should reconsider my decisions.
What I have concluded is that, although the process was not as rigorous or structured as it should have been, and while reasonable people might decide things differently, my decision to ask for the resignations of these U.S. Attorneys was not based on improper reasons and, therefore, the decision should stand.
I think we agree on what would be improper. It would be improper to remove a U.S. Attorney to interfere with or influence a particular prosecution for partisan political gain.
I did not do that. I would never do that.
Let me conclude by saying that I have learned important lessons from this experience, which will guide me in my important responsibilities.
In recent weeks I have met or spoken with all of our U.S. Attorneys to hear their concerns. These discussions have been open and frank. Good ideas were generated and are being implemented. I look forward to working with these men and women to pursue the great goals of our Department. I also look forward to continuing to work with the Department’s career professionals – investigators, analysts, prosecutors, lawyers, and administrative staff – who perform nearly all of the Department’s work and deserve the most credit for our accomplishments.
I want to continue working with this Committee as well. We have made great strides in protecting our country from terrorism, defending our neighborhoods against the scourge of gangs and drugs, shielding our children from predators, and preserving the integrity of our public institutions. I do not intend to allow recent events to deter us from our mission.