Conyers Grills Deputy Attorney General McNulty Transcript

June 21, 2007
Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law
Hearing on: The Continuing Investigation into the U.S. Attorneys Controversy and Related Matters

Transcript:

McNulty: … and the second has to do with the caging issue. And there it’s a rather simple issue of where she’s challenging my testimony. Senator Schumer asked me about an allegation involving Tim Griffin and a practice known as caging. And I said that I was aware of an article on that subject. But I didn’t and here is my quote I didn’t know anything about it personally and that’s perfectly true. I didn’t know anything about it personally. The night before my hearing I was given an article and a short explanation and I did not have an opportunity to read those things, I knew about the existence of the issue, and I therefore did not wanna testify about a matter that I did not know about personally. And I just said that at the time.
Rep. Conyers: Thank you Madam Chair. Now you never, did you just say you didn’t know anything about caging?
McNulty: What I said was that when I was asked that question at the Senate hearing, all I knew about the subject was that there was an article

Rep. Conyers: Was that article by Greg Palast about African American soldiers scrubbed by secret GOP hit lists? Dated June 16, 2006? Was that it as you recall?
McNulty: That’s the article I’m referring to.

Rep. Conyers: And didn’t Monica Goodling tell you that caging might come up at the hearing as she was briefing you?
McNulty: Yes that’s correct.
Rep. Conyers: And did it come up?
McNulty: It did.
Rep. Conyers: And you didn’t, and your response was you never looked at the caging even though Goodling told you. You saw the Greg Palast article and it was put in your in briefing testimony for the Senate in your briefing book
McNulty: Right.
Rep. Conyers: And you didn’t look at the material in your briefing book outside of the article?
McNulty: Mister Chairman I didn’t read the article, I was aware the article existed because Senator Prior referred to it in his testimony right before I got up to testify and Ms Goodling had raised the issue the day before. But I had not read the article and not become familiar with the issue, even if I had read that article Mister Chairman, if I just may say so, even if I had read that article, and I was asked that question again by Senator Schumer, I would still be very careful before I started speaking because, information based upon just one article
Rep. Conyers: But there was more in your briefing book.
McNulty: There was another Tim Griffin e-mail which gave his explanation of that article which I have now seen but I hadn’t read before I testified.
Rep. Conyers: So could I infer that caging of black voters may not have been one of the high items on your list as your responsibility as Deputy Attorney General?
McNulty: Well I’m not sure what you mean by that.
Rep. Conyers: What I mean by it is, Goodling told you about it, it’s in your case, it’s in your Senate testimony and yet you fail to answer questions on the subject before the Senate and you tell me even now, as of today have you looked at it yet?
McNulty: I have now read the article and I’ve read that e-mail
Rep. Conyers: I mean the whole subject matter of caging. I mean this disenfranchises lots of people. Well first of all, you know caging is challenging lists of voters that are usually minority voters
Unidentified voice: Would the gentleman yield because I think Ms Goodling’s testimony slightly inaudible
Rep. Conyers: Wait a minute, let me just finish my question, I’ll get back to you Chris, I always do, you know that.
But we’ve got a whole chain of testimony, this is one of the big issues that came out of, at least a couple of major elections of this country, and you’re saying yes I was told about it, yes it was in my tab in the briefing book for Senate testimony and yes I looked at Palast’s article but I didn’t read it.
Why does it not generate much concern or attention to you this for me, voter rights is one of the big problems that we have in terms of having it enforced in the Department of Justice.
McNulty: Mister Chairman, if I may respond. We’re dealing with two things here, first of all with regard to what I knew at the hearing I went to on February 6. I was about to go and testify on the question of why were certain US attorneys asked to leave and also what happened in the case and specifically what happened in the case of Arkansas. The subject having to do with an article making an allegation against a particular person like that was not directly related to what I was doing and as I was preparing and I was given an article the night before I didn’t have the time, I didn’t focus on that particular issue because I was, again I was anticipating the hearing looking at other subjects. Now secondly if you’re raising with me as Deputy Attorney General the question of caging votes I’m very happy to work with you on that concern. I’m not prepared to give you a lengthy explanation of where that stands if there’s anything happening at the Department of Justice on the matter.
Rep. Conyers: Well just your commitment that we’ll work on it together is good enough for me.
McNulty: Well you certainly have that commitment. I don’t mean to, now I’m obviously not going to be around for a long time but I certainly understand the importance of the issue to you and the department takes any issue involving voting rights seriously and we will make sure that’s understood.
Rep. Conyers: Thank you, could I get an additional minute to yield to the ranking minority leader of this committee as I always do when he asks?
Rep. Cannon: In fact the gentleman is extraordinarily gracious in this regard. I just wanted to point out that the caging, we need to declare and I think Mister McNulty was fair here, caging is as I understand it a term of art for mail houses it relates to what you do when a letter comes back because it didn’t have an address that worked.
Rep. Conyers: I see, and that’s all you know about caging?
Rep. Cannon: That’s what I think the term generally means but I’m not an expert in the area at all?
Conyers: Well, well maybe I ought to bring you in and let’s just work together on that because we’re talking about the caging, the process where lists of voters to be challenged are generated that deal with blocking them out of the voting process, it’s not a mail, it’s not an issue of the mail at all.

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