Bret Baier interviews Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the Friday edition of Special Reporter.
Full transcript, via FOX News:
BAIER: Let's talk about the FISA issue and other topics. Joining us now, here at the Department Of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Attorney General, thanks for having us.
SESSIONS: Thank you, Bret. It's good to have you in our courtyard. Great building and great history, I work every day to be worthy of this great tradition to this department.
BAIER: Let me talk about the piece we just saw and that issue about FISA. There are concerns on Capitol Hill, a number of law makers think their need to be changes. What is your take, what is the administration's take?
SESSION: My view, and Iâ€™ve had it really embedded in me since Iâ€™ve been here in â€“ in the department, is that this is a really important issue. We have to protect the fundamentals of 702. I really think if people understood it, they wouldn't think any changes needs to be made. But Congress is working at it, giving intensive review of it.
We welcome that, we welcome the discussion, but we have to have this reauthorized. We are able to suveil terrorists around the globe. Thereâ€™s never been a need for a warrant to suveil a terrorist, a non-American in a foreign country who might pose a threat to the United States. Never been a warrant for that and we've got to be careful that we do not inhibit our investigators from protecting this country.
BAIER: Rand Paul and others say there -- there have to be changes. The American people deserve better from our own government than to have their internet activity swept up in warrant list unlimited searches that ignore the fourth amendment, our bill -- the new bill they're pushing, institutes â€śmajor reforms that prove we can still respect our contribution down the constitution and upholding fundamental civil liberties.â€ť I mean, it sounds in that statement pretty good to a lot of people who are concerned about privacy issues.
SESSIONS: First, let me tell you, when you suveil a person abroad, you donâ€™t have to have a warrant to do so. That has never been so they donâ€™t have the fourth amendment protection. On occasion, that person might call somebody in the United States, and if theyâ€™re a terrorist, you really want to know who they are talking to. Maybe theyâ€™re plotting an attack on the United States.
Whenever you have a lawful warrant to â€“ to listen on someone's phone, you of course to listen to who they talk to. You donâ€™t need a warrant because they might be talking to an American citizen. Thatâ€™s not the history of the fourth amendment and the courts have held the consistently. This program is oversighted in half a dozen different ways. Judges oversight on the intent. We are watching it closely. But if we can work with Congress, we'll do so.
BAIER: You're concerned about the votes and how itâ€™s lining up?
SESSIONS: I think we are going to have the votes and I think weâ€™ll have -- I'm confident we will and I think a vast majority of senators will see it this way. We voted on it before. We've executed it in a good way and its critical our national security.
BAIER: So, your department lifted the gag order on this FBI informant tied to Uranium One investigation. Now Congress is involved in that investigation. John Roberts has sources saying that the president was involved in the discussion and pushed for that decision. Is that true?
SESSIONS: Well, I haven't talked to him about that. What I will say is that Senator Grassley has been direct with us for some time. We worked with Senator Grassley and are very happy to be able to approve his testimony before the Senate judiciary.
BAIER: But did Don McGahn, White House counsel or deputies tell you or your people to say the president really wants this to happen?
SESSIONS: I have not talked to him about that, but I think it's a good thing that itâ€™s worked out and we are very pleased about it.
BAIER: So, you know the concern. Hereâ€™s a former attorney general -- a former U.S. Attorney, rather, who has concerns if this in fact happened. Take a listen.
UNKNOWN: What causes people not to have faith, even if it was otherwise a right decision, for this NDAA (ph)to be lifted, it causes people to question whether or not the president influenced the decision., and you can't have in this country, I think, if you want to have faith in how the laws are executed and enforced, that a president is calling out by name specific actions and specific directions in a criminal investigation.
BAIER: So youâ€™re saying he didn't do that?
SESSIONS: Well, I'm not aware of any such communications. I don't believe there was any orders driven or delivered, but what I do know is we've been talking with the Senate judiciary committee for some time. I have never understood, really, why there would be a problem and Iâ€™m glad it's been worked out.
BAIER: OK. I know you cannot talk about the specifics on the Russian investigation because you recuse yourself. On the investigation that's not going on about this dossier, can you dismiss reports that the dossier was used to obtain surveillance warrants on the Trump team?
SESSIONS: I don't know anything about that. I'm not able to comment on that. I would just say that the system seems to be working and it's a matter that Iâ€™m just glad people have looked at.
BAIER: There was some frustration, House speaker and others, that it's taken a long time for your FBI to kind of produce the documents around this.
SESSIONS: They have been, you know, concerns about that, they've been pressured for that. There are reasons why the FBI should not provide details of their investigation in the middle of investigation. However, in this situation, I think it's appropriate. I'm glad they've accepted the request.
BAIER: Speaking of taking time, big story today, these JFK papers. The president says he wants to put them out. Then they come out redacted because of concerns from the CIA and FBI and there's a lot of people saying that after all these years, weren't you ready for this day?
SESSIONS: It's time to get it done, Bret. I've talked with the FBI. We've talked with our staff here. I think the president's right to say, letâ€™s get these materials out. they are moving today very quickly. Some of documents have already been produced today and they will be moving faster, there will not be, I believe, any significant redactions â€“ redaction that may have been suggested will not be in there. There's going to be virtually complete disclosure. Some people who are alive may not need their names or their current addressâ€™s revealed. Lot of it is extraneous entirely.
BAIER: You are trying to expedite it?
SESSIONS: We are working this weekend. We are going to be working every way possible to expedite the production of these documents as completely as possible and they will be virtually, completely revealed from the FBI files.
BAIER: A lot of historians I think happy about that. Another issue, that Jane Doe case. This is this illegal immigrant who came into the U.S. and wanted an abortion with federal funds and it happened. There are pro-life critics out there saying your department dropped the ball on this and that you had the chance to file on â€“ on time that would have prevent the ACLU from kind of moving the process along and she actually had the abortion. How do you respond to that?
SESSIONS: She was determined to do that and the lawyers that were representing her were determined to have that abortion. And they were able to file, have the abortion at 4:30 in the morning before we were filing our brief the next morning. My lawyers tell me that they were told by their lawyers that that would not happen. This is a total surprise and it really a breach of the kind of confidence that lawyers should be able to have with one another and we are very upset about it. And I think it's a serious problem, it should not have happened and â€“ and we â€“ weâ€™re disturbed about it, Iâ€™ve got to tell you.
BAIER: Do you think this issue is going to come up again and maybe go all the way up to the Supreme Court about these federal dollars being used?
SESSIONS: Weâ€™ll look at that and pursue it in any way possible. I don't believe that we should be using taxpayersâ€™ dollars to fund abortions and I think in this case, certainly ones not justified. We've resisted it steadfastly and I'm very disappointed that these lawyers are able to take that time (ph) around the law avoid a court hearing at least to see that we were filing.
BAIER: How was your relationship with President Trump now? A little bit rocky there now for a while.
SESSIONS: We've had -- the president really clear about when he's happy with somebody or when he's not happy with somebody. But I feel real good about it. We had a good visit yesterday. I got -- at the speech he gave and he complimented us on our work. Weâ€™ve had other visits in the last week or so and it's improving. I am excited about his leadership on this opioid issue. This is a tremendously big issue for America.
The first lady, Melania Trump, spoke yesterday. So he did. This morning, I went to New York to this huge postal center where 70 percent of the mail from abroad comes where fentanyl is coming in thatâ€™s such a death dealing drug. The whole government has heard from the president. We are reacting and we are going to be doing something about opioids. I've got to tell you. He's a strong leader. We've got the message, itâ€™s something we've been working on here in this department for months and we are going to step it up even more.
BAIER: Less than quickly. I asked this to a lot of officials and national security positions. What -- what keeps you up at night?
SESSIONS: We've got -- the national security threat is always there, and I am proud of the FBI. I'm amazed how many people they've identified in early stages that can be charged and arrested and stopped from plans that were developing to attack America. So thatâ€™s a big thing. But the murder rate in America is going up.
We had a 20 percent increase in homicide in just two years, the largest increase since 1968. Fentanyl death rate went from 52,000 in 2015, huge. We've never seen anything like that. It went up to 64,000 in 2016. It is more than accidents. It is more than the AIDs at the peak of that epidemic. Those things threaten the very peace and safety of Americans. This team in the Department Of Justice works every day to deal with it.
BAIER: Mr. Attorney general, we appreciate your time.
SESSIONS: Thank you.