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Justice Department Pledges To Help Investigate Paris Terror Attacks

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The U.S. attorney general says federal law enforcement is doing everything possible to prevent what happened in Paris from happening in the U.S. Loretta Lynch also says the Justice Department has pledged to help investigate the Paris attacks. NPR's Carrie Johnson has more.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Loretta Lynch began her first congressional oversight hearing as attorney general by expressing condolences to America's oldest international partner.

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LORETTA LYNCH: We are committed to doing everything within our power to assist our French law enforcement colleagues in bringing those responsible for this monstrous act of terror to justice.

JOHNSON: The Justice Department says there's no specific or credible threat to the U.S. homeland, but federal prosecutors have charged more than 70 people with homegrown extremism or foreign-fighter activity in the past two years. Lynch told the House Judiciary Committee those efforts are ongoing and intense.

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LYNCH: We are working around the clock to uncover and disrupt plots that take aim at our people, our infrastructure and our way of life

JOHNSON: The new attorney general faced harsh questions about the Obama administration's policy on refugees. Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, pressed the attorney general.

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BOB GOODLATTE: Do you disagree with the FBI director when he says that vetting Syrian refugees is extremely difficult, if not impossible?

LYNCH: Well, Mr. Chairman, I'm not sure he said it was impossible. Not only the Department of Justice but all of our agencies will make every effort to vet every refugee coming into this country.

JOHNSON: In that instance, the attorney general toed to the administration line. But when she was asked about plans to move detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison onto American soil, Lynch appeared to break with the White House. Officials there have left the door open to using executive action to close Guantanamo and move some detainees here.

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LYNCH: With respect to individuals being transferred to the United States, the law currently does not allow for that, and that is not, as I am aware of, going to be contemplated given the legal prescriptions.

JOHNSON: Republicans also asked the attorney general about recent remarks from President Obama. He said he didn't think Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state had endangered national security. The FBI's investigating the matter.

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LYNCH: With respect to the president's comments, they have no influence or bearing on how the department manages these matters, and I would have to refer you to him for a review of those.

JOHNSON: Lynch offered no timetable for when that investigation might end. Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.

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