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tv   Senate Homeland Security Committee Holds Hearing on FB Is Crossfire...  CSPAN  December 4, 2020 1:32pm-2:51pm EST

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hearing on the fbi'scrossfire hurricane investigation . it's a possible time between the 20 16th trump campaign and russian officials. the senate gary peters thetop democrat on the panel delivered his opening statement . no democrats took part this runs an hourand 45 minutes . >>. [inaudible] >> morning, this hearing is called order. the title of this hearing is congressional oversight in the face of the executive branch and immediate suppression of a case study of the crossfire hurricane corrupt investigation.
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the hearing is quite a bit broader than that but we will certainly focus on that. i became chairman of this committee in january 2015 and will complete my six-yearterm at the end of this month . we can all be proud of the more than 100 pieces of legislation worked on together as the committee became law. the other more than 200 bills that we passed out of committee although not signed into lawwill still serve as the basis for future legislation . our committee and subcommittees have brought oversight jurisdiction and responsibilities that wehave not ignored . we've investigated and exposed problems with the va healthcare system, human trafficking, national security leaks, systemic violations of the hatch act and postal service to name just a few . was recentlywithheld held eight hearings and roundtables on the current response to coronavirus . it is is not surprise me some
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of our oversight investigations did not receive partisan support and in particular those concerningcorruption within the obama administration . fromfebruary 2018 , president obama stated we didn't have to scandal embarrass us further in may 2018 stated i didn't have scandals. not only were those scandals denied by the former president, there also largely ignored by both democrat colleagues and most of the media. but nothing could befurther from the truth . the short list of known that scandals demonstrate why they should not be ignoredand should be investigated and exposed . i'll depart from my full written statements because i have more detail on these as i will ask that my full statement be entered into the record but let's go down a quick list and i want to make a couple of points. fast and furious. the result of that we have an assassin here that can testify to being spied on with the result of that scandal the obama administration started spying
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on journalists. we saw that eric holder was held in contempt of congress but never held accountable for it. which i'm highlighting right now which just shows one of the problems congress has in its oversight capabilities as we have no method of enforcing subpoenas or content if that person held in contempt is a member of theadministration . it really renders us very toothless in terms of effective oversight . then ghazi, i won't go into detail their other than to say that susan rice went on sunday morning shows by the american people said there was violent protests outside her embassy sparked by hateful videos. secretary clinton was then reported to comment to one of the father of one of the following heroes, to make sure that person who made that film was arrested and prosecuted, unquote.
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it just so happened that video was released shortly thereafter and spent a year in jail in prison for probation violation on a separate charge. i'd view that has somewhat of an abuse of power area the irs scandal. where the irs was turned into a political weapon against conservatives targeted and not allowed to have tax-exempt data and that case lewis lerner refused to testify. he pled the fifth before congress. later by the way she retired with full retirementbenefits, was never held accountable, never punish . irs plan records including many emails have been lost and once again no one wasever held accountable . the biden ukraine conflicts scandal. the thing i want to point out about this is how the press was instigating this. back in october 2015 when the
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wall street journal inquired the vice president's office about that conflict of interest with hunter being on theboard , he inquired on october 21 was the same day that vice president biden decided to not run for the primary against hillary clinton. again in december 2019 politico published 20 page article on biden incorporated that revealed a lot of some of the financial foreign entanglements thatsenator grassley and my investigation has revealed in our september 20/20 report . past that point the press ignored the glaring conflict that george kent said was operable for all policymakers trying to run an anti- corruption agenda in ukraine. this is really, when i look over pttook over as chairman in 2015 there was a march 2015
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it was revealed hillary clinton ran most of her emails through a private server . not only is this committee the general oversight committee in congress, we have specific legislative jurisdictions on federal records. that really began my work for the last six years ci investigating some of this corruption of the obama administration and it's important to note that this represents from my standpoint thand unequal application of justice. hillary clinton wasexonerated . this email scandal, the media examination investigation and the crossfire hurricane scandal, i want to talk about one of sthe texts to lisa page shortly after they exonerated hillary clinton said this feels momentous. now let's talk aboutcrossfire hurricane because this matter . the other one, that was just
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so that we didn't have something up. this matters because it matters . so glad to be on this voyage with you and we have the inspector general when he reviewed the fisa abuse and claimed there was no proof that political bias affected any actions you read i would challenge thatstatement . a final statement is one that we uncovered in our report on leaks. and the overall summary of that is that report showed 125 leaks in the first 126 days of the trump administration, 62 of them would have been defined as arming national security while the obama ministration definition of that and 62 , eight or nine during both the bush and the obama administration. it's an explosion of leaks and by the way, those leaks are what drove and sustained
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false narratives of russian collusion with the trump campaign. it was proven totally false but was the center of the crossfire hurricane investigation and partial counsel and quite --honestly more attention to the impeachment trial in the senate. common elements of each ofthe scandals is abuse of executive branch power . if this misconduct remains hidden or goes unpunished, it represents a seriousthreat to our individual freedoms and our democratic republic . i do not make that statement lightly. i would also say to really demonstrate a pattern of bias and unequal treatment. surely bias in the media, bias in social media, the censorship that we've witnessed over the last few months but also a pattern of bias and unequal treatment in our justice system as i pointed out earlier and i would also say that a ttpattern of unequal treatment, unequal loyalty and bias within the
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executive branch. i find it shocking that the two weeks of president from an office, two of his phone calls to world leaders were leaks to the press. this is unprecedented. it's what spawned our investigation into the leaks, the hundred 25 leaks in the first 165 days. this cannot go on. this is dangerous to our democratic republic. unfortunately my efforts to uncover the truth have been obstructed by the agencies involved by entrenched bureaucrats that have every incentive to keep it hidden. this has been true in the obama and trumpadministration . the fbi did not need to produce records about the crossfire hurricane investigation until i subpoenaed them in august of this year. even then , the documents were heavilyredacted . i've got a quick example of enthis that we did in one of our reports on the views of the gsa process. this is an email xathat the gsa
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produced to us and you can see you can read the whole thing except for the mobile phone number ofthe senders email . this is the exact same email produced by the fbi. as you can see almost everything is redacted. there's no reason for things to be redacted. there's nothing involving harming nationalsecurity here . it embarrasses the agency but doesn't harm national security . this is whatwe've been dealing with . this is what we've encountered in our investigations into abuse of power. in may senator grassley and i requested obama officials to unmask a health campaign and transition officials, that was compiled and is now being provided to committee somewhere between the nsa and department of justice. without those records it would not be productive so we had not interview the officials involved in those unmasking's.
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finally just yesterday the state produced an unclassified version of an email senatorgrassley and i requested in august . i was able to review the unredacted version and can only say that it remains classified should not be classified. the information would not harm national security would reflect poorly on vice president biden. that's not a valid reason or classification or indefinitely withholding information from congress. these investigations have diomalso been hampered by false allegations made against me and senator grassley by senior democrat leaders including this committee's ranking member. in letters reportedly classified staff immediately linked to the press and statements on the floor and to the media they have accused senator grassley and me of receiving and disseminating russian e disinformation. this is patently false and it's easily proven so by a carefulexamination of our
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report . no matter how many times we have been issued denials a compliant media repeats their false allegations. this was the exact same playbook used when the steel dossier and the russian collusion hopes . these claims are especially gallingbecause in both cases , democrats were the real peddlers ofrussian disinformation . the purpose of today's hearing is to release two timelines, i've got them right here. one that's a more condensed and more general about all of our investigations and then one that's specific and far more detailed on the crossfire hurricane investigations. to help place the scandals in perspective, we're also going to release the documents we've obtained related to crossfire hurricane and also to demonstrate howmuch has been withheld and how many questions remain unanswered . i have requested this information be entered into the record. this information oncannot be
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covered in a single hearing and instead i invited three witnesses to talk about specific aspects of the scandals in which you have detailed knowledge and i look would like to thank the witnesses for their time and appearing before this committee and i look forward to the testimony. i really do want to thank the witnesses for your time and your appearance here and with that i will turn it over to senator peters. >> thank you mister chairman and mister chairman i want to start by saying i certainly appreciate the bipartisan work that we have accomplished togetherduring this congress . under our leadership this committee has advanced n important legislation to strengthen border security, to safeguard critical facilities and institutions from terrorist attacks, streamline government efficiency and in the process save taxpayer dollars and ensure strong oversight over the coronavirus urgency spending .
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the committee does its best work for the american people when we come together and we can mutually agree on. i would progress that today's hearing unfortunately does not meet our best traditions of nonpartisanship and bipartisanship. this committee has already held a hearing on oversightof crossfire hurricane investigations . we heard testimony from the department of justice inspector general horowitz about the errors and misconduct that his nonpartisan independent investigation found. inspector general horowitz interviewed more than 100 witnesses and reviewed more than 1 million documents over the course of nearly 2 years to come to his conclusion and in fact i asked that the executive summary of this report be entered into the record. >> without objection. >> i'll remind the chairman and mister horowitz while
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opening the investigation was in compliance with department and fbi policies , we found no evidence of political bias in its opening or in any investigative steps taken by the crossfire hurricane team, end of quote.we know the inspector general did find problems with this investigation and the fbi has implemented recommended hchanges toprevent those errors on happening again . in addition to our own committee hearing, the senate judiciary committee which has jurisdiction over the fbi and the department of justice is currently undertaking its own investigation. prosecutor john durham is also continuing his own investigation at the department of justice. the senate intelligence committee has also already investigated and it's bipartisan report included that trump campaign manager paul transcends willingness
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to share information with russian inintelligence services was a grave counterintelligence threat. i asked the writings of the senate intelligence committee also be entered into the record withoutobjection , mister chairman >> without objection . >> in addition to our own today's hearing , seeks to rehash the same matter. in a more partisan way. to reach conclusions that the chairman has alreadyannounced publicly . the panelists here today are not witnesses to the underlyingevents . their public commentary as an extremely partisan and in some cases such as disputing the results of themost recent election , entirely divorced him reality. the strength of american democracy and a peaceful transition of power depends largely on the american people trust that our elections are free and that they are fair.
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there was no plot against president trump when he won the election 4 years ago or when he lost the election last month. promoting a demonstrably false narrative with dangerous rhetoric erodes trust and prevents our country from healing. our committee as a real responsibility to conduct oversight of the central government's role in pandemic response and so many other matters impacting national security and given the dangerous world that we live in, we simply don't have time to involve, indulge in hyper- partisan investigations that don't advance the interests of the american people. therefore i do not think today's hearing is the appropriate use of our committee time . resources or quite frankly credibility. next year, i look forward to returning to our strengths, to work together in a
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bipartisan way to address the devastating health economic and security challenges that we are facing as a country. you mister chairman. >> it is the tradition of this committee to swear in witnesses. raise your right hand and if the gentleman here will stand and raise their right hand. >> do you solemnly swear the testimony you will give before this committee is the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me god ? please be seated. our first witness is miss cheryl attkisson, and that inveigative journalist and host of the national news program for measure. for 30 years miss atkinson was a correspoent and anchor at cbs news, cnn and local news. miss attkisson has authored several books on us politics, the media and government abuses. miss attkisson has received five emmy awards. miss attkisson.
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>> good morning everybody. i've been a nonpartisan journalist for nearly 40 years in cbs national station group sinclair and i've witnessed a dramatic devolution of my industry as we allowed ourselves to be transformed into tools of political and corporate interests pushing narratives in the news and online and seeking to shape public opinion rather than report facts and various views read this means today's media landscape has allowed some of the most important stories of our time to be covered in a fantastical and one-sided often inaccurate and incomplete way or perhaps escape coverage entirelywhile important violations of law and constitutional rights by powerful interests go unchallenged . we have to confront the fact that our structure and some insider federal agencies have proven more powerful than congress, the legislative or
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judicial branches, more influential with the media and largely immune from aloversight and after the most egregious violations for prosecution. even the president of the united states whoever it may be placed second fiddle to the structure and partly because the news media has dropped the ball, operating in an extraconstitutional fashion that exist from administration to administration . just one example government spying on journalists and other innocent americans. after an incredible series of revelations beginning in 2013 nobody was held accountable. government agents initiated secret surveillance against then process reporter james rosenand ap reporters . cbs where i worked at the time announced in 2013 that the my computers were remotely hacked and my work monitoredat the cbs new systems .
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after edthey proved the government was responsible, i secretly installed a heat on monitoring program exfiltration files, listened in on my secretly activated audio computer long to try to erase the tracks nothing happened, zero. to this day i'm in civil court trying to or so the justice department to reveal the names of all the specific agents involved and so i thought at one point hold accountability and to stop it from happening to others. onseven long years later it's an uphill battle as the justice department has built taxpayer dollars. it should be no surprise that these agents continue. when top officials dave piper and john brennan provide information to congress about surveillance of american prisons and the cia spying on senate commuters, all is forgiven tand former fbi
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director james comey, the justice department says he meant no harm when christopher wright falsely testifies to congress there had been no 702 surveillance of these,transfer it to numerousfindings by the court and others , nobody says a word .government officials unlock the names of american citizens, when congress makes referrals for critical charges, we've committed to request relevant documents from federal agencies that are supposed to oversee with fbi cell phone containing possible evidence of corruption, when information is illegally meet for political purposes, nothing. the people responsible for these things were confused, and understand the questions, didn't understand the rules, mean any harm . it was an accident but there was not our team are never reported the same that. this has caused a crisis of confidence in our public
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institutions. among many there's a lack of trust in congress, the media, health officials and the justice department and our elections process. now even when congress maybe doing the public good, the media may be telling thetruth , health officials maybe getting good advice, the department of justice maybe utdoing the right thing or many don't buy the story where telling area we created this environment over a tranny of decades and then we look at the public which launches a double standard presented by the media and we ask why they're mistrustful when it's ours. and if where unable to change things we can only expect more of the same or worse. >> miss atkinson, our next witnesses mister kevin brock i, mister brock worked 24 years as an fbi agent. at the 9/11 attacks he served as the fbi's assistant director for intelligence and later became the first principle be director at the national counterterrorism
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center. ecmister brock works in the private sector, mister brock. >> good morning senator johnson. >> for the invitation to appear today, i have submitted a detailed statement that i will summarize now. >> during my 24 year career in fbi investigated and manage numerous significant counterintelligence cases and specifically russian counterintelligence investigations. as a senior fbi executive i led the initiative that t caused me to work closely with the department of justice, to align fbi policy changes with the attorney general's guidelines. as a result, i have the knowledge and understanding of the attorney general's guidelines throughout my career and while certain changes may have occurred due to the guidelines my retirement, i retain a solid understanding of the attorney general's guidelines for protections for americans from inappropriate overreach bythe fbi . as a former fbi executive and now private citizen i have authored several articles
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critical of the eye executive comey and their initiation aand handling of the crossfire hurricane investigation and the harm their actions did to us citizens aligned with the trump campaign . in addition , i have been lonely critical of the suddenly inappropriate actions zeof former director comey objectively impacted the hillary clinton campaign to the presidential election in 2016 . in short, i've been reading up at some personal rest not for political reasons but rather out of my concern that the integrity of the fbi and the trust of the american people after additionally waste in the fbi . have been imperiled by faulty and reckless actions of those former fbi leaders. i do not speak on behalf of the fbi or any current or former fbi employee, only myself . i have however received f abundant and overwhelmingly feedback from current and former personnel with concern for the future of the fbi. let me be as clear as possible.
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the disgraced former fbi executives never should have opened the crossfire hurricane investigation. they did not despite the doj and inspector general's comments to the contrary have adequate education for starting an intrusive investigation of us citizens. the fbi document that opened the crossfire hurricane investigation violated attorney generalguidelines . it contained no medication that experienced and knowledgeable counterintelligence statement would be deemed an adequate start to an investigation and in fact the document contain an exculpatory statements that should have killed any lingering insistence to proceed further. the inspector general's assertion is based on his interviews with the crossfire hurricane asteam who not surprisingly claimed they had sufficient reasons for investigating the trump campaign. i respectfully disagree and will be happy to answer any questions why i believe the ig is mistaken.
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the ig's report documents startling comments by fbi executives that really feel decisions against us citizens, based on collation, unsupported by any material office. these executive articulated the concern that a presidential campaign may have received and accepted this information from russian sources, thereby endangering national security election integrity. ironically, these same executives less than two months after opening the crossfire hurricane case received a dossier determined to be russiandisinformation clinton campaign not only accepted but paid for . in an indefensible double standard, the crossfire became team chose not to initiate a similar clinton campaign . use salacious and unverified dossiers, mister comey's quotes as justification for a fraudulent fisa surveillance. in fact crossfire hurricane use of clear russian
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disinformation operation became its own threat to national security and civil liberties. the crossfire hurricane investigation was not anabuse of the fbi, it was an abuse by the fbi . a rope bad of reckless executives. i'm sorry, was not an abuse by the fbi, it was an abuse. because of the duplicity of these disgraced i agents, many americans have lost trust and faith in the fbi. mi .. perhaps it will at least help
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prevent something like crossfire hurricane from ever happening again to any american or futur presidential nominee. >> thank you mr. brock. a finalis witness is mr. lee smith and his work to press for more than 30ears writing on foreign policy national security and media and has written for "the new york times" "the washington post", walln street journal and the new yorker among other publications. mr. smith is also offered several bool, on u.s. politics in the middle east. mr. smith. >> thank you very much, chairman johnson. >> close m enough. >> chairman johnson and ranking member peters thank y for the invitation to speak before the committee and thanks also to committee member and staff. arly four years ago series of crimes were committed in full view of the public and to date no one has been charged. it was the one set of crimes and arguably committed during the course of crossfire hurricane and the fbi's investigation of russian interference and the
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2016 election on the possible involvement of the trump campaign. the crimes began the leaks fm classified intcepts at a telephone conversation between en-president elected donald trump's incoming national security adviser michael flynn and the russian ambasdor to the united states.s. in january and february 2017 "the whingtonth post" published stories sourced to intercepts of lynn's phone calls and speculative that the retired three star general might have broken the law by discussing the foreign policy of the united states with forei officials. for general flynn it w the beginning of a twisted journey worst upon him by political opponents and prossional rivals and ending only last week with therc presidential pardon. for america those leaks are the centerpiece of one of the most remaable crimes spree's in our history. classified infmation leaked seriallyo prestige press ganizations for the purpose of prosecuting a campaign of political warfare against the
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sittinpresident and reporters rarely if ever actually saw the classified documents and relied on a badly spun the documen set to them by cire of intelligence liquorsnd the oclassified informaon was used to advance the nartive the russian ies and u.s. officials knew not only that they were breaking the law but they also knew they were marketing a lie and they knew where it originated. according tootes taken by former cia director john brennan he debriefed then president barack obama in late jul2016 that the hillary clinton caaign had approved a plan to quote, abilify donald trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by russian security services "-right-double-quote. knowing the purpose and providence of theer story brennn nonetheless pushed for the senior u.s. officials fact and debriefed on senate minority leader harry reid on informati drawn from the dossier paidy the clinton campan and brandon took it to the fbi and shared th information about trump
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aids with the russian officials so they could take it. in sworn testimony before congress i may 2070 the former cia director said information he gave to feder law enforcement serves as the basis for the f investigation it was to lend more color and way to the russians we a targeting president trump thatovernment federals leaked information like this flynn intercepts and none have been charged in the press was honored in washington post in "theew york times" were awarded aoint pulitzer prize source to classified information leaked to advance a fraudulent narrate. because of its pardon to pushi russia gate american intelligence services and law enforcement authorities are regarded with skepticism but not contempt by half of the u.s. public and programs like foreign intelligence surveillance act warrants and confidential human services and classified human intelligent design keep citizens safe terrorism organize crime
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and adversarialtates and returned against americans but simply practicing their rate to participateis on our political process. thus, the the crossfire hurricane investigation marks a new, even transitional moment in ou history and i lived in and reported in the middle east for more than a decade in the shape of the faimmediate has joint operation is a unmistakable and signals marriage of theor minisy of the interior responsible for to best explain to the ministry of information responsible for manufacturing propaganda and a combined effort to destroy anyone perceived as an opponent. with crossfire hurricane major american institutions in the press andn intelligence committee have apted the practice practices of the third world. it's not clear at present how we ght return of the territory and the issue tn is nothe press and our intelligence
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services have ffeited the state of large parts of the is blic but they have injected into ourublic sphere consracy theorynd what they have done is the equivalent of dumping mercury into every phamerican river, lake and reservoir. >> thank you, mr. brock. mr. smith, i will start the question to mr. brock and this is information we should have had years ago it was recently revealed when john ratcliffe released a document that said the u.s. intelligence community reported back on july 262016 that allegedly approval by hillary clinton on july 26 a proposal for one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify donald trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by russian security services. mr. brock, in your testimony you talked about the unequal application or the unequal
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btreatment by the fbi of the clinton campaign versus the trump campaign. to me this is just exhibit a and that unequal treatment. here you have the intelligence committee actually knowing it's hillary clinton approving of a plan to stir up the scandal and tying canada canada trump to russian collusion and that explains the whole steele dossier, doesn't it? ruand the fbi knew that that was bought and paid for by the hillary clinton campaign and the fbi knew that the primary sub source of this steele dossier had been investigated by them in 2009. they knew all of this for sure by the end of january 2017 and some of this information was known in july and in october so speak in terms of the unequal treatment of the two campaigns and also i want you to speak to
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i agree with you, this was not an adequate predicate for investigation. okay? but speak to the fbi guidelines about continuing investigation when you have all this exculpatory information.e >> ease get the microphone closer to you. >> one of most puzzling aspects of this, this is a national tragedy, a tragedyor the fbi certainly ase look back and seehe then basis for launcng an investigation like this and when you have or when you juxtapose the reasons the fbi stated in their opening communication fo starting up a case and then their comments to the inspector general later as to why they ft they were compelled to investigate the trump campaign they don't add up with a certa logic that should have been applied to the dossier
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anits connection to the clinn campaign. if they applied the same logic to the dossier and the facthat the clinton camign arranged for and paid l for that and received russian disinformation then they would've had to open upus a separate counterintelligence investigation and yet, they didn't spit quite honestly close down the trump investigation. >>t was predicated on all that false information. >> it was predicated not only on thin information, a fourth and hearsay b it also, the statements that they relied on contained two exculpatory statements that aid, there was no indication of trump campaign received accepted the russian ggestion that they had informatn damaging to heller clinton and b, the russians were prepared to release it no matter what the trump campaign did or not? that is in their o openg ec. that right there, for an
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experienced counterintelligence leader in the fbi should have been enough to say we don't have enough to open up a case. >> i want to adjust my next questions to the jew journalists. there really has been in there is an unholy alliance between liberals, democrats and the media. it is completely unequal treatment by the media and by most of the media and democrat versus republican. heagain, exhibit a in this biass how they treated the whole russian hoax. as our report showed 125 leaks in the first 126 days that just drove this, sustained it, fueled this false narrativeve and i wil start with ms. attkisson. what duty do reporters have two reveal their source is when sources give them false information?
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>> it is a case-by-case thing and there is no standard across our profession. in fact, one of the things i've criticized is at the beginning of the trump administration many news organizations announced that they were suspending their normal ethics and standards to dictate how they are news organizations typically deal with things such as use of anonymous sources and if they were suspending these because they said they needed to suspend their standards toey cover a uniquely dangerous president and i've argued and i thank you have observed that i think there is no more informed time for us to keep our standards and ethics and when we are covering somebody that maybe we don't like or have strong feelings about that is what standards are for and instead we saw this listing in the 2016 time and this changing of everything in the weight we use to cover things and at cbs news they were very strict rules we went by to use anonymous sources as a last resort and only with very certain and specific caveats and
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disclosures and all that has changed. even the news organizations people used to consider the top ones in the country, if not the world, and there is no overarching body that dictates how the stuff has to be handled. >> as i have tried to conduct these investigations over the last six years one of the things i determined is it's an inquiring press that has access to sources that won't come to congress because they don't trust congress to keep their identities secure. or confidential. they go to the press of the press finds out about the stuff a lot sooner then congress does or quite honestly, department of justice officials. i fully understand and fully support of repressed andon any member of the press protecting the confidentiality of the sources but that is when you give themof information. mr. smith, is there an allegation to protect the source giving you false information? >> i don't think. >> turn on your megaphone and get a closer.
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>> i see it differently. i think that what we've seen, as i try to describe in my opening statement is an aual partnership between the pre and people who are providing false information to prosecute a campaign against the trump administtion. i'm very familiar with the left-wing bias in the media. my family father, grandfather, great grandfathe all worked in the press. i was the literary editor of the village voice which was the first alternative weekly in america cofounded b norman mailer. i come from the left. i'm familiar with left-wing bias. what we seen in the last several years has nothing to do with the left-wing bias. this is not about partisanship. what we've seen is something very destructive and very dangerous. how the story was, in part, because of the financial collapse of the prestige press
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which began with the advent of the internet we have seen, as a consequencee the moral and professional collapse of the press. what we are attacking right now is not a normal media. it is a platform f information operations. it is not just about partisanship. >> senator peters maybe he is blinked off. i will go to senator lankford. >> mr. chairman, thank you for our witnesses and thank you very much for that and i'd like to go back to that statement us-made about the journalism and media has become a platform for disinformation in many ways. how does that get turned around in your perspective? event around media your life so how do you get accurate information and this is one of the top questions i get asked by people i my stay in oklahoma is
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how do i find out the facts? >> there are different -- for all the complaints we have about th internet and evenocial media there are different trends happening as well. of course there are different alternates outlets. there are different journalists in different srces for people to follow. ifer talking about national prestige media like t brands i talked about in my opening statement theseal brands will continue to exist but for as long as theyave people w own them who do not care h much money they make. how to make these particular brands responsible and accountable again? to make them accountable to an american public that needs sound inrmation? i don't know. i'm telling you there i real news out there and there are people who are gathering news and who disseminate news and i think that those, i think those figures need to be encouraged. if you're talking about wha people ask you back you know, i would say one of the essential
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things is local news isery important. i'm not sure that anyone needs to be competing entirely with the post or the times or cnn and local news is very imptant for people to make those decisions right there and figure out what they are doing and then the national news will get to them as well. >> thank you. ms. attkisson i want to ask you a question about what you experience personally and what was expressed by multiple journalists. there's an ap story in 2018 actually, september 2018 and wanted to read it quickly the story that it was asking this question and said trump may use extraordinary rhetoric to undermine trust in the press but obama arguably went farther. he used extraordinary actions to block the flow of information to the public and the obama administration used the 1917 espionage act with unprecedented vigor prosecuting more people under that law for leaking sensitive information to the public than all previous
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administrations combined. obama justice department dug into confidential communications between news organizations and their sources as part of that effort and went through and discusses the 20 associate press offices on lines and reporters homophones, cell phones, seasoning them without notice as a part of an investigation and then went into what actually happened to james rosen as well at fox news. you experienced this as well at cbs. my question to you is, what should be done to an entity or an agency to hold them to account because they were never held to account literally intimidating the press and for tracking the press and for investigating journalists through this process tapping cell phones and such. what should be done in that situation to hold an administration to account? >> at a minimum woman think there would be an apology and the people who took part in these actions would no longer be in a position that they could ever work and the governments
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again and do these types of things but people see that nothing happens to them so why should anybodya change the way they operate. in my case, this was illegal action so obviously they should be prosecuted but prosecute true authority and indicated an since you will not to the job you someone like me a citizen trying to bring a case in court to force with the garment of justice is supposed to do criminally because they are not and then they spend this taxpayer money dragging it out, fighting it, trying to get the courts to dismiss the case and there's no accountability time and time again and they need more training, will reiterate our policies and this has happened over and over again by administration to administration some of the same people and nothing happens to them so behavior doesn't changest. >> you've been insn the fbi and are tired from it but agency process what should and could be
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done to agency what individuals when there is an abuse of power and how should the investigator should be handled? what is missing and why can't we seem to close the loop on these investigations? >> some of what were talking today may not rise to collectively but violations and policy and the attorney general guidelines at the executive involved were all fired and with good reason so there was some accountability there and this community shedding light on the abuses that took place by this small rogue ban of executive fbi headquarters is vitally important and this is not the fbi i knew or worked in and not the fbi agencies that work tirelessly and other analysts and support personnel who work tirelessly every day for the good reasons that the fbi exists
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today and thisor was a hijacking of the fbi in again in respect to the specter general conclusion of no bias it is clear there was bias involved by the text messages that were threatened by peter stark and lisa page and it's clear by the statements made by former director comey and deputy director mccabe that they held a personal animus towardsd the president and there is no dispute on that. this investigation was clearly a malicious undertaking. >> yet, the struggle i have is i know a lot of great fbi agents that are frustrated, disappointed and quite frankly, embarrassed for how leadership handled some of these investigations and they don't do it this way and the statement over to me is if i did as a line
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agent when james comey did as a leader i would have been fired and should have been fired but they seem to be held to a different account than what leadership is being held to account in this. i do want to ask you one quick follow-up and i think i know your answer for this but james comey said in september 30 testimony before judiciary that he was proud of the work done by crossfire hurricane that was the investigation on president trump and at that time candidate trump and for the most part it was done by the book was his word. for a lot of us we were most shocked by his two words, proud of it and it was by the book, would you agree with either of the statements? >> i wouldn't be proud of crossfire hurricane but i'm proud of the fbi agents but no, this was not done by the book, not even remotely and it was we would keep saying it over and over again the fbi they cannot walk outside the door without articulating adequate
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predication to interview a u.s. citizen and we should all be concerned that the fbi adheres to those policy guidelines andvi in thisiz case they did not. >> senator lankford i want to thank you and senator hawleys by remote for attending this and this is part of the problem and i thank you all understands have not gotten a great deal of support on these investigations over the last three years and i think the attendance of this hearing shows that and what i tried to point out with the lack of accountability of eric holder being in contempt of congress congress is a paper tiger. the reason these people aren't held accountable is there is no way to hold them accountable. who investigates the investigator? who prosecutes the prosecutors? that is an enormous problem and what i've come to understand in the six years trying to do this obviously the bias in the media
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and the attacks that i've had to put up with doesn't bother me personally but it bothers me in terms of the reflection on our democracy and freedoms and this is serious and yet we've got a couple senators attending the syrian and i got my ranking members who don't even know if this is an appropriate hearing for this committee to have and that is the problem. senator scott. >> [inaudie] [inaudible]
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[inaudible] [inaudible] >> ms. attkisson, can you hear me? >> now i can't. >> could you hear me before? >> no, i'm sorry. >> i will say it again. americans care about corruion and i believe americans do not want to see their president involved in corruption. i believe all along we need to have a thorough investigation of hunter biden and his relationship t ukraine and i believe the public needs to know how vice president of the uted states was able totop a foreign government from investigating a company that would send his son $83000 a mont andnd i think this is, i mean, whatever the facts are, th facts ought to come out.
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ms. attkisson, what hav you learned about hunter biden and ukraine number one and numr two, why hasn't the mainstream ardia cared and assuming that joe biden will become the next president of the united states will they start caring? >> i have not done a deep dive into the hunter biden question as other journalists who have written good pieces, including left-leaning publications starting about one year ago this time were doing great investigations and i think that could be traded to the fact that at the time there must've been people putting out the narrative that they do not want joe biden to be the nominee or wanted someone else so therefore, even among left-leaning political figures and so on this was debated but then once joe biden became the nomineev it evaporatd at least the discussion among the liberal press and left-leaning figures that i have obtained is supposedly a conspiracy theory by conservatives at that point
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although quite well documented and covered previously. i learned there are at the very least some very legitimate questions to ask about competence of interest and potential compliment of interest. i learned that if you substituted the name biden and trump or trump's children and biden's children i thank you would undoubtedly have a very different kind of media coverage then thehe lack of interest in e advocacy that comes from the media that are trying to squelch the story and the discussion of it aided by social media and powerful interests who don't want to talk about it and i think it will change under a biden presidency? i don't think so but i think there will be some criticism in the popular press of joe biden when he comes under criticism by others in the left-leaning press or applicable figures and maybe he's not doing the right thing but he's not going to come under the same sort of scrutiny or attacks or the one-sided
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coverage that president trump thought and i've written books about this showing that the false coverage, not just the biden coverage but the media mistakes all the way from "the new york times" and washington post and to cnn over and over again just false reporting and false information and i don't think we will see that. i think in the campaign that was demonstrateded that we will seea whole different kind of news coverage with ident for reasons that i have explained with news organizations and i agree with lee, now left largely taken over by narratives and propaganda and these special corporate interests to use for their talking points and their distribution of narratives and orylines and by and large that is what many of us have become. >> ms. attkisson, how can someone who believes they are a legitimate journalist, like look at jake tapper, not care about this? they have trayed themselves to
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be legitimater journalists that want toet to the facts, hold people accountable and they are very clear they want to hold both sides accountle so how can they continue then to not care about something like hunter biden? >> i watch cnn back when it was a news ordination back in 1999, 93 and we would not have covered stories i spoke to many former cnn insiders about the book i just wrote and they're all horrified at the turn that this once very prestigious and fairly straight down the middle news organization has taken. you have to understand if you realize that the media has now been successfully co-opted and we've invited them in i say we've been infiltrated by these interest they want to turn us into these mouthpieces then you understand that when you do that job you put forth a narrative even if it proves not to be true that you are given promotions and attention in your views have been amplified by the like-minded media of social media and it feels like you're doing everything right.
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your colleagues are patting you on the back and just sort of feeds upon itself but evolves into a situation where it's not journalism as i knew it and as i think many americans if you've been around a long enough thought of journalism but it's all being redefined right now and chaed. take individuals like jake pper and can they go back to becoming litimate journalists again or just the way it is set up wit the producers in the way cnn works that will never go back to a normal investigative and affair media outlet. >> a lot of people weighed i on when i interviewed them recently including executives at cnn and part of the discussions about changing the way cnn worked into what it i today and'm not an exrt on this but a lot of people think that it is not going to be wha it once was even though there is a demand in people who want toet there left-leaning news from cnn and maybe the right-leaning news
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from fox or summerall's and they don't still want a place where they can go where theyy feelt's telling you down the story down the middle b the people i spoke to to the stent that these work in the industry they don't feel if they have the cnne can o back to what was that the also don't think it's survived moving donald trump's as a villain in the way that it has been doing in the last 40 years. >> just what they had these twitter and facebook hearings icere they've said there conservatives and then they allow ayatollah or madura do whatever they wantnd and what do you think or what you all think the impact that has on our democracy when a conservative cannot say much on twitter or facebook but maduro and venezuela has committed genocide are the commonest party of china can do whatever they want so what do you think on the impact
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that the democracy and ability of us to do our jobs. >> it's laughable of course and they have all the toll of who tweets all the time he gets away with death to israel and dutch united states and the president of the united states if you look at his tweet or twitter fee now it is three quarters is censored so what is not centered is marked with advisories and its preposterous people . people see this and this is a thing. this is getting through to people outside of washington and outside of new york and out of los angeles but people see it as a farce and the understand that not just the media but they understand social media and the understand the game is tilted again some people are getting angrier and angrier but director myself personally? i think it's obscene that they let the iranian lunatics and islamic republic post whatever
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they want and american conservatives are thrown off therefore something ridiculous. it's laughable, right? but the serious thing is happening in the real world off of twitter. americans are seeing what's happening which is a blessing and a great thing. could i. >> sure. >> i feel like i looked at this issue quite a bit and there is a danger in the notion that sometimes we say, those of us who don't like the censorship of social media and the heavy hand they are not using and we say why aren't you filtering this because you're censoring that? i personally think as a journalist the pack ought to be don't censor anything except that which is illegal. don't invite or accept that they have that role because they never had that role before 2016 when they were lobbying by political and corporate interests to do what i call fake
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facth checks and to curate information. they created a market or demand to let us invite that in because we weren't asking for it and now that it is here i think we have to be careful not to say gee, if you just censor everybody equally we will be happy. i think the whole trend is bad for everybody and let the goal ought to be hands off of our information. >> that makesense. spirit by the way, i do too so we modified section 230 for my standpoint you retn the liability protection for content that is uploaded and you limit the liability on their ability to censor on moderation. they have to publish those policies and be completely transparent and i think people should have a cause of action if they are censored demonic sized or destroyed by them being transparent and open policies buried i will turn it over to senator hawley who has other thoughts on that issue.
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>> yeah, i'm glad you are in this issue, mr. chairman. i could not agree more with what you just said or with what you just said. i think it is absolutely vital and maybe we can talk about this more in a second but the social media companies not be permittec to the sensors of the nation and i don't want censoring anybody unless it's illegal. unless it's a child pornography, sure but if it's political speech, no. why should we entrust mark zuckerberg with the power of censorship and you are right, mr. chairman, the way to do this is to give american citizens a private right of action and let them sue over the content moderation decision that relates to citizenship and that would or censorship rather and that would clear this up i think really quickly. but that is of course exactly what the technology companies don't want. they don't want any changes to section 230. mr. brock, let me come to you if i could talk about this the pfizer process. this process requires, as i
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understand it, either the director or debbie director to certify every pfizer application and the judiciary committee on which i also said has had director comey, deputy former direct economyif and former director mccabe and they have testified in the fact that the certification process is just a formality. neither of them represented but they do not read the applications and they did not take it that seriously and it's just the signature on a page for it is that your understanding of what the certification proce amounts to and why it is in the statute? >> not for this type of case senator pretty would be startling to me that an fbi director and deputyirector uld treat a phis applition against a presidentia campaign in a nonchalant way.ld i would assume that theyr at least or at least their chief of staff, chief counsel would rea it word by word and inform them
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to the deepest degree posble as to the nature and applicability of the fis and if it was aormal fisa on a suspected intelligence officer or the fsb that is one thing fairly routine, fairly pro forma but that is not what we are talking about here so that stretch is the credulity that th would wave it off as well. we just signed off on it as a rubberstamp manner. it is hard to fathom. >> as a former leader at the bureau, mr. brock, just tell me what you think about the fisa court said when they rebuked th fbi directly and said that because of the misinformation and in one case at least, outright falsehood that the bureau submitted to that court and to the fisa court as part of the fisa application process because of those with information the court can trust the fbi and other cases that have nothing to do with
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crossfire hurricanes and have you ever heard of something like this happening? what does this say about the credibility of the fbi and what they have done in the crossfire hurricanes case? >> this is the part of the wake of damage that has been left by these executives because you are exactly right, senator. it calls into question every other fbi phis application for vitally importantes cases, counterterrorism cases, life-and-death type of investigations so it is catremendous damage buried i dot ndthink the courts was strong enough, frankly, in its condemnation of this activity and the director's own word, director comey's own word that the dossier was salacious and unverified and two times after uttering those words he signed off on a phis application that was the fbi's own admission dependent on that dossier for the probable cause so it is difficult to square with their
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thinking was and why they went forward like this other than there was an ulterior motive there. >> let me ask you about your testimony which you said your firm view that there was insufficient evidence to justify opening the crossfire her aga and tell us more abo that. >> yes, thanken you. i want to be clear here because obvisly i'm taking a different position than what the inspector general wro in his report but if you read that carefully he terviewed crossfire hurricane iteam members and all of them spok about the necessity and investigation of investigating russian interference and no one disputes that and it's clearly an fbi responsibility russia always tries to interfere with elections and but nobody is disputing that. crossfire hurricane was a case that was open against u.s.
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citizens in a presidential campaign, unprecedented, never been done before and that would be handled withare marked all over that decision-making process but it doesn't appear that way. they literally took fehand informatio fbi received information from a friendl foreign government who we now be australia who in tur headed conversation witheorge papadopoulos who in turn received information now known to joseph [inaudible] that the russians had suggested that they had information damaging to the clinton campaign and i'm not sure how you rally all of that together to make sufficient predication for an opening even a preliminary or limited infestation that they went ahead and opened a full investigaon which gave the ability to use all the fbi in mosquito powers against u.s. citizens and as i pointed out earlier,ot only would they rely on fourth and
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hearsay within embedded in those statements by the strong and diplomat were toxculpatory statements that should have stopped the show right then. >>nd then we now know thathe source of the steele dossier which was the possible source for>> the fisa warrant and we heard testimony from the judiciary committee that the fisa warrants would not have issued had it not have been for the steele dossier and we now know the posble source of that was in fact a russian agent. subject to a counterintelligence investigation by the fbi at the time so can't make this stuff up. if thisel was a movie you would say it's but it's happened and that's why i continue to believe th is potentially the bigst scandal in the fbi history but let me ask you, you talk about the care with which this investigation was handled and seems like it was haned with a lot o care by a small tightknit group of people at fbi headquarters spearheaded by peter strauch and ao mccabe
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and they a driving this. th's unusual. it unusual for an investigation of this nature to be launched, not from a field office but a fbi headquarters from a very small group of people andti tell us about thats someone who n been part of t process before why was the procedures here in the initiation why was it unusual? >> it is hard to overstate how anomalous this behavior was. first of all, that they would open up a counterintelligence investigation into a presidential campaign without incredible substantial justification, let alone [inaudible] and then secondly to embargoed that a medication onto the seventh floor of the fbi and run it out of headquarters. the reason why the fbi runs its investigations in the field office is not in headquarters because headquarters is close to the political flame of washington dc.e they are there for different purpose and not therefore investigative purpose in the field offices handle investigations and that is what
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the experiences and that's where the sobriety is in making a judgment about whether there is adequate predication on the attorney general guidelines and they took this into the seventh floor out of the director's office and ran this rogue investigation and i would be willing to this is speculation admittedly, but i would be willing to wager that many of those executives involved in that investigation have never read the attorney general guidelines and do not understand them. >> well, thank you for your service, mr. brock. thank you for your test many here i will just say mr. chairman i know my time is expired but based on the testimony of this committee collected in the extensive investigation that you and the committee had pursued an testimony ofn the judiciary committee i think it's been clear that there was an honest amount of care taken in opening this investigation and it was on for political purposes. >> it becomes increasingly clear for all the reasons mr. brock has outlined and the violation of procedural norms and the outright lying to the fisa court and this was done very deliberately and done by people
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who did not want donald trump to be president and who did not wantnt the 2016 election results to stand and they tried to weapon eyes the fbi to interfere in a presidential election and sadly they succeeded and that will go down one of the greatest graces of american history and this committee and the senate needs to make se it never happens again put thank you for your work on this, mr. chairman. >> senator hawley, i agree if u could stick around i want to break protocolecause i want to turn you into witness but based on what you said, mr. brock, he said it's been clearly appropriate r the fbi to investigat russian interference and they knew there was russian interference going on but the clinton campaign d&c paid for the steele dossier for this information and this sws the jaw-dropping biasnd unequal treatment ofustice when they continue to pursue the tm mpaign where they had no eviden in the sculptor evidence and they did not lift a
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finger to investigate what was haening with the steele dossier in the clinton campaign but senator hawley, the question i want to ask you is because i want to talk about the difficulty we have here in congress invtigating these things. the resistance i had getting documents even out of the trumper publican administration and you have the ability to interview both mr. comey and mr. mccabe and by the way, you did an excellent job wi mr. dorsey and mr. zuerberg in particular because you'd whistleblower information andou had documents so you could ask them pretty hard questions and some pretty revealing questions and my big prlem in bringing either mr. comey, mr. mccabe, any of these characters is we have not had the documents and could you speak to trying to prepare for your judiciary hearing
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interviewing both mr. colby and mr. mccabe and there were some over a couple of interesting relations but becauseou didn't have documents or cannot ask th what did you mean in this e-mail and how much did that hamper your ability to actually with question them when they were witnesses f their acommittee? >> there is no doubt that the stonewalling and i think that's the only word you can reasonably use, stonewalling by the fbi out the judiciary committee and this committee and the investigation into crossfire hurricane a the origins here is absolutel hampered the investigation and thatas been deliberate. they have withheld information from us and withheld documents std we had to threaten and control we've had to issue subpnas so this is what you been doing so to not be able to have the source material and also, we've been told over and over there are repor and
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durham isandling this so wait for durham. the senate has an overnight response bully of its own and the public has a right to know and when the presidential election has been ierfered wi and when the fbi has been leveraged by political party in this case the clinton campaign in 2016 leveraging the fbi the most powerful lawn present body in the world to interfere in a presidential caaign and successfully what they successfully did it. that is something the senate ablutely must investigate in his right to know the public has a rig to be a part of the process and i'm afraid they been effectively denied by the fbi itself which is to this day, refusing to turn over key documents and stonewall and slow walking and that is what i say, . chairman, it's confirmed and me the conclusio that the fbi needs fundamental reform in which mr. brock was just descbing a political mosphere has clearly taken over i the upper echelon of the fbi which is a great servi to the field agents and t men and women who are out there on the
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line every day enforcing the law, investigating, bringing criminals to justice but you got this political group in washington dc and what they are doing. >> you just set me up for my next qstion andro i appreciate that. i appreciate you just having this hearing and carin about it. did not have a lot of non- we've had a couple senators blink on and blinked off and not particularly inquisitive and as partf the problem. i made this comment a number of ctimes i made this point that laen it comes to investigations about wrongdoing in the political rea we do it completely backwards did take what happen,ook the corruption that weom now kw about and how long it took fors to get this level of knowledge of what happened and by the way, we are a longg way from fully understanding this because of the resistance and because of the obstruction but iould argue that the order o investigation ought to start and
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this is investigations witn the political realm, wrongdoing there that should start with congressional investigations. congress ought to have access to allhe information. i can't tell you how many times the excuse has been given to me en we requested things even under subpoena and said well, we've got to have criminal investigation or special counsel or john durham who doesn't want you interfering with his investigation. the way this should work is for my standpoint is so far more important to exposehis so the public understands what happens to pvide that accountability of public awareness as a deterrent and as opposed to a criminal prosecution and put someone in jail because it
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really happe anyway. i think congress needs toirst investigate and have all the access to all the information and then if we see crimil activity we refer those cases to the justice department. if there is a conflict there then you set up a speci counsel so we've done this completely backwards and heree are four years later and we are only now starting to uncover the extent of the corruption and t tscorruption is incredibly troubling and shouldave troubled every member of congress in every u.s. senator an every member of this committee but it obviously doesn't because apparently corruption is ptisan and if it's corption inside of your party not worried about it. i'm worried about it regardles mr. brock, i want to ask you the question really, how much would it really hamper the criminal
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investigation if congress had the same information and. >> i appreciate your frustration, senator. i think all of us are looking for a deep level of cooperation and transparency from the fbi and i and i'm not here to second-guess the decision because there is information i don't have access to that can mitigate certain decisions or color certain decisions are made but the nation is craving transparency and i think it's better for theon fbi to rip the band-aid off and things that are embarrassing that have to be revealed then let's get it over with and the bureau has taken a beating over the last three, four years and at the hands of bad actors. >> we take you live now to former president barack obama

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