tv House Intelligence Committee Leaders Say Theres No Evidence Trump Tower... CSPAN March 15, 2017 4:32pm-5:09pm EDT
11:00 a.m. eastern. on the house side of thing, the house in this afternoon. their budget committee tomorrow will take up the republican health care replacement measure and that hearing getting under way tomorrow morning on cspan 2 at 10:00 eastern and expected to run pretty much throughout the day. back to the issue that you heard senator graham talking about toward the end of that hearing that wrapped up on the potential influence of russia in u.s. elections, the chair of the house intelligence committee said earlier today he is dealing with the officer of director of national intelligence of whether the committee will have the knowledge needed to go through the evidence. they've said they've seen no evidence supporting donald trump's claim that the obama administration wire tapped them last year. here's their news conference from capitol hill earlier today.
>> welcome, everyone. i want to thank you all for being here today. as promised we're going to try to continue to keep you updated. as we make progress in our investigation, we have to announce the committee hearing on monday on march 20th, we have confirmed that admiral rodgers from the nsa will be here and director comey will be here. that will be a public hearing. the other witnesses we have given them the date of march 28th to be here. they couldn't -- some of them couldn't make the march 20th date. it does sound like most of them will be able to make the march 28th date. we don't know the location of that hearing yet, but i think the time will be 10:00 a.m. secondly, i want to say as i told you last week about the issue with the president talking
about tapping trump tower, that evidence still remains the same that we don't have any evidence that that took place and in fact i don't believe just in the last week of time the people we've talked to i don't think there was an actually tap of trump tower, however as i expressed last week and i remained more concerned about this which are two-fold. one, the incidental collection of americans that were possibly tied to the trump campaign that could have been leaked similar to general flynn and secondly the unmasking of americans named potentially for political purposes which we're continuing to ask more about that. mr. ship and i are sending a letter today to director comey, pompeo and admiral rodgers asking for the names that were unmasked over the last six months and we'll pass that
letter out to all of you so you will have it. lastly, the third issue i have to bring to you today is we are a little uncomfortable with the odni and whether or not they're going to let us have the proper computer technology that we need to go through the evidence that exists out at the cia out at langley and we are trying to work through that, but i can tell you it has become a bit of a stumbling block for our investigators to actually be able to compile and go through the information. those are the three issues i have for you today and i'd like to ask mr. ship if he'd like to say a couple of comments. >> thank you. i want to join in saying that to date i have seen no evidence of that supports the claim that president trump made that his predecessor had wire tapped he and his associates at trump tower. thus far we have seen no basis
for that whatsoever. we still want the justice department to respond to our letter. we've given them until march 20th. we're both willing to use a compulsivary process. we do not believe that will be necessary. at the hearing on march 20th we'll be asking the director if he has seen any evidence that substantiates the president's claim. it deeply concerns me that the president would make such an acquisition without basis and we think it's in the public's interest that this be addressed openly by the director and we expect that he will. it's my understanding that the three witnesses who have conflicts or other issues with the march 20th hearing are all available and i believe have committed to the march 28th hearing so the following week we'll dpget the remaining testimony from those witnesses and we'll have as much time as
necessary at the hearing for our members to ask their questions. obviously there's a substantial amount they may not be able to answer in open session, but we want to conduct as much of this investigation as we can in the open so the public is informed of the progress we're making. our members are going to the agency to review the documents. our full committee has access to the gang of eight materials that underlie the assessment that the intelligence community put out. i spent a few hours there yesterday and would encourage all the members to spend time out at the agency reviewing those documents. and finally, we i think are continuing to make progress and the chairman and i are doing everything that we can to keep this investigation bipartisan and nonpartisan to make sure we
follow the evidence wherever it leads. and that is certainly our hope and we'll continue to be our effort to do so and with that we're happy to respond to any questions. [ inaudible ] >> we know for a fact that it's out there in public that incidental collection on general flynn was picked up. what i remain concerned about is whether or not there is additional incidental collection that we are not aware of and then if any of that information was put into any types of intelligence reports and then whether or not additional names were unmasked. so if additional names were unmasked we're going to have to understand whether the proper procedure was followed and did additional names get leaked to the media or were people using that information for other
purposes that wouldn't have had intelligence value and that's what i remain concerned about and that's why the letter you see today we're asking for those names by friday. [ inaudible ] >> i think it certainly is an appropriate part of our oversight to make sure the agencies are following the correct procedures, but i do want to underscore this is a separate matter from whether the president's allegations have any truth and though we're talking about both these issues, the two are not related in the sense there's no evidence that there was a wire tap of trump and his associates at trump tower. >> you said pretty clearly you do not think that trump tower was tapped. what gives you that confidence to say that? >> i said that last week. i think the challenge here is
that president obama wouldn't physically go over and wire tap trump tower so now you have to decide as i mentioned last week are you going to take the tweets literally and if you are then clearly the president is wrong. but if you're not going to take the tweets literally and if there's a concern that the president has about other people, other surveillance activities looking at him or his associates, either appropriately or inappropriately, we want to find -- we want to find that out. i think it's all in the interpretation of what you believe. >> is there anything you've seen in the evidence so far that suggestions that there were any conversations between people affiliated with the trump campaign, russian officials who are not invested in russia, anyone tied with the kremlin were tied to the trump campaign. >> not that i'm aware of. >> i wouldn't answer that question as categorically as my
colleague. we're not privileged to talk about the contents of the investigation, but i -- i think we need to be very precise when we talk about this and i just don't think we can answer that -- answer categorically and not in this forum. >> the white house says they are extremely confident that the president will be vindicated in this claim. you are pressing the doj to release information they have, but what about the white house, are you encouraging them to reveal what the president used for dproungrounds to make this ? >> we're going to continue to follow the facts. we're not going to make any assumptions. as i have said before, for a time here i have been clear about my concern about number one the incidental collection on general flynn, how that was approximate put into a product and how it was unmasked and how it was leaked to the public.
several crimes have been committed here. i don't know if you want to respond to that question. >> i would say that i do think it's incumbent if we get to march 20th and we have the testimony we expect from the director there was no substance to the accusation that barack obama illegally tapped the trump tower, that the president explain himself. i think that -- i think there are from a national security perspective great concerns if the president is willing to state things like that without any basis because the country needs to really rely on him, particularly if we have a crisis that is an external crisis as even president does within their term of office. so i think it is a serious
matter and i appreciate the chairman's willingness to have an open hearing on this and i think the testimony will be very important. >> i'm sorry. go ahead. >> do you have any reason to believe that the president himself or anyone working for him in the white house would be one of these names that may have been swept up in something that could then ultimately be leaked what happened with michael flynn? >> i think it's very possible, but like i said we should know that by friday. >> do you think the president himself might be one of those people that was swept up in this? >> it's possible. look, we know -- we think we understand how general flynn was picked up in the incidental collection and perhaps there were other intelligence products where unmasking occurred. this is why we're sending a letter, get it out in the open so we understand. i'm concerned about unmasking of
american's names, but i think as they relate to either the trump campaign and his folks or hillary clinton's campaign and her folks, we'd like to know if any names were unmasked. that would help answer these questions. >> if i can also respond on that in a couple of ways. first mr. spicer has represented that he is not aware of any investigation that was targeting the president and presumably no court ordered surveillance of the president. he has also said he is confident that the president was speaking accurately when he said he was wire tapped by his predecessor. those things cannot both be two unless he is suggesting that the fbi was operating in an rog way.
there is no evidence of that. i think to even put that forth was irresponsible of the president and his spokesman. i also in terms of our oversight responsibility want to make one other point and that is while i think it is perfectly appropriate that we oversee the process and the unmasking of any names, if any of that is implicated in any way, i have seen no evidence of any illegality in terms of any electric surveillance pertaining to your question. i don't want anything to be surmised that we are suggesting otherwise. >> if you don't get those names by friday, will you subpoena that information as well? >> most likely, yes. if they don't have a good reason for not giving us that. it is a critical tool that our
intelligence agencies use. we want to make sure it's done lawfully and legally and part of that is going to be, even if it has to be at the gang of eight level, that would be fine. we need to have a good understanding of how that process worked. >> can you say whether -- are you driving at here that you think from the trump associates were reverse targeted without a proper warrant, but they were tapped to look at anything that was collected, is that what you're looking for? >> i don't want to -- look, let's wait until friday for them to come out with the information and then we'll have the open hearing on monday before we start to speculate, but clearly i just want to make sure that the processes were properly followed and that the unmasking of names did not occur improperly. >> i want to add that i certainly have seen no evidence
of that. >> can you elaborate on the concern you mentioned earlier about odi not giving you the technology to review the evidence. >> the director of national intelligence, which is overseeing how we have access to these documents, one of the simple things that i think should be everyone should understand is we should be able to get a basic type of computer system out there to be able to catalogue all of the data that went into the intelligence report that was produced at the beginning of january. i just think that's a no-brainer and why they would focus on this is beyond me. >> have they given you a reason? are they saying you can't have access to this? >> the bottom line is that we don't have a computer out there to actually catalogue the information. >> if i can just add too, one of the reasons why this is significant and obviously there
was a big issue with the agency over the senate's use of a computer and whether that computer was viewed by the agency while it was in the process of review of the enhanced interrogation techniques, we feel a sense of urgency about conducting this investigation thoroughly and as swiftly as possible given the magnitude of the investigation. so anything that slows us down is a problem. i'm confident that will be ultimately resolved, but the longer it takes to resolve it, the longer it takes us to do our work. we had to work through the issue of gaining access to the full committee of the gang of eight materials and now we have to work through the issue of getting access to computers to do our work. we're working our way through the budget process here to get increased staff to help us with the investigation. it's going to take time to get those staff cleared. these are all some of the
challenges we're dealing with in trying to do this expeditiously. [ inaudible ] >> i was there yesterday taking a lot of hand written notes, which is not ideal and we have to leave our notes behind. but at the end of the day what we hope to do obviously is when the investigation is finished, is compile a report and having the information that we go through indexed with our comments will be very important in terms of putting that report together. so this will be resolved hopefully what the chairman and i are saying today will help nudge the agency along in making it happen. >> they have confirmed there's an investigation ongoing into russia and the trump campaign? >> we're not going to get into what the fbi tells us or doesn't tell us. as the ranking member said earlier, but as you can imagine this committee has a long track record of trying to shine the light on the russian government
and their activities. we as the house intelligence committee have long had an investigation into russian activi activities, especially cyber activities. that continues and continues. clearly, i think the concerns we've raised over the cyber attacks alone, we would hope that many throughout the ic are conducting investigations into the russians and their ongoing bad activity around the globe. >> do you have any evidence that there were contacts with the trump campaign and russia? >> i don't have any evidence of that. and we're not going to get into -- this gets to the whole issue of collection, who else was talking to the russian ambassador. this is a slippery slope. you just need to let the appropriate agencies get us the information in a timely manner, which i agree with the ranking member on. the more that they stall, the more they make it more complicated for us, the slower the investigation goes. and the more time it takes to answer your questions.
>> i do want to say, and i questioned, because director clapper was asked a similar question. i cannot answer that question in the same way. not certainly with the same categorical nature of the response. so i don't share that summary conclusion. that's about all i can say on that subject. >> are you going to get access to those computers from past investigations? is this something you typically get stalled out on or is this a little unprecedented? >> this is unprecedented now because the committee -- all the members on the committee have access to what they call the gang of eight source documents. we now have investigators out there, many members from my side and the ranking member's side have been out there. and the challenge we're having now is that we need to be able
to catalog all of this in a simple way. if not, it will take us longer to get through it if we have to do it all by hand. >> you said that several crimes have been committed here. it's not legal to unmask a name that deals with an investigation that has to do with national security, right? i wonder if you could expand on that. secondly, you said that the fbi haven't been cooperating. and then you said they had started cooperating with what has occurred between the two statements. >> as it relates to crimes that have been committed, i'm confident it is illegal to leak fisa collected names of americans. that's illegal. it's also illegal to leak any additional classified information. so that has happened. it remains the crimes that we know have been committed, which i'm sure we'll get into more of
that on monday. there's a second question, i think. >> with respect to the second question, the concern that i raised a couple weeks ago is that during our hearing with director comey, a number of the questions members had, the director declined to answer. it wasn't that i was unsatisfied with the content of the answer, it was that he simply declined. and i expressed that at the time. my hope is that the director would go back to the department of justice and be prepared to come back to us, and respond more fully to the questions we were asking. the fbi has now been more forthcoming on the number of the issues i was concerned about. there are still a number of other issues that remain to be ironed out. but we're certainly getting more cooperation than we were initially. >> did any of the information collected comes from a foreign service? >> i don't think we can comment
on any questions related to what kind of intelligence gathering or electronic surveillance, apart from, i think, the category that the president tweeted about. i don't think we're at liberty to talk about either the contents of the investigation, or the conduct of any of our foreign intelligence gathering. >> just on that point, if i can, did the white house brief you earlier this week on the definition of wiretapping? sean spicer said it was sort of code, if you will, for broader surveillance which would cover incidental collection. >> you know, i can express my view, and we may have a different perspective on this. but my interpretation, frankly, of what the white house has been communicating since the president's tweets were, first, we don't want to talk about this. we're giving it to the intelligence committee. then, we're not sure if there's
any there. well, then maybe he meant something different to, well, maybe it was the tv or the microwave. to, no, we fully believe the president will be vindicated in wiretapping. they've been all over the map. i don't think they have the foggiest idea of what was behind the president's claim except that he watched it on tv. i think the rest is to downplay, minimize, or obfuscate something that the president said was patently untrue. that is my interpretation. >> first -- >> [ inaudible ]. >> i think mr. schiff answered that properly. i don't want to get into where intelligence is coming from or not coming from. i think i want to stop here just a second and say it's okay for mr. schiff and i to have
disagreements. he represents a district just like i do. we're clearly from different political parties. and at the end of the day, its "all on our interpretation of what people say or don't say. it's the court of public opinion ultimately that has the say in all this. but we're going to work together and we may have some things we disagree on. but as it relates to the president's claims, just like i said last week, i think you just have to be careful about how literally you take these comments, and, you know -- but i do remain concerned that there could be incidental collection and unmasking of american names that i really don't want to get to the bottom of. and if we move forward from this, i actually agree with mr. schiff on the point that, look, if the white house or the president want to come out and clarify hits statements more, it would probably be helpful.
but, look, at the end of the day, from just -- like i said last week, you know, president obama doesn't do wiretapping, just like president trump can't do wiretapping. the whole premise of the statement was wrong. so then you have to figure out, did he actually mean it literally or did he not. i think that's the question that we have here. >> let me just clarify up one question here that i asked. you're not satisfied that the collection was done in a lawful manner? >> well, i guess i would refer you back to -- as a matter of fact, i was just going through this earlier. as some of you may remember, over the course of the last year, we had a concern about members of congress who were caught up in incidental collection. the story came out publicly in "the wall street journal" regarding, i think it was involving the israelis. we went through a year-long process working with the ic to
ensure that when congressional identities are picked up in incidental collection, that we, the gang of eight, are notified of that happening. and so i kind of refer you back to that. that was a process that had to be cleaned up. because clearly there was, you know, clearly people knew who the members of congress were likely, that were in these. but they weren't being unmasked. we weren't being notified. that's a problem. so the question i would have, how has that happened again. we don't know that. but we want to find out. >> are you concerned about the context of roger stone -- [ inaudible ] -- of a russian hacker that they're looking into? >> i know this sounds -- i only know roger stone from what i've seen on tv. i don't know that he had any formal role in the campaign that i'm aware of. >> the committee is not going to look into it? >> we'll follow the facts
wherever they lead us. but at this point, that's down the road. >> what about paul? >> a couple of points i want to make just to follow up on one of the earlier questions. the chairman's exactly right. he and i, i think, may give a different interpretation as to why the president said what he said. but there's notice daylight between us on the fact that neither one of us have seen any evidence to support what the president tweeted. and i think that's probably the most important point. with respect to roger stone, you know, we have a u.s. person affiliated with the campaign who has now said publicly that he had communications, i think first he said julian assange, and after that, with a mead ary.
obviously these two platforms were used to public documents. you have someone affiliated with a campaign having direct communication with two of the outlets, apparently during the campaign. and in one case, as i recall, mr. stone predicted that john podesta's time in the barrel would come. so while mr. stone has said that he could not have predicted the dnc hack before it happened, he apparently did predict that john podesta would be in the barrel. i think it would beg a lot of questions that i would like answered. >> you want to interview him, paul manaforte, do you want to talk to these folks? >> i don't want to go through a witness list, but i do want to respond that those facts that he
has already admitted are of great interest and concern to me. >> as i've said before, if these people want to come forward to our committee, they're welcome to. and they're welcome to provide either depositions, written testimony, so -- and that remains the case. but as i said, we're not going to just call in witnesses based on just press reports alone. >> did michael flynn cooperate with your investigation? >> we have not spoken to mr. flynn at this point. >> [ inaudible ] without seeing mr. trump's -- [ inaudible ]? >> yes, i am. >> i think we ought to look into obviously the full range of active measures the russians employed. if one of the russian active measures was the same as what they have done in europe, that is, financially entangle people as a way of exerting influence
over them, then it may be within the scope of our investigation. but i don't think we want to begin with that conclusion. >> is there a problem with president trump's tweets, do you have any communications with anyone in the white house, with the problem of when the president tweets something, that you, allies of the president say is flat-out wrong? >> well, look, i -- we've talked about this here at these press conferences before. i think the president tweeting is a good thing. and there's a fine line between having too many people monitoring what he's saying. and then no one monitoring what he's saying. but look, he's the president of the united states. i think him tweeting, i think the american people for the most part enjoy it. including you people in the press. just hopefully it would be helpful if they could be a
little more focused. but at the end of the day, he's elected and i'm not. >> the letter now with the intel community, do you expect the recipients to respond on friday? >> i would expect with the seriousness of the -- with everything as it relates to fisa, and the problems we already had a year ago, dealing with the notification of congress on people in congress that were identified, i would hope they would rapidly get these responses to us. look, either it will be more evidence that we'll have to continue this investigation on this matter of dealing with fisa, or we'll be able to put that to bed. the faster we can put any fisa problems to bed, the better for the ic and american people. >> and i would join the chairman in what he said earlier, that i'd expect the fbi and the department to fully cooperate. if they don't, i'll be prepared to use the force of compulsory
process. >> any other questions? hold on a second. let's go over here. >> what do you see as the most important question the committee is looking at in the investigation? >> i don't see there's one important question. i think they're all important. overall, this is great for the work that we've done over many years here on this committee. because finally the american people are awakening to the fact that putin is creating problems for us, and our allies all over the globe. so this is something i desperately wanted people to pay attention to. perhaps if the last administration paid closer attention to what we were saying at the time, the opportunities and the options that congress gave to the last administration to help the ukrainians and other countries, if they would have used those, and not waited until the end, until after the
election to do something, i think it would have been very helpful and we wouldn't have had this outcome. >> you know, i think there are really obviously many important questions, and many important objectives of the investigation. i guess i would highlight three. first, we need to know the whole range of what the russians did, because we not only need to protect ourselves in the future, the intelligence committee has concluded we'll do this again. and we need to do everything we can right now to be helping europe. which is facing the same kind of information warfare the russians used here. so identifying everything they did here and helping our allies is a very important priority. i also think that we need to look at the u.s. government response. how quickly did they respond, where did they fall down on the job, if they fell down on the job, and how do we improve response in the future. and then finally, i think we know a lot about the russian
hacking and dumping. we know the russians did it. we know obviously some of the platforms they used for the dissemination of this information. i think one question that the country has that is among the most weighty, is u.s. persons involved, did they get help, was there any form of collusion with the campaign. and i think the public knows far less on that issue than they do on many of the others. and for that reason, as well as the far-reaching consequences, one way or the other, i think it's very important that our committee get to the bottom of it, and if at all possible speak with one voice on that important issue. >> one more question here. >> four russians were just indicted by justice in regarding this. there were two officers. have you seen any evidence they were involved beyond yahoo!
breach and russian interference? >> no. i'd hate to comment without actually seeing the indictment and what's taken place over the course of the last few hours. >> yeah, i wouldn't have anything to add on that as well. except to say that, i think these kind of prosecutions are very important. even if we are not able to get custody of the person. just for the message that it sends that we take these forms of cyber crime very seriously. that we'll call out the people responsible, and where there is any state involvement, we will also try to bring about additional repercussions in terms of criminal indictment. thank you. >> thank you all so very much. we'll see you on monday.
across capitol hill today, lobbying efforts continued on the republican health care war, with a rally opposing it earlier. vice president pence meeting shortly with the republican conference. he was up on the hill, has been up on the hill today. an earlier meeting with the republican study committee, the rsc, our capitol hill producer craig caplan there, capturing steve scalise, the majority whip, saying that we are working out some final details to make the bill even better. here's a look at a video of that. >> how this bill accomplishes our goals, putting patients back into health care with a lower cost, and reducing the deficit. >> what has to be done to get that? are you concerned about the getting out of the budget committee because of the limitations of the rules? >> every step of the way we've already gone through two different committees. every republican's voted yes, every democrat's voted no. because obviously