tv White House Was Warned General Flynn Could Be Compromised CSPAN May 8, 2017 10:13pm-1:27am EDT
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27th, memorial day and june 3 on c-span and c-span.org. senate subcommittee hearing on russian influence to election, former acting attorney general cellulites told lawmakers she read -- raise nationalabout former security adviser michael flynn being successful to potential blackmail by russia. -- alongfied among with james clapper who says there was no evidence at this point of collusion between trump associates and russian foreign officials. lindsey graham chaired this hearing. it is just over three hours.
>> hit the gavel. give them some peace. back in your cages. take this free pass thing. the hearing will come to order. thank you all for coming. here's the order of the day. i'll give a brief opening statement along with senator whitehouse and we'll have senator grassley and feinstein follow us in questioning, and it will be seven-minute rounds initially and try to a second
round of five minutes. to both of the witnesses, thank you for coming. we'll try to make this as reasonably short as possible and if you need a break, please let us know. so, people wonder what are we doing, what are we trying to accomplish? in january, the intelligence community unanimously said that the russians through their intelligence services tried to interfere in the 2016 american presidential election, that it was the russians who hacked podesta's e-mails, it was the russians who broke into the democratic national committee and was russians who helped empower wikileaks. no evidence that the russians changed voting tallies, how people were influenced by what happened, only they know and god knows, but i think every american should be concerned about what the russians did. from my point of view, there's no doubt in my mind it was the russians involved in all the things i just described. not some 400 pound guy sitting on a bed or any other country.
russia is up to no good when it comes to democracies all over the world. dismembering the ukraine, the baltics are always under siege by russian interference. so, why? we want to learn what the russians did, we want to find a way to stop them because they're apparently not going to stop until somebody makes them. the hearing that was held last week with director comey, asked a question, is it fair to say that russian government still involved in american politics? and he said, yes. so i want house members and senators to know the presidential campaign in 2016, it could be our campaigns next. i don't know what happened in france, but somebody hacked into mr. macron's account and we'll see who that may have been, but this is sort of what russia does to try to undermine democracy. so, what are we trying to accomplish here? to validate the findings of the intelligence committee as much as possible and come up with a
course of action as a nation bipartisan in nature because it was the democratic party of 2016 were the victims. could be the republican party of the future. when one party's attacked, all of us should feel an attack. it should be an article 5 agreement between both major parties, all major parties, that when a foreign power interferes in our election, doesn't matter who they targeted, we're all in the same boat. secondly, the unmasking, the 702 program. quite frankly, when i got involved in this investigation, i didn't know much about it. director comey said the 702 program, which allows warrants for intelligence gathering and a vital intelligence tool, i've learned a bit about unmasking and what i've learned is disturbing. so i don't know exactly all the details, what goes into unmasking an american citizen being incidentally surveilled when they are involved with a foreign agent. i'd like to know more and i want
to make sure that that unmasking can never be used as a political weapon in our democracy. so i'm all for hitting the enemy before they hit us. intelligence gathering is essential, but i do believe we need to take a look at the procedures involved in 702, particularly how unmasking is requested, who can request it and what limitations exist, if any, on how the information can be used. so that's why we're here. we're here to find out all things russia and the witnesses are determined by the evidence and nothing else. the 702 reauthorization will come before the congress very soon and i, for one, have a lot of questions i didn't have before. i've enjoyed doing this with senator whitehouse, senator feinstein and grassley have been terrific. let it be said that the chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee have allowed us to do our job. empowered us and have been hands-on and it's much appreciated.
with that, i'll recognize senator whitehouse. >> thank you, chairman graham, for the important work the subcommittee is doing understood yur leadership investigating the threat of russian interference in our elections. in january, america's intelligence community disclosed vladimir putin engaged in an election influence campaign throughout 2016. in march, director comey confirmed, i quote him, "the fbi as part of its investigation, russia to interfere in the 2016 election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the trump campaign and russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and russia's efforts. the fbi and the intelligence community's work is appropriately taking place outside the public eye. our inquiry serves broader aims. to give a thorough public accounting of the known facts, to pose the questions that still need answers, and to help us determine how best to protect
the integrity and proper functioning of our government. at the subcommittee's first hearing on march 15, we heard from expert witnesses about the russian toolbox for interfering in the politics of other countries. now we can ask which of these tools were used against us by the russians in 2016. here's a checklist -- propaganda, fake news, trolls and bots. as told in march, russian state-sponsored media outlets, rt and sputnik, churned out manipulated truths, false news stories and conspiracies, end quote, providing a weaponized fake news effort openly supporting donald trump's candidacy, quoting again, while consistency offering negative coverage of secretary clinton. this was to again, quote, a deliberate, well organized, well funded, wide-ranging effort, end quote, by russia, using trolls and bots to amplify its messages
particularly across social media. these facts are not disputed by any serious person, so this is a yes on the checklist. hacking and theft of political information. throughout 2015 and 2016, russian intelligence services and state-sponsored hackers conducted cyber operations against u.s. political targets. includeing state and local election boards, penetrating networks, probing for vulnerabilities and stealing private information and e-mails. attribution of these crimes to russian actors was confirmed in our last hearing and by many other sources, so this is another yes. timed leaks of damaging material. russian intelligence fronts, cutouts and simpleympathetic organizations like guccifer 2.0, wikileaks, manipulate public opinion and influence the outcome of an election.
roger stone foresaw stolen data on twitter in 2016. timing can matter. on october 7, just hours after the damaging "access hollywood" tapes of donald trump were made public, wikileaks began publishing e-mails stolen from clinton campaign manager john podesta. so, yea again. assassination and political violence. last act, russian military intelligence reportedly conspired to assassinate the then-prime minister of montenegro as part of a coup attempt. russian opposition figures are routinely the targets of state-directed political viviolence. boris nemsof was brazenly murdered near the kremlin in 2015. thankfully we have no evidence of that happening here.
investment control and key economic sectors. we learned from heather conley's testimony in our last hearing that the kremlin playbook is is to manipulate other countries through economic penetration, heavily investing in critical sectors of the target country's economy to create political leverage. putin's petro politics uses russia's control of natural gas to create political pressure, but no, as to that tactic here so far. shady business and financial ties. russia exploits the dark shadows of economic and political systems. fbi director comey testified last week that the united states is becoming the last big haven for shell corporations for the opacity of the corporate form allows the concealment of criminal funds and can allow foreign money to directly and indirectly influence our political system. since the citizens united decision, we've seen unprecedented dark money flow in our election from 501-c4 organizations.
we don't know who's behind the dark money or what they're demanding in return. using shell corporations and other devices, russia establishes elicit financial relationships to develop leverage against prominent figures through the carrot of continued bribery or stick of threatened disclosure disclosure. how about here? well, we know president trump has long pursued business deals in russia. he's reported to have done or sought to do business since the mid 1990s. as he chased deals in russia throughout the 2000s, he deputized a colorful character named felix sader. sader's family has links to russian-organized crime and felix, himself, has had difficulties with the law. sader said in a 2008 deposition that he would pitch business ideas directly to trump and his team on a constant basis. as recently as 2010, sader had a trump organization business card in an office in trump tower. donald trump jr. said in september 2008 that he made half
a dozen trips to russia in the proceeding 18 months, noting that russian investors were heavily involved in trump's new york real estate projects. "we see a lot of money pouring in from russia," he said. one trump property in midtown, manhattan -- so here, there are still big questions. of course, president trump could clarify these questions by releasing his business and personal tax returns. corrupting and compromising politicians. in testimony before the judiciary committee last wednesday director comey acknowledged financial leverage has been exploited by russian intelligence over many decades. back to the days of joseph alsup, they used compromising material to pressure and manipulate targeted individuals with the prospect of damaging disclosures. has russia compromised,
corrupted, cultivated or exerted improper -- president trump, his administration, transition team, his campaign or his businesses? another big question mark. we know that president trump has had in his orbit a number of very russia-friendly figures. in august 2015, trump first met informally with michael flynn who was director of the defense intelligence agency had developed strong professional relationships with russian military intelligence. in december of that year, flynn traveled to moscow for a paid speaking appearance at an anniversary gala for rt, where he was briefly seated next to vladimir putin, quite a seat for a retired american general. two years after that trip, flynn was reportedly serving as an informal national security adviser to trump. trump identified a little known energy investor named carter page as one of his foreign policy advisers. in late march 2016, page told "bloomberg politics" that friends and associates had been hurt by u.s. sanctions against russia, and that there's a lot
of excitement in possibilities for creating a better situation, end quote. on april 27 2016, trump and several advisers includeing jeff sessions met sergey kislyak. russia's ambassador to the united states. had been arranged by trump's son-in-law jared kushner. kislyak attended the trump republican convention and told the "washington post" he had multiple contacts with the trump campaign both before and after the election. in the days after the november election, russia's deputy foreign minister confirmed that his government had communicated with the trump team durging the campaign. and we know michael flynn spoke with ambassador kislyak on december 29, the same day president obama announced punitive sanctions against russia for its interference in the 2016 election. trump transition and administration officials, thereafter, made false statements to the media and the public about the content of flynn's conversations with kislyak.
apparently as a result of flynn having misled them. this eventually led president trump to ask for flynn's resignation, something i'm hoping ms. yates can shed some light on in her testimony today. the president and his administration have yet to take responsibility for or explain these and other troubling russia inks. dismissing facts as fake news and downplaying the individuals involved. and nearly two years since he declared his candidacy for president, only one person has been held accountable, michael ynn sm the trump administration has said it was not improper. we need a more thorough accounting of the facts. an 18-minute gap transfixed the country and got everybody's attention. in this case we have an 18-day
gap between the noisk of the white house that a senior official that a senior official has been compromised and action taken against that senior official's role. e trump administration has a terrible. my sincere hope is this hearing and those to come will help us find out. hank you chairman. we tor graham: mr. clapper, appreciate you. and the former attorney germ has een both come. please rise. raise your right happened.
do you affirm that the testimony is the truth, whole truth ap nothing but the truth, some help you god. mr. clapper. chairman graham, ranking member white house and members of the subcommittee, i didn't expect before this committee against this. i thought i was all done with this when i left the government. this is the first of two hearings. skeern about the egregious of the zpwrferns is to merit focus hopefully bipartisan focus by the congress and the american people. the committee conducted an hearing resulting in a special intelligence community assessment or i.s.a.
i'm here to provide whatever information i cans a a private citizen and came up with its fingerprintedings and communicated them to the administration in an unclassified form to the american public. i will address four topics that has he emerged. because of both classification and some executive restrictions, there are limits to what i can discuss. and my direct official knowledge of any of this stopped on 20 january when my term of office was happily over. was a product cr c.i.a. and n.s.a. and f.b.i. under the iege is of my former office. reporting of many efforts toll
influence the outcome, president obama asked us to do this in early december and have it completed before the end of his term. the two annual iferts for this task were seasoned experts from each of the contributing agencies. they were given complete unfettered intelligence data and complete independent to reach their findings and found that the russian government influenced a campaign and cyber capabilities sm the russians used cyber operations including hacking and releasing stolen data to wikileaks. russia collected uncertain republican unaffiliated targets. the intelligence community assessment concluded that
president putin to erode the faith and confidence of the faith of the american people. he did so to demean secretary clinton and he sought to advantage mr. trump. these conclusions were reached on the information gathered and approved by the directors of the three agencies and me. hese russian activities were iefed to president obama and president-elect trump from the 6-13 five january. and there were footnotes from thousands of pages. the key judgments in the unclassified version on the 6th january were identical. while it has been over four months since theishance of this
assessment, the conclusions and conference levels reached at the time still stand. that is a statement and quality of the people who produce a intelligence presentence report during a controversial time under intense scrutiny and very tight deadline. throughout the dialogue about the issue of the past four months, four related topics and i would like to take a few moments to provide that clarification. i want to address the meaning of unmasking which is an unofficial term and is often misused and misunderstood. what happens in the course of conducting lawful if ily authorized the collecting agency picks up intelligence.
either direct interface with a lidated foreign intelligence target. under the minimum ms.ation targets the identity are typically masked and reports that go out to intelligence consumers and reported to as u.s. person one or two. however there are cases when to fully understand the con tech of the communication that has been object taped or the threat that is opposed they may ask that the identity be revealed. why the unmasking is necessary and that information is conveyed back the agency that collected the agency and it is up to that identity pprove the
and that identity is provided only to the person who requested it, not to a broader audience. that is subto oversight and he we report on the statistics on how many are collection that occurred under section 702 of the fisa act and in 2016 that number was 1,934. on several occasions during my years at d.n.i. i requested those persons to be revealed. i made these requests to fully understand the context of the communication and the potential threat. at no time did i submit a request for political purposes or to look at raw intelligence nor am i aware of any abuse. second is the issue of leaks.
leaks have been completed with unmasking in some of the discourse. unmasking is a legitimate. a leak is an authorized disclosure of sensitive information that is improper under any circumstance. i long maintained during my 50-plus year that leaks endanger national security and and they could put assets and lives at risk. in my long career i never exposed classified information. third is the information of counterintelligence investigations. while i can't comment in this setting on any counter intelligence investigation it is important to understand how they relate to the intelligence community and the general practice i followed during my
time at d.n. pimplet. when intelligence community obtains information suggesting that a u.s. person is anthing on behalf of a foreign power, the standard procedure is to share that with the f.b.i. sm the bureau decides whether to look into that information and happenedles any ensuing investigation if there is one given the sensitivity even the existence of a counterintelligence investigation. during my tenure, it was my practice to defer to the f.b.i. director direct tore mueller and director comey as to whether they would inform me about vegs. it stements from the unique investigation that travels both intelligence and law enforcement. d as a consequence i was not
aware of the investigation. and that comports with my public statements. did i would like to comment on the act, what it governance and why its vital. this is to approve of nonu.s. persons foreign, intelligence targets outside the united states. section 702 has been an effective tool until eyed if anything terrorists and threats to us and protecting the privacy of u.s. persons. s chairman graham indicated, 702 is due for reauthorization this year and it expires on 31 december of this year. with so many misconceptions
flying around it would be tragic for it to be a casualty for misinformation and us lose a tool that is so vital to this nage. ssia's influence constituted disrupt-water mark tore our election. they must have been con greating themselves and they are emboldend to continue such activities and do so more intensely. if there has been a collarion call for action to the very threat of our democratic situation, this is it. i hope the american people recognize the threat and it could further erode.
i turn to sally yates for any remarks she has to make. ms. yates: i'm pleased to appear before you this afternoon on this critically important topic on russian interference and realed topics that this subcommittee is investigating. for 27 years, i was horpped to represent the people of the united states with the department of justice. i began as an assistant united states attorney in atlanta in the fall of 1989 and like all prosecutors, i investigated and tried cases and worked hard to ensure the safety of our communities and those who violated our laws were held accountable. over time through five republican and democratic administrations, i assumed
greater leadership positions. n the u.s. attorney's office i served in the corruption division and was appointed united states attorney and then i had the privilege of serving as department attorney general for two years and finally the current administration asked me to stay on. throughout my time at the department, i was foshtr fortunate to work with the men and women at the department of justice who followed the facts and applied the law and who are the backbone of the department of justice. and every step, in every osition, from ausa to acting attorney general, i tried to carry out my responsibility that would engender the trust.
i thank this subcommittee for conducting a investigation. the efforts by a foreign adversary to undermine our processes and those of our allies pose a serious threat. this hearing and this subcommittee will be conducting are important bipartisan step in understanding the threat and best ways to conduct it going forward. as the intelligence community assessed in january 2017 report, russia will continue to develop capabilities to use against the united states and we need to be ready. i appreciate the opportunity to take part in today's discussion. i want to note in my answers today i tend to be as fullsome and comprehensive as possible.
as the subcommittee understands many of the topics of interest oday contain classification. my duty to protect classified formation applies just as it did. i'm no longer with the department of justice and not authorized to discuss deliberations with d.o.j. particularly on matters that may e the subject of ongoing obligations. i take those very seriously and appreciate in the preserving the integrity of the investigations that the department of justice may be conducting. i look forward to answering your questions. senator graham: senator grassley, would you like to make a statement?
[indiscernible. senator graham: senator feinstein. senator feinstein: i will be very brief. we have prepared for the committee and i would like to ask the staff to distribute it, a background and time line on lieutenant general michael flynn and some of the key dates involved, which may be of help to the subcommittee and i would like to take this opportunity to thank the subcommittee. chairman graham and ranking member whitehouse, you have done a good job and your whole subcommittee has and i thank you very much. i would like to make a fewments comments, if i might and put all the remarks in the record. i think it is a foregone
conclusion about russia's involvement and we see it replicated even in the french election, perhaps not to the extent or in the way, but ertainly replicated. on february 9, 2017, the washington "washington post" reported that either flynn had misled the vice president or the vice president misspoken. he resigned his post. there are still many unanswered questions about general flynn, including who knew what and when. for example, the press is now reporting that in addition to the warning from sally yates, concerns were raised by president obama directly to then
president-elect trump 95 days before flynn resigned. so the question is what role did flynn play in communications with the russians both after the first warning by president obama and then after the warning by sally yates? and i hope to ask that today. what role did flynn play in high-level national security decisions both during the 95 days and the 18 days when the white house was on notice. so i look forward to hearing more about this. from you, acting attorney general yates. you have stated you warped the white house on january 26, nearly three weeks before flynn resigned that he had not been truthful and might be vulnerable to russian black mail.
and finally, there are other troubling questions regarding russia's relationships and connections with trump advisers and associates and there are questions about whether anyone was the question of russian intelligence either exploited or cultivated. i will put my whole remarks in the record and i hope to ask questions around these comments. thank you so much for this opportunity. senator whitehouse: may i put into the record a letter dated vember 18, 2016 from the representative cummings giving president-elect pens what he alled aparent conflicts of interest regarding general
flynn. senator graham: without objection. on march 5, 2017, you said the following, here's the question, does intelligence exist that could answer the question whether there were improper contacts between the trump campaign and russian officials you said we didn't incollide the f.b.i. and the director of national intelligence that had anything, that had any inflex of collusion between members of the trump campaign. there was no evidence of that included in our report and i understand that, but does it exist. you say no not to my knowledge, is that still accurate? mr. clapper: it is. senator graham: are you aware of any evidence that would suggest in the 2016 campaign anybody in the trump campaign coluded with
the russian government or intelligence services in an mproper? ms. yates: i can't answer that. senator graham: i don't get that, because he just said he should the report and he said he doesn't know of any, so what would you know what is not in the report snl ms. yates: director clapper said he was unaware of the investigation. senator graham: the counterintelligence investigation was not mature enough to get in the report, is that fair, mr. clapper? mr. clapper: that's a possibility. senator graham: what i don't get how they can have a counterintelligence investigation and you as director of intelligence not knowing of it and the f.b.i. signed on to a report that
basically said there was no collusion. mr. clapper: i can only speculate why that isn't so. the evidence, if there was any, it didn't reach the evidentiary bar in terms of the level of that assessment. senator graham: are you familiar with the dosier about mr. trump compiled by some guy in england? mr. clapper: i am. senator graham: was that a credible report? mr. clapper: we didn't make a judgment on that and one reason e didn't include it in our assessment. the sources.borate lamb senator graham: are you familiar with the dosier? ms. yates: you asked me whether
i was aware of any evidence of collusion and i declined to answer because answering would reveal classified information at is the same answer that director comey gave and i would like to make clear just because i say i can't answer that, you should not draw from that that the aps is yes. mr. clapper: this illustrates what i was trying to get at in my statement about the unique position that the straddles between intelligence and law enforcement. senator graham: i want the country to know what they are doing on the intelligence side mr. clap irdidn't know about it and well we'll see what comes from it. what did you tell the white house about mr. flynn? ms. yates: i had to in-person
meetings. the first meeting occurred on january 26. i called mcguantanamo and i had a sensitive meeting and i needed to come see him and he agreed to meet with me later that afternoon. i took a senior member of the national security division who was overseeing this matter with me to meet with mr. mcgahn and we met at a consecutive to discuss classified information. we began our meeting telling him there had been press accounts of statements from the vice president and others that related to conduct that mr. flynn had been involved in that we knew not to be truth. i'm going to be very careful not to dr senator graham: you had
collected intelligence from a intelligence -- let me ask you this. did anybody make a request to unmask the conversation between the russian ambassador and from flynn. do you know if that was the case? mr. clapper: i don't. senator graham: is there a way to find that out. but there is a record somewhere that would make a request to unmask the conversation between general flynn ap the russian ambassador? mr. clapper: i can comment in the case of 02 requests, yes, those are documented . senator graham: this is important to me. how did the conversation between the russian ambassador and mr. flynn make it to the "washington
post"? mr. clapper: that's a great question. i would like to know that and i on't know the answer that. senator graham: if somebody did make an unmasking request, we would know who they were and find out from them who they shared the information with. the system would allow us to do that. to the agency that does the collection. there should be a record somewhere in our system whether or not an unmasking request was made of the conversation between r. flynn and the russian ambassador and then we can ask what did they do with the information, is that a fair statement? mr. clapper: yes. senator graham: would you tell the white house.
ms. yates: i said there were statements made by the vice president and other high-ranking officials that we knew to be untrue and we told them how we had this information, how we acquired it and how it was untrue and the white house counsel had an associate there with him through germ flynn's under lying conduct. but we took them through detail of the underlying conduct and we walked through the various press reports.
all of this, that the russians also knew about what general flynn had done and the russians knew that general flynn had misled the vice president and others. the media accounts it was clear that there they are were repeating what general flynn told them and that this was a problem, not only did they believe that the russians knew this but they had proof of this information. and that created a compromise situation and the national security adviser could be blackmailedbly the russians. finally we told them we were giving thement all of this information so they could take action, the action that they deemed appropriate. mr. mcgahn asked me whether or not general flynn should be fired and i said it wasn't our call but we were giving them the information.
and that was the first meeting. senator graham: are you aware of incidental collections by the intelligence community of any presidential candidate, staff or campaign during the 23016 election cycle? mr. clapper: say that again. senator graham: was there any incidental collection by our intelligence community collects information involving a presidential candidate on either side of the aisle during 2015 or 2016? mr. clapper: not to my knowledge. ms. yates: director comey declined to answer it. and again you should not draw from that that my answer is yes but the answer would require me to reveal classified
information. . clapper: my answer [indiscernible] senator graham: exactly. senator whitehouse: the director testified a few days ago in the full committee that the f.b.i. had interviewed mr. flynn a day before or two days before your meeting at the white house and you just testified that you had told the white house counsel that the f.b.i. asked and mcgahn asked how did he do. did you have the 302 with you? did you show it to white house ounsel and did you see it? ms. yates: the f.b.i. conducted the interview on the 24. we got a readout from the agents
ut we didn't want to wait to the 302. e had folks from the council finding how the interview went. senator whitehouse: so did you take that summary with you? do you have any document with you that describes the f.b.i. interview of general flynn? ms. yates: at the time i was there, i had notes to describe that interview as well as the individual that was with me. and had been part of those discussions with the f.b.i. senator whitehouse: did you discuss criminal prosecution of mr. flynn, general flynn? ms. yates: that did not come up in the first meeting but the second meeting when mr. mcgahn called me back the next morning
and asked me if i could come back to his office and i went back with the official and there were four topics that he wanted to discuss there and one of those topics was he asked about the politic contact of certain criminal statutes. senator whitehouse: second meeting at the white house in his office? with the same two individuals on the following day? ms. yates: right. senator whitehouse: you went back to a phone call request? >> the morning of the 27 tf after our meeting occurred on the 26th, mr. mcgahn called me asked if i could discuss this further and we set up a time ap i went over that afternoon sm the same career official who was overseeing this investigation more me we talked through
issues. senator whitehouse: you coor perhaps have waited until you have seen the agent's 302 of the interview of general flynn, why go ahead of that? why not wait? ms. yates: this was a matter of urgency. in making the determination of notification, we had to balance the variety of interests. we felt like it was critical we get this information to the white house, because in part because the vice president was making falls statements to the public and general flynn was compromised respect to the russians. as you would always do and take into account the investigating agency's desires and concerns about how a notification might impact that notification. once general flynn was
interviewed. senator whitehouse: do you know how it took place? ms. yates: at the white house. senator whitehouse: dune if flynn was represented by counsel at the time? ms. yates: i don't believe he was. senator whitehouse: you were seeing these statements inconsistent with what you knew and presumed the white house was being truthful that flynn was misleading them which he was vulnerable to call up the national security of the president and do this and out you with your folks or your areer is done. he ms. yates: why does it matter if one white house official lies to
another white house official. we smaped it was a whole lot more and went back over the concerns that the concerns about the underlying conduct that he lied to the vice president and others and the american public had been mislid and every time this lie was repeated a the misrepresentations were getting more and more specific, every time it happened, and to state the obvious, you don't want your national security compromised with the russians. senator whitehouse: were there any take awaist from the first meetings or items that you left with? ms. yates: i guess when you talk about several issues. senator whitehouse: you said there were two meetings and a phone call and the phone call set up -- ms. yates: there was a third
substantive phone call. one of the issues that mr. mcgahn raised with me was on the 27 shth was his concern because we told him before that we were giving him information so they could take action and they were concerned that it would interfere with the f.b.i. investigation and we told him that he should not be skend about it, that general flynn had been interviewed, that their actions would not interfere with any investigation and all members saying this wouldn't be fair to tell you this and expect to sit on your hands. senator whitehouse: was the interview of general flynn accelerated once you felt you needed to get his statement quickly? ms. yates: we are working with
the f.b.i. in the course of the investigation. senator whitehouse: first thing you know is that you have information that one thing was said and the white house is saying something different. and you know that that information irrespective of who is involved needs to get up to the white house quickly and so at that., the decision was made to do the interview so that was locked down before you went up o white house counsel. ms. yates: there was a request made by mr. mcgahn if they could look at the underlying evidence that we had of general flynn's conduct and we told him we were inclined to look at that evidence and go back to d.o.j. and look at the logistics. the late meeting was friday the
27th, we told them we could work with the f.b.i. over this issue and get back to them on monday morning and i called him on monday morning that we would allow them to come over and interview the evidence. senator whitehouse: was that a separate phone call? ms. yates: two meetings and phone call at the end dr that the material was available. he had to call me back and he wasn't available. and i didn't hear from him until mopped of the 30th. senator whitehouse: nobody came ver to look at the material? ms. yates: i don't know about that because that was my last d.o.j. he senator grassley: i asked
director comey these questions last week so both of you yes or any s far as you know, has classified information related to mr. trump been declassified or shared with the media. mr. clapper: not to my knowledge. ms. yates: not to my knowledge. senator grassley: next question, have either of you ever been an anonymous source in matters relating to mr. trump or rush yab's attempts to medical in the election? did either of you ever authorize someone else at your respective gencies to be an anonymous source? mr. clapper: no. ms. yates: no. senator grassley: as far as
either of you know, have any government agencies referred any of the leaks over the past several months to the justice department for potential criminal investigation? mr. clapper: i don't know. as you know, senator. there is a process for doing that. i don't know if that's happened. . yates: i'm not at d.o.j. anymore. so i don't know what has been referred. senator grassley: neither one of you know whether an authorized investigation of the leaks. r. clapper: knows. senator grassley: have any of you been questioned by the f.b.i. about any leaks. mr. clapper: i have not been. ms. yates: no. senator grassley: i want to discuss unmasking, mr. clapper
and ms.iates, did either of you request the unmasking of mr. trump or his associates by any member of congress? mr. clapper: yes. in one case, i did. i can't discuss it any further than that. senator grassley: if i ask you for details, you captain discuss that, is that what you said. mr. clapper: not here. senator grassley: can you answer that question, did you ever president sking by trump? ms. yates: no. senator grassley: did you ever review classified documents that mr. trump or his associates have ever been unmasked. mr. clapper: yes. senator grassley: can you give us details?
mr. clapper: new york city i can't. ms. yates: yes, i have and i can't give you details. senator grassley: did you ever share information about unmasked associates or members of conditioning with anyone else? mr. clapper: thinking back over 6.5 years, i could have discussed it with my deputy or germ counsel. ms. yates: in the course of the flynn matter, i had discussions with the intell community. i'm not sure if that is responsive. senator grassley: you can't give details here? ms. yates: no. mr. clapper: no. senator grassley: the f.b.i. notified the democratic national
community of the intrusion into their systems in august of 23015, but the d.n.c. turned down the f.b.i.'s offer to get it out and refused the f.b.i. access to their servers. instead, it eventually hired a private firm in the spring of 2016. wikileaks began releasening the emails last july and took 27,500 7,000 of the d.n.c. emails it released or sent after the f.b.i. notified the d.n.k. of the breach. would you agree one of the lessons is that people should cooperate with the f.b.i. instead of stonewalling? mr. clapper: yes, sir. i think that is good idea.
senator grassley: mr. clapper, you sent the russians or you said the rush yaps did not release any negative information on republican candidates. i believe that that is not quite right. guccifer 2.0 16 released 200 pages of the d.n.c.'s research, hundreds of pages what i would call dirt and happened two days after the "wall street journal" published a plan to revolt toll prevent mr. trump from securing the nomination. why wasn't the release of harmful information addressed in the report and was this even evaluated during the review? mr. clapper: i would have to
consult with the analysts that re involved in the report to definitively answer that. i don't know if they considered that. senator grassley: can you submit that as anance in writing. mr. clapper: i'm a private citizen now, sir. i don't know what the rules are. potentially classified information. i will look into it. senator grassley: mr. clapper, you testified the intelligence community conducted an haustive review of russian analysts and had access to raw intelligence data. do you have any reason to believe that any agency withheld any relevant information? mr. clapper: i don't believe so with one potential calf yet
which is the possibility of acknowledging this role that the .b.i. plays in strad willing law enforcement. they may have chosen to withhold information from the report. i don't know that to be a fact. i'm suggesting that was a possible bill. senator grassley: my time is up. senator graham: senator feinstein. senator feinstein: i'm not going ask you anything that involves a secure information but after your meeting with mcmcgahn and you said there were four topics to discuss. ms. yates: the first topic is why does it matter to d.o.j. if one white house official lies to another. the second is criminal statutes
and the likelihood that the department of justice would pursue a criminal case. the third topic was their concern their action might interfere with an investigation of mr. flynn and the fourth topic was to see the underlying evidence. senator feinstein: were all those topics satisfied with respect to your impression after the second meeting? ms. yates: only thing that was left open was the logistics for us to make arrangements. senator feinstein: you did make hose arrangements? >> i don't know if they looked at that evidence. senator feinstein: lieutenant general flynn remained national security advisor for 18 days after you raise the the concern.
in your view, did the risk that flynn or could be compromised diminish at all? ms. yates: i'm not in a position to have an and for that. and we were concerned about the compromise and encouraging them to act. don't know if what they took. senator feinstein: did you discuss this with other d.o.j. officials? ms. yates: it was a topic of a whole lot of discussions with d.o.j. and members of the intelligence community and discussed it. after the 30th, i wasn't at d.o. j., i didn't have any further discussions. senator feinstein: did you consult with other career prosecutors? ms. yates: we had the experts in
the national security kiffings as we were navigating this and working with the fiverb and we were trying to make a determination of how best to make this notification to get this notification to the white house to be able to act. senator feinstein: what is the point you were trying to make that general flynn had seriously compromised the security of the united states and possibly the overnment by what he had done, whatever that was? ms. yates: our point was that logic would tell you that you don't want the national security adviser to be in a position where the russians have leverage over him. what impact that could have had, i can't speak to that. that was not a good situation which is why we wanted to let
the white house know about it. senator feinstein: "the quardian" has reported that in late of 2015 of suspicious inter actions between russian advisers and it was passed on. over the spring of 2016, multiple european allies passed on additional information to the united states about contacts between the trump campaign and russians, is this accurate? ms. yates: i can't that. senator feinstein: general clapper, is that accurate? mr. clapper: yes, it is and it is also quite sensitive. i specifics are quite sense havetive. senator feinstein: when did components of the intelligence
community open investigations of the investigations between trump advisers and russians? mr. clapper: what was the question? senator feinstein: when did components of the intelligence community open investigations into the interactions between trump advisers and russians? mr. clapper: i can -- i referred to director comby's statement before the house intelligence committee on the 20 of march when he advised that the opened investigation in july, 16th. senator feinstein: and what was the reaction when you advised that the investigation be opened as early as july 15? mr. clapper: i'm sorry. senator feinstein: i thought you said that you advised --
mr. clapper: director comey did announced that the f.b.i. initiated an investigation in july of 2016. senator feinstein: what did the intelligence agencies do with the findings that i just spoke about that "the guardian" wrote about? mr. clapper: i'm not sure about the accuracy of that article. going back to 2015, there was evidence of soviet, russian activity mainly in an information gathering where they were investigating voter registration roles rolls and the like and that activity started early. so we were monitoring this as it progressed and something that picked up in the spring and
. mmer and fall in of 2016 senator feinstein: so let me go back to you, ms. yates. i take it you were very concerned. what was your prime worry during all of this? now you worried that general flynn would be compromised. what did you think would happen if he were? and how do you believe he would have been compromised? ms. yates: we had two concerns, compromise is one concern and e russians could use compromised material, sometimes owe vertly and sometimes subtlety. and you have a position like the national security adviser and don't want that person to be in a position where the russians
have leverage over him. the other motivating factor is that the vice president was entitled to know that the information he was rehague to the american public wasn't true. senator feinstein: what you are saying is that general flynn lied to the vice president? ms. yates: that is how it appeared. bauts the vice president made statements on his conduct based on what general flynn told him ap we knew that flat wasn't true. senator feinstein: as the days went on, what was your view of the situation because it was two weeks or 18 days before director flynn was dismissed? >> i was no longer with d.o.j. and i wasn't having any involvement in this issue after that day.
senator feinstein: thank you, mr. chairman. senator graham: senator cornyn. senator cornyn: this is important. the american people have every right to know as much as possible about russian interference in our elections. this is not anything new but erhaps the level, intensity of ussian covert operations and i thank the intelligence community for their assessment. while these two witnesses are welcomed and glad to have them here and susan rice has refused to testify in front of the committee, there are a lot of questions she needs to answer. i would point out that both senator feinstein and i are on
the senate intelligence committee which is conducting a bipartisan investigation under chairman urr and vice warner. we have been given access to the intelligence collected by the intelligence committee which completes which is an incomplete picture when you talk about part of the evidence. but it is important for the american people to understand what is happening. this subcommittee hearing is playing an important role in that. i want to ask director clapper, because i think unfortunately some of the discussion about unmasking is casting suspicion on the intelligence community in a way that i think is frankly concerning particularly when we
were looking at re-authorizing section 70 of the pailt act. ecause as many has said, i can't recall your specific words, but it is the crown jewels of the intelligence community and i'm concerned that some of the information that has been discussed about unmask might cause some people to worry about their legitimate privacy concerns. when it comes to incidental collection on an american person and that is unmasked at the request of some appropriate authority, can you describe briefly the paper trail and the approval process that is required in order to allow that to happen? that isn't trivial is it? >> the process is the judgment as to whether or not to unmack
or reveal the identity is rendered by the original collection agency. that is going to be in the case of 702 is going to be n.s.a. and for my part and in my six ars at d.n.i., i asked for identities to be unmasked to understand the con tech. and what we are concerned about is the behavior of the validated foreign intelligence target, as hat target trying to cow o', and it is difficult to understand the labels u.s. person one and u.s. person two. and as well, doing that on a basis, one report at a time in which you need to look at, is
there a pattern here. . i did feel i should attempt to understand the context and who this person was because it had a huge bearing on how important or critical it was and what threat might be posed by virtue of the, again, the behavior of the validated foreign intelligence target. so our focus was on the target, not as much as the u.s. person only to understand the context. >> well, the fact that some appropriate authority might request and receive the unmasking of the name of the u.s. person does not then authorize the release of that information, that classified information into the public domain. that remains a crime, does it not? mr. clapper: yes.
again, that's why i attempted to make -- to clarify in my statement --. >> push the button. >> that's why in my statement i attempted to make that distinction between unmasking anne authorized, legitimate process, with approval by legitimate authorities, and leaking, which is an unauthorized process under any circumstance. >> mr. chairman, i think it is really important that in order to determine who actually requested the unmasking and in order to establish whether appropriate procedures were under faken under both legislative oversight and judicial oversight, that we determine what that paper trail is and follow it. >> senator cornyn, if i may, i have to be very careful here about how i phrase this, but i would just repeat to you the definition of what 702 is used for. it is collection against a nonu.s. person overseas.
>> i don't think you can say that enough, director clapper. it's important. because people need to understand. mr. clapper: happy to say it again. necessary foreign intelligence to keep the american people right but also respecting the privacy rights and constitutional rights of american citizens. >> absolutely. ms. yates, this is the first time that you've appeared before congress since you left the department of justice, and i just wanted to ask you a question about the -- your decision to refuse to defend the president's executive order. in the letter that you sent to congress, you point out that the executive order, itself, was drafted in consultation with the office of legal counsel, and you point out that the office of legal counsel reviewed it to determine whether in its view the proposed executive order was lawful on its face and properly drafted. is it true that the office of
legal counsel did conclude that it was lawful on its face and properly drafted? ms. yates: yes they did. >> what is your authority to overrule the office of legal counsel when it comes to a legal determination? ms. yates: the office of legal counsel has a narrow function and that is to look at the face of an executive order and to determine purely on its face whether there is some set of circumstances under which at least some part of the executive order may be lawful. importantly, they do not look beyond the face of the executive order, for example, at statements that are made contemporaneously or prior to the execution of the e.o. that may bear on its intent and purpose. that office does not look at those factors. in determining the constitutionality of this executive order that was an important analysis to engage in and one that i did. >> ms. yates, i thought the department of justice had a long standing tradition of
defending a presidential action in court if there are reasonable arguments in its favor regardless of whether those arguments might prove to be ultimately persuasive, which of course is up to the courts to decide and not you, correct? ms. yates: it is correct that oftentimes but not always the civil division of the department of justice will defend an action of the president or an action of congress if there is a reasonable argument to be made. but in this instance, all -- all arguments have to be based on truth because we're the department of justice. we're not just a law firm. we're the department of justice. senator cornyn: can you distinguish the truth from lawful? ms. yates: yes. because in this instance in looking at what the intent was of the executive order which was derived in part from an analysis of facts outside the face of the order, that is part of what led to our conclusion that it was not lawful. yes.
senator cornyn: ms. yates, you had a distinguished career for 28 years with the department of justice, and i voted for your confirmation because i believed that you had a distinguished career, but i have to tell you that i find it enormously disappointing that you somehow vetoed the decision of the office of legal counsel with regard to the lawfulness of the president's order and decided instead that you would count manned the executive order of the president of the united states because you happen to disagree with it as a policy matter. i just have to say that. ms. yates: i appreciate that, senator. let me make one thing clear. it was not purely as a policy matter. in fact, i remember my confirmation hearing. in an exchange that i had with you. and other of your colleagues where you specifically asked me, in that hearing, that if the president asked me to do something that was unlawful or unconstitutional and one of your colleagues said or even just that it would reflect poorly on the department of
justice, would i say no? and i looked at this. i made a determination that i believed it was unlawful. i also thought that it was inconsistent with the principles of the department of justice. and i said no. and that's what i promised you i would do and that's what i did. senator cornyn: i don't know how you can say it was lawful and say it was within your prerogative to refuse to defend it in a court of law and leave it for the court to decide. ms. yates: senator, i did not say it was lawful. i said it was unlawful. >> senator durbin is next but i have one quick -- if you don't mind -- about how 702 works. you said something, general clapper, i don't quite understand. is it unlawful to sur veil a foreign agent in the united states? mr. clapper: no it is not but that is another provision. >> okay. i wanted to be sure there is a procedure to do that. mr. clapper: there is.
>> to take a point, you said the word overseas. the ambassador was not overseas on december 29, was he? mr. clapper: that is correct. >> thank you. >> let me say at the outset in response to senator cornyn, in your conclusion about the unlawful nature of the muslim travel ban was of course a position which was supported by three different federal courts that stopped the enforcement of that ban and ultimately led to the president withdrawing that particular travel ban, is that not true? ms. yates: that's correct. senator durbin: i want to mention at the outset this is a critically important hearing and i want to thank senator graham and senator whitehouse for the bipartisan nature of this hearing. i think the testimony we received from these witnesses and the presence of so many of my colleagues is an indication of how we view the severity and gravity of the issue before us. am troubled that this great committee with its great chairman and all its members does not have professional
staff assigned to this investigation. it is the ordinary staff of the subcommittee who are working it. i think what we've seen with this situation calls for the appointment of an independent commission -- presidential commission or congressional commission -- one that is clearly independent, transparent, and can get to the bottom of the russian involvement in our last election process and the threat that faces us in the future because of it. short of that, we'll continue to do our best on a committee level with meager resources in both the intelligence committee and here. and this is an issue that begs for so much more. i'd also say i'm starting to hear from the republican side of the table some real concern about section 702, which senator lee, republican member of the committee and myself, have been calling for reform on for several years. unfortunately, we didn't have the support from the other side of the table when we did. i hope that we can get it now when we talk about real reform of the 702 and protecting the
rights of individuals in america. ms. yates, let me ask you about his meeting on january 26. with white house counsel. you showed the justice department's concern -- shared the justice department's concerns about russia, and his vulnerability to blackmail, is that correct? ms. yates: that is correct. senator durbin: was there anything else other than his representation that he had in conversations that you warned him about? ms. yates: no. senator durbin: it didn't go back to his trip to moscow and money received hwan not? ms. yates: no it did not. senator durbin: it was strictly on that question. then you had a second meeting the next day on january 27. >> at his request, yes. >> and at that second meeting with mr. mcgann say anything about whether he had taken the information you had given him the previous day to the president? ms. yates: no, he didn't tell us. >> are you aware mr. spicer,
the white house press secretary on february 14 said, and i quote, "immediately after the department of justice notified the white house counsel of the situation, the white house counsel briefed the president and a small group of senior advisers? ms. yates: i've seen media reports to that effect but that's all i know. >> so there is no statement by mr. mcgann that he had either spoken to the president about his concerns with his national security adviser or any other members --. >> no. he didn't advise us in the second meeting anyone he may have discussed this with the prior evening. >> a question that keeps gnawing at me is mr. mcgann asked of you, is there anything wrong with one white house official lying to another white house official? ms. yates: to be fair to mr. mcgann i wouldn't say that he said is there anything wrong. his question was more essentially, what is it to the justice department if one white house official is lying to another? in other words, why is this something d.o.j. would be concerned about? that's why we went back through
the list of issues and reasons why this was troubling to us. >> did you think there was a legal reason to be concerned if one white house official lied to another white house official? >> we didn't go into that and to the extent you may be talking about like a 1001 violation that was not something we were alluding to or discussing with mr. mcgann. i think his point when he made that point to me was that he wasn't sure why the department of justice would care about one lying to another. not to be discussing whether that was in fact a crime. >> and the reason you told him was what? >> was that, again, it was a whole lot more than one white house official lying to another. first of all, it was the vice president of the united states and the vice president had then gone out and provided that information to the american people who had then been misled and the russians knew all of this, making mike flynn compromised now. >> you said earlier i believe that mr. mcgann asked you if
you thought they should fire general flinn at that point. >> right. >> what was your response? >> i told him it was not our call as to whether general flinn was fired. that we were giving them this information so they could take action. the action they believed was appropriate. senator durbin: on february 14 after general flinn resigned, sean spicer said, and i quote, "there was nothing in what general flinn did in terms of conducting himself that was an issue. do you have any idea what he meant by those words? >> no, i'm not -- all i can say is he didn't reach that conclusion from his conversation with us. i can't speak to how he arrived at that. >> let me ask you, there was a period of time, 18 days we've referred to. during that period a number of things occurred. general flinn continued to serve as the national security adviser for 18 days after you ad briefed the white house
about the counterintelligence risk he posed. he continued to hire key senior staff on the national security council, announce new sanctions on iran's ballistic missile program, met with japanese prime minister shinzo abe along with president trump at mar a lago and participated in discussions about responding it a north korean missile launch and spoke to the press about his communications with the russian ambassador. ms. yates, in your view, were there national security concerns in these decisions being made after the information you shared with the white house? ms. yates: i was no longer with d.o.j. after january 30 so i wasn't aware of any actions general flinn was taking so i couldn't opine on that. >> general clapper, would you comment if you had a warning from the department of justice to the white house about general flinn possibly being compromised here and then these important national security decisions that followed would
you have concern about that? >> well, i would, hypothetically, yes. i was going from the government as well. >> you've had quite a career in intelligence and national security. and here you have a man that's been told, white house has been told he could be compromised and blackmailed by the russians, continuing to make the highest level decisions of our government. >> it is certainly a potential vulnerability. no question about it. >> i would say so. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the witnesses for being here today. mr. clapper, you testified as to the harms that come from leaks, the harms to our national security, and you also testified about the importance of protecting classified information and keeping it classified. uring your many years in intelligence and at d.n.i. have
you ever knowingly forwarded classified information to a nongovernment employee on a nongovernment computer who did not have authorization to eceive that information? >> not to my recollection, no, sir. >> and what would you do at the d.n.i. if you discovered that an employee of yours had forwarded hundreds or even thousands of e-mails to a nongovernment individual, their spouse, on a nongovernment computer? >> well, i'm not a prosecutorial element but if i were aware of it i would certainly make known to the appropriate officials that that was going on. >> would that strike you as anything ordinary? >> hopefully not. >> what concerns would that raise for you? >> well, it raises all kinds of
potential security concerns. again, depending on the content of the e-mail, what the intent was, there's a whole bunch of variables here that would be considered. you know, potentially, again, this is a hypothetical scenario to be quite concerning. >> what would you expect to happen if you made a referral of an individual who had forwarded hundreds or even thousands of classified information to a nongovernment employee on a computer? >> whatever the potential were ression was, if this sufficient evidence of a compromise, we would file a crimes report. that's standard procedure that we use when there's the potential for investigating and prosecuting someone. >> last week i asked similar questions to the f.b.i. director comey, and he said an individual who did that would be subject to, "significant
administrative discipline" but that he was" highly confident they wouldn't be prosecuted." do you share that assessment? >> well, i don't know. e track record is that the prior administration prosecuted more people for leaking than any other administration in the past. so it's difficult to do that. atlanta are many cases we could not --. and there are many cases we could not prosecute or even seek a crimes report because of the potential audience of people that could have been the perpetrator of these insecurities could not be identified. >> it is true that other individuals who were not in the direct employ of the democratic nominee for president were prosecuted for that conduct. let me shift to another topic. director clapper, you also testified that you're not aware of any interceptive communications of any presidential candidates or
campaigns other than the trump campaign that's been discussed here. is that correct? >> yes, but that's to my knowledge, but, you know, prior administrations, prior campaigns it wouldn't have been visible to me. so i can't say --. >> but in 2016 you are not aware of any other campaigns or candidates? >> no. >> and, ms. yates, same question to you. ms. yates: i'm not aware of any interceptions of the trump campaign. >> and are you aware of any intercepted communications of any other candidates or campaigns? >> no. >> okay. because earlier when chairman graham asked you that i thought you declined to answer. perhaps i misunderstood. >> i may have misunderstood the question. i thought the question i declined to answer was a different one than that. i'm glad i got a chance to clear it up. >> okay. you have no information of any interceptions of the bernie sanders campaign, hillary clinton campaign, or any other candidate in 2016 or campaigns?
>> no. no. >> okay. >> let's revisit the topic, ms. yates, that you and senator cornyn were talking about. >> okay. >> is it correct that the constitution vests the executive authority in the president? >> yes. >> and if an attorney general disagrees with a policy decision of the president, a policy decision that is lawful, does the attorney general have the authority to direct the department of justice to defy the president's order? >> i don't know whether the attorney general has the authority to do that or not but i don't think it would be a good idea and that's not what i did in this case. >> well, are you familiar with 8 usc section 1182? >> not off the top of my head, no. >> it is the binding statutory authority for the executive order you refused to implement that led to your termination. it is certainly a relevant and not a terribly obscure statute.
byment express text of the statute it says, "whenever the president finds that the entry of any alien or of any class of aliens into the united states would be detrimental to the interests of the united states, he may by proclamation and for such period as he shall deem necessary suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem appropriate." would you agree that is broad statutory authorization? >> i would and i am familiar with that and i'm also familiar with an additional provision of the i.m.a. that says no person shall receive preference or be discriminated against in issuance of a visa because of race, nationality, or place of birth. that i believe was promulgated after the statute that you just quoted. and that's been part of the discussion with the courts with respect to the ima is whether this more specific statute trumps the first one that you just described. my concern was not an i.m.a. concern here.
it rather was a constitutional concern. whether or not this -- the executive order here violated the constitution specifically with the establishment clause and equal protection and due process. >> there is no doubt the arguments you laid out are arguments we can expect litigants to bring, partisan litigants who disagree with the policy decision of the president. i would note on january 27, 2017, the detcht justice issued an official decision that the executive order, and i'll quote, "the proposed order is approved with respect to form and legality." that the determination from olc on january 27 said it was legal. three days later you determined, using your own ords, that although o.l.c. had opind on leelt it had not addressed whether it was, "wise or just." >> i also in that same
directive, senator, said i was convinced it was not lawful. i also made the point the office looks purely at the face of the document. again, makes the determination as to whether there is some set of circumstances under which some portion of that e.o. would be enforcible, would be lawful. they importantly do not look outside the face of the document. in this particular instance particularly where we were talking about a fundamental issue of religious freedom, not the interpretation of some arcane statute, but religious freedom, it was appropriate for us to look at the intent behind the president's action and the intent laid out. >> final, very brief question. in the over 200 years of the department of justice history are you aware of any instance in which the department of justice has formally approved the legality of a policy and three days later the attorney general has directed the department not to follow that policy and to defipe that policy? >> i'm not and also not aware
of the situation where the office of legal counsel was advised not to tell the attorney general about it until it was over. >> thank you, ms. yates. i would note that might be the case if there is reason to suspect partisanship. >> senator klobuchar? >> thank you. i want to thank you very much for your service, ms. yates. from beginning to end, your distinguished career as a prosecutor. and i just was putting this timetable together and i realized that your second meeting when you went over to the white house to warn them of general flynn's line and his connections with russia was the same day that this refugee order came out and it was the same day that you had to leave the justice department, so when did you meet with the white house counsel on that day? >> i met with white house counsel the best i can recall about 3:00 in the afternoon on the 30th. >> and during that meeting, did
they mention anyone, -- did anyone mention this was about to come out? did the acting attorney general of the united states? >> no. that was one thing that was of concern to us. not only was department leadership not consulted here and really the subject matter experts, the national security experts, not only was the department not consulted. we weren't even told about it. i learned about this from media reports. >> so you learned about it after the meeting at the white house counsel from the media. >> right. >> it is true that during your hearing then senator sessions now the attorney general actually asked you if the views the president wants to exercise are unlawful should the attorney general or deputy attorney general say no? and what did you say? >> and i said, yes. the attorney general should. >> okay. and then moving forward here, as was mentioned by senator durbin, this order was after a lawsuit from the state of
washington and minnesota, the court basically challenged the constitutionality of the order. the order has now taken effect. what i want to get to right now is the fact that the administration then withdrew its request for an appeal of the court ruling blocking implementation of the same order and then they changed the order that you would not implement. >> right. there were a number of important distinctions between travel ban one and travel ban two. at the time i had to make my decision, for example, the executive order still applied to green card holders. lawful, permanent residents and those who had visas. there were a number of other distinctions as well. >> thank you. >> let me say one thing. >> go ahead. very quickly. >> look, i understand that people of good will and who are good folks can make different decisions about this. i understand that. but all i can say is that i did my job the best way i knew how.
i looked at this e.o. i looked at the law. i talked with the folks at the department of justice. gathered them all to get their views and their input. and i did my job. >> okay. i appreciate that. let's go to russia. december 29th, this is the date that actually senator graham and i were with senator mccain hearing about russian interference, meeting with leaders in the baltics, georgia, and ukraine. this is the date that the president expanded the sanctions against russia. this is the date that michael flynn reportedly talked to the russians perhaps several times about sanctions. he then went on to not tell the truth to the vice president. and one of the white house officials has described the notification that you provided warning them of this as a heads up. how would you describe a heads up? >> well, at the risk of trying to characterize, i mean, we were there to tell the white house about something we were
very concerned about and emphasize to them repeatedly so they could take action. >> it was much more formal than just a simple, hey, this is happening. michael flynn did not resign his position as national security adviser until february 13th. that is 18 days after you went over there with the formal warning. and in particular, after they knew about this, on january it 28, flynn was allowed to join president trump on an hour-long telephone call with russian president vladimir putin. do you have any doubt that the information you conveyed to the white house on january 26 should have been made clear that flynn had been potentially compromised by russia, that his information was clear? >> the purpose was so they could act on that information. i would hope that they did. >> if a high ranking national security official is caught on tape.
caught in private saying one thing and one in public is that material for blackmail? >> certainly. >> do you want to add anything to that, director clapper? >> no. >> okay. i think it's pretty clear. i tng is pretty clear why we've had this hearing today. i wanted to ask you, director clapper, a few things about just in general this russian influence. when director comey was here last week i think he said i think one of the lessons the russians may have drawn from this, talking about the election influence is that this works. those were comey's words. do you agree? >> absolutely. as i said in my statement, the russians have to be celebrating they set of what out to do with are roman catholicer minimal resource expend -- rather minimal resources and the first step was to sow discord and
dissension which they certainly did. >> when you look at this, we always had the fake news propaganda referenced in the report. i believe it is $200 million. is that all they spent in the scheme of things? >> if that which doesn't include the government support work? is rt >> it is a propaganda mouthpiece for the government. the management is close to prudent. it is a russian governmental mouthpiece. misstates -- ms. yates, i'm asking you about the use of shell corporations. $5 million are now done with show corporations. we are trying to push so that
the treasury department puts more transparency. i'm concerned that this is another vehicle where money is laundered and loopholes in our campaign finance laws. did you address this as your criminale as a prosecutor. we are locking behind other countries in the world. you do not want shell corporations used for nefarious purposes. clapper, the want to and -- add anything to that? think it is so important, as well as the independentn, on commission with allow a panel of experts to go into the next election, 2020, where director comey had said i expect to see them back in 2018 and especially
2020, those are his words. do you agree with that? >> absolutely. independenthy an commission would allow us to come up with ideas of how to handle these things. allow foreign countries to influence our democracy. do you agree director clapper? >> i certainly do. i understand how critical leaks are and unmasking and ancillary issues. the transcendent issue is the russian interference in our election process. what that means to the erosion of the fundamental fabric of our democracy. that to me is a huge deal. they will continue to do it, why not? it has proved successful. >> thank you. >> until they pay a price.
hopefully they will soon pay. >> thank you both for being here. director clapper, how likely is it that foreign intelligence services are trying to optimize congressional i.t. systems? >> congressional i.t. systems are a target and have been. i saw examples of that during my time as dni. this is one case where we expeditiously informed congress from saw evidence of that. is not just russians or others out there doing the same things. >> what intel value within provide to them? depending on the nature of the material, it could be quite sensitive. statementke a general about it, but as a general rule it could be quite damaging. >> could you talk about the relationship between that
particular intel gathering on legislators and the interface with propaganda campaigns such as i've heard to testify in other places about russia's activities and their neighbors. what is the relationship between propaganda and intel gathering? >> on the part of the russians? they would certainly use that as they have in places like georgia and the baltics where they will turn evidence or what they have gathered and use that as can use -- or if they compromising material. there are all kinds of nefarious things they can do if they gather information like that. >> one way that we talked about this issue in the present almost in d.c. is it is always retrospective about our election in 2016. it devolves into a shirts and
skins exercise about what candidate you support it. director comey said he expects the russians to be back in 2018 and back with a vengeance in 2020. it would be helpful for the american people to understand what russia does with its near neighbors now. could you unpack how that on works -- works. >> those countries in the former still orbit in which they feel paternal about, moldova, the baltics, georgia, they are very aggressive in using all the multitude of tools that were on the senators checklist wherever they can however they can. they want to influence the outcome of elections towards candidates or whatever office who they think will be more pliant with them. , what is new and
different here is that aggressiveness is spreading into western europe. as we have seen, i believe in france and will in germany. they're relative success at doing this will reinforce. available to them. active propaganda, financing, candidates sympathetic to their hacking,olls, revelations of confidential emails, whatever it is they will use that. -- withoutu give us revealing classified information -- the magnitude of financial investment in these sort of efforts. if you're russia and you have army, navy, air force, greens and you are russia and you have a little info intelligence
community, how does the russian investment -- >> i can't give you a figure. i will say in comparison to classical military expenditures, it is a bargain for them. of course what they are looking for in particular in europe is to sow dissension, split unity, .nd and sanctions if they can drive wedges between by european nations manipulating and influencing elections, they will do it. the januaryand by assessment that wikileaks is a propaganda platform for russia. >> absolutely and i am in agreement with director pompeo's characterization of wikileaks as a non-nationstate intelligence service. >> unpack that a little bit more. so you are saying julian assange
is not a journalist? you are asking the wrong guy a question like that. absolutely not. in theonable people american debate our word when they hear people in the ic talk about something that is just information. skepticali am highly of mr. assange and i've been pushing the justice department to ask why we have not been taking steps to prosecute him for crimes that have endangered american intelligence assets. across the continuum of journalist who are legitimate journalists who try to get information to help the american people under the person amended be fully informed about the operations of the government, there are people who will lean resources so that they know everything they can tell us. the burden is on the intelligence official not to leak classified information. the burden is not on the journalists to not ask hard questions. why is julian assange something
other than on american journalist asking hard questions? >> there is obviously judgment here. harm toournalist does the country, harms our national security, compromises sensitive sources of methods and tradecraft, and puts the country jeopardy, that is a red line. i think it is unacceptable. unauthorized disclosures from julian assange and wikileaks directly endangered americans and american interests? >> yes, absolutely. >> i am all must my time so i will limited to one question, ms. yates.
could you give us a few steps and how the process about bringing something -- concerning information to the attention of the attorney general? toi'm trying to get you answer a question and something not regarding general flame -- flynn. how you would get aspects of the intelligence community? informationcovered about a political appointee, they would first get in contact with the relevant division of the department of justice that would have jurisdiction over it. the criminal division, national security division, whatever it might be. they would report that information and then it would make its way to me when i was deputy attorney general or acting attorney general. >> thank you.
>> i want to thank both of you for your decades of dedicated service in intelligence and law enforcement and for your testimony today. the question before us is one of great consequence. it is an existential threat to our democracy which if not faced appropriately will encourage an increased aggressive actions. the reality is a foreign adversary intentionally influence our 2016 presidential election. our president might not want to confront this, but it is a reality and one that our u.s. intelligence community agreed about with high confidence. i appreciate senator graham and senator white house in treating this threat to our democracy with the seriousness that it deserves. in your opening statement you suggested that the russians should be celebrating and that they are likely embolden because they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams and
at minimal cost. in the french national elections which just concluded yesterday, there was a stunning dump of hacked emails at the last moment in an attempt to influence the outcome of that election in the way design to help advance a candidate favored by the kremlin. in that instance there was a significant amount of fake news, manufactured articles mixed in with seemingly actual emails that had been hacked. there are allegations that there was coordination between all t-right news sites trying to forward this information and give it up around the world. is that your understanding of what is just happened in france? was there any evidence you saw of coordination between al releasenew sites and information in attempts to
influence the 2016 american election. >> all i know is what i am reading in the media. to anyt have access intelligence information that would help me cap any light -- authoritatively answer question. all i know is what is in the media. during the period when you did have regular access, did you suggestence that would that the long-standing russian practice of spreading misinformation and fake news was being amplified by news sites in the united states and any reason to believe that might have been coordinated? >> i don't know about the latter, but some news outlets were probably unwitting of that. i can't say to what extent that was coordinated with certain news outlets. that is in the domestic world. >> you said the russians will
continue this behavior until you impose significant cost. what sort of actions do you think we might take that would deter them? that is over my labor great as an intelligence guy. i thought the sanctions we did thate, and i was part of as part of the former administration, i thought it was a great first step. >> i will say that i agree with you. and a bipartisan bill led by senator graham and cosponsored by 20 senators would be a terrific next step. >> ms. yates, we have established that former national security advisor general flynn discussed sanctions with the russian ambassador. when the washington post was told that sanctions were not discussed, was that false? i understand that there have
been news reports to that account, but i can't confirm that those conversations regarding sanctions occurred because that would require me to reveal classified information. >> so i have a whole series of things that would be on cute, so you can answer any of those? >> i can answer those. >> on january 4, you testified that general flynn was interviewed about his underlying conduct in that conduct was problematic because it led to the conclusion that the vice president was relying on. could what was the -- what was the underlying conduct? was he truthful to his testimony to the fbi on january 24? knowledge of his underlying conduct is based on classified information. i can't reveal what that underlying conduct is. artificialo an
description of an event without revealing that conduct. >> i understand that. on january 27, you discussed with white house counsel for different topics. one of them included the possibility of criminal prosecution of the former national security advisor. what with the applicable statutes be. should the national security adviser face terminal prosecution? identified the statute, that would be insight into what the conduct was. i'm not trying to be hyper here, i'm trying to be careful that i observed my responsibilities to protect classified information. i cannot identify the statute. >> do you believe the administration took your warnings seriously when you made this extraordinary effort to go to the white house and in person briefed the white house council on the 26th and 27?
do you think they took appropriate steps with regards to general flynn as the national security adviser given that he remained a frequent participant in very high level national security matters for two weeks. >> on the 26th and 27 the general counsel demonstrated that he understood that this was serious. he did seem to be taking it seriously. i do not have any way of knowing what, if anything, they did. if nothing was done, that would be concerning. know whether they took any steps to restrict his access to classified information, investigate his -- him further, up until the washington post published information that made it clear that he had been lying to the vice president? >> i was gone after the 30th. i would know if any steps have been communicated to the department of justice. which not been fired,
would you have recommended to the white house counsel that they begin further investigations into the national security adviser or that they restrict his access to sensitive in classified information? had i remained at the department of justice, and if i were under the impression that that had been done, i would have raised it again with the white house. and thankou ms. yates you director clapper. both for your years of service. start withi want to you. you decline to defend president trump's executive order because it was unconstitutional. is that correct? >> yes. >> did you believe that no reasonable argument could be made in its defense. is that correct? i would not put it cannot way, senator. this was the analysis that we went through. >> let me stop you because i
have a whole bunch of questions. i just want to understand your thinking from my perspective. did you believe that there were reasonable arguments that could be made in its defense? believe that any argument we would have to make in its defense would not be grounded in an truth, because to make argument in its defense we would have to argue that the executive order had nothing to do with religion, that it was not done with an intent to discriminate against muslims. based on a variety of factors -- >> you are looking at intent? >> yes and i believe that was the appropriate analysis. that has been borne out in several court decisions at the time. you look and your constitutional analysis at what is trying to be accomplished. >> suppose this was an act of congress, would you have refused it then? >> if it was the same act, yes. the department of justice has done that in the past with the
defense of marriage act when the department of justice refused to defend it. >> but that was a political decision, was it not? was another example of the doj not defending the constitutionality of a statute. >> but the executive order was unconstitutional in your opinion? >> i was not convinced it was constitutional. i couldn't in good conscience send the department of justice lawyers in to defend it. >> is a constitutional are unconstitutional? >> i was not convinced that it was constitutional. i thought it was unconstitutional in the sense that there was no way i could send folks in there to argue something that we did not believe to be true. >> so you believe it is unconstitutional? >> yes. i can understand why you might be frustrated with the language here -- happynot frustrated, i'm
as a clam. >> let me stop you. i don't mean to >> metaphysical here, but at what point does an act of congress or on executive order become unconstitutional? >> it all depends on what the act does. i can look at statute in think it is unconstitutional. as that make it unconstitutional? >> the issue we face the doj is that it would require lawyers to go in and argued that it has nothing to do with religion. >> at what point does a statute or executive order become unconstitutional? iori theme a pr termination? -- determination?
i don't mean any disrespect, but who appointed you to the supreme court? deemedt acts of congress to because edition of? -- deemed to be constitutional. wrestled over this decision. it was because i took my responsibilities seriously. >> i believe you believe what you were saying, this is likely to come up in the future. at what point does an executive order or statute become unconstitutional? when i think it is unconstitutional? when you think it is constitutional? jurisdictions as it is unconstitutional? it is the responsibility of
the attorney general if the president asked them to do some that is unlawful or unconstitutional to say no. that is what i did. >> let me ask you both a couple questions. director clapper and ms. yates, that the russians attempted to influence the outcome of the election? >> yes. >> yes. >> do you believe the russians did influence the eye, the election? committeeelligence that is not have the authority, expertise, or resources to make that judgment. ofsaw no evidence influencing voter tallies in any of the 50 states. we would not in position to judge the actual outcome of the election. >> i don't know the answer for that. that is part of the problem, we will never know. russians have--
been doing this for year, and i'm not minimizing what they did. as i mentioned in my opening statement, they've been doing this since at least the 60's. the difference was this was unprecedented in terms of its aggressiveness and the multifaceted campaign that they mounted. that is new. >> is it a fact that in 1968 the a attempted toe subsidize the campaign of hubert humphrey? >> i don't know the specifics of that. i would want to research that. that certainly comports with what the russian tactics would be. >> is the fact that in 1984 the kremlin tried to stop ronald reagan from being reelected? >> again, i would have to do research to verify that, but again it comports with if they
chose a candidate that they had an aversion to, they would do that. , have your clapper ever leaked information classified or unclassified to the press? >> not willingly, as i said in my statement? >> unclassified is not legally. that is somewhat of a non-sacred or. have you ever given information to a reporter that you did not let your name be connected with? >> i have not. encounters with the media over my career. >> i'm sorry about that. how about you ms. yates?
>> i have never provided classified information. that would be the only kind of background information. >> i have done the same thing, doesn't include sharing classified information. else atu know anybody justice that has leaked classified or unclassified information to the press? >> no. >> thank you mr. chairman, i went over and i apologize. >> good to see you again and good to have you back here. i remember your confirmation. senator bearing in on you saying, would you stand up to the president of the united states if you thought he was asking you to do something unlawful? oh todemanding under --
say that yes, you would stand up. and you told jeff sessions of alabama, that is what you would do. and, it appears to be that you have kept your word. it is ok to keep your word depending upon who the , but i amtion is proud of you for keeping your word. the president tried to set a religious test for entrance into this country, something most first year of balls students would say was on -- first year law students would say was unconstitutional. i wish that mr. sessions and others had cap as consistence -- consistent with this administration as they did with the last. that is my judgment.
you wrote to the justice department, i'm responsible for ensuring that the positions retained in court remain consistent with this institution solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. convincednt i'm not that the executive order is lawful. is that an accurate statement of what you said? >> yes. >> and you still feel that way today? >> yes. the white house claims you betrayed the department of justice. do you feel like you betrayed the department of justice? i feel like doing anything else would be a betrayal of my solemn obligation to uphold the law of the constitution and -- constitution. >> i did not have a lot of constitution -- discussion about the white house with this.
i'm sorry, i don't understand the question. >> did anybody from the white house tried to direct the justice department how they should respond to the executive order? >> there was discussion with the lighthouse -- white house about litigation strategy. that occurred over the weekend. but when i issued my directive, i was gone that evening around on a clock. i don't know whether discussions occurred after that. >> i applaud you for keeping your word to then senator sessions who apparently has a different standard as attorney general. fbi director comey testified before this committee. was deputy attorney general back in 2003.
ashcroftgeneral recused himself. officials ofenior the trump campaign manager asian are connected to this investigation. the attorney general was forced to recuse himself. do you think this is the kind of where then deputy attorney general did and appoint a special counsel? >> i think my successor has a big job ahead of him. i do not think i will be giving him any advice from the cheap seats about how he needs to do it. this, we knowyou about general flynn's fuller ability to russian blackmail.
attorney general sessions misled this committee about his contacts then had to change his testimony. the president's son-in-law and senior advisor also failed to disclose contacts on their security clearance forms. aboutu have any concerns the attorney general, mr. kushner, or other trump officials vulnerability to blackmail? all of this information came to light after i was no longer with doj. >> did you have concerns while you are at doj that general flynn would be vulnerable to blackmail? >> yes i did and i express those to the white house. if somebody else fell into that same category, might they be vulnerable to blackmail? >> anytime the russians have
compromising information on you, you are vulnerable to blackmail. , ifme ask director clapper senior government officials have hidden financial information, things that normally disclose when you take a senior position, is that an area where they can be blackmailed if it is discovered? >> yes it is, of course. experience the russians search for that kind of thing? >> absolutely, they do. >> generally the intelligence community concluded that russia interfered in the 2016 election to denigrate secretary clinton
and help elect donald trump. last week donald trump said it could of been china and a lot of different groups. do you feel russia was responsible? >> absolutely. regrettably, although the conclusions that we rendered were the same as in the highly classified report as in the unclassified, unfortunately a lot of the substantiation's of that could not be put in the unclassified report because of the sensitivity of it. to meet the evidence was overwhelming. that thery compelling russians did this. >> did it serve any purpose for high officials like the president to say could of been somebody else, could of been china? does that help us or does that help russia? you could rationalize that
helps the russians by obfuscating who was actually responsible. >> thank you very much. good to have you both here. thank you mr. chairman. i want to thank both of you and the ranking member for this hearing. -- these hearings. director clapper and ms. yates for appearing today. community hasce concluded, all 17 of them, that russia interfered with this election. we all know that is right. >> as i pointed out in my statement, there were only three
agencies that directly involved in this assessment plus my office. >> but all 17 signed on to that? >> we did not going to that process. this was a special situation because of the time limit. only three offices signed on. to restrict to those three. i'm not aware of anybody who dissented or disagreed when it came out. >> ok. anyone who has looked at even part has to beed convinced that is what happened. one of the questions is, why did they favor donald trump? there are a number of contacts and communications between trump campaign officials, soviets, members of the trump administration, jeff sessions,
manafort, rexaul , roger stone, jared , and michael flynn. that is a lot in my mind. , heg into general flynn appeared during the campaign on russia today. russia today is the propaganda arm -- one of the propaganda arms. since you have retired, had he appeared on russia today? >> no, not willingly. general flynn received
$37,000 for sitting next to prudent at the 10th anniversary vladimir putin at the 10th anniversary of russia today. of this seems very odd to me and raises a lot of questions. you are not that asked in the second meeting why that the have concerns national security adviser had lied to the vice president? in the first meeting, did you mentioned that he might be compromised? >> we went through all of our concerns in the first meeting. it was in the second meeting that he raised the question of, why is this an issue for the
department of justice if one white house official lies to another? >> i don't understand why he didn't understand that? >> i'm not sure i can help you with that, senator. after that forn 18 days state there and was in one classified thing after another. there are policies that deal with who gets clearance and not. 12968 outlines the rules for security clearances. it says when something is raised about somebody's fitness to access classified information, that person's interest should be suspended. statescutive order also that clearance holders must also demonstrate "trustworthiness, honesty, reliability,
discretion, and sound judgment as well as freedom from allegiances and potential for core version." is that right? and yet the white house counsel did not understand why the department of justice was concerned? >> to be fair to the white house counsel, the issue that he was not clear on is why we cared that general flynn had lied to the vice president and others. >> i think it is so clear. presidentesident -- obama had told the incoming president elect to days after the election, do not hire this guy. >> i don't know anything about that. >> that is what we've heard.
and we had the white house counsel who doesn't understand what is wrong with this. and then we have spicer, the press secretary, saying the president was told about this. the president was told about this in late january according to the press secretary. who the formery president said don't hire this guy. he is clearly compromise, he lied to the vice president, and letseps him on, and he them be in all these classified -- let's and talk with vladimir putin. the president of the united and the national security adviser sit in the oval office and discussed this with vladimir putin. possible that the reason
that he didn't fire him that -- , well, if i fire russiansalking to the , what about all the other people on my team? coordinated? is it possible that the reason -- you ask yourself, why wouldn't you fire a guy who did this? all i can think of is that he we've got alll, these other people on the administration who had contact. we have all these other people in the administration who
coordinated, who were talking, maybe that. i'm trying to put a puzzle together here, everybody. maybe, he didn't get rid of a guy who live to the vice president, who got paid by the russians, who went on russia today because there are other people in his administration who met secretly with the russians and didn't reveal it until later , until they were caught. that may be why it took him 18 days until he came public. , ay get rid of general flynn danger to this republic.
care to comment? don't think i'm going to touch that, senator. thank you mr. chairman. i want to thank you senator graham and senator whitehouse for connecting this hearing in a bipartisan way and for prioritizing this issue which is of such gravity to our democracy. i want to thank each of you not only for your long and distinguished service, but also for the conscience and conviction that you have brought to your jobs, whether we agree or disagree with you, i hope that there are young prosecutors around the country, and young members of our intelligence committee who will watch this hearing and say, that is the kind of professional i went to be, not just a next bird, but also people with deep conviction.
i agree with my colleagues that there ought to be an independent commission that can have public hearings, produce recommendations and the report. but i also believe that there has to be a special prosecutor because what i hear from people in connecticut and from my colleagues in their town halls is that people want the truth uncovered about how the russians sought to interfere and undermine our democracy and electoral system. they also want accountability. they want, not only the russians to pay a price, they want anybody who colluded with the russians or aided and abetted them to pay a price as well. there are criminal statutes. that kind of collusion and impose serious criminal fines and imprisonment
for people who might have done that. know that the fbi is now investigating. they are investigating the potential collusion of trump associates and trump campaign manager ministration officials with the russians, as director comey has told us and made public. there is no to classify -- classified information here. the meeting that the fbi preceded on january 24 by one day approximately your the whiteing with house counsel. is it a fact that general flynn lied to the fbi? >> i can't reveal the internal fbi investigation, even though that part would not be technically classified, it is an
ongoing investigation i cannot reveal that. >> did you tell the white house general counsel that general flynn told the truth to the fbi? >> know he asked me how he had done in the interview, i specifically declined to answer that. >> because it was part of an investigation? >> that's right. >> was that intended to indicate to him that general flynn had a problem with that interview? >> no, i was intending to let him know that general flynn had a problem on a lot of levels. it was not necessarily how he performed in the interview. i was intentionally not letting them know how the interview had gone. >> lying to the fbi is a crime? >> it is. >> it is punishable by five years in prison? >> yes it is. >> so if he lied, he could have
legal trouble facing him? >> he could face criminal prosecution. >> if he became a foreign agent for another country, like turkey which he was a foreign agent for without getting permission from the department of defense, he could face criminal penalties for that? violations like that can be criminally prosecuted. punishable by two years in prison, correct? failure to disclose payments from foreign sources which he had done before he went to the general counsel is also criminally punishable, is it not? >> not something i can discuss here today. >> but it is a violation of criminal law? disclose payments for
it, yes. but i'm not speaking to his specific conduct, just generally. >> if general flynn is prosecuted for these crimes, might the president of the united states be a witness? >> it would depend on the crime. >> if it was a false statement to the fbi about his conversations with the russians, with the vice president potentially be called as a witness to cooperate that false statement? >> that is possible, but i would be speculating how such prosecution would come together. >> the need for a special prosecutor is because officials at the highest level who are responsible for appointing the deputy, the united states attorney general, are all potentially witnesses and they are even targets, correct? >> potentially. so a special counsel, in
order to hold those government officials or others responsible, really has to be independent, correct? department of justice lawyers pride themselves in being able to be independent regardless of whether they are appointed as a special counsel. >> but the decision is whether or not to prosecute, for the sake of the parent as well as in reality should be made by someone who is unquestionably independent, objective, and impartial. >> i absolutely understand your concerns here. the fact that the matter is that someone who just departed from the department of justice, i am not going to wait into whether e into whether they should have a special counsel at this point. >> i will be very unfair to you, as a private citizen, which you like to see a special counsel
appointed under these circumstances? >> not going to go there either. >> as an expert witness for this committee, i will qualify you as an expert -- you,e just close by asking senator franken made reference to warnings given by president president-elect trump about hiring general flynn . that is a public report from the new york times of today which i asked to be entered into the record. i also asked to be entered into the record the february 9 report from the washington post. i believe there was a reference to it. without that published report
and without the free press telling us a lot of what went still beal flynn might sitting in the white house as national security adviser. 30, you were forced to resign, correct? >> i was fired. to tellbody was around the white house that our national security was in danger? >> there were still career officials in the national security division who had been working with me in this matter that were there and conversant in the facts. >> but the decision to go to the white house was yours? >> yes, it was. >> thank you mr. chairman. despite the trump administration's ongoing efforts to convince all of us that there's nothing to see here with regard to russian interference with our 2016 election and the trump team's connection to this
effort, we need to get to the bottom of this. i think senator graham and senator whitehouse for these hearings. i just had a number of town hall meetings in hawaii this past weekend. hundreds of people came. they care that we get to the bottom of this. the trump administration blames president obama for failing to suspend general flynn's clearance. today,ess conference sean speiser said everybody in the government goes through the same process. he also said, there is no difference of a security clearance once it is issued. as far as this administration is concerned, nothing more needed to be done regarding general flynned -- director clapper's clearance. -- general flynn's clearance. the press is reporting today that general flynn never
completed that process. can you enlighten us? the vetting process for either a political appointee or somebody working in the white house is far more invasive and far more thorough than a standard clearance process. know what process was used in general flynn's case. nor did i have access to his complete investigatory file. it is difficult for me to speculate on what was in it and what action was taken by the white house. sean speiser, he had a clearance from the obama administration and that was it. this administration had no further responsibilities. let me go on. other colleagues have mentioned, is you yourself said that rt
a russian mouthpiece to spread propaganda. we know that general flynn attended a gala hosted by -- a 10th anniversary gala for -- posted by rt where he sat next to president putin and got paid over $32,000 for that. director clapper, given the information that ms. yates provided to the white house during the january 26-27 timeframe, should he have sat in on the following discussions? in any 28 he participated hour-long call along with president trump with president putin. on february 11 people anticipated in the discussion with prime minister shinzo abe about north korea's missile tests. should he, given the information that had already been provided, should he had participated in these two instances?
difficult for me to answer because i was out at that time. >> let's say you were in. comment, indard don't think that was good practice. put it that way. >> i think this comports with some of the concerns that have been raised about the appropriateness or adequacy of the trump administration spending process with regards to various disclosures. continuing efforts to downplay russia's continuing influence in our elections. resigned onl flynn february 13, on february 15 president trump tweeted that general flynn is a wonderful man and is -- it is very unfair what happened to general flynn.
is this the kind of statement that would be made by a president aware of serious concerns about his former national security adviser? comment on theo tweets. was, i suppose, and honest expression of how he felt. >> does it sound like somebody who knew there were serious security concerns about it that he would say it was very unfair and that general flynn is a wonderful man? maybe i should leave it at that and people can draw their own conclusions. know what information was conveyed to the president. i have no insight there. i don't know to the extent to which he had an understanding of what the acting attorney general conveyed. precisely, that is the
concern that i would have. it sounds like perhaps the president was not aware. going on in march, the president tweeted that general flynn should be given immunity. he resigned on february 13. the fbi investigation is a witchhunt. should these tweets, these kind of tweets and other similar assertions by the president have any influence at all on the fbi's ongoing investigation into russian interference in our elections and the trump team's connections to these efforts? >> it shouldn't and i am confident it won't. about thea question foreign agents registration act. a number of trump administration officials are belatedly disclosing and registering their work on behalf of foreign governments. some of which raised serious counterintelligence concerns i
asked director comey about this last week. ms. yates, what are the consequences for white house staffers who failed to disclose their foreign contacts under security clearance forms? >> there can be a variety of ramifications. you can lose your security clearance. you can lose your job. in certain circumstances you can be criminally prosecuted. is that the department of justice or fbi to pursue these allegations? it would all depend on the circumstances of the nondisclosure, whether it was willful, and what the circumstances were of the conduct underlying that. it will be fact specific. >> i agree that it should be back specific. considering the allegations, i hope that the fbi or department of justice is pursuing an investigation into these matters .
under what circumstances with the the rauner just as being charges to somebody? ms. yates, you said it would depend on the situation. if a president or somebody close to him nude that a white house official failed to disclose work on behalf of a foreign government and chose to cover reiterate theou possible repercussions to this person? to the individual? let's say that the allegations are proven true. >> did the president covered up or the individual? >> let's say the president and administration knew, and the person covered it up. >> coverups are bad. usually it is evidence of intent. that is what we look at when it is determined whether it should be criminally prosecuted. it is very facts is that it. it is hard to give you a hard, fast answer. >> -- senator
>> i'm sorry, thank you very much. >> we will do a second round very quickly. there is a light at the end of starting with me. i want to enforce the four minutes for myself. general klapper, during your investigation of all things russian -- did you ever find a situation where a trump business interest in russia gave you concern? >> not in the course of the preparation of the intelligence community assessment. >> since? >> since? >> i'm sorry? >> at all, anytime? >> senator graham, i can't comment on that, because that impacts an investigation.
>> it wasn't enough to put into the report? >> that's correct. >> miss yates, you can't allow someone to leak information -- did mr. mccann ask reasonable questions about your concerns? >> i didn't really have a judgment, but i do think mr. mcgann was trying to get to the bottom. i don't have any way of knowing what happened after that. critics he said he wanted to and you try to set that up -- >> he triede wanted to and you to set that up. about surveillance, this is very important. an american citizen cannot be surveilled in the united states for colluding with a foreign government unless you have a warrant. is that a true statement? >> that's right. >> is it fair to say that
incidental collection occurs, even in the united states? >> that's correct. >> two situations, we would have found out what general flynn said to the russian ambassador. if there was a fisa warrant focused on him. was there? yes, either one of you. >> nor am i even going to talk about whether general flynn was talking to the russians. >> if he wasn't talking to the russians, we're having a hearing for no good reason. so, clearly, he was talking to the russians. and if there is a fisa warrant, i'm going to find out. or if he was incidentally surveilled. those are the two options.
do we know who unmasked the conversation between the russian ambassador and general flynn? was there an unmask in the situation? >> are you looking at me? >> yes, sir. >> i don't know. >> ms. yates? >> i can't speak to this situation. but can i clarify on the unmasking? i would receive intelligence reports from other agencies. oftentimes the names are already unmasked. >> i want to know how it got to the "washington post." somebody -- washington post." somebody had to have access to the information, and they gave it to the "washington post." is -- washington post." is that a fair statement? >> that's what it looks like to me. >> and neither one of you did it. >> how many people can request unmasking of an american citizen? >> i don't have an exact number. it's fairly limited. normally, fairly high-level officials. >> how did you know that general
flynn was talking to the russians? >> i cannot reveal that in an open setting. what i was trying to say, oftentimes we receive intelligence reports where the name of the american citizen is unmasked by the intel agency, not based on anybody's request, but because the name of the citizen is essential. >> is that the situation here? >> i can't -- >> my four minutes is up, but i want to know the answers to these questions. senator whitehouse? >> thank you. two things. there are multiple levels of security clearances, issued by different agencies, correct? so having one from dod doesn't make you good for all positions and places. >> it does not. and i think the key point here is, as i indicated earlier, the
requirements for a tssei versus the requirements for occupying a sensitive position in the white house are much more invasive and aggressive. >> and in terms of compromise trade craft, if you have somebody, and you have them compromised, it's pretty standard to ask them to do some little thing for you under the threat of having the compromising information disclosed. and if you succeed, you now have two things on them. and you work it that way to get somebody more and more enmeshed in compromise until they're more or less owned by the intelligence agency. is that fair? >> yes.
>> ok. just want to make that sure. last thing, my list. so, i went through the list. looked like propaganda, fake news, trolls, and bots, we can all agree that those were in fact used in the 2016 elebsction. hacking, that's a yes. timed leaks of damaging material. that appears very strongly to be a yes, because of the timing of the release, smack after the access hollywood release. and i believe that the answers were correct, no, as to in-country assassination and political violence by the russians in the united states. would you both agree with that? >> i don't think we turned up any evidence of that. >> ok. and controlling investment in key economic sectors for leverage. it seems that our economy is a
little too big for that, so, no evidence of that either? >> correct. >> correct. >> so, the question of shady business and financial ties, that not only start out as bribery, but favorable secret deals with russians, that can turn into compromise. >> it could. >> and it's not just the carrot, i'm continuing to bribe you. i can release the information. >> that's classic kompromat. >> and we don't know yet the extent to which that has played. >> i don't. >> and in terms of corrupting and compromising politicians, we don't know the full extent of what politicians have been corrupted and compromised.
>> i did not and don't. >> so if we were to go down this, yes, yes, yes, no, no, question mark, question mark, would be our tally at the end. are we agreed on that? >> yes. >> ok. anything else, ms. yates? >> not from me, sir. >> i yield back my nine seconds. >> senator grassley? >> mr. clapper, you said yes when i asked you if you ever unmasked a trump associate or a member of congress. but i forgot to ask, which was it? >> over my time as dni, i think the answer was on rare occasion, both. and again, senator, just to make the point here, my focus was on the foreign target and the
foreign target's behavior in relation to the u.s. person. >> ok. how many instances were there, or was there just one? >> i can only recall one. >> could you provide -- the best accounting of this -- could you provide -- >> could have been more, and the best accounting of this would be in accordance with the procedure, the collecting agency. that would be a better source of records than the top of my head. >> could you provide us more details in a classified setting? >> i could. >> ok. ms. yates, the same question. you said, i don't know what you said to answer my question about if you were involved in any unmasking, were you? >> no, i've never asked for anyone to be unmasked. >> ok. senator graham, both you and i and maybe other people have said
that we need a classified setting to get some answers here. i assume you're going to pursue that? >> yes, sir. >> ok. let's see, i got time for a couple more questions. i believe. regardless of allegations of collusion, the fact that russia tried to meddle in our democracy should be punished. do you two believe that the government's response so far has been enough to deter future attacks of this kind, and if not, what else would you think we should be doing? ms. yates, would you start out, please? >> i think they're coming back, and we have to do a whole lot more to harden the election systems to ensure that folks out there know, when they're looking at news feeds, it may not be
real news that they're reading. i think we have to do more to deter the russians. and it wouldn't hurt to prosecute a few folks, but i don't think we are going to be able to prosecute ourselves out of this problem. >> i think the most important thing that needs to be done here is educate the electorate as to what the russians' objective is, and the tactics and procedures they've employed and will continue to employ. and i predict it will be against all parties. and so, i think education of the public is the most important thing we can do. in this hearing, grudgingly though i admit it, serves this purpose.
i do think as well, there needs to be more done in the way of sanctions to the russians or any other government that attempts to interfere in our election process. >> i'm done. >> thank you very much. >> senator klobuchar? >> we thank you both for being here. senator graham asked if you would want to come back, director clapper, and we're very glad that you're here. so, i asked about the general fact, if a high-ranking official says one thing in private, and one thing in public that's different, if that's terrible for blackmail, and you said it was. can you give me an example of when russians have used sex, lies, and videotape as blackmail?
>> i don't have a lot of direct knowledge external to russia, but this is a classic technique they would use to co-opt, compromise political opponents. and of course, you know, the current administration, russia is even more aggressive than that. they blot out people for being opposition. so, there are examples of that. i have read, and seen it particularly during the soviet era, this was a common practice. >> what about our election infrastructure, as we move forward? you said we need to educate the public. and i'm very concerned, different states have different election equipment. how important is that to protect the integrity of our election
equipment? >> it's quite important. and speaking now as a private citizen, not my former capacity, i do think that our election apparatus should have the protections, a lot of states pushed back when the secretary of homeland security engaged with state election officials about having that designation, and having the federal government interfere with the election process. but i would be concerned with doing all i can to secure that apparatus. and dhs put out some best practices.
>> and do you think we're doing a good enough job now, back to the propaganda issue, in educating our citizens about this? >> no, we're not. and the other thing we don't do well enough is countermessaging. >> how would you suggest we improve that? >> i've been an advocate for a usia on steroids. countering the message from isis, who is very sophisticated on conveying messages, and re recruiting people. our efforts to counter are too fragmented in my opinion. i would consider the notion of a
usia on steroids. >> what would that mean exactly? >> someone that we could message, or countermessage, and our efforts to counter extremist ideology, particularly from isis, who are very skilled at this. i don't think we're doing a good enough job as a nation. countermessaging the russians. giving them some of their own medicine. much more aggressively than we do now. and i would hasten to add, that it should not be tagged on to the intelligence community. it needs to be a separate entity . something i see with support but should be separate from that. sen. klobuchar: >> ms. yates, you brought a lawyer with you to the meeting at the white house. is that right? >> yes. sen. klobuchar: >> when you were giving the reports about the knowledge you were having on general flynn? why did you do that? >> this was the career lawyer
supervising this matter. we thought it was important. she had been the one most intimately familiar with it. and secondly, we knew my tenure was going to be short. wanted to make sure there was continuity. sen. klobuchar: >> you just didn't know it was going to be that short. ms. yates: >> i didn't. >> thank you. >> i think the vote is on, so i hate to change, but let's do three minutes. >> i can be very quick. >> yes, sir. >> mr. clapper, does mr. putin have any assets in the united states. >> i don't know the answer to that question. >> who would know that? >> well, some component in the intelligence community may know it. or the fbi. but i don't know. >> do you know if any of mr. putin's friends may have assets in the united states that are being held for mr. putin? >> that's a possibility, yes. >> who would know that? same person? >> i would guess the fbi. >> ok. if the intelligence community and attorney general knew all this information about mr.
flynn, how did he get a security clearance? >> knew what about mr. flynn? >> that he had had a conversation with the russian ambassador about sanctions? >> well, that was late, that was the 29th of december or so as reported in the media. >> january 19, the president had been sworn in. how did he get a security clearance? >> he had a security planners -- security clearance for a long time. he was a career military officer. i don't know, the system is every five years, the current system, you get a periodic reinvestigation. i don't know the details of that. it would probably be done by his old agency.
>> but don't you have to get some additional double secret security clearance to serve in the white house? >> yes, you do. as i indicated before -- >> can i ask you how he got -- >> i don't know how it's done in this administration. >> ok. >> but my own knowledge of how it was done when i served in the bush and obama administration, there's an extensive vetting process by the fbi. >> i've only got 50 seconds so let me stop you. ms. yates, are there any reasonable arguments that can be made in defense of president trump's executive order? ms. yates: i don't believe in are reasonable legal arguments that are grounded in truth that can be made in defense of his argument that the travel ban was
not intended to have an impact, a religious impact, and to disfavor muslims. >> so you believe that the arguments made by the lawyers who are now defending the executive order are unreasonable? ms. yates: i believe that the department of justice has a responsibility to uphold the law, and to always speak the truth. particularly when it's about something as fundamental as this executive order was, that deals with religious freedom. but i have tremendous respect for the men and women of the department of justice, including the lawyers who are handling this. but their obligation was different than mine. they must make an argument if they can make a reasonable legal argument. as acting attorney general, i had to look at the president's statements, and other factors to determine what was the actual intent here. and that was the basis for my
decision. >> and for the record, different travel ban. >> senator blumenthal. sen. blumenthal: ms. yates, so far, what you have said has been upheld by the courts? that's right. sen. blumenthal: and director clapper, on the issue of possible use of the far right websites by the russians, you were asked earlier whether you had any knowledge about that potential cooperation or involvement. do you have any knowledge of those websites? mr. clapper: i don't. at least off the top of my head, specific knowledge or insight into that connection. could have been. i just don't know that directly.
sen. blumenthal: but you made reference to published reports, you said from what you read about in the newspapers. mr. clapper: that's a specific reference to what occurred in france. sen. blumenthal: and the same tactics that were used most recently in france were also reportedly used in this country? mr. clapper: correct. sen. blumenthal: and i'd like to put in the record one public report, there are probably others, march 20th, beginning -- march 20, beginning with the lead, "federal investigators are examining where far right websites were used by the russians to favor donald trump's presidential bid." it goes on to mention, among the sites, breitbart and infowars.
do you have knowledge, ms. yates, of that federal investigation? ms. yates: i don't, and if i did, i couldn't tell you about it. senator blumenthal: i thought that might be your answer. finally, you said, ms. yates, that we're not going to prosecute our way out of the russian continued attack on this country. but putting americans in prison, if they cooperate, collude, aid and abet, or otherwise assist may send a very strong message, correct? ms. yates: i expect that it would, yes. senator blumenthal bang -- sen. blumenthal: and there are indeed criminal penalties existing on the books. we don't need new laws. ms. yates: yes, that's right. sen. blumenthal: thank you very much. >> thank you all.
we're at the end of the day. and you've been great. i think the public is better educated, at least, i hope, about what russia did. just from some housekeeping, you will provide to the committee if you could, mr. clapper, i know you're a private citizen now, if you could help us determine the pool of people who could request unmasking at some later dates. and i think we found at least one occasion, you made a request for unmasking on a trump associate and a member of congress? is that correct? mr. clapper: yes. >> do we know any others off the top of your head on either side of your aisle? mr. clapper: there could have been more unmasking requests. >> but there's a way to find it out. mr. clapper: yes, and the best way, going to the agency to find out.
>> and the attorney general, do you know him and do you have confidence in him? ms. yates: yes, i do. >> thank you all. >> final comment? >> absolutely. >> during the last hearing, we had the author of the kremlin playbook as one of our witnesses. and we had the very well-regarded kenneth weinstein as one of our witnesses. and they both agreed that the united states is leaving itself vulnerable to this kind of influence if we continue to allow shell corporations to proliferate without a way for law enforcement to figure out who the owners are. and chairman grassley are working on a piece of legislation to help solve that. i wanted to flag it, and express to chairman grassley my appreciation.
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