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tv   FBI Director Defends Decision to Reveal Clinton Email Probe Before Election  CSPAN  May 9, 2017 8:19pm-11:47pm EDT

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washington journal. this will be the subject. your chance to weigh in. the firing of james comey, the fbi director. you can join the conversation on facebook and join the story wherever it may lead on the c-span networks. we showed you a couple minutes hearingittle bit of the after thel show you opening statements and show you about three hours of its rights now. >> as the old saying goes, for somebody as famous as you, you don't need any introduction so i will just introduce you as the director of the federal bureau of investigation but to once again thank you for being here
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today and we think -- we look for to your testimony an answer to our questions, you may begin. i do mean it. i think oversight of the fbi, all parts of government is essential. i think it was john adams that wrote to tom jefferson that power all -- always thinks it has a great soul. the way you guard against that is having people ask hard questions. i promise you i will do my best to give you that kind of answer today. i also appreciate the conversation i know we will have today about reauthorizing , section 702 of the foreign intelligence surveillance act that you mentioned, mr. chairman. this is a tool that is essential to the safety of this country i did not say the same thing about the collection of telephone dialing information by
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the the nsa, i think that's a useful tool. 702 is an essential tool and if it goes away, we'll be less safe as a country. and i mean that and would be happy to talk more about that thank you for engaging on that so we can tell the american people why this matters so much and why we cannot make it go away. as you know, the magic of the fbi that you oversee is its people. and we talk as we should a lot about our counterterrorism work, about our counterintelligence work and i'm sure we'll talk about that today. i thought i would give you some idea of the work that's being done by those people all over the country, all over the world, every day, every night, all the time. and i pulled three cases that happened and were
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finished in the last month just to illustrate it. the first was something i know that you followed closely, the plague of threats against jewish community centers this country experienced in the first few months of this year. children frightened, old people frightened, terrifying threat of bombs at jewish institutions, especially the jewish community centers. the entire fbi surged in response to that threat, working across all programs, all divisions, our technical wizards, using our vital international presence and using our partnerships, especially with the israeli national police. we made that case and the israelis locked up the person behind those threats and stopped that terrifying plague against the jewish community centers. second case i wanted to mention is all of you know what a bot net is, these are the zombie armies of computers that have been taken over by criminals lashed together in order to do tremendous harm to innocent people. last month, the fbi working with our partners with the spanish national police, took down a bot net and locked up the russian hacker behind that bot net that made a mistake that russian criminals sometimes
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make of leaving russia and visiting barcelona. he is now in jail in spain. the good people's computers that had been lashed to that zombie army are now freed and no longer part of a criminal enterprise. this week for the first time since congress passed the statute making it a crime in the united states to engage in female gentle mutilation, to muteulate little girls, it's been a felony in the united states since we made the 1996, first case last week against doctors in michigan for doing this terrifying thing to young girls all across the country with our partners in the department of homeland security we brought a case against two doctors for doing this to children. this is a among the most important work we do, protecting kids especially, and it was done by great work that you don't hear about a lot all across the country by the fbi. it is the honor of my life -- i know you look at me like i'm crazy for saying this about this job -- i love this work, i love this job. and i love it because of the mission and people i get to work with. some work i illustrated by pulling those three cases from last
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month, but it goes on all the time, all around the country , and we are safer for it. i love representing these people, speaking on their behalf and i look forward to your , questions today. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you for your opening statement. i'm going to start out probably with a couple subjects you wish i didn't bring up, and a that i third one think everybody needs to hear your opinion on, a policy issue. it is frustrating when the fbi refuses to answer this committee's questions, but leaks relevant information to the media. in other words they don't talk to us, but someone talks to the media. director comey have you ever , been an anonymous source about news relating to the trump investigation or the clinton investigation? >> never.
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>> question 2 on relatively related, have you ever authorized someone else at the fbi to be an anonymous source in news reports about the trump investigation or clinton investigation? >> no. >> has any classified information relating to president trump or his associates been declassified and shared with the media? >> not to my knowledge. >> you testified before the house intelligence committee that a lot of classified matters have ended up in the media recently. without getting into any particular article, i want
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to emphasize that, without getting into any reticular article, are there any leaks of classified information relating to mr. trump or his associates? >> i don't want to answer that question, senator, for reasons i think you know. there have been a variety of leaks -- leaks are always a problem, but especially in the last three to six months. and where there is a leak of classified information, the fbi, if it's our information, make as -- makes a referral to the department of justice or if it's another agency's information, they do the same and then doj authorizes the opening of an investigation. i don't want to confirm in an open setting whether there are any investigations open. >> i want to challenge you on that, because the government regularly acknowledged when it's investigating classified leaks. you did that in the valerie plain case. what's the difference here? >> the most important difference is i don't have authorization from the department to confirm any of the investigations they have authorized. and it may be that we can get that at some point, but i'm not going to do it sitting here in an open setting without having talked to them.
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>> i can -- you can expect me to follow up on that offer. >> sure. >> there are several senior fbi officials who would have had access to the classified information that was leaked, including yourself and the deputy director so how can the justice department guarantee the integrity of the investigations without designating an agency other than the fbi to gather the facts and eliminate senior fbi officials as suspects? >> well, i'm not going to answer about any particular investigations, but i know of situations in the past where if you think the fbi or its leadership are suspects, you have another investigative agency support the investigation about federal prosecutors. it can be done and has been done in the past. >> ok. moving on to another subject, "the new york times" recently reported that the fbi had found a troubling e-mail among the
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ones the russians hacked from democrat operatives. the e-mail reportedly provided assurances that attorney general lynch would protect secretary clinton by making sure the fbi investigation "didn't go too far." how and when did you first learn of this document? also who sent it and who received it? >> that is not a question i can answer in this forum, mr. chairman because it would call , for a clarify classified response. i have briefed leadership of the intelligence committees on that particular issue, that i cannot talk about it here. >> you can expect me to follow up with you on that issue. >> sure. >> what steps did the fbi take to determine whether attorney general lynch had actually given assurances that the political fix was in no matter what, did the fbi interview the person who wrote the email? if not, why not?
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>> i have to give you the same answer, i can't talk about that in an unclassified setting. >> ok you can expect me to follow up on that. i asked the fbi to provide this e-mail to the committee before today's hearing. why haven't you done so and will you provide it by the end of this week? >> again, to react to that i have to give a classified answer and i can't give it sitting here here. >> so that means you cannot give me the email? >> i'm not confirming there was an email, sir. the subject is classified and in , an appropriate forum i'd be happy to brief you on it, but i cannot do it in an open hearing. >> i assume other members of the committee could have access to data briefing if they want it? i want to talk about going dark, director comey. a few years ago, you testified before the committee about the
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going dark problem any inability of law enforcement to access encrypted data despite the existence of a lawfully issued court order. you continue to raise this issue in your public speeches most recently at boston college. you. my question, you mentioned in the beginning of your testimony briefly, but can you provide the committee with a more detailed update on the status of going dark problem and how has it affected the fbi's ability to access encrypted data my has there been any project -- progress collaborating with the technology sector to overcome any problems? at our hearing in 2015 you said you did not think legislation was necessary at that time. is that still your view? >> thank you, mr. chairman. continues to fall across more and more of our work. take devices, for example. is ubiquitous default
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affecting now about half of our work. first six months of this fiscal fbi examiners were presented with over 6000 devices . 46% of those cases we could not open those devices with any technique. that means half of the devices we encounter in terrorism cases, counterintelligence cases, and gang case, child photography cases cannot be opened with any technique, that is a big problem. so the shadow continues to fall. i'm determined to make sure the american people and congress know about it. i know this is important to the president, to the new attorney general. i do not know how the new administration intends to approach it but it is something we have to talk about because like you, i care a lot about privacy, i also care enough a lot about the look safety and there continues to be a huge collision between those two things we care about.
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i look forward to continuing that conversation. >> you did not respond to the part do you still have the view that legislation is not needed? >> i do not know the answer yet. i hope i said last time we talked about this it may require a legislative solution at some point. the obama administration was not in a position where they were seeking legislation. i do not know how president trump intends to approach this. he spoke about this during the campaign, he cares about it but it is premature for me to say. >> i have one question regarding my opening comment and i view it as a most important question, and i hope you will answer it. announcet necessary to 11 days before a presidential election that you were opening an investigation on a new computer without any knowledge of what was in that computer? why didn't you just do the
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investigation as you would normally, with no public announcement? question, senator, thank you. october 27, the investigative team that had finished the investigation in july focused on secretary clinton's emails asked to meet with me so i'm at with them that morning, late morning in my conference room and they laid out for me what they could thisrom the metadata on fellow anthony weiner's laptop that had been seized in a unrelated case. there were thousands of secretary clinton's emails on that device, including what they thought might be the missing emails from her first three months of -- as secretary of state. we never found any mails from her first three months. she was using a verizon blackberry and that is obviously very important. if there was evidence she was acting with that intent, -- bad intent, they came in and said we can see thousands of emails from
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the clinton emailed domain including many from the verizon clinton domain, blackberry domain. they said we think we have to get a search warrant to get this and the department of justice agreed, we had to get a search warrant. i agreed. i also raised -- authorized a search warrant and i have lived my career by the tradition that if you can avoid it, you avoid any action in the run-up to election whether -- if it has a bad effect. i set there that morning and i could not see a door labeled no action here. i could see two doors and they were both actions, one was labeled speak, the other was labeled conceal. here is how i thought about it, i want you to know my thinking. have you repeatedly told this congress we are done and there's nothing there, there is no case there, to restart in a hugely significant way potentially finding females that would reflect on her intent from the beginning and not speak about it
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would require an active concealment in my view. i stared at speak and conceal. speak would be really bad, there is an election in 11 days, that would be bad. conceal would be catastrophic not just to the fbi but well beyond. as between really bad in catastrophic i said to my team, we have to walk into the world of really bad, i have to tell congress we are starting this, not in some frivolous way, and a hugely significant way and the team told the we cannot finish this work before the election and they worked night after night and they found thousands of new emails, they found classified information on anthony weiner. her emails are being former -- forwarded to anthony weiner informationassified i her assistance of they found thousands of new emails and they called me saturday night before the election and said thanks to the wisteria of our technology we had to read 6000. we think we can finish tomorrow evening.
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i met with them and they said we found a lot of new stuff, we did not find anything that changes our view of her intent area do we are in the same place we were in july. it has not changed our view and i asked lots of questions and i said, ok, if that is where you are, have to tell congress we are done. this is terrible, it makes meet mildly nauseous to think we had some impact on the election but honestly, it would not change the decision. everyone who disagrees has to come back to october 28 with me and steer this and tell me what you would do. we do speak or would you conceal question mark i could be wrong but we honestly made a decision between those two choices even in hindsight and this is one of the worlds most painful experiences, i would make the same decision. i would not conceal that from the congress and i sent a letter . i did not make a public announcement, i send a private letter to the chairs in the rankings of the oversight committees.
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it was important that i tell them instead of canned ceiling -- concealing. that is the reason i made that choice and it was a hard choice, i still believe in retrospect the right choice as painful as this has been and i am sorry for the long answer. >> let me respond. on the letter it was a matter of minutes before the world knew about it. andndly, my understanding the staff has just said to me that you did not get a search warrant before making the announcement. is right, ihat authorized and the department of justice agreed we're going to seek a search warrant. i do not see it as a meaningful distinction. hard, it would have been, you took and a number's gamble, the gamble was that there was something there that would invalidate her candidacy. and there was not. so, one has to look at that
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action and say, did it affect the campaign? and i think most people who have looked at this say yes, it did affect the campaign. why would he do it? amongs there any conflict your staff, people saying do it, people saying don't not -- known do it as has been reported? >> it was a great debate, i have a fabulous staff and one of my junior lawyers said should you consider that what you are about to do may help elect donald trump president and i said thank you for raising that. not for a moment. death of path lies the the fbi as an independent institution in america. i cannot consider for second whose clinical fortunes would be affected in what way. we have to ask ourselves, what is the right thing to do and then do that thing. i'm proud of the way we debated it and at the end of the day, everyone on my team agreed we have to tell congress that we are restarting this in a hugely significant way.
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>> there is a way to do that. i do not know whether it would work and not but certainly in a classified way, carrying out your tradition of not announcing investigations. exactly theis opposite way you do. knew it would influence the investigation before, that there was a very chance thattage of it would. and yet, that percentage of chance was taken and there was no information, and the election was lost. that before to me your department does something like this, it really ought to -- because senator leahy began to talk about other investigations and i think this theory does not hold up when you look at other investigations.
8:40 pm me go on to you began your comments saying how important it is and yes, it is important. we have got i think a problem, and the issue that we are going to need to address is the fbi's practice of searching 702 data. using u.s. person identifiers as query terms and some have called this an unconstitutional act or search. while others say that such queries are essential to assuring potential terrorists do not's the to the crack says they did before. slip through the crack's as they did before. could you give us your view of that and how it might the -- might avoid the charge that might bring down 702? >> the way 702 works is under that provision of the statute,
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isa courtourt -- f authorizes us to collect the medications if they are not using an american infrastructure. the feedback we have gotten sent -- that you have to be in a position to connect the dots. we responded to that over the last 10 years, mostly to the great work of my predecessor bob mueller and we have confederated it a basis so that if we collect information under 702, it is not sit in a separate stovepipe. it sits in a single cloud type environment so that if i am opening an investigation in the a matter or aeris criminal matter and i have a name of the suspect and their telephone number and email addresses, i search the fbi's databases. necessarily will also touch the information that was collected under 702. so that we do not miss a. -- a
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dot. no one gets information that sits in the 702 database unless they have been trained correctly. let's say that terrorists were talking about a suspect in the u.s. or someone's a mail address in the u.s. was in touch with that terrorist. that information sits in the 702 database and we open the case in the u.s. and put in that name and a mail address it will touch that data and tell us of there is information in the 702 database that is relevant. if the agent doing the query is properly trained on how to handle that, he or she would able -- be able to see that information. if they are not properly trained they will be alerted there is information and they have to get the appropriate training and oversight to see it. to do it otherwise is to risk us where it matters most in the united states failing to connect the dots. my view is the information that is in the 702 days -- database
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has been lawfully collected, carefully overseen and check, and our use of it is also appropriate and carefully overseen and checked. >> [inaudible] >> we combine information collected from any lawful first in a single fbi database so we do not miss a dot. we make sure that no one gets to information of any kind unless they have the appropriate training and oversight. >> my time is up. thank you. the introduced in january rapid dna act. it is -- i partisan sponsors -- i partisan sponsors include [inaudible] i want to thank you for putting
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this agenda -- on the agenda. this is the same bill that the senate unanimously passed last year. this telik -- technology allows developing a dna profile and performing database comparisons in less than two hours. following standards and procedures would allow for -- law enforcement to examine the data. you came before this committee in december, 2015 and i asked you about this legislation and you said it would "help us change the world in a very, very exciting way." is that still your view of the value of this legislation, do you believe that congress should enact it on its own without getting tangled up in other criminal justice reform issues? >> i agree, the rapid dna will materially advance the safety of the merrick and people so that if a police officer somewhere in the u.s. has in his or her custody someone who is a rapist,
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before letting them go on some letter -- lesser offense, they will be able to check the dna database and save lives and protect all kinds of people from pain and i think it is a great thing. >> thank you. you're prepared statement touches on what the fbi is doing, protecting children from predators. that magnifies the need for a thorough evaluating and vetting at the time. along with senators i introduced the child protective him -- protection improvement act which is organizations greater access to the fbi fingerprint check system. do you believe that providing organizations like the ymca and the girl scouts greater american -- greater access is an important step in keeping child
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predators and violet criminals away from our children question mark >> i do. i think the more information you can put in the hands of the people who are vetting people who will be near children, the better. we have a feature that once you check someone's identification, check them to see if they have no record, if they later develop one you can be alerted to it if it happens thereafter. which i think makes a big difference. >> thank you. -- linksspoken at inc. about the going dark program. vendors theption ability of law enforcement to medication and personal data on smartphones and similar devices. you're prepared testimony addresses this issue. i have expressed significant concern about proposals that would require a device or software manager -- manufacturers to build a
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backdoor into their programming to allow law enforcement to access encrypted data in the course of an investigation. i remain convinced that such backdoors can be created without theously compromising security of encrypted devices. the lawan issue where enforcement and stakeholders need to work together to find solutions rather than coming to congress with one-size-fits-all legislative fixes. what are you doing to engage with stakeholders on this issue and what kind of progress are you making, if you could tell his question mark >> thank you. good news on that front, we have had very good open and productive conversations with the private sector over the last 18 months about this issue. that we carelize about the same things, we care about public safety and we love privacy. nonee i hang around with, of us want backdoors, we do not want access to devices built in
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in some way. what we want to work with manufacturers on is to figure out how can we accommodate both , optimize the privacy and security features of their devices and allow court orders to be complied with? we are having some good conversations. i do not know where they will end up with. i could imagine a world that answer with legislation that if you make these devices you comply with court orders. we are having productive conversations right now >> section 702 is up for reauthorization. we have almost a decade of experience using this statute create we have much more to go on than simply speculation or theory. is willlligence value document and it has never been intentionally misused or abused. every ford -- federal court tncluding the fisa cour
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concluded that section 702 is lawful and administrations in both parties strongly supported it. describe press the targeting and minimization procedures of 72 that is required and -- 702 that is required. opening, 702in my is a critical tool to protect this country. we are allowed to conduct surveillance under the supervision of the foreign intelligence surveillance court on non-u.s. persons or outside the u.s. them if they are using american infrastructure, and email system in the u.s., a phone system, it does not involve u.s. persons and it does not involve activity in the u.s. and each agency has detailed procedures for how we will handle this information that are approved by the fisa court. not only are we overseen by the fisa court, we are seen -- overseen by inspectors general.
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they have been no abuses. isry court has said this appropriate under the fourth amendment, this is appropriate under the statute, it was an act passed democratically controlled congress and a republican president and renewed for a democratic president and upheld by every court that has looked at it. thistelling you, we need to protect the country. this should be an easy conversation to have but often people get confused about the details and exit up with other thing so it is -- other things so it is our job to make sure we explain it clearly. >> my time is up. thank you. >> thank you. you have mentioned you like these annual meetings. we did not have an annual meeting last year, last year was the first time in 15 years that the fbi did not testify before this committee.
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a lot has happened in the last year and a half as noted. senator feinstein noted americans across the country have been confused and disappointed by your judgment and handling the investigation into secretary clinton's emails. on a number of occasions, you told us there was a extensive comment. you did not release internal fbi memos, and interview notes. i may have missed this but i have never seen anything like that. you have said nothing regarding the investigation into the trunk campaign connections to russia's illegal efforts to help elect donald trump. appropriate for you to comment on one investigation
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repeatedly not saying anything about the other? >> i think so. can i explain, senator? >> i only have so much time. >> i will be quick. investigations consistently under the same principles. we would not confirm the existence of the hillary clinton email investigation until three months after it began even though it began with a public referral and the candidate herself talked about it. in october of 2015 we confirmed it existed then said not another word, not a people about it until we were -- not of people peep about it until it was finished. hadhere is no question that a great effect. historians can debate what kind of effect it was. you did do it. -- in october, the fbi was
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investigating the trunk campaigns connection to russia. you sent a letter that you were reviewing additional in males that could be relevant that both investigations, you only commented on one. >> i commented as i explained earlier in a letter that i sent to the chair and rankings of the oversight committees that we were taking additional steps in the clinton email investigation because i had testified under oath repeatedly that we were done, we were finished there. with respect to the russian investigation we treated it like we did with the clinton investigation, we did not say a word about it until months into it and the all thing we have confirmed, we are investigating. i would expect, we are not going to see another word about it until we are done. that is the way we handled the clinton investigation as well. >> let me ask you this. during your investigation into
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hillary clinton's emails, a number of circuits like rudy giuliani claim to have a pipeline to the fbi. he boasted "numerous agents talk to him all the time regarding the investigation." he said he had advance warning about the emails described in your october letter. former fbi agent jim coast from rom made similar claims. either they are lying or there is a serious problem within the bureau. during thishe fbi 2016 campaign have contact with rudy giuliani about the clinton investigation? >> i do not know yet but if i find out that people were leaking information about our investigations whether to reporters or private parties, there will be severe consequences. >> did you know anything from
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the agent? >> same answer. i do not know yet. >> any other former agents? >> i do not know yet but it is a matter i am interested in. >> you are looking into it. >> correct. >> once you found that answer what you provided to us question our >> i will provided in some form, i will find some way to let you know. reports -- a number of connectedicials are to the russian investigation, recusedrney general himself. many members of this committee -- urgedd the a deputy the deputy attorney general, he has the authority to appoint a special counsel to protect the independence of the investigation. i was here in december 2003 shortly after you were confirmed as deputy attorney general,
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attorney general ashcroft thesed himself from investigation to the valerie plame leak. you appointed [inaudible] what led you to that decision? >> in that investigation my judgment was that the appearance of fairness and independents require that it be removed from the political chain of command within the department of justice. as you recall it seems like a lifetime ago, that involved the conduct of april who were senior-level people in the white house and my judgment was that an independent minded person was a political appointee so i had to give it to a career person like pat fitzgerald. >> what about the situation now, we have a deputy attorney general, i voted for his confirmation. beuld he be not the one to investigating campaign contacts
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when his boss, the attorney general, is a central figure in that campaign? -- that is a judgment he will have to make. he is as i hope i was, a very independent minded, career-oriented person but it would be premature for me to comment on that. >> president trump said the hacking of the dnc and efforts to influence the efforts could have been china, it could have been a lot of different groups. contrary to what the intelligence community has said. concluded itity was russia. it is hard to do activation of a hack but sometimes the intelligence is there, we have high confidence the north koreans hacked sony and the russians hacked to the dnc and other organizations. >> i have other questions i will submit. the response of the fbi in south burlington,
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vermont. anonymous emails coming actionatening serious against students in high school. threatsg detailed death . multiple lockdowns, the fbi worked closer with the colleges and the investigation. it was a textbook example of collaboration between state, local, and federal authorities and i want to thank all of those, it turned out to be a very disturbed young man who is doing it. to -- we were worried around the country. thank you for your efforts. warner -- to senator we will go to senator warner.
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>> i am disappointed to see that former secretary of state hillary clinton was in the news yesterday essentially blaming you and blaming everything other than herself for her loss on november 8, i find it ironic because you're not the one who made the decision to handle classified information on a private email server. who decidedthe one to have a private meeting with secretary clinton's husband in the middle of the justice department's ongoing investigation into secretary clinton's server. i use the word investigation here because according to a recent piece in "the new york times" you were for bitten from using the word investigation and were told to refer to the investigation as a matter. it was the former attorney uperal, loretta lynch, who until that meeting with president clinton was the person responsible for making the decision whether to convene a grand jury involved in the
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allegations against secretary clinton trade it was former attorney general -- if it is true, it expressed confidence the former attorney general would keep that investigation from going very far. i think you are given an andssible choice to make, you did the best you could, in light of the situation that you are presented with. sadtrikes me as somewhat for people here and elsewhere, to condemn you for notifying congress shortly before the election, even more emails related to the investigation, including classified emails. because secretary clinton made the decision to use a private in mill server. it is important to remind folks, you were not the one that decided to do business and keep
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them on a computer of someone suspected of child pornography. in aneve you are placed incredibly difficult situation and did the best you could. i was one of those who felt like, given the nature of the investigation and the concerns, shouldpecial counsel have been appointed to conduct the investigation. but of course attorney general , lynch and the obama administration opposed that effort. so i just want to express to you my disappointment that this continued seeking of a reason, any reason other than the flawed campaign and the candidate for secretary clinton losing the presidential election. if i can turn to a couple of other substantive items here, you have mentioned 702, a fisa and the reauthorization. and i believe you referred to this as the crown jewels of the
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fbi and of counterterrorism investigations. could you explain why this provides such a unique tool, and why you regarded as literally the crown jewels of the fbi? mr. comey: thank you, senator. every time i talk about this publicly, i wince a little bit because i don't want bad people around the world to focus on this too much. but really bad people around the world, because of the genius of american innovation, use our products and infrastructure for their emails, their communications. and what 702 allows us to do is quickly target terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, proliferators, spies, cyber hackers, non-americans that are using our infrastructure to communicate, target them quickly and collect information on them. and it is vital to all parts of the intelligence community because of its agility, its speed, and its effectiveness. and again, in an open setting, we cannot explain what you already know from classified briefings about what a
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difference this makes. but again, because america is the mother of all this innovation, they use a lot of our equipment, a lot of our networks to communicate with each other. if we were ever acquired to required to establish the normal warrant process for these non-americans who aren't in our country, just because the photons they are using to plan attacks across our country lost lands we would be tying , ourselves in knots for reasons that make no sense at all and the courts say are unnecessary under the 4th amendment. this is a tool. we talked a lot last year about the telephony database. i think that's a useful tool. it does not compare in importance to 702. we can't lose 702. sen. cornyn: well, i agree. and it is a little bit difficult to talk about things that do involve classified matters in public. but i think the public needs to know there are multiple oversight layers including the fisa court, congressional oversight, internal oversight within the fbi and intelligence community that protects
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americans from and under their privacy rights while targeting terrorists and people who are trying to kill us. i want to talk a minute about the electronic communication transaction records something we , have discussed as well. the fbi can use national security letters to get financial information and telephone numbers now in the conduct of a terror -- terrorist investigation. because of a typo in the law the , fbi has not been allowed access to metadata in the case of security cases to the extent , that it is necessary. can you talk to us about the importance of that particular electronic communications fix? mr. comey: thank you so much, senator. this seems like a boring deal, this makes a big impact on our work, and here's why. in our counter terrorism cases and our counter-intelligence cases, we can issue with all
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kinds of layers of approval in the fbi a national security , letter to find out the subscriber to a particular telephone number and to find out what numbers that telephone number was in contact with, not the contact -- content of those give indications but the , connection. because of what i believe is a and i fly himw, wrong, congress will tell me they intended this, companies will provide the same services, but on the internet, resist and say we do not have the statutory sl orrity to provide a n the subscriber email handle or what addresses were in contact. although, we can do the same with telephone communications. i do not think congress intended that. but in our most important investigations, if we want to find out the subscriber, the particular email handle, to go get an order from a federal judge in washington as part of the fisa court, and incredibly long and difficult process.
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and i'm worried about that slowing us down, but also worried about it becoming a disincentive for our investigators to do it at all. because if you're working a case in san antonio or seattle, you're moving very quickly. and if i have to go to get subscriber information for heavens sake on an gmail address to a federal court in washington, i'm probably going to try to find some other way around it. if that's what congress wants, sure, we'll follow the law. i don't think that was ever intended. and so i would hope that congress will fix what i believe is a typo. sen. cornyn: thank you mr. director, i have other questions, for the record. thank you. >> we are going over to vote now. i would also like to have both democrats and republicans notify me if they want a second round, so i can get an inventory of that. senator klobuchar. senator klobuchar: thank you, and welcome back, director
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comey. as you are well aware, russia is actively working to undermine our democracy and hurt american businesses at the same time. now, more than ever, americans are looking to congress for leadership, and we must be a united front. i have appreciated some of the members of this committee on the republican side who have spoken out about this. we seekbe united as information from the administration. last month during a hearing at the house and diligence committee, you confirmed that the fbi is investigating the russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. including, any links between the trump campaign and the russian government. i know that you cannot discuss that ongoing investigation. but just one question to clarify, will you commit to ensuring that the relevant congressional committees receive a full and timely briefing on that investigation's findings? can,omey: in general, i senator.
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i need department of justice approval to brief on particular people we're investigating. we have briefed the chairs in the rankings including this committee on who we have cases open on and exactly what we're doing and how we're using various sources of information. i don't know whether the department will approve that for the entire intelligence committees, but i'll lean as far forward as i can. sen. klobuchar: and then because attorney general sessions is recused from that, and now rod rosenstein is approved, do you go to him then to get that approval? mr. comey: yes, i have already briefed him his first day in office, i briefed him of where we are. he would be the person to make that decision. sen. klobuchar: thank you. in your testimony, you note that the justice department brought charges against russian spies and criminal hackers in connection with a 2014 yahoo! cyber attack in february, an example of a cyber attack on our economy. in december of 2016, the fbi and the department of homeland security released a 13-page report providing technical details about how federal investigators linked russia to the hacks against u.s. political organizations.
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does russia use the same military and civilian tools it used to hack our political organizations in order to do things like hack into u.s. companies, steal identities, and sell the credit card information of americans on the black market? and how is the fbi working to fight against hackers supported by foreign governments like russia? mr. comey: the answer is yes, both their government organizations and then they have a relationship that is often difficult to define with criminals. the yahoo! hack is an example of that. you had some of russia's greatest criminal hackers and intelligence agency hackers working together. so the answer is yes. and what we're doing is trying to see if we can improse costs on that behavior in a lot of different ways but including one , i mentioned in my opening, which is locking up people. if we can get them outside of russia, russia is not too great about cooperating with us with -- with their criminals inside their borders. but all of them like to travel.
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so if they travel grabbing them , and locking and putting handcuffs on them to send the message that that is not a freebie. sen. klobuchar: in your testimony you also discussed the transnational organized crime to our security. russia has vast networks that the kremlin uses to sow insecurity around the world. i heard these concerns firsthand went senator graham, mccain, and i were in the baltics, ukraine, and georgia. there have been recent concerns that organized criminals including russians are using the luxury real estate market to launder money. the treasury department has noted a significant rise in the use of shell companies in real estate transactions because foreign buyers use them as a way to hide their identity and find a safehaven for their money in the u.s. in fact, nearly half of all homes in the u.s. worth at least $5 million are purchased using shell companies. does the anonymity associated with the use of shell companies to buy real estate hurt the fbi's ability to trace the flow
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of illicit money and fight organized crime? and do you support efforts by the treasury department to use its existing authority to require more transparency in these transactions? mr. comey: yes and yes. sen. klobuchar: ok, very good. because i think this is a huge problem. when you hear that over $5 million homes, half of them purchased by shell companies, that's a major problem. in march this committee, subcommittee on crime and terrorism, held its first hearing. thankk -- i think -- senator graham and senator whitehouse or that. i raised the issue of protecting the infrastructure with the former bush department of justice official ken wanestein, and he agreed that this is an important issue. as the ranking member of rules committee, i am particularly committed to making sure our elections are safe from foreign interference. i recently led a group of 26 senators to call for a full account in the assistance
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efforts to address russian cyber security threats in the 2016 election. i'm also working on legislation in this area. can you discuss how the fbi has coordinated with the election assistance commission, department of homeland security, and state and local election officials to help protect the integrity of our election process? mr. comey: thank you, senator. in short, what we have done with dhs is share the tools, tactics, and techniques we see hackers, especially from the 2016 election season, using to attack voter registration databases and try and engage in other hacks. we have pushed that out to all the states and election assistance commission so they can harden their networks. that is one of the most important things we can do, equip them with information to make their systems tighter. sen. klobuchar: very good. we have different equipment all over this country. there is some advantage to that, i think. i think it is good when we have paper ballot backups of course, but we have to be prepared for this. and this certainly isn't about one political party or one candidate.
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the last time you came before the committee in december 2015, just one week after the san bernardino attacks, since then, as was noted by the chair, we have seen other attacks in our country. we had a tragedy in a shopping mall in st. cloud, minnesota. 10 wounded at a shopping mall. thankfully, a brave off-duty cop was there and able to stop further damage from being done. and i would also like to thank you and the fbi for your investigation. having talked to the chief up there, senator franken and i were briefed by him as well as congressman amer right after this attack. the local police department is a midsized department, and they had to do a lot with working of -- working with the community. they have a significant somalian community there that is a big part of their community they are proud to have there. so they are working with them
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and the community. they are helping, but the fbi really stood in and did the investigation. and i guess i want to thank you for that and end with one question. it is been reported that isis has encouraged lone wolf attacks like what we saw in orlando, murkier than back in st. cloud. what challenges do these types of attacks present a law enforcement and what is the fbi doing to prevent these kind of tragedies? mr. comey: thank you, senator. the central challenge is not just finding needles in a nationwide haystack, but trying to figure out which pieces of hay might become a needle. and that is, which of the troubled young people or sometimes older people are consuming poisonous propaganda. some isis, some anwar ma lamaliki. some other sources. a stabbing at a shopping mall, sometimes they think it is a way to achieve meaning in their lives. a huge part of it is building relationships with the communities you mentioned. because those folks do not want anyone committing violence,
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committing violence in the name of their faith. and so they have the same incentives we do and making sure they see us that way. and we see them that way is at the heart of our response. because we are not going to see a troubled kid going sideways and thinking he should stab people, anywhere near as easily as people around that kid will see it. so getting them in a position where they feel comfortable telling us or telling local law enforcement is at the heart of our ability to find the needles, evaluate those pieces of hay, and stop this. sen. klobuchar: i appreciate it, thank you. directoro -- director comey, could you pass onto your agents and support personnel how much we appreciate their efforts to defend the country? we will set off a record for questions asked in six minutes and 54 minutes, if i can. do you agree with me if sequestration goes back into effect next year it will be devastating to the fbi? mr. comey: yes. sen. graham: and it is due to happen unless congress changes it? mr. comey: i've been told that.
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sen. graham: do you agree with me that isil losing caliphate, these people go out throughout the world and become terrorist agents and the threat of terrorism to the homeland is going to get greater over time, not smaller? mr. comey: yes. it will diminish in that their power to put out their media to the troubled people in the country will decrease, but the hardened killers flowing out of the caliphate will be a big problem. sen. graham: so from a funding point of view, terrorism is not going to get better, it's probably going to get worse. mr. comey: i think that's fair to say. sen. graham: did you ever talk to sally yates about her concerns with general flynn being compromised? mr. comey: i did. i don't know whether i can talk in this forum. but the answer is yes. had concernsshe about general flynn and she expressed those concerns to you? mr. comey: correct. sen. graham: ok. we'll talk about that later. do you stand by your house testimony in march 20 that there was no surveillance of the trump campaign that you are aware of?
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mr. comey: correct. sen. graham: you would know about it if there was, correct? mr. comey: i would think so, yes. sen. graham: is there an issue regarding carter page's interactions with the russians? mr. comey: i cannot answer that here. sen. graham: did you consider carter page an agent of the campaign? mr. comey: same answer. i can't answer that here. sen. graham: ok. do you stand by your testimony there is an active investigation, counterintelligence investigation, regarding trump campaign individuals and the russian government as to whether or not they collaborate? mr. comey: to see if there was any collaboration between the russian effort and the people -- sen. graham: that is still going on? mr. comey: yes. sen. graham: nothing has changed, you stand by the two statements. mr. comey: correct. sen. graham: but you won't tell me about carter page. mr. comey: correct. sen. graham: are you familiar with fusion? mr. comey: i know the name. sen. graham: ok. are they part of the russian intelligence apparatus? mr. comey: i cannot say.
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sen. graham: ok. do you agree with me that a fusion was involved in preparing a dossier by donald trump in the elections? mr. comey: i do not want to say. sen. graham: do you agree with me that anthony weiner of 2016 should not have access to classified information? yes, that is a fair statement. sen. graham: would you agree with me that if that is not illegal, we have got really bad laws? he got it somehow. mr. comey: it would be illegal if he didn't have appropriate clearance. sen. graham: do agree with me he did not have appropriate clearance? that if he did have appropriate clearance, that would even be ? mr. comey:mr. comey: worse at the time we found his laptop, we do not believe he had clearance. sen. graham: i agree. so for him to get it should be a crime. somebody should be prosecuting for letting anthony weiner have access to classified information. does that make general sense? mr. comey: it could be a crime. sen. graham: would you agree it
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should be that anybody that lets anthony weiner to have information should be prosecuted? if our laws don't cover that, they probably should. mr. comey: there's no anthony weiner statute. sen. graham: maybe we need one. mr. comey: there is already a statute. sen. graham: i wonder how he got classified information and it's not a crime by somebody. unmasking, are you familiar with that? mr. comey: i'm familiar with that term. sen. graham: has the bureau required unmasking of an american citizen caught up in incidental collection? mr. comey: oh, yes. in fact, i did it this week in connection with an intelligence report. sen. graham: all right. before i authorize, reauthorize 702, and i'm a pretty hawkish guy, i want to know how unmasking works. are you aware of any requests by the white house? anybody in the obama administration, to unmask american citizens caught up in incidental surveillances in 2015 or 2016? mr. comey: i'm not. i'm not aware of any request to the fbi. sen. graham: would you know? who would they make the request to? mr. comey: they can make it to anyone in the fbi senator
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-- fbi. sen. graham: what about the nsa? would he make it to the nsa? mr. comey: sure, if it was an nsa report. i read in the media and heard about nsa reports. sen. graham: who do you ask, do you go to the nsa to ask somebody be unmasked? mr. comey: for example, i got a report this week that said u.s. company number one had been removed. i said, i believe i need to know the name of the company. sen. graham: who do you ask? mr. comey: i ask my intelligence staffer and say, i would like to know that. she asks the owner of the information. sen. graham: which would be the nsa? mr. comey: in this case it was cia information. sen. graham: does the owner of the information record, request for unmasking? mr. comey: i believe the nsa does. i don't know about csa. nsa definitely does. sen. graham: but there should be a record somewhere in our government for a request to unmask regardless of who made the request? mr. comey: i think that is right. sen. graham: is it fair to say that very few people can make
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requests for unmasking? i can't go and make that request as a senator, can i? mr. comey: sure. it's a fairly small group of consumers. of which i am a small set. sen. graham: it's a national security council within that group that can make this request or do you know? mr. comey: i think the national security adviser certainly can. sen. graham: when it comes to russia, is it fair to say that the government of russia actively provides safehaven to cyber criminals? mr. comey: yes. sen. graham: is it fair to say that the russian government is still involved in american politics? mr. comey: yes. sen. graham: is it fair to say we need to stop them from doing this? mr. comey: yes, fair to say. sen. graham: do you agree with me the only way they are going to stop is for them to pay a price for interfering in our political process? mr. comey: i think that is a fair statement. sen. graham: yeah, ok. so what we're doing today is not working. they are still doing it. they are doing it all over the world, aren't they? mr. comey: yes. sen. graham: so what kind of threat do you believe russia presents to our democratic process given which you know, about russia's behavior of late?
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mr. comey: well, certainly, in my view, the greatest threat of any nation on earth, given their intention and their capability. sen. graham: do you agree that they did not change the vote tally, but one day they might? mr. comey: i agree that very much we found no indication of any change in vote tallies. there was efforts aimed at voter registration systems, but i suppose in theory, part of the united states, the beauty of our system is it is a bit of a hairball. and all different kinds of systems. sen. graham: have they done this in other countries where they actually tampered with the vote? mr. comey: my understanding is they have attempted in other countries. sen. graham: and there's no reason they won't attempt here if we don't stop them over time. mr. comey: i think that is fair. sen. graham: thank you. >> thank you, chairman. welcome back, director comey. what is the policy of the department and the bureau regarding the release of derogatory investigative information about an uncharged
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subject? mr. comey: the general practice is we don't talk about completed , investigations that didn't result in charges. as a general matter. senator whitehouse: and what is the policy regarding the release of derogatory information about charged subjects beyond the derogatory investigative information disclosed in the charging document or in further court proceedings? mr. comey: i think you summarize the, the gist of the policy, is you do not want to do anything outside the charging documents that might prejudice the trial proceedings. sen. whitehouse: and one of the reasons you do that, is if you had a police chief say, we have investigated the contract between the mayor and the contractor, and we have decided there were no misdeeds. but we found out that the mayor was sleeping with her driver, just wanted to let you know that. that would be kind of a blow to the integrity of the prosecutor function and would probably tend to diminish support for the prosecutor function if it were played by those rules, correct? mr. comey: i think that is fair.
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that's why the policy exists. sen. whitehouse: yep. with respect to oversight questions, let's hypothesize that an investigation exists and the public knows about it, which could happen for a great number of legitimate reasons. what questions are appropriate for senators to ask about that investigation in their oversight capacity? mr. comey: they can ask anything they want. sen. whitehouse: but what questions are appropriate for you to answer? mr. comey: very few while a matter is pending. sen. whitehouse: while we know it is pending, is it appropriate for you to tell us whether it is adequately resourced and ask questions about, for instance, are there actually agents assigned to this or has it been put in somebody's bottom drawer? sen. whitehouse: -- mr. comey: sure, potentially, right. how it is supervised who was working on it, that sort of thing. sen. whitehouse: are there benchmarks in certain cases approvals arek required, or certain officials
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have stepped in? mr. comey: i'm not sure i am following the question. sen. whitehouse: let's say you have a rico investigation. beenne of those of ever invoked or implicated, that would send a signal that may be not much effort has been dedicated to it. with that be a legitimate question to ask? you would have to know that it was a rico investigation. it is soon knew that was the case. elements betaging appropriate to ask about and for you to answer about? mr. comey: that is a harder question, i'm not sure would be appropriate to answer. it could give away what we were looking at, potentially. sen. whitehouse: is it appropriate to ask if any witnesses have been interviewed or documents obtained pursuant to the investigation? harderey: that is also a one. i'm reluctant to answer questions like that because it is a slippery slope to giving away information about exactly what you are doing.
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if we arehouse: concerned an investigation is put on the shelf and not taken seriously, no witnesses have been called the no documents have been thought, would be relevant and not reveal anything other than a lack of attention by the bureau, correct? mr. comey: it could come up but we are careful about how we use a grand jury, for example. sen. whitehouse: i understand that, but this is a separate thing. mr. comey: that is a harder call. sen. whitehouse: we will pursue it. what is the bureau's policy regarding witnesses who are cooperating in an investigation who have form of ongoing compliance problem? let's say they have not paid their taxes for the last year. is it the policy of the bureau that they should get those cooperating witnesses to clean up their act so that their noncompliance does not become an issue later in the case? mr. comey: yes, i do not know if
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it is a written -- i know i should know this. certainly it is a long-standing practice. sen. whitehouse: long-standing practice, exactly. are tax returns useful in a criminal offense? mr. comey: four unreported income, motive, they might know it is criminal activity. sen. whitehouse: it is not uncommon to seek and use tax returns in a criminal investigation? mr. comey: not uncommon. it is a difficult process, as it should be. in complex financial cases, it is a common tool. the hearinguse: that senator graham and i held in respect to russia's infiltration and influence in the last election, raised the issue of russia intervening with business leaders in a country engaging them in bribery or other highly favorable business
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deals with a view to either recruiting them as somebody who has been bribed or being able to threaten them by disclosing the illicit relationship. they are happy to blow up their own cut-out but blows up the individual. have you seen any indication that those are russian strategies in their election influence tool box? mr. comey: in general, my understanding is, those are told the russians have used over many decades. and lastly, the european union is moving towards requiring transparency of incorporations so that shell corporations are harder to create. that risks leaving the united states as the last big haven for shell corporations. is it true that shell corporations are often used as a device for criminal money
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laundering? mr. comey: yes. sen. whitehouse: is it true that shell corporations are often used as a device for the concealment of criminally garnered funds? mr. comey: yes. sen. whitehouse: and to avoid legitimate taxation? mr. comey: yes. sen. whitehouse: what do you think the hazards are for the united states with respect to election interference of continuing to maintain a system in which shell corporations that you never know who is really behind them are common place? mr. comey: one risk is that it makes it easier for illicit money to make its way into a political environment. sen. whitehouse: and that is not a good thing? mr. comey: i don't think it is. sen. whitehouse: yeah, me neither. ok. >> thank you very much. given the fbi's extensive expertise and experience, how likely do you think it is that beene i.t. systems have
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targeted by hackers and other services? mr. comey: i would estimate it's a certainty. >> inside the ic, who would talk about that problem and who at the senate would they inform? mr. comey: often the fbi alerting a u.s. government institution or private sector, dhs might come across it, or other parts of the intelligence community, especially nsa. >> when we talk about things like cyber investigations right now, so often on cable tv it becomes a shirts and skins exercise. so without asking you to comment on anything retrospective about 2016, do you think it is likely in 2018 and beyond you'll see more targeting of u.s. public discourse in elections? mr. comey: i do. i think one of the lessons that the russians may have drawn with this is, that it works. as i said a month ago, i expect to see them back
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>> i'm curious about how closely russia involved the kremlin playbook. specifically whether the russians had a preference for trunk because he had already been ensnared in their web of patronage. is it possible that in the russian view, trumps business interests, they would be more disposed to deal with russia.
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then the report says. >> that was not the basis for the assessment. >> i just said is it possible? >> possible questions are hard for me to answer. >> in order for us to know for certain whether president trump would be vulnerable to that type of exploitation, we would have to understand his financial situation. we would have to know whether or not he has money tied up in russia or obligations to russian entities. do you agree? >> i don't know. >> it seems to me there is reason to believe that such connections exist. for example, the president's son, donald trump junior, total real estate developers in 2008 that russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.
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he said we see a lot of money pouring in from russia. this was a report on the family business. in 2013, president trump held the miss universe pageant in moscow and the pageant was financed by russian billionaire who was close to putin. president trump sold the palm beach mansion to a russian oligarch for $95 million in 2008. that's $54 million more than he paid for it just four years prior. those are three financial ties that we know of, and they are big ones. director comey, the russians have a history of using financial investments to gain leverage over influential people and then later calling in favors. we know that. we know the russians interfered in our election and they did it to benefit president trump.
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the intelligence agencies confirm that. why theyt to know is favored president trump and it seems to me in order to answer that question, any investigation into whether the trump campaign or trump operations colluded with russian operatives would require a full appreciation of the president's financial dealings. director comey, with president trump's tax returns be material to such an investigation? director comey: that's not something, senator, i'm going to answer. >> does the investigation have access to president trump's tax returns? director comey: i would have to give you the same answer. i just don't want to start talking about what we are looking at an help. >> we continue to learn about ties between russia and former members of the president's campaign and current senior
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members of his administration. jeff sessions, attorney general, former campaign advisor carter page, paul manafort. former campaign manager paul rex tillerson, secretary of state, and roger stone, political mentor and former campaign advisor, michael flynn, former national security adviser and son-in-law. listn't even know if this is exhaustive. i think you might see where i'm going and these connections appear against the backdrop of proven russian interference in the election, interference that the intelligence committee has concluded was designed in favor of president trump. i know i'm hitting my time but let me ask one question. thank you, mr. chairman.
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what about each individual's proximity to the president? is it unusual for individuals in these important roles to have so many unexpected and often undisclosed ties to a foreign power? x i would have to give you the same answer. that's not something i can comment on. >> thank you. you, mr. chairman, and thank you, director comey. the privacy and civil liberties oversight board recommended the agencies develop mechanisms to limit the potential scope of incidental collection. under your leadership, what has the bureau done to comply with these recommendations? donetor comey: what we've
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is make sure we have tightened up our training and making sure that no one with authorized access gets to see the content of a 702 collection. that's probably it of the way of summarizing, but that's just of it, just to make sure we -- that that doesn'tccess need to know it has been trained how to handle the information. >> can you explain process? >> incidental collection is the name given to -- if you're targeting a terrorist, let's say who is in yemen and he happens to be using an american email provider to communicate, under 02, he's outside the united states and is not an american. if an american context that terrorist, since human email, his gmail, that will be incidentally collected.
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that american who sent the email to the terrorist is not the target, but because he or she communicated with the terrorists, that is collected as part of that lawful collection. that's what incidental collection means. if the fbi is doing that 702 collection, those communications in our database, if we open an investigation on that person happened to be the communicate and we search our systems, we will hit on the 702 collection and the investigating agent will know it was an american who was in touch with that terrorist in yemen, if the agent has been trained it has access to the information, they will be able to note. that is how our systems are designed. >> the same review that was conducted in 2014 does point out the value of the program. i think most of us do here see the value of the 702 and the need for reauthorization there. with regard to a different topic
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polygraph testing, as you're aware many applicants for law enforcement position for a government position is required to undergo -- undergo a polygraph. there is assumedly higher othere rate than any federal law enforcement agency. the fbi does pretty well with this. has the bureau ever conducted any benchmarking with other federal agencies as to the process, where if you require a employment, -- for given the fbi success with this instrument, that you could inform some of the other agencies who are having difficulties? director comey: don't know whether we have, senator, but i will find out. have talked if we to cbp about our programs. exit it would be helpful if you could look into that. breaches,d to data
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following on what the senator was asking, given the amount of sensitive data held by the fbi, what are you doing to protect your own systems? i don't want to talk about too much in open for them but it is a constant worry of all of us. since i've been director, i put a senior executive in charge of it because i want someone waking up every morning worrying about how we might lose data and who might be penetrating either our as a human asset. at times work is gone into protecting our systems, but the weakest link is always the people. you can have the greatest firewall and intrusion detection system but if your people are engaging in intentional misconduct, we're spending a lot of time trying to have a rich picture of our people that doesn't depend on five-year polygraph free investigations
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but that shows us flags of a troubled employee in real-time. that is hard to do and bill technically but we are working very hard on it. congressr opinion, is doing enough to protect itself and our systems from outside threats? director comey: i don't mean this as a wiseguy answer, surely not, because none of us can be doing enough. is not just about the perimeter we build, it's about the security culture inside our organizations. i'm part of the fbi and i still don't think ours is good enough. i'm sure congress thought is not good enough. citizens have the right to get information from the federal government. can you talk about how the bureau probably and fully samends to request at the time you maintain some level of security oversensitive and classified data? director comey: we have an
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enormous operation that's working 24 hours a day outside of washington dc. this is their life. they note the regulations and the security sensitivities and work as hard bass as hard as we can to comply with the deadlines. anis a huge pain, but it is essential part of being a public institution. >> thank you, esther chairman. service you for your and for your return in front of the senate judiciary committee. i want to start by asking about a letter and i will submit this for the record if i might. sent ast of last year we letter to our colleague who then served as the oversight subcommittee chairman expressing our grave concern about the potential or foreign interference in her upcoming presidential election. we asked for an oversight hearing to consider whether statutes were sufficient to address conduct related to
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foreign entities posing a threat to our elections. i would like to ask you that same question now. our -- our existing federal criminal statute sufficient to prosecute conduct related to foreign it easy that seek to undermine our election? i think so, but someone smarter than i might have spotted a gap. it's question of gathering the evidence and applying it under those statutory tools. >> you stated that you fully to be russia to continue engaged in efforts to influence our election. more should we be doing both to defend our election infrastructure and our future elections against continuing russian interference and what more is the agency doing to help our allies in countries like france and germany that have upcoming elections where there
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is every reason to believe the russians are actively interfering there as well? director comey: two things that we can do and that we are doing is telling the people responsible for protecting the election infrastructure in the united states everything we know about how the russians and others tried to attack those systems and how they might come what fishing techniques they might use, and we've shared the same thing with our allies. and to equip the american people and our allies to understand that this is going on. a big part of what the russians did was pushing out false information, echoing it with these troll farms that they use. thingsthe most important we can do is tell the american voters this is going on. you should be skeptical and understand the nature of the news you are getting. we deliver that same message to our european colleagues at an interesting thing is happening.
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the marketplace of ideas is responding to this. using the power of social media to push back on this kind of thing. i hope it will happen here in the united states where ordinary citizens will see this stuff going on and push back the other way so the marketplace of information is better educated, frankly. >> i appreciate the work the fbi continues to do to push back and strengthen our defenses but i think there is more to do. you've certainly made a great deal of news just before our own election. you chose to make public statements about one investigation and not another, the investigation we now know was on going into the trunk campaign and the investigation ongoing into secretary clinton. i'm concerned about what the future practice will be. how has the approach taken with regard to the clinton
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investigation been memorialized, and have you modified in any way department procedures regarding disclosure of information concerning investigations particularly close to an election? director comey: we have not. everything that i did in my view was consistent with existing department of justice policy. we don't confirm the existence of investigations except in unusual circumstances. we don't talk about investigations that don't result in criminal charges unless there is a compelling public interest. those principle should still govern. action thatoid any might have an impact on an election. i still believe that to be true, and incredibly important guiding principle is one i labored under here. i only had two actions before me . i could not find the door labeled and, so those principle still exist and are incredibly important. the current investigation with
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respect to russia. the department of justice authorized me to confirm it exist. are not going to say another word about it until we are gone. we will be guided by the same principles. >> i did take there was a third door available to you late last year just before the election. that was to confirm the existence of an ongoing investigation about the trump campaign which i think was a compelling interest and an unusual circumstance. noticere been public that there was renewed investigation into both campaigns, i think the impact would been different. would you agree? director comey: no. i thought a lot about this in my judgment was, we have to separate two things. i thought it was very important to call at what the russians were trying to do with our election and i offered in august myself to be a voice for that in a public peace, calling it out.
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the obama administration did not take advantage of that in august. they did in october, but i thought it was important to call out. to try and figure out are there any connections between that russian activity and u.s. persons that started in late july. we did not confirm it existed until three months after it started, and it started publicly . i thought it consistent principle would be we don't confirm the existence of any classified investigation it early stages. we don't know what we have, what is there. consistent with the principles i've always operated under, that was the right thing to do. i thought it was important to call out until the american people the russians are trying to mess with your election. , youhope in the future expect you will continue, will
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be affected. there's a lot of ways the fbi help state and local law enforcement. one i'm grateful for was the violence reduction network through which the fbi provided much-needed assistance to wilmington police department's, my hometown, where he had a dramatic spike in violence. i would be interested to hear how you intend that the fbi will continue to assist local law .nforcement director comey: the violence reduction network was piloted in wilmington and a small number of other places and we believe it works. the fbi brings to a fight primarily the state and local fight, our technology, our intelligence expertise at figuring out how to connect the dots and which of the bad guys we should focus on, and are enforcement agents and their ability to make cases. we're trying to do what we done in wilmington in cities around the country. those cities that are seeing
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spikes in violence and the fact is about half of america's big city saw another rise in violence in the first quarter of this year. reviewrying to lean for what we done in wilmington in those places as well. >> i appreciate your efforts to support local law enforcement. >> assume for a second that i'm not a united states senator and security clearance to look at classified information. if someone sends me classified information and i know or should know it is classified information and i read it, have i committed a crime? potentially.y: >> has the person who sent me the information committed a crime? director comey: potentially, if they knew you did not have appropriate clearance and the need to know. >> was the classified information on former congressman weiner's computer? director comey: yes.
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>> who send it to them? director comey: his then spouse appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him i think to print out to him so that she could deliver them to the secretary of state. question former congressman weiner read the classified material? director comey: i don't think so. i don't think we've been able to interview him because he has pending criminal problems of other sorts, but my understanding is that his role would be to print them out as a matter of convenience. >> if you did read them, would he have committed a crime? director comey: potentially. it would depend on a number of things. >> is there an investigation with respect to the tomb of them? -- to the two of them? director comey: there was, but we completed it. we do not have any indication
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that she had a sense that what she was doing was in violation of the law. we could not prove any sort of criminal intent. problem we have with the whole email investigation was proving that people knew, the secretary and others knew that they were communicating about classified information in a way that they shouldn't be, proving they were doing -- they had some since they were doing something unlawful. that was our burden and we had to meet it. quick so she thought it was ok to send her husband the information? director comey: we could not prove that the people sending the information you're in that case are the other case of the secretary were acting with any kind of criminal intent. second i am not a united states senator, i'm working for a presidential campaign, and i am contacted by
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a russian agent. wants to talk about the campaign in general and strategy. am i committing a crime? director comey: it's hard to answer. i probably don't want to answer, even in a hypothetical, given the work we are doing. >> let me try it this way. not a unitedi'm states senator, i'm working for a presidential campaign. russiancontacted by a agent who says i've got some that i wants here to visit with you about. am i committing a crime? shouldr comey: i think i resist answering that hypothetical. >> can you explain to me in your
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personal opinion when interrogation techniques become torture? director comey: you mean not the law? that definesatute torture in the united states, so as a lawyer and a member of a law enforcement organization, that is where i would start, that the definition of torture is laid out in american statutes. i'm not sure what you mean beyond that. >> i'm just asking your personal opinion about what you think constitutes torture, where you personally would draw the line, join on your substantial experience. director comey: ode say any conduct that employs the -- in a colloquial sense is torture. it may not be torture under the statute which the congress has chosen to defined at a fairly high level, but as a human being
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and fbi director, i considered the infliction of physical pain and discomfort to be by and large, colloquially, torture. >> any kind of physical pain or discomfort? suppose you just serve someone bad food? again, tricky: for us, because the fbi is very careful never to intentionally inflict physical pain or discomfort of any sort to try and question somebody. so i would say yes, that is on duct you should stay way clear of -- conduct you stay clear of. also ineffective, frankly, but that is a whole other deal. >> do you think it is possible from a law enforcement vet active to properly non-american, noncitizen, i should say, coming to the united states from a conflict area such
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as syria? it's difficult to it perfectly, and i have concerns about the ability to vet people coming from areas where we have no relationship on the ground with the government there. so i suppose it is possible to do it reasonably. there's a number of tools you can bring to bear but there's always risk associated with that. >> how do you do it? you cannot call the chamber of commerce in syria. how do you do it? director comey: we do it now. we query the holdings of the entire american intelligence community to see if phone numbers, emails, addresses, associated with that person have ever shown up anywhere in the world. that's a pretty good way to do it. getting into the persons social media to see what they have there is another pretty good way to do it. , the hostses government will have information about them.
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a u.s. military presence for many years that collected a lot of biometric, so we can query data and see if the persons fingerprints ever showed up. >> how about yemen? director comey: similarly difficult. >> i yield back my 30 seconds. >> thank you. you've been getting a lot of questions surrounding your decision to make certain statements about the investigation into secretary clinton's emails. to many of us, you treated the investigation of the clinton email investigation, or whatever you want to call it, differently than how you treated the ongoing investigation of the trump campaign and the russian attempts to interfere with the election. correctly, you
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felt free to speak about the clinton investigation because it had been completed when you had your press conference in july you do confirm there still an ongoing investigation and theirmp campaign conduct with regard to russian efforts to undermine our election. we arer comey: conducting an investigation to understand whether there was any coordination between the russian effort anybody associated with campaign. >> so since you've artie confirm that such investigation is ongoing, can you tell us more about what constitutes that investigation? no.ctor comey: >> in july 2016 when you announce it you are not going to be ringing criminal charges against secretary clinton because you didn't need to show intent, and there was no intent discovered, you spoke for 15 minutes, and not only did you
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say that you were not going to bring criminal charges against her, by the way, which you said at the end of your fit the minute, but you went on to chastise her, saying that she had been extremely careless, you raised questions about her judgment, you contradicted statements you have made about her email practices, and said foreignsibly, hostile governments had gained access to her server and had she still been employed by the government she could've ace disciplinary action for what she did. i just want to know whether when you made all those public her, whichchastising amounts to editorializing on your decision not to bring about criminal charges, it had to occur to you that this public chastisement put secretary clinton in a negative light. theyou consider whether
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public chastisement might affect her campaign? director comey: i have to respectfully disagree with your characterization of chastising. my goal was to say what is true. what did we do, what did we find, what do we think about it, and i try to be as complete in pairs that could be and tell the truth about what we found that what we think about it and what we are recommending. >> so when you said she was carelessin extremely -- can you cite me to other examples where you may those kinds of comments that elaborated on an fbi decision not to bring about criminal charges? director comey: cannot as director. i know the department has, they wrote report after they were done chastising lois lerner for her behavior in a similar way. so it happens. it's very unusual, but it happens. >> but we know that you were
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very concerned about what might happen if it came to light that you had possibly gone easy on thatclinton and therefore you were concerned about the political ramifications of your decisions, and yet -- director comey: i was not. >> so you did not consider that your statement about a person who was running for president would not have a negative effect on her? director comey: i tried very hard not to consider what effect it might have on her politically. , people can disagree about this, but that offering is was the bestency way to credibly complete the investigation. i was in think it about what effect it might have on a political campaign. >> i find that very hard to really -- i find that hard to believe that you did not
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contemplate that there would be political ramifications to your comments. director comey: i knew there would be ramifications, i just tried not to hear them. i knew there would be a huge storm that would come, but i try to say what is the right thing to do in this case. >> the right thing would be to say you did not have enough evidence bring about criminal charges and that would be the individual i would think. i don't know why you would go forward with all kind of characterizations about her actions and that you would not have considered the political ramifications. the thought should have occurred to you and i would think that you would have been over backwards not to say anything that would have an impact on the campaign or on the election, that,, you seemed to do to know that was a concern for you. in recent days there have been numerous reports of trump
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administration officials failing the role of fbi in vetting security clearances of white house personnel, if any? director comey: sometimes the fbi is assigned to do background checks on people who are coming into government in the executive office of the president. other times not. a lot of times there are people who are arriving with clearances that already exist. >> so in the case of the trump administration officials, was the fbi asked to produce a paid in the vetting process? director comey: the fbi has done background checks for some appointees in the trump administration. i'm not comfortable sitting here, i don't know them for sure, but i should not talk about individuals in an open forum without thinking about it better. >> what would be the consequences for white house staffer to fail to disclose their foreign contacts on a security clearance form?
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director comey: hard to say, it could include losing your clearances if conduct is intentional, it could subject someone to criminal liability. >> is that something the department would investigate and pursue? director comey: potentially. of thet be another part intelligence community. >> so since there have been these concerns raised about clearances not being appropriately vetted, is there ongoing fbi investigation into what happened with the vetting process and whether any crimes may have been committed? director comey: it's not something i can comment on sitting here. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your service and your testimony. i have to say i found your answer to senator kennedy a few minutes ago puzzling in that you the casethe reason why
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din,closed against ms. abe that you could not determine she was aware of her conduct was unlawful. the reason that answer is puzzling is you are a very accomplished longer and as you are well aware, every first-year law student learns and criminal law, ignorance of the law is no excuse and it does not require knowledge or conduct is unlawful. and in fact the governing action have no requirements of knowledge of unlawful. willfullyowingly and furnishes, transmits or makes available to an unauthorized person classified information shall be fined or imprisoned not more than 10 years or both. under the terms of that statute,
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the fact pattern you described in this hearing seems to fit that statute directly, in that if i understand you correctly, bedin forwarded hundreds or thousands of classified emails to her husband on a nongovernment, nonclassified computer. how does that conduct not directly violate the statute? director comey: if i said that, i misspoke here which she forwarded hundreds of thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information, the department of justice has understood that statute to require in practice, and i believe in law, to require a general sense of criminal intent . that is not a specific intent but it since, a knowledge that what you're doing is unlawful, criminal of particular
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statute. i cannot find a case that has been brought in the last 50 years based on negligence, some grexit and i have both worked in a number of jobs that deal with classified information. , anyone dealing with classified information should know that that conduct is impermissible. let me ask you, how would you handle an fbi agent who forwarded thousands of classified emails to his or her spouse on a nongovernment computer? there would be significant administrative discipline. i'm highly confident they would not be prosecuted. i'm also highly confident they would be disciplined. >> i chaired a hearing on the willful blindness of the obama administration to radical islamic terrorism.
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we heard testimony from a whistleblower in the department that there security was removal of references to radical islam and the muslim brotherhood. purge indeed was the word used by the white house to conduct that purge. we obviously have a new administration now, a new white house, a new attorney general. fbi to approach of the radical islamic terrorism changed in any respect with the new administration? director comey: not that i am aware of, no. >> let me ask you about one specific terror attack, on may 5 of 2015, they terrorist attack in garland, texas, where two terrorists opened fire on a peaceful
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gathering. thankfully, no innocent people were killed, thanks to the wrote action of garland police officer greg stephens, who fatally shot the two terrorists. but a security officer was shot in the leg, and it could've been much, much worse. incident, you the stated publicly that the fbi did not know that the terrorists were on their way to the event or that they plan on attacking the event. recently, there have been media .eports suggesting otherwise specifically, media reports that of stated that an undercover fbi agent was in close communication with the terrorists in the week leading up to the attack, explicitly discussed plans for and was in a car directly behind the two terrorists outside the event and took photos of the terrorists moments before the attack, but
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then left the scene when the shooting began and at that agent was detained by the garland police. are those media reports correct? director comey: i stand by what i said originally. i cannot go into the details because they are classified. the media reports are highly misleading, and in a classified setting, i could explain to you how. >> i would appreciate you or your designee sharing those in a classified setting to learn more what occurred. this committee has had substantial focus also on the practice of the previous irs in targeting citizens and citizens groups based on political speech, political views, and perceived political opposition to president obama. in the previous department of justice, both attorney general holder and lynch, in my view,
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stonewalled that investigation. is the fbi currently unlawfulting the irs's targeting of citizens for exercising political speech? director comey: i think you are referring to the investigation focusing on groups allegedly associated with the tea party? the department declined prosecution. we worked very hard on it and could not make what we thought was a case and to my knowledge it has not been reopened. >> so did the fbi recommend prosecution? director comey: we cannot prove that anybody was targeting these folks because they were conservatives or associated with the tea party. we worked very hard to see if we can make that case and we could not get there. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you director for being
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you and thank you to the many women working with you at the fbi for their extraordinary service to our country. unappreciated as you alluded to power cleaner opening statement. you have confirmed that leap that the fbi is investigating potential ties between trump associates and the russian interference in the 2016 campaign, correct? yes.tor comey: >> and you have not, to my knowledge, ruled out anyone in the trump campaign as potentially a target of that criminal investigation, correct? director comey: i haven't said anything publicly about who we have open investigations on.
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i cannot go beyond that in this setting. >> have you ruled out anyone in the campaign that you can disclose? director comey: a don't feel comfortable answering that because i think it puts me on the slope to talking about who we are investigating. >> had he ruled out the president of the united states? don't wantmey: i people to over interpret the answer. i'm not going to comment on anyone in particular because if i say no to that i have to answer succeeding questions. briefed the chair and ranking on who the persons are we've opened investigations on and that is as far as we are going to go at this point. >> but as a former prosecutor, you know that when there is an investigation into several potentially culpable individuals, the evidence from those individuals and the investigation can lead to
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others, correct? are alwaysmey: we open-minded and we've all the evidence wherever it takes us. president of the united states could be a target of your ongoing investigation, correct? director comey: i don't want to answer that because it seems to be unfair speculation. and find as much as we can and we will follow the evidence wherever it leads. >> wouldn't this situation be ideal for the appointment of a special prosecutor and independent counsel, in light of the fact that the attorney general has recused himself and so far as your answers indicate today, no one has been ruled out publicly in your ongoing investigation. i understand the reasons that you want to avoid ruling out anyone publicly, but for exactly that reason, because of the appearance of a potential
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conflict of interest, isn't this situation absolutely crying out for a special prosecutor? that's acomey: judgment for the acting attorney general on this matter and not something i should comment on. inyou had some experience this kind of decision, in 2003 you admirably appointed a special prosecutor when the johnney general, then ashcroft, recused himself from involvement in the investigation concerning whether the bush administration officials illegally disclosed identity of official.ver cia are there any differences materially between that situation and this one, so far as the reasons to appoint a
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special counsel? director comey: i think both situations, as with all investigations that touch on people who have been actors in a political role involve considerations of actual conflict of interest and appearance of conflict of interest. about theing to talk current situation. in that situation, my judgment was that the credibility of of the investigation into the leak officer's identity would be best served by not having it overseen by myself because i was a political appointee, and appointing some and giving him the authority to run it separate from the political leadership of the department of justice, that was my judgment in that circumstance. i don't of what judgment the acting attorney general will make. i'm sure he will consider many of the same rings. >> has he asked for your advice? director comey: i'm not going to say, senator. i wouldn't want people to talk
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about their conversations with me, so i will do the same thing. >> as far as the ongoing investigation into trump associates and their potential collusion with the russians meddling in our election, will you be providing any updates to the american people? director comey: certainly not before the matter is concluded, and then, depending upon how the matter is concluded, some matters are concluded with criminal charges and then there's a public accounting and a charging document. in other matters, if they end with no charges but some statement of some sort, others in with no statement in which i don't know yet, and i would want to do that with -- with close cord nation in the department. >> would you make recommendations to presumably the deputy attorney general for the special prosecutor as to whether criminal charges should be brought? know in comey: i don't this case in particular, but in general, we'll most always do,
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especially the highest profile matters. >> but you cannot yourself pursue criminal charges, correct? director comey: correct. >> i think that's important for the american people to understand because it bears on the question of whether special prosecutor should be appointed. the fbi cannot bring charges, neither can the intelligence community, nor can an independent commission, only the deputy attorney general or a special prosecutor designated by him, correct? director comey: correct. >> at me close, because i'm running out of time. have you been question at all by the inspector general in connection with the inquiry that i understand is ongoing into a number of the topics we have been discussing here? yes, i've been
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interviewed. inspector general is inspecting me and looking at my conduct during the course of the investigation. i encourage, i want that inspection is i want my story told, because some of it is classified. also, if i did something wrong, i want to hear that. yes, i've been interviewed, and i'm sure i will be interviewed again. ordo you have any regrets, are there any things you would do differently in connection with either the comments you made at the time you closed the investigation, or when you then indicated to congress that you were in effect reopening it? honestr comey: the answer is no. i've asked myself that a million times because this has been painful. the only thing may be answering the phone when they called to recruit me into the fbi and i was living happily in connecticut. i've had all kinds of rocks thrown at me and this has been really hard, but i think i've done the right thing at each
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turn. i'm not on anybody's side. it's so hard for people to see that i've asked that a million times, should i have done this or that. the honest answer is, i would not have done it any differently. i would have wished i was on the shores of the connecticut sound, but failing that, i don't have any regrets. >> i want to ask one last question unrelated to this topic, on the issue of gun violence. would you agree that universal background checks would help with law enforcement and prevention of gun violence? director comey: the more able we are to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and spouse abuses and others, the better. >> i will take that as a yes. hank you. -- thank you. ,> i think we have one member if that members going to come back for first round
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and maybe after that secretary tellis. us last yearriefed i think you said there were ongoing investigations on homeland security, potential orrorists either homegrown not. can you give me an idea of how many that is? 1000.t north of
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that caseload has stayed the spoke.nce we last about 1000 violent homegrown extremists cases in the united states. what the same time, to extent you can discuss it in , were people who are the target of this investigation persons who came in through various programs were questions have been raised? it was investigated, do you have rough numbers? mr. comey: we have -- home grown violent extremist -- we have no indication they were in touch with anyone. then there is another group of people where we see some contact. you take those 2000 plus cases extent ins, to what
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-- tothe investigations, what extent to what extent is that relevant to these investigations and potential homeland threats? secretary comey: we are they consuming this poison on the internet and are they in touch with anybody? about 90% of our subjects are using at least one encrypted app as well. >> just because of technological constraints, half of it you can't get to.
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without 702, how much more would be harmed? different addresses a challenge. >> wouldn't it be disastrous because -- assets of the physical you cannot already get access to. then there is the metadata and would give that axes. by going dark, do we meet 100%? window to the really bad guys overseas. f we closed that -- >> so we have thousands of investigations even lease went between people of self radicalized or those have been influenced or come over on refugee status which we will basically pull the rug out from under you in order to be able to examine that.
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>> once you get minute date i you cannot convict them. you have to drill down. >> director comey, i want to go back to the beginning of the investigation. i'd like you to explain the context you were operating in. i want to create a context going back to when the operation investigation began. i think on june 27, the then-attorney general met the spouse of someone subject to an active investigation, at the very least an unusual encounter which also spun up the media. -- five, you've made the statement that a few of the things you have said that based on the evidence you were gathering, there was one component where you said it was like removing a frame from a giant ticks on puzzle and dumping the pieces on the floor.
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then you said regarding the handling of classified information under similar circumstances a person engaged in these activities would likely be subject to security or administrative sanctions. that was the tough part of the statement you made. you went on to say you did not reasonable minded prosecutor would bring a case even if there was evidence of violations. you expressed your view that they should not proceed. sayhat typical of you to you gather the information and that maybe violations but you did not think a reasonable prosecutor would pursue it and therefore you would not recommend pursuing it? is i common? ask for nephi i director to do that? i've never heard of it. i never imagined. a director --
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a -- or you had to look at other evidence to be examined on anthony weiner's pc. it looked like you are trying to provide as much transparency as you had it yet and then on november 6, the fbi apparently moved heaven and earth and got something done in a matter of days that they that would take beyond the election. you were it not pressure cooker. i want you to have the opportunity to glue together the reasons for your actions on july 5 and how there are parallels between that and october 28 and november 6 and then i will give back the remainder of my time for the answer. secretary comey: i have lived my
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whole life caring about the the americanf of justice process that the american people believed to be fair, dependent, and on this. what i struggled in the spring of last year with was how do we credibly complete the investigation of hillary clinton females if we conclude there is no case there? way would be to have the department of justice announced. i struggled toward the end with a number of things that had gone on which i cannot talk about yet which made the worried that the department leadership could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the american people's confidence in the justice system and the cap or was, not picking on the attorney general loretta lynch, but her meeting with president clinton on the airplane was the cap are for me. i said, you know what, the department cannot credibly and this by themselves.
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the best chances to do something i never imagined before, stepped away and say, look this is what the fbi did, this is what we found, this is what we think. that was the best chance in the belief of the system by the american people of us doing the right thing. it was a hard call that morning to call and say i'm going to do a press conference and i hope someday you will understand why have to do this. i knew it would be disastrous for me personally but i thought it was the best way to protect the institutions we care so much about. having done that and testified repeatedly under oath, there is no there there. when the anthony weiner thing landed on me, this was a huge new step to take. we may be finding the golden, missing emails that would change this case. if i were not to speak about that it would be a disastrous catastrophic concealment. it was incredibly painful but
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not that hard between very bad and catastrophic. i had to tell congress we are taking these additional steps. i prayed to find a third door, i could not find it. two actions. speak or conceal. i do not think many people would do it differently. on october 28, would you really conceal that? so, i spoke. again, the design was to act credibly, independently, and honestly so the american people know the system is not rigged in any way yet that is why i thought trust terrence it was best. in october, i sent the letter only to the chairs and rankings. i knew they would link it, that is how it works. i did not make an announcement. my people moved heaven and earth to get through those emails i working 24 hours a day. they said, honestly we found tons of new stuff and at the stock change our view.
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i said, are you sure. don't do it if you are under pressure. they said they were sure. i said, by god i have to tell congress that in and nobody is going to storm at me for that. you may think we are idiots, but we're honest people. we make judgments trying to do the right thing and i think even what hindsight we try to do the right thing. i'm sorry for that long answer. >> director comey, seven-time sixes 42 minutes. i hope you won't want to take a break. director comey: i am made of stone. eggs thank you. on march -- director comey: i am made of stone. >> thank you. these questions have not been answered so i'm going to ask them now. right or to the bureau launching the investigation, did anyone from the fbi have interactions
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with mr. steele regarding the issue? comey: it is not a question i can answer in this form. i have briefed you privately. if more is necessary, i would be happy to do it. >> have you ever represented to a judge that the fbi had interaction with mr. steele trump campaign manager and russia prior to the bureau launching its investigation of the better? director comey: i have to give you the same answer. >> this when i expect an answer allow to paylicies an outside investigation for work another sources also paying him for as well? : i do not know
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for sure as i said here. possibly is my answer. i will get you a precise answer. >> in writing? director comey: sure. i extend the fbi provide any payments whatsoever related to the investigation of trump associates? rector comey: i cannot answer this. that mr.e fbi aware steele reportedly paid his sources who in turn paid their sub sources to make the claim in the dossier. director comey: same answer, sir. >> here is one you want to be able to answer. is it vital to know whether or not sources have been paid in order to evaluate their credibility and if they have
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been paid, doesn't that information have to be disclosed if you are relying on that to seek approval for investigative authority? mark >> i think in general it is vital. has provided inconsistent answers enclosed settings about its reported relationship with mr. steele. will you commit to fully answering the questions from my march 6 and april 28 letter to provide all documents so we can resolve the inconsistency even if a closed session is necessary? dr. comey: i commit to giving you all of the information you need to address the challenge because i don't believe there is inconsistency. inconsistencye is
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but in a classified session i will give you what you need. ok. dir. comey: i think in a closed setting we can figure it out. russianworking with a operative on a pro-lobbying project at the same time. fusion gps allegedly did not register as a foreign agent under the act which allows the president to punish those who violate human rights. before i sent you a letter about this, were you available about the claim they were acting as an unregistered agent for russian interests? dir. comey: that is
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not a question i can answer in this forum. >> you can't answer that? -- : no, i can comey: no, i can't. filed in court pursuant to litigation. they said the grand jury issued subpoenas for secretary clinton's emails, get you refused to tell this committee whether the fbi sought or had been denied access from the justice department so i think , whya very simple question does the fbi have more information to somebody who files a lot site then to the oversight committee? comey: i refuse to say
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whether we used a grand jury and how. i think that is the right position because i do not know it well enough. i do not think i can distinguish i sit as public as a matter of information, if i, chuck grassley, file a freedom of information act and you give more information than you would in the chuck grassley senate, how do you justify that? dir. comey: it is a good question. i can't as i sit here. egad. clinton -- named "operation midway
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" because it had to be done before the middle of the year. dir. comey: it was called midyear exam that was the name of the case. i can assure you is not selected for a nefarious purpose or because of timing on the investigation. grand jury the convened? was it before your first public statement about closing the case ? dir. comey: i am still not comfortable confirming when or how we used a grand jury in an open setting. i do not know how much was said and the foia case to know whether that makes my answer silly but i want to be careful when talking about grant jury matters. you mr. chairman. mr. director, thank you for your fortitude going through this. i appreciate it. noted thattimony you the first seven the fiscal year
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the fbi was unable to access the content of more than 3000 mobile devices even though the fbi had the legal authority to do so. i am for my with one of those and that is the southern california terrorist attack which was where 14 people were killed in san bernardino. devices you are not able to access can you say how many of these were related to a counterterrorism event? ir. comey: i do not know as sit here, senator, but we can get you that information. senator feinstein: i appreciate that. we had looked at legislation which would take into consideration in events of national security and provide -- there must be
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some way of the going before a judge and getting a court order to be able to open a device. do you think that would work? dir. comey: to my mind that would be a better place to be from a public safety perspective but we're not there now. >> in terms this week, the british parliament hall of affairs select committee released a report saying that asial media platforms such facebook, twitter, and youtube, field to remove extremist material posted by band jihadist and neo-nazi groups even when that material was reported. the committee urged tech companies to pay for and publicize online content and calledactivities on the british government to strengthen laws related to the publication of such material.
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laster, i worked with senators to introduce a bill to require tech companies to report terrorist activity on their platforms. law enforcement. advise?you we muddled it after, and existing law, which requires tech companies to notify authorities about cases of child pornography but does monitorire companies to any user, subscriber, or customer. i plan to reintroduce the provision in separate legislation. so here are two questions. with the fbi benefit from knowing when technology companies see terrorist plotting and other at illegal activity online?
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>> yes. >> would be fbi be willing to work with the judiciary committee going forward on his provision? >> yes senator. we would be happy to work with you on that. senator feinstein: i was so struck one san bernardino happened and you made overtures to allow that device to be opened it and then the fbi had to spend $9,000 to hack it open. learned ofuently some of the reason for, there were good reasons to get into that device and the concern i have it is that once people have been killed in a terrorist attack and there may be other dna, there may be other messages that lead and investigative
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agency to believe that there are others out there, isn't it to the -- for the protection of the public -- that one would be able could beat a device opened? i have had a very hard time. i tried going out will stop i tried to talk to tech companies in my state. andfacebook was very good understood deep problem but most do not. -- one, facebook, was very good and understood the problem but most do not. had a lot ofe conversations ended my sense, they are getting more productive techse i think the companies have come to see the darkness a little bit more but my concern is privacy is important but they did not see the public safety cost. i think they're starting to see that better. what nobody wants to have happen the unitedrible in
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states and it be connected to our inability to access information from lawful authority. we should have that conversation before that happens and the companies more and more get that. it is vital. we were taking on apple in the san bernardino case. there were role reasons we needed to get into that device and that is true in case after case where we have to figure out a way to optimize those two things. privacy and public safety. to be candid,ein: my understanding was that the european community had special concerns about privacy and some of the companies in our country were concerned they would lose business. ist european concerned changing. i think what i read about the u.k., what i understand is happening in france and germany, increased sharing of
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intelligence. the realization that they have very dangerous people in large numbers possibly plotting at any given time to carry out an attack and it is sad some palliative effect and there may be a change of viewpoint. so, it would be very helpful if our law enforcement community could help us and this is not to monitor. this is something that is very basic. if there is a preserve evidence that says there may be a seller another individual out there, there is a chance of you getting into that these of evidence to see if that is true. dir. comey: with the judges permission. thetor feinstein: with judge's permission, that is correct. so i thank you for that. -- senator leahy
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>> i want to talk to about something raised by one of my colleagues a little while ago.
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terrorist threat posed to the united states? comey: i agreed. >> they have an assessment from the office of intelligence and analysis which said it was
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unlikely citizenship would be an indicator of terrorism. do you agree? dir. comey: yes. >> another matter who we have worked on to address related to the fbi private analysis testimony. the investigation began a believe in 2012 after four men were exonerated here in washington, d.c., the fbi had inaccurate testimony. in order to review more than 3000 cases the fbi has reached out to offices who originally prosecuted these cases and i appreciate that. my main concern is that cases remain closed if you don't find the transcript right away. i've asked you this question and writing. in many cases where there is a missing transcript, and you
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commit to 11 fbi conduct and see if thereit to is information used and possibly faulty analysis by the fbi that might've brought a conviction? dir. comey: i'm sorry. in person visit? cake to the prosecutor's office or whoever else might be involved if you don't have a transcript. in in-person to say, ok what do your records show? did you use analyses that may have been faulty from the fbi to dir. about the conviction? comey: the ic. i do not know enough to commit to that now. can i follow up? ok. thank you. >> senator whitehouse? >> for starters, did you give
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"a free pass"n for any bad deeds is marked there was a tweet to that effect. dir. comey: that was not my intention. conducted an honest, independent investigation and close it while offering transparency to the american people. i believe what i said, there was not a prosecutable case there. -- is the question >> is they question of the prosecutor ability of the disclosure or the secrecy of the material considered a ?rosecutive decision because there is a great deal of information that is widely known to the public and overclassification is a very significant problem in the branch, correct?
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dir. comey: correct. >> and that would've been evaluated looking at secretary clinton's emails? dir. comey: yes. cake said they were classified but -- >> so they were classified but may not of caused harm? there were emails that could been classified but caused no harm if they were disclosed? ; yes, that is the case. cake it has been closed and publicly deplored it -- >> it has been disclosed in michael reported that flynn and the deputy attorney general's report about those calls -- did you participate in conversations related to this matter during that interval and what can you tell us about why
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the interval took two days? was there some standard operating procedure that needed to be vindicated? do you think that could have flipped over to a conversation of the white house a good deal quicker than that once the report came back from the interview? dir. comey: i do not know weather today says right. it might've been a day and might've been two days. i did report conversations about the matter. stop there.ll i do not know the department's position on speaking about those commit occasions. >> but as you sit here you do indication that that represented mr. for misconduct? agent goes,the writes up a 302, shows it to their partner to get it right, sometimes it is the next day before this finish.
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>> said the deputy would've seen the 302 and the process would've taken based by the time she went up to see white house counsel? dir. comey: yes. anthony weiner laptop. it, you werend informed by agents in the fbi office that there was potentially related or relevant information and mr. weiner's laptop. on the basis of that information you then sent a letter to the members of congress before home you had committed to answer if there were any changes in the status of things. you also than authorized the agents to pursue a search gave themich then
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access to the content which allowed them to do the search that you then said came up with nothing so that you could then undo the n say actually, we took a look and there is nothing there. do i have the order correctly there? dir. comey: right. they briefed me on what they can whileom the metadata and was significant. they wanted my approval to do a search warrant. i authorized and and so did the department of justice and then they reviewed. during the following week, they emails. 40,000 i understated how many they reviewed. they found 3000 more work-related. and came from blackberry backups and a bunch of other things. 12 of them were classified. we had seen them all before. they finished that work. they briefed me. they said it did not change their view. then i sent the second letter. of those letters great national security damage?
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hard to answer. by definition, because of vocation is based on the potential for damage. thanks on the front page of the new york times. >> i am not aware that any of the males in the investigation got into the hands of people who were able to exploit them to damage national security. me offer you this hypothetical. they come to an safety metadata shows we have potential information that could be relevant or causes to reopen the information. it would seem to me it would be as sensible at that moment to say how quickly can you get the search warrant and how can we gt question because i made a promise to people in congress
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>> i pressed him very hard on that and they said there was no way they could have done that in the time allotted. they did because our wizards came up with a way to do it electronically which involved writing a custom software program that will help us in a lot of other areas but the investigative team said, sir we cannot finish this before the election. and that mind, that made the judgment i made appropriate. not waiting to make the
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disclosure. >> ok. with respect to your response to senator tillis, my time is expired by i have a different view of what took place. i do not doubt your honesty for a minute but i think there were significant mistakes made through this process. dir. comey: in the hillary clinton email case question >> -- dir. comey: in the hillary clinton email case? take yes. take i just --
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>> i just want to clarify some gave innswers you relation to president trump's tax returns being relevant to investigation into does the investigation have access to president trump's tax returns and some other questions, you answered "i annot say." is that that you cannot say or ?ou cannot say in this setting dir. comey: i won't answer questions about the contours of the investigation. i do not know if i would do it in a closed setting either but for sure i do not want to begin answering questions about what we're looking at and how. will take that as you cannot do that in this setting and maybe you can elsewhere. we're talking about the i usual number of individuals in
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important roles in the trump campaign or in his life and unexpected andof often undisclosed ties to russia. i would like to focus on one of those individuals, roger stone and his relationship with gucifer 2.0,.0 -- a persona used by russian and telogen's to leak documents stolen from the democratic national committee to wikileaks. the national intelligence community, including the fbi, has recently concluded that russia directed the breach and military intelligence officers 2.0 to make sure
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the documents were publicly release. er has maintained that he or she is not russian, it has been maintained they are close to russia and leaked information about the clinton campaign and the democrats that were stolen by russia. is that a fair characterization? dir. comey: yes. our information is that gucifer 2.0 was an agent of the russians. take roger -- take what -- >> there was an exchange of gucifermessages with
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stone, who has said the relationship was totally innocuous. in this series of messages, they exchanged bizarre pleasantries. er thanked mr. stone for writing about him. mr. stone expressed delight beinggucifer's handle restored. pleasedsaid he would be to help mr. stone. it's downs like a clear offer from a russian intelligence operative to collaborate with a senior official on the trump campaign. is that a throwaway line or an offer to help stone and some respect? do we know if any further
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communication between stone and ifer took place? if you cannot say here but could say in another settingifer took? if you cannot say here but could say in -- [no audio] -- senator franken: -- it was less clear if the trump campaign provided direction to russian anything was if being carried out to influence the election. it was suggested that russian paid human trials -- we know
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this -- to flood the media with presidentto favor trump. i am curious whether such actions were part of a coordinated effort. is there any evidence that the trump campaign assisted or direct of those efforts. that is something i cannot answer here but as i said it was the purpose of the investigation understand whether there was coordination or collusion between elements of and the senator franken: of course. i would point out, too, that right before the potus that emails-- the podesta came out that roger stone said it would soon be time for podesta in the barrel.
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so, i think there may be a "there" there. cornyn is not here. i think it is a shame that he says that hillary yesterday in this forum blamed everyone but herself. she took a lot of blame on herself. i think she -- when she iterenced what you did and was 11 days before the election which has been a subject here, that and also the russian interference, i think she was only saying stuff that other people have said. i mean, i do not think she was , aing anything that a lot
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lot of people also think had an effect on the election. so i just think it was a shame senator from texas -- i do not know if he meant to leave that out deliberately -- but she did not blame everyone but herself. thank you mr. chairman. call in the next senator there are two things i would like to say. you promised senator bruce a briefing on the garland situation -- include any staff of the committee and on that as well so we have a committee briefing at the staff level at least. would you do that? dir. comey: assuming we have the clearances for i will do that. obvious.s that is the second thing is, after we have two more people a second rounds, before they get then i have to go and i want to thank
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you for being here. senator feinstein will close down the meeting. thank you. i think under the previous order -- someone was ahead of you. >> i am happy to follow senator corona. >> thank you. as mentioned earlier, in large president trump issued a revised executive order that suspended entry into the u.s. from six majority muslim countries. largelyension was reminisced on the claim that more than 300 persons who entered the united states are currently the subject of counterterrorism investigations by the federal bureau of investigation. can you provide any additional information on whether the persons under the investigation are from the six countries subject to the suspension and
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are these persons exclusively from the six countries subject to the suspension and if not, what other countries are represented among the population currently under investigation? me: i am sure we can provide you. what i'm saying here is i think -- can --: i am sure we can comey: i am sure we provide you that. i will make sure my staff get you the precise numbers, senator. >> so iraq was the only country not among the six targeted countries? dir. comey: i think so. i will get you the precise numbers. i think it was refugees, about 300. about one third from six countries. about two thirds from iraq.
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that later.rovide to wife very much. can you provide information on the percentage of these individuals who came to the uss children? dir. comey: i cannot as i said here but i am sure we can get you that. providean you additional information on the percentage of these individuals radicalized after being in our country for a long time? dir. comey: that is hard. it is hard to figure out when someone is radicalized. i will ask my folks to think about what kind of information we can get you on that. we will do our best. the course ofring the investigation you can get information on when they became radicalized allies. we had in our administration a challenge to federal judges who disagree with president trump views. we saw this in the campaign and during the presidency.
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following judge derek watson's rolling regarding the revised travel a uncommon judge what's deathin receiving threats. i understand the u.s. marshals for primary responsibility protecting federal judges but the fbi is poised to step in as necessary. if the fbi investigating the threats made against judge of what then? got comey: we visited and briefed on work to assist the marshals and trying to understand the threats and protect the judge so i believe we are. ninth court judges also begin receiving threats. is the fbi investigating those threats? ; i do not know for sure. i bet we are but i cannot answer with confidence as i -- dir. comey: i do not know for
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sure. i bet we are but i cannot answer with confidence. the marshals have the responsibility and in my expense they very often ask us for assistance on what information we may have. technical resources. they are pretty darn good but in most cases i think we offer assistance. >> are the presidential continued attacks emboldening individuals to continue to make these attacks? we are and then environment where people might think it is ok to make these kind of threats with the individuals who disagree with the president. dir. comey: it is concerning whenever people are directing threats i judges because there independence is at the core of the justice system which is why we take them so seriously. >> speaking of independence of the judiciary, would like you to
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clarify the fbi independence from the doj apparatus. can the fbi conduct an investigation independent of the department of justice or does the fbi have to disclose all of its investigations to the doj? does it have to get all of the attorney general's consent? dir. comey: we work with the department of justice on all of our investigation. them., we work with in a legal sense, we are not independent. we are spiritually and culturally pretty independent and that is the way you would want to it. we work with the department of justice in all of our investigations. >> so if the department of justice opposes a certain investigation, can they hope to me: andigation? very, yes. >> has it happened?
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; not in my experience, it would be a big deal to tell the fbi to stop doing something but they give us opinions and say we should stop investing resources that i cannot think of an investigation where we were told to stop something for a political reason. it is not happened in my experience. number of people of called for a special investigation to investigate the russian attempt andndermine our election donald trump's relationship with these russian efforts. should the department of justice decide if there should be such an independent investigation or special prosecutors when you already have an ongoing fbi investigation into these matters? the attorney general has already recused himself. how would this proceed when you have the department of justice
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conducting or assigning and independent or special prosecutor and you are already doing an investigation? -- howuld that work # would that work? dir. comey: it would move from one office to another in we would start working with another set of attorneys. the two investigations would proceed but you would talk to each other? dir. comey: yes. it is one investigation and the prosecutors and agents worked together on their investigations so investigators would disengage from one prosecutors and hook up to another and continue going. the investigation sure currently doing are you coordinating with any u.s. attorney offices? dir. comey: yes.
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ag decide to go with a special prosecutor, you would end your engagement with the other two entities and work with the doj special prosecutor? could be.: it or the attorney general could appoint someone else to oversee it and you keep career-level prosecutive team so there is no change except the boss is different. this happened before where you are doing an investigation at the attorney general appoints a special prosecutor to conduct the same investigation? dir. comey: and happened to me when i thought i was in the last as attorney general and i appointed patrick fitzgerald to oversee eight very sensitive and investigation overseeing
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allegations in the bush administration. the team of agents that had been to me were came moved over and worked under patrick fitzgerald. >> thank you. so it happens. cake to -- to take the analogy, i think we're at the end of the visit. lastited time the questioner can take. comey: my dentist sometimes asks questions, too. [laughter] >> there is abundant president, it is there not, for the assignment of a special prosecutor? there are regulations and guidelines.
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frequently inned the department of justice. you mentioned one in your experience. designee attorney general richardson appointed a special prosecutor, archibald cox, who then pursued the watergate investigation, correct? yes.comey: there has been many examples. >> so this would not be an earthshaking happening. in fact, taking your record which is one of dedication to the credibility and integrity of our criminal justice process and your families, would it assume at some point you might recommend there would be a special prosecutor. with that the appropriate at some point? dir. comey: it is possible. i know what of my predecessors did it with respect to a lenten
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administration issue about chinese interference in elections. >> i take your not wanting to discuss conversations with the deputy attorney general but my hope is that you will in fact argue forcefully and vigorously for the appointment of a special prosecutor. i think the circumstances here theexactly parallel to situation where you appointed fitzpatrick and others where special prosecutors have been appointed and i know that your recommendation may never be disclosed but i would urge that you do so. to the questions you asked about your announcement initially that you were terminating the investigation of
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hillary clinton, you said that the matter was one of intense public interest and therefore you are making additional comments about it. normally, there would have been no comments. correct? at most you would have said like you did just now there was no prosecutable case. correct? dir. comey: correct. >> you went beyond that statement and you said she had been extremely careless i believe was the word that you used which was then extraordinary comment. would you agree that the investigation of the trump campaign potential involvement in the russian interference is also in investigation of intense public interest?
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agree.mey: yes, i >> in fact there are probably very few investigation stunned while you are fbi director that will be of more intense public interest and my question is, will you commit to explaining the results of the investigation at the time when it is concluded? comey: i will not commit to it but i will commit to apply the same principles and reasoning. i do not know where we will end up so i cannot commit sitting here. cake but you will agree -- to saying will agree there is or is not a prosecutable case? dir. comey: potentially. >> when i was attorney general there was a role that there could be no report on any grand jury matter for any
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investigation without permission or mainttorney general justice. i do not know whether that rule is still applied been speaking more generally do you think it is a good idea for prosecutors or yourself to be able to comment in some way to explain the results of an investigation? in general.not i think it is important to have it a recognized exception. the alleged targeting investigation which had intense public interest, the department has done it infrequently. a dozen or more times in the last 5-10 years. it should be reserved for those extraordinary cases but there are times when the public interest warrants it. with respect to the ongoing
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investigation into the trump administration's relationship with the russians, can you comment? have you had any requests for immunity from anyone potentially a target of that investigation? lb: i have to give the same answer. >> would you tell the committee if there is a lack of cooperation on the part of the white house? dir. comey: i will not commit to that. reason forere a there to be a special prosecutor because who would you complain to? the deputy attorney general if there were a lack of cooperation on the part of the white house question mark dir. comey: i would elevate it to the deputy attorney general or whoever was in charge. >> but the deputy attorney appointed by the
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president, isn't that in inherent conflict of interest? dir. comey: it is but the nature of the person in the world was important. i think we're lucky to have somebody who thinks of the justice system in the way i do and i think you do. justt me ask again to clarify a question that another senator had. the career prosecutors's so far involved are in the national security division in the eastern district of virginia united states attorney's office. the decision about prosecuting would be made by their boss i think is the word you used, correct? dir. comey: correct. now that would probably be the deputy attorney general, correct? ; the ultimate decision is
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almost always made at the highest level in the department which would be rod rosenstein. >> let me ask you one question related. you are asked about targets of investigation. i think your, was there were more citizens currently under investigation for potentially terrorist violence or extremist violence than noncitizens. is that correct? dir. comey: correct. of sources, are there many noncitizens have provided such information? dir. comey: yes. take our a large number of them undocumented? them are a large number of undocumented? dir. comey: i think so. >> so is the fear of apprehension, roundup, mass
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detention a significant deterrent for them? dir. comey: in theory. i do not know if we've seen an impact in process though. i don't know. >> you inquire or do some internal research and report back? dir. comey: sure. jake thank you madam chairman. -- ake >> thank you, madam chairman. >> thank you. gentlemen in the audience, many of you been him from the beginning. thank you for your attention and for being respectable. it is appreciated. the hearing is adjourned. [gavel pound]
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announcer: developing tonight, subpoenas to associates of former security advisor michael flynn seeking business records as part of the ongoing probe into meddling of last year's election. earlier this afternoon, president trump


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