Skip to main content

tv   Fmr. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Testifies on Russia Investigation  CSPAN  August 5, 2020 10:04am-1:18pm EDT

10:04 am
[no audio] [no audio] >> good morning, everybody. hearing will come to order
10:05 am
today. we will have a video hearing was miss sally yates, who the acting attorney general for of time in january 2017 and was a -- the number two at the department of justice in january 2017. miss gates appeared before they committee before the mueller in -- miss yates appeared before the committee before the mueller began.gation i believe much has been learned wece may 20 18 -- 2017 and would like to discuss certain topics with miss yates. my view of miss yates is that she exercised good legal 2017 and ifjanuary
10:06 am
people had followed her advice, things might be different today. i want to let you know, miss ,ates, from my point of view you analyze the situation fairly correctly and we will get into that later on. what is the purpose of this hearing? it is to ask questions of miss yates knowing then what she -- innow, would she find may 2017, we did not know that the russian sub source presented evidence to the fbi in the form of a dossier that was love ofrsay, that -- was full that was eventually repudiated by the russian sub source. we did not know as clearly as we
10:07 am
do now that without the dossier there would be no warrant issued against carter page. a renewal ingned january and after the horowitz report we now find over 17 major violations of the and protocols regarding the warrant and we chanceve miss yates the to talk about what she know and when she knew it. most importantly to me is this january 5 meeting between miss yates and the president in the oval office 2017. we did not talk about that in the may 2017. of ours not part discussion. since may 2017 we have come to learn that there was a meeting in the oval office with director comey, miss yates, the
10:08 am
president, the vice president, klapper, and brennan. we now know at the end of that meeting, which was called to brief the president about russian interference in the 2016 alexion and i want to know every .- 2016 election it was the russians who hacked into the dnc and distilled the clinton emails. the russians -- and stole the clinton emails. the russians were up to no good. what happened during crossfire hurricane is a concern of mine. we now know the fbi agent's who were investigating general flynn as part of counterintelligence -- a counterintelligence investigation recommended that general flynn be dropped from
10:09 am
the crossfire hurricane investigation. hurricane team determined that crossfire razor was no longer a viable candidate as part of the larger crossfire hurricane umbrella case. review of logical databases did on yield any information which to predicate further investigative efforts. whenwas on january 4, 2017 the fbi was making a recommendation to drop general flynn from the counterintelligence crossfireion called hurricane. we now know mr. struck told mr. barnett that the fbi wanted to keep this thing going. what happened next daca a
10:10 am
january 5 meeting -- what happened next? 5 meeting in the oval office. what do we know? we know that after the general briefing, there was a pull aside that president obama asked comey behind ando stay president obama mentioned the ant that he was aware of intercept between general flynn and the russian ambassador mr. kislyak. of thates was not aware intercept and she said in her 302 she was so surprised by the information she was learning that she was having a hard time processing it and listening to
10:11 am
the conversation at the same time. the president of the united states knew about the surveillance of general flynn, talking to the russian ambassador, but the number two at the justice department did not know. the question is who told the president and did they have the authority to tell the president? did they go around miss yates and the department of justice? if so, why? the bottom line about the january 5 meeting is to find out how the number two at the department of justice was unaware of this event and to the public, why does this matter to you. general flynn was the incoming national security advisor. the election was over. trump had one. he had picked his team. general flynn was going to replace susan rice.
10:12 am
betweenre intercepts general flynn and mr. kislyak in december. to kislyakalking about russian sanctions imposed by the obama administration. those conversations have been released to the public and he was talking to the russians about give us a chance to come in. don't escalate now. here is what is so stunning to me -- there were people at the fbi considering that a violation of the logan act. what is the logan act? that a law written in 1799 prohibits american citizens without permission from the government talking to foreign individuals about differences in policy. i want everyone in america to understand the way the system
10:13 am
works. the transition team the incoming administration should be talking to foreign leaders and representatives about how the transition will work and about policy differences. i am going to ask every senator to think -- have you called a foreign leader in your time in the senate to express differences in concern about a particular administrative policy? have you violated the logan act? i consistently talk to foreign leaders with my -- about my differences with republican and administrations. have i violated the logan act? i called the israelis and told them to push back against -- did i violate the logan act? syria,d our allies in
10:14 am
the stf and told them to rally their allies in washington to push back against president trump's decision to withdraw all our forces from syria. did i violate the logan act? no. no one in the history of the department of justice has ever been prosecuted for violating the logan act. why are we having this hearing? to make sure laws like this can't be used as political tools to get people you don't like. we need to clear up once and for all how the logan act works in america. i daresay every incoming administration has discussions with foreign leaders about how things will be different. miss yates when she understood what was going on was very concerned that a prosecution under the logan act was being contemplated.
10:15 am
the question is, who brought up the logan act in the january 5 meeting? whose great idea was this? 302 interview does not mention vice president being in the meeting. we know she was shocked and having a hard time following the conversation because she was stunned the president knew about the intercept and she did not. what did we learn? we got an email from susan rice to herself on inauguration day and it starts with "on january 5, following a breaking by ic -- briefing by ic leadership, president obama had a brief
10:16 am
directorion with fbi comey, sally yates, vice president biden and i were also present. " evident, coming from susan rice that in the january 5 wasing, the vice president there. what else have we found a since we last talked to miss yates? notese found agents' from mr. struck that comey reported to agent strzok, who was involved in crossfire hurricane and gave him a readout on the meeting. according to agent strzok, notes -- it says, "vp, logan act,
10:17 am
president -- these are unusual times. vp -- i have been on the intel community -- committee. and i have never i have been on the intel committee and i have never --" " heis the director -- calls it legit." strzok says that not only -- it was the vice president who brought up the logan act. we need to find out what happened and who was there. this is the first step in the journey. why does it matter? it matters a lot to me. we have oversight of the department of justice here. how could it be that the number
10:18 am
two in the department of justice not know about an investigation of the incoming national security advisor and the president did? who at the department of justice went around miss yates to tell the president about the investigation? whose idea was it to suggest that the interaction between flynn and kislyak was a violation of the logan act? if that is going to be the standard for this country, you are destroying the ability to do a transition. we have all violated the logan act under that. each of us has reached out to a foreign government to show differences with the current administration. the logan act has never been used as a reason. i think it was used here as a sham a reason to find out more about general flynn, who the obama administration did not like.
10:19 am
the bottom line is when this is over, we need to fix it. we need to make sure going forward in the next transition, no matter who wins, that you can talk with foreign leaders about being afraid of going to jail. and all flynn was not talking to "e root -- the russians about pay my house off, give me money." he was talking to them about not escalating. my god, if that is a violation of the law, god help us all. to her credit, sally yates did road.nt to go down that general flynn was interviewed january 24 by the fbi without her permission, against her counsel. she recommended that the thertment of justice notify
10:20 am
current administration about the concerns they had with general flynn, that the right thing to do would be to call mcgann and the trump administration and tell them about the concerns they had about general flynn. the fbi went down a different path. did the fbi called flynn and a suggested to him "you don't need a lawyer. we just want to talk to you. do you mind meeting with us?" when flynn said he would like a lawyer, they said "no, we would , thato go up the chain would slow things down." transcript, why did you need to talk to him? they wanted to manufacture a crime, not find out what he did.
10:21 am
i will end on this. -- had they followed miss yates' advice, the way they should have done it, because she said what happened with the fbi was problematic and inconsistent with what should have happened, there would have been a lot of heartache saved in this country. we will press on to find out what happened and that january 5 meeting and fix this so this never ever happens again. i will end with this -- the obama administration department of justice had one view of the logan act. the fbi had another view of the logan act, but the thought that the logan act could be used against the incoming national security advisor, who was talking to the russians about different policy, that that
10:22 am
could be used as a basis for an interview should shock us all because if it can happen to general flynn, it can happen to everyone on this committee because we do this all the time. thank you very much, mr. chairman. as i understand this, today is the second hearing in the chairman's examination of crossfire hurricane. that is the fbi's investigation into russian election interference and ties to the campaign. inspector general horowitz confirmed after a 19 month investigation the fbi had a legitimate basis to investigate whether the trump campaign was involved in russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election,
10:23 am
specifically in late july 2016, australian officials informed campaignhe trump advisor george papadopoulos had advanced knowledge that russia was willing to "assist the trump campaign," by anonymously releasing dirt on clinton in the form of thousands of emails. weekbi learned this one after wikileaks had released 20,000 emails that russia had hacked from the computers of the emma craddick national committee. given the circuit -- democratic national committee. given the circumstances, it was essential the fbi investigated. sadly yates has said russia's election required an investigation and a response.
10:24 am
as inspector general horwitz confirmed, the opening of the investigation had nothing to do with reporting from steele. crossfire hurricane eventually became the molar investigation and former -- mueller investigation and rod rosenstein recently confirmed it to this committee that the steele dossier had nothing to do with the mueller investigation either . mueller's investigation detailed sweeping and systematic russian in the 20nterference 16 election. the special counsel determined the russian government perceived it would benefit from a trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. the mueller investigation contacts more than 120
10:25 am
between the trump campaign and individuals linked to russia, revealing that the trump campaign about, welcomed -- abyo about, welcome -- knew out, and welcomed russian interference. individuals associated with the trump campaign repeatedly lied to the special counsel and the american people to conceal their contacts with russia. we also disagree with president claimsnd his allies' about general flynn, namely that obama officials, including vice president biden unfairly targeted flynn in order to undermine trump's presidency. the facts are well known and not in dispute, but let me review them. 2016, president
10:26 am
obama imposed sanctions to punish russia for its unprecedented attack on our democracy. spokeame day, flynn several times with sergey kislyak. transcripts of the calls reveal flynn urged russia not to escalate matters but to respond a be u.s. sanctions in reciprocal or even killed manner . manner.keeled flynn sent a clear message that the incoming administration was not interested in holding russia accountable, a message that undermined u.s. policy. when flynn was interviewed about his interviews -- discussion with kislyak, he did not tell the truth.
10:27 am
he was charged by special counsel mural -- mueller and pled guilty twice to lying to the fbi. he stated in court under oath that his actions were wrong and that he accepted full responsibility for them. pleas, flynn's guilty this may attorney general barr intervened to dismiss the case over the objection of career prosecutors. flynn was not treated unfairly. wasact, it appears he rented favorable treatment by having the justice department -- granted favor all treatment by having the justice department dismissed his case even after he took responsibility for his actions. acceptablethat it is to lie to the fbi and it raises
10:28 am
legitimate questions about whether an ally of the president receives -- received special treatment. even her involvement in the early stages of mr. flynn's case -- given her involvement in the early stages of mr. flynn's case, i hope miss yates can shed why the charges against mr. flynn were warranted. -- the realsay this question isn't whether the logan act was violated. the question is whether flynn was acting on his own without the president elect's knowledge or permission. if so, that is a counterintelligence problem. if the incoming president did know that flynn was talking to -- asking russia
10:29 am
not to overreact to u.s. sanctions and suggesting the incoming administration would not hold a russia accountable, then why was the incoming president not interested in holding russia accountable for interfering in the 2016 election ? i hope we will use the investigation's findings to harden our defenses, including addressing russia's attempts to interfere in the 2020 election and the presidents unwillingness to denounce foreign interference. >> thank you, senator feinstein. miss gates is appearing here misstarily and i are -- yates is appearing here voluntarily. there are reasons she could not be here in person, which i am accommodating. we have agreed it to the
10:30 am
following -- that she would answer questions in the following scope. and othercations aspects of the fbi crossfire hurricane investigation, knowledge of russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, miss knowledge of the investigation of general flynn. i appreciate her doing this a voluntarily. i would like to swear miss yates in. i cannot see you. are you out there somewhere? feinstein: i think we need to see her. chmn. graham: i think we do too. miss yates: i think i need to speak. chmn. graham: can you raise your right hand? do you solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give this committee is the truth, the
10:31 am
whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god? thank you. miss yates: thank you member feinstein and distinguished members of the committee. as some of you know, i was a career prosecutor. thes honored to represent people of the u.s. over 27 years through five democratic and republican administrations. i take very seriously my responsibility to represent the trust -- iengender have testified and number of times about the general topics of today's hearing. indicated, heaham is interested in one specific subject, that being a meeting that happened in the oval office . why don't i go directly to --
10:32 am
>> can you speak more loudly? chmn. graham: can you speak up just a little louder? miss yates: i have never been accused of being soft-spoken, but i will speak louder. chairman graham, you have indicated that you are interested in the january 5, 2017 meeting. can you all hear me? chmn. graham: much better. miss yates: why don't i go directly to that? this meeting took place two months after the 2016 election at a time when we were at the -- we were beginning to come to terms with foreign adversaries attack on our democracy. we have all heard russian interference in our elections so much that it has lost its shock value, but this attack on our homeland was indeed shocking.
10:33 am
by late december, our intelligence community had determined that russia acting on the direct orders of the vladimir putin had engaged in a massive effort to undermine faith in our democratic processes to hurt hillary clinton's chance of electability engage the candidacy of now president donald trump. the russian government used the strategic release of stolen information and a coordinated campaign to weaponize social media against american citizens. this unprecedented act of aggression could not go unanswered. on december 28, the obama administration took a first step russianing 35 suspected intelligence officers and imposing sanctions on russia. the did this to punish
10:34 am
russians for their attacks on our democracy and importantly to deter them from ever doing it again. -- thected, they him russians immediately announced they would retaliate. the next day they inexplicably reversed course and announced it did not intend to take any responsive action. the administration was understandably perplexed by this abrupt change and president obama asked the intel community to try and figure out what had happened. the fbi discovered the answer. general michael flynn, the incoming national security adviser was having back channel .iscussions with sergey kislyak recorded conversations between a general flynn and the ambassador revealed general flynn had a neutered the u.s. governments message of deterrence.
10:35 am
russians for their attack -- rather than rebuking the russians for their attack on our country, general flynn was conciliatory. a day after general flynn's call with kislyak, putin himself announced the russians would not take any action to respond to america's sanctions. president trump tweeted praise of putin's decision. in a follow-up call between kislyak and flynn, kislyak advised flynn that moscow had made this decision as a direct result of flynn's request. that is what was happening in the days that led up to this january 5 meeting. on that day, the white house had brief viceel chief
10:36 am
president, and president on the assessment of russian interference. portions of that assessment were due to be released the next day. i was asked to stand in. following the briefing, which took place in the oval office, the president asked mr. comey with the stay back vice president into the national security advisor. the president began the after meeting by saying something to the effect that he had learned of the call between kislyak and flynn and he did not want to influence anything, but what he did want to know was whether the white house could continue to share sensitive security generalion, with a flynn during the transition. at this point i did not know why the president was asking this
10:37 am
question because this was the first i had heard of the calls between flynn and kislyak. i was really surprised both that general flynn had engaged in these conversations and that director comey knew about them, but i didn't. director comey and i talked in the waiting room outside of the oval office and i was frankly irritated with director comey for not having told me about the calls. i asked him why this was the first i was hearing of this. he told me that his team had briefed the lawyers in the national security division about the calls the previous day and he expected they would debrief me. as it turned out the national security advisers had made an appointment with me for that afternoon. while i do not recall all the
10:38 am
details about the conversation in the oval office, my memory is clear on the important points. the purpose of this meeting was for the president to find out whether based on the calls between ambassador kislyak and general flynn the transition team needed to be careful about what it was sharing with general flynn. during the meeting, the president, vice president, and the national security advisor did not in any way attempt to direct and -- or influence any investigation. something like that would have set off alarms for me and it would have stuck out both at the time and in my memory. no such thing happened. the president was focused entirely on the national security implications of sharing sensitive intelligence information with general flynn during the transition, process
10:39 am
at was already underway at the white house. hope weelection year i will not lose sight of the very real threat posed by the ongoing efforts of a foreign adversary to undermine our democratic process and that we will continue to proactively protect the integrity of our elections. i look forward to answering your questions, thank you. chmn. graham: thank. you mentioned shock value, i agree we need to stop it. did you read the horwitz report? were you shocked by it? certainly was shocked, yes. i think the conduct of that was reflected there -- chmn. graham: let's talk about that conduct. we are talking about using a document that came from a russian sub source to get a warrant against an american
10:40 am
citizen that was full of garbage. does that bother you? that theother you pfizer court rebuke to the department of destin's -- fisa court rebuked the department of justice daca -- department of justice? miss yates: i believe they have a duty to the department of justice. chmn. graham: do believe they fulfilled that duty? miss yates: no. chmn. graham: knowing now what -- then what you know now, would you sign that application? miss yates: no. chmn. graham: that document was a fraud. is that accurate? miss yates: i would not sign anything i knew to include errors or omissions. chmn. graham: did that include errors and omissions? miss yates: yes.
10:41 am
you. graham: i believe would not knowingly sign it if it errors and omissions. thank you. do you agree with me that it did include incorrect information? miss yates: i know that no -- now based on the horwitz investigation. aboutgraham: let's talk january 5 meeting. was the vice president there? miss yates: yes, he was. chmn. graham: did he mention the logan act? miss yates: i do not remember the vice president saying much of anything. chmn. graham: so you don't remember him mentioning the logan act? miss yates: no. chmn. graham: did anyone mention the logan act? miss yates: i have a vague
10:42 am
memory of director comey mentioning the logan act. chmn. graham: in what context? miss yates: i am not sure he mentioned that in the oval office meeting or in the meeting -- let her answer, the question. just because it is a woman testifying doesn't mean she needs to be cut off. chmn. graham: thank you. very constructive. it was the logan act mentioned in -- was the logan act mentioned in the meeting? miss yates: i'm not sure, senator graham. chmn. graham: that is fair. i do recall mr. comey mentioning it. chmn. graham: i got you. i got you. did is the question -- general kislyak's behavior violation of the logan act in your opinion?
10:43 am
miss yates: it could have been a technical violation, but that was not the focus of the fbi or us? chmn. graham: do you realize on january 4, the fbi recommended that general flynn be dropped from crossfire hurricane? miss yates: i know that now. i did not know that at the time. chmn. graham: here's my point. on january 4, the fbi said there is no reason to keep looking at general flynn. on january 5, you had a meeting with the fbi director where you believe he mentioned the logan act with regard to general flynn. is that correct? miss yates: what i understand, senator graham, and i did not know it at the time because i was not privy to the fbi's internal documentation of the counterintelligence investigation -- chmn. graham: did you even know it was going on? miss yates: with respect to
10:44 am
general flynn, no. chmn. graham: so you did not know the fbi had a counterintelligence investigation of general flynn? miss yates: no. chmn. graham: the interview by general flynn by two fbi agent's, did you authorize that interview? miss yates: no. i think there was a legitimate basis for that -- chmn. graham: say again. miss yates: i did not authorize it because i was not told about it in advance, but that is not the same thing as a saying there was not a legitimate basis for it. chmn. graham: so you believe there was a legitimate basis for it? miss yates: yes. had evidence that the russians were attempting to influence the election. chmn. graham: the election was over. miss yates: if you will give me just a second, i will lay it out for you. chmn. graham: no.
10:45 am
i will ask questions and you will give me answers. what was the basis of the general flynn interview? was it part of crossfire hurricane? ,iss yates: my understanding yes, it was. --n. graham: was it part right. please. we are talking now about the interview on january 4. was it to determine if there was a violation of the logan act? miss yates: no. it was not about the logan act per se. it was to find out about his conversations he had -- the. graham: do you have transcript of his comfort -- did you have the transcripts of his conversations between the national security advisor and the russian? agent's maythe fbi have had the actual transcript.
10:46 am
chmn. graham: was this a counterintelligence investigation of the phone call daca -- phone call? miss yates: this was a counterintelligence investigation of the trump campaign with the russians. chmn. graham: that makes no sense. they recommended to drop flynn, they mentioned the logan act and you recommended against prosecuting the logan act, is that true? miss yates: i thought it was unlikely that we would pursue prosecution. a logan act violation, it was counterintelligence. the. graham: counterintelligence investigation led to the interview. you did not authorize the interview. you wanted to go to the white house and tell them about the problem, didn't you? miss yates: that's right. i thought that was the more immediate issue. chmn. graham: when you heard about the interview, you got
10:47 am
upset, didn't you? miss yates: i was upset director comey acted unilaterally. chmn. graham: did comey go rogue? miss yates: you could use that term, yes. chmn. graham: wait a minute. thank you. thank you. here's the point i am trying to make. dead i violate the law -- did i violate the logan act when i called the israelis and a suggested they needed to come out against the iranian nuclear deal because i think it was ad for -- bad? miss yates: if you were a representative of the government while the obama administration -- chmn. graham: i am not part of the obama administration. miss yates: i understand that. i think the logan act is a reflection of our country's long -- chmn. graham: my question is
10:48 am
what a united states senator in your view of violate the logan act if they reached out to a foreign country? miss yates: if you were negotiating on behalf of the u.s. government, you may. all of this about the logan act is not -- just not -- chmn. graham: why would they mentioned the logan act if it was not about the logan act? a reflectionhat is of long-standing policy in the u.s.. chmn. graham: is it long-standing policy of the u.s. that an incoming administration cannot talk to foreign leaders about change in policy? miss yates: you can certainly talk to foreign leaders about a change in policy but this was not policy. this was undercutting sanctions. chmn. graham: you had one administration leaving in two weeks and you had a new
10:49 am
administration coming in urging them don't escalate. to anyone who thinks that is a violation of the logan act, that is stunning as hell. you cannot hit the ground running. the not understand where logan act came up. i do believe very deeply that you were surprised that the president knew about the intercept and you didn't. who told the president of the u.s. about the intercept between kislyak and flynn? miss yates: i don't know but it does not surprise me at all. chmn. graham: did you ever ask anybody? miss yates: i would expect the president would know about it. chmn. graham: but you didn't know. you were surprised you didn't know. who in the fbi went around you to tell the president? miss yates: i don't know that the fbi -- chmn. graham: did you ever ask
10:50 am
the comey coming out "have you been talking to the president about this and not me? " did he tell the president about it? you never asked the present -- comey again quote did you tell the president about this investigation -- you never asked comey "did you tell the president about this investigation?" you seem shocked he knew and you didn't. miss yates: because comey was part of the department of justice. as it turns out -- chmn. graham: who is the most likely person to tell the president about the investigation? miss yates: it wasn't about an investigation -- chmn. graham: about the intercept. miss yates: i cannot tell you. chmn. graham: wouldn't it becoming? -- wouldn't it be comey? would it be good to ask comey
10:51 am
about that? >> mr. chairman, give her a chance to answer. i'm sorry -- chmn. graham: i'm sorry. do you think the most logical person to tell the president about the investigation was comey? miss yates: first, director comey was not talking to the president about an investigation. chmn. graham: about the intercept. miss yates: i do not know if it was comey or who it was. directorham: with the of national intelligence be investigating a violation of the logan act? president when the russians so inexplicably reversed course -- chmn. graham: with the intelligence community be investigating a violation of the logan act? is that appropriate? miss yates: i do not know how many times i can say that that was not -- there was counterintelligence -- chmn. graham
10:52 am
chmn. graham: he was dropped from the investigation on january 4. it makes no sense that you didn't know and the president did. you still can't tell me that. is that fair to say? miss yates: senator, you won't let me finish the sentence. my understanding is the agents suggested the specific case on general flynn because before they knew about the conversations with ambassador kislyak. chmn. graham: i still don't get it, but thank you. guilty to flynn pled lying to the fbi about his conversations with russian ambassador sergey kislyak. he also lied to vice president pence, who repeated flynn's's lies on national television. you have explained that this
10:53 am
made flynn susceptible to russian blackmail. justice department now says the flynn case should be dismissed because his lies were not material to a legitimate investigation. do you agree? why or why not? miss yates: thank you, senator feinstein. i would be hard-pressed to be able to think of an interview that would be more material at this point of the counterintelligence to beigation to be try able to get to the bottom of whether there were any individuals, u.s. citizens or those in the trump campaign who were working with russia. the materiality of this was clearly right on point. we had a national security advisor after the russians had attempted to put a thumb on the
10:54 am
scale of our elections. rather than when he spoke with the russian ambassador telling him again quote stay out -- him ," notout of our elections only did he not do that, he was making nice with them. sen. feinstein: can i stop you for a moment? -- are youn was saying the flynn case should be dismissed because the lies were not material to a legitimate investigation? miss yates: no, senator, they were material to a legitimate investigation. then, i guess i am not understanding what you are saying. could you tell me once again?
10:55 am
miss yates: i will try it again. i was trying to lay out for you, senator, what the situation was at the time. flynnas, we had general investigating in discussions with the russian ambassador that were neutering american policy. that is a curious thing to be doing particularly when the russians had been acting to benefit president trump. then he is covering it up, lying about it. understandably needing to understand what the relationship was here between general flynn and the russians and to try to find out from him who else might be involved in this. had general flynn then honest when the agents came to him and admitted what he said, the agents would have found out what the mueller investigation discovered later, that general
10:56 am
notn -- these were conversations opt -- these were not conversations off the top of his head. he was coordinating this with mar-a-lago. plan -- deliberate deliberate planned conversation with the russian ambassador sen. feinstein:. when -- with the russian ambassador. sen. feinstein: when you testified to this committee in 2017, you said general flynn's lies to vice president pence about his conversations with kislyak made flynn vulnerable to to stateblackmail and " the obvious, you do and want -- do not want your national security adviser the russians." you said flynn's underlying conduct was problematic but you
10:57 am
could not go further because it was classified. transcripts of flynn's calls with the kislyak have been declassified and released publicly. why was flynn's underlying conduct problematic? sanctions imposed by the obama administration on a foreign adversary who was trying to intervene in our election -- general flynn recognized himself and admitted to the fbi later when he was cooperating with them that he did not even write down his conversations with the russian ambassador. when he sent a text back to mcfarlane, he knew those discussions would be viewed as interfering with the foreign policy of the obama
10:58 am
administration and that would be a problem. that is also why he lied about it. then will flynn did not think he was -- if general flynn did not think he was doing anything problematic, he would not have had to cover it up. is it possible flynn lied to the fbi about his calls with kislyak to conceal the fact that the trump administration did not plan to hold russia accountable for interfering in the election? whatyates: that is part of the fbi needed to be talking to general flynn about, to find out why he was having these conversations and what was behind it. flynn was not truthful with him so they were not able to do that. that goes to the materiality. sen. feinstein: inspector horowitz confirmed that thesfire hurricane --
10:59 am
crossfire hurricane investigation was opened at the end of july 2016 when the fbi was told by australia, a trusted ally and intelligence partnered that george papadopoulos had advance knowledge that russia was planning to release stolen emails to harm clinton and help trump. the fbi learned this shortly after wikileaks released nearly 20,000 emails stolen by russia computers. wasn't there some obligation for the fbi to investigate to learn what russia was doing and who was miss yates: absolutely. it is really startling information where the fbi was already working, trying really hard to be able to get to the bottom of russian interference.
11:00 am
then when they learned from a friendly foreign government that someone affiliated with the russians had actually approached a foreign policy advisor of the trump campaign and had told them that the russians had dirt on hillary clinton in the form of thousands of emails, that could be released anonymously and wanted to know if the campaign was interested in this. when they found out this information had come in may and it actually happened -- the emails were then dumped in july -- this was something that everyone would recognize that you have to get to the bottom of. this may then: justice department moved to dismiss the case against michael flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi. resigned.rosecutor
11:01 am
district court judge emmett sullivan took the unusual step of appointing an outside lawyer, former judge john gleason, to oppose the department's motion. gleason, thejudge justice department's effort to dismiss flynn's case is highly ofular and "a gross abuse prosecutorial power." in order to benefit a political ally of president trump. do you agree that the department 's motion to dismiss flynn's case is irregular? if so, how? miss yates: it is highly irregular, senator. i was a prosecutor for almost 30 years. i have already discussed some
11:02 am
with senator graham and you, from my perspective there is no issue with respect to the norriality your -- here, the ability to prove falsity. you can look at the transcripts and look at the black-and-white there, but general flynn had twice pled guilty and sworn that he was guilty. sen. feinstein: thank you, mr. chairman. sen. graham: senator grassley. sen. grassley: miss yates, thank you for your public service. approved the carter page fisa applications. did you review each application in its entirety? miss yates: yes. sen. grassley: i didn't hear that. miss yates: i did, senator, yes. i'm sorry to interrupt, but -- sen. grassley: you told me you did review them in their entirety. possible that is
11:03 am
there is some boilerplate language that i might not have reviewed again, i certainly reviewed all of the factual information. sen. grassley: number two, when you were interviewed by horowitz's office about your decision to approve the carter page fisa application, you stated the following about steele's research. "while certainly there was an implication that he was doing opposition research, it's got to be for somebody. i mean, he has been hired someone. my understanding was that the who."d not know dossiersaid the steel was essential to the carter page pfizer. fisa.
11:04 am
, why was clear to you didn't you act responsibly to at least have an elementary understanding of the extreme conflict involved regarding his employment before approving the first fisa application? miss yates: senator, it is my understanding -- who had employed steel at the time of the first fisa. for the reasons i had expressed to the inspector general, logic would tell you that if somebody is out there doing opposition research, there is a limited number of folks you might expect that to be. thatbi did not know at point that it was the dnc or hillary clinton. lawyers in the national security division had insisted there at least be something in the fisa that laid out what they speculated. it is an unusual thing to include speculation in an
11:05 am
affidavit. to let them know, even though the fbi did not know it was being paid for by the dnc, that there certainly was a possibility. in april 2016, president obama said, "i don't talk to the fbi directors about pending investigation." in your interview with the fbi, you said that in your january 5 meeting with obama and comey there was a discussion about flynn and potential violations of the logan act. according to declassified notes summarizing that meeting, president obama said to comey, "make sure you look at things and have the right people on it." obama's apriluare 2016 statement with the january
11:06 am
5, 2017 with comey and obama? miss yates: yes, senator. as i mentioned in my opening state, that meeting was not about an investigation at all. i can tell you that is something that as president obama or advisor rice wasn't in any way trying to influence an investigation. that would set off alarms for me. this is not about that. this was about the national security implications of continuing to share sensitive information with general flynn, even what they have learned about his back channel discussions with the russian ambassador to neuter dissensions. sen. grassley: your january 25 meeting with president obama had two parts. comey,st included biden, clapper, and rice. the second part is just you,
11:07 am
comey, and the president. in either meeting did crossfire hurricane or the steele dossier ever come up? miss yates: yes, sir. sen. grassley: did you or one of your colleagues ever discuss crossfire hurricane or the steele dossier with president obama or vice president biden? i can't imagine any of my colleagues did. sen. grassley: i have eight seconds left. -- attorneyneral general barr, material has been released. those records show the fbi planned to close the flynn case in early january 2017 until struck interceded. that the fbi set flynn up to prosecute him or get him fired and that there was no derogatory information on flynn. when you were deputy attorney general and acting attorney general, were you aware of this information? i was aware that
11:08 am
aey had planned counterintelligence investigation on general flynn. that was prior to the time they knew anything about these calls with the russian ambassador. i was operating under the impression that this interview of general flynn was in the context of the crossfire hurricane investigation, that being trying to discern what the connections were between the trump campaign and the russians. sen. grassley: thank you, this yates -- miss yates. >> thank you mr. chairman. yates, it is good to see you again. we keep talking about general flynn, whether he lied or not. president trump said he did lie, among others to vice president
11:09 am
pence and that is why he had to fire him. the last time you testified before this committee in may 2017 i ask about your decision as acting attorney general to notify white house counsel -- don mcgahn, and then national security advisor who had been lying to multiple trump officials, including the vice president about his conversations with the russian ambassador. you supported informing the white house, although some others did not at the time. to notify theeed administration became clear as the white house issued increasingly specific, emphatic denials that flynn had discussed sanctions with the russian ambassador, which of course increased mr. flynn's vulnerability to blackmail. do you believe general flynn was effectively compromised?
11:10 am
certainly i believe now there was a risk of that compromise. that was why it was so important to get this information to the white house. so that they could act. the conversations themselves were concerning and that was a basis to be part of the counterintelligence investigation. you have to balance the investigation also with the need the compromise threat that presented itself most urgently. doing that balancing, i thought we needed to tell the white house right away, so they could act and so that others, who presumably did not know that the information they were providing was false. so they would quit doing that. you are noti think surprised when president trump flynn, but dol you believe that by encouraging russia to knock react to u.s.
11:11 am
ourtions, flynn undercut nation's response to russia's attack on our elections? miss yates: i do. as i mentioned, the purpose of the sanctions was both to punish and deter. said,en general flynn never mind on those sanctions we are going to move forward, that certainly does not send the message we want them to stay out of our elections. sen. leahy: and undercuts our efforts. miss yates: it certainly does. sen. leahy: some of mr. flynn's staunchest defenders argued that because he continue to lie about his conversations with the russian ambassador, he was entrapped when he was interviewed by the fbi. it everview, is entrapment for investigators to give an individual to tell the truth -- the opportunity to tell the truth?
11:12 am
here the agency took that a step further. they not only asked general flynn questions to give him an opportunity to tell them the he -- for example, at the beginning, he lied about innocuous points and nothing about sanctions or the united nations vote. they then tried to help trigger his memory for him and reminded him of specific things. sometimes using the exact language he had used in the call. lieng to set somebody up to -- i don't know how you set somebody up to lie -- don't generally try to help them out like that. sen. leahy: you either lie or you don't lie. last week the attorney general claimed the flynn interview was untethered to any legitimate investigation.
11:13 am
do you agree with that and do you believe a legitimate predicate existed to investigate, interview flynn in january, given what you had learned about his december calls the russian ambassador and his subsequent misrepresentations of those calls? miss yates: absolutely. i believe the most urgent thing was to notify the white house. wasrviewing general flynn for the fbi's investigation, to try to discern whether the ties between the trump administration and the russians. sen. leahy: thank you. the inspector general informed this committee, the only surveillance targeting any trump campaign officials involved carter page. i will submit some questions in writing about that, but can you speak to whether the government was targeting flynn with durveillance when it intercepte
11:14 am
is calls with the russian ambass i'm not permitted to tell you what it was. we checked with the department of justice a couple of days ago because i would like to be able to specifically tell you what it was. there was no surveillance of general flynn. sen. leahy: thank you very much, i appreciate that. sen. feinstein: senator lugar -- sen. graham: senator lahey, want to make sure i understand this. the interview with general flynn, we do investigating a policy difference between the trump administration and the obama administration? miss yates: no, senator. we were not investigating a policy difference. sen. graham: you weren't investigating a crime, were you? miss yates: we were investigating a counterintelligence threat. an. graham: isn't a -- is counterintelligence investigation based on a policy
11:15 am
difference? miss yates: it is based on the russian's systematic -- sen. graham: this is important. your beef with flynn that he was undercut obama policy. is that what you were worried about? miss yates: what we were worried about is that he was undercutting obama policy, then covering it up. sen. graham: he hadn't even talked to the fbi. he said the fbi -- sent the fbi over. there was no leak of anything. aren't you really investigating a policy difference? miss yates: no, senator. that is not accurate. there was a cover-up before this. that is what prompted my concerns with that he was providing false information to the vice president. sen. graham: when did you know about that? miss yates: that preceded this, senator. sen. graham: why didn't you go to the white house and say, is this your policy position? miss yates: the concern was not
11:16 am
about the policy difference here, senator. the concern was about him undercutting the obama administration and then covering it up. sen. leahy: mr. chairman, i is -- they are following an counterintelligence threat. sen. graham: which was closed on january 4. miss yates: it was not closed on january 4. sen. graham: you recommended it be closed on january 4, the day before the meeting. the only problem here is that you did not like flynn changing the policy are talking about changing the policy. he had every right to do that. what we're are doing here is criminalizing policy differences. that is why flynn got prosecuted, because they hate his guts. senator cornyn. sen. cornyn: initiates -- miss
11:17 am
yates, let me change the subject a little bit. based on your longing distinguished service with the department of justice, are you aware of any precedent for both of the major party nominees for president of the united states being investigated either for a crime or counterintelligence investigation in the run-up to a presidential election? miss yates: no, i am. -- i am not. sen. cornyn: me either. during the investigation of hillary clinton over her email had a presss comey conference, as you know, on july 5 where he talked about the investigation, talked about derogatory information collected during that investigation, but he had said no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute that case. did you know preferred -- before
11:18 am
july 5, 2016 that he was going to do that? miss yates: no i didn't. sen. cornyn: did you know when he reopened the case after anthony weiner's computer was looked at, did you know he was going to reopen the case? before hand? you.yates: i can't tell that was more than four years ago now and i didn't go back and try to review any of that. i can't tell you whether it was beforehand or contemporaneous. sen. cornyn: would you agree -- agree that comey's conduct was irregular? miss yates: i don't know how to characterize his conduct. sen. cornyn: you don't know how to characterize it? reports to ther deputy attorney general, correct? miss yates: that is correct. sen. cornyn: from the time
11:19 am
crossfire hurricane was opened on july 31, until you signed the first pfizer application on october 21, the director comey keep you apprised of what the investigation showed? had interactions. i met with the fbi three times a week on national security matters. i also met with the national security division. i was provided with some information, but i don't think the fbi was providing us with as much information as they should aboutnow that i know more the investigation. that it isee horwitz's recommendation that in matters like this there should be those consultations with department leadership, as well as more thorough briefings. sen. cornyn: thank you. you would also agree that director comey should have consulted with you and the attorney general in the run-up
11:20 am
-- during his dealings with the hillary clinton investigation before making those public comments? that violates the rules and norms of the department of justice, wouldn't you agree? miss yates: i certainly think he should have consulted with us, yes. sen. cornyn: he said he thought that loretta lynch had a conflict of interest because of the tarmac meeting between president clinton and the attorney general during the course of the hillary clinton email investigation. but that would not have prevented him from consulting with you. did he do so? no, did he consult with me on what precisely? sen. cornyn: did he consult with you on the hillary clinton investigation and his intentions to go public with the usurp the rolend of the department of justice when it comes to whether to charge or not charge somebody
11:21 am
with a crime? did he talk with you about that ahead of time? miss yates: we did not have a substantive discussion about it ahead of time, no. sen. cornyn: does that surprise you? you are the direct supervisor of the guy director -- fbi director. if he did not consult you or he didn't respond to your inquiries, wouldn't that strike you as highly unusual? miss yates: it is not ideal. sen. cornyn: not ideal. that is quite an understatement. miss yates: it is an understatement, senator. sen. cornyn: [laughter] we will agree on that. rosenstein, your successor as deputy attorney general, wrote a memo with regard to director comey's activities, during which he said that director comey did violate the norms and rules of the department of justice. nosaid, since he showed
11:22 am
remorse and was likely to repeat that conduct again, that he recommended his dismissal. did you agree with rod rosenstein's analysis? miss yates: i'm not going to weigh in on what a successor of mine, a decision he made. sen. cornyn: you not going to answer my question? miss yates: i don't think it's appropriate for me to wait in on this. sen. cornyn: i'm not asking you to weigh in. i'm asking you a question about the highest levels of the department of justice and forher this is the new norm whether director comey violated those norms and whether his dismissal was justified on the basis. you have no opinion about that? i'm not -- miss yates: i'm not going to weigh in on what rosenstein's memo was accurate or not. i will say i was concerned at the time, the guard less bounds comey may have been and the
11:23 am
actions he took on the clinton case. i was concerned that that was used as subterfuge for the real reason to fire him. sen. cornyn: what strikes me as, director comey was out of control and as your direct suit -- supervisor he might have called him to task for that and ask him to change his conduct. sen. feinstein: -- sen. graham: senator durbin. miss yates, welcome back. let me congratulate you before i go any further. today marks the second time during the trump administration you have testified before this committee. some of appearances equals the total number of times that attorney general sessions, attorney general barr have appeared before this committee and there official capacity
11:24 am
combined. congratulations. we can't seem to bring the attorney general here, what former attorney general's are always welcome. thank you for being here. i would like to ask for a moment, for a reflection on uncle flynn and ask about the following. flynn apparently had suspicious contacts with russia starting in may 2015 when he sat next to vladimir putin at a dinner in moscow. flynn accepted payments from russian entities like rt, topersky, and he failed report these payments on his financial disclosure forms when he became national security advisor. mueller report, flynn worked with individuals who claim to be in contact with russian-affiliated hackers in an effort to obtain hillary clinton's emails. --nn also signed a contact
11:25 am
contract to work with the turkish government during the campaign. he lied on his filings. fourcember 2016 flynn had conversations with russian ambassador kislyak in which he urged russia not to respond to u.s. sanctions. of russian election interference in the united states. difference that has been alluded to. at no point during these calls did flynn express any disapproval of rush's election interference in the united states. seeming that you can't it into classified details, can you tell us whether the administration was specifically surveilling michael flynn when it identified -- miss yates: the administration was not surveilling michael flynn. we were all trying to figure out, why is it that the russians are not responding or
11:26 am
retaliating as to the sanctions? they indicated that they would. that is when the fbi discovered the conversations with ambassador kislyak. sen. durbin: the policy difference was the -- that prudent should pay a price for interfering in the election by imposing sanctions on russia, and what appears to be a phone call from flynn, aspiring to be the national security advisor, telling him, don't worry about it. you were wondering why putin was not responding and considering whether this phone call had an impact on it? is that true? miss yates: that's right, senator. russians for our election, doesn't seem like a policy to me. it seems like something all americans would support. sen. durbin: i would think they would. certainly someone seeking to be
11:27 am
the national security advisor. flynn later lied with his conversations to the fbi and to vice president pence, the night he talked about sanctions, stepped down as national security advisor. miss yates, on january 26 and 27th, you weaved white house counsel don mcgahn about michael flynn. you shared the justice department's concern, his dishonesty about those communications, and his vulnerability to blackmail. is that correct? miss yates: that is correct. sen. durbin: unbelievably, after you have briefed the white house counsel about flynn's vulnerability to blackmail and 28, 2017,, on january president trump spoke on the phone for nearly an hour with vladimir putin while general flynn set in the oval office
11:28 am
with -- sat in the oval office with them. is that correct? miss yates: i don't know that personally. sen. sasse: i understand there is a white house photo showing general flynn sitting in the oval office during the call. was it appropriate for michael flynn to sit in on from calls with-- on phone calls vladimir putin after you have begun your briefings with don mcgahn? miss yates: he made -- we made it clear to them that we were providing this information so that they could take action. certainly it would be surprising to me that of all things you would have general flynn sitting in on a phone call with vladimir putin. sen. durbin: what kind of message do you think it sent to russia for flynn to be involved in that call? miss yates: it seems like it sends this message that flynn was sending and calls with ambassador kislyak, which is
11:29 am
don't worry about the interference. sen. durbin: if you believe interference is a threat to democracy -- and i do, and most others do -- this approach by general flynn is antithetical to what we consider to be the basic fundamentals of our nation. certainly a man aspiring to be national security advisor should know better. mr. chairman, i yelled. sen. graham: i remember the conversation with the president. after the election i will have more latitude. i remember the reset button. wantsthe administration to change positions with different countries, it is not so unusual. very quickly, that you know of interfere with the election before the election itself? miss yates: yes. sen. graham: did you impose any sanctions before the election? to stop you do to try
11:30 am
the russians before the election? miss yates: there was a lot. you may recall in october, there was an intelligence roofing. sen. graham: what did you do to stop the russians, specifically? what did you administration do to stop the russians? miss yates: my understanding is that the intelligence community and the administration would be involved. sen. graham: what did they do? did they impose sanctions? miss yates: they did not impose sanctions. sen. graham: did they call the russians up and say, stop. miss yates: i do believe there were communications with the russians. sen. graham: do you agree with me, it didn't work? miss yates: if i could finish an answer. there was concern at the time in connection with the october public statement made, that the obama administration wanted to be careful that it wasn't doing anything that would impact the
11:31 am
election or perceived to be impacting the election. the information put out then was to make sure, for example, the russians were rooting around state election systems -- which by the way, it is -- there is no evidence they were able to get into anything that would impact. sen. graham: i agree with that. miss yates: when they were rooting around, the obama administration was contacting states and trying to make sure they understood they needed to shore it up. my further understanding is, they wanted to make a bipartisan state and -- statement and there were folks on your side of the aisle that refused to participate. sen. graham: here's my point. you need the russians were up to no good and you didn't -- she did nothing about it. lecture.need a apparently, nothing happened. senator lee. sen. lee: thank you.
11:32 am
miss yates, was it your policy that both ministrations should be treated equally? that is, would there have been any recent from a department of justice standpoint to approach an obama administration official differently from a trump administration official? miss yates: no, senator. determinationery when i was insistent that we notify the white house about general flynn. it was in part because i wanted to make sure that we were treating the trump administration the same way that we would the obama administration. sen. lee: but with that have consisted of? what would it have looked like that you treated an official from the trump administration the same as you would have in the obama administration? who would have been notified before this could have proceeded? miss yates: we did do the same thing. we did go to the white house and
11:33 am
notify the white house counsel about what we had learned about general flynn. what would have been different is, with respect -- i'm not sure why my lights went out -- what would have been different is, with respect to the interview of general flynn, from a particle -- protocol standpoint, i would have notified the white house counsel in advance. sen. lee: did anything like that happen here? was anyone from the trump team notified? miss yates: prior to the interview, no. that was one of my concerns about it. this is a protocol issue, not a legal issue. sen. lee: certainly something that would have been an irregularity? you have acknowledged that the obama administration treated the incoming administration differently. he department of justice treated the trump administration differently? miss yates: no, senator. we were working hard to make sure we did not treat them
11:34 am
differently. sen. lee: i understand you are working hard to do that, that was not in fact the outcome. the protocol was different. miss yates: the difference in the protocol here is that the fbi conducted the interview of general flynn without a courtesy call to the white house counsel. sen. lee: ok. told director comey that there should have been a discussion about recording the interview, and raising these things with comey, he responded with something like, you can understand why you did this. 302,ich, according to your he responded no. comey responded, he didn't want to look lyrical. -- look political. it notes you were offended by that implication. can you elaborate on this?
11:35 am
what specifically offended you? miss yates: senator, as you heard me say too many times now, i was a prosecutor for almost 30 years. i've prosecuted public corruption cases. democrats and republicans. job, or dido our our job at doj, was that you do not consider political implications in making prosecuted or investigative decisions. directorended by comey's implication that he would be perceived differently than i want. sen. lee: got it. let me ask you, was it a regular for agents to plan to attempt to "get him to lie." is that an irregularity? miss yates: i'm sorry, senator.
11:36 am
all i heard was at the end was that an irregularity? would you mind repeating the question? sen. lee: for agents to plan to attempt to lie so we can get him fired? miss yates: certainly that is not an appropriate way for the fbi to conduct itself. i don't believe that is what they did with respect to general flynn. sen. lee: is it a regular for mccabe to have pressure -- to have pressured general flynn to appear without counsel? miss yates: i don't think he did. just to make clear, i want to get to the bottom of what went wrong. to was a fisa application surveilled an american citizen and a major party presidential campaign approved with 17 significant errors and omissions
11:37 am
. and no one knew until the specter -- inspector general conducted an audit? an audit that, by the way, would not have been conducted if the surveillance had not involved a future member of the president's administration. these never would have come to light, would they? miss yates: i don't know that. inspector horowitz, is a very thorough guy. i wouldn't count on that being a different result. sen. lee: were you aware agents were using information compiled by christopher steele at the time you signed the pfizer application or the first renewal? miss yates: i was not aware that the d&c was finding it, but i think we suspected. we did not know that to be a fact. the inspector general did not identify that, which, not to quibble, there were seven
11:38 am
errors. not 17. one error is too many. sen. lee: if i can ask one more brief question, are you aware of the concerns with the of reliability of the admin -- information provided by christopher steele? there signing either initial pfizer application or the first? miss yates: i wasn't, senator. i think those concerns come from the interview of the source that took place after i signed the original and first renewal. sen. lee: thank you, mr. chairman. sen. graham: senator whitehouse. sen. whitehouse: officiates, let me ask you a couple of simple questions. if you could hear me out here. the origins that call here is a telephone andeen ambassador kislyak
11:39 am
general flynn. that in theare of course of regular counterintelligence activities, correct? miss yates: that is correct. sen. lee: were you surveilling general flynn? or are you surveilling ambassador kislyak? miss yates: i can't -- i can tell you we were doing, which is surveilling general plan. i am still not permitted to tell you what we are doing. as much as i would like to tell you, i can't. we will letuse: logic follow through. it would not the unusual for a sovereign nation to monitor the communications of a nation's ambassador, irrespective of which nation you are in, correct? that is standard counterintelligence practice? miss yates: i'm not going to hint that. i want to stay clear on classification.
11:40 am
sen. whitehouse: you are not surveilling general flynn? miss yates: absolutely not. sen. whitehouse: the next thing you know, you know if this conversation, because you have overheard it. and the white house, at very thatlevels, is denying that conversation took place. the conversation you knew happened. the counterintelligence problem with that set of circumstances? in national security advisor was had a conversation with the russian ambassador that the vice president is denying to waste? -- took place. miss yates: there was concern about the conversation to begin with, even the fact that he was undercutting sanctions against the russians for interfering in our elections. sen. whitehouse: is it accounted -- counterintelligence problem -- does it raise the prospect
11:41 am
general flynn had lied to the vice president and the russian ambassador would know that and be able to exert leverage? miss yates: exactly, senator. if you layer on top of that that he has been lying. sen. whitehouse: there is a very specific issue, right there, correct? miss yates: that is correct. sen. whitehouse: it gives the russians leverage against esther flynn, possibly? miss yates: that is our concern. sen. whitehouse: let me take you to a different question. that, if you asked knew of the errors and omissions that the inspector general found , would youarrants sign the warrant? i think the answer every prosecutor must give to that question is no, of course we would never submit to a court warrant application that we knew contained errors or omissions. that is correct, is it not?
11:42 am
miss yates: that is correct. sen. whitehouse: that does not, to my mind, that does not end the inquiry. if you have been aware of the errors and omissions in the warrants, one solution would be to roll it up. a second would be to find why the errors and omissions were there, investigate the misconduct that led to that, but go ahead and -- with the investigation because it remained predicated and worth pursuing. both of those are possible options, are they not? yes, they are. sen. whitehouse: if we were in a situation in which any error or in a warrant affidavit
11:43 am
ended the underlying a lot oftion, legitimate investigations would be improperly brought to a premature conclusion, correct? miss yates: that is correct. sen. whitehouse: said again? -- say it again? that is pretty standard prosecutor 101. if there's something wrong with the warrant you are being asked to sign, you get it fixed but you don't necessarily and the investigation? miss yates: you need to find out whether there is other evidence or information that would support it. you also would get to the bottom of why. sen. whitehouse: you do an internal investigation to get to the bottom of why you are presented a warrant application with errors and omissions, but my point is a simple 1 -- that does not mean the end of the investigation, necessarily. miss yates: not necessarily. you followedse:
11:44 am
your problem and went ahead with the investigation if it is justified, correct? miss yates: that is correct. sen. whitehouse: thank you. sen. graham: on a stroke of bipartisanship, i agree with everything he just said. that is exactly the way he should work. no thato let miss yates when she signed the application, she did so in good faith, relying on information to be truthful and that she would not have to product the court. i have no believe she did. -- belief she did. senator hawley. sen. hawley: thank you for being here. when we pick up there? the chairman says he has no doubt you had no intent to defraud the court. when mr. rosenstein was here before the committee, i'm sure you read it. he said he could not be to blame or otherwise be held accountable for the falsified phis
11:45 am
applications, the material misstatements of fact, because he relied on the representations made to him. we are left wondering, who is responsible here? it seems nobody is responsible. somehow or another eight federal court, a secret federal court, was lied to and presented with falsified evidence, but nobody in the chain of command is to blame. let me ask you about your own responsibility. did you read these applications? miss yates: i did. sen. hawley: you did? he told the inspector general you have no recollection of reviewing renewal application one. as your testimony today different? miss yates: what i told the inspector general was, i didn't have a specific recollection of asking questions about, but i assuredly reviewed it. sen. hawley: he said you did not have a recollection of reviewing
11:46 am
application one, but today you say you did? that is great if you did. i would like to ask you more detailed questions. miss yates: yes, i did. sen. hawley: interesting. he told the inspector general that the carter page phis applications you signed off on and that you say you read and carefully reviewed, that these applications contained multiple material misstatements and would later contain falsified evidence. he said these were not a close call. he thoughtld them the initial application and renewals for appropriate steps and you didn't have any qualms about them. do you recall what the pfizer -- fisa court said? miss yates: yes, senator. i was referring to the applications based on the assumption that all of the information is accurate. what was learned later and what
11:47 am
the fisa court was responding to, were errors and omissions. sen. hawley: the errors and omissions were there at the time you signed off on them, you not? you testified that you read them, closely. they were there when you signed off on them, correct? miss yates: that is correct. sen. hawley: let me remind you of what the pfizer court said. the fbi's handling of the carter page applications was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor owed to the court. the frequency with ritz representations made by fbi personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other f young applications is reliable. are you still look the view that these applications were not a close call at all and you would do the same thing now?
11:48 am
these were appropriate steps? do you stand by that? miss yates: yes, senator. if you put my testimony in context, i was referring to the decision i made at the time. based on the factual information presented to me. sen. hawley: you for a passive party in this? you are telling us now, you did read the applications but you were also duped by the fbi and for that reason you signed off on misleading applications that a fisa court said were so bad and misleading they called into question all of the submissions by the fbi? you were a passive party, is that your testimony? miss yates: no, sir. i was not passive at all. sen. hawley: what did you do to exercise responsibility -- let me ask you this. what responsibility do you bear for the deliberate and systematic misleading of a federal court?
11:49 am
miss yates: as deputy attorney general, i was responsible for the actions of every single employee at doj. all 113,000 of them. all of the fbi, dea, and all of the attorneys in the department of justice. i was responsible for the actions of all of them. sen. hawley: you regret the fact that you signed application that contained false and misleading material that a court calls into question their ability to rely on anything the fbi says? miss yates: i certainly regret that the department of justice submitted phis applications that work inaccurate. applications that were inaccurate. it is inconsistent with what my interactions with the fbi is. i see my time has expired.
11:50 am
one final question. i noticed you said that you did not know who christopher steele was working for. you opined that maybe he was working for the republican party. we know from steel himself that july 2016 hebi in had been hired by the democrats. we know your deputy knew that steel was working for the democrats. deputy, deputy, your while he was working for you, was facilitating contacts , anden the fbi and steele also between the state department and steele. is it normal for you to permit your deputies to facilitate contact between political parties and the fbi and the state department? is that routine behavior? as the inspector
11:51 am
general found, i was freaked late unaware of orr's actions. sen. hawley: can you repeat that? miss yates: i wasn't allowing orr to do anything. i was completely unaware of orr's actions. we have no involvement from our side in any of the russia investigations. sen. hawley: i reach the conclusion that i seem to detect a pattern here. miss yates, she says she had no idea what her deputy was doing as he facilitate contact between opposition research and the fbi. she has no idea these materials she signed sled a fisa court. nobody appears to know anything, and yet somehow a federal court was deliberately misled so severely they now say they can't trust anything the fbi did. if this does not call for a
11:52 am
cleaning of house at the doj and fbi, i don't know what is. bruce orr is still on the payroll. sen. graham: senator cowan's. -- coons. we are on a five-minute break. we will take a break for miss yates. >> those remarks are inflammatory. the witness ought to be able to respond, if she chooses. sen. graham: she certainly may. let me give my two cents worth, i don't think they are inflammatory at all. bruce orr is apparently going rogue. you got her deputy organizing meetings and he tells the fbi, you need to watch steele. what is going on over there? sen. hawley: with all due respect, we have a deliberate and systematic misleading of a federal court here. i don't think you can say anything more inflammatory than what the federal court said when they issued an incredible
11:53 am
statement. saying that they now had no confidence in any of the submissions of the guy based on the level of lying. sen. graham: everybody is to blame, and a buddy is to blame. we will take a five-minute break and let her respond.
11:54 am
11:55 am
11:56 am
11:57 am
11:58 am
>> missy yates, are you ready? yates, are you ready?
11:59 am
>> hello? >> mr. chairman? sen. graham: yes sir. if iile we are waiting, could make one point. i have been in the shoes of miss yates both as the attorney general of ohio -- statutes require the attorney general personally to get wiretap authorization from the department of justice or a superior court and as a u.s. attorney who led undercover end of look -- i have done this a lot. role in those approvals as making sure that the wiretap application was consistent with the criminal statute that we were trying to
12:00 pm
prosecute. that it was relevant. >> you weren't an investigator, you are just making sure the material complied with the statute? i think that probably -- as anvery often took established fact that the fbi whot or police officer filed the affidavit was telling us the truth. sen. graham: i could not agree more. >> it is not customary prosecutorial practice to do an inquisition or review of every an fbi statement made by agent or state police officer in preparing a warrant. if you have the slightest hint that something is wrong, you definitely pursue that, but the focus is more, does this warrant for the criminal case we are making, and that is the nature of the review at that level and you would hope the factual stuff
12:01 pm
would come out before it got to the attorney general. sen. graham: that is a fair rendition of the way the system plays out. frustratedle are about accountability, but i think rosenstein probably did what you are talking about -- accountability: by virtue of her position. sen. graham: i agree. i will state for the record, i don't believe rosenstein or miss yates intentionally submitted false information to the court. klobuchar isnator next. sen. klobuchar: i want to take a moment to thank you for your dedicated service to our country. i spent some time in the state
12:02 pm
of georgia and i know how respected you are from your time as u.s. attorney on both sides of the aisle. that isl that you did of such an example for career employees in the justice department. you have spent your career working on justice. andnt to thank you for that for the people watching this hearing -- it is really important as we look at senator hawley's questioning to not lose sight of the context of the investigation in which the investigation into carter page in michael flynn took place. a concerted russian effort to interfere in our elections that continues to this day, we all know that. we recently had some classified briefings i cannot. we know it is continuing. as deputy attorney general, you
12:03 pm
received and reviewed intelligence about russian interference in our 2016 election and helped to coordinate the response. what was your understanding of that attack, which has been verified by trump intelligence officials, people appointed by this president, including dan coats, the director of intelligence who once said they were emboldened and getting bolder and including christopher wray who said similar things. as the u.s. ever confronted a coordinated effort by a foreign power in this magnitude to interfere in our election? ms. yates: thank you for your kind words. i appreciate that. your point is spot on. ,his attack, and let's be clear this was an attack on our democracy. this attack was absolutely unprecedented. the russians were coming at us
12:04 pm
through multiple means. effort toan organized break into the dnc and hack the emails and systematically release them. there was a social media campaign aimed at hillary and they were looking around in the state election system. all of this is going on and then we find it is for the purpose of trying to put a thumb on the scale for one particular candidate, to try to aid the election of donald trump and to hurt hillary clinton. beyond that, we find out early thatom mr. papadopoulos the russians had actually reached out to the trump campaign prior to this release of emails, offering or suggesting that they can assist with the anonymous release of emails. this was an unprecedented attack on our democracy, an
12:05 pm
investigation that requires all of the intel community and everybody else to really bore down on this to try to figure out what happened. when you came: before this committee before we talked about the dangers of having a high-ranking security official like former security advisor michael flynn caught on tape with a foreign official saying one thing and private and then caught in public saying another thing to the vice president of the united states, vice president pence. just so we are clear on the dangers of national security officials being compromised in this way, can you talk about the national security risks of blackmail? we do not want anybody in the u.s. government to be compromised by a foreign adversary. my great concern was the russians knew that general flynn had not only engaged in these
12:06 pm
back channel discussions, but that he was misleading and lying about it to the vice president and others. beyond the lying to them, he -- tohem out to the lie lie to the american people. the viceuchar: president said he was lied to by flynn. ms. yates: it seems like a lifetime ago now but it was a big thing at the time. it was exactly the kind of thing we were fearful like out that would give the russians such huge leverage. sen. klobuchar: the last thing i want to ask about is the special counsel found that russian interference in our election was sweeping and this nomadic andean -- and systematic and the investigation resulted in 34 indictments of individuals and convictions of the president's associates and advisor on federal charges. are there any facts that call into question the special counsel's report that the russian government interfered in
12:07 pm
the 2016 election in the sweeping and systematic fashion or that the russian president's perceived it would benefit from a trump presidency and work to achieve that outcome. anyyates: i am not aware of inconsistency and the bipartisan senate intelligence committee came to the same conclusion. sen. klobuchar: they did. are you aware of any of fact that call into question the assessment by fbi director wray that the russian interference is ongoing and the interference in the 2018 midterm was a dress rehearsal for the 2020 elections? ms. yates: no and that is something we need to be vigilant about. this is not just something that happened in the past, it is happening now as we sit here today. sen. klobuchar: in fact there are people that have been appointed by president trump who are well aware of this and are working to make sure that a foreign country is not able to influence our election.
12:08 pm
one of the ways they do this is not just by hacking into state election systems, it is about what goes on on social media. that is where a lot of our education efforts still have to go, because a lot of this stuff is just false, the things people say about candidates. are you aware of any facts that call into question the finding in the report that layout more than 120 contacts between the trump campaign in 2016 and individuals linked to russia? ms. yates: no. sen. klobuchar: thank you. sen. graham: i want to make sure that we understand what happened here. you mentioned mr. papadopoulos. are you saying mr. papadopoulos met with russians on behalf of the campaign? ms. yates: i am saying that mr. papadopoulos was approached by an individual -- sen. graham: that's not my question.
12:09 pm any evidence papadopoulos met with russians on behalf of the campaign? ms. yates: mr. papp at opelousas was a foreign policy advisor for the campaign -- mr. papadopoulos was a foreign policy advisor for the campaign. sen. graham: could he be charged with colluding with the russians? sen. graham: -- ms. yates: you are forgetting about the context and timing. nobody got indicted and we are not going to go after these people twice and suggested they are treasonous. the papadopoulos transcribed interviews he said to work with the russians would be treason, i would never do that. i don't want to bring these people back up and suggested they did something they did not do. ms. yates: [indiscernible] -- mentioned treason with mr. papadopoulos.
12:10 pm
when you talk to a confidential human source he denies it. we now know that the information he provided to the foreign , it was ine official august. -- sen. graham: was he a russian agent? ms. yates: he was connected with russian intelligence. sen. graham: really? [laughter] that's a new revelation. senator tillis? to do thing you may want is pull up a little closer to the mike if you can, we are hearing you but i think we are straining to hear. in response to some of chair grandpa's questions -- chair graham's questions, you characterize comey, i think he said when senator graham use the word rogue that is a word you can use. withor cornyn's discussion
12:11 pm
you you said there was a violation of rules, norms, and the behavior of those involved in the investigation was not ideal. what about mr. orr? could we use similar words to describe his behavior over the course of this investigation? ms. yates: -- ms. yates: let me clarify one thing. comey'shat director decision to interview jennifer flynn without coordinating -- general flynn without coordinating could be characterized as rogue. i was not characterizing him as a robe. it's important to be -- as a robe. -- as a rogue. orr tillis: in terms of mr. and his behavior, in 2016 he was aware that -- was desperate to prevent president trump from being elected.
12:12 pm
was that information shared with you? thatates: none of information was shared with me. -- you were in the department of justice for 27 years, thank you for your service. i am notke a look -- an attorney or prosecutor, but i have read horowitz's report. does any of that make you angry with the lack of what i consider professionalism. the folks involved in this investigation were highly trained and educated, is it fair to say there were no rookies providing you with evidence to make a decision? thatates: i would agree the errors of omission here were totally unacceptable. sen. graham: i am stashed sen. tillis: --
12:13 pm
sen. tillis: a lot of people are interrupting you and i think it has to do with the delay and that we are virtual. it seems like the cynic in me makes it hard to believe when they knew what they knew about the credibility of the steele dossier that they would not think that is important to bring up the chain of command when you are making critical decisions. is that something you feel like anybody in that whole process, anyone, whether working for you or around you leading up to information you were acting on, it seems some of these people should have been disciplined or fired. do you agree with that? ms. yates: i don't know what is going on with the fbi and their internal discipline process, i cannot speak on that. i believe this information should have been provided to the national security division working on the pfizer application. sen. tillis: go ahead. trusttes: i also
12:14 pm
'sspector general holden decision that he did not find evidence that any of these agents were acting with bias or political motive. when i looked at and read the try to figure to out what went wrong, what he seemed to have were agents who superimposed and use their own judgment for what was material or exculpatory and decided then what they would provide to the members of the national security division. that's not how it should work. they should give all that information to the lawyers and nsc. sen. tillis: could you understand if you combine some of their actions, errors and omission, and personal communications between some of those involved why a skeptic would maybe find it hard to believe it was an honest mistake? ms. yates: the inspector general
12:15 pm
reviewed over one million documents and did 170 interviews. i think he is in a better position than i am to be able to answer that question. he found there was no evidence of bias or political motivation. sen. tillis: do you believe the someoneactually charge under the logan act? ms. yates: can it? frankly, i have never engaged in that analysis because we were not employing or making a final determination as to whether general flynn would be charged under the logan act. what i was trying to make clear to senator graham is that was not the prism through which we were examining this. sen. tillis: did you ever seriously consider prosecuting flynn under the logan act? ms. yates: we did not make an
12:16 pm
official decision while i was there, but i believe it was very unlikely we would prosecute him under the logan act. it was a counterintelligence threat, not a criminal prosecution. sen. tillis: thank you. sen. graham: senator kunz? >> thank you for your 27 years of service to the united states department of justice and for your testimony here today. let me begin with a framing here. doubt that any russia attacked the united states during the 2016 presidential election with the intention of changing the outcome or influencing the outcome of that election? ms. yates: no. sen. coons: do you have reason to be concerned that the russians may be trying to do that again for the 2020 election? ms. yates: all of us should be concerned. our intelligence community has told us that. to. coons: let me go back
12:17 pm
some issues that have been touched on. never charged in the russia investigation. out of the hole 448 pages of the mueller report only eight pages pertained to carter page. there has been some focus on it today. when did you learn of the errors in the carter page pfizer application -- fisa application? ms. yates: after i left office. sen. coons: when that application reached your desk as deputy attorney general what were you looking for? appropriate for you to be looking for? ms. yates: [indiscernible] like to explain what the process is for the phis. -- fisa. in the affidavit from the fbi, whether that met
12:18 pm
the legal standard for the fisa. there were seven different players of review at the department of justice. i would expect a similar number of lawyers of review at the fbi. there has been quite a good bit of back-and-forth before the original -- about a month of back-and-forth between national security division lawyers and the agents at the fbi. sen. coons: when you did ultimately learn that there were asors, did that strike you inappropriate, uncalled for, in violation of practice and tradition? ms. yates: absolutely. , i only was it unacceptable was quite concerned about how this would impact the department's credibility with the pfizer court and otherwise. --fis not just in a high-profile case, but in any case to work hard to
12:19 pm
be on scrupulously accurate in every single document that is filed. sen. coons: when you went to the white house on january 26, you had something serious to tell white house counsel don mcgahn. that thehim president's national security advisor, general flynn, could be blackmailed because he was lying about the content of his conversations with the russians. is there any doubt that general flynn lied about his conversations with the russians? ms. yates: no there is not. sen. coons: general flynn pled guilty to lying to the fbi. some have called lying to the fbi, which is a felony, a process crime. could you explain why lying to the fbi in the context that we are talking about here strikes at the heart of the criminal justice system? ms. yates: certainly. with anytion
12:20 pm
investigation, the only way that the department of justice can go people that are interviewed by the fbi are truthful and candid and provide complete information. that's the only way to figure out what the facts are to be able to determine if charges should be filed. sen. coons: given your knowledge of the flynn case and your 27 you career at justice, were surprised when doj moved to dismiss the case after general flynn pled guilty to lying to the fbi? ms. yates: i was very surprised. sen. coons: why was it important to interview general flynn? what was the purpose that underlay questioning general flynn? general flynn had conversations with the russian ambassador, but also had secret conversations and had been covering it up and providing
12:21 pm
false information to the vice president and others to put out to the public. we felt the government needed to know what was going on here. was general flynn acting on his own or working with others? the investigators needed to be able to figure out what the relationship was between the campaign and the russians. honest,ral flynn been had he told them the truth in this interview, then the agents would have learned then what they only learned later when he finally told the truth. that is that these were not off-the-cuff conversations he was having with the russian ambassador. rather, these were conversations that were carefully organized and planned with other members of the trump transition. he also had been very careful to lie about and cover up even to the point of sending his deputy out when the news first broke to call the washington post and give them false information, and
12:22 pm
to say he never discussed sanctions at all. the cover-up continued after that as he told lies to more people. sen. coons: thank you. thank you for your testimony and your service to our nation. did general flynn commit a crime? ms. yates: when you say what general flynn did -- sen. graham: talking to the russian ambassador. know i am onain, i the record on this. we were doing a counterintelligence investigation. >> senator kennedy? thank you for appearing today. violate the law by colluding with russia to influence the 2016 presidential election? ms. yates: special counsel
12:23 pm
mueller found there was insufficient evidence to establish a conspiracy between donald trump and the russian campaign. sen. kennedy: do you agree with that? ms. yates: [indiscernible] i read the mueller report. sen. kennedy: so there is doubt in your mind? ms. yates: i did not say that, but i am not in a position to comment on that. sen. kennedy: you just can't bring yourself to say he did not violate the law? ms. yates: senator, you are putting words in my mouth. -- specialand trust counsel mueller in his determination that there was insufficient evidence. i accept that. sen. kennedy: you don't like donald trump, do you? ms. yates: i don't respect the manner in which he has carried out the presidency. sen. kennedy: you despise donald trump, don't you? ms. yates: i don't despise
12:24 pm
anyone, senator. sen. kennedy: isn't it true that there were a handful of people despised donald trump and wanted to do everything they could do to keep them from being president? ms. yates: i can't speak as to whether other people despised donald trump. sen. kennedy: were you part of that group? ms. yates: no. sen. kennedy: isn't it true that there were a handful of people at the department of justice during the obama administration that despised donald trump and did everything in their power to keep them from being president? ms. yates: i am not aware of anyone in the department of justice doing anything to keep donald trump from becoming president. sen. kennedy: were you part of that group? ms. yates: no and i am not aware of anyone doing that. that was not only surprising but shocking. sen. kennedy: would it be fair
12:25 pm
to say that -- was aeele dossier keystone of the russian collusion investigation, wasn't it? ms. yates: no it was not. carter paget of the fisa affidavit. if you read the mueller report you will see that the steele dossier does not play a role at all. sen. kennedy: so you don't think it was important to the fisa applications? said, yes as i just with respect to the phis applications and carter page. your question was not that. your question was respect to special counsel mueller's investigation. sen. kennedy: was the steele dossier critically important to the fisa applications? ms. yates: yes it was. there was information with respect to carter page. sen. kennedy: i think we can
12:26 pm
agree on this. the steele dossier was junk, wasn't it? when you say junk i don't know how to describe that. sen. kennedy: what do you think about it? you think it's true? ms. yates: senator, there is information that was in the certainly called into question now. sen. kennedy: no. i apologize. go ahead. isn't it a fact that the steele dossier is junk? ms. yates: there is certainly evidence now that calls into question the reliability of portions of the steele dossier. sen. kennedy: did you check to see if it was junk before you signed off on the phis
12:27 pm
applications --fisa applications? upon the fbi rely to be the factfinders. sen. kennedy: so you did not independently check. ms. yates: no, i did not independently fact-check and i am not sure how i would go about doing that. sen. kennedy: let me make sure i understand. you signed off on two of the applications. you are asking for permission to closelled somebody who is to a candidacy for the president of the united states in one instance, and in the second instance actually was the president of the united states. you took no independent steps to see if the steele dossier was accurate? is that your testimony?
12:28 pm
ms. yates: i am not following your question when you talk about -- sen. kennedy: let me try to be clearer. the steele dossier was critical to at least several of the fisa applications, one of which you signed off on? dossier that the steele , with hindsight, may not have been completely accurate. you are investigating a president of the united states and you did not check to see if it was accurate? let me put it another way. let's suppose my staff came to "we haveow and said evidence that chairman graham is colluding with china to influence the presidential election.'
12:29 pm
[laughter] i say what is the basis of that? have a reliable source we can trust and we want you to call him out. outi go out and call him with verifying the reliable source. am i not like a rock only dumber? isn't that what you did? ms. yates: that's not at all what i did. every stepy: tell me you took to verify the veracity of the steele dossier. you didn't do anything, did you? ms. yates: if i could get a chance to answer. >> mr. chairman. accusations are being made, the witness should have an opportunity to respond. sen. graham: i agree, you may respond. ms. yates: thank you very much.
12:30 pm
are implyingor you that this phis application -- not ons application was a candidate for president, it was for someone who was not a current member of the campaign. with respect to the process, the fisa process is such that the fbi is the factfinder. process where a they are required to document every single fact in the affidavit is accurate and that they can trace it back to a specific place in the fbi files that established that. a problem that the page fisa process has revealed is that just because there is a fact in the fbi files that establishes -- a document that establishes that fact there were also inconsistent facts that were not included in the affidavit.
12:31 pm
lawyers in the national security division spent a lot of time working with the fbi in putting together the affidavits and the applications here. they necessarily must rely upon the fbi, who are the factfinders , to be certain of the accuracy. that is exactly how the phis application is set up. it is the fbi agent. sen. kennedy: mr. chairman, i am confused. could you tell me every step you took to verify the accuracy of the steele dossier? upon the fbirelied as the factfinders here and the lawyers in the national security division to vet the accuracy of the phis a -- fisa application. sen. kennedy: you hate trump? i do not hate i have to speak up for the
12:32 pm
career men and women of the department of justice. sen. kennedy: i am not talking about the career men and women. i think you and your colleagues have tarnished the reputation of the fbi. sen. graham: if i'm a we will go to the next witness. sen. kennedy: am i out of time? an. graham: i want to make point, we will go to senator blumenthal. did not that miss yates do an independent investigation of the affidavit. i think most people in that situation are not required to do that. i do want to ask one question. -- once the dossier was known to be unreliable, did the people who did the interview have a duty to notify their superiors about their concerns and about the information they found? ms. yates: are you talking about the interviews at the end of january? sen. graham: yes. ms. yates: yes they did.
12:33 pm
sen. graham: can you imagine a circumstance where they did not do that? ms. yates: i can't speculate as to what happened, this was in the final days in my time at the department of justice. i agree with you that the information from that interview should have been provided to lawyers in the national security division so it could be incorporated in the fisa applications. sen. graham: shouldn't have been provided to mr. mccabe who was in charge of the investigation? ms. yates: i don't know how it works at the fbi, but i would expect that would happen. sen. graham: do you think it is fair for this committee to ask those questions? ms. yates: it's not really up to me. sen. graham: [indiscernible] thank you. senator blumenthal? we are going to find out who knew what, when, and what they did about it. sen. blumenthal: let me just
12:34 pm
say, thank you for your appearance today and your patience with us including myself, because i am likely to repeat some of the questions that you may have already answered. let me say at the outset, when you appeared before this in may of 2017i said , "whether wehings agree or disagree i hope there are young prosecutors and young members of our intelligence committee who will watch this that is the say ' kind of professional i want to be'not just an expert but a person of deep conviction and conscious. -- conscience." i repeat that because i felt that then and now about you and
12:35 pm
i appreciate your service to our here toand your being go through some of these questions which have been repetitive and even, with all due respect, unnecessarily antagonistic. i want to come back to one of the fundamental issues here. madethe recommendation was toa number of the fbi agents close the investigation on january 4, as far as you know where those agents aware of the conversations between michael flynn and ambassador kislyak? ms. yates: i think you are referring to the specific counterintelligence investigation of michael flynn. my understanding is they did not know about those conversations. this is really a red herring
12:36 pm
here. i wasn't even aware that there was a specific investigation opened up on general flynn at that time. we didn't need that to interview general flynn. circumstances called out for an interview in the context of the investigation. sen. kennedy: you have just -- sen. blumenthal: you have just answered what was going to be my next question. investigation into michael flynn was legitimate, correct? when he was questioned by the fbi himself? ms. yates: yes. sen. blumenthal: his lies to the fbi were material? ms. yates: they certainly were. presidentnthal: the -- the department of justice has moved to dismiss the case against michael flynn on the basis that his false statements to the fbi were not material,
12:37 pm
the investigation was not wastimate, but i think that powerfully and clearly contradicted by the evidence you have given us today. chairman -- i. know other colleagues have made reference to it -- but over the past few days we have received classified briefings about the , absolutely shocking, and startling threats from malign foreign interference in that istions potentially ongoing. these briefings emphasize our responsibility to focus on the present and the future in terms of that threat and i hope that this investigation or series of hearings will in no way distract or deflect the nation's
12:38 pm
attention from that continuing foreign threat to our election security. it's absolutely chilling based on the facts we received in a classified setting. i believe the american people need and deserve to know them. i think these facts should be declassified immediately. we have a responsibility to address them in this committee and elsewhere. time, attention, and energy that these hearings are taking will in no way distract us from that ongoing challenge thata is essential to our responsibility. it is not just peripheral. it is central and essential. want to give you an opportunity to clarify a part of your testimony relating to george papadopoulos. i think you are referring to
12:39 pm
referring toe emails that russia planned to release involving contacts with him. were you suggesting george papadopoulos was a russian or foreign agent? ms. yates: no i was not. what i was suggesting was that if he had got that information from someone who was associated with the russians -- you, senatorthank blumenthal for clearing that up for mr. papadopoulos's sake. senator cruz? , when did miss yates you first become aware that the obama administration was surveilling the donald trump campaign? the obama administration was not surveilling the donald trump campaign. so a pfizer
12:40 pm
application is not surveillance -- fisa application is not surveillance? ms. yates: that was for carter page who was a former member of the campaign. sen. cruz: so you say it has nothing to do with the donald trump campaign? ms. yates: no, -- sen. cruz: is it the campaign or not? ms. yates: senator, i'm trying to give you accurate information. carter page was a former member of the trump campaign at the time sen. cruz:. sen. cruz:-- sen. cruz: what was the reason for the fisa on carter page? ms. yates: a number of reasons. we had gotten information that the russians wanted to be able to assist the trump campaign. sen. cruz: you say it had nothing to do with the trump campaign. ms. yates: i said he was not a member of the trump campaign at the time we initiated the fisa.
12:41 pm
time at then your department of justice, are you aware of any other political opponents of president obama that were being surveilled? again, if you are talking about the court authorized surveillance of carter page -- any cruz: are you aware of surveillance of any other political opponents? any other candidates for president including the chairman -- ms. yates: the answer to that is no and i think there is no information that the russians were interested in any other candidates. sen. cruz: so your testimony is no other candidate in 2016 was being surveilled other than carter page and the trump campaign, is that right? ms. yates: other than carter page. sen. cruz: when did you first theme aware of
12:42 pm
investigation and the surveillance on carter page? ms. yates: when the fisa application was presented in october i knew that the nsc lawyers were working on it prior to that with the fbi. it would have been in october. sen. graham: wasn't papadopoulos also being taped? an. cruz: the chairman asks good question. ms. yates: i was not aware at that time, but my understanding a recordedre was conversation between papadopoulos and a source. not wiretap surveillance. >> but the government orchestrated this? ms. yates: [indiscernible] that theam: we know government orchestrated a recording of conversations of papadopoulos and got a warrant against carter page. that seems to me, surveillance. sen. cruz: when they came to you
12:43 pm
asking to surveilled members of the trump campaign because of conduct they allegedly did while members of the trump campaign, what do diligence -- due diligence did you do? you told senator kennedy you trusted the fbi. did you doligence before signing off on what we now have reason to believe was a profound politicization of law enforcement and intelligence. ms. yates: there was a tremendous amount of back and forth between the lawyers in the national security division and the fbi. sen. cruz: i asked what you did. what due diligence did you do? to yates: with respect whether the facts were accurate. sen. cruz: did you inquire if it was opposition research funded by the dnc or hillary clinton? ms. yates: i did have
12:44 pm
discussions about that. sen. cruz: with who? ms. yates: a lawyer. sen. cruz: bruce orr? ms. yates: no. sen. cruz:'s wife was working for fusion gps being paid by hillary clinton and the dac and he was involved in the investigation. did anybody inquire about that? ms. yates: i learned about that from the inspector's investigation. sen. cruz: [sigh] you said earlier that nobody was trying to get president trump. have you read the horwitz inspector general report? ms. yates: i have. inspector general horwitz did not find any evidence of bias or political leaning. sen. cruz: with all due respect,
12:45 pm
inspector general horwitz found 17 material misstatements including a lawyer from the fbi who fraudulently altered a document and submitted it, and took the question was carter page and asset for the cia, the cia said yes and he altered the document and changed it to a no. you are telling me that nobody wanted to get trump? how about the lawyer that fraudulently altered a document to get the surveillance? ms. yates: i am telling you that inspector general horwitz in 170 interviews and more than one million documents resubmitted -- make a decision that there was no evidence of a clear motive or bias. sen. cruz: let me make a final observation. you mentioned in your testimony the principal career men and women of the department of justice and the fbi. principlesremendous whose integrity has been called into question by the profound
12:46 pm
politicization of the leadership of the department and of the bureau. on turning the fbi and cia into a tool of opposition research and attacking your political opponents, to go all the way to the oval office as you did on january 5 with president obama and joe biden, going after their political opponents is wrong and it has done damage to the professional men and women of integrity at the department of justice and the bureau. sen. graham: now senator hirono. bias indid not find any opening up the investigation, but he was dumbfounded by the series of events that occurred, including manipulating evidence and the withholding of information from the court. he said, that is hard to explain. not for me it is not. senator hirono?
12:47 pm
sen. hirono: thank you, mr. chairman. the person who has politicized the department of justice is the current attorney general bill barr. there has been a lot of talk about the errors and omissions in the fisa application process and the ig investigation where they interviewed 100 people and looked at a million documents and as miss yates just testified there was no finding a political bias or improper motivation in the opening of that investigation. christopher wray, the fbi director -- has taken more than 40 corrective steps to address the concerns. director has warned that russia is engaged in information warfare and even as we speak they are continuing to interfere with our 2020 presidential
12:48 pm
election. their interference in 2016 was shocking and massive. do you think our country is adequately prepared to combat russian interference in this upcoming election? ms. yates: i am no longer in government, so i don't know what is going on. gosh i hope so. is in all of government approach. no matter democrats or republicans, i think and hope that we all share the same objective that we want to protect the integrity of our elections. sen. hirono: i completely agree. that leads me to my next question. president is not taking russian interference in our election seriously. to your knowledge, has president trump ever punished or criticized russia for its attack on our democracy in 2016? ms. yates: i am not an authority
12:49 pm
on that from an official standpoint, but i can't recall an instance. i can't remember one. sen. hirono: if he has i would like somebody to pointed out to me. i don't think he has even acknowledged current efforts by russia to undermine our upcoming elections. warrantsy 26, 2017 new -- president trump's national security advisor michael flynn lied to investigators about withing with sanctions -- the russian ambassador about sanctions and he had a back channel going on. did general flynn pose a national security risk to the united states? ms. yates: it was certainly a concern and the russians had leverage over general flynn. the russians use leverage whenever they can. sen. hirono: somebody as close to the president as the national security advisor, i would say that equals a national security risk and i think that is the
12:50 pm
response. during an earlier back with the chairman there was a question of whether general flynn's discussion with the russian ambassador about sanctions related to a policy difference -- it standard run-of-the-mill stuff for a member of an incoming administration to undermine sanctions imposed by the current administration against a country that passively interfered in our elections, particularly when that country interfered in favor of the incoming administration? resetting or did it raise a lot more concerns? good faithpeople of can have different views on policy. [indiscernible] opposed to the russians trying
12:51 pm
to meddle in our elections very -- stand unified and make sure we send the adequate message -- sen. hirono: this administration is not sending that adequate message to russia that they will not interfere with our elections. having spent nearly three decades at the justice thattment, do you believe obstruction of justice conduct as described in the mueller report was enough to indict donald trump and would he be indicted if he was not the president of the united states? ms. yates: [indiscernible] having been a prosecutor for a number of years -- officials at the doj signed a letter saying that the evidence provided would have led to him being prosecuted. sen. hirono: you agree with that assessment? ms. yates: i'm not here to take
12:52 pm
sides, i just want to look at the specific allegations. but there are some very troubling allegations. in. hirono: resulting multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice were he not a sitting president. that -- certainly the mueller report made it clear that that was a stumbling block for his being able to make a conclusion about obstruction. sen. hirono: thank you very much. sen. graham: i think that was a great exchange. you can't tell us whether or not you agree with the conclusion there was no conspiracy between the trump campaign and the russians, but you sure as hell feel comfortable about opining about the 2000 people who signed on to the obstruction of justice. let me ask you again, are you ok with the part of the report where mueller said there was no evidence of conspiracy between the trump campaign and the
12:53 pm
russians sufficient to proceed forward? ms. yates: [indiscernible] the mueller report did not find that there was no evidence of a conspiracy -- sen. graham: do you think there was evidence of conspiracy? ms. yates: may i please finish my answer. i absolutely accept that conclusion, i think i said that before. special counsel and mueller is in a bet -- sen. graham: do you think mueller let trump off on obstruction of justice? ms. yates: i don't have a view as to whether he led them off. i have tremendous respect for special counsel mueller. i think he was doing his job responsibly in the way it should be done. sen. graham: thank you very much. senator blackburn?
12:54 pm
,en. blackburn: miss yates thank you for your time. i came back to my office, i think i can hear you a little better this way and can move through more quickly and you won't have to repeat yourself. we do want to get some things on the record so thank you for this. i want to be sure that i have understood some of your answers and statements. process forandard reviewing fisa applications, correct? ms. yates: yes. stated thatrn: you your review of the carter page fisa application was no different from any other, is that correct? ms. yates: i did not state that. sen. blackburn: was he a review of that one any different from any other fisa application? ms. yates: i reviewed this one
12:55 pm
more carefully. sen. blackburn: what led you to that? ms. yates: it was a significant and sensitive matter. sen. blackburn: who briefed you on that application? who actually gave you all the background information and briefed you on that application? number of parties from the national security division and a lawyer on my staff from the attorney general's office -- sen. blackburn: there were a variety of attorneys from the national security division. did you not have one person in your office that was responsible to clear information and bring it to you? ms. yates: yes. as i was trying to explain there are lawyers in the national security division who worked on the fisa with the fbi. then they go through their levels of approval and it comes
12:56 pm
to my office. there was a lawyer in my office who used to be in the national security division who is an expert on these matters. she provided the most detailed briefings to make in addition to my reading. sen. blackburn: did you ever suspect that something might be wrong with this information? ms. yates: at the time i signed it, no. sen. blackburn: so you never had any inclination that something may not be right? let me ask you this. falsified and made the inaccuracies that you have set now you would not have signed it knowing these inaccuracies were in it, showed that these agents who knowingly did something wrong and gave false information, should they be held to account?
12:57 pm
should they face consequences? should they face jail time? ms. yates: if there are agents who knowingly and intentionally provide false information there should be consequences for them. i am not going to speak to -- sen. blackburn: -- further investigation to find out more details of who falsified. think there is an internal fbi process. with respect to the inaccuracies in the fisa fisa -- there was information that was inconsistent with the information in the affidavit. it was not on true, it was information that was also relevant and should absolutely have been included in the affidavit. sen. blackburn: did you know about the orrs relationship to
12:58 pm
steele?- ms. yates: no. sen. blackburn: but he was in your office? ms. yates: yes. and page and their vitriol for president trump, were you aware of that? ms. yates: no. sen. blackburn: you never heard conversation on it? ms. yates: i don't think anyone did until the inspector general's report. comey's disdain for president trump, you never heard anything about that? say no i didn't i am not saying he has disdain for president trump. i am not speaking to that. sen. blackburn: you never heard thetalk about people within doj or fbi trying to cook up a trump, block his winning, and then block his presidency? ms. yates: not only did i never hear that, that would have been
12:59 pm
so out of bounds that we all would have acted to stop that. that is completely antithetical to how the department of justice operates. [indiscernible] sen. blackburn: we know that transpired. ms. yates: [indiscernible] this is one of thathings that gets passed people in tennessee asked me about. how could you possibly have been in charge over there, never heard this conversation, never heard this disdain, not being aware that there were people who were trying to do this, why were you not curious about director comey and the fbi being opposed to your intention to notify the white house? you weren't curious about that? why do you say flynn did this and it's awful, but yet we know
1:00 pm
what president obama said about give me more flexibility after the election i will have more flexibility. you have no problem with that, but then you have a problem with -- these are the inconsistencies that cause people to say, who was in charge, how were they watchful, why were they turning a blind turned andeed they blind eye? and who was paying attention to this? because people in tennessee talk to me and say, how could it be [indiscernible] could end up being surveilled, and everybody just say, well, it happened, and move on. i will send my time back to you,
1:01 pm
mr. chairman. yates, thank you for being with us today. i yield back. >> our last senator is senator booker. let's see if we can all agree with the following. theyates, when it comes to application regarding carding regard system to failure and we are trying to correct that. do you agree with that? ms. yates: i do agree with that. >> we are trying to metro sure that never happens again. senator booker? booker: there's many occasions where i felt like you stood up for justice and actually bought a lot of important integrity to the system and institutions. gratefulr being very
1:02 pm
that you were in the justice department not to defend president trump's unlawful travel ban, for example, against many muslim countries. i have appreciated the way you conducted yourself in that way. i want to drill down into some weyour understandings, as see the justice department continuing under the trump administration. in many ways, i believe it's been politicized and manipulated instead of focusing on those interests of justice and democracy. we know that russia wants to interfere in our election this year. just as it did in 2016. we know they are wanting to help the term campaign. attorney general barr has repeatedly struggled, including in a house hearing last week, to confirm that it would be wrong and illegal for the president to solicit or accept foreign assistance and elections. i would like to pose this lesson to you. it is it legal or appropriate
1:03 pm
for a presidential candidate or campaign to solicit or accept help from a foreign government in an election? ms. yates: beyond that, i would hope they would report that. that point, it may campaign hears from a foreign government -- if a foreign hears from a government, they should reported to the fbi immediately, correct? ms. yates: absolutely, yes. sen. booker: there's a lot of areas where attorney general uddledas obfuscated or m what is not only legal clarity but moral clarity. we have seen leaders intervene and prosecutions arising from of russian investigation, the two close associates of president trump. michael flynn m roger stone are examples -- and roger stone are examples of that.
1:04 pm
we have seen attorney general barr engineering the removal of u.s. attorneys who apparently were not sufficiently friendly to the president's personal interests. we have seen attorney general barr distort the findings of the special counsel mueller report on the term campaign's link to russian interference and president trump's later efforts in that investigation. do you think actions like these are consistent with the justice department's duty to always seek justice and stand for what is right? ms. yates: i think that is the highest responsibility for any lawyer at the department of justice, to when short -- to ensure you're doing your job in a way that will inspire public trust. the roles apply the same to everyone rules apply the same to everyone.
1:05 pm
that is the obligation of the department of justice. sen. booker: or three decades of experience at the department of theice, do you think department's recent attempt to dismiss the flynn case has damaged the credibility or the in terms of what you have seen in both parties? what do you think should be done going forward? ms. yates: any time you have , someone whoe this was close to the president being treated differently, when you look at the underlying facts, you see that in fact, positions are being taken by the justice department. they have never been taken in any other similar cases. no person would send that bleeding. -- pleading.
1:06 pm
-- ibooker: he would like to enter into the record in new york times article titled "will bar tried to help trump when the election." the article details attorney general barr's apparent efforts to underwrite key justice department policies and norms by deploying this and other investigations for political purposes. if that article can be entered into the record, mr. chairman? >> without objection. sen. booker: the report stated election, the 2016 you did not want to do anything that could potentially impact candidate trump. it is on page 71 and page 72. why is an important for the justice department to avoid taking actions just before an election that could "potentially impact it?"
1:07 pm
ms. yates: [indiscernible] investigation involving , i wouldd official say, we didn't take an election -- and the action that could potentially have an impact on the election. that couldon potentially have an impact on the election. we ensure that public has the confidence our is not being used to try to impact an election. i have a very specific recollection of activity with respect to paul manafort. fbi totalking to the make sure they were not doing anything publicly with respect to mr. manafort, even though he was no longer even with the campaign at this point. if they were doing anything publicly with respect to mr. manafort, because that could be
1:08 pm
unfair to candidate, donald trump. sen. booker: i want to thank you. my time expired. i think retrospective hearings are important, but to prioritize that over an oncoming election, and with the international interference we all know was going on, and with conduct of the attorney general that is possibly further eroding the independence of that agency that they run, in addition to undermining the ideals of an independent election, these are the things we should be looking at right now to prevent what could happen in november. that, to me, would be a serious blow to democracy. i am hoping these are issues that we can explore as a committee. mr. chairman, thank you for allowing me to go over time. ates, it is good to see you
1:09 pm
again. i look forward to the next opportunity we have to connect. >> i believe that is our last senator. ms. yates, thank you for appearing. are you familiar with the durham investigation? do you know mr. durham? concerns about his doing something politically wrong? as far as you know, is he an honest man? ms. yates: i don't know mr. durham. >> so you don't have an opinion when we are the other? ms. yates: i don't. >> is it ok for him to find out how the system failed, when it comes to the pfizer one application? ms. yates: i think the inspector general did that investigation. >> is it ok to hold somebody criminally responsible to rise to the court?
1:10 pm
ms. yates: of course it is ok to hold them responsible if they committed a crime. wasou knew that the dossier no longer reliable, but you continue to give it to the court. would that be a crime? understand i did not, though. >> no doubt in my mind. i never suggested you presented false information to the court. here is what i am suggesting. is it possible that one of the most cap profile cases in the history of the fbi, involving the term campaign, literally fell apart when it came to the page one application and people above were not told? it is a simple question. the intel analyst who did the memo in january and another one in march and april provided evidence to the system that the dossier was a bunch of garbage.
1:11 pm
is it ok to find out who was told about that? senator, theyin, did that investigation. >> no, ma'am. i asked you specifically, did you ask intel analysts, did you talk to anybody about your findings? you said no. that they didn't talk to mccabe about this. i believe you when you said that you didn't know the dossier was reliable. but if you have known it was unreliable, you would not have done it. the question for me is, how was is itsible -- how possible that people investigating this case were unaware that it fell apart? is it ok for mr. durham to look at that, do you think? ms. yates: it is not my possession to be saying what mr. durham should do were not. -- or not. >> has a career professional, do
1:12 pm
you want people held accountable like to the court? ms. yates: certainly. if somebody intentionally lies to the court, they should be held accountable. >> you have a duty to give the court and the defense information? ms. yates: yes. >> in the flynn case, one of the reasons they wanted to drop it is because they found exculpatory evidence that was not provided. what i want to let the american know is, i don't buy for a minute that there are only two people in the fbi who knew the dossier was garbage and they didn't tell anybody. i want to make sure this never happens again. i believe u.n. rosenstein did not know. -- you and rosenstein did not
1:13 pm
know. were notelieve others aware. that is what i am trying to find. that is what i am trying to put the puzzle together. what will the committee do next? we will talk to the intel analysts and the case agent and to others who interviewed the ,ussian sub source in january march, and april, and we will ask them, did you tell anybody in the fbi that the reliability of the dossier has gone down to zero? and if you did tell somebody, who was it? then we will decide as a nation what accountability they should have, whether they should be fired, go to jail, or whatever. that is the purpose of this investigation going forward, is to make sure the biggest system failure at the fbi is not repeated. to make sure that if the fbi is investigating a presidential a sittingor
1:14 pm
president, that they are held accountable when it goes off track. i just find it hard to believe that the dossier was used four times to get a warrant against carter page, and the but he was a bunch of garbage, particularly sub source. i don't believe rosenstein knew. but the idea we are going to blame these two people at the bottom of the pyramid is not going to go forward without some serious looking. what will the committee be doing next? we are to find out who knew what and when. and if they knew the dossier was unreliable and they continued to use it, they are going to be in serious trouble with the law. ms. yates, i appreciate your service to our country. we will keep the record open for a period of time. the hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute,
1:15 pm
which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] announcer: unfortunately, we were unable to resolve our issues this morning. we hope to have a hearing in its entirety for you later in our program schedule.
1:16 pm
maryland republican governor, larry hogan, passes up the chairmanship of the national governors association to new york democratic governor, andrew cuomo, today. 2:30, one on c-span at, or listen live on the free c-span radio app. chad wolf testifies thursday on capitol hill, discussing his agency's response to unrest in portland and the deployment of dhs law enforcement personnel to protest across the nation on racial injustice. live coverage begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span, online at, or listen live on the free c-span radio app. this week marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of hiroshima and nagasaki. watch c-span's "washington
1:17 pm
journal" live thursday at 8:00 a.m. eastern for a discussion about the bombings with the author of twilight of the gods in clifton truman daniel ransom of president harry truman. sunday, watch american history tv and washington journal live at 9:00 a.m. eastern as we look back at how the bombings ended world war ii and their legacy in decades ahead with richard frank, author of downfall, the end of the imperial japanese empire. and peter c., professor at american university, nuclear studies institute. join the discussion with your calls, texts, facebook questions, and tweets. watch the 75th anniversary of the bombing of hiroshima and nagasaki. this thursday and sunday on "washington journal" on c-span and american history tv on c-span3. conversation with former secretary of state, condoleezza rice. she talks about the federal response to the coronavirus,
1:18 pm
reports of russiannt


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on