tv FBI Director Defends Decision to Reveal Clinton Email Probe Before Election CSPAN May 4, 2017 3:19am-7:01am EDT
and "astrophysics for people in a hurry." watch neil degrasse tyson live from noon to 3:00 p.m., sunday on book tv on c-span2. the director of the fbi and announced decisions to announce an investigation into hillary clinton's emails had been reopened just days before the 2016 presidential election. he testified before the senate judiciary committee in a hearing that also covered that at encryption challenges for law enforcement and the investigation of russian hacking. senator chuck grassley of iowa chairs this four our hearing.
>> i don't know when the time is 10:30 or 10:45, but there's a vote scheduled on the senate floor. it's my intention to keep the going during that vote and we'll take turns going. so somebody needs to be here presiding while i go vote, and i will run over and run back, and we will do the questioning according to the fall of the gavel, or early birds, whichever rule applies. director comey, welcome.
we thank the fbi for what it does to keep america safe. there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the fbi since the last time you were here in 2015. in march, you publicly acknowledged the fbi is investigating allegations of coordination between the trump campaign and russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. under president obama's order, former dni clapper had been in charge of the intelligence community's view of that inference. mr. clapper testified that president obama asked the intelligence community to compile all available information after he left office. mr. clapper said there was no evidence of collusion whatsoever. "the new york times" reported that american officials found no proof of collusion. so where is all this speculation about collusion coming from?
in january, buzzfeed published a dossier spinning wild conspiracy theories about the trump campaign. buzzfeed acknowledged that the claims were unverified and some of the details were clearly wrong. buzzfeed has since been sued for publishing them. since then, much of the dossier has been proven wrong, and many of its outlandish claims have failed to gain traction. for example, no one is looking for moles or russian agents embedded in the dnc, yet some continue to quote parts of this document as if it were gospel truth. according to press reports, the fbi has relied on the document to justify its current investigation. there have been reports that the fbi agreed to pay the author of the dossier, who paid his sources, who also paid their subsources. where did the money come from, and what motivated the people writing the checks?
the company that oversaw the dossier's creation, fusion gsp, won't speak to that point either . its founder glenn simpson is refusing to cooperate with this company's -- committee's investigation and inquiry. his company is also the subject of a complaint to the justice department. that complain alleges that fusion worked as an unregistered foreign agent for russian interests and with a former russian intelligence agency at the time it worked on the dossier. it was filed with the justice department in july, long before the the dossier came out . the man who wrote the dossier admitted in court that it has unverified claims. does that sound like a reliable basis for law enforcement or
intelligence actions? unfortunately, the fbi has provided me materially inconsistent information about these issues. that is why we need to know more about it. how much the fbi relied on it once you buy into the claim of collusion, then suddenly every interaction with a russian can be twisted to seem like confirmation of a conspiracy theory. i, obviously, don't know what the fbi will find. for the good of the country, i hope that the fbi gets to the truth soon, whatever that truth or that answer may be. if there are wrong doers, they should be punished, and the innocent should have their names cleared.
and in the meantime, this committee is charged with the oversight of the fbi, and we can't wait until this is all over to ask the hard questions. otherwise, too many people will have no confidence in fbi's conclusions. the public needs to know what role the dossier has played and where it came from. and we need to know whether there was anything improper going on between the trump campaign and the russians or are , these mere allegations just a partisan smear campaign that manipulated our government into chasing a conspiracy theory ? now before the election and before we knew about this notorious dossier, you, chairman comey, publicly released his findings that secretary clinton was extremely careless in the handling of classified information and this recommendation has -- and his
recommendation that no one be prosecuted. according to a recent "new york times" article, he did it partly because he knew the russians had a hacked e-mail from a democrat operative that might be released before the election. that e-mail reportedly provided assurances that attorney general lynch would protect secretary clinton and make sure the fbi "didn't go too far." despite attorney general lynch's connection to the clintons and her now famous conversation with former president clinton during the election she failed to recuse herself she was effectively had it both ways. she would be uninvolved but remain in control of the ultimate outcome. areover, in the haste to end
tough politically charged investigation, the fbi failed to follow up on credible evidence of the intent to hide federal records from the congress and the public. it is a federal crime, as we know, to willfully and unlawfully conceal, remove or destroy a federal record. that, " theey said fbi also discovered several thousands work-related e-mails, " that secretary clinton did not turn over to the state department he said the secretary clinton's lawyers, " cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery" of additional emails. the justice department also entered into immunity agreements limiting the scope of the investigation. some of the agreements prohibited the fbi from reviewing any e-mails on the laptops of the clinton aides that were created outside of
secretary clinton's tenure at state. any e-mails would not have been created until after she left office during the congressional fbi reviews. even those these records were subject to congressional subpoena and preservation records, the justice department agreed to destroy the laptops. a cloud of doubt hangs over the fbi objective it he. the directors said the people at the fbi do not give a rip about politics, but the director as deputyat director a man whose wife ran for elected office and accepted almost a million dollars from governor terry mcauliffe, a long time friend of the clintons and democratic party. and andrew mccabe reportedly met a person about his wife's political plans. he did not recuse himself from the clinton investigations or the russian matter despite the
, obvious appearance of conflict. the inspector general is reviewing these issues, but once again the people deserve answers , and the fbi has not provided those answers. we need the fbi to be accountable because we need the , fbi to be effective. its mission is to protect us from the most dangerous threats and since theion, director was last here the drumbeat of attacks on the united states from those directed or inspired by isis and other islamic terrorists has continued. for example, in june 2016, a terrorist killed 49 and wounded orlando frequented , by gay and lesbian community . it was the most deadly attack in the united states soil since 9/11. but long afterwards, in
september a terrorist stabbed 10 at a mall in minneapolis and , another terrorist injured 31 after he detonated bombs in new jersey and new york city. and in november, a terrorist injured 13 after driving into students and teachers at ohio state university. our allies have been immuned either, as we read in the newspaper frequently. we recall the tragedy of july 16th when terrorists drove a truck through a crowd in france , killing over 80 people. so, we in the congress, need to make sure that the fbi has the tools it needs to prevent and investigate terrorism as well as other serious violent crimes. these tools must adapt to both evolving technology and threats, while preserving our civil liberties. i hope we can hear from the director about the fbi's use of some of these tools that may
require congress' attention. most obviously the fisa section , 702 authority is up for reauthorization at the end of the year. this authority provides the government the ability to collect the electronic communications of foreigners outside the united states with a compelled assistance of american companies. and the bush and obama administrations were strongly supportive of 702, and now the trump administration is as well . from all accounts, the law has proven to be highly effective in helping to protect the united states and our allies. the privacy and civil liberties oversight board and many other federal courts have found section 702 constitutional and consistent with our fourth amendment. yet, questions and concerns persist for many about its effects on our civil liberties, specifically in the way the fbi queries data collected under
section 702. in addition, the director has spoken out often about how the use of encryption by terrorists and criminals is eroding the effectiveness of one of the fbi's core investigative tools, a warrant based on probable cause. i look forward to an update from you, director comey, on going dark problem. i'm also waiting for answers from the fbi's advanced knowledge of an attempted terrorist attack 2015 garland, texas. fortunately the attack was , interrupted by local police officers, but not before a guard was shot. after the attack, the director claimed that the fbi did not have advanced knowledge of it , but it was recently revealed that an undercover fbi agent was in close communication with one of the attackers in the weeks leading up to the attack. the undercover agent was in a car directly behind the attacker when they started shooting and
fled the scene. the committee needs clarity on what the fbi knew, whether there were plans to disrupt any of attack, and whether it shared enough information with local law enforcement. and, obviously, you expect me to always remind you about whistleblowers. finally, as you know the fbi , whistleblower enhancement act became law december 2016. it clarified fbi employees are protected when they disclose wrong doing to their supervisors . in we learned that the fbi has april, not updated its policy and done much to educate employees on the new law. the inspector general gave the fbi updated training this past employees who know they're january. protected are more likely to come forward with evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse. they should not have to wait many months to be trained on such a significant change in their rights and their
protections. and these are all important issues, and i look forward to discussing them with you, director comey. the public's faith in the fbi, congress and our democratic , process has been tested lately . oversight and transparency hopefully will restore that faith. you may take as long as you want, senator. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. as you stated, this is the committee's annual oversight hearing to conduct that oversight of the fbi. so usually we review and ask questions about the fbi's work that ranges from major federal law enforcement priorities to the specific concerns of individual members of the committee. however, this hearing takes place at a unique time. last year, for the first time, the fbi and its investigation of a candidate for president became the center of the closing days of a presidential election.
before voters went to the polls last november, they had been inundated with stories about the fbi's investigation of senator clinton's e-mails. the press coverage was wall to wall. every day there was another story about secretary clinton's e-mails. every day, questions were released -- every day questions were raised about whether classified information had been released or compromised. and over and over again there was commentary from the fbi about its actions and investigation. 2016, two months before the election, director comey publicly announced that the fbi had concluded its investigation and determined , that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case against secretary clinton.
that should have been the end of the story, but it wasn't. 11 days before the election on director comey then announced october 20 8, 2016, that the fbi was reopening the clinton investigation because of e-mails , on anthony wiener's computer. this explosive announcement -- and it was -- came unprompted and without knowing whether a single e-mail warranted a new investigation. it was, in fact, a big october surprise. but, in fact, as it turned out, not one e-mail on the laptop changed the fbi's original conclusion that no prosecution was warranted. and only two days before the election, the fbi sent another public letter to congress affirming its original
conclusion. this was extraordinary, plain and simple. i join those who believe that the actions taken by the fbi did, in fact, have an impact on the election. what's worse, is that while all of this was going on in the public spotlight, while the fbi was discussing its investigation into senator clinton's e-mail server in detail, i cannot help but note that it was noticeably silent about the investigation into the trump campaign and russian interference into the election. in june 2016, the press reported that russian hackers had infiltrated the computer system of the democratic national committee. in response, then candidate trump and his campaign began goading the russian government
into hacking secretary clinton. two months later, in august on twitter, roger stone declared, "trust me, it will soon be podesta's time in the barrel." he then bragged that he was in communication with wikileaks, and this was during a campaign -- the campaign in florida, he told a group of florida republicans that founder, julian assange, said -- founder julian assange and that there would be no telling what the october surprise might be. clearly he knew what he was , talking about. two months later, on october 7 thousands of e-mails from , john podesta's account were published on wikileaks. we now know that through the
fall election, the fbi was actively investigating russia's efforts to interfere with the presidential campaign and possible involvement of trump campaign officials in those efforts. yet, the fbi remained silent. in fact, the fbi suamarally refused to acknowledge any investigation. it's still very unclear -- and i hope, director, that you will clear this up -- why the fbi's treatment of these two investigations was so dramatically different. with the clinton e-mail investigation, it has been said circumstances"al including a high interest in the matter and the need to reassure the public required public comment from the fbi. however, i can't imagine how an unprecedented big and bold hacking interference in our
election by the russian government did not also present exceptional circumstances. as i said at the beginning we're in a unique time. a foreign adversary actively interfered with a presidential election. the fbi was investigating not just that interference, but whether campaign officials associated with the president were connected to this interference. and the attorney general has recused himself from any involvement in this investigation. at the same time, the fbi must continue to work with its state and local law enforcement and -- law enforcement partners to investigate crime of all types violent crime, increased narcotic trafficking, fraud, human trafficking, terrorism, child exploitation, public corruption, and yesterday this committee had a very important
hearing on hate and crimes against specific religions and races, which are off the charts. in order to do all of that, i firmly believe it's of the utmost importance that the american people have faith and trust in the nation's top law enforcement agency. we must be assured that all of the fbi's decisions are made in justice, not in the interest of any political agenda, or reputation of any one agency or individual. so, mr. director today we need , to hear how the fbi will regain that faith and trust. we need straightforward answers to our questions. and we want to hear how you're going to lead the fbi going forward. we never ever want anything like this to happen again.
thank you, mr. chairman. >> director comey, i'd like to swear you in at this you affirm point. that the testimony you're about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth , so help you god? ,thank you, very much. as the old saying goes for somebody as famous as you you , don't need any introductions so i'm going to just introduce you as director of the federal bureau of investigation. once again, thank you for being here today and we look forward to your testimony and answer to our questions. you may begin. chairman.ou, mr. senator feinstein, members of the committee, thank you for having this annual oversight hearing about the fbi. i know that sound a little bit like someone saying they're looking forward to going to the dentist, but i really do mean t -- mean it. i think oversight of the fbi of all parts of government, but especially the one i'm lucky enough to lead is essential
i think it was john adams when wrote to thomas jefferson that power always thinks it has a great soul. the way you guard against that is having people ask hard questions. ask good questions and demand straightforward answers and i , promise you i'll do my absolute best to give you that kind of answer today. i also appreciate the conversation i know we're going to have today, and over the next few months about reauthorizing , section 702 of the foreign intelligence surveillance act that you mentioned, mr. chairman. this is a tool that is essential to the safety of this country i did not say the same thing about the collection of telephone dialing information by the the nsa, i think that's a useful tool. 702 is an essential tool and if it goes away, we'll be less safe as a country. and i mean that and would be happy to talk more about that thank you for engaging on that so we can tell the american people why this matters so much and why we cannot make it go away. as you know, the magic of the fbi that you oversee is its people. and we talk as we should a lot
about our counterterrorism work, about our counterintelligence work and i'm sure we'll talk about that today. i thought i would give you some idea of the work that's being done by those people all over the country, all over the world, every day, every night, all the time. and i pulled three cases that happened and were finished in the last month just to illustrate it. the first was something i know that you followed closely, the plague of threats against jewish community centers this country experienced in the first few months of this year. children frightened, old people frightened, terrifying threat of bombs at jewish institutions, especially the jewish community centers. the entire fbi surged in response to that threat, working across all programs, all divisions, our technical wizards, using our vital international presence and using our partnerships, especially with the israeli national police. we made that case and the , israelis locked up the person behind those threats and stopped that terrifying plague against the jewish community centers. second case i wanted to mention
is all of you know what a bot net is, these are the zombie armies of computers that have been taken over by criminals lashed together in order to do tremendous harm to innocent people. last month, the fbi working with our partners with the spanish national police, took down a bot net and locked up the russian hacker behind that bot net that made a mistake that russian criminals sometimes make of leaving russia and visiting barcelona. he is now in jail in spain. the good people's computers that had been lashed to that zombie army are now freed and no longer part of a criminal enterprise. this week for the first time since congress passed the statute making it a crime in the united states to engage in female gentle mutilation, to muteulate little girls, it's been a felony in the united states since we made the 1996, first case last week
against doctors in michigan for doing this terrifying thing to young girls all across the country with our partners in the department of homeland security we brought a case against two doctors for doing this to children. this is a among the most important work we do, protecting kids especially, and it was done by great work that you don't hear about a lot all across the country by the fbi. it is the honor of my life -- i know you look at me like i'm crazy for saying this about this job -- i love this work, i love this job. and i love it because of the mission and people i get to work with. some work i illustrated by pulling those three cases from last month, but it goes on all the time, all around the country , and we are safer for it. i love representing these people, speaking on their behalf and i look forward to your , questions today. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you for your opening statement. i'm going to start out probably with a couple subjects you wish i didn't bring up, and a that i third one think everybody needs to hear your opinion on, a policy issue.
it is frustrating when the fbi refuses to answer this committee's questions. , but leaks relevant information to the media. in other words they don't talk , to us, but someone talks to the media. director comey have you ever , been an anonymous source about news relating to the trump investigation or the clinton investigation? >> never. >> question 2 on relatively related, have you ever authorized someone else at the fbi to be an anonymous source in news reports about the trump investigation or clinton investigation? >> no. >> has any classified information relating to president trump or his associates been declassified and shared with the media? >> not to my knowledge.
>> you testified before the house intelligence committee that a lot of classified matters have ended up in the media recently. without getting into any particular article, i want to emphasize that, without getting into any reticular article, are there any leaks of classified information relating to mr. trump or his associates? >> i don't want to answer that question, senator, for reasons i think you know. there have been a variety of leaks -- leaks are always a problem, but especially in the last three to six months. and where there is a leak of classified information, the fbi, if it's our information, make as -- makes a referral to the department of justice or if it's another agency's information, they do the same and then doj
authorizes the opening of an investigation. i don't want to confirm in an open setting whether there are any investigations open. >> i want to challenge you on that, because the government regularly acknowledged when it's investigating classified leaks . you did that in the valerie plain case. what's the difference here? >> the most important difference is i don't have authorization from the department to confirm any of the investigations they have authorized. and it may be that we can get that at some point, but i'm not going to do it sitting here in an open setting without having talked to them. >> i can -- you can expect me to follow up on that offer. >> sure. >> there are several senior fbi officials who would have had access to the classified information that was leaked, including yourself and the deputy director so how can the , justice department guarantee the integrity of the investigations without designating an agency other than the fbi to gather the facts and eliminate senior fbi officials
as suspects? >> well, i'm not going to answer about any particular investigations, but i know of situations in the past where if you think the fbi or its leadership are suspects, you have another investigative agency support the investigation about federal prosecutors. it can be done and has been done in the past. .> ok moving on to another subject, "the new york times" recently reported that the fbi had found a troubling e-mail among the ones the russians hacked from democrat operatives. the e-mail reportedly provided assurances that attorney general lynch would protect secretary clinton by making sure the fbi investigation "didn't go too far." how and when did you first learn of this document? also who sent it and who , received it?
>> that is not a question i can answer in this forum, mr. chairman because it would call , for a clarify classified response. i have briefed leadership of the intelligence committees on that particular issue, that i cannot talk about it here. >> you can expect me to follow up with you on that issue. >> sure. >> what steps did the fbi take to determine whether attorney general lynch had actually given assurances that the political fix was in no matter what, did the fbi interview the person who wrote the email? if not, why not? >> >> i have to give you the same answer, i can't talk about that in an unclassified setting. >> ok you can expect me to , follow up on that. i asked the fbi to provide this e-mail to the committee before today's hearing. why haven't you done so and will you provide it by the end of this week? >> again, to react to that i have to give a classified answer and i can't give it sitting here . >> so that means you cannot give
me the email? >> i'm not confirming there was an gmail. the subject is classified and in , an appropriate forum i'd be happy to brief you on it, but i cannot do it in an open hearing. >> i assume other members of the committee could have access to data briefing if they want it? i want to talk about going dark, .irector comey a few years ago, you testified before the committee about the going dark problem and the inability of law enforcement to access encrypted data despite the existence of a court order. you continue to raise this issue in public speeches. most recently at boston college. mentioned at the beginning of your testimony briefly, but can you provide the committee with a more detailed update on the status of going dark problem
, and how it affected the fbi's ability to access in crib to data.- access encrypted any progressn to overcome problems? you said you did not think legislation was necessary at that time. is that still your revieview? >> thank you, mr. chairman. the shadow created by the problem we call going dark continues to fall across more and more of our work. take devices, for example. the ubiquitous default on devices is affecting about half of our work. first six months of this fiscal year, fbi examiners were presented with over 6,000 devices, for which we had lawful authority, search warrant or court order to open. 46% of those cases we could not open those devices with any technique. that means half of the devices we encounter in terrorism cases, in counterintelligence cases, in gang cases, in child pornography cases, cannot be opened with any
technique. that is a big problem. and so the shadow continues to fall. determined today to continue to make sure the american people and congress know about it. i know this is important to the president and new attorney general. it's something we have to talk about. like you, i care a lot about privacy, i also care an awful a lot about public safety. there continues to be a huge collision between those two things we care about. i look forward to continuing that conversation, mr. chairman. >> you didn't respond to the part about do you still have the view that legislation is not needed. >> i don't know the answer yet . i hope i said the last time we talked about this it might require legislation solutions at some the obama administration point. was not in a position to tackle this. it's premature for me to say. >> senator feinstein.
director, i have one question regarding my opening comment, and i view it as a most important question, and i hope you will answer it. why was it necessary to announce 11 days before a presidential election that you were opening an investigation on a new computer without any knowledge of what was in that computer? why didn't you just do the investigation as you would normally with no public announcement? senator.question, thank you. october 27, the investigative team that had finished the investigation in july focused on secretary clinton's e-mails asked to meet with me. i met with them that morning in my conference room. they laid out for me what they could see from the meta data on
anthony wiener's laptop. what they could see is there were thousands of secretary clinton's e-mails on that device, including what they thought might be the missing e-mails from her first three months as secretary of state. we never found any e-mails from her first three months. she was using a verizon blackberry then. that's obviously very important if there was evidence she was acting with bad intent that's where it would be. >> but they weren't there. >> can i finish my answer, senator? so they came in and said we can see thousands of e-mails from the clinton e-mail domain, including many, many from the verizon blackberry domain. we think we got to get a search warrants to go get these . i agreed. the department of justice agreed we had to get a search warrant . i authorized them to seek a search warrant. i have lived my career by the tradition if you can possibly
avoid it, you avoid any action in the run up to an election that might have an impact. but i sat there that morning and i could not see a door labelled no action. . i could see 2 doors, and they were both actions. one was labeled speak, the other was labeled concealed. here's how i thought about it -- i'm not trying to talk you into this but i want you to know my thinking. having repeatedly told this congress we're done and there's nothing there, no case there, no case there. to restart in a hugely significant way, potentially finding the e-mails that would reflect on her intent from the beginning and not speak about it would require an act of concealment, in my view. so i stared at speak and conceal . speak would be really bad. there is an election in 11 days lordy that would be really bad . concealing in my view would be catastrophic. not just to the fbi, but well beyond. and honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, i said to my team we've got to walk into the world of really bad . i've got to tell congress we're
restarting this. not in some frivolous way in a hugely significant way. the team also told me we cannot finish this work before the election then they worked night . after night and found thousands of new e-mails, they found classified information on anthony wiener. somehow her e-mails are being forwarded to anthony wiener, including classified information by her assistant huma abedin. they found thousands of new e-mails and called me the saturday night before the election and said we've only had to personally read 6,000. we think we can finish tomorrow morning, sunday. and so i met with them. and they said we found a lot of new stuff we did not find anything that changes our view of her intent. so we're in the same place we were in july, it hasn't changed our view. i asked them lots of questions i said okay if that's where you are, then i also have to tell congress we're done. this was terrible. it makes me mildly nauseous to
think we might have had impact on the election. but, honestly, it wouldn't change of the decision. everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to october 28th with me and stare at this and tell me what you would do? would you speak, or would you conceal? and i could be wrong, but we honestly made a decision between those two choices that even in hindsight. this has been one of the world's most painful experiences, i make the same decision. i would not conceal that on october 28th from the congress i spent a later by congress -- people forget this, i didn't make a public announcement. i sent a private letter to the members of the oversight committees. it was very important that i tell them instead of concealing and reasonable people can disagree. that's the reason i made that choice. and it was a hard choice, i still believe in retrospect the right choice, as painful as it has been. i'm sorry for the long answer. >> let me respond. on the letter it was just a , matter of minutes before the world knew about it. secondly, my understanding and staff has just said to me, that you didn't get a search warrant before making the announcement.
>> i think that's right. i authorized and the department of justice agreed we were going to seek a search warrant. i actually don't see it as a meaningful distinction. >> well, it's very hard, it would have been -- you took an enormous gamble. the gamble was that there was something there that would invalidate her candidacy. and there wasn't. so one has to look at that action and say, "did it affect the campaign?" and i think most people who have looked at this say yes, it did affect the campaign. why would he do it? and was there any conflict among your staff, people saying do it don't do it, as has been reported? >> no, there was a great debate, i have a fabulous staff at all levels. one of my junior lawyers said should you consider what you're about to do may help election
-- help elect donald trump president. and i said thank you for raising that. not for a moment. because down that path lies the death of the fbi as an independent institution in america. i can't consider for a second whose political fortunes will be affected in what way. we have to ask ourselves what is the right thing to do, and then do that thing. i'm very proud of the way we debated it. at the end of the day, everyone on my team agreed we have to tell congress that we're restarting this in a hugely significant way. >> well, there's a way to do that, i don't know whether it would work or not, but certainly in a classified way, carrying out your tradition of not announcing investigations. and, you know, i look at this exactly the opposite way you do everybody knew it would influence the investigation before. that there was a very large percentage of chance that it would. and, yet, that percentage of
chance was taken. was no information. and the election was lost. it seems to me that before your department does something like this, you really ought to -- because senator leahy began to talk about other investigations and i think this theory does not , hold up when you look at other investigations. but let me go on to 702. because you began your comments saying how important it is, and yes, it is important. we've got, i think, a problem. and the issue that we're going to need to address is the fbi's practice of searching 702 data using u.s. person identifiers as query terms.
and some have called this an in unconstitutional back door search. others say search queries are essential to insuring potential terrorists don't slip through the cracks as they did before . could you give us your views on that and how it might be handled , to avoid the charge which may bring down 702? >> thank you, senator, it's a really important issue. the way 702 works is under that provision of the statute, the fisa court, federal judges, authorized us as u.s. agencies to collect the communications of non-us people that we believe to be overseas, if they're using american infrastructure. the criticism the fbi has gotten and the feed back we've gotten consistently since 9/11 is you have to make sure you're in a position to connect the dot. you can't have stove piped information. so we've responded to that over the last 10 years mostly to the , greatwork of my predecessor,
and we have confederated data bases. so if we collect information, under 702, it doesn't sit in a separate stovepipe. it sits in a single cloud type environment, so that if i'm opening an investigation in the united states in a terrorism matter, intelligence matter, or criminal matter and i have a , name of the suspect and their telephone number and their email addresses, i search the fbi's databases. that search necessarily will also touch the information that was collected under 702 so we dot, but nobody gets access to the information that sits in the 702 data base unless they've been trained correctly. if there is -- let's imagine that terrorists overseas were talking about a suspect in the united states, or someone's e-mail address in the united states was in touch with that terrorist. and that information sits in the 702 database.
we open the case in the united states, and put in that name and that e-mail address, it will touch that data and tell us there's information in the 702 database that's relevant. if the agent doing the query is properly trained on how to handle that, he or she will be able to see that information. if they are not properly trained, they will be alerted there is information. then they have to get the appropriate training and oversight to be able to see it. but to do it otherwise is to risk us where it matters most, in the united states, failing to connect dots. so my view is, the information that is in the 702 database has been lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked, and our use of it is properly carefully overseen and checked . >> [inaudible] >> i'm not sure what that means in our context. we combine information collected from any lawful source in a single fbi database so we don't miss a dot when we're conducting investigations in the united states. what we make sure is, nobody
gets to see fisa information of any kind unless they have had the appropriate training and appropriate oversight. >> my time is up. thank you. senator hatch. thank you, senator. director comey, in january i introduced an s139 rapid dna act despite partisan co feinstein, coons, flake, and many more. mr. chairman i want to thank you , for putting this bill on the agenda for tomorrow's business meeting. this is the same bill that the senate unanimously passed last year. this technology allows developing a dna profile and performing database comparisons in less than two hours . following standards and procedures approved by the fbi would allow law enforcement to solve crimes and innocent advocates to exonerate the
wrongfully accused. mr. director you came before the , committee in december of 2015 2015, and i asked you about this legislation, and you said it would "help us change the world in an exciting way." is that still your review, and you think congress should still act without being tangled up in other issues? >> the rapid dna will advance safety of the american people. if a police officer has in his/her cussed at a someone is a rapist, before letting them go on a lesser offense they will be able to check the database and get a hit. that will save lives and protect people from pain. i think it is a great thing. >> with the fbi is doing, protect children from predators. employees coaches, often work with unsupervised --
youth unsupervised. that magnifies the need for thorough vetting at such time for joining organizations. along with senators franken and cobichar, i introduced the improvement act to give youth serving organizations greater access to the nationwide fbi fingerprint background check system. do you believe that providing organizations like the ymca and the girl scouts of america greater access to fbi fingerprint background checks is an important step in keeping child predators and violent criminals away from our children? >> i do, senator. i don't know enough about the legislation to react but i think , the more information you can put in the hands of the people who are vetting, people who are going to be near children, the better. we have an exciting new feature of the fbi's fingerprint system called wrap back. once you check someone, if they have no record, if they later develop one, you can be alerted to it if it happens thereafter , which, i think, makes a big
difference. >> thank you. i spoke about the so-called going dark program whereby , strong encryption enters the ability of law enforcement to access communication and other personal data on smartphones and similar devices. your prepared testimony for today's hearing addresses this issue as well. i have expressed significant concern about the proposals that would require device or software manufacturers to build a back door into their programming to allow law enforcement to access encrypted data in the course of investigations. i remain convinced that such back doors can be created without seriously compromising the security of encrypted devices. i believe this is an issue where law enforcement and stakeholders need to work together to find solutions rather than coming to congress with one size fits all legislative fixes.
now what are you doing to engage with stakeholders on this issue? and what kind of progress are you making, if you can tell us? >> thank you, senator. i think there is good news on that front. we have had very good open and productive conversations with the private sector about this issue. because everybody realizes we care about the same things. we all love privacy. we all care about public safety. none of the people i hang around with want back doors. we don't want access to devices built in in some way. what we want to work with manufacturers on is to figure out how to accommodate both interests in some way, how can we optimize the privacy, security features of the security devices and allow court orders to be complied with? we conversation.d i don't know where they are going to end up, frankly. i can't imagine a world that ends up with legislation to say we are going to make devices in the united states, you figure out how to comply with court
orders, or maybe we don't go there. but we are having productive conversations right now, i think >> the amendment act is up for reauthorization this year we have almost a decade of experience using this statute. so we have much more to go on than simply speculation or theory. now the intelligence value of section 702 is well documented , and it has never been intentionally misused or abused. every federal court, including the fisa court that has , addressed the issue has concluded that section 702 is lawful. administrations of both parties have both strongly supported it . describe for us the targeting and minimization procedures this includes within the executive branch. >> thank you, senator. as i said in my opening, 702 is a critical tool to protect this country. and the way it works is, we are allowed to conduct surveillance again under the supervision of the foreign surveillance court,
on non-us persons who are outside the united states if they are using american infrastructure. and email system in the united states, a phone system in the united states. so, it doesn't involve u.s. persons and it doesn't involve , activity in the united states. and then each agency as you said has detailed procedures to how we will handle this information, that are proved by the fisa court and will become court orders that govern us. but not only are we overseen by the fisa court but the , inspectors general and congress checking on our work. and you're exactly correct, there have been no abuses. every court that has looked at this says this is appropriate under the fourth amendment. this is appropriate under the statute. it was an act passed by a democratically-controlled congress for republican president and then renewed by a republican-controlled congress for democratic president and upheld by every court that has looked at it. and i'm telling you what the rest of the intelligence committee said, we need this to protect the country. this should be an easy conversation to have but often
, people get confused about the details and mix it up with other things. so it is our job to explain it clearly. >> thank you. my time is up. senator leahy, over to you. comey. back, director you mentioned that you liked this -- of course, last year we didn't have an annual meeting. last year, it has been, i think, last year is the first time in 15 years that the fbi did not testify before this committee. but a lot has happened in the last year and a half, as noted. senator feinstein noted that americans across the country have been confused and disappointed by your judgment in handling the investigation into secretary clinton's e-mails . on a number of occasions, you chose to comment directly and extensively on that investigation.
you even released internal fbi memos and interview notes. i may have missed this, but in my 42 years here, i have never seen anything like that. but you said actually nothing in regard to the investigation into the trump campaign's connections to russia's illegal efforts to help elect donald trump. was it appropriate for you to comment on one investigation repeatedly, not say anything about the other? >> i think so. can i explain, senator? >> i only have so much time. >> i will be quick. the department, i think, tweeted -- treated both consistently under the same pentacles. -- same principles. people forget, we would not confirm the e-mail investigation into hillary clinton's e-mails until three months after and the candidate herself talked about
it. in october of 2015, we confirmed it existed and said not another word, not a peep about it until we were finished. >> that was the most critical time possible, a couple weeks before the election. and i think there are other involved in that collection, i will grant that, but there's no question that d a great effect. historians can debate what kind of effect it was, but you did to it. in october, the fbi was investigating the trump campaign's connection to russia . you sent a letter to the senate house that you were reviewing additional e-mails that could be relevant to this, but both the investigations were open, but you still only commented on one. >> i commented as i explained earlier on october 28th in a letter i sent to the chair and rankings in the oversight committees that we were taking additional steps in the clinton e-mail investigation, because i had testified under oath
repeatedly that we were done. that we were finished. with respect to the russia investigation, we treated it like we did with the clinton investigation. we didn't say a word about it until months into it and then , the only thing we have confirmed so far about this is the same thing with the clinton investigation, that we are investigating. and i would expect we're not going to say another peep about it until we are done. and i don't know what will be said when we're done, but that's the way we handled the clinton investigation as well. >> let me ask you this, during your investigation into hillary clinton's e-mails, a number of surrogates like rudy giuliani claimed to have a pipeline to the fbi. he bolstered that, and i quote, " numerous agents talk to him all the time" in regard to the investigation. he even said he had advanced warning about the e-mails described in your october letter . former fbi agent jim costrum made similar claims.
either they're lying or there's a serious problem within the bureau. anybody in the fbi during this 2016 campaign have contact with rudy giuliani about the clinton investigation? >> i don't know yet, but if i find out that people were leaking information about our investigations, whether to reporters or to private parties, there will be severe consequences. >> did you know of anything from jim costrum? >> same answer. i don't know >> i don't know yet. but it's a matter that i'm very, very interested in. senator leahy: but you are looking into it. james comey: correct. senator leahy: and once you have found that answer, will you provide it to us? james comey: committee in some -- i'll provide it to the committee in some form. i don't know whether i would say it publicly, but i would find some way to let you know. senator leahy: now, the reports are that a number of senior officials in the trump campaign and administration are connected
to the russian investigation. in fact, the attorney general was forced to recuse himself. many members of this committee have urged the deputy attorney general, and he has that authority, to appoint a special council to protect the independence of the investigation. i recall that i was here in december 2003, shortly after you were confirmed as deputy attorney general, then-attorney general ashcroft recused himself into the investigation of the valerie plane link. what led you to that decision? james comey: in that particular investigation, my judgment was that -- that the appearance of fairness and independence required that it be removed from the political chain of command within the department of justice because as you recall it seems like a lifetime ago, but that
also involved the conduct of people who were senior level people in the white house, and my judgment was that even i, as an independent-minded person, was a political appointee, and so i ought to give it to a careered person like pat fitzgerald. senator leahy: what about the deputy attorney general? i voted for his confirmation, but shouldn't he be not the one to be investigating the campaign contacts when his boss, the attorney general, was a central figure in that campaign? james comey: that's a judgment he'll have to make. he is, as i hoped i was as a temp 80 attorney -- deputy attorney general a very , independent-minded career-oriented person. but it would be premature for me. senator leahy: last week president trump said the hacking on the dnc and other efforts would influence the election could have been china, could have been a lot of different groups. that contrary to what the intelligence community has said? james comey: if the intelligence
community with high confidence concluded it was russia, in my -- many circumstances it is hard to do attribution of a hack. but sometimes the intelligence is there. we have high confidence that the north koreans hacked sony. we have high confidence that the russians did the hacking of the dnc and the other organizations. senator leahy: i have a lot of other questions that i'll submit, but before it sounds totally negative, i want to praise the response of the fbi in south burlington, vermont. we have had anonymous e-mails threatening serious action against students in a high school. escalating cyber threats including detailed death threats, multiple lockdowns, and all. the fbi worked closely with the school and set up an investigation which you visited
a couple years ago. it was a textbook collaboration between state, local, and federal authorities. and i want to thank all of those . turned out to be a very disturbed young man who was doing it. but you don't have to turn on to see how in different parts of the country it is to figure out what is going on. i want to thank the fbi for that. >> thank you, senator. >> senator graham would be next, but we'll go to senator horner. director comey, i'm disappointed to see that former secretary of state hillary clinton was in the news yesterday, essentially blaming you and blaming everything other than herself for her loss on find it ironic because you're -- for her loss on november the eighth. i find it ironic because you're not the one who made the decision to handle classified information on a private e-mail server. you're not the one who decided to have a private meeting with secretary clinton's husband in
the middle of the justice department's ongoing investigation into secretary clinton's server. i use the word investigation here because according to a recent piece in "the new york times," you were forbidden from using the word investigation and were instead told to refer to the investigation, which it was, as a matter. of course, it was the former attorney general loretta lynch who, up until that meeting with president clinton, was the person responsible for making the decision whether to convene a grand jury involving the allegations against secretary clinton, and it was former attorney general loretta lynch who apparently forbade you from using the word investigation. indeed, "the new york times" story if it's true, a democratic operative expressed confidence that the former attorney general would keep that investigation from going very far. i think you were given an impossible choice to make, and
you did the best you could if light of the situation you were presented with. and it strikes me as somewhat sad for people here and elsewhere to condemn you for notifying congress before the related to the investigation and emails. secretary clinton had made the decision to use a private you melt server. i think it is important to remind folks you are not the one who decided to do business this emails on a server of someone suspected of child pornography. again, i believe you were placed in an incredibly difficult position and did the best you could. you may recall i was one of those who felt like given the nature of the investigation and the concerns that a special counsel should have been appointed to conduct the investigation, but of course attorney general lynch and the obama administration opposed that effort. so i just want to express to you
my disappointment that this continued seeking of a reason, any reason other than the flawed campaign and the candidate herself for secretary clinton losing the presidential election -- if i can turn to a couple of other substantive items here, you have mentioned 702, a fisa and the reauthorization, and i believe you referred to this as the crown jewels of the fbi and of counter terrorism investigations. could you explain why this provides such a unique tool, and widely regard it -- why you regard it as literally the crown jewels of the fbi? james comey: thank you, senator. every time i talk about this publicly, i wince a little bit because i don't want bad people around the world to focus on this too much, but really around the world because of the genius of american innovation use our , products and infrastructure
for their e-mails, for their communications. and what 702 allows us to do is quickly target terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, proliferaters spies, who are using our , infrastructure to communicate to collect information on them. and it is vital to all parts of the intelligence community because of its agility, its speed, and its effectiveness. and again, in an open setting, we can explain what you already know from classified briefings about what a difference this makes, but again, because america is the mother of all this innovation, they use a lot of our equipment, a lot of our networks to communicate with each other. if we were ever acquired to -- required to establish the normal warrant process for these non-americans who aren't in our country, just because the photons they are using to plan attacks cross our land, we would be tying ourselves in knots for reasons that make no sense at all and the courts say are unnecessary under the fourth
amendment. this is a tool. we talked about the telephony database. i think that's a useful tool . it does not compare in importance to 702. we can't lose 702. senator horner: well i agree. , and it is a little bit difficult to talk about thing s that do involve classified matters in public, but i think the public needs to know there are multiple oversight layers including the fisa court, congressional oversight, internal oversight within the fbi and intelligence community that protects americans from and under their privacy rights while targeting terrorists of people who are trying to kill us. thent to talk about transaction records, something we have discussed as well. the fbi can use national security letters to get financial information and in thene numbers now
conduct of a terrorist investigation, but because of a typo in the law, the fbi has not been allowed access to the data. to the extent that it is necessary. can you talk to us about the importance of that particular electronics records fix? james comey: thank you so much on senator. this seems like a boring deal, this makes a big impact on our work, and here's why. in our counter terrorism cases and our counter-intelligence cases, we can issue with all kinds of layers of approval in the fbi a national security letter to find out the subscriber to a particular telephone number and to find out what numbers that telephone number was in contact with, not the content of the communications but the connection. because of what i believe is a typo in the law, and congress will tell me, the companies that provide the same services but on the internet resist and say we don't have the statutory
authority to find out the subscriber email handle or what addresses were in contact. i don't think congress distinguishes, but in our most important investigations, if we want to find out the subscriber, the particular email handle, to go get an order from a federal judge in a fisa court is a incredibly long and difficult process. and i'm worried about that slowing us down, but also worried about it becoming a disincentive for our investigators to do it at all. because if you're working a case in san antonio or seattle, you're moving very quickly. and if i have to go to get subscriber information for heaven's sakes on an e-mail address to a federal court in washington, i'm probably going to try to find some other way around it. if that's what congress wants, sure, we'll follow the law. i don't think that was ever intended. and so i would hope that congress will fix what i believe is a typo.
senator horner: thank you, mr. director. i have other questions for the record. thank you. >> we are going over to vote now. i would also like to have both democrats and republicans notify me if they want a second round, so i can get an inventory of that. senator klobuchar. senator klobuchar: thank you, and welcome back, director comey. as you are well aware, russia is actively working to undermine our democracy and hurt american businesses at the same time. now, more than ever, americans are looking to congress for leadership, and we must be a united front. and i have appreciated some of the members of this committee on the republican side who have spoken out about this. we must be united as we seek information from the administration. last month during a hearing at the house intelligence committee, you confirmed that the fbi is investigating the
russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election including , any links between the trump campaign and the russian government. i know that you cannot discuss that ongoing investigation. but just one question to clarify, will you commit to ensuring that the relevant congressional committees receive a full and timing briefing on that investigation's findings? james comey: in general, i can senator. i need department of , justice approval to brief on particular people we're investigating. we have briefed the chairs in the rankings including this committee on who we have cases open on and exactly what we're doing and how we're using various sources of information. i don't know whether the department will approve that for the entire intelligence committees, but i'll lean as far forward as i can. senator klobuchar: and then because attorney general sessions is recused from that, and now rod rosenstein is approved, do you go to him then to get that approval? james comey: yes, i have already briefed him, i think his first
day in office, i briefed him on where we are. so he would be the person to make that decision. senator klobuchar: thank you. in your testimony, you note that the justice department brought charges against russian spies and criminal hackers in connection with a 2014 yahoo! cyber attack in february, an example of a cyber attack on our economy. in december of 2016, the fbi and the department of homeland security released a 13-page report providing technical details about how federal investigators linked russia to the hacks against u.s. political organizations. does russia use the same military and civilian tools it used to hack our political organizations in order to do things like hack into u.s. companies, steal identities, and sell the credit card information of americans on the black market? and how is the fbi working to fight against hackers supported by foreign governments like russia? james comey: the answer is yes, both their government organizations and then they have
a relationship that is often difficult to define with criminals. and that the yahoo! hack is an example of that. you had some of russia's greatest criminal hackers and intelligence agency hackers working together. so the answer is yes. and what we're doing is trying to see if we can improse costs on that behavior in a lot of different ways, but including one i mentioned in my opening, which is locking up people. if we can get them outside of russia, russia is not too great about cooperating with us with their criminals inside their borders. but all of them like to travel. so if they travel grabbing them and locking and putting handcuffs on them to send the message that that is not a freebie. senator klobuchar: in your net testimony, you also discussed the threat of national organized crime and the safety it poses to national security. this it increases instability around the world. i heard these concerns when senator graham, mccain, and i were in the baltics, ukraine, and georgia. there have been recent concerns that organized criminals
including russians are using the luxury real estate market to launder money. the treasury department has noted a significant rise in the use of shell companies in real estate transactions because foreign buyers use them as a way to hide their identity and find a safehaven for their money in the u.s. in fact, nearly half of all homes in the u.s. worth at least $5 million are purchased using shell companies. does the anonymity associated with the use of shell companies to buy real estate hurt the fbi's ability to trace the flow of illicit money and fight organized crime? and do you support efforts by the treasury department to use its existing authority to require more transparency in these transactions? james comey: yes and yes. senator klobuchar: ok. very good. because i think this is a huge problem. when you hear that over $5 million homes, half of them purchased by shell companies, that's a major problem. in march this committee, subcommittee on crime and
terrorism, held its first hearing. i think senator graham and -- thank senator graham and senator whitehouse or that. i raised the issue of protecting the infrastructure with the former bush department of justice official ken wanestein, and he agreed that this is an important issue. as the ranking member of rules particularlyam committed to making sure our elections are safe from foreign interference. i lead 26 senators call for the full account in the assistance efforts to address cyber security threats in the 2016 election. i'm also working on legislation in this area. can you discuss how the fbi has coordinated with the election assistance commission, department of homeland security, and state and local election officials to help protect the integrity of our election process? james comey: thank you senator. , in short, what we have done with dhs is share the tools, tactics, and techniques we see hackers, especially from the 2016 election season, using to
attack voter really registration databases and try and engage in other hacks. we have pushed that out to all the states and election assistance commission so they can harden their networks. one of the things we can do is equip them with information to make their systems tighter. senator klobuchar: very good. as you know, we have different equipment all over this country. there is some advantage to that, i think. i think it is good when we have paper ballot backups of course, but we have to be prepared for this. and this certainly isn't about one political party or one candidate. the last time you came before the committee in december 2015, just one week after the san bernardino attacks, since then, as was noted by the chair, we have seen other attacks in our country. we had a tragedy in a shopping mall in st. cloud, minnesota, at a shopping mall. thankfully, a brave off-duty cop was there to
stop further damage from being done. and i would also like to thank you and the fbi for your investigation, having talked to the chief up there, senator franken and i were briefed by him as well as congressman em -- congressman ever right after this attack. the local police department is a midsized department, and they had to do a lot with working of the community. they have a significant somalian community there that is a big part of their community they are proud to have there. so they are working with them and the community. they are helping, but the fbi really stood in and did the investigation. and i guess i want to thank you for that and end with one question. since it's reported that isis has encouraged lone wolf attacks like we saw in orlando, it is murkier than back in st. cloud. what challenges does this prevent and what is the fbi doing to prevent these kind of tragedies? james comey: thank you, senator.
the central challenge is not just finding needles in a nationwide haystack, but trying to figure out which pieces of hay might become a needle. and that is, which of the troubled young people or sometimes older people are consuming poisonous propaganda. some isis, some anwar ma lamaliki. some other sources. and a huge part of it is building relationships with the communities you mentioned. because those folks do not want anyone committing violence, committing violence in the name of their faith. and so they have the same incentives we do and making sure they see us that way. and we see them that way is at the heart of hours spots because , we are not going to see a troubled kid going sideways and thinking he should stab people. anywhere around i can are people who will see it. so getting them in a position where they feel comfortable telling us or telling local law enforcement is at the heart of our ability to find the needles, evaluate those pieces of hay, and stop this. senator klobuchar: appreciate
it. thank you. >> senator graham. senator graham thank you. : director comey, could you pass onto your agents and support personnel how much we appreciate their efforts to defend the country? we will set off a record for questions asked in six minutes and 54 minutes, if i can. do you agree with me if sequestration goes back into effect next year it will be devastating to the fbi in? james comey: yes. senator graham: and it is due to happen unless congress changes it? james comey: i've been told that. senator graham: do you agree with me that isil losing caliphate, these people go out throughout the world and become terrorist agents and the threat of terrorism to the homeland is going to get greater over time, not smaller? james comey: yes. it will diminish in that their power to put out their media to the troubled people in the country will decrease, but the hardened killer flowing out of the caliphate will be a big problem. senator graham: so from a funding point of view, terrorism is not going to get better, it's probably going to get worse. james comey: i think that's fair to say. senator graham: did you ever
talk to sally yates about her concerns with general flynn being compromised? james comey: i did. i don't know whether i can talk about it in this forum, but yet, the answer is yes. senator graham: but she had concerns about general flynn and she expressed those concerns to you? james comey: correct. senator graham: ok. we'll talk about that later. do you stand by your house testimony in march 20th that there was no surveillance of the trim campaign that you are -- trump campaign that you are aware of? james comey: correct. senator graham: you would know about it if there was, correct? james comey: i would think. senator graham: carter page. is there an issue regarding carter page's interactions with the russians? james comey: i can't answer that here. senator graham: did you consider carter page an agent of the campaign? james comey: same answer. i can't answer that here. senator graham: ok. do you stand by your testimony there is an active investigation, counterintelligence investigation, regarding trump
campaign individuals and the russian government as to whether or not they collaborate? you said that in march -- james comey: to see if there was any collaboration between the russian effort and -- senator graham: is that still going on? james comey: yes. senator graham: nothing has changed, you stand by the two statements. james comey: correct. senator graham: but you won't tell me about carter page. james comey: correct. senator graham: are you familiar with fusion? james comey: i know the name. senator graham: ok. are they part of the russian intelligence apparatus? james comey: i can't say. senator graham: ok. do you agree with me that a fusion was involved in preparing a dossier by donald trump in the elections? james comey: i don't want to say. senator graham: do you agree with me that anthony weiner of 2016 should not have access to classified information? james comey: yes, that's a fair statement. senator graham: would you agree with me that that is not illegal, we have got really bad laws? he got it somehow. james comey: it would be illegal
if he didn't have appropriate clearance. senator graham: do you agree with me he did have appropriate clearance? he did have appropriate clearance, that would even be worse. james comey: i don't believe at the time we found that on his laptop he had clearance. senator graham: i agree. so for him to get it should be a crime. somebody should be prosecuting for letting anthony weiner have access to classified information. does that make general sense? james comey: it could be a crime. it would depend upon what the people -- senator graham: would you agree it should be that anybody that lets anthony weiner to have information should be prosecuted? if our laws don't cover that, they probably should. james comey: there's no anthony weiner statute. senator graham: there should be one. james comey: there is already a statute. senator graham: i wonder how he got classified information and it's not a crime by somebody. unmasking, are you familiar with that? james comey: i'm familiar with that term. senator graham: ok. has the bureau required unmasking of an american citizen caught up in incidental collection? james comey: oh, yes. yeah. in fact, i did it this week in
connection with an intelligence report. senator graham: all right. before i authorize, reauthorize 702, and i'm a pretty hawkish guy, i want to know how unmasking works are. are you aware of any requests by the white house? anybody in the obama administration, to unmask american citizens caught up in incidental surveillances in 2015 or 2016? james comey: i'm not. i'm not aware of any request to the fbi. senator graham: would you know? who would they make the request to? james comey: they can make it to anyone in the fbi -- senator graham: what about the nsa? would he make it to the nsa? james comey: sure, if it was an nsa report. i read in the media and heard about nsa report, but i don't know -- senator graham: who do you ask, do you go to the nsa to ask somebody be unmasked? james comey: for example i got a , report this week that said, u.s. company number one had been removed. i said, i believe i need to know the name of the company. senator graham: who do you ask? james comey: i ask my intelligence staffer and say, i
would like to know that. she asks the owner of the information. senator graham: which would be the nsa? james comey: in this case i was -- i think it was cia information. senator graham: does the owner of the information record, request for unmasking? james comey: i believe the nsa does. i don't know about csa. nsa definitely does. senator graham: but there should be a record somewhere in our government for a request to unmask regardless of who made the request? james comey: i think that is right. senator graham: is it fair to say that very few people can make requests from masking? -- four unmasking? i can't go and make that request as a senator, can i? james comey: sure. it's a fairly small group of consumers, which i am, of that small set of -- senator graham: it's a national security council within that group that can make this request or do you know? james comey: i think the national security adviser certainly can. senator graham: ok. when it comes to russia, is it fair to say that the government of russia actively provides safehaven to cyber criminals? james comey: yes. senator graham: is it fair to say that the russian government is still involved in american
politics? james comey: yes. senator graham: is it fair to say we need to stop them from doing this? james comey: yes. fair to say. senator graham: do you agree with me the only way they are going to stop is for them to pay a price for interfering in our political process? james comey: i think that is a fair statement. senator graham: yeah, ok. so what we're doing today is not working. they are still doing it. they are doing it all over the world, aren't they? james comey: yes. senator graham: so what kind of threat do you believe russia presents to our democratic process given which you know , about russia's behavior of late? james comey: well, certainly, in my view, the greatest threat of any nation on earth, given their intention and their capability. senator graham: do you agree that they did not change the vote tally, but one day they might? james comey: i agree that -- very much we found no indication of any change in vote tallies. there was efforts aimed at voter registration systems, but i suppose in theory, part of the united states, the beauty of our system is it is a bit of a hairball.
and all different kinds of systems and elderly -- senator graham: have they done this in other countries where they actually tampered with the vote? james comey: my understanding is they have attempted in other countries. senator graham: and there's no reason they won't attempt here if we don't stop them over time. james comey: i think that is fair. senator graham: thank you. >> thank you, chairman. welcome back, director comey. what is the policy of the department and the bureau regarding the release of derogatory investigative information about an uncharged subject? james comey: the general practice is we don't talk about completed investigations that didn't result in charges. as a general matter. senator whitehouse: and what is the policy regarding the release of derogatory information about charged subjects beyond the derogatory investigative information disclosed in the charging document or in further court proceedings? james comey: i think you summarized it. the gist of the policy is you
don't do anything outside the charging documents of the public record that might prejudice the trial proceeding. senator whitehouse: and one of the reasons you do that is if you had a police chief say, we have investigated the contract between the mayor and the contractor, and we have decided there were no misdeeds. but we found out that the mayor was sleeping with her driver, just wanted to let you know that. that would be kind of a blow to the integrity of the prosecutor function and would probably tend to diminish support for the prosecutor function if it were played by those rules, correct? james comey: i think that is fair. that's why the policy exists. senator whitehouse: yep. with respect to oversight questions, let's hypothesize that an investigation exists and the public knows about it, which could happen for a great number of legitimate reasons. what questions are appropriate for senators to ask about that investigation in their oversight capacity? james comey: they can ask anything they want. senator whitehouse: but what questions are appropriate for you to answer? james comey: very few while a matter is pending.
senator whitehouse: while we know it is pending is it , appropriate for you to tell us whether it is adequately resourced and ask questions about, for instance, are there actually agents assigned to this or has it been put in somebody's bottom drawer? james comey: sure, potentially, right. who is working on it, that sort of thing. senator whitehouse: are there benchmarks in certain cases where department approvals are >> are there benchmarks or the involvement of certain officials , have stepped actually been taken? >> i'm not sure i am following the question. >> let's say you have a we go investigation. none of those have ever been invoked or implicated, that would send a signal that not much effort has been dedicated. aain, you have to know it is rico investigation. with those staging elements as
investigation or, it would be appropriate for us to ask about. crankset is a harder question. i don't know i can answer because it would give away what we're looking at. >> would it be appropriate to ask whether any witnesses have been interviewed or whether any documents have been pursuant to the investigation. crankset is a harder one. i would be reluctant to answer questions like that because it is a slippery slope. >> if we are concerned the investigation gets put on the shelves and not taken seriously, the fact that no witnesses have been called and no documents have been sought would be pretty relevant and reveal anything other than a lack of attention by the bureau, correct? >> we are careful about how we use a grand jury. that is a harder call. >> we will pursue it.
what is the bureau's policy regarding witnesses who are cooperating in an investigation who have form of ongoing compliance problem? that say they have not paid their taxes for the last year. the bureauolicy of that they will get those witnesses to clean up their act so that their noncompliance is not become an issue later on the >> i don't know of it is a written policy. with our tax returns useful? if someone hide something that taxld otherwise be on the if it is criminal activity. uncommon to seek
and use tax returns of a criminal investigation question mark >> especially in complex financial cases it is a common tool. >> the hearing that senator graham and i held in regards to russia's infiltration and influence in the last election, raised the issue of russia intervening with business leaders in a country engaging them in bribery or other highly favorable business deals with a view to either recruiting them as somebody who has been bribed or being able to threaten them by disclosing the elicit relationship, they are happy to blow up their own cut-out but blows up the individual. have you seen any indication that those are russian strategies in their election influence tool box?
>> in my understanding, those are tools the russians have used over many decades. >> and lastly, the european union is moving towards requiring transparency of incorporations so that shell corporations are harder to create. that risks leaving the united states as the last big haven for shell corporations. is it true that shell corporations are often used as a device for criminal money laundering? >> yes. >> is it true that shell corporations are often used as a device for the concealment of criminally garnered funds? >> yes. >> and to avoid legitimate taxation? >> yes. >> what do you think the hazards are for the united states with respect to election interference of continuing to maintain a system in which shell corporations that you never know who is really behind them are
common place? >> it makes it easier for elicit money to make its way into a political environment. >> and that is not a good thing? >> i don't think it is. >> yeah, me neither. ok. thank you very much. fbi's expertise how , likely do you think i.t. services have been thwarted by other services? >> i would estimate it's a certainty. >> inside the ic, who would talk about that problem and who at the senate would they inform? >> well, i don't want to talk about particular matters, but it often is the fbi alerting a u.s. government institution or private sector, dhs might come across it, or other parts of the intelligence community, especially nsa. >> when we talk about things like cyber investigations right now, so often on cable tv it
becomes a shirts and skins exercise. so without asking you to comment on anything retrospective about 2016, do you think it is likely in 2018 and beyond you'll see more targeting of u.s. public discourse in elections? >> i do. i think one of the lessons the russians may have drawn from this is this works. i do expect them to be back in 2018 and especially 2020. >> you regularly testify and correct me if i've misheard you, but you regularly testified that you don't think the bureau is short of resources. you don't come before us and make big appropriations requests. but those of us very concerned about cyber look at the u.s. government writ large and say we are not prepared for the future. what is the fbi doing to prepare for the 2018 and 2020 circumstance you envision? >> without giving too much detail, we have an enormous part
of the fbi and our counter intelligence division and cyber division that focuses on just that threat in making sure we do everything we can to understand how the bad guys might come at us. and as i talked about earlier, to equip the civilian agencies that are responsible for hardening our infrastructure with all the information we have about how they are going to come at us. >> and if you had, in your national security domain, increased resources, how would you spend another marginal dollar beyond what you expect to receive now? >> i would probably have a tie between investing more and upgrading our systems to make sure we're keeping pace with the par of excellence and probably to hire additional cyber analysts and agents. >> and if you had your brothers, -- druthers what kind of increased funding would you make? >> i wouldn't make any sitting here. >> i would like to talk about wikileaks. in january the fbi contributed to an isc assessment that says
wikileaks is a known assessment. do you stand by that? >> yes. >> do you believe wikileaks released classified information? >> yes. >> do you believe any of wikileaks disclosures have put at risk american interests or lives? >> i believe both have resulted in some of their releases. >> can you help me understand why julian assange has not been charged with a crime? >> i don't want to comment on the particular case because i don't want to confirm whether or not there are charges pending. he hasn't been apprehended inside the ecuadoran embassy in london. >> i sent a letter to the attorney general a number of weeks ago asking questions about the status of the investigation. and it seemed pretty clear, though individuals were polite and kind and responsive to our requests, it seemed there was not much deliberation about wikileaks and julian assange. is the fbi participating in any inner agency dialogue in whether or not assange committed crimes? >> i don't know where you got
that impression that wikileaks is an important focus of our attention. >> i intentionally left the almost half of my time for you to sort of wax broadly for a minute. there is room for reasonable people to disagree about at what point an allegedly journalistic organization crosses a line to become some sort of a tool of foreign intelligence. there are americans, well-meaning, thoughtful people, who think wikileaks may be a journalistic outfit. can you explain why that is not your view? >> yeah, and again, i want to be careful that i don't prejudice any future proceeding. it's an important question, because all of us care deeply about the first amendment and the ability of a free press to get information about our work and publish it. to my mind, it crosses a line when it moves from being ability -- about trying to educate a public and becoming about intelligence porn without
methods in regard to interest without regard to the first amendment values that normally underlie press reporting and simply becomes a conduit for the russian intelligence services and adversaries to push out information to damage the united states. i realize reasonable people struggle to find a line, but surely there's conduct that so far to the side of the line that we can all agree is nothing that even smells journalist about some of this conduct. >> so if you could map that continuum, there are members of the ioc that leaked classified information. that is an illegal act, correct? >> correct. >> when american journalists court and solicit that information, have they violated any law by asking people in the ic to potentially leak information that is potentially classified? >> that conduct is not treated by the u.s. government as criminal conduct. i've been asked in other
context, isn't it true that the espionage statute has no carve-out for journalists, that's true. at least in my lifetime, the department of justice's view is newsgathering is not going to be investigated or processed as a criminal act. that's how it is thought of. >> so investigative reporter taking advantage of and celebrating the liberties we amendment,the first trying to talk to people and get the maximum amount of information they possibly can out of them to in the public. it is not the burden on an american journalist to did certain whether or not the member of the ioc is leaking information that could be classified. the journalists can legitimately seek information, and it is not their job to police it. the number of the u.s. i.c. that has sought the information has broken the law. >> right. the clear legal obligation is on the people who are in the government in illegal possession of classified information. it is not the journalists
burden. our focus should be on the leakers, not those obtaining this as part of a news gathering. >> i know that the chairman indulged me. i'm at and past time, but the american journalist who is seeking this information differs from assange and wikileaks how? >> in that there is at least a portion, and people can argue that maybe this conduct wikileaks is engaged on in the past that is closer to regular news gathering, but in my view, a huge portion of wikileaks' activities has nothing to do with legitimate news gathering, informing the public, commenting on important controversies but releasing classified information to damage the united states of america. and people start to get cynical about journalists but american journalists do not do that. they almost always call us before they publish classified information to say, is there anything that will jeopardize government people, or innocent civilians anywhere in the world and work with us to try to accomplish their important
first-amendment goals by safeguarding the interests. this activity, i'm talking about wikileaks, involves so much -- no such considerations whatsoever. it is intelligence porn, push it out in order to damage. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator. senator franken. >> thank you, senator feinstein. good to see you, mr. director. i am going to kind of pick up where i think sheldon, senator whitehouse was going. are you familiar with a report called the kremlin playbook? >> no. >> ok. this is an expert report that exhaustively documents russia's past effort to undermine the european democracies. according to the report, russia is known to cultivate close ties with business and political leaders and target countries. this is stuff that you acknowledged. the report explains russia has
cultivated an opaque network of patronage across the region that uses this to influence and direct decision making. in other words, russia has a strategy of creating the conditions that give rise to corruption, then exploiting that corruption to its own benefit. in the intelligence communities, unclassified assessment of the russian campaign to influence the american election, our nation's intelligence agency is right, and quote, putin has had many positive experiences working with western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with russia. that seems to jive with your understanding of what russia has done. >> correct. >> in that same assessment, the fbi, the cia and nsa all concluded that russia did, in
fact, interfere in the 2016 election in order to, quote, help president trump's election chances possible by discrediting secretary clinton. and they concluded that the russians had a clear preference for president trump. what is your assessment of why the russian government had a clear preference for president trump? >> the intelligence community assessment had a couple parts with respect to that. one, he wasn't hillary clinton, who putin hated and wanted to harm in any possible way. so he was her opponent, so necessarily they supported him. then also the second notion that the intelligence community assessed that putin believed he would be more able to make deals reach agreements with someone with a business background than with someone who had grown up in more of a government environment. >> ok. well, i'm curious about just how closely russia followed the kremlin playbook when it meddled
in our democracy, specifically whether the russians had a preference for president trump because he had already been ensnared in their web of patronage, to quote the report. is it possible that in the russians view, trump's business interests would make him more amenable to cooperating with them, quote, more disposed to deal with russia as the ic report says? >> that was not the basis for the ic's assessment. >> ok. well, i just said, is it possible? >> i see. >> you don't want to speculate. >> possible questions are hard for me to answer. >> well, in order for us to know for certain whether president trump would be vulnerable to that type of exploitation, we would have to understand his financial situation. we have to know whether or not he has money tied up in russia
or obligations to russian entities. do you agree? >> that you would need to understand that to evaluate that question? i don't know. >> well, it seems to me if there's reason to believe that such connections exist, for example, the president's son, donald trump jr., told real estate developers in 2008 that, quote, russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. he said, quote, we see a lot of money pouring in from russia. this is a report on the family business. in 2013, president trump held a miss universe pageant in moscow and the pageant was financing by a russian billionaire who is close to putin. and president trump sold a palm beach mansion to a russian oligarch for $95 million in 2008.
that is $54 million more than he paid for it just four years prior. those are three financial ties that we know of and they are big ones. director comey the russians have a history of using financial investments. to gain leverage over influential people and then later calling in favors. we know that. we know that the russians inferred in our election and they did it to benefit president trump. the intelligence agencies confirmed that. but what i want to know is why they favored president trump and it seems to me in order to answer that question, any investigation into whether the trump campaign or trump operation colluded with russian operatives would require a full appreciation of the president's financial dealings. director comey, would president trump's tax returns be material to such an investigation?
>> that's not something, senator, i'm going to answer. >> does the investigation have access to president trump's tax returns? >> i have to give you the same answer. again, i hope people don't over overinterpret my answers but i don't want to start talking about anything of what we're looking at and how to -- and how. >> director comey we learn about the president's campaign and current senior members of his administration, jeff sessions, attorney general, and former campaign adviser carter page and paul manafort. former campaign manager paul manafort and chief strategist. rex tillerson, secretary of state and roger stone, political mentor and former campaign adviser. michael flynn former national security adviser. jared kushner white house senior , adviser and son-in-law. we don't know if this list is
exhaustive but i think you might see where i'm going these connections appear against a backdrop of proven russian interference in the election and interference that the intelligence community has concluded that was designed to favor president trump. i know i'm hitting my time but one last question. thank you, mr. chairman. is the sheer number of of investigations unusual or -- connections unusual or significant? what about each individual's proximity to the president? is it unusual for individuals in these important roles to have so many unexpected and often undisclosed ties to a foreign power? >> i have to give you the same answer. it's not something i can comment on. >> ok. >> thank you, mr.chairman.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, director comey with regard to the 702 reauthorization. in 2014 the privacy and civil liberties oversight board recommended that agencies develop mechanisms to limit the potential scope of incidental collection. under your leadership what has the bureau done to comply with these recommendations? >> what we have done is make sure that we have tightened up our training and our -- and making sure that nobody with unauthorized access gets to see the content of a 702 collection and that is probably a good way of summarizing and a lot more beneath it but that is gist of it. to make it sure we are collected under 702 and nobody has hasn't had access to need to know and train fisa information. >> can you brief describe the process for incidental collection?
>> incidental collection is the name given to if you're targeting a terrorist, let's say, who is in yemen and he happens to be using an american e-mail provider to communicate, so under 702, the u.s. intelligence community can collect that terrorist communications. he is outside of the united states and he is not an american. if an american contacts that terrorist, send him an e-mail at let's imagine it's a g-mail account, his gmail is incidental -- incidentally collected. that american who sent the email is not the target but because he or she communicated with the terrorist is collected as part of that lawful collection and what incidental collection means. if the fbi is doing that 702 collection, those communications from the terrorist and to the terrorist would sit in our database. if we open an investigation on that person who happened to be the communicant and research our systems we hit on the 702 collection and the investigating agency will know, holy cow, an
american was in touch with that terrorist in yemen. if the agent has been trained and has access to the information they will be able to know it and that is how our system is designed. >> the same review was conducted in 2014 and points out the value of the program. i certainly think and i think most of us do here see the incredible value of 702 and need for reauthorization there. polygraph testing as you are , any applicant for a federal position is required to undergo a polygraph. it is worth noting that cpb experiences significantly higher failure rates around 65% than any other federal law enforcement agency. the fbi does pretty well with this. has the bureau ever conducted any benchmarking with other federal agencies as to the
process where you require polygraph or for employment? it seems that -- i mean, given fbi success with this instrument, that you could inform some of the other agencies who are having difficulties? >> i don't know whether we have, senator, but i'll find out. >> all right. >> i think we have with other members of the intelligence community but i don't know if we have talked to cbp about our program. >> it would be helpful if you could look into that. we appreciate it. following on what senator sasse was asking given the amount of sensitive data held by the fbi, what are you doing to protect your own systems? >> well, a whole lot and i don't want to talk too much in an open forum but it is a constant worry of all of us. under -- since i've been director, we have stood up something called the insider threat center and i've put a senior fbi executive in charge of it because i want somebody waking up every morning worrying about how might we lose data and
somebody penetrating us. a ton of work has gone into protecting our systems. but the weakest link is always the people. because you're going to have the greatest firewalls and greatest intrusion detection system but if your people are engaging in negligent misconduct we have to have a rich picture of our people that is constant and doesn't compensated on five year best depend on five-year polygraph investigations but shows us flag of a troubled employee in real-time. that is hard to do and build. technically and as a matter of law and policy, but we are working very hard on it. >> in your opinion, is congress doing enough to protect itself and our systems from outside -- outside threats? >> i don't mean this as a wise guy answer. surely not, because none of us can be doing enough, frankly. again, it's not just about the perimeter we build. it's about the security culture. inside our organizations and,
look. i'm part of the fbi and i still don't think ours is good enough. i'm sure congress is not good enough. >> do you know the freedom of afgs income allows access, can you talk about how the bureau promptly and fully responds to a request at the same time you level or maintain some level of security over sensitive and classified data? >> we have an enormous foya operation as you might imagine i think is working 24 hours a day outside of washington, d.c. great people who this is their life. they know the regulations. they know the security sensitive -- sensitivities and work as hard as we can to imply with the foya deadlines. it is -- it's a huge pain. but it's an essential part of being a public institution. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. grassley for your return in front of the senate judiciary committee. i want to ask about a letter and
mr. chairman, i will submit this for the record if i might. senator whitehouse and i in early august last year sent a letter to our colleague senator ted cruz who then served as the oversight committee chairman expressing our grave concern about the potential for foreign interference in our upcoming presidential election. we asked for an oversight hearing to consider whether existing federal criminal statutes and court jurisdiction were sufficient to address conduct related to foreign entities pose ago threat to our election. we didn't have that hearing but i'd like to ask you that same question now. are existing federal criminal statutes sufficient to prosecute conduct related to foreign entities that seek to undermine our elections? >> i think so is my answer. but someone smarter than i may have spotted something where there is a gap but my reaction is we have the statutory tools. it's a question of gathering the evidence and applying it under the statutory tools.
>> in response to a question asked earlier you stated you fully expect russia to continue to be engaged in efforts to influence our elections and expect them to be back in 2018 and 2020. what more should we be doing to defend our election infrastructure and our future elections against continuing russian interferences and what more are you or the agency doing to help our allies in france and germany that have upcoming elections where there is every reason to believe the russians are interfering there as well? >> thank you, senator. i think two things we can do and are doing both in the united states and with our allies is telling the people responsible for protecting the election infrastructure in the united states everything we know about how the russians and others try to attack those systems. how they might come at it, what ip addresses they might use, what phishing techniques they might use and we have shared the same thing with our allies. one. two, to equip our american
people and allies to understand this is going on. a big part of what the russians did was pushing out false information, echoing it with the troll farms that they use, and i think one of the most worthy things we can do is tell the american voter this is going on. you should be skeptical, you should ask questions and you should understand the nature of the news you're giving and we have delivered that same message to our european colleagues and interesting thing is happening. the marketplace of ideas is responding to this because it's not a role for government. people are out there using the power of social media to push back against this kind of things in france and netherlands and germany and hope in the united states where they will see this bogus stuff going on and push back and have good troll armies pushing back the other way so the marketplace of information is better educated, frankly. >> it is an optimistic vision and i appreciate it and the work that the fbi continues to do to
push back and strengthen our defenses but i think there is more to do. you certainly, as you've testified before, made a great deal of news just before our own election. i'm struck that you chose to make public statements about one investigation and not another. the investigation we now know that was ongoing in into the trump campaign and the investigation ongoing into secretary clinton. i'm concerned about what the future practice will be. how has the approach taken with regard to the clinton investigation been memorialized and have you modified in any way fbi or department procedures i'm concerned about what the future practice will be. how has the approach taken with regard to the clinton investigation been memorialized and have you modified in any way fbi or department procedures regarding disclosure of information concerning
investigation particularly close to an election? dir. comey: we have not. and the reason for that that we did -- that i did was in my view consistent with department of justice policy. that is, we don't confirm the existence of investigation except under unusual circumstances. we don't talk about investigations that don't result in criminal charges unless there is a compelling public interest. and so those principles should still govern. we also, whenever humanly possible, avoid any action that might have an impact on an election. i still believe that to be true and incredibly important guiding principle is one that i labored and under here. frankly as i said earlier, didn't think i had a choice because i could only have two actions. before me i couldn't find a door labeled no action so the principles still exist and incredibly important. the current investigation with respect to russia, we have confirmed it.
the department of justice authorized me to confirm it and exists and not say another word about it until we are done. then i hope in league with the department of justice will figure out if it doesn't result in charge what, if anything, with lwe will we say about it and. sen. coons: you i think there was a door open to you late in the election to confirm the existence of an ongoing investigation about the trump campaign. which i think was of compelling interest and was an unusual circumstance. an activity by a known adversary to interfere in our election. had there been public notice there was renewed investigation into both campaigns, i think the impact would have been different. do you agree? dir. comey: no. i thought a lot about this. and my judgment was a counterintelligence -- we have to separate two things. i thought it was very important to call out what the russians were trying to do with our elections and offered in august myself to be a voice for that in
public piece calling it out. the obama administration didn't va tang of that in august but in october. i thought important to call out and separate question do you confirm the existence of classified investigation that has just started to try to figure out are there any connections between that russian activity and u.s. persons? that started in late july. remember, the hillary clinton investigation we didn't confirm it existed until three months after it started and it started publicly. so i thought the consistent principle would be we don't confirm the existence of certainly any investigation that involves a u.s. person but a classified investigation in its early stage. we don't know what we have and what is there. so my judgment was consistent with the principles i've always operated under. that was the right thing to do. separately i thought it was very important to call out and tell the american people the russians are trying to mess with your election. sen. coons: i hope that in the future that attempt to draw attention to russian interference in an election you and expect to be effective will continue. a lot of ways the fbi help state and local law enforcement. one i've been grateful would was the network through which the fbi provided much-needed assistance to wilmington police
department, my hometown, where we have had a dramatic spike in violence. i'd be interested in hearing how you imagine or you intend that the fbi will continue to assist local law enforcement in combating unprecedented spikes in violent crime in a few of our communities such as wilmington where they have happened? dir. comey: thank you for that, senator. the vrm was pilot in wilmington and a small number of other places and we believe it works the fbi brings a state and local fight, our technology, our intelligence speaker tes figure figuring how to connect dots and which of the bat guys to focus on and our law enforcements and agencies to make communications. we try to do in wilmington in cities around the country the cities seeing spike in violence and the depressing fact is about half of america's biggest cities saw another rise in violence. the first quart of this year. so we are trying to lean forward and do what we have done in wilmington in those places as well. sen. coons: we appreciate your effort to support local law enforcement. thank you. >> senator kennedy. senator kennedy: the morning, mr. directing -- mr. director. this afternoon now. i'll assume for a second that i'm not a united states senator
and that i don't have security clearance to look at classified information. if someone sends me classified information and i know or should know it's classified information, and i read it, have i committed a crime? dir. comey: potentially. senator kennedy: has the person who sent me the information committed a crime? dir. comey: potentially. if they knew you didn't have a appropriate clearance and a need to know. senator kennedy: was there classified information on former congressman weiner's computer? dir. comey: yes. senator kennedy: who sent it to him? dir. comey: his then spouse huma abedin had e-mails to forward to him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state. dir. comey: -- senator kennedy: did former congressman weiner read the classified material? dir. comey: i don't think so. i think -- i don't think we have been able to interview him because he has pending criminal
problems of other sorts. but my understanding is that his role would be to print them out as a matter of convenience. sen. kennedy: if he did read them, would he have committed a crime? dir. comey: potentially. sen. kennedy: would his spouse have committed a crime? dir. comey: again, potentially. it would depend upon a number of things. sen. kennedy: is there an investigation with respect to the two of them? dir. comey: there was. it is -- we completed it. sen. kennedy: why did you conclude neither of them committed a crime? dir. comey: because with respect to miss abe abedin in particular we didn't have any indication she had had a sense what she was doing was in violation of the law. couldn't prove any sort of criminal intent. really, the central problem we have with the whole e-mail investigation was proving that people knew the secretary and others knew they -- that they were communicating about classified information in a way that they shouldn't be and proving that they had some sense that they were doing something
unlawful. that was our burden. and we weren't able to meet it. sen. kennedy: so she thought it was ok to send her husband the information? dir. comey: well, i think -- i don't want to get too much into what she thought. we could not prove that the people sending the information, either in that case or in the other case with the secretary were acting with any kind of criminal intent. sen. kennedy: assume for a second -- again, i'm not a united states senator -- i'm working for a presidential campaign. and i'm contacted by a russian agent. and he just wants to look -- talk about the campaign in general and strategy. am i committing a crime? dir. comey: harder to answer. one, i probably don't want to answer any given in a hypothetical given the work we are doing. sen. kennedy: let me try it this way. let's assume i'm not a united
states senator, i'm working for a presidential campaign. and i'm contacted by a russian agent who says i've got some hacked e-mails here and i want to visit with you about them. am i committing a crime? dir. comey: also, senator, i think i should resist answering that hypothetical. sen. kennedy: ok. can you explain to me, not the law, but just in your personal opinion, when interrogation techniques become torture? dir. comey: you mean not the law? sen. kennedy: that's right. dir. comey: there is a statute that defines torture in the united states and so that, as a lawyer, and as a member of law enforcement organization, that is where i would start that the definition of torture is laid out in american statutes. i'm not sure i understand what you mean beyond that. sen. kennedy: i'm just asking your personal opinion about what
you think constitutes torture, where you personally would draw the line, drawing on your substantial experience. general,y: i'd say, in any contact that involves the intentional infliction of physical paint or discomfort in order to obtain information is , in the colloquial sense, torture. may not be torture under the statute, which congress chose to define at a fairly high level but as a human being and fbi director i think the physical pain and discomfort to be colloquially torture. sen. kennedy: any discomfort? suppose you just served someone bad food. dir. comey: again, tricky for us because the fbi is very careful never to inflict intentionally inflict physical pain or discomfort of any sort to try to question somebody. sen. kennedy: i understand. dir. comey: so i'd say, yeah,
that is conduct you should say way clear of. it is also ineffective, frankly. but that is a whole other deal. sure.ennedy: do you think it is possible from a law enforcement perspective to properly vet a nonamerican, noncitizen, i should say, coming to the united states from a conflict area, such as syria? dir. comey: it's difficult to do it perfectly. and i have concerns about the ability to vet people coming from areas where we have no relationship on the ground with the government there, and so i suppose it is possible to do it reasonably. i suppose there are a number of tools you could bring to bear but there are always risks associated with that. sen. kennedy: how do you do it? you can't call the chamber of
commerce in syria. how do you do it? dir. comey: well, you -- we do it now. we query the holdings of the entire american intelligence community to see if any -- what we call selectors, phone mails, e-mails addresses associated with that person ever showed in the world in our holding is a good way to do it. getting into the person's social media to see what they have there. that is another pretty good way of doing it. the host government will have a whole lot of information about them. in iraq, we collected a whole lot of biometrics to see if fingerprints ever showed up. i'm sorry. ?en. kennedy: how about yemen dir. comey: similar. sen. kennedy: i yield back my
three second, mr. chairman. >> thank you. you've been getting a lot of questions surrounding your decision to make certain statements about the investigation into secretary clinton's e-mails. and to many of us, you treated the investigation of the clinton e-mail investigation or matter. whatever you want to call it, differently than how you treated the ongoing investigation of the trump campaign and the russian attempts to interfere with their elections. can -- youou -- if i fell freely to speak about the clinton investigation because it had been completed when you had your press conference in july? dir. comey: correct. >> you do confirm that there is still an ongoing investigation of the trump campaign and their conduct with regard to russian efforts to undermine our
elections? dir. comey: we are conducting an investigation to understand whether there was any coordination between the russian efforts and anybody associated with the trump campaign. dir. comey: -- sen. hirono: so since you've already confirmed that such an investigation is ongoing, can you tell us more about what constitutes that investigation? dir. comey: no. sen. hirono: in july of 2016 when you announced that you were not going to be bringing criminal charges against secretary clinton because you did need to show intent and there was no intent discovered, you -- you spoke for 15 minutes, not only did you say that you were not going to bring criminal charges against her, by the way, which you said at the end of your 15 minutes, but you went on to chastise her, saying that she had been extremely careless. you raised questions about her judgment. you contradicted statements you had made about her e-mail practices. and said that possibly that hostile foreign agents or governments had gained access to
her server and had she still been employed by the government, she could have faced disciplinary action for what she did. i just wanted to know whether , when you made all of those public statements chastising her, and i won't editorialize your decision to bring about charges, it had to occur to you that this public chastisement put secretary clinton in a negative light. so did you consider whether this public chastisement might affect her campaign? dir. comey: i have to respectfully disagree with your characteristics of my intention as chastising. my role is to determine what is true. what did we do? what did we find and what do we think about it. i tried to be as complete and fair as i could be and tell the truth about what we found and what we think about it and what we are recommending. sen. hirono: so when you had
said that she was behaving in an extremely careless manner, can you cite me to other examples where you made some of those kind of comments? that elaborated on an fbi's decision not to bring about criminal charges? dir. comey: i can't as director. i know the department has in the irs email investigation. they wrote a report after they were done chastising lois lerner. for her behavior in a similar way. it happens -- it's very unusual but it happens. sen. hirono: but we know that you were very concerned about what might happen if it came to light that you had possibly gone easy on mrs. clinton and, therefore, that you were concerned about the political ramifications of your decisions and, yet -- dir. comey: i was not. sen. hirono: so you did not consider that your statements about a person who is running for president would not have a negative effect on her? dir. comey: i tried very hard not to consider what effect it might have politically.
i tried very hard to credibly complete an investigation that had gotten extraordinary public attention and my judgment -- and people can disagree about this, was that offering as much transparency as possible by what we did, what we found' we think of it was the best way to credibly complete the investigation. i wasn't thinking about what effect it might have on a political campaign. sen. hirono: i find that very hard to -- to really -- you know, i find that hard to believe that you did not contemplate that there would be political ramifications to your comments. dir. comey: i knew there would be -- i knew there would be ramifications. i just tried not to care about them. i knew there would be a huge storm that would come, but i tried to say what is the right thing to do in this case? sen. hirono: the right thing would have been that you did not have enough evidence to bring about criminal charges and that should have been the end of it, i would think. i don't know why you went toward with all kinds of characterizations about her
actions, and i find it hard to believe that you may not have considered it, but the thought should have occurred to you, and that i would think that you would have bent over backward not to say anything that would have an impact on the campaign. or on the election because you seemed to do that. that that was a concern for you. let me turn to the trump administration's vetting and security clearances and that process. in recent days, there have been numerous reports of trump administration officials failing to disclose foreign contacts and cash in their security clearance forms. what is the role of the fbi in vetting the security clearances of white house personnel? if any? dir. comey: well, sometimes the fbi is assigned to do the background checks on people who are coming into government in the executive office of the president. other times, not. a lot of times there are people who are arriving with clearances that already exist. sen. hirono: so in the case of the trump administration officials -- and there have been
a number of them -- was the fbi asked to participate in the vetting process? dir. comey: the fbi has done i -- some for some appointments. i don't know them for sure. i shouldn't talk about individuals in an open forum, at least without thinking about it better. sen. hirono: what would be the consequences for a white staffer or personnel who fails to disclose their foreign contacts on a security clearance form? dir. comey: hard to say, it could include losing your clearances if conduct is intentional. it could subject someone to criminal reliability. sen. hirono: with the department of justice pursue that? dir. comey: potentially. i think it would depend upon who owned the clearance as well in the first instance it might be another part of the intelligence community. sen. hirono: since there have been concerned raise about
clearance is not being appropriately vetted, is there an ongoing fbi investigation into what happened with the vetting process and whether crimes may have been committed? dir. comey: it is not something i can comment on sitting here. sen. hirono: sankey. senator cruz: thank you, mr. chairman. youre to say that i found answer to senator kennedy a few minutes ago puzzling. reason you described the why the case was closed against , you could not determine she was aware her conduct was unlawful. the reason that is puzzling is that you are an accomplished lawyer. as you are well aware, every earns --r law student learns in law that ignorance of the law is no excuse and mens rea does not require that
knowledge is unlawful. the governing statute ss have no requirement of acknowledge. 798-a provides whoever transmits or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, classified information shall be this title or imprisoned for 10 years. under the terms of that statute the fact pattern you describe in this hearing seems to fit that statute directly in that, if i understand you correctly, you said she forwarded hundreds or thousands of classified e-mails to her husband on a non-government, non-classified computer. how is -- how does that conduct not directly violate that statute? dir. comey: first, senator, if i
said that, i misspoke. she forwarded hundreds of emails, some of which contained classified information. for generations -- i think is a fair way to say it -- the department of justice understood that statute to require in practice and in law to require general sense of criminal intent. that is not a specific intent, but a general intent, a sense, a knowledge that what you are doing is unlawful, not filing your particular statute. i can't find a case brought in the last 50 years based on negligence without some showing of intent. sen. cruz: you and i have both worked in a number of jobs that require dealing with classified information. and on its face, anyone dealing with classified information should know that that conduct is impermissible. let me ask you, how would you
handle an fbi agent who forwarded thousands of classified e-mails to his or her spouse on a non-government computer? dir. comey: there would be significant administrative discipline. i'm highly confident they would be prosecuted, i am also highly confident there would be discipline. sen. cruz: let's shift to another topic. in the previous congress, i shared a hearing -- i chaired a hearing on willful blindness on the obama administration to radical islamic terrorism. we heard testimony that described a purge dhs had under gone of editing or deleting over 800 records at dhs to remove references of radical islam or to the muslim brotherhood. "purge" was the word used by the white house that directed dhs to conduct that purge. we obviously have a new administration now, a new white house, a new attorney general.
has the approach of the fbi to radical islamic terrorism changed in any respect with the new administration? dir. comey: not that i am aware of, no. sen. cruz: let me ask you about one specific terror attack which is on may 15 -- in may of 2015 the terrorist attack in garland, texas where two terrorists opened fire on a peaceful gathering. and thankfully, no innocent people were killed thanks to the heroic action of garland police officer greg stevens. who fatally shot the two terrorists. but a security officer was shot in the leg and it could have been much, much worse. at the time of the incident, you stated publicly that the fbi did not know the terrorists were on their way to the event or that they planned on attacking the event.
recently, there have been media reports suggesting otherwise. specifically, media reports that have stated an under cover fbi agent was in close communication with the two terrorists in the weeks leading up to the attack, explicitly discussed plans for the attack and was in a car directly behind the two terrorists outside the event and took photos of the terrorists moments before the attack, but then left the scene when the shooting began and that that agent was detained by the garland police. are those media reports correct? dir. comey: no. i stand by what i said originally. i can't go into the details of it here because they are classified. the fair thing to say is the media reports are highly misleading. in a classified setting, i could explain to you how. sen. cruz: i would appreciate you or your designee sharing those in a classified setting so that i can learn more of what occurred.
this committee has had substantial focus, also, on the practice of the previous irs of targeting citizens and citizen groups based on their political speech, political views and perceived political opposition to president obama. and the previous department of justice both attorneys general holder and lynch in my view stonewalled that investigation. is the fbi currently investigating the fbi's -- rather the irs's unlawful targeting of citizens for exercising political speech? dir. comey: i think you are referring to the original investigation focusing on groups allegedly associated with tea party? we completed that investigation and department declined prosecution. we worked hard on it but a lot of people on it couldn't make
what we thought was a case. to my knowledge, it has not been reopened. sen. cruz: so did the fbi recommend prosecution? you said it couldn't make the case. dir. comey: we couldn't prove that anybody was targeting these folks because they were conservatives or associated with the tea party. we worked hard to see if we could make that case but couldn't get there. thank you. senator blumenthal. senator blumenthal: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, director comey for being here. thank you to you and the men and women who work with you at the fbi for their extraordinary service to our country, much of it unappreciated as you are so powerfully in your opening statement. you have confirmed, i believe, that the fbi is investigating potential ties between trump
associates and the russian interference in the 2016 campaign, correct? dir. comey: yes. sen. blumenthal: and you have not, to my knowledge, ruled out anyone in the trump campaign as potentially a target of that criminal investigation, correct? dir. comey: i haven't said anything publically about who we have opened investigations on. i briefed the chair in ranking -- the chair and ranking on who the people are. i can't go beyond that in this setting. sen. blumenthal: have you ruled out anyone in the campaign that you can disclose? dir. comey: i don't feel comfortable answering that, senator, because i think it puts me on a slope to talk about who we are investigating. sen. blumenthal: have you ruled out the president of the united states? dir. comey: i want peoplet
to overinterpret this answer. i will not comment on anyone in particular because that puts me down a slope. if i say no to that then i have to answer succeeding questions. we briefed chair and ranking on who u.s. persons are that we have opened investigations on. that is as far as we are going to go at this point. sen. blumenthal: but as a former prosecutor you know that when there is an investigation into several potentially culpable individuals the evidence from those individuals and the investigation can lead to others, correct? dir. comey: correct. we are always open minded and follow the evidence wherever it takes us. sen. blumenthal: so potentially, the president of the united states could be a target of your ongoing investigation into involvement with russian interference in our election. dir. comey: i just -- i don't want to answer that because that seems to be unfair speculation. we will follow the evidence -- he will try to follow the evidence where it -- wherever it leads. sen. blumenthal: wouldn't this
situation be ideal for the appointment of a special prosecutor, an independent counsel, in light of the fact that the attorney general has recused himself and so far as your answers indicate today no one has been ruled out publically in your ongoing investigation. i understand the reasons that you want to avoid ruling out anyone publicly, but for exactly that reason, because of the appearance of a potential conflict of interest, isn't this situation absolutely crying out for a special prosecutor? dir. comey: that's a judgment for the deputy attorney general -- the acting attorney general on this matter, and not something i should comment on. sen. blumenthal: you had some experience in this kind of decision.
in 2003, you admirably appointed a special prosecutor, patrick fitzgerald, when the attorney general then john ashcroft recused himself from involvement in the investigation concerning whether the bush administration officials illegally disclosed the identity of an undercover cia official. are there any differences materially between that situation and this one, so far as the reasons to appoint a special counsel? dir. comey: well, i think both situations, as with all investigations that touch on people who have been actors in a
the credibility of the investigation into the leak of identity would's be best served by not having it myself because i was appointee.l -- i was investigation, the ongoing investigation into rump associates and their potential collusion with the russians in the election, will providing any updates to the american people?
>> certainly not before the atter is concluded and depending on how it's concluded and some matters are concluded charges, other matters as was the case with the e-mail investigation end with no but a statement of some sort. others end with no statement. i don't know yet. to do ly i would want that in close coordination with the department. recommendations to presumably it would be the deputy attorney general or the one is prosecutor if appointed as to whether criminal charges should be brought? in this case in particular but in general we almost always do especially the matters.rofile >> but you cannot yourself pursue criminal charges; correct? correct. >> i think that's importanted for the american -- important for the american people to it bears on cause the question of whether a special prosecutor should be appointed. fbi may inspire great credibility and trust but the charges.ot bring
neither can the intelligence an ittee do so nor can independent commission. only the deputy attorney general r a special prosecutor designated by him. correct? correct. >> we need to close because i am running out of time. been questioned at all by the inspector general in inquiry thatth the i understand is ongoing into a number of the topics that we've discussing here? >> yes. i've been interviewed. the inspector general is looking looking at my conduct in the course of the e-mail investigation which sounds crazy say but i encourage that. i want that inspection. want my story told because some of it is classified and also if i did something wrong, i want to hear that. i did. think i've been interviewed and i'm sure i'll be interviewed again. or o you have any regrets
anything you would do in connection with either the comments you made at closed the investigation or when you then you ated to congress that were in effect reopening it. >> yeah. the honest answer is no. asked myself that a million times. is maybething i regret answering the phone when i was living happily in connecticut be fbi asked me to director. but i can't. 've gotten all kinds of rocks thrown at me and this has been really hard but i think i've one the right thing at each turn. i'm not on anybody's side. so hard for people to see that. times.ked that a million should you have done this or i t and the honest answer, don't mean to be arrogant, i wouldn't have done it any differently. somehow i would have wished or away. it wished i was on the shores of he connecticut sound but
failing that, i don't have any regrets. >> i want to ask one last this on unrelated to topic. on the issue of gun violence. agree that universal background checks would help in the enforcement prevention of gun violence. >> the more able we can keep the out of the hands of criminals and spouse abusers, the better. >> i'll take that as a yes. thank you. tillis.tor i think we have one member if for re going to come back first round we have a few who want a second round. so i hope that people get back know exactly how many people we have out of courtesy director comey. forirector comey, thank you being here. i'm always impressed with your preparation your
and i want to get to a couple of other things. maybe first. time, come back to what the hearing has been predominantly about. you briefed us last year, i think that you said that there some -- that there were ongoing investigations on security potential terrorists either home grown or inspired investigations in every state. is that still the case? >> yes. >> do you have roughly -- can roughly an idea of the number of investigations that is? >> just north of a thousand. north of a thousand. >> yeah. that case load has stayed about since we last talked about it. some have closed. some have opened. home grown thousand violence extremist investigations in the united states. also asked e time i the question about to what in nt that you can discuss this setting were people who are the target of this persons who came
in through various programs vetting stions about have been raised about whether or not they were accurate. at the time i think there were half. a dozen and a do you have any rough numbers about that? do. ome grown violent extremist -- we have no indication they're in touch with terrorists. people whor drupe of we see contact request foreign terrorists. take that 2,000 plus people, about 300 of them came the states as refugees. >> okay. and to what extent in investigations you mentioned earlier that there are probably about half of the devices that ing you've accessed that you can't get into with any technology i assume bi has which is some of the most advanced available. extent is the access to
that information relevant in investigations, potential homeland threats? >> i would say it's a feature of work but especially concerning here because we're trying law lawful process to consuming are they this poison on the internet and are they in touch with anybody in terrorism cases, about half the devices we can't open. percent of our subjects are using at least one encrypted app. of the base of information you can't get to. 702, how much more of ha emaining half would be harmed? addresses a 702 different challenge. it would be a disaster. in these elevant investigations. >> it is. >> so half of the physical assets you can't already get
to.ss there's the metadata and all the nformation that would be instructive to this investigation. so by going dark is that 100%? headed towards 100%. 02 is the window of the bad guys overseas. i don't know why we would close that window. >> we have thousands of of potential homeland security threats evenly people who have been self-radicalize, some some in the refugee program. i want to create the context to when the
investigation first began. it was already a part of media attention. on june 27th, the then ttorney general met with the spouse of someone who's subject to an active investigation which is at. at least an unusual encounter which also spun up the edia and i think it was july 5th that you made the statement that i think a few of you've said that i guess based on the evidence you were gathering, one component like removing a frame from a jigsaw puzzle and dumping the pieces on the floor. hen you said there's evidence of potential violations of statutes regarding the handling f classified information and you went on to say under similar circumstances a person engaged these activities would likely or ubject to security administrative sanctions. but you went on to say that you a n't believe
reasonable-minded prosecutor would bring a case even though potential vidence of violations, and that you were expressing your view that the ustice department should not proceed. is that typical for you to go to a point and say i've gathered there may be on, evidence of violations, but we any reasonable prosecutor in the doj would pursue it so we're going to pursuing it. is that common? >> for an fbi director to do that? yeah. >> never heard of it. never imagined it ever until this circumstance. some logic in e that at the time that you were making that decision based on he information you were provided, was there the same sort of thought process you're going through there to have it that then ledevel to your october 28th notification of congress that you had to look at other that had been weiner's d on anthony pc? what i'm trying to do is say it ooks like you were trying to
provide as much transparency and had ime information as you and then on november 6th, the fbi apparently moved heaven and got something done in a matter of days that they thought was going to take beyond the election. pressure re in that cooker. i just wanted to give you an opportunity to glue together i your the decision for actions on july 5th and how i think there's parallels between ultimately didou on october 28th and then and i'll yield back my time for the answer. i've lived my whole life caring about the credibility and criminal ity of the justice process. that the american people believe t to behr and that it be in fact fair, independent, and honest. o what i struggled with in the spring of last year was how do we credibly complete the hillary tion of clinton's e-mails if we conclude there's no case there. the normal way to do it would be the department of justice
announce it and i struggled as we got closer to the end of it a number of things had gone on, some of which i can't talk worry et that made me that the department leadership could not credibly complete the and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the american people's justice e in the system. and the capper was -- and not attorney general, loretta lynch, who i like very but her meeting with hillary clinton on that airplane was the capper for me. know what, the department cannot be itself credibly end this. chance we have is to step away and tell the american people, here's what the fbi did, here's what we found, here's what we think. and that that offered us the best chance of the american believing in the system that it was done in a credible way. that was a hard call for me to make to call the attorney that morning and say i'm about to do a press conference and i'm not telling you what i'm
going to say. said to her i hope you feel i nd one day why i have to do this. i knew this would be a disaster but i felt nally this is the best way to protect about titutions we care so much. so this was one in a credible way. weiner thing ny landed on me on october 27th, a huge new step to be taken, we may be finding the golden missing e-mails that case if i wereis not to speak about that it would catastrophic us, concealment. it was incredibly painful choice actually not that hard between very bad and catastrophic. that we tell congress decisional these steps. two actions, speak or conceal. i don't think many reasonable do it different than what i did no matter what they say today. that? you really conceal
so i spoke. gain, the design was to act credibly, independently, and honestly, so the american people rigged inystem is not any way and that's why i felt transparency was the best path july and i wasn't seeking transparency in october. sent that letter only to the chairs and rankings. announcement at that point. and my amazing people moved heaven and earth to do what was to get through those e-mails by working 24 hours a found tons of new stuff. view.t change our they said we don't believe hillary case against
interaction with mr. seal regarding name or not alleged ties between the trump campaign and russia prior to the bureau launching its investigation of the matter? the same to give you answer, mr. chairman. >> this one i'm going to expect policies on, do fbi allow it to pay an outside investigator for work another paying him for as well? want me to repeat it? policies allow it to pay an outside investigator for work that another source is also investigator for? >> i don't know for sure as i sit here. i'll ly is my answer but get you a precise answer. >> in writing? >> sure. okay. did the fbi provide to mr. ents whatsoever
seal related to the investigation of trump associates. -- i back to my first can't answer in this forum. aware -- was the fbi aware that mr. steel his sources who in turn paid their sub sources in the the claim dossier? >> same answer, sir. here's one you should be able to answer. know -- sit vital to know whether or not sources ave been paid in order to evaluate their credibility and f they have been paid, doesn't that information need to be disclosed if you're relying on seeking rmation in approval for investigative
authority. will you commit to fully questions from my march 6th and april 28th letter all requested documents so that we can resolve if ininconsistencies even a closed session being necessary? >> because as i sit here i don't in the the questions letters, i don't want to answer specifically but i commit to you to give you all the you need to resolve that challenge but in a classified setting, i'll give you need. >> okay. well, i hope to show you those inconsistencies. i think i know what you're -- where the confusion is but i hink in a classified setting, we can straighten it out. >> next question, according to a the justiceled with department, the company that creation was r's
also working with a former operative elligence lobbying ussian project at the same time. they allegedly failed to foreign agent for its work to undermine -- which a law that lets the president punish russian officials who rights.human before i sent you a letter about his, were you aware of the complaint against fusion was acting as an unregistered agent interests? >> it's not a question i can answer in this forum. >> you can't answer that? >> no. no, i can't. go on to something else. ast week, the fbi filed a declaration in court pursuant to reedom of information act
litigations. he fbi said that a grand jury issued subpoenas for secretary clinton's e-mails. yet, you refused to tell this whether the fbi saw it to thebeen denied access grand jury process from the justice department. so why does the fbi give more who filesn to someone a lawsuit than to an oversight committee in the congress. hat's happened to me several times. >> i'm not sure, senator, hether that's what happened here. you're right. i refuse to confirm in our we used as to whether grand jury and how. i think that's the right position. proposition ter of
then. a private citizen files a information act and you give them more information a senator.ve how do you justify that? >> it's a good question. >> what do you mean? justify it? here justify i sit it. >> was the clinton investigation named operation mid year because be finished before he democratic national convention? if so, why the artificial deadline and if not, why was the name? >> certainly not because it had to be finished by a particular date. science to rt and a how we come up with code names for cases. me it's done randomly. sometimes some make me smile so i'm not sure. it was called mid year exam. can assure you the name was me selected for any
an you say how many of these were related to a counterterrorism event? i don't know as i sit here but we can get you that information. >> yeah. really very much appreciate that. take into consideration events of national security and provide devices. it must be some way of even going before a judge and getting a court order to be able to open a device. that would work? to my mind that would be a to be but we're not now.e
it after an existing -- but does uires not require companies to monday user subscriber or customer. reintroduce the provision in separate are two on so here questions. would the fbi benefit from nowing when technology companies see terrorists plotting and other illegal online. >> yes. >> would the fbi be willing to with the judiciary ommittee going forward on this provision?
understand the problem. has the fbi ever talked with the about this need in particular? >> yes, senator, we've had a lot i said rsations and as earlier, in my sense they've more productive -- it be connected to our inability to access information. we should have the conversations and the at happens companies more and more get that. apple. not picking on
the real reason we needed to get into that device and that is case after after case which is why we have to optimize a way to things.wo the european community had special concerns about privacy of the companies in our country will be well, they would lose business. that european concern is changing. the nk what i read about u.k., what i understand is happening in france and germany ncreased sharing of intelligence. the realization i think that dangerous people n large numbers, possibly plotting at any given time to carry out an attack. had some palliative effect
and there may be a change of viewpoint so it would be very law enforcement community could help us. this is not to monitor. this is something that's very basic if there is a piece of vidence that says, hey, there may be a cell, another individual out there, you have a chance of getting into that of evidence to see if that's true. permission. dge's >> with a judge's permission. that is correct. so i thank you for that. you, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. firstator lee has not had round so i got to go to senator lee. mr. chairman. thank you mr. comey for being here today. i want to talk to you about electronic communications records.on would it be fair to say that electronic communications records include such browsing history?
see what sporting page you visited but not where you went within that. on the legislation that i've reviewed, it's not my recollection that, that is the case. i've been told is that it would not necessarily be the policy of the government to use go to that level of grand lairty but that the language would allow it. >> it is. my understanding is we're not authority.r that >> you don't want that authority. >> that's my understanding. functionalike is the equivalent of the dialling information. where you -- the address you or the web page you went to not where you went within it. if you look at it at the broad level of abinstruction so onlysting it would be used at the domain name level, somebody went to espn.com. follow someone's browsing history you could find out a amount about that person. >> yes. i keep saying this but i mean their you can from
telephone dialling history. >> yes. fors talk about section 702 a minute. section 702 of the foreign ntelligence surveillance amendments act. authorizes the surveillance, the u.s. signals surveillance quipment to obtain foreign intelligence information. the definition includes information that is directly national security. but it also includes, quote, information that is relevant to affairs of the united states. regardless of whether that affairs-related information is relevant to a threat.l security to your knowledge, has the attorney general or the dni ever 702 to target individuals abroad in a unrelated to a national security threat? >> not that i'm aware of. wrong but i could be i don't think so. i think it's confined to espionage, rism,
counterproliferation and those are the buckets. >> okay. say cyber but to cyber -- >> that's where it's typically those things. does it -- to your knowledge, it oesn't currently use section 702 to target people abroad in instances unrelated to national threats. >> i don't think so. like a diplomat, to find out how particularls about a foreign policy issue or something, i don't think so >> right. 702 were narrowed to exclude information that is affairs but oreign not relevant to a national would that mean that the government would be able to obtain the information to protect order national security? of 702 is e value exactly that, where the rubber its the road in the national security context, counterterrorism and
counterproliferation. it's used typically what we're talking about here is not metadata. not this call was made from this number to this number. content. so if we were talking about two persons, two american citizens, if i were calling you, typically that's not something 702 would be used to collect but if it's me calling someone else and if that person u.s. person, if that person ends up being an agent of a foreign government and determined that communications involving that to a might be connected national security investigation, there's a chance that, that ommunication would be intercepted. not the fact that the call was made but also the content. call t's what we incidental collection. >> that collection is then aggregated. ou have databases that store all of these things and so there re lots of u.s. persons who have had communications, conversations that are recorded out there in a database.
can you search that database for communications involving specific u.s. persons without getting a warrant? >> yes. >> and the fact that these communications were intercepted any showing sarily of wrong doing on the part of the u.s. person, without that that showing u.s. person had anything to do the the foreign -- with national security investigation at issue, does that cause you that, that could involve almost a back door way of going fter communications by u.s. persons in which they have a reasonable expectation of privacy? >> it doesn't cause me concern but maybe because of the way -- see from where i am. i understand the question
though. what matters is how we treat the data and we're careful with it it.protect that's true whether we collect 702 or domestically. i don't know how we would operate otherwise. i think the american people want we hold it so we can connect dots in case someone bad is in there but treat it is. the information it protect it and make sure it's handled in a responsible way. thank you. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman.
3,000 cases, the fbi has reached out to officers who originally prosecuted these and i appreciate that. our main concern that cases closed if you don't find the transport right away, i've question in s writing, cases where there's a you commit script, to have an fbi conduct an in-person visit to obtain whether there was information faulty possibly a analysis by the fbi that might have brought about a conviction. sorry, an in-person visit? prosecutor's he
office or whoever else may be involved. transcript, have a an in-person visit to say, okay, show?o your records did you use analysis that may fbi been faulty from the and bring about the conviction? >> i see. i don't know enough to react to that now and commit to it now. an i follow up with you to see how we're thinking about that? >> will you follow up? >> i will. you.kay. thank thank you. whitehouse. >> thank you. couple of quick matters for starters. did you give hillary clinton, uote, a free pass for many bad deeds? there was a tweak to that. not my intense -- there was a tweet to that by the president. that was not my intention. honest cted a competent
and independent investigation closed it while offering transparency to the american people. said it was not a prosecutable case there. > with respect to the question of prosecution for classified material, is the question of the of the disclosure, ie, the harm from the writ the actual secrecy of considered in a prosecutive decision? >> yes. there's a great deal of material while technically classified is widely known to he public because overclassification is a significant problem within the executive branch. correct? correct. and doj reserves prosecution for the most serious matters in my experience. > and that would have been evaluated also in looking at e-mails? clinton's >> yes. >> so they may not have caused terms of who saw them.
there are e-mails that could be lassified and cause no harm if disclosed. >> yes. that is the case. >> it has been disclosed and publicly reported that there was two-day interval between the michael flynn f related to his conversations ambassador -- and then deputy attorney general's report about e house counsel calls. >> yeah.
two days is whether right. i think it might have been a day. i could be wrong. could have been two days. i did participate in onversations about that matter and i think i'll stop there because i don't know the department's position on peaking about those communications. >> but as you sit here, you about ave any hesitation that delay about any -- it any kind of mischief of misconduct. >> no. and given your experience you this works. an agent conducts an interview, it to up a 302, shows their partner, then produces it. sometimes it's the next day finished. >> so the deputy would have seen would and that process have taken place by the time she went up to see white house counsel? right, yes. at's >> okay. thank you. the weiner laptop.
as i understand it, you were agents in the fbi office that there was or relevant elated information in mr. weiner's aptop on the basis of that information, you then sent a letter to the members of before whom you had committed to answer if there changes in the status things. you also then authorized the a search pursue warrant which then gave them ccess to the content which allowed them to do the search that you then said came up with that you could then undo the letter and say actually we took a look and there's nothing there. have the order correctly there? >> right. they came to me, briefed me on the they could see from metadata, why it was significant. they thought that i ought to
a search warrant and wanted my approval. i agreed. authorized it. department of justice. so then they reviewed, during week, they ng reviewed 40,000 e-mails. they r stated how many reviewed and found that 3,000 of related and came from blackberry back ups and a unch of other things and 12 of them were classified but we'd seen them all before so they briefed me t work, on it, and say it doesn't change our view and then i send the second letter. classified f those e-mails create national security damage? a hard one to answer by definition a classification potential the national security damage. >> with respect to our earlier conversation, tons of stuff is front page of he the "new york times." >> i'm not aware that any of these e-mails or any of the in the investigation got into the hands of people that were able to exploit them to
our national security. let me offer you this hypothetical. say it e to you and -- could we have to reopen the investigation. if there is anything real here, need to get on that so i can answer that question so that the search warrant proceeds the letter rather than the letter warrant g the search articularly in light of the widely adhered to policy the department not to disclose investigative materials. and the truly exceptional nature
of disclosures. why not the search warrant first? very hard on hem that and found their responses credible that there was no way, o way they could review the volume of information they saw on the laptop in the time remaining. did. ept that they >> they did. and because our wizards in approximate our operational withology division came up a way to do it electronically hich i understand it involved writing a custom software program but investigative team we cannot finish this before the election. that then my mind made the judgment appropriate, the one that i made. waiting to, waiting, make the disclosure. > okay. and with respect to your response, we can talk about time.me other my time has expired but i have a of what took place. i don't doubt your honesty for a
i think there were very significant mistakes made through this process. e-mail case?he >> yes. >> okay. >> the hillary clinton e-mail case. >> yes. thank you to the ranking member hanging in your there. and being made of stone, was it? [laughter] >> sand stone i think. i just want to clarify some me.he answers that you gave or example, in response to director -- i asked you would president trump's tax returns be material to such an investigation. investigation. and does the investigation have access to president trump's tax some other questions
you answered i can't say. nd i would like to get a clarification on that. is it that you can't say or that this setting?in >> that i won't answer questions contours of the investigation as i sit here. i don't know whether i would do setting either but for sure i don't want to begin answering questions about we're looking at and how. >> okay. so i'll take that as setting you his can't do that. maybe you can elsewhere. talking about some of the number of -- the unusual of individuals and mportant roles in the trump ampaign or in in his life and and re sort of unexpected often undisclosed ties to russia. of uld like to focus on one
those individuals, roger stone, and his relationship with gucifer 2.0. online persona that cluesed was used by russian military intelligence to e-mails ments and stolen from the democratic wikileaks ommittee to the u.s. intelligence community and the fbi has since concluded russian government directed the breach and that intelligence ry used gucifer 2.0 to ensure that obtained were publicly released. o while gucifer has insisted that he or she is not russian, has ntelligence community concluded that the hacker has and was es to moscow used by russian military intelligence to leak information clinton campaign and
by crats that was stolen russia. is that, director comey, a fair characterization? yes. the judgment was gucifer 2.0 was n instrument of the russian intelligence. >> thank you. well, a few months back it was august of last year, couple of months before roger stone, ion, one of president trump's long political mentors and a campaign advisor exchanged a number of private 2.0 via with gucifer twitter. mr. stone has since insisted hat the relationship was totally innocuous. ow, in this series of messages gucifer 2.0 and mr. stone exchange a number of bizarre tremendouses. gucifer thanks mr. stone for
mr. stonebout him and expresses delight that gucifer's was reinstated after it was suspended but in wrote i'm pleased to say that you're a great man. please tell me if i can help you anyhow. it would be a great pleasure to me. me, this omey, to sounds like a clear offer from a operative elligence to clap rate with a senior -- collaborate with a senior trump campaign. is that a throwaway line or an some to help stone in respect? do we know whether any further and nication between stone gucifer took place and if you or can't say n -- but you could say in another classified environment, could you make that distinction? i definitely cannot say here. i don't think i would say in a classified environment because
calls for questions about what we're looking at and how. >> okay. i definitely can't say here. >> okay. well, at the very with, stone's conversation gucifer demonstrated once again campaign rump officials were communicating with russian operatives, what is clear, however, is whether the trump campaign ever provided operatives russian or were aware that specific actions were being carried out the election. for example, it has been suggested that last year, the used thousands of paid to flood bott nets the internet particularly social edia with fake news aimed at influencing the election and favoring president trump. i'm curious whether such actions a coordinated effort. is there any evidence that the assisted or n directed those efforts? that i can'tething
answer here but i would refer ou back to what i said was the purpose of the investigation. to understand whether there were coordination or collusion between elements of the campaign and the russians. >> of course. nd i would point out too that right before the podesta e-mails came out, that roger going to bet's soon ime for podesta's time in the barrel. so i think there may be a little bit of i think it's a shame that he said dread hillary yesterday, in this forum, blamed everyone but herself. she took a lot of blame on herself. in that forum.
referenced, when she , 11 days before the election, which has been the , that and also the russian interference, i think she was only saying stuff that other people have said. i don't think she was saying ofthing that a lot of, a lot people also think had an effect on the election. that thet was a shame mental leavetexas that out deliberately, but did she -- but she did not blame everyone but herself. >> there are two things i would like to say. one would be what you promised
senator cruz on the briefing on situation, that you would include any of the staff of the committee in on that briefing as well so we have a committee briefing on it as well, at least at the staff level. would you do that? assuming they have the clearances for it, i'll do that. >> that's obvious. the second thing, after we have two more people have the second round, before they get done, i have to go and i want to thank you for being here. sen. feinstein: will close down the meeting. senator her owner -- as mentioned earlier, president trump issued a revised refugee visa ban executive order that
restricted entry to the u.s. from six majority muslim countries. the suspicion was the suspension was largely premised on the claim that "more than 300% to enter the united states are refugees are currently the subjects of counterterrorism investigations by the federal bureau of investigation." can you provide me any information that the person under investigation are from the six countries subject to the suspension? are these persons exclusively from the six countries subject to the suspension? what other countries are represented among the population that is currently under investigation? dir. comey: i'm sure we can provide you -- what i can tell you here is i think about a third of them are from the six countries. so 300. about a third are from the six countries. two thirds of those are from
iraq, which was not included in but i will make sure that my staff gets you the precise numbers, senator. so iraq was the only other country that was not among the six targeted countries? dir. comey: i think that's right. as you ask it, i wonder whether i am wrong. i will get you the precise numbers. refugees, about 300, about a third from the six countries, about two thirds from iraq. sen. hirono: thank you. you can provide that information. can you provide additional information on the percentage of the individuals who came to the u.s. as children. dir. comey: i can't as i sit here. i'm sure we can get you that. sen. hirono: can you provide information on the percentage of these individuals who were radicalized after having been in our country for a long period of time? however where you would describe it. dir. comey: that is a harder
one. it is hard to figure out when someone is radicalized and when it happened. i will ask my folks to think about what information we can get you on that. i will do my best. sen. hirono: may be in the course of the investigation, you can ascertain when they became radicalized. turning to the death threats against certain judges, we have an administration who challenges federal judges who disagree with president trump's views. we saw during the campaign and during his presidency. during the blocking of the judge watson began receiving death threats. i imagine u.s. marshals have primary responsibility for the protection of federal judges, that the fbi is poised to step in if necessary. investigating the threats made against judge watson? dir. comey: i believe we are. we visited the honolulu brief
office, trying to understand the threats and to protect the judge. i believe we are. sen. hirono: in november, there were 3/9 circuit judges who ruled against the president's travel ban and also received death threats. is the fbi investigating those threats? dir. comey: i do not know if we are. any time that federal judges are threatened, the fbi will likely be involved in investigating those threats? dir. comey: in most circumstances, the marshals have the primary responsibility. in my experience, they very, very often ask us for assistance or what ever information we may have, some of our technical resources. they are pretty darn good. but in most cases, they are persistent. sen. hirono: are the president continued attacks on the judiciary emboldening individuals to make these sorts of threats or an environment
where some people might think it's ok to issue these kind of threats against judges who disagree with the president? dir. comey: that's not something i think i can comment on. it's concerning whenever people are directing threat the judges -- theirhey independence and insulation from anything is at the core of our judicial system and that is why we take it seriously. sen. hirono: speaking of independence, of not just of judiciary, but i would like you to clarify the fbi's independence from the doj apparatus. fbithe fda -- can the conduct an investigation independent of the department of justice or does the fbi have to get the attorney general's consent? dir. comey: we work with the department of justice, whether that is main justice or u.s. attorneys offices on all of our investigations. we work with them.
so in a legal sense, we are not independent of the department of justice. we are spiritually, culturally a pretty independent group. that is the way you would want it. we work with the department of justice in all of our investigations. sen. hirono: are there senior officials -- so if a senior official opposes an investigation, can they hold that fbi investigation? dir. comey: in theory, yes. sen. hirono: has it happened? dir. comey: not in my experience because it would be a big deal to till the fbi just of doing something without itn appropriate purpose. oftentimes, they give us opinions where we don't see a case and you should stop using resources and it. but to stop something for a political reason would be a very big deal. it hasn't happened in my experience. sen. hirono: a number of us have called for an independent investigator or special prosecutor to investigate the russian efforts to undermine or
to interfere with our elections as well as the trump team's relationships with these russian efforts. should the department of justice should be athere special prosecutor and you already have an ongoing fbi investigation into these matters, the attorney general has already recused himself -- how would this proceed when you have the department of justice conducting or assigning an independent or special prosecutor and you are already doing an investigation? how would this work? dir. comey: our investigative team would coordinate with a different set of prosecutors. it's as if a case was moved from one u.s. attorneys office to another. the investigative team starts working with a different set of u.s. attorneys. sen. hirono: so the two investigations could proceed, but you would talk to each other?
dir. comey: it's one investigationdir. comey:. the strength of the justice system at the federal level in the united states, the prosecutors and the ages were together on their investigations. so the investigators would disengage from one prosecutor and hook up to another and continue going. the hirono: so in investigations you are currently doing on the russian interference and the trump team's relationship, are you coordinating with any u.s. attorney's office in this investigation? dir. comey: two sets of prosecutors, main justice, the national security division, and the eastern virginia securities office. -- hirono: sosen. hirono: sen. hirono: so if they decide to go with a special prosecutor, you would work with the doj? dir. comey: potentially. be, if the attorney general appoint someone else to oversee it, you keep the career team.prosecuting
so the prosecutors and the agents, there is no team -- no change, except the bosses different. this happenedas before, where you are doing an investigation and the attorney general appoints a special prosecutor to conduct the same investigation? me. comey: it happened to when i was in what i thought was my last job ever in the government, as deputy attorney general, and i appointed patrick fitzgerald in chicago to oversee a very sensitive investigation involving allegations that u.s. -- that bush administrative officials had outed a cia operative. we moved over announcer: coming up on c-span, "washington journal" is next. then, members will vote on the republican health care bill to replace the affordable care act. in about 30 minutes on washington journal, or details
on the health care bill and the future of the health care system in the u.s. with congressman rowel ruiz of california. also, leonard lance of new jersey. ♪ host: house republican leadership asserts they had the vote to pass their health care bill that would make significant changes to the affordable care act, chiefly allowing states to request awa waiver. added to help assist people pay for health care and insurance. it is may the fourth. the vote is scheduled later this day. stay close to c-span.org for more information. for the next half-hour, your thoughts on