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tv   News Comey Senate Testimony  Bloomberg  June 8, 2017 10:00am-12:43pm EDT

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businesspeople who serve those functions and the visors -- as advisers/ a the legal team for the president put out a brief statement yesterday. it felt totally indicated by comey's prepared statements. that could've been a much more rebuttal ifetailed the statement had gone differently. >> this is an interesting moment. going up to shake cans with dianne feinstein. the former u.s. attorney for the southern district who thought he had his job. he claimed the president said he would keep his job, who he got rid of. sorry to interrupt. role ofe ask about the private counsel is playing. how big a role is he playing in this white house? yesterday indown
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washington. i thought him from across the hallway at the white house. they have been there and are there with the president. part of the strategy having him take over the handling of the rush of peace is to get it out of the hands of the white house's domestic political shop. their communications shop, and heaven -- have an easy isolation. that have an easy expiration. the firm is hired a former justice department official in the bush justice department. let me make things more complicated. his background is having worked for john ashcroft, who was the attorney general during the infamous time when jim comey was deputized as acting attorney general john ashcroft was hospitalized. jim comey, the famous capitol hill testimony about a decade ago. we are going back while you're waiting for the gearing to
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start. farrarror our rope -- with ties to chuck schumer. a magnificent, huge room in the senate office building on the east side of the capital. the northeast side of the capitol complex. members are taking their seat now. your background is in the law. remind us. impeachment is the specter that is been raised. what are folks listening for today? >> two very different questions. one is criminal and one is impeachment. the president cannot be indicted for a crime. most legal experts say what james comey has described is not constitute of structure justice. >> there is james comey walking in now to sit down to testify.
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we will of the senate intelligence committee plus one. we will have john mccain, the head of the armed forces committee. he gets to sit down. that is james comey shaking hands, about to sit down. i have not seen richard burr yet, the chairman. there he is. they are coming in now. we have impeachment, the political process. and then a crime by the president. as we knew from the nixon situation, they can certainly inform the articles of impeachment, as it did with the case of richard nixon. there are two cases, political and legal, quite different. and really if there is a basis for a legal charge here. most i have heard suggest there is not. exhibiting what we write about in his prepared remarks yesterday.
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the look he may have had at the infamous dinner with the president, standing for photos before the retest testimony. we expect a statement from him and richard burr of north carolina. and mark warner, democratic senator from virginia. they have maintained the integrity of this committee hearings. let's listen out to the chairman. >> director comey, i appreciate your willingness to appear before the many today. i thank you for your dedicated service and leadership to the federal bureau of investigation. your appearance today speaks to the trust we have built over the years. i am looking forward to a very open and candid discussion today. i like to remind my colleagues that we will reconvene in closed
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session at 1:00 p.m. today. isp reserve for that venue any questions that might get into classified information. the director has been gracious with his time, but the vice-chairman and i have parked at a specific timeline for his commitment to be on the help. -- hill. the senate select committee on intelligence exists to certify for the other 85 members of the u.s. senate and the american people the intelligence community is operating lawfully and has the necessary authority and tools to a college's mission and keep america safe. part of our mission, the on the oversight we continue to provide to the intelligence community and its activities is to investigate russian interference in the 2016 u.s. elections. the committee's work continues. this represents part of that effort.
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allegations have been swirling in the press for the last several weeks. today is your opportunity to set the record straight. yesterday, i read your statement for the record. i think it provides helpful details surrounding your interactions with the president. it clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions. actions you took following each conversation, and your state of mind. i appreciate your candor. i think it is helpful as we work through to determine the ultimate truth behind possible russian interference in the 2016 elections. your statement provides texture and context for your interactions with the president. from your vantage point and outlines a strange relationship. the murky people need to hear your side of the story, just as they need to hear the president's descriptions of events. these interactions also highlight the importance of the
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committee's ongoing investigation, our experienced staff is interviewing all relevant parties and some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country's possession. we will establish the facts separate from rampant speculation and laid them out for the american people to make your own judgment. only then will we as a nation be able to move forward and put this episode to rest. there are several outstanding issues not addressed in your statement i hope you will clear up for the american people today. did the president's request for impression, that the one-on-one dinner of january 27 was, "an effort to create some sort of patronage relationship," whether march 30 phone call asking what you could do to lift the cloud of russian investigation in any way alter your approach or the fbi's
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investigation into journal f -- general flynn? the potential russian efforts to establish links with individuals in the trump orbit rise to the level we could define as collusion or was it a counterintelligence concern? there is a significant public speculation about your decision related to the clinton email investigation. why did you decide publicly announce the fbi's recommendations that the department of justice not pursue criminal charges? you have described it as a choice between a bad decision and a worse decision. the american people need to understand the facts behind your actions. this committee is uniquely suited to investigate russia's interference in the 2016 elections. we also have a unified bipartisan approach to what is a highly charged artisan issue.
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russian activities during the 2016 election may have been aimed at one party's candidate, but as my colleague says 2020, ity, in 2018 and could be aimed at anyone, at home or abroad. my colleague, senator warner and i have worked to stay in lockstep on this investigation. we've had our differences, on approach at times, but i have stressed we need to be a team. i think senator warner agrees with me. we must keep these questions above politics and partisanship. it is too important to be tainted by anyone trying to score political points. with that, i welcome you and i turn to the vice-chairman for any comments he might have. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me start by thanking the members of the committee for the seriousness in which they've taken on this task. mr. comey, thank you for
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agreeing to testify as part of this committee's investigation into russia. beenlize this hearings has the focus of a lot of washington in the last few days. the truth is many americans may be tuning in today probably have not focused on every twist and turn of the investigation. i would like to briefly describe, from this senator's standpoint but we already know and what we are investigating. to be clear, this investigation is not aboutrelitigating the election. is not about democrats versus republicans. we are here because a foreign adversary attacked us right here at home, plain and simple. not by guns or missiles, but by
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foreign operatives seeking to hijack our most important democratic process, on presidential election. russian spies engaged in a series of online cyber raids and a broad campaign of disinformation. all ultimately named at sowing chaos to undermine public faith in our process, in our leadership, and ultimately in ourselves. that is not just this senator's opinion. it is the unanimous determination of the entire u.s. intelligence community. story. find out the full , and whyrussians did they were so successful. more importantly we must determine the necessary steps to take to protect our democracy and ensure they can do it again.
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in my home state we have elections this year in 2017. letly put we cannot anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. mr. comey, let me say at the outset we have not always agree on every issue. in fact, i have occasionally questioned the actions you have taken. but i have never had any reason to question your integrity, your expertise, or your intelligence. you have been a straight shooter with this committee and a been willing to speak truth to power, even at the risk of your own career. which makes the way in which you were fired by the president ultimately shocking. process this entire with the president and his staff first denying the russians were ever involved, and then falsely claiming that no one from his team was ever in touch with any
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russians. we know that is not the truth. hadrous trump associates undisclosed contact with russians before and after the election, including the president's attorney general,'s former national security adviser, and his current senior adviser, mr. kushner. that is not begin to count the host of additional campaign associates and advisers who have been caught up in this massive web. we saw mr. trump's campaign manager, mr. matt forte, forced -- mr. manafort forced to step down. general flynn had to resign, and we saw the candidate himself expressed an odd and unexplained affection for the russian dictator while calling for the hacking of his opponent. there is a lot to investigate. enough in fact that then
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director comey publicly knowledged he was leading an investigation into those links between mr. trump's campaign and the russian government. fbi, mr.rector of the comey was ultimately responsible for conducting that investigation. which might explain why you are sitting now as a private citizen. was that thet know same time this investigation was proceeding, the president himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence or least co-op the director of the fbi. the testimony mr. comey has submitted for today's hearings is very disturbing. for example, january 27 after summoning mr. coming to dinner, the president appears to have threatened his job while telling him, "i need loyalty. i expect loyalty." at a later meeting on february 14, the president asked the leave theeneral to
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oval office of the could probably ask director comey, "to flynnclear to letting go." that is a statement record comey saw as a request to drop the investigation connected to false statements. think about it. the president of the united states asking the fbi director to drop an ongoing investigation. after that the president called the fbi director on two additional occasions, march 30 in april 11, and asked again, "to lift the cloud on the russian investigation." director comey denied each of these improper requests. the loyalty pledge, the admonition to drop the flint investigation -- flynn investigation and drop the cloud on the russian investigation. after his refusal he was fired.
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the initial explanation for the firing did not pass any tests. somehow director comey was fired because he did not treat hillary clinton appropriately. of course that i for nation lasted about a day because the president himself and made very clear he was thinking about russia when he decided to fire director comey. shockingly, reports suggest the president admitted as much in an oval office meeting with the russians the day after director, he was fired. -- director comey was fired. disparaging our top law enforcement official as "a nut job." he suggested his firing relieved great pressure on his feelings about russia. this is not happening in isolation. at the same time the president was engaged in these efforts
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with director comey, he was also, at least allegedly, asking senior leaders of the intelligence committee to downplay the russian investigation or to intervene with the director. yesterday we had director coats, and nsa director admiral rogers who were offered a number of opportunities to flatly deny those pressure reports. they expressed opinions but did not take that opportunity to deny the reports. they did not take advantage of that opportunity. my belief, that is not how the president should behave. regardless of the outcome of our investigation into the rush of links, director comey's -- russian links, director comey's firing raises questions we must get to the bottom of. i have seen firsthand how seriously every member of this committee is taking his work. i am proud of the committee's efforts so far.
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let me be clear. this is not a witch hunt. this is not fake news. it is an effort to protect our country from the new threat that quite honestly not go away anytime soon. mr. comey, your testimony today will help us move towards that goal. i look forward to your testimony. thank you, mr. chairman. discussed when you agree to appear before the committee, it would be under a. i ask you to stand. raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, to help you god? please be seated. director comey, you are now under growth. -- oath. i would just note to the members, you will be recognized by seniority for a period up to seven minutes. it is the intent to move to a closed session no later than
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1:00 p.m. the director comey, you have the floor for as long as you might need. mr. comey: members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. i have submitted my statement for the record and i will not repeat it this morning. i would offer some very brief introductory remarks and then welcome your questions. when i was appointed fbi director in 2013, i understood i serve at the pleasure of the president. even know i was appointed to a 10 year term that congress created in order to underscore the importance of the fbi being outside of politics and independent, i understood i could be fired by a president for any reason or no reason at all. 9, when i learned i had been fired, i immediately came home as a private citizen. in the explanations, the shifting explanations confused
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me an increasingly concerned me. they confused me because the president and i have had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office. he repeatedly told me i was doing a great job and he hoped i would stay. i repeatedly assured him i did intend to stay and serve out the remaining six years of my term. he told me repeatedly he talked to lots of people about me, including the current attorney general, and had learned i was doing a great job and i was extremely well-liked by the fbi workforce. it confused me when i saw on television the president saying he fired me because of the russia investigation, and learn from the media he was telling that myy other parties firing have relieved great pressure on the russia investigation. i was confused by the initial expedition offered publicly that
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i was fired because of the decisions i made during the election year. that did not make sense to me for a bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions had to be made. that did not make any sense to me. although the law required no reason at all to fire the fbi director, the administration chose to defame me and more importantly the fbi by saying the organization was in disarray. that it was poorly led. that the workforce lost confidence in his leader -- its leader. those relies, plain and simple -- those were lies, and i'm sorry the fbi had to hear them and the america people were told him. i work every day to make a great organization better. i say help because i did nothing alone at the fbi. there are no indispensable people at the fbi. the organization's great strength is its values and
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abilities run deep and wide. the fbi will be fine without me. the fbi's mission will be relentlessly pursued by its people, and that mission is to protect the american people and uphold the constitution of the united states. i will deeply miss being part of that mission, but this organization and its mission will go on long beyond me and long beyond any particular administration. i have a message before i close for my cour -- former colleagues, but i want the american people to know this truth. the fbi is honest. the fbi is strong, and the fbi is and always will be independent. and now to my former colleagues, if i may, i am so sorry i did not get the chance to say goodbye to you properly. it was the honor of my life to serve beside you, to be part of the fbi family, and i will miss it for the rest of my life. thank you for standing watch.
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thank you for doing so much good for this country. do that good as long as ever you can. senators, i look forward to your questions. >> director, thank you for that testimony, both oral and written testimony you provided yesterday and made public to the american people. the chairman recognized himself first for 12 minutes. vice chair for 12 minutes based upon the agreement we have. director, to the special counsel's office review and/or edit your written testimony? mr. comey: no. >> you have any doubt that russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections? mr. comey: none. >> the you have any doubt the russian government was behind the intrusions in the dnc and the triple c systems, and subsequent leaks of the information? mr. comey:. no doubt >> any doubt the russian
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government was behind the cyber intrusion in the state voter files? mr. comey: no. >> any doubt officials of the russian government were aware of these activities? mr. comey: no doubt. >> are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 election were altered? mr. comey: i am confident. when i left as director i saw no indication of that whatsoever. >> director comey, did the president at any time ask you to stop the fbi investigation into russian involvement in the 2016 u.s. elections? mr. comey: not to my understanding, no. >> did any individual, including the justice department, ask you to stop the russian investigation? mr. comey: no. >> director, from the president go,"sted you "let flynn had an unreported
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contact with the russians. which is an offense. if press accounts are right, there might've been a and sees between facts and his fbi testimony. , in your estimation was general flynn in serious legal jeopardy? the eu since the president was trying to obstruct justice or just seek for a way for mike for an to save face -- mike flynn to save face? mr. comey: at time he was in legal jeopardy. there was an open investigation of his statements in connection with the russian contacts, in the contacts themselves. that was my assessment of the time. i don't think it is for me to say whether the conversation i had for the president was never to obstruct. thing,it as a concerning
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but as a conclusion after the special counsel will work towards to understand the intention and whether that is an offense. >> is a possible as part of this fbi investigation the fbi could find evidence of criminality that is not tied to the 2016 elections, possible collusion, for coordination with the russians? mr. comey: sure. >> there could be something that fits a criminal aspect of this that doesn't have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle? mr. comey: correct. in any complex investigation sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature. >> director comey, you having criticized publicly for the decisions to revenge are finding on the mill investigation directly to the american people. have you learned anything since that time that would have changed what you said or how you chose to inform the american people? mr. comey: honestly, no.
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it caused a lot of personal pain for me. as i look back, given what i knew at the time and what i have learned since, i think it was the best way to try to protect the justice institution, including the fbi. domain is ablic question of the steal dossier. a document that is been around now for over a year. i am not sure with the fbi first took possession of it, for the media had it before you had it or we had it. at the time of your departure from the fbi was the fbi able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the dossier? mr. comey: mr. chairman, i don't think that the question i can answer in an open setting. it goes into details of the investigation. director, the term with your
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most often is collusion. when people are describing possible links between americans and russian government entities related to the interference in our election, would you say it is normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration? mr. comey: yes. >> at what point does a normal contact crossed the line into an attempt to recruit agents or influence? mr. comey: difficult to say in the abstract. it depends on the context if there was an effort to keep the covert. with the nature of the request made by the foreign government, it's a judgment call based on a lot of facts. >> at what point with their recruitment become a counterintelligence threat to our country? mr. comey: again, difficult to answer in the abstract. when a foreign power is using coercion or some sort of
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pressure to try to co-opt an amecan, especially a government official to ask on its behalf, that is a serious concern to the fbi in the heart of the fbi's counterintelligence mission. document of page specific claims out there. forfbi would have to, counterintelligence reasons, try to verify anything that might be claimed, in first and foremost is the counterintelligence concern we have about blackmail. without the inaccurate statement? mr. comey: yes. the fbi receives a credible allegation there is an effort to employ covertly in american on behalf of a foreign power, that is the basis on which the counterintelligence investigation is opened. >> when you read the dossier what was your reaction given it was 100% directed at the
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president-elect? mr. comey: not a question i can answer an open setting. >> when did you become aware of the cyber intrusion? first -- there are all kinds of cyber intrusion all the time. the first russia connected cyber intrusion i became aware of in the late summer of 2015. >> in that timeframe there were more than the dnc and the dccc that were targets? mr. comey: there was a massive effort to target near governmental agencies like nonprofits. >> how many enties outhere the russians cynically targeted in a timeframe? mr. comey: hundreds. i suppose it could be more than 1000, but at least hundreds. >> when did you become aware data had been excellent traded? ted?xfiltra mr. comey: either late 2015 or
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early i-16. >> did you have conversations with the last administration about the risks this posed? mr. comey: yes. >> share with us what actions they took. had alreadyhe fbi undertaken an effort to notify all the victims. that is all we consider the entities that were attacked as part of this massive spear phishing campaign. we notified them in an effort to disrupt what might be ongoing. then there was a series of continuing interactions with the entities through the rest of 2015 and the 2016, and throughout 2016 administration was trying to decide how to respond to the intrusion activity it saw. >> and the fbi, unlike other cases, did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked or have to rely on a third party to provide you the data thollected? mr. comey: in the case of the
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dnc and i believe the dccc, we did not have access to the devices themselves. we got relevant forensic information from a private party. the high-class entity had done the work, but we did not have direct contact. contentntent -- isn't and important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint? mr. comey: what was briefed to from my folks at the time for the had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016. >> let me go back very briefly. decision to publicly go out with your results on the email. influenced byion the attorney general's tarmac
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meeting for the former president bill clinton? mr. comey: yes. in an ultimately conclusive way, i had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the fbi and the justice department. where the other things that contributed to that that you can describe in an open session? mr. comey: there were other things that contributed to that. can,ignificant item i there have been public accounts that are nonsense, but i understand the committee is in breach unclassified facts. healy other consideration i can talk about is at one point the attorney general directed me not to call an investigation, but the call it a matter which confused me and concerned me. that was one of the bricks in the load to let me to conclude i have to step away on the department to close this case credibly. >> my last question.
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you are not only a seasoned prosecutor. you have let the fbi for years. you understand the investigative process. you have worked with this committee closely and we are grateful to u becae i think we have mutually built trust in what your organization does and what we do. is there any doubt in your mind that this committee can carry out its oversight role in the 2016 russia involvement in the elections in parallel with the now special counsel set up? mr. comey: no doubt. it requires lots of conversations, but bob mueller is one of this country's great pros. you can run it in parallel. >> i turned to the vice chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director comey, thank you for your service. comments to your fbi family
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i know were heartfelt. though there are some of the administration who tried to smear your reputation, you have acting director mccabe in public testimony yesterday reaffirm the vast majority of the fbi community had great trust in your leadership and obviously trust in your integrity. i want to go through a number of the meetings you referenced in your testimony. i will start with the january 6 meeting in trump tower. you met with a series of officials to brief the president-elect on the rush of investigation. i understand you remain afterwards to brief him on "some personally sensitive aspects of the information you relate." -- relayed." he said he felt compelled to document that conversation.
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you started documenting it as soon as you got into the car. you had extensive experience at the department of justice, and at the fbi. you have worked on the president -- with the presidents of both parties. what is it about that meeting that with you to determine you needed to start putting down a written record? mr. comey: a combination of things. i think the circumstances, the subject matter and the person i was interacting with. i was alone with the president of the united states -- the president-elect, seem to be president. the subject matter are matters that touch on the fbi's core responsibility and that relates to the president-elect personally. and the nature of the person. i was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting. i thought it important to document it. that combination of things i had never experienced before, that it led me to believe i have to write it down in a detailed way. >> i think it's a very important
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statement you just made. my understanding is that on like you're dealings with the president of either parties in your past experience, in every subsequent meeting or conversation with this president he created a written record. did you feel you needed to create a written record of these memos because they might need to be relied on at some future date? mr. comey: sure. i created records after conversations. i think i get it after each of our nine conversations, especially the ones oversensitive. i knew might -- there might be a day writing a record of what happened, not just to defend myself but the fbi and our integrity. that's what made this so difficult. there was a combination of circumstances and subject matter in the particular person. >> and all your experience this
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was the only president you felt like in every meeting you needed to document, because at some point, using your words, he might put out a non-truthful representation of that meeting? mr. comey: as i said in my written testimony, as fbi director i interact with president obama. i spoke only twice in three years and did not document it. when i was deputy attorney general i had one one-to-one meeting with president bush about as difficult national security matter. i did not write a memo documenting that conversation. i sent a quick enough to my staff to let another something going on, but i did not feel the need to document it in that way. the combination of those factors just was not present with either president bush or obama. >> i think that is very significant. others will probably question that. the chairman and i have requested those memos and it's our hope the fbi will give this access -- give this committee
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access to those memos so that we can read those and get your side of the story. i know members have said in the a great deal is made if you were asked to indite whether the president was the subject of any inveigation. my understanding is prior to your meeting on january 6 you discussed with your leadership team whether or not you should be prepared to assure then president-elect trump that the fbi was on investigating him personally. my understanding is your leadership team agreed with that. was that a unanimous decision? mr. comey: it was not unanimous. one of the members of the team had a view that although it was technically true we do not have a counterintelligence file case open on then president-elect trump,'s concern was because we are looking at the potential --
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that's the subject the investigation -- coordination between the campaign and russia because it was president electronic's -- president-elect trump's campaign,'s conduct would fall within the scope of that work. he was reluctant to make the statement i made. i disagreed and thought it was fair to say that was literally true. there is not a counterintelligence investigation of mr. trump. . i decided in the moment to say it given the nature of our conversation >> did you ever revisit that in the subsequent sessions? mr. comey: with the fbi leadership team? sure. it did not change. his view was still it was probably, although literally true, his concern was a could be misleading because the nature of the investigation was such that it might well touch -- it would touch the campaign and person of the head of the campaign would
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be the candidate. that was his view throughout. >> but they moved to the january 27 dan or where you said, "the president asked me whether i wanted to stay on his fbi director. he also indicated lots of people want the job. you go on to say the dinner itself was seemingly an effort to, " have you asked him for your job and create some sort of patronage relationship." the president seems from my reading of the memo to be holding your job or your possibility of continuing in your job over your head in a fairly direct way. what was your impression and what did you mean by this notion of a patronage relationship? mr. comey: my impression, and it's my impression, i could always be wrong, my common sense told me either he had concluded or someone told him you did not -- you asked comey to stay and
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did i get anything for, and the dinner was an effort to build a relationship specifically a loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. what was odd was we talked twice about it by that point and he said i very much hope he will stay. i remember sitting at a third one. you have seen the picture of me walking across the blue room. whether president whispered was, i look forward to working with you. after those encounters -- >> that was a few days before? mr. comey: the sunday after the inauguration. the next friday he begins by wanted to talk about my job. i'm sitting there thinking three times we have already talked about me staying. i could be wrong but my common sense told me what is going on is he is looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job. >> we all understand.
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i was a governor. these constant requests, quoting explain yourng independency kept coming back to any loyalty and expect loyalty. have you ever had those kind of requests for anyone else in the government? mr. comey: no. what made me uneasy with i'm the director of the fbi. the reason congress created a 10 year term is so the director is not healing as if they are serving with clinical loyalty owed to any particular person. the statute of justice -- statu e of justice has a blindfold because you're not peaking to see if your patronage -- that's what i became fbi director, to be in that position. that's why i was so anything. >> february 14. it seems a bit strange. you are in a meeting and your
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direct superior, the attorney general, was in the meeting. the president asked everyone to leave, including the attorney general before he brought up the matter of general flynn. what was your impression of that type of action? have you seen anything like that before? >> mr. comey:no. my impression was something big is about to happen and i need to remember every word spoken. i could be wrong. i 56 years old and have seen a few things. my sense was the attorney general knew he should not be lingering and that was why he we -- he should not be leaving and that is why he was lingering. >> i found it interesting in the memo you left after this aside, you pull
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made clear the road the memo in a way that was not classified. you affirmatively a decision to write a memo that was un classified. did you feel at some point the facts of that meeting would come bean and come clear and cleared in a way that can be shared with the american people? mr. comey: i remember thinking this is a very disturbing development. really important to our work. i need to document it and , butrve it in a way sometimes of these are classified it tangles them up. it is hard to share it with an investigative team. yet to be careful you handle it for good reason. my thinking was if i write it in such a way i don't include anything that would trigger a classification, that will make it easier for us to discuss within the fbi and the and a hold on to it in a way that makes it accessible to us. particularlyhope,
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since you are knowledgeable guy and you wrote it in when it was unclassified, this committee will get asked i access to that. how many ongoing investigations at any time does the fbi have? mr. comey: tens of thousands. >> that the president ever ask about any other ongoing investigation? mr. comey: no. >> about you trying to interfere on any other investigation? mr. comey: no. >> i think again this speaks volumes. it doesn't even get to the questions around the phone calls about lifting the cloud. i know other members will get to that. i appreciate your testimony and appreciate your service to our nation. mr. comey: thank you. i'm sitting here. we are going to my contacts. i had one conversation but the president those classified were he asked about our ongoing
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intelligence investigation. it was brief and entirely professional. >> he did not ask you take any specific actions, unlike what he did vis-a-vis mr. flynn and the russia investigation? mr. comey: correct. >> mr. comey, thank you for your service. america needs more like you. yesterday everybody got the seven pages of your direct testimony that is now a part of the record. i read it then i read it again. all i could think was number one, how much i hated legal writing class in law school. you are together got the 'a' after reading this. i find it clear and concise. having been a prosecutor for a number of years and handling thousands of cases and reading police investigative reports, this is as good as it gets. i really appreciate that. not only the conciseness and
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clearness of it, of the fact you have things that were written down contemporusly and you put in quotes.- them beware to become limited. mr. comey: i had great parents and great teachers of the dead enemy. beat that intimate. we all know about the active measures the russians have taken. i think a lot of people were surprised. those of us that work in the intelligence community, it did not come as a surprise. now the american people know this in it's good to know this because it is serious. secondly, i gather from all this you are willing to say now the president of the united states was not under investigation. mr. comey: that is correct. >> that is a fact we can rely on. usemember you talked with
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shortly after february 14 when the new york times wrote an the trumpat suggested campaign manager colluding with the russians. the remover reading that article? mr. comey: i do. he was about elected extensive electronic surveillance indications. >> that upset you to the point where he went out and survey the intelligence community to see whether you were missing something. is that correct? mr. comey: i want to be careful in open -- won't go any further. you saw that both republican and democratic senators to tell them, hey, i don't know where this is coming from but this is not factual. the recall that? mr. comey: yes. >> so the american people can understand this, report by the new york times was not true. is that a fair statement? mr. comey: in the main it was
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not true. the challenge, and i'm not picking on reporters, people talking about it often don't really know it's going on. those of us who know it's going on are not talking about it. we don't call the press to say you got that wrong about this sensitive topic. you just have to leave it there. i mentioned the nonsense around what influenced me to make the july 5 statement. nonsense, but i can go explaining how it is nonsense. >> those three things we now know regarding the active measures with the president under investigation and the collusion between the russians and the trump campaign. i want to drill down as my time is limited to the most recent dustup regarding allegations the president of the united states obstructed justice. you nailed this down a page five, paragraph three.
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words matter. you read on the words so in all the words in front of us now. there are 28 words". "i hope -- this is the president speaking -- you can see every clear to letting this go, the letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go." those are his exact words? mr. comey: correct. >> you put them in quotes. he did not direct you to let it go? mr. comey: not in his words, no. >> he did not order y to let it go? mr. comey: those words are not in ord. >> he said, i hope. like me, you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases charging people criminal offenses. you have knowledge of thousands of cases out there were people have been charged. do you know of any case where a person has been charged for extraction of justice, or for
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that matter any other criminal offense where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome? mr. comey: i don't know well enough to answer. the reason i keep saying his words is i took it as a direction. as the president of the united states with me alone saying i hope this, i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i did not obey that,.for that's the way i took it >> that is not what he said. he said "i hope." you know of anyone ever charge for hoping for something. mr. comey: i don't as i sit here. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator feinstein. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, i have great respect for you. senator cornyn and i sit on the judiciary committee so we have occasion to have you before us. i know you were a man of strength and integrity.
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i really regret the situation we all find ourselves in. -let meant to say begin with one overarching question. why do you believe you were fire mr. comey: i don't know for sure. i believe -- i think the president at his word because of the russian investigation. something about the way i was conducting it, the president felt a created pressure on him. i did not know that at the time, but i watched his interview and read the press accounts of his conversation. i take him at his word. i could be wrong. maybe he is saying something not true, but i take him at his word. >> talk for a moment about his request that you pledge loyalty and your response to that and what impact you believe that had. mr. comey: i don't know for
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sure. i don't know the president well enough to read him well. i think it was -- our relationship did not get off to a great response because of the conversation at on january 6. this did not improve the relationship because it was very awkward. he was asking for something and i was refusing to give it. i don't know him well enough to know how he reacted to that exactly. >> do you believe the russian investigation played a role? mr. comey: and why i was fired? yes. i have seen the president say so. >> let's go to the flynn issue. -- i hopeis outlined begins your way to letting flynn go. i hope you can let this go ou also said in your written remarks, "you understood the president to be requesting we drop any investigation of flynn
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in connection with false statements about his conversations with the russian ambassador in december." please go into that with more detail. mr. comey: the context and the leaddent's words let me -- me to that conclusion. f have been forcedly to resign the day beforenn. forced to resign the day before. been candid with others in the course of that. that happens on the day before. on the 14th the president makes specific reference to that. that's why i understood to be saying that he wanted me to drop any investigation connected to flynn's account of his conversations with the russians. >> you are big and strong. i know the oval office and i
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know what happens to people when they walk in. there is a certain amount of intimidation. why didn't you stop and say, mr. president, this is wrong. i cannot discuss this with you. >> maybe if i were a stronger, i would have. i was so stunned by the conversation that i just took it in. the only thing i could think to say, because i was playing it in my mind every word he said, what should my response be? i carefully chose the words. i have seen the tweet about tapes. i hope there are tapes. i remember saying i agree he is a good guy as a way of saying i am not agreeing with what you just asked me to do. maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance, but that is how i conducted myself. i hope i never have an opportunity -- another opportunity.
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maybe i would do it better. >> he described two -- you described two phone calls where the described the russian investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability as president and ask you "to lift the cloud." how did you interpret that? and what do you believe he wanted you to do? mr. comey: i interpreted that as he was frustrated that the russian investigation was taking up so much time and energy. i think you meant of the executive branch, but in the public square in general. it was making it difficult for him to focus on other priorities of his. when he asked was actually narrower than that. i think what he meant by the cloud was the entire investigation is taking up
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oxygen and making it hard for me to focus on the things i want to focus on. the asked was to get it out that i, the president, and not personally under investigation. you april 11 did he ask ever about the russian investigation? did he ask you any questions? mr. comey: we never spoke again after april 11. president, ihe would see what we can do. what did you mean? mr. comey: it was a slightly cowardly way of trying to avoid telling him we are not going to do that. i would see what we can do as a way to getting off the phone frankly. then i turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general. >> i wanted to go into that. who did you talk with about that, lifting the cloud, stop of the investigation back at the fbi, and what was their
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response? during one of fbi the two conversations, i think the first. my chief of staff was sitting in front of the unheard by end of the conversation. the president's call was a surprise. i discussed lifting the cloud in the request with the senior leadership team, who typically, and i think in all the circumstances, the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director, chief counsel, and i think a number of circumstances, the number three in the fbi and including the head of the national security branch. that group of us that lead the fbi when it comes to national ready. -- national security. >> the other president asking you to stop an investigation that is an important investigation. what was the response of your colues? mr. comey: i think they were as shocked and troubled by it as i was.
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me toaid things that led believe that. the reaction was similar to mine. they had never experienced such a thing. they were very concerned. the conversation turned to what should we do with this information? and that was a struggle for us. fbi,e the leaders of the so it's been reported to us and i heard it and ushered of the leaders of the fbi, our conversation was should we share this with any senior officials at the justice department? our primary concern is we cannot affect the investigative team. we don't the agents and analysts to know the president of the united states has asked -- i took it as the direction -- to get rid of this investigation because we will not follow that request. we decided to keep it away our troops. is there anybody else to tell it the justice department? we considered whether to tell
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the attorney general. decided that the dow makes sense because we believed he was shortly going to recuse. there were no other senate confirmed leaders in the justice department at that point. wasdeputy attorney general going to be in that seat. we decided the best move would be to hold it, keep it in a box, document it as we've already done, and the investigation will go on. is there a way to cooperate this? it is your word against the president's with no way to cooperate this. >> thank you. >> senator rubio? >> he was asking very
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specifically about the jeopardy flynn was in himself. >> that's what i understood, sir. an orderrceived it as given his position, the setting, and the circumstances. >> yes. >> at the time did you say anything to the president, that is not an appropriate request? you tell the white house counsel, someone needs to tell the president he can't do these things? >> no. >> why? >> i don't know. i think the circumstances were which i was a bit stunned. at the moment it didn't come to my mind. was, bee to my mind careful what you say. so i said, i agree he is a good guy. >> so you perceive the cloud to
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be the russian investigation in general? >> yes. >> in that setting, did you say to the president it would be inappropriate for you to do so and talk to the white house counsel to have someone tell he couldn't do this? mr. comey: first time i said, i will see what we can do. i sprained the white house counsel should contact the deputy general. the white house said, i think that is what we'll do. >> you felt it made no sense because it could potentially create a duty to corrective circumstances changed? mr. comey: we wrestled with it before my testimony, confirmed there was an investigation and there were two prior concerns.
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it creates a duty to correct, which you want to be very careful doing that. it's a slippery slope. if we say the president and vice president are under investigation, what is the principal basis for stopping? the leadership, justice said you are not going to do that. >> march 30 during the phone call about general flynn, you said he abruptly shifted i brought up something you call quote, unquote, the mccabe thing. mccabe's wife had received campaign money from terry mcauliffe? mr. comey: yes, sir. >> had the president at any point in time express to you concern, potential opposition to mccabe, i don't like this guy because he got money from someone close to clinton? mr. comey: he asked me during previous conversations about andy mccabe, how is he going to be with me as president.
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i was pretty rough on him on the campaign trail. own account, and he said he was off on mr. mccabe and -- rough on mr. mccabe and mrs. mccabe. the president turns to you and says, i never brought up the mccabe thing because you said he was a good guy. did you perceive that to be a statement, i took care of you, i didn't do something because you said he's a good guy, so now i'm asking you for something in return? what toy: i wasn't sure make event. that's possible. it was so out of context that didn't have a clear view of what it was. occasions,ber of let's talk about the general rush investigation. page 6 of your testimony, the first thing you say is, he asked what we could do to quote, unquote, lift the cloud, and you
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responded we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could and there would be great benefit if we didn't find anything to having done the work well, and he agreed. he re-the problems it was causing him. the president agreed with your statement that it could be great if we had an investigation, all the facts came out, and we found nothing. he said, this cloud is messing up my ability to do my agenda. mr. comey: he said, if some of my satellites did something wrong, it would be good to find that out. >> said, one of my satellites, i imagine one of the other people 's running the campaign, it would be great to know that as well. mr. comey: that's what he said. >> are those the only two instances where the back-and-forth happened, where the president was saying, it's ok, do the russia investigation, i have nothing to do with anything russia, it would be great if it came out that people
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around me were doing things that were wrong. the president asked for your loyalty and you said you would be honestly loyal . he asked you on one occasion to let the michael flynn thing go because you're a good guy. he said is a good guy, treated unfairly, etc. i imagine your fbi agents read that. wereresident's wishes known to them the next day when he had a press conference with the prime minister. the three requests were, number flynn thing michael go. number three, can you please tell the american people what these leaders in congress already know, that i'm not personally under investigation? mr. comey: those are the three things he asked.
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>> we have learned more from the newspapers sometimes than we have from our open hearing straight there wondering why the only thing that's never been leed is the fact the president was not personally occasion despite the fact that democrats and republicans and leadership in congress know that and have known that for weeks? mr. comey: i don't know. i find matters briefed to the gang of eight are pretty tightly held in my experience. >> who were the senior leaders at the fbi that you shared this conversations with? the deputy director, my chief of staff, general counsel, chief counsel, and then more often than not the number three person at the fbi was the associate deputy director and quite often head of the national security branch. comey, welcome. you and i have had significant policy differences over the years, particularly protecting
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americans access to secure encryption. but i believe the timing of your firing stinks. and yesterday you put on the record testimony that demonstrates why the odor of presidential abuse of power is so strong. now, to my question. warnering to senator about this dinner that you had with the president, january 27, all in one dinner, the president raised your job prospects, asked for your loyalty, and denied allegations against hi all took place over one supper. you told senator warner that the president was looking to quote, get something. looking back, did that dinner
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suggests that your job might be contingent on how you handled the investigation? i don't know that i would go that far. i got the sense my job would be felt ient upon how he conducted myself and whether i demonstrated loyalty. i don't know whether -- >> you said the president was trying to create some sort of hatred edge -- patronage relationship. relationship, isn't the underling expected to behave in a manner consistent with the wishes of the boss? mr. comey: yes. or at least consider how what you are doing will affect the boss. >> in your statement you said you and the fbi leadership team decided not to discuss the president's actions with attorney general sessions, even though he had not recused
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himself. what was it about the attorney general's own interactions with the russians or his bavior with regd to investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the fbi to make this decision? mr. comey: our judgment was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. we were aware of facts i can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a rush investigation problematic. we were convinced, i think we heard the career people were himself,ing he recuse that he was not going to be in contact with russia related matters. that turned out to be the case. >> how would you characterize attorney general sessions' adherence to his recusal, in particular to his -- with regard
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to his involvement in your firing, which the president acknowledged was because of the russian investigation? mr. comey: that's a question i can't answer. it's a reasonable question. if the president said i was fired because of the russian investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain? i don't have an answer to the question. >> your testimony was that the president's request about flynn could infect the investigation. had the president got what he wanted and what he asked of you, what would have been the effect on the investigation? mr. comey: we would have closed any investigation of general flynn in connection with his statements about and encounters with russians in the late part of december. we would have an open criminal investigation.
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>> in effect, when you talk about infecting the enterprise, you would have dropped something would have spoken to the overall ability of the american people to get the facts. correct.: as good as our people are, our judgment was we don't want them hearing the president of the united states once this to go away. -- wants this to go away. >> acting attorney general yates found on michael flynn could be blackmailed by the russians. she went immediately to warn the white house. flynn is gone. but other individuals with contacts with the russians are still in extremely important positions of power. should the american people have the same sense of urgency now with respect to them? mr. comey: all i can say,
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counsel the special positive investigation is very important to understanding what efforts there were or are by the russian government to influence our government is a critical part of the fbi's mission. you have the right person to lead it. it is a very important piece of work. >> vice president pence w the head of the transition. to your knowledge, was he aware of the concerns about michael flynn prior to or during general flynn's tenure as national security adviser? mr. comey: including up to the time that flynn was forced to resign? was.derstanding is that he i think from acting attorney general yates. >> former acting attorney general yates testified concerns
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about general flynn were discussed with the intelligence community. would that have included anyone or dan coats' office? mr. comey: i would assume yes. michael flynn resigned four days after attorney general sessions was sworn in. do you know if the attorney general was aware of the concerns about michael flynn during that period? mr. comey: as i sit here, i don't recall that he was. i could be wrong but i don't remember that he was. >> finally, let's see if you can give us some sense of who , besidesed your firing the letters to the attorney general, deputy attorney general. do you have any information on who may have recommended or been involved in your firing? mr. comey: i don't.
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>> senator collins. mr. comey, let me begin by thanking you for your voluntary compliance with our request to andar before this committee assist us in this important investigation. i want first to ask you about your conversations with the president, the three conversations in which you told him that he was not under investigation. the first was during your january 6 meeting, according to your testimony, in which it appears that you actually volunteered that assurance. is that correct? mr. comey: that's correct. >> did you limit that statement to counterintelligence investigations, or were you talking about any kind of fbi investigation? mr. comey: i didn't use the term
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counterintelligence. i was speaking to him, briefing him about salacious and unverified material. it was in the context of that, that he had a strong and defensive reaction about that not being true. my reading was it was important for me to assure him we were not personally investigating him, and so the context than was actually never worked, focused on what i just talked to him about. i was first true, and second, was very much about a j edgar hoover situation. i was't want him thinking briefing him on this to hang it over him in some way. i was briefing him on it because i had been told by the media it was about to launch. we did not want to be keeping that from him. he needed to know this was being said. i was keen to not leave him with an impression that the bureau was trying to do something to
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him. i said, sir, we are not personally investigating you. >> that's why you volunteered the information, correct? mr. comey: yes. >> on the january 27 dinner you told the president he should be careful about asking you to youstigate because, quote, might create a narrative that we are investigating him personally, which we weren't. you limiting that statement to counterintelligence investigations, or more broadly, such as a criminal investigation? was very: the context similar. i didn't modify the word investigation. he was reacting strongly against that unverified material saying, i'm tempted to order you to investigate that. be careful want to about that because it might create a narrative we are investigating you personally. was the march 30
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phone call with the president in which you reminded him that congressional leaders had been briefed, the fbi was not personally investigating president trump. and again, was that statement to congressional leaders and to the president limited to counterintelligence investigations, or was it a broader statement? i'm trying to understand whether there was any kind of investigation of the president underway. mr. comey: no. i'm sorry. if i misunderstood, i apologize. we briefed the congressional leadership about what americans we had over -- open, counterintelligence investigations on. we said, the president is not one of those americans. there was no other investigation of the president we were not mentioning at that time. the context was, counterintelligence, but i wasn't trying to hide some
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criminal investigation of the president. >> was the president under investigation at the time of your dismissal on may 9? mr. comey: no. >> i'd like to now turn to the conversations with the president's which have been discussed. let we -- let me make clear the president never should have and he neveroom should have let the investigation go. but i remain puzzled by your response. if your response was i agree michael flynn is a good guy, you could have said, mr. president, this meeting is inappropriate, this response could compromise the investigation, you should not be making such a request. it's fundamental to the operation of our government that
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the fbi be insulated from this kinds of political pressure. you talked about you were stunned by the president making the request. my question to you is later on, upon reflection, did you go to anyone at the department of justice and ask them to call the white house counsel's office and explain that the president had to have a far better understanding and appreciation of his role vis-a-vis the fbi? mr. comey: i did. i spoke to the attorney general and the new attorney general when he took office and explained my serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting especially with the fbi. i told the attorney general, it can't happen that you get kicked out of the room and the
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president talks to me. why didn't we raise the specifics? it was investigative adventures to us to figure out,what just happened with the president's request? i would not have wanted to alert the white house that it happened. that youestimony was want to attorney general sessions and said, don't ever leave me alone with him again. are you saying that you also told him that he had made a request that you let it go with regard to part of the investigation of michael flynn? mr. comey: no, i did not. >> you mentioned that from your you decidedeeting, to write a memo memorializing the conversation. what was it about that very first meeting that made you write a memo when you had not
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done that with two previous presidents? mr. comey: as i said, a combination of things straight a gut feeling is an important overlay with the circumstances, that i was alone, the subject matter and nature of the person i was interacting with and my read of that person. and, it's really just a gut feel laying ont oall of that that ts is going to be important to protect this organization that i make records of this. finally, did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the department of justice? mr. comey: yes. >> and to whom did you show copies? the president tweeted on friday after i got fired that i better hope there's not tapes. i woke up in the middle of the night monday night because it didn't dawn on me originally
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that there might be corroboration for our conversation, there might be a tape. my judgment was i needed to get that into the public square. i asked a friend of mine to show the content of the memo with the reporter. thoughthim to because i that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. i asked a close friend of mine to do it. >> who was that? mr. comey: a good friend of mine who is a professor at columbia law school. comey, prior to january 27 of this year, have you ever had a one-on-one meeting or private dinner with a president of the united states? , andforcement and race once very briefly for him to say goodby were those brief
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interactions? mr. comey: the one about law enforcement and race and policing, we spoke for probably an hour just the two of us. to have asual is it one-on-one dinner with the president? did that strike you as odd? mr. comey: so much so i assumed there would be others, that he couldn't possibly be having dinner with me alone. >> do you have an impression that you had found, if you had behaved differently in that i'm pleased you did not, but if you had found a way to express some sort of expression of loyalty or given some suggestion that the flynn criminal investigation might be pursued less vigorously, two you think you might have still then been fired? mr. comey: i don't know.
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it's impossible to say looking back. >> but you felt like those two tongs were directly relevant the kind of relationship the president was seeking to establish with you? mr. comey: yes. >> the president has repeatedly talked about the russian investigation into the u.s., or russia's involvement in the u.s. election cycle as a hoax and is fake news. -- as fake news. can you talk about what you saw as fbi director, that demonstrate how serious this action was and why there was an investigation in the first place? mr. comey: yes, sir. there should be no fuzz on this atsoever. the russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. they did it with purpose, with
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sophistication, with overwhelming technical efforts, and it was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. it is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. it's not a close call. as you about as un-fake can get and it's very serious, which is why it is so refreshing to the a bipartisan effort on that. this is about america, not any particular party. >> so this was a hostile act by the russian government again this -- against this country? mr. comey: yes, sir. >> did any of those interactions ask youed with us today what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect america against russian interference in our election system? mr. comey: i don't recall a conversation like that. >> never. mr. comey: no. .ot with president trump
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i attended a fair amount of meetings on that with president obama. >> do you find it odd that the president seemed unconcerned by russia's actions into our elect . comey: i can't answer that because i don't know what other conversations he had with other intelligence community leaders. did you have any interactions with the president that suggested he was taking that hostile action seriously? mr. comey: i don't remember any interactions with the president, other than the initial briefing on january 6. beon't remember, could wrong. i don't remember any conversations with him about that. it wasou are very aware, only the two of you in the room for that dinner. told us the president asked you to back up the flynn investigation. the president told a reporter -- mr. comey: not in that dinner. >> told the reporter he never
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did that. you testified the president asked for your loyalty in that dinner. .he white house denied that a lot of this comes down to who should we believe. do you want to say anything as .o why we should believe you mr. comey: my mother raised me to not say things like this about myself, so i not going to. i think people should look at the whole body of my testimony. you can't cherry pick it. you can't say, i like these things. i've tried to be open and fair and transparent and accurate. a siificant fact in me is, why did he kick everybody out of the oval office? why would you kick the attorney general, the president, how to talk to me if it was about something else? that to me as an investigator is
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a significant fact. as a look at testimony or communication from both of you, we should be looking for consistency. mr. comey: as a look at testimor you look at track record, demeanor, record over time. >> they are -- there are reports during the incoming trump administration attempted to set up a sort of jack dorsey communication channel with the russian government using their infrastructure, their devices, their facilities. what would be the risk, , toicularly for transition setting up unauthorized channels with a hostile foreign governments, especially if they were to aid our own intelligence american services? mr. comey: i'm not going to comment on whether that happened in an open setting but the primary risk is obvious.
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you spare the russians the cost and effort of having to break into our communications channels by using their straight you make it easier for them to capture all of your conversations, and then use those to the benefit of russia against the united states. didhe memos that you wrote, you write all nine of them in a way that was designed to present them from needing classification? mr. comey: no. on a few of the occasions i wrote, i sent emails to my chief of staff for others on the brief phone conversations i recall. the first one was a classified it was in a conference room at trump tower, it was a classified briefing, so i wrote that on a classified device, the one i started typing in the car on a classified laptop i started working on. a classified in environment that it would not be
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appropriate to see those communications, a from your perspective as the author? mr. comey: no. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, when you were terminated, the fbi said and continued to feel you have erovided years of great servic to the country. i also said i had significant questions over the last year about some of the decisions you made. if president hadn't terminated your service, would you still be in your opinion the director of the fbi today? mr. comey: yes, sir. as a direction from the president something that you thought was serious and troublesome but continued to show up for work the next day? mr. comey: yes, sir. >> six weeks later we are still telling the president on march 30 that he was not personally the target of any investigation? mr. comey: correct. march 30, and again on april 11,
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i told him we are not investigating him personally. i told him that was true. >> the concerns of me is all these things are going on, you you areetrospect or -- telling the committee u.s. serious concerns about what you believe the president directed taken no and had action, hadn't even reported up the chain of command assuming you believe there is an up the chain of command, that these things happen. do you have a sense looking back that that was a mistake? no.comey: no action was the most important thing i could do to make sure there was no interference with the investigation. >> on the flynn issue specifically, you said you believe the president was suggesting you drop any investigation of flynn's account of his investigation with the russian ambassador, which was
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misleading the vice president and others? mr. comey: correct. whether there were false statements made to government investigators as well. suggestion that general flynn had violated the logan act i always find pretty incredible. it has been on the books for 200 years. no one has ever been prosecuted for violating the logan act trad. the problem, misleading investigators are the vice president might have been. mr. comey: that's fair. 14, have youy discussed with the president in the previous meeting anything your investigators had learned or their impressions fro talkinto flynn? mr. comey: no, sir. he said he's a good guy, you said he's a good guy, and there was no further action taken on that?
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you said more than that. the action was i wrote it up, briefed our senior team, try to decide what to do with it, and then we made a decision. >> was it your view that not you had no meant responsibility to report that to the justice department in some way? at some point i was sure we were going to brief it to the team in charge of the case. our judgment was in the short --m, it doesn't make sense that's why i stressed he shouldn't be kicked out of the room. it didn't make sense to report to him now. >> you said the attorney general said, i don't want to be in the room with him again but you continue to talk to him on the phone. mr. comey: i said, i report to you.
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it's important you be between me and the white house. after that discussion with the attorney general -- >> after that discussion with the attorney general, why did you take phone calls from the president? i reported the calls, the march 30 call and april 11 call to my superior, the acting deputy attorney general. >> let me make one other point. reading your testimony, january 30, itary 27, and march appears to me on all threef ose occasions, you unsolicited by the president made the point to him that he was not the target of the investigation. correct? mr. comey: yes, sir. >> march 30, very interesting, you said, even though -- that was the 27th where he said, when you look into that dossier thing where you said, you may not want
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that because then we can tell you we couldn't answer the question about you being a target of the investigation, which you didn't seem to be answering that question anyhow. the one unanswered question seems to have been met, in this whole. of time. you said something earlier. you said after you were dismissed, you gave information to a friend so a friend could get that information into the public media. mr. comey: correct. >> what kind of information did you give to a friend? mr. comey: the flynn conversation. the president asked me -- the conversation in the oval office. >> so you didn't consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document that you consider somehow to be your own personal document that you could share with the media as you wanted to?
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mr. comey: correct. >i understood this to be my .ecollection recorded i felt free to share that thought, very important to get it out. >> r mwere all ymos you recorded on classified or other documents memos that might be yours as a private citizen? mr. comey: i'm not following the question. >> i think you said you would use classified -- mr. comey: unclassified. i don't have any of them anymore, but gave them to the special counsel. my view was the content of those theassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded. >> why didn't you give those to somebody yourself rather than give them to a third-party? mr. comey: i was worried the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point and i was going out of town with my wife to hide and i was afraid it would be like feeding seagulls at the beach. i asked my friend, make sure that gets out. make sure youu
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create a source closer to the director of the fbi as opposed to taking responsibility yourself, saying here are these records, and like everybody else, i have other things i'd like to get into, but i'm out of time. >> thank you. centerc knowledge blumenthal and senator nelson. the one principal thing you will -- mr. comey, a broad question. was the russian activity in the 2016 election a one-off proposition or is this part of a long-term strategy? will they be bac mr. comey: it's a long-term practice of theirs. it stepped up a notch in a significant way in 2016. they will be back. >> that's important for the american people to understand, this is a forward-looking
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investigation. would you agree that's a big part of our role here? mr. comey: yes, sir. it's not a republican or democrat thing. they are not devoted to either in my spirits, they are about their own advantage. i don't think putin is a republican or democrat. i think he's an opportunist. mr. comey: that's a fair statement. >>'s interview with lester holt on nbc, the president said i had dinner with him. he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. is that an accurate statement? mr. comey: no, sir. >> did you initiate that dinner? mr. comey: no, he called me at my desk at lunchtime and asked if i was free. i think he said 6:00 first.
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he said, i was going to invite your whole family but we will do that next time. he said, how about 6:30. i said, whatever works for you, sir. i hung up and had to call my wife and break a date with her. >> that's one of the all-time great excuses for breaking a date. i loveey: in retrospect, spending time with my wife and i wish i had been there that night. >> that's one question i'm not going to follow up, mr. comey. the president said, in one case i called him and in one case he called me. is that an accurate statement? mr. comey: no. >> did you ever call the president? mr. comey: no. i think there was one conversation where i was asked to call the white house switchboard to be connected to him, but i never initiated a communication with the president's. >> it is press conference on may
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18 the president was asked whether he was -- whether he urged you to shut down the michael flynn investigation. the president responded, quote, no, no. next question. is that an accurate response? mr. comey: i don't believe it is. >> with regards to him being personally under investigation, does that mean that the dossier is not being reviewed or investigated or followed up on in any way? mr. comey: i can't comment either way. i can't talk in an open setting about the investigation as it was when i was head of the fbi. it is bob elr's responsibility now. i don't know. >> your statements to the president in these various times when you assured him he wasn't under investigation were as of that moment, is it not? mr. comey: correct. >> on the flynn investigation, is it not true that mr. flynn was and is a central figure in the relationship between the trump campaign and the russians?
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mr. comey: i can't answer that in an open setting, sir. >> certainly mr. flynn was part of the so-called russian investigation. can you answer that question? mr. comey: i have to give you the same answer. >> we will be having a closed session shortly, so we will follow up on that trade in terms to your comments -- that. in terms to your comments to senator rich, he said, i hope you will all back on that. when a president of the united states in the oval office says something like i hope or i suggest or would you, do you take that as a directive? mr. comey: yes. it rings in my ears, no one rid me of this meddlesome priest. >> henry ii said who will rid me of this meddlesome priest, and the next day he was killed, thomas a becket. it's the same situation we are thinking of, along the same lines.
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several other questions, and these are little bit more detailed. what do you know about the russian -- mr. comey: nothing i can talk about an open setting. i know it exists. what is the relationship of the ambassador from russia to the united states, to the russian intelligence infrastructure? diplomat who a is the chief of mission at the russian embassy, which employs a robust cohort of intelligence officers, and so surely he's aware of their aggressive intelligence operations in the united states trade i don't consider him to be an intelligence officer himself. he's a diplomat. >> said the fbi ever briefed the about thenistration
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advisability of interacting directly with the ambassador? mr. comey: there were a variety of defense of the things given to the incoming administration about counterintelligence risk. >> back to mr. flynn, would closing out the flynn investigation have impeded the overall russian investigation? mr. comey: no. unlikely except to the extent -- there's always a possibility if you have a criminal case against m1 and you fip them -- flip them, and they give you information about something else. i see them as touching each other but separate. >> with regard to your memos, isn't it true in a court case when you are weighing evidence, contemporaneous statements to third parties are considered prohibitive in terms of the
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validity of testimony? mr. comey: yes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you and your forice and what you've done the nation for a long time which you continue to do. i told you last year when we had an opportunity to visit personally that i would pray for you and your family because you do carry a tremendous amount of stress and that is still true today. mr. comey: thank you. >> your notes are exceptionally important because they give a very rapid account of what you wrote down and what you precede happening in those different meetings. toe you had an opportunity reference those notes when you were preparing the written statement before us today? mr. comey: yes. i think nearly all of my written recordings, conversations --
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>> do you have a copy of those notes personally? mr. comey: i don't trade i turned them over to bob mueller's investigators. >> the individual you told about those memos were then sent on to "the new york times." mr. comey: i had a copy at the time. >> do they still have a copy of those memos? mr. comey: good question. i think so. i guess i don't know, but i think so. >> could you ask them to send a copy right back to you so you could hand it back to this committee? mr. comey: potentially. >> i would like to move that from potential deceived we could ask that question so we could so we could ask that question so we could have a copy. written documents are exceptionally important. are therether documents you need to be aware that you should
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also have that would assist us in helping with this? mr. comey: not that i'm aware of, no. >> pass the february 14 meeting, when the president asked you about he hopes he would let this aboutthat conversation him being a good guy, after that did the president bring up anything about michael flynn? mr. comey: no. >> did any member of the white house staff come to you and talk to you about letting go of the michael flynn case or dropping it or anything referring to that? mr. comey: no. >> did a director of national intelligence talk to you about that? mr. comey: no. >> did the head of nsa talk to you about that? mr. comey: no. >> the key aspect here is, if this seems to be something the president is trying to get you to drop it, it seems like a light touch to drop it, to bring
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it up at that moment the day after he fired flynn to come back and say i hope we can let this go, but it never reappears again. did slow down your investigation or any investigation that may or may not be occurring with michael flynn? mr. comey: no, although i don't know there are any manifestations, are manifestations of the investigation between february 14 and when i was fired. i don't know if the president has any way of knowing whether it was effective or not. >> fair enough. if the president wanted to stop an instation,?how would he do that --how would he do that? with that be a matter of trying to go to you, and you saying you make it stop, or how would the president make an ongoing investigation stop? mr. comey: i'm not a legal scholar. smarter people answer this better. as a legal matter, the president
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is the head of the executive branch and could in theory direct that anybody be investigated or not be investigated. all of us ultimately report in the executive branch up to the president. >> with that be to you, the attorney general who would do that? mr. comey: if he wanted to issue a direct order, could do it anyway. through the attorney general or directly to me. >> is there any question the president is not real fond of this investigation? i can think of multiple expressions he's done publicly to express he's not fond of the investigations. i've heard you share in this conversation that you are trying to keep the agents working on it away from any comments the president might have made. quite frankly, the president has informed the billion people that he's not on of this investigation. do you think there's a difference in that? mr. comey: yes. there's a big difference in
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kicking superior officers out of the oval office, and looking the fbi director in the eye and saying, i hope you let this go. good as theys as are, and heard the president of the united states say that, it could have a chilling effect on their work. >> you mentioned new stories and news accounts. without having to go intohe names and specific times, have there been news accounts about the russian investigation, about collusion, about this whole event or accusations but as you read the story, you were stunned about how wrong they got the facts? mr. comey: yes. there have been many stories purportedly based on classified information about russia that are just dead wrong. >> i was interested in your comment, that the president said to you if there were satellite associates of his that did something wrong, it would be good to find that out.
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the president seemed to have talk to you specifically on march 30 and say, i'm frustrated, that the word is not getting out. but if there are people that are let'scircle that are, finish the investigation. is that how you took it as well? mr. comey: yes, sir. >> you made a comment about the previous attorney general asking you about the investigation on the clinton emails, saying you had been asked not to call it an investigation anymore but to call it a matter. you said that confused you. can you give additional details on that? a concerned me because we were at the point where we refused to confirm the existence of an investigation for months and it was getting to a place where that looked silly because the campaigns were talking about interacting with the fbi in the course of our work. the clinton campaign at the time was using all kinds of euphemisms, security review, matters, for what was going on.
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we were getting to a place where the attorney general and i were going to have to publicly testify about it, and i was wondering if she would authorize to say we were having investigation. she said, don't call it that. just call it a matter. in hindsight you think, should i have resisted harder? i said, all right. ok, the press will completely ignore it, and that's what happened when i said we have opened the matter, they reported the fbi's investigation open. that concerns me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the fbi's work. impression the campaign was using the same language as the f ei because you were handed the campaign language -- fbi because you were headed the campaign language. mr. comey: to give the
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impression the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way the political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate. .e had a criminal campaign open we had an investigation open at the time and so that gave me a queasy feeling. >> thank you. >> i appreciate you being here. is very interested in this hearing were having today. i've had over 600 requests for questions to ask you from my fellow west virginians. most of them have been asked and there are quite a few of them that are quite detailed. i want to thank you for coming and agreeing to be here, volunteering, but also volunteering to stay into the classified hearing. i don't know if you watched our hearing yesterday? mr. comey: i watched part of it. >> it was very troubling. my colleagues had pointed questions they wanted answers to. they could have done it in an
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open setting. the seriousness of the russian aggressions in our past elections and knowing it will be ongoing as senator king alluded to, what are your concerns there? what should americans probably understand? why are we worried about this? can you tell me what your and my finald be, thoughts are on the same topic, did the present show any concern or interest or curiosity about what the russians are doing? mr. comey: thank you, senator. i don't remember any conversations with the president about the russian election interference? >> did he ask you any questions concerning this? mr. comey: there was an initial briefing of our findings. he asked questions about what we found and what our sources were in our confidence level. we have this big, messy,
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wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time, but nobody tells us what you think, what to fight about, what to vote for except other americans. that's wonderful and often painful. we are talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other methods, tried to shape the way we think we vote, we act. that is a big deal, and people need to recognize it. it's not about republicans or democrats. they are coming after america. they want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. they think this great experiment of hours is a threat to them and so they will try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. remain as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill and they don't like it. >> it is extremely important, extremely dangerous when we are dealing with and it's needed, that is what you are saying.
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mr. comey: yes, sir. >> do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of your conversation with the president? mr. comey: i'm not being facetious. i hope there are. and i will consent to release. >> you both hope there are tapes and recordings. mr. comey: all i can do is hope. the president surely knows whether he taped me and if he did, my feelings aren't hurt. release all the tapes. i'm good with it. >> do you believe robert mueller, our new special , will betor on russia thorough and complete without political intervention? mr. comey: yes. bob mueller is one of the finest people and public servants this country has ever produced. he will do it well. he is a dog it, tough person and you can have high confidence that when it's done, -- dogged, tough person and you can have high confidence that when it's done, he turned over all the
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rocks. >> something i often asked folks when they come here, what details of this saga should we be focusing on and what would you recommend us do differently? or to just our perspective on this? mr. comey: i don't know. one of the reasons i'm pleased tore i be hei think this committee has shown the american people, although we have two parties and we disagree about important things, we can work together when it involves the interest of the country. keep doing what you're doing great it's a model, especially for kids, that we are a functioning adult democracy. >> you mentioned you had six meetings, three times in person, six on the phone, nine times in conversation with the president. did he that time allude that you were not performing adequately, ever indicate that at all? mr. comey: the contrary, quite often. he called me one day, i was about to get on a helicopter.
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the head of the dea was waiting on a helicopter for me. he called to check in on me and said i was doing an awesome job, and wanted to see how i was doing. i said i'm doing fine, sir. i finished the call and got on helicopter. >> to you believe you would have been fired if hillary clinton had become president? mr. comey: great question. i don't know. it?ny thoughts about mr. comey: i might have been. i don't know. said before, that was an extraordinarily difficult and painful time. i think i did what i had to do. i knew it would be bad for me personally and the consequence of that might have been, hillary clinton was elected, i might have been terminated. i don't know. i really don't. >> in the february 14 oval office meeting, you asked attorney general sessions to make sure you were never asked never left with the president alone. did you ever consider why
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attorney general sessions was not asked to stay in the room? mr. comey: sure, i did, and have. >> did you ever talk to him about it? mr. comey: no. >> not in any of your mr. comey: no. >> did he show any inquiry whatsoever into but the meeting was amount? mr. comey: i did say to him, you have to be between me and the president, and that is important , and i forget my exact words, i passed on the president's message about pursuing leaks of classified information, which is a goal i share. i passed that to the attorney general the next morning in a meeting, but i did not tell him about the michael flynn part. >> do you believe this is an injustice? mr. comey: that is bob mueller's job to sort that out.
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>> thank you, sir. mr. chairman. encouraged theou president to release the tapes. will you encourage the department of justice to really sure memos? mr. comey: sure. >> you said you did not record your conversation with president ama president bush and memos. did you do so with attorney general sessions or any other senior member of the trump or department justice? mr. comey: no. >> did you record conversations and memos with attorney general lynch or any other senior member of the obama administration? mr. comey: not that i recall. >> did you cite nine conversations with the programs -- conversations with the president. ? mr. comey: the president called
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me shortly before he was inaugurated as a follow-up to our conversation, private conversation, on january 6. he wanted to reiterate his rejection of the allegation and talk about -- he thought about it more and why he thought he was not true. during that call, he asked me, i hope you are going to stay. you're doing a great job. and i told him i intended to. there was another phone calling mentioned that was march 1, where he called to check in with me is about to get onto the helicopter. it was a secure call we had about an operational matter that was not related to any of this, about something the fbi was working on and wanted to make wanted to make sure about the appropriateness.
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the fourth call, i am forgetting. that was the call were he invited me to dinner. i think i got that right. >> let's turn our taken to the underlying activity -- russia's hacking of emails and allegations of collusion. do you think donald concluded with russia? mr. comey: that is a question i do not think i should answer in an open setting. when i left, we did not have an investigation focused on president trump. but that is a question that will be answered by the investigation, i think. >> let me turn to a couple of statements by one of my colleagues on the senator feinstein, the ranking member on this committee who had access to information and is now the senior on the committee. asked if thereas was evidence of collusion between russia and president
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trump. she said not at this time. show, you are asked if you saw evidence of collusion, and you said not at this time. do you have any reason to doubt those statements? mr. comey: i don't doubt senator feinstein --don' i't want to go down that path because i am not in the government anymore. i don't want to be unfair to president trump. i don't want to get into the business of saying not as to this person or that person. >> unfeminine 14, the new york times published a story -- talk campaign aides has repeated contact with russia. you were asked if that was
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inaccurate, and you said, would it be fair to characterize that story is almost entirely wrong. mr. comey: yes. any indication of any contact between trump people and russians, other government officials are close associates of the russian government? mr. comey: i cannot answer that sitting here. attention nowurn to michael flynn and his underlying conduct. his alleged interactions with the russian ambassador on the phone and what he said to senior trump administration officials. i understand there are other nn.ues with mr. fly those are serious allegations that will be pursued. but i want to speak to his interactions with the russian ambassador. it was a story in the washington
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reviewed says fbi michael flynn's calls with russian ambassador, t found nothing illicit. is t story accurate? mr. comey: i don't want to comment on that, senator, because i am sure the bureau is not confirmed any interception of indications. i don't want to talk about that in an open setting. 40 be improper for an incoming national security adviser to have a conversation with a foreign ambassador? mr. comey: and my spirits, no. >> but you cannot confirm or deny that the conversation happened? mr. comey: i don't think i can talk about that in an open setting. i have been out of government one month and i don't want to talk about things when it is someone else's responsibility. maybe in a classified setting. >> you said earlier that there wasn't an open investigation of mr. flynn and the fbi.
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did you or any fbi agent ever since that mr. flynn attempted to deceive you or make false statements to an fbi agent? mr. comey: i don't want to go too far. that was the subject of a criminal inquiry. close tou ever come close an investigation on mr. flynn? mr. comey: i don't think i can talk about that an open setting either. mr. comey, and 2004, you were a part of a well-publicized event about an intelligence program better been recertified several times you are acting attorney general when attorney general john ashcroft was incapacitated due to illness. there was a dramatic showdown at the hospital here. the next day, you said you wrote a letter of resignation before you went to meet with president bush to explain why you were
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first -- what you refused to certify it. is that accurate? mr. comey: yes. >> during the trump administration, did you sign a letter of resignation and leave it on his desk? mr. comey: no, sir. of the thingsall you have testified to today, you -- not mr. comey: i would not characterize the circumstances not004 that way, but i do encounter any circumstance that led me to intend to resign or consider to resign. no, sir. >> thank you. comey, you are in during a senate intelligence committee hearing. each of us get seven minutes instead of five. thank you. mr. comey: i'm between
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opportunities now. [laughter] >> i am sure you will have future opportunities. you and i are both former prosecutors. thatt to make a statement in my experience of prosecuting cases, when a robber held a gun to somebody's head and said, i hope you will give me your wallet, the word "hope" was not the most operative word at the moment. you don't have to respond to that point. i have a series of questions to and are you aware of any meetings between the trump administration officials and russian officials during the campaign for them not been acknowledged by those officials in the white house? even if i remember clearly, that is not a question i can answer in an open setting. >> are you aware of efforts by trump campaign officials to hide their communications with
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russian officials through encrypted communications or other means? mr. comey: i have to give the same answer, senator. >> and of course of the fbi's investigation, did you ever come across anything that documents or other evidence had been destroyed? mr. comey: same answer because it would touch on investigative matters. >> are you aware of many efforts are potential efforts to conceal communications between campaign officials in russian official? >> i have to give the same answer, senator. >> thank you. have a series of questions about your connection with the attorney general during the course of your tenure as director. what is your understanding of the parameters of general sessions' recusal of the russian investigation? mr. comey: it is described in a written statement from the doj. the just was he would be recused tom all matters relating russia and the campaign, or tiffany's of russia and the 16th
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election. mr. comey: measure knowledge -- >> is that your sin of the knowdge of t comments he made? mr. comey: yes. >> is there memoranda outlining the parameters of his recusal? mr. comey: not that i'm aware of. anyou know if he reviewed documents pertaining to the investigation before he was recused? mr. comey: i don't know. >> after he was recused? assuming it is the same answer. mr. comey: same answer. >> aside from any memoranda that was not said, what mechanism or processes were in place to make sure the attorney general would not have any innocent of investigation? mr. comey: i don't know for sure. he consulted with career ethics officials, but i don't know what mechanism they set up. >> the attorney general recused himself from the investigation, but do you believe it was appropriate for him to be involved in the firing of the
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chief investigator in that case but the russian interference? mr. comey: that is a reasonable question, but that would depend on a lot of things i don't know like what was he told? did he realize the president was doing because of the russian investigation? i don't know. >> you mentioned in your written testimony in here that the president asked you for a loyalty pledge. are you aware of him making the same request of any other members of the cabinet? mr. comey: i am not. i don't know one way or another. that you had ed conversation wre he hoped he would -- that healed you would let the michael flynn matter go thereabouts. it is my opinion that mr. session was recused from any involvement in the investigation about a full two weeks later. to your knowledge, was the attorney general, did he have access to information about investigation and those in from two weeks?
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and there he come ashore because he is the attorney journal, but i don't know if he had contact with the materials related could >> was there directed keisha not have had any contact with any information about the russian investigation between the february 14 date and the day he was ultimately recused on march 2? mr. comey: not to my knowledge. say to the attorney general about the russian investigation before his recusal? mr. comey: i don't think so. >> do you know if anyone in the department, and the fbi, forwarded any documents or information or memos of any sort to the attention of the attorney general for his recusal? mr. comey: i don't know of any a remember. it is possible, but i don't remember. >> keynote the attorney general in any aspect of the russian investigation after his recusal. on the second of march?
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mr. comey: let me say this, i don't know of any information that was -- that would lead me to believe to touch the russian investigation after it's use all. >> in your written testimony, you indicated that after you --you meionedthat it was inappropriate and should not happen again, but he did not replying you wrote he did not reply. what did he do? if anything? did he just look at you? what happened? mr. comey: i don't remember. i have a recollection of him looking at me. faulty memory, but i got his body language and it gave me a sense of what am i going to do? >> did he shrug? mr. comey: i don't remember clearly. the reason i have an impression as i have some recollection of some imperceptible, what am i going to do? i don't have a clear
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recollection. he did not say anything. beverage 14the meeting, you said you understood the president to be requested that you drop investigation. you received two calls from the president on march 30 and 11th for the president talked about the cloud over his presidency. has anything you have learned since the meeting change your understanding of the president's request? what he said in public interviews? mr. comey: correct. >> is there anything about this investigation that you believe is in any way biased or not being informed by a process of seeking the truth? mr. comey: no. the appointment of a special counsel should offer great comfort to ericans, no matter what your political affiliation is, that this will be done independently, competently and honestly. believe mr. mueller
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shuffle authority to pursue that investigation? mr. comey: yes. and knowing him over the years, if there is something he thinks he needs, he will speak up about it. >> should be a full independence? mr. comey: oh yeah, and he would not be a part of it if he was not point to get full independence. >> thank you. >> mr. comey, i will repeat what i have sent a previous hearings that i believe you are a good and decent man who has been dealt a very difficult hand, starting back with the clinton. email investigation i appreciate your willingness to appear here voluntarily and answer our questions and corporate with our investigation. as a general matter, if an fbi agent has reason to believe that a crime has been committed, do they have a duty to report it? that is a good question. i don't know if there is a legal
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duty to reported. they certainly have a cultural, ethical duty to report it. >> you are unsure of whether they will have a legal duty? mr. comey: that is a good question. i don't know what the legal -- if there is a statute, knowing of a felony and taking steps to conceal it, but that is a different question. agent waspect an fbi information about a crime to reported, but where you rest that oigation, don't kn. >> as a general oposition, if you are trying to make an investigation go away, is firing an fbi director a good way to make that happen? it doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but i am biased considering i was the one fired. [laughter] >> i understand it is personal. mr. comey: given the nature of the aba, -- given the nature of the fbi, i meant what i said.
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bad thingsots of about me not being in the dot-com bubble work will go on as before. but nothing you testified to has impeded the investigation of the fbi or director mueller's commitment to get to the bottom of this from the standpoint of the fbi and the department of justice? mr. comey: correct, especially the appointment of former director mueller. >> than me take you back to the company mill investigation. you have been cast as a hero or who'sain depending on manyical ox is being gord different times during the investigation, even now perhaps. troubled by the conduct of the sitting attorney general, loretta lynch, when it came to the clinton email investigation. you mentioned the characterization that you have been asked to accept this was a
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matter, not a come on investigation, which he said it was. there was a matter president clinton's meeting on the tarmac with the sitting attorney general at the time when his to a criminalct investigation, you suggested that perhaps there are other matters that you may be able to share with us later on in a classified setting. but it seems to me you clearly believe that loretta lynch, the attorney general, had an appearance of a conflict of interest on the continual investigation. is that correct? mr. comey: that is correct. i did not think you could credibly decline that investigation without grievous damage to the department of justice and fbi. >> and under department of justice and fbi norms, would it have been appropriate for the attorney general for the deputy attorney general to appoint a special counsel? that is what is happening with
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director mueller. without a been an appropriate step with the clinton nemo investigation? mr. comey: yes, a possible step. >> were you aware that loretta lynch had been approached to do that but refused? mr. comey: yes, sir. members of congress did ask. >> yes, yours truly. concern that your caused you to make what you described as incredibly painful decision to basically take the matter up yourself, and led to that july press conference. sir.omey: yes, at the -- after former president clinton met with the attorney general, i considered whether i should call for the appointment of a special counsel sir. at i decided that would be unfair to do because i, knew there was no case. we investigated very thoroughly.
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i know this is a subject of passion disagreement, but i knew there was no case and calling for special counsel would be unfair because it was in the message, there is something here. that was my judgment again. if a special counsel had been appointed, they could've made that determination that there was nothing there, and declined to pursue it, right? mr. comey: sure, but it would be many months or year later. to come ajust ask you given experience of the clinton nemo investigation of what happened thre, do you think it anyone, anyble for president, who has been assured on multiple occasions that he is not the subject of an fbi investigation, do you think it is unreasonable for them to want
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the fbi director to publicly announce that so that this cloud over his administration will be removed? mr. comey: i think that is a reasonable point of view. the concern would obviously when that boomerang comes back, it would be a very good -- it would be a very big deal. >> we saw the inequity mill investigation. mr. comey: i recall that. [laughter] >> i know you do. so, let me ask you finally in a minute we have left --there was his conversation back and forth about loyalty. i think we all appreciate that in the eye director is a unique public official in a sense that he is a political appointee in one sense, but has a duty of independent to pursue the law, pursuant to the constitution of the laws of the united states. and so, when the president asked you about loyalty, you got into is back and forth about, i will pledge you my honesty.
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and you agreed upon honest/loyalty or something like that. is that the characterization? mr. comey: yes. >> and you very much. mr. comey: think you, sir. >> thank you mr. chairman. reportsve been press that the president, in addition to asking you to drop the michael flynn investigation, and asked other officials to take tend tohich would undermine the investigation into russia, they're been reports he has asked admiral rodgers to make public statements exonerating him for taking the pressure off him, and also rodgersabout an mobile and pompeo to intervene and reach out to the fbi. -- orare of any of these
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any information with respect to these allegations? mr. comey: i don't. i have had no conversation with any of those leaders about that subject. >> thank you. you have testified -- you interpret the discussion with the president about michael flynn as a direction to stop the investigation, is that correct? mr. comey: yes. >> you testified that the president asked you to lift the cloud by making public satements exonerating him and perhaps others. and you refused? mr. comey: i did not refuse the president. weold him we would see what could do, and the second time he called, i told him that is something your lawyer will have to take up with the justice department. >> part of the underlying logic that we had discussed many times this morning is the duty to correct. but is a theoretical issue,
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was yourtical issue, feeling that the direction of the investigation could in fact include the president? , in theory.ell as i explained, the concern of one of my senior colleagues was if you are looking at potential coronation between the campaign and russia, the person ahead of the campaign is a candidate. so logically come this person argued the candidate's knowledge , understanding would become a part of your inquiry if it proceeds. i understood the argument. my view was that what i said to the president was accurate and fair and fair to him. i resisted the idea publicly saying it. if the justice department wanted to, i would have done it. testifiedalso you that the president asked
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repeatedly to be loyal to him, he responded that you would be honestly loyal, which is your way of saying, i will be honest and i will be ahead of the fbi. is that fair? mr. comey: tt is correct. i tried honest first. i also try to explain to him why it is in his interest and every president's interest for the fbi be a part because it's credibility is important to a president into the country. and so, i tried to hold the line and it got very awkward. i then said, you will always have honesty for me. he said honest/loyalty. and i use that to end the awkwardness. >> and you were fired. mr. comey: there was a nation, i just don't buy it -- there was an explanation, i just don't buy it. >> do you believe you are fired because you refused to take the president's direction? mr. comey: i don't know for
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sure. i know i was fired and i take the president's words, but fired because of the way i was conducting the russia investigation, was in some way putting pressure on him in some way, irritating him, so he decided to fire me because of that. i cannot go further than that. >> the russia investigation, as you pointed out, and as my colleagues have reflected, one of the most serious, hostile acts against this country and our history undermining the very core of our democracy in our elections is not a discrete event. it will likelyecause you and your words, with some relation to the investigation. and then he shows up in the oval office with the russian foreign pacifyingfirst after
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you is crazy in a real nut job, which effectively disproved this morning. be thenclusion would president, i would think, is downplaying the seriousness of this threat, and took specific to -- it took specific steps to stop the investigation of the russian influence. be also, doesn't seem to seemed that doesn't seem to be interested in the hostile threats by the russians. is that true? mr. comey: i don't know if i can agree to that level of detail. it is my judgment that i was fired because of the russian investigation. way, tored, in some change the way the russian investigation was being conducted. that is a very big deal, but not just because it involves me. the nature of the fbi and its
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work requires that it not be the subject of political consideration. on top of that, you have the russia investigation itself as vital because of the threat. americans were part of helping the russians do that to us, that is a very big deal. im confident that if that is the case, director mueller will find that evidence. the president tweeted that james comey better hope that there better be no tapes of our conversation, or i will become to the press. was that an attempt to intimidate you from testifying or intimidate anyone else who crosses his path of not doing it. ? mr. comey: i am not point is secure try to interpret the ets.ident's twe
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but if there are tapes, it is on just my word against his the direction of the michael flynn investigation. >> you very much. >> senator mccain. in the case of hillary clinton, you made the statement that there wasn't sufficient evidence to bring a suit against but you did --but you did reach a conclusion that it was not necessary to further pursue her. yet at the same time, and the case and mr. comey, you said that there was not enough information to make a conclusion. tell me the difference between
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ur conclusn as far as former secretary clinton is concerned and mr. trump. mr. comey: the clinton investigation was a completed investigation that the fbi have been deeply involved in. i had an opportunity to understand all the facts and apply those facts against the laws. ,his investigation was underway still going when i was fired. it is nowhere near in the same place, at least it -- >> but it is still ongoing? mr. comey: as far as i know. it was when i left. >> this investigation is going on. you reached separate conclusions. mr. comey: that was done. >> and investigation of any involvement of secretary clinton or any of her associates is completed. of july the fifth, the fbi completed its investigative work, and that is what i was announcing of what we
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had done and what i had found. >> well, at least in the minds of this member, there are a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on, particularly considering the fact that, as you mentioned, it is quote -- a big deal on what 100 and the campaign. i am glad you concluded that part of the investigation, but i think that the american people have a whole lot of russians out there since you just emphasized the role that russia played. and obviously, she was a candidate for president at the time, so she was clearly involved in this whole situation fake they can news -- as news is a big deal and took place. he will have to help me out here. in other words, we are completely -- we are completing
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the investigation. do we not have to worry about it anymore? mr. comey: with respect to secretary clinton, we investigated criminal investigation with her use of a personally know server. that is the investigation i announce a conclusion on july 5. >> but at the same time, you make an announcement that there would be no charges brought against then secretary clinton for any activities involved in the russian involvement and election. i don't quite understand how you can be done with that, but not completely done with the whole investigation of their attempt to affect the outcome of our election. mr. comey: i'm sorry. when i left, when i was fired on may 9, it was still an open and active investigation to understand the russian efforts. >> but you reached the conclusion that there was no
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reason to bring charges against secretary clinton. so, you reached a conclusion in the case of mr. comey. the present comey. --in the case of president trump. you had an ongoing investigation, so you one candidate, who you are done th, and another candidate that you have a long way to go. is that correct? mr. comey: i don't know how long after has to go, but correct. to clinton email investigation was completed and the investigation of russia's efforts with the election and if there words any fashion if there was any coronation -- >> you just made it clear, you said it was a big deal. reconcile and one case you read to complete conclusion, and the other side, you have not. obviously, there is a
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lot more there as we know, as you called it a quote -- "big deal." she is one of the candidates, but in her case, there would be no charges. and in the case of president trump, the investigation continues. what has been brought out in this hearing is more and more emphasis on the russian engagement and involvement in this campaign. how serious do you think this was? mr. comey: very serious. i want to make something clear. we are not announced and there was no predication to announce an investigation and whether the russians may have coordinated with secretary clinton's campaign. >> there may not have been involved with the campaign, but they were involved with the entire presidential campaign. mr. comey: yes, sir. that is an investigation that began the summer and it continues as far as i'm awar >> so both president trump and
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former candidate clinton are both involved in investigation, yet one of them, be no charges and the other one, the investigation continues. i think there is a double standard there to take the truth. and then when the president talk to you about the 11th phone call and said -- because i have been very loyal to you, very loyal. we had that thing, you know. did that around your curiosity as to what "that thing" was? mr. comey: yes. >> why didn't you ask him? mr. comey: i took it to be an thatt to communicate to me there is a relationship between us where i have been good to you, you should be good to me. >> i think it would intensely aroused my curiosity if the president of the united states says we have "that thing" you
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know. i would like to know what that thing is. mr. comey: i get that senator. what i concluded at the time was in his memory, he was searching to our encounter at the dinner, and was preparing himself to say, i offer loyalty to you and you promised loyalty to me and his memory showed him that cannot happen and he told up short. that is just a guess. i think i would've had some curiosity if it would have been about me, to be honest with you. that would lead you to believe that the president, or the members of administration are members of the campaign can potentially be used to blackmail the administration? forcomey: that is a subject investigations, not something i can comment on sitting here. but you reach that conclusion
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as far as secretary clinton was concerned, but you are not reaching the conclusion as far as this administration is concerned? are you aware of anything that would lead you to believe that information exists that could coerce members of administration are blackmail demonstration? mr. comey: that is not a question i can answer, senator. >> senator, your time has expired. >> thank you. >> all-time has expired for the hearing. we will reconvene probably at 1:00 p.m. in the hearing room. we have a vote scheduled for 1:45. i would suggest that all members promptly be there at 1:00. we have three minutes. i would like to have order. photographers, return to where you were please. this hearing is not adjourned
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yet. either that or we will remove you. rsemwe have three minutes of updates we would love to cover as soon as we get into the closed session before we have an opportunity to spend some time with director comey. based on our agreement, it would be my intentions to adjourn the closed hearing between 2:00 and 2:10 so members can vote. i would urge you to eat at that time. jim, several others on the committee have had a chance to work with you sent you want in the door. per se that to say we are able to your service to fbicountry, but not as director, but someone who loves this country enough to tell it is. it we are grateful to your workforce the level of cooperation have shown us with the trustee of is.
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built between both organizations -- the congress and the bureau. we cannot do our jobs if it wasn't for their willingness to share candidly with us the work that we need to see. this hearing is the ninth public hearings committee has had this year. historicalce the year-long average of this committee. i think the vice-chairman and my biggest challenge with this -- when this investigation has concluded is to return our hearings to the secrecy of a closed hearing, to encourage our members not to freely talk about publicly,ce matters and to respect the fact that we have a huge job. and that is to represent the entire body of united states senate and american people to with the that we work
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intelligence committee to provide the tools to keep america safe, and you do it within the legal limit for those limits set by the executive branch. wasn'td not do it if it for our trusted partnership. this, this isrom a pivotal hearing in our investigation. we are grateful to you. i will turn to the vice-chairman. >> i want to echo and give him parents -- for your appearance. this to remains a number of questions. the one thing i want to commit those who are all potentially watching and following -- there are still a lot of unanswered questions and we will get to the bottom of this and will get the facts out. the american people deserve to know. there are the questions around
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applications of trump officials and the russians, but the macro issue of what the russians did and continue to do. it is important that americans realize the threat is real and is continuous, and is not just towards our nation, but all towards western democracies and weave to come to a solution. youirector coming, thank once again. this committee hearing is adjourned. the hearing those from open session to close session. fired fbi director addresses questions. a senior white house correspondent will join us. hours,e course of three comey offered more details on the nine interactions he had with president trump for he was fired by the president may 9. mr. comey: administration then shows to defame me and the


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