tv News Comey Senate Testimony CNBC June 8, 2017 10:00am-12:43pm EDT
think maybe a bit of hubris crept in there because his explanation was that the department of justice could not make a decision because the attorney general was compromised. however, there's a number two or three that you can recuse down to do make those decisions. >> so you think -- >> could i ask, what's the relevance of comey's previous behavior in the private practice or as director of the fbi to the question of what was the intent of the president when he used those words and made those requests of mr. comey? it seems to me that that's the issue. if the question is was there an effort made to obstruct justice. >> that's for me, i think you have to read the obstruction of justice statute. yeah, his past history not relevant to all of the communications that he had with the president that we're talking about here. but if you ever used that
obstruction statute it's a different one to use. and my -- it's my belief that director comey, former director comey, knew that. and knew that this didn't fit into the obstruction statute and therefore, didn't make a referral. because it just doesn't fit. >> well -- >> that's ultimately going to be both the political question for the american people their representatives in congress. and it could be a legal question before a judge and a jury. >> yes. see, that's what carl and i were talking about. i mean, where does it stop? and i understand what governor graham is saying, which is that it doesn't -- in real estate -- just because you're from real estate you can't as president this is the way we do it in my own world. because he's in the white house and not the trump tower. >> nicolle wallace called it the
stupidity defense. whether or not the white house is using the stupidity defense. >> sara, are you still with us? >> i think it's a relevant point. in watching donald trump operate from the oval office, based on everything we know in the public domain and now comey's opening statement it does appear that he didn't appreciate that he was crossing the line. he didn't know. and that's not going to be a justification in the law and certainly it might buy him some points with republicans who give him the benefit of the doubt who control both chambers of congress. but if democrats were to take control of the house in 2018 and this is still going on which is likely, boy, that's not going to help him at all. >> you know, sara, the trump agenda of course which is of interest to our viewership when it comes to the likes of tax reform and others as we see comey enter the room. can't miss him.
6'8". >> he's as tall as lebron. >> is that true? >> yeah. >> geez, i hope he's doing better. >> let's take a minute here and watch comey take his seat. shaking hands with the chairman and vice chairman of the committee. burr and warner. >> wow. here we go. >> one thing to keep in mind, comey is a practiced -- a practiced participant in settings like these. >> oh, yeah. >> he's done this many times before. he was comfortable enough last time to request a bathroom break when he needed it. >> it's a confident man, having worked with him many -- you know, for a long time. he is a confident man in this
status. >> when was the last time a hearing got so much global attention on capitol hill? we have become accustomed to them sometimes with janet yellen. >> maybe the hearings for chief justice -- justice of the supreme court. go back to the key officer hearings. >> james comey is speaking about his sudden firing and the russian investigation and questions about his interactions with the president. we'll be front and center and i think we'll take the opening statement from the chairman. >> director comey, i appreciate your willingness to appear before the committee today. more importantly 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 and i'm looking forward to a very open and candid discussion today.
i would like to remind my colleagues that we'll reconvene in closed session at 1:00 p.m. today and i ask that you reserve for that venue any questions that might get into classified information. the director's been very gracious with his time, but the vice chairman and i have worked out a very specific time line for his commitment to be on the hill. so we will do everything we can to meet that agreement. the senate select committee on intelligence exists to certify for the other 85 members of the united states senate and the american people that the intelligence community is operating lawfully and has the necessary authorities and tools to accomplish its mission. and keep america safe. part of our mission beyond 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 hearing represents part of that effort. jim, allegations have been swirling in the press for the last several weeks and today is your opportunity to set the record straight. yesterday, i read with interest your statement for the record and i think it provides some 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 very much appreciate your candor. i think it's helpful as we work through to determine the ultimate truth behind possible russian interference in the 2016 elections. your statement also provides texture and context to your interactions with the president from your vantage point and outlines a strained relationship. the american 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 committees 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 lay them out for the american people to make their own judgment. only then will we as a nation be able to move forward and to put this episode to rest. there are several outstanding issues not addressed in your statement that i hope you'll clear up for the american people today. did the president's request for loyalty, your impression, that the one-on-one dinner of january 27th was and i quote, at least in part an effort to create some sort of patronage relationship or is march 30th phone call asking what you could do to lift
the cloud of russian investigation in any way alter your approach or the investigation into general flynn or the broader investigation into russia and the possible links to the campaign. in your opinion, did 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's been a significant public speculation about your decision making related to the clinton e-mail investigation. why did you decide publicly to publicly announce the fbi recommendation that the department of justice not pursue criminal charges? you have described it as choice between a bad decision and a worst decision. the american people need to understand the facts behind your action. this committee is uniquely suited to investigate russia's interference in the 2016 elections. we have a unified bipartisan
approach to what is a highly charged partisan issue. russian activities during 2016 election may have been aimed at one party's candidate but as my colleague senator rubio says frequently in 2018 and 2020 it could be aimed at anyone at home or abroad. my colleague senator warner and i worked in -- worked to stay in lock step on this investigation. we have had our differences on approach at times. but i have constantly stressed that we need to be a team and i think senator warner agrees with me. we must keep these questions above politics and partisanship. it's too important to be tainted by anyone trying to score political points. with that, again, i welcome you director, and i turn to the vice chairman for any comments he might have. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman. let me start again by thanking all the members of the committee
for the seriousness in which they have taken on this task. mr. comey, thank you for agreeing to come testify as part of this committee's investigation into russia. i realize that this hearing has been obviously the focus of a lot of washington and in the last few days. but the truth is many americans who may be tuning in today probably haven't focused on every twist and turn of the investigation. so i'd like to briefly describe at least from this senator's standpoint what we already know and what we're still investigating. to be clear, this investigation is not about relitigating the election. it's not about who won or lost. it's sure as heck not about democrats versus republicans. we're here because a foreign adversary attacked us right here at home. plain and simple.
not by guns or missiles, but by foreign operatives seeking to hijack our most important democratic process, our presidential election. russian spies engaged in a series of online cyber raids and a broad campaign of disinformation. all ultimately aimed at sowing chaos in our leadership and ultimately in ourselves. that's not just this senator's opinion. it is the unanimous determination of the entire u.s. intelligence community. so we must find out the full story. what the russians did, and candidly as some other colleagues have mentioned why they were so successful. and more importantly we must determine the necessary steps to take to protect our democracy and ensure they can't do it again.
chairman mentioned elections in 2018 and 2020. in my home state of virginia we have elections this year. we cannot let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. now, mr. comey, let me say at the yacht outset we haven't agreed on every issue. in fact, i have questioned some of the actions you have taken but i never had any reason to question your integrity, your expertise, or your intelligence. you have been a straight shooter with this committee, and have 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. you recall we began this entire process with the president and his staff first denying that the russians were ever involved and
then falsely claiming that no one from his team was ever in touch with any russians. we know that's just not the truth. numerous trump associates had undisclosed contacts with russians before and after the election. include the president's attorney general and his current senior adviser, mr. kushner. that doesn't even begin to count the host of additional campaign associates and advisers who have also been caught up in this massive web. we saw mr. trump's campaign manager, mr. manafort, forced to step down over ties to russian backed entities. the national security adviser, general flynn, had to resign over his lies about engagements with the russians. and we saw the candidate himself express an odd and unexplained affection for the russian dictator while calling for the hacking of his opponent.
there's a lot to investigate. enough in fact that then director comey publicly acknowledged that he was leading in an investigation into those links between mr. trump's campaign and the russian government. as the director of the fbi, mr. comey was ultimately responsible for conducting that investigation. which might explain why you're sitting now as a private citizen. what we didn't know was that at the same time that this investigation was proceeding the president himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence or at least co-op the director of the fbi. the testimony that mr. comey has submitted for today's hearing very disturbing. for example on january 27th after summoning director comey to dinner t president appears to have threatened director's job while telling him, quote, i need loyalty. i expect loyalty. at a later meeting on february
14th, the president asked the attorney general to leave the oval office so that he could privately ask director comey again quote, to see a way clear to letting flynn go. that is a statement that director comey interpreted as a request that he drop the investigation connected to general flynn's 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 30th and april 11th. and asked him again, quote, to lift the cloud on the russian investigation. now, director comey denied each of these improper requests. the loyalty pledge, the admonition to drop the flynn investigation, the request to lift the cloud on the russia
investigation. of course, after his refusals, director comey was fired. the initial explanation for the firing didn't pass any smell test. somehow director comey was fired because he didn't treat hillary clinton appropriately. of course, that explanation lasted about a day because the president himself then made very clear that he was thinking about russia when he decided to fire director comey. shockingly, reports suggest that the president admitted as much in an oval office meeting with the russians the day after director comey was fired. disparaging our country's top law enforcement official is a quote/unquote nutjob, the president allegedly suggested that 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 with director comey, he was also at least allegedly asking senior leaders of the intelligence community to down play the russia investigation or to intervene with the director. yesterday we had dni director coats and nsa director admiral rogers who were offered a number of opportunities to flatly deny those press reports. they expressed their opinions, but they did not take that opportunity to deny those reports. they did not take advantage of that opportunity. my belief that's not how the president of the united states should behave. regardless of the outcome of our investigation into the russia links, director comey's firing and his testimony raise separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of. again, as i said at the outset i have seen how seriously every
member of this committee stake his work. i'm proud of the committee's efforts so far. let me be clear. this is not a witch-hunt. this is not fake news. it is an effort to protect our country from a new threat that quite honestly will not go away any time soon. so mr. comey, your testimony here today will help us move towards that goal and i look forward to that testimony. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, vice chairman. director, as discussed, when you agreed to appear before the committee it would be under oath. i'd ask you to please stand. raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god. >> yes. >> please be seated. >> director comey, you're now under oath. and i would just note to members you will be recognized by seniority for a period up to seven minutes and again it is
the intent to move to a closed session no later than 1:00 p.m. with that director comey, you are recognized, you have the floor for as long as you might need. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member warner, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here to testify today. i have subb mitted my statement for the record. i thought i'd just offer some brief introductory remarks. when i was appointed fbi director in 2013, i understood that i served at the pleasure of the president. even though i was appointed to a ten-year term which congress created in order to underscore the importance of the fbi being outside of politics, an independent, i understood i could be fired by a president for any reason or for no reason at all. and on may the 9th when i learned that i had been fired for that reason i immediately came home as a private citizen. but then the explanations, the
shifting explanations, confused me and increasingly concerned me. they confused me because the president that i had had multiple conversations about my job both before and after he took office, and he had repeatedly told me i was doing a great job and he hoped i would stay and i said i did intend to stay and serve out the remaining six years of my term. he told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me. and including our current attorney general and had learned that i was doing a great job and that i was extremely well liked by the fbi workforce. so it confused me when i saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the russia investigation. and learned again from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the
russia investigation. i was also confused by the initial one offered because of the decisions had made during the election year that didn't make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since the hard decisions that had to be made. that didn't make sense to me. although the law required no reason at all to fire the fbi director the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the fbi by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. those were lies, plain and simple. and i am so sorry that the fbi workforce had to hear them. and i'm so sorry that the american people were told them. i worked every day at the fbi to help make that great organization better. and 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 that its values and 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. ly 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 the -- for my former colleagues of the fbi. but first 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'm so sorry that i didn't get the chance to say good-bye 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, 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 the written testimony that you provided to the committee yesterday and made public to the american people. the chair would recognize himself first for 12 minutes. vice chair for 12 minutes based upon the agreement that we have. director, did the special counsel's office review and/or edit your written testimony? >> no. >> do you have any doubt that russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections? >> none. >> do you have any doubt that the russian government was behind the intrusions at the dnc and the subsequent leaks of the
information? >> no, no doubt. >> do you have any doubt that the russian government was behind the cyber intrusion into state voter files? >> no. >> do you have any doubt that officials of the russian government were fully aware of these activities? >> no doubt. >> are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered? >> i'm confident. when i lift as director i had seen 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 elections? >> not to my understand,ing, no. >> did any investigation including the justice department ask you to stop the russian investigation? >> no. >> director, when the president requested that you -- i quote, let flynn go, general flynn had
an unreported contact with the russians. which is an offense. and if press accounts are right there might have been discrepancies between facts and his fbi testimony. in your estimation, was general flynn at that time in serious legal jeopardy and do you sense that the president was trying to obstruct justice or seeking a way for mike flynn to save face given he had been fired? >> general flynn at that point in time was in legal jeopardy. there was an open criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the russian contacts and the contacts themselves. so that was my assessment at the time. i don't think it's for me to say that the conversation i had with the president was an effort to obstruct. i took it as a very disturbing
thing. very concerning. but that's a conclusion i'm sure the special counsel will work towards to try to understand what the intention was there and whether that's an offense. >> director, is it possible that as part of this fbi investigation the fbi could find evidence of criminality that is not tied to the 2016 elections, possible collusion, or coordination with russians? >> sure. >> so there could be something that just fits a criminal aspect to this that doesn't have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle? >> correct. in any complex investigation, when you start turning over rocks sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature. >> director comey, you had been criticized publicly for the decision to present your findings on the e-mail 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? >> honestly, no. i mean, it caused a whole lot of personal pain for me but as i look back given what i knew at the time and given what i know since it's the best time to protect the justice institution including the fbi. >> in the public domain is this question of the steele dossier. a document that has been around now for over a year. i'm not sure when the fbi first took possession of it but the media had it before you had it and we had it. at time of your depart -- at the time of your departure from the fbi, was the fbi able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the steele document? >> mr. chairman, i don't think that's a question i can answer in the open setting because it goes into the details of the investigation.
>> director, the term we hear 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 that it's normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration? >> yes. >> at what point does the normal contact cross the line into an attempt to recruit agents or influence or spies? >> difficult to say in the abstract. it depends upon the context, whether there's an effort to keep it covert. what the nature of the requests made of the american by the foreign government are. it's a judgment call based on a whole lot of facts. >> at what point would that recruitment become a counterintelligence threat to our country? >> again, difficult to answer in the abstract.
but when a foreign power is using especially coercion or some sort of pressure to try to co-op an american, especially a government official to act on its behalf that's a serious concern to the fbi and at the heart of the counterintelligence mission. >> so if you have a 36 page document of specific claims that are out there, the fbi would have to for counterintelligence reasons try to verify anything that might be claimed in there, one, and probably first and foremost is the counterintelligence concerns that we have about blackmail. would that be an accurate statement? >> yes. if the fbi receives a credible allegation that there's some effort to co-op, coerce, direct, employ covertly an american on behalf of the foreign power that's the basis on which a counterintelligence investigation is opened. >> and when you read the
dossier, what was your reaction given that it was 100% directed at the president elect? >> not one i can answer in the open setting. >> okay. when did you become aware of the cyber intrusion? >> the first -- all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time. the first russian connected cyber intrusion i became aware of in the late summer of 2015. >> and in that time frame there were more than the dnc and the dccc that were targets? >> correct. there was a massive target to go after the nonprofits. >> what would be the estimate of how many entities out there the russians specifically targeted in that time frame? >> it's hundreds. i suppose it could be more than 1,000. but it's at least hundreds. >> when did you become aware that data had been extroll pated? >> i'm not sure exactly. i think either late '15 or early
'16. >> did you -- the director of the fbi have conversations with the last administration about the risk that this posed? >> yes. >> and share with us if you will, what actions they took. >> well, the fbi had already undertaken an effort to notify all the victims and that's what we consider the entities that were attacked as part of this massive spear fishing campaign. so we notified them in an effort to disrupt what might be ongoing. then there was a series of continuing interactions with entities through the rest of '15 into '16 and then throughout '16 the administration was trying to decide how to respond to the intrusion activity that it saw. >> and the fbi in this case unlike other cases that you might investigate did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked or did you have to rely on the third party to provide you the data
they had collected? >> in the case of the dnc and the dccc we did not have access to the devices themselves. we got relevant forensic information from a private party. a high class entity that had done the work. but we didn't get direct access. >> but no content? >> correct. >> isn't content important from the counterintelligence standpoint? >> it is. but what was briefed to me by my folks, the people who were my folks at the time, they had gotten if information from the -- the information from the private party they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016. >> let me go back if i can very briefly to the decision to publicly go out with your results on the e-mail.
was your decision influenced by the attorney general's tarmac meeting with the former president, bill clinton? >> yes. in a -- ultimately conclusive way that was the thing that capped it for me, that i had to do something separately to protect the investigation, which meant the fbi and the justice department. >> were there other things that contributed to that that you can describe in an open session? >> there were other things that contributed to that. but one significant item i can't, i know the committee's been briefed on, has been some public accounts of it which are nonsense but i understand the committee has been briefed on the classified facts. the only other consideration that i can talk about in the open segt, the attorney general directed me not to call it an investigation but instead to call it a matter which confused me and concerned me, but that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude i have to step away from the
department if we're to close this case credibly. >> my last question, you're not only a seasoned prosecutor, you have the fbi for years. you understand the investigative process. you have worked with this committee closely and we're grateful to you because 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 russian involvement in the elections in parallel with the now special counsel that's been set up? >> no, no doubt. it can be done, it requires lots of conversations. but bob mueller is one of this country's great, great pros and i'm sure you'll all be able to work it out with him to run it in parallel. >> i want to thank you once again. i want to turn to the vice chairman. >> >> thank you, mr. chairman and again, director comey, thank you for your service.
your comments to your fbi family i know were heart felt. know that even though there are some in the administration who have tried to smear your reputation, you had acting director mccabe in public testimony a few weeks back and in public testimony yesterday reaffirm that 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 that you referenced in your testimony. let's start with the january 6th meeting in trump tower. where you went up with a series of officials to brief the president elect on the russian investigation. my understanding is you remained afterwards to brief him on again, quote, some personally sensitive aspects of the information you relayed. now you said after that briefing
you felt compelled to document that conversation that you actually started to document it as soon as you got into the car. now, you have had extensive experience at the department of justice and at the fbi. you have worked under presidents of both parties. what was it about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record? >> a combination of things. i think the circumstances, the subject matter and the person i was interacting with. circumstances first, i was alone with the president of the united states. or the president-elect t subject matter i was talking about matters that touch on the fbi's core responsibility and that relate to the president -- president-elect personally. then the nature of the person. i was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so i thought it was important to document that combination of things i never experienced before.
but it led me to believe i have to write it down and i have to write it down in a very detailed way. >> i think that's a very important statement you just made. my understanding is that then -- again, unlike your dealings with presidents of either parties in your past experience, in every subsequent meeting or conversation with this president, you created a written record. did you feel that you needed to create this written record of these memos because they might need to be relied upon at some future date? >> sure. i think i did it after each of the nine conversations. if i didn't i did it for nearly all of them. i knew there'd come a day when i'd need a record of what happened, not only to defend myself, but to defend the fbi and our integrity as an institution and the independence of our investigative function that's what made this so difficult. it was a combination --
circumstances of the subject matter and the particular person. >> so this was the only president that you felt like in every meeting you needed to document because at some point, using your words, he might put out a nontruthful representation of that meeting? >> that's right, senator. as i said in my written testimony, as fbi director i interacted with president obama and i spoke only twice in three years and didn't document it. when i was deputy general i had one one-on-one meeting with president bush about a difficult national security matter. i didn't write a memo about that. i sent a quick e-mail to the staff to let them know something was going on, but i didn't feel with president bush the need to document it in that way. again, because of the combination of those factors, just wasn't present with either president bush or president obama. >> i think that is very significant. i think others will probably question that. now, our chairman and i have requested those memos.
it is our hope that the fbi will get this committee access to the memos so we can read that contemporaneous rendition so we have got your side of the story. now, i know members have said and press have said that if you were -- a great deal has been made of whether the -- you're asking indicating whether the president was the subject of any investigation and my understanding is prior to your meeting on january 6th, you discussed with your leadership team whether or not you should be prepared to assure then president-elect trump that the fbi was not investigating him personally. now my understanding is that your leadership team agreed with that. but was that a unanimous decircumstances any debate about that? >> it wasn't unanimous. one of the members of the leadership team had a view that although it was technically true, we did not have a counterintelligence file case
open on then president-elect trump. his concern was because we're looking at the potential -- again, that's the subject of the investigation, coordination between the campaign and russia because it was president-elect trump's campaign, this person's view was inevitably his behavior, his conduct, will fall within the scope of that work and so he was reluctant to make the statement i made. i disagreed. i thought it was fair to say there was not a counterintelligence investigation of mr. trump and i decided in the moment to say it, given the nature of our conversation. >> at that moment in time, did you ever revisit that in the subsequent sessions? >> with the fbi leadership -- >> sure. >> and the leader had that view, it didn't change. his view was still that it was probably although literally true, his concern was it could be misleading because the nature of the investigation was such
that it might well touch -- obviously it would touch the campaign and the president at the head of the campaign would be the candidate. that was his view throughout. >> let me move to the january 27th dinner where you said, quote, the president began by asking me whether i wanted to stay on as fbi director. he also indicated that lots of people -- again your words, wanted the job. you go on to say that the dinner itself was seemingly an effort to quote, have you ask him for your job and create some sort of quote/unquote patronage relationship. the president seems from my reading of your 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? >> well, my impression -- again it's my impression. i could be wrong, but my common sense told me what was going on was either he had concluded or
someone had told him that you didn't -- you have already asked comey to say and you didn't get anything for it. and that the dinner was an effort to build a relationship -- in fact, he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. as said, what was odd about that, we had already talked twice about it at that point and he said i very much hope you'll stay, i hope you'll stay. in fact, i just remembered a third one, when you see the picture of me walking across the blue room and what the president whispered in my ear was i look forward to working with you. so after those encounters -- >> that was just a few days -- >> yeah. that was on the sunday after the inauguration. the next friday i had dinner, and the president begins by wanting to talk about my job. so i'm sitting there thinking wait a minute, three times you have asked me to stay or talked about me staying. my common sense -- i could be wrong, but my common sense said what's going on here, he's
looking to get something in exchange in granting my request to stay in the job. >> again, we all understand that. i was a governor, i had people work for me. but this constant requests and again, quoting you, him saying that he -- you explained your independence. he said i need loyalty, i expect loyalty. have you ever had any of those kind of requests before from anybody you worked with in the government? >> no. what made me uneasy i'm the director of the fbi. the reason that congress created a ten-year term is so that the director is not feeling as if they're serving with political loyalty owed to any particular person. the statute of just advertise has a blind fold because you're not supposed to be peeking out to see if your patronage is pleased or not. that's why i became the fbi director. to be in that kind of position. so that's why i was so uneasy. >> let me move on.
february 14th, again, it seems a bit strange. you were in a meeting. and your direct superior to the attorney general was in the meeting as well and yet the president asked everyone to leave including the attorney general to leave. before he brought up the matter of general flynn. what was your impression of that type of action? had you ever seen anything like that before? >> no. my impression was something big is about to happen. i need to remember every single word that is spoken. and again, i could be wrong. i'm 56 years old. i have been seeing a few things. my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving which is why he was lingering. i don't know mr. kushner well, but i think he picked up on the same thing. and so i knew something was about to happen that i needed to pay very close attention to. >> and i found it very interesting that in the memo that you wrote after this
february 14th pull aside, you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. if you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified was that because you felt at some point the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear and be cleared in way that could be shared with the american people? >> well, i remember thinking this is a very disturbing development. really important to our work. i need to document it and preserve it in a way and this committee gets this. but sometimes when things are classified it tangles them up. it's hard to share it with an investigative team. you have to be careful how you hand it with good reason. my thinking if i write it in such a way i don't include anything that would trigger a classification that will make it easier to discuss within the fbi and the government and to hold on to it in a way that makes it accessible to us.
>> well, again, it's our hope, particularly since you are a pretty knowledgeable guy and you wrote this in a way that was unclassified this committee will get access to that unclassified document. i think it would be very important to our investigation. let me just ask this inning. how many ongoing investigations at any time does the fbi have? >> tens of thousands. >> tens of thousands. did the president ask about any ongoing investigation? >> no. >> did he ask you to interfere on any other investigation? >> no. >> i think again this speaks volumes. this doesn't even get to the questions around the phone calls about lifting the cloud. i know other members will get to that. but i really appreciate your testimony and i appreciate your service to our nation. >> thank you, senator warner. you know, i'm sitting here going through my contacts in my head. one conversation with the
president that was classified where he asked about our -- ongoing intelligence investigation. it was brief and entirely professional. >> he didn't ask you to take any specific action on that? unlike what he had done vis-a-vis mr. flynn and the overall russia investigation? >> correct. >> senator risch? >> thank you. mr. comey, thank you for your service. america needs more like you and we really appreciate it. yesterday, i got and everybody got the seven pages of your direct testimony that's now a part of the record here. the -- i read it and then i read it again. all i could think was number one, how much i hated the class of legal writing when i was in law school. you're the guy that probably got the "a" after reading this. so i find it clear. i find it concise. and having been a prosecutor for a number of years and reading police reports and investigative
reports this is as good as it gets and i appreciate that. not only the conciseness and the clearness of it, but also the fact that you have things that were written down contemporaneously when they happened and you put them in quotes. so we know exactly what happened and we're not getting some rendition of it that's in your mind. >> thank you. >> you're to be complimented. >> i had great parents and great teachers who beat that into me. >> that's obvious, sir. the chairman walked you through a number of things that the american people need know and want to know. number one, obviously we're all -- we know about the active measures that the russians have taken. we were surprised -- it didn't come as a surprise, but now the american people know this and it's good they know this. because this is serious and it's a problem. i think secondly, i gather from all of this that you're willing to say now that while you're director the president of the united states was not under investigation. is that a fair statement?
>> that's correct. >> so that's a fact we can rely on -- >> yes, sir. >> i remember you talked with us shortly after february 14th when "the new york times" wrote an article that suggested that the trump campaign was colluding with the russians. you remember reading that article when it first came out? >> i do it was about allegedly extensive electronic surveillance. >> correct. that upset you to the point that you went out an surveyed the intelligence community to see if you were missing something in that. is that correct? >> that's right. i have to be careful in open setting. >> i understand that. you sought out both republican and democratic senators to tell them that hey, i don't know where this is coming from. but this is not the case -- this is not factual. do you recall that? >> yes. >> okay. >> so again so the american people can understand this. that report by "the new york
times" was not true. is that a fair statement? >> yeah n the main it was not true. again, all of you know this. maybe the american people don't. the challenge -- i'm not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information is that the people talking about it it obvious don know what's doing on. those that know aren't talking about it. we don't call the press to say, hey, you've got that wrong about the sensitive topic. we have to leave it there. mentioned chairman nonsense around what influenced me to make the july 5th statement. nonsense. i can't go about explaining how it's nonsense. >> those three things we know regarding measures president under investigation, collusion between the russian -- trump campaign and russians. i want to drill right down as my time is limited to the most recent dust up regarding allegations the president of the
united states obstructed justice. you nailed this down page 5, paragraph 3, you put this in quotes, words matter. you wrote down the words so we can all have the words in front of us now. 28 words there. i hope -- this is the president speaking -- i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go. now, those are his exact words. is that correct? >> correct. >> and you wrote them here and put them in quotes. >> correct. >> thank you for that. he did not direct you to let it go. >> not in his words, no. >> he did not order you to let it go. >> again, those words are not an order. >> he said i hope. like me, you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases charging people with criminal offenses. of course you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there where people have been charged.
do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or any other criminal offense where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome? >> i don't know well enough to answer. the reason i keep saying his words is i took it as a direction. 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 didn't obey that, but that's the way i took it. >> you may have taken it as direction but that's not what he said. he said i hope. >> those were exact words. correct. >> you don't know of anyone who has ever been charged for hoping something. is that a fair statement? >> i don't as i sit here. >> senator feinstein. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman. mr. comey, i just want you to know 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 that you're a man of strength and integrity, and i really regret the situation that we all find ourselves in. i just want to say that. let me begin with one overarching question. why do you believe you were fired? >> i don't know for sure. i believe the president -- i take the president at his word that i was fired because of the russia investigation. something about the way i was conducting it the president felt pressure on him he wanted to relie relieve. i didn't know that at the time. i watched the interview, read the press accounts of the conversations, so i take him at his word there. i i could be wrong. maybe he's saying something not true but i take him at his word. at least what i know now. >> talk for a moment about his request you pledge loyalty and
your response to that and what impact you believe that had? >> i don't know for sure because i don't know the president well enough to read him well. i think it was -- first of all, the relationship didn't get off to a good start given the conversation we had on the 6th. this didn't improve the relationship because it was awkward. he was asking for something and i refused to give it. again, i don't know him well enough to know that exactly. >> do you believe the russia investigation played a role? >> in why i was fired? >> yes. >> yes, because i've seen the president say so. >> let's go to the flynn issue. senator risch outlined i hope you could see your way to letting flynn go. he's a good guy. i hope you can let this go. you also said in your written remarks, and i quote, that you had understood the president to
be requesting that we drop any investigation of flynn in connection with false statements about his conversation with the russian ambassador in december, unquote. please go into that in more detail. >> the context and the president's words are what led me to that conclusion. as i said in my statement, i could be wrong. but flynn had pn forced to reso in the day before. the controversy around general flynn at the time was centered around whether he lied to the vice president about the nature of his conversations with the russians, whether he had 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. so that's why i understand him to be saying what he wanted me to do was drop investigation connected to flynn's account in his conversation with the russians. >> here is the question.
you're big, you're strong. i know the oval office, and i 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. >> a great question. maybe if i were 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 in my mind, i could remember every word he said, i was playing in my mind, what should my response be. that's why i very carefully chose the words. i've seen the tweet about tapes. lower lordy, i hope there are tapes. i remember saying i agree he's a good guy as a way of saying i'm not agreeing with what you just asked me to do. again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance but that's how i conducted
myself. i hope i never had an opportunity. maybe if i did it again i would do it better. >> you described two phone calls you received from president trump, one on march 30, one april 11, where he, quote, described the russia investigation as cloud that was impairing his ability, end quote, as president and asked you, quote, to lift the cloud, end quote. how did you interpret that and what did you believe he wanted you to do? >> i interpreted that as he was frustrated that the russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy, i think he 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. but what he asked me was actually narrower than that. i think what he meant by the cloud -- again, i could be wrong. i think what he meant by the
cloud was entire investigation is taking up oxygen and making it hard for me to focus on the things i want to focus on. the ask was to get it out that i, the president, am not personally under investigation. >> after april 11th, did he ask you more ever about the russia investigation? did he ask you questions? >> we never spoke again after april 11th. >> you told the president, i would see what we could do. what did you mean? >> kind of a slightly cowardly way of trying to avoid telling him we're not going to do that, that i would see what we could do, as a way of kind of getting off the phone, quite frankly. then i turned and handed it to the acting attorney general. >> so i wanted to go into that. who did you tuck to with the fbi
and when was their response? >> the fbi during one of the two conversations, i think the first, my chief of staff was actually sitting in front of me and heard my conversation because the president's call was a surprise. i discussed lifting the cloud and the request with the senior leadership team who typically, in all these circumstances, deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, deputy director's chief counsel and i think in a number of circumstances number three in the fbi and a few conversations included head of the national security branch. so that group of us that lead the fbi when it comes to national security. >> okay. you had the president of the united states asking you to stop an investigation that's an important investigation. what was the response of your
colleagues? >> i think they were as shocked and troubled by it as i was. some said things that led me it believe that. i don't remember exactly. but the reaction was similar to min. they were all experienced people who had never experienced such a thing, so they were very concerned. then the conversation turned to about what should we do with this information. that was a struggle for us. we are the leaders of the fbi, it's been reported to us. i've heard it and shared it with the fbi, our conversation was should we share this with any senior officials of the justice department. our absolute primary concern was we can't in effect the investigative team. we don't want analysts and agents working on this that the president of the united states has asked -- when it comes to the president i took it as direction -- to get rid of the investigation because we're not going to follow that request. so we decided we had to keep it
away from our troops but is there anybody else to tell at the justice department. as i laid out in my statement, considered to tell the attorney general. that didn't make sense because we believed rightly he was going to recuse. there were no other senate confirmed leader in the justice department at that time. deputy attorney general was mr. boente, acting attorney general in that seat. we decided the best move would be to hold it, keep it in a box, document it as we had already done, then this investigation is going to go on and figure out what to do with it down the road. there is a way to corroborate this? our view at the time, look, it's your word against the president. there's no way to corroborate this. my view of that changed when the prospects of tapes were raised but that's how we that the of it then. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> director comey, the meeting in the oval office where he made the request about mike flynn, was that the only time he asked you to hopefully let it go? >> yes. >> and in that meeting, as you understood it, he was asking not
about the general russia investigation, he was asking very specifically about the jeopardy that flynn was in? >> that's how i understood it. >> as you perceived it, a request and hope to do away with it, you perceived it as an order, the light some of the circumstances. >> yes. >> did you say anything to the president about that was not an appropriate request or tell white house counsel that's not an appropriate request, someone needs to tell the president he can't do these things? >> i didn't. >> why? >> i don't know. as i said earlier, i think the circumstances were such that i was a bit stunned and didn't have the presence of mind. i don't know, i don't want to make you sound like i'm captain courageous. i don't know if i had the presence of mind if i would have said to the president, sir, that's wrong. i don't know if i would have. in the moment it didn't come to my mind. what came to my mind is be careful what you say, so i said i agree flynn is a good guy. >> on the cloud, we keep talking
about the cloud, you perceived the cloud to be the russian investigation in general. >> the specific ask, tell the american people what you had already told him, leaders of congress, both democrats and republicans, that he was not personally under investigation. >> yes, sir. >> he was asking you to do what you have done here today? >> yes, sir. >> again, that setting, did you say to the president that it would be inappropriate for you to do so and talk to the white house counsel or anybody so hopefully they would talk to him and tell him he couldn't do this? >> first time i said, i'll see what we can do. second time i explained how it should work, that the white house counsel should contact attorney general. the president said, okay, that's what i'll do. >> just to be clear for you to make a public statement he was not under investigation would not have been illegal but wouldn't make sense because could create a duty to correct if circumstances changed. >> yes, sir. we wrestled with it before my testimony where i confirmed
there was an investigation. there were two primary concerns. one was it creates a duty to correct, which i've lived before, and you want to be very careful about doing that. s.e.c., it's a slippery slo-- sa slippery slope. if we say the president and vice president are under investigation, what's the principle basis for stopping. the secretary-general said you're not doing to do that. >> on march 30th during the phone call about general flynn, you said he abrupted shifted and brought up the mccabe thing. specifically as you but out it, mccabe's wife received money from terry mcauliffe, very close to the clintons. >> yes. >> so why hu -- had the president at any point in time expressed concern, potential opposition to mccabe, i don't like this guy because he got money from someone close to clinton. >> he had asked me during previous discussions about andy mccabe and said, in essence, how
is he going to be with me as president. i was rough on him on campaign trail. >> he was rough on mccabe. >> by his own account he said he was rough on mccabe and mrs. mccabe, how was he going to be. i assured the president, andy is a pro. have you to know the people of the fbi, they are not -- >> the president turns to you and says, remember, i never property up the mccabe thing because you said he was a good guy. did you perceive that to be a statement that i took care of you? i didn't do something because you told me he was a good guy. now i'm asking you potentially for something in return? was that how you perceived i? >> i didn't know. it's possible. it was so out of context i didn't have a clear view what it was. >> let's talk about the general russia investigation. okay. in page 6 of your testimony you say -- the first thing you say is asked what we could do to quote, unquote, lift the cloud
of the general russia investigation. you responded we're investigating the matter as quickly as we can and there would be great benefit if we don't find anything to having done the work well. he agreed. he emphasized the problems it was causing but he agreed. in essence the president agreed with your statement it would be great to have an investigation, all the facts came out and we found nothing. he agreed it would be ideal but this cloud is messing up the rest of my agenda. is that accurate? >> he went farther than that. if some of my satellites did something wrong, it would be good to find that out. >> he said one of my satellites, i imagine he meant some of the people in my campaign did something wrong, it would be great to know that as well. >> yes. >> are those the only two instances in which that sort of back and forth happened, which the president was saying, and i'm par phrasing. it's okay. do the russia investigation, i have nothing to do with russia.
it would be great if it came out that people around me were doing something wrong. >> that's what he was assessing. >> he asked for three things from you. he asked for your loyalty. you said locally honest. >> honestly loyal. >> he asked you on one occasion to let the mike flan thing go because he's a good guy. you're aware he said the exact same thing in the press the next day. he's a good guy, treated unfairly, et cetera, et cetera. i'm sure fbi read that. >> i'm sure. >> wishes known the next day when he had a press conference with prime minister. going back three requests were, number one be loyal. number two, let the michael flynn thing go, he's a good guy. he's been treated unfairly. number three, can you please tell measure people what leaders in congress already know, what you know, you've told me three times, that i'm not personally under investigation. >> those are the three things he
asked, yes, sir. >> you know, this investigation is full of leaks left and right. we learn more from the newspapers sometimes than we do prosecute our open hearings for sure. you ever wonder why the only thing in this investigation that hasn't been leaked is that the president is not under investigation despite the fact democrats and republicans and learn in congress knew that and have known that for weeks? >> i don't know. i find matters brief to the gang of eight are pretty tightly held in my experience. >> finally, who are those senior leaders of the fbi you shared those conversations with. >> as i said in response to senator feinstein's question, deputy director, my chief of staff, general counsel, deputy director's chief counsel. and more often than not the number three person at the fbi, associate deputy director and quite often the head of the national security branch. >> senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
mr. comey, welcome. you and i have had significant policy differences over the years particularly protecting americans' access to secure encryption. but i believe the timing of your firing stinks. yesterday you put on the record testimony that demonstrates why the oder of presidential abuse of power is so strong. now to my questions. in talking to senator warner about this dinner you had with the president january 27th, all in one dinner the president raised your job prospects, he asked for your loyalty, and denied allegations against him. all took place over one supper. you told senator warner the president was looking to, quote, get something. looking back, did that dinner
suggest that your job might be contingent on how you handled the investigation? >> i don't know that i'd go that far. i got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt -- excuse me, how he felt i conducted myself and whether i demonstrated loyalty. but i don't know whether i'd go so far as to -- >> you said the president was trying to create some sort of patronage relationship. in a patronage relationship, isn't the under liling expected behave in a manner consistent with the boss. >> yes. or at least consider how what you're doing affects the boss in the situation. >> 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 himself. what was it about the attorney general's own interactions with the russians, or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the fbi to make this decision? >> our judgment, as i recall, was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself. for a variety of reasons. we also were aware of facts i can't discuss in an open setting that would make engagement in a russia-related investigation problematic. we were convinced -- we already heard the career people were recommending he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with russia-related matters much longer and that turned out to be the case. >> how would you characterize attorney general sessions adherence to his recusal, in
particular with regard to his involvement in your firing, which the president has acknowledged was because of the russia investigation. >> that's a question i can't answer. i think it's a reasonable question. if as the president said i was fired because of the russia investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain, i don't know. i don't have an answer to the question. >> your testimony was that the president's request about flynn could in effect the investigation. had the president got what he wanted and what he asked of you, what would have been the effect on the investigation? >> well, we would have closed any investigation of general flynn in connection with his statements and encounters -- about encounters with russians in the late part of december.
so we would have dropped an open criminal investigation. >> so in effect when you talk about infecting the enterprise, you would have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability of the american people to get the facts? >> correct. and as god as our people are, our judgment was we don't want them hearing that the president of the united states wants this to go away because it might have an effect on their ability to be fair and impartial and impressive. >> now, the acting attorney general yates found out that michael flynn could be black mailed by the russians, and 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 that? >> all i can say, senator, the special counsel's investigation is very important understanding what efforts there were or are by the russian government to influence our government is a critical part of the fbi's mission. and you've got the right person in bob mueller to lead it, so it's a very important piece of work. >> vice president pence was 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? >> i don't -- you're asking including up to the time flynn was forced to resign? my understanding is where i was. i'm trying to remember where i get that understanding from, i think from acting attorney general yates.
>> so former acting attorney general yates testified that concerns about general flynn were discussed with the intelligence community. would that have included anyone at the cia or dan coats office, dn ich d dni. >> i would assume yes. >> michael flynns resigned four days after sworn in. do you know if the attorney general was concerned about michael flynn during that period? >> i don't. as i sit here, i don't recall that he was. i could be wrong but i don't recall that he was. >> finally, let's see if you can give us some sense of who recommended your firing. the letters, attorney general, deputy attorney general, do you have any information on who may have recommended or been
involved in your firing? >> i don't. i don't. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, let me begin by thanking by your voluntary compliance with our request to appear before this committee and very important investigation. i want first to ask you about your conversations with the president, the three conversations you told him that he was not you said investigation. the first was during your january 6th meeting, according to your testimony, in which it appears you actually volunteered that assurance. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> did you limit that statement to counter-intelligence investigations, or were you talking about any kind of fbi
investigation? >> i didn't use the term counter-intelligence. i was speaking to him and briefing him about some 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 of it was it was important for me to assure him we were not personally investigating him. the context then was narrower, focused on what i just talked to him about. it was very important because it was first true. second, i was very, very much about being in kind of a j. edgar hoover type situation. i didn't want him thinking i was briefing him on this to sort of hang it over him in some way. i was briefing him on it because we had been told by the media it was about to launch, we didn't want to keep it from him. he needed to know this was being said. but i was very keen not to leave him with the impression that the
bureau was trying to do something to him. that's the context in which i said, sir, we're not personally investigating you. >> and that's why you volunteered the information? >> yes, ma'am. >> correct? then on the january 27th dinner you told the president that he should be careful about asking you to investigate, because, quote, you might create a narrative that we are investigating them personally, which we weren't. again, were you limiting that statement to counter-intelligence investigations or more broadly, such as a criminal investigation? >> the context was very similar. i didn't modify the word investigation. again, he was reacting strongly against that unverified material saying i'm tempted to order you to investigate it. in the context i said, sir, you should be careful because it might create a narrative we're investigating you personally.
>> there was the march 30th phone call with the president which you reminded him that congressional leaders have been briefed that we are not personally -- the fbi was not personally investigating president trump. and again, was that statement to congressional leaders and to the president limited to counter-intelligence investigations, or was it a broader statement? i'm trying to understand whether there was any kind of investigation of the president under way? >> no. i'm sorry. if i misunderstood, i apologized. we briefed congressional leadership about what americans we had opened counter-intelligence investigation cases on, and we specifically said the president is not one of those americans. there was no other investigation of the president that we were not mentioning at that time. the context was counter-intelligence but i wasn't trying to hide some
criminal investigation of the president. >> and was the president under investigation at the time of your dismissal on may 9? >> no. >> i'd like to now turn to the conversations with the president about michael flynn, which have been discussed at great length. and first, let me make very clear that the president never should have cleared the room, and he never should have asked you, as you reported, to let it go, to let the investigation go. but i remain puzzled by your response. your response was, i agree that 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 the fbi be insulated from this kind of political pressure. and you've talked a bit today about that you were stunned by the president making the request. but 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? >> in general, i did. i spoke to the attorney general and deputy attorney general mr. ros rosenstein when he took office and expressed my serious concern about the way the president was interacting specifically with the fbi. in my testimony i told the attorney general, it can't
happen that you get kicked out of the room and the president talks to me. in the room -- why didn't we raise the specific? it was of investigative interest to us to try and figure out what just happened with the president's request, so i would not have wanted to alert the white house that it had happened until we figured out what are we going to do with this investigatively. >> your testimony was you went 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 kbo with regard -- let it go with regard to the investigation with michael flynn? >> no, i specifically did not. >> you mentioned that from your very first meeting with the president, you decided to write a memo memorializing the conversation. what was it about that very
first meeting that made you write a memo, when you have not done that with two previous presidents? >> as i said, a combination of things. a gut feeling is an important overlay, but the circumstances that i was alone, the subject matter and the nature of the person i was interacting with and my read of that person. really just a gut feel laying on top of all that this this, it's going to be important to protect this organization that i make records of this. >> and finally, did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the department of justice? >> yes. >> and to whom did you show copies? >> i asked -- 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 on monday night, because it didn't dawn on my originally,
that there might be corroboration for our conversation, there might be a tape. my judgment was i needed to get that out into the public square. so i asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. i didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons but i asked him to because i thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel, so i asked a close friend of mine to do it. >> whaus that mr. wittes? >> no. >> who was that? >> a good friend of mine who is a professor at columbia law school. >> thank you. >> mr. comey, prior to january 27th of this year, have you ever had a private meeting or private dinner with a president of the united states. >> dinner, no. i had two one-on-ones with president obama, one to talk about law enforcement, law enforcement and race, which was an important topic throughout for me and for the president and once very briefly for him to say
good-b good-bye. >> were those. >> steve: interactions? >> no, the one about law enforcement and policing, we spoke for probably over an hour, just the two of us. >> how unusual is it to have a one-on-one dinner with the president? did that strike you as odd? >> 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 if you had found -- if you had behaved differently in the dinner, and i'm quite pleased that 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, do you think you would have still been fired.
>> i don't know. it's impossible to say looking back. i don't know. >> you felt like those two things were directly relevant to your -- the kind of relationship the president was seeking to establish with you? >> sure. 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 as fake news. can you talk a little bit about what you saw as fbi director and obviously only the parts you can share in this setting that demonstrate how serious this action actually was, and why there was an investigation in the first place nf yes, sir. there should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. the russians interfered in our election during 2016 cycle.
they did it with purpose, they did it with sophistication, they did it with overwhelming technical efforts and it was an active campaign from the top of the government. there is no fuzz on that. it's high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence committee and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence, it's not a close call. that happened. that's about as unfake as you can possibly get, and it's very, very serious, which is why it's so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that because this is about america not a particular party. >> that was a hostile act by the russian government against this country? >> yes, sir. >> did the president in any of those interactions you've shared with us today ask you 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. >> i don't recall a conversation
like that. >> never. >> no. not with president trump. i attended a fair number of meetings on that with president obama. >> do you find it odd that the president seemed unconcerned by russia's actions in our election? >> i can't answer that, because i don't know what other conversations he had with other advisers or other intelligence community leaders, so i just don't know sitting here. >> did you have any interactions with the president that suggested he was taking that hostile action seriously? >> i don't remember any interactions with the president other than the initial briefing on january the 6th. i don't remember. i could be wrong. i don't remember any conversations with him at all about that. >> as you're very aware, it was only the two of you in the room for that dinner. you've told us the president asked you to back off the flynn investigation. the president told a reporter --
>> not in that dinner. >> fair enough. >> told a reporter he never did that. you've testified the president asked for your loyalty in that dinner. the white house denies that. a lot of this comes down to who should we believe. do you want to say anything as to why we should believe you? >> my mother raised me not to say things like this about myself, so i'm not going to -- i think people should look at the whole body of my testimony. as i used to say to juries when i talked about a witness. you can't cherry picked it. you can't say i like this but on this he's a dirty rotten liar. you have to take it all together. i've tried to be open and transparent and fair and accurate. a significant fact to me is why did he kick everybody out of the oval office. why would you kick the attorney general, president, the chief of staff to talk to me if it was
about something else. so that to me is, as an investigat investigator, a very significant fact. >> as we look at testimony, or as communication from both of you, we should probably looking for consistency. >> well, looking at any witness you look at consistency, track record, demeanor, record of time, that sort of thing. >> thank you. so there are reports that the incoming trump administration either during the transition or after the inauguration attempted to set up a sort of back door communication channel with the russian government using their infrastructure, their devices or facilities. what would be the risks, particularly of a transition, someone not actually in the office of the president yet to setting up unauthorized channels with hostile foreign government, especially if they were able to evade our own american intelligence services. >> i'm not going to comment on whether that happened in an open setting, but the primary risk is
obvious. you spare the russians cost and effort of having to break into our communication changes by using theirs, so you make it a whole lot easier to capture all of your conversations. to use those to the benefit of russia against the united states. >> the memos that you wrote, did you write all nine of them in a way that was designed to prevent them from needing classification? >> no. and on a few of the occasions i wrote -- i sent e-mails to my chief of staff or others on some of the brief phone conversations that i recall, the first one was a classified briefing. it wasn't in a scif but conference room at trump tower. it was a classified briefing so i wrote it on classified device. the one i started typing on, that was a classified laptop. >> classified environment in a
scif this committee it would not be appropriate to see those communications at least from your perspective as the author? >> no. >> thank you, mr. trump. >> thank you. mr. comey when you were terminated at the fbi, i felt and continue to feel that you provided years of great service to the country. i said i've had significant questions over the last year about some of the decisions you made. if the president hadn't terminated your service, would you still be, in your opinion, the director of the fbi today? >> yes, sir. >> so you took as a direction from the president something you thought was serious and troublesome but continued to show up for work the next day. >> yes, sir. >> and six weeks later we're still telling the president on march 30th that he was not personally the target of any
investigation. >> correct. on march 30th and again on april 11th as well, i told him we're not investigating him personally. that was true. >> the point to me, the concern to me there is that all these things are going on. you now in retrospect, or at least now to this committee you had serious concerns about what the president had you believe directed you to do and had taken no action, hadn't even reported up the chain of command, assuming you believe there is an up the chain of command, that these things had happened. do you have a sense of that looking back, that that was a mistake? >> no. in fact, i think 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, i believe you said earlier that you believe the president was suggesting you drop any investigation of flynn's account of his conversation with the russian
ambassador, which was essentially misleading the vice president and others. >> correct. i'm not going into the details but whether there were false statements made to government investigators as well. >> any suggestion that general flynn had violated the logan act i always find pretty incredible. the logan act has been on the books over 200 years and nobody has ever been prosecuted for violating the logan act. my sense would be that the discussion, not the problem misleading investigators or the vice president might have been. >> that's fair. yes, sir. >> hu previously on february 14th discussed with the president in the previous meeting anything your investigators had learned or their impressions from talking to flynn? >> no, sir. >> so he said he's a good guy. you said he's a good guy, and
that was no further action taken on that. >> he said more than that. the reaction was wrote it up, briefed our senior team, tried to figure out what to do with it and made a decision we're going to hold this and see what we make of it down the road. yes, sir. >> was it your view not briefing up really meant you had no responsibility to report that to the justice department in some way? >> i think at some point, and i don't know what director mueller is going to do with it, but at some point i was sure we were going to brief it to the team in charge of the case. in the short-term, no fuzz on the fact i reported to attorney general, that's why i stressed he shouldn't be kick out of the room but didn't make sense to report to him now. >> you stressed you said to the attorney general i don't want to be in the room alone with him but you continued to talk to him on the phone. what is the difference in being in the room alone to him and talking on the phone alone. >> i think what i expressed to the attorney general is a little broader than just the room. i said i report to you.
it's very important that you be between me and the white house. >> after that discussion with the attorney general, did you take phone calls from the president? >> yes, sir. >> why did you say you -- why didn't you say i'm not taking that call. you need to talk to the attorney general? >> i did on the april 11th call, and i reported the calls -- march 30th call and april 11th call to my superior, the acting deputy attorney general. >> i don't want to run out of time here. let me make one other point here. in reading your testimony, january the 3rd, january the 27th, and march the 30th, it appears to me that on all three of those occasions, you, unsolicited by the president, made the point to him he was not a target of an investigation. >> correct, yes, sir. >> one i thought the march 30th very interesting you said, well, even though you may not want -- that was the 27th where he said why don't you look into that
dossier thing more. you said, well, you may not want that because we couldn't tell you -- couldn't say -- couldn't answer the question about you being a target of the investigation. but you didn't seem to be answering that question anyhow. senator rubio pointed out one unanswered, unleaked president seems to have been that in this whole period of time. you said something earlier, i don't want to fail to follow up on. you said after you were dismissed, you gave information to a friend so that friend could get that information into the public media. >> correct. >> what kind of information was that? what kind of information did you give to a friend? >> the flynn conversation, that the president asked me to let the flynn -- forgetting my exact words, the conversation in the oval office. >> you didn't consider your memo or sense of that conversation to be a government document. you consider it to be somehow your own personal document you
can share with the media as you wanted to? >> correct. >> through a friend. >> i understood this to be my recollection recorded. as a private citizen i felt it free to share that. i felt it very important to get it out. >> are all your memos you reported on classified or other documents might be yours as a private citizen? >> i'm sorry, i'm not following the question. >> i think you said you used classified -- >> not the classified documents. unclassified. i don't have any of them anymore. i gave them to the special counsel. my view was the content of those unclassified memorizatiamemorias recorded. >> why didn't you give them through the third party. >> i was worried the media was camping at my driveway and i was going out of town with my wife to hide. it would be like feeding
seagulls at the beach, if i gave it to the media so i gave it to my friend to give it out. >> you created a source as former director of fbi as opposed to taking responsibility your self for 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. >> senator. >> thank you. first i'd like to acknowledge senator blumenthal and senator nelson, the principle thing you'll learn is the chairs are less comfortable there than here. welcome to the hearing. 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 back? >> oh, it's a long-term practice of theirs. it stepped up a notch in a significant way in '16, they will be back. >> i think that's very important for the american people to
understand, that this is very much a forward-looking investigation in terms of how we understand what they did and how do we prevent it. would you agree it's a big part of our role here? >> yes. it's not a republican thing or democratic thing, it's an american thing. they are going to come for whatever party they choose to try and work on behalf of, and they are not devoted to either, in my experience, they are just about their own advantage. they will be back. >> that's my observation. i don't think putin is a republican or a democrat, he's an opportunist. >> i think that's a fair statement. >> with regard to several of these conversations, in his interview with lester holt on nbc, the president said i had dipper with him. he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. is this an accurate statement? >> no, sir. >> did you in any way initiate that dinner? >> no. he called me at my desk at lunchtime and asked me was i free for dinner that night. he called himself and said, can you come over for dinner
tonight. i said, yes, sir. he said will 6:00 work? i think he said 6:00 first. he said i was going to invite your whole time but we'll do that next time, i want you to come over. is that a good time? >> i said, sir, whatever works for you. he said 6:30. i said whatever works for you. i had called my wife and had to break a date with her. >> that's one of the all time excuses for breaking a date. >> in retro speblgt, i love spending time with my wife, i wish i had gone out with her that night. >> in one case i called him and in one case he called me. is that an accurate statement? >> no. >> did you ever call the president? >> no. i might -- the only reason i'm hesitating, i think there was at least one conversation i was asked to call the white house switchboard to be connected to him but i never initiated a communication with the
president. >> and the press conference may, the president asked whether he urged you to shut down the investigation into michael flynn, the president responded, quote, no, no, next question. is that an accurate statement? >> i don't believe it is. >> thank you. with regard to the question of him being under -- personally under investigation, does that mean that the dossier is not being reviewed or investigated or followed up on in any way? >> obviously can't comment either way. i can't talk in an open setting about the investigation as it was when i was the head of the fbi. obviously it's director mueller's -- bob mueller's responsibility now so i don't know. >> clearly your statement to the president back in these various times when you assured him he wasn't under investigation, where as of that moment, correct, is it not? >> correct. >> now, on the flynn investigation, is it not true that mr. flynn was and is a
central figure in this entire investigation of the relationship between the trump campaign and the russians. >> 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? >> i have to give you the same answer. >> we'll be having a closed session shortly, so we will follow up on that. in terms of his comments to you about i think in response to mr. risch, senator risch, he said, i hope you will hold back on that. but when you get -- when the 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? >> yes. yes. it rings in my ear, will no one rid me of that meddlesome priest. >> said who will rid me of this meddlesome priest and the next
day he was killed. we're thinking along the same lines. several other questions and these are more detailed. what do you know about the russian back veb. >> nothing that i can talk about in an open setting. >> that takes care of my next three questions. >> i know it exists. >> you know it exists. what is the relationship of ambassador -- the ambassador from russia from the united states to the russian intelligence infrastructure? >> well, he's a diplomat, who is the chief of mission at the russian embassy, which employs a robust cohort of intelligence officers. so surely he's witnessing of their very, very aggressive intelligence operations in the united states. i don't consider him to be an intelligence officer himself. he's a diplomat. >> did the fbi ever dreep tbrie
trump administration about the advisability of interacting directly with ambassador kislyak? >> all i can say sitting here is there were a variety of defensive briefings about counter-intelligence risk. >> back to mr. flynn. would closing out the flynn investigation have impeded the overall russian investigation? >> no. unlikely except to the extent -- there's a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone and you bring it and squeeze them, you flip them and give you information about something else, but i saw the two as touching each other but separate. >> with regard to your memos, isn't it true in a court case when you're weighing evidence, contemporaneous memos and contemporaneous statements to
third parties are considered probative in terms of the validity of testimony. >> yes. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator cotton. excuse me, senator. >> director comey, good to see you again. we've had multiple opportunities to visit as everyone on this dais has. i appreciate your service and what you've done for the nation and continue to do. i told you before in the heat of last year when we had an opportunity to visit personally i pray for you and your family because you do carry a tremendous amount of stress, and that is still true today. let me walk through a couple of things with you. your notes are obviously exceptionally important because they give a very rapid account of what you wrote down and what you perceived happened in those different meetings. have you had an opportunity to be able to reference those notes when you were preparing the written statement that you put for us today? >> yes. i think nearly all of my written
recordings of the conversations, had a chance to review them before filing my statement. >> do you have a copy of any of those statements personally? >> i don't. i turned them over to bob mueller's investigators. >> the individual that you told about your memos, that then sent on to "new york times," do they have a copy of those memos or told orally of those memos. >> had a copy at the time. >> do they still have a copy of those memos? >> good question. i think so. i guess i can't say for sure sitting here. i guess i don't know but i think so. >> the question is, could you ask them to hand that copy right back to you so you could hand them over to this committee? >> potentially. >> i would like to move that from potential to see if we can ask that question so we can have a copy of those notes. obviously those are important to us to be able to go through the process, to continue to get through the facts as we see them. as you know, written facts are exceptionally important. are there others we need to be
aware of that you used in your preparing your written statements that would assist us? >> not that i'm aware of. >> past february 14th meeting, very important meeting we discussed the conversations here about michael flynn. when the president asked you about he hopes that you would let this go, and the conversation back and forth about him being a good guy. after that time, did the president ever bring up anything about michael flynn to you? he had multiple other conversations you had documented with the president? >> no. i don't remember him ever bringing it up again. >> did any member of the white house staff talk to you about letting go of the michael flynn case or dropping it. >> no. >> director of national intelligence talk to you about that? >> no. >> did anyone from attorney general's office, department of justice ask you about that. >> no. >> did the head of nsa talk to you about that? >> no. >> the key aspect here is if this seems to be something the president is trying to get you
to drop it, this seems like a light touch to drop it, to bring it up at that moment the day after he had just fired flynn to come back. he didn't say, i hope we can let this go but it never reappears again. did it slow down your investigation or any investigation that may or may not be occurring with mike flynn? >> no. i don't know there are any manifestations, outward manifestations of the investigation between february 14th and when i was fired, so i don't know that the president had any way of knowing with it was effective or not. >> okay. that's fair enough. if the president wanted to stop an investigation, how would he do that, knowing it's an ongoing criminal investigation or counter-intelligence investigation, would that be a matter of trying to go to you, you perceive, and you say you make it stop because he doesn't have the authority to stop or how would the president make an ongoing investigation stop? >> i'm not a legal scholar, smarter people answer this
better. i think as a legal matter, president is the head of the executive branch and could direct, in theory, we have important norms against this, but direct anybody be investigated or anybody not be investigated. i think he has the legal authority as all of us ultimately report in the executive executive branch up to the president. >> would that be to you or to the attorney general or to who that would do that? >> i suppose if he wanted to issue a direct order, he could do it in any way. he could do it through the attorney general or issue it directly to me. >> is there any question that the president is not real fond of this investigation? i can think of multiple 140-word character expressions that he's done publicly to express he's not fond of the investigation. i've heard you share before in this conversation that you're trying to keep the agents that are working on it away from any comment the president might have made. quite frankly, the president has informed around 6 billion people that he's not real fond of this investigation. do you think there's a difference in that? >> yes.
i think there's a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the oval office, looking the fbi director in the eye and saying i hope you let this go. i think if our -- if agents as good as they are heard the president of the united states did that, there's a real risk of a chilling effect on their work. that's why we kept it so tight. >> you had mentioned before about some news stories and news accounts. without going into all the names and specific times and to dip into all of that, have there been news accounts about the russia investigation, about collusion, about this whole event or accusations as you read the story you were stunned about how wrong they got the facts? >> yes. there have been many, many stories, purportedly based on classified information about lots of stuff, but especially about russia, that are just dead wrong. >> i was interested in your comment that you made as well that the president said to you if there was some satellite associates of his that did something wrong, it would be
good to find that out. that the president seemed to talk to you specifically on march the 30th and say i'm frustrated that the word is not getting out that i'm not under investigation. but if there are people that are in my circle that are, let's finish the investigation. is that how you took it as well? >> yes, sir, yes. >> you made a comment earlier about the attorney general, previous attorney general asking you about the investigation on the clinton e-mails saying that you had been asked not to call it an investigation anymore but to call it a matter. and you had said that confused you. can you give us additional details on that? >> well, it concerned me because we were at the point where we had refused to confirm the existence, as we typically do, 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 kind of
euphemisms, security review, matters, things like that, for what was going on. we were getting to a place where the attorney general and i were both going to have to testify and talk publicly about it and i want to know was she going to authorize us to confirm we had an investigation. she said yes, but don't call it that, call it a matter. i said why would i do that? she said just call it a matter. and again, you look back in hindsight and say should ivory sifted harder? i just said this isn't a hill worth dying on so i said, okay, the press is going to completely ignore it and that's what happened. we have opened a matter, they all reported the fbi has an investigation open. so that concerned me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the fbi's work and that -- that's concerning. >> the impression that the campaign was somehow using the same language the fbi because you were handed the campaign language and told to be able to use the campaign language? >> i don't know whether it was intentional or not but it gave
the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work the way a political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate. we had a criminal investigation open. the federal bureau of investigation. we had an investigation open at the time, so that gave me a queasy feeling. >> thank you. >> senator manchin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. comey, i appreciate very much you being here. west virginia is very interested in this hearing that we're having today. i've had over 600 requests for questions to ask you from my fellow west virginians and most of them have been asked. there's quite a few of them that were quite detailed we'll ask in our classified hearing. i want to thank you, first of all, for coming and agreeing to be here, volunteering, but also volunteering to stay into the classified hearing. i don't know if you had a chance to watch our hearing yesterday. >> i watched part of it, yes, sir. >> and it was quite troubling. my colleagues here had some very pointed questions they had answers to that weren't
classified and they weren't answered in this open setting. they refused to do so, so that makes us much more appreciative of your cooperation. sir, the seriousness. russian aggressions in our past elections and knowing that it will be ongoing, as senator king had alluded to, what's your concerns there? i mean what should the american public understand? people said, well, why are we worried about this? why make this a big deal, this russian investigation. can you tell me what your thoughts would be. >> yes, sir. >> and then the final thing on this same topic. did the president ever show any concern or interest or curiosity about what the russians were doing? >> thank you, senator. as i said earlier, i don't remember any conversations with the president about the russia election interference. >> did he ever ask you any questions concerning this? >> there was an initial briefing of our findings and i think there was conversation there. i don't remember it exactly, where he asked questions about what we had found and what our sources were and what our confidence level was. after that, i don't remember anything.
the reason this is such a big deal is we have this big messy wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time, but nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for except other americans. and that's wonderful and often painful. but we're talking about a foreign government using technical intrusion and 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're coming after america, which i hope we all love equally. they want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. they think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them, and so they're going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. that's what this is about. they will be back, because we remain, as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill and they don't like it. >> this is extremely important, it's extremely dangerous what we're dealing with and it's
needed is what you're saying. >> yes, sir. >> do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of your conversations with the president? >> it never occurred to me until the president's tweet. i'm not being facetious, i hope there are. >> so both of you are in the same findings here, you both hope there's tapes and recordings? >> all i can do is hope. the president surely knows whether he taped me. if he did, my feelings aren't hurt, release all the tapes. i'm good with it. >> gotcha. sir, do you believe that robert mueller, our new special investigator on russia, will be thorough and complete without political intervention, and would you confident on his findings and recommendations? >> 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 dogged tough person. you can have high confidence that when it's done, he's turned over all the rocks. >> you've been asked a wide
variety of questions today and we're going to be hearing more i'm sure in our classified hearing. something i often ask folks when they come here, what details of this saga would be -- should we be focusing on and what would you recommend us do differently? or adjust our perspective on this? >> i don't know. one of the reasons that i'm pleased to be here, i 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 core interests of the country, so i would hope you keep doing what you're doing. it's good in and of itself but it's also a model, especially for kids, that we are a functioning adult democracy. >> and you also mentioned you had, i think, what, six meetings, three times in person, six on the phone, nine times in conversation with the president. did he ever at that time allude that you are not performing adequately? ever indicate that at all? >> oh, no, in fact to the contrary quite often. he called me one day, i was about to get on a helicopter,
the head of the dea was waiting in the helicopter for me. and he just called to check in and tell me i was doing an awesome job and wanted to see how i was doing. i said i'm doing fine, sir. and then i finished the call and got on the helicopter. >> mr. comey, do you believe you would have been fired if hillary clinton had become president? >> that's a great question, i don't know. yeah, i don't know. >> do you have any thoughts about it? >> i might have been. i don't know. look, i've said before, that was an extraordinarily difficult and painful time. i think i did what i had to do. i knew it was going to be very bad for me permanently and the consequence of that might have been if hillary clinton was elected i might have been terminate. i don't know, i really don't. >> my final question will be after the february 14th meeting in the oval office, you mentioned that you asked attorney general sessions to ensure that you were never left alone with the president. did you ever consider why
attorney general sessions was not asked to stay in the room? >> oh, sure. i did. and have. and in that moment -- >> did you ever talk to him about it? >> no. >> you never had a discussion with jeff sessions on this? >> no, not at all administrat. >> on any of your meetings? >> no. >> did he inquire? did he show any inquiry whatsoever what was that meeting about? >> no. you're right, i did say to him, i had forgotten this, when i talked to him and said you have to be between me and the president and that's incredibly important. i forget my exact words. i passed along the president's message about the importance of aggressively pursuing leaks of classified information, which is a goal i share. i passed that along to the attorney general i think it was the next morning in a meeting. but i did not tell him about the flynn part. >> do you believe this will rise to obstruction of justice? >> i don't know. that's bob mueller's job to sort
that out. >> thank you, sir. >> mr. chairman. >> senator cotton. >> mr. comey, you encouraged the president to release the tapes. will you encourage the department of justice or your friend at columbia or mr. mueller to release your memos? >> sure. >> you said that you did not record your conversations with president obama or president bush in memos. did you do so with attorney general sessions or any other senior member of the trump department of justice? >> no. >> did you -- >> i think it -- i'm sorry. >> did you record conversations and memos with attorney general lynch or any other senior member of the obama department of justice? >> no, not that i recall. >> in your statement for the record, you cite nine private conversations with the president, three meetings and two phone calls, four phone calls that are not discussed in your statement for the record.
what happened in those phone calls? >> the president called me i believe shortly before he was inaugurated as a follow-up to our conversation -- private conversation on january the 6th. he just wanted to reiterate his rejection of the allegation and talk about he had thought about it more and why he thought it wasn't true, the unverified and salacious parts, and during that call he asked me again, i hope you're going to stay, you're doing a great job. i told him that i intended to. there was another phone call that i mentioned, i think -- i could have the date wrong, march the 1st, where he called just to check in with me as i was about to get on the helicopter. there was a secure call that we had about an operational matter that was not related to any of that, about something the fbi was working on. he wanted to make sure that i understood how important he thought it was. totally appropriate call. and then the fourth call,
probably forgetting. may have been -- i may have meant the call when he called to invite me to dinner. i'll think about it as i'm answering other questions but i think i got that right. >> let's turn our attention to the underlying activity at issue here, russia's hacking into those e-mails and releasing them and the allegations of collusion. do you believe donald trump colluded with russia? >> that's a question i don't think i should answer in an open setting. as i said, when i left, we did not have an investigation focused on president trump. but that's a question that will be answered by the investigation, i think. >> let me turn to a couple of statements by one of my colleagues. senator feinstein, she was the ranking member on this committee until january, which means that she had access to only information she and senator burr did. on may 3rd, on cnn's wolf blitzer show she was asked do you believe, do you have evidence that there was in fact
collusion between trump associates and russia doing the campaign. she answered not at this time. on may 18th, the same show, mr. blitzer said the last time we spoke, senator, i asked if you had seen any evidence of collusion between the trump campaign and you said to me, and i'm quoting you now, you said not at this time. has anything changed since we last spoke? senator feinstein said well, no. no, it hasn't. do you have any reason to doubt those statements? >> i don't doubt that senator feinstein was saying what she understood. i just don't want to go down that path, first of all, because i'm not in the government anymore and answering in the negative, i just worry leads me deeper and deeper into talking about the investigation in an open setting. i want to be -- i'm always trying to be fair. i don't want to be unfair to president trump. i'm not trying to suggest something nefarious but i don't want to get into saying not as to this person and not as to that person. >> on february 14th, "the new york times" published a story, had headline was trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with
russian intelligence. you were asked earlier if that was an accurate story. would it be fair to say that story was almost entirely wrong? >> yes. >> did you have any indication of any contact between trump people and russians intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the russian government? >> that's one i can't answer sitting here. >> we can discuss that in the classified setting then. i want to turn attention now to mr. flynn and the allegations of his underlying conduct. to be specific, his alleged interactions with the russian ambassador on the telephone and then what he said to senior trump administration officials and department of justice officials. i understand there were e.r. issues with mr. flynn related to his receipt of foreign moneys or advocacy on behalf of foreign governments. those are serious and credible allegations that will be pursued but i want to speak about his
interactions with the russian ambassador. there was a story on january 23rd in "the washington post" entitled fbi reviewed flynn's calls with russian ambassador but found nothing illicit. is this story accurate? >> i don't want to comment on that, senator, because i'm pretty sure the bureau has not confirmed any interception of communications and so i don't want to talk about that in an open setting. >> would it be improper for an incoming national security advisor to have a conversation with a foreign ambassador? >> in my experience, no. >> but you can't confirm or deny that the conversation happened and we would need to know the contents of that conversation to know if it was in fact improper. >> i don't think i can talk about that in open setting. again, i've been out of government a month so i also don't want to talk about things when it's now somebody else's responsibility. but maybe in the classified setting we can talk more about that. >> you stated earlier that there wasn't an open investigation of
mr. flynn in the fbi. did you or any fbi agent ever sense that mr. flynn attempted to deceive you or made false statements to an fbi agent? >> i don't want to go too far. that was the subject of the criminal inquiry. >> did you ever come close to closing the investigation on mr. flynn? >> i don't think i can talk about that in an open setting either. >> we can discuss these more in the closed setting then. mr. comey, in 2004 you were a part of a well publicized event about an intelligence program that had been recertified several times and you were 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 that you wrote a letter of resignation, signed it before you went to
meet with president bush to explain why you refused to certify it. is that accurate? >> yes, i think so. >> at any time in the three and a half months you were the fbi director during the trump administration, did you ever write and sign a letter of recommendation and leave it on your desk? >> letter of resignation? no, sir. >> letter of resignation. >> know. >> so despite all of the things that you've testified to here today, you didn't feel this rose to the level of an honest but serious difference of legal opinion between accomplished and skilled lawyers in that 2004 episode? >> i wouldn't characterize the circumstances in 2004 that way. but to answer, no, i didn't find -- encounter any circumstance that led me to intend to resign, consider to resign, no, sir. >> thank you. >> senator harris. >> director comey, i want to thank you. you are now a private citizen and you were enduring a senate intelligence committee hearing and each of us get seven minutes instead of five as yesterday to
ask you questions, so thank you. >> i'm between opportunities now. >> well, you are -- i'm sure you'll have future opportunities. you and i are both former prosecutors. i'm not going to require you to answer, i just want to make a statement that 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, but you don't have to respond to that point. i have a series of questions to ask you and they're going to start with are you aware of any meetings between the trump administration officials and russian officials during the campaign that have not been acknowledged by those officials in the white house? >> that's not -- even if i remember clearly, that's not a question i can answer in an open setting. >> are you aware of any efforts by trump campaign officials or associates of the campaign to
hide their communications with russian officials through encrypted communications or other means? >> i have to give you the same answer, senator. >> sure. in the course of the fbi's investigation, did you ever come across anything that suggested that communications, records, documents or other evidence had been destroyed? >> i think i've got to give you the same answer because it would touch on investigative matters. >> and are you aware of any efforts or potential efforts to conceal communications between campaign officials and russian officials? >> i have to give you the same answer, senator. >> thank you. as a former attorney general, i 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 from the russia investigation? >> i think it's described in a written release statement from doj which i don't remember sitting here. the gist was he would be recused from all matters relating to russia and the campaign or
activities of russia and the '16 action, something like that. >> so is your knowledge of the recusal based on the public statements he's made? >> correct. >> was there any memorandum issued from the attorney general or the department of justice to the fbi outlining parameters of his recusal? >> not that i'm aware of. >> do you know if he reviewed any fbi or doj documents pertaining to the investigation before he was recused? >> i don't. i don't know. >> and after he was recused, i'm assuming that's the same answer. >> same answer. >> and aside from any notice or memorandum that was not sent or was, what mechanism or processes were in place to ensure that the attorney general would not have any connection with the investigation to your knowledge? >> i don't know for sure. i know that he had consulted with career ethics officials that know how to run a recusal at doj, but i don't know what mechanism they set up. >> and 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 chief investigator of that case, of that russia interference? >> that's something i can't answer sitting here. it's a reasonable question, but that would depend on a lot of things i don't know. like what did he know, what was he told, did he realize that the president was doing it because of the russia investigation, things like that. i just don't know the answer. >> you've mentioned in your written testimony and here that the president essentially asked you for a loyalty pledge. are you aware of him making the same request of any other members of the cabinet? >> i am not. >> do you know one way or another -- >> i don't know one way or another. i've never heard anything about it. >> and you mentioned on -- you had the conversation where he hoped that you would let the flynn matter go on february 14th. or thereabouts. it's my understanding that mr. sessions 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 the investigation in those interim two weeks? >> i don't -- in theory, sure, because he's the attorney general. i don't know whether he had any contact with any materials related to that. >> to your knowledge was there any directive that he should not have any contact with any information about the russia investigation between the february 14th date and the day he was ultimately recused or recused himself on march 2nd? >> not to my knowledge. i don't know one way or another. >> and did you speak to the attorney general about the russia investigation before his recusal? >> i don't think so, no. >> do you know if anyone in the department, in the fbi, forwarded any documents or information or memos of any sort to the attention of the attorney general before his recusal? >> i don't -- i don't know of any, remember any sitting here. it's possible, but i don't remember any. >> do you know if the attorney general was involved, in fact involved in any aspect of the russia investigation after his
recusal on the 2nd of march? >> i don't. i would assume not, but i don't -- let me say it this way. i don't know of any information that would lead me to believe that he did something to touch the russia investigation after the recusal. >> in your written testimony you indicate that after you were left alone with the president, you mentioned that it was inappropriate and should never happen again to the attorney general. apparently he did not reply. you write that he did not reply. what did he do? if anything? did he just look at you? was there a pause for a moment? what happened? >> i don't remember real clearly. i have a recollection of him just kind of looking at me. there's a danger here i'm projecting onto him so this may be a faulty memory, but his body language gave me the sense like what am i going to do? >> did he shrug? >> i don't remember clearly. i think the reason i have that impression is i have some recollection of some
imperceptible like what am i going to do? but i don't have a clear recollection of that. he didn't say anything. >> and on that same february 14th meeting, you said you understood the president to be requesting that you drop the investigation. after that meeting, however, you received two calls from the president, march 30th and april 11th where the president talked about a cloud over his presidency. has anything you've learned in the months since your february 14th meeting changed your understanding of the president's request? i guess it would be what he has said in public documents -- or public interviews. >> correct. >> and is there anything about this investigation that you believe is in any way biased or is not being informed by a process of seeking the truth? >> no. the appointment of a special counsel should offer great -- especially given who that person is, great comfort to americans no matter what your political affiliation is that this will be
done independently, competently and honestly. >> and do you believe that he should have full authority, mr. mueller, to be able to pursue that investigation? >> yes. and knowing him well over the years, if there's something that he thinks he needs, he will speak up about it. >> do you believe he should have full independence? >> oh, yeah. and he wouldn't be part of it if he wasn't going to get full independence. >> thank you. >> senator cornyn. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, i'll repeat what i've said at previous hearings, that i believe you're a good and decent man who's been dealt a very difficult hand, starting back with the clinton e-mail investigation. i appreciate your willingness to appear here today voluntarily and answer our questions and cooperate 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's a good question.
i don't know that there's a legal duty to report it. they certainly have a cultural, ethical duty to report it. >> you're unsure whether they would have a legal duty? >> that's a good question. i've not thought about it before. i'm not sure where the legal -- there's a statute that prohibits knowing of a felony and taking steps to conceal it but this is a different question. so look, let me be clear, i would expect any fbi agent who has information about a crime being committed to report it. >> me too. >> but where you rest that obligation, i don't know if it exists. >> let me ask you as a general proposition if you're trying to make an investigation go away, is firing an fbi director a good way to make that happen? by that i mean -- >> it doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but i'm hopelessly biased given that i was the one fired. >> i understand it's personal. >> no, given the nature of the fbi, i meant what i said.
there's no indispensable people in the world, including at the fbi. there's lots of bad things about me not being at the fbi, most of them for me, but the work is going to go on as before. >> so nothing that's happened that you have testified to here today 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. would you agree with that? >> correct. especially the appointment of former director mueller is critical part of that equation. >> let me take you back to the clinton e-mail investigation. i think you've been cast as a hero or a villain, depending on the -- who's political ox is being gored at many different times during the course of the clinton e-mail investigation and even now perhaps. but you clearly were troubled by the conduct of the sitting attorney general, loretta lynch, when it came to the clinton e-mail investigation. you mentioned the
characterization that you had been asked to accept, that this was a matter and not a criminal investigation, which you said it was. there was the matter of president clinton's meeting on the tarmac with the sitting attorney general at a time when his wife was a subject to a criminal investigation and 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 that you clearly believe that loretta lynch, the attorney general, had an appearance of a conflict of interest on the clinton e-mail investigation, is that correct? >> i think that's fair. i didn't believe she could credibly decline that investigation, at least not without grievous damage to the department of justice and to the fbi. >> and under department of justice and fbi norms, wouldn't it have been appropriate for the attorney general or if she had recused herself, which she did not do, for the deputy attorney
general to appoint a special counsel. that's essentially what's happened now with director mueller. would that have been an appropriate step in the clinton e-mail investigation in your opinion? >> it's certainly a possible step, yes, sir. >> and were you aware that mrs. lynch had been requested numerous times to appoint a special counsel and had refused? >> yes, from i think congress had -- members of congress had repeatedly asked, yes, sir. >> yours truly did on multiple occasions. and that heightened your concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest with the department of justice, which caused you to make what you have described as an incredibly painful decision to basically take the matter up yourself and led to that july press conference. >> yes, sir. after former president clinton met on the plane with the attorney general, i considered whether i should call for the appointment of a special counsel and decided that that would be an unfair thing to do because i
knew there was no case there. we had investigated it very, very thoroughly. i know this is a subject of passionate disagreement, but i knew there was no case there and calling for the appointment of special counsel would be brutally unfair because it would send the message, aha, there's something here of that was my judgment. again, lots of people have different views of it but that's how i thought about it. >> well, if a special counsel had been appointed, they could have made that determination that there was nothing there and declined to pursue it, right? >> sure, but it would have been many months later or a year later. >> let me just ask you to -- given the experience of the clinton e-mail investigation and what happened there, do you think it's unreasonable for anyone, any president who has been assured on multiple occasions that he's not the subject of an fbi investigation, do you think it's unreasonable
for them to want the fbi director to publicly announce that so that this cloud over his administration would be removed? >> i think that's a reasonable point of view. the concern would be, obviously, because that boomerang comes back, it's going to be a very big deal because there will be a duty to correct. >> well, we saw that in the clinton e-mail investigation, of course. >> yes, i recall that. >> i know you do. so let me ask you finally in the minute that we have left, there was this conversation back and forth about loyalty, and i think we all appreciate the fact an fbi director is a unique public official in the sense that he's not -- he's a political appointee in one sense but has a duty of independence to pursue the law pursuant to the constitution and laws of the united states. and so when the president asked you about loyalty, you got in this back and forth about , wel,
i'll pledge you my honesty. and then you agreed on honest loyalty or something like that. is that the characterization? >> yes. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, sir. >> senator reed. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, director comey. there have been press reports that the president in addition to asking you to drop the flynn investigation has asked other senior intelligence officials to take steps which would tend to undermine the investigation into russia. there's been reports that he's asked dni coats and admiral rogers to make public statements exonerating him or taking the pressure off him and also reports about admiral rogers and director pompeo to intervene and reach out to the fbi and ask them. are you aware of any of these or
do you have any information with respect to any of these allegations? >> i don't. i'm aware of the public reporting, but i had no contact, no conversation with any of those leaders about that subject. >> thank you. you have testified that you interpret the discussion with the president about flynn as a direction to stop the investigation, is that correct? >> yes. >> you have testified that the president asked you to lift the cloud by essentially making public statements exonerating him and perhaps others and you refused, correct? >> i didn't -- i didn't do it. i didn't refuse the president. i told him we would see what we could do. the second time he called, i told him in substance that's something your lawyer will have to take up with the justice department. >> and part of the underlying logic was that we've discussed many times throughout this morning, is the duty to correct.
that is a theoretical issue but also for a practical issue. was your feeling that the direction of the investigation could in fact include the president? >> well, in theory. i mean as i explained, the concern of one of my senior leader colleagues was if you're looking at potential coordination between the campaign and russia, the person at the head of the campaign is the candidate, so logically this person argued the candidate's knowledge, understanding would logically become part of your inquiry if it proceeds. and so i understood that argument. my view was that what i said to the president was accurate and fair and fair to him. i resisted the idea of publicly saying it. although if the justice department had wanted to, i would have done it because of the duty to correct and the slippery slope problem. >> and again, also you've
testified that the president asked you repeatedly to be loyal to him and you responded you would be honestly loyal, which is i think your way of saying i'll be honest and i'll be the head of the fbi and independent, is that fair? >> correct. i tried honest first. and also, you see it in my testimony, i also tried to explain to him why it's in his interests and every president's interest for the fbi to be apart, in a way, because it's credibility is important to the president and to the country. so i tried to hold the line, hold the line. it got very awkward and i then said you'll always have honesty from me. he said honest loyalty. i acceded to that as a way to enthis arcwardness. >> as a culmination of all these events, you're summarily fired without an explanation or anything else. >> well, there was an explanation, i just don't buy it. >> so you're fired. do you believe that you were fired because you refused to
take the president's direction? is that the ultimate reason? >> i don't know for sure. i know i was fired. again, i take the president's words. i know i was fired because of something about the way i was conducting the russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him, in some way irritating him and he decided to fire me because of that. i can't go farther than that. >> the russia investigation as you have pointed out and as all my colleagues have reflected is one of the most serious hostile acts against this country in our history, undermining the very core of our democracy and our elections is not a discreet event. it will likely occur. it's probably being prepared for 'y '18 and '20 and beyond. and yet the president of the united states fires you because of some relation to this investigation. and then he shows up in the oval office with the russian foreign minister first after classifying
you as crazy and a real nut job, which i think you've effectively disproved this morning. he said i faced great pressure because of russia. that's taken off. your conclusion would be that the president, i would think, is downplaying the seriousness of this threat. in fact took specific steps to stop a thorough investigation of the russian influence and also from what you've said or what has been said this morning doesn't seem particularly interested in these hostile threats by the russians. is that fair? >> i don't know that i can agree to that level of detail. there's no doubt that it's a fair judgment, it's my judgment that i was fired because of the russia investigation. i was fired in some way to change or the endeavor was to change the way the russia investigation was being conducted. that is a very big deal.
not just because it involves me. the nature of the fbi and the nature of its work requires that it not be the subject of political consideration. and on top of that, you have the russia investigation itself is vital because of the threat. and i know i should have said this earlier, but it's obvious. if any americans were part of helping the russians do that to us, that is a very big deal. and i'm confident if that is the case, director mueller will find that evidence. >> finally, the president tweeted that james comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversation before he starts leaking to the press. was that rather unsubtle attempt to intimidate you from testifying and intimidate anyone else who seriously crosses his path of not doing it? >> i'm not going to sit here and try to interpret the president's tweets. to me its major impact, as i
said it occurred to me in the middle of the night. holy cow, there might be tapes. if there are tapes, it's not just my word against his on the direction to get rid of the flynn investigation. >> thank you very much. >> senator mccain. good afternoon, this is scott wapner. i just want to call your attention on the right-hand side of your screen, that is the president of the united states. he has made the two-mile trip to the omni shore um hotel in rock creek park. he is making a speech in front of the faith and freedom coalition, so that is donald trump there. the president of the united states. as this hearing continues to go on on capitol hill, we're going to go back to that hearing. when it ends, we do expect a statement of some sort from the president's private attorney, marc kasowitz. you can watch the president speak live if you'd like on cnbc.com. we are live streaming that now. as you can see, senator john mccain is asking questions of the former director of the fbi. i'll take you back to capitol hill.
>> tell me the difference between your conclusion as far as former secretary clinton is concerned and mr. trump. >> the clinton investigation was a completed investigation that the fbi had been deeply involved in, so i had an opportunity to understand all the facts and apply those facts against the law as i understood them. this investigation was under way, still going when i was fired, so it's nowhere near in the same place, at least it wasn't when i was -- >> but it's still ongoing. >> correct. so far as i know. it was when i left. >> that investigation was going on, this investigation is going on. you reached separate conclusions. >> no, that one was done. >> that investigation of any involvement of secretary clinton or any of her associates is completed? >> yes, as of july the 5th, the fbi completed its investigative
work and that's what i was announcing, what we had done and what we had found. >> well, at least in the minds of this member, there's a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on, particularly considering the fact that as you mentioned, it's a, quote, big deal as to what went on during the campaign. so i'm glad you concluded that part of the investigation, but i -- i think that the american people have a whole lot of questions out there, particularly 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 where fake news, as you just described it, big deal took place. you're going to have to help me out here.
in other words, the investigation of anything that former secretary clinton had to do with the campaign is over and we don't have to worry about it anymore? >> with respect to secretary -- i'm a little confused, senator. with respect to secretary clinton, we investigated criminal investigation in connection with her use of a personal e-mail server. >> i understand. >> and that's the investigation i announced the conclusion of on july 5th. >> but at the same time you made the announcement there would be no charges brought against then secretary clinton for any activities involved in the russia involvement, engagement in our election. i don't quite understand how you can be done with that but not complete -- done with the whole investigation of their attempt to affect the outcome of our election. >> no. i'm sorry, we're not -- at least when i left, when i was fired on may the 9th, there was an open active investigation to understand the russian efforts and whether any americans worked
with them. >> but you reached the conclusion that there was no reason to bring charges against secretary clinton. so you reached a conclusion in the case of mr. comey, president comey -- excuse me, the case of mr. trump, you have an ongoing investigation. so you've got one candidate who you're done with and another candidate that you have a long way to go. is that correct? >> i don't know how far the fbi has to go, but yes. the clinton e-mail investigation was completed. the investigation of russia's efforts in connection with the election and whether there was any coordination, and if so with whom between russia and the campaign was ongoing when i left. >> you just made it clear in what you said, this is, quote, a big deal, unquote. i think it's hard to reconcile in one case you reach a complete conclusion and the other side
you have not. and in fact obviously there's a lot more there as we know, as you called it a, quote, big deal. she's one of the candidates. but in her case you say there will 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? >> very serious. i want to say something to be clear. we have not announced and there was no predcation to announce an investigation of whether the russians may have coordinated with secretary clinton's campaign. secretary clinton's campaign -- >> no, but they not have been involved with the campaign, they were involved with the entire presidential campaign obviously. >> of course. and that is an investigation that began last summer. so far as i'm aware continues.
>> so both president trump and former candidate clinton are both involved in the investigation, yet one of them you said there's going to be no charges. in the other one the investigation continues. well, i think there's a double standard there to tell you the truth. then when the president said to you, you talked about the april 11th phone call, he said, quote, because i've been very loyal to you, very loyal. we had that thing, you know. did that arouse your curiosity as to what, quote, that thing was? >> yes. >> why didn't you ask him? >> it didn't seem to me to be important for the conversation we were having to understand it. i took it to be some -- an effort to communicate to me that there is a relationship between us where i've been good to you, you should be good to me. >> yeah, but i'd think it would intensely arouse my curiosity if
the president of the united states said we had that thing, you know. i'd like to know what the hell that thing is, particularly if i'm the director of the fbi. >> i get that, senator. honestly, i'll tell you what, this is speculation. but what i concluded at the time was in his memory he was searching back to our encounter at the dinner and was preparing himself to say i offered loyalty to you, you promised loyalty to me and all of a sudden his memory showed him that did not happen and i think he pulled up short. that's just a guess, but a lot of conversations with humans over the years -- >> i think if i'd some curiosity if it had been about me, to be honest with you. so are you aware of anything that would lead you to believe that the president or the members of the administration or members of the campaign could potentially be used to coerce or blackmail the administration? >> that's a subject for investigations, not something i can comment on sitting here. >> but you reached that
conclusion as far as secretary clinton was concerned but you're not reaching a 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 the administration or blackmail the administration? >> that's not a question i can answer, senator. >> the senator's time has expired. >> thank you. >> the time has expired for the hearing. can i say for members, we'll reconvene promptly 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 about three minutes -- i'd like to have order. photographers -- photographers
return to where you were, please. this hearing is not adjourned yet. either that or we'll remove you. to members, we have about three minutes of updates that 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 that closed hearing between 2:00 and 2:10 so that members can go vote and i would urge you to eat at that time. jim, several of us on this committee have had the opportunity to work with you since you walked in the door. i want to say personally on behalf of all the committee members, we're grateful to you for your service to your country. not just in the capacity as fbi director, but as prosecutor and, more importantly, being somebody that loves this country enough to tell it like it is. i want to say to your workforce that we're grateful to them with the level of cooperation that
they have shown us, with the trust we've built between both organizations, the congress and the bureau. we couldn't do our job 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 hearing this committee has had this year. that is twice the historical year-long average of this committee. i think the vice chairman and my's biggest challenge 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 intelligence matters publicly, and to respect the fact that we have a huge job. and that's to represent the entire body of the united states senate and the american people
to make sure that we work with the intelligence community to provide you the tools to keep america safe and that you do it within the legal limit or those limits that are set by the executive branch. we could not do it if it wasn't for a trusted partnership that you have been able to lead and others before you. so as we depart from this, this is a pivotal hearing in our investigation. we're grateful to you for the professionalness you've shown and your willingness. i will turn to the vice chairman. >> i simply want to echo, one, again, the thanks for your appearance. and there clearly still remain a number of questions. the one thing i want to commit to you and more importantly i think, mr. chairman, i want to commit to all those who are still potentially watching and following, there's still a lot of unanswered questions and we're going to get to the bottom of this. we're going to get the facts out. the american people deserve to
know. there's the questions around implications of trump officials and the russians, but there's also the macro issue of what the russians did and continue to do. i think it is very important that all americans realize that threat is real, it is continuous. it is not just towards our nation, it is towards all western democracies and we have to come to a solution soon. thank you, mr. chairman. >> director comey, thank you again on behalf of this committee. this hearing is adjourned. >> that is the former director of the fbi, james comey, wrapping up his testimony before the senate intelligence committee. what has been certainly one of the most closely watched hearings in many decades on capitol hill. the former director beginning his testimony today by speaking about his firing and the reasons given by the president and the administration saying it didn't make sense. quote, it confused and concerned me. the administration said the former director chose to defame me and the fbi. those were lies, p