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tv   CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow  CNN  May 3, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PDT

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all right. welcome back, everyone. john berman here. poppy harlow is on assignment. the breaking news this morning, this will be a pretty remarkable morning on capitol hill. you are looking at live pictures right now from inside the senate judiciary committee. any minute the fbi director james comey will sit down, and he will testify. lawmakers want new details of his investigation to alleged ties between the trump campaign associates and russia, and for the first time he will be pushed to publicly defend his letter on hillary clinton's e-mails that she just said was one of the key factors in costing her the election, and we do understand that he wants to get some stuff off his chest on this subject. we have a lot to cover. let's begin at this hearing outside this hearing with cnn's manu raju on capitol hill. manu? >> reporter: that's right. i just caught him walking in on
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the door behind me. we do expect him to face new questions about the russia investigation that he announced at a different hearing back in march in which he said there is this ongoing fbi inquiry into these alleged coordinations between the trump associates and russian officials during the time of the election. the question is will he be able to advance the narrative beyond what we already know that the investigation is ongoing. he declined on a number of fronts and last hearing to give any specificity about the investigation. what will he do differently today? democrats do intend to press him on mr. comey's decision last fall, days before the election, to announce an additional investigation into further e-mails, clinton e-mails and something that she blames that cost her the election. i talked to one of the democrats on the committee yesterday. dick blumenthal that said this is an issue that democrats plan to raise repeatedly today. >> he has discussed it in
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classified settings, but the american people really deserve answers about why he did release his comments and letter, and i think he may want to be more forthcoming and may want to use this forum as an opportunity to tell the american people his side of the story. >> and john, the beginning of a series of hearings, not just before the judiciary committee and comey will appear in a classified setting before the house intelligence committee and other major public hearings next week including sally yates, the former deputy attorney general, and former acting attorney general expecteded to testify about the conversations about michael flynn and the concerns about him being compromised by the russians. >> manu raju, joining us is pamela brown and evan perez. cnn senior political analyst mike preston and manu raju is
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still here, as i just said. cnn and diplomatic analyst john kirby, a former state department spokesman at the pentagon, as well. evan perez, first to you, manu was saying that democratic senators intend to push the fbi director on the subject of hillary clinton's e-mails and the investigation into such. your reporting is that james comey is actually pretty excited to talk about this today. >> a little too far there, john, but i think he is pretty anxious to try to get some of the stuff off his chest. he believes that a lot of people misunderstand what happened last year. obviously, the democrats and hillary clinton believed he cost her the election, but he believes that it's perhaps a bit more complicated simply because he believes he had to tell congress that there were new e-mails found and that the fbi was taking a new look at those e-mails just a few days before the election. he assumeded that she was going to win. everyone assumed that she was going to win, and he felt that the fbi would come under
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tremendous, tremendous criticism if that came out after the election and after she had won. obviously, things did not work out that way. the thing we should watch for today is the fact that the republicans want or are motivated to make this hearing and all of the cameras and the senators getting ready to question him. we expect that the republicans are going to try to take this away from russia and question him not only about the fbi's involvement with the british spy that put together the dossier and allegations of russian involvement and russian contacts with members of the trump campaign and we expect the democrats to question him more about why he did what he did last year in the clinton investigation so we expect a completely different hearing from the one we saw in the house last month. >> again, james comey, the fbi director did just sit down. he's being photographed from every conceivable angle and we'll jump out and take the
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opening statements live the minute they start so i may have to cut you off. pamela brown, last time james comey testified he short of dropped the bombshell news that the fbi is investigating alleged ties between the trump associates and russia. that is well about a month ago and there are new developments that leaked out including the fisa warrant on carter page and sally yates is set to testify contradicting what the white house said on sally yates. what are the new details he's expected to be pressed on? >> james comey will be limited on what he can say about the russia investigation. it is true that he made big news during the last hearing when he publicly acknowledged for the first time that the fbi was, indeed, investigating possible coordination between russians and trump associates. i can tell you the goal today is not to make any big headlines -- >> pamela? i am going to jump in right now. the senate judiciary chair chuck grassley beginning this hearing.
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>> early birds, whichever rule applies. director comey, welcome. we thank the fbi for what it does to keep america safe. there's been a lot of controversy surrounding the fbi since the last time you were here in 2015. in march, you publicated knowledge that it was the trump campaign and russia to interfere in the 2016 election. former dni clapper had been in charge of the intelligence community's review of that inference. mr. clapper testified that president obama asked the intelligence community to compile all available information. after he left office mr. clapper said there was no evidence of collusion whatsoever. yo "the new york times" reported
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that americans found no proof of collusion so where is all of this speculation about collusion coming from? in january, buzzfeed published a dossier spinning wild conspiracy theories about the trump campaign. buzzfeed acknowledged that the claims were up verified and some of the details were clearly wrong. buzzfeed has since been sued for publishing them. since then, much of the dossier has been proven wrong and many of his outlandish claims have failed to gain traction, for example, no one's looking for moles or russian agents embedded in the dnc, yet some continue to quote parts of this document as if it were gospel truth and according to press reports the fbi has relied on the document to justify this current investigation. there have been reports that the fbi agreed to pay the author of the dossier who paid his sources, who also paid their sub
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sources. where did the money come from, and what motivated the people writing the checks? the company that oversaw the dossier's creation, fusion gsp, won't speak to that point either. its founder is refusing to cooperate with this committee's investigation and inquiry. his company is also the subject of a complaint to the justice department. that complaint alleges that fusion worked as an unregistered foreign agent for russian interests and with a former russian intelligence agency at the time it worked on the dossier. it was filed with the justice department in july long before the dossier came out. the man who wrote the dossier admitted in court that it has
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unverified claims. does that sound like a reliable basis for law enforcement or intelligence actions? unfortunately, the fbi has provided me materially inconsistent information about these issues and that is why we need to know more about it and how much they relieded on it. once you buy into the claim of collusion then suddenly every interaction with the russian can be twisted to seem like confirmation of a conspiracy theory. i obviously don't know what the fbi will find. for the good of the country, i hope that the fbi gets to the truth soon, whatever that truth or that answer may be. if there are wrongdoers they should be punished and the innocent should have their names cleared, and in the meantime,
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this committee is charged with the oversight of the fbi, and we can't wait until this is all over to ask the hard questions, otherwise too many people will have no confidence in the fbi's conclusions. the public needs to know what role the dossier has played and where it came from and we need to know whether there was anything improper going between the trump campaign and the russians or are these mere allegations just a partisan smear campaign that manipulated our government into chasing a conspiracy theory? now before the election and before we knew about this notorious dossier you, chairman comey, publicly released his findings that secretary clinton was extremely careless in the handling of highly classified
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information and this recommendation has no -- and his recommendation that no one be prosecuted. according to a recent "new york times" article, he did it partly because he knew the russians had a hacked e-mail from a democrat operative that might be released before the election. that e-mail reportedly provided assurances that attorney general lynch would protect secretary clinton and that it would, quote, unquote, not go too far. they are now famous private conversations with former president clinton during the investigation, she failed to recuse herself from that. the announcement effectively gave her cover to have it both ways. you control the ultimate
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outcome. moreover, in its haystand, the fbi failed to follow up on credible evidence of the intent to hide federal records from the congress and the public. it is a federal crime, as we know to willfully and unlawfully conceal, remove or destroy a federal record. director comey said that, quote, the fbi also discovered several thousands work-related e-mails, end of quote that secretary clinton did not turn over to the state department. he said that secretary clinton's lawyers, quote, cleaned their devices in such a way to reduce complete forensic recovery, end of quote, of additional e-mails. the justice department also entered into immunity agreements limiting the scope of the fbi investigation and some of these agreements prohibited the fbi from reviewing any e-mails on the laptops of the clinton aides
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that were created outside of secretary clinton's tenure at state, but of course, any e-mails related to alienating records would not have been created until after she left office during the congressional fbi reviews and even though these records were subject to congressional subpoena and preservation records, the justice department agreed to destroy the laptops and a cloud of doubt hangs over the fbi. the director sayses that people at the fbi don't give a rip about politics, but the director installed as deputy director a man whose wife ran for elected office and accepted almost $1 million from governor terry mcauliffe, a longtime friend and fund-raiser of the clintons and the democratic party. andrew mccabe also reportedly met a person where governor mccallivem
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mcdonald mcallive's wife despite the obvious appearance of conflict. the inspector general is reviewing these answers and the people deserve answers and the fbi has not provided those answers. we need the fbi to be accountable because we need the fbi to be effective. its mission is to protect us from the most dangerous threats facing our nation and as the director was last here, since the director was last here the drumbeats of the attacks on the united states from those directed or inspired by isis or other radical islamic terrorist has continued. for example, in june 2016, a terrorist killed 49 and wounded another 53 in orlando, frequently -- frequented by the gay and lesbian community. it was the most deadly attack in the united states soil since
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9/11, but long afterwards in september, a terrorist stabbed ten in a mall in minneapolis and another terrorist injured 31 after he detonated bombs in new jersey and new york city, and in november, terrorists injured 13 after driving into students and teachers at ohio state university. our allies haven't been immune either, as we read in the newspaper frequently. we all recall the tragedy of july 2016 when terrorists plowed a truck through a crowd in france killing over 80 people. so we in the congress need to make sure that the fbi has the tools it needs to prevent and investigate terrorism as well as other serious violent crimes, and these tools must be -- must adapt to both evolving technology and threats while preserving our civil liberties.
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i hope we can also hear from the director about the fbi's use of some of these tools that may require congress' attention and most obviously the fisa section 702 authority is up for reauthorization at the end of the year. this authority provides the government the ability to collect the electronic communications of foreigners outside the united states with the compelled assistance of american companieses and obama administrations were is support of 702 and now the trump administration is as well. the law has proven to be highly effective in protecting the united states and our allies. the privacy and civil liberties oversight board and many other federal courts have found section 702 constitutional and consistent with our fourth amendment. yet questions and concerns persist for many about its effects on our civil liberties,
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specifically in the way the fbi queries data collected under section 702. in addition, the director has spoken out often about how the use of encryption by terrorists and criminals is eroding the effectiveness of one of the fbi's core investigative tools, a warrant based on probable cause. i look forward to an update from you, director comey on the going dark problem. i'm also waiting for answers from the fbi's advanced knowledge on an attempted terrorist attack in 2015, garland texas, fortunately it was interrupted by a local police officer, but not before a guard was shot. after the attack, the director claimed that the fbi did not have advanced knowledge of it, but it was revealeded that an undercover fbi agent was in close communication when one of the attackers in the weeks leading up to the attack. the undercover agent was in a
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car directly behind the attackers when they started shooting and fled the scene. the committee needs clarity on what the fbi knew and whether there were plans to disrupt any attack and whether it shared enough information with local law enforcement and obviously, you expect me to remind you about whistle blowers and the fbi whistle-blower protection enhancement act became law december 2016. it clarified that fbi employees are protecteded wh when they do wrongdoing. in april we knew that the fbi still has not updated its policies and done much to educate employees on the new law. the inspector general gave the fbi updated training this past january. employees who know that they are protected are more likely to come forward with evidence of waste, fraud and abuse. they should not have to wait many months to be trained on
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such a significant change in their rights and their protections, and these are all important issues, and i look forward to discussing them with you, director comey, the public's faith and the fbi, congress and our democratic process has been tested lately, oversight and transparency, hopefully will restore that faith. you may take as long as you want, senator. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, as you stated, this is the committee's annual oversight hearing, to conduct that oversight of the fbi. usually we review and ask questions about the fbi's work that ranges from major federal law enforcement priorities to the specific concerns of individual members of the committee, however, this meeting takes place at a unique time. last year for the first time the fbi and its investigation of a
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candidate for president became the center of the closing days of a presidential election. before voters went to the polls last november they have been inundated with stories about the fbi's investigation of senator clinton's e-mails. press coverage was wall to wall. every day there was another story about secretary clinton's e-mails. every day questions were released, every day questions were raised about whether classified information had been released or compromised and over and over again, was there comme commentary from the fbi about its actions and investigation. on july 5, 2016, two months before the election, director comey publicly announced that the fbi had concluded its investigation and determined
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that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case against secretary clinton. that should have been the end of the story, but it wasn't. 11 days before the election, on october 28, 2016, director comey then announced that the fbi was re-opening the clinton investigation because of e-mails on anthony weiner's computer. this explosive announcement, and it was, came unprompted and without knowing whether a single e-mail warranted a new investigation. it was, in fact, a big october surprise, but, in fact, as it turned out, not one e-mail on the laptop changed the fbi's original conclusion that no prosecution was warranted and only two days before the election, the fbi sent another
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public letter to congress affirming its original conclusion. this was extraordinary, plain and simple. i join those who believe that the actions taken by the fbi did, in fact, have an impact on the election. what's worse is that while all of this was going on in the public spotlight, while the fbi was discussing its investigation into senator clinton's e-mail server in detail, i cannot help, but note that it was noticeably silent about the investigation into the trump campaign and russian interference into the election. in june 2016 the press reported that russian hackers had infiltrated the computer system of the democratic national committee. in response, then-candidate trump and his campaign began
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goating the russian government into hacking secretary clinton. two months later in august on twitter roger stone declared, trust me, it will soon be podesta's time in the barrel, end quote. he then braggeded that he was in communication with wick i leaks, and this was during a campaign, the campaign in florida. he told a group of florida republicans that founder julian assange said -- that founder julian assange and that there would be no telling what the october surprise might be, end quote. clearly, he knew what he was talking about. two months later on october 7, thousands of e-mails from john podesta's account were published on wikileaks. we now know that through the
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fall election the fbi was actively investigating russia's efforts to interfere with the presidential campaign and possible involvement of trump campaign officials in those efforts. yet the fbi remained silent. the fbi summarily refused to acknowledge the existence of any investigation. it's still very unclear, and i hope, director, that you will clear this up. why the fbi's treatment of these two investigations was so dramatically different. with the clinton e-mail investigation it has been said that, quote, exceptional circumstances, end quote, including the high interest in the matter and the need to reassure the public required public comment from the fbi. however, i can't imagine how an
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unprecedented, big and bold hacking interference in our election by the russian government did not also present exceptional circumstances. as i said at the beginning we're in a unique time. a foreign adversary had actively interfered with a presidential election. the fbi was investigating not just that interference, but whether campaign officials associated with the president were connected to this interference, and the attorney general has recused himself from any involvement in this investigation. at the same time, the fbi must continue to work with its state and local law enforcement partners and the intelligence community, as well to investigate crime of all types. violent crime, increased narcotic trafficking, fraud, human trafficking and terrorism
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and child exploitation, public corruption and yesterday this committee had a very important hearing on hate and crimes against specific religions and races which are off the charts. in order to do all of that, i firmly believe it is of the utmost importance that the american people have faith and trust in the nation's top law enforcement agency. we must be assured that all of the fbi's decisions are made in the interest of justice, not in the interest of any political agenda or reputation of any one agency or individual. so, mr. director, today we need to hear how the fbi will regain that faith and trust. we need straightforward answers to our questions and we want to hear how you're going to lead the fbi going forward.
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we never, ever want anything like this to happen again. thank you, mr. chairman. >> director comey, i would like to swear you in at this point. do you affirm -- you affirm that the testimony you are about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing, but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> thank you very much. as the old saying goes for someone as famous as you, you don't need any introduction so i'm just going to introduce you as the director of the federal bureau of investigation. once again, thank you for being here today and we look forward to your testimony and answer to our questions. you may begin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. senator feinstein, member of the committee, thank you for having this oversight meeting about the fbi. i know that sounds a little bit like someone saying they're looking forward to going to the dentist, but i really do mean it. oversight of all parts of the
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government and i think it was thomas jefferson said that having people ask hard questions and demand straightforward answers and i promise you i will do my absolute best to give you that kind of answer today. i also appreciate the conversation i know we're going to have today and over the next few months about reauthorizing section 702 of the foreign intelligence surveillance act that you mentioned, mr. chairman. this is a tool that is essential to the safety of this country. i did not say the same thing about the collection of telephone dialing information by the nsa. i think that's a useful tool. 702 is an essential tool, and if it goes away we will be less safe as a country, and i mean that and would be happy to talk more about that. thank you for engaging on that so we can tell the american people why this matters so much and why we can't let it go away. the magic of the fbi that you oversee is its people, and we
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talk as we should a lot about the counter terrorism work and the counterintelligence work, and i'm sure we'll talk about that today, but i thought i would give you some idea of the work being done by those people all over the country, all over the world, every day, every night, all the time. i pulled three cases that happened and were finished in the last month just to illustrate it. the first was something i know that you followed closely, the plague of threats against jewish community centers that this country experienced in the first few months of this year. children frightened, old people frightened, terrifying threats of bombs at jewish institutions especially the jewish community centers. the entire fbi surged in response to that threat working across all programs, all divisions, our technical wizards using our vital international presence and using our partnerships especially with the israeli national police, we made that case and the israelis locked up the person behind those threats and stopped that
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terrifying plague against the jewish community centers. case second i want to mention is, a lot of you know what the bot net is, the zombies of armies lashing together to do tremendous harm to innocent people. last month the fbi working with our partners with the spanish national police took down the calio, and locked up the russian hacker behind that botnet who made a mistake that russian criminals sometimes make of leaving russia and leaving to visit the beautiful city of barcelona and he's now in jail and they have now been freed from it and are no longer part of the huge criminal enterprise and the last one i'll mention is this past week for the first time since congress passed the statute making it a crime in the united states to engage in female genital mutilation, to mutilate little girls. it's been a felony in the united states since 1996. we made the first case last week
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against doctors in michigan for doing this terrifying thing to young girls all across the country with our partners in the department of homeland security, we brought a case against two doctors for doing this to children. this is among the post important thing we do, protecting kids especially and you don't hear about it a whole lot across the country by the fbi. it is the honor of my life. i know you look at me like i'm crazy for saying this about this job. i love this work. i love this job, and i love it because of the mission and the people i get to work with. some have used work, and i pulled up the three cases from last month, and it goes on all the time around the country and we're safer for it. i love representing these people speaking on their behalf and i look forward to your questions today. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you for your opening statement. i will start out probably with a couple of subjects you wish i didn't bring up and then a third one that i think everybody needs
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to hear your opinion on a policy issue. it is frustrating when the fbi refuses to answer this committee's questions, but leaks relevant information to the media, in other words, they don't talk to us, but somebody talks to the media. director comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the trump investigation or the clinton investigation? >> never. question two on relatively related. have you ever authorized someone else at the fbi to be an anonymous source about the trump investigation or the clinton investigation? >> no. has any classified information relating to president trump or his association -- his
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associates been declassified and shared with the media? >> not to my knowledge. you testified before the house intelligence committee that a lot of classified matters have ended up in the media recently. without getting into any particular article, i want to emphasize that -- without getting into any particular article, is there an investigation of any leaks of classified information relating to mr. trump or his associates? >> i don't want to answer that question for reasons i think you know. there have been a variety of leaks and leaks are always a problem, but especially in three to six months and where there is a leak of classified information, we make a referral to the department of justice or
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if it's another agency's information they do the same and doj authorizes the opening of an investigation. i don't want to confirm in an open setting whether there are any investigations open. >> i want to challenge you on that because the government regularly acknowledges when it's investigating classified leaks. you did that in the valerie plame case. what's the difference here? >> the most important difference is i don't have authorization from the department to confirm any of the investigations they've authorized and it may be that we can get that at some point, but i'm not going to do that sitting here in an open setting without having talked to them. >> and i can -- you can expect me to follow up on that offer. >> sure. >> there are several senior fbi officials who would have had access to the classified information that was leaked including yourself and the deputy director. so how can the justice department guarantee the integ letty of the investigations
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without designating an agency other than the fbi to gather the facts and eliminate senior fbi officials as suspects. >> i'm not going to answer about any particular investigations, and i know of situations in the past where if you think the fbi or its leadership or suspects you have another investigative agency support the investigation by federal prosecutors. it can be done and has been done in the past. >> moving on to another subject, "the new york times" recently reported that the fbi had found a troubling e-mail among the ones the russians hacked from democrat operatives. the e-mail reportedly provided assurances that attorney general lynch would protect secretary clinton by making sure the fbi investigation, quote, unquote, didn't go too far. how and when did you first learn
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of this document and also who sent it and who receiveded it? >> that's not a question i can answer in this forum, mr. chairman, because it would call for a classified response. i have briefed leadership of the intelligence committees on that particular issue, but i can't talk about it here. >> you can expect me to follow up with you on that point. >> sure. >> what steps did the fbi take to determine whether attorney general lynch had actually given assurances that the political fix was in no matter what? did the fbi interview the person who wrote the e-mail? if not, why not? >> i'd have to give you the same answer. i can't talk to you about that in an unclassified setting. >> okay. then you can expect me to follow up on that. >> i asked the fbi to provide this e-mail to the committee before today's hearing. why haven't you done so and will you provide it by the end of this week? >> again, to react to that, i
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have to give a classified answer, and i can't give it sitting here. >> so that means you can't give me the e-mail? >> i'm not confirming there was an e-mail. the subject is classified. in a classified setting i would be happy to brief you on it, but i can't do it in an open hearing. >> i assume that other members of the committee could have access to the briefing if they wanted? i want to talk about going dark, director comey. a few years ago you testified before the committee about going dark problem and the inability of law enforcement to access encrypted data despite the existence of a lawfully issued court order. you continue to raise this issue in your public speeches, most recently, boston college. my question, you mentioned it again in your testimony briefly, but can you provide the committee with a more detailed update on the status of going
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dark problem and how has it affected the fbi's ability to the access encrypted data? has there been any progress collaborating with the technology sector to overcome any problems at our hearing in 2015, you said you didn't think legislation was necessary at that time, is that still your view? >> thank you, mr. chairman. the shadow created by the problem we call going dark continues to fall across more and more of our work. take devices, for example, the ubiquitous default, and the devices is affecting now about half of our work. the first six months of this fiscal year, they were presented with 6,000 devices for which we had search warrant or court order to open and 46% of those cases we could not open those devices with any technique. that means half of the devices that we encounter in terrorism
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cases, in counterintelligence cases, in gang cases and child pornography cases cannot be open in any technique and that say big problem and the shadow continues to fall and i'm determined to make sure the american people and ng know about it and i know this is important to the president and the new attorney general and i don't know how the new administration intends to approach it, but it's something we have to talk about because like you, i care a lot about privacy, and i also care an awful lot about public safety and there continues to be a huge collision between those two things we care about. i look forward to continuing in that conversation, mr. chairman. >> you didn't respond to the part about you still have the view that legislation is not needed. >> i don't know the answer yet. i think i said -- i hope i said last time we talked about this, it may require a legislative solution at some point. the obama administration was not in a position where they were seeking legislation. i don't know yet how president trump intends to approach this. i know he spoke about it during
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the campaign. i know he cares about it, but it's premature for me to say. >> senator feinstein? >> thank you. >> director, i have a question regarding my opening comment and i view it as a most important question and i hope you will answer it, why was it necessary to announce 11 days before a presidential election that you were opening an investigation on a new computer without any knowledge of what was in that computer? why didn't you just do the investigation as you would normally with no public announcement? >> great question, senator. thank you. october 27th, the investigative team that had finished the investigation in july focused on secretary clinton's e-mails asked to meet with me so i met with them late morning in my conference room and they laid out for me what they could see
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from the meta data on this fellow anthony weiner's laptop that had been seized in an unrelated case. what they could see from the meta data was that there were thousands of secretary clinton's e-mails on that device including what they thought might be the missing e-mails from her first three months as secretary of state. we never found any e-mails from her first three months. she was using a verizon blackberry then and that's obviously very important because if there was evidence that she was acting with bad intent that's where it would be. >> but they weren't there. >> can i finish my answer, senator? >> yeah. >> we can see thousands of e-mails from the clinton e-mail domain including many, many, many from the verizon clinton domain, blackberry domain. they said bee thiwe think we ha get a search warrant to search these. and i authorized to seek the warrant and if you can possibly
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avoid that might have an impact, whether it was a dog catcher or the secretary of state. one was labeled speak, the other was labeled conceal because here's how i thought about it. i'm not trying to talk you into this, but i want you to know my thinking. having repeatedly told this congress, there's no case there, there's no case there, to restart in a hugely significant way that would reflect on her intent from the beginning and not speak about it would require an act of concealment at my view and i stared at speak and conceal, and speak would be really bad. there's an election days, lordy, that would be really bad. concealing in my view would be catastrophic, not just to the fbi and well bedwrond and honestly as between really bad and catastrophic, i said to my team we've got to walk into the world of really bad. i've got to tell congress that
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we're restarting this, not in a frivolous way, in a hugely significant way and the team also told me we cannot finish this work before the election and then they worked night after night after night and they found thousand of new e-mail and classified information on anthony weiner. somehow her e-mails were being forwarded to anthony weiner including classified information by her assistant huma abedin, and they said thanks to the wizardry of our technology we've only had to personally read 6,000. we think we can finish tomorrow morning, sunday and so i met with them. they said we found a lot of new stuff. we did not find anything that changes our view of her intent. so we're in the same place we were in july. it hasn't changed our view and i asked them lots of questions and i said okay, if that's where you are then i also have to tell congress that we're done. look, this is terrible. it makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election, but
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honestly, it wouldn't change the decision. anybody who disagrees with me has to come back to october 28th with me and stare at this and tell me what you would do. would you speak or would you conceal? i could be wrong, but we honestly made the decision in those two choices and even in hindsight, and this has been one of the most painful decisions, i would make the same decision. i would not conceal that to congress. i didn't make a public announcement. i sent a private letter to the chairs and the rangings and the oversight committees. there is a distinction in the world of leaks, but it was very important that i tell them instead of concealing and reasonable people can disagree, but that's the reason i made that choice, and it was a hard choice. i still believe in retrospect, the right choice as painful as this has been, and i'm sorry for the long answer. >> let me respond, on the letter it was just a matter of minutes before the world knew about it. secondly, my understanding and the staff has just said to me
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that you didn't get a search warrant before making the announcement. i think that's right, and i think i authorized and we were going to seek a search warrant and i don't see it as a meaningful distinction. >> well, it -- it's very hard -- it would have been, you took an enormous gamble. the gamble was that there was something there that would invalidate her candidacy and there wasn't, so one has to look at that action and say did it affect the campaign, and i think most people who have looked at this is a yes, it did affect the campaign, why would he do it? and was there any conflict among your staff, people saying do it? people saying don't do it as has been reported? >> no. there was a great debate. i have a fabulous staff at all
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levels and one of my junior lawyers said should you consider that what you're about to do may help elect donald trump president? and i said thank you for raising that. not for a moment. because down that path lies the death of the fbi as an independent institution in america. i can't consider for a second whose political fortunes would be affected in what way. we have to ask yourselves what is the right thing to do and then do that thing. i am very proud with the way we debated it and everyone on my team agreed we have to tell congress that we are re-starting this in a hugely significant way. >> well, there is a way to do that. i don't know whether it would work or not, but certainly in a classified way carrying out your tradition of not announcing investigations. and you know, i look at this exactly the opposite way you do. everybody knew it would influence the investigation
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before, that there was a very large percentage of chance that it would, and yet that percentage of chance was taken and there was no information and the election was lost. so it seems to me that before your department does something like this you really ought to because senator leahy began to talk about other investigations and i think this theory does not hold up when you look at other investigations, but let me go on to 702 because you began your comments saying how important it is and yes, it is important. we've got, i think, a problem and the issue that we're going to need to address is the fbi's practice of searching 702 data
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using u.s. person identifiers and some have called this an unconstitutional back door search while others say that such queries are essential to ensuring that potential terrorists don't slip through the cracks as they did before. so could you give us your views on that and how it might be handled to avoid the charge which may bring down 702? >> thank you, senator. it's a really important issue. the way 702 works is under that provision of the statute, the fisa court, federal judges authorize us as u.s. agencies to collect the communications of non-u.s. people that we believe to be overseas if they're using american infrastructure. the criticism the fbi has gotten and the feedback we've gotten consistently since 9/11 is, you have to make sure you're in a position to connect the dots. you can't have stovepiped information and so we've
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responded to that over the last ten years and mostly to the great work of my predecessor bob muller and we've collected databases so if we collect information under 702, it doesn't sit in a separate stovepipe, it sits in a single cloud-type environment so if i open an investigation in the united states in an intelligence matter or criminal matter and i have the name of the suspect and their telephone number and their e-mail addresses, i search the fbi's databases. that search necessarily will also touch the information that was collected under 702 so that we don't miss a dot, but nobody gets access to the information that sits in the 702 database unless they've been trained correctly. if there is let's imagine that terrorists overseas were talking about a suspect in the united states or someone's e-mail address in the united states was in touch with the terrorist and that information sits in the
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database. when we open the case in the database and put in that name and e-mail address it will touch that data and tell us there's information in the database that's relevant. if the agent doing the query is properly trained on how to handle that, he or she' will be able to see that information and they'll be alerted there is information and they'll have to go through the appropriate training and oversight to see it, but to do it otherwise is to risk us where it matters most in the united states failing to connect dot. so my view is the information that's in the 702 database has been lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked and our use of it is also appropriately carefully overseen and checked. >> so you are not masking the data -- unmasking the data? >> i'm not sure what that means in this context. what we do is we combine information collected from any lawful source in a single fbi database so we don't miss a dot when we're conducting
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investigations in the united states. what we make sure though, is, nobody gets to see fisa information of any kind unless they've had the appropriate training and have the appropriate oversight. >> my time is up. thank you. senator hatch? >> thank you, senator. director comey, in january i introduced the s-139, the rapid dna act. it's bipartisan co-sponsors include senators feinstein, coon, flake, klobuchar and more. i want to thank you for putting this on the agenda for tomorrow's business meeting. this is the same bill that the senate unanimously passed last year and this technology allows developing a dna profile and performing database comparisons in less than two hours. following standards and procedures approved by the fbi would allow law enforcement to solve crimes and innocent advocates to exonerate the wrongfully accused.
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mr. director, you came before this committee in december 2015 and i asked you then about this legislation, you said it would, quote, help us change the world in a very, very exciting way, unquote. is that still your view of the value of this legislation and do you believe that congress should enact on its own without other justice reform issues. >> i do believe that rapid dna will help the american people so if a plaintiff somewhere in the united states has in his or her custody someone who is a rapist before letting them go on some lesser offense they'll be able to quickly check a dna database and get a hit. that will save lives and that will protect all kinds of people from pain, and i think it's a great thing. >> well, thank you. your prepared statement touches on what the fbi is doing to protect children from predators. personnel and youth serving organization such as employees, coaches or volunteers often work
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with unsupervised or with youth unsupervised. thorough evaluating and evaluating at the time of such organizations. along with senators franklin and klobuchar, i introduced the child protection improvement act which gives youth serving organizations greater access to the nationwide fingerprint background check system. do you believe that providing organizations like the ymca and the greater access to fingerprint background checks is an important step in keeping child predators and violent criminals away from our children? >> i do, senator. i don't know enough about the legislation to react and the more information you can put in the hands of people near children the better. we have an exciting new feature of the fbi's fingerprint system called rapbacked. once you check their
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identification and check to see if they have a record, if they later develop one you can be alerteded if they have one thereafter that makes a big difference. >> you spoke about the so-called going dark program whereby strong encryption technology hinders the ability of law enforcement to access communication and other personal data on smartphones and similar devices. your prepared testimony addresses this issue, as well. i've expressed significant proposals that would require device or software manufacturers to build a back door into their programming to allow law enforcement to access encrypted data in the course of investigations. i remain convinced that such back doors can be created without seriously compromising the security of encrypted devices. i believe this is an issue where law enforcement and stakeholders need to work together to find
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solutions rather than coming to congress with one size fits all legislative fixes. what are you doing to engage with stake holders on this issue and what kind of progress are you making, if you could tell us? >> thank you, senator. i think there's good news on that front. we've had very good open and productive conversations with the private sector over the last 18 months about this issue because everybody realizes we care about the same things. we all love privacy. we all care about public safety and none -- at least the people that i hang around with, none of us want back doors. we don't want access to devices built in in some way. what we want to work with manufacturers on is to figure out how can we accommodate both in the sensitive way and the privacy and the security features of their devices and allow court orders to be complied with. we're having good conversations and i can imagine a world that ends up with legislation saying if you're going to make devices in the united states you figure
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out how to comply with court orders and maybe we don't go there, we are having productive conversations there, i think. section 702 is up for reauthorization this year. we now have almost a decade of experience using this statute so we have muchmo more to go on rather than speculation and theory. section 702 is well documented and it has never been intentionally misused or abused. every federal court including the fisa court that has addressed the issue has concluded that section 702 is lawful. administrations of both parties strongly supported it. describe for us the targeting and minimization procedures as section 702 requires and how each agency's procedure is subject to oversight within the executive branch. >> as i said in my opening. 702 is a critical tool to protect this country and the way it works is, we are allowed to conduct surveillance under the
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supervision of the foreign intelligence surveillance court on non-u.s. persons who are outside the united states if they're using american infrastructure. an e-mail system in the united states, and a phone system in the united states so it doesn't involve u.s. persons and it doesn't allow activity in the united states and each agency has detailed procedures for how we will handle this information that are approved by the fisa court and so become court orders that govern us, but not only are we overseen by the fisa court and we're overseen by inspectors general and you're exactly correct. there have been no abuses and every court that has looked at this is this is appropriate under the fourth amendment and this is appropriate under the statute and it was an act passed by a democratically controlled congress and renewed by a republican-controlled congress and i am telling you what the rest of the intelligence community has said. we need this to protect the
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country. this should be an easy conversation to have, but often people get confused about the details and it's our job to make sure we explain it clearly. >> thank you. my time is up. senator leahy, i'll turn to you. >> thank you. welcome back, director comey. you mentioned your -- you, of course, didn't have an annual meeting last year, i think. last year was the first time in 15 years that the fbi did not testify before this committee and a lot has happened in the last year and a half as noted. senator feinstein noted that americans across the country have been confused and disappointed by your judgment in handling the investigation into secretary clinton's e-mails. on a number of occasions you
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chose to comment directly and extensively on that investigation. you even released internal fbi memos and interview notes. i've never seen anything like that, but you said absolutely nothing regarding the investigation into the trump campaign's connections into russia's illegal efforts to help elect donald trump. was it appropriate for you to comment on one investigation repeatedly and not say anything about the other? >> i think so. can i explain, senator? >> i only have so much time. >> i'll be quick. i think i treated both investigations consistently under the same principles. people forget, we would not confirm the existence of the hillary clinton e-mail investigation until three months after it began even though it began with a public referral and
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the candidate herself talked about it. in october of 2015 we confirmeded it existed and then said not another word, not a peep about it until we were finished. >> the time possible, a couple of weeks before the election, and i think there are other things involved in that election, i'll grant that, but there's no question that that had a great effect. >> historians can debate what kind of effect it was, but you did do it. in october the fbi was connected in the trump's campaign to russia. you said in the senate house that you were reviewing additional e-mails that could be relevant to this, but both investigations were open, but you still only commented on one. >> i commented as i explained earlier on

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