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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  May 8, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PDT

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. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. this is cnn's special live coverage of what's expected to be explosive testimony from the former acting attorney general sally yates. it's the first time we're hearing directly from yates sibs she was fired tr defying his travel ban. minute trs now, she's expected to reveal to a senate subcommittee which e he told the trump administration about michael flynn and it's coming on the heels of a bomb shell from the former obama administration officials. they say the former president personally warned then president-elect trump against hiring michael flynn only two
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days after he won the presidential election on november 8th. their meeting was november 10th. the army general was forced to resign as national security adviser only 24 days into the job for allegedly lying about his discussions with the russian ambassador to the united states. the pentagon is now investigating flynn for allegedly taking payments from a foreign government without disclosing those payments. moments ago the white house responded to news that president obama had warned president-elect trump about flynn. >> the president doesn't disclose details of meetings that he has, which in this case was an hour-long meeting, but it's true the president made it known that he wasn't a fan of general flynn's, which shouldn't come as a surprise that given that general flynn had worked for president obama was an outspoken critic of president obama's short komings as it
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related to his lack of strategy confronting isis and other threats facing america. so the e question that you have to ask yourself is if president obama was truly concerned about general flynn why didn't he suspend the security cleans which they had just reapproved months earlier. why did the obama administration let flynn go to russia for a speaking enb gaugement. there were steps they could have taken that if that was a concern more than just a person that had bad blood. >> i think if you know what we knew at the time, which is that the security clearance that he had had been reapproved in april of that year. >> did you not vet him yourselves? >> you don't vet on a security cleans. that's why you get a security clearance. so the answer is that those same process worked for general flynn as it did for me or anyone else
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that works here. there's no difference of a security clearance once it's issued. >> let's get to our white house correspondent sara murray. tell us what you know about the conversation then president obama had with then president-elect trump only two days after the presidential election. >> sources are saying in this meet iing that president obama expressed concern about general flynn, urged president trump not to hire him for the job of national security adviser, but e he saw sean spicer down playing that warning from their view. they dismissed it as their idea as bad blood between president trump and retired general michael flynn saying it's clear that the president didn't like this guy. that's how they took the warning. not as a concern that they might have done anything wrong but this past bad blood between the obama administration and general flynn. if they came to learn there were
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headaches awaiting them, it's interest ing ing to see them pi blame about general flynn's activities on the obama administration. you would do your own vetting beyond whether you have a security clearance. the trump administration said they are going to pin it on obama. there are going to be many more questions about flynn's activities and why president trump still felt like he was a good fit for this job. >> he was also deputy secretary of state. tony, let's start by getting your reaction to the news tr former obama administration officials that it the former president himself warned mr. trump in person only two days
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after the november 8th election against hiring michael flynn. >> i don't have any direct knowledge of that warning. it wouldn't surprise me. i think if the president knowing -- president obama thoughing flynn was not a good manager of the defense intelligence agency and that's why he was let go and knowing he was tapped to be national security adviser wouldn't surprise me that came up in conversation, but i don't have direct knowledge of that. >> what about the argument from sean spicer that in april of 2016, the obama administration renewed his security clearances. >> it's a huge effort and distraction. in april 2016 flynn was no longer working for the obama administration. he was let go in 2014. but what happens former officials is they try to hold on to their security cleanss clearances. when they expire, they e get reupped. that's done by the agency that
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the person used to work for. that's totally different than bringing someone in as national security adviser who then has to go through a much more elaborate clearance process and vetting process. that didn't happen with mr. flynn under the trump administration's watch. i doubt the security clearance was upped. >> the u.s. army as well did they know about his paid speaking engagements in 2015 in moscow. we also have the video of him having dinner at this russian t. >> i don't know. it's a very good question. there were some public reports about the meetings and events. the rt dinner, so arguably that's something that they
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should have noun and might have looked into when they were reupping the clearance. that's not something that went to the white house or senior levels of the obama administration. it was something done by the defense intelligence agency and usually a routine matter. bl when you reup clearances, i assume you have to fill out forms. the suggestion out there, the allegation is he wasn't completely honest about the money he received from russian tv when he was updating his security clearances. do you know anything about that? >> no firsthand knowledge, but you're right. and any payments you have received from foreign sources. so that's something that should have bye-bye done. >>. >> sally yates is about to testify before the subcommittee. she's going to tell presumably all of us what she told the trump administration about michael flynn after he was
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national security adviser and in the past the white house said yates gave them a heads up about conflicting statements that flynn b had made to the vice president. what do you expect to hear from sally yates today? how far do you expect her to go? >> we worked closely in the last administration. i expect to hear from her the facts. she is the straightest of straight shooters. remember this. she was initially hired as an assistant u.s. attorney down in georgia by bob br. when she was an assistant u.s. attorney in georgia, she went after anyone and everyone who violated the law. in fact, she helped take down a democratic mayor in atlanta who was convicted of tax e evasion. so sally is the straightest of straight shooters. she follows the law ask the facts. and if she was concerned about flynn and told the white house, i have no doubt that happened
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and it's ub fortunaunfortunate didn't take her seriously. there's a huge gap when she raised these concerns and let go. and he was omelet go after the media start ed talking about it. >> there were some problems this terms of revealing sources and methods, how she tound out about flynn's phone conversations. she has to be very careful in revealing those kinds of details. >> that's kpktly right. there are some things that may need to happen in a classified session. >> that's a good point. thank you very much. let's bring our panel to discuss all of this. gloria borger is with us. dana bash, and chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. this is very, very sensitive matter that sally yates is about to discuss with members of the
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judiciary subcommittee. >> she's in a difficult spot because she can't talk about exactly what was in these highly classified intercepts that she read and felt strongly enough to meet with the white house counsel about. what she can talk about is question why it took don mcbegan so long. to alert the president, what the president did with this information, what the white house did with this information, why it didn't send up a red flag or two. we have been told in our reporting that she told them quite strongly that flynn had been compromised, which means he would be subject to blackmail. if you're hearing that it and you're the white house counsel, i can't imagine you wouldn't take that directly to the president of the united states and say, we have a real problem here. >> what they are trying to
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suggest is that she was an obama administration official. she was subsequently fired by the trump administration because she didn't think the travel ban. was constitutional and she could implement st as the acting attorney general. they are going to raise questions about her credibility. >> the president of the united states unveiled that not so secret strategy in his quite inappropriate tweet going after her. but despite the fact that's going to be some republicans strategy, it's going to be very hard had to really get that to stick. evan perez showed me a story he wrote in 2009 about the fact that john lewis, the civil rights icon, democratic congressman from georgia, was try ing ing to block her from b the u.s. attorney from georgia because she had gone after democratic politicians in atlanta because of corruption and other issues. and that he thought she was a republican.
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so that kind of gives you a sense if republicans think she's a democrat and democrats think she's a republican, kind of like reporters. maybe we're all doing our job >> give us perspective on what we're about to see. >> what we're about to see is a tale as specific as possible, but not all the te detail e of somebody sounding the alarm to the trump administration and i think we have to also step back here. combine this sally yates testimony with what we learned today about president obama delivering this message of concern about flynn to president trump in their first meeting. you had the most inexperienced person in these matters elected to the presidency surrounding themselves with a team of the least experience d people in dealing with the matters in terms of the closest advisers. and you have from president obama to sally yates, you have people steeped in this starting to raise red flags and sound
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alarms and to glorious point, what some senators are going to look for is is what did you do about those alarms. what were the steps you have taken because this was not anything that donald trump encountered in his entire life. so he receives this information, so what as a very inexperienced person, what do you do with that information in that moment you get it? >> she can't go into classified information, but we reported this and why is that she believed he was lying. and she had evidence that michael flynn was lying when he said he did not discuss sanctions in russia. that's the message she delivered. delivered. we have
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that, they noticed an uptick in communications with the russian ambassador, sergey kislyak and that raised the question, does michael flynn know exactly who he's dealing with here and what his motives may be? some could argue, look, he's the head of d.i.a. he should know but more communications happened and the communication, the concern was ways perhaps he doesn't know who he's dealing with with here and learned that the transition was so concerned they brought him the cia file about kislyak for him to read and so certainly, it does raise the question about how he was able to get so far in
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this highly prominent role of national security advisor to the president. >> very interesting. susan, what do you make of the fact that the white house press secretary seanspice e spicer sa was no secret president obama was not a fan of general flynn and that his warnings to trump was a case of bad blood? >> considering the fact that president trump has brought in a lot of people that were highly critical of president obama during the campaign at least, this was the notion that obama shared the concern about flynn specifically and not any of the others. it undercuts the question of obama being petty. there was an enormous amount of public information that was known that would have caused most presidents to not hire michael flynn. the most concerning behavior certainly occurred after flynn was fired by obama. the question for the president knowing what he knew, why did he hire flynn anyway? >> it's interesting. stand by, susan. i want to read this tweet from the president of the united states this morning about sally yates. going to be at the center of
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this hearing momentarily. under oath, wondering if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to white house counsel. the implication is she may have leaked this kind of classified information. >> it is a very clear implication and to have that implication coming from the president of the united states just hours before a very important witness goes before congress under oath to talk about it is really mind blowing and, you know, we've kind of all gotten used to his tweets that nobody else would do, but this even for donald trump is a little much because it really goes to the question of, i mean, let's just face it. in any other, you know, context, that's exactly what it would be. come from the president of the united states. the thing about this committee is miami was talking about the
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head republican and democrat, they've been working closely together in a genuine bipartisan way, so at least when you're talking about the heads of the committee, that it's hard to imagine that they're going to go there. when it comes to the rankin file, who knows but in a partisan way. >> last week, a tale of two hearings depending which party the questioner is with and expect the republicans, not all of them because some like the chairman, very interested in delving into russian interference in the election and for many republicans, look for a focus on leaks, looking for questions on unmasking to director clapper that relates to susan rice and look for interference in the election. and we're seeing that more and more in public session in the hearings and even in the you're seeing it more and more as the bipartisanship, at least showing some cracks in it going forward. >> it's diversion nar because it's not the president was not
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talking about flynn. and flynn's problems. and why he appointed him. and all the red flags that were raised. and what sally yates actually said to the white house counsel. instead the president is saying everybody on the committee asked her about the leaks. and it's completely inappropriate for the president to send this flag up and say, by the way, this is what you really ought to be concerned about with sally yates. . not the information that she brought to the white house which said that general flynn was compromised. >> everything you need to know needs to be sum issed in sean spicer's nonanswer. he was september to the wovls to try to twist himself in pretzels to explain and clarify what the president said didn't do it today. the tweet speaks for itself. >> the tweet speaks for itself. >> it tells you a lot about it. >> hold on. we have some guests. >> that's a question.
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>> i'm not going to act surprised at any tweet from this president. i hope we will have a good, honest, thorough hearing here. >> was it appropriate for the president to do that? >> come on, is he waiting tr my a advice. sdwl are you concern canned about the unmasking issue? >> of course, they have. let's wait and see. we're going to find out it's routine procedure to figure out who the suspect is speaking to. in this case, when they ask for unmasking, they don't know the identity when they ask. so some sinister plot being alleged here. let's wait and hear the it testimony. from what i've been told, no. >> thank you, senator. >> senator dick durbin of illinois. he's a member of the subcommittee on crime and terrorism. the other tweet from the president this morning, gloria, general flynn was given the highest security clearance by the obama administration, but the fake news seldom likes to
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talk about that. >> as we have said many times, sean spicer repeated that today, as we have said many times just in the last hour, there's a very different kind of security clearance that is given from somebody who is renew ed to a courtesy and renewed in april of 2016 as a curtesy. tony said that's done many times. there's a disticks between that and somebody who is going to be the national security adviser. and that is a much more substantiative and elaborate process that goes to our finances, that goes to your behavior, that delves much more deeply into your life, which by the way, most people would expect when you're appointing somebody who deals with the most highly classified information we have in this country and reports directly to the president. >> you can update us because you have been investigating this yourself. general flynn is now being questioned or being investigated for not necessarily being
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completely honest when he was applying for that reupping of his security clearance. >> we know he receive issed payments from russia that went to his speakers bureau. that's tr russia. he was paid more than 600,000 from turkey to his consulting firm. he, according to congressmen who have looked at the disclosure forms, he did not disclose that information. when you're applying for a security clearance, the honous is on you to provide that information. so it does -- it is a little bit comparing apples to oranges in terms of looking at his past security clearance. we don't know this was clearly after the security clearance. >> he only registered as a foreign agent of turkish elements after he was fired as opposed to when he started receiving all that money. >> also the defense department doesn't have a record of him actually asking for permission to give this speech in russia.
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you heard him say they let him go to russia to give that speech. there's no record of him asking for permission in advance. i would make this point. the white house is saying we trusted the obama administration on that security clearance and we were fined to make him the national security adviser but we didn't trust the president when he sat down two days after the skplex said you might have a problem with this man. there's a fundamental inconsistency. i would just say it's apples and oranges, but it's 1.5 million apples. there are people walking around d.c. or in the world who have a top secret security clearance to suggest that's all you need to be assigned one of the most senior national security positions in the country without the vetting that gloria has talked about that we know official gos through. it doesn't pass. >> let's be precise. i'm sure you remember as well.
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he was interested in other positions besides the position of being the national security adviser to the president. if you're working in the white house, you don't need senate confirmation. you don't need to go through that. if he wants to be director of national intelligence, you do need senate confirmation. they have made a decision early on this is a guy who is not going to get senate confirmation hearings. . >> he told the initial transition team that there are three jobs. he wanted to be secretary of defense or national security adviser. as you point out, which one doesn't need to go for confirmation. it's national security adviser. >> it looks like lindsey graham is about to begin. >> the hearing will come to order. thank you all for coming. here's the order of the day. i'll give a brief opening statement and we'll have senator grassley and feinstein follow
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with some questioning. seven-b minute rounds initially and try to do a second round of five minutes to both of the witnesses, thank you for coming. we'll try to make this as reasonably short as possible. if you need a break, please let us know. so people what are we doing and what are we trying to accomplish. in january the intelligence community unanimously said that the russians through their intelligence services tried to interfere in the 2016 american presidential election. that it was the russians who had the e-mails. russians who broke into the democratic national committee. and was russians who helped empower wikileaks. no evidence that the russians changed voting tallies, how people were influenced by what happened only they know and god knows, but i think every american should be concerned about what the russians did. from my point of view, there's no doubt in my mind it was the russians involved in all the
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things i just described. not some 400-pound guy sitting on a bed or any other country. russia is up to no good when it comes to democracies all over the world. this being the ukraine andball ticks are always under siege. we want to learn what the russians did and find a way to stop them because they are apparently not going to stop until somebody makes them. the hearing that was held last week with director comey asked a question, is it fair to say that russian governments still involved in american politics. . and he he said yes. so i want house members and senators to know it was the presidential campaign of 2016 it could be our canal pains next. i don't know what happened in france, but somebody hacked into mr. macron's account and we'll see who that may have been. but this is sort of what russia does to try to undermine
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democracy. so what are we trying to accomplish here? to validate the findings of the intelligence committee as much as possible and to come up with a course of action as a nation bipartisan in nature because it was the democratic party of 2016 were the victims. it could be the republican party of the future. when one party is attacked, all of us should feel an attack. it should be an article v agreement between all major parties that when a foreign power interferes in our election it doesn't matter who they targeted, we're all in the same boat. secondly, the unmasking, the 702 program. quite frankly, when i got involved in this investigation, i didn't know much about it. director comey said the 702 program, which allows warrants for intelligence gathering and vital intelligence tool, i have learn ed a withabout unmasking and what i have learned is disturbing. so i don't know exact ly all th
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details of what goes into unmasking an american citizen being incidentally surveilled when they involve with a foreign agent. i'd like to know more and i want to make sure that unmasking can never be used as political weapon. so i'm all for hitting the enemy before they hit us, intelligence gatherings essential, but i believe we need to take a look at the procedures involved in the 702, particularly how unmasking is requested, who can request it and what limitations exist, it any, on how the information can be use d. so that's why we're here. we're here to find out all things russia and the witnesses that are determined by the evidence and nothing else in the 702 reauthorization will come before the congress fairly soon and i, for one, have a lot of questions i didn't have before. i have enjoyed doing this with senator feinstein and grassley
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have been terrific. led to be said that the chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee have allowed us to do our job, they have empowered us and have been hands on and it's much appreciated. i would recognize senator whitehouse. >> thank you, chairman. for your lead in our elections. in january america's intelligence community disclosed that the russian government on orders of vladimir putin engaged in influence campaign in 2016. in march director comey confirmed that, the fbi as part of its counterintelligence mission is investigating the russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the trump campaign and the russian government and whether there's any coordination between the campaign and russia's efforts. the fbi and the intelligence community's work is appropriately taking place outside the public eye. our inquiry serves broader aims
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to give a to ro e accounting of the known facts, to pose the questions that still need answers and to best protect the property functioning of our government. that the subcommittee's first hearing we heard tr witnesses about the russian tool box for interfering in the poll iitics other countries. now we can ask which tools were used against us by the russians in 2016. here's a checklist. propaganda, fake news, trolls and bots. as they told the snee on intelligence in march, russian state-sponsored media turned out manipulated truths, false news stories and conspiracies, end quote, provide iing a weaponize fake news effort openly supporting donald trump's candidacy, quoting while consistently offering negative coverage of hillary clinton. this was to watch a deliberate,
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well-organized, well-resourced, wide ranging effort, by russia use iing trolls and bots to ampy its messages across social media. these facts are not disputed by any serious person, so this is a yes on the checklist. hack iing and theft of politica information. throughout 2015 and 2016 russian intelligence services and state-sponsored hackers conducted cyber operations against u.s. political targets including state and local election boards penetrating network, probing for vulnerables and stealing private e-mails. attribute of these crimes to russian actors was confirmed in our last hearing and many other sources. so this is another yes. timed leaks of damaging material. russian intelligence fronts cut outs and sympathetic organizati organizations, then time the relows of stolen victim data to
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maximize political effect. and he fore sha e doed relows of stolen data on twitter in august and in 2016. timing can matter. on october 7th just hours after the djing access hollywood tapes of donald trump were made public, wikileaks began p publishing e e-mails stolen from the hillary clinton campaign manager. so yes, again. assassination and political violence. last october russian military intelligence conspired to assassinate the prime minister as part of a coup attempt. in 2004, another prime minister was disfigured when he was poisoned in an assassination attempt by russian agents. figures are routinely the target of state directed plolitical
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violence. thankfully we have no evidence of that happening here. investment control and key economic sectors. we learned from heather connolly's testimony that the kremlin playbook is to manipulate other countries through economic penetration. heavily invest iing in the targ countries economy to create political leverage. but no, a as to that tactic here so far. shady business and financial ties. russia exploits the dark sha knows. becoming the last for shell corporations for the corporate form allows the concealment of criminal funds and can allow foreign money to directly and indirectly influence our lit call system. since the citizens decision, we
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have seen dark money flow from 501 organizations. we don't know who is behind that dark money or what they are demanding in return. using shell corporations and other devices, russia establishing financial relationships to develop leverage against prominent figures. through the carrot of continued bribery for the stick of threatened disclosure. how about here? as he chased deals in russia throughout the 2000s he deput e deputized a color canful character to develop real estate projects under the trump name. his family has links to crime and he's had difficulties with the law. sader said in a 2008 deposition he would pitch business ideas directly to trump and his team on a constant basis.
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recently as 2010 sader had had a trump organization business card and an office in trump tower. donald trump jr. said in september 2007 he made half a dozen trips to yush ya in the proceeding 18 months noting that investors were involve d in trump's new york real estate projects. we see a lot of money pouring in from russia, he said. one trump property in manhattan had become within a few years of opening a prominent depository of russian money according to a report in "business week." here there are still big questions. president trump could clarify these questions by releasing his personal tax returns. corrupting and compromising politicians. in testimony before the judiciary committee last wednesday director comey acknowledge d that financial leverage was exploited by russian intelligence e over many decades back to the days they used compromising material to
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pressure individuals with the prospect of damaging disclosures. has russia compromised corrupted, cultivated or exerted improper influence on individuals associated with president trump, his administration, transition team, campaign, or his businesses? another big question mark. we know that president trump has had in his orbit a number of russia-friendly figures. in august 2015 trump met with michael flynn, who was director of the defense intelligence agency had developed strong relationships with russian military intelligence. in december of that year, flynn travelled to moscow for a paid speaking appearance for an anniversary gala for rt where he was seated noex vladimir putin. quite a seat for a retired american general. two months later, she was serving as an informal adviser to trump. trump identified a little known energy investor named carter page as one of his foreign policy advisers.
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in 2016 page told bloomberg that friends and associates had been hurt by sanctions against russia and there's a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities tr creating a better situation. on april 27, 2016, trump and several eded a viruss including jeff sessions met russia ambassador to the united states before a campaign speech. the speech, which was hosted by the senator for the national interest, had been arranged by trump's son-in-law jared kushner. he contact before and after the election. russia's deputy foreign minister confirmed the government had communicated with the trump team during the campaign. and we know michael flynn spoke with the ambassador on december 29th. the same day sanctions were announced for its interference in the 2016 election.
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trump transition officials made full statements to the media and the public about the content of flynn's conversations. as a result of flynn having misled them. that led president trump to ask for flynn's resignation, something i'm hoping they can shed some light on in testimony today. the president ask his m administration have yet to take responsibility for or explain these and other troubling russia links. dismissing facts as fake news, and down playing the significance of individuals involved. more than 100 days into the trump administration and nearly two years since he declare d hi candidacy for president, only wub person has been held accountable for improper contacts with yaush, michael flynn. the trump administration ma maintained that flynn's communications with the ambassador were not improper. he simply lost the confidence of the president. we need a more thorough accounting of the facts. an 18-minute gap transfixed the
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country and got everybody's attention in another investigation. in this case, we have an 18-day gap between the notification of the white house that a senior official had potentially been compromised and action taken against that senior official's role. best the trump administration displayed serious errors of judgment. these may reflect errors that corruption at the hands of russian intelligence. my sincere hope is at this hearing and those to come will help us find out. thank you, chairman. >> our two witnesses are well known. but the former director of national intelligence as served this country for decades in uniform ask out ask dedicated his life to intelligence gathering. we appreciate that. ms. yaths was the former attorney general and well respect ed by people in the legl
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protegs. if you will please rise. did you affirm the testimony at the subcommittee is the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god. mr. clapper. >> ranking member ask members of the subcommittee, certainly didn't expect to be before this committee again so soon since i thought i was done with this when i left the government. and this is only my first of two hearings this week. but understandably concern about the egregious russian intern fierce of the election process is is so critically serious as to merit focus, hopefully bipartisan focus, by the congress and the american people. last year the intelligence community conducted an exhaustive review of russian
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interference in the process resulting in a special intelligence community assessment or ica, as we call it. i'm here today to provide whatever information i can, now as a private citizen, on how the intelligence community conducted its analysis, came up with findings and communicated them to the obama administration, trump transition team, congress and unclassified form to the american public. dishlly, four. topics have emerged since the ica was produced. because both classification and some executive privilege requested by the white house, there are limits to what i can discuss. my direct official knowledge of any of this stopped on 20 january when my term of office was happily over. as you know the coordinated product from three agencies. cia, nsa and fbi, not all 17 components of the intelligence
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community. those three. understand the agents of my former office. extensive reporting a about many russian efforts to collect on and influence the outcome of the presidential election, president obama asked us to do this in early december and have it completed before the end of his term. the two dozen or so analysts for this task were hand picked, seasoned experts from each of the contributing agencies. and importantly complete independence to reach their findings. they found that the russian government pursued a multifaceted campaign e in the run up to the election inclouding aggressive use of cyber capabilities. the russians used cyber operations incloud iing hacking and servers used by the national committee. russia also collected on certain republican party targets but not
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release any republican. related data. they concluded that president putin directed an influence campaign to erode the faith and confidence of the american people in our presidential election process. second, this he did so to demean secretary clinton and, third, that he sought to advantage mr. trump. these conclusions were reached based on the richness of the information gathered and analyzed and thoroughly vetted and approved by the directors of the three agencies and me. these russian activities were briefed first to president obama on the 5th of january, then to protect trump at trump tower on the 6th. and to the congress via series of five briefings through the 6th and 13th of january. footnotes drawn from thousands of pages of supporting material. the key judgments in the unclassified version published on the 6th of january were
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identical to the classified version. while it's been over four months since the issuance of this assessment as directors comey and rogers testified before the house intelligence committee on the 20th of march, the conclusions and confidence levels reached at the time still stand. i think that's a statement to the quality and professionalism of the intelligence community people. four related topics have been raised that could use some clarification, i'd like to take a few moments to provide that clarification. first, i want to address the meaning of, quote, unmasking, which is an unofficial term that's appeared frequently in the media as often i think misused ask misunderstood. so it frequently happens that in the course of conducting
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surveillance on validated foreign intelligence targets, the collecting agency picks up communications involving u.s. persons. either their direct interference with a validated foreign intelligence target or where there is discussion about those u.s. persons by validated foreign intelligence targets. under intelligence community procedures, the identities of these persons are typically masked and reports that go out to intelligence consumers and they are referred to each report at a time as u.s. person one, two, et cetera. or the threat that is posed, the consu consumer of that intelligence may ask the identity of the person be revealed. such requests explain why the unmasking is necessary and that explanation is conveyed back to the agency that collected the information. it is then up to that agency
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whether to approve the request and to provide the identity. and of u.s. persons identity is revealed, that identity is provided only to the person who properly requested it, not to a broader audience. this process is subject to oversight reporting and in the interest of transparency, my former office publishes a a report on the statistics of how many persons are ub masked based on collection that occurred under section 702 of the amendment act, which i will speak to in a moment. in 2016 that number was 1934. on several occasions during my years as dni, i requested the identity of u.s. earns to be revealed. in each such instance, i made these requests to fully understand the context of the communication and the potential threat being posed. at no time did i ever submit a request for personal or political purposes or to look at raw intelligence nor am i aware
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of any instance of such abuse by anyone else. second is leaks. leaks have been conflated with unmaskings. but there are two very different things. an unmasking is a legitimate process that consists of approval by proper authorities, as i just briefly described. a leak is an unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information improper under any circumstance. i have long maintained in my career in intelligence that leaks and danger national security, compromise sources, methods and can put asset's lives at risk. for the record in my long career, i have never knowingly exposed classified in an inappropriate manner. third is the issue of counterintelligence investigations conducted by the federal bureau of investigation. while i can't comment in this setting on any particular counterintelligence investigation, it's important to understand how such investigations fit into and
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relate to the intelligence community. at least the general practice i follow as dni with respect to counterintelligence investigations. when the intelligence community obtains information suggesting that a u.s. person is acting on behalf of a foreign power, the standard procedure is to share that information with the lead investigatory body chrks is the fbi. the bureau then decides whether to lock sbo that information and handles any ensuing investigation, it if there is one. given the sensitivity, given the existence of an investigation held at the highest levels. during my tenure as dni, it was my practice to defer to the fbi director, both director muller and director comey on whether, when and to what extent they would inform me about such investigations. this stems from the unique position of the fbi, which both
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intelligence and law enforcement. and as a consequence, i was not aware of the investigation, director comey first referred to during his testimony before the committee for intelligence on the 20th of march, that comports with my public statements. i would like to comment on section 7 o 2 of the amendments act, as it's called, what it governs and why it's vital. this provision authorizes the core to approve electronic surveillance of non-u.s. person, foreign intelligence targets outside the united states. section 702 has been a tremendously effective tool in identifying terrorists and other threats to us, while at the same time protecting the privacy of u.s. persons. and as the chairman indicated, for reauthorization this year, it was renewed in 2012 for five
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years and expires on december 31st. . with so many milsconceptions fo it to become a casualty of misinformation ask for us to lose a tool that is so vital to the safety of this nation. the conclusion of russia's influence activities constituted a high water mark of the long-running efforts since the 1960s to disrupt and influence our elections. they must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal ex. pendture of resource. and i believe they are now emboldened to continue such activities in the future both here and around the world and to do so even more intensely. if there has ever been a call for vigilance and action against a threat to the very foundation of our system, this episode is it. i hope the american people recognize the severity of this
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threat and we collectively counter it before it erodes the fabric of our democracy. i'll turn to my former colleague sally yates for remarks that she has to make. >> ranking member, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, i'm pleased to appear before you this afternoon on this critically important topic of russian interference in our last prlt election and the related topics that the subcommittee is investigating. for 27 years, i was honored to represent the people of the united states with the department of justice. i began as an assistant united states attorney in atlanta in the fall of 1989 and, like all prosecutors, i investigated and tried cases and worked hard to try to ensure the safety of our communities and that those who violated our laws were held
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accountable. over time through five republican and democratic administrations, i assumed greater leadership positions within the department. in the u.s. attorney's office in atlanta, i served as chief of the public corruptions center, first assistant united states attorney and then was appointed united states attorney. then the privilege of serving as deputy attorney general for a little over two years and finally the current administration asked me to stay on as acting attorney general. throughout my time at the department, i was incredibly fortunate to be able to work with the talented, career men and women at the department of justice who followed the facts and applied the law with tremendous care and dedication. and who are, in fact, the backbone of the department of justice. in every step and every position, from ausa to acting attorney general, i always tried to carry out my responsib