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tv   CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow  CNN  May 23, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PDT

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clearly going to the heart of isis and driving a stake through that heart. we assess it will significantly improve the situation. the plotting and the planning that comes from a centralized caliphate or safe haven for isis, we've seen the damage that's occurred. we do assess, however, that its ideology and methods have spread like tentacles into many places, most of them ungoverned countries and sent some foreign fighters back home that might want to carry on their mission. but clearly, the strategy, i belie believe, is the right strategy, and that is to go to the heart and disperse their planning and their leadership. >> the defense science board told this committee, at least in the next decade the offensive cyber capabilities of our most capable adversaries are likely
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to far exceed the united states' ability to defend key critical infrastructure. do you agree with that assessment? >> i do. i do. i think cyber has risen to the top, close to the top of one of the most serious challenges that we face. as i mentioned in my opening statement, we need to see this as a very significant challenge to our public safety as well as the public health. >> two years in a row we have authorized the provision of defensive lethal weapons in the defense authorization bill to ukraine. do you believe we should seriously consider that in light of continued russian aggression in the country? >> well, mr. chairman, that is a little bit outside my portfolio. it's a policy decision that perhaps general stewart may want to discuss, but we want to try
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to continue to provide the intelligence that would shape and fashion that decision among our policymakers, general mattis and others. >> finally on the issue of cyber, right now we have no policy, nor did we for the previous eight years of the last administration. and so, therefore, without a policy, we don't have a strategy. so, therefore, when we don't have a strategy, we don't know how to act. is there -- is that a true depiction of the scenario as we see it as far as cyber is concerned? >> well, i think we're learning that we do need to take this seriously, which we do. we do need to fashion a means by which we address these cyber attacks. they're growing by the day. our critical infrastructure is at risk, our personal lives are at risk, our financial
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community, commercial communities, military and other entities that are important to our national security are at risk and shaping a policy and a plan to address this i think rises to top priority. >> i want to thank you and general stewart for your outstanding work for our country. senator reid. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you, both gentlemen. director coats, apparently, the alleged call was prompted by the testimony of mr. comey that the fbi was conducting investigation into the nature of any links between individuals associated with the trump campaign and the russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and russia's efforts. in your capacity as director of all the intelligence services, including many aspects of the fbi, are you aware of such an investigation? >> well, i'm aware of the investigations that are under
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way, both by the house, the senate, now special counsel. >> and the fbi. >> and the fbi, yes. >> and do you have any reason to question the appropriateness of the investigations? >> no. i think these investigations have -- are in place to get us to the right conclusions so that we can move on with a known result. >> there are other allegations in the article which suggest that either the president or white house personnel contacted other people in the intelligence community with a request to drop the investigation into general flynn. are you aware of any other contacts, not just yourself personally, but to others in the intelligence community to conduct this activity? >> i am not aware of that. >> thank you.
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you have, and general stewart, have painted a very challenging picture of the threats that face us. let me raise two specific issues. one, with respect to iraq, there has been discussions in the kurdish community of a referendum to declare essentially their independence or their desire for independence. in your estimation, director coats, then general stewart, what would that do to the ability of the iraqi government to come together after the defeat of isis? >> well, it certainly adds an issue that is going to need to be worked through. as complicated as the situation is, it would add one more complication. i would turn to general stewart relative to the military aspects of that. >> once isis is defeated in mosul, the greatest challenge to
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the iraqi government is to reconcile the differences between the shia-dominated government, the sunnis out west, and the kurds to the north. resolving the kirkuk oil field and revenues associated with the oil fields, resolving the ownership of the city of kirkuk will be significant political challenges for the iraqi government. failure to address those challenges, coming up with a political solution, will ultimately result in conflict among all of the parties -- >> all right, you've been listening to this hearing inside the senate armed services committee. the director of national intelligence, dan coats, he would not comment. he dodged the question when asked directly. >> he didn't deny. >> he dodged when when asked whether the president asked him to publicly deny that there was any connection between the trump campaign and russia. >> he was also asked by senator mccain about leaks and said "leaks jeopardize those lives" nap was the follow-up question from john mccain. >> bob baer, cnn intelligence
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and security analyst, former cia operative, julian cayenne, former assistant secretary of the department of homeland security, michael balboni, former new york state security director and chris cillizza, editor at large. guys, we're discussing the politics of this because that's what we were watching with this hearing, the director of national intelligence asked to corroborate this report that the president asked him to publicly deny there was any investigation. chris cillizza when you heard the dni say, you know, it's not appropriate for me to characterize these discussions, what did that sound like to you? >> that he's not denying it. look, you know, dan coats is someone who's been around a very long time. he was a senator from indiana, left, came back and represented indiana in the senate before being named dni. he knows how this works. if he wanted to, felt comfortable with making a full-scale denial -- no, president trump never asked me to knock down talk of collusion in the wake of the investigation
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announced by james comey -- he would have done that. that's a setting in which you could do it. he knew, of course, he was going to get that question. this is a way to sort of deflect. it's a way to say not yes but not no, right? this is sort of a middle ground answer that will make some news but not as much news as if senator coats had said, yes, he did ask me to knock that down. >> right. right. guys, we're going to stay on this. we're monitoring a hearing that's about to begin with former nsa director john brennan, as well as waiting for house speaker paul ryan, but we also want to cover the breaking news, the tragedy, that attack last night in manchester. we have all of you here, national security experts. so let me just go to you, bob baer, on the breaking news out of manchester. what we do know is that this is isis, we believe, claiming responsibility. whether it was isis-inspired or isis-plotted. and we know some of the names of the victims, how young they were. an 8-year-old girl dead, an
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18-year-old girl dead. what is your read on this that authorities have arrest ed a 23-year-old man in addition to the apparent suicide bomber? >> well, you know, i think it's probably a bigger sail. this was a well-planned attack. the suicide bomber didn't enter the arena. he didn't have to go through security. he was placed where he would cause the maximum damage in a suicide vest like that. 22 people is probably the maximum damage you can do. these bombs, homemade bombs, have to be very carefully delivered. if it was acetone and peroxide it has to be cooled, and i could go on and on, which suggests that somebody knew what they were doing. these bombs are easy to make, but you still need supervision, and i would expect an arrest and maybe more. i think we're dealing with a cell. the british police are worried about add-on attacks right now, and they're doing everything they can to stop them. >> julia cayenne, as we see the
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former cia director, john brennan, beginning his statement, let me say on the britain terror attack, you note as someone who's worked in homeland security, but also as a mother, that this is a parent's worst nightmare, an attack like this. >> it absolutely is. you know, even sort of the parisian attack that was a bar, or even orlando, you know, i don't want to say some -- no one deserves to die from terrorism, but you know, you sort of prepare yourself for those kinds of attacks, adult, friday night situations. i have three kids. anyone who knows ariana grande knows that your 9 to 13-year-olds are listening to them, they are begging to go to her concert. this is targeted against not only the most defenseless, the most innocent, but also imagine after the attack after the bombings, you know, a child doesn't necessarily know what to do, right? so, that fear and panic even for
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those who have survived lasts a long time. this is a success from the perspective of isis. >> juliette, stay with us for one second. i'm so sorry to interrupt, but let's get to the former cia director, john brennan, listen in. >> along with their talented colleagues from fbi, nsa and the office of the dni tracked and exposed russia active measures against our presidential election. when it became clear to me last summer that russia was engaged in a very aggressive and wideranging efforts to interfere in one of the key pillars of our democracy, we pulled together experts from cia, nsa and fbi in late july to focus on the issue, drawing in multiple perspectives and subject matter experts with broad expertise to assess russian attempts to interfere in the u.s. presidential election. the purpose was to ensure that experts from key agencies had access to information and intelligence relevant to russian actions so that we could have as full an appreciation as possible on the scope, nature, and intentions of this russian
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activity. the experts provided regular updates and assessments through the summer and fall, which we used to inform senior u.s. officials, including president obama. their work also is leveraged for the intelligence community assessment that was completed in early january under the aegis of the director of national intelligence. second, it should be clear to everyone that russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process and that they undertook these activities despite our strong protests and explicit warning that they not do so. along these lines, on 4 august last year, i spoke to alexander bartnikov, the head of the federal securities bureau, fsb, russia's federal intelligence service. the bulk of the call focused on syria, as he was my principal russian interlocketer on such matters. in consultation with the white house, i took the opportunity to raise two additional issues with him. i first told mr. bortnikov that
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the continued mistreatment of diplomats in moscow was irresponsible, reckless, intolerable, and needed to stop. over the years, it has been mr. bortnikov's fsb that has been most responsible for this outrageous behavior. i next raised the published media reports of russian attempts to interfere in our upcoming presidential election. i told mr. bortnikov that if russia had such a campaign under way, it would be certain to backfire. i said that all americans, regardless of political affiliation or whom they might support in the election, cherish their ability to elect their own leaders without outside interference or disruption. i said, american voters would be outraged by any russian attempt to interfere in the election. finally, i warned mr. bortnikov that if russia pursued this course, it would destroy any near-term prospect for improvement of relations between washington and moscow and would undermine constructive engagement, even on matters of mutual interest. as i expected, mr. bortnikov denied that russia was doing anything to influence our
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presidential election, claiming that moscow is a traditional target of blame by washington for such activities. he said that russia was prepared to work with whichever candidate wins the election. when i repeated my warning, he again denied the charge but said that he would inform president putin of my comments. i believe i was the first u.s. official to brace the russians on this matter. third, through the so-called gang of eight process, we kept congress apprised of these issues as we identified them. again, in consultation with the white house, i personally briefed the full details of our understanding of russian attempts to interfere in the election to congressional leadership, specifically senators harry reid, mitch mcconnell, dianne feinstein, and richard burr, and to representatives paul ryan, nanci pelosi, devin nunes and adam schiff, between 11 august and 6 september. i provided the same briefing to each of the gang of eight members. given the highly sensitive nature of what was an active counterintelligence case involving an ongoing russian effort to interfere in our
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presidential election, the full details of what we knew at the time were shared only with those members of congress, each of whom was accompanied by one senior staff member. the substance of those briefings was entirely consistent with the main judgments contained in the january classified and unclassified assessments, namely that russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the u.s. democratic process, denigrate secretary clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency, and to help president trump's election chances. let me conclude by saying that it was a very special privilege to serve as i cia officer for the first 25 years of my public service, and it was the highest honor of my professional career and always will be to have served another four years as director of cia. cia officers of all disciplines, past, present and future, serve this country and their fellow t dedication, talent and courage. they recognize that this country's national security rests heavily on their continued outstanding work and on the sacrifices they and their families make every day on behalf of their fellow citizens.
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we all owe a great debt of gratitude to all cia officers and their families for what they have done and continue to do to protect this country. and i will now be pleased to take your questions. >> well, again, thank you very much for your long service, distinguished, and for agreeing to come this morning. i'm joined on our task force by two able prosecutors who i'd like to yield my five minutes to. tom reed. tom? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. director, if you could just take a quick minute before i start with my line of questioning with regard to what happened last night in manchester to do whatever you can, the best you can from your expert opinion to try to reassure the american people that what we do in this country and what we're trying to do would help thwart and stop any kind of similar activity here in the future. if you could help try to put american minds at ease briefly, i would appreciate any words that you might have of advice.
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>> well, i would say that isis and al qaeda and their terrorist affiliates continue to try to carry out these outrageous attacks in europe as well as the united states. but i can say with great confidence that this country has the absolute best counterterrorism community. together, the experts from intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security, and does a great job of making sure that our federal structure is interoperating as best it can with state and local officials and local law enforcement. and so, i have seen a tremendous, tremendous growth of capability as well as an enhanced national architecture since 9/11 in terms of the ability to share counterterrorism information quickly, terrorist threat information, so that when it's collected overseas or wherever, it gets to those individuals who have to take action on it.
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so, i can assure the american people that i know today my former colleagues are working even harder than they ever have before to prevent attacks. >> thank you, sir. to the matter at hand, we heard the ranking member speak in his opening as well as we've heard in the press numerous times with regard to, and in your opening statement, the russian investigation, what the russians were trying to do with regard to our election, the russians interfering with our election, whether it be through the "rt" or propaganda or whatever. we know that's now unfortunately become the new norm, it's all something we're going to have to deal with. and our charge on this committee isn't so much necessarily to try to seek out and root out criminal behavior, especially now in light of the new special counsel, robert mueller, who would be looking into those type of things, but for us on the intelligence committees, whether it be here or in the senate, to try to improve the intelligence
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community's ability to do our jobs and to make a report, a recommendation to you and the new administration as to how we better defend ourselves against what russia and/or others may be trying to do with regard to affecting our republic and our democracy. and in doing so, if we do find any kind of criminal behavior, i think that the minority would agree that those type of -- that type of information would be referred to the justice department, which is the proper jurisdiction. but with regard to the main question at hand, in your experience with the russians trying to involve themselves in our election, did you ever find any evidence as the ranking member spoke of collusion while you were the director? did you find direct evidence of collusion between the trump campaign and putin and moscow while you were there? >> i never was an fbi agent. i never was a prosecutor.
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so i really don't do evidence. i do intelligence throughout the course of my career. as an intelligence professional, what we try to do is to make sure that we provide all relevant information to the bureau if there is an investigation under way that they are looking into criminal activity. as i mentioned in my opening statement, i was convinced in the summer that the russians were trying to interfere in the election. and they were very aggressive. they had -- it was a multifaceted effort. and i wanted to make sure that we were able to expose as much of that as possible. >> but was there intelligence that said that the trump campaign was including with moscow during their campaign -- >> there was intelligence that the russian intelligence services were actively involved in this effort. and having been involved in many counterintelligence cases in the past, i know what the russians try to do. they try to suborn individuals and try to get individuals, including u.s. persons, to act on their behalf, either wittingly or unwittingly.
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and i was worried by a number of the contacts that the russians had with u.s. persons. and so, therefore, by the time i left office on january 20th, i had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the russians had been successful in getting u.s. persons involved in the campaign or not to work on their behalf, again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion. and so, therefore, i felt as though the fbi investigation was certainly well founded and needed to look into those issues. >> when you talk about -- and i'm running out of time, but hopefully, i'll be able to circle back. can you describe their capabilities beyond just propaganda and actually infiltrating whether or not there was -- you had intelligence to infiltrate the campaign with capabilities beyond just propaganda and beyond just reaching out or trying to influence the news or the campaign?
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and how long have we known about these type of capabilities? >> there's a lot of intelligence that's been built up over the years about russia attempting to gain influence in western democracies, how they've been able to use individuals, they've been able to use politicians, political parties, they've been able to use elements within the media to try to make sure that their objectives are realized. and so, again, knowing what the russian m.o. is and has been, including in elections in europe, i certainly was concerned that they were practicing the same types of activities here in the united states, and that's why, as i said, we set up a group in late july that included the fbi and nsa. i want to make sure that every information and bit of intelligence that we had was shared with the bureau so that they could take it. it was well beyond my mandate as director of cia to follow on any of those leads that involved u.s. persons, but i made sure that anything that was involving u.s. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the trump campaign, was shared with the bureau.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. >> time has expired. mr. schiff, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i wanted to follow up on a comment that i made in the opening statement, and that is with respect to a number of the allegations that have been made recently, that the president or his aides may have sought to enlist the help of members of the ic or director comey himself to drop the flynn investigation, have any members of the ic shared with you their concerns that the president was attempting to enlist the help of people within the intelligence community to drop the flynn investigation? >> no, sir. >> are you aware of any efforts the president has made to enlist the support of intelligence community personnel to push back on a narrative involving the collusion issue that mr. rooney was asking about? >> i am unaware of it. >> i want to ask you about the allegations concerning the president's meetings in the white house, in the oval office with the russians.
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first, what concerns you might have, if the allegations are accurate, about sharing information that we may have obtained from an intelligence partner, what impact you think that might have on not only that partner, but other intelligence partners' willingness to share intelligence with the united states. but more than that, if you could also share your insights on one other thing, and that is, the russians' reaction to that meeting was at least two-fold. one was vladimir putin's offer to validate what happened in the oval office, to provide his own transcript of that meeting, but also the russian publication of photographs from that meeting. the russians had to understand that the publication of those photos would be harmful to the president, or the president would have invited american press into that meeting. what do you think motivated the russians to publish those photos? what do you think motivated putin to make a claim he knew
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everybody was expected to provide their own transcript of that meeting? is this further efforts to weaken the president, disrupt our political process? how do you explain those events? >> a lot of questions there, mr. schiff. first point i'd like to make is that i shared classified information with the russians while i was director of cia. cia on a routine basis shares classified information with russians on terrorism matters. it doesn't mean that it becomes unclassified. it is releasable to russia or other partners. so that in itself is not unprecedented. and i don't know what was said or shared in the oval office, but if the reports in the press are true that mr. trump decided to spontaneously share some intelligence with the russians, i think he would have basically violated two protocols. and those two protocols are, one is that such intelligence, classified intelligence, is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors. it's shared through intelligence channels because it needs to be handled the right way and it
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needs to make sure that it is not exposed. he didn't do that, again, if the press charges are accurate. secondly, before sharing any classified intelligence with foreign partners, it needs to go back to the originating agency to make sure that the language in it is not even just providing the substance going to reveal sources and methods and compromise the future collection capability. so, it appears as though, at least from the press reports, that neither did it go in the proper channels, nor did the originating agency have the opportunity to clear language for it. so, that is a problem. what i was very concerned about, though, is the subsequent releases of what appears to be classified information purporting to point to the originator of the information, liaison partners. these continue to be very, very damaging leaks, and i find them appalling, and they need to be tracked down. so, that was where the damage came from, i think, that it was released in the press. now, the russians are watching very carefully what's going on in washington right now, and
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they will try to exploit it for their own purposes. and to see whether or not they can further i think seed partisan animosity here in washington and try to royal the waters, the political waters here. so, even though the election is over, i think mr. putin and russian intelligence services are trying to actively exploit what is going on now in washington to their benefit and to our detriment. >> again, follow-up on mr. rooney's questions. when you had these concerns raised about the russian efforts and their potential effort to suborn u.s. persons to their cause in the hacking operation, did you take steps to set up an organizational structure to analyze the russian campaign so that members of the fbi, cia, nsa and other agencies would look at these allegations in a cohesive fashion?
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>> yes. and i also recognize that this was an exceptionally, exceptionally sensitive issue. an active counterintelligence case trying to stop and uncover what the russian intelligence activities were. in the midst of a hotly debated presidential campaign. that's including information that may have involved u.s. persons' contacts with russia, whether they benign or not. there are, one of the key pieces of any counterintelligence effort is to compartment that effort so that your operators, your investigators, your collectors can continue to uncover what the russians were doing. we set up a group within cia. i spoke to jim comey, i spoke to mike rogers to make sure they were able to send over their experts so that they could share information among them. even the most sensitive information that was not disseminated within the community. i wanted to make sure that learning the lessons of 9/11, that there were not going to be any stovepipes and barriers to sharing information from the
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intelligence and law enforcement communities. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> chairman is satisfied. mr. gowdy, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director, thank you for your service to our country. let's go back to where we were a couple minutes ago. you mentioned or you testified that you had a conversation in august of 2016 with your russian counterpart. you testified that you briefed at least eight members of congress throughout your investigation. when you learned of russian efforts -- and we'll get on to that in in a minute because my understanding from your report is that russia has historically attempted to interfere with our electoral process, and they did so without coordination, collusion or conspiring with any of the candidates. so, they have a history of doing it. we'll lay that aside for a minute. 2016 electoral process. when you learned of russian efforts, did you have evidence of a connection between the trump campaign and russian state
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actors? >> as i said, mr. gowdy, i don't do evidence, and we were uncovering information and intelligence about interactions and contacts between u.s. persons and the russians. and as we came upon that, we would share it with the bure. >> i appreciate that you don't do evidence, director brennan. unfortunately, that's what i do. that's the word we use. you used the word assessment, you used the word trade craft. i use the word evidence. and the good news for me is lots of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle use the word evidence, too. one of my colleagues said there is more than circumstantial evidence of collusion between the russians and the trump campaign. now, there are only two types of evidence. there's circumstantial and direct. so, if it's more than circumstantial, by necessity, it has to be direct. those aren't my words. those are the words of one of my colleagues on the other side of this very committee. another democrat colleague on the other side of this committee also used the word evidence, that he has seen evidence of
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collusion between the trump campaign and the russians. and yet, a third california democrat said she had seen no evidence of collusion. so, that's three different members of congress from the same state using the same word, which is evidence, and that's the word that my fellow citizens understand, evidence. assessment is your vernacular. tradecraft is your vernacular. you and i both know what the word evidence means, and we're not getting into whether or not you corroborated, contradicted, examined, cross examined. we're not getting into how you tested and probed the reliability of that evidence. it's a really simple question, did evidence exist of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between the trump campaign and russian state actors at the time you learned of 2016 efforts? >> i encountered and am aware of
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information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between russian officials and u.s. persons involved in the trump campaign that i was concerned about because of known russian efforts to suborn such individuals, and it raised questions in my mind again whether or not the russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals. i don't know whether or not such collusion -- and that's your term -- such collusion existed. i don't know. but i know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not u.s. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with russian officials. >> do you know the basis of that information that you shared with the bureau? i mean, what was the nature of the evidence?
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>> i think, mr. gowdy, this committee has now been provided information that relates to that issue in terms of information that the agency shared with the bureau, and that is something that is appropriately classified. >> all right, and you learned that when? when in this chronology did you learn of the contacts between -- are these official members of the trump campaign or -- because there's kind of a hierarchy. trump himself, official members of the campaign and then people who connected themselves with him. >> i'm not going to try to identify individuals nor parse it. >> i don't want you to parse it. i just want you to identify the individuals. >> i'm not going to identify the individuals because this is information that, again, is based on classified sources and intelligence. >> were they official members of the campaign? >> i am going to defer to current agency officials to be able to further provide to you
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information related to that, but my understanding is that this committee has access to the documents that we would have provided to the bureau. >> all right. last question, because i'm out of time. we can use the word evidence. we both know what the other one's talking about. how did you test, probe, examine, cross examine, otherwise test the reliability or believability, credibility of that evidence you uncovered? >> i made sure that the components within cia that have responsible for counterintelligence, cyber, and russia were actively working to understand as much as possible about the reliability, accuracy of the information that they already collected and information that was available that needed further corroboration. >> come back next round. >> thank you, for being here.
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it's good to see you again. i want to use my time to paint a more specific picture around the methods and mechanisms that the russians used to suborn, which is the word that you use and that we've used here today, our democracy and our electoral process. and i want to start with a quote by a report i know you're familiar with, csis's report, "the kremlin playbook," in which they say russia "seeks to corrode democracy from within by deepening political divides." the russians stir the pot, heighten anxieties and know that when they trigger chaos, even if it ends up necessarily affecting them, that they are serving the purpose of weakening us. i want to talk about people, because you made reference to people, and i don't want to do it specifically. i want to do it in the abstract. the kremlin playbook that i just referred to says further that russia looks to corrode democracy by "investing in rising politicians, cultivating relationships with prominent businessmen, or helping to
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ensure that its business affiliates become well positioned in government." mr. brennan, assuming you agree with that, how specifically has the kremlin gone about cultivating relationships with key americans in efforts to influence our policy? >> it is traditional intelligence collection tradecraft in terms of identifying individuals that you think are either very influential or rising stars, and you will try to develop relationship with them. and the russians frequently will do that through cutouts or through false flag operations. they won't identify themselves as russians or as members of the russian government. they will try to develop that personal relationship. and then over time, they will try to get individuals to do things on their behalf. and that's why, again, having been involved in a lot of counterintelligence cases over the years and seeing this pattern over and over again, my radar goes up when i see that the russians are actively involved in a particular
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intelligence operation or campaign and that u.s. persons are being contacted by russian officials. >> so, is it fair to assume -- the phrase you used previously was that you were worried by contacts, that there might have been efforts to suborn. is it fair to say that contacts you word might have been consistent with the age-old russian recruitment methodology? >> sure, and these are contacts that might have been totally, totally innocent and benign, as well as those that might have succumbed somehow to those russian efforts. >> great. let me shift focus from americans to russians. we hear a lot about russian oligarchs, and i'm not asking you about specific russian oligarchs. we may do that in closed session. but can you tell us a little bit about what the role of russian oligarchs is in putin's plan? what levers of influence do they use? and why do some americans fall for contacts with russian oligarchs and businesspeople? >> well, mr. putin's political
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standing in russia is certainly well supported by key oligarchs who control billion-dollar industries and parts of the russian economy, and he is i think reliant on them for support and they are reliant on him for support. and so, they obviously have a lot of international connections, a lot of business connections that they will use to advance their business interests. but also we see that russian intelligence agencies do not hesitate at all to use private companies and russian persons who are unaffiliated with the russian government to support their objectives. >> and so, we've talked about americans and russians now in these couple of minutes. do americans who are suborned in such a way and russian oligarchs that are recruited or suborned, do they necessarily need to know that they are doing russia's
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bidding? >> no, many times they do not. they do not even know that the person they are interacting with is a russian. many times they know that individuals may be russian officials, but they don't know that there is an intelligence connection or an intelligence motive behind it. >> thank you. thank you. i'm running low on time, so i'll just close with this thought. there's hardly anyone left today who doubts that russia attacked us, but what we have to realize is that the true thrust of the russian attack is what they have triggered in us, the partisanship. every time we refuse to face facts, every time we attack the messenger rather than confront the actions that happen, every time we undercut our allies and our alliances and our values, i think we're playing precisely into russia's fondest hopes. we're doing something that in my opinion the great cold warriors, be it ronald reagan or harry truman, would never have allowed. so, i thank you for your testimony and yield back the balance of my time. >> mr. king, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. brennan, before i yield to
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mr. gowdy, i have one question to ask you, and i realize we're in open session, so i'm going to word it a certain way, but i think you'll understand what i'm saying. in the preparation of the report on the 2016 election, which concluded that russia favored the election of donald trump, who would have made the decision to include or exclude any evidence or indications of russian intentions that were contrary to that conclusion? >> myself, jim comey, mike rogers, and jim clapper relied on the experts who pulled this draft together in the intelligence community assessment, and it was a process where the representatives from those entities wrestled with the language to make sure that they had as much accuracy and precision and consensus as possible. so, any adjustments that were made were made during the process. i met with some of my officers who were involved in it. i asked them questions. i wanted to make sure that they were comfortable with sort of the language that was being
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used, but it would have been that internal interagency process that then resulted in the intelligence community assessment. that is the traditional way that these assessments occur, are drafted, are coordinated, and are published. >> and again, without even getting to the final conclusion, if there were other evidence, though, that indicated contrary, should that have been listed or not? >> you're dealing with a lot of information when you put together an intelligence assessment, and it comes down to a distillation process. and as you know, there were two products that were produced, a unclassified version and a highly classified version. and the attempt was to try to include in that highly classified version all of the relevant and pertinent information that needed to be in there in order to undergird the judgments contained. and so, was 100% of all of the information available put into that highly classified one? no, but it was taken into
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account. and so, therefore, again, some decisions had to be made about it. but i am unaware that anything was intentionally excluded because of intelligence that was for some reason one of the agencies didn't want in there for a reason that was not a very legitimate intelligence reason. >> we can discuss that in executive session. mr. gowdy, i yield the rest my time to you. >> thank you for my friend from new york. last time we were talking about the inception of your investigation in 2016. i want the next question to include the inception, dependency up until your very last day at the cia. did you see evidence of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between donald trump and russian state actors? >> i saw information and intelligence that was worthy of investigation by the bureau to
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determine whether or not such cooperation or collusion was taking place. >> that doesn't help us a lot. what was the nature of the information? >> as i said, mr. gowdy, i think this committee now has access to the type of information that i'm alluding to here. it's classified, and i'm happy to talk about it in classified session. >> and that would have been directly between the candidate and russian state actors? >> that's not what i said. i'm not going to talk about any individuals -- >> but that was my question, and you answered it. you didn't answer it that way. >> no, yeah, i responded to your query. and i'm not going to respond to particular elements of your question because i think it would be inappropriate for me to do so here. >> so, the answer -- >> so, i can only repeat what i said, which is that i was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between russian officials and u.s. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the russians either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the fbi
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investigation to determine whether such collusion, cooperation occurred. >> all right. well, there were a bunch of words that start with "c" floating around. i asked you about collusion, coordination and conspiracy, and you used the word contact. and i think in a previous answer, you did a really good job of establishing the contact could be benign or not benign. so, was it contact that you saw? was it something more than contact? what is the nature of what you saw? >> i saw interaction, am aware of interaction that, again, raised questions in my mind about what was the true nature of it, but i don't know. i don't have sufficient information to make a determination whether or not such cooperation or complicity or collusion was taking place, but i know that there was a basis to have individuals pull those threads. >> i don't want to put words in your mouth, but you saw something that led you to refer it to law enforcement, and in your judgment, it is up to law
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enforcement to test, probe, corroborate, contradict, otherwise investigate the full nature of that information you passed on. is that a fair way to put it? >> yes, it is, because it's not cia's job to make a determination about whether a u.s. person is cooperating, colluding or whatever in some type of criminal or illegal matter. it is our responsibility to give the bureau everything they need to follow that path and make a determination and recommendation if they want to press charges. >> all right. we'll pick it up next time. >> five minutes. >> welcome, director brennan. building on the questions that my colleague, mr. himes, talked with you about, i'd like to ask you some more specifics about russia attacking us and how their attacks specifically cause us to doubt our own credibility as americans. i'd like to talk about truth and what it means to be truthful to your country if you are in a position of power.
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director brennan, was putin first within russia and then against us working to undermine truth? and how exactly has he done that? >> mr. putin and russian intelligence services are determined to do what they can to influence in a very inappropriate and illegal way activities within western democracies to undermine the western-led liberal democratic order. they do that on a regular basis. they see that as western democracies as a threat to them. and so, that's why the cyber domain right now is a growing playground for russian activities, and they will use that and exploit it whatever way they can. so, they've been involved in elections for many years, including trying to influence the ones here in the united states with propaganda or whatever, but this cyber environment now provides new opportunities to collect, to collect and release, to
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influence, and they are increasingly adept at it. >> so, you said that they're going to do it again. the ic unclassified assessment said that. and has there been any blowback or consequences to russia for -- what would you do to try to prevent that from happening in future elections? >> well, first of all, i think exposure is very, very important, to make sure that we're able to confront the russians and make sure that partners and allies in other countries around the globe are aware of this type of russian capability. and it also is important, i think, to have the russians incur costs, not just in terms of reputational damage but also actions that i think this government and other governments should take against the russians when they're caught in those types of activities. it goes to our democratic values
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and it's something i think we need to, again, push back hard against. >> have you seen the trump administration do anything to push back, as you said? have you seen or witnessed -- i know you're no longer director, but have you seen any indication that we're trying to punish or stop the russians from doing this again? >> i'm not in a position to evaluate because there could be things going on behind the scenes. we were doing things behind the scenes to try to counter russian activities. we took actions in january in the last days of the administration in terms of a number of russian officials here and trying to clamp down on their intelligence activities. maybe the current administration is doing the same thing. i don't know. >> so, director brennan, can you talk about, more about russia's disinformation campaign and what tools the russians use to do that? >> they use all sorts of tools. as i said, they have been able
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to control various media outlets. obviously, they use "rt" tv here in the united states, which has a fairly significant audience. they use individuals who are writers or publishers, editorialists. again, some of this is very obvious to those who are involved because they're on the payrolls. i'm talking globally now. they're on the payrolls of russian intelligence, and so, they place pieces that advance russia's interests. >> so, i just wanted to really kind of go back to what i was trying to say before, which is about truth, getting to the truth. and i can't emphasize enough how damaging this disinformation campaign is, and it troubles me so much that there are those in this country who are practicing similar tactics, i think, attacking truth, calling disagreeable facts fake news and attacking the messenger, rather than confronting the message that the russians are trying to get us to believe.
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it's divert, it's dissemble, it's deny. these are putins tactics in america. in other words, truth is replaced by trust. people trust this person or this news source, even if it's not objectively true. so, we can't all agree on a common set of facts, and that's a big problem, i believe, that really is leading to the twid that we see in this country. our national security has never been as partisan as it is now. and i think the truth is that they interfered in our elections, and the truth is, the american people want to get to the bottom of it. and the truth is, we as elected officials and on this committee should be doing all we can to make sure that we find out how they did it, we make sure we know who helped them do it, and that we also get to the bottom of making sure that it doesn't happen again. so, my last question to you is
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do you believe that -- one of the things you talked about was exploit. you said that even though the election is over, putin is still, and russians are still exploiting us. what did you mean by that? >> i mean that, again, this has been a pattern of russian intelligence services, to try to take advantage of the openness of western societies, free press and other things, and political parties and systems to find opportunities and vulnerabilities that they can use to advance their interests. they will continue to do this. i think they're probably taking some lessons from this past make them at all recoil and not engage in these types of things in the past. i think what they will do is to further refine their tactics so that they can be >> five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director brennan, thank you for being here today. thank you for your service.
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and i have a number of questions i know in an open setting you won't be able to answer, so i'm looking forward to the closed setting. but if you'll answer to the effect you can in this setting what the russian matters in the campaign were. so, are these -- can you be any more specific than your answer with her about what they were doing, what you saw? >> i think they're chronicled in the assessment, which it is clear the giu was responsible for hacking into the networks of the dnc, dccc, and were responsible through a cutout, releasing it through places like guccifer 2.0, wikileaks and others. and so, they were taking advantage of information that they had collected that they determined if it was publicly released was going to advance their objectives that hi enumerated before.
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in addition, they had fake news stories to denigrate secretary clinton, so it was a mixture of propaganda, it was cyber collection, and it was the release of information that was again seen as damaging to one of the candidates that they were trying to harm. >> so, you said a moment ago that you don't believe they'll be deterred from engaging in activity like this in the future. do you think they would attempt to influence the 2018 midterm elections? >> i have, unfortunately, grudging respect for russian intelligence capabilities and their aggressiveness, their pervasi pervasiveness, and their determination to do what they can to undermine this country's democracy and democratic institutions as well as those certainly in europe and other areas. so, i believe that they will try
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to exploit elections, but they will not wait only until elections. they know that they are, again, aggressively collecting and trying to evaluate individuals who may be influential, who currently are in government or not. the russian intelligence threat is a serious one, and hits it just one manifestation of the nature of that threat. >> during your tenure as cia director, do you have the resources and authorities necessary to conduct what you needed to as it pertained to the russians? >> i had resources and authorities that allowed us to do things, but i think this is something that may be in classified setting we can talk more about it. >> and we need to go to classified setting, i understand, but were there additional suggestions that you would give to this intelligence committee of what we should be doing proactively to enable not
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just the cia, but the fbi and the nsa to thwart future meddling? >> sure. >> okay. based on what happened here, do you think there are ways that we can assist our allies in thwarting what the russians are doing? is it simply sharing information, or are there additional measures that can be taken? because i think if one of us is successful, then more of us can be successful. >> i think it's a combination of things and i have to be careful here, again, in an open setting. but certainly, sharing information and making sure that they're aware of the techniques, the tactics, the procedures, as well as the practitioners that the russians use. that is something that's very important. we also need to be able to work some joint operations together so that we can expose russian actors in a variety of places. and i know that my former
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colleagues who currently are still in the intelligence community are working very closely with a lot of sister services to do exactly that and to catch the russians in their efforts to undermine democratic institutions. we need to continue to do that. we need to continue to do even more of it. >> i'm not sure if you can answer in this setting, but while we're focusing on russia, do you have indications that there was any collusion with the russians, with other state actors, the iranians, the north koreans, to meddle against us? >> i do not believe that they were partnered with other countries in this most recent effort to undermine last year's election. >> do you believe that other countries were involved in attempting to influence us? >> i would have to think about that and i would want to talk to you about that in closed session.
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>> okay. thank you, mr. chairman. >> chairman's time expired. mr. carson, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, director, for your service to our country. we've talked about putin's desire to weaken our democracy from the inside out. now i want to turn to how our democracy has been undermined by attacks on our military, diplomatic and intelligence professionals. in our 240 years, america has spent a lot of blood and treasure to make the world safe for democracy. we've worked to ensure this at home and we've worked to ensure it abroad. our diplomatic, intelligence, and military professionals have been at the forefront of that effort. they're the reason we've succeeded. they've worked tirelessly to promote democratic values because we value democracy in itself, but also because it helps us to prevent war. now, those professionals have helped advance the cause of freedom and they've helped enable economic opportunities. director brennan, in your mind,
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does putin want us to be successful? and secondly, does he want to see democracy thrive around the world? i would imagine he doesn't. >> no and no. >> director brennan, how do our intelligence professionals in particular support america's mission to protect the world from war and to maintain global stability? >> we are the nation's forward deployed radar. we are the ones that need to make sure that we understand what is going on but also what is under way in the future. we need to make sure that we're able to assess capabilities and intentions of foreign actors if they try to do us harm, as well as to support our diplomatic efforts, our war fighters, our homeland security specialists and others. the foreign intelligence ic community has an enormous task to cover the globe, do it 24/7,
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frequently in places where they are in harm's way but also in other areas where the threat to u.s. national security is much less obvious, much more insidious, and sometimes much more threatening. and so, therefore, our nation's intelligence professionals really have a lot on their shoulders as far as keeping this country safe and secure. >> yes, sir. and lastly, director brennan, do you believe, sir, that putin and the kremlin would like to see us hamper and shrink our intelligence and diplomatic capabilities? >> sure. they know that we are their principal nemesis. we are the reasons why they have not been successful in so many areas, and we've been able to undercut and undermine them. so, although they are capable, i wouldn't suggest for one moment that the u.s. intelligence community has not been very successful in preventing and thwarting russian activities. >> that's so important, sir. you know, secretary of defense jim mattis, i think he knows that diplomats are the tip of the sphere. he said himself in 2013, and i
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quote, "if you don't fully fund the state department, then i need to buy more ammunition." so, i am concerned, as we all are, sir, when we see proposed cuts of a third to the state department, a third to the entire budget -- their entire budget -- and the announcement that we, the united states of america, are no longer championing human rights around the world. we are concerned with efforts to undercut our intelligence professionals, comparing them at times to nazis, comments by our own leaders. we can't let vladimir putin continue to undermine us by doing exactly what he wants us to do. generations of intelligence, diplomatic and military professionals have fought for our independence and for the march of democracy around the world, and i don't think, sir, and neither do the rest of us, that we can't let their important work prove to be nothing. i thank you for your commitment and service to our great nation and i yield back, mr. chairman. ir


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