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tv   At This Hour With Kate Bolduan  CNN  June 7, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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other matters. i just don't feel it's appropriate for me to do that in this situation, and then secondly, when i was asked yesterday to respond to a piece that i was told was going to be written and printed in "the washington post" this morning, my response to that was in my time of service which is in interacting with the president of the united states or anybody in his administration, i have never been pressured and i have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship of an ongoing investigation. >> all i would say, director coats, is there was a chance here to lay to rest some of these press reports. if the president is asking you to intervene or downplay. you may not have felt pressure, but if he's even asking, to me that is a very relevant piece of
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information. with admiral rogers, i think we will get another individual's version, but at some point these facts have to come out. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator rush? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and thank you, senator coats -- excuse me, director coats and admiral rogers for your testimony and with all due respect to my colleague from virginia, i think you have cleared up substantially your direct testimony that you have never been pressured by anyone including the president of the united states to do something illegal, immoral or anything else. thank you for that. let's go back to section 702 which is what this hearing was supposed to be all about. it's becoming obvious that those of us that work in the intelligence community that we're in a different position than europe is. europe is -- their risks are obviously very high and they're
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suffering these attacks on a very regular basis and becoming more regular. so let's talk about our collection efforts versus the european collection efforts particularly as it relates to section 702. obviously, we hear in the media frequently about spats between us and the europeans regarding intelligence matters, but we all know that there is a robust communication and cooperation between our european friends and ourselves. so i want to talk about it in -- i want to talk about 702 in that respect. why don't we start, director coats, with you, and i'll throw it up for anybody else that wants to comment on this. how important is 702, the continuation of section 702 and its related parts to doing what we have been as far as helping
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the europeans and the europeans helping us and doing the things that we're doing here in america to see that we don't have the kind of situations that have been recently happening in europe. director coats, i'll start with you. >> having just returned a few weeks ago from major capitals in europe and discussing this very issue with my counterparts, the intelligence communities of these various countries, they voluntarily, before i could even ask the question, expressed extreme gratitude for the ability -- for the information we have been able to share with them relative to threats. numerous threats have been avoided on the collection that we have received through 702 authorities and our notification of them on these impending threats and they have been deterred or intercepted. unfortunately, what has happened just recently, particularly in
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england shows that regardless of how good we are, there are bad actors out there that have bypassed the more concentrated large attack efforts and take it either through inspiration or direction from isis or other terrorist groups have chosen to take violent action against citizens of those countries. the purpose of the trip was to ensure them that they would continue to work and share together their collection activities, capabilities in many cases are good, but in some cases lack the ability that we have and so this ability to share information with them that helps keep their people safe also is highly valued by them,
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but i don't think we should take for granted that just because europe has been the recent target of these attacks that the united states is safe from that. we know through intelligence that there's plotting going on and we know that there's lone wolf issues and individuals that are taking instructions from isis through social media or that for whatever reason oare copycatting what's happening. that threat exists here also and let me lastly say that the nations i've talked to, many of which have been extremely concerned about violating privacy rights, have initiated new procedures and legislation and mandates relative to getting intelligence agencies better collection because they think they need it to protect their citizens. >> thank you very much. and just a few seconds that i've got left, mr. rosenstein, could
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you -- could you tell me, please, we get a lot of pushback from the privacy people and we've now heard testimony that there's been no intentional violation, could you tell the american people what's in store who these guys catch intentionally misusing 702 since you're the highest ranking member of the department of justice here. >> yes, senator. i can assure you, senator, within the department of justice we treat with great seriousness, any violations regarding class -- and if someone had violated section 702 in violation of a criminal law we would investigate that case and if prosecution were justified we the prosecute it. director member ca-- we comply with the constitution and the laws and the procedures and
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we're devoted to make sure that if there are willful violations people are held accountable for them. >> this is your commitment and the department of justice's commitment to the american people? >> that's correct. >> senator feinstein? >> thanks. thank you, mr. chairman. just a couple of comments on section 702. it's a program that i support. it's a program that i believe has worked well. it's a big program. it's an important one. it is a content collection program involving both internet and phone communications so it can raise concerns about privacy and civil liberties. in the year 2016 there were 106,469 authorized targets out of 3 billion internet users. that's the ratio. the question of unmasking has
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been raised. it's my understanding that 1,939 u.s. person identities were unmasked in 2016 based on collection that occurred under section 702. so my question is going to be the following and i'll ask it all together and hopefully you'll answer it. i would like a description of the certification process and the search of an amicus. i would like your response to the fact that the question, the program sun sets after five years about raising that sunset versus no sunset because of the privacy concerns. it's my belief there should be a sunset and the use of an amicus
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which is currently used as part of the certification process and whether that should be continued and formalized. so, admiral, the program's under your -- >> i could. the doj will be smarter on the amicus. would you take that piece and i'll -- >> i'm not sure i am smart on the amicus piece, senator. i can tell you this with regard to the question of unmasking this is primarily a question not by the department, and the determination is made by the intelligence agencies if there is a situation where a foreign person has been communicating about an american person, and a decision is made whether or not the identity of the american person is necessary in order for that intelligence to be properly used. i think what's important for people to recognize, senator, is that's an internal issue and that unmasking is done within the cloak of confidentiality within the community.
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if someone's identity is disclosed because it's relevant for intelligence purposes because that's the goal of this collection is to understand -- >> mr. rosenstein, let me just tell you. i just listened to somebody who should have known better, talking about unmasking in a political sense that's done politically, and that, of course, is not the case. and so what i'm looking for is the definition of how this is done and under what circumstances. >> right. i think, senator, because that's really a decision made by the ic, the intelligence community and not by the department, it would be appropriate for them to respond to that. >> i can do that. with respect to unmasking, the following criterias apply. first, for the national security agency we define in writing who has the authority to unmask a u.s. person identity. that is 20 individuals in 12 different positions. i am one of the 20 in one of those 12 positions of the director. secondly, we outline in writing
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what that criteria that will be applied to a request to unmask in a report and again, part of our process under 702 to protect the identity of u.s. persons as part of our minimization procedures. when we think we need to reference a u.s. person in the report, we will not use a name or an identity, we say u.s. person one, u.s. person two, u.s. person three. that is promulgated. some recipients of the report say i'm trying to understand what i am reading, could you help me understand who is person one and who is person two, et cetera. we apply two criteria to their request. number one, you must make the request in writing number two, the request must be made on the duty, and not that you're just curious. it has to tangibly tie to your job and finally, i said two, but there is a third criterion and that is the basis of the request
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must be that you need this ide notity to understand the intelligence you're reading. we apply those three criterion. we do it in writing and one of those 20 individuals then agrees or disagrees. if we unmask, we go back to that entity who requested it, not every individual who received the report, but that one entity who asked for us, we then provide them the u.s. identity and we also remind them the classification of this report and the sensitivity of that identity remains in place by revealing this u.s. person to you, we are doing it to help you understand the intelligence, not -- not so that you can use that knowledge indiscriminately. it must remain approach yetly protected. >> senator, if i can just add something to that, given the nature of this issue and it's a legitimate question that you've asked, i talked with my colleagues at nsa and cia and
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fbi and so forth and suggesting that we might ask our civil liberties and privacy protection agencies to take a look at this, to see if admiral rogers laid out the procedures. are these the right procedures? would they be doing something different? would they have recommendations that better protected people from misuse of this? and they've all agreed to do that so it's a legitimate issue to follow up on. i've talked to the agency heads about doing so and they're willing to do it? >> if i could, i have an internal review that i've directed given the attention and the focus, let's step back and let's reassess this and ask ourselves is there anything that suggests we need to do something different in the process. >> good. >> thank you. >> with your permission, i would like to more thoroughly answer the question the senator asked. an amicus was used in 2015 and that decision was made by the
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court which has the statutory authority if the court believes it's appropriate in a particular point to appoint an amicus and my understanding is that was done in 2015. thank you. >> well, would you feel it would be helpful to make it a part of the regular certification process? >> my understanding, senator, is that the statute permits the court to do it if the court believes it's appropriate. i believe the court has the authority and i would leave it up to the judges to decide whether it's appropriate to do so. >> senator rubio? >> thank you all for being here. i understand the need for the president to have conversations that are protected including in a classified setting and i also understand the ability for this community to function that it's doing is in the national security interest of the united states and also the importance of its independence and that it's not an extension of politics no matter which administration is at play and in the absence of either one of those two things impacts everything we do including this
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debate that we're having here today and the challenge that we have now is that while the folks here with us this morning are constrained in what they can say, there are people that apparently work for you that are not and are constantly speaking to the media about things and saying things and it puts the congress in a very difficult position because the issue of oversight on both your independence and on your credibility falls on us, and i actually think if what is being said to the media is untrue, then it is unfair to the president of the united states, and if it is true, then it is something the american people need to know in order to conduct our job. and so my questions are geared to director coats and admiral rogers. you've testified that you have never felt pressured or threatened by the president or by anyone to influence any ongoing investigation by the fbi. are you prepared that you have never been deasked by the
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president or the white house to influence an ongoing investigation? >> senator, i just hate to keep repeating this, but i'm going to do it. i have come before the committee to tell you what i know and what i don't know. what i'm not willing to share is what i think is confidential information that ought to be protected in an open hearing. so i'm not prepared to answer your question today. >> director coats, i will say with the incredible respect that i have for you, i am not asking for classified information i am asking whether or not you have been asked by anyone to influence an ongoing investigation. >> i understand. i am not going to go down that road in a public forum, and i also was asked the question if the special prosecutor called upon me to meet with him to ask his questions, i said i would be willing to do that. >> i likewise, stand by my
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previous comment. >> in the interest of time let me ask both of you, has anyone asked you now or in the past before this administration to issue a statement that you knew to be false? >> for me, i stand by my previous statement. i've never been directed to do anything in the course of my three-plus used -- >> not directed. asked. >> that i believed to be inappropriate nor pressured to do so. >> have you asked to say something that isn't true? >> i stand by my previous question, sir. >> director coats? >> i do likewise. >> is anyone aware of anyone in the white house to seek advice on how to influence any investigation? >> my answer is absolutely no, senator. >> no one has anything to add to that? >> i don't understand the question. >> are you aware of efforts by anyone in the white house or the executive branch looking for advice from other members of the
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intelligence community about how to potentially influence an investigation? >> are you talking about me? no. >> no. >> okay. >> who wants to answer? i'm sorry. >> i'm not sure i understand the question, but if you're asking whether we -- i'm aware of requests to other people in the intelligence community, i am not. >> seeking advice on how to potentially influence someone. >> you are not aware of anyone saying or reporting that to you? >> no, sir. >> has anyone ever come forward and said i just got a call from someone at the white house asking me what is the best way to influence someone on an investigation? >> i've never received anything. >> i have no direct knowledge of a call. >> that was made in one of the press reports -- >> i'm sorry. who does? >> i'm confused, sorry. i want to make sure we're clear on the question. the answer is no as i understand
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it and i'm not referring to the particular media report that you're referring to. >> i'm running out of the time, but i want to ask this because this is important. did the nsa repeatedly and extensively violate the rules that were put in place in 2011 to minimize the risk of collection of upstream information? >> have we had compliance incidents? yes. have we reported every one of those to the court? yes. have we reported those to our congressional oversight in congress? yes. have we reported those to the department of justice and the director of national intelligence? yes. >> did under the obama administration, was there a significant uptick in efforts and incidents of unmasking from 2012 to 2016? >> i don't know that. >> who would know that? >> we have the data and i wouldn't know that off the top of my head on i year by year basis. i just don't know off the top of my head. >> senator? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i've noted the conversations
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you've had with my colleagues with respect to the content of conversations that you may have had with the president. my question is a little different. did any of you four write memos, take notes or otherwise record yours or anyone else's interactions with the president related to the russia investigation? >> i don't take any notes. let's just get the four of you on the record. >> senator, i rarely take notes and i've taken a few today, but i am not going to answer questions regarding the russia investigation. >> not on whether you wrote a memo. >> i'm not going to answer any questions about the -- >> my time will be short. whether you wrote memo, notes or anything. >> i'm not going to comment on conversations i had or notes
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taken or not taken relevant to the russia investigation. >> likewise, i take the same position. >> director coats, on march 23rd, you testified to the arms services committee that you are not aware of the president or white house personnel contacting anyone in the intelligence community with a request to drop the investigation into general flynn. yesterday, "the washington post" reported that you had been asked by the president to intervene with director comey to back off of the fbi's focus on general flynn. which one of those is accurate? >> senator, i am -- i will say once again, i am not going to get into any discussion on that in an open hearing. >> both of them can't be accurate, mr. director. mr. director, as recently as april you promised americans that you would provide what you called a relevant metric for the number of law-abiding americans who were swept up in the fisa
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702 searches. this morning you went back on that promise and you said that even putting together a sampling, a statistical element would jeopardize national security. i think that is a very, very damaging position to stake out. we will battle it out in the course of this because there are a lot of americans who share our view that security and liberty are not mutually exclusive. we can have both. you rejected that this morning. you went back on a pledge, and i think it is damaging to the public. now let me -- >> senator, could i answer the question? >> mr. director, my time is short, and i want to ask you about one other -- >> well, i would like to answer your question. >> briefly. >> what i pledged to you in my confirmation hearing is that i would make every effort to try to find out why we were not able
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to come to a specific number of collection on u.s. persons. i told you i would consult with admiral rogers. i told you i would go to the national security agency to try to determine whether or not i was able to do that. i went out there, i talked to them, they went through the technical details. there were extensive efforts on the part of -- i learned, on the parts of nsa to try to come to get you an appropriate answer. we were not able to do that. >> respectfully, that's not what you said. you said, and i quote, we are working to produce a relevant metric. now let me go to my other question. >> we were not able to do that. to achieve it. working to do it is different than doing it. >> you told the american people that even a statistical sample would be jeopardizing america's national security. that is inaccurate and i think
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detrimental to the cause of ensuring we have both security and liberty. here is my other question. we are trying to sort out -- >> can the witness respond? >> who are the targets -- >> apparently not. >> who are the targets of a 702 investigation? director comey gave three different answers in a hearing a month ago, and i think it would be very helpful if you would tell us, who, in fact, is a target of these investigations. i want to go after serious foreign threats, but we don't know as of now with director comey having given three different answers who the targets are. mr. director? >> well, i can't speak for director clapper. targets, as i understand are non-u.s. persons, foreign
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individuals are the targets in terms of 702 is directed and prohibited from directing targets on u.s. persons. >> my time is up. i will tell you, director comey gave three answers. he finally said i could be wrong, but i don't think so. i think it's confined to counterterrorism, to espionage and finally, he said, he didn't think a diplomat could be targeted. so we need you all in addition to protecting the liberties of the american people to tell us who the targets are. >> i would like to respond to that by saying some of those targets are classified, highly classified. >> i understand that. >> some of those targets by revealing those names of those targets release the methods that we use and then have them turned against us and could cost the lives or put some of our agents in significant -- >> director comey listed a
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number of target which is is why there's confusion. he said that on the record. we need you to tell us on the record, as well, consist went protecting sources and methods. >> senator collins? >> thank you, mr. chairman. director coats, first, let me thank you for a very cogent explanation of section 702 and the fact that it cannot be used to target any person located in the united states whether or not that person is an american. i think there's a lot of confusion about section 702, and i appreciate your clear explanation this morning. >> thank you. >> i have a question for each of you that i would like to ask and i want to start with admiral rogers. admiral rogers, did anyone at the white house direct you on how to respond today or to -- were there discussions of
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executive privilege. >> have i asked the white house, is it their intent to invoke executive privilege? yes. the answer i gave today reflects my answer. no one else's. >> director coats? >> my answer is the exact same. >> deputy attorney general rosenstein? >> i have not had any communications with the white house about invoking executive privilege today. >> director mccabe? >> i have not had any conversations with the white house about executive privilege today either. >> admiral rogers, in january, the fbi and the cia and nsa joined the issued and intelligence community assessment on russian involvement in the presidential elections. the -- you've testified today that the ic relied in part on 702 authorities to support its conclusion that the russians were involved in trying to
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influence the 2016 elections. can you provide us with an update on nsa's further work in this area? >> in terms of the russian efforts largely? >> yes, ma'am. >> we continue to focus analytic and collection effort trying to generate insights as to what the russians and others are doing, particularly with respect to efforts against u.s. infrastructure and we continue to generate insights on a regular basis. if my memory is right i testified before the system, and we did the open threat assessment and in that hearing which i think was the 11th of may, i reiterated we continued to see similar activity that we highlighted in the january report and much of those trends continue and much of that activity continues. >> it's my understanding that president obama requested the report that was issued in january, is that correct? >> yes, ma'am. he asked for a consolidated single input from the ic as to
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the request did the russians or did they not attempt to influence. >> could you explain the difference between the request from president obama for that unclassified assessment and the allegations that president trump requested that you publicly report on whether or not there was any intelligence concerning collusion between the russians and the members of the trump campaign. president trump's campaign. >> i apologize. i'm confused by the question. i'm want going to comment on any interactions with the president. i don't think that's appropriate. as i previously testified i stand by that report. >> let me ask a question that i'm truly trying to get a handle on, and that is how the intelligence community reach a
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decision on whether or not to comply with the request that comes from the president of the united states. obviously, you report to the president of the united states and i'm interested in what process you go through to decide whether or not to undertake a task that's been assigned by the president, by any president? >> off the top of my head i would say we comply unless we have reason to believe that we are directed to do something that is illegal, immoral and unethical. we will not execute that. >> thank you. >> senator heinrich? >> director mccabe, did director comey ever share details of his conversations with the president with you, in particular did director comey say that the president had asked for his loyalty? >> sir, i'm not going to comment
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on conversations the director may have had with the president. he'll be here tomorrow, and you'll have the opportunity to ask him that. >> i'm asking you, did you have a conversation like that with mr. comey. >> i've responded that i'm want going to comment on those conversations. >> why not? >> for two reasons. first, as i mentioned, i'm not in a position to talk about conversations that director comey may or may have had with the president -- >> i'm not asking that. i'm asking about conversations that you had with director comey. >> i think those fall within the scope of issues investigated by the special council and it wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on those today. >> you're not invoking executive privilege and it's not classified. this is the oversight committee. why would it not be appropriate for you to share that conversation with us? >> i think i'll let director comey speak for himself tomorrow in front of this committee. >> we certainly look forward to
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that, but i think your unwillingness to share that conversation is an issue. >> director coat, you've said, as well that it would be inappropriate to answer a simple question about whether the president asked for your assistance in the russian investigation. i'm not asking how you felt or whether you felt pressured. i'm simply asking did that conversation occur? >> and once again, senator, i will say that i do believe it's inappropriate for me to discuss that in an open session. >> you realize, and obviously, this is not releasing classified information, but you realize how simple it would simply be to say, no, that never happened? why is it inappropriate, director coats? >> i think conversations between the president and myself are -- for the most part -- >> you seem to apply that standard selectively.
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>> no, i'm not applying it selectively. i'm just saying -- >> you can clear an awful lot up by simply saying -- >> i don't share -- i do not share with the general public conversations that i have with the president or many of my admin -- colleagues within the administration that i believe should not be shared. >> well, i think your unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes. >> it's not a matter of unwillingness -- >> it is a matter of -- >> it's a matter of how i share it and with whom i share it to and when there are ongoing investigations i think it's inappropriate to -- >> so you don't think the american people deserve to know the answer to that question? >> i think the investigations will determine that. >> mr. rosenstein, did you know when you wrote the memo that was used as the primary justification for firing director comey that the administration would be using it as a primary justification? >> sir, as i know you're aware,
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there are a number of documents associateded with me that are in the public record and the memorandum i wrote with director comby is in the public record and appointing the special counsel is in the public record and what i issued is in the public record and a written version of the statement that i delivered to -- >> were you aware of the justification for his firing? >> pardon me, senator, i answered many questions in the closed briefings. of the 100 senators. >> but you're not answering this question. >> as i explained in those briefings, senator, i support mr. mccabe on this, we have a special counsel who is investigating and now responsible for the russia investigation. >> at this point, you filibuster better than most of my colleagues and i'll move on to my next question and given that the president stated that the fine director that his firing was in response to
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investigations into russia which me made very clear in lester holt's interviews. you spoke about this firing. in light of mr. sessions' recusal, what role did the attorney general play in that firing and was it appropriate for him to write the letter that he wrote in this case? >> i'm not trying to filibuster, senator. i think i only took about 30 second, but i am not going to comment on that matter. i'm going to leave it to special counsel mueller whether that's appropriate for mr. mccabe and me to do that. >> you can't comment on recusal on what's inside and outside the scope of that recusal. >> let the witness answer the question. >> second the motion. >> i'm sorry. your specific question is what's in the recusal? my happeneding is the requdsal you're referring to is in the public record and i believe it speaks for itself.
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>> thank you, mr. chair. >> senator blunt. >> director mccabe on may the 11th when you were before this committee you said that there has been no effort to impede the russian investigation. is that still your position? >> it is, but let me clarify, senator, i think you're referring to the exchange that i had with senator rubio and my understanding and at least my intention on providing that answer was whether or not the firing of director comey had had a negative impact on our investigation and my response was then and is now that the fbi investigated and continues to investigate and now, of course, under the special counsel, the russia investigation in an appropriate and unimpeded way since director comey was fired and since he's been gone. >> i think as i recall that conversation it was a discussion over there were plenty of
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resources and whether the funding was adequate and what you were reported to have said and i haven't looked at the exact transcript, but i have looked at the news article was that you were aware of no effort to impede the russian investigation? >> we did talk about resource issues and whether or not we had asked for additional resources to pursue the investigation, and i believe my response at the time was we had not asked for additional resources and that we had adequate resources to pursue the investigation. that was true then. it is still true today. >> and you would characterize your, quote, as no, fort effort impede the russian investigation as still accurate? >> that's correct. >> on the 702 issue, when the fbi wants to -- wants to follow up on or pursue a u.s. person in or outside the united states, what court do you go to to make
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that happen? do you go to the fisa court? >> if we're seeking collection under 702. >> how do you relate to 702? do you seek collection under 702? >> well, let me step back just a minute. of course, when the fbi seeks electronic surveillance collection on a u.s. person we go to the fisa court and get a title 1 fisa order to do so. if we have an open, full investigation on a foreign person in a foreign place and the collection is for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence, we can nominate that person or that as we refer to it internally the selector, whether it's an e-mail address or that sort of thing, we can nominate for 702 coverage. we convey that nomination to the nsa and they pursue coverage under the nsa authority. >> but you would be the person to pursue coverage for a u.s. person either here or outside the united states? >> that's correct, senator. >> with the fbi? >> we are the u.s. person
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agency. that's right. >> and admiral rogers, senator feinstein mentioned that last year, 1139 u.s. persons, the phrase we're using now, unmasked for some purpose tp is that a number you agree with? >> it's in the 2016 odni-generated transparency report. from memory, the number is 1,934, from memory. i could be wrong, but -- >> i misheard -- what would the number have been in 2015? >> to be honest, i don't know. i would have to take that one for the record. i do know that we didn't have to start, um, with the transparency commitment that we made partnering with the dni. we didn't start that until the latter end of 2015. so the 2015 data that's opinion published is a matter of public record is a subset of the entire calendar year.
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2016 was the first year we published the entire data for the year. >> director coats, do you have information on that? >> i've seen the number and i don't recall -- >> i guess what i'm asking and you can take this for the record, is was there an increase in 2016. did you have significantly more requests based on your subset in 15, happen in 16 than you had had -- >> i don't know off the top of my head. we'll take it for the record, but i will say this, 702 collection has continued the amount of total collection has increased generally every year. it's more and more impactful for us. it generates more and more value. >> when 702 generates information that would indicate there was a u.s. person involved in criminal activity, what do you do with that information? >> if we report it to either to doj and the fbi because we're not a criminal organization. >> and what do you do if you get that information at doj, mr.
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rosenstein? >> information from a 702 collection that clearly indicates there is say crime involving a u.s. person? >> i hesitate because that's an fbi issue so i would defer to mr. mccabe. >> we take that referral and if that's a u.s. person we build an investigation aiming towards title 1 fisa collection. >> with adequate protections for u.s. persons and -- >> of course. >> and through the chain of transmission of material? >> that's right. >> thank you, chairman. >> senator king? >> thank you, mr. chairman. first on 702, like senator feinstein, i want to express my support for this important tool for our intelligence agencies. i do have a concern which we can discuss perhaps in closed session about the process by which american names which are incidentally collected are then queried. i'm concerned by the distinction between query and search and where we run into the fourth
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amendment. it strikes me as bootstrapping to say we collected it legally under 702, and then we can go and look at these american persons, and i believe that the fourth amendment imposes a warrant requirement in between that step which is not present at the present process. we can discuss that at greater length. >> mr. mccabe, i'm puzzled by your refusal to answer senator heinrich's question about the conversation you may have had by director comey. what's your basis for your refusal to answer that question. >> i can't sit here and tell you whether or not those conversations that you're referring to -- >> why not? do you not remember them? >> no, i don't know whether conversations along the lines that you have describe fall within the purview of what the special council -- >> is there a prohibition in the law that you can't discuss an item that you've been asked
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directly a question? >> it would not be appropriate for me, sir, to discuss issues within the purview of the special counsel's investigation. >> and that's the basis of your refusal to answer this question. >> that and knowing, of course, that director comey will be at this table tomorrow. >> it is special counsel is entitle ask you questions about this and not an oversight committee of the united states congress? >> it is my position that i have to be particularly careful about not stepping into the special counsel's lane -- >> i don't understand why the special counsel's lane takes precedence over the lane of the united states congress and the investigative and oversight committee. can you explain that distinction? >> why does special counsel get deference and not this committee? is there a legal basis for that distinction? >> i would discuss it more fully with my general counsel and the department. >> on the record, i would like a legal justification for your refusal to answer the question today because i think it's a straightforward question. it's not involving discussions
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with the president, and discussions with mr. comey. gentlemen, director coats and admiral rogers, i think you testified, admiral rogers that you does discuss today's testimony with someone in the white house? >> i said i asked did the white house intend to evoke executive privileges associated with any interactions between myself and the president of the united states? >> and what was the answer to the question? >> to be honest i didn't get a definitive answer and both myself and the dni are still talking. >> why are you not answering these questions? is there an invocation by the president of the united states of executive privilege? is there or not? >> not that i'm aware of? >> why are you not -- >> because i feel it's inappropriate. >> what you feel isn't relevant, admiral. what you feel is -- why are you not answering the questions? is it an invocation of executive privilege. if there is, then let's know about it. if there isn't, answer the
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questions. >> i stand by the comments i've made. i'm not interested in repeating myself sir, and i don't mean that in a contentious way. >> well, i do mean it in a contentious way. i don't understand why you're not answering our questions. when you were confirmed before the armed services committee you took an oath. do you solemnly swear to give the committee the truth, the full truth so help you god. you answered yes. >> i answered those questions are classified and it is not appropriate in an open forum to discuss that. >> what is classified about whether or not you should intervene in the fbi investigation. >> sir, i stand by my previous comments. >> mr. coats, same series of questions. what's the basis for your refusal to answer these questions today? >> the basis is what i've previously explained. i do not believe it is appropriate for me to -- >> what's the basis. i'm not satisfied with i do not believe it is appropriate or i
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do not feel i should answer. i want to understand a legalis bahhis, you swore that oath to tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing, but the truth and today you are refusing to do so. what is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee? >> i'm not sure i have a legal basis, but i am more than willing to sit before this committee during its investigative process in a closed session and answer your questions. >> well, we're going to be having a closed session in a few hours. do you commit to me that you will answer the questions in a direct and unencumbered way. >> that closed session you will have in a few hours involves the staff going over the technicalities of a number of these issues and it doesn't involve us. >> well, is it your testimony that when you're before this committee in a closed session you will answer these questions directly, unequivocally and without hesitation? >> i plan to do that, but i do have to work through the legal counsel at the white house relative to whether or not they're going to exercise
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executi executive -- >> admiral rogers, would you answer this in a closed session? >> i answer likewise. i hope that is what happens, i do have to acknowledge because of the sensitive nature and the executive privilege aspect of this i do need to be talking to the general counsel and the white house. i hope to come to the position to have that dialogue and i welcome the dialogue, sir. >> both of you have testified that you have never been pressured under three years. you have waived executive privilege by testifying as to something that didn't happen and i believe you opened the door to these questions and i -- it is my belief that you are inappropriately refusing to answer these questions today. thank you, mr. chairman. >> before i turn to senator langford, let me say that the vice chairman and i have had conversations with acting attorney general rosenstein when special counsel was named, and
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as i had shared with the members of this committee prior to that that as we carried out an investigation there would come a point in time either with an investigation that was currently ongoing at the fbi or if there was a special counsel, with the special counsel where there would be avenues that this committee could not explore, and it was my hope that already the vice chair and i would have had that conversation with the special counsel. we have not. we've made the request. we intend to have it, and i think that both of us anticipated that we would reach this point at some point in the investigation. we are there where there are some things that will fall into the special counsel and/or an active investigation, vice chairman. >> let me just say, though, that
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at this point we've not had that conversation with mr. mueller. we've not been waived off on any subject, and the way i'm hearing all of you gentlemen, is that mr. mueller has not waived you off from answering any of these questions. is that correct? >> i've had no conversations with mr. mueller and i've been out of the country for the last nine days. >> because if you've want had questions waived off with mr. mueller, i think, frankly, and i understand your commitment to the administration, but senator king and senator heinrich and my questions deserve answers and at some point the american public deserves full answers. >> i'm going to ask mr. rosenstein to address that. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i'm sensitive to your desire to keep our answers brief and my answer is lengthy and from my perspective with the department of justice and i've been there
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for 20 years and mr. mccabe as a career employee of the department of justice, our default answer is when that's our default rule. >> is that the rule for the president of the united states, as well? >> i don't know what. >> because that is what the questions are being asked about, reports that nobody has laid to rest here that the president of the united states has intervened directly in an ongoing fbi investigation and we've gotten no answer from any of you, and frankly, we've at least heard frerd director coats and admiral rog hers they've not been asked to recuse an answer because of director mueller. i don't understand why we can't get that. >> i'm not asking for director rogers or coats. i'm answering for director mccabe and myself with regard to the department of justice. >> senator lankford. >> director mccabe, do you feel confident at this point the fbi is fully cooperating with special counsel for any requests
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for communication and setting up coordination between the offices for documents, work products, insight, anything the special counsel as they're trying to get organized and get prepared for the investigations they're taking on. >> is everyone in the fbi fully cooperating with the special counsel? >> absolutely confident of that. we have a robust relationship with the special counsel's office and we are supporting them with personnel and resources in any way they request. >> thank you. admiral rogers, this spring nsa decided to stop doing about queries. that was a long conversation that's happened there. it's now come out in the public about that conversation that that was identified as a problem. the court agreed with that. and that has been stopped. what i need to ask you is, who first identified that as a problem? >> the national security agency did. >> okay. so how did you report that, reported that to who, how did that conversation go once you identified we're uncomfortable with this type? >> so in 2016, had i directed
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our office of compliance, let's do a fundamental baseline review of compliance associated with 702. we completed that effort. my memory is i was briefed on something like october 20th. that led me to believe the technical solution that we put in place is not working with the we loiblt that's necessary. then from memory i went to the department of justice and then onto the fisa court at the end of october, i think it was something like the 26th of october and we informed the court we have a compliance issue here and we're concerned there's an underlying issue with the technical solution we put in place. we needed some period of time to work our way through that. the court granted us that time. in return, the court also said we will allow you to continue 702 under the 16 authorizations but we will not reauthorize 17 until you show us that you have addressed this. we then went through an internal process, interacted with the department of justice as well as the court and by march we had come to a solution that the fisa
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court was comfortable with. the court authorized us to execute that solution and also then granted us authority for the 17, 6702 effort. >> so you reported initially to the court this is an issue or the court initially came to you and said we have an issue. >> i went to the court and said we have an issue. >> the court said we agree, we have a problem, as well. >> then it got held up, went through the process of review. the court is now signed off on the other 16. >> that's correct how does this harm your collection capabilities to not be able to do the about collections? >> i acknowledged that in doing this, we were going to lose some intelligence value. but my concern was, i just felt it was important, we needed to be able to show we're fully compliant with the law and the technical solution we had put in place i didn't think was generating the level of reliability and as a result of that, i said, we need to make the change. i will say this in the fisa's court opinion says the same thing, i also told the court at the time, if we can work that
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technical solution in the way it generates greater reliability, i would potentially come back to the department of justice and the court to recommend that we reinstitute it. in fact, the court acknowledged that in their certification. >> when you say greater reliability, tell me what you mean by that. >> because it was generating errors. our office of compliance highlighted the specific number of cases in 2016 and i thought to myself, clearly it's not working as we think it is. we were doing queries unknowingly to the operator in a handful of situations against u.s. persons and i just said hey, that is not in accordance with the intent of the law. >> clearly it's not. not only the intent, it's actual statute itself that we protect u.s. persons from -- so what i'm hearing from you is the accountability system worked. >> yes, sir. >> that the issue rose up, we're
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collecting, we do have information on u.s. persons. we don't want to get that information. immediately the process went through the to stop it. the court put the final stop on it. it was corrected and that's now cleared. >> yes, sir and in fact we're purging it the data, as well. i don't know if we stopped doing it but we're purging the data we had collected under the previous authorization. >> the issue on 702, most oklahomans that i interact with don't know the term 702. but if i asked them should we collect information on terrorist organizations and terrorists overseas who are planning to carry out attacks on us and our allies they don't hesitate. they say absolutely we should do that. now, they don't want collection on themselves and their mom. but they absolutely want us to be able to target terrorists. so the issue i think we talk about when we talk about 702 on in is a norm will conversation back home that if we miss something internationally, everyone says i thought we were
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doing this. why aren't we? so i fully appreciate the civil liberties conversation, the privacy questions. those are things i'm also passionate about. it's very interesting for me to hear from you that you're passionate about and nsa is passionate about to make sure we're not collecting on americans. i appreciate that. when it comes out in the media that this has occurred, it shows the system itself worked. when there was a query going on that was collecting on americans, it was stopped immediately, data is purged. but we're still continuing to be able to target on threats internationally. i do appreciate that. thank you, i appreciate and yield back the time. >> senator mansion. >> i want to thank all four of you for your service and you are held at the highest regards by your colleagues and your peers. i think that speaks volumes of the character of all four of you. i appreciate that very much. we have a committee here which i'm so proud to be service, i'm brand-new on the committee. this is my first time at this. and i don't think there's a
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person up here that doesn't want to find out the facts and the truth and be able to go back home and explain to democrat and republican colleagues and no matter what political persuasion we have gotten the facts from our intel which we truly appreciate and respect the quality of the job work that you do. and this is our findings. we're having a hard time getting there, as you can tell. i respect where you all are coming from. and i hope you could understand that sooner or later, we're going to have to. there has to be one element of this government that the public can look at and say, this is not politically motivated. this is not a witch hunt. no one's trying to harm anybody. we just want to do the business of our government and our country and do the best that we can for that and an make sure they have the confidence in the people that they've put at the head and have elected. that's what we're trying to get to. today has been very difficult. me sitting here listening to some of the answers and inability to answer some of the questions. if the intelligence committee in the senate cannot get answers we
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know in an open setting like this, are these answers that we're asking the questions that were asked today, would they be given into a classified intel setting that we would have? could you answer differently? than what you've given us an open session? i think direct kerr coats, you said that you would be able to answer differently. >> i think i've made that very clear or tried to. >> admiral rogers. >> likewise, i certainly hope so. >> mr. rosenstein, would you. >> speaking for mr. mccabe and myself, we have been involved in managing the criminal investigation and soles i would ask that you as chairman burr suggested it's really appropriate for director mueller since we've turned over control of that investigation to him to make the determination in the first instance what we can and can't speak about. i would encourage you to use him as your point person as to whether or not it's appropriate to reveal that information. >> let's say that the question asked to mr. mccabe, i think
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they weren't anything on the investigation side. it was asked directly. could you answer differently in a classified setting, sir? >> i would reiterate the d'agostini's comments. it's at this point with the special counsel involved, it would be appropriate for the committee to have the an understanding with the special counsel's office where those questions would go. as we have historically, when we are investigating sensitive matters in which operational security is of utmost importance, members of the intelligence community typically come and brief the leadership congressional leadership on sensitive investigative matters. we have done so. i have done so director comey has done so prior to the appointment of the special counsel and some of the questions you asked this morning were addressed in those closed very restricted small settings. >> let me say this. if it would be the desire of the chairman and vice chairman if we could, since we have a classified hearing scheduled for
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2:00 this afternoon, would you all make yourself available since it doesn't linger on? there's been a lot of questions and ana lot of buildup, anxiety if you will. i think you could help an awful lot of us clear the day up. >> if i could address the senator's question, this afternoon is set with technical people to walk us through 702. rest assured that we will take the first available opportunity to have people back in closed session to address those questions that they can address. and hopefully prior to that, the vice chair and i would have an opportunity to meet with director mueller to determine whether that fits within the scope of his current investigation and we will do that. >> mr. chairman, the oh only thing i'm saying i know that you can tell by the intensity of the questions here that there's a lot of concerns right now. we have both director coats and admiral rogers willing to say in a classified hearing that they would be able to answer differently. that's the only reason i brought that up


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