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tv   At This Hour With Kate Bolduan  CNN  July 12, 2017 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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i look forward to being responsive to the members of this committee in whatever way is appropriate. >> i didn't mean to interrupt his answer. i'm sorry. senator graham? >> thank you, mr. wray. you have been outstanding. your words today will matter. america is listening about what is going on in this hearing. you are going to be speaking pretty soon i think as the top cop in the land. are you familiar with an article from politico january 11, 2017 titled, efforts to sabotage trump backfire? >> i am not. >> i'm going to read this. donald trump wasn't the only one whose campaign was boosted by others. they tried to undermine trump. they disseminated documents imply implicating a top trump aide only to back away.
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they helped clip t eed clinton' research information on trump and his advisers. the operative who was consulting for the dnc met with top officials in the ukrainian embassy in washington in an effort to expose ties between trump campaign aide paul manafort and russia according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. have you heard of those allegations before? >> i have not. >> i have no idea if they are true. if they are true, that's wrong for the ukraine to be involved in our election? >> yes, senator. >> i got you. that's a good answer. will you look into this? >> i would be happy to dig into it. >> thank you. are you familiar with the e-mail problems we have had with donald junior the last few days? >> i have not. i have heard there is an issue. i spent the last --
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>> i will raise something to you. this is an e-mail sent june 3, 2016 by rod goldstone, who is someone connected to the miss universe pageant and has tied to russian entertainment to donald junior. called and asked me to contact you. the crown prosecutor of russia met with his father. they offered to provide the trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate hillary and her dealings with russia and would be very useful to your father. this is obviously very high level and sensitive information. but as part of russia and its government support for mr. trump, helped along. what do you think is the best way to handle this information? would you be able to speak about it directly? i can also send this to your father via rona, but it's ultra
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sensitive. wanted to send to you first. 17 minutes later, donald trump junior replied, thanks, rob, i appreciate that. i am on the road at the moment but perhaps just speak to emet first. if it's what you say, i love it, especially later in the summer. could we do a call first thing next week when i'm back? should donald trump junior have take than meeting? >> i'm hearing for the first time your description of it. i'm not in a position to speak to it. i gather that special counsel mueller -- >> if i got a call from somebody saying the russian government wants to help lindsey graham get re-elected, they have dirt on the opponent, should i take that meeting? >> i would think you would want to consult with some good legal advisors before you did that. >> should i call the fbi?
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>> i think it would be wise to let the fbi -- >> you are going to be the director of the fbi. here is what i want you to tell every politician. if you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the fbi. >> to the members of this committee, any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the fbi would want to know. >> i will take that we should call you. that's a great answer. now this is what don junior said saturday before the e-mail came out. if i can find it here. this is his statement. about what i just read to you. it was a short introduction te meeting. we discuss aid program about the adoption of russian children.
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that was active and popular with american families and was ended but is not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow-up. i was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance but was not told the name of the person i would be meeting with beforehand. do you think that's a fair summary of the contact between donald trump junior and this rod goldstone? >> i don't know what would be a fair summary. >> would you agree this is very misleading? >> senator, i don't have the full context to speak -- >> i want you to look at it and get back with the committee and find out if that was misleading. is russia our friend or enemy? >> senator, i think russia is a foreign nation that we have to deal with very wearily. >> do you think they're an adversary of the united states? >> in some situations. >> in the situation of trying to compromise our election?
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>> yes. >> do you believe the russians did it when it came to the hacking into the dnc and podesta's e-mail ss? do you believe the conclusions? >> as i said -- >> do you have any -- >> i have no reason to doubt the conclusions. >> would that make you a good candidate to be the enemy of the united states? >> an effort to interfere with our elections is an adversarial act, as you said before. >> comey, did you see the press conference he gave about the hillary clinton investigation in july of last year? >> not live. but yes. >> would you have done that? >> senator, there is an inspector general investigation -- >> i'm asking about you. would you have done that? >> i can tell you that in my experience as a prosecutor and as head of the criminal division, i understand there could be department policies that govern public comments
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about uncharged individuals. i think those policies are there for a reason. i would follow those policies. >> he talked about somebody that was never charged in a disparaging fashion. do you agree with that? >> that's the way i nounderstoo his comments. >> he took over the prosecute aeprosecuter's case -- >> there's an investigation into his conduct -- >> you would not have done either one of those is what you are telling this committee, at least i hope that's what you are telling this committee. >> i can't imagine a situation where i would be given a press conference on an uncharged individual, much less talking in detail about it. >> you say that mueller is a good guy. right? >> that's been my experience, yes. >> you will do anything necessary to protect him from being interfered with when it comes to doing his job? >> absolutely. i think -- >> do you believe that in light of the don junior e-mail and other allegations that this thing about trump campaign in
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russia is a witch hunt? is that a fair description of what we're all dealing with in america? >> senator, i can't speak to the basis for the comments. i can tell you my experience with director -- >> i'm asking you as the future fbi director, do you consider this a witch hunt? >> i do not consider director mueller to be on a witch hunt. >> thank you. >> can the president fire director mueller? does he have the authority and law to fire him? >> i don't know the law on that. >> can you get back to us and answer that question? >> i would be happy to take a look at it. >> do you realize that you are stepping into the role of the director at fbi, one of the most contentious times in the history of american politics? >> as senator nunn said, there have been a lot of contentious times in american politics. this one certainly ranks up there. >> do you understand the challenge that lies ahead for you because institutions in the eyes of the american people are
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suffering and the last thing we want to happen is for the fbi to fall out of favor with the american people? >> senator, i think as i said to you in our meeting, i fully understand that this is not a job for the faint of heart. i can assure this committee, aim not faint of heart. >> i think in that committee, i told you that i wanted to be an fbi agent and it's a credit to the nb fbi they never let me be one. i never actually applied. probably would have been a waste of my time. but i told you that i admire the men and women of the fbi because they are unsung heros who work more than, noon and night against terrorism, child pornography, you name it, they are out there doing it. you are their voice. this is a big honor. do you agree with that? >> yes, senator. the reason i'm doing this is for those people. during the time when my name was
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first released to the media but before i was asked to take on the position, i got calls from all these agents that i used to work with, prosecutors that i used to work with for and against from different administrations, the outpouring of support and encouragement that i got was both humbling and gratifying. i want to do this for those people and for the victims past and hopefully to prevent victims in the future. >> from my point of view, you are right guy at the right time. good luck. >> senator dirbin? >> thank you to your family and friends who have joined you here today. you said a few works about mr. comey who you have extensive experience working with in the department of justice. i believe you characterized him as a terrific lawyer, public servant and colleague. i would like to ask you, we are in an unusual moment in american history. mr. comb jey was fired by the j and characterized by the president as a nut job and was fired for the stated reason by
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the president because the russian investigation was under way and the president believed it was a cloud on his presidency. mr. comey told us a little bit about his dealings with the president of the united states. two things stood out. which i think may be unique in the history of the united states. he said on one hand that he having been caught alone in the oval office with the president of the united states spoke to the attorney general and said, i don't want that to happen again. i want a witness when i'm meeting with the president of the united states. that is an extraordinary statement by the head of the fbi. if you were asked to meet privately with no one else with the president of the united states as director of the fbi, what would be your approach? >> my first step would be to call deputy attorney general rosenstein. there's a policy that applies to contacts between the white house and the department. it goes in both directions. particularly goes to any contact
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between -- with respect to a particular case. there are situations where the fbi director needs to communicate with the president on national security matters, for example. in my experience it would be unusual for there to be any kind of one on one meeting between any fbi director and any president. >> unusual but it happened. it happened to mr. comey. he decided that he was uncomfortable being in oval office alone with the president. as unusual as it may be, would you meet in the oval office with the president with no one else present? >> i think it would depend on the sishgz. i think it would be highly unlikely. but i could imagine a situation where there would be some national security matter where it might call for it. i would again -- my preference and my presumption would be that there should be people from the department working through the office of the deputy attorney
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general so that it's not a one on one meeting. i think the relationship between any fbi director and any president needs to be a professional one, not a social one. there certainly shouldn't be any discussion between one on one discussion between the fbi director and any president about how to conduct particular investigationscases. >> the second thing which i think is unprecedented was mr. comey's decision after meeting with the president and discussions with the president to create a contemporaneous written record. you know as an attorney with the department of justice that has evidentiary value. tell me your reaction. do you feel bound or at least do you feel the recommendation from comey's action to create contemporary written records of your conversations with the president if you become director of the fbi? >> senator, i think at a minimum, i would take the approach that i always do to
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talking to people, which is to try to listen very carefully to what i'm hearing in the conversation. there could be times where i would think that the appropriate next step is for me to memorialize that. i would evaluate that on a case by case basis. >> you can correct me. because i think you have more experience in this area. your memory of a conversation and a written contemporaneous report carry different evidentiary value and weight in a courtroom. is that not true? >> that's true. >> i don't want to put words in your mouth. what you are saying is under some circumstances, conversations with the president of the united states, you feel should be memorialized in a contemporaneous written report? >> certainly there would be situations where it would be appropriate for mre e to memorialize a conversation like there would be with other people if they were important conversations i thought it made sense. >> i'm not going to let you off that easy. that is your responsibility as director. we're dealing with an extraordinary situation here.
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a man you respected was fired, called a nut job and the president so russian visitors, we're putting an end to this investigation. this is not an ordinary course of business for the federal bureau of investigation. this is the highest elected official in the united states of america trying to stop an investigation by putting jim comey out of business. i think it's a little different than the routine requirements of the office. do you? >> certainly i would distinguish senator if this is what you are driving at between a routine conversation and a very significant, important conversation and ones that fall in the latter category i would think it would behoofve me to make a record of that. >> we talked about russia and the threat to the united states. you read the unclassified version of their attempt to have a cyberattack on the united states election campaign.
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now we have a statement from the president of the united states suggesting, quote, putin and i discussed forming an impenetrable cyber security unit so that election hacking and other negative things will be guarded and safe. now we have all started with the premise that russia was involved in trying to change our election. we all understand that russia has been a bad actor around the world in many places. now we have the president saying, we're going to get together with them on the issue of cyber security. if it's proposed to you by the administration to create this cyber security unit and to share information with the russians about the united states' capabilities and vulnerabilities when it comes to cyber security, what is your reaction? >> my reaction is that i need to learn a lot more about the current state of our cyber security defenses and our threats in talking to the career intelligence community professionals to evaluate that responsibilitibly. i wouldn't want to do anything
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that -- if i got that kind of advice and input, suggested was putting us at greater risk as opposed to greater protection. >> i would think there would be red flags flying in every direction. i guess that's a bad analogy with russia. i think there should be a cautionary feeling about any suggestion that we give to them information about our cyber capabilities and security. wouldn't that be your first reaction? >> senator, my reaction is that any threat, any effort to interfere with our election systems is one -- whether from a state actor or non-state actor is something needs to be taken very seriously. i would think it would be wise for all of us to proceed with great caution in the wake of that information. >> i think i would go further. i will leave that question. you and i had a good conversation yesterday about president george w. bush's reaction after 9/11 when it came to the muslim american
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population of the united states. i would appreciate it if you would recount your impression of the president's conduct after 9/11 when it came to this topic and your over personal feelings about the patriotism of muslim americans and the role they play in keeping america safe. >> thank you, senator. it's something we talked about yesterday. first off, let me say, i think the fbi director needs to be a director for all americans. second, the conversation that you are referring to, one of the things that i remember being struck by by president bush in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when the dust had barely settled, was that he took great pains to speak -- i can't remember if he spoke at a mosque or what. but i remember he made a special point of speaking out and saying that this was not a situation where we in the war on terror were at war with muslim americans. he made an outreach to the
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community at a time when it would not have been by any measure politically experience enter to do that. i remember thinking at the time that that was a remarkably courageous and noble gesture on his part. i admired him for doing that at that time in that environment. >> i said to you, it's my impression meeting with muslim americans in my state, families and individuals, they are in the same state of mind today as japanese-americans were during world war ii when they were -- many were headed to internment camps for security purposes. what can you say on the record now if you were chosen as director of the fbi about your relationship working with patriotic, god fear, lawful muslim americans in our nation? >> senator, i would say sort of what i was saying a minute ago, which is i think the fbi director and the fbi needs to be -- the fbi and the director for all americans including
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muslim americans and the -- my experience in terrorism investigations has been that some of the best leads we ever got were from members of that community, from muslim americans. i remember having conversations with that -- with among others u.s. attorney from your state, pat fitzgerald, a friend of mine. while certainly we do face threats from certain radical ideologies when turned to violence, it's also true that those americans just like all americans are people that we need to get information from to help protect the homeland. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. wray. >> congratulations to you and your family on this nomination. i appreciate your willingness to come back in the public service at a time when i think the nation's confidence in its public institutions is -- has been shaken. i think it's very important to
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have somebody of your character and background and experience serve as the next fbi director, because i think public confidence in the fbi has been shaken over recent events. i asked when we met in my office about the rod rosenstein memo he wrote. i understand there's an inspector general investigation. i don't want to ask you specifically about the facts of that. but you would have i think in response to senator graham suggested that you never would see it appropriate to hold a press conference about a criminal investigation while declining to recommend prosecution disclose derogatory information about the target of that investigation, is that correct? >> senator, as we discussed when we met, while i don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on drkt edirector comey
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decision, i don't know what went into his decision, i can tell you in my experience, both as a line prosecutor and as head of the criminal division and now as a lawyer in private practice with a special appreciation for why some of the rules and policies are in effect, that i can't think of a time when anybody from the department, much less the director, gave a press conference providing derogatory information about an uncharged individual. i'm not a knowledge of department history. >> the fbi director reports to the deputy attorney general, isn't that correct? >> that's correct. >> and the fbi can't prosecute cases on its own, can it? >> that's also correct. >> so the fbi is the premiere law enforcement agency in the world. is an investigatory body and not a prosecutorial body, correct? >> that's correct. >> that role is reserved exclusively to the attorney general and the department of justice, correct? >> right.
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>> so if an fbi director believes that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general have a conflict of interest such that they don't trust the department of justice to conduct its business impartially, what's an fbi director or anybody else supposed to do? what is the part of the organization of the department of justice that would provide recourse under those circumstances? in other words, as special counsel, the office that would be best suited to take over those investigations and decide whether a prosecution were appropriate. >> if there was a special counsel in place, then that would be the natural place to bring those concerns to. i think the department has a chain of command. if there were conflicts a higher
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levels, you could work your way down. there's the inspector general that maybe under certain circumstances would be an appropriate outlet. i think you would have to evaluate each situation based on the facts and circumstances and look at rules. >> director comey said that when attorney general loretta lynch had a meeting on tarmac at the airport with president clinton knowing mrs. clinton was the subject of anticipate on ongoin investigation, for him that was the capper as he put it. he decided not to refer the matter to the deputy attorney general or to the attorney general but rather to take it upon himself to say that no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute a case like that under the circumstances. the reason i'm asking this -- i understand your hesitation about talking about a matter that's under investigation by the inspector general. in mr. rosenstein's memo, he
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lays out his opinion that over last year he said, the fbi's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage and it is affected the entire department of justice. you read the memo, i trust. he concludes, as you know, as a result the fbi is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. i want to be respectful of the line you are trying to draw here. i need to know and i think the committee needs to know whether you understand the gravity of the mistakes made by the previous director and you pledge never to repeat them. >> senator, as we discussed whether we met, deputy attorney general rosenstein's memo, which i did read, the way he describes the department's policies and practices is consistent with my
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understanding of those policies and practices and the way i would intend to approach those policies and practices. it's not ever been my practice to blur the line between fbi investigator and department of justice prosecutor. it's never been my practice to speak publically as a prosecutor or as a department official about uncharged individuals. i think those policies are important. i think they're in place for a reason. i would expect to comply with them. >> my statements to dreblirecto comey on his appearance in front of this committee on several occasions is i believe you are a good man who has been dealt a difficult hand. he certainly was. even good people make mistakes. my view is mr. rosenstein lays out a compelling rational why director comey refused to recognize those mistakes and why public confidence could not be restored to the department of justice or the fbi until a
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director would acknowledge those and pledge not to repeat them. that's the purpose of my questions. thank you for your answer. why is it important to have a separation between the fbi and the department of justice when it kwcomes to the decision to prosecute a case? >> well, it's been a system that's been in place since time in memorial, as near as i can tell. it's the same system that occurs in state and local, the difference between the police and district attorney's office. >> is it a check on potential for abuse of power? >> i do think -- right. the theory is that the prosecutors can evaluate the legal compliance, constitutional protections, compliance with the rules of evidence, exercise prosecutorial discretion, which is very important. if you collapse prosecutor and
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investigator into one role, you know, it's one step away from having judge, jury and execution rolled into one. >> i couldn't agree more. over the fourth of july, i had a chance to read a great book. if you haven't had a chance to read it in your leisure time -- which you won't have much of -- i recommend it. hell hound on his trail. i don't know if you read that about the j. edgar hoover and the martin luther king assassination and manhunt that the fbi conducted following that terrible and tragic event. pretty much lays out the case that j. edgar hoover, while he was responsible for modernizing the fbi and making it sure that it was equipped to do the job it has continued to do to this day in an extraordinary fashion, that at the same time that he was -- he had so much power that people were worried about list unchecked abuse on power. i would submit it's important to
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have that separation of powers and that check on the fbi and as you point out the independent judgement for the department of justice. i think that was a mistake that director comey, albeit a good man, made and justified his termination. on the minute or so i have left, let me ask you about project safe neighborhood. the reason why i'm so interested in this, when i was attorney general in texas, we tried to learn from the richmond u.s. attorney and their project exile focusing on gun crime. to my mind, it was one of the most innovative and successful ways to discourage people from using guns or carrying guns, particularly convicted felons and people under protective order, using the power of the federal law, so that these would not be plea bargained away,
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which they frequently are under the state system. with your experience in project safe neighborhood, do you believe that that -- an enhanced role for the federal law enforcement authorities to go after violent and repeat gun offenders is warranted? >> i do think it's a very important part of that effort. i prosecuted as a line prosecutor quite a number of straw purchaser gun trafficking cases. then, of course, uas you mentioned, i think the model of having coordination between federal and state and local and figuring out which cases can be done more effectively federally is a powerful deterrent on gun criminals throughout the country. i think that was a very effective program and a model that we ought to be looking at going forward. the fbi's role might be more limited within. atf would play a bigger role in a lot of the gun issues. the fbi does have an important
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role to play and would need to be in a very significant seat at the table. >> that's a conversation i'd like to continue once you are confirmed. >> i like forward to it. >> senator whitehouse. >> thank you. welcome, mr. wray. i'm delighted that you are here. i wish you well. i would like to ask as a question for the record that you provide the committee with a complete description of what you know about how it is that you came to be selected. if you could lay that out. we had a similar question and answer from judge gorsuch. in this case, it would be helpful. let me ask you a specific question to that here which is during the course of coming to this table today and being nominated, you mentioned that you will owe your duty of loyalty only to the constitution and the rule of law. has anybody asked you otherwise?
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>> no. no one has asked me for any loyalty oath. i wouldn't offer one. as i said, my loyalty is to the constitution, the rule of law and the mission of the fbi. >> you have answered the question when should the fbi director take over the role of attorney general of the united states. i read your answer to be never. let's say you are presented with a situation in which you don't have confidence in the attorney general in a particular matter because of a conflict of interest, because of perception issues, for whatever reason it is that you have lost confidence in the attorney general on that matter, what then, if you are nots not going to hold your own press conference and make your own announceme announcement, what would plan b be? do you go to the attorney general? do you go to the dag and say i
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have a problem and work something out? what would be the proper way to face that problem in the department of justice? >> senator, as you know from your own time as u.s. attorney, i think the deputy attorney general is the proper place to go under that scenario. >> i agree with you. i gather your answer to when should the fbi disclose derogatory investigative information about an uncharged suggest is also never. you went on to say that the protocol against disclosing derogatory information is there for a reason. could you state the reason? >> the reason, senator, is that if the department has negative information to share about somebody, then the proper way for it to manifest that is through charges. because then the person who is accused has an opportunity to defend themselves against those charges.
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it will be resolved by a jury or a judge if it's a bench trial. there's a place for the accused to vindicate or fail to vindicate the charges against them. with uncharged conduct, the old saying, where do i go to get my reputation back. >> it's a corollary of the rule that the fbi does not disclose derogatory investigation -- investigative information about an uncharged subject that even when a subject has been charged, you limit yourself to the conduct that is charged in the indictment in the charging documents or in court filings? >> exactly. stay within the four corners of the charges documents and public record. >> even when you have a charge subject, it's not open season with derogatory investigative information? >> if we have derogatory information to share, it should be manifested in a charging document of some sort. >> great.
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thank you. i may be going over replowed ground. i want to make sure i get this right. there was in my view there was the infamous 2002 torture memo that gave the department's approval to water boarding. that omitted a number of things. it omitted a fifth circuit decision upholding a conviction by the department of justice of a texas sheriff for water boarding criminal suspects. pretty big thing to overlook in a legal memo in my opinion. it overlooked the court-martial of u.s. soldiers in the philippines for water boarding filipinos. again, a little out of the direct lane of criminal prosecution but you would think that an office of legal counsel would be able to figure that out and know that the united states had this history. third, it overlooked the
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military tribunals that prosecuted japanese soldiers for the war crime of water boarding u.s. prisoners. to me, that memo was a horrifying low point in the legal scholarship of the department of justice. your name came up in testimony in congress with respect to a 2003 memo. could you just let me know what role you had in signing off on any of the olc torture memos and what you knew about them. a lot of people were cut out of them. that's part of the problem with the process. what was your role with respect to the memos out of olc on water boarding? >> senator, i have no recollection -- as i said to senator feinstein, i'm sure i would recall -- of ever reviewing much less providing input on, comments on, blessing,
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approving, anything of that sort, any memo from john yu on this topic. later in 2004, when i was assistant attorney general, the criminal division did have a fairly surgical role which was not -- underline not, in approving any interrogation technique but commenting on a public general interpretation memo by dan levin about what the statute -- what statutory standard means. that opinion, as you know, was rescinding prior interpretations that had occurred. again, i had not seen. i did not think it was appropriate for the criminal division to be playing any role in weighing in on particular interrogation techniques because i think the criminal division's role is as we showed it through investigations we brought to be
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investigating and prosecuting cases where people go too far in interrogation, not to be providing legal advice. >> like the united states versus lee which is the case where a texas sheriff was convicted of federal crimes for doing exactly that. i will follow-up for the record with what your cease meassessmey john yu mentioned your name. there was a fame ou cous confron between the department of justice and the bush administration in 2004. acting attorney general comey and director mueller both had prominent roles in that. you were in the department at the time. there was a group of people who indicated that they -- if it was necessary to do resignations that they would be a part of the group that would resign if the department's views were not met by the white house. were you in that group? do you have any recollections of
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exactly what took place, any episode in which you made that clear? >> yes, i was one of the people who said he would resign. i was not read into the program at the time. my recollection is that i had a conversation with then acting attorney general comey who shared with me not the classified contents of the program but that there was an ongoing dispute about a particular program that was constitutional and legal in nature. he explained to me some of the people who were read into the program who all felt the same way he did and their willingness to resign. knowing those people and having worked side by side with those people and knowing these were hardly shrinking violets in the war or terror, there was no hesitation in my mind as to where i stood. i stood with them. i said i would -- i want you to let me know if you get to the
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point where you think you have to resign, because i will resign with you. >> last question. congress has oversight responsibility over the fbi. congress has an obligation to butt out of fbi criminal investigations for very good reason. yet in our oversight responsibility, it's important to make sure that cases aren't being tanked for whatever reason. so i'm interested in what you think the appropriate questions are for members of congress to ask about an investigation. for instance, is it appropriate to ask if agents were assigned to a matter and if so how many without getting into details? is it appropriate to ask if any investigative work done, any documents obtained, any interviews done? is it appropriate to consider whether the department's process for following a particular matter, like a matter involving a public official, had special
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base touching that has to happen at various places, whether that actually took place? is it legitimate to look at it wou without going into the evidence to assure a good job has been done, that an adequate job has been done as in the case of the learner investigation where quite a lot was disclosed about what had in fact been done? >> senator, i do think that the committee has a very important oversight role that needs to be respected. obviously, investigations need to be made sure they're not jeopardized, information doesn't compromise those. there are ways to work through those issues. the examples you gave, i would have to think through. >> make that a question for the record. i appreciate your time. i wish you well. >> thank you. >> thank you.
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thank you, mr. rwray and to you family and your willingness to serve again. there's a crisis of public trust in this country. this institution has a 12% approval rating. we have gone from a net average of 50% support to 30%. if you are confirmed, you will have a responsibility to help rebuild public trust in the bureau. i want to ask you questions about that. to begin with, why do you think the fbi director has been a ten-year term? >> i think the fbi director has a ten-year term because there is a judgment made that the role of the fbi and director needs to be one that is independent of partisantemplates there would b changing in administration during the tenure.
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unlike other presidential appointees, the theory is i think rightly that the fbi has a criminal law enforcement and intelligence role that transcends political policy positions and needs to be kept apart and above from that and to endure through changes in administration. >> what conditions would it make sense for an fbi director to be fired under? >> if an fbi director engaged in misconduct, certainly that would be a situation that the fbi -- nobody is above the rule of law. an fbi director who doesn't comply with the law should be treated just like anybody else. >> when you unpack this concept of independent pe-- it's importt the bureau and its functions not be politicized. yet, we have three branchs of government. so ultimately, legislative and executive branchs, two most relevant at this moment, are
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acoua accountable to the people. it's not supposed to be direct political accountability. how do you conceive of if you are confirmed who your boss is when you are the fbi director? >> senator, it's the right question, of course. it's true that the president is the head of the executive branch. the attorney general is the head of the justice democrat. the fbi is part of the justice and part of the executive branch. the independence of the fbi, what we are talking about is not stru structural or organizational but of process. to me, the fbi needs to be able to follow the facts and follow the law wherever and to whomever it leads. it's a process question. that would be my commitment if i was fbi director. that's a different kind of independence than a chart kind of independence.
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>> could you state again -- you said it here. it's obvious from your time in the justice department in the mid 2000s. you said today that you can imagine circumstances where you would resign. it's critically important when this hearing started and you stood there and put up your hand, people oaths matter. you are saying it's the constitution that you serve and that the legislature passes laws, the executive branch executed. the bureau's role in the execution is not to be a politicized or political function. the american people need to hear you clearly define the circumstances under which you would resign. can you help us understand when you are restoring public trust in the bureau, how do you understand if somebody is trying to politicize the work and decisions that you are supposed to make as director of the bureau? >> first, senator, i would say that former attorney general griffin bell whose name has come
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up, one of the first things he taught us about public service positions, especially one like this, is that you can't do a job like this without being prepared to either quit or be fired at a moment's notice if you are asked to do something or confronted with something that is either illegal, unconstitutional and morally repugnant. you have to be able to stand firm to your principals. i have heard many people describe me as understated and low key. my kids would describe me as mo boring. >> there's head nodding. sg >> i don't want to look back. no one should see it is a willingness to compromise. anybody who does would make a grave mistake. my commitment is to the rule of law, to the constitution, to
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follow the facts wherever they may lead. there isn't a person on this planet who is lobbying or influence could convince to just drop or abandon a properly predicated investigation. >> you have unpockedunpacked th distinction between investigation and prosecution decision making. you can help the american people understand where the bureau's responsibilities end and the criminal division or deputy attorney general's office or main justice's responsibilities kick in? how does that work on cases that are below the purview of the director and in cases where the director is involved? what's the line between investigation and prosecution? >> when ui was a line prosecuto or mid level supervisor or upper
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management level, the construct is the same. the fbi is doing the investig e investigating, the fact finding. the accumulation of whether or not there's sufficient evidence of a crime to recommend bringing a prosecution against somebody, but the decision -- the exercise of prosecutorial discretion is made by prosecutors who are trained as lawyers who are mindful of the department's policies and procedures about charging decisions. in my experience, it's less of a line and more of in the best practical examples, there's a partnership between the agents and prosecutors working together, both in the investigation stage where even though the fbi has the lead, prosecutors can be very effective in participating in the investigation. the best agents that i worked with didn't just hand it off to the prosecutor at trial and say, good-bye. even though there was a handoff
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and the assumption of greater responsibility by the prosecutor at trial, the best agents i worked with sat side by side with me at the table when we tried cases. there's a shift of responsibility in the system. but it's a team effort. i think that's the way it should be approached. >> obviously, there are not limitless resources. at some level, you as the director are going to have to make decisions about count counterterrorism versus cyber versus violent crime, public corruption. lots and lots of really important missions that the bureau has. when you are making those decisions, when would it be appropriate and when would it be inappropriate for main justice and beyond -- meaning particularly the white house -- to be providing direction about fbi priorities and budget investment? >> i don't think the white house should be playing a role in
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prosecutorial decisions. period. >> i don't think the white house should be playing a role in policy decisions period. more effort can be focused on particular types of cases, you know, there could be a period where we focus more on corporate fraud, there could be a period where we focus more resources on gun crimes. there could be a point where we focus more resources on counter terrorism. so there's an effect on the scarcities of resources. i think that's a process that occurs with input from law enforcement and the fbi, at the end of the day, there is a president's budget that gets submited to congress for that process. >> so i think i hear you offering a general versus
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specific example. there are going to be -- it's never appropriate for white house or political officials to be providing specific direction about specific cases that you're investigating? >> that's my view. >> we're nearly at time and i'm going to stay for a couple more rounds for whatever extra hours we have, and i want to dig into cyber more deeply there. and one more specific question to your last line of questioning. do you believe that the russians were involved in trying to influence the 2016 election? >> all i have seen is the public intelligence community's assessment, but i have no reason to doubt the intelligence community's assessment. i haven't seen all the information, but from what i have seen, i have no reason to doubt it. >> for those of us who read intelligence on a daily basis this is indisputable. and in 2020, they're going to be
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back, and those that want to destroy -- exploit and exacerbate existing problems and american public distrust is one of the most valuable targets the russians have to try to divide us amongst ourselves. and you've got a big calling and many of us are grateful at your willingness to serve. mr. chairman, i'll reserve my questions for the next round. >> before they get involved in our '18 and '20 elections, they're going to be involved in the september election in germany, president merkel all right already is aware of that. the letter that was signed by many former senior doj officials from across the political
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spectrum, including a number who worked in the obama administration, they wrote that mr. wray, quote, has the judgment, integrity, independence, experience and commitment to the rule of law to be an excellent fbi director. end of quote. and we also support from mr. wray's former boss, mr. thompson, who served as secretary general to the bush administration. our great country is deep, admirable and unparalleled and he praised mr. wray as a quote, unquote, strong, independent professional. these records will be included without objection. >> mr. wray, it is good to see your wife helen there, and your kids as well. our daughters are friends and i
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learned that your daughter flew in on the red eye and the fact that she's here as her testament to her devotion to her dad. and i know you to be a good person and devoted dad. and that's a pretty good start here. i thank you for your answers, particularly the recent discussion you had with senator sasse about the indisputable evidence that you have been able to see of the influencing of our election. i thought your opening statement reflected the fact that you understand the gravity of your task when you're coming in to lead an agency of people who put themselves on the front line every day without fear or favor.
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we owe it to them and we owe it to our country to bring back the trust in this government and washington. so my first question is, when you ran the criminal division in the justice department, did you ever receive a request from the president or other high-ranking officials to ever just let a case go? >> no. >> i think you answered one of my colleagues and you said if a president would make that request you would discourage it and if it persisted you would resign? >> when i was a prosecutor for eight years, i would sometimes get comments from people, oh, that case, don't worry about that, whether it be dinner or calling my office.
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i told my deputy i would most likely not tell the prosecutor who was working on the case, i would tell them they did not need to know that. and this happens not only as fbi director, but it happens underneath you. i appreciate your answer about the process. you have to have processes in place because it's not just the fbi director that gets those calls. >> yes, process is so important and the reason process is so important is because people need to have confidence in the outco outcome. if there is a decision to prosecute someone, people need to know that there was evidence fair, and consistent with law. and if someone is dismissed, then people can be confident
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that process found it. i will tell you having worked with lots of fbi agents. the thing that's distinctive about all of them is they will follow the facts and the law whatever it takes them. sometimes people don't like it. but that's what makes it so beautiful to behold if you're a prosecutor. >> in working with law enforcement, we have a very good group in nebraska, secretary thornton stepped in when we had the stabbing at the shopping mall last fall. do you want to briefly communicate your views on working with state and local law enforcement? >> i think working with state and local law enforcement is hugely important, especially because there's so much on the fbi's plate right now, that there needs to be partnership between the fbi and other federal law enforcement agencies and the state and locals in sort
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of a force multiplier way. there's all kinds of support that fbi can provide to law enforcement, whether it's partnering on investigations, training. the national academy is a great thing, when i talk to people in state and local law enforcement, they consistently praise. i'm gratified by the support that has come in over the last few days from state and local law enforcement agents. i think that's great because the threats we face are way too much for the fbi to deal with all by themselves. >> i appreciated your words about him. from time to time there have been proposals to split up the fbi's criminal and national secure missions and remove matters like counter terrorism, counter espionage from the fbi's jurisdiction to try and spin them off. some have even advocated the
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creation of an american version of the way the brits handle this. when this was discussed in the early 2000s, fbi director bob mueller rejected it and said it would be a step backwards. >> i remember being fairly involved in that issue back in the 2000s, working with people at the fbi. i thought it was a terrible idea then, and it's hard for me to imagine that circumstances have changed that make me think it's a good idea now. the one thing we learned from 9/11 is about the danger of walls between criminal law enforcement and intelligence. and the idea of now splitting things up and creating new walls, strikes me as not the way to go about it. and my limited understanding i 2017 in the time that i left
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lawmaklaw enforcement, other law enforcement agencies have been moving in the direction we have. i don't think that's the right model for us. >> election infrastructure, senator sasse raised this a bit. when you look at what happened and what my happen going forward, one of the jobs of the fbi is to cooperate with the board of elections and assist with cyber attacks. and i hope you will help us prepare going into this next election. >> i think the integrity of our elections are very much who we are. it's what makes us a free and independent country. and the fbi has a huge role in that. >> in a broader fashion, russia has vast criminal networks that it uses to


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