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tv   Wolf  CNNW  July 12, 2017 10:00am-11:00am PDT

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risk to themselves and at great sacrifice to their family, but they happily defer any individual recognition because they believe that the principles they serve are so much larger than themselves. that's beautifully crafted and as someone who has worked with and around the bureau before, 36,000 current employees of the bureau, some really thoughtful, selfless public servants that do toil at high public cost for less than what they could earn in the private sector and they pay for it in life and limb and time spent away from home. and i appreciate the way you speak about the mission and the culture of the bureau. there have been some dark times at the bureau in the past, we have spoken a little bit about director hoover and the ways he mismanaged that agency, 45, 50 years ago.
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but also there was politicalization about that -- all regularly tried to politicize and weaponize the fbi against civil rights activists and against lots of other people that weren't able to fight back against that big and overreaching state. and i think one of the reasons that you've received so much support for this mission and this calling today, is that you think this mission and this oath to defend the american constitution on behalf of the people not on any -- that's why you have so much bipartisan support for your confirmation today. would you also pledge to this committee that if ever directed by the white house to shut down or curtail an investigation that you would report that back to
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this committee? not necessarily in a public setting, but at the very least in a classified setting, would you commit to that any influence from the white house to curtail or end an investigation you would report it back to this committee. >> i would make sure that i was compliant in all my legal duties but if i can i would bring it to the appropriate committee's attention in the appropriate way. >> and i appreciate all of the complicated chain of command issues inside an agency like yours and main justice where the bureau reports in a little more at the dag level than the ag level. i recognize that that's complicated but would you recognize that the senate's constitutional responsibility to oversight is that we are one of the parties you should be
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informing. >> i would assure you that those with oversight responsibility over the fbi have an enormously critical role as part of our system and i think it needs to be respected in all the appropriate ways. and i would make every effort, within the chain of command that you referred to, senator, to urge that we be as forthcoming as we legally and appropriately can be with all the right members of the senate. and the house. >> this is obviously a very politicized time in american life and a politicized time in the congress. but i'm filling in right now for a chairman, chuck grassley of iowa who has lots of bipartisan respect around this place because people know that when he does oversight, he's doing it as an article 1 branch of article 2 of the constitution, he's not doing it as a republican of an administration, that he either is or isn't alined with his own party affiliation, this is a constitutional separation of
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powers issue so i think i can confidently say on behalf of the chairman that you have a lot of bipartisan support around here and this is a committee that would like to hear those details when you were ever pushed to politicize. your predecessor, assuming your confirmation, famously referred to wikileaks as intelligence porn as opposed to journalism and he said the bedrock of our democracy requires public trust and that wikileaks is regularly acting on behalf of the interests of the american public. can you explain to me how you believe that wikileaks came to be an outlet of foreign and specifically russian propaganda? >> i don't have access to that information so i don't know how that came to occur. i certainly share former director comey's concern about that. and i have no reason to doubt his description. but that's something that i
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would have to learn more about once i had access once again to classified information. but wikileaks was not a thing when i was in government before. so my observations of it have been solely through, like any american, watching the news media in bits and pieces. >> i recognize that you have been in the private sector so you're not up to speed on all of these issues yet, but is it your sense as you're arriving to lead the critical agency that is a part of the intelligence committee, it's a broadly a law enforcement agency that has a lot of divisions and lots of the other ic relationships. is it true that we are adequately investing in the challenges of our time. >> i don't know that i know enough to make a responsibility evaluation of the resources, what i can tell you is that my sense is that as much as everybody is talking about the threats, of the sort that you're
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describing, i have the sense that we are just scratching the surface of how grave the threats really are. or at least how grave the threats are about to be before we blink and wake up. now that's really based on what limited conversations i have had with people. but my sense is one of the biggest changes i have seen from being in law enforcement for a number of years and then being out and now starting to get reintroduced again, is whereas cyber was a sort of discreet property session in the past, cyber affects national security, every time of criminal element that we deal with. it's become part of the fabric, both of our security but the
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threats to our security. it's hard for me to imagine that we're doing enough and we can always do better. >> when you're in a classified bunker getting briefings on these topics, i'm one of five people in the senate who's never been a politician before. and in my five months and my time interviewing people, it is fairly stunning about how when you ask direct questions about not just our cyber relations, and our implementations, and our doctrines, when you ask who's responsibility for doctrines inside the executive branch. in the last administration and the current administration, you see that people start looking sideways to see who else they can point to. what is the fbi's role in cyber security? >> i think the fbi probably has
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multiple roles, it has a criminal investigative role when there are ways in which the criminal investigative tools can be used to prevent, detect, disrupt threats, but then it also has an intelligence role. where it partners with our partners in the intelligence community and our overseas partners in trying to defend our systems and our infrastructure from attacks, which is a slightly different kind of role. and the two things work hand in hand. and i would think that there's an analogy that could be drawn to the terrorism arena in terms of awareness, i remember listening to a prominent counter terrorism expert in a room full of prosecutors from all around the world, and it was a very jovial meeting until this guy
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got up and spoke, and he said there are two types of countries, there are those who have been hit by a terrorist attack and get it and there are those who have not yet. and you could have heard a pin drop. because it certainly cut a lot of the joy out of the room. and i think there is a degree to which the cyber threats that we face, the same kind of statement could be made there, my strong suspicion is that there are countries that have been hit and have started to wake up. there are companies that have been hit and are starting to wake up. and there are many who haven't realized it yet. the keyword being yet because it's coming. >> assuming that you're confirmed, can you tell us a little bit about your first 90 days or your first 100 day plan about how you will assess issues like cyber capabilities and cyber threats an obviously in the cyber counter terrorism pace
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and kind of get up to speed where we might be underestimating, what's your arrival plan? >> i think one of the first things i need to do is sit down with with the senior management of the bureau and start getting briefed up on all of the areas that the fbi's responsible for. i would be largely following off of the priorities that the fbi has and its strategy which prioritizes counter terrorism, espionage and cyber at the top. but my guess is i'm probably farthest behind because of advances in technology and the cyber front, i would want to prioritize in particular spending more time on some of 20 those issues early on just because of my own learning curve, as anybody who's been out of that part of it, that breakneck speed that technology
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advances, those are going to be my particular focus early on. >> you and i discussed some issues in my office that i look forward to supporting you on when you have this important new calling. i'm going to turn the gavel back to the chairman. >> thank you for being here and thanks for the visit to my office as well. enjoyed the discussion. just following up on some of that, i know these questions have been asked a lot of times already. but the obligatory, do you feel that you can exhibit independence there as director of the fbi that's necessary for that position? >> senator, i am my own man, and i intend to be governed by the constitution and by the rulings and by the book spectacularly without fear or favor and particularly without regard to partisan politics, i think
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that's the only way you can do this job. >> we discussed in my office some of the challenges coming up from the fbi. you mentioned technology and cyber, obviously. but with regard to technology, it seems that, you know, in this committee, we try to balance obviously security and privacy. as soon as we arrive at a solution, technology changes and we're at square one once again. can you talk about that process with the fbi and house you can work with this committee and the congress to ensure that we have the proper balance between privacy and security? >> well, certainly as you say, senator, there needs to be a balance. and that's not just a privacy interest, but a protection of infrastructure, but i do believe very strongly that technology, the private sector is advancing at such a rapid pace and government, historically,
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federal government, state government, local governments, foreign governments, are not as nimble in change. and somehow we as a country have to figure out a way to get one step ahead of the bad guys and those who would do us harm and the way they would use technology against us, as opposed to chasing the last technological advance, so i think it's got to be a high priority, both to work with the congress, but also to reach out to industry and see if we can secure better cooperation in that effort. >> thank you, turning to an issue to important to arizona as a border state. eliminating public corruption on the southern border has traditionally been an issue for the fbi. and they have identified corruption and key trends in the types and frequency of those
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activity activities. do you agree that this remains a priority for states on the border, particularly arizona? >> my experience with public corruption investigations goes all the way back to my time as a line prosecutor and some of the most meaningful cases that i worked on were public corruption cases, and as assistant attorney general, of course the public integrity unit reported to me, and that section played an incredibly important role. as to the fbi, my experience historically has been that some of the very best agents in the fbi gravitate to the public corruption squads and that's because the skill level and sophistication of the very best fbi agents is in my view without parallel. and public corruption cases are extremely difficult to pursue and it requires the best and brightest agents and to see a
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senior fbi agent investigate public corruption is a thing to be behold. >> congressly mandated to pass a polygraph test as a condition of employment. the problem that we're having is that cvp experiences a significantly higher failure rate. around 65% than any other law enforcement agency. these high failure rates have prevented cvp from hiring enough officers to staff our ports of entry, for example. and i think it's problematic to be turning away qualified applicants just because of a potentially flawed polygraph. what we're finding is a lot of people are reluctant to submit
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themselves because they have heard of false positives out there and fear that it might impact their ability to land another federal or state or local law enforcement job in the future. given fbi's success administering it's own polygraph, and i have asked this of mr. comey as well. will you commit to provide guidance or share best practices with cvp and dhs to better conduct their polygraph examination? >> senator, that's not an issue i'm especially familiar with at this stage, but something i would like forward to learning more about and seeing how we at the bureau could be helpful to cvp in that regard. >> the fbi, as we understand, has a much better program there and it is a significant problem on our border to hire, just to deal with attrition, let alone hire the number of officers as border patrol agents and port officials that we need.
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now over the past few years, which have witnessed several high profile data breaches at federal government agencies including omb, data breaches are often caused by a technological vulnerability or a human vulnerability or both. i asked your predecessor about this but i want to hear your thoughts as well. given the amount of sensitive data held by the fbi and the cb -- date is secure from human hackers? >> at the moment i don't know much about fbi's security status in terms of cyber security, but that's something i would need to focus on early on. i would want to get briefed by the experts not only what can be done but what they see as the threats and how they can be
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confident that they have directly identified the threats. what kind of pressure testing and reality checking they have done to make sure that our systems aren't more vulnerable than they might appreciate. >> thank you, mr. wray. >> i would like to defer to my colleague senator blumenthal. >> good afternoon mr. wray, thank you for your willingness to serve and your family's. i want to ask you a couple of questions and hope that you can give me answers that are as straight forward as you can, given the limitations of your position. in your view, is obstruction of justice a serious crime? >> absolutely. >> is your view that lying to the fbi is a serious crime? >> absolutely. >> and both should be
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investigated vigorously if there's evidence that they occurred? >> yes. >> to your knowledge, is there evidence that there has been perjury or obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation into russian interference in our elections 2016? >> i don't have knowledge to that effect, senator, but i think special counsel mueller would have jurisdiction over that. >> and the reason he's investigating is that there's sufficient evidence to warrant a special counsel, as i had vadvo at the very beginning of rod rosenstein's appointment. so i view this investigation with the utmost seriousness because it does involve obstruction of justice and perjury and potential defrauding the government of its lawful services, conspiracy to violate the computer fraud and abuse act
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and other violations of law. and you and i have talked about the need for the fbi to be as independent and immune from political interference as possible. because i foresee a firestorm brewing that will threaten the fbi and i'm going to support you because i do believe you have the integrity based on your expertise. i'm trusting and i'm sure the rest of this body will trust you to take that most solemn and historically significant obligation as seriously as you do the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice, those kinds of crimes betray the rule of law because they impede vigorous and independent investigation. and we count on you to protect the fbi, which is an institution
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of such professional excellence and integrity, that it is worth any person's career to defend. i hope you agree. >> i do agree, senator. >> if you foresee a threat to that independence and integrity that rises to the level of political interference, will you commit to taking appropriate action, which may include resigning from office? >> yes, senator, as we discussed when we met. one of the lessons i got from both former attorney general griffin bell and former deputy attorney general larry thompson is that you cannot take on a position like this, without resolving in advance that you have to be willing to quit or be fired at a moment's notice in order to stand up for what you think is right and that would be my commitment to stand firm to that maxim. >> you also told me that you try
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to persuade, whoever might be taking an inappropriate or illegal action, whether it's the president of the united states or anyone else, endeavor to persuade that official to change course, correct? >> that's correct, senator, my whole career, both public and private has consisted of an awful lot of times telling people things they don't want to hear. and talking people out of bad ideas. >> in my view, the firing of your predecessor warrants investigation as a potential obstruction of justice. we have not yet proof beyond a reasonable doubt, we have nothing like it, and we don't have enough evidence to charge anyone. but if that kind of crime has been committed, you would investigate it seriously and diligently, correct? >> well, certainly as to the
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particular investigation that special counsel mueller is conducting that investigation and i would view the fbi's role as providing whatever support is needed for him to do his investigation. i take on instruction of justice, perjury, and those things very seriously because they go to the integrity of the process. and questions from some of your colleagues, it's the integrity of the process is what gives the american people confidence that the outcome of the investigation is the right one. >> and you're a partner in that investigation and i believe that you told me when we met privately that you would provide whatever resources are needed by bob mueller to do that investigation? >> i would provide all appropriate resources to him. my experience with director mueller, when we worked together
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before, was always terrific. and i feel confident that he would be professional and only make appropriate requests. >> will you commit to report to this committee any attempts to deny him and that investigation resources or other support that are needed by others in the administration? >> senator, if there was an inappropriate request to deny him appropriate resources, i would try to evaluate the circumstances and take all appropriate action. >> will you be making records of your conversations as jim comey did, as y did? as you recall, director comey contemporaneously made memoranda to reflect his conversations
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with the president and others, would you do the same? >> i think it would depend on the situation. i know i would be listening intently to anyone i had a meeting with of any kind of importance. if anyone suggested to me that i ought to create a record, i wouldn't hesitate to do it. and i have done that before, in various occasions in my private practice for example. >> a conversation with the president would be a significant conversation, wouldn't it? >> i think it would depend on what the conversation was about. how's your family, i don't think i would create a record of something like that. >> but if he said i want a pledge of loyalty, would that be significa significant? >> i was not asked to take any
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kind of loyalty oath and i would refuse to take any kind of loyalty oath. >> i have heard your testimony about that in the past, and respect and believe that you're being truthful in that regard, but going into the future, if he asked you to take a pledge of loyalty or go lightly on someone, that would be something worth repocording and worth reporting to this committee, is that correct? >> i would do whatever i w-- >> in your view as a former prosecutor, could those emails under some circumstances be evidence of criminal intent? >> senator, as i think i might have said to one of your colleagues, i actually haven't
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ahead the emails, i actually haven't had a chance to read any of the newspaper columns because i was going from one building to another meeting with you and your senate colleagues. >> let's switch to a different topic, you mentioned the scourge of gun violence in this country, would you support common sense measures to stop gun violence, as you know, i have championed a number of them, along with others on this committee and in the senate. including universal background checks, would you support that kind of measure? >> i would want to take a look at any sort of legislative proposal and get back to you once i had evaluated any piece of legislation. but i do support efforts to curtail gun violence both directly and consistently. >> in principle, you would support such measures, you would
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want to see the details, but for example, on universal background checks, you would not rule out supporting a measure? >> i would not rule out anywhere common sense gun reform legislation, without having a chance to review it. i would have to review it and make a recommendation based on the circumstances. >> between 1977 and 2015, there's been hundreds of violence against abortion providers, reproduction health care, senators, including 11 murders, 77 attempted murders. 184 bombings, arsons and so forth. in 1998, attorney general janet
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reno created the task force on violence against reproductive health providers to coordinate n prosecution of such incidents. as fbi director, i would hope you continue to support the fbi's participation in that effort. >> senator, there's a specific statute that is in place that puts it in jurisdiction to support. and we would prosecute all of those violations under statute. >> i appreciate your commitment. thank you. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. >> i feel like you have saved the best for last. thank you so much for your patience and it's good to see you again. i certainly strongly support senator feinstein's efforts to work together with senator grassley to -- in light of
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recent news it is even more important that we hear from attorney general sessions andorers to get a public accounting. this committee has an important role to play, as i think you have acknowledged, to assure that law enforcement investigations are done independently and free from political influence. clearly there's been a lot of emphasis and concern on the part of this committee, in light of why this vacancy for the fbi director occurred, on the independence of the fbi and you, should you be confirmed, of any political influences. so i do want to return to some questions about russia's interference with our elections and the continuing position of a president to take seriously the damage to our country or even accept the conclusions of our intel communities and you have testified that you accept the conclusions of our intel community that russia did attempt to interfere with our
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elections? >> as i said, senator, i have only been able to review the public summary, but i have no reason to doubt the conclusions of the intelligence community. >> probably the nonpublic portions would be even more confirming. the public information as to russia's attempts to interfere with our elections, so should you be con filled, what would use do to prevent this kind of interference. >> i would want both the fbi and other parts of the intelligence committee on what we know about how any nation state, whether it's russia or any other nation state is attempting to or has s attempted to interfere, how can we detect it, how can we be
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confident that we're taking always the right steps, are there sources of investigation that we're not getting that we need to get access to? so i would need to get briefed up on all those efforts. >> in my meeting with you you made it very clear that any foreign country's attempt to interfere, particularly an as ve adversary to us would be an attack on our democracy. so you would take this kind of conclusion that russia would continue to interfere as very serious and that it would be a priority for the fbi? >> there is indeed, senator. >> there were a number of 101 conversations that i would characterize as improper or questionable 101 meetings that fbi director comey had with president trump and you have testified to the concerns that
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you would have and you said a number of times that should that kind of circumstance occur between you and president trump, that you would go to a deputy attorney general rosenstein, not to the attorney general sessions. you have said that a number of times during your testimony today. why would you not go to senator -- ag sessions? >> unless there was something that the attorney general was recused from, i would talk to the attorney general as well. but as part of the organizational part, the fbi reports to the attorney general. and the contacts between the white house and the justice department directs that those kinds of contact should occur through the attorney general. so that is an appropriate place to start. >> in this instance, attorney
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general sessions has recused himself from anything related to the russia investigation, correct? >> that's my understanding, but i'm not familiar with the full scope of the recusal. >> and when deputy attorney general rosenstein sent a memo to comey, there was a memo from jeff sessions that recommended to the president that comey be fired. would you consider that appropriate for someone who recused himself from those matters. >> senator, i don't know all the circumstances surrounding director comey's firing and i know that special counsel mueller is, i believe, investigating that. so it's probably not responsible for me to speculate. i will say that the attorney general of the united states has authority over the justice department which it covers much more than any single investigation, and clearly the attorney general needs to be able to make decisions that
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affect the whole institution. obviously, if he's recused, he can't participate in a particular investigation. >> well, i would say that the firing of director comey was part and parcel as it turns out of the elections and that was -- and the circumstance that attorney general sessions was supposed to recuse himself from. now the attorney general does get briefings on fbi investigations. ongoing fbi investigations, is that correct? >> that's historically been the case. >> so in a case where the attorney general has recused himself, should he be getting briefings on mr. mueller's investigations? >> if i understand your question correctly, senator, anyone who is recused himself from an investigation, whether it's an attorney general or anyone else, shouldn't be getting briefed on that investigation. >> yes. >> that specific investigation,
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no. >> so the answer would be no, that he should not be getting briefings on the mueller investigations? >> i have no reason to believe that he is. >> okay. >> i think when you were first asked whether you had met with president trump regarding your nomination and you said no, but then later you said that you were first contacted about this nominati nomination with deputy director rosenstein and then with jeff sessions and then you had another meeting at the white house where the president attended. so when you had your meeting with deputy ag rosenstein, did the subject of comey's firing or the russia investigation come up? did you go in with any kind of seeking of reassurances that if you took this position that you would be able to do your job free mr. political pleasure?
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>> i did go into my meeting with deputy attorney general rosenstein and attorney general sessions, i met with them together, with a number of questions in my mind about wanting to be sure that i knew what i was getting myself into. and was very comfortable with what i heard. >> what was it that you heard? >> i'm sorry, there was not a discussion of comey's firing or of russian investigation other than, other than, deputy attorney general rosenstein making a comment to the effect, that now that special counsel mueller has been appointed, that situation is more straight forward because there's an investigation going and special counsel mueller has that. so the landscape that i was coming into at this point, would
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have been different had special counsel mueller had not been appointed? >> so did you come to the conclusion that you would not be having one-on-one kmpx with the president about director muller. >> i was very comfortable i would be able to do my job after that meeting, yes. >> at the time that you had a meeting with jeff sessions and deputy director rosenstein, did you indicate to them that should you get the job that you would very much support the mueller investigation? >> i did not discuss the russia investigation with them. as i said, other than deputy attorney general rosenstein making the comment that that was now in place, that should make it easier for me to do my job, that was the sum total of that.
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what i did say to them is, that i would approach, much as i would approach this committee, is with independence, straight and by the book. >> so considering that the president was very focused on the russian investigation and i think his position was that he hoped it would go away. when you met with the people at the white house, and i'm not sure exactly who was there, but the president was there, did the question of the mueller come up, or of the russian investigation come up at all? >> no, it did not. >> was it just a hello, great to see you kind of a meeting at the white house? >> i would describe it as a pleasant conversation. i did not think it was odd that the president nor anybody else didn't raise with me the comments of a specific investigation because i would not have expected them to do. >> i don't want to get into a
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second round, so thank you very much. >> people do want a second round. and in fact i'm going to start the second round right now. i think we have at least one republican that hasn't had the first round. >> oh, so thank you mr. chairman. >> so you will have another opportunity. i want to ask you about 702 that provides government the authority to collect electronic communications of foreigners outside of the united states with the assistance of the american electronic communication service providers, it's an authority used only for counter terrorism, but counter intelligence purposes as well. this is an authority that privacy and civil liberties oversight board, and i won't finish this paragraph, but a lot of people say it's very essential. so i go to you as fbi to-be. one of your key responsibilities will be overseeing investigations into threats to national security, your
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predecessor repeatedly affirmed his support for 702 as a national security tool. so will you tell us whether section 702 will remain important to you under your leadership and also whether the fbi under your leadership will make sure that it using this national security authority with proper training, execution and oversight to comply with the law and protect the fourth amendment rights? >> well, senator, it's been a number of years since i had anything to do with fisa, although i did deal with it a certain amount when i was with the government before. and section 702 was passed after i left government. but from everything i understand from the people in the intelligence community, 702 is a vital tool and one that we need to put at high priority and one that i would expect to place a high priority to seeking
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reauthorization on. my answer to the second part of your question is that there are a number of oversight mechanisms built into the statutory frame work, in the executive branch, the legislative branch and the fisa court itself. that's appropriate and i would make sure that the tool was used appropriately. >> okay, i want to talk about leaks. the fbi has often failed to answer this committee's questions, but then the same information gets leaked to the media or produced in the freedom of information act litigation. is it appropriate for the fbi to ignore requests from this committee and provide the same information to the media in a third party litigation? if not, what will you do to ensure that this committee's request will precede. and director comey's last
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oversight hearing, i said how do you justify citizen grassley using foya information, getting more information than senator grassley can get, and he said i can't tell you why. i said yee-gosh, a senate official cannot get as much information as a private citizen? we read about foya getting it and releasing it before we are made aware. >> i think it's obviously important for the fbi working with the department's help and approval to be as responsive as possible to this committee and especially of course to its chairman. i'm not familiar with the particular circumstances surrounding foyafoya -- foia.
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>> i don't expect you to respond to this next question with anything about mr. mccabe, but i use mr. mccabe as an example. in my opening statement, i mentioned that -- the deputy attorney general has failed to explain to this committee what he's doing to deal with the conflict of interest. in a general matter, do you think it's appropriate for any fbi official to participate in a criminal investigation of someone who was an adverse witness in a pending eeo proceeding, and if so, what will you do to confirm that that does not happen on your watch? >> mi want to make sure that i understand the facts appropriately. one of the first things i would
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do upon being confirmed is to try to take stock of the senior leadership. there is of course a senate investigation into acting director mccabe's conduct and i know mr. chairman, your own strong support for the inspector general function is well known and i obviously would want to respect that and not comment here out of school. >> i'm going to put some letters in the record again in support for you, from various law enforcement organizations. and they support your appointment and its law enforcement community at large supports it strongly. fbi agents association atlanta division, former associations of fbi, national fraternal order of police, national association of police organizations, international association of
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chiefs of police, county sheriffs of america, the national narcotic association coalition all be entered into the record without objection, they will be. >> thank you very much mr. senator, looks like we're nearing an end here. but i did want to mention not just the letter of support for senator grassley just mentioned, but the earlier win had former u.s. attorneys from all over the country supporting you, i thought that was very impressive and i included former appointed u.s. republican attorney in minnesota as well as our most recent u.s. democratic attorney in minnesota. one thing i want to address
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first is the opiod epidemic. that would be a mild way of phrasing what's going on. in my state we have lost everyone from a superstar like prince to a high school swimming star, we have had more people die in minnesota than we have from homicide or from car crashes. you and i have talked about the bills that i have about going after synthetic drugs from a law enforcement standpoint and what others and myself have done to frame a bill and now it's time to implement it. it's everything from treatment to better sharing data across state linings so we can monitor and share that data. and i was wondering from an fbi perspective if you could give my
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views on this epidemic. >> i agree that it's a major, major problem that's sweeping this country and seems to be getting worse all the time in many states, and it sounds like including in minnesota. i think that an awful lot of the effort in this area from a federal law enforcement perspective would come from a drug enforcement administration. but i do think that the fbi should look for ways to partner with other agencies and state and local law enforcement agencies to -- >> as you know, sex trafficking and human trafficking has been very important to me personally. and i have drafted a bill that sets out a federal effort and both the former attorney generals as well as deputy attorney general yates who has
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actually worked on these cases in atlanta have been involved in this. and the fbi has been an important part of the effort to end trafficking with the innocence lost initiative that began in 2003. one of these programs focuses on under aged victims was successful in rescuing 82 victims and arresting -- i understand this has been an important issue for you and you have done some pro bono work to help trafficking victims. can you tell us how you will carry out this bill as you come into directorship. >> this is an issue that you and i both feel very passionate about. when i was in the criminal division, one of the things that we did toward the end of my tenure was recognizing the increase in human trafficking
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and the multidisciplinarmultidi again, i use that word, nature of the problem, we're bringing together both sort of the child exploitation side of it. there's an immigration side of it. an alien smuggling side of it. there's an organized a financial side of it. and so i think it needs to be a sort of coordinated effort. it's incredibly vulnerable population that has -- subject to enormous leverage by the bad guys, and one of the -- as you mentioned, one of the pro bono things that i'm most pleased of and that i'm looking forward to hearing my firm take to the next level, after i've left, is an effort to focus on helping human trafficking victims who don't get really any serious help in our system, and i was really excited to see the young lawyers
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in our firm kind of get fired up to go see how they can be helpful. it's a different kind of pro bono work than i think a lot of firms do and i think it's a great thing. >> thank you. >> senator klobuchar is going to shut down this meeting after senator hirono is done. so i'm going to go do a news conference, not about you, but just a general one. and that i do every day or every wednesday at 2:00. so i want to congratulate you, and as i said originally, i think i said we expect to move this along and get this position filled very quickly, and i think your testimony today helps us do that, and i want to compliment your family and your friends for being here with you and thank senator klobuchar. senator hirono. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. getting back to the meeting that you had at the white house regarding your nomination,
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president trump was there. can you tell us who else was there from the administration? >> i had two meetings. the first was the president, the vice president, the white house counsel, and then a couple people from the justice department. the second meeting was the president, the president's chief of staff, the white house counsel and again some people from the department, including deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. >> when was the first meeting? do you recall? >> the first meeting was the day after memorial day. it was publicly reported, as i understand. >> and neither one of these meetings did the issue of the russia investigation, mueller or the comey firing came up. >> correct. >> so what did the president say to you in the first meeting, and what did he say to you in the second meeting? >> both -- both meetings,
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senator, were very conversational, about my bio, my background. i talked about my commitment in the war on terror, my experiences from having been in the department before. it was more of a -- i would describe it as more of a kind of get to know you kind of conversation in both instances. >> and knowing how strongly you believe that the fbi should be free to investigate to, free from political influence, et cetera, at that time, did you express any of that kind of a strong commitment to the independence of the fbi at either one of these two meetings to anybody at the meetings. >> in the white house meetings? >> yes. >> i may have at some point repeated the line that i told you a few minutes ago about my commitment to playing it straight, you know, that's my approach, words to that effect, but it wasn't really in context called for.
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i would say, senator, that i went into both meetings listening very carefully to make sure that i didn't hear something that would make me uncomfortable. having gotten a high level of confidence in both deputy attorney general rosenstein, who i've known since 2001, and attorney general sessions in that meeting who i had, i was then focused more in the white house meetings on making sure that i didn't hear something that i would consider problematic, and i can assure you that if anything had been said that made me remotely uncomfortable, i would not be sit hearing today providing testimony in support of my nomination. >> so definitely things like expectation of loyalty to the president, that would have been a red flag for you? >> i was not asked to take any kind of loyalty. >> but that would have been the kind of thing that you would have been highly sensitive to listen for and that didn't happen. >> correct. that did not happen. >> let me turn to -- we have an
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administration that has talked about a muslim registry, a -- various -- well, muslim registry, for example. would you go along with something like that? we talked about, you know, surveilling mosques, creating a muslim registry. as fbi director, would you go along with such a scheme? >> well, senator, i don't know enough about the specific proposals or plans that anybody's talking about. i would say that my commitment on these issues would be the same as it would be on anything else, which is faithful to the law, faithful to the constitution, and faithful to the best practices of the fbi and the department. and as i said, i think in response to senator durbin, my experience with terrorism matters is that we need the cooperation of the
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muslim-american community and that a lot of the leads in some of the most important investigations that law enforcement has obtained have been from those people. and so i think the fbi director needs to be an fbi director for all americans. >> so, any kind of a program that would single out individuals based on their religion would raise some concerns for you, that you would ask some quite specific questions, i would say, right, because it's a foundational, you know, religious freedom, not racial profiling. are those areas that, as fbi director, you would be particularly sensitive about moving forward on any kind of programs that would treat different groups, particularly minority groups, in any kind of a discriminatory way? >> well, senator, needless to say, discrimination is abhorrent and not something that i would condone. i would want to pay particularly close attention to any program that seemed to raise those kinds
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of concerns, and as i mentioned on the issue of religious freedom, which is something that's always been very important to me, as i said, one of the cases, it was one of the more meaningful cases i did as a line prosecutor was a case where churches all around the country were being burned down precisely because of hostility to a particular religion, which is obviously unacceptable. >> so, i hate to interrupt but i seem to be over my time. i know that, if you don't mind, madam chair, your firm has represented various individuals who have interests to the russian energy interests, et cetera, and so i would probably submit -- i will submit a question as to whether any investigations that would involve clients of what would probably be your former law firm, should you take this position, how you would handle any conflict issues regarding those kinds of circumstances, and then i'll also submit some
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questions relating to hate crimes, because as we mentioned in my meeting with you, there is a rise in hate crimes, and what the fbi can do and should do to counter and prevent hate crimes. thank you. >> thank you very much. mr. wray, senator durbin is going to join us so you and i are going to be engaged in a little filibuster. oh, he's here. i have some follow-up questions while he's sitting down. this question i asked you really quickly about the shell companies and the use of shell companies, i just want to explain it, and you answered it fine, but it's a very big deal to me because the treasury department has noted a significant rise in the use of shell companies in real estate transactions because foreign buyers use them as a way to hide their identity and safely conceal money in the u.s. it could be from any country. i used it in the context of russia. and i raised this with director comey when he testified last time and just about -- and your
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experience with white-collar cases. does the anonymity associated with the use of shell companies to buy real estate hurt the fbi's ability to trace the flow of illicit money and fight organized crime? >> certainly, senator, those kinds of maneuvers, the creation of shell companies and things like that, are unfortunately an all too common way that criminals and others try to circumvent detection, and so certainly i would think that the fbi needs to work with its partners in law enforcement, especially the treasury department to, as i said, follow the money, and sometimes that's easier said than done, but i think that's a critical step to trying to prevent and disrupt and not just detect after the fact criminal conduct. >> thank you very much. senator durbin. >> thank you. i know this has been a long ordeal for you, but i think it's coming to an end.
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let me just try to ask two or three questions. and to nail down this torture memo issue. i want to follow up on what you said earlier about your role in approval of interrogation techniques, which we also discussed in my office. you said that during your time the deputy attorney general's office, you don't recall reviewing or commenting on any memo written by john yu. you also said that as assistant attorney general, the criminal division, you, quote, provided general information and legal support, close quote, regarding the legal standards for interrogation. i want to ask you about one specific memo and i'm going to send it down to you if you haven't had a chance to see i, because i want you to. it's written by daniel levin, and it was dated december 2004. this memo replaced the august 2002 biby memo, and it says that the criminal division reviewed and up a it -- it specific says, the criminal division of the department of justice has reviewed this