tv Rep. Schiff on Investigations into Russian Influence on 2016 Elections CSPAN March 7, 2017 10:32pm-10:58pm EST
i know some of you are infatuated with meetings with the russian ambassador. look, we do have diplomats in this country. every country around the world has a diplomatic office here. it is their job to meet with political parties, especially those who aren't the incoming president elect and we should be very careful about casting stones at diplomats in the united states, even if they are our adversaries or we don't get along with them because remember we have embassies that are serving in the same role in other countries. they have jobs to do even if it's uncomfortable. it's important for those in the legislative branch or the executive branch or those going into the executive branch to have good relationships with the diplomats here in washington.
>> you are demanding that they to close the nature of their relationship. >> i meet with diplomats all the time and i don't disclose what i talk about with diplomats. i think any speculation, i guess the heart of your question, i know there's a tendency for you to believe that there's some grand conspiracy that the russians helped elect donald trump. we have an investigation going and we won't prejudge anything. i hope that the media doesn't prejudge either. >> i haven't seen the transcript but i'm aware of what's in some or most of it.
>> general flynn served this country for three decades. he did a great job. from everything i can see his conversations with the russian ambassador, he was doing this country a favor. >> you said you were going to prejudge the investigation. >> i don't know about all of your eyes, but as it relates to discussions with diplomats in the united states or no matter what country, i just don't understand what the problem is talking with diplomats. that's what we do here. we want to have good relationships. >> you believe it's a conspiracy that the russians helped electrons. >> i don't believe that to be the case. we are going to do our investigation and we will figure out if there's any intelligence that figures out if that's the
case. >> part of what we are doing is we are going to do a full look at all the intelligence behind it and we will come out with an assessment of what we think of that product. thank you very much. i appreciate your time. >> tonight on c-span2. >> good evening. i want to start out and say just a few comments and then i would be happy to respond to your question. three things i would like to emphasize tonight. the first is we were pleased to join with the chair in calling for an open hearing.
coming up on march 20 and i think it's our conviction that we have to do as much of this information investigation publicly. there will be components that have to be done in closed session. to the degree that we can provide periodic updates as well as public hearings, i think it is very much in the public interest that we do so. on the subject of the president's accusations over over the weekend that his predecessor was bad or sick and engaged in an illegal wiretap directed at mr. trump and his associates, the president has asked our committee to investigate this and i would say mr. president, we accept. we will investigate this. the president has said this is a scandal worse than watergate, that his predecessor engaged in illegal wiretap of his campaign.
that is one potential scandal. the alternative is a different scandal and that is a scandal of a sitting u.s. president alleging that his predecessor engaged in the most unscrupulous and unlawful conduct. that is also a scandal if those allegations proved to be false. we should be able to determine in short order whether this accusation is true or false. during the open hearing that we will have on march 20, i plan to ask the director of fbi directly whether there was any wiretap directed at mr. trump or his associates. we've already heard from director clapper that there was no. [inaudible] we will ask mr. comay the same question. if the public reports are accurate, he will have his own
opportunity to speak out on march 20. we will ask the other witnesses who testified in that hearing whether they are aware of any evidence of a wiretap directed by president obama at mr. trump. we will accept the invitation to investigate this. can the house intelligence committee or any committee do an investigation of this we do incredible investigation of a whole. [inaudible] to be honest, we don't know yet. i can't say for certain whether that will be possible. i can only say it is very much in the national interest that we do so. if all the members of our committee keep their focus on what's in the national interest, we will do so.
we cannot allow this to become another benghazi committee. if you think back to benghazi, the house intelligence committee did its own investigation. it was bipartisan. we reached a common conclusion. it was only the committee thereafter became a partisan exercise. i remember at at the beginning of the select committee thing quite publicly that the only way that committee could add value to the other eight investigations i have gone on before is if it was done in a strictly nonpartisan fashion. that is not what it was designed to do. at the end of the day if we end up with two reports we will have added no value and it exactly that happened. the same is true here. the only way our investigation will have credibility is if we can reach a common conclusion at the end of the day on the core issues. that ought to be our objective.
if we get to the point at any time where i feel we can do that, where there are legitimate lines of investigation that have been walled off, then i will say so. it is my intention to do this in a nonpartisan way. as many of you have pointed out, let's not lose sight of what we have agreed on. we have agreed on a detailed scope of investigation which includes a variety of issues, but also includes the issue of whether there was russian collusion with u.s. persons including anyone affiliated with the trump campaign. we have a broad scope of investigation. it's important we do it in a nonpartisan way. one of the issues, we all to be able to resolve is the accusation that the current president has leveled against
his predecessor. with that, i would be happy to respond. >> have you been briefed on any of the meetings that took place with russian officials, does any of that suggest collusion. >> i can't go into any of the contents of the investigation in the sense of what we've heard and what leads we followed up on. unfortunately i can't comment on the question you best. >> what about just in general. do you feel any more confident in asserting there was any collusion whatsoever. >> again, i would say at this very early stage of the investigation i don't think we ought to be trying any conclusions on any of the issues were looking at some not in a position to say what the strength of evidence or lack of evidence or anything of the sort
are donald trump's tack tax returns going to be a focus of a subpoena. >> it is certainly possible that within the scope of what we look at, if we determine there are credible allegations, that there are financial interests that were part of the measures that could be within the scope of our investigation, but that is not where i would start out, and frankly i think that set of issues is one that is within the government it may be within the scope of our investigation but that is not where i would start. >> do you have reason to believe that the intelligence community did not inform the gang of eight about counterintelligence
investigations last year? >> we have quarterly briefings as a member of the gang of eight on the most significant counter intelligence and i think that process has broken down and this is an issue both the chair and i feel strongly about. i don't think we are getting the kind of briefings we should. we have been getting briefings but i don't think they have been , i don't think they have met the expectations we are to have when we get those briefings. beyond that i would say it's very important for the intelligence committee, in the conduct of the investigation to be read into what the gang of eight has been briefed on and will be briefed on so the entire committee can do a proper
investigation. it won't be possible for the committee to do one investigation and the chair and i alone to do another. we have been working and i think we will be successful in making sure that all the members of committee have access to the relevant gang of eight material and to the degree that there are counterintelligence, i would hope our committee would be briefed on those pertinent to the investigation. >> are there counterintelligence investigations that the committee, that the gang of eight was not made aware of? >> at this point i am not going to be able to comment on that. i have certainly said, with respect to the hearing that we had with the director week ago that there were a host of questions pertinent to our investigation that the director declined to answer. i don't think that's tenable if we are going to do our investigation we will need the full cooperation.
bear in mind the questions that we ask are germane to the scope of the investigation. i would hope that we will get a different answer the next time we have an opportunity to meet with the director. >> a couple of hours ago they said between the leaks and you suspect wiretapping, it could be very problematic if congress considered. [inaudible] i was curious if you believe that the law needs to be re-examined or are you confident in the way it's currently crafted. >> section 702 in contrast to section 215 which involved the metadata program, section 702 has been a far more impactful and important counterterrorism program and tool, and that doesn't mean that we should
explore whether there are ways to improve the protections in existing law or changes we need to make to the structure of the program. we have been engaged in periodic briefings of members, knowing that the sunset would be coming up, we are going to continue those briefings and any of the questions that are pertinent to the russian investigation that come up in the context of 702 are to be answered so members understand how the programs work, that it's conducted in a lawful way, but i would certainly hope, because it is very important tool that the tool is preserved, but if there are any additional safeguards necessary, those will be explored as well. [inaudible] what can you tell us about the breach at the cia.
>> first of all, on the staffing issue, my understanding is that after the chairman and i made a presentation to the government committee, i think our request is moving forward and has been favorably viewed by the committee that certainly are our expectation that the increase will take place. that will be a substantial increase for our committee. i don't want to suggest that it solves all of our staffing problems. it doesn't at all but our day job of overseeing the agencies having gone away and we have a completely different and added responsibility, but it will certainly help. i think it's proceeding very, very positively and i hope we will get a final determination when that legislation is taken up in the house. with respect to the story in the news, with regarding wikileaks, that is not something i can comment on.
>> do you have any reservations, there are some disagreements between you and the chairman going into the investigation. you have any reservations of being part of a bipartisan investigation that he is leading, you, you might give him cover for things the democrats would like to be a part of. >> i'm sure there is a diverse viewpoint within the democratic caucus about the investigation and how it ought to be conducted. i can only share with you my perspective which is that we are to make every effort to do this in a thorough and objective way. if we can, that is the best thing for the country. if we get to the point we can't, we need to speak out about it. the first obstacle we have met did not come from the majority. we asked for certain things in the scope of the investigation and the chairman agreed to all of our request. they asked for certain things in the scope of the investigation
and we agreed with their request. the first obstacle we met was the unwillingness to answer our questions we have to move forward and make every effort to do it in an objective and nonpartisan way. will we be successful? i think another inflection point will come when we need to compel people to come to the committee and whether we can get the bipartisan agreement on that. that's often where the rubber hits the road in an investigation. i don't want to prejudge that. i can only hope we get to that juncture in the road that we can maintain the bipartisan character. >> is he not willing to tell you and the chairman about the
nature of the investigation or an unwillingness to tell the entire committee? >> i can only say that in the committee investigation, they declined to answer a number of our questions. i can also say as a member of the gang of eight, we have not been provided the full information that i think we need i think both are an issue, but because the chair and i can't do this alone, we need the committee to be fully briefed as well. if there is some reason why the director feels he cannot brief the full committee, he needs to let the gang of eight no. at the end of the day, our full committee will need to have the information necessary to do the investigation, and just to underscore one other point, the bureau has a couple imperatives. they have the imperative of
criminal investigations and bringing people to justice as well as the counterintelligence agency to make sure they protect the country. our responsibility is not the prosecutorial one. our responsibility is to protect the country and find out what russia poses to us and if they had any help in the range of issues. we have the same attention at times when we arrest a terrorism suspect and there is the need to get intelligence information to protect the country and to get incriminating statements. it always trumps the need to prosecute people. ideally, you do both, and the same is true here. the imperative is protection of the country and understanding how we been attacked in this cyber attack. and how we can inoculate ourselves from this in the
future. that has to be the priority. for that reason, i think the competing and sometimes complementary goal of prosecuting people cannot get in the way of the need to get information. >> at a high-level investigation in the quarterly counterintelligence briefings, gang of eight is briefed on the most sensitive intelligence in the country and those often involve ongoing investigations involving u.s. persons and it's because of that sensitivity that it's confined to eight people. here there is a need to know for the full committee, whether there are investigations underway involving russia and u.s. persons. for that reason, that subset of issues that would normally go only to the gang of eight, i believe has to go to the full
committee as well is this bipartisan, is this something you agree to? >> i support the inclusion of all the witnesses. this is just our first hearing. there are a number of other witnesses that will want to come in in open session and closed session but i support all of the witnesses who are being brought in. >> i am fully satisfied with the list we have for the hearing. again, i hope and expect a series of open hearings on the subject as well as others, the chairman has invited us to make
our suggestions and what the focus of our hearings are to be. it's certainly my expectation if we make our request for witnesses that request will be granted. >> thank you very much. >> how are you working with the senate side? there will be two reports from the senate side. are you talking to the chairs of that committee. [inaudible] >> we certainly have discussions with their counterparts in the senate. i haven't gained much traction with the idea that we have to do this investigation jointly. from one thing it would amplify our staff resources not to duplicate the efforts in both houses. for another, it would obviate
the need for the agencies to duplicate their efforts coming before us as well as nonagency witnesses. i haven't gained much traction. for the time being we go about our task separately with some level of coordination. the worst of all outcomes would be for reports. the majority and minority report from the house and senate. ideal it would be a single report but a close second would be to complementary reports. i think this comes back to trying to understand what's really in the national interest here. i feel very strongly that given the enormous divisions in the country, the greater degree to which we can speak with one voice on the chapter in our history which has been among the most destructive, the better better for the country because people are ready to believe and go to their separate corners of
the drop of a hat. we would do the country a real service if somehow, and against all odds the congress were able to conduct a thorough, nonpartisan investigation on the issue of singular importance and make a report to the american people. thank you. >> tonight on c-span2, a senate hearing with its eastern european neighbors. the chair of the house intelligence committee says they will hold hearings on russian interference of u.s. elections. >> in case you missed it here are some complete clips of the programming this past week.
>> i have been covered by the very best in the business and some of the worst. some of you press guys are lousy, just like some senators are lousy like doctors are lousy, lawyers are lousy, but it doesn't matter. we should never challenge the basic truth that an independent and free press is a fundamental element of our democracy. >> from the house floor, kevin mccarthy mccarthy on the affordable care act. >> we watched in the aca they created 23 co-ops and provided $23 billion $3 billion. eighteen of the 23 have collapsed. so yes, for the last six years we've been holding hearings. we been listening to the public. we been working on this bill. >> olympic gold analyst michael phelps set a hearing on ways to improve the internatl