tv Former FBI Director Comey Not for Me to Say if President Obstructed... CSPAN June 8, 2017 8:00pm-10:45pm EDT
>> tonight on c-span 2 former fbi director james comey testifying before the senate intelligence committee. presume speaking at the faith and freedom conference in washington, dc, and houston and human services secretary tom price testifying on the hhs budget. today former fbi director james comey testified before the senate intelligence committee as part of their investigation of russian interference in the 2016 elections. at the hearing he described meetings with president trump before his dismissal as fbi director in may. the open session portion of his
>> director comey, i appreciate your willingness to appear before the committee today and more important live i thank you for your dedicated-and-leadership to the federal bureau of investigation. your appearance today speaks to the trust we have built over the years and i'm looking forward to a very open and candid discussion today. i'd like to remind my cool leagues we'll reconvene in closed session at 1:00 p.m. today, and i ask that you reserve for that venue any questions that might get into classified information. the director's been very vicious gracious with his time but we worked out a specific timelinene for his commitment to be on the soil we'll do everything we took meet that agreement. the senate select it in committedee on intelligence exists to certify for the other 85 members of the united states
senate and the american people that the intelligence community is operating lawfully, and has the necessary authorities and tools to accomplish its mission, and keep america safe. part of our mission beyond the overslight we continue to provide to the intelligence community and its activities is to investigate russian intervenes in the 2016 u.s. elections. the committee's work continues. this hearing represents part of that effort. allegations have been swirling in the press for the last several week and today is your opportunity to set the record straight. yesterday i read with interestst your statement for the record, and i think it provides some helpful details surrounding youi interactions with the president. it clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions. actions you took following each conversation, and your state of mind. i very much appreciate your candor and think it's helpful as
we work through to determine the ultimate truth behind possible russian interference in the 201r elections. your statement alsoprovides texture and context to your interactions with the president, from your vantage point, and outlines a strained relationship. the american people need to hear your side of the story just as they need to hear the president's descriptions of events. these interactions highlight the importance of the committee's ongoing investigation. our experienced staff is interviewing all relevant parties and some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country's possession. we will establish the facts, separate from rampant speculation, and lay them out for the american people to make their own judgment. only then will we as a nation be able to move forward and to put this episode to rest. there are several outstanding
issues addressed in -- not addressed in your statement.ope did president's request for loyalty -- your impression -- at the one-on-one dinner of january 27th what, and i quote, at least in part, an effort to create some sort of patronage relationship or isst march 30th phone call asking what you could do to lift the cloud of russian investigationch into any way, alter your approach or the fbi's investigation into general flynn or the broader investigation into russia and possible links to the campaign. in your opinion, did the potential russian efforts to establish links with individuals in the trump orbit rise to the level we could define asas collusion or was it's counterintelligence concern? there's been significant pock speculation about your decision. making related to the clinton e-mail investigation.
why did you decide publicly to -- to publicly announce fbi's recommendations that the department of justice not pursue criminal charges? you have describe it as choice between a bad decision and a worse decision. the american people need to understand the facts behind your action. this committee is uniquely suited to investigate russia's interference the 2016 elections. we also have a unified bipartisan approach to what is a highly charged partisan issue. russian activities during 2016 election may have been aim att one party's candidate but as my colleagues, senator rubio, says breakly in 2018, and 2020, it could be aimed at any one, at home or abroad. my colleagues senator warner and i haven't -- have worked to stay in lockstep. we have had our differences on approach, at times, but i've
constantly stressed that we need be a team, and i think senator warner agrees with me. we must keep these questions above politics and partisanship. it's too parent to be tainted by anyone trying to score political opinions. with that, i welcome you, director texas turn to the vice-chairman for any comments he might have. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and let me start by actually thanking all the members of the committee for their seriousness in which they've taken on thisic task.. mr. comey, thank you for agreeing to come testify as part of this committee's investigation into russia. i realize that this hearing has been obviously the focus of a lot of washington, n the last few days. the truth is, many americans who may be tuning in today probably haven't focused on every twist and turn of the investigation. so i'd like to briefly describe, at least from this senator's
standpoint, what we already know and what we're still investigating. to be clear, this whole investigation is not about re-litigating the election. it's not about who won or lost. sure as heck is not about democrats versus republicans. we're here because a foreign adversary attacked us right here at home, plain and simple. not by gun or missiles but by foreign operatives seeking to hijack our most important democratic process, our presidential election. russian spies engaged in amo series of online fiber raids, and a broad campaign of disinformation, all ultimately aimed at sewing chaos to undermine public faith in our process, our leadership and ultimately in ourselves. heat not just this senator's
opinion.ch it is the unanimous determination of the entire u.s. intelligence community. we must find out the full story, what the russians did, and some other colleagues masked why they are so successful. and more importantly we must determine the necessary steps t, take to protect our democracy and ensure they can't do it again.rotect mentioning the elections in 2018 and 2020. in my own state of virginia we have elects this year 2017. we cannot let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. let me say at the outset, we have not always agreed on every issue. in fact i have occasionally questioned some of your actions but never had any reason to question your integrate, your expertise, or your intelligence.
you have been a straight shooter with the committee and have been willing to speak truth to power, even at the risk of your own career.ng which makes the way in which you are fired by the president it ultimately shocking. we began the process with thebe president and his staff first denying the russians were ever involved and then falsely claim nothing one on hi team was ever in touch with the russians. that's not to the truth. numerous trump associates had undisclosed contacts with russians before and after the election, including the president's attorney general, his former national security a adviser, and his current senior adviser, mr. kushner. that doesn't even begin to cound the host of additional campaign associates and advisers who have always been caught up in this
massive web. we saw mr. trump's campaign manager, mr. manafort, supposed to stem down over ties to russian back entities. the national security adviser, general flynn, had to resign over lies about engagements with the russians. and we saw the candidate himself express an odd and unexplained affection for the russian dictator, while calling for the hacking of his own opponent. there's a lot to investigate. enough of the facts, then director comey publicly acknowledged he was leading an investigation into those links between mr. trump's campaign and the russian government. at the director of the fbi, mr. comey was ultimately responsible for conducting thatm investigation, which might explain why you're sitting now as a private citizen. what we didn't know was at the same time this investigation wai proceeding, the president
himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence or at least co-opt the director of the fbi. the testimony that mr. comey has submitted for today's hearing is very disturbing. for example, january 27 until, the president appears to have threatened director's job while telling him, quote, need loyalty. expect loyalty. and at a later meeting, on february 14th, the president asked the attorney general to leave the oval office so that he could privately ask director comey again, quote to see a way clear to letting flynn go. in and the statement that director comey interpret as a request that he drop the a investigation connected to general flynn's false statements. think about it. the president of the united states, asking the fbi directora to drop an ongoing investigation.
and after that, the president called the fbi director on two additional occasions, march 30th and april 11th and asked him again, quote, to lift the cloud on the russian investigation. now, director comb comey denied each improper request. the loyalty pledge, the admonition to drop the flynn investigation, the request to lift the cloud on the russian investigation. of course, after his refusals, director comey was fired.ion. the initial explanation for the firing didn't pass any smell test. he was fired because he didn't treat hillary clinton appropriately. of course, that explanation lasted a day because the president himself then made very clear that he was thinking about russia when he decided to fire director comey. about shockingly, reports suggest that the president admitted as much
in an oval office meeting with the russians the day afterval director comey was fired. disparaging our country's top law enforcement official as a quote, unquote, nut job, the president allegedly suggested that his firing relieved great pressure on his feelings about russia. this is not happening in isolation. at the same time the president was engaged in efforts with director comey he was also at least allegedly, asking senior leaders of the intelligence community to downplay the russian investigation or to intervene with the director. yesterday, we had dni director coats, naa director admiral rogers who were offered a number of opportunities to floatly -- flatly deny the press reports. they did not take advantage of
that opportunity. my belief that's not how the president of the united statesf should behave. regardless of the outcome of our investigation, into the russia links, director comey's firing, and his testimony, raise separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of. again, as i said at the outset, i've seen first hand how seriously every member of this a committee is taking his work. i'm proud of the committee's efforts so far. let me be clear. this is not a witchhunt. this is not fake news. it is an effort to protect our country from renewed threat that quite honestly will not go away anytime soon. so, mr. comey, your testimony here today will help us muff towards that goal. >> thank you mr. vice-chairman. director, as discussed when you agreed appear before the committee, it would be under owing. ask you to please stand.
raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> die. >> please be seated. >> director comey you're now under oath. and i would just note to the members, you will be recognized by seniority for a period up ton seven minutes, and again, it is the intent to move to a closed session no later than 1:00 p.m. with that director comey, you have the floor. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member warner, membershe of the commit committee, thank you for inviting me theirtive tonight. eye submitted the statement for the record and not going to repeat it this morning. thought i would offer some brief introductory remarks and thenmo welcome your question. when i was appoint fbi direct glory 2013, i understood that it served at the pleasure of the
president. even though i was appointed to a ten-year term which congress crated in order to underscore the importance of the fib being outside of politics and independent, i understood that could i be fired by a president for any reason or for no reason aft all. and on may 9th, when i learned i'd been fired, for that reason i immediately came home as a private citizen. but then the explanations, the shifting explanations, confused me and increasingly concerned me. they confused me because the president that i had had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office, and he had repeatedly told me i was doing a great job and hoped i would say. repeatedly assured him i did intent to stay and serve out the remaining six years of my term hitch told me repeatedly he talked to lots of people about me, including our current attorney general, and learned i
was doing a great job and that i was extremely well-liked by theh fbi work force.. so it confused me when i saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the russia investigation and learned againi from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the russia investigation. i was also confused by the initial explanation offered publicly, that i was fired because of the decisions i made during the election year. that didn't make sense to me who are a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water under the bridge since those hard decisions had to be made. that didn't make any sense to me. and although the law required no reason at all to fire an anybody director, the administration then chose to defame me and, pour -- more personally the fbi but saying the organization was
in disarray, poorly led, that the work force had lost confidence in its leader. those were lies, plain and simple. and i am so sorry that the fbi work force had to hear them and i'm so sorry that the american people were told them. i worked every day at the fbi to help make that great organization better. and i say help because i did nothing alone at the fib. there nor in -- the great strengths is that the values and ables run deep and wide. the fbi will be fine without me the fbi's mission wilt be relentlessly pursued i by itsi' people and that mission is to protect the american people and uphold the constitution of the united states. i will deeply miss being part of that mission but the mission would go on long beyond me or any particular administration. i have a message before i close for my former colleagues at the
fbi. first i want the american people to know this truth. the fbi is honest, the fbi is strong, and the fbi is and f always will be independent. and now to my former colleagues, if if may, seem sorry i didn't get the chance say goodbye to you properly. it was the or of my thrive serve beside you to be part of the fbi family, and i will miss it foror the rest of my life. thank you for standing watch. thank you for doing so much good for this country. do that good as long as ever you can. senators, i look forward to your questions. >> director, thank you for that testimony, both oral and theor written testimony that you privilegedded to the committee -- provided to the committee yesterday and made foe the american people. chair would recognize himself first for 12 minutes. vice chair for 12 minutes, based upon the agreement we have.
director, did the special counsel's office review and/or edit your written testimony? >> no. >> do you've have any doubt that russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections? >> none. >> do you have any doubt that the russian government was behind the intrusions and the dnc and the d triple c systems and the suggest leaks of that information? no no doubt. >> do you have any doubt that the russian government was behind be cyber intrusion in the state voter files. >> no. >> do you have any dot that officialed of the russian government were fully ware or these activities? >> no doubt. >> are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered? >> i'm confident. by the -- when i left as director i'd seen no indication of that whatsoever. >> director comey, did the
president at any time ask you to stop the fbi investigation into russian involvement in the 2016 u.s. elects? >> not to my understanding, no. >> did any individual working for this administration, including the justice department, ask you to stop the russian investigation. >> no. >> director, when the president requested that you, and i quote, let flynn go,. general flynn had an unreportedy contact with the russians, which is an offense, and if press accounts are right, there might have been discrepancies between facts and his fbi testimony. in your estimation, was general flynn at that time in serious legal jeopardy and in addition to that, do you sense that the president was trying to obstruct justice or just seek for a way
for mike flynn to save face given he had been fired. >> general flynn at that point in time was in legal jeopardy there was an open fib criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the russian contacts and the contacts themselves. that was my assessment at the time. i don't think it's for know say whether the conversation i hady with the president as an effort to destruct. it wasser son fusing and i'm sure the special counsel will try to discover what the intention was there and if that is an offense.et >> is possible that as part of i the fbi investigation, the fbi could find evidence of criminality not tied to 2016 election is can possible collusion are or coordination with russians? >> sure. >> so, there could be something that just fits a criminal aspect of this that doesn't have s
nothing do with the 2016 election cycle. >> correct. in any complex investigation, when you start turning over rocks, sometimes you find things unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature. >> director comby, you have been criticizedded publicly by the depression to present your>> identified little on the ememinvestigation directly to the american people. have you learned anything sinceo that time that would have changed what you said or how you chose to inform the americanrney people? >> honestly, no. h it caused a whole lot of person pain for me, but as i look back, given what i new at the time and what i learned since, it was the best way to protect the justice institution, includingro the fbi. >> in the public domain, is this question of the steel dossier. a document that has been around now for over a year. i'm not sure when the fbi first
possession of it but the public and we had it before you did.. effort to your departure from the fbi was the fbi able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the steele document? >> mr. chairman, i don't think that's a question i can answer in an open setting. it goes into the details of the investigation. >> director, the term we hear most often is "collusion." when people are describing possible links between americans and russian government entities related to the interference in our election, would you say it's normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration? >> yes. >> at what point does the normal contact cross the line into an attempt to recruit agents or
influence or spies?o >> difficult to say in the abstract. depends spoon the -- upon the context whether there's an effort to make it covert or the request of the foreign government. a judgment call. >> at what point would that recruitment become a counterintelligence threat to our country? >> again, difficult to answer in the abstract, but when a foreige power is using -- especially coercion or some sort of fora your try to co-opt an american, especially a government official act on its behalf, it's a serious concern of the fbi. >> if you have a 36-page document of specific claims that are out there, the fbi would have to, for counterintelligence reasons, try to verify anything that might be claimed in there,
one, and probably first and foremost if the counterintelligence concerns we have about blackmail. would that be an accurate statement?te >> yes. if the fib receives a credibleha allegation there's some evident to co-opt, coerce, direct, employ, an american on the i behalf of the foreign power that's the bay otherwise on some a cows intelligence investigation is opened. >> when you read the dossier, was was your ranges given it was 100% directed at the president-elect. >> not a question i can answer in open setting.t >> when did you become aware ofe the cyber intrusion? >> the first cyber -- all kinds going on. the first russia connected cyber intrusion i became aware of in the late summer of 2015. >> and in that time frame, there were more than the dnc and the dccc that were targeted? >> correct.
a massive effort to target governmental and near governmental agencies. >> what is the estimate the russians specifically targeted in the time frame. >> it's hundreds. suppose it could be more than a thousand but at least hundreds. >> when did you become aware that data had been ex-filtrated? >> i'm not sure exactly. i think either late '15 or earl. '16. >> did you, the director of the fbi, have conversations with the last administration about the risk that this posed? >> yes. >> share with us what actions they took.sk >> the fbi had already undertaken an effort to notify all the victims and that's what we consider the entities that were attacked arizona part of this massive spear fishing campaign.
so we notified them in an effort to disrupt what smooth be ongoing, and then would as series of continuingng interactions with entitieses through the rest of '15 into '16 and then throughout '16. >> and the fbi in this case,on unlike a cases, did you ever have access to the till hardware that was hacked or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the data they collected? >> in the case of the dnc -- and i believe the dcccc but i'm sure the dnc we did not have access to the devices themselves. we got relevant forensic information from a private bertn but dedidn't get direct access. >> but no content. >> correction. >> isn't content an important part of the forensics from a counter-intelligent standpoint? >> it is but the information
that was briefed me they had gotten the information from the private party and they needed to under the intrusion by spring of 2016. >> let me go back if i can very briefly to the decision to publicly go out with your results on the e-mail. was your decision influenced by the attorney general's tarmac meeting with the former president, bill clinton? >> yes. ultimately conclusive way, that was the thing that capped it for me. had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the fbi and the justice department. >> were there other things that contributed to that, which youou can describe in an open session? >> there were other things that contributed to that. one specific item i didn't
kurdish know the committee hasas been briefed on the classified facts. the only other consideration i can talk not open setting is att one point the attorney general directed me not to call it an investigation but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me, but that is one of the brickness the loadhi that led me to kick have to step away from the department if we're to close the case credibly. >> director, my last question.os you're not only a seasoned prosecutor but you've led the fbi for years. you understand the investigativ. process. you have worked with this committee closely, and we're grateful to you because i think we have mutually build trust in your organization and what we do. there is any doubt in your minds that this committee can carry out its oversight role in the
2016 russian involvement in the elects in parallel with the now special coup.al >> no doubt. it can we done with lots of conversations but bob mueller is one of the country's great pros and i'm sure you, work it out to run in parallel. >> thank you once again.it now i want to turn to the vice-chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and he can director comby, thank you for your service. your comments to your fbi family, i know were heart-felt. know that even though there are some in the administration who tried to smear your reputation,, you had acting director mccabe in public testify a few weeks back and yesterday, re-affirmed they vast majority of the fbi community had great trust inhe your leadership and obviouslyom trust in your integrate.
i want to go through a number of the meetings you reference in your testimony and let's starton with the meet can at trump pour. you went up to brief the president on the russian investigation. you remained afterwards to brief him on, again, quote, some i personally sensitive aspects of the information he relayed. inw you say after that briefingg you felt compelled to document that conversation that you actually started documenting as soon as you got into the car. now, you have had extensive experience at the department of justice and the fbi, world on te with the presidents of both partied. what about the meeting that led you to determine you needed to start putting down a written record? >> a combination of things. think the circumstances, the subject matter, and the person ? was interacting with. circumstances first.
i was alone with the president a of the united states, or the president-elect, soon to be president. the subject matter i was talking about, matters that touch on the fbi's core responsibility and relate to the president-elect personally. and then the nature of the person.el i was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our middle easting and i thought it was important for document. that combination of thing its never experienced before but it met know knowing i had to write it down and i have to write it down in a detailed way. >> that's an important statement you just made. my understanding is that then -s again, unlike your dealings with presidents of either party's in your past experience in every subsequent meeting or conversation with this president, you created a written robert.r did you feel you needed to create this written recovered of the memos because they might need to be relied on? >> sure.
i created records after conversations -- i think it did it after each of our nine conversations.at if i didn't, i did it for nearly all of them, especially the one that were substantive. knew there might come a day when i'd need a report what happened not just to defense myself but to defend the fbi and our integrate as an indisposition the independence of our investigative function. that made this so difficult. a combination of circumstances, subject heart ande the particular person. >> in all your experience this only president like you felt in every netting you needed to document because at some point, using your words, he might put out a nonfruitful representation of the meeting. >> that's right, senator. asia said, asfy director i enter acted with president obama, spoke only twice in three years and didn't document it. when i was deputy attorney general i had one one-on-one
meeting with president bush on a very important national security matter. didn't write a memo documenting that. p i sent a quick e-mail to myri staff saying there was something going ant but didn't feel the need document that. just wasn't president with either president bush or president obama. >> i think others will question that. the chairman and i requested the memos and it's our hope that the fbi well get this committee fbi access to the memos and we can read this contemporaneously so we have your side of the story. members and press have both side that if you were a great deal has been made whether thee president you are asked to indicate where the president was the subject of any expression my understanding is, prior to your meeting on january 6th, you t discussed with your leadership item whether or not you should
be prepared to assurership then-president-elect trump that the fib was not investigating him personally. now, murdering is your leadership team agreed with that but was that a unanimous decision? any debate about that? >> was it unanimous?t one of the members of leadership team has a view that although it was technically true we decide not have a counterintelligenceas file indicate opened on president donald president-elect trump, and the intention was because we were having an investigation potential, coordination between the cam and inand russia -- bugs it was president-elect trump'sas campaign this person's view was, that his conduct would fall within the scope of that work and was reluctant tomade make the statement i made. disagreed. thought it was fire say what is literally true. there's not a counterintelligence operation
against mr. trump and i decided to say it. >> at that moment time did you ever revisit that in these scenn sessions? >> with the fbi leadership? >> sure. >> the leader had the view didn't change. his view was still that it was probably, although literally true, it could be misleading but a the nature of the investigation was such that it might well touch -- obviously would touch the campaign and the person at the head of the can pain would be the candidate ask that was his view. >> moving to the january 27th january 27th denver you said, quote, the president began by asking me whether i wanted to stay on as fbi director and indicated that lots of people, your word, wanted the job. you went ton to say the dinner itself was seemingly an effort to, quote, have you ask him for your responsible and crete some sort solve quote-unquote
patronage relationship.e the president's themes from my reading of your memo, beholding your job or your possibility of continuing your job over your head in a fairly direct way, what was your imexpression what did you mean by this notion of a patronage relationship? >> well, my impression -- it's my impression and could i always be wrong but my common sense told me what was going on either he concluded or someone told him that you didn't -- you have already asked comey to stay ando you didn't get anything for it and that the dinner was an effort to build aa relationship -- in fact he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. as i said what was odd is we had already talked twice about it a at that time standpoint he said i hope you'll stay. in fact i just remember sitting here, third one. when you see me walking across the blue room.
what the pratt says was i really look forward to work with you. >> that was just few days before you were fired. >> the sunday after the inauguration.be w the next friday i have dinner and the president begins about wanting to talk about my job. i'm thinking, wait a minute. three times you have already asked me to stay or talk about me staying., my common sense tells me what is going on here is that he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job.. >> again, we all understand that. has people work for me but this constant request, quoting you, him saying he explaining your independence he kept coming back particulars need loyalty, expect loyalty. ever had those kind of requests before of anyone else you worked with in at the federal government. no what made me uneasy, i'm the director of the fbi at that point. the reason the congress created
a ten-year term is so that the director is not feeling at if they're serving with political s limit owed to any particular person. the statute of justice has a blindfold on because you're not supposed to peek out and see whether your patron is happy with what you're doing. i became the fbi director be in that position. >> let me move on. february 14th, again, seems a bit strange.si now were in a meeting. and your direct superior, thefe attorney general, was in the meeting as well, yet the interested asks everyone to leave, including the attorney general to leave, before he brought up the matter of general flynn. what was your impression of that type of inaction had you ever seen anything like that before? >> no. my impression was something bit about to happen and i need to remember every single word that
is spoken, and, again, could be wrong. i'm 56 years old.o i've seen a few things. my sense was the attorney general knew she shouldn't been leaving which is why he was lipping at thing and i don't know mr. kushner well but he picked up on the same thing. knew something was about to happen i needed to pay close attention. >> found it very interesting that in the memo that you wrote after this february 14th february 14th pull-aside you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified if you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified, is that because you felt at some point the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear and actually be able to be cleared a way that could be shared with the american people? >> i remember thinking this is a disturbing development. really important to our work. need to document and it preserve it in a way -- this committee
gets this but sometimes when things are classified, its tangled them up. >> amen. >> you have to be very careful how to handle it.. for good reason. mcthinks was if i wrote it in some often way that i don't including anything that trigger an investigation, it would make it easier for us to discuss anything in the nib and -- in the fbi and -- >> you wrote this in a way that was unclassified and this committee will get access to that unclassified document would be very important for our investigation.es let me ask this is in closing. how many ongoing investigations at any time does the fbi have? >> tenses of thousands. >> did the president ever ask about any other ongoing investigation in. no.re >> did he ever ask about you
trying to interfere on any other investigation? on >> no. >> i think, again, this speaksks volumes, doesn't even get to tho questions around the phone calls about lifting the cloud. nope other members will get to. that but i reat really appreciate your testimony and your service to our nation. >> thank you: i just ashe sitting here going through my contexts. had one conversation with the president that was classified where he asked about our -- an ongoing intelligence investigation.at it was brief and entirely professional. >> he didn't ask you to take my specific action. >> no. >> unlike what he had done vis-a-vis mr. flynn and the overall russian investigate. >> correction. >> thank you. >> mr. comey, thank you for your service. america needs more like you and we really appreciate it. yesterday i got and everybody got the seven pages of your your
direct testimony that is part of the record here. read and it then read it again and all i could think is, number one, how much i hated the class of legal writing in law school and you probably got the a after reading this. so, i find it clear, i find it concise. and having been a prosecutor for a number of years and handling hundreds, maybe thousands of cases and read police and investigative reports are this is as good as it gets and i really sport that. not only the conciseness andts clearness and the fact that you have things that were written down come ten brain obviously when they happened and actually put enemy quotes so we know exactly what happened and we're not getting some rendition of it that is in your mind.ne >> thank you. >> you're to be complimented. >> i had great parents and great teachers who beat that into me. >> that's obvious. the chairman walked you through a number of things that the
person people need and want to know.gh we know about the active measure the russians have taken. people were surprised at this, those who two, in the intelligence community, didn't come as a surprise but now the mesh people know this and that'k good because it's serious and it's a problem. secondly, gather from all of this you're willing to say now that while you were directow, the president of the united states was not under say n investigation. is that a fair statement. >> correct. >> that's a fact we can rely on? >> yes, sir. >> i remember you talked with us shortly after "the new york times" wrote an article that suggested the trump campaign wag colluding with the russians. do you remember reading that article? >> die. about allegedly extensive surveillance. >> correct. that upset you to the point where you went out and surveyed the intelligence commuteee to
see if you were missing o something.ur >> correct. want to be careful in open setting. >> not going any further than that. in addition to that, after that, you sought out, both republican and democratic senators to tell them that, hey, don't know where this is coming from but this is not fact call. do you recall that? >> yes. >> so, the american people can understand this, that report by "the new york times" was not true. is that a fair statement. >> in the main it was not true. you all know this; maybe the american people don't. the challenge in writing classified information is the p people talking about it often don't know what is going on expecter those who know what is going on are not talking bit, and we don't call the press to say, you got that thing wrong. just have to leave it there. mentioned the nonsense around what influenced me to make the july 5th statement.
nonsense but i can't explain how it's nobody send. >> thank you. so those three thing wiz now regard thing active mr.s and whether the press underhi investigation and the collusion between the trump campaign and the russians. i want to drill right down as my time is limited to the most t recent dustup regarding allegations that the president of the united states obstructed justice, and you nailed this down you.tr put his in quotes. words matter. ow you wrote down the words so we, have the words in from of us now. there's 28 words in quote. i hope -- the president speaking -- i hope you can see your way clear letting thisth going to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. hope you can let this go. those are his act words. think. >> yes. >> you put enemy quotes. >> correct. >> thank you for that.
he did not direct you let it go. >> not in this words, no. >> he did not order you to let got. >> again, those words are not in order. >> he said, i hope. now, hike he, you probably did hundreds and thousands of cases charging people with criminal offenses and you have knowledge of the thousands of cases where people have been charged. do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or for that matter any other criminal offense where this -- they said or thought they hoped for an outcome? >> i don't know well enough to answer. the reason i keep saying his wordses is, took it as a direction. this is the president of the united states. with me alone saying i hope this. a took it as, this is what he want knows die. didn't obey that but that's the way i took it.
>> may have taken it as ak direction but that's not what he said. he said i hope. >> that's correct. >> host: you don't know anyone has been charged for hoping something. >> i don't as i sit here. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator feinstein. >> vuemer much -- thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. comey i have great respect for you. senator cornyn and i sit on the judiciary committee so we have occasion to have you before is, and i know that you're a man of spring integrity, and i really regret the situation that we ald find ourselves in. i just want to say that. why do you believe you were fired? >> i goods i don't know for sure. think i tack the president at his word i was fired because of the russia investigation, something about the way i was conducting it.
the president felt created pressure on him he wanted to relieve. didn't know that at the time but i watched his interview and t watched the press accounts.ch i tack him at his word. could be wrong. maybe he is saying something that's not true and i'm taking him at his word based on what know now. >> talk about his request that you pledge loyalty, and your response to that, and what impact you believe that had. >> i don't know for sure. i don't know the president well enough to read him well. i think it was -- our relationship didn't get off to a great start getting the conversation i had to have on january 6th. this was not -- didn't improve the relationship because it was very, very awkward him was asking for something and i was refusing to give it. but i don't know him well enouga to know how he reacted to that exactly. t g >> do you believe the russia
investigation played a role? >> why i was fired? >> yes. >> yes, because i've seen the president say so. >> let's go to the flynn issue. you u senator rische outlined -- i hope you can see your dui letting flynn go. he's good guy. hope you can let this go.. but you also said in your written remarks, and i quote, you had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of flynn in connection with false statement about his conversations with the russian ambassador in december, end quote. please go into that with more detail. >> the con desk and the president's words let know that conclusion.ll i said in my statement could i be wrong but flynn had been forced to resign the day before, and the controversy around general flynn at that point in time was centered whether or not
he had lied to the vice president about the nature of this conversations with the russians, whether he had been candid with others in the course of. that that happened the day before. on the 14th the president makes specific refer treasons -- reference to. that i understand him to sea hig wanted know drop any investigation of flynns account of the conversation enough russians. >> here's the question. you're big and strong. i know the oval office and i know what happens to people when they walk in. there is a certain amount of intimidation. why didn't you stop and say, mr. president, this is wrong? i cannot discuss this with you? >> that's a great question. maybe if i were stronger i would have. i was so stunned by the conversation that i just took it in and the only thing i could think to say, because i was
playing in my mind -- every word he said i was playing in my mind, what should by response be? and i very carefully chose the words. heard about tapes. lordy, i hope there are taped. remember him saying, i agree he's a good guy. i'm not saying i aggrieve what you're asking me to do. maybe other people would be stronger bet that's how i conducted myself. i hope i never have another opportunity. maybe if i had to do it again i would do it better. >> you described two phone calls from president trump. one on march 30 and one on april 11, where he, quote, described the russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability, end quote, as president and asked you, quote to lift the cloud,il end quote. how did you interpret that? and what did you believe he wanted you to do?
>> i interpreted that as he was frustrated that the russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy -- i think he meant of the executive branch but in the public square in general -- and it was making it difficult for him to focus on other priorities of his. what he asked me was actually anywhere roarer -- anywhere orer than that. i think what he meant by the cloud the interinvestigation is take 'king 'the oxygen and the ask was to get it out that i, i president, am not personally under investigation. >> after april 11th, kid he ask you more, ever, about the russia investigation? did he ask you any questions. >> never spoke again after april 11th. >> you told me pratt, i would
see what we could do. walt did you mean? >> i was kind of a -- slightly cowardly way of trying avoid telling him, we're not going to do that. that i would see what we could do was a way of kind of getting off the phone, frankly, and theu i turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general, mr. bente. who did you talk to about that, lifting the cloud, stopping the investigation, back at the fbi and what was their response? >> the fbi, during one of the two conversations -- not remembering exactly dish think the first mitchell chief of staff was in front of me and heard my end of the conversation because the president's call was a surprise. discussed lifting the cloud in the request with the seniorhe leadership team, who typically was the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director's
chief counsel, and i think in a number of circumstances the number three in the fbi and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch. so that group of us that lead the fbi when it comes to national security. >> okay.y.that g you have the president of the united states asking you to stop an investigation that is anf important investigation. what was the response of your colleagues?? >> i think they were as shocked and troubled by it as i was.gu some said things that led in to believe that. i don't remember exactly. the reaction was similar to mine. they were all experienced people who never experienced such a thing and they were very concerned and the conversation turned, to what should we do with this information? and that was a struggle for us. because we are the leaders of the fbi and it's been reported to us and i heard and it nowow shared if with the leaders of the fib.
our conversation was, should we share this with any senior officials at the justice department? our absolute primary concern was we can't infect the investigative team. don't want the agents and analysts working on those know the president of the united states has asked -- when it comes to the president i took it as a direction -- to get rid of this investigation because we're not going to follow that request and so we decided we have to keep it away from our troops but anybody else we ought to tell at the justice department? as i laid out in my statement we considered talking to the attorney general.ortly g ... ng to be shortly in that seat, and we decided the best move would be to hold it, keep it in a box, document it, as we had already done, and in this investigation is going to go on, figure out
what to do with it down the road. is there a way to corroborate this. at the time, it is was your word against the president, no way to corroborate this. my view of that changed when the prospect of tapes was raised, but that's how we thought about it then. >> thank you. thank you. >> senator rubio. >> thank you. director comey, the meeting in was that the only time he asked you to let it go? >> yes.>> >> he was asking not about the general rush investigation but about the jeopardy flynn was in himself and it was the request you hope you did away with it as an order for some of the circumstances. >> yes. >> did you say anything about that is not the appropriate request or tell the white house counsel that is not an appropriate request someone needs to tell the president heop cannot do these things?
>> i think the circumstances were such that it was a bit stunned and didn't have the presence of mind. be careful what you say so i said he's a good guy. >> you perceived the cloud could be the investigation in general. but you would tell the american people what you had already tola him that he wasn't personally under investigation.hat >> yes sir. and again did you say to the president hopefully they would talk to him and told them he couldn't do this?
>> first time i said we will see what we can do and the second, time the white house counsel should contact the deputy s attorneys general. >> to make a public statement that he wasn't under investigation but didn't have been illegal but it made no sense to create a duty to correct the circumstance change. >> we confirmed that there was an investigation and creates the duty to correct which i've lived before and you want to be very careful about doing that and it is a slippery slope because if we say the president and vice president, what is the principled basis for stopping. the leadership at justice. march 30 during the phone call about general flynn, you said hl shifted and brought up something you called the mccabe thing.
his wife had received campaign money from what i assume is terry mcauliffe.hy did they express potentiale pr opposition i don't like this guy because he got money from someone close to clinton?ot >> he asked specific questions and i was pretty rough with him on the campaign trail he said hn was rough on mrs. mccabe on them campaign trail.al so the president turns to youe and says i never brought up the mccain thing.
now i'm asking for something. >> it was so out of context ii didn't have a view of what it was. >> let's talk about the general investigation. pages six of the testimony youe responded we were investigating the matter and to read the great benefit to having done the work well and he agreed and reemphasized the problem. all the facts came out and we have nothing. he agreed that would be ideal but it's messing up the ability to do the rest of my agenda is that accurate? >> if some of the satellites did
something wrong we could find that out.ld be >> he said some of the peoplesf around in the campaign did something wrong it would be great to know that as well. so are those the only instances in which i am paraphrasing here it's okay to do the investigation i hope it all comes out i have nothing to do with anything russia.ot if people were doing things wrong. >> i recorded what he was expressing. >> so if the president asks three things of you, your y loyalty to the and on one occasion to let the michaelcasin flynn thing though because he's a good guy, treated unfairly, td
etc.. the wishes were known to them certainly by the next day when they had a press conference.in going back to the requests were number one, be loyal. number two, let it go. he's a good guy. number three, can you tell the american people what the leaders in congress already know and what you have told me three times but i am not under, investigation. we've learned more from the newspapers sometimes than ourr own hearings. do you wonder why of all of the things in the investigation the fact the president wasn't personally under investigation that the democrats and republicans and leaders of congress have known that for knn weeks. i find the matters that are briefed to the gang of eight.
finally for the senior leaders that you share thesey conversations with? res >> deputy director, my chief of staff, genera general counsel, y director's chief counsel, and then more often than not, the number three person thee associate deputy director and quite often the head of the national security branch. protecting these secure encryption i found the timing of the firing stinks. you put on the record the testimony that demonstrates why the odor of presidential abuse of power is so strong.
now, to my question. in talking to senator warner about this dinner you had with the president, all in one dinnee they raised the prospect and ask for the loyalty and tonight allegations against him. it all took place under one summer. you told senator warner that the president was looking to get l something. looking back, did that suggestid your job might be contingent on how you handle the investigation? i got the sense that it would be contingent upon how he felt iowe conducted myself with the.
consider how what you are doing well affect the consideration. let me turn to the attorney general.s in your statement, and you said you and the fbi leadership team decided not to discuss the president's actions. what was it about the attorney general's own interactions witho the russians o for his behavior with regards to the investigation that would have led to the entire leadership of the fbi to make this decision? >> our judgment is that he was very close to and was never going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons.
we also were aware of things i a cannot discuss in the open setting in the investigation to be problematic and so we were hearing people suggest he recuse himself and he wouldn't be in contact with them much longer, and that turned out to be the case. >> how would you characterize the attorney general with his refusal in particular with regards to his involvement in your firing, which the president has acknowledged because of the russian investigation. if i was fired because of the russian investigation why were they involved in the chain, i don't know and i don't have an answer for the question. >> your testimony is thehe>> president's request could impact
the investigation. did he get what he asked o asksu and what would be the impact to be co- effects of the investigation? >> we would have closed any investigation in connection with his statements about encounters in the later part of december so we would've dropped and openeded criminal investigation. >> so, in fact when you talk about effecting the enterprise, you would have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability to give the facts. don >> the president of the united d states wanted to go away to havo the ability to be fair, impartial and aggressive. >> now the acting attorney
general found out michael flynn could be blackmailed by the russians if he went immediately to warn the white house. flynn is gone, but other individuals with contacts with the russians are still being extremely important positions o power. give the american people still have the same sense of urgency with respect to that? >> it's the special counsel's investigation is very important understanding what efforts there were or are either russian government to influence the government is a critical part oe the mission and you got the right person to lead if so it is an important piece of work. >> the vice president was the head of the transition. to your knowledge, was he aware of the concern prior to or micha
during the tenure as the national security advisor? >> you are asking including up to the time when they were forced to redesign my understanding is that he was and i'm trying to remember where they got that from. >> the former acting attorney general had concerns about the general disgust with the that intelligence community. woulwhether that have included anyone at the cia or the office at the dni? >> i would assume, yes. after general sessions was sworn in, did you know if they were aware during period?
>> i don't as i sit here i don't recall that he was. i could be wrong but i don't recall. >> finally, let's see if you can give a sense do you have any recommendation on who may have been involved in the firing? >> i don't. >> let me begin by thanking you for your voluntary compliance with the request for this investigation.
the first was during the january 6 meeting according to the testimony in which it appears that you actually 6 volunteered that assurance. did you limit that to theto investigations or were you talking about any type of o investigation? >> i didn't use the termstigati? counterintelligence. i was speaking about some unverified material and it was in the context of that that he had a strong defensive reaction about that not being true and my reading was it was important so he knew we were not investigating him and so the context then was narrow focused on what i talked about.
it was important because it was true and i was very much about being kind of a j. edgar hoover situation i didn't want him thinking i was briefing him onso this disorder hang it over him in some way. i was briefing him because we havhad been told that it was abt to launch and he needed to know that this was being said that i was very keen to do that is the context in which i said we are not personally investigating y you. you told the president that he should be careful about asking you to investigate because you might create a narrative that we are investigating which we weret not. as
>> the context was very similar. i didn't modify the wordation? investigation. he was reacting strongly. it might create a narrative investigating you personally.ar >> then there was the phone call in which you reminded him congressional leaders had been briefed and the fbi was not investigating president trump. was that statement to congressional leaders and the president limited to the counter intelligence investigation or was it a broad statement? did i understand if there was any investigation of the president under way?
>> no i'm sorry and if i i misunderstood i apologize. we briefed the leadership about what americans we had opened counterintelligence cases on and specifically said the presidente didn't -- but there was no other mention of the time. the context was counterintelligence but i wasn't trying to hide a criminal investigation of the president. >> was the president under investigation at the time of your dismissal on may 9? >> no. >> i would like to turn to the conversations with the president about michael flynn that have been discussed at great length and first, let me make very clear the president never shoulm have cleared the room and never
should have asked you to let it go. but i remain puzzled by your pul response. your response was i agree michael flynn is a good guy. you could have said this meeting is inappropriate. this response could compromise the investigation. you shouldn't be making such a request at this fundamental to the operation of our government but the fbi be insulated from this kind of political pressure. you've talked to us today about this. you were stunned about the president making this request. but my question to you is later on, the question upon the reflection of did you go to anyone at the department and ask them to call the white house counsel's office and explain thf
president had to have a far better understanding and ofpreciation of his role in the fbi? >> i spoke to the attorney general and the new deputy attorney general when he took office and explained my serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting and i said in my testimony it cannot happen that you get kicked out of the room and the president talks to me. we looked in the room but why didn't we raise the specifics it was an investigative interest to try to figure out what happened with the presidents request so i wouldn't want to avert the white house that had happened until they figured out what are we going to do with this investigation? >> your testimony is you into the attorney general and said don't ever leave me alone with him again.
our youth saying that you also told him that he had made a request that you let it go with request to the investigation. what was it about the first a meeting. >> the circumstances that i was alone the subject matter and the nature of the reaction. it is a feeling laying on top of that but it's quite important to
protect this organization that i make records of all this. >> finally, did you show copies of the memos to anyone outside of the department of justice? and to whom did you show copies? >> the president said after i got fired i hope there is no tapes. it didn't dawn on me originally that there might beit did corroboration, there might be aa teeth and my judgment was i needed to get that out into the public square so i asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo did do it myself variety of reasons i asked them to because i thought that might prompt a specialto counsel, so i asked a friend of mine to do it. >> was a good friend of mine that is a professor at columbiat law school.
>> prior to january 27 of this o year have you ever had a one-on-one meeting or private dinner with the president of the united hates? >> dinner, no. one is to talk about law enforcement issues that was an k important topic for me and the president and then once veryy briefly to say goodbye. >> were those beef interactions? >> the one we spoke for probably over an hour just the two of usr >> how unusual is it to have dinner with the president, did that strike you as off? >> i'd assumed there would be others and he couldn't possibly be having dinner with me alone. >> did you have an impression that if you had behaved
differently in that dinner and i'm quite pleased you did not put if you had found a way to express some sort of expression of loyalty or had been some suggestion that the criminal investigation might be pursued less vigorously, do you think you still would have been fired? >> i don't know. it's impossible to say looking back. >> did you feel like they were o directly relevant to the kind of relationship the president was seeking to establish? >> >> the president has talked about the russian investigation into the u.s., the involvement in the cycle as a hoax and fake
news. can you talk about what you saw as the fbi director and only the parts that you can share in the setting that demonstrate how serious this action was and why there was an investigation in the first place. and >> yes, sir. there should be no buzz on this whatsoever. the russians interfered in our election in the 2,016th cycle. they did it with purpose, sophistication and overwhelming technical efforts. it was an active measures campaign driven from the government. it is a high confidence judgment in the community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. it's not a close call and it's very serious which is why it is refreshing to see the bipartisan focus because this is about america, not about the party.
>> so that was a hostile act against the country. did the president in any of those interactions that you>> shared with us today ask what you should be doing to protect america against the russian interference in the system? >> i don't recall a conversation like that. >> do you find it odd?re >> attended a fair number of meetings on that. >> did you find it odd that he seems concerned by the electio elections? >> did you have any interactions that suggested he was taking that hostile action seriously?
as you are very aware it was only the two of you in the room for that dinner. you've told us the presidentt asked you to back off of the investigation into the president told the reporter -- >> not -- dinner. he told the reporter he never did that. you testified that the president asked for your loyalty and the white house denied that. a lot of it comes down to who wo should believe. my mother raised me not to say things about myself like this but i think people should look at the whole testimony because
as i used to say to the jury you can't cherry pick it. you've got to take it all together and i've been open and fair and transparent.. a significant fact to me so why did he kick everybody out of the oval office. why would you kick the attorney general, chief of staff ault to talk to me if it was about something else, so that to me is a very significant fact. >> and as we look at testimony or communication from both of you, we should be looking for consistency. >> looking at any witnessed you look at the track record, demeanor, record over time, that sort of thing. >> so there are reports that the incoming administration either during the transition and or after the inauguration attempted
to set up a sort of backdoor communication panel using theirh infrastructure devices. what would be the risks particularly for the transacti n to set up the unauthorized t channels especially if they were to invade the american services. >> i'm not going to comment on whether that happened in an open setting. the primary risk is obvious you spare the russians the cost of breaking into the communicationt channels by using the bears and so you make it easy to capture all of your conversations. then to use those as the benefit against the united states. >> the memos that you wrote, dii you write all of them in a way that was designed to prevent them from the classification?
>> know and on a few of the occasions i send e-mails that my chief of staff or others on some of the brief conversations as i recall the first one was arecal, classified briefing. it was in a conference room at s trump tower, so i wrote that on a classified device. a >> any reason for the committee that it wouldn't be appropriate to see the communications from the prospective? >> thank you mr. chairman. >> when you were terminated from the fbi, i feel you've been provided years of great service to country and i als the countri would have significant questions over the last year about some of the decisions made if the president hadn't terminated the
service would still be in your opinion that the director of the fbi did a? t >> yes, sir. >> so you took as a direction from the president something that you thought was serious and troublesome but continued to show up for work the next day.o, >> yes, sir. >> and was still telling the president on march 30 that he was not personally the target of any investigation? >> correct. me all these things are going on and now in rich rows back to the committee they have serious leat concerns about what the president had directed you to do and have taken no action assuming you believe there is
enough up the chain of command. >> on the issue specifically i believe that you said the president was suggesting that you drop any investigation of the account of the conversation with the russian ambassador which was essentially misleading the vice president and others. >> any suggestion that general violated the act.
not the problem, misleading investigators were the vice president might have been. and how did you previously on february 14 discussed with the president in the previous meeting, anything that you're investigators had learned or their impressions from talking to michael flynn? said he said he's a good guy, you said he's a good guy if there is no further action takes on that. >> they try to figure out what to do with it and made the decision we are going to holdhid this. you had no responsibility to report that to the justice department in some way thanks t? nico >> i don't know what the director is going to do with it, but at some point i was sure we were going to brief it but in
the short term it doesn't make sense. that's why i stressed he shouldn't be kicked out of the room but it didn't make sense now. >> they said i don't want to be in the room with him alone again that he's continued to talk with him on the phone. what is the difference being in the room and talking with him on the phone? l >> i said it's very important that you be between me and the white house. the dingbats did you take phone calls with the president? y. did u. say i'm not taking that call and you need to talk to the attorney general >> well, i did on april 11 phone call and they reported the callh on the march 30 called them at the eighth 11 call to my superior who was the acting attorney general. >> i don't want to run out of time. in reading your testimonyne o january 3, january 27 and
march 30 it appears to me on all of those occasions unsolicited by the president you made the point to him that he was not the target of an investigation. i thought marc march 30 was interesting. you said why don't you look into that.u you may not want that because then we couldn't say with -- we couldn't answer the questiont about being the target of the investigation but you didn't seem to be answering the question anyhow. use after you were dismissed you gave information to a friends of the friend could get the
information into the public media. >> correct. >> what kind of information? >> that the president asked me -- i am forgetting my own words. >> you didn't consider that to be somehow your own personal document you could share with the media if you wanted to? a >> it was the recollection as a private citizen i felt it veryai important. >> all of the memos that you recorded might be yours as a private citizen. you said --
>> i gave them to the special counsel but my view was the cont content was my recollection recorded. >> why didn't you give goes to somebody rather than ahird third-party? >> the media was at the end of my driveway at that point and i was going out of town with my wife. if it was only that gave it towo the media so i asked my friend to make sure it gets out. >> it make it seem like you create a source close as opposed to just taking responsibility or so for saying here are these records. like everybody else i have other things i would like to get into but i am out of time. >> i would like to acknowledge senator blumenthal and earlier l senator nelson. the chair affair is less comfortable than here but
welcome to the hearing. >> a broad question. was the rush of activity in the 2016 election a one-off is proposition or will they be back? >> it is a long-term practice stepped up a notch. >> that is important for thehe american people to understand that this is a forward-looking investigation in terms of understanding what they did and how to prevent it. would you agree that it' is a bg part of the role?r. >> guessing that's not republican or democrat, it is an american thing and they willing. come for whatever party they try to choose to work on behalf of.k they are not devoted to either in my experience that just about their advantage. i don't think putin is a democrat or republican, he is a
opportunist. is that a fair statement? >> in severa >> in several of the investigations into theeg interview with lester holt the president says i had dinner with him he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. is this accurate?have no sir. >> did you initiate the dinner? >> he asked me was i free for dinner that night.himself he said zero 6:00 first and then he said i was going to invite your whole family but i want you to come over is that a good time and i said whatever works for you as you said how about 6:30. i said whatever works for you.
>> that is one question i will not follow up. in that same interview he said in one case i called him and one case he called me. is that accurate, did you ever call the president? >> and the only reason i'm hesitating as there might be one conversation i was asked to calt the white house switchboard to be connected but i never initiated communication with the president. >> at the press conference the president was asked whether he urged you to shut down the investigation and he responded no, no. next question. is that accurate? >> i don't believe it is. >> with regards to the question of him being personally under investigation, does that mean the dossier isn't being investigated or followed up on it anyway?ny
>> i cannot comment in either way but i can talk about the investigation as it was when i was the head of the fbi and was the director's responsibility now so i don't know. >> your statement in peace times when you sure it wasn't under investigation is as of that moment is that correct? on the investigation isn't it true he was and is a central figure in this investigation and relationship between the campaign and the russians? >> i can't answer that in an open setting, sir. >> and he was part of the so-called russian investigation, can you answer that? >> i would have to answer the same way. >> we will follow up on that. in terms of his comments to you, he said i hope you will hold back on that but when the
president in the oval office says something like i hope or suggest, do you take that as a direct of? >> yes. >> i was just going to quote henry the second side who will rid me of this and the next day he was killed. we are thinking along the samemn lines. several other questions into these are more detailed. what do you know about the russian bank? >> nothing that i can talk about in an open setting. i know it exists. >> what is the relationship of the ambassador from russia to the united states to the russian
intelligence infrastructure? >> he is a diplomat at the russian embassy which employs a robust cohort of intelligence officers so here's willing of the investigations at least some of it in the united states. i don't consider him to be an intelligence officer himself. he is a diplomat. >> did the fbi ever briefed the trump administration about the advisability of interacting directly with the ambassador? >> there was a variety given about the counterintelligence risk. >> was closing out the investigation have impeded the overall investigation?
>> there's always a possibility if you have a criminal case- against someone and they give you information about something else but i saw the two as touching each other but separa separate. >> with regards to the memo is it true when you wake out evidence the contemporaneous memos and statements aretement considered for the validity of testimony? the >> yes. >> senator langford. >> we have had multiple opportunities to visit and i appreciate you and your service and what you've done for the nation and continue to do.io we had an opportunity to visit.
you carry a tremendous amount of stress and that is true still today. let me walk through a couple things. your notes are obviously important because they have a very rapid account of what you wrote down and perceived to have been in the meetings. have you had an opportunity to reference the notes for the statements you put forth today? >> yes. i think nearly all of my errata and recordings of the conversations i had a chance to review them before filing my statement. >> do you have a copy of the notes personally? >> i turned them over to the investigators. >> the individual that you told about them in those posted them to "the new york times." did they have a copy? >> had a coffee at the time. >> do they still have a copy? >> i think so. t
i can't say for sure but i think so. >> could you ask them to hand the copy back to you so you could hand them over to the ovet committee? >> potentially. >> i would like to see if we cae move that potentially to asking so we can continue to get to the facts. the written documents are exceptionally important. are there others that we need to be aware of that you used for preparation that we should have that would assist in helping with this? >> not that i'm aware of. >> past february 14 meeting which is important as we discussed the conversations here about michael flynn. when the president asked about he hopes that you would let this go into the conversation back and forth about being a goodnd guy. after that, did he ever bring up anything about michael flynn again in the conversations we'vr
had? >> no. >> did any member of the staff ever ask you to let go of the case or dropping it or anything referring to that? >> no. >> did the director of national intelligence talk to you about that or anyone from the attorneys office general? >> no. >> did the head of nsa?f >> no. >> the key aspect is if it seems to be something the president is trying to get you to drop it seems like a white touch to bring it up the day after he just fired him to come back and say i hope we can let this go but then it never reappears again. did it slow down theheagai investigation? >> know although i don't know if there are any manifestations of the investigation between february 14 and when i was fired so i don't know that the president have any way ofd. knowing whether it was effective
or not. >> if the president wanted to stop an investigation, how would he do that knowing it is an ongoing criminal investigation or counterintelligence investigation would that be a matter of going to you and say make it stop because he doesn't have the authority or how would he make an ongoing investigation stop? >> i am not a legal scholar but as a legal matter the president is the head of the executive branch and code direct, in, theory if we have important norms against this but direct anybody be investigated or not he has the authority so all of us report to the executive branch to the president. >> would that be you, the attorney general? >> if he wanted to issue a direct order he could do it in any way through the attorney general or be.
>> is there any question that he is not fond of thel investigation? i can think of multiple characterizations he's done to express he isn't fond of theha investigation and i heard yours share before you are trying to keep the agents working on it away from any, the president might have made and he's informed around 6 billion people he isn't fond of this investigation. do you think there is a difference in mac?igation. >> yes. there's a big difference in taking superior officers out of the oval office, looking the fbi director in the face and saying i hope you let this go. if the agents as good as theyre are heard the president there's a risk of a chilling effect on their work and that is why we kept it so tight. >> you mentioned before about some accounts and without goingk into the names and specific times have there been news accounts about the investigation about the collusion and the
whole event or accusations that you were stunned about how wrong they got the facts? >> many stories that were just dead wrong. >> i was interested in the comments the president said to you if there were some satellite associates of his that did something wrong it would be good to find that out. did the president seemed to talk to you specifically and say i am frustrated the word is not getting out but if there are people in my circle that are what's finished the investigation is that how youar took it? the >> yes. >> then you made a comment abou> abouprevious attorney general asking you about the investigation saying you had been asked not to call it in investigation anymore but a
matter and you said that confused you. can you give additional details? >> it concerns me because we were at the point where we refused to confirm the existence of an investigation as we typically do and it was getting to the place it is silly to. she said yes but don't call it that. w you look back in hindsight and should i have resisted harborl and no, this i just said okayor
and that is what happened when i say we opened up the matter and report of the fbi investigation open so that concerns me because it tracked the way the campaign was talking about the fbi's wort and that is concerning. >> it gave the impression they are using the same language because you were handed the campaign language. we have a criminal investigation open.
most of them have been asked and there's quite a few of them that are detailed. i want to thank you for coming and volunteering to stay. i don't know if you had a chanct to watch the hearing yesterday. it was quite troubling and my colleagues had some questions they want answers to and they refuse to do so so that even makes us much more appreciative of your cooperation. the seriousness of the russian aggression in the past elections knowing it will be ongoing as the senator he alluded to what is your concern and what should the american public understand?t
did the president ever show any concern or interest or curiosity about what the russians werest r doing? >> i don't remember any conversations about the any interference. it was an actual -- initial briefing. w after that i don't remember anything. the reason this is such a big deal is we have this big wonderful country that we fight with each other all the time, but nobody tells us what to think, fight about, vote for except for other americans. that is wonderful but we are talking about a foreignameric government using technical intrusion and other methods tried to shape the way we think and vote and act. that is a big deal. people need to recognize it. they are coming after america p
which i hope we all love equally. they want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world.d. they think that this great experiment is a threat to them so they try to dirty it up as much as possible. it is extremely dangerous is what you're saying. >> do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of the, conversation with the president? >> it never occurred. i hope there are.>> both o >> you hope there are tapes and recordings. >> all i can do is hope. the president knows if he taped me and my feelings are not hurt release all the tapes.
>> do you believe that the special investigator on russia will be thorough and complete r without any of these recommendations? >> is one of the finest people and public servants the country has ever produced. he will do it well. he is a tough person and you can have high confidence that when it is done he's turned over all the rocks. >> you've been asked a wide variety of questions today and we will be having more of them classified hearing. something i often ask folks whe they come here what details of this should we be focusing on and what would you recommend that you do differently? were a just our perspective on? >> i think the committee has shown the american people all ps although we have two parties and we disagree about important things we can work together when it involves the interest of the
country so i hope you keep doing what you're doing. it is good in and of itself but it's also a model to show we are a functioning adult democracy. >> you've also mentioned i think in six meetings, three times in person and nine times in conversation with the president. did he ever eluded that you are not performing adequately? did he ever indicate that atg all? >> he called me one day i was about to get on a helicopter. they were waiting on the helicopter for me and he called to check in and tell me i was doing an awesome job and he wanted to see how i was doing and i said i'm doing fine andow then i finished the call and got on the helicopter. >> do you believe he would have been fired if hillary clinton had become president? >> that is a great question. i don't know. >> do you have any thoughts about its? his? >> i might have been. i don't know. as i said before, that was an
extraordinarily difficult and i painful time. i think i did what i have to do and i knew it was going to be bad for me personally and of the consequences might have been i would be terminated. i don't know. i really don't.n't know >> february 14 meeting in the oval office you mentioned that they make sure you are never left alone with the president.or did you ever consider why the attorney general sessions was not asked to stay in the room?ne >> sure. i did and have and in that moment -- >> did you ever have a discussion with him on this? >> no, not at all. >> on any of your meetings? >> no. >> did he show any interest at all that the meeting was about? >> no. >> i did say to him, i talked to
him and said you have to be between me and the president and that is important and i forget my exact words. i passed along the message aboum the importance of pursuing thei classified information which is a goal i shared and i passed's that along to the attorney general i think it was the next morning in the meeting but i didn't tell him about the michael flynn park. >> do you believe that it was an obstruction of justice?hi >> i don't know. that is robert mueller blank job to sort out. >> mr. chairman. >> senator. >> you encouraged the president to release the tapes. will you encourage the>> department of justice or mr. mueller to release the rel memos? .. memos? >> sure. >> you said that you did not record your conversations with
president obama or president bush in memos. did you do so with attorney general sessions or any other senior member of the trump department of justice? >> no, i think it -- i'm sorry. >> did you record conversations and memos with attorney general lynch or any other senior member of the obama department of justice? >> no, not that i recall, had you. >> you in your statement for the record, you cite nine private conversations with the president, three meetings and two phone calls. there were phone calls that are not discussed in your statement for the record. what happened in those phone calls? >> president called me, i believe, shortly before he was inaugurated as a follow-up to our conversation, private conversation on january 6th. he just wanted to reiterate his rejection of the allegation and >>true, >> there was another call in
then march 1st she called just to check in with mes that was a helicopter then another as an operational matter but something the fbi was working on it was totally inappropriate then the fourth call i am for getting, and maybe the callobaby i will think about that if they answer other questions i the guy got the right. i >> but the underlying activity of russia the you believe that donald trump glued did with russia?. >> says the question a don't think i should be internal to the setting. when i left there was not an
investigation focused on president from. but that will be answered by the investigation senator feinstein was the ranking member now she is the mea judiciary committee having access to fbi information and.ay 3 shoes last you have evidence that there was collusion between russia and then she said that this time. if yes seen any evidence inu then said not at this time. has anything changed and then said no. day you have any reason toai doubt those statements?. >> i just don't want to goat down that path i am not in the government anymore in
the answering in the negative it just feeds meet deeper and deeper talking about the investigation into an open setting. >> and not trying to suggest my answer not nefarious but not to this person or not to >> onperson. as the trump campaign aides and gas later felt was inaccurate but then to saynd that was almost entirely wrong?. >> in then to javanese contact between the russiansns and the trump people?. >> i cannot answer thatoc sitting here.
>> in den freddie for a the russian ambassador with a senior trumpet administration officials if there was disclosure from the foreign government with the federal allegations will be preceded specifically what interactions with the russian ambassador. there was a story on january january 23rd in the washington post entitled fbi reviewed the russian ambassador found nothingwa illicit. is that story accurate? tonight and want to comment i am pretty sure the of bureau has not confirmed any interception of communications i don't want to talk about thatl times and y
acting attorney general when attorney general john ashcroft was incapacitated due to illness. there was a dramatic showdown at the hospital here. the next day, you said that you wrote a letter of resignation and signed before you went to meet with president bush to explain why you refused to certify it. is that accurate. >> yes, i think so. >> at any time in the 3 1/2 months you were the fbi director during the bush administration, did you ever write and sign a letter of recommendation and leave it on your desk. >> letter of resignation, no, sir. >> letter of resignation. >> no, sir. >> despite all the things you've testified to here today, you didn't feel this rose to the level of an honest but serious
difference of legal opinion between accomplished and skilled lawyers in that 2004 episode? >> i wouldn't characterize the circumstances that way. but the answer, no, i didn't encounter any circumstance that led me to intend to resign, consider to resign. no, sir. >> thank you. >> senator harris. >> director comey, i want to thank you. you are now a private citizen and you are enduring a senate intelligence committee hearing, and each of us get seven minutes instead of five as yesterday to ask you questions. so thank you. >> i'm between opportunities now. >> you are -- i'm sure you'll have future opportunities. you and i are both >> >> and said i hope you will give me your wallet the word hope is not the most operative word but you don't have to respond to that
point. i have a series of questions to ask you are you aware of any meetings between the trump administrationy' officials and russian officials that hasn't been a college by those officialse of the white house?. >> even if i remember clearly that is not what i can answer is no bin setting >> what about the associates of the campaign with russian officials with the scripted communications are other means?. >> i have to give the same answer. >> anything that's the was other evidence or documents had been destroyed?. >> that is investigative matters so can you concealf communications. >> the same answer. >> as a former attorney
general with your connection with the attorney general what is your understanding of the parameters of general sessions with the russian investigation?. >> i think it is described in a written release from doj but the gist was it to be recused from all matters related to you russia and the campaign in the 16 elections. >> is is based on the public statements?. >> correct. >> was any type of memorandum issued due to the fbi of those parameters?.rt >> in the doj documents before you were recused?. >> save cancer and so what
mechanism to be sure that there was no connection to the investigation?. >> i don't know for sure buto they have consulted with the courier ethics officials but i don't know what mechanism h day set up. >> was inappropriate to be part of that interference?. >> edits a recent wall education what did he know what was he told i just don't know the university. >> so essentially asking for a loyalty pledge.
>> do you know one way or another?. >> and dimension in the you have a conversation on february 14 is my understanding to be recused from any involvement two weeks later. your k and did he have access?.in >> in theory, insurer.y >> to your knowledge was there any information between february 14 in the day he was ultimately recused?. >> not to my knowledge i have no knowledge one way or another. >>.
>> do you know of anything of the department of the fbi i for did any documents to issue the attention of the attorney-general?. >> i don't know of any it is possible but i don't remember any sielaff did you know, what is involved on the second of march?. >> i assume not but i don't know of any information that would lead me to believee about of investigation after the recusal. that steven chin it was inappropriate inappropriate -- apparently they did not reply. what did they do with
anything? what happened?. >> i just have a reelectionn this could be a faulty memory but i got a sense like what will i do? i don't remember clearly it think the reason i had this question because it was imperceptible like what will i do? but i don't have a clear recollection of that he did not say anything. >> at that we use it your understand the key stop the investigation within you got two phone calls. has anything you learned in the months since thathe meeting change your understanding? equity says the public documents or
interviews?. >> correct. >> is there anything with this investigation the you believe is in any way is biased or not to informed?. >> the appointment of the special counsel should givef great comfort to americans no matter your political affiliation independently and honestly. >> and then to pursue thatd investigation. >> and knowing him well if there is something he thinks he needs. >> and he would not be part of it otherwise. >> director comey i will repeat from previous hearings said believe you're
a good and decent man that has been dealt a difficult hand starting back with the clinton e-mail investigation i appreciate you to appear here to cooperate with our investigation. is a general matter an fbi agent has reason to believe a crime has been committedagenth they have a duty to report it?. >> that is a good question. i don't know if there is a legal duty with there is a cultural and ethical duty. >> you are sure if there is a legal duty?. >> i don't know and then taking steps to conceal it. i will be clear i would expect with a crime that was reported. >> but where you rest that
obligation?. >> is a general propositionsts. tried to make that investigation go away isio spiring be fbi director going to make that happen?. >> that doesn't make sense to me but i am biased.el >> by a understand it is personal spending given the nature of the fbi there a lot of bad things about me not being at the fbi.ad >> that impeded the investigation for the directors commitment and with the department ofof justice?. >> director mahler is an important part of that equation.f
>> u.s. bank assets as a hero or a villain depending on the perspective during the clinton e-mail investigation and. e-mail but clearly were troubled by the conduct of this sitting attorney general lynch with a clique -- e-mail characterization the youth have been asked to except it is a matter not a criminalsk investigation it was a matter of president clinton's meeting on a the tarmac with a sittingto attorney general when his wife was subject to a criminal investigation to be subject to other matters in a classified setting but it seems to me you clearly believe that already lynch
had the appearance of a conflict of interest. is that correct?. >> i didn't think would that be appropriate by the attorney general to appoint a special counsel is that an appropriate step. >> it is possible are you aware ms. lynch was requested a few times and refused?. >> yes yes, sir,. >> i did on multiple occasions. and that i in your concernsnce o
that caused you to makert within incredibly painful decision to take the matter of yourself that led to the july press conference. >> yes, sir. after the attorney general of water pressure call for the special appointment been decided that would not be fair because there was no case to know this does a subject of passionate disagreement by new there was no case so that would be brutally unfair to send a message there is something here. >> if the special counsel had appointed to make that determination that there was nothing there and declinede to pursue it?. >> many months later or one
year later. >> given the experience of the clinton e-mail investigation day think it is unreasonable for anyone that has been assured of multiplications with the fbi investigation is that reasonable to want the fbi director to publicly announce that so that would be removed?. >> ed is a reasonable point of view when the boom during comes back that will be a big deal. >> we saw that with thee clinton and e-mail investigation. >> i recall that. >> so i will ask you finally
there was a conversationet back and forth about loyalty as a unique public official sen into heavy-duty of independence to pursue the s of law. with the president asks about loyalty that i will pledge to my honesty and itne looks like august loyalty?. >> yes. >> there have been press reports that the president in addition to ask you to drop that investigation has other senior intelligence officials to take steps
which would tend to undermine the investigation with the reports to make public statements exonerating him and also to intervene. are you aware of or have any information?. >> i don't i am aware of public reporting but i have not had any conversation with any of those leaders.ea >> you testified that you interpreted the discussiont it to stop the investigation? is that correct spirit correct testify the president asked
you to lift the cloud to exonerate him if he refused?s >> i did not refuse thet president i said we wouldt see what we can do that i said that is something the lawyer lot to take up with the justice department. >> and then to be discussedd many times that is a theoretical issue.al was your feeling at the direction of the investigation could include thae the president?. >> as i explained the concern if you look at potential coordination between the campaign and russia, logically this
person argue the candidate's knowledge understanding so i understood as an argument but what i said was accurate and fair to him but i resisted the idea to publicly say that. but i would have done it because of the problems period the president asked to repeated the to be loyal to him. i think that was her way to say i will be august and the head of the fbi. is that fair?. >> correct. i tried honest first the you can see in my testimony a tried to explain why it was in his in everybody's interest to the fbi to be a part because his credibility is important.y is
so i tried to hold the line and it got very awkward in the city will always have honesty from me and he said on his loyalty. >> so the culmination of all of this. >> if there was an explanation i do not buy that. >> so you are fired. you believe the treasury views to you cooperate is that deal to reason?. >> i don't know for sure. i was fired because of something the way i was conducting the russian investigation whether it was putting pressure on him or irritating him and he decided me to fire me because of that i cannot go further than that. >> but the russian investigation is one of the most serious possible acts
in our history. at the core of the democracy is not a discrete and wouldis be prepared for the years and beyond because in relation to this investigation and shows up in the oval office first after being classified as a net job.nu and said i face pressure because of russia. i would think the president downplays to take specific steps to stop a thorough investigation of russian influence and also from what
you said it does not seem interested in these tough style threats. >> edify can agree to that level of detail but in because of the russian investigation there was some way to change the way it is conducted. the way and not just because it involves me the nature of the fbi requires it is not the subject of the political consideration and on top of the year of the russian investigation itself per car should've said this earlier but if any americans were caught helping the russians do that to us, it is a very big deal and i am confident of that is the case director roller will find that evidence.
>> the president we did where he starts leaking toes the press was that the yen settled attempt to intimidate you from testifying or anybody else to crosses his path?. >> i will not try to interpret the president's tweet but to read the major impact occurred to be in the middle of the night.or it is not just my word. >> senator mccain?. >> hillary clinton made the statement to be sufficient evidence to be against her
although it was very careless and her behavior but you did reach ay conclusion that was necessary to further pursue her but at the same time that you said there is not enough information to make a conclusion.or tell me the difference from former secretary clinton is concerned and mr. trump. >> the clinton investigation was completed that the fbi is deeply involved in to understand the facts and applied as understood. it was under way and stillst
going when i was fired. in the >> so that investigation was going on reaching separate conclusions. >> that investigation of any involvement?. >> as of july the fifth the fbi completed the investigative work that is so i was announcing what we had done and what we have found. >> at least in the minds of this number there's a lot of questions remaining what went on particularly considering the fact that it is a big deal we'll was going on during the campaign.uring you concluded that part of the investigation but the
american people have a whole lot of questions with the role the russia played and prese to be clearly involved in bill whole situation where fake duse's you just described it is a big deal. you have to help me out. the investigation of the former secretary clinton had to do with the campaign is over that we don't have tod worry about anymore?. >> i am a little confused with respect to secretary clinton we look to a criminal investigation of a personal e-mail server.er >> that the same time he made the announcement no charges brought against the then secretary clinton for any activities and we don't
quite understand how you could be done with that with bill whole investigation. >> when i was fired it was still an active investigation to understand the russian efforts. >> you reached the conclusion there was no reason to bring charges against secretary clinton. if you reach that conclusion then you have an ongoing investigation so one candidate the you have a long way to go. is that correct?.
>> i don't know how far but yes. that investigation and of russia's efforts and if there was any coordination. >> can you just made this clear and then to reconcile.e one side is reconciled. there is a lot more there as you know, . and that there were no charges as the investigation continues.invest the to have more and more emphasis on the russian engagement how serious do
you think this was?. >> very serious. but to be clear, we have not announced an investigation haven if russians may have coordinated with the secretary clinton campaign. >> but they were involved with the entire presidential campaign. >> that is the investigation that began last summer. a >> so both president trumpntinu. and former candidate clinton are both involved in the investigation about one of them is continuing. i hope there is a double standard to tell you the truth. you that when he talked about the april 11 phone call because i have been very loyal we had that thing.
did that arouse your curiosity? why did you ask him?. >> it did not seem to be important to the conversation. i took it to be an effort to communicate i have been good to you if you should be good to me. >> but that would arouse my curiosity that the president said we had that thing you know, i would like to know what that is particularly with the fbi. >> i get that but honestly that speculation in his memory with the counter at the dinner every perry himself to say all this said in his memory showed him that did not happen and it came up short. him >> i think it would of had
some curiosity. that the members of the administration could be used to coerce or blackmail the administration it is part of those investigations. >> you reached that conclusion is our secretary clinton was concerned are you aware of anything that of the you to believe to coerce members of the administration herblock mail the administration?. >> that is not a question i can answer.
>> time is expired from the hearing we will reconvene promptly at 1:00 p.m. in the hearing room. we have the vote scheduled 1:45 p.m. performance ofri just members promptly be there 1:00. we have three minutes. i would like to have order. photographers we turn to where you were please. the hearing is not adjourned yet. either that or we will remove you. members who have three minutes of updates we would like to cover before a closed session begins to spend some time with director tony. based on our a treatment we will close that adjournment hearing around 2:00 so youea can go vote.te.
several of us of the committee have had the opportunity to work with decent to have worked -- walked in the door we'rere grateful to you for your service your country not justin the capacity as fbi director and as prosecutorrecto, somebody that was the country enough to tell it like it is. t we're grateful with the level of cooperation they have shown us and the trust we have built between both organizations and congressst and the bureau we cannot do our job if wasn't for the willingness to share candidly with us the work we need to see. this is the full-length hearing we have had this year, twice the historical yearlong average of the committee.istorica i think the vice-chairman and dies biggest challenger
this investigation as it is concluded is to return the hearings to the secrecy of a closed hearing to encourage the of members not to freely talk about intelligence matters and to respect the fact we have a huge job to represent the entire body of the united states to make sure we work with the intelligence community and to do it with those limits set by the executive branch. we could not do it without the partnership that you have been able to leave andip others before.earing live with those professionals to show that willingness.
>> i just want to echo for your appearance there's still a number of questions and for those that are watching and following in to get the facts out the american people need to know. but there is also the of macro issue and is very important to realize that at this and real comic continuous and it geared towards all western democracies. on behalf of the committee this hearing is adjourned.ur [inaudible conversations]
the world in the of state to state relationship is very important as we think about what they need to make to be equally important is that world of criminal networks of those drug-traffickers that'd say big network supply chain and the non governmental organizations i think of those as factors that we don't have strategies for how to bring them together